“Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil” (Luke 4 : 1).
What’s the key to understanding this story ? That’s a good question. When you do Lectio Divina, the meditative reading of a biblical story, the answer is likely to change from one Lectio experience to the next. In Bible Study, you examine the text in a scholarly fashion ; in Lectio, your reading is more contemplative, a way of ruminating on the Word, spending time with it and bringing it inside you in some very real way. Often a word or a phrase stands out for you and you wind up sticking with it throughout your Lectio time.
This time around, I found that I was drawn simply to the first sentence of the gospel text. Since I’d had it in mind to “study” the gospel for this assignment, I kept trying to move on to the rest of the story. I knew that Luke’s version differs a little bit from that of Matthew, and I wanted to explore all of the differences for myself. I wanted to understand, for example, how Luke’s placement of the story (between the genealogy of Jesus and the announcement of Jesus’ mission in the synagogue at Nazareth) might affect its meaning. I wanted to grasp how Luke’s decision to order the temptations as he does might have affected his original Gentile-Christian community of readers. Things like that. So I got out my biblical commentary, made sure my highlighters were fresh and ready to mark, and sat down with it all. And then – that first verse just wouldn’t be denied. And so, Lectio rather than study became the order of the day. What follows is just a very rough notion of where I went with it – sorry not to be clearer, but this is what I’ve got for you this time !
After his Baptism in the Jordan,
“Filled with the Holy Spirit.”
After Baptism in a parish church in Yonkers, New York,
Me, too ?
For him, totally fresh – still wet when he enters desert.
Me, quite dried off after a long time – but so what ?
Jesus and I both baptized.
His being tempted in spite of that fullness – or because of it ?
Spirit of the living God.
Spirit and Word.
Armed with the Word.
Word strengthened by the Word.
Spirit. Led into the desert.
Jesus tempted. Me, too.
Jesus filled with the Spirit.
Not because of anything I do, but
Because that is how the Spirit works.
The Spirit is here.
How to welcome that Spirit now ?
Stay by Jesus and do what he does.
Know the Word.
Love it. Love Him.
If you’ve persevered to the end, you can see that my Lectio, at least, is not much of an intellectual experience ! But my guess is that it differs for each one – and that however it happens, it’s something good. If you’d like a really nice article about Lectio written by an American Trappistine nun with lots of experience and a great sense of humor, try this web link : http://www.santaritaabbey.org/our-community/lectio/
You might find that you’d like to try this ancient and beautiful Christian practice for yourself. Happy Lent !
Sr. Nuala Cotter, ra