Name the song, get a cookie. But don’t sing it to me, it’s stuck in my head.
So, time for a little lecto divina breakitdown. For those who have been living under a rock for the last six centuries or so, lecto divina is the process where you read several times and then meditate on a piece of scripture. There are books and classes on how to do it ‘right’, but I’ve found a method that works for me. That’s right, I practice my lecto while getting ready in the morning (if I’m not saying the Daily Office in the shower, I’m about 50-50 right now).
Here’s how it goes: I get up, and after conking the alarm’s snooze button, I read John 15:18-16:4. For those of you too lazy to click, Jesus is talking about how much the world hates ‘you’. Ah, this kind of passage is excellent for lecto, because my first thought is: Who’s ‘you’? I flip back a few pages to figure out this takes place at the Last Supper, so Jesus is talking to his inner circle disciples, who we all know pretty much to a man come to a gruesome, horrible death.
About there is where the snooze starts beeping again, so I turn the alarm off and grab the things I need for the shower. My brain’s still thinking, though, especially about the part in v.20, “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you, if they kept my word, they will keep yours also.” Both churches I attend are pretty heavy into the Apostolic Succession, that is, every priest has has hands laid on them by a priest who has had hands laid on them et cetera unto the umpteenth generation, when an apostle laid his hands on someone’s head. Now, of course, we can’t trace that, but it’s a heavy feeling. What these guys said, two thousand years ago, resonated with someone so much that they kept passing it down to us. Keanu Reeves moment, you just gotta stop in the middle of rinsing shampoo out of your hair and say, ‘woah’.
I said a quick prayer for the priests I’ve been privleged to know, and when I got back to my room, I reread the passage. This time, something else jumped out at me, down in 16:2b. “Indeed, an hour is coming when those who kill you will think that by doing so they are offering worship to God.”
Gyah. And I think of the Muslims in Nigeria, the gentleman in Afghanistan who is standing trial at this moment for converting to Christianity. And then I think of those here in the US, who would see friends and neighbors of mine at least repressed and oppressed, because in the Free World™, we don’t really advocate killing our outcasts. We just restrict their rights, deny them access to healthcare and jobs and the legal system, we tell them they’re overreacting, we wish they’d just shut up, we’re not a racist/sexist/ageist/religionist/(add your favorite -ist here) nation. And my heart broke, thinking of friends and loved ones who’d run into this kind of thinking and been hurt, by secular society and by the Church.
I wasn’t done, though. Holy Spirit or random neural firing, I suddenly thought to myself, “What about those who I’ve killed?” And I thought about the Christian gangs in Nigeria, who went on retalitory raids with machetes in hand. I thought about my Auntie with the opposite worldview, who I’ve spent many an hour with other family members, spreading venomous gossip about. I thought about the coworkers and televangelists about whom I’d thought many times, “Oh, for the love of God, just shut up!” (and sometimes I’d even said it out loud, to their faces). Deep down, in my darkest heart, I’ve even wished that some of the older generation would just die, already, so they’d stop impeding God’s work.
How do other writers come up with great closing paragraphs to their posts like this? Seriously.
If you missed the book post from yesterday, I’m reading a lot about the wee poor man, St. Francis. He never was ordained a priest, you know. He only was a deacon, and that only because he was pretty much ordered to be one (I think his bishop wanted the wee poor, slightly crazy man under his
thumb obedience). He didn’t care what people thought of him. He didn’t care if they thought he was crazy for walking into the Sultan’s place to preach. He didn’t care that he was courting death pretty closely, if the Sultan didn’t like his message. And finally, I’m not going to say he didn’t care that the Sultan didn’t convert, because I’m betting he did. But he didn’t sit around afterwards complaining about how stupid the Sultan was, how much his world view was wrong. He had some Good News to get out. He had a Church to rebuild.