The Apostolate of the Laity

Waxing philosophical in communion with one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

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Location: Portland, Oregon, United States

I am just a sinner who holds fast to the notion that every human being on the planet is the result of a thought of God.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Through the Eyes of Zechari'ah

On Monday evenings I regularly attend a scripture encounter group meeting at Our Lady of Peace Retreat in Beaverton, Oregon. Our group has been meeting for the last five years. Consistently we get about ten people to show up, though there are probably twenty total that are part of the group. It started out as a scripture "study," but then we changed it to "scripture encounter;" the idea being that exploring God's word for us was going to be something we experienced versus studied.

As part of our journey with sacred scripture once a month we practice a technique called Lectio Divina. This is a way of praying scripture. The leader of our group, Sister Therese, has us gather in the chapel at the retreat house. If she can get permission, we begin with Benediction and exposition of the blessed sacrament. After a few moments of adoration we begin the reading keeping the sacrament exposed while we meditate and contemplate what God wants us to hear.

This last Monday we read the accounting of The Visitation to Elizabeth as recorded in Luke 1:39-46.

As I closed my eyes and replayed this scene in my mind, I found myself watching this whole exchange between Mary and Elizabeth through the eyes of Zechari'ah. I imagined he must have been in awe of the moment and at the same time frustrated by his inability to speak; having been silenced for his unbelief. He needed to be silent at this moment and just take in all that was unfolding before him. Is that not a lesson for all of us at various times in our lives? How often is our best course of action silence and contemplation versus filling the situation with our voices?

I opened my eyes and gazed upon the exposed sacrament and the beautiful life-sized crucifix that hangs above the alter, and continuing my looking at Christ through the eyes of Zechari'ah, I thought:

"I knew you before you were born and yet you saved me long after I died. You saved me."

It's doubtful Zechari'ah was even alive to see Christ's ministry. He was an older man at the time of His birth. Likely he greeted our Lord after the crucifixion when Christ descended to the dead.

The message for me from this encounter with scripture were the words of Zechari'ah, "you saved me." Now I haven't gone off the deep end here. I don't believe I was channeling ole Zechari'ah; however, I do believe the message the Lord wanted me to hear was that simple reminder that he saved me. This is beauty of lectio divina, and I can understand why Pope Benedict XVI is a strong advocate of its practice.


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