You Are…God’s Masterpiece! Lectio for Discerners

God’s Masterpiece

Discerning with the Word: A Guided Lectio Divina for Those Discerning

"St. Paul Writing His Epistles" attrib. to Valentin de Boulogne, c. 1618-1620

“St. Paul Writing His Epistles” attrib. to Valentin de Boulogne, c. 1618-1620

Introduction: We know that God’s invitations to us flow from our God-given identity. In this lectio, we pray with how God sees us, how God’s love shapes our very identity, and how God’s love frees us to be more fully ourselves.

Lectio: Ephesians 2:4-10

But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—  and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.

Read through this reading slowly and attentively at least twice. Take your time with it.

Meditatio

Saint Paul’s dramatic encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus (Acts 9) completely changed Paul’s relationship with God from Pharisaism to experiencing the fullness of God’s love and mercy. By his baptism, Paul became a new creation in Jesus. Learning Christ, and living his new identity in Christ as an adopted son of God, led Paul to discover true freedom. No longer driven by fear or possessions, Paul belonged to Christ and trusted that nothing could separate him from God’s love and mercy. The extravagance eloquence of this passage demonstrates Paul’s amazement and gratitude to Jesus for his saving Passion, Death, and Resurrection.

Each of us who have been baptized can share in that journey from fear to trust and freedom discovered by Paul: we too are loved, redeemed, and sanctified.

As you re-read this passage, let yourself become aware that you are a son or daughter of God, that your very being is God’s awesome gift to you. Different translations of verse 10 into English range from the prosaic, “We are what he has made us” to “God’s handiwork,” “God’s masterpiece,” or “God’s work of art.”  Have you ever thought of yourself as God’s “work of art”? Do you believe that you are an heir of God, who will share everything with Christ as his brother or sister?

Contemplatio

Which phrase from this passage of Ephesians best describes how you see yourself? As you allow this phrase to “sink in,” how does it change your understanding of how God might see you? In your own words, how would you describe your relationship with God?

Oratio

The Work of Your Love – by Blessed James Alberione

My Lord, I am entirely the work of your all powerful love. I adore you, my God, one in nature and triune in Persons. I thank you, because you have made me for the happiness which lies in you and for your eternal glory. Save me with your love and your mercy!

Actio

Choose one way to act on your belief in God’s powerful love for you today.

The Story of God’s Saving Love

Young Preschooler Reading A BookI love stories. I can’t remember how old I was when I finally started to read “real books” on my own (readers with big type weren’t “real” books), but once I started, I couldn’t stop. One summer, my mom got so tired of telling me to stop reading and go play with my brothers and sisters, that she made a rule: I could read only one book a day. I was devastated until I decided that I would live according to the spirit (not the letter) of the rule: I would read only two books a day. I’m sure some bibliophiles will understand that this compromise was still a big sacrifice for me.

But my love for stories is not the only reason I chose to look at discernment through the lens of storytelling. Storytelling is a helpful framework for exploring discernment because we often see patterns in our lives as stories. We seek to give meaning to the events in our lives by looking at them as part of a larger story. While it’s possible to see our days and weeks as if they are made up of discrete, disconnected events, when we step back to look over our lives, we group different events together, giving them a context or a framework that connects them to a larger purpose or meaning: the story of our lives.

When I first started studying theology, I was impressed that my teachers would repeatedly talk about the centuries of biblical times as salvation history. With eyes of faith, the history of the world—the World’s Story—must also be salvation history, and I think we will recognize in heaven that all of earth’s history is one big revelation of God’s saving love for all humanity. And all of our unique and individual stories will fit within the overarching Story of God’s saving love.

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To Journal:

Do I intuitively look at my life as a story?

How do I see events in my daily life? As random, fragmented, disconnected events? Or as a series of events that are leading towards something? Why?