The word of God has no lockdown
On the occasion of the “Day of the Word of God”, which Pope Francis introduced in 2019 and set for the 3rd Sunday of the annual cycle (this year it is January 24th), I would like to tell you how we have been in our convent, for some time Design Bible meetings.
We meet once every week and in Advent 2020 we started a new form of Bible sharing, which at first seemed a bit strange to us, but increasingly we like it more and, above all, is spiritually enriched. The special thing about these meetings is that the sister who takes over the leadership (each time a different sister is on it) does not have to prepare especially for it and read comments on the chosen Bible text. She only leads the sisters through the meeting step by step and, like everyone else, lets herself be guided and inspired by the Holy Spirit.
When we first met this new method, we decided to work through the Gospel of Matthew section by section so that each sister knows where to go next. And it is already clear to us, although we are still in the initial phase of this form of work, that through this we better and more deeply understand the fullness of the intention of Matthew, who wrote his Gospel primarily for Jewish Christians and therefore refers a lot to the Old Testament teaching. We sense something of God’s plan of salvation with us humans.
The steps of this method are simple:
- As with any Bible sharing, we begin with prayer
- 2. Reading the text
We can decide whether the text should be read aloud by a sister or whether each reads it silently.
- I would like to explain this third step in more detail, as it is a little unfamiliar. The participants are invited to ask questions about the text. It can be questions of understanding, but above all questions that seem simple-minded or not very useful at first glance. For example, during the Christmas story in Mathew we asked ourselves: What did Mary think when Joseph was told in a dream to flee to Egypt. Didn’t their faith in the love and providence of God waver? Or what did Joseph feel when the angel told him to take the pregnant Mary as a wife. Wasn’t that an imposition to a young, unmarried man? Or: What did Mary and Joseph do with the gifts of the three wise men …
As you continue to study the Bible, you will notice that these questions broaden your horizons for the selected passage, that you understand more deeply the biblical texts that you think you know well and that the characters who are so distant, holy and to appear unapproachable, people like us, with feelings, many questions and struggles with the will of God. It is also not necessary to answer the individual questions in this step. In some cases they will be answered in the further course or they are no longer relevant.
- Division of the text into sections of meaning – This step also requires some explanations. You can divide the chosen section according to chronological order, for example in the case of Joseph’s dream that he should take Mary to himself, the division into what happened before, during and after the dream would be possible. But you can also use the people involved as a classification criterion or other criteria …
The task of the group leader here is to receive suggestions for the division and then to decide with the group which suggestion will be used.
- In this step, the individual text sections are processed. Here you will find that some of the questions you asked in step 3 are answered, while others have become unimportant. – I would like to use a picture here: The individual steps are like a ditch in the earth. You start on the surface and step by step you get more in depth and a personal encounter with the word of God.
- 6. What does God mean to me today with this passage? – At this point we are able to experience that in the course of the meeting each sister becomes naturally clear where in this passage of the text the call of God is for her.
- 7. The conclusion of the meeting develops naturally with a prayer formulated personally by each sister. This can be a thank you, a request for strength and help in the near future, a prize or something similar.
At all of these meetings, we made the experience that we are very active and active in conversation with one another and that our meetings last at least an hour each time and often longer. Often this text or the experiences that we were allowed to have accompanied us for a long time and we talk about it at meals.
Perhaps this short message has piqued your curiosity and we cordially invite you to just try it out. May the Holy Spirit inspire and accompany you.
Sr. M. Petra.