Lectio Divina On ( James 4 : 1 – 6 )   Leave a comment

Introduction

This series is my Lectio Divina, or Divine Reading series, in this series I am going to present to you the reader my experiences with applying Lectio Divina to certain scripture excerpts. Lectio Divina is called Divine Reading for a reason; for it is more contemplative then the typical and casual reading that most people do in a busy day. Divine Reading is meant to speak to your whole being rather than solely the intellectual part of your being. Certain excerpts are large, so they were broken up into smaller pieces to respect the key contemplative aspect of this ancient practice; these are the notes which I made in light of each Lectio Divina reading. I used the Orthodox Study Bible for Reading and for its commentary on scriptural entries in order to begin the first and move into the second part of the process.

James 4:1-6

“From whence are wars and contentions among you? Are they not hence, from your concupiscence’s, which war in your members? You covet, and have not: you kill and envy and cannot obtain. You contend and war and you have not: because you ask not. You ask and receive not: because you ask amiss, that you may consume it on your concupiscence’s. Adulterers, know you not that the friendship of this world is the enemy of God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of this world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think that the scripture says in vain: To envy does the spirit covet which dwells in you? But he gives greater grace. Wherefore he says: God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble.”

According to The Orthodox Study Bible the Commentary reads for this section, “Passions are fragmenting, self-centered, worldly and thus lowly, energized or provoked by the Adversary and are thus at enmity with God. These Passions lead only to division and strife where there ought to be cooperation and peace. In order to restore Cooperation and Peace, we need to stop asking for self-centered pleasures to be realized, we need to renounce the world and seek friendship with God, we need to be Mindful of the Holy Spirit and Yield to it, we ought to be humble so that God may not resist us but that we may resist the Adversary, finally we must worship God properly and always be Repentant.”

Upon applying the Lectio Divina to this passage, I came to many insights, one such insight that resurfaced was the connection I made a while ago regarding the Internal States of Mind as they affect the External Environment Around us. Back even when I was involved in the Occult, there was a Hermetic Principle that existed from what is called, “The Kybalion” aside from trying to draw people into the Occult (which is not my intention) there is a clear statement about the Principle of Correspondence which reads: “As Above So Below; As Within So Without” This nifty little principle is found even in the Bible, it relates to both the Church Organism as a whole in relation to its individual parts, but it also speaks volumes of the inner life of each individual and the life they lead. We hear Christ speak a semblance of this principle when even in His own Prayer He says of His Father and His Human Creation: Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done On Earth As It Is In Heaven. We know of course, that Christ and His Kingdom and corresponding Kingship is not of this world.

This principle in itself is not that evil and proves quiet insightful. In Psychology, especially in the realm of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy we know that our Thoughts and Affections influence our Behavior which affects the environment around us, and that the environment returns its influence on us. In Network Science, especially as it is applied to Social Network we know that the more individuals act, think, and feel in a certain way it will affect the whole social network as well, whether intentional or not.

Nonetheless I digress; while I was reflecting upon these words one must admit that in trying to live the Spiritual Life which is deeper and interior, passion over some external and sensational longings are not going to be sufficient causes for prayer. If for example, you desire a relationship you need to discern where this desire is coming from. Surely if the desire originates in merely achieving sexual release, and you pray to God for a relationship, if this “prayer” is answered it’s not from God, because God would know that your predominant aspiration is sexual release, so this is a temptation that at best God permitted to test you and refine your lusts. However, if you long for a relationship because you feel a profound loneliness and because you’re looking for companionship in this life then when you pray you can act knowing God is behind you. Because Profundity and Companionship are both signs of Grace and the Interior Life at work in us, before asking for a relationship however we should ask The Lord to make us realize that at the end of the day He is the perfect embodiment of healed Loneliness and Companionship.

This leads me to the next insight, namely that we ought to prayerfully work toward transforming the Selfish Desire into a Broader All Encompassing Desire. We shouldn’t feel “bad” for having desire, what we need to be mindful of is how that Desire Manifests. So if we Lust after someone, we need to recognize that as fallen desire that is missing something of the Good. What is the Good? The Good is that which can take us outside of ourselves and the narrow perspective of ego self. What will take me out of the narrow perspective of Lust? What else but Love, a Love where I can empty myself out Freely, Faithfully, Totally, and Fruitfully. When I pray then, I pray to God to remove the fear and to present me with the person who can help live that out.

While reading this I realized that, if one were to ask for the Light of Christ while doing an Examination of Conscience, one would realize at the ontological root of their being, (or as Christians call, “The Heart”) that they are Spiritual Adulterers, we all have some fault, some shame, some guilt. However, do not be afraid, God is Love and longs to reconcile with you. God is an abundant font of mercy and compassion, all you need to do is confess your faults through the Sacrament of Confession and you will live in the State of Grace with God. To speak on the Sacrament, people protest a lot about this one, the general motif tends to be that they are fearful of actually telling someone else your faults, even for a time I was like this. However, if one were to make a habit out this, they would find that it becomes easier to Confess, in fact I found that I long to confess my sins if I haven’t been able to in a while. The question at the end of the day, is how hungry are you for God’s Graces and The Eucharist? Personally, I find myself being very hungry and I think others would agree.

Consider the phrase, “God Resists the Proud” those who are Proud, tend to be Boastful and Impatient or Highly Irritated peoples. Children tend to act Impatient and are rightfully disciplined when they don’t get what they are looking for when they want it. Teenagers tend to act Boastful thinking they are complete unto themselves and know all things, when in fact they are just beginning in life, and they learn through their errors of imagined “all-knowingness.” So it is with The Proud, God resists them not because He hates them but rather because their lives block out Grace, they won’t allow it in because, if a Person thinks they know everything then they have no need for anything or anyone else including God; if a Person wants something on their own terms at their own time then it’s impossible to appreciate and not see the things others already do for you, including God.

However, not consider the phrase, “God Gives Grace to the Humble” for all it is; is merely an inversion of the previous paragraph. The Humble tend to be those who recognize their incompleteness and their lacks through various trial and errors in life, not to dwell on these but to admit them. The Humble tend to be the most patient because like the poor person on the streets they don’t have the money and power to get what they want when they want it, they tend to be at the mercy of others and so intuitively know not to grow bitter and demanding toward those who help him. So it is then with God and The Spiritually Humble, in admitting their faults and weaknesses they can allow the Power of God to flow through them to perfect them and work on them and they will not allow themselves to grow impatient because they will know intuitively that it is better to have God work on them and care for them in His Way and His Time, then to not have Him helping at all, again not because He doesn’t want to but because we wouldn’t let Him.

When I was a Child the only Image of God I had was that of a Judge, but as I got older I discovered that one can hold more than one image of God. Currently my most favorite image of God is that of a Doctor and that image is reaffirmed in this Lectio Divina reading. A patient if he is to get better needs to admit his disease and needs to let the doctor work on the patient in his own time and in the way that the doctor thinks is best. If the patient leaves the doctor prematurely whether because he disagrees with the doctors diagnosis, treatment method or scheduling then what little work that had already begun will be nullified in short time. The work will be painful, some of our souls are so ravaged by sin that it requires major surgery and some of our souls may have a few cuts and scrapes, but even treating cuts and scrapes requires the stinging sensation of a good antibiotic ointment.

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