Thanks for praying with me, this week we Lectio the Liturgy with the Collect for the 7th Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Grant, we pray, almighty God, that, always pondering spiritual things, we may carry out in both word and deed that which is pleasing to you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.
A few years ago, when I first studied this prayer, I had a life-changing realization. It has stayed with me ever since and has actually grown. The realization is this: ponder does not mean meditate.
I know, it sounds like such a small thing, but let me explain. It can mean to meditate, but meditation can also a part of the pondering process. You see, to ponder means to bring together, to put one thing with another in considering circumstances. (Vine’s Expository Dictionary)
In the New Testament, the word is used once, in Luke 2:19. In the beginning of Luke 2, the angel appeared to the shepherds and tells them where to find the Christ child. They go, in haste, and find the child with Mary and Joseph and tell them all the they angel had said about this child. All who heard it were amazed “but Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart.” (DRB)
Mary put a puzzle together in her head. The pieces of her puzzle were words and events (with angels!), all confirming to her that indeed, her child was the Son of God.
When Jesus was baptized, he saw the heavens torn apart, the Spirit in the form of a dove landed on him, and heard his Father’s voice declare him to be his Son. After his baptism, Jesus went into the desert, and as he endured the hunger and the temptations, one could be pretty positive that Jesus pondered the events and signs of that day, keeping them in his heart to stay close to his Father.
As I thought about examples of what I would have to ponder, many things came to mind. Among them were the times when I needed a word of encouragement and someone sent me an email. Or the time when I knew my car was empty on gas but the nearest gas station was 10 miles away and all I could do was pray - and I got there just fine. These are just two pieces of the puzzle that God used to let me know that he’s got this.
However, we don’t have to ponder things that are only in the past. We can use events of the past as a piece of the puzzle that God wants us to know today. We can also ponder in the present.
Jesus said in John 12:49, that he does not speak on his on, but he speaks what he hears the Father say. In John 5:19, Jesus tells the Jews that the son does what he sees his father doing. Jesus carried out in word and deed things that were pleasing to the Father. I wonder if pondering spiritual things is how Jesus lived, how he knew what the Father said or knew what the Father wanted him to do.
Perhaps “always pondering spiritual things” isn’t something to check-off off the list. Perhaps it is a way of life.
Lectio the Liturgy: An easy place to practice pondering spiritual things is at mass. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is not our church service, it is our prayer. I have found that one way to enter more deeply into the prayer of the mass is to ponder spiritual things, such as: “Where is the Holy Spirit working right now?” or after communion, to remind myself that right now, God the Father sees His Son in all of us. They’re little reminders, and yet when we put one thing with another in considering circumstances, the mass becomes what it was meant to be, our way of life.
Thank you for praying with me,