|Paul ends the letter to the Ephesians, and hands it over to Tychicus. Wood engraving, published in 1886.|
Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, June 29, 2019
Steps to Lectio Divina
Start by using these steps to reflect on the Scripture verse. Then read my meditation slowly.
Lectio: Having asked for the grace to hear God's word, read the passage twice.
Meditatio: During the second reading, pause whenever so moved and reflect on a word, a sentence, or an image that strikes you.
Oratio: Speak directly to God, and open your reflection to Him.
Contemplatio: Listen contemplatively for any response God might choose to make. Remember that God responds to us at times with loving silence.
From the Second Reading for June 29, 2019 (2 Timothy 4:4-8, 17-18)
I, Paul, am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.
From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance.
The Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the proclamation might be completed and all the Gentiles might hear it.
And I was rescued from the lion's mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat and will bring me safe to his heavenly Kingdom. To him be glory forever and ever. Amen.
To speak of one as being “poured out like a libation” is to express not merely feeling tired, like when one says they feel like they have been “poured out like wax.” A libation in many cultures of the Apostles’ time is a form of non-bloody sacrifice. Thus, when St. Paul says “I am already being poured out,” he means something much more than simply being tired or near death.
A libation is a sacrifice, a singular act of giving something over to God, for His glory and praise, for forgiveness or thanksgiving. And yet here Paul says that he is “already being poured out.” Earlier in his ministry, he taught that every Christian is called to live as a “living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Rom 12:1). He reaffirms here this Christian vocation and his intention to live to the very end as a self-gift to God.
The Church gathers before the altar each week at Mass. There Christ Himself as the perfect gift is offered to the Father on our behalf. Thus, when Christ is offered He cannot be offered apart from His Body of which He is the Head. Consequently, we who are members of His Body are also united in this same offering to the Father by our Baptism, for the Body and the Head cannot be separated.
Proper worship of God, therefore, cannot be limited to our Sunday obligation, though it is perfected in it. Worship pleasing to Him transforms the way we live our whole life; each moment is to be worthy and to be offered up to Him. No portion of one’s life can be isolated from the scope of a relationship with Christ or His offering to the Father.
A life lived as a sacrifice is one set aside from what we might call “ordinary use.” Thus, to be called to be a living sacrifice, fully set aside for the sacred and not the profane, is a reminder that the whole of the Christian life pertains to the worship of the Mass. In short, Paul here recognizes that he lives a life of thanksgiving and in union with the sacrifice of Christ. A life of sacrifice to God is not an annihilation of life, but one lived in full gratitude and in full communion with Christ.
Callie Nowlin, MTS, is the Director of Religious Education for Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Abbott and Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Penelope.
Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.
To speak of one as being “poured out like a libation” is to express not merely feeling tired, like when one says they feel like they have been “poured out like wax.”