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LECTIO DIVINA

Articles by Brendan Clifford...

  • Radical, humble, compassionate

    Lectio Divina Article: Brendan Clifford

    Brendan Clifford - Think of the people you are afraid of because of the positions they hold.  It may be a position that gives them authority over you in the place where you work or in the community in which you live.  You may feel inferior in their presence and are afraid you will not measure up. In their presence you may be keenly aware of whatever it is that makes you feel inadequate, be it personal appearance, lack of education, loss of a job, shortage of money or family background. I invite you to read again what Jesus said in the Gospel passage above, and see how that may encourage you to have a different attitude to those you fear.

  • we laughed, we cried

    Lectio Divina Article: Brendan Clifford

    Brendan Clifford - Can you remember times in your life when you were on your own; then you came into the company of one person or of several people – and you were the better for it?  If you are married you will remember when you were single; at that time you may have been free to come and go as you pleased.  But once you were married you had to take into account the needs and the wishes of another.  If you had children, there were many more demands to be met.  For all that this may have cost, you are likely to look back and to say, “It was better than remaining on my own.”

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Give Me Time...

 

Jesus told this parable: "A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit on it but found none.  He said to the man who looked after the vineyard, "Look here, for three years now I have been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and finding none. Cut it down: why should it be taking up the ground?"  "Sir,"  the man replied, "leave it one more year and give me time to dig round it and manure it: it may bear fruit next year; if not, then you can cut it down."
                                                                                                     Luke 13:6-9

                                                       


Lectio

Fergal Keane is a gifted broadcaster who worked with the BBC as correspondent for Africa and later for Asia.  At a difficult time in his life he was in school at Presentation College in Cork and kept getting into trouble.  He was, as he wrote later, always “mouthing off and playing the fool.”  On one occasion he was suspended.  The principal of the college, Brother Jerome Kelly called him into his office and told him that he had to make choices: he must stop messing and work hard, or he must leave the college, upset his family, lose his friends and have no qualification for future work.  Fergal changed.  Brother Jerome watched his progress.  He put him on the debating team.  He called him in every few weeks to ask how he was doing in class.  He had fatherly conversations with him.  Fergal said, “he went out of his way to help me grow up.” Fergal came to admire and respect Brother Jerome greatly.  Many years later he asked him why he had worked so hard to keep him in school, and Brother Jerome answered, “That Fergal was a troubled boy.”

Notice how Fergal’s story fits in with this Gospel.  The man had a fig tree in his garden.  For three years it produced no fruit.  He was a harsh man.  He wanted results and was not getting them, so he decided to cut down the tree, why should it be taking up the ground? But there is another person in the story: the gardener who looks after the trees. “Give it one more year,” he pleads.  He will give it special attention, and it may bear fruit then, if not the owner can cut it down.  The gardener is caring but realistic too.  He is not saying that the unsatisfactory situation can go on year after year.  He asked for a limited time and a second chance.
In all walks of life there are people like the owner and the people like the gardener.  There are parents who demand results from their children in a harsh way; there are business people who want profit regardless of what suffering this may cause to others; there are farmers who use the land to make money with no sensitivity to the needs of the environment. But there are people like the gardener: parents and teachers who give special attention to children who are misbehaving; they are patient and understanding, yet make firm and  reasonable demands.  There are employers who are compassionate towards their workers.  There are gardeners and farmers who love the land and will cut down a tree only as a last resort. 

Lent is a good time to think about the fig tree.  We remember times when we needed to grow. We thank God for those who were there for us like the gardener, guiding and encouraging us gently and firmly.  We look honestly at ourselves in the present time: we may have stopped living as generously and fruitfully as we once did; almost without noticing it, we may have settled for selfish and lazy ways.  Lent may be a good time for digging and nourishing the soil in which we are planted.


                                                                            Brendan Clifford 

Prayer Psalm 92


It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to make music to your name, O Most High,
to proclaim your love in the morning
and your truth in the watches of the night.

Your deeds, O Lord, have made me glad;
for the work of your hands I shout with joy.
O Lord, how great are your works!
How deep are your designs!

The just will flourish like the palm tree
and grow like a Lebanon cedar.
Planted in the house of the Lord
they will flourish in the courts of our God,

still bearing fruit when they are old,
still full of sap, still green,
to proclaim that the Lord is just.
In him, my rock, there is no wrong.