From God's fullness we have all received, grace upon grace
Lectio Divina: “joy”

Lectio Divina: “joy”

Gospel reading: John 17.11-19

[Jesus said] ‘And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.’


The single word ‘joy’ occurs within Jesus’ prayer ‘that they may have my joy made complete in themselves.’ He does not shy away from speaking of the hate of the world and the need for protection from the evil one. So this is the deep deep joy that sustains me in sorrows and troubles, the deep joy that the world doesn’t understand.

Contrast gladness and happiness, joy and fun. The latter are shallow and vanish quickly; the former are lasting and nourishing. I have my own version of the parable of the different soils…

Today I was planting tomatoes. The recent high temperatures and lack of rain means the top layer of soil was dry and dusty. But dig down a little further and my hands could feel refreshing moisture. Giving the seedlings a good watering, that penetrates deep into the soil, encourages the roots to follow and spread in the levels where moisture is to be had. Light watering, however frequent, encourages only shallow rooting in the layer of soil that dries out quickly. The plant is vulnerable. That is fun and happiness, and when times get hard, the spirit shrivels. But joy and gladness are long, deep drinks of water that continue to refresh the soul and give life during the times of dryness and heat.


Since April 2020, I have been jointly hosting a shared Lectio Divina group on Tuesday or Wednesday evenings. These are my reflections only, during the prayer session and as I wrote them up. Please see my separate commentary and leaflet for more information about shared Lectio.