Step #1: Lectio / Read
Click the link below or open your Bible to the passage and read through the reading at least once, paying attention to what is happening in the text.
Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
Use the following meditation to help you reflect more deeply on the Scripture (you may want to read the passage again).
This was a tricky day for me to pick on which reading I should write. The first reading today is from St. Paul's famous, Philippians 4:13 quote, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." How do you not go with that one? It's a classic. BUT, because I'm a wannabe hipster, and you've already heard talks on that quote a thousand times, I'm going to go with the confusing and esoteric Gospel reading instead!
Jesus opens today's Gospel with a strange sentiment. "Make friends with dishonest wealth," he begins, and continues with, "If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth, who will trust you with true wealth?" Is Jesus telling us to go get paid? Is He encouraging us to make as much money as possible in whatever manner we can? The answer should be obvious, but I'll help you out: not exactly. His point is, as always, a little more nuanced and subtle than that.
The interpretive key of this passage is found in the verses, "The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones." This is the key to understanding what Jesus is talking about here.
I remember hearing a talk one time from Deacon Ralph Poyo when I was in college at Franciscan University of Steubenville about a classic topic in men's ministry: pornography. Committing this mortal sin, Deacon Poyo was telling us men, didn't begin with the actual act of opening up a computer to view pornography. Instead, he argued, falling into serious sexual sin began with commercials. My buddies and I looked around at each other a little confused. Commercials? What did he mean?
Deacon Poyo continued on to explain that virtue began in the small decisions. To choose to ogle at the scantily or even just semi-scantily clad women who are often presented as marketing bait for young, hormonal men would slowly turn the heart away from the virtue of chastity and toward the vice of lust, a meticulous process which could culminate in more grave acts of sin that no Catholic man in love with Christ would actually relish committing. The Grand Canyon was carved by the slow, imperceptible grinding away of hard rock by a river. So it goes with the heart.
To turn toward a life of virtue that allows us to be fully free from our sins and weaknesses to love Christ with our whole hearts is a process of successive moments of choosing love. Our will, darkened by sin, needs to be slowly and painstakingly turned toward love of God and others and away from love of self, a work that is possibly only by choosing Christ in the every day. We tend to think that if we just get super soaked by grace on a retreat once every few months, we'll become saints, but that method doesn't work. Our faithfulness begins in the small matters.
This brings us to the concept of vocation. A lot of young Catholics are very interested in learning what their vocation is, their call to a life of committed love in either the priesthood/religious life or marriage. Secondarily, many are interested in their "call within the call," what specific work/job the Lord made them to participate in. While these things are good to think about, Jesus gives us a simple tool here for uncovering what our vocation is right now, even if God is still withholding from us the knowledge of our big "V" Vocation. Let me tell you what it is:
Your vocation is to be where you are at right now.
If you're a student, your vocation is to be a student. If a brother/sister, son/daughter, your vocation is to be that, and be it excellently. Wherever you are right now, God called you there, and you have been planted there to thrive, to bloom, to become fully alive. By living this vocation to the present moment well, we can become saints in the moment, not in some distant and inaccessible future version of ourselves, but in the here and now. Your vocation is to love, and it is to do so in your circumstances right now.
It can be romantic and invigorating to think of the great adventures the Lord might have in store for you in the future, and it IS likely that He is calling you to do great things for your live. But you cannot be prepared to go do those great things without first being faithful to the smaller, simpler, quieter life He has for you right now. Jesus' culminating Redemptive Work lasted 3 days from Death to Resurrection, His public ministry lasted 3 years from Cana to the Cross, and His private life in Nazareth with His friends and family lasted 30 years. Were those 30 years of His earthly life a waste? Not at all, I would argue, because I bet He used them to the full.
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
These questions are to be used to talk to God; have a conversation with the Lord about these questions and what is going on in your heart as you pray today.
When you think of living a life of virtue, what does it mean to you? How can you seek virtue in this moment here and now?
Have you ever thought about your Vocation being lived out even now? If you are to think about it, what does it mean? Where does God have you now and how can you live that well?
Are you open to the adventures that God has planned for your life? What are some of this big adventures? How about the smaller, daily ones?
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
In this step, you listen. Stop talking, let God speak to your heart. You may repeat one of these short phrases to focus your mind on the Lord.
"Trustworthy in small matters."
"I choose You today, Lord."
"You can't serve two masters."
Step #5: Actio / Act
In light of today's reading and your time spent in prayer with the Lord, what concrete action or actions will you take to let this encounter with Lord bear fruit in you today?
Do your homework. Take care of a chore around the house. Get to work on time. Pick one of these small things, and do them well in order to let God work on your heart in the place He has called you right now.
Smartphone Lock Screen
The following image is here for you to save and use as a background or lock screen on your smartphone or device to help you carry today's Lectio Divina with you the rest of the day.
Today's prayer was prepared by Tim Glemkowski, Youth & Young Adult Minister at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Batavia, IL.