Step #1: lectio / read
The Apostles and presbyters, in agreement with the whole Church,
decided to choose representatives
and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas.
The ones chosen were Judas, who was called Barsabbas,
and Silas, leaders among the brothers.
This is the letter delivered by them:
“The Apostles and the presbyters, your brothers,
to the brothers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia
of Gentile origin: greetings.
Since we have heard that some of our number
who went out without any mandate from us
have upset you with their teachings
and disturbed your peace of mind,
we have with one accord decided to choose representatives
and to send them to you along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,
who have dedicated their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
So we are sending Judas and Silas
who will also convey this same message by word of mouth:
‘It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us
not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities,
namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols,
from blood, from meats of strangled animals,
and from unlawful marriage.
If you keep free of these,
you will be doing what is right. Farewell.’“
And so they were sent on their journey.
Upon their arrival in Antioch
they called the assembly together and delivered the letter.
When the people read it, they were delighted with the exhortation.
Step #2: meditatio / meditate
I remember the day that I started drinking coffee very clearly. It was my junior year of college, and I had just gone to the first day or so of classes and realized that there was a lot of stuff I was going to have to learn that I was simply not prepared for. I turned to my roommate, who was at that point already addicted to the delicious thing we call coffee which I now call a dear friend, and asked him to help. I told him to make sure to get me coffee, help me learn what kind I like, and overall just make me drink it.
On that day, I was a lot like the people in Antioch at the beginning of this reading. The Gospel of Jesus Christ was traveling throughout the known world, but sometimes a person who didn't fully understand it would pick it up and start teaching it. Without an established catechism or even a written Bible there was not really an easy way to stop this from happening, and it was stressing the people in Antioch out. They didn't know who to listen to, what the requirements for following Jesus were, or if they were doing enough.
Enter the Disciples. Paul and Barnabas head back to Antioch, accompanied by Judas and Silas, and immediately begin to take away the stress that their brethren in the early Church were facing. The church in Antioch had lost their peace of mind, but the Disciples' exhortation to them "delighted" them, and we can tell that their peace returned.
What is taking your peace of mind away today? What stresses, worries, and other anxieties are you giving your time and your mind to that are taking away the peace that Christ wants to give you?
One of the marks of doing God's will in our lives is peace. If you find that you are struggling to find peace, then like the church in Antioch it may be time to let the Lord step in, calm your anxiety, and delight you with His Word.
In my own way, when I felt that anxiety, I turned to coffee, thinking that if I added in this thing that seemed to work, I'd be able to fix the stress I felt inside. God's will for you is never a burden, never something imposed upon you from the outside that you drink in and learn to like, but it is what your heart longs for, and the place that you will find peace. Seek God's will today by looking for Him, and in Him you'll find peace.
Step #3: oratio / pray
"When the people read it, they were delighted with the exhortation."
What are the things that are taking away your peace? Why are they bothering you so much?
Are there areas of your life where you feel overwhelmed, burdened, and not able to handle everything that's happening? Have you let the Lord into those places in your life yet?
What are the things you use to cope with your problems? How can you let God be a bigger part of handling the trials that come your way?
Step #4: contemplatio / contemplate
Lord, you alone give me peace.
It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden.
Come, Holy Spirit, teach me to trust Your will for my life.
For the Rest of Your Day...
Let the Lord's peace surround you today, and cast your anxieties on Him.
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Today's prayer was prepared by Jason Theobald.
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