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. Today we use the readings from the Thursday of the 6th week of Easter instead of Ascension Thursday because most dioceses in the US move this Holy Day to the following Sunday.
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).
There’s a video that went viral a few years ago about a man going absolutely nuts over a rainbow, specifically a double rainbow all the way across the sky. And while that’s a fairly old and stale meme at this point, there’s something about watching someone get that excited about something that makes us excited too, even if we know nothing about what’s getting them so excited. In moments like these, their excitement isn’t just for them; it’s for us too, improving our mood and, as shown by several studies, bringing us closer to the other person.
So here we are with today’s first reading, where Paul, because he had a pretty big interest in tentmaking, was able to help and minister to Claudius and Priscilla. God clearly used the things Paul is interested in to help those around him, even with the “normal” every-day work that typically isn’t directly tied to ministering to others. And that’s the main point here; nearly everything about Paul’s life changed when he started believing in Christ, but not everything about Paul changed. He kept certain aspects that made him who he was (or more specifically, who God made him to be), and that made a huge difference in the lives of people around him.
So what are the things that get you excited? What things are you good at, what things do you love more than anything, what things do you hate more than anything, and what things are you pretty bad at? All of these things (and your reactions to them) exist for a reason, and can definitely be used by God to bring out things bigger than you ever imagined. Whatever it is you care about, never ever stop caring. And those things that get you excited enough to become the next viral video? They make God excited too. He loves watching you fall in love with something just as much as we love watching others do the same, because God wants you to be happy even more than you want yourself to be happy.
As seen in the first reading, God also uses some pretty unique combinations of skillsets to fulfill His plan. So even if your passions seem really varied and incompatible, if you genuinely care about them, please never ever give up on them. God will use absolutely anything He can get His hands on to do good for other people, and your combination of talents and interests might be exactly what He wants to use to help people around you, just like He did for Paul. Take it from the psych major double-majoring with mechanical engineering: if you genuinely love something (and God doesn’t seem to be asking you to let it go anytime soon), then don’t be afraid to go for it with everything you have. If God wills it, He’s absolutely going to match your efforts and increase them tenfold. Go for it with clear eyes and open hearts, and God will certainly work through you to bring even more good into any situation. God created you with your specific skillsets for a reason, so don’t be afraid to use them.
All in all, St. John Paul II said it best: "do not be afraid".
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.
What are the things that get you excited? What things are you good at, what things do you love more than anything? How can these be used for God?
How can we balance the joys and excitements of this world with the reality that our heavenly goal is greater beyond compare? How can you let these joys point you back to the greatest joy?
What holds you back from using the amazing talents and interests that God has given you? How can you conquer those fears?
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.
"Do not be afraid."
"You are good."
"Thank you Jesus."
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 the Lord bear fruit in you today?
Today, take a break from focusing so much on how to change to be better. Take some time to embrace the good within you and let that shine. Focus on your strengths, your joys, your gifts, and share them with God's people today!
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 Tatiana Schaffer, a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign studying Engineering and Psychology.