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).
In the immortal words of Michael Scott, “People hate people that are different from them, that’s natural.”
Everyone struggles with other people; it’s part of the human condition and a struggle of our pride. This is the same spirit we identify in the reading today from the Acts of the Apostles, where the Apostles and other disciples get word that the Gentiles have accepted Jesus Christ.
The Jews were God’s chosen people- the nation of Israel- to whom he promised so much through their ancestors. The Gentiles were outsiders who weren’t (necessarily) genealogically or culturally connected with the Jews. As a result of centuries of difficulties between Israel and other nations, a mutual distance was reached between the Jews and the “others” (Gentiles). For this reason, and because Jesus came to fulfill the prophecies and promises of Israel, the early church struggled with the idea of Jesus’ sacrifice being for those other than the Jews, and they felt the Gentiles were not worthy of salvation in Jesus Christ.
However, in the first reading, we hear St. Peter explaining how it came to be that the Gentiles chose to accept Jesus and receive the Holy Spirit. He describes a vision that God gave him to show that just because the Gentiles don’t follow the old Law, and just because they aren’t the “chosen” people, doesn’t mean that God wants nothing to do with them. In fact, he desires to “make them clean” in forgiving their sins through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Peter recognizes what the Lord is telling him and ends up being summoned to a house where he baptized and proclaimed the Gospel to Gentiles.
This is the power of the Gospel and the power of Jesus Christ! That those who are separated are called into union once more in the Holy Spirit, not to be judged and persecuted by those who have received the Spirit.
How often do we experience the negative side of this in our own lives? How often do we look with judgment on those who are not Christian or those who we see living in sin? When was the last time we lovingly invited someone who is notorious in the “party scene” to join us at Mass? When did we last turn our noses in the air and scoff at those who choose the pleasures of the flesh over the Gospel? When did we choose to love someone and affirm their dignity instead of shaming them for how they live their lives? So often we are no better than the early church in their views toward the Gentiles when we look at those around us who we don’t deem worthy of Christ.
But God has given us a Spirit of unity and a universal Gospel that is for all of us, Jew and Gentile alike. It is our duty to spread the Gospel, in word and deed, and to invite others to receive that same Holy Spirit. Invite the Lord to break down the walls of hostility that you have built up towards the “others” in your life and be motivated by the Spirit of unity to invite them into a relationship with the Lord!
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.
How do you treat people who you disagree with?
When you have a conflict with someone what do you do?
Who is the last person you talked about your relationship with Jesus with?
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.
"Love my neighbor."
"Help me be a witness."
"All are God's children."
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?
In this difficult time, we will use our Action step each day to join with people around the world in praying for an end to the pandemic of the Coronavirus, for the healing of all those affected, and for the comfort of all those who have lost a loved one. The prayer below is from Archbishop José H. Gomez, President of the USCCB in his reflection and prayer during coronavirus:
Holy Virgin of Guadalupe,
Queen of the Angels and Mother of the Americas.
We fly to you today as your beloved children.
We ask you to intercede for us with your Son,
as you did at the wedding in Cana.
Pray for us, loving Mother,
and gain for our nation and world,
and for all our families and loved ones,
the protection of your holy angels,
that we may be spared the worst of this illness.
For those already afflicted,
we ask you to obtain the grace of healing and deliverance.
Hear the cries of those who are vulnerable and fearful,
wipe away their tears and help them to trust.
In this time of trial and testing,
teach all of us in the Church to love one another and to be patient and kind.
Help us to bring the peace of Jesus to our land and to our hearts.
We come to you with confidence,
knowing that you truly are our compassionate mother,
health of the sick and cause of our joy.
Shelter us under the mantle of your protection,
keep us in the embrace of your arms,
help us always to know the love of your Son, Jesus. Amen.I
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 Adam Smyth, the Life Teen Coordinator at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in the Woodlands, TX.
If you have anything you'd like our team to pray for, please go to the page of our website called "Prayers" and let us know how we can pray for you today.