Step #1: Lectio / Read
Saul, still breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord,
went to the high priest and asked him
for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, that,
if he should find any men or women who belonged to the Way,
he might bring them back to Jerusalem in chains.
On his journey, as he was nearing Damascus,
a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him.
He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him,
“Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”
He said, “Who are you, sir?”
The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.
Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do.”
The men who were traveling with him stood speechless,
for they heard the voice but could see no one.
Saul got up from the ground,
but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing;
so they led him by the hand and brought him to Damascus.
For three days he was unable to see, and he neither ate nor drank.
There was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias,
and the Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.”
He answered, “Here I am, Lord.”
The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight
and ask at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul.
He is there praying,
and in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias
come in and lay his hands on him,
that he may regain his sight.”
But Ananias replied,
“Lord, I have heard from many sources about this man,
what evil things he has done to your holy ones in Jerusalem.
And here he has authority from the chief priests
to imprison all who call upon your name.”
But the Lord said to him,
“Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine
to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and children of Israel,
and I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name.”
So Ananias went and entered the house;
laying his hands on him, he said,
“Saul, my brother, the Lord has sent me,
Jesus who appeared to you on the way by which you came,
that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
Immediately things like scales fell from his eyes
and he regained his sight.
He got up and was baptized,
and when he had eaten, he recovered his strength.
He stayed some days with the disciples in Damascus,
and he began at once to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues,
that he is the Son of God.
Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
Who doesn't love tater tots?
At the beginning of my freshman year at a new high school, there was this kid John who wasn't very nice to me... like a lot. One day, during lunch, John sits down across from me. Immediately I became anxious, waiting for the next insulting thing he would say or do to me. I tried to keep quiet and just eat my tater tots, hoping he would lay off me. Eventually, I ran out of tater tots. Those things are so delicious, so I got up to buy more. Before I walked away from the table, John said to me, "Hey! Go buy me some tater tots!" And he laughed.
I said a quick prayer, and I knew an important moment had arrived.
I walked to the lunch line and bought two servings of tater tots. They were only like $0.50 per helping. I brought them back and set one of them down in front of John. "Here you go." Then I sat down and started to eat. John stared open-mouthed at his tater tots, then said to me, "You didn't have to do that." I didn't even look up when I replied, "I know." John couldn't let it go though, "But you didn't have to do that!" Still enjoying my tater tots, "I know."
By the end of my senior year, John and I were great friends. In fact, soon after the "tater tot incident," we started getting along really well. I'm amazed at how a small helping of fifty-cent tater tots had such a significant impact on my friendship with John.
What if I never bought him those tater tots? What if I clung to a grudge and sought revenge instead? What if I failed to love? Would we have ever become friends?
In today's reading, Saul has a vision of Jesus on his way to persecute more Christians. Jesus told Saul to find the disciple Ananias. Meanwhile, the Lord appeared to Ananias and told him to find Saul. Ananias knew the danger that Saul posed to him and all Christians, and he was afraid to even speak to him. The Lord goes on to explain to Ananias, "Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine." What an understatement! This Saul is to become the renowned St. Paul! One of the greatest -- if not the greatest -- evangelizers the Church has ever known!
What if Ananias refused to follow the Lord's will? What if he failed to love? Would Saul have ever become the great St. Paul?
How do you treat those who the Lord puts in your life, but with whom you don't get along? You know, the "Sauls" in your life. They rub you the wrong way, try your patience and are even outright mean to you sometimes. Do you follow the Lord's will to love every child of His, even though it's hard? Or do you give into feelings of resentment and spite?
Do we realize that letting God's transforming grace flow through us can change the course of a person's life? Who knows? Your one small act of love towards someone you don't like could mean the difference between a Saul and a St. Paul.
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
"Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine."
Holy Spirit, help me identify the "Sauls" in my life right now.
Think about the ways they've hurt you... Jesus, I give you all the pain and sorrow these people have caused me.
Jesus, help me to recognize each of them as your beloved son or daughter, for whom you died on the cross. Then, help me to forgive them, each one of them individually.
Holy Spirit, inspire me! How can I perform even one small act of love towards each of those people?
Holy Spirit, give me hope that your grace can reach even the hardest of hearts!
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
"Soften my heart, Lord."
"Help me love them like You do, Jesus."
"Come, Holy Spirit, inspire me."
"Lord, have mercy."
For the Rest of Your Day...
Try to perform one simple act of kindness today for each person you encounter that annoys or frustrates you -- friends and family. Pray for them as you do so.
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Today's prayer was prepared by Dan Wolff.
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