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 today’s gospel, Jesus warns us not to be deceived by those who would lead us astray. He alludes to false messiahs or false prophets that will point at how terrible things are in the world, and call us to follow them because they claim to have the answers. Jesus knew this division is toxic to the community of believers, and today’s gospel is a call to unity, to stick together.
This has really been on my heart lately. As our culture is increasingly polarized, it seems that even the Catholic Church is experiencing some of these threats of division. Social media is littered with Catholics hurling insults at other Catholics. We’ve got people calling the Pope a heretic. The sex abuse crisis has shaken our faith in many of our bishops and priests. The list goes on.
There are many “false prophets” even today. They speak in the name of the Church, but their words cause harmful division. They often give the impression that they hold the Truth, and claim that the Pope, bishops, priests, and most other Catholics are misled. Sometimes their concerns are valid, but instead of engaging in prayerful discernment and respectful dialogue, they resort to quick little cheap shots. They seek to insult and belittle, rather than work towards meaningful, Spirit-led solutions. (If you don’t believe me, just read the comments on “Catholic Twitter.”) They claim to know better than the Church, and pressure others to join their ranks.
“Do not follow them!” Jesus warns us.
So who do we follow?
Let’s look to another place in Scripture for the answer: “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18-19).
Who do we follow? We follow the Church. We always follow the Church. That’s because the Church is not just another institution. The Church is the spotless Bride of Christ. Filled with imperfect sinners, but always unblemished because Christ has claimed her as His own and sanctified her. Jesus established the Church and promised that the devil will never ultimately succeed in infiltrating her heart. Even in times past when the Church saw great corruption, Jesus never abandoned her. The greatest saints and most faithful disciples never left the Church either. And that’s why we’re still here today.
We don’t follow the Church because its members are perfect. They’re not. We follow the Church because Jesus is perfect, and He has claimed her as His own.
Don’t follow the “false prophets” who claim to speak in the name of the Church, but seek to divide her! Jesus’ prayer for us is that we remain as one (cf. John 17), so anyone who wants to divide the Church is in error. Let’s stick together and trust that Jesus is not going to back out of His promise to protect the sanctity of His Bride.
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.
Who are some of the false prophets I hear competing for my attention in the world? How do I listen to them in small or big ways?
How is my relationship with the Catholic Church right now? How can I strengthen and grow it?
In what ways am I encouraging unity by my gospel living? How am I encouraging division? Where is Jesus calling me to conversion in this?
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.
"Thank you for loving us."
"Let us be one."
"Help me follow you."
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?
Spend time today specifically interceding for the Church. Ask the Lord to help open up avenues for you to have conversations with others that are unifying and not divisive, and to give you opportunities to invite others into our Church.
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Today's prayer was prepared by Dan Wolff, husband, father and spreadsheet extraordinaire in Crystal Lake, IL.
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