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).
As you may or may not know, much of the New Testament after the gospels was written by St. Paul. He traveled far and wide to bring the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ to many, many people. He would found churches in cities, then move on to the next one and found another church. Then he would write letters to the churches he founded to encourage and correct them. Many of these letters are now part of the Bible.
St. Paul was one of the greatest evangelists of all time, and today is the feast of his conversion! But before he was an evangelist, he was Saul: one of the most feared persecutors of Christians in the early Church. The first reading today tells the story of his conversion.
I just want to take a moment to focus on part of the brief conversation between Jesus and Saul:
Jesus: "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?"
Saul: "Who are you, sir?"
Jesus: "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting."
Saul didn't even believe that Jesus is God. That's actually why he was persecuting Christians. He was a devout Jew who thought that these Christians who claimed Christ's divinity were blaspheming. So Saul hunted down Christians and sent them to prison. He persecuted them with a terrifying effectiveness.
But if Saul was persecuting people, why was Jesus accusing Saul of persecuting Him?
Hopefully the answer is pretty straightforward: "Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of Mine, you did for Me" (Matthew 25:40). Jesus Christ lives in the hearts of His people. Even those who don't know or follow Him are still sustained by His love. So as Saul persecuted Christians, he was really persecuting Jesus Himself.
I think a takeaway on this Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul might be a challenge for us to remember Who lives in every single person around us: Jesus. Everyone does not live in the state of grace with His divine life in them, but every person you meet is still His child. Sometimes we justify our poor treatment of others because of how they've treated us, how they've treated others, their attitudes and beliefs, etc. When we do that, Jesus says to us, "Why are you persecuting me?"
Let's remember that the way we treat others is the way we treat Jesus. So today let's pray for more patience, more kindness, more generosity, more love. Let's treat every single person -- without exception -- the way we would treat Jesus Himself if He were physically standing before us... because He is!
St. Paul, pray for us!
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 the least of God's children? Are there people in your life that you need to treat better? How can you start to do that today?
Have you ever had a moment like Paul where God completely changed your life? Or was it more subtle, small conversion moments? Take some time to think about these moments and thank God for how they have impacted your life.
There are two options for the reading today that both tell the exact same story. One is the third person version and the other is Paul recounting his conversion. Which way is more powerful to you? What is your story? How can your story help inspire others like Paul's did?
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.
"Help me to know You, Lord."
"Thank you for loving me!"
"Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of Mine, you did for Me"
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 Lord bear fruit in you today?
There is a beautiful conversion story in each of our lives. Take some time today to reflect on yours, thank God for it, and do not be afraid to share it! If you need to, ask people in your life for input. After thought and prayer, find a way to share this beautiful story with others as a witness to Christ!
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 Dan Wolff, High School Youth Minister at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Crystal Lake, IL.