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).
Growing up my parents kept a very tidy and neat house. I remember cleaning almost every day, in some fashion or another, and thinking it was pointless. We would clean so often, we barely gave the house time to get dirty before cleaning it again. There was a part of me, that I think most can identify with, that rebelled against the idea of having to clean and the authority my parents had over me to make me clean, so I put up a fight every time I was asked to clean.
I look back now and recognize that it would have just been easier to clean and not put up a fight— I knew I wouldn’t win back then but for some reason wanted to always try to argue. Inevitably, I always heard the same thing from my parents as the reason they needed me to do what I was told, “because I said so.” Those four words cut right to the heart. My parents didn’t need to justify their answer, they just had to wield their authority and I fell into line (eventually).
It’s interesting to think about situations like this in light of today’s Gospel reading. Jesus, while dealing with the mother of James and John, begins talking about what attitude a disciple must have when it comes to authority and leadership. He talks about the rulers of the Gentiles and how they love to exercise their authority in powerful ways that are felt by their subjects— reminding many of us of those dreaded four words we are used to hearing, “because I said so.” But Jesus explains that true leadership, true greatness lies not in wielding our authority over others, but in serving.
Jesus came to serve and not to be served. He isn’t the parent holding a list of chores we need to do for him, he isn’t expecting us to wait on him hand and foot by following a list of laws and rules, or saying the right things at the right times. Jesus came to serve, not to be served. How often do we think of God as simply someone, or even something, that we need to please with our service? How often do we simply do the “chores” of the Christian life simply to hope we’ve pleased God and he won’t be upset with us and yell at us? How often do we see our relationship with God as a master to be served by us, his slaves?
This is especially poignant during this season of Lent, when we are all striving to do some of the annually planned “deep cleaning chores” to prepare for Easter Sunday. We are in danger of being too focused on pleasing God with our service to him through rigid fasting and mechanical prayer. Lent is about making way for Jesus to come into our lives even more, but we have to always remember that Jesus is coming into our lives to love and serve us, not to be served.
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.
Do I view the Christian life as a bunch of chores to be completed? Has my fasting become rigid or my prayer become mechanical?
How do I view my Lenten fast? How is my Lenten fast making way for Jesus to come into my life more?
Where do I tend to wield my authority over people? How can I focus more on serving?
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.
"You came to serve."
"You gave your life for us."
"Renew my heart."
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?
When your prayer and fasting starts to feel mechanical and rigid this Lent, ask the Lord to renew your heart and your desire to love and serve Him.
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Today's prayer was prepared by Adam Smyth, the Life Teen Coordinator at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in the Woodlands, TX.
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