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).
"Hereafter, something new is beginning. All through history, people look upon the disfigured face of Jesus [on the cross], and there they recognize the glory of God." -Pope Benedict XVI
Today we celebrate the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. On this great feast day, we take time to look at Jesus, wounded and transfigured, raised up in the air dying for each one of us, and see that this is cause for celebration. Jesus has risen, and His rising gives us hope, new life, and freedom; today we celebrate the cross which won for us that freedom.
We do not, however, in our jubilation, forget the suffering, the pain, the agony that Jesus went through on that cross. At the very core of the beauty of the cross which we celebrate today is that in the cross we see that Jesus enters into the suffering of man in solemn and real way. As Pope Benedict said in the same book quoted above, Jesus, while on the cross, is an "image of hope: God is on the side of those who suffer." If we, at the current moment, feel like we are suffering, this feast of the cross is the time to look at the cross and realize that in Jesus' passion there we can find true and lasting hope.
In college, I had the chance to be in a household, which is a sort of fraternal brotherhood of accountability and community at the college I went to, which was named Lion of Judah. As a household, we had the chance to live life together: to celebrate, to mourn, to pray, to learn, and to grow in our relationship with the Lord. We did all of this under the title and the inspiration of the Lion of Judah, a title for the triumphant Christ.
You see, in the times of the people in the Old Testament, the Lion of Judah was a call of hope for the Messiah who was to come. They thought he would come as a lion; mighty, powerful, and ready to conquer the world back under the control of Israel, God's chosen people, by winning battles to establish his reign here and now. When Jesus did come, and they started to follow Him, they repeatedly asked when He would establish a Kingdom, when it would all be theirs again, and when they could sit at his right and his left. Jesus, however, had a totally different plan: He came not to be served but to serve, and to suffer and die for our sins. When they saw that He was lying down as the lamb for the sacrifice instead of the Lion who would conquer, they did not understand. In the Resurrection, though, we see the true Lion of Judah they were waiting for: the one who conquers sin and death, not through worldly battles but through the wood of the cross.
In this feast day, we can remember the Lion of Judah, Christ, who died on the wood of the cross, entering into the suffering of man in a real, tangible way, to show us that in His suffering we have hope for redemption and salvation. The Cross, Pope Benedict says, is "his throne, from which he draws the world to himself."
As we celebrate the Exaltation of the Cross today, let us all unite our sufferings and our pains to the wood of the cross, knowing that, as the mounted serpent in the 1st Reading gave life to all who looked at it, our looking to the Son of Man who is lifted high can give us eternal life just as Jesus promised.
"Behold, the Cross of the Lord! Begone, all evil powers! The Lion of the tribe of Judah, The Root of David, has conquered! Alleluia, Alleluia!" -St. Anthony
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
These questions are used to talk to God; have a conversation with the Lord about these questions and what is going on in your heart.
What sufferings, pains, and struggles can you unite to the wood of the cross?
When is the last time you took time to look at the cross and reflect on what the Lord did for you? If you haven't recently, take some time to do that now. Talk to the Lord about the cross, what He suffered and did, and what that means to you.
Do you find joy in the cross? What holds you back from finding joy there?
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.
"The Lion of Judah has conquered"
"You conquer death, Lord."
"I give you all of my sufferings."
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?
Celebrate the cross today. Maybe get together with some friends for ice cream. Maybe spend some time just being with your family. Whatever you do, mark today as a feast day and exalt in the cross.
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 Jason Theobald, Director of Youth Ministry at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Huntley, IL.