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).
Today’s Gospel makes me ponder what Jesus was feeling or what he said to Mary and Joseph when he left home to begin his public ministry.
It’s a moment all Christians must face in their lives, the moment when we decide which love will be our primary love – God or family. At our Baptism, we become part of God’s family, and as a result are offered a personal and unique mission to carry out in this divine family. This personal call and vocation is given to us and is not the same one offered to our siblings, or to our parents. As a result, God’s call in our life will be somewhat mysterious to others and will branch out from the ones in our families. Many times this branching out is seamless, as we walk close by our family and friends – perhaps with families of our own, sharing holidays and life together. Sometimes this branching out is jarring, like when we follow God into a path our family does not understand or accept: conversion to Christ, missionary life, life of service over family-envisioned career etc. Perhaps this branching out is more subtle, like when God calls you to a life of redemptive suffering within the family, when your faith life garners you mockery or disdain from family and friends who have drifted from God. Pope Francis reminds us that our families are where we first learn to love, to be generous, to sacrifice, and to forgive. Sometimes these lessons are hard earned or unwanted, but nonetheless, our families provide us with our first school of faith, our forge of humility, and our ever present missionary territory.
In today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus challenging us to remember that our relationship with Christ, life in His family, is our primary call and identity, even above our blood relations. When his family showed up, perhaps expecting preferential treatment from such a famous preacher, Jesus used this as a teaching moment. He lovingly pointed out to his followers that following him would give us a new spiritual identity and familial bonds. This new identity changes everything. Our families our now understood to be a gift from God, but they cannot become what we worship or place above God.
Jesus must have felt this pull in his heart as he was preparing to leave to begin his public ministry – a pull of love for a life alongside Mary and Joseph (his family), and a pull of love for his heavenly Father and his messianic mission. These loves are not hostile toward one another, but at some point we must prioritize one over the other in certain aspects of our life. With today’s Gospel, perhaps God is inviting you to pray for the great gift that is your family, as well as the ways you feel called to follow God’s mission for your life even if it is challenging within your current family context.
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.
Which relationships or loves in your life are distracting you the most from being a disciple?
In what ways is your family (specifically) encouraging you to follow Jesus? In what ways is it discouraging you from a life of discipleship? How can you grow and model love for Christ in your family?
How can you start to prioritize your mission of following Jesus over any other love you have in your life? It won't be easy, but what relationships is God calling you to prune for the sake of his mission?
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.
"I want to do your will."
"Help me love you above all else."
"Lord, sanctify my family."
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?
Take time today to pray for your family, friends, significant others, and any other loves you may have. Ask God to help you grow in your love for all of these people and ask him to reveal his love for them more. If you can, find a way to love them through a small act of service, too. It could be cleaning up after dinner without being asked, inviting your family to pray a rosary, or something else.
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"Today’s Prayer was prepared by Jon Polce, a Jesuit Scholastic and current high school theology teacher.
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