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).
“A branch cannot bear fruit on its own.” I cannot tell you how often I find myself trying to bear fruit off the vine.
Earlier this year, right before Lent actually, my spiritual life was really struggling. The question that kept coming up over and over again in my head was: “what makes me a Christian?” I guess what I was asking myself is, what separates me from just being a nice person? I know that following Christ is not just a call to be a nice person, but I was really struggling to see how I was anything more than that. I was just feeling like a nice person who knew about Jesus, and not someone who is living their life for Christ. Ultimately what I realized about myself, and why I felt this way was that I had done just what Jesus said not to do; I cut myself off from Him. This wasn’t something I wanted to do. It wasn’t even something I realized was happening. However, little by little I stopped praying.
This is what Christ means when he talks about being removed from the vine. It does not have to be something as dramatic as denouncing your faith or turning away from God. It can be as simple and easy as letting the busyness of your life take a greater priority than Christ. What often makes it worse, though, is that we cut Christ out because certain aspects of our lives get too busy or challenging. When we instead do these things with Christ, these challenging things become exponentially easier.
My usual excuse for not praying is work. However, when I remove myself from Christ by not praying, I find that work becomes harder and harder. Writing lesson plans doesn’t come as easy, or with trying to find the right thing to say when asked a difficult question, or trying to love my students the way I know Christ calls me to can be impossible. Yet, I allow myself to believe that it will get easier the more effort I put into it, which inevitably leaves me worse than I was when I started.
These things that remove us from the vine of Christ are often good things. Good things that on their own are fine. However, when we allow these good things to become more important than Christ, that’s when we find ourselves slowly drifting further and further from the person God is calling us to be. Christ says in this Gospel passage, “without me you can do nothing.” If we are truly trying to be a living example of Christ in our world then why do we keep thinking that we can do it on our own?
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 closely are you living your life to the vine of Christ currently? In what ways have you cut yourself off from the vine, and why have you done that?
When you struggle to pray and stay close to Christ, what are your usual excuses? Being able to identify what our struggles are helps us move past them and deeper, so take some time to identify them.
In what ways this week do you need to re-focus your prayer on staying close to the vine, knowing that without Him you can do nothing?
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 are the vine."
"Keep me close to You."
"I choose You above all else."
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?
Write down somewhere that you can see - a piece of paper you tape up, a whiteboard in your room, your journal, wherever it might be - a schedule of when you'll pray this week and some things you'd like to pray for. Give yourself some goals and seek to stay close to the Lord through them this week.
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 Liuzzi, a middle school religion teacher at St. John the Evangelist School in St John, IN.