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).
There's a way of thinking in our culture that says we should never think badly about ourselves, and, to an extent, it's a good thing! We don't want to spend our whole day trapped in cycles of poor self-esteem and negative thinking. If we just love ourselves, we're told, we'll be completely happy.
I think this perspective, while good, is limited. I think that it makes us fragile. If we have to frantically cling to never thinking badly about ourselves, we have to turn a blind eye to all of our faults. It makes us vapid, shallow, and egotistical, and, furthermore, what do we do with the inner nagging sense of guilt when we actually do wrong? It's like the kid who gets all A's on everything so they feel like their life is over when they get their first B+ in college.
We feel like we have to do this, though, because we're not used to encountering people who are able to actually love us in our weaknesses. We've learned from the world that love is earned, not given freely. You have to be good enough to be loved, good enough to be accepted.
This is why I love passages like this first reading from Mass today. It just cuts through all of that simplistic thinking in our culture and gets at the heart of what love really is.
"For we are reduced, O Lord, beyond any other nation,
brought low everywhere in the world this day
because of our sins...
But with contrite heart and humble spirit let us be received...
those who trust in you cannot be put to shame."
You can never possibly hope to earn God's love. It's just not possible. We can't be that perfect. The beauty of the way God loves us, though, is that it is uniquely in our brokenness and weakness and imperfection that we are loved. God, from highest Heaven, came to Earth in the humility of the manger. God, in highest Heaven, wants to come into your heart in your weakness.
This is a kind of love that I find difficult to accept, but I want to learn how to do so. I'm used to being praised for my successes; but I want to learn how to be loved by God when I'm imperfect. I want to learn how to come before Him and present, like Azariah in this prayer, all of my sinfulness and failures and still know that I am loved through them. This has been a lifelong quest and goal for me in some ways.
To come before God in prayer, and just try to keep up the facade that I'm perfect in every way, would be to keep up a ruse, and present God with an unreality. I am willing to take the risk that it is true that I am both (1) filled with weaknesses and (2) more loved by God than I could ever imagine. This Lent, let's take that risk, coming before God filled with weakness and loved specifically in that weakness.
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 you feel the temptation to always need to be perfect? As you reflect on that temptation, what do you think is the cause of it? How can you work through it?
What does it mean that God loves you in your imperfections? Have you ever thought of this, really reflected on it?
How can you work the rest of this Lent to come before God and let Him love you in your weakness?
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 give You my weakness."
"I know You love me."
"May I be real with You, oh Lord."
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?
Spend some time today reflecting on Jesus' love for you right in the midst of your weakness and letting Him love you there.
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 Tim Glemkowski, Youth & Young Adult Minister at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Batavia, IL.