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).
As a little kid I was mystified by magic shell. If you are unfamiliar, it is an earth-shattering invention from Smuckers whereby you pour liquid chocolate onto ice cream and it magically hardens before your eyes into a delicious shell to encapsulate your perfect soft serve gift of ice cream beneath. The novelty of this has never worn off for me for I am still a little kid at heart, but nonetheless serves as a good analogy for our readings this Sunday.
The psalm today channels this hardening-shell analogy when speaking against the hardening of our own hearts. Specifically, the psalmist says, if today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts. That seems curious. If we were to hear God’s voice, why would we harden our hearts?
The psalmist recalls, "Harden not your hearts as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the desert, where your fathers tempted me; they tested me though they had seen my works." Meribah and Massah refer to the same place and instance, a moment outlined in the Books of Exodus and Numbers where the Israelites abandoned hope in God because they were thirsty for food and drink. If we remember the situation of the Israelites, these were people who were quite literally saved from slavery by the direct intervention of God. He brought them Himself out of Egypt and kept them safe and prosperous. Yet, as soon as trial hits they despair and forget God and His voice in their lives. What this reveals is true about us today: we harden our hearts when we doubt that God can satisfy us.
For our own lives, how often do we harden our hearts to the voice of God, the God who has only ever come through for us? Like the Israelites, we hunger and thirst. In our case, we hunger and thirst to hear the voice of God. So often we search for the voice of God in our lives as if it is far off. When we hear no response, our hearts harden and we start to lose trust in Him.
The psalm today calls us to dispel this lie and to rest in the love of God who is always present, speaking, and close to us. His voice is not far off. It is not distant. The voice of God is with us always, leading us as a shepherd guides his flock. The shepherd is always leading; it is only when the sheep themselves stray that His voice can no longer be heard. The providence of God is perfect and His plans for our lives good. The true test of the Christian is if we can trust in this providence and plan even when things seem dry or awry.
So, if today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts! Sing joyfully to the Lord. Come into His presence with thanksgiving, because He is the God who made us and guides us, who has not and will never let us down!
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.
What is hardening your heart against the Lord? How can you bring down these walls?
Are you seeking the voice of God? Are you open to what He has to say to you?
What do you need to give the Lord so that you can grow in trust in your relationship and praise Him with your whole heart?
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.
"Lord, you are always with me."
"Lord, soften my heart."
"Lord, open me to hear you voice."
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?
Today take time in prayer to examine your heart. Are you truly open to God's voice? What is keeping you from Him? Take time to praise Him for always being with you, loving and strengthening you, even if you cannot feel His presence.
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 Matthew Maxwell, a graduate of Franciscan University and currently working as a Youth Minister in St. Louis.