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).
I always pictured St. Paul as invincible, a man who could never be bested or beaten. I know that’s not true because he is human, and because of the testimony of this first reading. Today we read that St. Paul was stoned and almost killed, but not even that could stop him from spreading the Good News of Christ. The very next day St. Paul and Barnabas set out again to proclaim Jesus Christ and make disciples.
St. Paul endured a lot of hardships and suffering. This reading shows us this. It got me thinking about how so many think, “if God is so good, then how is there suffering in this word?” St. Paul tells us that “it is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.” On first glance, this does sound pretty bizarre. Why would God want us to suffer? What good does it do?
To be honest, hardships help me grow in my faith better than anything else. That also sounds bizarre, but it’s true. God uses our sufferings to prune us and make us healthier and livelier, just like He said in this past Sunday’s Gospel. When I go through some difficult time, I know God is with me. The hardships remind me of how much I really do depend on God. I cannot go through life relying only on myself; I need God’s graces to get me through life.
I think that is what Christ is telling us through St. Paul’s witness in today’s reading. There will be suffering, but that is no reason to give up the faith but reason to depend more on Him. Look at what happens after St. Paul suffers. He continues to minister to the people and make disciples and he is better able to relate to their sufferings. He becomes a better witness and better disciple because of what he endured for love of Christ. St. Paul underwent suffering and pain, but He used it to glorify God. God used it to bring more people into the light of truth.
I don’t get why God does all that He does. Why do we suffer? Well, God uses it to do something good for us so that we can better ourselves and to others. It’s a mystery, but look at your own life: how has God invited you to rely more on Him through your hardships?
To really hit the point home, look at the example of Christ in the Cross. Because of His suffering, we have eternal life. We have the chance to spend all eternity in perfect joy, peace, and love. Don’t let your hardships turn you away from Christ but offer them back to Him and let them bring you into a deeper relationship with God.
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 hardships are you facing right now?
How is God using those hardships to bring about greater spiritual growth in your life?
How can you face your hardships and sufferings in a new way today?
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, help me to suffer with you."
"Teach me to grow in my sufferings."
"Your grace is sufficient for me."
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?
Offer up one specific hardship that you're facing in life today to the Lord. Be intentional when you feel yourself suffering to offer it up as a prayer and ask the Lord to help you in it.
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"Today's prayer was prepared by Mary Griffin, a Senior Theology and Catechetics major at Franciscan University of Steubenville.
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