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).
In the last couple of years, both as a high school theology teacher and a youth minister, I've had occasion to talk with a lot of teens who are struggling with the faith for intellectual reasons. Generally, the questions run along similar lines: "Hasn't science gotten rid of the need for faith? Isn't faith just make-believe? How do I believe Jesus is actually God?" etc. Each of those questions has a compelling answer provided by the Church. Science hasn't disproven a single thing that the Church teaches, and, in reality, science and faith aren't opposed at all! They work together.
We can't go into all of the answers for those questions right now because it would take a really long time, but suffice it to say for now that the Church actually does have answers, substantial and fulfilling ones, to all of your deepest questions. In this prayer time, I want to focus more on how faith actually works in general.
Sometimes, in our modern way of thinking, when we look at our Catholic faith we come up with the idea that unless I perfectly understand something, it must not be real. If I don't "get" how the Eucharist works, it must not be real. Imagine if we applied that technique to science? "I don't really get how string theory works so it must not be real." Thankfully, we don't think that way. Faith allows us to hold fast to the deepest truths of the universe even when we don't understand them exactly because they were shown to us as true by God in Christ Jesus.
Faith is more than just make believe, though. It is an actual power of the soul given to us by God to see things a different way. If someone has the ability to believe that Jesus is God, that in itself is a gift, given by the Father. This is why Jesus is praising His Father for "revealing" these truths. Just as the disciples are given the gift of seeing Jesus in person, something "many prophets and kings desired to see," when we have personal faith in our hearts, we can actually "see" with clarity. Often, when we go to prayer and it is cold, dry, and distant, it is because our hearts are not filled with enough faith. Faith touches the face of Jesus and warms our hearts to the things of God. In order to believe in Jesus as God, you need this power from the Holy Spirit. So ask for more of it!
The beginning of Jesus' first statement is challenging, though, for those of you who might be struggling with intellectual doubts. "Although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned, you have revealed them to the childlike." What Jesus does not mean here is that you have to be stupid in order to believe. Most of the world's smartest people throughout history have believed in God and many, many of them were Catholics. What it does mean, is that if you want faith to believe, you won't come about it by thinking your way into it. The reason is, God is entirely beyond your capacity to understand Him. This is a challenging reality for people used to understanding everything they come across! At some point, in order to believe in Jesus, however, you will come to a place where you cannot understand and so you have to bow your head (and your mind) and ask the Lord in humility for the grace of faith to see clearly. If, instead, we puff up our chests and straighten our backs, demanding to understand, the God who cannot be completely understood by the human intellect will find no place to reveal His love to us.
There are certain truths that we teach to kindergartners that are simply too true, too real to be understood and lived by busy, complicated adults. Be kind. Share what has been given to you. Enjoy your life. One of these truths is that you've been created by a God who loves you. Stop being such a high maintenance adult and simply believe that.
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 are some of the things that hold me back from truly believing? What can I do find the answers to those or work to let the questions go until a later chance for me to learn them?
When was the last time I asked God for the gift of faith?
What in my faith am I still not fully ready to believe? How can I submit that doubt, stop being high maintenance about it, and find a way to believe?
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 good."
"You are true."
"I believe, help my unbelief."
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 Lord bear fruit in you today?
Pick something you haven't yet allowed yourself to believe because you didn't understand, or something you haven't thought deeply about. Think about, ask a priest / youth minister / parent for an answer, and then spend time talking God about your choice to believe instead of doubt.
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.