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).
Looking back on my teenage years, I remember vividly a time in which a good friend—a father of five—was diagnosed with stage four brain cancer and told that he had only months to live. Watching him humbly pick up his cross and joyously praise the Lord in the midst of such deep suffering is an image of holiness that is burned in my memory.
I remember thinking to myself, “Sure, if I am called, I will take the cross, but I will never be holy enough to actually DESIRE it like this friend of mine does.” In my mind, to sincerely desire suffering insofar as it leads to a Resurrection of sorts was the deepest form of love. As I encounter the Liturgy of the Word during our entrance into Holy Week this Sunday, I am starting to realize a nuance to this image of holiness that is becoming clearer. As the verse before the Gospel proclaims, “Christ became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name.”
The word that sticks out to me here is “obedience.” Obedience implies a sense in which Christ had to humble himself to live out the divine will. There is a sense of tension here which tempers my vision of Christ’s love as the first fruits of his suffering.
Dwelling on the nature of Christ’s humility, it now seems that Christ’s mission is less about coming to sincerely DESIRE suffering insofar as it leads to the Resurrection but, rather, more about remaining faithful and obedient to the will of God the Father at all costs. This notion of humility being displayed through great faithfulness in the midst of great suffering opens the door to the ultimate freedom.
Take a look around. This idea is counter-cultural to say the least. It is evident that, today, some of our most precious gifts are manipulated the hardest, beginning with the gift of freedom. We live in a world that constantly cries out “freedom of choice” in all regards, but really means “freedom to control.” What we so often fail to see, however, is that God actually did intend true “freedom of choice” for us, a freedom that finds its natural end in faithfulness, as is displayed in Christ’s obedience unto death. We are called into this paradox, in which true liberation comes from faithfulness to laying down one’s life.
This is the dynamic we enter into as we reach this climactic point of the liturgical year. We are not called to desire the pain and suffering of Good Friday, but to humble ourselves, faithfully laying down our lives alongside Our Lord as our Heavenly Father so wills. In doing so, we too, shall be raised up on the third day. Yes Lord, I promise to be faithful to you in times of crucifixion, and I pray that in doing so, you might count me worthy of your Resurrection.
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.
In what ways have you humbled yourself this Lent? What ways can you humble yourself in these final days of Lent?
Are you willing to remain faithful and obedient to God at all costs? Even if that involves suffering?
How has the virtue of humility and your relationship with God brought you freedom?
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, grant me humility."
"I lay down my life."
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?
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 Antonio Marchi, Program Manager for St. Joseph County Right to Life in South Bend, IN.