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).
The only times Jesus really speaks harshly towards anyone in any of the Gospels are when He is speaking to hypocrites (mainly scribes and Pharisees and the religious “elite” of his time). And He does so a fair amount. So, why? Why does he chastise them time and time again? Well, I would propose it has something to do with the greatest sin: pride. These are folks who wave their superiority in the face of everyone else, and there is nothing more anti-Christ-like than such presumption and pride. There is nothing more opposed to the humility of the Incarnation and the Crucifixion than moral flag-waving about how we are better at following the rules than you so God loves us more. Nothing is more contrary to the Gospel. Nothing turns more people away from the faith.
So, what can we learn from Jesus’ harsh words for the hypocrites with their empty words and rituals? That was those jerks back then, that is certainly not me, right? Not so much. I am a total pharisaical (fun word, huh?!) hypocrite all the time. It seemed that Jesus knew we would be tempted to think that, that we would be tempted to the same hypocrisy in judging the hypocrites and Pharisees of his day and thinking ourselves better. So he included a little foolproof measure against that. And it was this line in today’s Gospel: “'If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have joined them in shedding the prophets' blood.” He mocks the Pharisees for thinking and/or saying such a thing. “Oh, the people back then, they were so bad, we would never do anything like they did. We are much better than they.” Hypocrisy. And it still applies to us today. “Oh, if I had lived during Jesus’ time, I definitely would have been an apostle, or at least a disciple. But surely I wouldn’t have been like those self-righteous Pharisees.” The moment we think that or say that is the moment we become one of those self-righteous Pharisees. It’s a tricky thing.
So, what is Jesus inviting us into today? Well, he is inviting us to look upon others with compassion. When we see those who are perhaps not as religious as us or perhaps those who are not religious at all, we are tempted to judge them for their sinful lifestyles. In doing so, we feel a bit better about ourselves and the rules that we are following. But Jesus will have none of that. Jesus has a zero tolerance policy for judgment and hypocrisy. Today in prayer, take some time to reflect on the way you judge yourself as better than those around you. What is at the root of that? Why do I feel the need to do that? How can I hand over that judgment to Christ and be free of the need to judge and label and condemn? Perhaps for those whose I am tempted to judge, I can make the resolution to get to know that person and learn about their story and where they come from and have compassion and understanding on them and build a bridge and not a wall.
'If we had lived in the days of our ancestors,
we would not have joined them in shedding the prophets' blood.”
Or perhaps we would have been leading the bloodthirsty charge…
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 Jesus trying to say to the Pharisees. What is He saying to me?
What areas do I judges others on? How can I show them compassion?
What areas do I need to take a better look at how I am living?
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.
"Show me my hypocrisy."
"Help me not to judge."
"Open my heart."
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 in prayer, take some time to reflect on the way you judge yourself as better than those around you. What is at the root of that? Why do I feel the need to do that? How can I hand over that judgment to Christ and be free of the need to judge and label and condemn? Journal as you pray with these questions.
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 Austin Ashcraft, a graduate student in New Orleans.