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).
When I was in high school I underwent some leadership training hosted by my varsity football coach. A group of us, team captains and leaders, would come to school early on certain days to talk about leadership and to focus on how we could grow in our ability to lead our teammates and others around us. What I remember (besides getting free donuts…win!) boils down to two main points: there are those who are vocal leaders and those who lead by example.
Today’s Gospel hinges on this reality—Jesus is talking to the crowds and explaining how vocal leaders are not always the epitome of greatness, but rather those who lead by example. The Pharisees of Jesus’ time, according to his harsh words, were focused on saying the right thing but not being true to their words with their actions. They led by preaching the Law and imposing harsh restrictions and penances on their followers, but they themselves weren’t “lifting a finger” to help the load they imposed on others. Jesus is quite clear—we must humble ourselves first, witnessing to a life of self-denial and living the Gospel, if we want to be leaders among our brethren.
Lent is a fantastic time to take stock of where we are at in our life of prayer, fasting, and service to the poor. But it is also a time to focus on making real change and experiencing deep conversion where it is needed in our lives. Perhaps you are great at telling people about the Lord: you can talk about what a relationship with Jesus looks like, all of the ways you encounter God in your life, and how you do so much to grow. Maybe it looks like social media posts right after retreats or conferences where you talk about how great God is when you’re feeling closest to him. But if you are failing to actually live the Christian life in the midst of preaching to other people, are you any better than the Pharisees Jesus is condemning?
Being a vocal leader is good and necessary in your youth groups, schools, and extracurriculars; but it is more important to be someone who leads by the witness of your life. Let the Lord make straight the paths in your heart so you can be someone who not only speaks, but acts in accordance with the Gospel. Lead by example, humble yourself, and usher in the Kingdom of God in your life.
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.
How am I leading others in my life by my words? How can I grow in knowledge of my faith and courage to speak up more?
How do I lead by the example of my life? Am I living the same Gospel that I am preaching with my words and on social media?
In what ways does God want to bring about conversion in my life this Lent? How can I respond to his love?
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.
"Help me be humble."
"Let me lead by example."
"Let my life glorify you, not 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?
Take up an extra penance today or later in this week, but let it be one you don't share with others. Do something private to deny yourself and help bring your life more in line with the Gospel.
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Today's prayer was prepared by Adam Smyth, the Life Teen Coordinator at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in the Woodlands, TX.
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