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).
To get to heaven, can't I just be a good person?
There are a lot of ways we could approach this, but today's gospel gives us an important insight into this question. Verse 24 begins the passage commonly called "The Return of the Unclean Spirit." It's a weird little parable that stumped me for a long time...
An evil spirit was inside someone. Let's call him Bob. And the parable uses a house as an analogy for Bob's soul. Imagine the evil spirit makes a mess in Bob's house, moves furniture around, flips over the couch, leaves a bowl of soggy Lucky Charms cereal spilled all over the floor, and punches random holes in the wall. Bob's soul is in disarray. Then the evil spirit is cast out for one reason or another, and roams around looking for another "house" to inhabit. In the meantime, Bob cleans up his home, puts the furniture back, cleans the cereal off the floor, and patches the walls. When the evil spirit can't find another "house" to enter, it comes back and finds Bob's house all clean again. It gets excited because now it can have fun trashing the house all over again, so it invites a bunch of its buddies to come crash the place. Then Jesus says that "the last condition of that man is worse than the first."
What did Bob do wrong? He cleaned up his house, right? The problem is that the ONLY thing Bob did was clean up his house. He didn't fill it with anything or anyone else. It was clean but empty, and there was plenty of room for the evil spirits to move in a wreak havoc again.
Bob was a good person, but he didn't have Jesus. He was a decent guy. (I mean, he didn't kill anyone, right?) But the Lord didn't live in his house or in his heart. I think this is a great reminder for us. Yes, we should absolutely clean up our house. We should rid our souls of sin, especially in confession. We should avoid situations that tempt us to sin.
But we can't stop there.
We must invite the Lord into our house, into our heart. After all, we can't even clean our house without Him. It's only by the lifesaving power of His death and resurrection that we can be free from sin. We're not supposed to just clean our house and leave it empty. We're not supposed to just be good people who try not to do bad things (but often fail anyway). We should invite the Lord into our hearts, ask Him to clean our house, and beg Him to stay with us so we can always be nourished by His mercy and grace.
Don't just be a good person. Be a person who has Jesus living inside, and let Him be your goodness.
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.
Are you just trying to be a good person? Or are you allowing Christ to dwell inside of you and radiate His goodness through you?
What are you filling your life with? Are you filling it with clutter and things that do not satisfy? Or are you filling it with the love of Christ?
What housekeeping you do need to do in your life and in your heart?
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.
"Create in me a clean heart."
"Come into my heart, Lord."
"Make your home in me, Lord."
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?
Do some spiritual housekeeping in your heart today. Make room for the Lord, and invite Him to dwell in your heart.
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 Dan Wolff, High School Youth Minister at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Crystal Lake, IL.