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).
“I am not ashamed of the Gospel.”
Why would Paul feel the need to say that he is not ashamed of the Gospel? I think that having some context can really help us understand this quote from scripture a bit more.
When this letter was written, Paul was in prison, poor, and as a result, often referred to himself as a slave. At the time, and in many ways even today, these would be considered very shameful, and certainly not qualities or attributes of someone that are admired. Some first century Christians would probably be a bit embarrassed because Paul, their great leader in faith, was living in such a “shameful” condition. Now, Paul goes on to make clear why he is not in fact ashamed, but nonetheless let's reflect on the idea of shame and the role it plays in our lives.
I can think of numerous times in my life that I have felt shame, and none of them are pleasant memories. This is because shame, at its core, is the idea of your sin or mistakes being made known to yourself or others, and as a result, you are confronted with the fact that you are not as good a person as you would like to be.
It's incredibly difficult to admit that we are not only not as good as we would like to be, but we are also capable of doing evil. When we have these moments where we encounter our sin, either through self realization or someone pointing it out to us, it can be the most humbling and shameful moment for us. Like those Paul was talking about, we can know God and still fall into sin, and we can choose to not give him glory or thanks, or ask for forgiveness. This is what leads us to sit in our shame, this is what the devil wants. He wants us to feel that our sins and mistakes are unforgivable, and when we believe this lie, we push ourselves further and further away from God. However, if we take that shame and guilt and use it to positively move us back to God, it can be an incredibly powerful motivator that, if used to realign ourselves with God, will make us stronger. It may sound scary and it may not sound like a lot of fun, confronting our shame, but if we confront our shame and shortcomings instead of running from them, we can begin to become more of the person God calls us to be.
We should strive each and every day to be perfect, but when (not if) we fall short of that, fall into sin and feel the weight of that shame and guilt, we need to not sit in it. Rather, we need to run to the Lord in prayer and to the sacrament of confession. If you do that you will begin to find yourself living a life that is also unashamed of the Gospel.
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 have I let the lie that I am not worth more than my sin affect my relationship with God?
In what ways am I imprisoned by my shame?
How is the Lord calling me to freedom from my shame?
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.
"I am not ashamed of you."
"I am worthy of your love."
"Thank you for your mercy."
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?
Spend time today in prayer and ask God speak love into your shame. Very consciously repeat the simple prayers above throughout the day. If you are someone who is crippled by your shame, find a time to get to confession this week and make a plan to go meet God in the sacrament of mercy!
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 Jason Liuzzi, a middle school religion teacher at St. John the Evangelist School in St John, IN.
If you have anything you'd like our team to pray for, please go to the page of our website called "Prayers" and let us know how we can pray for you today.