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).
Have you ever had the rules changed to where it seems harder for you than the people who came before you? For example, maybe your school implemented a dress code the year you got there or last year fidget spinners were allowed in school and now they are not. Maybe you think your sibling has life so much easier than you do with your parents rules.
As a student, when those types of rules were put in place I felt like the bar was unnecessarily raised. Why should we be held to a higher standard then the students before us? But now as a teacher, I understand why the rules played out the way they did. They are there to help us focus on academics in school, which (crazy as it seems) is the purpose of school.
I feel like this is what Jesus is doing in the Gospel today: He’s raising the standard in which we should live our lives. he is raising the standard so that we see the real purpose of life. Not only are we not supposed to kill, but if we are even angry at someone we are liable to judgment? That doesn’t seem fair, right? What Jesus is trying to show us is that we can be so much better than we think.
I swam growing up, and in high school I hated swimming the 500 meter freestyle. My coach put in that event at one meet and I didn’t want to do it. She told me she wanted me to be under 7 minutes and 30 seconds, which is 1 minute and 30 seconds per 100 meters, not a hard time for someone in shape. Since I knew that’s what she wanted me to do and I could see my time on the board, I paced myself to make that time. If I remember correctly I think my time was 7:28 or 7:29. I did what she asked, but I did the bare minimum.
I could have swam faster, but I knew that’s all that was expected out of me, so why should I try any harder? This is the attitude Jesus does not want us to have in our spiritual lives. This is why He raises the standards.
The “rules” Jesus and the Church give us are not in place to make us feel guilty or ashamed of what we have done, but to hold us to a higher standard than the world around us does. They are there to remind us that we are meant to be so much greater than what we even think we can be. We are not meant for this world, but for heaven. That’s why our standards are so much higher than the world’s standards. So even though it may be hard or even seem unfair at times, know that the standard you are help to is for heaven.
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 your prayer life, what is the standard that you set for yourself? Are you doing the bare minimum or are you trying to raise the bar?
How is Jesus asking you to raise your standard? It could be in your prayer life, in your social life, with your family etc.
How can you encourage yourself to raise your standard? How can you hold yourself accountable?
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 will raise my standard."
"Jesus, help me to do better."
"I will pursue holiness."
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 not be satisfied with mediocrity. The Kingdom of Heaven is for those who are determined to enter it." - St. John Paul II
Today, whenever you are going through your normal routine, push yourself to do a little more. Try to go the extra mile in your faith life, with your family and with your friends.
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 Kayla Essner, a high school Math teacher in Cape Girardeau, MO.