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).
Guilt. It’s a feeling we all know and we all try to avoid. It’s never fun feeling badly about a mistake you’ve made, something you chose to do, or even a sin you’ve committed. Guilt consumes us when we choose to do wrong because we know what we’ve done and the impact it had, and guilt causes us to punish ourselves. Perhaps right now you’re picturing a situation in your life where you recently experienced guilt, or an image that illustrates guilt well—such as a dog with its tail between its legs.
Today’s first reading begins with a picture of guilt, or at least what we often see as guilt. Adam and Eve have just eaten of the fruit of the tree they were forbidden to eat and they are hiding. God comes to the garden and asks, “Where are you?” We hear God asking that question like an angry person asks their dog after returning home and seeing a pillow torn to shreds.
Because we are broken people and we know how guilty we feel in the midst of our sin, we take this scene and paint it this way— but is this what was actually going on?
A few years ago I heard a talk given by a colleague of mine that changed my view of this encounter between God and Adam. He brought up a situation in his life where he had made a mistake and broke part of his father’s new stereo. He was so upset, so filled with guilt, that he ran and hid and tried to pretend like he knew nothing about it. His father came home, saw the broken speaker, and sought out his son. However, instead of angrily shouting, “where are you?”, he calmly asked, “where are you?” He proceeded to tell his son that it’s okay and that he wasn’t angry, and that his son didn’t have to be afraid and hide.
This story, coupled with a new way of reading this account from Genesis, reveals something so amazing about our God. When he came into the garden looking for Adam and Eve after they sinned, he wasn’t looking to yell or condemn, necessarily. God came seeking his children, who he loves beyond all comprehension, because they were hiding from him. God wants to be united with us so badly that his first – and only – move toward us is always love.
Even in the midst of God explaining the outcome of their sin as the reading continues, we have to understand that it first begins with his love for them and his heart breaking because they hid themselves from him. So, the next time you experience guilt for sin or for something you’ve done that has harmed someone, and you want to hide away and punish yourself, recognize that God is coming to you not as an angry judge looking to hand out punishment, but as a tender Father who desires to be in love with you.
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.
When you hear about the calmness of the father in the story shared in this reflection, what do you hear?
What does God's voice sound like to you when He comes to you after you've made a mistake? Do you hear the tenderness and mercy? If not, why do you think you struggle to hear it?
How can you open yourself more to the tender love and mercy of God in your life?
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 long to hear your voice."
"I love you, Father."
"Show me your tender 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.
Ask someone for prayers today. In seeking to come to know the tender voice of God, often one of the best ways to do that is to entrust our intentions to those around us.
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 Adam Smyth, the Life Teen Coordinator at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in the Woodlands, TX.