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).
“The Kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind.”
There are expectations and stereotypes of any and every group of people. Growing up an involved Catholic there have been a few times that I’ve spoken to someone who expected a lot more judgment and hate than they got from me. Maybe they’d heard stories or experienced Catholics who saw differences in opinion or lifestyle and immediately went on the defensive. We even have a gospel that is talking about how some will be thrown into the fiery furnace, and so there is definitely some introspection needed on the part of each soul about our choices with our eternity on the line.
However, to start at the beginning of the gospel, the Kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind.” Fish of every kind. Every. Kind. There is so much hope in that phrase. The Father who created our world in love desires to bring every soul into His Kingdom. The Father’s desire for our salvation isn’t the end of the story though; we have the opportunity to reject the free gift that He offered through His Son on the cross.
As Christians we have consciences formed by the history of our faith, our upbringing, or personal experiences in faith, and so it is important to choose the good which our conscience offers each and every time. It can be easier to see the failure in the virtue of others though. They aren’t living a life of faith like they should be. Their choices are offensive and wrong. They only care about themselves. We fall into these places of judgment in our mind, and yet the net the Lord casts is for every soul.
To notice our brothers and sisters falling into sin is one thing, but our response is what is bearing on our soul. If we lash out in aggression and judgment without getting to know the individual, we very easily extend the divide between them and Christ even further. If we totally ignore their action, we are losing an opportunity to invite someone deeper into conversion. The middle way is often the best way.
If we notice someone’s life is marked by opinions or actions that don’t seem to line up with the will of the Father and the teachings of the Church, we should get to know that person. In meeting them in their personhood we reveal to them that they are lovable—especially by their Father in heaven. As we learn about them we can often get a glimpse into the why of their decisions, and if we know the why we can help provide fuller answers. Oftentimes peoples’ actions are based on a deep need to be seen, known, and loved; which tells us that our exact response in relationship should be our best attempts to see them, know them, and love them.
This doesn’t mean we should never be a confident speaker of truth against the sins of others, but it does mean that we should recognize the sweetness of their soul first, from that we as a community strive for righteousness.
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.
Have you ever been tempted to feel like God would judge you or love you less because of your actions? How has the Lord shown you His unending love and mercy to you?
Is there someone in your life that expects you to judge them because of your faith? How does today's Gospel help you reach out to them with love and kindness?
How can you speak out in truth with great love and mercy today?
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.
"Have mercy on me, Lord."
"I will follow you."
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?
Today, talk to someone who you normally wouldn't about God's love. Who is the person in your life that you are afraid to, or maybe just don't want to talk about your faith with that really needs to know God's gentle and unwavering love? Reach out to them today, be like Jesus to them and gently speak to them about the treasure of the Kingdom of God.
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 Fr. Robert Blood, priest of the Diocese of Rockford.
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