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).
Earlier this morning I was sitting in a staff meeting at my parish discussing options for a new stained glass window in our Good Shepherd adoration chapel. We went back and forth about specific parts of the image that strike us as individuals. The more we spoke, the only piece of the image of the Good Shepherd that struck me was the lamb around Jesus' neck. A lot of sacred art pictures a lamb around the neck of the Shepherd instead of being held in his hands. Years ago, I came to learn that this was because when a lamb wanders off and doesn't listen to the shepherd, the shepherd would break the lambs legs and carry the lamb around his neck so it would come to learn his voice more clearly.
As we read the Gospel today, we discover the depth of God’s love for us through the image of the Good Shepherd. He speaks to us tenderly to assure us that His love leads to sacrifice and devotion from the shepherd toward his sheep. We hear that the Lord knows us and we know Him in the most intimate way - as the Father knows the Son. The Shepherd willingly lays down his life for His sheep because of his profound love for us. I realized that it is precisely due to this intimate relationship between Shepherd and flock that the image of a healing lamb on Jesus’ shoulders is stuck in my head.
In order for us to grow in love and intimacy with the Lord, we need to allow ourselves to be broken by our Shepherd so we can come to know his voice more perfectly. How many times do we wander off from the Shepherd? How often, even after learning our lesson before, do we choose to seek the things that are bad for us? Even though we know the Shepherd will fight for us, even lay down his life for us, we still choose the other way. Time and again the Lord has to chase us down, break our legs, and let us sit on His shoulders. Time and again we learn what His voice truly sounds like in order that we won’t keep ignoring it in the future.
This is what makes the Shepherd so Good! Instead of letting us wander off to dangerous and deadly places, He risks it all to keep us near to Him. Instead of bringing us back and letting us remain the same, He breaks us down a little (or a lot) and helps us to grow in our love for Him.
Throughout the rest of this Easter, ask the Shepherd to begin to correct your wandering heart. Learn to rest in Him.
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 seen the image of the lamb around the shoulders of the shepherd? If not, go and look it up. What does this draw your mind to? What do you think it means?
How has the Lord ever broken you down in order to get you back on track? It might be ways you didn't notice at the time. How has He made you better even when it was difficult to see?
How is the Lord's voice speaking to you today and calling you back from your wandering? How can you do a better job this Easter season of listening to His voice and trusting that He is good?
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.
"You are good."
"Shepherd me back."
"Teach me Your voice."
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?
Take some time to call to mind ways you've wandered and the Lord is calling you back. Let Him speak to your heart, and let Him guide you back to path He has for you. Pay attention to the particular and practical ways He is guiding you today.
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, a high school youth minister at Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish in Ellicott City, MD.