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).
Imagine the horror and shock the families of Bethlehem experienced in today's Gospel. Herod's troops stormed the small town and killed every boy two years old and younger. Those families received no warning, no explanation, no apology. Their homes were suddenly invaded and their sons slaughtered.
Today is the Feast of the Holy Innocents, those young children who were killed. But what really happened that day, and why would the Church make us remember such a tragedy just days after the joy of Christmas?
The magi were the ones who presented gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the Child Jesus. They "read" the stars and knew the prophecies, and they told Herod about it. Herod acted like he was happy about it, but he feared that this Child would one day grow up and threaten his power. So Herod told the magi to notify him when they had found the Child. But the magi did no such thing, and Herod knew something was up when he never heard back from them. In a panic, Herod sent his troops to take care of the problem. It had been a while since the magi had left. So he ordered that all the boys two years old and younger be killed in Bethlehem and the surrounding area. This way he could be assured that the Child was destroyed. Of course, Herod didn't know that Joseph had already been warned by an angel in a dream to flee with Mary and Jesus. Many young children were murdered that day in Herod's desperate attempt to destroy the Child Jesus.
This doesn't seem to fit the mood of Christmas, does it? What's the deal, Catholic Church? Well, two days ago -- the day after Christmas -- we celebrated the first Christian martyr, St. Stephen. And today's Feast of the Holy Innocents also recognizes those children as martyrs. Think about it: they might have been the very first people to die for Jesus Christ. Even though they didn't know it, they were part of God's amazing plan of salvation for the world. This doesn't lessen the tragedy. But they, like every martyr, remind us about some things we tend to forget. One great lesson (among many) we can learn from our friends, the Holy Innocents, is that nothing can ultimately stand in the way of God's will. He wanted to save the world, and no one was going to stop Him. Not Herod, not any king or ruler, no worldly power, not the devil himself. Even a tragedy like the martyrdom of the Holy Innocents will not stop God's plan. Jesus took on human flesh for our sake, taking the form of a fragile child. The devil implemented his tactic of violence and death, throwing all the "power" he had at Jesus, and he couldn't even kill this one vulnerable little Baby. Rejoice! The Holy Innocents are singing and dancing in heaven right now! Jesus came down from heaven as a Baby, and He accomplished the Father's will! Our salvation is here, and there is NOTHING that can stand in His way!
The Holy Innocents died for Jesus, to help Him accomplish the Father's will. How far are you willing to go this Christmas to let the Lord accomplish His will in YOUR life?
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 far ARE you willing to go this Christmas to let the Lord accomplish His will in your life? What do you think He might be calling you to do or sacrifice for Him?
When we abuse or misuse power, bad things can happen. What power and influence has the Lord entrusted you with? Do you use it properly and for Him?
Do you trust in God's plan for your life? What can you do to let go and trust Him a little more this Christmas seanson?
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.
"God has a plan for me."
"Jesus, I trust in You."
"Lead me, Lord."
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 Lord bear fruit in you today?
Take a look at your life and think about the times you have trusted the Lord, or been to afraid to let go and let Him reign. After prayer and contemplation, make a concrete plan of ways you can let go and trust the Lord in your life more.
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 Dan Wolff, High School Youth Minister at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Crystal Lake, IL.