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).
Our sweet anticipation grows on this final Sunday of Advent, as we prepare the home of our hearts for a deep encounter with Emmanuel, “God with us.” Curiously enough, the birth of the King of Kings, which we so anxiously await, is characterized by enslavement.
In the Incarnation, the limitless God self-imposes the limits of vulnerability, lowering himself as a babe to be born forth from the womb of Mary. Behold, the master ties Himself to the disciple out of love, humbling Himself only to be exalted!
This is a motif that we see repeated over and over in the Gospel, right before a climactic moment in which God offers God’s own self to humanity by coming down to be held and beheld by humankind. Without coincidence, this enslavement-Incarnation dynamic actually bookends Christ’s time on Earth.
Directly preceding the birth of Christ, he enslaves himself to His first and most perfect disciple, Mary, wholly reliant on the protection and nourishment of her womb.
As we will see in the Lenten parallel to this Advent Incarnation, Christ, the master, once again enslaves Himself to His disciple directly preceding His human death as he washes the feet of Peter right before He institutes the Holy Eucharist...also Emmanuel, “God with us.”
When God chains Himself to Mary and Peter, God intimately chains Himself to us all. Today’s Gospel suggests the natural response is imitation: a return gift of self. In the Word, we see that Mary has laid down her life for Christ by consenting to be His handmaid and bearer. This gift of self is echoed in Joseph who lays down his own life for the God-bearer, becoming one with her and the God whom she bears in marriage. As he takes them into his home, he takes on the vocation of the God-bearer, "Theotokos."
As today’s second reading exhibits, the response that God intends for Mary and Joseph, God intends for us all, calling us to join the apostle Paul in becoming a “slave of Christ Jesus,” the One who first enslaved Himself to us.
Awaiting the Birth of Our Lord, let us stand with Paul, laying down our lives, enslaving ourselves to Christ like Mary, and inviting Him into the home of our hearts like Joseph. Just as Joseph’s act of taking Mary into his home signified the climax of betrothal in marriage between husband and wife, when we invite “God with us” into the home of our hearts, we too become Theotokos and become one with the God Whom we bear.
With just one week left until the Birth of Our Eucharistic Lord in His infancy, let us ready the way, preparing to open the doors of our hearts and greet Him with the words, “Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”
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.
Is your heart open and ready to receive the Lord on Christmas?
What do you have to offer Christ?
With one week left until Christmas, what can you do to imitate Mary, Joseph, and Paul and how they offered their hearts to Christ?
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.
"Lord, prepare me."
"Lord, I give you my heart."
"Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”
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?
With only one week left until Christmas, don't worry about last minute Christmas shopping or preparations. Spend today trying to imitate Mary, Joseph, and/or Paul in the ways that they made themselves slaves for Christ and found great joy in it.
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 Antonio Marchi, Program Manager for St. Joseph County Right to Life in South Bend, IN; and Jenny Marchi, K-8 Resource Teacher at Mishawaka Catholic School in Mishawaka, IN.