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).
Here we are, the day after Christmas! What sort of delightful, jolly readings does the Church offer us today?
Well, let’s see...
The first reading is about the earliest Christian who was murdered for believing in Jesus, St. Stephen. The Psalm refrain happens to be the very last words Jesus spoke before He died on the cross, which are also very similar to the last words of St. Stephen as he was being stoned to death. And finally, the last reading for the day is about how we will be hunted, persecuted, hated, tortured, and killed for following Jesus.
Merry Christmas everyone.
I can’t say I’m entirely familiar with the history and compilation of the Church’s liturgical calendar. So I can’t give you all the reasons the Church chose to place these readings right after Christmas. But here’s the impression on my heart as I pray about these readings today.
Is the birth of Jesus a great joy for us Catholics? Yes, absolutely! But remember that ultimately, Jesus was born to die. His great and singular purpose in coming to earth was to save our sorry butts from the sin we got ourselves trapped in.
So the birth of Jesus also had a little shadow over it.
Also remember that all those weeks of Advent leading up to Christmas were not just preparing us for the birth of Christ. They were also preparing us for His Second Coming. And until He comes again, we’ve got an awful lot of work to do.
As we experience and share the joy of Christmas, let’s keep that little shadow in mind. Because it hangs over us too. Just like it was for Jesus, the path to heaven is a long and arduous one for us as well.
But you know, isn’t that really the great joy of Christmas? It’s not just that Jesus came down to earth, but that He will one day bring us up to heaven!
Yeah, it’s going to be hard. But let’s be encouraged by St. Stephen. Before he was martyred, he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” He kept his eyes fixed on Jesus to the very end, and it gave him courage and joy to persevere.
Christmas is our joyful reminder that we too should stay close to Jesus every moment of our lives. Until one day, we finally make it Home.
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.
What really brings you joy through the Christmas season?
How can you grow to keep your eyes fixed on Jesus throughout your life so that you too may persevere with courage and joy?
How will you let this Christmas season remind you that the greatest joy in life is that Christ brings us to Heaven?
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 trust in you."
"You are with me."
"You are my salvation."
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?
On this lovely day after Christmas, take time to appreciate the purpose of Christ's birth. Take the time to recognize the dark shadow of Jesus' death even during this joyful season. Make a plan to prioritize Jesus today, to keep your focus on Him and the joy of salvation. Throughout your day, keep your eyes fixed on Jesus in Heaven where we all hope to join Him some day.
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Today's prayer was prepared by Dan Wolff, husband, father and spreadsheet extraordinaire in Crystal Lake, IL.
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