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).
When I was a little boy, the rule in my house was that you didn’t get dessert if you didn’t finish your dinner. Fair enough. Except I’m a spoiled only-child, so lots of times that rule just didn’t fit into my plans.
I remember one time when I failed to finish my dinner again. My parents had already left the table and were watching TV. I saw my golden opportunity. Like a small ninja, I quietly discarded my food and snuck a bag of Gummi Bears out of the pantry. I tiptoed into the other room and found a nice hiding place in the corner, in the small space between a couch and a table. I went to town scarfing down my delicious, guilt-laden snack. I couldn’t believe I pulled it off without my parents knowing!
Suddenly, I heard footsteps. I recognized the heavy pounding and elongated stride of my dad’s footsteps. They were getting closer. He couldn’t know, could he? I started to panic, but I had nowhere to go because I’m a genius and I pinned myself into a corner. It’s like all at once the guilty feeling I kept pushing away suddenly broke through with a vengeance, like a dam breaking. What was I thinking??? Just as I saw my dad round the corner and enter the room, I threw the bag of Gummi Bears behind the couch.
Dad: “What are you doing back there?”
Me: “Uhhhh... just sitting.”
He didn’t buy it.
Clearly I knew smuggling Gummi Bears was a no-no, but I did it anyway. I was caught red-handed, feeling guilty about what I’d done and scared I’d get in trouble. Sometimes I think we assume that sin only works like that. Like if we just watch out for those blatant sins, we’re good to go. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation we confess the obvious sins like yelling at our parents or being mean to someone at school.
But today’s reading reminded me of the way that sometimes sin tricks us into thinking what we’re doing is okay. This bad king named Jeroboam in today’s first reading makes two golden calves for God’s people to worship. But he doesn’t say, “Hey, don’t worship God, worship these golden cow statues.” Instead, he tricks them. He tells them that they don’t have to go all the way to Jerusalem to worship God. These golden calves ARE God, so they can stay and just worship these statues right here instead. How convenient.
How often do we commit sin and tell ourselves it’s okay? We worship false idols, but we tell ourselves it’s no big deal. I know I tease that kid at school a lot, but it’s all fun and games. I know I missed my prayer time again today, but I’m just really busy. I know I’m on my phone too much, but everyone else is too, so it can’t be that bad, right?
I try to guard my heart against obvious sin. But I wonder what places in my life I let my guard down and allow sin to trick me? We shouldn’t obsess about it, but I think we could all grow in holiness a little more if we tried to identify the “golden calves” in our lives.
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.
Take a moment to examine your conscience. Where have you allowed sin to trick you and allude you?
How do you find yourself justifying some of your sins?
What are some of the golden calves that have a hold on your heart?
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.
"Forgive me, Father."
"Guard my heart."
"You alone are 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 the Lord bear fruit in you today?
Take some time to pray through an examination of conscience. Look especially for those ways that you might be allowing your sin to trick you.
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Today's prayer was prepared by Dan Wolff.
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