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).
"My son, when you come to serve the Lord, stand in justice and fear, prepare yourself for trials."
In the Garden of Eden, Adam is given three main jobs/titles/offices. Number one is that he is told to name the animals, speaking on behalf of God, which makes him a prophet. Number two, he is given dominion over all creation, making him a king. Third, he is given the command to, "serve and guard" the Garden with his life, which makes it even more heartbreaking when he fails in his vigilance, allowing the serpent (word in Hebrew is "nahash" meaning something closer to dragon or leviathan...read: a monster) to come in and tempt his wife.
This phrase "serve and guard" is used to translate the Hebrew word "shemar". Shemar means something a little deeper than just something a soldier or police officer would do. It refers specifically to the role that the priests had in the Temple; they "served and guarded" the dwelling place of God. To be given the task of shemar, then, is to be a priest.
The advice found in this reading from Sirach then refers to the specifically priestly function. Some men are called to be ordained ministers of God, priests, who imitate God's own Fatherhood for all His children. All of us, however, in baptism are given back the three jobs or offices of Adam: to be priest, prophet, king. Therefore, when we serve the Lord, we shemar; we serve and guard the dwelling place of God, our very selves. Our God dwells in us through Baptism and He renews and refreshes that commitment by coming to dwell in us bodily through the sacrament of the Eucharist. How do we respond to our exalted state then? We who are holy places, places where God lives, how do we respond to this call? We serve and guard it.
The first way to serve and guard the dwelling place of God is to not let anything nasty into it. Adam lets the serpent in. What makes a priest a priest? By definition, a priest is someone who offers sacrifice. So, to serve and guard, we first have to get into the habit of offering sacrifice throughout our day. We let little nahashes (the Song of Songs calls them "foxes" in the garden of our souls) into our hearts when we give into little temptations along the way, specifically the temptation to comfort. The spiritual life is like a down escalator that we are climbing up. If we spend all of our time giving into comfort, if we're not vigilant about denying ourselves something every day, then we will eventually start sliding down. At the end of the day, ask yourself: did I simply do everything I wanted to today? Did I deny my desires in some way today by allowing that little pang of hunger, or pushing myself in a workout, or giving up technology for a time? If you're only ever indulging your desires, you will have failed to serve and guard the dwelling place of God.
Finally, we serve and guard the dwelling place of God when we submit our entire life's journey to Him, no matter where it leads us. When St. Paul set out to follow God, He first let himself be driven into the desert for three years to fast and pray. He probably didn't expect that that's where God would call Him initially. The desert was probably challenging, and He was probably tempted many times along the way to quit. He probably thought God wanted to use His great intellectual gifts for some big purpose right away. Instead, God wanted to refine those gifts and hone them through suffering so that St. Paul would be humble enough to allow God to work through Him. Even once he began his ministry, he wound up jailed, shipwrecked, beaten, and persecuted all along the way. God works best through those who are willing to endure any challenge along the way to let Him accomplish His will in them. When we demand our own will be done along the way, we thwart the great graces that God might want to pour out through us into the world.
Let Him work in you. Serve and Guard the temple of your body and soul, the Holy Dwelling Place of God Most High.
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.
When you hear that God is calling you to be priest, prophet, and king, what resonates in your heart and mind? How has God made this specific calling apparent to you?
What are the "nasty things" that God is asking you to keep out today? What are sacrifices - big or small - that you can offer in order to keep control over the temple of your body?
How is God calling you right now to follow Him, in the specific place of your journey right now and in the process of your Vocation, wherever you may be in discerning and following that? How can you be faithful in serving and guarding that call?
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 chose me in baptism."
"I am priest, prophet, and king."
"Teach me to serve and guard."
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?
Offer some sort of a fast or sacrifice today. Whether it's working out, stopping before that extra piece of pie, or turning off social media, do something today and begin to build a habit of sacrifice into your life.
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 Tim Glemkowski, Youth & Young Adult Minister at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Batavia, IL.