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).
I was recently chatting with a guy who was telling me that this little story from the Gospel was only the first half of the Gospel. He was telling me that it’s not good just to give people money. What should really happen is that we get folks back on their feet, teach them a trade, help them re-enter the workforce, and make sure they’re not going to need a couple coins the next day, and the next day, and the next day.
A couple things. First, I mean…that’s a great idea. As Christians, it’s our duty to help folks get on their feet and provide for themselves and feel the dignity, value, and worth that comes from work.
However, other than the glaring problem of manipulating scripture to meet our own agenda, there’s a problem with that interpretation of the story.
We all suffer the temptation to be homogenous with our Christianity. That is, it’s easy for us to be Christian to people like ourselves.
Several years ago Norway encountered a problem. Taxes are high in Norway. They pay for healthcare, infrastructure, education – even at the University level. Norwegians receive most social services for free…and they pay for it through taxes. Norwegians never really had a problem with the system either. Until the Vietnamese showed up. All of a sudden a large wave of Vietnamese immigrants landed on the shores of Norway and were receiving the same benefits once they became Norwegian citizens. The Norwegians didn’t like it. They were okay helping others when they were homogenous, but once the people receiving their generosity didn’t look, speak, or live similar lifestyles, they wanted to change the system of giving.
Boy. Don’t we all do that? I’ll be your friend. I’ll be kind if you think like me, look like me, pray like me, eat like me, spend your leisure like me, vote like me, dress like me, so on and so forth. But if you’re different, if you don’t fit into my system of values, please stay away.
It’s easy to be Catholic to a Catholic.
It’s hard to be Catholic to someone who challenges us, makes us feel uneasy, or doesn’t hold the same values we do.
The Greek word neighbor literally means “person standing next to me.”
Who is my neighbor?
Well, you get the idea.
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.
In your own life, what are the ways that you tend to only love or serve those who are similar to you in one way or another?
How is Jesus calling you today to love and serve those who are outside of your day-to-day experience? How can you practically make this a reality?
When you think of loving your neighbor, what is it that comes to mind? How might this understanding of loving your neighbor need to change in order to fit Jesus' vision?
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 long to love my neighbor."
"Teach me to love."
"Help me love."
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?
Either do or sign up for some way to serve those who might be in need around you. This might be heading into a big local city, or it might be someone in your own neighborhood. Seek out a need, and love that person as the neighbor that Jesus tells us they are.
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 Fr. Jon Bakkelund, priest of the Diocese of Rockford.