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).
“Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” I have always been struck my the story of St. Paul, and it is particularly his conversion story that has always deeply resonated with me. Here is this guy who is actively persecuting Christians and is zealous for their persecution. And all of a sudden, out of nowhere, due to no merit of his own, Christ appears to him. “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”
It came as a complete surprise. He could have never expected it or asked for it. This is a good reminder for us of how Christ works in our lives. He comes and catches us by surprise, not because we have earned it or because we are good enough, but just because He loves us and wants to call us deeper. Paul certainly wasn’t “good enough” for Christ at that time in his life, yet Christ came to him anyways.
And when He surprises us by popping up out of nowhere in our lives- he convicts us of our sin just like he did to Paul. “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” Notice he doesn’t say “why are you persecuting the Christians”, He says “me.” Because He is present in each and every human person. So too today, let us hear Him calling each one of us by name- “Austin, Austin, why are you persecuting me?” I persecute him just as Saul (later on renamed Paul) did- yet I have no excuse. Saul didn’t know Christ. I do. Yet still I persecute him by judging others, making fun of others to score a cheap laugh, gossiping about others to make conversation or to make myself feel better, not reaching out to that person who is a bit awkward or seems lonely at that party, and so many more ways. Let us examine today the ways we are persecuting Christ by not loving those around us and resolve to turn from those ways.
Think of one concrete thing you can do today to love Christ in your neighbor instead of persecuting him. Because when we see Christ for who He really is, we are happy to turn and leave everything behind like St. Paul did and follow him with our whole lives. “For to me, life is Christ, death is gain.”
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.
Put your name in the scripture instead of Saul. How are you persecuting our Lord?
How can you resolve today to change so that you are not persecuting our Lord?
How has God called you out of your every day to something greater?
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.
"__________, __________ why are you persecuting me?"
"Life is Christ."
"Death is gain."
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?
What's one thing you can do today to love Christ in your neighbor instead of persecuting him? Do this today and then pray for your neighbor.
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Today's prayer was prepared by Austin Ashcraft, a graduate student in New Orleans.
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