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).
We have been returning to the sacraments after several months away as our churches have begun to slowly reopen. However, Masses don’t look like the huge, joyous celebrations we all imagined restarting after the virus forced the temporary closure of many of the buildings. Wearing masks, limited crowded, the smell of hand sanitizer – all these seem to distract from our worship that should be maximized at Mass.
How should we be worshipping? We read in the prophet Amos today that God “despises” our feasts and “takes no delight” in our assemblies. He rejects our material offerings and refuses to listen to the music we sing in his name. What gives? If God doesn’t like how we ritually worship, why even bother with liturgy?
Amos lived at a point when Israel was thriving and the noble class lived peaceful, prosperous lives. They couldn’t have possibly imagined an exile that would occur. They figured their comfortable lives were a sign that God was pleased with them, especially with their elaborate liturgies and festivals that were supposed to honor God. It’s likely that these celebrations were less about God and more about how great they felt themselves to be.
For these Israelites, religion had no influence on morality or behavior, but acted as a sort of camouflage that allowed them to do whatever they chose. The result of all this were great social injustices that the upper class ignored. These were the same people who were supposed to be ruled by the ethical principles and the commandments spelt out in the Mosaic Law. This is a pattern that all the prophets speak against.
So it’s not that God arbitrarily rejects our liturgical worship. It’s when our ritual “worship” is used as a cover-up for the abuses of our fellow man that triggers God’s displeasure. Now, I’m not saying that our liturgy explicitly leads to these injustices. The rites and worship we participate in at Mass should move our hearts and encourage us to mend our ways. This is what Jesus calls us to – transformation and a new way of thinking that calls us to go outside of ourselves. If our worship is being used to promote ourselves or make ourselves simply feel good, we aren’t really worshipping God.
St. Thomas Aquinas taught, “Everything that man sacrifices should partake in some way of himself … because external sacrifice is a sign of the internal disposition by which the person offers himself to God.” God takes delight in our worship, our joys, our celebrations, and our songs when it comes as a sacrifice of self and leads us to love Him and our fellow man. At Mass, this offering is made full by being united to Christ’s sacrifice. Now that we are back at Mass, let’s give up our whole selves and allow our worship to lead to greater justice, love, and peace.
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.
How have Mass and the sacraments transformed my heart?
How does my religion change the way I live day to day?
What can I offer the Lord right now? What am I holding back?
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.
"Lord, I give you my heart."
"Lord, transform me."
"Lord, I desire you."
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?
Whether or not you have been able to go back to Mass yet, offer the Lord the best part or the best moment of your day today.
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 Kevin Gregus, a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Chicago.
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