Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
(Acts 12:1-11; Psalm 34:2-9; Timothy 4:6-8,17-18; Matthew 16:13-19)
Proclaiming the Word of God
The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat and will bring me safe to his heavenly kingdom. (2 Timothy 4:18)
Wait a minute! This passage sounds a lot like today’s psalm: “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them” (Psalm 34:8). It shouldn’t surprise us, though. One thing Paul became very good at was taking a truth from Scripture and reworking it so that it reflected his experience. This is precisely what he did in today’s passage. Reflecting on his many years of preaching the gospel, he knew that even then, as his life was drawing to a close, God would continue to fulfill the promise proclaimed in this psalm.
Of course, this is not a magic formula. We can’t make God do something just by saying the right words. But it’s a very effective technique that saints through the ages have used to lift their hearts and minds to God.
Try this experiment. Take a Scripture verse that touches on something you’re experiencing, and then proclaim it throughout the day.
Does the beauty of the sunrise take your breath away? “The heavens declare the glory of God!” (Psalm 19:1). Going to confession? “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his mercy endures forever!” (Psalm 136:1). Looking for motivation? “I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me!” (Philippians 4:13). Preparing to take your spouse on a date? “They are no longer two, but one flesh” (Matthew 19:6). The possibilities are as broad and deep as the Scriptures themselves!
Proclaiming Scripture in this way can provide a springboard for meditation. It can draw your attention upward to heaven. It can give you a new perspective and lift your attitude. Most of all, it can help reshape your thoughts and bring you more in line with the mind of God.
“Heavenly Father, thank you for your word! Help me to proclaim it through my day so that I can keep my mind and heart close to you!”
(Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing us to use meditations from their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission. The Word Among Us Mass Edition contains all the Mass readings and prayers, and a meditation for each of the daily and Sunday Masses.)
Questions for Reflection/Discussion
- The first reading concludes with these words of Peter, after he is rescued from prison by an angel of the Lord: “Now I know for certain that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.” How strong is your faith that the Lord will rescue you from current or future difficult situations? Was there ever a time when your own faith and trust in the Lord was able to sustain you during a difficult time?
- The responsorial psalm speaks of being delivered from fears, shame, and distress. It also speaks of fearing, praising, and glorifying the Lord. How would you compare the amount of time you spend worrying and getting anxious about your circumstances versus spending time in prayer praising and glorifying the Lord? What steps can you take to strengthen your prayer life by spending more time praising and glorifying the Lord?
- In the second reading, St. Paul says the following: “I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance” (2 Timothy 4:7-8). How important is it for you to finish well the “race” God has given you? Is their more you can be doing to compete well and finish the race?
- In the Gospel, Jesus asks his disciples who people say that he is. Peter answers, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus goes on to say that his heavenly Father has revealed this to Peter. In what way has your heavenly Father revealed this truth to you? How has it impacted your life?
- The meditation asks us to step out in faith with these words: “Try this experiment. Take a Scripture verse that touches on something you’re experiencing, and then proclaim it throughout the day.” What do you expect to happen as you “Try this Experiment”?
- Take some time now to pray and ask for the grace to be able to proclaim God’s word throughout your day. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.