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 have always been a results type of person: study as much as you can and you will get an A+, practice as much as possible and you will excel at your sport, or just in general try hard and you will get what you want. When I got to high school this mentality took a dangerous shift and manifested itself in a new thought process of “if I put in the work, then I deserve the result.” I saw this particularly in my friendships. If I was going to put in the effort to text you, call you, or think about you, then I deserved your response or the same level of effort. Same was true with my relationships. Saddest of all to say, so it was with my relationship with God.
How often do we think we deserve something from God?
In this Gospel passage, there is a group of people known as the Pharisees who are notorious for having this mentality. They have good intentions in following the Law of Moses (most of the rules laid out in the first fives books of the Old Testament) to a T, but what they accomplish in hard work is foiled by what is left out in their spirit. They believe that if they put in the hard work, God will bless it. That is at the heart of their question: “Why do we and the Pharisees fast much, but your disciples do not fast?” The disciples do not put in the hard work of fasting and the Pharisees do, yet somehow the disciples are the ones who get to experience the most closeness with Jesus.
It seems unfair. Shouldn’t God bless those who do the most work for Him? As tempting as it may be to view it this way, this is not who God is. Jesus reminds us of His disposition towards us: “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?” Think about being at a wedding. It is a joyous occasion with laughter and love. What Jesus is trying to tell them is that it is not about focusing on your own work, however good it may be, but instead focusing on Jesus and living within His love.
God does not call us to a results-based relationship. He does not tell us that if we put in a, b, and c, then the result will be holiness. God looks straight into our hearts and loves us no matter the circumstance. God makes, knows, and loves us and this is unfailing. This is the reality we are called to live within. We may falter, but God never abandons us. Instead, He calls us to continually journey deeper and deeper with Him, until one day we will hopefully be called home in Heaven: no fear of expectations, no focus on ourselves, just complete and utter joy. And we joyfully get to live this out in our own lives right here, right now.
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.
Hard work is obviously a good thing, but we cannot earn holiness. How does that make you feel? Does that make your spiritual life harder or easier, and why?
How can we avoid becoming lazy, while not getting caught up in trying to earn God's love?
How can a true bond with Jesus help you focus on the good even more than a "results based" mentality?
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 love you Lord."
"You see me, You know me, You Love me."
"Here I am Lord."
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?
Pray the rosary, but don't get caught up on if you finished or how many you prayed this week. Spend more time in prayer, but don't focus on how many devotions you were able to get done in that time. Enjoy your time with the Bridegroom and let Him change your heart so that you no longer live for the result, but for the love of God and one another.
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Today's prayer was prepared by Matthew Maxwell, a graduate of Franciscan University and currently working as a Youth Minister in St. Louis.
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