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).
“The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus.” I think this phrase has become too normal for us. We have heard it so many times that we are no longer hit by the reality of what it represents. Take a moment to actually picture this scene. Jesus, who is supposed to be this mighty prophet, is spending his time hanging out with crowds of “tax collectors and sinners”- the homeless, the alcoholics and drug addicts, the prostitutes, the thieves and robbers, the mentally ill, the outcast. That is a motley crew. I think often times the paintings we see of Jesus are probably fairly inaccurate as to what the actual scene might have looked like - everyone is fashionably dressed in fine robe and linen with skin so bright and clean as if they had just finished up a day of Swedish spa treatment, all attentively and patiently listening. I imagine however, the “tax collectors and sinners all drawing near,” pressing in on Jesus- desperate for a miracle or a word of encouragement or just anything at all. The scene was likely chaotic and disheveled.
And the Pharisees and Scribes look on with disgust wondering why a man of such seeming importance as Jesus would “welcome sinners and eat with them.” Maybe we have something to learn from why Jesus did this. Notice- He did not wait for these sinner to clean themselves up and get their acts together before He welcomed them and ate with them. He didn’t wait until they were perfect saints. No, He welcomed them and ate with them as they were. This principle still holds true today. Jesus invites us to come eat with Him as we are, the real “you,” not the ideal “you” that you have in your head who will one day be free from this or that sin, this or that addiction. No, He wants to be with us now, as we are, and love us into freedom. Because freedom doesn’t come from our own striving, but from acknowledging His love for us in the midst of our being bound.
In quiet reflection today, ask yourself: What do I think of how Christ sees my when I’m committing my worst sin? Does He look at me with disgust and want to distance Himself from me? Or does He welcome me and invite me to come eat (with) Him? Are there some people in my life that I have “ruled out” because I have cast judgment upon them and decided they are “too sinful?" If so, how can I “welcome them and eat with them” as they are, just as Christ did?
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.
What do you think of how Christ sees you when you're committing your worst sin? Does He look at you with disgust and want to distance himself from you? Or does He welcome you and invite you to come eat (with) Him?
Do you run to Christ in your difficult, even shameful moments? Do you invited Him into your struggles and seek His help, love, and mercy? Why or why not?
Are there some people in your life that you have “ruled out” because of your judgments and decide that they are “too sinful?” If so, how can you “welcome them and eat with them” as they are, just as Christ did?
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 need you, Lord."
"Help me in my weakness."
"I come to you, 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?
Today, be humble. Accept Christ's mercy and turn away from any pride, shame, or fear that keeps you from running into the arms of God. Also, rid yourself of any judgments of others. We are all sinner, try to help someone new walk with Jesus today through acts of love and service.
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Today's prayer was prepared by Austin Ashcraft, a graduate student in New Orleans.
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