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).
"Do you also want to leave?" This is one of the most striking and attractive questions that comes out of Jesus’ mouth in all of the Gospels. At first glance, it seems like a rhetorical question that Christ employs as a biting remark or a sarcastic condemnation of those who had left: “Are y’all gonna leave me like all those other pansies did because they couldn’t handle it? If so, go ahead and leave now.” But I think if that is all we see in this question then we are staying on a superficial level and refusing to dive into the depths of who Christ really is and how He really proposes Himself to us.
“Do you also want to leave?” So, what is He really saying here? As opposed to the condemning or sarcastic tone that we might commonly suppose, I would propose a different reading, a tone of love and genuine care for His disciples. He wanted to respect their freedom. If they, if we, are to be in a relationship with Him, it must be a relationship founded on freedom. He does not want slaves, but friends.
“Do you also want to leave?” Christ knew the temptations of the disciples and of all Christians throughout history to follow him as chained slaves and not as friends, to not follow him with a free response of loving Him because of who He is and because of how He has first loved us. The shackles of these chains can take various forms: shame, fear of punishment, guilt, the lie of us having to earn his love by impressing Him or doing great things for Him, etc. Unfortunately for many of us, these shackles can be the reason for our initial relationship or draw to Christ, and we must be proactive in taking the necessary time for self reflection so that we can discover these chains and expose them to Christ- who loves nothing more than to burst the chains of sin and death in our lives.
What is at the root of your relationship with Christ? Is it free? Christ wants you to be free. Never forced. He could have ran after those disciples who left and said “Wait don’t go! Please come back and follow me, maybe you just misunderstood me!” But no, He respects their freedom and allows them to walk away. God didn’t create us because He needs us. You can reject God. He gives you that option. Freely. With no strings attached. This is a wild and radical freedom that He has entrusted us with, and He wants us to use it. He would prefer a free “no” to a forced or superficial “yes.”
“Do you also want to leave?” Perhaps another reading would be “I love you. Regardless of whether or not you leave or stay. If you do stay, I want you to stay freely because there is no fear in love, but only freedom.” Only when we really understand this question of Christ can we offer an authentic and free response like Peter, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
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 is freedom? Where do I find it? What is the freedom God is calling me too?
When Jesus asks, "“Do you also want to leave?”, what do I hear? What is Jesus really telling me?
How can I freely choose Jesus today?
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.
"You have the words of eternal life."
"I choose to stay."
"With Christ, I am free."
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?
Take some time for prayerful reflection. Be honest with God. Do you want to leave? What makes you want to stay and follow Christ? Find those chains and invite Him to obliterate them so that you can be free.
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Today's prayer was prepared by Austin Ashcraft, a graduate student in New Orleans.
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