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 can’t help but feel like whoever does the assignments for Carpe Verbum gave me today on purpose, but what an honor that is! Today we celebrate the feast of St. Matthew and besides sharing my namesake he is more importantly one of the twelve apostles and the author and subject of today’s Gospel reading.
This is a Gospel reading we are probably fairly familiar with, but I encourage you today, to stop, pause, and take these words in with a fresh spirit and understanding, not passing over them as usual, but allowing them to soak in with a new depth. The important context of this passage is that Matthew is a tax collector. A tax collector in Jesus’s time was a Jewish person working for the Roman government, collecting taxes on Jewish property within Roman-controlled areas. A tax collector was not simply disliked because they made good money or even just by virtue of the fact that they took money for the government (because who enjoys paying taxes for anything!). No, a tax collector was a traitor. The Jewish people thus despised tax collectors; they were regarded as foul men who had betrayed their own people for their own financial security.
And so, we have the drama of Jesus, the promised Messiah and savior of the Jewish people, calling a tax collector to be His apostle: “Follow me”. What? He could have chosen anyone to be one of His twelve closest followers and men destined to spread His name to all the nations. And He picks Matthew, a tax collector, a sinner, a traitor. Matthew did nothing to merit this call either. There was no pre-conversion activity (at least no written record) that preceded His encounter with Christ. He was a tax collector, and then came the encounter with Christ: “Follow me”. What matters most is not Matthew’s current state in life, but the response to the call: “Follow me”. He gets up immediately from his post and follows Christ, celebrating in a great feast with Him and fellow tax collectors and sinners.
Matthew does not deserve Jesus’s call, but He calls Him regardless. We do not deserve Christ’s call, but He calls us regardless. And in this historical call is profound truth for our own lives: Jesus calls us because He wants to, because He loves us, not just because of the things we do. When Jesus says, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice”, these are deep and challenging words He quotes from the prophet Hosea. It doesn’t mean that our prayers or daily offerings to God do not matter. Indeed, God delights in our good deeds sincerely offered for Him! But, in this call of Matthew and throughout the Gospels, Jesus demonstrates again and again and again that He is above all merciful, meaning that He is able to look upon even the most wounded sinner and offer Him the healing salve of His grace.
Jesus looks upon Matthew with mercy and chooses Him. He looks upon all of us every day with mercy and chooses us. Follow. That is our one and only response: follow Jesus. With the eyes of mercy, He is waiting for you. Follow Him. AMDG.
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.
Am I ready to follow him?
Am I holding on my to sin or my past or my failures? Are these preventing me from following Christ today?
Do I rest in the Lord's mercy? Or am I too focused on the sacrifices I'm 'supposed to be doing' for him?
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 will follow you."
"I will be merciful."
"I trust in 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?
During the month of September, we ask that each day, for the Action step of our lectio divina, everyone prays a Divine Mercy Chaplet together for the healing of all victims of clerical abuse of any kind as well as for the healing and guidance of our Church.
For more information on why we are doing this or how to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet, click here.
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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.
If you have anything you'd like our team to pray for, please go to the page of our website called ""Prayers"" and let us know how we can pray for you today. "
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