Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
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.
It was our third day on campus. We had kept a whirlwind pace: moved into dorms, said goodbye to our families, met dozens of new classmates, and now were gathered for one final opening ceremony before classes started the next morning. After a few welcomes and remarks by various campus officials, the main speaker walked up to the mic. He looked out at all of our eager, restless faces, and then said: “You may have done well in high school, but so did everyone else around you. Here, many of you will struggle. Some of you will fail.”
Wait – what? This was not the rah-rah speech I was expecting to kick off my college career. His blunt words zinged like darts into my excitement and invincibility; they made me wince. They also helped reset my expectations for what might be ahead.
Jesus was the master of zinging out surprises. Whether he was teaching love of enemies or spending time with people who would normally be shunned - hanging around Jesus must have required frequent resetting of expectations.
Today’s gospel is the second half of the story about the rich young man. This young man, sincere and interested in doing what is right, has just walked away. Jesus had invited him to sell his possessions and then come and follow him, but this was too much for the young man. Clearly, he was not expecting to have to change things up this much to follow Jesus.
After he walks off, Jesus laments to his friends how hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of heaven. Now it is Jesus' friends' turn to have their expectations rattled. Matthew tells us that they are "greatly astonished" – for in the Hebrew Scriptures, wealth is more typically portrayed as a sign of favor from God, not a hindrance. But Jesus knows that wealth can create a false sense of independence. When we have what we need, it is easy to forget we need God.
Letting go of what we have gained, putting our relationship with Jesus ahead of all other relationships, putting others first and ourselves last — these are certainly not our natural inclinations and can rightly seem impossible. Like Jesus’ friends, we may be saying “Wait a minute, Lord. Too hard! Who then, can be saved?”
At this question, Jesus responds: "On your own — yes, these things may be impossible." Then he looks at his friends and with a smile adds: "But with God, ALL things are possible."
When we find ourselves hit with a zinger that leaves us astonished, angered or disappointed, perhaps this is actually an invitation by Jesus to let go of what we thought was supposed to happen or how we thought things were supposed to be. Let’s ask Jesus today for the grace to let go of whatever might be hindering us from following him. He is right here, waiting for us to let go so that he can surprise us with all that is possible.
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.
Has there been a time in my life where I walked away from Jesus, sad like the rich young man? What caused me to turn away instead of remaining near Christ?
What in my life (like the riches Jesus speaks of) keeps me from pursuing Jesus totally?
How can I grow in my detachment from the things in my life that keep it impossible to follow Jesus completely?
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.
"All things are possible with you."
"Help me let go of what keeps me from you."
"You are all I need."
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 time in your prayer today to ask God what the things that keep you from him actually are: friendships, material possessions, popularity, etc. Make a plan to fast from one action or influence that draws you into yourself and away from Jesus.
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Today's prayer was prepared by Liz Riegel, who lives in Cary, NC and has worked for the Church in various ministries settings.
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.