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).
Today’s Gospel reading can be a confusing one: is Jesus recommending slavery as an acceptable practice? What can we actually learn from this?
First and foremost, let’s tackle the issue of servitude or slavery. When we read the Gospels, we can’t simply read them in our 21st century context, but instead through a 1st century Ancient Near East context. The fact that Jesus brings up this simple example of a servant and a master doesn’t mean it’s an implicit endorsement of servitude, but instead it is Jesus speaking to his contemporaries in a way that would make sense to them. Jesus is always promoting, as is the Church that he leads, the dignity of the human person. The Church does not support slavery or indentured servitude (see the Catechism, paragraph 2414).
Having gotten that potential for misunderstanding out of the way, let’s get to the Gospel message that we receive from Jesus today. Understanding the role of servants and masters in this time, Jesus is highlighting our role as servants of God and the response we ought to have to God’s commands in our lives. God commands us to do many things—mainly to follow his law to love him and to love our neighbor as ourselves. We are commanded to be brothers and sisters to one another and to love and worship God.
Through this context we can understand what Jesus is trying to explain to his Apostles: that the work is not finished and we have more to do. If we were to simply fulfill our “duty” as Christians and then sit back and rest, we would be in danger of becoming complacent. How many of us have viewed the Sunday Mass obligation as something to be checked off? How many of us simply leave prayer until the final moments of our day and only give God a few distracted minutes? How many families jump through the hoops just to have their children Confirmed but don’t actually live out the faith in their homes?
Jesus is warning the Apostles of the danger of viewing the Christian life as a series of boxes to be checked off. It would be easy to just do enough, like working and tending the sheep in the field, and then come inside and neglect the other duties we have. It would be easy to just get to Mass on Sunday and not continue our relationship with God beyond that. Jesus is not calling us to an easy life, but a life of serving him and serving his Church. Make no mistake about it, the life of a Christian is difficult and it can be tiresome. But in the midst of our service to God and to neighbor, we begin to find the joy of being united with God by seeking his will. Don’t look for the first chance to kick your feet up and rest, but always be willing to serve and go beyond the minimum requirement. Jesus promises abundant life to those who seek it. The road is difficult and requires much of you—are you willing to follow?
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.
How am I seeking to only do the minimum in my relationship with God? How do I go beyond the minimum "requirement"?
How often do I give God more than just my final minutes of the day for prayer? How can I give more?
In what ways am I always ready to serve? How can I shift my time and energy to be ready to serve God and neighbor?
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.
"The work is never finished."
"Help me to serve."
"God, grant me strength."
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?
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Today's prayer was prepared by Adam Smyth, the Life Teen Coordinator at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in the Woodlands, TX.
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.