Step #1: Lectio / Read
Hear the word of the LORD,
princes of Sodom!
Listen to the instruction of our God,
people of Gomorrah!
What care I for the number of your sacrifices?
says the LORD.
I have had enough of whole-burnt rams
and fat of fatlings;
In the blood of calves, lambs and goats
I find no pleasure.
When you come in to visit me,
who asks these things of you?
Trample my courts no more!
Bring no more worthless offerings;
your incense is loathsome to me.
New moon and sabbath, calling of assemblies,
octaves with wickedness: these I cannot bear.
Your new moons and festivals I detest;
they weigh me down, I tire of the load.
When you spread out your hands,
I close my eyes to you;
Though you pray the more,
I will not listen.
Your hands are full of blood!
Wash yourselves clean!
Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes;
cease doing evil; learn to do good.
Make justice your aim: redress the wronged,
hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.
Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
Wow, that started out harsh. God speaks to Israel, and to all of us, through Isaiah and basically says “STOP IT! Stop doing wrong, stop being hypocritical, stop being insincere in your sorrows. Don’t come to me anymore with your false motives when you have no intention of changing your ways. I don’t want to hear it anymore.” I can picture him standing there with his hands over his ears, and his eyes shut tightly.
I imagine God feeling the way you feel when someone tells you they’re sorry and you know they’re saying it only to get you off their back. You know full well that they don’t truly mean it, and that likely is worse than whatever they did in the first place.
But, as always, God’s mercy shines forth, and he clearly spells out what he truly wants. “Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean… cease to do evil, learn to do good."
And, as always, God himself provides us with the means to achieve what he truly wants from us. Jesus gave us the great gift of confession. We go to him when we have done wrong, and he washes us; he makes us perfect again.
Afterwards, we have a responsibility. “Learn to do good.” How do you learn something? By actually doing it, right? By practicing it. It’s our spiritual homework. After we’ve been made whole again through reconciliation, we should work to develop the habits of goodness by conscientiously practicing charity and mercy towards others. Having this intent in our hearts is worth more to God than any number of penitential sacrifices we may do. It is at the very heart of why he created us; so that we can share his love, compassion and mercy with others. So that we can love all those around us the same way he does.
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
“Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.”
When I go to confession, do I truly intend to sin no more?
What can I do to develop the habit of good service towards others?
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
"Lord, thank you for your mercy."
"Instill in me a spirit of compassion for those around me."
"Help me deepen my prayer life and develop the habit of service."
For the Rest of Your Day...
Go to confession today (or very soon) if you feel you need to, then give yourself a spiritual assignment to be of service to someone today. See them through the eyes of Jesus and share in his love for them.
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Today's prayer was prepared by Jim Lundgren.