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).
A little background on today’s first reading before we dive in...
Saul was one of Israel’s kings. In fact, he was the king when Goliath - the famous Philistine - threatened God’s people. When Goliath issued his challenge to the Israelites, they were all too afraid to face him. Then this little young shepherd boy David stops by the camp and decides to take on Goliath by himself. You know how the story ends with David defeating Goliath.
But that made Saul jealous.
This young person showed more courage and strength than Saul and his entire army. Saul became consumed with envy, he resented David for all the attention and popularity he enjoyed for his battle with Goliath, and he was paranoid that David was going to try to steal his throne. So Saul planned to eliminate David. He made a couple of unsuccessful attempts to kill David, and David went on the run from him.
Now we’re caught up with the time when today’s reading begins.
David is hiding with some of his men deep in a cave. Saul took soldiers with him in search of David to kill him. In a moment of Biblical TMI, we’re told that Saul went to pee in the cave. David was hidden back in the shadows, and he managed to sneak over and cut off a piece of Saul’s robe. (Not sure how he pulled that off.)
Then David stepped out of the cave to confront Saul. David showed him the piece of his robe he cut off as proof that he was close enough to kill Saul. But he didn’t kill him. David refused to take revenge on Saul, even though some might argue that Saul’s unjust persecution of David gave him every right to do so.
This story has always captured my heart, and I hope it does the same for you.
How often do we take revenge on others? When we’re little kids we’re told that “two wrongs don’t make a right,” but then we get a little older and feel like we’re justified in how we treat others badly because they treated us poorly first. Maybe there are teachers you gossip about with your friends because you don’t like how they’ve treated you in class. Sometimes your friends embarrass you in front of others or hurt you, so you hold a grudge and give them a cold shoulder. Other times you may be unhappy with how your parents are raising you or the rules they insist you follow, so you act out towards them and give them a hard time. Or maybe your brother or sister annoys you or messes with your stuff, so you feel that you have a right to yell at them and get back at them.
Pray with this reading today and search your heart for any jealousy, bitterness, or resentment that exists there. Ask the Lord to help you be more like David, who had mercy on a man who was trying to kill him. With God’s grace, let go of the grudges you harbor. And let’s remember the ultimate example of forgiveness: Jesus, who instead of taking revenge on those who killed Him prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
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.
Which is your default? Forgiveness ... or Resentment, Holding a Grudge, and Getting Even?
What do you get from holding a grudge or even retaliating against a fault?
Why is forgiveness so hard for you to choose?
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 forgive (insert name here)."
"I need your forgiveness Lord."
"I want to love."
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?
Think about someone who you need to forgive and begin the process of forgiving them in your heart. Then think of someone whose forgiveness you need and begin the process of asking them for forgiveness. It's not easy, but it is what Christ is asking of us.
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Today's prayer was prepared by Dan Wolff, husband, father and spreadsheet extraordinaire in Crystal Lake, IL.
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