Step #1: Lectio / Read
Today's reading is the Gospel:
Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
If you read only the Gospel for today as was recommended, it might be helpful to also go back and read the First Reading, because they fit very well today.
In the Gospel today we hear one of my favorite stories from all of the Gospels: the man with the withered hand. Jesus, on the Sabbath, approaches a man whose hand is withered up. The scribes and the Pharisees, always looking for a way to be mad at Jesus, are wondering if Jesus will break their technical definition of the law by healing on the Sabbath. You see, for them, any sort of "work" was breaking the command to rest on the Sabbath. These religious leaders of the time were strict about the law, but also loved to make exceptions for themselves and their families while enforcing the law on others. Jesus, knowing that they were not following the law out of love but rather out of a weirdly misplaced religious obligation, finds what they are doing offensive and calls them out on it.
Imagine, then, you are this man with the withered hand. Jesus, this teacher and healer others have been talking about, walks up to you. The religious leaders are watching closely, and you can sense tension. Then, the teacher, Jesus, does something you really wished He wouldn't do: He makes you get up and stand up front. He calls attention to you. Specifically, He calls attention to your hand.
What would that be like? You have this thing that is wrong with you, and you spend a lot of time, probably, trying to hide it from others. You keep your hand inside your cloak or behind your back, hoping that no one notices. Then, in the midst of a tense situation, with all eyes directed at Jesus and the religious leaders, He calls attention right to the very thing you wanted hidden.
In the first reading today, Paul is doing a similar thing. The Corinthians are prideful as a people, boasting in their faith and their relationship to Christ, while meanwhile someone in their community is living a life contrary to the faith. Paul, never one to mince words, goes right after the thing they probably wanted to keep hidden. In a way that probably seems wrong to our modern sensibilities but is often a very important thing, Paul, the one who speaks on behalf of God to these people, calls out their immorality, and reminds them to celebrate the "new feast" in Christ, one where they can put behind this old way of life.
Both Jesus and Paul get directly to the point with the people they talk to in these readings, and Jesus wants to do the same with each of us. In your life, what's your withered hand? What's the thing that you'd rather keep hidden, but Jesus instead wants to call to the light?
It was the Sabbath, but Jesus wasn't waiting any longer to heal this man. In the same way, if you let Him, He wants to heal you right away. First, though, you need to bring it to the light. Don't hide your sin, your shame, or your pain from the Lord anymore: expose it to the light, stretch out that hand, and let Him make you new.
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
What is the thing in my life I keep hidden?
How is Jesus challenging me in my own journey right now?
How does Jesus want to heal me of those things I've kept hidden away from Him until now?
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
Lord, I give you ______________________ that I've kept hidden.
Come, Holy Spirit.
For the Rest Of Your Day...
Find time to make a good examination of conscience and figure out when you'll go to confession next so that Jesus can heal you of those things with which He longs to help.
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Today's prayer was prepared by Jason Theobald.
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