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).
When I was a freshman in college, something happened in my English class that was right out of today’s Gospel lesson. About halfway into the term, our professor chided the class for having a particularly bad week at completing the weeks readings and thus having a poor class discussion. The following class one of our loudest and most boisterous students walked and with the biggest grin on his face. When the professor walked in, he noticed it and asked him why the humorous expression. Clearly, my friend had been waiting for this and he blurted out “ Professor, I JUST WANT TO LET YOU KNOW, I DID EVERY SINGLE PAGE OF MY READING!” The whole class chuckled and got quiet and all eyes turned to the professor, as the proud student waited for his expected praise as a response. The professor, looked him straight in the eye and said, “are you expecting me to give you a medal for fulfilling the basic requirement of this course and the expectations on the syllabus?” The whole class laughed as the formally proud student ate his humble pie, and class began.
How often are we like this student, but in our spiritual lives? Like the stewards in the Gospel, my friend did what was asked and expected and yet he expected to be treated with praise and special treatment for it from the teacher, as did the stewards with God. Do we ever feel this in our prayer: “Lord, because I went to mass today, I know YOU will thank me by having something good happen in my life?” Or perhaps we say, “Lord, I hope YOU are thankful for all the time I’m giving you in prayer, work, study or all the work I’m doing for you at my Church or house.” Notice, when we say these things, we expect God to be thankful for US instead of how we ought to be thankful for God.
This subtle temptation in our heart is a way for pride to smuggle into our hearts. Pride sometimes looks like the feeling of being owed or praised by God because we deserve his goodness and care in our lives. Other times, it might look like a lack of need for God – ‘God I’ll get to you when I have time and I hope you are grateful for whatever I give you.’ Either way, our hearts move away from humility and gratitude and more towards bitterness and selfishness. God doesn’t need us, he wants us. This should motivate us in gratitude to serve him and others – not because we are good, but because God is good and has loved us into new life.
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 do I fall into the thinking that God should just be happy with me doing the minimal amount? Where else do I experience this in my life?
In what ways do I go above and beyond in my work, friendships, relationships, etc.? Why do I do more than expected in these areas but not always with God?
How have I been motivated to love and serve God simply because I will get something from him- in other words, treating God like a vending machine? What is problematic with this type of relationship?
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 give you my all."
"Help me to serve you as you deserve."
"It's not about me, Lord, it's about you."
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 today to go above and beyond with God. For some, it may mean giving him more than the final minutes of your day as you pray before going to bed, for some it may mean 30 minutes instead of 10, and so on. Make it a point today to not just do the minimum, but to love God with all of your strength because he is worthy.
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Today’s prayer was prepared by Jon Polce, SJ.
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