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).
Have you ever asked someone to share their conversion or reversion story? Throughout my years of ministry in high school and college, and through my opportunities with communities of faith, I’ve heard my fair share. Each time, they are inspiring as I see the many ways people have turned from the lies of the world for the truth God provides.
And yet, though I’ve had numerous times to share my own testimony, I often feel it’s not that impressive. I’ve been a Catholic all my life, and while it was a slow progression of taking my faith seriously, I never left or deeply doubted. I just slowly waded deeper and deeper until I realized I was committed.
When I hear today’s Gospel, I think about the 99 sheep who stayed. For cradle Catholics or Christians who have always accepted the faith to some degree, this Gospel can seem a bit disheartening, maybe even unfair.
The lost sheep, the sinner who stays away from the protective fold Christ offers, is the one that not only is rescued by Christ but the one who brings him the most joy. Ouch. So much for loyalty on the part of the 99 other sheep.
Without taking a moment to stop and reflect, we can kid ourselves into identifying with the 99. We can tell ourselves that we aren’t as bad as those sheep, those sinners. Yeah, we’re not perfect, but we’re better than that person, that sheep.
And that’s when we see it. By our humanity, we are all the lost sheep to some degree. None of us are sinless and perfectly loyal. Even if we’ve been a decent person and kept the major requirements of the Church, we have still wandered, even if it wasn’t far.
And yet, Christ does everything he can to bring us back to himself. It doesn’t matter how far or how long we’ve been away — or even how close and how short a time. The moment we sin, the moment we stray away even a little, he is there calling us home. Every day, God is inviting us deeper into his mercy and love. And every day, even after we’ve fallen yet again, we can start new and return to the fold.
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 see myself as a sheep in this parable; am I one of the ninety-nine or am I the one? Why do I think so?
When have I felt far from God as I've wandered away, even if only a little bit? How did God come seeking after me?
In what ways do I struggle with judgment of others, seeing their own sin more readily and easily than I see my own? How can I start to be more compassionate toward sinners?
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.
"Thank you for loving me."
"You are my rescuer."
"Help me to stay close to you, Lord."
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?
Do an act of penance on behalf of someone in your life who has wandered far from the Lord and is in need of his mercy. We can intercede for others, fast for them, or do another active work of penance for the sake of the salvation of others. Today, instead of seeing sin and judging, see a lost sheep in need of their Shepherd and offer up yourself for their conversion and their reunion with the One who loves them completely.
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Today's Prayer was prepared by Ava Lalor, an editor for a Catholic newspaper.
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