Step #1: Lectio / Read
Click the link below or open your Bible to the passage and read through the reading at least once, paying attention to what is happening in the text.
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 in college, studying theology and preparing presentations for my classes, one of my favorite things to do was look up bad pictures of Jesus before finding the art I really wanted. I mean, the really bad ones. Jesus with super muscles, Jesus with modern clothes, etc. For some reason, though the pictures weren’t objectively good as it came to sacred art, I really found a lot of amusement in them. However, I noticed that there were a lot of paintings and pictures of Jesus as this timid, gentle man with perfectly manicured hair all brushed back behind his ears. It made me begin to really wonder if Jesus was this “everyone love everyone” pushover kind of person. Gospel passages like the one we read today definitely remind me otherwise.
Today Jesus is seemingly a little impatient and forceful with his preaching. He is in towns of people who have seen miraculous deeds done in their midst but haven’t yet repented. After all, Jesus and the disciples who followed him weren’t a traveling circus act coming to different places to put on a show- they were working miracles of God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, through the person of Jesus Christ. On top of all of the miracles, they were also preaching a Gospel of repentance; Jesus called everyone to turn away from sin and turn towards God. So why was it that all of these cities were filled with people who weren’t repenting?
I think the answer to that question lies in our human nature. We, bruised by the stain of sin, don’t like to confront our own sinfulness and deal with it. Repentance is something that requires us saying, “I’m not okay. I’m broken and I am in need of saving”. I don’t know about you, but those words, said in earnest, aren’t the easiest for me to say. It’s much easier for me to ignore my sin and keep on living as I have been- I don’t like being exposed and challenged because of my sinful tendencies, or what we would call concupiscence. It's also easier for me to just look for the signs that God performs and be content with only that- why bother doing anything else, God can do crazy things for us to witness! But this isn’t the Gospel that Jesus preached. Jesus calls us to something so much greater than a flashy show and miraculous works that “wow” us- he calls us to repentance. The Lord doesn’t want followers who come looking for a show, but rather people who can turn to him and say, “Lord, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I need your love and your grace to help me turn away from sin and turn towards you”. Let your relationship with Jesus Christ be based less in seeking a show and more in seeking conversion.
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.
Am I seeking a show or am I seeking repentance? How?
In what ways do I let my desire to see signs get in the way of me actually loving the Lord?
How is Jesus calling me to repentance today?
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.
"Lord, let me seek your heart and not your signs."
"I am a sinner and I need you."
"Help me to turn 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?
Take time in your prayer today to pray specifically for a spirit of repentance. Ask the Lord to reveal ways in which you need to repent and turn to him and then begin the process of responding to that call.
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"Today's prayer was prepared by Adam Smyth, a high school youth minister at St. Anthony of Padua in The Woodlands, TX.
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