Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
1st Reading: Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18
2nd Reading: 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18
Responsorial: Psalm 34:2-3, 17-19, 23 Gospel: Luke 18:9-14
Living a Life Grounded on God’s Love, Not on Judging Others
I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity. (Luke 18:11)
Have you ever been around someone who has a knack for putting people down? It seems they feel good about themselves only when they’re degrading someone else. Although we can’t say for sure, that could be part of this Pharisee’s motivation for thanking God that he’s not like everyone else. He may be acting more out of fear and insecurity than out of pure pride or arrogance.
How about you? It’s doubtful that you spend all your time judging everyone else. But are there other ways that you compare yourself? When you see someone’s weakness, do you use that person as a measuring stick to judge yourself—“Am I doing better than him or worse?”
This spirit of comparison is something to watch out for; it can take the joy right out of your faith! If you find yourself thinking that way, remember that God isn’t comparing you to anyone. He loves you just as you are. No matter how many times you hear that, it can still carry a hint of surprise. After all, we all need improvement, don’t we? But this love of God must be the starting point for any genuine spiritual growth we experience. He just loves us, and there’s nothing we can do to make him love us any less!
As a point of reflection today, try meditating exclusively on God’s love for you. Don’t dwell on your sins. He already knows about them! Just sit in his presence, and think of all the ways he cares for you. He sent his Son to die for you. He planned from all eternity that you would be part of his kingdom. He’s constantly sending grace and blessings to keep you in his love. If you reflect on this long enough, you won’t worry about how your neighbor is doing. You’ll be too busy thanking God!
“Thank you, Father, for loving me just as I am right now. Thank you too for your grace, which can always help me become more like you.”
Questions for Reflection or Discussion
1. In the first reading, we hear that the “one who serves God willingly is heard; his petition reaches the heavens.”
-How “willing” is your response to God?
-To what extent do you respond just out of duty versus responding out of an experience of God’s love and mercy toward you?
-How would you describe the difference between these two ways of responding to God?
2. The first reading also speaks of the Lord as a “God of justice” who hears the cries of the “weak,” “oppressed,” “orphan,” “widow,” and the “lowly”. The responsorial psalm has a similar message and goes on to say that say that “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; and those who are crushed in spirit he saves. The LORD redeems the lives of his servants”.
-Why do you think this is so?
-Do you know of some people who are going through difficult circumstances right now? What additional steps can you take individually, or with others, to reach out to them?
3. In the second reading from the letter to Timothy, Paul uses a sport’s metaphor when he says these words: “I have completed well; I have finished the race, I have kept the faith,” that is, he has been faithful to God’s call for his life.
-When you look at your life, how important is it to have “competed well” and “finished the race” God has given you? Why?
-What are some steps the God may want you to take to be even more faithful to his call for your life?
4. The Gospel begins with these words: “Jesus addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else.” In the parable, the tax collector, whose prayer was humble and lowly, “went home justified” by God, while the Pharisee did not.
-What was it about the Pharisee’s prayer that kept him from being “justified”?
-How would you describe some specific qualities of humility that are in the short, but powerful, prayer of the tax collector? How could they be incorporated by you into your own prayers?
5. The meditation ends with these words: “As a point of reflection today, try meditating exclusively on God’s love for you. Don’t dwell on your sins. He already knows about them! Just sit in his presence, and think of all the ways he cares for you. He sent his Son to die for you. He planned from all eternity that you would be part of his kingdom. He’s constantly sending grace and blessings to keep you in his love. If you reflect on this long enough, you won’t worry about how your neighbor is doing. You’ll be too busy thanking God!”
-How would you describe the message conveyed by these words from the meditation?
-What is meant by these ending words, “If you reflect on this long enough, you won’t worry about how your neighbor is doing. You’ll be too busy thanking God”?
6. Take some time now to pray and thank your heavenly Father for his great love for you and for giving you the grace to say yes to his call to be like him. Use the prayer below from the end of the meditation as a starting point.