This week’s Word and Spirit Guide is another “vintage” offering from 2016 – the first year of The Word and Spirit.
1Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. 2And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” 3So he told them this parable: 4“Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? 5When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. 6And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. 8Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? 9When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Reading Scripture to Know:
- What is happening/being said? (Observation)
- Why is this happening/being said? (Interpretation)
- What does the rest of Scripture say about it? (Evaluation)
- What does it mean? (Understanding)
- What does it mean for us? (Application)
Reading Scripture to Grow:
- What words or phrases stand out to you? Why?
- Where do you hear the voice of God in this Scripture?
- How do you see the character of God reflected in this Scripture?
- How does this Scripture reveal God?
- How does this Scripture expose humanity and its need for God?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in your life?
- How does this Scripture speak to what is happening in our world?
- What might God want to communicate to you (us) this week through this Scripture?
Reflection: The most dangerous thing that can happen to a Christian is to believe that he or she is a “righteous person who needs no repentance.” We are redeemed sinners called to turn our lives, by the power and grace of the Holy Spirit, degree by degree until we line up with the character of Christ. When we forget that this is who we are and believe instead that we are righteous on our own, then we tend to forget God’s deep love for sinners. We proclaim it in our Eucharist liturgy every time we go to the Table: Christ died for us while we were yet sinners; this proves God’s love toward us. Let us not fool ourselves into thinking that we are inherently lovable and that this is why God loves us. God loves us because we belong to God and because God is good. God desires all those who belong to him to return to him. So take some time to look at the sheep in the image above, isolated in the rocky place. Remember the rocky places into which you have strayed in your life. Bear witness again to how God rescued you from those desolate, barren, lonely places. Commit to leaving the self-righteous behind, daring to go into the dangerous, vulnerable places in life to invite home your fellow beloved and straying sheep. God loves the sinful and wants to bring them to Godself. Thank God this is true – or who knows where we would be.
- Tuesday, September 6 – Proverbs 23
- Wednesday, September 7 – Proverbs 24
- Thursday, September 8 – Proverbs 25
- Friday, September 9 – Proverbs 26
- Saturday, September 10 – Proverbs 27
- Sunday, September 11 – Proverbs 28
- Monday, September 12 – Proverbs 29
Prayer Focus: Take time to rejoice in your times of prayer this week. Rejoice over the fact that God has saved you by bringing you out of your sin and into abundant, grace-filled life. Rejoice over God’s mercy to others. Let every person you see today remind you both of God’s deep, deep love for us and of God’s power to transform our lives. Linger just a moment on the faces you see. See past their sin; see past their sorrow; see past your judgments. Instead, pray that God will continue whatever good work God has begun in them. As you pray, ask God to pull us all closer to Godself. Imagine the faces you see gathered around the throne of God, rejoicing with the angels. Hosanna! Lord, save us all!
Meditation Focus: Imagine a path. That path is the path of your life. Where does it start? Does it begin in a rocky place or in a wide-open field? Where are its hills and valleys? Where are its flat spaces? What is happening in your life along each of these milestones and changes of scenery? At what point does your path meet up with the path of Jesus? What is the landscape like when you find him (or better said, when he finds you)?As you come again to that place along the pathway of your life journey in which you met up with the path of Jesus, look into his face. What emotion do you see? Is he rejoicing over your arrival upon his path? How can you tell?
Now, think about where have you gone since meeting up with Jesus. Did the path twist and turn once you met him? I am sure that since you have joined the path of Jesus that there have still been many rocks and hills and fields and valleys. I am sure you have even strayed onto side path of your own choosing once and again. Along each of these stops of remembrance picture the place and look again to Jesus’s face. What is his reaction? How is he feeling? What does he want to speak to you along the way? Go to these places again and find healing in the remembrance, always keeping in mind that initial image of Christ rejoicing over you once you chose to join him on his journey.
Journaling Focus: When have you lost something important to you? As you write about this experience, recall the feelings you felt as your heart sunk into your stomach upon realizing that this precious part of your life was nowhere to be found. How would you have felt if someone chastised you for missing it and searching it out? This is what Jesus was experiencing. He loved each and every sinner that came to him; he even loved those self-righteous religious people who would not admit their sinfulness. But to hear those religious folk chastise and challenge him for his kindness and openness to the lost was too much for him to bear. So, as he did so well, he answered their challenge with a story. As you write about your experience, let your story of seeking out your valued lost item connect you to God’s feelings of concern and longing for those who do not know God. As you connect with God’s feelings, write your own response to those Pharisees and scribes who grumbled at Jesus. What would you tell them about God’s concern and desire for tax collectors and sinners?
Breath Prayer: Father, find us when we are lost.