Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
Opening Ourselves to Receiving God’s Divine Graces
“In him we have redemption … in accord with the riches of his grace that he lavished upon us.” (Ephesians 1:7-8)
Imagine you have just arrived home after a long day and you fumble to unlock the door. When you step in the house you hear an eruption of voices calling out “Surprise!” The house is filled with family and friends, balloons, and more food than you’ve ever seen. Suddenly your plans for the evening have changed, and nothing else matters.
This image can give us a good idea of the way God works sometimes. He’s not always neat and organized. Sometimes he likes to leave things a bit messy. For example, Amos was just a shepherd when God called him unexpectedly to travel to Samaria and prophesy. It was unexpected and disrupted Amos’ plans dramatically. But how excited he must have been to receive such a calling! Imagine how excited he must have felt as he stood before the priest Amaziah and spoke God’s word.
Similarly, the disciples must have been pretty excited when Jesus told them to go heal the sick and cast out demons in his name. They must have been even more excited when they discovered that they really could do such things!
Today’s second reading gives us the astounding truth that God has already lavished his grace on us. Imagine: your heavenly Father says you are worth divine grace! It’s right there for you to take hold of it. So go ahead and grasp it—right now. Turn to him in prayer and listen for what he is saying to you. He may lead you to places you hadn’t planned to go. He may open doors to new relationships or a new ministry. Whatever he has to say, it is a message of grace, love, and promise.
God’s grace may come in unexpected ways, but it is always given generously. So receive it generously as well. Your Father has great plans for you!
“Father, I am amazed at all that you have given me. Open my eyes to see your grace at work in me, and open my hands to take hold of what you have already given me.”
Sunday, July 15, 2012
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
- In the first reading, Amos says the following about his call: “I was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores. The Lord took me from following the flock, and said to me, Go prophesy to my people Israel” (Amos 7:14-15). Amos received his call from the Lord to speak to a wayward Israel, while at his job caring for his flock. In what way has God called you in your own job situation? What are the circumstances in your life when you are more open to listening to the Lord and following his leadings for your life? What causes you to be less open?
- In the Responsorial Psalm, we learn what benefits accrue to those who “hear what God proclaims”, that is, peace, salvation, glory, justice, truth, and increase. What has been your experience when you have heard what God proclaims and have stepped out in faith to do what the Lord was asking of you? Can you share a specific example?
- The second reading speaks of God’s great plan, conceived in love before the foundation of the world, to bless us in Christ with every spiritual blessing. How does Paul describe these blessings? How would you describe how God has blessed you in Christ?
- In the Gospel, Jesus sends out the twelve apostles two by two with “authority over unclean spirits.” The results were that the apostles “drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them” (Mark 6:13). These words are echoed by Jesus in Mark 16:17-18 after his resurrection, “These signs will accompany those who believe; in my name they will drive out demons . . . They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” However, this time he includes all “those who believe.” As a “believer,” in what ways have these words applied to you? Share any examples from your own experience.
- The meditation encourages us to receive the divine graces that God has “lavished upon us.” It goes on to challenge us with these words: “So go ahead and grasp it—right now. Turn to him in prayer and listen for what he is saying to you. He may lead you to places you hadn’t planned to go. He may open doors to new relationships or a new ministry. Whatever he has to say, it is a message of grace, love, and promise.” Is your reaction to these words one of optimism or skepticism? Why?
- What steps can you take to open yourself more to the graces God wants to pour out upon you? How can you make them even more real, more actual in your life each day?
- Take some time now to pray for a fresh outpouring of God’s graces on your life and a greater openness to receiving and using these graces. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.