Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
(Isaiah 45:1,4-6; Psalm 96:1,3-5,7-10; 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5; Matthew 22:15-21)
Moving Forward in Faith through God’s Open Doors
Thus says the Lord to his anointed … opening doors before him and leaving the gates unbarred. (Isaiah 45:1)
“A new door will open for you today.” Have you ever cracked open a fortune cookie and discovered a hidden message like this one? Maybe you smiled, thinking that someone is sitting at a desk somewhere writing fortunes for a living. Then you crumpled the sliver of paper. Well, today’s first reading was an actual message enfolded within the prophet’s words to Cyrus, the king of Persia!
The prophet declared that God was the thrust behind Cyrus’ rise to power. He depicted God as unbarring gates and opening doors for Cyrus, then going a step further and grasping the king’s arm to lead him through, door after door.
This passage is a fascinating insight into history’s unfolding. But there’s something here for us today as well. If God opened doors for Cyrus, who didn’t even believe in him, do you think he will open them for you? Yes, he will! Every day, God is opening new doors, inviting you to step through and move forward in faith. These doors come in all shapes and sizes. Some are plain to see, like a door of service that’s opened when someone invites you to volunteer in your parish. Or a door of encouragement, when you can uplift someone who really needs it. To see some, though, you have to be on the lookout. Like the next time you’re stuck in traffic, God could be opening a door for you to spend extra time with him in prayer. Some doors are wide open, and some require us to lighten our load in order to squeeze through, like the call to live more simply so that we can give more of our finances to God’s work.
Today, try to see every challenge, every conversation, every chance encounter as a divinely appointed door. Then, see Jesus on the other side, waiting for you with open arms.
“Lord, take me by the hand today, and lead me through your open doors.”
(Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing us to use meditations from their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission. The Word Among Us Mass Edition contains all the Mass readings and prayers, and a meditation for each of the daily and Sunday Masses.)
Questions for Reflection/Discussion
- The first reading today describes how God calls and anoints the pagan King Cyrus as a vehicle for protecting and caring for his people. Yet God says this of Cyrus as well: “though you know me not.” Do we see ourselves, God’s people, as the only ones that God will bless and use? How open are you to working with anyone that God chooses to use to further his purposes, no matter where they are in their relationship with God?
- In the responsorial psalm, each of us is called to tell of God’s “glory among the nations; among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.” In what ways has this been a call of God in your life? Is there more you can do to tell others of God’s great love for them?
- In the second reading, St. Paul tells the Thessalonians that they are constantly in his thoughts and prayers. How often do you pray for others, particularly those in the Church who labor in faith, hope, and love for God’s kingdom? What steps can you take to increase your prayers for your pastor and others serving the Church? What are some additional ways you can practically assist your pastor and parish?
- In the Gospel reading, the Pharisees and Herodians tried to test and “entrap” Jesus. In what ways have you tested God with words such as: “If God really cared for me then …”; “If God will do this for me then…”? What can you do to make your relationship with God one of faith and trust and less of trying to use God for you own purposes?
- In the meditation, we hear these words: “Every day, God is opening new doors, inviting you to step through and move forward in faith. These doors come in all shapes and sizes.” The meditation then ends with these words: “Today, try to see every challenge, every conversation, every chance encounter as a divinely appointed door. Then, see Jesus on the other side, waiting for you with open arms.” What are some of the doors God has opened in your life in the past? What steps can you take to prepare yourself to “step through and move forward in faith” when God opens doors for you in the future?
- Take some time now to pray and ask Jesus for the grace and the faith to walk through the doors he opens for you. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.