Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
(Ezekiel 33:7-9; Psalm 95:1-2,6-9; Romans 13:8-10; Matthew 18:15-20)
Loving Others as God Has Loved You
Love your neighbor as yourself. (Romans 13:9)
Have you ever noticed how the commandments that we hear most often are the ones we have the hardest time fulfilling? Take today’s second reading as an example. We all have to deal with people who try our patience or rub us the wrong way. Then there’s the pull of the world, urging us toward a self-centered approach to life. And all the time, we hear in the back of our minds Jesus telling us to love one another, even to prefer one another to ourselves.
This is a demanding call, isn’t it? Like Jesus, we should seek to serve instead of being served (Matthew 20:28). He asks us to take the “lowest place” at the banquet (Luke 14:9). He even warns us that if we strive to be first, we will be last, but if we strive to be last, we will be first (Matthew 20:16).
In today’s readings, God is inviting us to do a little self-examination. How have you done lately in loving your neighbor as yourself? Think about hurtful things you may have said about another person. Think about ways you may have failed to defend a friend or judged someone unfairly. Or maybe you have neglected to help a friend who needed you because it was inconvenient.
These are uncomfortable questions to ask, to be sure. But God knows your heart. He knows how much you want to do good, even though you fail at times. He also knows that he has placed his Spirit in you to give you divine strength and to make changes that seem impossible. So don’t be afraid to open up to him and ask him to help you. Remember: God is love. And that love is generous and overflowing. Let him love you, and you’ll find yourself loving other people more and more.
Heavenly Father, forgive me for putting myself first. By your Spirit, teach me how to love. Father, unite all your children as one!”
(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
- In the first reading, the Lord tells Ezekiel that he has appointed him to be a “watchman” for his people, to warn them of their wickedness. As a Christian, in what way has the Lord called you to be a watchman to speak out against wickedness in our society? Do you do this? Why or why not?
- The response to the responsorial psalm is, “If today you hear his voice, harden not your heart.” How easy it is for us to ignore the many words of Scripture we hear at Mass or in our times of prayer and Scripture reading. What steps can you take to be more alert to the Lord’s words to you through Scripture or his promptings during your day?
- In the letter to the Romans, St. Paul writes that all the commandments can be summed up with one command, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” What do you think Paul meant by these words? How can you better live these words out in your own life?
- In the Gospel reading, Jesus speaks of the importance of those in the church being accountable to one another for their actions. Why is this important? In what ways can you take some small steps to increase this accountability in your life?
- In the meditation, we hear these words: “We all have to deal with people who try our patience or rub us the wrong way. Then there’s the pull of the world, urging us toward a self-centered approach to life. And all the time, we hear in the back of our minds Jesus telling us to love one another, even to prefer one another to ourselves. This is a demanding call, isn’t it?” Why is this “a demanding call”? What are the some obstacles that can keep you from seeking “to serve instead of being served (Matthew 20:28)”?
- The meditation ends with these words: “God is love. And that love is generous and overflowing. Let him love you, and you’ll find yourself loving other people more and more.” Why do you think this is so? What are some ways you can open yourself more to God’s love?
- Take some time now to pray and ask the Lord for the grace to love others as he has loved you. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.