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Scripture reflection: 'Open our heart, O Lord, to accept the words of your Son'

22 October 2017

Lectionary readings 

First reading: Exodus 22:20-26. 

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 17(18):2-4, 47, 51. 

Second reading: 1 Thessalonians 1:5-10. 

Gospel: Matthew 22:34-40. 

Link to readings.

Introduction

Let the Gospel acclamation above be our invitation to prayer this week.

The true meaning of God's Law proclaimed by Moses and the prophets is revealed to us in this Sunday's readings.

The First Reading from Exodus describes how God's law of love is to be applied in daily life. God wants his people, who were liberated from slavery in Egypt, to be people of justice, kindness and compassion; both to strangers and to their neighbour.

The Psalm is a litany of love for God... our strength, shield, saviour, and the very rock of our existence. Surely it is from this refuge of compassion and help that we are given strength to come to the aid of others.

Paul's letter to the Thessalonians (Second Reading) describes how their faith has changed the communities where they live. Their life lived in the Holy Spirit has encouraged others to believe in the Gospel message.

In the Gospel, Jesus teaches that the greatest commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul and mind. We are commanded to put God's law of love into practice by loving our neighbour as ourselves.

Let us pray for each other throughout this week that we will have the grace to want and to choose only that which will deepen our love of God. With God at the centre of our lives, we will have strength to love others. May our hearts be open to respond actively to the need of our neighbour.

Responsorial Psalm 

Psalm: 17(18):2-4, 47, 51. 

I go to my place of prayer where I can become still before God. For a few moments I allow myself to slow down, gently noticing and letting go of the flow of my thoughts.

I take a deep breath into the centre of my being, and notice the rhythm of my breathing.

My breath... the breath that gives me life... can be an anchor point for my prayer when my mind wanders.

As I sit in silence, I become aware of the presence of God within and all around me.

Slowly and with loving attention, I read this psalm.

I pause on the words or phrases that challenge or comfort me. I read the psalm or phrases as many times as I need to.

I sit silently with these words and notice how I feel.

I ask for the grace to be free of my own wants and desires, 

so that I may be fully open to what God wants to say to me in my prayer today.

... I listen in loving silence.

I tell the Lord how I feel and what is in my heart.  When I feel ready, I conclude my prayer,

using the words of the response - or my own words of love for God.

Gospel

Matthew 22:34-40

With love, and aware of my own desire to be closer to God,

I find some time to step aside from the busyness of my thoughts, and of daily life.

It might help my prayer to light a candle or to listen to music... or perhaps to the sound of silence or nature around me.

Eventually, I become still and settle in silence before God.

I read the Gospel slowly and try to picture the scene unfolding. Why do the Pharisees want to disconcert Jesus?

What is it about his teaching and approach that they find such a threat?

Can I understand their fears?

I read the Gospel again.

Perhaps I imagine seeing Jesus looking deeply into the hearts of the Pharisees and sharing with them the truth of the greatest commandment.

Now I imagine it is me asking Jesus this question.

I see Jesus looking deeply into the centre of my being, seeing me as I truly am.

How do I respond to his words to me:

'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind...'?

Can I love God in this way? I ponder if there is something in my life that holds me back from loving God like this.

I talk to Jesus about it, trusting that he will understand.

I ask Jesus who is my neighbour?

With whom does God want me to share his love?

I listen. I slowly end my prayer asking for the grace to love as Jesus loved... and with Jesus I say,'Our Father...'

 

Prepared by St Beuno's Outreach in the Diocese of Wrexham

 

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