This week was the second gathering of the Lent Retreat in Daily Living I’m offering at the University of St. Thomas and at St. Hubert’s. As we do each week, the participants in both groups started by spending time in small groups, sharing something of their prayer experiences from this past week.
Our prayer now moves to an effort to deepen our experience of Jesus so we are motivated to accept his invitation to deepin our discipleship. The prayer for this week (two weeks in the case of the St. Thomas folks, since they will be on spring break next week) covers some of the central events of Jesus life, ending with Luke’s account of the call of the disciples. The hope is that the period of praying with events that occured during Jesus’ public ministry will enable the retreatants to more fully accept Jesus’ invitation to them of discipleship.
To allow the retreatants to enter their week of prayer with the call in mind, I focused my talk today on a different scriptural account of Jesus’ call – the call to Matthew recorded in Matthew’s Gospel, because it is one that makes an important point about who we are meant to be in the world. After talking a bit about the individual nature of Jesus’ call to Matthew and Matthew’s response, my remarks centered on Jesus’ admonition to the Pharisees (who were upset that Jesus’ was dining with Matthew and his friends) that “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”
Those words – “I desire mercy, not sacrifice,” are curious at one level, since mercy and sacrifice are not opposites – one can both sacrifice and be merciful. However, I believe that Jesus’ statement becomes much more understandable when viewed as a statement about the orientation of our lives. The balance of my talk was the explanation of what I mean by that.
You can find a link to the podcast (which runs for 18:00) here. A copy of the prayer material I distributed at UST – two weeks of prayer, since they will not be meeting next week is here. (The St. Hubert folks will be praying with some, but not all of the events on this prayer attachment, since they will meet next week.)