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Dr. Westina Matthews invites us to "incline your ear"

Mar 20, 2022


To find out more about Dr. Westina Matthews, her books, and her work, visit

This is a special interview, part four in a seven-part series on Lent. Some of our discussion explores the reading for the third Sunday in Lent. I've included the reading below (NRSV) along with some questions to help you reflect on the meaning of the reading, Lent, and what it means to be a contemplative. 


March 20th — Third Sunday in Lent

Isaiah 55:1-9

An Invitation to Abundant Life

1 Ho, everyone who thirsts,
     come to the waters;
and you that have no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without price.

2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
    and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good,
    and delight yourselves in rich food.

3 Incline your ear, and come to me;
    listen, so that you may live.
I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
    my steadfast, sure love for David.

4 See, I made him a witness to the peoples,
    a leader and commander for the peoples.

5 See, you shall call nations that you do not know,
    and nations that do not know you shall run to you,
because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel,
    for he has glorified you.

6 Seek the Lord while he may be found,
    call upon him while he is near;

7 let the wicked forsake their way,
    and the unrighteous their thoughts;
let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them,
    and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

8  For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.

9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Questions for consideration:

Before you begin to reflect with the community today, let’s situate ourselves within the reading.

  • Read the passage, read the questions below, then read the passage again.
  • Sit for a few minutes and allow yourself to enter into the scripture.
  • If you are not familiar with some of this information, don’t worry just rest in what you do understand. Pay particular attention to the verbs calling on people to do something.

Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters

  • What is it to be thirsty? What does one who thirsts long for? What is it like to come to the waters if you are thirsty? 

and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

  • What could it mean to buy something if you have no money or that is without price? How is this different from receiving something for free? What might be important about coming and buying? 

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?

  • It is easy to read this as a rebuke of consumption, but what else could this mean? 

Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.

  • Assuming that the food, wine, and milk are without price how does this make them rich foods? 

Going a little deeper:

  • Where do you see people who thirst? What do they long for? Where do they seek it out? What are they willing to give for it? Who is spending their time or talents on that which is "not bread"?
  • What do you know about those who work and labor and still find no satisfaction?
  • Where have you seen someone find nourishment, satisfaction, rich "food" without money and without price? What was its source? How did they find it?
  • Where have you found yourself laboring without satisfaction? What price have you paid for that which is "not bread"? Why were you willing to pay that price? What did you imagine you might find or gain? Where, if ever, have you experienced sustenance and nourishment that came to you "without money and without price?" Where did it come from? What was required of you in order to receive it? What voice might you need to listen for in order to find this?

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