Saturday, November 28, 2015

Reflection: Luke 21:34-36

Saturday of the 34th Week of Ordinary Time – Luke 21:34-36

As we come to the end of our current Church Year, Jesus cautions his disciples to “beware.”  He instructs them: “Do not let your hearts become drowsy from carousing, drinking too much, or the stress and anxiety of life.”  He warns his disciples: “That day will catch you by surprise like a trap.”   Jesus then tells his disciples: “Be vigilant and alert at all times!  Pray that you will have the strength to escape the tribulations that will come.  Also pray that you will have the strength to stand before the Son of Man!”

Today Jesus also is cautioning us.  We do not know the day or the hour of our death.  Jesus wants us to be prepared for his coming.  Today he may come to us through an event that happens in our life.  Or perhaps he appears to us in the guise of a friend who is struggling.  Or he may come to us when we are sad, lonely or despairing.  Jesus wants us to be awake and alert to his coming.  He will come!  However, we do not know the day or the hour.  Be attentive!  Today Jesus will come to you!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Reflection: Luke 21:29-33

Friday of the 34th Week of Ordinary Time – Luke 21:29-33

This Gospel reading is sobering.  Jesus tells his disciples the parable of the fig tree.  He describes the natural cycle of trees from spring through winter.  Jesus uses the metaphor of nature to help us understand his teaching.  We know the cycle of the seasons and we understand the changes that occur with each season.  This analogy enables us to better understand what Jesus is saying to us.

Jesus tells his disciples that all created things will pass away.  However, his words will never pass away.  As we know from our own experience, life can change quickly.  The change may be a positive one.  However, change also can be difficult and painful.  A family member may get seriously ill.  Financial troubles may create great distress and fear.  Changing jobs or moving to another city is not an easy process.  Or perhaps your teenager is “hanging out” with the wrong crowd.  

However, Jesus reassures us that there is one reality we may always rely on: “Heaven and earth may not pass away, but my words (and my love) will never pass away!”  When life is difficult, painful or confusing,   Jesus is with us.  He pours out his love, grace and strength upon us.  He will not abandon us!  May we remember his words when we are struggling or afraid or feeling alone.  Jesus is with us always!  May we trust this wondrous reality!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Reflection: Luke 17:11-19

Thanksgiving Day – Luke 17:11-19  

On this day of Thanksgiving, the Gospel reading is the account of Jesus healing the ten lepers.  Jesus was traveling through Samaria and Galilee.  As he entered a village ten individuals with leprosy came to meet him.  Naturally they kept their distances from him as they were considered “ritually unclean.”   In the book of Leviticus it is written: "The leper who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his/her head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip and cry, ‘Unclean, unclean.  The leper is unclean as long as the disease is active and s/he shall dwell alone outside the camp.” (Leviticus 13: 45-56)  Sad to say, leprosy is still active in our modern world.  We also have modern day versions of leprosy such as AIDS and other severely contagious or disfiguring diseases.  These diseases typically isolate the men and women who have contracted the disease.  

In today’s Gospel only one of the lepers returned to thank Jesus for his miracle.  All 10 of the lepers were healed but only this man returned to Jesus with a heart full of gratitude and praise.  Jesus had given him a great gift, a gift he never expected.  How could he not thank Jesus?  Yet, there were nine other lepers who also were healed.  Why did they not return to thank Jesus?  

Today we celebrate Thanksgiving.  On this special day Americans typically gather with family and friends to enjoy a delicious dinner and one another’s company.  However, are we mindful of thanking Jesus/God/the Spirit for the many blessings we have been given?  Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday.  However, we may not always express our thanksgiving to the God who blesses us abundantly.  Today thank the people in your life who nurture you, love you and accept you for who you are.  What a great gift they give you!  And thank Jesus for the many ways He graces and strengthens you!  Have a blessed and happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Reflection: Luke 21:12-19

Wednesday of the Week of Ordinary Time – Luke 21:12-19

Today’s Gospel is not easy to listen to.  Jesus continues his warnings to the crowds: “They will seize and persecute you, hand you over, and you will go to prison all because of my name.”  Jesus also instructs the people: “Do not prepare your defense in advance.  I will give you such wisdom that you will need.”  And also Jesus warns them that they may be betrayed by family members who may “hand them over” and “some of you will be put to death.” 

After these words, Jesus does speaks a few words of consolation to his listeners: “True, you will be hated by all because of my name.  However, not a hair on your head will be destroyed.  By perseverance you will secure your life.”  Now ask yourself: are these last words of Jesus consoling and reassuring to you?  Or do they make you want to “slam the door on Jesus?”  Yet Jesus calls us to follow him!  And if we choose to follow him, the path also may lead us to the cross! 

These words of Jesus mirror the reality that we see and hear about in the world.  All over our world, people are being persecuted and killed because of what they believe, how they dress, or the belief that they are expendable!  We, in the United States, are not exempt from this behavior.  We see it on the evening news, read about it in the newspaper or online.  Supposedly we are a “first world country.”  However, our behavior and choices often negate these words.  At times, we also behave like “savages.” 

So what is the call of this Gospel?  Perhaps the call today is to be aware of how we interact with the people in our lives.  Are we inclusive of everyone?  Do we respect each individual we encounter?  Or do we savage one other with rumors, lies, or innuendos?  Today be mindful of your words and actions.  Be aware of your thoughts and “inner commentary.”  Today we have a choice to be negative and demeaning.  However, we also have the option to be accepting and respectful of every individual we encounter.  What will be our choice? 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Reflection: Luke 21:5-11

Tuesday of the 34th Week of Ordinary Time – Luke 21:5-11

As the end of the current Church year comes close, the Gospel readings begin to focus on the “end times.”  Today’s Gospel begins with people commenting on the adornments of the temple and votive offerings.  After hearing their words, Jesus makes a statement that must have been unsettling to his listeners.  He said: “All that you see here, the days will come when there will not be left stone upon stone upon another stone.  All of the stones will be thrown down.” 

Naturally his disciples said: “When will this happen?  What signs can we look for so we will be prepared?”  Jesus then tells his disciples to “beware.”  He says: “Many people will come and try to deceive you, saying I am he or The time has come.’  However, do not follow them.”  Jesus also predicted that “one nation will rise against another nation.  And there will be earthquakes, famines and plagues.” 

Jesus’ description sounds like the state of our world today.  Nations are at war.  Men and women are starving and living in destitution.  Every day women, men and children are abused physically, sexually, and emotionally.  Numerous people are killed on the streets.  And as we well know, the United States is not an exception.  All of this and more happens every day in the United States.  Yet we claim to be civilized, a “first world country.” 

Today Jesus encourages us to “seek what will last,” to seek what is good and loving.  If each one of us did this, we might change our hearts, our country and perhaps our world.  What will we choose today?  Or will we simply maintain the status quo?

Monday, November 23, 2015

Reflection: Luke 21:1-4

Monday of the 34th Week of Ordinary Time – Luke 21:1-4

In this Gospel we hear the story of “widow’s mite.”  (It is helpful to remember that today’s Gospel is a continuation from Saturday’s Gospel when Jesus was in the temple and the Sadducees were monitoring him and his teaching.)  Jesus noticed that the wealthy people were putting offerings into the treasury. Then he noticed a poor widow who put two small coins into the treasury.  Jesus was deeply touched by her loving generosity.  He commented: “This poor woman put more into the treasury than all the rest!  The others gave from their abundance.  However, this woman offered what she had!”

Jesus is not interested in how much people give to the Church, schools, and other organizations.  Jesus is looking for generosity of heart, not simply “generosity of wallet.”  Compared to other donors, this widow’s gift was a pittance.  However, the little that she gave came from her “want.”  She was struggling to make ends meet, yet she freely gave her “mite” to the temple treasury.  Jesus commended the woman for her love and her generosity.

Often, those of us who have more at our disposal may not appreciate the richness we have: food on the table, a bed to sleep in, enough income to “make ends meet” and people who love us. Today Jesus calls out to us and says: “Be thankful for the ‘riches’ in your life: food on the table, a roof over your head and people who love you.”  And Jesus also calls us to be mindful of the many people in our country and our world who do not have enough, be that food, money, housing, or employment.  Perhaps today we can share our “mite” with the individuals we encounter who may need some time, attention, resources or care.  Our “mite” may be a great blessing to them.  And we may find that this individual also is a great blessing to us!   

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Reflection: John 18:33b-37

Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe – John 18:33b-37

Today we begin the last week of our current liturgical year.  Next Sunday the Advent season and a new liturgical year will begin.  The Gospel chosen for this feast of Christ the King is a very solemn reading.  It is a reading from the Passion of Jesus Christ. 

Jesus had been arrested and was brought before Pilate. The first questions Pilate asked Jesus: “Are you the King of the Jews?  If so, what have you done?”  The dialogue between Pilate and Jesus continues from there.  The reality is: Jesus was a king.  However, Jesus was not a typical king.  Jesus was “a servant king.”  He came not to be served but to serve.  Jesus did not come to earth seeking power and influence.  Rather he preached God’s word, healed the sick and reached out to the poor, the lame and the outcasts of society. 

Today may be a good day to ask ourselves: How am I following in Jesus’ footsteps?  How do I reach out to the poor, the lame or the individuals who are on the margins of society?  Do I strive to be a servant to the people in my life?  Do I work to create peace and harmony? 

Perhaps the most challenging words in this Gospel are the last words of this reading: “Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” I invite you to take a few moments and ask yourself: How do I strive to listen to Jesus’ voice?  Do I allow Jesus’ voice to be drowned out by busyness, despair, worry or (you fill in the blank)?  Today make time to sit down, quiet down and listen for Jesus’ voice!  He will speak to you!  The question for us is: Will we be listening?

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Reflection: Luke 20:27-40

Saturday of the 33rd Week of Ordinary Time – Luke 20:27-40

In this Gospel reading several Sadducees approach Jesus.  Now the Sadducees did not believe there was a resurrection.  They came to Jesusand asked him: “Teacher, Moses wrote for us, If someone’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, his brother must take the wife and raise up descendants for his brother.”  Then they gave Jesus the scenario of a family of seven brothers.  The oldest brother married the woman but then he died childless.  In turn, the second brother married her.  However, within a short time he also died.  And then the third brother took the woman as his wife and he also died.  Imagine what this poor woman went through. 

However, the Sadducees were not concerned about the woman.  They simply were trying to trap Jesus.  They asked him: “At the resurrection, whose wife will this woman be?”   Jesus responded to them: “The children of this age marry and remarry.  However, those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage.”  Jesus answered their question but he was determined not to get caught in their web.

Life after death is a completely different realm.  We simply do not have the ability to envision it.  It is far beyond us. It definitely will not be like this world.  However, if we live our life in a loving and whole-hearted way, we need not be worried about what is waiting for us on “the other side.”  Truly, love is all that matters!  If we always strive to love and accept one another, we can let go of our worries about our “end.”  Do we trust that?  Do we trust Jesus?