Thursday, November 20, 2014

Reflection: Luke 19:41-44

Luke 19:41-44 – 33rd Week in Ordinary Time

The scene the Gospel opens with today is Jesus weeping over Jerusalem. Many of the people following him assumed that he was crying because he believed that Jerusalem would be destroyed. Apparently there had been dire predictions floating around in Jerusalem. (This sounds a bit like our fear as Y2K (2000) approached.) For weeks there were predictions that all computers would be shut down and everything would come to a standstill. They also predicted that investments, homes and jobs would be lost. What a relief it was when the year 2000 came and went fairly quietly!

As this Church year comes to an end, the daily readings become more sobering and perhaps frightening! Jesus’ language in today’s Gospel is stark and somewhat frightening as he tells us what we can anticipate in the future. He speaks of people being surrounded by their enemies and of children being smashed on the ground. This is not the Jesus most of us know!

The reality of life in many countries today mirrors what Jesus is predicting. So many people in our world struggle to have food, shelter and safety. Today there are far too many places in our world where children, women and men are not safe. In my comfortable “little world,” I take so much for granted! True, I don’t have the power to change those situations. However, today I and we can consciously, deliberately strive to be women and men of peace, love, generosity and gratitude! This will have an impact on our world---even if we don’t “see” it! In our own quiet way we can make a difference!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Reflection: Luke 19:11-28

Luke 19:11-28 – 33rd Week in Ordinary Time

The parable Jesus tells today is about the Kingdom of God. Many of the people following Jesus were hoping that the Kingdom of God would come any day! Jesus knew this and he responds to their misconception by telling them another parable.

This parable is the story of the nobleman who traveled a long distance in order to obtain a “kingship” for himself! After he was crowned king his plan was to return to his home. However, while he was gone, he wanted to insure that his money and his kingdom would continue to prosper. He decided to entrust ten of his most trusted servants with ten gold coins each. His unspoken expectation was that they should use this money for trade while he was away. The nobleman naturally assumed that these servants would profit from their trading and thus his monies would increase. Then he continued his journey.

When the nobleman returned, he called each of the servants in and asked each one for an accounting of his monies. Each servant dutifully reported how they had used his money and what the results were. As we know, the first two servants had increased the amount of the money that had been entrusted to them. The amounts of the increase varied but the master was very pleased with both servants. He rewarded them by giving each of them more responsibility and more authority.

The 3rd servant (who had received one gold coin) came to the nobleman and handed his master one gold coin. This servant was a fearful man. He was afraid the master would be angry if he gambled with his money by investing it and then lost it! This servant decided that it would be best to simply “keep the money safe” rather than taking a risk and perhaps losing it.

When the master asked the 3rd servant for his accounting, the servant was sure the master would be very pleased with him. The servant was shocked when the master became angry with him and berated him! The master took the money away from him and gave it to the servant who had ten gold coins.

Will God be pleased with us when it is time for us to “go home” to God? Have we been good stewards of the many gifts God has given us? Have we used our gifts for the benefit of others?

We all have gifts (talents) to share! Today may we reflect and then ask ourselves: how am I using my gifts? Am I sharing my gifts with others? Or do I hoard them? Do I believe that I have gifts worth sharing? (Apparently God thinks so!)

Today may we give thanks for the many gifts that God has blessed us with!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Reflection: Luke 19:1-10

Luke 19:1-10 – 33rd Tuesday in Ordinary Time

The Gospel today is the story of Zaccheus, the tax collector. Tax collectors (then and now) are not very popular with people — in Jesus’ time and also today. And yet Zaccheus was determined to see “this Jesus” he had heard so much about. He had heard stories of his preaching as well as tales of his amazing power to heal. Zaccheus wanted to see and to listen to this man’s preaching and decide for himself who and what this man was!

Zaccheus knew the route that Jesus most likely would take through Jericho. He made sure he got there early to get a good spot. As we know, Zaccheus was a man of short stature and if there was a crowd he would be unable to see Jesus. He found a way around that problem. He decided to climb a tree that was on the roadside. Being in the tree above the crowd should enable him to see Jesus clearly!

As Jesus was walking down the road, he looked up and saw Zaccheus sitting in the tree. Surprisingly, Jesus asked him to come down. Jesus told Zaccheus that he wished to stay at his house! Zaccheus was amazed and overjoyed that Jesus would come to his house but simply being in Jesus’ presence overwhelmed Zaccheus. Immediately Zaccheus had a deep conversion! Simply being in Jesus’ presence and then “being seen” by him changed Zaccheus’ heart and his life! He would never be the same!

Today Jesus is inviting us to “come down” and spend time with him: to sit, listen and talk with him. What will our response be? Will we invite him into our “inner” home? Or will we stay in our “tree” and watch him walk by? If we choose to invite him into our inner “house,” we also may have a “conversion!"

Monday, November 17, 2014

Reflection: Luke 18:35-43

Luke 18:35-43 – 33rd Monday in Ordinary Time

Today’s Gospel is a very familiar one. It is the story of the blind man who is sitting on the roadside begging. This was the only way he was able to make enough money to live on. As he sat there begging, he heard a large crowd of people approaching. The man wondered what was going on. He asked some of the people who were walking by what was happening. They told the beggar that Jesus, the preacher and healer from Nazareth, was coming through town.

The man immediately began shouting out to Jesus, begging Jesus to heal him. The crowd tried to silence him but the man was determined. He shouted all the louder, hoping and praying that Jesus would hear his cry. As we know, Jesus did hear his cry. He stopped and had the man brought to him. He simply asked the blind man what the man wanted Jesus to do for him. The man said: “I want to see.” Jesus quietly healed his sight (and perhaps his heart)! Then Jesus told the man that it was his faith that had saved him!

How strong is our faith? Do we believe and trust that Jesus hears us when we cry out? When we are in great need do we believe that Jesus will respond to us, will strengthen us and heal us? Trusting Jesus may not be as easy as it sounds! When life is painful, frightening and confusing, it may be extremely difficult to trust to Jesus!

During these difficult and frightening times, we need to reach down deep for our faith, belief and trust that Jesus is always with us. We need to hang onto the belief that He will help us get through this situation. Today may we pray for the grace to place our trust and hope in him!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Reflection: Matthew 25:14-30

Matthew 25:14-30 – 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today’s Gospel is the parable of the “talents.” In this story the master of the house is going on a fairly long journey and he wants to safeguard his money while he is away. He gave one servant five talents, the 2nd servant two talents and the 3rd one was given one talent. The master, however, had an unspoken expectation. The master expected these servants to increase the amount of his money while he was gone.

The first servant and the second servant did what the master expected. They took the money and invested it. These investments increased the master’s money significantly. The increase varied but the master was extremely pleased with these servants. They had been excellent stewards of his resources.

The third servant, however, was a fearful person. He knew his master could be harsh at times. This servant decided that he simply would keep the master’s money safe. He buried the money in the ground and then waited for the master to return.

When the master finally did return, naturally he asked the servants for an accounting. Each servant came and reported what they had done with his money. The master was very pleased with the first 2 servants. Their investments had made him more money. However, the master was not pleased with the 3rd servant. Yes, the man kept his money safe, but the master had expected him to use it well and increase the amount of money — at least to some degree. Burying the money in the ground kept it safe but the master expected more.

How do we steward the resources that God has given us? Do we use them well and invest them wisely? Do we share them with others? Or do we hide them or dismiss them as insignificant? All our resources are given to us to share with others and the world. Do we believe that the resources or gifts we have are “good enough?” I pray we do!

We may believe that our resources are insignificant instead of using our gifts and resources. Do we use them for God, for others?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Reflection: Luke 28:1-8

Luke 28:1-8

Today Jesus tells his disciples another parable. This parable is about praying always. It is the story of a judge and a woman. The woman had a situation that needed to be resolved. She wanted the judge to rule on this matter. However, the judge simply would not do it. Every day the woman would return to the judge and make her request again.

Over time the judge got weary of her presence and her persistent pleading. He finally decides that the only way for him to have any peace was to finally give the woman the judgment that she was waiting for. He did not do this for her. He did it for himself so that she would go away and no longer bother him!

Jesus applauds this woman for her persistence. Jesus also tells his disciples to not get tired and weary when they are praying. We also are to trust that God will answer us--- if we are persistent in praying. I assume that we have learned over the years that God most often does not give us an immediate response to our prayers. Can you remember a time when you prayed and waited, then prayed and then waited some more?

Jesus is reassuring us that he does hear our prayers and he will answer us. However, the timing may be not what we expect or hope for. We may not get the answer to our prayers on our time schedule. And it may not be the answer that I hoped for. However, Jesus does hear our prayers and he does answer! However, we may need to look deeply and listen deeply to hear or to recognize his response.

At the end of the story Jesus adds that we should not get weary. Today may we ask Jesus for what we need and perhaps want! Today may we be alert and attentive to how he answers us!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Reflection: Luke 17:26-37

Luke 17:26-37 – 32nd Week of Ordinary Time

Today’s Gospel is a continuation of Jesus’ dialogue with the Pharisees. He is responding to their question: “when will the Kingdom of God come?” In his response Jesus uses some alarming images. He talks about fire and brimstone as well as people suddenly being taken from their everyday activities. His description is graphic, harsh and even frightening!

Do you ever think about the “end time?” Do you wonder what the “end time” will be like? Does the thought of leaving this world frighten you or comfort you? The factor that may have the greatest impact on our response to this Gospel is the relationship we have with God. If we have a deep and personal relationship with God, Jesus or the Spirit, we still may have a bit of discomfort or anxiety but hopefully not a great deal of fear! However, if my relationship with God/Jesus/Spirit is distant or impersonal, it may be natural to experience some fear or even trepidation!

Today if someone asked you about your relationship with God, how would you respond? What would you say? Or would you just be silent? Today and every day may we take steps to grow closer to God! God is waiting for us!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Reflection: Luke 17:20-25

Luke 17: 20-25 - 32nd Week of Ordinary Time

This Gospel begins with the Pharisees asking Jesus when the kingdom of God will come. Jesus tells them that the kingdom of God is not something you are able to “see.” Nor will anyone announce to you: “Here is the kingdom of God.” Jesus tells the Pharisees that the “kingdom of God is among you.”

Jesus also tells us “the kingdom of God is among us.” Do we believe what Jesus is saying? Do we truly believe that the kingdom of God is among us? If your answer is yes, how and when do you experience the kingdom of God? Who is someone who mediates the kingdom of God for you? Some people in our lives radiate the goodness and love of God.

We often miss experiencing the kingdom of God simply because we are not looking for it nor open to it. We simply expect the “ordinary.” Or we are too busy or preoccupied. Today may we intentionally open our eyes and hearts and be attentive to the ways the kingdom of God is among us—and within us! May God surprise and delight you today!