Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Wednesday of the 21st Week in Ordinary Time – Psalm 128:1
The Psalm Response for today is from Psalm 128. The psalmist speaks of the blessing it is to “fear” God. Typically when we hear the word “fear” we understand the word to mean “being fearful” as in to be afraid, worried or nervous. However, when the psalmist speaks of “fearing the Lord,” he is speaking of a stance of awe, respect and honor! True “fear of the Lord” is a wonderful attitude to cultivate. Our God is not a God we need to be afraid of. Our God is kind, loving, and forgiving! In today’s world, those gifts are often in short supply. May we open our eyes and hearts to these gifts of God today. May we share these gifts with the people we encounter today!
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Tuesday of the 21st Week in Ordinary Time – Matthew: 23:13-26
The Gospel for today is the “woe to you” Gospel. In this reading, Jesus is berating the Scribes and Pharisees for being hypocrites! Jesus doesn’t get angry very often but when he does, he has good cause and his anger is justified. Jesus is telling the Pharisees to “get their own houses” in order rather than “judging” what other people are doing.
I assume that we also don’t like it when other people seem to be judging us. Yet it is so very easy to slip into judgment of others. Who are we to judge? We only know what we see! We truly don’t know what is going on in other peoples’ lives. Judgment of others is not ours to do! It is God’s to do. Today let us strive to catch our judgments of others and then let go of them!
Monday, August 25, 2014
Monday of 21st Week in Ordinary Time – Matthew 23:13-22
Today’s Gospel is really a “downer!” It is the passage where Jesus is berating the scribes and the Pharisees. He is accusing them of being hypocrites. They act holy but often take advantage of those who have so much less than they do! Their actions do not always exemplify what they preach.
I would guess that at times, all of us have a “Pharisee” within us! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we always “practiced what we preached?” However, the reality is that, at times, we fail to do this. In a way, this can be a good thing! Knowing how we fail at times may enable us to be more understanding and compassionate when others fail. We are human after all! May we pray for the grace to forgive ourselves when we fail!
Sunday, August 24, 2014
21st Sunday in Ordinary Time – Matthew 16:13-20
In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus asks his disciples: “Who do people say that I am? What are they saying about me?” His disciples told him what they had heard. Some people thought he was John the Baptist, or Elijah, or one of the other prophets!
But then Jesus asks them: “who do you say that I am?” Perhaps this is the question that Jesus is asking us today! It can be easy to give a flippant answer or to parrot back what we learned in Religious Education years ago. However, this is a question we may need to ask ourselves once again! Who is Jesus for me now at this time in my life? Is he a friend? A stranger? Our Savior?
Saturday, August 23, 2014
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus is warning the crowd and his disciples to choose their mentors wisely. He warns them not to blindly follow those who have authority. We need to look at their actions and choices. Are they “practicing what they preach?” For many of us, it is easy to say what needs to be done. However, it is not easy to practice it day after day!
Perhaps we need to periodically ask ourselves: “Are we practicing what we preach?” It is very easy to say what should be done but the real test is if we put it into practice each and every day!
Friday, August 22, 2014
The Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary – Matthew 22:34-40
Today we commemorate the Queenship of Mary. Even though we celebrate this as a “feast,” neither of today’s readings is about Mary. The readings are from the regular cycle of readings.
The first reading is from the Book of Ezekiel. It is the story of the plain that was covered with dry bones. What a powerful image that is! Can you remember a time in your life when this image would have spoken to you? A time when you felt dry, empty, lifeless? What was happening in your life at that time? What were some of the emotions you experienced during those weeks or months? How did you cope?
We all have desert experiences at different times in our lives. Typically these experiences are neither comfortable nor pleasant. When we are in the desert, we need to be prepared. If we don’t have water and supplies, we will die! The same is true when we are in an “emotional desert.” We need support and care. We need someone to walk with us in this desert. We need to know that we are not alone. This often is a time when we need God the most!
It is interesting that in this reading, the process of the spirit returning to the bones did not happen all at one time. Rather, it was a process. First, the bones joined together, then skin, and so on. During these desert times, can we believe and trust that life will seep back into our souls and body? Most often it feels like this “desert” will never end! The reality is that at times we may be in the “desert” for a very long time. But the desert will come to an end! We just have to have faith and trust! May we remember the words of Ezekiel: “I will put my spirit in you that you may live! I have promised and I will do it!” In dry and empty times, let us cling to God’s promise!
Thursday, August 21, 2014
This Gospel reading is a familiar one. However, it is not necessarily an easy one to understand. The reading is the story of the landowner who was having a wedding feast. He wanted this festive occasion to be a grand one. Naturally, he invited his family, friends and neighbors. However, the guests he had invited did not show up! Naturally he was extremely upset. The landowner had prepared for a large crowd. When he sent his servants out to personally remind the guests to come, some of the servants were mistreated, beaten and even killed by his prospective guests! Quite naturally, the king was enraged. He sent out his soldiers to kill the murderers and destroy their property. And they did so! However, the king did not stop there. He sent his servants out into the streets to gather whomever they found. The servants did as he asked and his house was filled!
What does this Gospel say to us? I doubt that we have had the experience this story speaks of. However, we all have been disappointed and upset at various times in our lives. We may have been deeply hurt by someone or betrayed by another. Our natural human response is to be angry, hurt and disappointed — and rightly so. Hopefully we haven’t decided to kill anyone because of that!
In these situations we need to take time to calm down and deal with the hurt, anger and disappointment. We need to acknowledge and feel the emotions. If we repress them, most likely the emotions will come back with a vengeance. But we can’t stop there. We also need to honestly acknowledge what we are experiencing but then with time to gradually “let those feelings go” and forgive. Most often this is the last thing that we want to do! It will take time but it is an important step to take. If we nurse our anger and hurt, we are not hurting the individuals who disappointed us, we are hurting ourselves and those we love! If we are not able to forgive, we simply need to ask God to help us. May we have the grace to ask God to heal the anger and hurt — and to free us!
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Today’s Gospel is the story of the landowner who went out at various times of the day to hire laborers to work in his vineyard. He went out not just once, but five times: dawn, 9:00 a.m., noon, 3:00 p.m., and 5:00 p.m.. He must have had many fields of grapes to be picked!
Perhaps this story is an allegory about how God is with us! If the landowner is a “God” figure, then how frequently does God come looking for us---for you and for me? How many times does God invite us to simply come and spend time with him? How do we respond?