Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Reflection: Luke 21:5-11

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

“The days will come”. . . . Today Jesus tells his disciples that one day the temple will come down! Naturally his disciples want Jesus to predict the future: they hope Jesus to tell them exactly when the temple will be destroyed. They also want Jesus to give them a sign to look for so they will be prepared for this event.

Jesus does not answer their questions directly. Rather, He tells his disciples to watch for signs such as natural disasters, earthquakes, tsunamis, wars, uprisings. I assume that His prediction may have stirred up quite a bit of anxiety in his disciples. However, immediately following these statements, Jesus tells his disciples they should not be frightened.

Do you remember the anxiety and fear that was rampant after the September 11th attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C.? Do you remember where you were and what you were doing on the day Al Qaeda terrorists hijacked planes and coordinated suicide attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon? Take a moment and remember that day. Where were you? How did you hear this news? What was your response to all that was happening?

Events such as this tragedy also may be a reminder to us that “we know neither the day nor the hour” of our death! None of us have any guarantee of tomorrow. We truly only have today and perhaps only this moment! These types of events make us fearful (and understandably so)! However, these events also have the potential to motivate us to intentionally live each day well.

The reality is that none of us know the specific time of our death. However we do know that every day we are given a gift: the gift of 24 hours! How will you and how will I spend our gift, our time, today? Who will we spend our time with? Is God part of our answer?

Monday, November 24, 2014

Reflection: Luke 21:1-4

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

Today we begin the last week of our current Church year. Next Sunday we will begin a new Church year with the First Sunday of Advent. This week Jesus shifts his focus as He begins to prepare his disciples for what is to come.

Today Jesus is in the temple. As was the custom, the worshipers who came to the temple made a ritual offering. As He sat in the temple, Jesus observed the many people who were coming and going. He noticed several wealthy people making very substantial offerings.

Then Jesus noticed an older woman, a widow, who came and quietly gave two small coins. Jesus suspected that her resources were extremely limited. Despite this reality, the woman came and quietly made her offering to God. Yes, the widow only gave two small coins, but given her circumstances, her offering likely was a significant portion of her limited resources! Her generous offering clearly speaks of what was most important to this woman: God and the Temple of God!

What do we offer to God? Do we make a donation to our Church or to another worthy work or cause? How generous are we? However, do we also give God our love, our precious time and our attention? Do we bring our worries and concern to God? Do we thank God for the many blessings we receive? Yes, we do need to support our churches and good works! However, what God desires most is us! God is waiting! Will we come?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Reflection: Matthew 25:31-46

Matthew 25:31-46 – The Feast of Christ the King

Today we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. This feast is one of the most solemn feasts of our Church year. This week is the final week of our current Church year. Next Sunday, the 1st Sunday of Advent, we will begin a new Church year.

The Gospel reading for the feast of Christ the King may be a bit different than we anticipate. Given the name of this feast, we might assume that today’s Gospel would focus on Christ’s power, might and glory. Yes, in this Gospel Jesus does say, “when the Son of Man comes in glory He will sit on his throne and judge the nations.” However, Christ’s judgment differs from the way the world judges. Christ’s judgments of the nations will not be determined on the power and might the nations have but the nations will be judged on their care, concern and compassion for the least among them.

This Gospel is fitting as we enter into the final week of our Church year. This feast also reminds us that our time on earth is limited. This reminder may be one we prefer not to hear! However, this feast does give us the opportunity to reflect on our lives. Ask yourself: if you knew that you only had one month or one year to live, what would you do? What emotions do you think you would experience? Who and what would take priority in your life: your family, friends, work, enjoying life? Is God included in this list?

Our daily choices tell us what is most important in our lives. Think about your day: what and whom do you give your time and yourself to: work, play, family and friends, prayer? Seriously, who and what is most important to you at this time in your life? Is God in this picture?

The reality is that life can and does get crazy! At these times it can be easy to lose sight of who is “King” in our lives! This feast of Christ the King is a clear reminder of the One who should be first on our list and first in our lives!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Reflection: Luke 20:27-40

Luke 20:27-40 – 33rd Week in Ordinary Time

Today’s Gospel may be a bit difficult to understand. The Sadducees are challenging Jesus. They give him a scenario about seven brothers. The oldest brother married a woman who gave him no children. This man died without any offspring. However, the man had 6 brothers. Each brother in their turn married this woman. And each brother in turn died, without having any children! What is Jesus saying to us in this Gospel?

As we approach the end of this Church year, these readings invite us to pause and reflect on our lives. How are we living? Are we living in a way that is bearing “fruit” for our families, our friends, our co-workers, our world? Jesus’ talk of “the end time” might make us fearful or apprehensive! It sounds pretty alarming!

However, Jesus may simply be inviting us to stop and reflect deeply on our lives. How am I living? How well am I loving? Am I sharing the gifts I have? These may seem like small choices in a very big world. However, my choices and our choices affect everything and everyone in this world! What will I choose to do today?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Reflection: Luke 19:45-48

Luke 19:45-48 – 33rd Week in Ordinary Time

Today’s Gospel is extremely short: only 4 verses. Yet it opens with a somewhat violent scene: Jesus has taken a whip and is driving the moneychangers out of the temple area! This is not a Jesus we “see” very often! On this day, Jesus was extremely angry that this hallowed, holy temple was being used for commerce, for the making of money. This sacred temple was being defiled! Jesus was so angry he took a whip and drove the moneychangers out of the temple.

It can be easy to take sacred and safe places, such as a Church, for granted. At times, we may even forget that we are in a holy and sacred space. The next time you are in your church, I invite you to sit quietly for a few minutes. Notice the peace, the sacredness of this blessed space. Experience the presence of God in this holy place! Experience the presence of God in the people who are with you and around you!

As human beings, we all need sacred spaces, be that a church, a forest, the ocean, the mountains, a small lake or your own backyard. When we recognize the “sacred,” we know deep within us that God is there with us. Every moment of our day is sacred — if we perceive it that way! God is always with us!

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!"