Monday, October 20, 2014

Reflection: Luke 2:13-21

30th Week in Ordinary Time – Luke 2:13-21  

Every day we receive a multitude of messages that tell us we “need” more: a bigger house, a newer car, more money in the bank, a better job. If we spend any amount of time watching television, listening to the radio or surfing the Internet, we are bombarded with messages that tell us that we “need” more. Or that we need “bigger and better.” This voice of greed is seductive. Most of us do appreciate our “creature comforts” as well as the “tools and toys” that make life a bit easier.

The message in today’s Gospel is a reminder that we need to be intensely mindful. We need to be mindful of the temptations around us and mindful of asking ourselves: “how much do I truly need?” We have lived life long enough to know that “more” doesn’t guarantee happiness! Yet that seductive voice is there no matter where we are or what we are doing!

Today which voice will you listen to: the voice of greed or the voice of God?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Reflection: Matthew 22:15-21

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Matthew 22:15-21

Today’s Gospel begins with the Pharisees plotting against Jesus. They ask Jesus if it is lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar. The Pharisees ask the question only because they hope to trap Jesus by his answer. However, Jesus is well aware that they only want to discredit him in the people’s eyes. Jesus knew that regardless of how he answered the question, it would be wrong in the mind of the Pharisees. Thus he doesn’t answer the question directly.

Jesus decides to take a different approach. He asks for the coin that typically was used for paying the census tax. Then he asks the Pharisees whose picture is on the coin. Naturally they reply that it is Caesar’s picture. Then Jesus responds to their question. His statement is very concise: they should give to Caesar what belongs to him! But then Jesus added a few simple but powerful words: “repay to God what belongs to God!”

All that we have comes from our loving God! Today what can you give to God? What can I give to God? Perhaps we can simply give God some quality time and attention! It may be all that God longs for!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Reflection: Luke: 10:1-9

Luke: 10:1-9 – 28th Week of Ordinary Time

Today the Church celebrates the feast day of St. Luke, one of the four evangelists. In the Gospel Jesus sends 72 of his disciples out into the towns and villages that he intended to visit. These 72 disciples were to inform the people that he was coming. They were to prepare the way for him.

Jesus then gives the disciples instructions for this journey. He tells his disciples to pack lightly for the journey. They should not take any money, luggage or sandals. Now ask yourself: can you imagine leaving on a trip without any money or credit cards? Jesus tells them they are to trust that God will provide for them.

I wonder how the disciples reacted to Jesus’ statement! Ask yourself: if you were sent on a journey and you were told to take nothing with you except the clothes on your back, how would you react? Personally I would be tempted to pack a “little” bag just in case I needed something!

Today Jesus is sending us forth to preach the “Good News.” He gives us the same instructions that he gave the Apostles: “take nothing with you.” All we are to take with us is the “Good News” of Jesus! What is the “good news of Jesus” that you want to share today?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Reflection: Luke 12:1-7

Luke 12:1-7 – 28th Week of Ordinary Time

The Gospel today is a bit sobering. Jesus tells his disciples that everything that is concealed will be revealed. He also tells them that every secret will be made known. For me, this statement is somewhat intimidating and a bit frightening!

Immediately after these words, Jesus completely shifts his focus. He tells his disciples that there is no need to fear when someone threatens to harm you. He reminds that God is always watching over them. Thus, they have nothing to fear!

Jesus uses the image of five sparrows that were sold for almost nothing. In Jesus’ time, they simply were a product to buy. Jesus presents a different picture. He tells his listeners that not one of the sparrows escapes God’s attention. Each sparrow is important; each sparrow is significant. Jesus tells his listeners that each one of them is being watched over by a loving and caring God. Do you think they believed him?

Today Jesus is also saying this to each one of us: each and every one of us is deeply significant to God. Do you, do I, truly believe and trust what Jesus is saying? Do we believe that we are worth more than many sparrows? If today we are not able to believe this is true, may we pray for the grace to trust and believe that God loves us more than we can ever imagine!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Reflection: Luke 11:47-54

Luke 11:47-54 — 28th Week of Ordinary Time

Jesus is not done with the Pharisees yet. He continues his confrontation of the Pharisees who do not practice what they preach. They harshly judge others simply by observing their actions. Have you ever been judged by another person for what they saw you do without asking you why you did it? I imagine that we have been on both sides of this scenario. We have judged others on what we observed. And we also have been judged by another because of what they observed us doing.

Often we are not even aware that we are making a judgment. Our minds work so quickly and so automatically. We may think we know the reason why someone is doing a particular thing. However, we might be completely wrong! We see only one small portion of the picture — and we may judge the individual on that glimpse.

I don’t appreciate it when another judges me on a piece of the picture! I assume you also don’t like it if someone judges you unfairly. None of us have the right to judge. Only God alone has that ability!

Today when we find ourselves making a judgment about someone or something, may we stop, breathe and then let go of the judgment! It not only frees the other person, it frees us!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Reflection: Luke 11:42-46

Luke 11:42-46 — 28th Week of Ordinary Time

The Gospel today opens with Jesus continuing his confrontation of the Pharisees. Jesus is extremely angry with the Pharisees. He accuses them of paying their tithes simply to “look good” rather than acting out of love of God and/or love and concern for their neighbor. Jesus directly confronts them. He is almost brutal with them. Jesus makes it very clear what he thinks of them.

Today Jesus also is challenging each of us to examine why we do what we do! Do we do it simply because it is expected of us? Or do we act in a certain way because we want others to think well of us? Or do we choose to do something because it is the “loving” thing to do? As we walk through our day today, may we be mindful of our motivations. Let us pray that today and every day that all our actions will flow from our love for God and our love for God’s people!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Reflection: Luke 11:37-41

Luke 11:37-41 – 28th Week of Ordinary Time

The Gospel for today is extremely short (only 4 verses). Jesus had been preaching much of the day. After he finishes, one of the men in the crowd who was a Pharisee invited Jesus to come to his house and dine with him. Jesus accepted his invitation.

The meal had begun when suddenly the host realized that Jesus had not observed the ritual washing that was customary before dining. The man was very surprised at this! From the Gospel we don’t know if the host confronted Jesus about this infraction of Jewish customs or if Jesus simply saw that his host was upset that Jesus had not honored one of the customs of their faith!

In the reading Jesus gets very impatient with the man and his rules and regulations. Jesus accuses the man of outwardly doing what is required by their customs. Jesus could see that the Pharisee’s heart was filled with greed! The Pharisee followed the law but what was his motivation?

Today Jesus invites us to look closely at our motivations. Why do we do what we do? Are our choices and actions prompted by our desire to truly follow Jesus’ example? Or do we do what is considered correct simply because we want to “look good?”

Monday, October 13, 2014

Reflection: Luke 11:29-32

Luke 11:29-32 – 28th Week of Ordinary Time

Today we see a Jesus who is upset and extremely perturbed. The crowd keeps asking him “for a sign.” Most likely they want to see Jesus perform a miracle, perhaps to heal someone or to raise someone from the dead. They want Jesus to do something fantastic. They want proof that he truly is a miracle worker.

As Jesus listens to their requests he gets extremely angry with them. The people were not coming out to hear his word or to have their hearts and minds changed. They came wanting to see something miraculous. Many came because they wanted to see Jesus, the “wonder worker.” Jesus hoped that they had come to listen to his Word and to experience a change of heart.

At times, we also come to Jesus wanting a “sign.” We may come to him hoping for a miracle! Do we come to Jesus only because we are “in need” or desperate? Or do we come to him yearning to be his presence and to experience his strength and his grace?

Today as we come to Jesus, may we simply trust that Jesus is with us! And may we open our eyes to the unexpected and small ways that Jesus is present to us!