Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Reflection: Luke 9:51-56

Tuesday in 28th Week in Ordinary Time - Luke 9: 51-56

Today’s Gospel reading is the foreshadowing of Jesus’s crucifixion and death. Jesus knew his arrest and death were likely, yet he held fast to his decision to travel to Jerusalem. He knew it was likely that he would be arrested. He also suspected that he might even die. Can you imagine the storm of emotions that must have been whirling around in Jesus’s mind and heart? Yet he decided to make the journey to Jerusalem!

Throughout the Gospels we see evidence of Jesus’s faith and trust in God. Today’s reading is a clear example of the depth of trust Jesus had in God. Do we have such faith? I hope so. We have to nurture our faith and trust in God each and every day! This creates a foundation and a relationship with God that will support and sustain us whenever we are in need. Today and every day let’s ask Jesus to deepen our trust and faith in him!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Reflection: John 1:47-51

Monday of the 28th Week in Ordinary Time - John 1:47-51

Today we celebrate the feast of several angels. As Christians we have heard about angels most of our lives. Our parents may have told us that the angels were watching over us or protecting us. As adults, I wonder what is our experience of angels? Do we even believe in angels?

I wish I could say that I have had a “close encounter” with an angel but I haven’t. What about you? Even if I had a close encounter with an angel, I don’t know if I would trust that experience. Or would I think I was going crazy? However, if I think about it in a different way, I realize that I have many angels in my life in the people I live and work with. Maybe I need to open my eyes and look deeper and trust that God’s angels not only watch over me but they may also be right beside me!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Reflection: Matthew 21:28-32

Sunday of the 27th Week in Ordinary Time- Matthew 21:28-32

Today’s Gospel is very familiar to us. It is the parable of the man who had two sons. The father told his first son to do the work that was needed in the vineyard. The first son absolutely refused to do as his father requested. I can easily imagine the father’s reaction. I am sure he was not pleased with this son’s refusal! Later, however, the son changed his mind and did go to work in the fields. What was it that caused him to change his mind? We simply don’t know.

The father then went to his younger son and asked him to work in the vineyard. The younger son told his father that he would go and work in the fields. However, the younger son did not follow through. After his father left him, he changed his mind and decided not to work in the vineyard. Who knows what he did instead! I wonder if he felt guilty for not doing what he said he would do?

I assume that we, too, have been in the position of both sons. At times we may feel that God is asking us to enter into a task or situation that we truly do not want to deal with. Initially we also may refuse or at least hesitate to say yes. Hopefully with time and grace we also may come to a place of acceptance and say yes to what God seems to be asking of us. It may take us some time to get to that place of acceptance but God promises to strengthen and grace us. May we pray for the grace to trust God in these moments! God will not disappoint!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Reflection: Luke 9:43b-45

Saturday of the 26th Week in Ordinary Time – Luke 9:43b-45

The Gospel today is the continuation of the conversation that Jesus had with his disciples in yesterday’s reading. Jesus tells the apostles to listen up. He knows that the road ahead of him is going to be very difficult and also troubling for his disciples. Jesus is trying to prepare them for what was ahead for all of them. Jesus told the apostles that he would be taken from them but Luke says: “the meaning was hidden from them.” They were not able to comprehend what was ahead of Jesus.

They had been with Jesus on the journey for a long time so they had to be aware of the conflict between Jesus and the Sanhedrin. I wonder what the apostles’ conversation was like after Jesus told them that he would be handed over! Did they have any idea of what would come? Luke says that the meaning was “hidden” from the apostles. And the apostles didn’t want to ask Jesus what he meant.

Jesus must have felt very alone on this journey. I am sure that there have been times in your life when you also felt very alone. At these times let us turn to Jesus who always is with us! Jesus will be there! May we also have the courage to open our hearts to someone we trust. God works through them also!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Reflection: Luke 9:18-22

Friday of the 25th Week in Ordinary Time – Luke 9:18-22

Today’s Gospel is extremely brief. It is only 3 verses. It opens with Jesus asking the apostles to tell him what people were saying about him. They told him the various things they had heard; some thought he was a prophet like John the Baptist. Others thought he may be one of the prophets from of old. Jesus listens to their answers. Then he pauses for a moment and asks them: “But who do you say that I am?” Immediately Peter blurts out an answer that came straight from his heart: “You are the Christ, the Christ of God.” He didn’t stop to think, he simply spoke what he believed!

 If Jesus asked you this question, what would your response be? What would my response be? Are we able to express who Jesus is to us? Today may we take the time to reflect on Jesus’s question to Peter and to us! “Who do you say that I am?”

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Reflection: Luke 9:7-9

Thursday of the 25th Week in Ordinary Time – Luke 9: 7-9

Today’s Gospel is very short and Herod is the central figure. It is the scene when Herod is trying to figure out who Jesus is. Herod had been hearing about Jesus. People had told him many fantastic stories about Jesus and his ministry. Others had told him that Jesus was John the Baptist raised from his grave, or maybe he was Elijah.

Herod wanted to know more about this man Jesus. What was Jesus truly about? Was he a crackpot? Was he a false prophet? What was his agenda? Or was he truly a “man of God?” At times, we also have questions about Jesus. Today let us ask ourselves: who do we think Jesus is? Like Herod, are we trying to learn more about Jesus? Perhaps today we can ask Jesus to help us come to know him more deeply and intimately!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Reflection: Luke 9:1-6

Wednesday of the 25th Week in Ordinary Time – Luke 9:1-6

Today’s Gospel is Jesus’s instruction to his new apostles. First of all he gives them power over demons and the ability to cure illnesses. He also is sending them forth to preach, teach and spread the good news of Jesus. Jesus even instructs them about what they should take on their journey. He also is frank with them and cautions his apostles. He bluntly tells them that some people will receive their words and others will not! They won’t always receive a warm welcome!

Today Jesus is instructing us also. He invites us to go forth and proclaim the good news today. How will we respond to this invitation? If we say yes, how will we proclaim the good news? Will we use words or just our actions? Remember: the good news is often hidden in the small things of life! Today may we be open to hear, see, respond and spread Jesus’s good news!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Reflection: Luke 8:19-21

Tuesday of the 25th Week in Ordinary Time – Luke 8:19-21

The Gospel for today is very short. It only has three verses. This Gospel tells the story of Mary, his mother, and his brothers coming to visit Jesus. Naturally they were anxious to see Jesus but he was surrounded by a large crowd of people. His disciples hurried to tell Jesus that his mother and family had come. Jesus responds to this information in a bit of a harsh way. He asks: who is my mother, my brothers and sisters? The words sound harsh and even uncaring.

However, perhaps Jesus was making the point that his kingdom is inclusive! He is “related to” and concerned about every person---not just his family. Jesus has a very large family. Everyone is invited! Some do not respond to this invitation but Jesus is continually inviting us. Jesus is there waiting for us! What will be my response? What will your response be?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Reflection: Luke 8:16-18

Monday of the 25th Week in Ordinary Time – Luke 8:16-18

Today’s Gospel is very short. It is just a few verses. In this Gospel, Jesus is instructing his disciples that the purpose of the light is to illuminate the room that it is placed in. Thus the lamp should be well placed so that the entire space is illuminated.

Then Jesus shifts his direction. He says that nothing will be hidden and everything will be visible. As he continues he says that all will be revealed: all secrets will be revealed and become known by others. Those words are intimidating to me! Personally I don’t want my life laid out for everyone to see! Would you? Most of my life is pretty normal. However, I still would not want everything about me revealed! If others did know everything about me, they might judge me or think of me differently!

I don’t think Jesus expects us to take these words literally. Perhaps these words are an invitation to us. He may simply be inviting us to pause and ask ourselves: Is there some area in my life that I truly would like to change? Is there something I want to stop doing? This week may we take the time to ponder Jesus’s words and ask: what is Jesus inviting you (and me) to do?

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Reflection: Matthew 20:1-16a

Sunday of the 25th Week in Ordinary Time – Matthew 20:1-16a

“The kingdom of heaven is like. . . .” Jesus is into parables! Today we have another parable that tells us about the kingdom of heaven. Today’s parable is the story of a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. The landowner and the workers negotiated a fair wage that both parties were content with. And the workers began to pick the grapes.

Several times during the day the landowner went back to the marketplace. Each time he went he hired more laborers to work in the vineyard. At the end of the day the landowner began to pay them. The men who were hired last were paid first. Surprisingly, they were given the usual daily wage! They must have been astounded. Some of them had only worked an hour or so! What a generous man the landowner was!

The workers who had been there all day then naturally expected that they would receive more than the amount they had agreed upon. After all, they had worked all day long! When they only received the amount they had agreed upon they were not happy. They complained that they were not paid more than had been negotiated. It seems like a reasonable expectation. However, the landowner simply paid them what he said he would! He paid them a just and fair wage. It was the workers’ expectations that changed!

The issue in this Gospel is not about fairness. It is about the generosity of the landowner. We appreciate it when God or someone else is generous to us. However, if someone else receives unexpected generosity, we may be a bit jealous. Yet, God gifts us abundantly every day. We just may not recognize it and give thanks for our abundance! Today may we open our eyes and hearts to recognize the many ways that God does gift us throughout our day.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Reflection: Luke 8:4-15

Saturday of the 24th Week in Ordinary Time – Luke 8:4-15

“A sower went out to sow. . . .” Just hearing those first few words, we know the “rest of the story.” Today’s Gospel is the parable of the seed being sown in various types of ground. Naturally, the crops were most abundant where the seed was sown in fertile ground. If the ground was rocky, naturally it could not produce a good crop.

For any plant, tree or crop to grow well, the ground it is planted in has to be fairly good ground. If the ground is not good, most likely, the crop will not be good. Jesus constantly is sowing his seed in our hearts. What is the “ground of our hearts” like? Do we ever ask ourselves that question? Today may be a good day to check in with our “inner” ground! Is it prepared and ready to receive the seed Jesus is sowing in me today? If not, what can I do to prepare it?

Friday, September 19, 2014

Reflection: Luke 8:1-3

Friday of the 24th Week of Ordinary Time – Luke 8:1-3

Today’s Gospel speaks of Jesus being on the road again. Luke chronicles Jesus’s journey from one village to another. In each town Jesus went to, he preached and shared the good news of the kingdom. Jesus is not the only one who is to preach and share the good news of the gospel. As Christians, all of us are called to imitate Jesus!

Today may we ask ourselves: what is the good news that I will share with each person I encounter today? It may be as simple as giving them a smile or a cheerful word! Little things can mean more than we can imagine!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Reflection: Luke 7:36-50

Thursday of the 24th Week in Ordinary Time – Luke 7:36-50

The Gospel for today is one that is very familiar. It is the story of the “sinful” woman who took an enormous risk by entering the house of a Pharisee. She came to anoint Jesus. She not only anointed Jesus but then she had the audacity to dry his feet with her hair! Just imagine the consternation this action must have caused!

Imagine the stares that must have been directed toward her and toward Jesus. Imagine the comments that were made by the men at table with Jesus. Undoubtedly her actions were scandalous in their eyes. However, to these men, Jesus’ actions were just as scandalous. Why would Jesus allow this sinful woman to touch him and to minister to him? Didn’t he know who she was? Didn’t he realize what her reputation was?

Jesus sees the heart of this woman. Jesus sees a woman who is truly repentant, a woman who desires to begin anew! And Jesus had the compassion and openness to accept her and forgive her!

Today may we let go of judgments! Today may we have the eyes as Jesus sees and strive to see the people we meet as Jesus sees them!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Reflection: Luke 7:31-35

Wednesday of the 24th Week in Ordinary Time – Luke 7:31-35

Today’s Gospel is a story that we all are familiar with. It is the story of the “sinful” woman who interrupted Jesus’ meal and began to bathe his feet. What a spectacle that must have been! It is no wonder that all the people around the table were talking about it, wondering how Jesus would handle it. How dare this “sinful” woman interrupt their meal!

Yet Jesus seems to take it in stride. He simply lets the scene unfold. Her actions and the tender care she took in bathing his feet must have touched him deeply. Her care said more than any words could have expressed. Jesus “heard” her unspoken thoughts and he loved her! At times, we also come to Jesus needing his care, his touch, his forgiveness! Can we trust that Jesus looks at us with the same love he showed this woman? I hope so!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Reflection: Luke 7:11-17

Tuesday of the 24th Week in Ordinary Time – Luke 7:11-17

The scene for today’s Gospel is the gate of the city of Nain. Jesus, his disciples and a crowd of his followers had just arrived in the city. As they came to the city gate, a man who had died was being carried out. This young man was his mother’s only son and she also was a widow. His death left her all alone. What sorrow the mother must have felt!

I doubt that the woman even saw Jesus. She was focused on her son and her great loss. But Jesus saw her pain and the Scripture says: “he was moved with pity.” Jesus didn’t just “notice” the woman. He truly “saw” her; he reached out to her and he literally “returned” her son to her! When did the woman realize the miracle that had happened? Did she think she was losing her mind? Was this really happening? Or did she simply trust?

At times, we too are in great pain and experiencing great loss. Do we trust that Jesus truly is with us? Do we believe that Jesus not only sees our pain but can we trust that he is reaching out to us, helping us get through the pain, the loss? At these times in our lives, it may be very difficult to trust Jesus. We even may begin to question what God is doing in our lives! Why is God letting this happening? Can I truly trust Jesus? At these painful times, may we pray for the grace to believe and trust that Jesus is right there with us, helping us get through this difficult time!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Reflection: John 19:25-27

Monday of the 24th Week in Ordinary Time – John 19:25-27

 Today is the feast of “Our Lady of Sorrows.” This devotion to Mary dates from the 14th century. The Gospel today depicts Mary standing at the foot of the cross watching her son die a horrible death. How many parents and family members have stood “at the foot of the cross” watching someone they love die? Watching, waiting, knowing what the end will be but faithfully staying with the one they love, journeying with them to end!

Mary went through so much in her lifetime: a visit from an angel announcing that she would give birth to a son even though she had never been with a man! What was it like when she had to face Joseph? She watched her son grow up and become a teacher. And she watched her son die a horrible death — and for what purpose? Yet Mary never lost her faith and her trust in God! She must have questioned at times. (She was human!) Yet she must have had a very real, a very deep relationship with the God who called her.

At times, we also stand at the foot of the cross. How do I — how do we — respond? Do we trust that God is with us? Today may we ask Mary to grant us a share of her faith and her trust in God!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Reflection: John 3:13-17

Sunday of the 24th Week in Ordinary Time – John 3:13-17

Today’s Gospel begins with Jesus talking with Nicodemus. Jesus is giving Nicodemus a preview of what is to come in his life. Just as in the desert Moses lifted up a serpent, Jesus also will be lifted up so that we may have eternal life! Jesus is speaking of his passion and death that is to come. Jesus had a sense of what would come but Nicodemus and his disciples did not have any idea what he was talking about.

Do I have this depth of love for someone that I would freely give my life for them? To tell the truth, I don’t know! I hope I would have the grace to “give my all” but would I? I don’t know! Yet God loves us so completely that God sent Jesus to be with us, to teach us and ultimately to die for us so that we would be saved!

Today may we pray for grace and the depth of love to be loving with our loved ones and our friends, to be kind and gentle with the people we struggle with and may we strive to be the face of Jesus to the people we meet today!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Reflection: Luke 6:43-49

Saturday of the 23rd Week in Ordinary Time- Luke 6:43-49

Today’s Gospel begins with Jesus talking about trees and the quality of fruit they bear. Jesus clearly says that each tree is known by the fruit it produces. Jesus takes this image one step further. He says that each of us also is known by the fruit that we bear!

When I reflect on this statement, it makes me wonder what type of fruit am I bearing? Am I producing good fruit, rotten fruit or fruit that is edible but not the best? For myself, I know that every day my fruit is a bit different! Some days I am very good at producing good fruit. Other days, my fruit is bruised and it may be beginning to rot!

At the end of the day, I don’t necessarily reflect on the fruit of my day — at least in the way Jesus talks about it. However, taking a few minutes to think back over the day and to be aware of what was fruitful, and what was not fruitful, may be good food for thought!

Taking the time to reflect may also influence the choices I make the next day. I believe that we all want to bear good fruit. Let us be mindful of making good choices today. Hopefully, we will make the choice today to bear the good fruit!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Reflection: Luke 6:39-42

Friday of the 23rd Week in Ordinary Time - Luke 6:39-42

In today’s Gospel, Jesus continues his teaching and formation of the apostles. Today Jesus is inviting us to become aware of how quickly we may jump to judgment of another person. At times, judgment of another person comes so automatically that we may not even consciously recognize it. Jesus may simply want us to be aware of what is going on in our minds. Once we are aware, then we have a choice about what action or attitude we want to take.

It is much easier to see the splinter in another person's eye than to recognize the splinter in my own eye. Perhaps recognizing the splinter in the other person’s eye makes us feel better about ourselves. Jesus is reminding us to be mindful! Our mind often jumps to judgment before we even are consciously aware of it. However, when we become aware of the judgment we are making, we can decide to let go of the judgment — or not! Today may we strive to be more consciously aware of what is going on in our minds and hearts.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Reflection: Luke 6:27-38

Thursday of the 23rd Week in Ordinary Time - Luke 6:27-38

The Gospel for today is a difficult one to hear. It is even more difficult to live out in our day to day lives. Today Jesus says to his followers, to us: “Love your enemies! Be kind, be good to those who hate or persecute you!” What is your instinctual response to Jesus’ words?

These words of Jesus are very familiar to us. We have heard these words numerous times. I assume that all of us at some point in our lives have struggled to “love our enemies.” At times we may have been able to do that but I assume that there have been times when it was impossible! The wound was too deep, too raw!

Perhaps the first step might be to ask for the desire and will to eventually forgive the other person. Forgiveness most often is a process. It may be a long process and taking this first step to even consider forgiveness may be all we can do. Jesus is asking us to take one step. We can determine what that step will be! Let us ask Jesus to give us the will and desire to forgive---eventually!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Reflection: Luke 6:20-26

Wednesday of the 23rd Week in Ordinary Time – Luke 6:20-26

The message in today’s Gospel is one that most of us do not want to hear. The first words in this passage are: Jesus says, “To you I say ‘love your enemies.’ However, Jesus does not stop there. He also tells the crowds that they should “bless the people who wronged them and pray for the ones who treated them badly.” Jesus goes even further and tells them they should “offer the other cheek.” The people must have thought that Jesus was crazy! How many of us would even think of doing that? Talk about being countercultural! Little did they know that in the future this is exactly how Jesus would treat the individuals who would betray, condemn and crucify him!

For us, this may seem impossible to do at this time in our lives. The wound may be too fresh, too deep, too devastating. And it truly may be impossible for us at this time. However, what we can do is begin to pray for the grace to be more open and forgiving of the individual who has hurt us. Or if we are not quite ready for this step, we can pray for the desire or will to forgive this individual. This is a powerful first step! Can we take just one step to forgiveness?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Reflection: Luke 6:12-19

Tuesday of the 23rd Week in Ordinary Time - Luke 6:12-19

Today’s Gospel begins with Jesus going up the mountain to pray. He spent the whole night in prayer. It is immediately after this time of deep solitude and prayer that he calls the twelve apostles. It is at this point Jesus begins to preach, to teach and to heal.

However, the word about Jesus must have already spread. The people of the area must have known that there was something very unusual about this man Jesus. As he came down the mountain, immediately he was surrounded by a great number of people. The people in the crowd were from various regions: Judea, Tyre, Sidon and from Jerusalem.

What was it that drew these people to Jesus? How had the word spread so quickly? In Jesus’ time there was no “web” or internet by which the word could be spread worldwide almost instantaneously. Yet somehow the word about Jesus had spread far and wide! What were the stories these people heard about this itinerant preacher, Jesus? Or had they heard him preach and wanted to hear more from him?

However, the people wanted more than to just hear Jesus preach. In the Gospel Luke says: “Everyone was trying to touch him.” The people had heard that great power flowed out from this man, Jesus. They had heard that he had the power to heal! They too had come wanting to be touched and healed by Jesus! What a gift that would be!

I assume that each of us also needs healing. The wound or injury may be an experience from the past. Or it may be a situation that is happening in our lives today. I would guess that every person on earth would like to be healed of something in their lives. We all need healing of one sort or another!

Today is an opportunity for each of us to come to Jesus and ask for the healing that we need and yearn for. Let us reach out and touch Jesus in some way today. It may be by prayer, reading this Scripture passage or just sitting quietly in the presence of Jesus. May we trust that Jesus will reach out and touch us in some loving and healing way today!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Reflection: Matthew 1:1-16, 18-23

The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary – Matthew 1:1-16, 18-23

Today is the feast of the birth of Mary. This feast is an ancient one that began as early as the 5th century. On this day, the Church celebrates Mary’s personal holiness as well as her call to be the mother of Jesus. Mary must have been an amazing young woman. She must have begun developing a very personal relationship with God at a very young age. Over the years, she must have learned that God was someone she could trust. Mary must have personally experienced God’s presence and love in her life as she grew up!

This deep and personal relationship with God must have been what enabled Mary to hear and respond to God’s mysterious and fantastic message. Put yourself in Mary’s shoes! How would you react if God came to you and asked you to do something so mysterious and far-fetched? Most of us would think we were crazy if we had an experience like Mary’s! Yet Mary trusted! She had the grace and courage to stay open to God’s call. From her youth, she must have developed a very strong and personal relationship with God.

This deeply personal relationship most likely is what enabled Mary to be open to God’s call and God’s action in her life. Would that we had that depth of faith and trust in God! Let us ask Mary to give us a share of her trust and faith in God!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Reflection: Luke 18:15-20

Sunday of the 23rd Week in Ordinary Time – Luke 18:15-20

The Gospel for today is a difficult passage to swallow. Jesus is telling the disciples: “If your brother or sister sins against you, go and talk with him/ her first.” When someone “sins against us,” typically the last thing we want to do is to go and talk with them! We may want to yell at them but to have a true “heart to heart” conversation is not easy to do.

What is your first reaction when someone “sins against you” (hurts us, makes us angry, etc.)? Is it to get angry? Or is to get hurt? Do you withdraw? Do you talk with them calmly or in an angry or confronting way? Our approach to the other person is very important. If we approach the individual in anger, he or she may be more likely to respond in an angry way. However, if we approach them calmly yet honestly, they still may be defensive but perhaps they also may be open to hear what we are saying.

In the Gospels, Jesus gives us good examples of this. Most often Jesus spoke what was in his mind and heart in a sincere yet honest way. It is important that we also speak what is in our hearts and minds — in a sincere yet honest way. If a relationship truly is important to us, we need to be honest and to share what it is we are thinking and feeling. If we don’t do this, our anger, hurt, jealousy, etc., may begin to erode the relationship we have!

In these types of situations, perhaps the first thing we need to do is to “pray about it.” That may sound simple and pious. When we get upset, our instinctive reaction may not necessarily be the best way to handle it! We might say something that we later regret!

Taking time to stop, breathe and pray gives us the opportunity to reflect more deeply on what next step might be helpful. Stepping back for a time may gradually calm our minds and our hearts. This may enable us to approach the other person in a calmer and more prayerful way. We still need to be honest about how we feel but how we approach the other person often affects how they respond. This takes courage to do! The gift is we don’t have to do this alone! May we trust that God will grace us with what we need!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Reflection: Luke 6:1-5

Saturday of the 22nd Week in Ordinary Time – Luke 6:1-5

In today’s Gospel, the Pharisees continue to find fault with Jesus. The criticism this time is that Jesus’ disciples are picking grain from the fields and then having the audacity to eat it on the Sabbath! This was breaking the law in their eyes of the Pharisees. However, I don’t think Jesus would have been able to do anything right in the minds of the Pharisees! They were continually harassing and criticizing him.

Periodically we might need to ask ourselves: Who do I find fault with? Do I truly have legitimate cause to mentally or verbally criticize them? It is so easy to get into the pattern of finding fault with others. We all do it! Perhaps what is more important is that we recognize what we are doing. If we do that, then that we can consciously shift our thoughts and let go of the judgment we are making.

At times we still need to be honest with others in an appropriate way. Before we speak, perhaps we can ask ourselves: “What would Jesus do?” I have no doubt that Jesus will help us to have the wisdom and discernment that we need!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Reflection: Luke 5:33-39

Friday of the 22nd Week in Ordinary Time – Luke 5:33-39

Today, the Pharisees are criticizing Jesus for not being ascetical enough. In their eyes Jesus and his disciples should be fasting and praying more — a lot more! They think that Jesus should be as ascetical as John the Baptist and as ascetical as the Pharisees.

It is so tempting to criticize and judge others on the basis of what we “see and observe.” This is exactly what the Pharisees do in today’s Gospel. In their eyes, Jesus should be more ascetical. He should be more like John the Baptist, eating locusts and wild honey!! We all have our own standards of what we think is best and how others should act. However, I assume that most of us don’t appreciate it when another person criticizes or judges us simply by observing our behavior!

Jesus invites his listeners to look at the situation in a different way. He tells them that he is doing something new. Are we open to the “new” that Jesus may be inviting us to? This may be an uncomfortable invitation. Like the Pharisees, I can get comfortable with the ways things have always been. I may be tempted to criticize another person who is not doing things the way I think they “should” be done. Jesus is challenging the Pharisees, and us, to be “open” to other ways of doing things. He is challenging them not to judge others so quickly. Today may we be mindful of not “jumping to judgment!”

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Reflection: Luke 5:1-11

Thursday of the 22nd Week in Ordinary Time – Luke 5:1-11

Today’s Gospel begins with Jesus getting into a boat and teaching the crowds from offshore. After he finished teaching, Jesus tells Simon to put out into deep water and to lower their nets. However, that was the last thing Peter wanted to hear. They had been fishing all day long and had caught nothing! Peter was tired and frustrated. He was ready to go home and rest. However, after a time Peter reluctantly says: “at your request I will lower the nets.” To Peter’s great surprise they caught so many fish their nets began to tear!

I would guess that most of us can identify with Peter! We too have times in our lives when it seems like we are not succeeding. We may be making great efforts to live life well. We may be working diligently and doing our best. However, these efforts don’t seem to bear much fruit. At these times, it is natural to get disheartened and frustrated! However, will we be open and respond to Jesus’ invitation to “keep lowering our nets?” Or will we say “enough is enough.” Or will we listen to his call, heed his voice and trust him? May we pray for the grace to have an open mind and a willing heart!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Reflection: Luke 4:38-44

Wednesday of the 22nd Week in Ordinary Time – Luke 4:38-44

Today’s Gospel contains several “healing” stories. The first story is Jesus healing Simon’s mother-in-law, who was afflicted with a serious fever. When Jesus heard this news, he immediately went to her, rebuked the fever and she was healed. She must have been instantly restored since the Gospel says that she “got up” and served the apostles!

However, this was not the end of Jesus’ ministry that day. At sunset, Luke says that “all the people who were sick with a variety of diseases were brought to Jesus” for healing. Jesus took compassion on them and “laid hands on them.” What a great gift it would be if Jesus was physically in our midst today and we could bring to him the many people who yearn for healing. Most likely, each one of us would be vying to be first in line! Perhaps the call of this Gospel is for us to pray and to “lay hands” on those in need with our care and concern. This too is gift!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Reflection: Luke 4:31-37

Tuesday of the 22nd Week in Ordinary Time – Luke 4:31-37 

The Gospel reading for today is the story of Jesus healing the “man with the unclean spirit.” The reading is somewhat fantastic! The demon seemed to have complete control of the possessed man. However, the demon immediately recognized the goodness and the power of Jesus! In response, the demon was fearful of Jesus and what Jesus might do. However, Jesus simply and quietly ordered the demon to come out of the man. The demon obeyed and the man was healed!

Each one of us has our own “unclean spirits.” I doubt that they are “demons” like the one in this story. However, our “demons” often control us much more than we would like! What are your “unclean spirits,” your “demons?” I assume all of us want to be healed. Do we trust that Jesus hears our plea? Do we believe that Jesus can and will heal us? Our healing may not be an immediate “miracle” as the man’s was. Rather our healing may be a gradual healing as we continue to bring our request to Jesus. May we pray for the grace to put our trust in Jesus and believe that Jesus will answer our prayer!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Reflection: Matthew 6:31-34

Matthew 6:31-34 (Monday of the 22nd Week in Ordinary Time)

Today’s Gospel begins with the words: “Do not worry.” “Worry” is something that we human beings do all the time. We worry about the “big” things and rightly so. However, we often worry about the “little” things in life. Life would be so much better if we didn’t have so much to “worry” about! It is true that at times in our lives we do have significant difficulties or problems that we are rightly concerned about. However, worrying does not necessarily make life better. Our worry actually may intensify our concern. Perhaps the better action is to take our “worry” or “concern” to God and put it into God’s hands! Do we, do I, trust God enough to do that?