Friday, October 31, 2014

Reflection: Luke 14:1-6

30th Week in Ordinary Time - Luke 14:1-6

In today’s Gospel Jesus breaks many of the “rules” of Jewish decorum: he heals on the Sabbath! In Jewish culture the custom on the Sabbath was to refrain from most every activity on that holy day. Sabbath was to be a day of rest, a day of “returning” to God. The focus on Sabbath was to be on God alone.

Jesus however once again breaks the rules of his culture. While he was at table in the house of a Jewish leader, a man suffering from dropsy was brought in and he was laid down in front of Jesus. Jesus did not immediately heal the man. First he addressed the Pharisees and the “learned” scholars who were present. He asked them if it was proper or lawful to heal on the Sabbath. They do not reply; they remain silent. Jesus then healed the man and sets him free of his infirmity!

Law is important in our world. However, the purpose and intent of the law is to insure safety, security and peace for the peoples of the world. However at times, we may put the “rules” before what is loving and healthy for an individual, family or community. True, we may be keeping the “law” or “rule.” However we may be breaking the greatest commandment: “Love your neighbor.” Jesus, today help us be mindful to use the “law” for the good of others and not just to “keep the rules.” Today and every day may we follow your example!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Reflection: Luke 13:31-35

30th Week in Ordinary Time - Luke 13:31-35

Today several of the Pharisees come to Jesus. They warn him that Herod is planning to kill him. These men seem sincere in their concern for Jesus and his safety. However Jesus does not heed their warning. Rather he tells them that they should go to Herod and report to him all the wonders and signs that Jesus had done.

I wonder how these Pharisees reacted to Jesus’ suggestion. I suspect they did not want to talk to Herod about Jesus! What would Herod think? Would he assume they were followers of Jesus? Most likely they didn’t want Herod to think they had any connection to Jesus!

Even though these Pharisees didn’t like what Jesus was preaching, they also seemed to respect him. Their desire to protect Jesus seems very sincere. Have you ever been in a similar situation? At these times, there is not a clear answer. There often is no certainty about what is “right” and what is “wrong.” All we can do is pray and then choose what seems best for all involved and then act. Jesus will grace us with the wisdom and insight we need!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Reflection: Luke 13:22-30

30th Week in Ordinary Time – Luke 13:22-30

The Gospel today begins with someone in the crowd asking Jesus if only select people will be “saved.” In differing situations, we might hear conversation or homilies about “being saved.” Ask yourself: do you worry about “being saved?” If so, what is the source of your anxiety? What does it stem from? Does it come from not being perfect? Or do you worry about some choices you made in the past that were not good for you or for the people you love?

None of us is perfect — as we well know. We are far from it! The good news is Jesus gives us many more chances than we deserve. Jesus is the most loving and forgiving person who ever walked on the face of this earth! He knows that we are human. He knows that at times we will hurt others, berate ourselves, make poor choices and we may even turn away from Jesus for a time. Jesus knows this well and yet he continues to love us! He never stops inviting us to “come home.”

Jesus doesn’t ask us to be perfect. He simply wants us to come to him as we are. Do we, do I, trust his love is for us? Jesus is waiting! What do I choose to do?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Reflection: Luke 6:12-16

Feast of Saints Simon and Jude–Luke 6:12-16

The Gospel today begins with Jesus going up the mountain to pray. St. Luke writes that Jesus spent the whole night in prayer and meditation.

However, when daylight came Jesus called his disciples together. He then chose twelve of them to be his Apostles. Jesus must have known them well. And these men must have known Jesus fairly well. I doubt that it was easy for them to leave their families. Yet they followed their hearts and left their homes and their families to follow Jesus wherever he went! What trust! What generosity!

Today Jesus is calling us to “follow him.” What is our response to his invitation? Will we respond to his invitation as his disciples did? Or will we make excuses that the “time is not right?” May we have the grace to follow Jesus today! He will lead us!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Reflection: Luke 13:10-17

30th Week in Ordinary Time –Luke 13:10-17

Today we have another familiar story. The primary character in this Gospel is a woman who had been crippled and incapacitated for 18 years. She was bent over and she was unable to stand up straight. Her whole world must have been limited by her infirmity. Can you imagine not being able to look into another person’s eyes as you were talking with them?

Yet her infirmity was only one aspect of this woman. Jesus looked deeply at the woman and truly “saw” her. He saw her — not her infirmity. And Jesus had compassion on her: he healed her of her infirmity! She immediately responded to his great gift by praising and glorifying God.

Many in the crowd were astounded by Jesus’ ability to cure her. However, the leader of the local synagogue was extremely upset by Jesus “healing” on the Sabbath. To this man, the law was more important than the life and health of this woman. He bluntly said this to Jesus! Jesus responds to his remark harshly. Jesus says that anyone who owns animals feeds and waters them on the Sabbath. Should this woman not be healed simply because it was the Sabbath? Did she deserve less than the animals?

At times we also become legalistic. And we may judge someone harshly — even though it is not ours to judge. At times the judgment comes so automatically, I am hardly aware of it.

Today as we move through our day may we be mindful of our thoughts and especially of our judgments! If or when we become aware that we are judging another, let us consciously choose to “let go” of the judgment! God will bless us! (And we will feel better about ourselves!)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Reflection: Matthew 22:34-40

30th Week in Ordinary Time –Matthew 22:34-40

The Gospel today is a familiar one. The scene opens with a scholar of the law testing Jesus by asking him: “What commandment is the greatest commandment?” Jesus replies with the “correct” answer: “You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, with all your soul and with all your mind,” and “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

If we were asked this question, it is likely we would give the “correct” answer. The challenge however is living out that “answer” each and every day of our lives. Yes, I have good intentions to love my neighbor, but today this neighbor (spouse, friend, child) is driving me nuts! Or I may be preoccupied with the challenges of the day---and all my good intentions are forgotten. This isn’t wrong or bad. It is natural. The reality is that we won’t always “feel” loving with our spouse, child, friend or neighbor. The challenge is to let go of our frustration or anger and renew my intention to love my neighbor with my whole being---even if my neighbor is driving me nuts!

Today may we ask God to give us the grace to truly “be loving” with each person we encounter today. God will hear our prayer!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Reflection: Luke 13:1-9

29th Week in Ordinary Time –Luke 13:1-9

Each day this week in the Gospels, the intensity of Jesus continues to build. Today’s parable is the story of the fig tree that was not bearing fruit. The owner had been waiting for this fruit for three long years. Finally, the owner told the gardener to cut the tree down. The tree was barren and he wanted it gone.

However, the gardener interceded for the tree. He was not ready to give up on the tree. The gardener asked the owner to give the tree one more year, one more chance. The gardener promised to fertilize and cultivate the tree to the best of his ability. At the next harvest, if the tree still was not bearing fruit, then he would cut it down.

Naturally in this parable God is the gardener. And no matter how “fruitless” we may be, God is not ready to give up on us! We belong to God; God loves us! And God will give us every possible chance to be fruitful! Today may we open our hearts to God’s action in our lives and then trust that we will bear fruit!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Reflection: Luke 12:54-59

29th Week in Ordinary Time –Luke 12:54-59

In today’s Gospel, Jesus’ frustration with the Pharisees comes through loud and clear. He challenges them to think and reflect well and then judge for themselves what seems to be “right.” Jesus wants us to work things out among ourselves rather than running to “mom” or “Father” or whoever is the judge we rely on to tell us what is right.

Rather than running to someone else, it may be good to consult our own heart and mind when we need to “judge” or make a decision. Deep within us we all have a “knowing” of what truly is the right thing to do (the voice of God?)! Sadly, too often we simply do not listen to this voice! We trust other voices rather than the voice of God we hear in our hearts!!

Today may we trust that God does speak to us and God does enlighten us! God will not disappoint!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Reflection: Luke 12:49-53

29th Week in Ordinary Time –Luke 12:49-53

Today’s Gospel is not an easy one to read. Jesus speaks of “setting the earth on fire” and he wants it to be hot and blazing! He also speaks of the anguish and pain and that he anticipates his “baptism” which lies ahead of him.

Jesus speaks of families that will be divided: father against son, mother against daughter, neighbors who are at odds with each other. Too often we experience these divisions in our own families, our local communities, our church and our world.

Will we ever be one truly united “human community?”

For a moment, imagine how our world would be different if all of us on the face of this earth were united? No more war, no more hate, no more violence! In the face of the rampant violence, hate, fear and war, it is extremely tempting to “give up” on our world. Yet without hope we are lost! Without hope we despair!

Today may we be beacons of hope and faith to our families, neighborhoods, country and even to the world. If we join together in this effort, we might be astounded at the impact it has on our family, neighborhood and even our world!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Reflection: Luke 12:39-48

29th Week in Ordinary Time –Luke 12:39-48

Today Jesus continues his instruction of his disciples. He reminds me of a Boy Scout leader who is preparing his scouts for a hike or camp out. Jesus’ instruction is very simple: he tells his disciples that they need to “be prepared.” However, the event they need to be prepared for is the hour when the “Son of Man” will come! Jesus tells them that He will come at a time when they do not expect him! Thus, they need to be alert and attentive. They need to have open minds and open hearts.

Jesus also is telling us to “be prepared” today! We don’t know how or when Jesus will come but He will come to us this day! Will having this assurance make a difference in how you go about your day? Will we be looking for Jesus in every person or every situation today? Or will we just “go about our business” as usual?

The reality is that Jesus comes to us every day, not just periodically! The difficulty lies with us. We may not expect Jesus to be present or we may be too busy to notice his coming. Or we may not have the open eyes or heart to recognize him. Jesus often comes to us in a disguise! He will be there with us! Will we recognize him?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Relfection: Luke 12:35-38

29th Week in Ordinary Time –Luke 12:35-38

The Gospel for today opens with Jesus telling his disciples to “gird their loins and light their lamps.” In Jesus’ day, the disciples understood exactly what he meant. These two actions are part of the preparation for the master’s return. These are not words that we would use today. However, the custom of preparing for guests and then waiting for their arrival also is part of our lives today!!

Jesus says that the servants who wait patiently for their master’s return will be blessed for their vigilance and their patience. Every day we also “wait” for the coming of Jesus into our lives. Some days, we clearly know when and how Jesus has been present to us. Other days, we may wait and wait and wait for his coming and we may never tangibly experience his presence. Perhaps what is most important is our “watching and the waiting.” If we don’t open our eyes and hearts to “look” for Jesus throughout our day, we simply may miss his coming! However, if we are watchful and vigilant, we may see Jesus in everyplace we go and more importantly, in each person we encounter!

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!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Reflection: Matthew: 22:1-14

Matthew: 22:1-14 — 28th Sunday Cycle C

Today’s Gospel is the story of the king who held a wedding feast for his son and new daughter-in-law. As is our custom today, the king invited guests to come and celebrate this special occasion with the bride and groom and their families. In Jewish life a wedding banquet could last for up to a week. Naturally the king expected that everyone would accept his invitation. His invitation was not well received. Some of the guests who were invited simply ignored the invitation. Other invited guests actually attacked and killed the king’s servants!

When the remaining servants went back to their master and told him what had happened, the king immediately ordered his troops to return to that city, kill the murderers and level the city! The troops immediately went and obeyed his order!

The king, however, was determined to have the great wedding feast for his son. He sent his troops out into the “highways and byways” to gather everyone they could find and bring them to this celebration. The servants did as they were told. Gradually the wedding hall was filled and the bride and groom had a wonderful wedding feast.

Today Jesus invites us to come to the feast! How will we respond?

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Reflection: Luke 11:27-28

Luke 11:27-28

The Gospel for today is only two verses long. The scene picks up from yesterday’s Gospel when Jesus was preaching to the crowds. On this day as he was preaching, a woman in the crowd called out to him and cried out that his mother was “blessed” for giving birth to him and for nursing him! Jesus responds to her comment by saying: it is not enough simply to “hear” the word! What is most important is how we “live” the word each day of our lives! Hearing or listening to the “word” is easy. Putting it into practice is a daily choice and a daily decision. What do we choose to do?

Friday, October 10, 2014

Reflection: Luke 11:15-26

Luke 11:15-26

Today Jesus speaks about the danger of “being divided.” He tells the crowd that if a kingdom is divided, it definitely will fall. At times in our lives, we may be “divided” from people we care about the most. Perhaps we are on opposite sides of a political or religious issue with a spouse, child or friend. Or there may be a painful situation that caused a fracture in the family or with a friend.

Jesus warns his listeners that division weakens relationships. It doesn’t matter if the relationship is with a family member, a friend, or a co-worker. Yet Jesus isn’t telling that we always need to “agree” with everyone. We do need to “be true to ourselves” and honest—especially with the people who matter the most!

Today may we be mindful of our inner stance: are we divided in some way? Is there a loved one or another individual that we are distanced from? Have we distanced ourselves from God? Or Jesus? Today may we pray for the grace of peace, harmony and wholeness!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Reflection: Luke 11:5-13

Luke 11:5-13

Today’s Gospel begins with Jesus asking his disciples “what they would do” if a friend woke them out of a deep sleep in the middle of the night and asked them for a loaf of bread. Honestly, ask yourself: how would you respond? If the friend continues to persist, most likely we will give them what they want so we can have some peace!

Jesus talks about this scenario but then moves into a passage that is very familiar: “Ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened.” Ask yourself: do you take Jesus’s words literally?

I assume that most of us have learned over the years not to take Jesus’s words literally. At times in my life, I know that Jesus has answered my prayer. However, there have been other times when I believe that my prayer has not been answered — at least in the way I wanted it to be answered. Are my expectations too concrete? Is it realistic for me to expect to receive exactly what I asked for since it doesn’t usually happen that way? However, does this mean that my asking, seeking and knocking are in vain? Does this mean that Jesus is not listening to me?

I strive to trust and believe that Jesus does respond to me. However, I don’t always recognize his response at the time. Other times I may be so upset about not getting the answer I “wanted” that I don’t have the openness to recognize the answer I receive!

Today may we pray for open eyes, open minds and open hearts to hear, for Jesus may be answering us! We may receive more than we asked for!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Reflection: Luke 11:1-4

Luke 11:1-4

“Lord, teach us to pray!” These words are simple yet very powerful. Many of us learned to pray when we were young children. We learned the Hail Mary, Our Father and other prayers. As we matured, the prayer forms that were meaningful to us as children gradually may become “rote” prayers.

As adults, we may need to explore other prayer forms that possibly could be meaningful to us at this stage in our lives. The Hail Mary, Our Father, etc., most likely will still be a meaningful form of prayer. However our lives may be enhanced by trying a different way of praying periodically. It may open us to experiencing new facets of God!

Today may we also say to Jesus: “Lord, teach us to pray!” Then may we have open, listening minds and open hearts!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Reflection: Luke 10:38-42

Luke 10:38-42

The characters in today’s Gospel are very familiar to us: Martha, Mary and Jesus. We know the scene well. Jesus has come to visit Martha and Mary. When Jesus arrives, Martha begins to prepare a meal for Jesus. While Martha was busy in the kitchen, Mary made him comfortable and then sat down to visit with him.

However Martha got very upset with Mary because she was “slacking off!” She was not helping Martha prepare the meal. Instead Mary just sat there and talked with Jesus while Martha fumed!

Each of us has a “Martha” and a “Mary” within us no matter what our gender may be. The natures of these two women mirror the personalities of many of us. As we grow up, we naturally begin to develop more “Martha- like” characteristics or “Mary-like” characteristics. Who knows why.

We all know both men and women who tend to be more like Martha. And we also know
others who tend to be more like Mary. It is normal that the “Martha’s” and “Mary’s” get on one another’s nerves at times since they approach situations in very different ways. But what a gift it is when we are able to recognize and appreciate one another’s strengths and gifts.

God is creative and God made each of us “one of a kind.” Today may we give thanks for the many unique and beautiful people in our lives! And also give thanks for our own beauty and uniqueness!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Reflection: Luke 10:25-37

Luke 10:25-37

The Gospel for today is a familiar one. It begins with a scholar of the law testing Jesus. The scholar asks Jesus what he needs to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus fires a question back at him and asks the scholar what the law says. The man replies correctly: “You should love God wholeheartedly and also love your neighbor.” Jesus agreed that he replied correctly.

The scholar however is not satisfied with his answer. He then asks Jesus another question: “who is your neighbor?” Once again Jesus does not answer him directly. Rather Jesus describes a scenario in which a man who was traveling alone was robbed, beaten and left for dead on the roadside. Eventually a priest came by, ignored him and continued on his way. Later a Levite (a holy man) came along. He also made it a point to “pass by on the other side of the road.” He did not want to be contaminated by this unclean man. Then a while later a Samaritan came along. The Samaritans were a people despised by many of the Jews because they were a “mixed society” with both Jewish and pagan ancestry. Yet it was this “despised man” who stopped and cared for the injured man. He even took him to an inn and paid for him to be nursed back to health! His actions clearly spoke of his “love of neighbor!”

In today’s world most of us are cautioned to be careful — especially with strangers. And to a degree this is good advice. However, in today’s Gospel Jesus tells us to reach out and care for those who are in need—despite their race, religion, or political opinions!

Today may we open our eyes, mind and heart to someone who is in need and do what we can to care for them. May we have the eyes of Jesus and “see” every person as he does — one of God’s beloved!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Reflection: Matthew 21:33-43

Matthew 21:33-43

Today’s Gospel reading is a bit of a “downer.” It is the parable of the landowner who leased his vineyard to tenants and then went on a journey. After a period of time the landowner sent his servants back to check on the tenants and to get his share of the crops. However, when the servants arrived, the tenants attacked one servant, killed the second one and stoned the third servant. When the landowner heard this horrible news, he sent more servants but the tenants treated them in the same manner. Then the landowner sent his son. He thought they surely would respect the authority of his son. This was not the case. Instead the tenants killed his son and took possession of the vineyard!

What a familiar story this is. In the past centuries our world has not changed much. Yes, we have advanced technologically, we live longer and we have a better standard of living. Yet we continue to alienate, hurt and kill one another. We negotiate peace in one country and conflict breaks out in another. What is wrong with our human community? Why do we continue to hurt, maim and kill one another?

There is so much violence and conflict in our world that it often feels that it is beyond my ability to change or influence the situation. And in some many ways it is true. Neither you nor I have the power to stop all the violence that is happening in the world. However, there is something we can do: each day we can strive to be women and men of peace. This may seem like a small thing to do. However, this is where peace has to begin: in the hearts of each one of us! Today may we begin!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Reflection: Luke 10:17-24

Luke 10:17-24

Today’s Gospel opens with the 72 disciples of Jesus returning from a journey. Jesus had sent them out to preach and teach his message. They came back excited and very anxious to tell him about all the wonders they worked. Even the demons had obeyed them!

After Jesus listens to their stories, he makes it clear to them that it was not their ability that enabled them to heal the sick or to drive out demons. Rather, it was the grace and power of God!!

Jesus further cautions the disciples that they should be joyful but not because of their power to heal. Jesus wanted his followers to realize that they were very blessed. Jesus wanted them to know that the power was not their power or ability. It was God’s power working through them that enabled them to work these miracles! Without God they would have no power!

At times in our lives we may become focused on “what we do” and “how well we do it.” At these times do we stop and acknowledge that it is God’s power working through us? Or do we take the credit for it? When we have we done “a good work,” it is natural for us to feel good. However, we need to remember that it is God who is working in us and through us! Today may we remember to give the credit to our generous God!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Reflection: Luke 10:13-16

Luke 10:13-16

Today’s Gospel is the “woe to you” gospel. Jesus is berating the Pharisees for their lack of openness to him and to his message. Even before Jesus began to preach the Pharisees had tried, judged and condemned him.

Most of us, if not all of us, have a “Pharisee” within us. “Judging” others seems to be part of our human condition. Often I am not even aware of the judgments I am making about others. It happens so automatically. I may judge them on what they say, how they act or what they believe. At these times I am being the Pharisee! Yet who am I to judge? Yet we all do it! And we do not like it when others judge us.

Today perhaps Jesus is reminding us to be mindful. He may be asking us to be attentive not only to how and when we “judge” others but also to how we judge ourselves. We often are pretty vicious in judging ourselves. Today when we become aware that we are “judging” another or ourselves, may we pause, take a deep breath and deliberately let go of our judgment! Today may we strive to have the mind and heart of Jesus!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Reflection: Matthew 18:1-5,10

Matthew 18:1-5, 10

“Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” the disciples ask Jesus. If you notice, Jesus doesn’t answer their question directly. Rather he answers in a roundabout way.

Jesus must have astounded his disciples by telling them that if they truly want to be the “greatest” then they need to become like children. What was Jesus really saying? Was he telling them to be childish or child-like? Or was he encouraging them to cultivate the qualities that most children have: being inquisitive, innocent and trusting?

One of the greatest gifts children give to us is their trust. And they give it so freely and naturally. Imagine what the world could be if everyone was as innocent, trusting and as loving as children are. How would our world be different if all of us on the planet were filled with goodness and kindness? Today may we consciously strive to “be like children!” May we nurture and emulate the wonderful qualities of love and appreciation that are so natural to them!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Reflection: Luke 9:57-62

Luke 9:57-62

In today’s Gospel we see the enthusiastic response of an individual to Jesus’s preaching. This person was so enraptured by Jesus that s/he was ready to immediately leave home and family and become Jesus’s disciple. However, when Jesus tells the person what “following him” would entail (leaving home and family), the individual responds with many reasons why it would be impossible for her/him to follow Jesus. The reasons and responsibilities they had were very real. They had families to support and other responsibilities to take care of.

Think back: can you remember a time in your life when you were so “on fire” for Jesus and his message that you were ready to “give your all” to Jesus? At these times, our desire and plan to “give our all” to follow Jesus is very real. Then the reality of life intrudes. There is not enough time and we have too many responsibilities! Guess what happens?

Often it is impossible for us to follow Jesus as we initially “thought” we would do. It doesn’t mean that we have changed our minds and hearts. Perhaps we need to think of it differently. Jesus might be asking us to follow him by going about our regular daily responsibilities with greater love and care. Or we may find ourselves ministering to someone who needs a friend to listen to them. There are many different ways to follow Jesus and all of them are good! Today how is Jesus calling you?