Sunday, November 30, 2014

Advent Reflection: Mark 13:33-37

Mark 13:33-37 — First Sunday of Advent

Today we begin the Season of Advent. Advent is more than a time of waiting for Christmas. It is a time for us to long, to yearn and to prepare ourselves for the coming of our God. Advent is my favorite liturgical season. The Advent readings are filled with hope, anticipation and the promise of Jesus’ coming! The temptation for us may be to think we only need to look for the coming of God during the Advent season. We need to have open eyes and hearts and look for the coming of God each and every day!

Most likely God’s coming will not be spectacular. God is more likely to come in quiet, unobtrusive and peaceful ways. However, this means we need to consciously look for God each day. We need to be aware of the small things in life. God may be where we least suspect! We need to be awake so we will not be “sleeping” when God comes to us!

Today may we open our minds, hearts and eyes and consciously “look” for God! Be awake and alert! And perhaps, be surprised! God will come!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Reflection: Luke 12:34-36

34th Week of Ordinary Time – Luke 12:34-36

Today’s Gospel is extremely short: only 3 verses. However, it is a powerful Gospel. Jesus is instructing his disciples to beware! He is cautioning them not to be drowsy or sleepy from drinking or from the stresses of everyday life. Again Jesus is reminding his disciples of the importance of being awake and alert.

The “everydayness” of life can become numbing. For most of us, I assume our daily routine is just that: routine! I assume that 5 days out of the week are fairly predictable: we go to work, we go to school, we clean the house, help the kids with homework, go grocery shopping, watch TV, etc. Routine is good for most of us. Routine makes life more structured and also a bit more predictable. There is comfort in routine. Routine gives us a sense of what to expect in my day. That can be comforting!

The downside of routine is that we may become drowsy or even metaphorically “sleepwalk” through our day. We do what we need to do, our bodies are there. However our “spirit” may not be very present or alive. On some days, we simply may go through the motions. In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us we need to be alert since we do not know when He will come!

Jesus wants us to be ready and prepared. Jesus also wants us to actively wait for his coming. At times, Jesus comes in disguises! Thus, we have to be alert and attentive or we will miss Jesus and the gift of His presence. Today may we strive to be awake to the many ways that Jesus will come to us. May we be awake to beauty, to the people we encounter. God is coming! Will we be asleep or awake? This is our choice to make!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Reflection: Luke 12:29-33

34th Week of Ordinary Time –Luke 12:29-33

As we draw near to the end of the Church year, the readings have a somber tone. In today’s first reading (Revelation 20: 1-4, 21-2), John is writing about the “end times” and what had been revealed to him. Today Jesus tells his disciples to be attentive to signs that will appear. These signs will tell them when the Kingdom of God is near. His followers need to be awake to what is going on around them. Jesus is not trying to frighten his disciples. He simply wants them to be prepared for being fully united with Him.

Today Jesus also is reminding us to be attentive and watchful, for we also do not know when “The End” will come nor do we know when our personal end will come. Today is a good day to ask ourselves: Am I ready? Am I waiting? Am I fearful or peaceful as I await Jesus’ coming?

Today (and every day) may we prepare ourselves for Jesus’ coming. May we live our lives well, be loving and generous, not only with our families and friends, but also with the people we meet who are in need – be that emotional, spiritual or financial. We do not know the day nor the hour, however, we can be prepared! That we can control!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Reflection: Luke 17:11-19

Thanksgiving Day – Luke 17:11-19

Today we have a welcome break from the somber readings that we hear as our current liturgical year comes to a close. Today we celebrate Thanksgiving Day, which has a completely different tone. As is appropriate on Thanksgiving Day, the Scripture readings reflect the goodness and generosity of our loving God!

The Gospel chosen for Thanksgiving Day is the story of the 10 lepers. We know this story well. Jesus was traveling throughout Samaria and Galilee and as he entered one of the villages, ten lepers approached him. They must have heard stories of the many wonders and miracles Jesus had performed. As soon as they see him, they cry out to Jesus and they beg him to have pity on them. (Remember that in the time of Jesus, lepers were considered unclean and dangerous. They were exiled from the community.)

Jesus heard their cry and plea but He did not perform the miracle they had hoped for. He did not immediately cure them. Rather, Jesus instructed the lepers to go to the Temple and present themselves to the priests. That is all He said to them. I wonder if the lepers were disappointed in Jesus’ response. They had heard of the wonders and miracles he had performed!

However, as the lepers began to leave, one of them realized that he had been healed! Immediately he turned around and went back to Jesus. He immediately fell to his knees, thanking and praising Jesus. What a wondrous, amazing and life-changing gift Jesus had given him! Imagine how the leper must have felt. Now he could return home to his family. He no longer would be exiled! What a wondrous gift he received!

Each and every day Jesus also gifts us abundantly. At times I also do not recognize or notice the gifts Jesus has given me. I may be preoccupied with my problems or worries! Or I am too busy with one task or another! Often I simply don’t notice the small yet valuable gifts and blessings that I have been given.

On this day of Thanksgiving may we strive to be aware and mindful of the abundance of gifts God has given to us! May we also resolve to consciously look for our blessings each and every day. And may we remember to thank the “One” who gifted us!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Reflection: Luke 12:12-19

34th Week of Ordinary Time –Luke 12:12-19

In today’s Gospel, Jesus continues his description of the “end times.” He tells the crowd that they will be taken to the synagogue officials and then be thrown into prison. Jesus also tells his listeners that they should not defend themselves in regard to any charges. However, Jesus does promise to give them the wisdom and courage they will need when they have to respond in these circumstances. Jesus does not stop there. He gives them more bad news. Jesus tells that they also will be betrayed by their families and friends! And they also will be hated — all because of Jesus!

Pause for a moment and put yourselves in their shoes. How would you react if Jesus was telling you this? Personally, I think my first instinct would be to walk away from him! Jesus wants his disciples to understand the seriousness of their commitment to follow him. The path that Jesus is walking is not an easy one! He wants his disciples (and us) to understand that if we choose to follow him, we also will have trials and difficulties! This path most likely will not be easy.

Are we truly ready to say yes to this call? Is our love for Jesus and our desire to follow Him strong enough for us to wholeheartedly say yes — despite the difficulties that may come our way? We know well that life is not easy and we realize that at times we will experience trials and pain. We do want to follow Jesus! However, we have to say yes to all that possibly might happen. Will we follow Jesus? Or not?

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!"

Monday, November 17, 2014

Reflection: Luke 18:35-43

Luke 18:35-43 – 33rd Monday in Ordinary Time

Today’s Gospel is a very familiar one. It is the story of the blind man who is sitting on the roadside begging. This was the only way he was able to make enough money to live on. As he sat there begging, he heard a large crowd of people approaching. The man wondered what was going on. He asked some of the people who were walking by what was happening. They told the beggar that Jesus, the preacher and healer from Nazareth, was coming through town.

The man immediately began shouting out to Jesus, begging Jesus to heal him. The crowd tried to silence him but the man was determined. He shouted all the louder, hoping and praying that Jesus would hear his cry. As we know, Jesus did hear his cry. He stopped and had the man brought to him. He simply asked the blind man what the man wanted Jesus to do for him. The man said: “I want to see.” Jesus quietly healed his sight (and perhaps his heart)! Then Jesus told the man that it was his faith that had saved him!

How strong is our faith? Do we believe and trust that Jesus hears us when we cry out? When we are in great need do we believe that Jesus will respond to us, will strengthen us and heal us? Trusting Jesus may not be as easy as it sounds! When life is painful, frightening and confusing, it may be extremely difficult to trust to Jesus!

During these difficult and frightening times, we need to reach down deep for our faith, belief and trust that Jesus is always with us. We need to hang onto the belief that He will help us get through this situation. Today may we pray for the grace to place our trust and hope in him!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Reflection: Matthew 25:14-30

Matthew 25:14-30 – 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today’s Gospel is the parable of the “talents.” In this story the master of the house is going on a fairly long journey and he wants to safeguard his money while he is away. He gave one servant five talents, the 2nd servant two talents and the 3rd one was given one talent. The master, however, had an unspoken expectation. The master expected these servants to increase the amount of his money while he was gone.

The first servant and the second servant did what the master expected. They took the money and invested it. These investments increased the master’s money significantly. The increase varied but the master was extremely pleased with these servants. They had been excellent stewards of his resources.

The third servant, however, was a fearful person. He knew his master could be harsh at times. This servant decided that he simply would keep the master’s money safe. He buried the money in the ground and then waited for the master to return.

When the master finally did return, naturally he asked the servants for an accounting. Each servant came and reported what they had done with his money. The master was very pleased with the first 2 servants. Their investments had made him more money. However, the master was not pleased with the 3rd servant. Yes, the man kept his money safe, but the master had expected him to use it well and increase the amount of money — at least to some degree. Burying the money in the ground kept it safe but the master expected more.

How do we steward the resources that God has given us? Do we use them well and invest them wisely? Do we share them with others? Or do we hide them or dismiss them as insignificant? All our resources are given to us to share with others and the world. Do we believe that the resources or gifts we have are “good enough?” I pray we do!

We may believe that our resources are insignificant instead of using our gifts and resources. Do we use them for God, for others?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Reflection: Luke 28:1-8

Luke 28:1-8

Today Jesus tells his disciples another parable. This parable is about praying always. It is the story of a judge and a woman. The woman had a situation that needed to be resolved. She wanted the judge to rule on this matter. However, the judge simply would not do it. Every day the woman would return to the judge and make her request again.

Over time the judge got weary of her presence and her persistent pleading. He finally decides that the only way for him to have any peace was to finally give the woman the judgment that she was waiting for. He did not do this for her. He did it for himself so that she would go away and no longer bother him!

Jesus applauds this woman for her persistence. Jesus also tells his disciples to not get tired and weary when they are praying. We also are to trust that God will answer us--- if we are persistent in praying. I assume that we have learned over the years that God most often does not give us an immediate response to our prayers. Can you remember a time when you prayed and waited, then prayed and then waited some more?

Jesus is reassuring us that he does hear our prayers and he will answer us. However, the timing may be not what we expect or hope for. We may not get the answer to our prayers on our time schedule. And it may not be the answer that I hoped for. However, Jesus does hear our prayers and he does answer! However, we may need to look deeply and listen deeply to hear or to recognize his response.

At the end of the story Jesus adds that we should not get weary. Today may we ask Jesus for what we need and perhaps want! Today may we be alert and attentive to how he answers us!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Reflection: Luke 17:26-37

Luke 17:26-37 – 32nd Week of Ordinary Time

Today’s Gospel is a continuation of Jesus’ dialogue with the Pharisees. He is responding to their question: “when will the Kingdom of God come?” In his response Jesus uses some alarming images. He talks about fire and brimstone as well as people suddenly being taken from their everyday activities. His description is graphic, harsh and even frightening!

Do you ever think about the “end time?” Do you wonder what the “end time” will be like? Does the thought of leaving this world frighten you or comfort you? The factor that may have the greatest impact on our response to this Gospel is the relationship we have with God. If we have a deep and personal relationship with God, Jesus or the Spirit, we still may have a bit of discomfort or anxiety but hopefully not a great deal of fear! However, if my relationship with God/Jesus/Spirit is distant or impersonal, it may be natural to experience some fear or even trepidation!

Today if someone asked you about your relationship with God, how would you respond? What would you say? Or would you just be silent? Today and every day may we take steps to grow closer to God! God is waiting for us!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Reflection: Luke 17:20-25

Luke 17: 20-25 - 32nd Week of Ordinary Time

This Gospel begins with the Pharisees asking Jesus when the kingdom of God will come. Jesus tells them that the kingdom of God is not something you are able to “see.” Nor will anyone announce to you: “Here is the kingdom of God.” Jesus tells the Pharisees that the “kingdom of God is among you.”

Jesus also tells us “the kingdom of God is among us.” Do we believe what Jesus is saying? Do we truly believe that the kingdom of God is among us? If your answer is yes, how and when do you experience the kingdom of God? Who is someone who mediates the kingdom of God for you? Some people in our lives radiate the goodness and love of God.

We often miss experiencing the kingdom of God simply because we are not looking for it nor open to it. We simply expect the “ordinary.” Or we are too busy or preoccupied. Today may we intentionally open our eyes and hearts and be attentive to the ways the kingdom of God is among us—and within us! May God surprise and delight you today!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Reflection: Luke 17:11-19

Luke 17: 11-19 - 32nd Week of Ordinary Time

The Gospel for today is the story of Jesus healing the 10 lepers. Stop for a moment and put yourself in the “shoes” of those lepers. They must have heard stories about Jesus and his power to heal. They stood at a distance and cried out to him. They begged him to take pity on them and to heal them. Their disease made them outcasts in the society of that time. They must have longed to be healed and to be able to return to their families, their homes and their lives.

Jesus took their cry to heart and he did heal all 10 of them. However, only one of the lepers took the time to express his deep gratitude and awe to Jesus. The other nine hurriedly went on their way to find the priests so they could be declared clean.

Jesus gave all 10 lepers a great gift. He not only made them whole again but by healing them Jesus restored their lives to them. Now they could return to their families and their lives. They were no longer outcasts!

What is the “infirmity” in our lives? How do we deal with the infirmity? Are we angry, afraid, sad or withdrawn? Or do we gather our courage and approach Jesus and ask him to heal us?

If we do ask to be healed, most likely we hope we will be healed instantly. However, nature’s way of healing usually is gradual and often subtle. Healing also may come in a variety of ways: healing the infirmity itself, giving us the grace to accept our situation or perhaps finding ways to make our lives meaningful in spite of our infirmity.

Today will we approach Jesus and ask him to heal us? Do we trust that Jesus will heal us in some way? Do we truly believe that Jesus is walking this road with us? Today and every day may we pray for the grace to trust Jesus and his promises!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Reflection: Luke 17:7-10

Luke 17: 7-10 - 32nd Week of Ordinary Time

The Gospel for today is a bit unsettling. This parable speaks of the role, responsibilities and place of the servant in Jesus’ time. It was the duty of the servant to serve the master and his household. Jesus was not demeaning the servant. He simply is explaining that the servant is doing what she/he was hired to do. Therefore, they do not have cause to complain.

I assume that at times we also complain about our responsibilities and the time and effort they may require. Complaining can become a great past time. Often we may not even recognize that we are complaining. Does complaining make us feel any better? Or does it just reinforce our dissatisfaction?

Today is a great day to stop complaining! When we find ourselves complaining or being negative may we pause, “bite our tongues” and let go of the comment and thought. Instead may we strive to think of a positive aspect of the situation or the person. If we do this, we may find that we feel better about ourselves, others and life!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Reflection: Luke 17:1-6

Luke 17:1-6 — 32nd Week of Ordinary Time

Today’s Gospel begins with Jesus once again teaching his disciples. He tells his disciples that it is inevitable that sin will occur. However, he warns his disciples not to do anything that would cause scandal to another person or tempt them to sin. For Jesus, this is one of the worst things we can do.

Jesus tells his disciples to be on their guard. They need to be mindful of what they do and what they say. Their words and their actions will have a positive impact or a negative impact on others. Today Jesus is reminding us to be conscious and aware of our words, our attitudes and our actions. Today we have the potential to be a positive influence or a negative influence! What will be our choice?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Reflection: John 2:13-22

John 2:13-22 – 32nd Week of Ordinary Time

The scene that this Gospel opens with is Jesus arriving in Jerusalem. It was almost time for Passover and Jesus wanted to be in Jerusalem during Passover. When he arrived he immediately went to the Temple to worship. Expecting a quiet, prayerful atmosphere, when Jesus arrived there he found the temple filled with animals as well as the money changers.

Jesus was enraged! The temple was a holy and sacred place for worship and prayer. The money changers and merchants were defiling this temple. Jesus doesn’t hesitate. He scathingly tells them to stop making God’s house a place of commerce. He takes a whip and drives the scoundrels out of the temple!

Today may we ask ourselves: do we honor the sacredness of the Church where we worship? I know at times I simply take it for granted. Or I might treat it as just another building. At other times, I am awed by the beauty, the silence and the sacredness of our Church. However, this sacredness is magnified by the prayers of all the hundreds of sisters who faithfully prayed in this sacred space several times a day! The Church where you worship also is sacred. The next time you are in Church be attentive to and experience the sacredness of your holy place. May you carry this “sacredness” with you throughout your day and your week!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Reflection: Luke 16:9-15

Luke 16:9-15 – 31st Week of Ordinary Time

In today’s Gospel Jesus continues his instruction to his disciples. He tells his disciples that if a person can be trusted in small matters, they have earned the right to be trusted with more important matters. Trust is essential to any relationship. If we don’t trust someone, most likely we keep our distance. Nor will we share anything of importance with them.

Ask yourself: who do you trust? Who do you count on to support and love you—no matter what? As you answer that question, I hope God is the One we think of first! God is the one who loves us no matter what we have done or how we have acted. God may invite us to make some changes but God never stops loving us. God is always there for us! Do we truly believe this? If not, may we pray for the grace to trust our loving God!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Reflection: Luke 16:1-8

Luke 16:1-8 – 31st Week of Ordinary Time

Jesus has another parable for his disciples today. It is the story of the rich man and his steward. Someone in the rich man’s household reported to the master that his steward had been squandering his money. Naturally the master immediately calls this servant in and asks to see a list of his expenses and the monies that he had spent.

The servant panics. He didn’t expect to get caught. Now what was he to do? Notice: he was not repentant. He simply wanted to ensure his future. He didn’t have the skills to become a laborer and he didn’t want to end up on the street. So the servant devised a plan. He calls in each of the master’s debtors and reduces the amount of money that they owed his master.

What is unbelievable is the master’s reaction when he discovers the steward’s dishonesty. Instead of firing the man or putting him in prison, he commends the steward for acting prudently. In today’s world, I doubt that this is how an employer would respond. It is more likely that the steward at the very least would find themselves out of a job or perhaps find themselves in jail!

At times in our lives, we find ourselves in a difficult and frightening situation. At these times do we turn to God? Do we trust God to give us another chance? The gift is: God always gives us another chance! Our part is to trust that God will never leave us!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Reflection: Luke 15:1-10

Luke 15:1-10 – 31st Week of Ordinary Time

This Gospel begins with the Pharisees complaining about Jesus (again)! This time they are criticizing Jesus for welcoming the people that they consider unclean: the sinners. Jesus not only heals sinners but he also has the audacity to dine with them! Jesus once again is not behaving properly (at least in the Pharisees’ eyes).

I wonder how the simple act of Jesus sitting down and sharing a meal with “those unclean people” changed those individuals’ hearts and lives. For once did they truly feel valued and accepted simply for who they were? I wonder how that simple but significant moment changed their lives and their hearts.

Today Jesus invites us to sit down and share a meal with him even though we are “unclean.” How will you respond? How will I respond?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Reflection: Luke 14:25-33


Luke 14:25-33 – 31st Week of Ordinary Time

The Gospel for today can be a difficult one to understand. In this passage Jesus is talking about discipleship. His language is strong and clear. Jesus tells his followers that if they choose to follow him they not only will have to leave their families but they also must “hate” their family members. How can Jesus say this? Does he really mean that we are to “hate” our families? I don’t believe that!

Perhaps the question this Gospel is asking us is: how serious am I about following Jesus? Am I willing to make significant sacrifices to follow him? Or is he asking too much? If so, will I simply walk away from him? 

Today may we pray for the grace to truly be open and receptive to how Jesus may call us! May Jesus give us the strength and courage we need to say “yes” to his call and to follow him!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Reflection: Luke 14:15-24

Luke 14:15-24 – 31st Week of Ordinary Time

In today’s Gospel Jesus tells the story of a man who on the spur of the moment decided to have a grand banquet. He sent out his servants to invite his relatives and friends to this wonderful meal. However, the response the servants received was not one they expected. Everyone they asked to come had an excuse for not being able to come. One man had purchased a field and he wanted to go and see it. Another man also said he could not come. He had bought oxen and needed to tend to them. The 3rd man had just gotten married and quite naturally wanted to be with his wife that evening.

Were these excuses why they could not come to the banquet? Or did the man’s family and friends truly have previous commitments? Regardless, the man was enraged that all of the invited guests had refused his invitation.

However, he was determined to have his banquet. The man came up with a different plan. He sent his servants out into the streets and the highways. They were to invite everyone they met to come to his banquet: the travelers, the blind, the lame and the destitute. Still there were not enough guests to fill the banquet hall. Again the man sent his servants out. This time they went out to the “highways and the byways” and invited everyone they met to his feast.

Today Jesus is inviting us to his feast! Will we accept Jesus’ invitation? Or will we also make excuses about why we cannot come? Jesus is waiting for our answer to his invitation! What will be our response?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Reflection: Luke 14:12-14

Luke 14:12-14 – 31st Week of Ordinary Time

Today Jesus challenges us to move out of our “comfort zone.” On a Sabbath Jesus was invited by an influential Pharisee to come and dine at his home. Jesus accepted his invitation. As they enjoyed the meal together, Jesus naturally talked with his host. In the course of conversation Jesus told his host that the next time he had a banquet, he should invite those people who are in need: the blind, the lame and the destitute. Jesus promised his host that if he did invite the “least,” in return he would be blessed. I wonder how the man responded. The Gospel doesn’t say.

Today Jesus is inviting us to “welcome the least” among us. No matter where we live, we have the “poor” among us. The “poor” among us may not be financially destitute. Or the “poor” may be someone who has a beautiful home, a good salary and seemingly a good life, yet they truly may be “poor” in all the ways that matter.

Are we willing to step out of our comfort zone and invite those who are “poor” to join us? Am I willing to open my door and my heart to them? If we are not ready to take this step, then today may we ask Jesus to open our hearts and to give us the grace and the courage to “invite the least in.” If we do this, we may find that “the least” are the ones who will give us a great gift!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Reflection: Feast of All Souls

The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed – the Feast of All Souls

Today we pause and remember the women and men who have departed from this world. This “feast” doesn’t have the joyous tone that most of the feasts have. This day could be seen as a sad day but it is not a day to be mournful or sad. This feast of All Souls truly is a day of celebration. It also may be a day of thanksgiving as we remember the many individuals who touched our lives in a special way.

We also can give thanks for the gift they continue to be for us. True, they are no longer with us here on earth. Yet they continue to be present to us. The people we loved always are in our memory and in our hearts. Thus they always will be with us. On this feast of All Souls may we give thanks for the gift these individuals were to us. Today may we give thanks for the gift they continue to be to us!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Reflection: Feast of All Saints

Feast of All Saints

It is easy and perhaps natural to put the saints on a pedestal. They were holy, prayerful and wise women and men. Each person who has “saint” in front of their name was extraordinary in their own way. Some of them may have performed miracles but the majority of saints simply lived quietly.

For the women and men we call “saints” (canonized or not), God was the center of their lives. Their every act flowed from their relationship with God. The majority of the saints were regular, normal people who loved God deeply. Many of them did not perform miracles but their relationship with God enabled them to make a significant difference in their world!

This feast of “All Saints” invites us to reflect on the holy women and men who have been and are a part of our lives. Most likely these individuals have an impact on us and on our lives. It is tempting to think that they were more gifted or special than we are. They were able to make a difference in their day simply by being women and men close to the heart of God. First and foremost this is what a “saint” is! The good news is: this means we also can be ‘saints’!

Today may we give thanks for all the “saints” in our lives. They are a gift from God and a gift to us!