Sunday, August 31, 2014
Sunday of the 22nd Week in Ordinary Time – Matthew 16:21-27
The first sentence of the reading from Jeremiah is a real attention-getter. “You duped me O Lord and I let myself be duped!” When in your life have you felt betrayed or tricked by God? I would guess there has been at least one time in your life when you experienced the seeming absence of God. At these times in my life, my tendency is to distance myself from God! Why would I want to spend time with someone who seemingly “deserted” me?
The reality of life is that we often don’t feel God’s presence when we need it or desire it. It would be wonderful if we could magically make God appear whenever we want! However, it usually doesn’t happen that way. When I am feeling alone and in need, do I continue to trust that God is with me even though I don’t “feel” God present? These are the times when life truly is a “trust walk!” We don’t know, we don’t “feel” God, yet we continue to move ahead in trust. We are able to trust that the God who has been with us before IS with us now---even if we don’t sense God’s presence! May we pray for the grace to trust our God who loves us deeply in these times of seeming “absence!”
Saturday, August 30, 2014
Saturday of the 21st Week in Ordinary Time – 1st Corinthians: 1:26-31
St. Paul’s first words in today’s first reading are “consider your calling.” These are three simple words and yet they are very powerful! Ask yourself: what do you consider your call to be? All of us have a “calling!” For most of us, it won’t be a grand calling, such as preaching or healing or doing miraculous deeds. Yet God has called each one of us! Our call may be to be a loving parent or grandparent, a teacher, to truly notice others and give them the gift of our time and attention. In today’s busy world, one of the greatest gifts we can give another is simply to be present to them. In our busy and active world, we can forget or neglect those people we care for most deeply! Or we may neglect to spend any time with the God who loves us so deeply! What will be my choices today? What will be your choices today?
Friday, August 29, 2014
Friday of the 21st Week in Ordinary Time – Psalm 33
The Psalm Response for today is a hymn of thanksgiving to our God who blesses us so abundantly. When I stop and think about it, I realize that I very seldom thank God for the abundant gifts that are given to me each day! I just take them for granted. Most of the gifts I receive during the day are not spectacular. Typically they are fairly ordinary: a thank you, a helping hand, a “how are you?” Yet these simple gifts from another speak of care, concern and thoughtfulness! Today may we strive to be awake to how God is present to us and is blessing us. Let us give thanks to God for the many gifts we will receive this day!
Thursday, August 28, 2014
Thursday of the 21st Week in Ordinary Time – Psalm 145:2-3, 4-5, 6-7
The psalm response for today is a familiar one. It is a psalm of praising God’s name forever. Do we remember to praise God for the many blessings God has bestowed on us? In the midst of a busy life, we may not recognize the many ways that God blesses us all day long! Most often the blessings are simple: a hug from your child, a compliment from your spouse, a phone call from a friend or a beautiful summer day. It is so easy to miss the many ways God gifts us each day! Today let us open our minds and hearts to “see” God’s presence today---especially in the seemingly small ways!
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Wednesday of the 21st Week in Ordinary Time – Psalm 128:1
The Psalm Response for today is from Psalm 128. The psalmist speaks of the blessing it is to “fear” God. Typically when we hear the word “fear” we understand the word to mean “being fearful” as in to be afraid, worried or nervous. However, when the psalmist speaks of “fearing the Lord,” he is speaking of a stance of awe, respect and honor! True “fear of the Lord” is a wonderful attitude to cultivate. Our God is not a God we need to be afraid of. Our God is kind, loving, and forgiving! In today’s world, those gifts are often in short supply. May we open our eyes and hearts to these gifts of God today. May we share these gifts with the people we encounter today!
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Tuesday of the 21st Week in Ordinary Time – Matthew: 23:13-26
The Gospel for today is the “woe to you” Gospel. In this reading, Jesus is berating the Scribes and Pharisees for being hypocrites! Jesus doesn’t get angry very often but when he does, he has good cause and his anger is justified. Jesus is telling the Pharisees to “get their own houses” in order rather than “judging” what other people are doing.
I assume that we also don’t like it when other people seem to be judging us. Yet it is so very easy to slip into judgment of others. Who are we to judge? We only know what we see! We truly don’t know what is going on in other peoples’ lives. Judgment of others is not ours to do! It is God’s to do. Today let us strive to catch our judgments of others and then let go of them!
Monday, August 25, 2014
Monday of 21st Week in Ordinary Time – Matthew 23:13-22
Today’s Gospel is really a “downer!” It is the passage where Jesus is berating the scribes and the Pharisees. He is accusing them of being hypocrites. They act holy but often take advantage of those who have so much less than they do! Their actions do not always exemplify what they preach.
I would guess that at times, all of us have a “Pharisee” within us! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we always “practiced what we preached?” However, the reality is that, at times, we fail to do this. In a way, this can be a good thing! Knowing how we fail at times may enable us to be more understanding and compassionate when others fail. We are human after all! May we pray for the grace to forgive ourselves when we fail!
Sunday, August 24, 2014
21st Sunday in Ordinary Time – Matthew 16:13-20
In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus asks his disciples: “Who do people say that I am? What are they saying about me?” His disciples told him what they had heard. Some people thought he was John the Baptist, or Elijah, or one of the other prophets!
But then Jesus asks them: “who do you say that I am?” Perhaps this is the question that Jesus is asking us today! It can be easy to give a flippant answer or to parrot back what we learned in Religious Education years ago. However, this is a question we may need to ask ourselves once again! Who is Jesus for me now at this time in my life? Is he a friend? A stranger? Our Savior?
Saturday, August 23, 2014
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus is warning the crowd and his disciples to choose their mentors wisely. He warns them not to blindly follow those who have authority. We need to look at their actions and choices. Are they “practicing what they preach?” For many of us, it is easy to say what needs to be done. However, it is not easy to practice it day after day!
Perhaps we need to periodically ask ourselves: “Are we practicing what we preach?” It is very easy to say what should be done but the real test is if we put it into practice each and every day!
Friday, August 22, 2014
The Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary – Matthew 22:34-40
Today we commemorate the Queenship of Mary. Even though we celebrate this as a “feast,” neither of today’s readings is about Mary. The readings are from the regular cycle of readings.
The first reading is from the Book of Ezekiel. It is the story of the plain that was covered with dry bones. What a powerful image that is! Can you remember a time in your life when this image would have spoken to you? A time when you felt dry, empty, lifeless? What was happening in your life at that time? What were some of the emotions you experienced during those weeks or months? How did you cope?
We all have desert experiences at different times in our lives. Typically these experiences are neither comfortable nor pleasant. When we are in the desert, we need to be prepared. If we don’t have water and supplies, we will die! The same is true when we are in an “emotional desert.” We need support and care. We need someone to walk with us in this desert. We need to know that we are not alone. This often is a time when we need God the most!
It is interesting that in this reading, the process of the spirit returning to the bones did not happen all at one time. Rather, it was a process. First, the bones joined together, then skin, and so on. During these desert times, can we believe and trust that life will seep back into our souls and body? Most often it feels like this “desert” will never end! The reality is that at times we may be in the “desert” for a very long time. But the desert will come to an end! We just have to have faith and trust! May we remember the words of Ezekiel: “I will put my spirit in you that you may live! I have promised and I will do it!” In dry and empty times, let us cling to God’s promise!
Thursday, August 21, 2014
This Gospel reading is a familiar one. However, it is not necessarily an easy one to understand. The reading is the story of the landowner who was having a wedding feast. He wanted this festive occasion to be a grand one. Naturally, he invited his family, friends and neighbors. However, the guests he had invited did not show up! Naturally he was extremely upset. The landowner had prepared for a large crowd. When he sent his servants out to personally remind the guests to come, some of the servants were mistreated, beaten and even killed by his prospective guests! Quite naturally, the king was enraged. He sent out his soldiers to kill the murderers and destroy their property. And they did so! However, the king did not stop there. He sent his servants out into the streets to gather whomever they found. The servants did as he asked and his house was filled!
What does this Gospel say to us? I doubt that we have had the experience this story speaks of. However, we all have been disappointed and upset at various times in our lives. We may have been deeply hurt by someone or betrayed by another. Our natural human response is to be angry, hurt and disappointed — and rightly so. Hopefully we haven’t decided to kill anyone because of that!
In these situations we need to take time to calm down and deal with the hurt, anger and disappointment. We need to acknowledge and feel the emotions. If we repress them, most likely the emotions will come back with a vengeance. But we can’t stop there. We also need to honestly acknowledge what we are experiencing but then with time to gradually “let those feelings go” and forgive. Most often this is the last thing that we want to do! It will take time but it is an important step to take. If we nurse our anger and hurt, we are not hurting the individuals who disappointed us, we are hurting ourselves and those we love! If we are not able to forgive, we simply need to ask God to help us. May we have the grace to ask God to heal the anger and hurt — and to free us!
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Today’s Gospel is the story of the landowner who went out at various times of the day to hire laborers to work in his vineyard. He went out not just once, but five times: dawn, 9:00 a.m., noon, 3:00 p.m., and 5:00 p.m.. He must have had many fields of grapes to be picked!
Perhaps this story is an allegory about how God is with us! If the landowner is a “God” figure, then how frequently does God come looking for us---for you and for me? How many times does God invite us to simply come and spend time with him? How do we respond?
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
In this Gospel reading Jesus is talking about the kingdom of God. He says getting into heaven is more difficult for the rich than it is for the rest of humanity. His disciples were confused by his statement. How did they understand his comment?
We may think that because we are not rich, that we are not the ones that Jesus is talking about—or talking to! Perhaps Jesus is not simply talking about the amount of money we make, how big our house is or the position we hold at our place of employment. Perhaps Jesus wants us thoughtfully and deeply to ask ourselves: what is the treasure in my life? What is most important to me? What/who do I give my time, attention and money to? How we answer these questions may give us much “food for thought!”
Monday, August 18, 2014
Matthew 19:16-22 (20th Week in Ordinary Time)
The Gospel reading for today is the story of the young man who came to Jesus and asked him what he needed to do to “gain eternal life.” If we had the chance to see Jesus face-to-face, we, too, might ask him this question! Have we been “good enough” to get into heaven? Is there something else I should be doing? Am I doing the right things?
What does it mean to be “good?” I believe the “good” we are to do is not to do something spectacular. Perhaps it simply means that each day we do the best we can and we do it in a loving way. This may sound too simple but this is what Jesus did!
Sunday, August 17, 2014
Matthew 15:4-23 (20th Sunday in Ordinary Time)
The Gospel for this Sunday is the story of the woman whose daughter was possessed by a demon. The mother approaches Jesus and asks him to heal her daughter. Her request was simple and respectful. However, Jesus ignored her! She was a woman and a Canaanite. This was a segment of the population that were seen by the Jews as the “lowest of the low.” Thus, it was expected that Jesus as a Jew should not even speak to her.
The Gospel says that Jesus did not even say a word to her. Despite Jesus’ lack of response, the woman refused to leave. She was determined to get help for her daughter—even if she had to beg! Where was the caring, healing Jesus that is portrayed in so many other Gospel stories? Jesus’ disciples tried to send her away but she continued to persist. She respectfully spoke to Jesus again and simply said: “Lord, help me.” Jesus responded to her plea and healed her daughter!
I would guess that in some way we all can identify with the Canaanite woman. Can you remember a time in your life when you also desperately needed some kind of response from Jesus? Perhaps you were desperate and afraid. Or it may have been a time when you simply needed to know that Jesus was with you? In difficult times, we need to know that we are not alone. The gift this woman has to give us is her example of persistence---persistent faith!! Today, let us ask the Canaanite woman to share some of her “persistent faith” with us. May we truly believe and trust that Jesus also will respond to our cries!
Saturday, August 16, 2014
Psalm 51, (19th week of Ordinary Time)
“Create a clean heart in me O God!” What a powerful yet simple prayer! Do you ever wish for a “clean heart?” I do! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were cleansed from all our faults and failings? What a miracle that would be! What does the psalmist mean when he says he “desires a clean heart?” What does that mean for you?
“Having a clean heart” is a way of being that I long to have. It is something I strive for but frequently fall short of. Perhaps having a “clean heart” means simply trying to do our best every day: to be loving with others, to share what God has given me, to forgive others and also to forgive myself when I fail. Perhaps all God truly desires is that we try to have a clean heart! Can we be content with that?
Friday, August 15, 2014
Feast of the Assumption: Luke 1:39-56
Today’s Gospel is a familiar one. It is the story of Mary going to visit her cousin, Elizabeth. Perhaps Mary had just realized that she was pregnant. Can you imagine finding yourself pregnant when you hadn’t even “been” with a man? What must have gone through Mary’s mind? How could this have happened?
Mary needed someone she could talk with about this news. She needed someone she could trust! Someone who might believe her and trust that her story was true! She needed to talk with another woman who also had gotten pregnant in unusual circumstances. I would also guess that Mary must have been concerned that Elizabeth would not believe her story. It was too fantastic! Too unbelievable!
Most likely we will never be in this situation. However, we all have times when we need to talk with another about a “wondrous but frightening” happening in our lives. We can and need to talk with God! However, most often we also need to confide in someone “with skin”--- another person who will listen with an open heart and not judge us! We all need someone to be on the journey with us. We need someone who knows what truly is going on in our lives and in our hearts. Who is this person in your life? Pray for the grace to share your heart with someone you trust!
Thursday, August 14, 2014
Matthew 18:21-19:1 (20th week of Ordinary Time)
The theme of forgiveness continues in today’s Gospel reading. Peter is not shy! He asks Jesus how many times he “needs” to forgive, how many times he “should” forgive. Only Peter would have the courage to ask Jesus this question!
We all think like Peter at times. Do we ask Jesus this very same question? At some point in our lives, all of us have had painful experiences at the hands of another. Forgiving that person is not easy, especially when we have been hurt deeply! However, we always have the time to change our minds and our hearts by asking Jesus to give us the grace to want to forgive. This is a first step. When we are able to even try to forgive another, it may not only free them but most likely it also will free us!
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
Matthew 18: 15-20 (20th Week of Ordinary Time)
Today’s Gospel reading is extremely challenging! In this reading Jesus tells the apostles that if someone hurts them or sins against them, they should go and talk with that person alone. I wonder, how many of us do this? This is not an easy or comfortable thing to do! My natural tendency can be to “nurse” that wound in my heart rather than talk to the individual. What is your natural response?
The thought of “clearing the air” with someone may be frightening or intimidating. However, it may be the very thing that will resolve the problem! Let us pray for the grace and courage we need in these situations. May we trust that God will give us the strength and courage we need!
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14 (20th Week of Ordinary Time)
In today’s Gospel, Jesus calls a child forth in response to the disciples’ question: “Who is the greatest in the kingdom?” As he often does, Jesus does not respond directly to their question. Instead, he calls a child over and tells them that if they want to enter the kingdom of heaven, they must be like this child! Did the disciples understand what Jesus meant? I doubt it!
Perhaps we need to ask ourselves: how do we need to be like a child? Jesus is not telling us to be “childish,” but to be “childlike!” What does this truly mean? What characteristics did Jesus associate with a child? What “childlike qualities” does Jesus want us to nurture? We can learn a great deal from children. They are “just who they are” – and that is enough! Let us also trust that this is what Jesus desires of us!
Monday, August 11, 2014
Ezekiel 1, 2-5, 24-28c (20th week of Ordinary Time)
In this reading, Ezekiel experiences “the hand of God coming upon him.” What a powerful and perhaps frightening experience this must have been! Given the fire, wind and four creatures that had wings, this reading could be the setting for one of today’s adventure movies. In the midst of this, Ezekiel heard what he interpreted as the voice of God speaking to him! Did Ezekiel wonder if it was his time to die? Were horrible things about to happen to him? Then Ezekiel is given a vision of what looked like a throne with a figure seated on the throne. He must have thought he was losing his mind. Could this possibly be real?
Most of us do not have visions or apparitions. If we did, we might wonder if we were going crazy. However, there are times when we do not recognize “God is with us.” God may seem absent or distant. At these times, we need to look intently for the signs (perhaps subtle ones) that God IS with us! Let us pray for the trust to believe that God is always with us, especially during the confusing and bewildering times!
Sunday, August 10, 2014
Matthew 14:22-33 (20th week of Ordinary Time)
Today’s reading from the Gospel of Matthew is the story of the apostles being tossed about by a violent storm at sea. The wind was so fierce that the apostles were terrified that their boat would sink and they might even die! When Jesus walked on the water toward them, it seems that they would have been reassured. Instead they became even more afraid.
Even when Jesus spoke to them and reassured them that it truly was him, they still did not believe! Peter replies, “If it really is you, Jesus, let me come to you.” Peter needed proof that this “apparition” truly was Jesus. Jesus heeded Peter’s request by simply replying, “Come.”
We all have some doubts inside us like Peter did. We often ask for “proof” of Jesus’ presence, Jesus’ call. In turbulent or painful times is Jesus also asking us to trust? Are we willing to take the risk, step out and make that “trust walk,” believing that Jesus will enable us to get through our difficult times? Let us pray for the grace to trust that Jesus is always with us — especially when we need him the most!
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Are you in the Indianapolis area? If so, stop by the state fair and check out our Simply Divine cookies in the DuPont Food Pavilion.