Sunday, January 31, 2016

Reflection: Luke 4:21-30

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Luke 4:21-30 

Today Jesus once again is in the synagogue.  He tells his listeners: “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”   The people were amazed at Jesus’ preaching and they spoke highly of him.  Some of them also asked, “Isn’t he the son of Joseph?”  Were these people wondering how Jesus had become such a scholar and preacher?  After all, his father, Joseph, was a lowly carpenter. 

Do we ever discount someone’s gifts or talents or perhaps consider them crass and vulgar because they do not have a college degree or advanced training?   Yet, who are we to judge another person?  We don’t like it when someone judges us, right?  Yet we judge people all the time!  It seems to be almost automatic.  We may not like a person’s personality or the way he or she talks or walks.  We know the pain of being judged or ignored because of who we are or what we do, yet we cause the same pain by being judgmental ourselves.

Some of the people in the temple dismissed Jesus simply because he was a lowly carpenter.  Other individuals in the temple were enthralled by Jesus, his presence, and his teaching.  Are you enthralled by Jesus or has Jesus become too familiar to you?  Have you lost the thrill, the joy, and the wonder you experienced when Jesus first became real to you and he no longer was just a character in the Bible?

Today I invite you to sit in Jesus’ presence.  Don’t talk or do anything.  Simply sit there quietly and in silence.  Be attentive: Jesus is there with you.  May your mind and heart be open and recognize his presence.  He will not fail you!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Reflection: Mark 4:35-41

Saturday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time – Mark 4:35-41

The Gospel reading for today is the story of the storm at sea.  Jesus and his disciples are on the shore of the sea.  He says to his disciples, “Let us cross over to the other side of the lake.”  Jesus and the disciples got into the boat and started to row to the other side of the lake. 

While they were crossing the sea, a violent storm arose.  The waves were high and their boat began to fill with water.  Jesus, however, was oblivious to the storm.  He was sound asleep in the boat.  Finally, the disciples woke him.  They said to him, “Teacher do you not care that we may perish?”

Jesus then rebuked the wind and the waves.  He said: “Quiet!  Be still!”   Immediately, the wind ceased and the waves of the sea became calm.  Jesus turned to his disciples and asked: “Why were you afraid?  Do you not yet believe in me?  Do you not have faith?”  The disciples were filled with awe and amazement.  They looked at one another and asked, “Who is this man whom the wind and sea obey?”

Can you remember a time in your life when you experienced a ferocious storm?  You may not have been on a body of water but you may have believed that you would perish.  It may have been a death of a loved one, the loss of a job, financial difficulties, or a life-threatening medical condition.

How did you respond to this situation?  Did you trust Jesus?  Or did you react as the disciples did to the storm at sea: with fear and trembling?  Did you lose faith in God and Jesus?  During painful and difficult times, it is natural to question Jesus.  Yet, we need Jesus especially during the confusing and frightening times in our life.  Do we cry out to him as the disciples did or do we remain silent? 

Jesus wants us to cry out to him and Jesus will respond to our need, our pain and our fear.  Most likely, the situation will not immediately be resolved, but Jesus will strengthen us and walk with us each and every day.  He will not leave our side.  One day, the sun will shine again!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Reflection: Mark 4:26-34

Friday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time – Mark 4:26-34

In the opening words of this Gospel, Jesus says, “This is how it is with the Kingdom of God.” Jesus then uses the image of a man who scatters seed on his land.  After doing so, the man goes about his business, leaving the seeds to do what is natural for them: sprout and grow.  Then when the grain is mature, the man harvests his crop. 

Jesus gives his listeners another example from nature to describe the “Kingdom of God”.  This time the image that he uses is that of a mustard seed.  A mustard seed is very tiny, yet when the seed grows, it produces a huge plant.  The plant is so big that many birds come and nest in its branches.  Mark writes, “With such parables, Jesus spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it, but to his own disciples, he explained everything in private.”

Today I invite you to be attentive to the “mustard seeds” in your life.  Those tiny seeds will sprout and grow if, and only if, you nurture them.  And who knows:  the fruit of that tiny seed may be food, shelter, or hope for someone who is in need.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Reflection: Mark 4:21-25

Thursday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time – Mark 4:21-25

In today’s Gospel, Jesus continues his preaching by using metaphors.  He asks his disciples, “Is a lamp brought to be placed under a bushel basket or put under a bed?  Shouldn’t a lamp be placed on a lampstand so the light will fill the room?”  Jesus then says, “There is nothing hidden that will not be made visible.  And there is nothing secret that will not come to light.” 

Jesus tells his listeners, “Anyone who has ears ought to hear.”  Then he adds, “Take care what you hear.”  Jesus also warns his disciples, “The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.  And still more will be given to you.  To those who have more, more will be given them.  And for the one who has not, what s/he has will be taken away.”

Jesus uses the image of a lamp and light to describe who the disciples are to be to the world.  They are to be light for the world.  Jesus also calls each of us to be light in our world.  Now take a moment and ask yourself, “How do I shed light in the world?”  Most likely many of the ways we strive to do this may seem insignificant to us.  However, small rays of sunshine still light up the world.  Our world is in need of sunshine and hope. Today I invite you to share some sunshine with the people you encounter and to notice the ways in which others share sunshine with you.