Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Reflection: Luke 1:39-56

The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary - Luke 1:39-56

This Gospel began as Mary set off to travel in haste to the hill country to the town of Judah.  When she arrived there, Mary went to the house of Zechariah and greeted her cousin, Elizabeth.  When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant Elizabeth was carrying “leaped in her womb." In that instant, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 
Elizabeth said to Mary: “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.  How is it that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”  Was Elizabeth astonished at the words that she uttered?  Where did these words come from?  Clearly, Elizabeth had received this revelation from God.  She knew that the child that Mary was carrying a very special child.  She realized that this child would be her Lord.
Do we take Jesus’ coming into the world for granted or are we amazed, astounded, and filled with joy that our Lord Jesus came to earth as a small, fragile, baby boy?  He was born to peasants, not royalty.  He wanted to become one of us. He wanted to walk among us.
Today Jesus will come to us.  Most likely, he will come to when we least expect him.  He may come disguised as a friend or he may come to us in the helping hand of a stranger.  Perhaps Jesus simply will come in quiet and peace. 
Be awake throughout this day.  You may encounter Jesus several times and others may meet Jesus through you.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Reflection: Mark 12:1-12

Monday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time - Mark 12:1-12

Today’s Gospel reading is the story of a man who planted a vineyard and planted a hedge around it. He also dug a winepress and built a tower. This man must have lived in an area that was not safe. Why else would he plant a hedge around his vines and then build a tower? You only need a tower if you need protection or you desire a view of your surroundings.

Thinking that all was safe, this man leased his fields to tenant farmers and left on a journey. After several months, the owner sent a servant back to his vineyard. This servant was to obtain the owner’s share of the vineyard’s profits. However, the tenants severely beat the servant and sent him back to the owner empty-handed. The owner decided to send a different servant to deal with his tenants. However, the tenants treated this man in the same manner. The owner was extremely frustrated and angry. The master sent several other servants but they all were beaten or killed by the tenants.

At this point, the owner did not know what to do. Eventually he decided to send his own son to deal with his tenants. His reasoning was that the tenants surely would respect his son. However, they did not. The tenants were thrilled that the owner had sent his son. They believed that if the son were dead the owner’s money would be theirs. So the tenants killed the owner’s son. In response to the loss of his beloved son, the father had all of the tenants put to death.

Jesus then speaks of what will happen to “the Father’s Son,” the One who is “the stone that the builders rejected.” Jesus tells his listeners that the very same thing will happen to this Son. Jesus’ listeners were the scribes, the chief priests, and the elders. Through this parable, Jesus was telling them that he realized the path that was before him. He knew what his future held. However, Jesus also tells the chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees that His Father (the owner) will come and put the tenants to death for what they have done to his son!

I wonder how his listeners reacted to this parable? How do we respond to all the violence in our world? No matter where we live, we hear of horrific acts that are perpetrated on innocent people. Humankind has not advanced in the past centuries. We hear stories of murder and abuse on a daily basis.

Do we contribute to the violence in our world in major or minor ways or do we consciously strive to create peace in our lives and in the lives of the people around us? I assume that most of us would never think of killing another person; however, do we periodically abuse or bully another person by our words, actions, or indifference? Today may we consciously open our hearts to God’s peace and love and may we share this love and peace with every person we encounter. Today and every day may we be women and men of love and peace. What a great gift to give to our world!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Reflection: Luke 9:11b-17

The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ - Luke 9:11b-17 

On the feast of Pentecost, Jesus spoke to the crowds of people about the kingdom of God and healed many people who longed to be well again.  As evening drew near, His disciples came to Jesus and they encouraged Him to dismiss the people so they could go to the nearby towns, villages, and farms and find food and lodging for the night.

Rather than allowing the disciples to dismiss the crowds, Jesus told them: “Give them some food yourselves.”  The disciples said: “All we have is five loaves of bread and two fish.  This small amount of food will never be enough for all these people!”  Luke wrote: “Now the men numbered about five thousand.” He didn’t say how many women and children also were present.

Jesus instructed the disciples to get everyone seated in groups of fifty or so.  Then Jesus took the five loaves of bread and the two small fish.  Then He looked up to heaven and then blessed the bread and the fish, broke them and then gave them to his disciples to give to the people.  As we know, everyone ate their fill and there were twelve wicker baskets filled with the leftovers!

In our world today, there are many people who are hungry: hungry for food, hungry for affection, hungry for peace, hungry for silence.  Do we notice the people in our lives who are hungry?  If so, do we strive to nurture them with our love, care, and solace or do we ignore them and pretend that they are not in need? 

Today Jesus tells us, his disciples in our world today: “Give these people some food, love, and care.” Be attentive to the needs of the people around you and in our world.  Share the gifts of your time, talent and treasure with these individuals.  If we do so, Jesus will recognize us as His disciples!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Reflection: Mark 11:27-33

Saturday of the Eighth Week of Ordinary Time - Mark 11:27-33

Today Jesus and his disciples returned to Jerusalem. When they arrived, they immediately went up to the temple. As they entered the temple, the chief priests, scribes and elders approached Jesus. 

Immediately they asked Jesus: “By whose authority are you doing these things?” (healing, teaching and preaching)   Jesus does not react to this question.  Rather He remains calm and then He turns the tables on them.  Jesus tells them that he will ask them one simple question. If they answer him honestly, Jesus promises to tell them on whose authority and power he acts.

Jesus then asks them: “Was John’s baptism of human origin or heavenly origin?”  The chief priests and scribes huddle together to decide how to respond.  However, there simply was not a good answer.  They realized that if they said that Jesus’ actions were of heavenly origin, this would only strengthen the people’s belief in Jesus.  However, if they said that his actions were only human, they were concerned how the crowd might react to this statement. Clearly, many in the crowd believed in Jesus.
The chief priests and scribes did not know what to say.  Jesus had boxed them in and they could find no way out.  Finally, they simply gave a noncommittal answer: “We do not know.”  Jesus stood his ground and faced them down.  He stood in his truth.  Then He quietly, yet firmly said: “Neither will I tell you on whose authority I act.”  One by one, the chief priests quietly slipped away.

Are we able to follow in Jesus’ footsteps?  Do we talk about what we believe about Jesus and God? Are we willing to be vulnerable and profess what we believe?  This is not easy to do in today’s world, but Jesus gave his life for us!  Are we willing to profess our belief and trust in Him? I invite you to sit quietly with this question for a few moments.  What is your answer?

Friday, May 27, 2016

Reflection: Mark 11:11-26

Friday of the Eighth Week of Ordinary Time - Mark 11:11-26

Today Jesus went to the temple in Jerusalem and then he and the disciples continued on to Bethany.  When Jesus and the disciples left Bethany the next day, Jesus realized he was hungry.  He saw a fig tree and went over to see if there were any ripe figs on the tree. If they had been ripe, they would have satisfied his hunger for a period of time.

When Jesus got to the tree, however, there were no figs, only leaves even though it was the season for figs to grow.  Jesus then did something very unusual.  When he realized that the tree had no figs, he said: “No one will ever again eat your fruit!”  (I wonder if was Jesus was in a bad mood.) Then Jesus and his disciples traveled on to Jerusalem.

When they arrived in Jerusalem, they immediately went to the temple. When they entered the temple area, Jesus was stunned and then outraged.  In the holy Temple, there were money-changers plying their trade.  Merchants were selling doves for sacrifice.  The temple no longer was a temple:  it had become a market place!   In a loud voice, Jesus said to his disciples: “My house is to be called a house of prayer!”

Take a moment and reflect: is your church a holy and sacred place to you or is it simply a building where you go to church?  When you enter the church, do you sense the Divine Presence?  The next time you go to church, I invite you to notice what you experience as you enter this sacred space.  If you are present, awake, and open, you surely will encounter the Divine there!