Monday, October 31, 2016

Reflection: Luke 14:12-14

Monday of the 31st Week in Ordinary Time - Luke 14:12-14

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 were 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. 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 the greatest gift.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Reflection: Luke 19:1-10

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time - Luke 19:1-10

The Gospel today is the story of Zaccheus, the tax collector. Tax collectors 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 were 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 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.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Reflection: Luke 14:1, 7-11

Saturday of the 30th Week in Ordinary Time - Luke 14:1, 7-11

On the Sabbath, Jesus was invited to dine at the house of a prominent Pharisee.  There were other guests in attendance and they were intently observing Jesus.  When he arrived, Jesus had noticed how many of the guests had vied for places of honor at the table.  After a time, Jesus said to the guests: “When you are invited to a wedding banquet, do not sit in a place of honor at table.  It may happen that a guest deserving of a place of honor may arrive and need a seat of honor.  Thus, the host may approach you and ask you to give your place to the honored guest.  And you would experience the embarrassment of having to move down to a lower place.”

Jesus tells his listeners that it is better to take a lower place at table.  Then the host may come to you and say: "My friend, move up higher.”  The other guests then may hold you in high esteem.  Jesus concludes with the statement: “For everyone who exalts himself/herself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself/herself will be exalted.”

Status-seeking is rampant in our world.  Many people seek fame, power and recognition.  However, there also are many individuals who live their lives quietly and simply.  They are content with God, family, friends and a simple lifestyle.  Fame may look glamorous.  However, almost every day in the newspaper or on television we hear stories of how the famous and the glamorous have fallen or been defamed, often by their own choices.

Today Jesus encourages us to be content with what seemingly is “lowly and least.”  Often it is in the small and seemingly insignificant gifts of everyday life where we may experience the greatest love, joy, peace, and contentment.  Today be mindful and notice the many small gifts you receive.  Thank the giver and thank God!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Reflection: Luke 6:12-16

St. Simon and Jude Feast - Luke 6:12-16

The Gospel today began with Jesus going up the mountain to pray. St. Luke wrote 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!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Reflection: Luke 13:31-35

Thursday of the Thirtieth 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 don’t like what Jesus was preaching, they also seem 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!