Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Reflection: Matthew 4:18-22

Feast of St. Andrew - Matthew 4:18-22

In this Gospel reading, Jesus calls his first disciples.  These men were brothers: Simon, who also was called Peter, and his brother, Andrew.  Jesus was walking along the Sea of Galilee when he first saw the brothers.  They were casting their fishing net into the sea.  Fishing was their profession and their livelihood.  Jesus said to them: “Come and follow me, and I will make you fishers of (women and) men.”  Immediately, the brothers put down their nets and followed Jesus.  

As they walked along, Jesus saw two other brothers, James and John.  They also were out in their boat with their father, Zebedee.  They were occupied mending their nets.  Jesus likewise called to James and John and they also immediately rowed to shore, left their boat, their nets, and their father and followed Jesus.  I wonder if James and John had a conversation with their father about their decision to follow Jesus?  (I assume their father had James and John to help him make a living for the family.)  Or did they simply row back to shore, say farewell to him, and go on their way?  

How will you respond when Jesus calls you today?  What’s more, He will call us. Will we be too preoccupied to hear his call?  And if we do hear his call, will we follow Him or will we make excuses?  Or will we joyfully drop everything and follow Jesus?

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Reflection: Luke 10:21-24

Tuesday of the First Week of Advent - Luke 10:21-24

Today’s Gospel follows the passage where Jesus sends forth 72 of his disciples.  He had sent them out in pairs to preach the good news.  When they returned, the disciples were jubilant because even the devils were subject to them.  

At the point when Jesus heard all that the disciples had experienced and done, He rejoiced and praised God saying: “Father, I offer you praise because of what you have hidden from the learned and the clever, you have revealed to children.  You have graciously willed it so.”  Then He said to His disciples: “No one knows the Father but the Son. . . and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”

If we wish to “know” the Father, we additionally need to know Jesus.  If we know Jesus and believe in Him as the disciples did, Jesus will reveal the Father to us to us.  Jesus came to earth to save us and show us how to love.  Jesus also sends us forth to “preach the good news.”  Ask yourself: How do I preach “the good news” of Jesus?  Do I preach by my actions, my choices and by striving to be a loving human being?

Monday, November 28, 2016

Reflection: Matthew 8:5-11

Monday of the First Week of Advent - Matthew 8:5-11

Today we hear the account of the centurion who approached Jesus and asked him: “Sir, my servant is very ill.  He is paralyzed and suffering greatly.” Jesus immediately responded to the man’s pain and fear.  He said the centurion: “I will come and cure him.” However, instead of accepting Jesus’ offer, the man said: “I am not worthy to have you under my roof.  Simply say the word and my servant will get better.  I am a man under the authority of others.  If I have troops assigned to me.  If I dismiss one of my soldiers, he leaves.  If I command another soldier to come, the man comes.” This is how authority works.  

Jesus was astounded at this man’s faith!  Jesus said to his followers, “I assure you, never have I found such faith in Israel.”  He added: “Many will come from the east and the west and will find a place at the banquet in the kingdom of God.  However, the natural heirs of the kingdom will be driven out into the dark; and wailing and grinding of teeth will be heard.  Then Jesus turned to the centurion and said: “Go home.  It shall be done because you trusted”.  And at that very moment, the servant was healed.

Is your faith in Jesus as strong as the centurion’s was?  This man did not doubt that Jesus was able to heal his beloved servant.  When you pray to Jesus and ask him to help you, grace you, or heal you, do you trust and believe that Jesus will do so?  I suspect that many of us do not trust that Jesus will do as we ask.  This reaction may come from past requests when Jesus did not seem to “answer” our prayer or our request.  Yet, perhaps after a time, we may have realized that Jesus did answer our prayers;  however, in a way we never expected.

We human beings have a tendency to “box Jesus in.”  Often Jesus responds to us in a manner we wouldn't expect.  Our part is to pray to Jesus. . .and keep an open mind and an open heart.  Jesus will respond to us!  However, most likely it will not be in the way we expected.  Today I invite you to open your heart and mind.  Jesus is with you and He is working in your life!  Trust Him!  He will not disappoint!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Reflection: Matthew 24:37-44

The First Sunday of Advent - Matthew 24:37-44

Today’s Gospel tells the story of what happened in the time of Noah.  Jesus says: “As for the exact day or hour, no one will know it, neither the angels in heaven nor the Son, but God alone knows the time.”  Jesus then warns the people: “The coming of the Son of Man will repeat what happened during Noah’s time.  In the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and being married, right up to the day Noah entered the ark.  They were unconcerned until the flood came and destroyed them.”

Jesus then says: “So it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” He then gives examples of what will happen at that time: “Two men will be in a field; one will be taken and the other will be left.  Two women will be grinding their meal; one will be taken and the other will be left behind.” Jesus then pauses and say to His listeners: “Stay awake!  You do not know the day your Lord is coming.”  Jesus adds: “Be sure of this, if the owner of a house knew when a thief was coming, he would be watchful and prepared.  You also must be prepared.  The Son of Man is coming when you least expect it.”

None of us when “our time” will come.  Perhaps this is a blessing!  This reading reminds us of our responsibility: what happens to us after we die is determined by how we lead our lives each and every day.  In many ways, we are the ones who decide what our “afterlife” will be.  If we live a good life, loving God, Jesus, and the Spirit and if we strive to be loving and kind every day and share our time, gifts and talents with others, when we die, we likely will go to heaven.       

We cannot wait until the last minute.  What is the pattern of your life?   Do you share your time, talents and attention with other people?  Do you share your gifts and love with your family, the people you work with, with your neighbors or even people you do not know?  If we choose to do these things, after our death we will be in God’s loving presence!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Reflection: Luke 21:34-36

Saturday of the 34th Week in Ordinary Time - Luke 21:34-36

In today's reading from Luke’s Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples: “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars.  And on earth, nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves.” 

Jesus tells his disciples: “And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with great power and glory.  Be attentive.  These signs will tell you that your redemption is at hand!”  He also cautions his disciples: “Do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness or the anxieties of daily life.  If you do so, that day may catch you by surprise!”  Jesus’ words are spoken in an urgent tone of voice.  He hopes we will be alert and awake to His coming, not only at the end of time, but today and every day.

Given the busyness of our daily lives, it is easy to “become drowsy” to Jesus’ coming.  Often there is much to be done and not enough time to do it.  Yet, do we want to miss the ways Jesus may come to us?   If we are attentive to Jesus’ presence with us each and every day, this attentiveness will ensure that we will be ready to meet Him when we come to the end of our lives.  

Today be mindful of Jesus’ presence with you: in the laughter of a child, in the beauty of snow, sitting with a loved one or simply in a quiet moment.  Jesus is always with us!  However, often we are not present to Him.