Reflections

 

SIXTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, Feb. 16, 2020
[Sirach 15: 15-20; I Corinthians 2:6-10; Matthew 5:20-22, 27-28,33-34, 37]

“Blessed are you, Father, Lord of Heaven and earth;
you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the kingdom.”

Our Gospel readings these weeks from Matthew are a continuation of the sermon on the Mount.  This sermon began with the Beatitudes.  Jesus has been explaining what the Beatitudes mean, and how they apply to our lives.  The message today shows the difference between the external word of the law, and the Law of the Heart.  This message seems appropriate for us, since we just celebrated Valentine’s Day on Friday.

The law of the heart comes from within ourselves. The external law is given to us from the outside.   Our lives become directed, little by little, by the choices we make. The Law of the heart is exactly that.   God’s law is written in our hearts.    Like our relationships with each other, we respond from within.   Valentine’s Day reminds us of how important relationships are in our lives.  Our lives are not a matter of external law without being grounded from within.

Today, God reminds us that all human relationships reflect the Love God has for us.  Our care for each other is only a reflection of what has been begun in us by God.  Our readings today are a call to remember the treasure that we have in the love God has for us.  Despite the worries and cares of life, we have the internal foundation of our lives in our personal relationship with God.  St Paul says it well today: “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, and it has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who Love Him.”
 

 FIFTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, February 9, 2020
[Isaiah 58: 7-10; I Corinthians 2: 1-5; Matthew 5: 11-16]

“I am the light of the world, says the Lord;
whoever follows me will have the light of life.”

Last Sunday we celebrated the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple.  Today’s readings help us understand just how important living in the light is in the plan of God.  We are the ones today to bring Jesus and His Light to each other.  Jesus tells us we do so through our “good deeds.”  Actions really do speak louder than words.

We hear today how important the “Works of Mercy” are to living and spreading the Gospel Life.  “Share your bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless; clothe the naked…”  These readings remind us we do not have to do extravagant things to be light for others.  Extraordinary things can get done through ordinary people.  The Spirit and power of God works through all of us. 

Jesus calls us the “Salt of the Earth.”  Salt is a good image for us. We usually don’t see or pay much attention to salt.  We know food is tasteless without it.  Salt in days past was used to preserve, season, and purify food.  Having a saltshaker nearby is important when our parish celebrates meals together in the hall!  As People of the Light, we give real meaning and purpose to human life, as we try to bring the flavor of the Divine to all parts of life.

 We are called by Jesus: The Light. We take light for granted. It happens every morning. We lit candles last Sunday together and the light all around us became brighter.  The First Reading talks to us about how we can become the ‘light’ in our lives and the lives of others: “If you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted, then light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday.”

 

FEAST OF THE PRESENTATION OF THE LORD, Feb. 2, 2020
 [Malachi 3: 1-4; Hebrews 2: 14-18; Luke 2:2240]

“I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me;
 and suddenly there will come to the temple the Lord whom you seek."
 

The emphasis in this Feast of the Presentation, is on Light, and on the Temple. The feast celebrates the presentation of Jesus in the temple at Jerusalem.  According to Jewish law, the firstborn male child belonged to God, and the parents had to "buy him back" on the 40th day after his birth, by offering a sacrifice of "a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons" in the temple.  This seemed to be all that Mary and Joseph could afford as family.  Wealthier people might offer larger animals/gifts.  On that same day, the mother would be ritually purified; perhaps similar in concept to a Navajo woman having a purification ceremony after giving birth.

The temple is the dwelling place of God, the place where people go to find God. On this feast day it becomes clear that Jesus is the Temple, the dwelling place of God.  Simeon and Anna are present in the temple, representing us and all the people of God.  That is why candles are important on this Feast of the Presentation. The candles remind us of who Jesus is, the long-awaited light of the world.  

The candles remind us also of "WHO WE ARE." We are the ones today to bring Jesus and His Light to each other. When we gather here at Mass, it most encouraging and uplifting. We really need each other to be reminded of who we are as the gathered people of God. An interesting thing about candles, you can share the light from your candle with someone else, and your space now grows brighter. So, it is with the light of Christ.  His light   within us is meant to be shared with each other.  Jesus is there always to be with us, in all circumstances. As Jesus shares with us, we then have the strength to be light to one another. The Second Reading reminds us: “Because He himself was tested through what He suffered; He is able to help those who are being tested.”

Let us gather today at the LOFT to support and to nourish one another’s faith journey and to be light for each other.

 

THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, Jan. 26, 2020
[Isaiah 8: 23-9:3; I Corinthians 1: 10-13-17; Matthew 4: 12-23]

“Come after Me, and I will make you fishers of people;
 they left their nets and followed Him.”

Our readings continue the theme of ‘discipleship’- the Call to Follow Jesus in our lives.  We see Jesus calling the Apostles in the Gospel for today.  Jesus makes a reference to the First Reading.  In that reading, we see that the region of Zebulun and Naphtali was invaded by the enemies of the Jewish people and they were enslaved.  Eventually, the Lord saved them and freedom was restored.  This is a great example of “Reversal”- God changing the status of the people from slavery to freedom…darkness into light.

With that background, we return to the Gospel and the calling of the Apostles.  Talk about another “Reversal”!  They were ordinary fishermen, doing what most of the men of their time and place were doing.  They lived by the sea and fishing was the greatest industry.  We don’t know all the details, but their call, and reversal was quite drastic and complete.

The line quoted above is striking: “They left their nets and followed Him!”   We can get caught up/entrapped by “nets” that pull our attention away from God, like poor behavioral choices, preoccupations with too much work, internet time, social media, etc.  Are we willing to leave our nets behind and follow Him? 

We can turn to the Lord for the freedom that we might need, maybe from the little things that accumulate in our lives and keep us from a deeper relationship with Him.  Let us pray for whatever reversals we need, so that we too are ‘free’ to leave behind whatever is tying us down in a negative way to be freer to hear and follow the Lord as disciples.

 

SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, Jan. 19, 2020
[Isaiah 49: 3, 5-6; I Corinthians 1: 1-3; John 1: 29-34]

 “On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain,
He is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.”

Our quote above is from today’s Gospel.  This Gospel builds on our Gospel and theme from last Sunday, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.  We shared about and reflected on how the Baptism of Jesus was important, for it helps us to realize how important our Baptism is.

John the Baptist took his call from the Lord seriously.  He prepared the way for the Lord, so that Jesus could be recognized when He came.   Isaiah, in the First Reading, and Paul, in the Second Reading, also testify to their calling from God.  We are in very good company. Our Baptism, whenever it was, or will be, is also a serious call from the Lord.  We receive the Life of God for the first time.  As we hear in the readings, Life of God is also a “Call from God”.

The three Persons of the Trinity shared their life with us. They could not just keep it to themselves. We are called to do the same.  The Good News and the Good Life we have received cannot be limited to just us.  It ought not just die with us.  We need to share it!  As we begin this New Year and New Church Season of Ordinary Time, we are in the company of Isaiah, Paul, John the Baptist, and Jesus.  Like them, we can deliver the message and power of God to each other.  Let our daily prayer be the words of our Responsorial psalm today: “Here am I Lord: I come to do your will.”