Reflections

TWENTIETH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, August 18, 2019
[Jeremiah 18: 4-6, 8-10; Hebrews 12: 1-4; Luke 12: 49-53]

“My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them and they follow me.”

Our theme this week-end talks to us about: “Staying Focused!”  We hear a lot these days about the tragedies that happen because people lose their focus and are distracted.  For example:  texting or talking on the cell phone while walking or driving.   Many car accidents happen because people lose their focus and are preoccupied.  Train wrecks have happened when the train operator was on the phone and many people died as a result.

Jesus uses the example in the Gospel of “Fire”.   The Fire Jesus is talking about is meant to ‘burn away’ the things that are not of God, the things that distract us from God.  The Fire Jesus uses is the Fire of the Spirit. The Spirit that God gives to each of us is meant to lead us, to help us ‘focus’ on the important goals of our lives.   Sometimes we have to remove the spiritual distractions.  We see fire fighters on TV fight the forest fires by setting other fires to burn away the brush, the fuel that could be used by the forest fire to destroy.  This is a good example for us.  We must try our best to keep our priorities in order.

Jesus also speaks about setting this fire, that could result in conflicts between family members, friends, etc.  It is a reality that not everyone is focusing on life with Jesus, the Good Shepherd.   Maybe Jesus is calling us to ‘burn away’ and remove the conflicts between us and other people, especially family members.  The husband of one of the victims of the El Paso shooting has no living relatives left.  For his wife’s funeral, he invited anyone who wished to come.  1,000 people showed up!!    What a witness of God’s loving presence guiding people to focus on what is really important.  We may not all be on the ‘same page’ but we are able, with God’s grace, to live in harmony and peace despite our differences.  That is why we prayed in the Responsorial Psalm: “Lord, come to my aid.”  May God help us to stay focused, even with all the distractions of daily life.

As we celebrate Sr. Zoe today at Mass and at our parish picnic, let us be reminded of the value of family, especially our parish family, that we may deepen in the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit to share the values that Sr. Zoe has shared with us through her presence.

 

NINETEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, August 11, 2019
[Wisdom 18: 6-9; Hebrews 11: 1-2, 8-12; Luke 12: 35-40]

“Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be His own.”

We continue nicely today the theme of the lesson last week. Last week we were reminded to think about ‘what is really important in our lives’.   We prayed again that we would be good and faithful members of the Kingdom of God.  We need to be reminded now and then to live the Life of Grace that the Lord has shared with each of us at our Baptism.  We are indeed the People, the Family of God.

Today we are reminded that we are not just ‘card carrying members of the kingdom.’  The Gospel makes it clear that we are all ‘working members of the kingdom.’  The Kingdom of God exists through us.  The kingdom is not some organization.  It is the People of God, and that is us.    What is our ‘task’ in the kingdom?  We might say we are the ‘sales reps.’  of the kingdom.  But, it is not just a matter of passing out information.  WE are the information about the kingdom.   By our life-style we make the Kingdom of God present to each other.

We ‘carry on’ in our daily tasks the work of the Kingdom because we are ‘People of Faith.’ Faith is the gift, the virtue, we receive from God allowing us to live with the assurance that God sees and will reward all our efforts.  The Second Reading from Hebrews says it well for us: “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for; and the evidence of things not seen.”  We live now with our sights set on the eternal rewards of the kingdom.  Our readings, and our Faith remind us that God keeps His promises.  As Hebrews again tells us, Abraham is the model for people of Faith for all time.  “By Faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance.”  We also live with the assurance that, even now, we are the ‘inheritance’ as Children of God.

 

EIGHTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, August 4, 2019
[Ecclesiastes 1: 2, 2: 21-23; Colossians 3: 1-5, 9-11; Luke 12: 13-21]

“Seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 
Think of what is above, not of what is on earth…”

The lesson St. Paul gives us in the quote above helps us remember the importance of our “Spiritual Life.”  The First Reading from Qoheleth reminds us of how very easy it is to live only for the ‘here-and-now.’  When we do this, we start to make our personal value depend only on what we own, what we can obtain in this world.  Sometimes we don’t even think about what is happening to us as a ‘person’.  The only important thing is to get what we want, what makes us feel good, no matter how.

Tuesday of this week we celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus.  This Feast helps us think about and continue the lesson of today.  Jesus gives the apostles the chance to see Him, as He really is!  He is no longer just a person living for this world and for this life.  The lesson is:  neither are we!  We have so much more to live for=our Life with God!   That Life with God is available to us right now.  It became available at our Baptism.

We have to ‘live that life with God.’  Like our human life, the life with God also has requirements.  As we heard last week, we have to live as members of the ‘Royal Family.’  We have to work at living the virtues and qualities that are expected of us as members of the People of God.   We are reminded in our Responsorial Psalm today: “If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.”  Isn’t this what the theme of today is about?  We never want to intentionally turn our back on God.  We just need to constantly be reminded that God is here for us, and our life with Him needs our attention.

 

SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, July 28, 2019
[Genesis 18: 20-32; Colossians 2: 12-14; Luke 11: 1-13]

“You have received a Spirit of Adoption, though which we cry: Abba, Father.”

Today in the Gospel, the apostles ask Jesus to teach them to pray.  They saw Jesus praying. They liked what they saw.  Jesus’ ‘praying’ was not what they were used to. It was not just a matter of ‘saying words, or repeating chants’.  It was clear to them that Jesus was sharing in a personal relationship with the Father.  Maybe they also heard about the prayer of Mary, the sister of Martha, that we heard in the Gospel last week.  Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus, the Master, was unheard of in their tradition…a woman being ‘formed’ in the ways of God!

Jesus takes advantage of the openness and willingness of the apostles to be instructed, formed in the ways of God.  Hopefully, God will open us to also understand and follow the: Our Father!  The prayer we say so often was totally new to the apostles.  It is still ‘new’ to us as we try to put the lessons of this prayer into practice: God as Father=we are brothers and sisters to one another. Brothers and sisters in the big picture: not just to those we choose or like.  We have the example already in the First Reading from the Old Testament.  Abraham tries to argue with God to save the people of Sodom.  He probably did not know many of them, and maybe didn’t like them and their ways of living.  But Abraham had a personal relationship with God that gave him the privilege, and the responsibility, to act on behalf of the people of Sodom.

In the Responsorial Psalm we prayed: “Lord on the day I called for help, you answered me.”  We can call on God because we recognize God as Father.  We trust in the loving concern of God for us.  We understand that we are family.    Because we are family, we know we must live the ‘family values’.  We live these values by using the love and grace of God for us to gradually grow in our ability to truly ‘live as family.’  Our family life calls us to bring other people also into the Life of God, Our Father.  God the Father has taken the initiative.  He has adopted us as His Children, we are Family.  It is the task of every family to produce “growth”.  God the Father sends His Spirit to guide us in growing and becoming mature and committed members of His Family, becoming Children of Grace.

 

SIXTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, July 21, 2019
[Genesis 18: 1-10 Colossians 1: 24-28; Luke 10: 38-42]

“Blessed are those who kept the word with a generous heart
and yield a harvest through perseverance.”

The subject and theme of our readings today is all about Hospitality!  Hospitality is a very important virtue for us to consider and pray about once again.  Hospitality, in this spiritual sense, is all about ‘eliminating boundaries’, in a good way.

In the First Reading, God sends His messengers to Abraham.  There is the mutual exchange of respect. Abraham invited them into his tent.  The messengers, in turn, bring the good news from God Himself that Abraham and Sarah will have their long-awaited child.

In the Gospel, Jesus enters the home of Martha and Mary.  Jesus brings the ‘Good News’ of the Gospel to them.  They in turn are welcoming of Him.  Martha continues the traditional forms of hospitality, with preparing food and making Jesus feel ‘at home’.  Mary, in a real way begins ‘crossing boundaries’.  In their tradition, only men were allowed to ‘sit at the feet of the master’ and be instructed.  Mary opens up the possibility of prayer, and ‘being Evangelized’ to all of us.

We are also called to overcome boundaries.  We are to welcome each other into our personal space.  We are to do our part to eliminate the ‘boundaries’ of race, color, and prejudices of any kind.  As we watch the news these days, we understand that the message of our readings today could not be more important, relevant.   We still have a long way to go, in our country, and all of us, to ‘rise above’ our restrictions.  We have to be freed by the message of the Gospel, and the grace of God, to see each other as equal in the eyes of God.  It is, as we once again see, very hard to do.  

We, like Mary in the Gospel, have to ‘take in’, into our hearts and souls, the healing love and power of God’s grace.  Only when we are daily in touch with the grace of God through a prayerful life, can we eliminate the walls and divisions that exist between us.