Reflections

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.

 

FIFTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
ST. KATERI TEKAKWITHA, JULY 14, 2019

[Deut. 30:10-14; Col 1: 15-20; Luke 10: 25-37]

Today we celebrate St. Kateri Tekakwitha.  Kateri truly lived out the Gospel message we hear today, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart… and your neighbor as yourself.”   She gave her whole heart to God.

Kateri modeled STRENGTH of character.  As a very young person she found internal strength from God to follow what was hers to do.  She had the inner STRENGTH not to just follow the crowd.  She was confident not to just do what people expected of her, or what was done in her day.

She showed her COMMITMENT to God.  We know that she had a poor and sometimes difficult life.  Smallpox killed most of her family and severely handicapped her.  She did not feel sorry for herself.  She didn’t go around looking for sympathy.  Instead, she went around helping those in need, and teaching and leading the other young people.

Behind her special life’s virtues, she was a person of PRAYER.  She was determined to set a new direction for her life after her Baptism, and for her community. She could not have done that without finding her real strength from the Spirit and Power of God at work in her.  God was using her for bigger things. She was in communication with God to ‘chart her course’.

Kateri was a POSITIVE PERSON.  Even with all the criticism and objections of her own people, she did not give in to arguments and conflicts. She was dedicated to being a positive example to her peers and her community.  The Jesuit missionaries, St. Isaac Joques and her companions were martyred 10 years before she was born. Other missionaries were still there to encourage her in her Catholic faith and life commitment to God.

Even with the changes and conflicts in her community, Kateri was LOYAL.  She faithfully followed her tribal beliefs and traditions.  She was totally faithful and loyal to the new ways of her Catholic Faith.

She was PATIENT.  She was patient with the people around her, and with God.  Her canonization was very long in coming.  She teaches us not to give up on what we know is right!  She is a perfect example for us to be patient in accepting the plan of God.  She is doing her part hearing our prayers, and helping us.  We have to keep learning from her, and keep on asking Kateri to help us be like her and to love our God with all our heart.