Monthly Archives: October 2015

For anyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.
(Luke 14:11)

In this account, Lord, you have just healed the man with dropsy and reminded the Pharisees that rescuing a person, or even an animal, is more important than heeding all the prohibitions they have set up regarding your commandments. Now, their attention turns to the feast.

How important it is to these guests to be seated “above the salt,” as the elite used to say. I picture them, loud, boisterous, jostling for position, greeting those of higher status while ignoring the rest. What must they think when you rebuke them?

We are quick to judge the Pharisees, but the faults we see in others are the very faults they notice in us. Do we not seek attention and validation from those who are important and popular? Do we not shout to be heard and push to be seen?

In the Novitiate, we used to joke, “I’m so proud of my humility.” It is so hard to be invisible, and if we do manage to put others first, we tend to congratulate ourselves. The only way we can empty ourselves is to be filled with you.

I like to think there were some among the crowd who saw through to your divine Truth and heeded your instruction. I’d like to think that I might have been one of them.

If I want to know my failings, I don’t ask my friends. Instead, I must listen to those who are ignored and despised. If I can see your will through them, they are more valuable than the most loyal and loving companions.

Please show me, Lord, how to “not let my left hand see what the right hand is doing” when I give of myself. Never, never let me be condescending. I promise to seize whatever opportunities you provide for me to humble myself today, and to rejoice if I am one of those ignored and despised. Only by your grace can I do this, and you will grant it if I am centered In you.

On a sabbath, Jesus went to the home of one of the leading Pharisees, and the people there were observing him carefully.
(Luke 14:1)

Lord, they observed you carefully, but not in order to know you better. They had invited you; had they not also invited the man with dropsy, and obvious ailment? He was swollen and deformed, probably suffering from what we now call cellulitis, which causes ugly and painful blisters. They knew what you would do.

First you healed the man, and then you gave voice to their unspoken question. They could not respond because they sought only scandal and interpreted whatever they had not prescribed as a sin against the law your Father had given.

In today’s culture, we have popular shows called “Scandal” and “Revenge.” We research every word and action of those in office or running for office, not to know them better, but to find something to criticize.

Please help me to observe you because I want to understand and follow you. Spirit of Truth, show me your law, not just the outward rituals. You have placed it in my heart. Before I judge another, I must examine my motives for doing so. Am I trying to justify myself by finding fault with my neighbor?

I know there will be occasions today to criticize people, whether I know them personally or hear about them from others or through the media. Please help me to resist the inclination by remembering your mercy.

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how many times I have yearned to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were unwilling.
(Luke 13:34)

Why, Lord, are we unwilling to be gathered under your wings? Why do we not recognize you and flock to you? Is it because you ask us to be merciful and selfless? Once we know how much peace we gain by emptying ourselves, we cannot resist your call. Please help us to trust you. Keep calling; open our ears.

Today, I will receive you in the Eucharist. You will come to me and unite me to you as closely as I can be united in this world. I cannot grasp this, but I know it. Please, Lord Jesus, let me accept your invitation and encourage others to accept it.

How can I do this? I will praise and thank you, not only in the silence of my heart, but in song and conversation. Gather us in.

Jesus went up to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God. When day came, he called his disciples to himself, and from them he chose Twelve, whom he also named Apostles.”
(Luke 6:12-13)

Before every important action, my Jesus, you pray to your Father. Today, on the feast of two of your Apostles, Simon and Jude, we recall how you chose twelve of your companions to represent you. We thank you for teaching and guiding us through their ministry. Let us imitate them in their closeness and devotion to you.

Remind us to consult you, Father, as your Son did, with complete concentration before we undertake any mission in your name. You will never fail to provide the answers and encouragement we need.

Keep me open and alert to your will as I live each day that you give me.

Jesus said, “What is the Kingdom of God like? To what should I compare it? It is like a mustard seed that a man took and planted in a garden. When it was fully grown, it became a large bush and the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches.”
(Luke 13:18-19)

My Jesus, you taught us to say to the Father, “Thy Kingdom come.” Your Kingdom is eternal, and yet we look forward to it, not because we are not already there, but because we cannot fully experience it in this life. It is here, but, for us, ever coming, ever growing. Like the birds, we fly toward it, ready to nest in its branches. You support us. You shelter us. You welcome us.

Let us grow in your love that we may be always at home in you.

This daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound for eighteen years now, ought she not to have been set free on the sabbath [sic] day from her bondage.
(Luke 13:16)

Eighteen years in human terms is a long time. An infant comes of age. Young people raise families. We move from one house to another, watch our grandchildren grow while we age. We retire, mourn those who precede us into eternal life and prepare for our own death.

The woman you healed, Lord, suffered that long. When you saw her, you took pity on her and cured her. She did not cry out as Bartimaeus had; perhaps she didn’t notice you. She was a daughter of Abraham, worshiping in the synagogue. You reached out to her when and where you found her.

My Jesus, through the faith that you give me, I, too, am a daughter of Abraham. You heal me daily. Thirty-three years ago, I found out I have a chronic disease, and yet you continue to use my circumstances to teach me and draw me closer to you. Through your agony, you make pain meaningful. When our bodies limit us, you widen the expanse of our souls. You show us how to serve, not in spite of our infirmities, but through them.

I thought I knew how to pray before, but now you allow me to be engulfed in your love. I am bound to you; hence I am free. Please let me thank and praise you always.

Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.”
(Mark 10:49)

Lord, make me ready, as Bartimaeus was, to “spring up” when you beckon me to come. Let me throw off anything that slows me, as he threw off his cloak.

I know that you hear me, and yet I need courage to get up. When you ask me what it is that I want, let the answer be already on my lips. What Bartimaeus needed was obvious, and when you granted it, he followed you. You were on your way to Jerusalem, to suffer, die, and rise from the dead. He did not hesitate to share your journey.

What do I want you to do for me, Lord? I have all my senses, but they are not always attuned to your will. I forget, I get distracted, weary, and like Peter on the sea, I take my eyes off you and sink. Yet you rescue me. To trust in you does not mean that I will not suffer. It means that my suffering will help me to see you more closely. My hope, my courage, and my strength are in you. Lead me, My Jesus.

He said to him in reply, “Sir, leave it for this year also and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not, you can cut it down.
(Luke 13:8-9)

Lord, you are the owner of the orchard, but, in your mercy, you are the gardener, eager to grant us one more year to cultivate and fertilize our souls. We may never realize what fruit we bear, but you will make use of it. The fig tree doesn’t know that it is barren; it simply responds to the care that is given.

While listening to the “Daily Disconnect” this morning, I considered the words, “I exist.” The miracle is not just in my existence, but in my cognizance of it. I exist only because you exist, but more than that. I exist only because you will it. If I did not know anything, I would have no more responsibility than the fig tree. I, too, must garden my soul. You will allow me the time I need to feed it. You will provide the soil, the water, the fertilizer, and the light. All I have to do is pay attention.

Please keep me aware of you today.

You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky; why do you not know how to interpret the present time?
(Luke 12:56)

Today, Lord, we have increasingly accurate means of predicting earthly events, and yet we still do not know how to interpret our times. People are quick to point fingers, blaming every catastrophe on the sins of our generation. When it comes to our responsibilities, we are less eager to blame. Without your Spirit, we cannot know your will.

Spirit of Love and Mercy, please show me what I must do, first to heal and nourish my soul and then to contribute to the needs of this time and place.

There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished.
(Luke 12:50)

When you spoke these words, Lord, you knew the cross was imminent. Your baptism by John had been a sign for us, and the baptism to which you refer now is your suffering and death. It is our very salvation, absolute reality. Only a human could atone for the sins of humans, but only, you, our God, are a worthy Priest and victim. The sacrifices of the Old Testament were symbolic; yours is truth.
You tell your disciples that you have come, not to bring peace, as the world knows it, but the purifying turmoil which will prepare us for infinite peace. Families will be divided; the faithful will be prosecuted. This is happening to this day. Hordes of refugees flee the countries that reject and abuse them. Give us the fire to fight for justice.

What can I do, Lord, insignificant and complacent as I am? Rouse me from my comfort. Give me a voice to shout against the excesses of our time, the greed and selfishness, the belief in entitlement rather than freedom.

Where will I find that voice? Your Spirit will provide it, but first I must confront my own greed and selfishness. Please rid me of my possessions, temptations and distractions, and when I protest, remind me that your will is all that matters.

Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.
(Luke 12:48)

Lord, you have given me so much, and I don’t know how to serve you properly. Please show me.

Today, I have done so little and yet you have answered all my concerns. Every time I received information I’d been seeking, I thanked you, but, as I told a friend who called, “I should be elated but I am too tired.” I’ll celebrate later; for now, is it enough to be quietly grateful?

Show me how to use the gifts I still have. I am slow to move, yet I can pray, encourage others, and make them laugh. Most of all, I can listen, to you and to my brothers and sisters. Let me never miss an opportunity to praise you in thought, word, or deed. “Make me an instrument of your peace.”

Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them.
(Luke 12:37)

Lord, if we are watching at the door for you, it is you who will serve us. All we have to do is stay alert. The mother of an infant knows how to be watchful even when asleep. Conscious or unconscious, she is attuned to the cry of her child. So we listen for you.

Let us serve you so completely that when you come you will catch us working joyfully in your household.

The universe is your home, and we are here not just as your servants but as your children. We work, not for wages, but to tend your house and your fields. We will participate in your riches and your harvest. Thank you, Lord.

Then he said to the crowd, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.”
(Luke 12:15)

The Sunday before last, we heard the account of the young man who went away sad “because he had many possessions.”

I have been struggling, Lord, to get rid of things. Why do I have so many? Sometimes, I store things because I think I might need them at a later time. Sometimes, like the man who built bigger barns, I just want to “eat, drink and be merry” without having to work or shop. Sometimes I want to keep things close just so I don’t need to exert myself. I have books I haven’t read and books I might want to read again. Papers pile up because I lack the time and energy to sort them and make decisions. I have extra clothes so I don’t have to do laundry so often, extra food, extra everything. Some things I hang onto just because I don’t know how or where to get rid of them.

If my house is so cluttered, what about my soul? Do I cling to resentments, hang on to comfortable memories, unanswered questions or unresolved relationships? What about all those unfulfilled intentions and promises?

I need to clean house, physically and spiritually. Please help me, Lord, to know what to treasure and what to relinquish. I trust in you. Free me; empty me, then fill me with your love.

Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I have been baptized?”
(Mark 10:38)

Lord, when your disciples ask for favors in your heavenly kingdom, they are thinking of earthly honors. They do not grasp the difference between those and eternal peace and love. You are not angry with them; you forgive and instruct.

When I am faced with attitudes which I consider vain and silly, please help me to respond with kindness and whatever wisdom your Spirit presents to me.

Can I drink your cup? It is the cup of your agony, the cup which you ask your Father to remove, the cup of being separated from you for even a moment. What you ask of us is so much less than what you endured, and yet we can feel abandoned and alone. It is when we are cut off from consolations, when we are dry and empty, that you will fill us with your love. It is when we lose ourselves that we can serve you without question.

Help me today to welcome what you give me to drink, no matter how bitter. Wash me again in your enduring baptism. Show me how to serve you and care for my neighbors.

When they take you before synagogues and before rulers and authorities, do not worry about how or what your defense will be or about what you are to say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say.
(Luke 12:11-12)

Lead me, guide me, Spirit of God. It is impossible to rehearse for what we cannot predict. When we worry, we ask, “What if?” Only in our imagination can we answer that question. In reality, there is no script to follow, no formula except what you are telling us, to trust in you.

Please help me to live in the present, in your Presence, thinking, doing and saying whatever you reveal to me. I do not need tomorrow’s bread, only today’s. With you, there is only now. We need no map, for, as you have told us, you are the way. My Jesus, my Father, my Spirit, I trust in you, my triune God.