Monthly Archives: February 2016

And lying at the door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. Dogs even used to come and lick his sores.
(Luke 16:20-21)

Who is my Lazarus, Lord? Is there someone right outside my door that I am refusing to notice? Sadly, yes. I cannot put off a visit any longer. Loneliness is a painful hunger, and I do not feel lonely. Therefore, I need to tend to those who do. Please help me.

In the story of the rich man and the beggar, the dogs had more compassion than the humans. Why is it that the privileged feel that they can enslave those who have less? Even in the netherworld, the rich man expects Lazarus to come and serve him. Now, though, it is Lazarus who is rich. I wonder if he would have crossed the chasm to wait on the one now suffering if it had been possible. Once we have suffered, if you grant us the grace, we can reach out to those who are needy. I pity those who have not been tried before the loss and pain of age beset them. The first time they meet misfortune, they are devastated. Can we learn to be merciful if we have not needed mercy?

The rich man, at the end, shows some concern, at least for his family. He wants to spare them his fate. Ironically, Abraham tells him, “If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.” (Luke 16:31)

Those who would not listen to you, our Savior, during your earthly ministry, will not be converted by your Resurrection. Now is the only time we have. Please help us to take advantage of it. I will make that visit.

Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.
(Matthew 20:28)

You have just predicted for the third time that you are going to be killed, my Jesus. You are already on the way to Jerusalem, where you will be “mocked and scourged and crucified,” but somehow the twelve ignore those words and focus on your kingdom. The two hose mother asks that they sit next to you, as well as the rest who are indignant at the request – all have lost touch with who you are and who you have called them to be. Your purpose is to serve us and to ransom us from sin.

Your message is for all of us. If we wish to be great, we must be slaves. We must serve not for money or fame, but because it is our role.

How can I choose to be a slave, Lord? No one owns me, except you. If I realize that all are members of your Body, then all are my masters. This week, I will treat as an obedience at least one difficult favor for another, without expecting acknowledgement. Please help me to overcome the pride and stubbornness that make me resist.

The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
(Matthew 23:11-12)

How can I best serve my neighbors, Lord? First, I pray. How blessed I am to have reached this period of solitude and quiet. It is vital to me; still, I can dedicate it for the good of all. It is such a luxury, but as long as I am open to your will and use it to honor you, I need not feel guilty for being so pampered. Please help those who long for just a moment to catch their breath. If I cannot relieve them, at least let me acknowledge and pray for them.

I would be happy to care for little children in order to provide free time for their parents. I think my family knows that and will ask for my help at times. Since I no longer drive, though, it is not convenient for them. If there are others nearby who need assistance, you know that I am available.

I know you will show me other ways to serve. You know my limitations, and only you can show me how to overcome or work around them. Even illness is a blessing if it provides us with time to listen to others. If there are days when I can’t leave my apartment, there are still ways to communicate and encourage my brothers and sisters. I hold them close in you, Lord. Use me. That is all I need.

Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you that you are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church and the gates of the netherworld will not prevail against it.
(Matthew 16:17-18)

Lord, none of us could know you if you did not reveal yourself. You chose Peter to be the first to acknowledge you and the first to head your eternal Church. In his own “flesh and blood,” Peter was admittedly a sinful man. At first, he had been slow to understand. He had floundered when he tried to follow you across the water. In a short while, he would deny you. Yet you entrusted him with the faith, and you would give him the grace to uphold it.

So, too, you enable his successors. Not all have been as saintly as John 23 and John Paul 2. There have been scandals and schisms, for we are human. Still, the Church will not perish. Thank you for giving us this continuity as we struggle to apply your teachings in a world that has challenges only you could foresee. Please guide dear Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict as they seek your will for all your people.

I have so few responsibilities now, but I know you guide me in my little endeavors. If I am only one of those little ones through whom others serve you, then even that contributes to their salvation. Let me notice and be grateful for every kindness.

Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.”
(Luke 9:35)

Just eight days before your Transfiguration, my Jesus, you had confirmed Peter’s confession that you are the Messiah and immediately afterwards revealed that you would be killed. How could your disciples absorb this? At least some of them must have been present at your baptism and heard your Father’s voice then. They had since witnessed your ministry and carried out their first mission. Now, once again, they hear the voice from heaven, instructing them to listen to you. They have seen you in your glory, as nearly as possible in their earthly existence. They want to stay with you on the mountain forever. Already, they have forgotten your admonition about the cross. Soon you will remind them again, but they will not grasp it.

Where am I in this scene, Lord? First, I am asleep, then overwhelmed with joy, then fearful and silent. When I don’t understand, I close my eyes, but you don’t abandon me. When I glimpse what little I can absorb of your Divinity, I become terrified. I am not worthy. But when I am alert, yet still, you envelop me in your peace. It is in silence that I find you, or that I let you find me.

Today, I am tired and quiet, yet I distract myself from prayer. Please help me to remember that in my weakness I find your strength. Draw me to you, Lord. Let me be in you.

So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.
(Matthew 5:48)

What is perfect, Lord? Pilate asked, “What is truth?” Perfection is the essence of any quality, the standard to which it is held. It is completeness. How, then, can we be complete?

You made us to complete your creation, male and female that we might complete each other. If we are true to who we are, we are perfect.

How can I be true? First, I have to know who I am, and, in order to do that, I must know who you are. You do not hide yourself from me. Even in the smallest matters, you show me what is real. All I have to do is be aware of you.

Please take away the distractions, or give me the strength to overcome them. Any thought, word, or deed that is not from you is from the enemy. For now, Lord, you allow the world, the flesh and the devil to afflict me, but you protect and comfort me. Life would be so simple if I just held onto you. Why do I let go? Please put your name on my lips and in my heart this week – God, my Father; Jesus, my Savior; Holy Spirit, my guide. Walk with me.

Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
(Matthew 5:23-24)

Lord, please help me to know how I have offended others. If I judge in my mind, my thoughts will surely spill over into my expression, if not into my words and actions. I don’t know how to turn off my mind, but with your grace I can rein it in. The next time I am tempted to criticize, please help me to turn to you immediately. That is the only way I can find silence and peace.

Do to others what you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets.
(Matthew 7:12)

The “Golden Rule” exists in every culture, Lord, for truth is attainable to all who search for it. It is, indeed, “the law and the prophets.”

Your preface this statement with a discourse on prayer that demonstrates how necessary it is for us and how pleasing to you. More than any earthly father, you want to give us what is good. You delight in our trust and reward it. Thank you, Lord.

You tell us not to treat others as they treat us, but as we want to be treated. I might not want the same thing as my neighbor, but our needs are universal. We want to be acknowledged for our human dignity, to be accepted and loved for who we are. We need an opportunity to earn a living and the freedom to walk the path you show us. We must accord to others the rights we hold dear.

Please help me this week to give to others, not what I think they want, but what I know they need. Let me respect their ability to make decisions and carry them out in good faith. Show me how to support them without judgment or condescension.

At the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because at the preaching of Jonah they repented, and there is something greater than Jonah here.
(Luke 11:32)

Lord, please help me to hear your Word, for if I do, I will repent. Let me not close my ears but heed your warning and beg for your mercy.

What are you asking of me today? Now that I am retired, it is too easy to become complacent. Every day, I make a resolution. How well have I followed them?

Day by day, you are showing me that I need to rub elbows with those for whom I pray. I love solitude and silence, and some measure of them is vital to my physical, emotional and spiritual health. Going from one extreme to the other, as I must when I visit bustling households, will not balance me.

Tomorrow I will worship with my neighbors and Saturday with my congregation. I will receive you, pray with others and socialize with them. Would that every day I could do that.

I think that, with your grace, I can add one more weekly activity to my schedule. You will show me what. Please help me to combine prayer and action.

If you forgive men their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive them, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.
(Matthew 6:14-15)

Lord, I forgive those who have insulted, inhibited or oppressed me, whether wittingly or not. I forgive those whom I think have harmed me, and myself for attributing to them motives they may not have.

What does it mean to forgive? Synonyms are “pardon, excuse, absolve, acquit.” It may be difficult to forget, and I do not have to condone, but I can let go of my anger and learn from my difficulties. If I am close to someone who hurt me, I can try to repair the relationship. If someone apologizes, I can acknowledge it. If I apologize, and my words are accepted, I can atone, if possible.

If I am attacked by someone I rarely see, I don’t have to put myself in that person’s path. I know that anger hurts me, not the one toward whom I direct it. So I am loving myself if I do not hold a grudge.

The forgiveness that I crave does not demand that others forget my offenses, but just that they give me another chance. You, my merciful Lord, do forget because you will it. You take me as I am each moment. Just for this moment, then, quiet me and enable me to listen.

This week I will speak less and hear more.

And the king will say to them in reply, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”
(Matthew 25:40)

Lord, your people do not realize that it is you they have served when thy care for those in need. They ask, “When did I see you . . .?”

When have I seen you hungry, naked, homeless, and persecuted? Do I open my eyes? I am so sheltered here, and the needs of my neighbors are not clearly visible. Still, I know that many are lonely, neglected, and forgotten. I can listen to them and share my time, if that is all I have. That may be all they need.

When I take food and put it in the barrel at church, it seems so impersonal. I do not speak with those who will receive it, hear their stories, or play with their children. Let me at least send my prayers along with the cans and boxes.
I know that you will provide opportunities for me to interact. On the Social Ministry Committee, I helped plan dinners for the poor. I used to stress the importance of doing with them, rather than for them. Having struggled with health and financial issues myself, I know how important it is to be included. What a joy it was to sit down and share a meal and to plan activities for children and adults. We worked together.

I no longer drive, but I could still provide food and attend one of the meals. I will check the bulletin. I have been too isolated. Please give me the energy and the will to participate. If my prayer doesn’t lead to action, it is not prayer at all. Wake me, Lord. Involve me.

Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live on bread
alone . . . ’ ”

(Luke 4:4)

He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger, and then fed you with manna, a food unknown to you and your ancestors, so you might know that it is not by bread alone that people live, but by all that comes forth from the mouth of the Lord.
(Deuteronomy 8:3)

It is your word that nourishes us, Lord. When the devil tries to convince you to prove your power, you rebuke him with the passage from Deuteronomy that shows how the Father cares for us. You, who are one with the Father, will feed us, not with manna, but with the Word made Flesh.

You allowed the devil to tempt you, not for your sake, but for ours. When we are exhausted and hungry, we will not depend on our own resources but trust in your mercy and providence. When we are weak, let us not give in to temptation but turn to you. If you permit us to go hungry, it is only to prepare us for the feast you want to share. Give us faith and courage to resist whatever is not from you.

How can I stand up to the logic and lures of the worldly one? When I am strong, let me store up gratitude for the life you instill in me, so that I will remember when troubles come. When you console me, remind me that it is not to make me complacent but to fortify me. As I thank you today, give me courage for tomorrow.

Jesus said to them in reply, “Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous to repentance, but sinners.
(Luke 5:31-32)

Who is righteous, Lord? You are, and the angels and saints who live in your perpetual light. We who await your salvation are sick with sin. Yet you come to our houses, eat with us, teach and heal us.

Let me, then, welcome all those who are at table with me. Whether I am the host or a guest, let me honor my companions and listen to them.

Please help me to hear and respect those around me, without judging and without worrying about what they think of me.

This, rather, is the fasting that I wish:
Releasing those bound unjustly,
Untying the thongs of the yoke;
Sharing your bread with the hungry,
Sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
And not turning your back on your own.

(Isaiah 58:6-7)

Lord, how can I carry out your justice now? Am I holding anyone back by criticism or lack of support? I will release my friends and neighbors from my judgment and commend them to your mercy.

Am I ignoring the hungry, oppressed and homeless? I will contribute to food banks and other charities, share anything I cook, and vote for laws and leaders that give opportunity to citizens and refugees. I will donate clothing, especially coats, scarves, sweaters and gloves this winter. Most of all, I will not avert my eyes from those in need.

Please help me to see and to respond.

Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
(Luke 9:23-24)

Luke adds the word “daily” to your directive, Lord. You were referring to your impending crucifixion, but in your time there is only now. Luke was writing for those who came after your death and resurrection, for all of us. It seems he is close to seeing, not as man sees, but as you see.

You see me today as I struggle to be and do amid the distractions and temptations that beset me. You see my weakness, and yet you encourage me to follow you in your passion and death. I want to lose my life in you, my Jesus.

Thank you for coming to save me, for suffering for my sins, and for inviting me to participate in the redemption you purchased.

What is the best thing for me to be doing right now? As I prepare for the Communion Service, I pray for the grace to understand what you give to us. I pray for our little group, and especially for Michael, our deacon. Help me to facilitate while remaining quietly in the background as we focus on your greatest gift, the gift of yourself. Draw us together in your Body. Let nothing concern me except you, my Lord and my God. Make me patient and peaceful today.