Monthly Archives: July 2016

Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live and anyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
(John 11:25)

With Martha, I answer, “Yes,” my Jesus. I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, sent into this world to redeem us. Martha has not yet witnessed the raising of her dead brother, but she acknowledges that whatever you ask will be granted. How much she has learned since that day when she boldly demanded that you order her sister to help her. She had directed to you, her guest, the resentment she felt toward Mary. (Do we not still blame you when others do not live up to our expectations?) But now, she realizes the magnitude of your power and your mission. In the midst of her grief, she sees resurrection, not just for her brother, but for us all. She seems to know what is going to happen, even though she will protest that the body is already decaying. She fluctuates between faith and the practical nature that so characterizes her:

“Yes, this is the Christ, and he can do anything, even though he was not here to prevent the death of Lazarus. But what can he do now? It is too late. What? He wants them to open the tomb? No, Lord, the smell of decomposition will be overpowering. Yet the Christ is more powerful than death. I believe and yet I am afraid. I will trust.”

Martha has learned and grown, as must we all. She shows us the balance between work and prayer; indeed that work is prayer once we embrace it. It is the resistance to labor that wearies us more than the labor itself.

Please help me today, Lord, to work prayerfully and to put my prayer into action.

The Kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. When it is full, thy haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad, they throw away.
(Matthew 13:47-48)

A fisherman’s net does not discriminate. When I am caught at last in your net, Lord, I pray that you will find some good in me. If I am a spoiled oyster, you will search for a pearl inside. If I am a clump of algae, you will look carefully to see if there is something useful tangled in it. You will not discard randomly.

Until that day, Lord, please show me how to live your love. There is always something I can do or say to help others. You will provide countless opportunities for me to grow in your grace. Use me now so that I may be ready. Let me not waste any occasion to give whatever I have and follow you.

The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hinds again and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
(Matthew 13:44)

Lord, you are greater than any treasure we might find. Recently, I speculated about what I would do if I won a lottery worth five hundred million dollars; yet I failed to buy a ticket. I was only daydreaming. Still, I thought I would give a fourth of It to each of my brothers and/or their families and, with the rest, endow the mother house at Baden and ask to live there as your servant. That is truly what I would want, but it would be so much easier to go and buy that field than to plod along daily, trying to help my neighbors and rid myself of things I don’t need. Pronouncing the one big “Yes” is much simpler than accepting dozens of little sacrifices. Please help me to retrieve the zeal and single-mindedness I once possessed.

The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his Kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers.
(Matthew 13:41)

As you interpret the parable of the bad seed for your disciples, my Jesus, your words are stern. Please help me never to cause scandal. If people know that my faith matters to me, and yet they see me acting against it, I might cause them to sin. We cannot profess what we do not live. Please help me to be honest and just in all my actions. If not, my words will be lies. Forgive me, Lord; save me; renew me.

Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.
(Matthew 20:25-26)

How can I serve you today, Lord when I feel so limited? It has been difficult even to pray, but you are still close, still inviting me. Show me how I can serve. Lead me. I will let go and you will take my hand

For everyone who asks, receives, and the one who seeks, finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
(Luke 11:10)

Here am I, Lord, on your threshold. What do I want to ask? You give me what I need every day. What more can I want? I beg your forgiveness. You tell me that just as I forgive others, so will you forgive me. I seek the strength to resist temptation and avoid evil. Now I am at the door. Why do I hesitate to knock? You are never disturbed by your children; you instruct us to come to you. Of course, I am not worthy, but you have redeemed me, baptized and forgiven me. What then, do I fear? Open to me, Lord. Gather us in, all of us.

Let them grow together until the harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.”
(Matthew 13:30)

In our shared garden, a plant sprang up that none of us could identify. We let it grow until it became very tall and it was obviously a weed. I cut it back, but did not uproot it yet. It is holding the spot for something I will plant later. All that time, Lord, I have been thinking of this parable.

We do not know the weeds from the wheat. When I was growing up, wild elderberries and milkweed grew alongside our blacktop road. We gathered the elderberries and my mother made pies and jelly from them. The milkweed pods, we put in bowls of water, pretending they were goldfish. I didn’t know then the role of milkweed in supporting the beautiful monarch butterflies. Now I want to plant deliberately what used to spring up on its own.

Thank you, merciful God, for waiting for me to bloom. If I am useful, use me. Only you know who and what I am. I am yours.

Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher.
(John 20:16)

Someday, my Jesus, you will call my name and I will recognize you. Until then, I know you through your word and your gifts. You were in the tomb for only a short while, but Mary and the Apostles did not remember or could not comprehend what you had told them. They must have felt so abandoned. Had they given themselves over for an illusion? Believing that you are dead, they still cannot let you go. They cannot bear the thought of someone stealing your Body. Thinking you are the gardener, Mary pleads with you, but when you say her name, she recognizes you. In an instant, she realizes the culmination of every word you spoke, of her own healing, of every moment she spent listening. Her joy must have been a preview of what ours will be when we are united with you for eternity.

Mary Magdalene was the first evangelist, the first to proclaim your resurrection. You chose not Peter, the rock, nor John, the beloved disciple, but the woman from whom you had cast out demons, to reveal the mystery.

Only one woman, the other Mary, the Virgin conceived without sin, was worthy to bear you, but, in your mercy, you grant to all of us the privilege of witnessing you. Let me run, as Mary did, to share your presence among us.

Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see and did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.
(Matthew 13:17)

How blessed we are, Lord, to live in a time when we have the Word recorded for us, when we receive the Word Made Flesh in the Eucharist and have the good word always available. We are Christians! In this troubled world, in these troubled times, you do not abandon us. Let us open our eyes and ears to you. Have mercy on us. Grant us peace.

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born, I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.

To whomever I send you, you shall go; whatever I command you, you shall speak.
(Jeremiah 1:5 and 7)

Thank you, my God, for knowing me and forming me. Thank you for whatever mission you have dedicated me. Please show me where you want me to go and what you want me to say. I am no longer a teacher. I am not a prophet. I don’t know where I am wanted and needed, but you will send me in spite of myself. Today, I will spend time praying for discernment. “Grant that I may love you always; then do with me what you will.”

For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.
(Matthew 12:50)

Lord, what is your will for me at this moment? It is easy to observe this prayer time, but afterwards I will have to make decisions about how to organize my day. Please help me to discern what is the best next step. While I plan and implement my schedule, let me not forget that you are still with me. Let me welcome what interruptions there may be and help anyone who calls or knocks. My life is yours. This day is yours.

At the judgment, the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because there is something greater than Jonah here.
(Matthew 12:41)

You, my Jesus, are the Word, and it is the Father who speaks through you. The preaching of Jonah was given by you; in the Gospel, we hear you directly. If we do not repent, what excuse will we have? I am sorry, Lord, for all the times I have ignored you, for every minute that I postponed praying or neglected my neighbors. Please help me to amend my life.

A bruised reed he will not break, a soldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory and in his name the Gentiles will hope.
(Matthew 12:20-21)

My Jesus, you came quietly and humbly, healing those who followed you, but telling them not to reveal you. Hope of the Gentiles, I walk behind you, leaving no footprint, respecting your creation. Now that you have revealed yourself to all people, give me the words to proclaim your death and resurrection.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”
(Luke 10:41-42)

What makes me “anxious and worried about many things” today, Lord? It was not the work itself which kept Martha from “the better part,” but her attitude towards it. She felt burdened and resented her sister for being so absorbed in you that she didn’t notice anything else. Indeed, she accuses you of not caring. Your admonition to her is gentle. You teach her (and us) that fussing and fretting prevent us from listening to you. If we cannot drop everything and sit at your feet, we can still hear you. Our thoughts and feelings are what distract us.

Have I resented anyone for seeming closer to you than I am? I don’t always remember that we are one in you. If I were Martha, what might I have done differently? If I needed my sister’s help, I could have asked her directly, or just signaled her so as not to interrupt her. I might even have paused between chores to listen with her. Whatever I do today, Lord, please make me attentive to you.

A bruised reed he will not break, a soldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory and in his name the Gentiles will hope.
(Matthew 12:20-21)

My Jesus, you came quietly and humbly, healing those who followed you, but telling them not to reveal you. Hope of the Gentiles, I walk behind you, leaving no footprint, respecting your creation. Now that you have revealed yourself to all people, give me the words to proclaim your death and resurrection.

If you knew what this meant, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice,” you would not have condemned these innocent men.
(Matthew 12:7)

Midway through this year of mercy, I took a few minutes to look up some synonyms and antonyms. One of the latter struck me as most appropriate. The word “disdain” is the opposite of “mercy.” What a hateful term it is.

Lord Jesus, when your disciples stripped some grain from a field on the sabbath, the Pharisees looked on them with disdain. They condemned them for this simplest of acts.

If I think, “I would never do that,” I am smug and disdainful. If I am merciful, I will think, “There (but for the grace of God) go I.” To judge is to be merciless. “God forbid,” says St. Paul, “that I should presume to pass judgment, even on myself.” Please give me the grace to think, speak and act mercifully today.