Monthly Archives: August 2016

But he said to them “To the other towns also I must proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God, because for this purpose I was sent.”
(Luke 4:43)

Once again, my Jesus, you had gone off to pray, and, as usual, the people tracked you down. They had heard your words and witnessed your miracles. Unlike those who heard you in Nazareth and thrown you out, the people of Capernaum begged you to stay. You knew, though, that your mission was to all of us, even those in continents yet undiscovered by most and to us who live thousands of years later. You were sent to each of us, personally. You suffered and died for each of us, individually, for me! How can I absorb this? How can I praise and thank you? Please help me to share your Word and your love.

They were all amazed and said to one another, “What is there about his word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.
(Luke 4:36)

You, my Jesus, are the Word Made Flesh, our God. What you say is who you are, and just as you Father pronounced, “Let there be light,” you speak and all creatures obey.

You rebuked the demons for announcing you as the “Holy One of God,” and yet all who witnessed this exorcism spread the news. If even the unclean spirits proclaim your holiness, how can we who believe refrain from shouting your name?

I give you thanks, Lord, for being our God at this moment, in this place, not removed, but dwelling with and in us. Please help me today to notice you in everyone and everything you send.

The king was deeply distressed but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her. So he promptly dispatched an order to bring back his head. He went off and beheaded him in the prison.
(Mark 6:26-27)

Herod would not break the rash promise he had made to the daughter of Herodias, and yet he would carry out the heinous act of murdering John the Baptist. Who were his gods? He bowed to lust, human respect and hedonism.

Have I made foolish promises to humans? I am sure I have. Would I keep them if they contradicted your law? I have probably committed more than one sin due to pride and peer pressure. I beg your forgiveness and the grace and courage to avoid falling again.

Today, I resolve to be more aware of the effect my words can have on others and on me.

Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you.
(Luke 14:13-14)

Lord, preserve me from ulterior motives! It is truly rewarding to give to those who are needy. Even in conversation, when I listen I sometimes feel that it will be my turn. Can I really pay attention when my thoughts wander to what I want to say? Help me to listen completely and actively, as I observed my friend, Sister Catherine, doing. When I was talking, she leaned toward me, nodding at times, her expression attentive, never interrupting. Please help me to listen to my friends and to you, as she did to me.

His master said to him, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.”
(Matthew 25:23)

Lord, when you come, we hope to hear words like this from you. Still, I wonder whether the servant who buried his talent would have wanted any responsibility at all. Was he afraid of failure or success?

When my daughter was three, I heard her reading aloud in her room. I suspected that she didn’t want us to know she could do it because then we might expect too much of her. Am I that different?

Talents are not given to us for ourselves. You expect us to increase them by nurturing and sharing. The Biblical talent was a coin, but the use of the word today makes the interpretation of this parable obvious. What are my talents and how can I increase them for your sake? I am a teacher without students. Whom can I help and how? If I search for your will, you will direct me. Please open me to your message. I have more blessings than I know how to appreciate. Show me how to trade with them for the good of all your people.

For Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but for those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
(1 Corinthians 1:22-24)

Lord, the mystery of your salvation through the Crucifixion makes no sense in the physical context. A Jewish friend once asked me why there is a Corpus on the crosses we Catholics exhibit. An empty cross could be a symbol of your Resurrection, but why do we dwell on the atrocities of your passion and death? I don’t remember what I told her, but as you show yourself in my life, I see more and more clearly that it is your death that redeems us, and your rising confirms our redemption.

While meditating on the Crucifixion, I realized that you fulfilled your promise at a time when you were immobile, barely able even to breathe. From the cross, you gave us your mother, you confirmed that the thief who acknowledged you would be with you in Paradise, and you paid the ransom for our sins. When we are old and/or infirm, we often feel useless if we rely on ourselves. Instead, teach us to rely on you, as you relied on the Father to accomplish the divine plan. Thy will be done.

Who, then is the faithful and prudent servant, whom the master has put in charge of his household to distribute to them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master on his arrival finds doing so.
(Matthew 24:45-46)

Lord, I pray that when you come for me you will find me doing your will. I think it was St. Teresa of Avila who vowed never to waste a minute of time. That sounds impossible to be, but since I cannot know when you are coming, it is the only way to be prepared.

Why do I waste time? Sometimes it is because there is a chore I don’t want to do or a decision I don’t want to make. Is it wasting time to socialize with my neighbors? So many of us are lonely, and as long as I am not gossiping or criticizing, I can contribute to them. At home, I get distracted by television and social media. These are not bad in themselves. Sometimes I set a timer so that I don’t stay longer than I should, but it is not wrong to visit relatives and friends I don’t have a chance to see. Playing Scrabble is not bad, in moderation. It keeps my brain active while I interact with others. Sometimes I am just too tired, it seems, even to think. That is time I could use to finish the book I am reading and start a new one.

I would like to be like the mother of an infant who, even while sleeping, is attuned to the cry of her child. Please help me today to make better use of my time and talents while listening for your call.

But Nathaniel said to him, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

It is Philip who invites Nathaniel to “come and see” you, my Jesus. Skeptical at first, he follows his friend, and as soon as you speak to him, he is convinced.

Who first invited me to come and see? I was baptized as an infant and told about you from childhood, but when did I first experience you for myself? You, Father, sent many to guide me. You, Spirit, quelled my doubts. And you, my Savior, look at me and know my heart. I know you because you know who I am and where I am from. Help me to follow you to the end, as Nathaniel did.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You cleanse the outside of the cup and dish but inside they are full of plunder and self-indulgence.
(Matthew 23:25)

Lord, we are so concerned with appearances. Like the Pharisees, we pay attention to the parts that show. We used to call it “putting on the dog,” when we cleared away the clutter before guests arrived. Please help me today to tend to what matters to you, to my soul.

I remember a koan that asks, “What is the most important part of a cup?” The answer is the empty space, for without that it would hold nothing. Let me empty myself so that you can pour your grace into me. At a retreat years ago, we considered the lace our sisters used to make in order to support themselves. Without the holes, there would be no intricate patterns, just a flat piece of cloth. You can make something beautiful, even out of my gaps.

One who swears by the altar swears by it and all that is upon it; one who swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it; one who swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who is seated on it.
(Matthew 23:20-22)

The Pharisees had laws about which oaths were binding and which were not. In this passage, my Jesus, you point out how silly they are. One could swear, not by the temple, but by the gold of the temple; not by the altar, but by the gifts on the altar. Earlier in Matthew’s Gospel (5:36), you instruct us not to swear at all. Here you are pointing out the hypocrisy of the lawmakers.

If we don’t lie, we need not prove that we are telling the truth. Have I been dishonest with myself or others? Please help me today to speak only what is truthful, helpful, and necessary.

So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knee. Make straight paths for your feet, that what is lame may not be disjointed but healed.
(Hebrews 12:12-13)

Lord, I can’t help wondering how old the author of this letter was. It seems to be dated between 50 and 90 AD. If the author was a contemporary of Paul, he was probably at least in his sixties and could relate to “drooping hands” and “weak knees,” as well as to lameness. At any rate, I experience the physical as well as the spiritual sense of this passage.
Cold feet are not mentioned, but when it comes to staying on the straight path, that could apply as well. It takes courage to approach the “narrow gate” of today’s Gospel.

Please give me the strength and courage to follow your way, Lord Jesus, which is the way of the cross. Let me suffer with you so that I may rise with you. How can I know whether my path is straight? Your Spirit will guide me, and you will send others to support and encourage me. Please give me the humility to ask for their help and the discipline to listen.

Therefore, do and observe all they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice.
(Matthew 23:3)

Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
(Matthew 23:12)

Lord, how often I have to remind myself to practice what I preach. I was just listening to a discussion about discernment, and one of the steps is to pretend the decision I am trying to make belongs to a stranger, someone in whom we are not invested. It is so much easier to advise someone else than ourselves. If we can remove all the emotions and attractions that color our thoughts, we can be objective.

When we observe those in positions of authority disobeying the laws they are meant to enforce, we are reluctant to listen to them. Still, if their teaching is right, you tell us to observe it. You can use even hypocrites to proclaim your truth. Let us accept their word in spite of their actions.

If we are humble, we will not judge, even ourselves. We will abandon the externals, the ornaments and accessories, and live quietly in your love. You know how proud I am, Lord. Please help me to lose myself in you.

He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it; you shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”
(Matthew 22:37-40)

If we love you, Lord, we love everything that you created. In order to love our neighbor as ourselves, we must love ourselves, whom you made in your image. We love ourselves, not selfishly, but as a reflection of your love. When we recognize that we are all connected, it is natural to love all your members. Selfish love compares, judges, criticizes and competes. It builds walls and isolates us. Loving in your name means cooperating and sharing. It builds bridges. Please show me how to love you, my neighbor, and myself today.

Then the king said to his servants, “The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come. Go out, therefore, to the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.”
(Matthew 22:8-9)

Who refuses an invitation from the king? Why were the invited guests so disrespectful? Such arrogance!

In what ways have I refused your invitation, Lord? To what are you inviting me now? I will spend the time when we usually have our Communion Service this afternoon in prayer and union with our little community.

Perhaps I was not one of those originally invited, but now, through Christ, you choose us all. No one who comes properly clothed, clothed in Christ, will be turned away.

The apostles were out on the roads or by the sea when you beckoned them. They left their posts and their boats and followed you. Make me ready to hear your call, whether it be a plea from a neighbor, a passage from Scripture that challenges me to act, or the Spirit who points out a need. Give me the grace to run to the feast you have prepared.

Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give the last one the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?

Lord, am I envious? Who am I to compare myself with anyone else? I have nothing that you do not give me. I can earn nothing on my own merits. The vineyard owner gave everyone the same amount. No one was cheated. Some worked longer, but they received a just wage. Since the 15th century, people have been saying “Comparisons are odious.” We don’t feel slighted until we find out someone else received more. Why is it so difficult just to “take what is [ours] and go”?

In other parables, my Jesus, you have shown us that it is not how many talents we are given that matters, but what we do with them. Please help me today to be grateful for your gifts and use them for the good of our one Mystical