Monthly Archives: September 2016

As Jesus and his disciples were proceeding on their way, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus answered him, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.”
(Luke 9:54-58)

Lord Jesus, when someone promises to “follow you wherever you go,” does he realize that you are going to Calvary? You who made the foxes and birds and provide shelter for them have no shelter of your own. Will we be homeless if we follow you? To trust you is to renounce comfort and security. Am I brave enough to do that? What am I willing to risk?

Please help me today to trust you, to listen carefully to whatever you tell me in my heart, and to give up at least bits of my possessions and attractions. First, let me give of my time, of which I have so much, and yet which I want to hoard. Let me offer it to you, first, and then to my neighbors, for whatever I give to them I give to you. Help me to make more space for you in my surroundings and in my soul. Would that I could give you a place to rest your head.

In a poem about unity that I posted, someone critiqued that I failed to mention the homeless, only the young, the old, the sick and dying, and those imprisoned. I did not mention the homeless by name, but they are in all of these categories. I offer for them whatever challenges, trials, suffering, success, and joy this day brings .

…but they would not welcome him because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem. When the disciples, James and John, saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village.
(Luke 9:53-56)

Lord, how quick we are to seek vengeance on anyone who opposes us. The disciples could not have expected a warm welcome when traveling through Samaria, for there was bitter enmity between that region and Judea.

In today’s atmosphere of hatred and rivalry, we, too, need to be rebuked. I sometimes wish that I could journey to another village to escape all the rhetoric. Please help me to focus on the needs I see daily and offer whatever I can to fill them. Show me how I can serve my neighbors. Thy will be done.

[Job] said, “Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb and naked shall I go back again. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.
(Job 1:21)

Lord, since the day I was conceived, no, even from eternity when you knew me, I have been sheltered and protected by you through your servants. From womb to tomb you sustain me. I have nothing but what you, in your goodness and wisdom, choose to give me. How, then, can I begrudge anyone anything?

My child is not mine, but yours, as are my grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They owe nothing to me and everything to you.

My parents and brothers do not belong to me, nor I to them. We belong, not even to ourselves, but only to you.

Please help me to remember today that everything is a gift; every occurrence is willed by you; every person that contributes to me and every person to whom I contribute is part of your love. Please remind me to say thank you, whether or not I understand.

Then Abraham said, “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)

In the underworld, the rich man still thought he could objectify everyone else. He regarded Lazarus as beneath him, even when he saw him resting in Abraham’s bosom. “Send Lazarus to wait on me.” He expects Abraham to send him to notify his brothers, so that they can avoid his fate. It is a bit surprising that in his self-absorption he even thinks of them.

In this world, power and wealth might bring respect, but you, Lord, who give us everything, judge not by what we have but by what we do. When we are attached to earthly goods, we have no investment in your goodness. We will not be moved, even if someone rises from the dead.

That someone is Jesus, your Son, and some would not be swayed even by his resurrection.

Do we dwell so much on this life that we don’t even consider eternity? Do we notice the beggar at our doorstep? Who Is my Lazarus? How can I contribute to him or her?

Please help me to see you in those who repulse me and to remember that they are more than just loved by you – they are you.

Before the silver cord is snapped/ And the golden bowl is broken/ And the pitcher is shattered at the spring/ and the broken pulley falls into the well/ And the dust returns to the earth as it once was,/ and the life breath returns to God who gave it.

Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth, all things are vanity.
(Ecclesiastes 12:6-8)

Lord, these images are as vivid as our lives are fragile. The cord that suspends us is silver, but it will snap. The bowl and the pitcher will shatter; the pulley will break, and we will fall, but our breath, our soul, will return to you. That which we do not see, which does not dazzle our eyes, will live while all else perishes.

Please help me today to see what is real and eternal. Let me not be distracted by shining vanities.

He said, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.”
(Luke 9:22)

Luke does not record any response to these words of yours, my Jesus. Peter’s reaction, described in Mark, is missing. How could the disciples not have been shocked at the thought of your suffering and death? Suppose I had been there:

“Just a minute ago, Master, you asked us who we think you are. Peter answer for us all, “The Messiah of God.” Yes, I have come to believe that you are the One who is to come, the One the prophets promised would be our king and restore Israel. What are you saying about suffering? How can the elders reject you? Kill you? Raised on the third day? What does this mean?

“We have seen you raise someone from the dead, but if you, our miracle worker, are killed, where is God’s promise? How could you die? No one can raise himself. And now you are saying that we have to die in order to live. Is yours a kingdom of the dead?

“I do not understand, Lord. Are you speaking in parables again? Will you explain them? I am afraid to say anything, but I will follow you, because you are Life itself. Can life die? Can God die?”

What would I have done, Lord, had I been there? What would I have believed? Now you have shown me, but still I am so often confused, wondering what you want me to do, where you want me to go, how I can serve you. My Jesus, I trust in you.

What has been, that will be; what has been done, that will be done. Nothing is new under the sun.
(Ecclesiastes: 1:9)

The wisdom of the ancient prophets is just as true today, Lord, for truth is endless. I can’t help thinking about the despots who have come and gone, and still your people survives. From Pharaoh to Herod and throughout the centuries, evil and maniacal dictators have risen and fallen. Please help us to remember that you will never abandon us. If we must push through a time of hatred and paranoia, lead us as you led your people through the desert. Give us the new manna, the Body and Blood of your own Beloved Son. Only that can nurture us.

Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.
(Matthew 9:12-13)

Lord, do I know the meaning of these words from Hosea 6:6? Verse 3 prophesies, “On the third day he will raise us up.” What is more merciful than the Crucifixion, when you give your life for sinners? How can I show mercy?

In Matthew’s gospel, you are addressing those who find fault with your association with sinners. How do I feel about my fellow sinners? Do I think they are worse than I am? You, who are sinless, accept us all. I, who have no right to judge, cannot exclude anyone. Let me reach out to all, in my thoughts, words, deeds, and especially in my prayers.

I pray for the two main presidential candidates, though I cannot, in conscience, support either. If there is no alternative, I will write in another name. Even if my vote doesn’t count, I will pray for whoever is elected and beg you to change his or her heart. I will write letters asking our leaders to uphold basic rights, especially the right to life. Please save our country and our world, as you save us sinners. Guide and enlighten those in power.

He was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside and wish to see you.” He said to them in reply, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.”

Mary heard your word, Lord, and by her “Fiat,” acted on it. She gave birth to you and spent her life in obedience. When you gave her to us, my Jesus, you made us your brothers and sisters. Help us to preserve this relationship by serving our Father and imitating you.

How can I affirm you today? I have phone calls to make and mail to answer. Guide my heart and my words so that I might reflect your love.

Take care, then, how you hear. To anyone who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he seems to have will be taken away.
(Luke 8:18)

Lord, how can I hear if I don’t listen? Let me take care to set aside times of silence in which to absorb your word. Then the fruits will increase, because your word is love, and love has to multiply.

What do I have, and what do I only seem to have? Only you can judge. If others think I am holy, but I hoard your graces, then any true light is buried. Please show me how to praise and serve you. As I attend to the tasks of this day. The more I share, the more you will provide.

No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Mammon.
(Luke 16:13)

“Mammon” is defined as something in which we trust. Lord, how can we trust you if we trust in worldly riches and goals? Only you can give us anything. We cannot love without serving you. How easy it is to say we love God,” while, at the same time, serving ourselves.

You command us to love ourselves inasmuch as we are created by your breath and redeemed by the death of your Son. We love our neighbors in the same way. To love something for any other reason than that it was made by you and belongs to you is idolatry. Teach me to love you, to love others in and through you, and to trust only in you. Show me how to serve you today.

But as for the seed that fell on rich soil, they are the ones who have heard the word, embrace it with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance.
(Luke 8:13)

Lord, prepare me to hear and absorb your word. Even if the devil snatches it away from me as the birds snatch the seed from the path, it will not be lost. Birds actually help to spread the seeds, and the devil, against his will, works for you as well.

You can dig up the rocks that encumber my soul and strangle the word. Open me so that I am not distracted by worldly concerns.

Please, Lord, give me a “generous and good heart,” and let me welcome your will. Only in you can it be productive. Take my soul, till it, weed it, nourish it, and then harvest what is yours.

Accompanying him were the Twelve and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward, Chuza, Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their resources.
(Luke 8:1-3)

My Jesus, you did not scorn women. They traveled with you and the Apostles. From the start, they were part of your ministry.

I wonder what their “resources” were. They had been sick, possessed by demons, or associated with Herod, your enemy, and still you invited them.

You invite me into your ministry, too. What are my resources? I can still teach, listen, and carry out little services for my aging neighbors and for the children I know. Please help me today to follow St. Therese of LIsieux’s “little way.” I tend to forget that little things done with love are greater than ambitious plans.

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved he said, “Woman behold your son…” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold your mother,” and from that hour the disciple took her into his home.
(John 19:25-27)

Mary, my mother, your Divine Son gave you to all of us when he gave you to John. As the beloved disciple took you into his home, let us take you into our hearts and our lives. You whose heart was pierced with a sword as Simeon had predicted, you who stood mourning at the foot of the cross of our salvation, weeping and mourning, I offer you whatever losses I experience. Just as you would be joyfully reunited with your Son and raised up to reign beside him, grant that I might see again those whose loss pierces my soul.

And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
(John 3:14)

Moses lifted up a serpent on a pole and it took the shape of a cross. Those who were bitten by the real serpents recovered. This prefigured the cross by which we are saved. It was not an idol; perhaps we would call it a sacramental today.

Nicodemus had come to you, my Jesus, professing that you came from God. You answered that no one can see the kingdom without being born from above. When he sought an explanation, you said that only you have gone up to heaven, but if he believes in you, he will have eternal life. You came because “God so loved the world,” and it is by being lifted up on the cross that you achieve our salvation.

We are not told of Nicodemus’ reaction. I ponder how he must have felt:

“Yes, I remember the story of Moses and the serpents. I realized by your works that you came from God. I cannot go up to heaven and be born again, but you are telling me that you have done just that. Can I believe this? I have seen your miracles. How could you perform such works if you were not from God? How could I not believe? Yes, Lord. I need to follow you. Show me how.”

As we commemorate your Holy Cross today, let me stand at its foot, praising you and accepting in union with your passion and death whatever suffering I endure. Through your grace alone, through no merit of my own, I hope to share in your resurrection.