Monthly Archives: October 2016
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.
My Jesus, the Father is in you. You are one with the Father, in constant communion, and yet you spend the whole night praying before any important act. Is it only as an example for us? No, it must be more. Your human nature, like ours, needs to contemplate and discern.
You call the apostles to their special role, but you call each of us as well. Help me to know my vocation. Use the gifts you have instilled in me to deliver your message. Give me the strength to carry out your plan for me. Whether I am serving a neighbor or just spending time with a friend, listening, encouraging, and giving and receiving support, let your word be known.
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how many times I yearned to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were unwilling.
Lord, gather me into your brood. Allow me to rest under your wings. Nothing outside of you will lure me away; I have seen how empty life is away from you. Forgive me for following false promises and trying to control what is beyond me. There is no freedom unless I trust in you. God of infinite chances, who instructs us to forgive seven times seventy, draw me into you.
Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter, but will not be strong enough.
Lord, the only strength I have is from you. Please help me to enter. I must do more than just attempt; I must strive. As long as I trust you, I can do my part.
I used to think that the narrow gate was difficult because I would have to jostle the crowds, but today I read that all I have to do is disencumber myself in order to fit. There is no room for baggage. This is what I have been struggling to do for years, and you will enable me.
What can I discard today? I chip away at my pride, my fears and doubts, my attachments and distractions, just as I chip away at the clutter in my living space, item by item, paper by paper. I see little progress at the moment, but eventually I can move about more easily.
You are the sculptor. You are still shaping me in your image. All I have to do is be still.
Again he said, “To what shall I compare the Kingdom of God? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch of dough was leavened.”
In the prayer you taught us, Lord, we say, “Thy Kingdom come.” In this parable you portray how that Kingdom grows. Three measures of flour are almost a bushel, but a little yeast will leaven it all.
Football announcers used to describe the team’s progress as “nickel and diming.” Yard by yard, first downs were made, then touchdowns. We think we are making so little progress. We plant tiny seeds, bury them out of sight and trust that they will sprout. A framer has to live on hope, and so does our faith.
The seed grows; the yeast raises the dough. Both disappear and yet life develops. Our daily efforts, tiny and insignificant as they seem, when mingled with the efforts of all your people, build your church. Your Kingdom comes.
This daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound for eighteen years now, ought she not to have been set free on the sabbath day from this bondage?
According to the law of the Pharisees, an animal could be untied on the Sabbath, but a human could not be healed. They directed their objections, not to you, my Jesus, but to the woman who had come to the temple. They seem to assume that she had entered in order to be healed and admonished her for not doing so on a weekday. Did she know she would be there? We are not told, but the Pharisees must have been waiting for just such an encounter.
We are bound by Satan, Lord, but you abolish him. You have told us that in this world we will have troubles, but you have overcome the world. If we place ourselves in your presence, you will free us. Help me to live in your light, Lord, and reject whatever is not worthy of you. St. Paul instructs us to avoid silly and suggestive conversation. I will discipline my mind, focusing on what is wholesome.
But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.”
Lord, only you know my heart. You do not compare me to any other creature, but judge me on whether I am open to your mercy. In the light of your love, I can acknowledge my sins without fear. I can look on them with sorrow and still trust that you send me home justified. You are bigger than all of my faults; none of them is greater than your mercy. Help me to look at them humbly and courageously.
Give me, today, the humility to see the beam in my eye and ignore the splinter in that of my neighbor.
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.”
Lord, you never give up on us. Is there something in my life that seems unproductive? How do I know whether to cultivate it or remove it? Let me not be hasty.
If I am not bearing fruit, you weed out whatever is strangling my roots. You fertilize me with your grace and rain down your love. All I have to do is open myself to you. Thank you for all the chances you have given me to respond. Let me never cease to trust you.
Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.
Why, Lord, do you say that you have come to divide? You give us your Word, which is true. You are the Word; you are Truth. Does truth divide?
You do not ask us to take the easy road, to go along with the customs of the time, to accept even what is corrupt. You divide the spirit and the flesh, even while you are both. You show us what belongs to you. You give up your body and show us how to detach ourselves from anything that does not pertain to you. The peace you give is for eternity, not for the mortal life. It is not on the earth, but in our hearts
You antagonized the Scribes and Pharisees by exposing their hypocrisy. You tell us of your coming Baptism by fire, your crucifixion and death. It will separate the believers from the persecutors.
Life is a constant series of disintegration and restoration. A child whose personality is developing “falls apart,” and then reorganizes her thoughts and emotions. If she has loving support, she learns to cooperate and to reason. Her conscience develops and she looks for guidance and even discipline.
As adults, we still struggle with the conflict between worldly values and infinite truth. When we turn away from lies and pretenses, we antagonize some who cling to this world. Give us fire in our hearts to burn away attachments and temptations.
Today, Lord, please help me to speak the truth boldly when I am challenged and, above all, to act with integrity even when the truth is unpopular.
You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.
Those for whom Luke was writing expected you to come soon, my Jesus. In the parable of the servant who decides that, since his master was “delayed in coming,” he could forget his obligations, maltreat others, and live for selfish pleasure, you warn us not to turn our backs.
Are we prepared for death, even as we grow old? Rather, knowing that we have outlived our expectancy, do we strive to cram in as much of this world as we can? We cross off items on our “bucket lists,” partake in whatever worldly delights we can still enjoy, and postpone thinking about anything but the present. Or we lament, “Why don’t you just take me, Lord? What good am I?”
Earlier this month, I confided to a doctor that my mother and the aunt I most resemble both died when they were 86. He said, “Oh, you’ll make 90.” Of course he cannot know, and neither can I, but if I expect you at any moment I will have more peace than if I try to predict. I will do what I can to be energetic and useful, but the only control I have is to relinquish control and trust in you.
You have told us that we cannot preserve a hair on our head by worrying. How dare I worry, then, when I profess to give myself to you? While I wait, let me do your will by loving you and my neighbor.
Into whatever house you enter, first say, “Peace to this household.” If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you.
Your peace, Lord, is never wasted. If no one accepts it, it comes back to us; if someone does accept it, it is shared. Like love, none of it is lost no matter how often we give it away. If I seek peace for the world, I must first find it in my own heart and then offer it to everyone I see. How can I share your peace today?
I may not say aloud, “Peace to this household,” but I can think it and act accordingly.
Still me, that I may absorb your peace. Move me, that I may reflect it.
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.”
Lord, we think we possess things, but we have nothing that you do not give us. We are tenant farmers of the earth. True, we produce fruit by sowing, tending, and harvesting crops, but the earth in which plants grow is yours. The seed is yours. The sunlight and rain are yours. Our efforts help us to take advantage of your fruit, but we earn none of it. We deserve nothing, and yet you shower us with your gifts. Please help me today to know what real riches are. Whatever I don’t need, let me share with others.
So often I complain that there is not enough room for everything. I don’t need more space, but fewer things.
Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary.
My Jesus, you did not say we should pray three times a day, six times a day, or nine times a day. You did not say “Pray often,” but “Pray always.” To illustrate the instruction, you give us the story of the widow who pesters a judge until he grants her request. The judge does not care about her; he just wants to get rid of her nagging.
You, on the other hand, do care about us. You created us out of your love. We will not weary you with our requests; rather, you command us to persevere. It is we who tire, as Moses did when he held his hands up to you while the soldiers battled. When his arms fell, they lost ground; so his friends assisted him.
When I am too tired to pray, Lord, send me partners to aid and encourage me. You provide many resources, from Scripture to Sacraments, sacramental, teachers and friends. Help us to support one another. I praise and thank you for this day of rest and peace.
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.
Spirit of God, guide me in prayer. “At that moment,” you will provide whatever I need. Like our daily bread, like the manna in the desert which appeared only when needed, your assistance arrives. Help me to trust in you.
So often my mind busies itself rehearsing how I will react to an upcoming encounter. Like a chess master, I try to see all the ramifications of my next move. “If so-and-so says that, I’ll say this.” Why do I trust myself instead of you? Help me today to listen.
Even the hairs of your head are counted. Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.
Lord, you who know every little sparrow, you who knit me in my mother’s womb, you know what I think, what I do, and what I say. Nothing is hidden from you, and you alone have the right to judge. Still, you tell me not to be afraid. Forgive me for the judgments I have made, even in the secrecy of my mind. Forgive me for the criticisms I have made and for those to which I have listened. Keep me in your presence. Let me remember that you know what I do and why I do it. The only tragedy would be for me to deny you. I open myself to you, Lord. Let me never forget who I am and who you are.
Today, I will guard my tongue and my ears, knowing that you are listening.
Woe to you scholars of the law. You have taken away the key of knowledge. You yourselves did not enter and you stopped those trying to enter.
When I read these words, Lord, I picture a guard standing in the door, preventing anyone from entering. His back is to the room; so he doesn’t even see what is inside. We see it, but cannot get to it.
True knowledge is you, Lord. Please remove whatever obstacles I encounter when I approach you. Never permit me to stand in the way of anyone who is seeking you. Take me out of my own way.
Today, let me listen to my neighbors without judging or contradicting. Let me speak only words of encouragement.