Monthly Archives: August 2017

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

Who among us, Lord, is worthy to direct others? Yet you use us, sinners that we are, to accomplish your will. Let me, then, respect your law whether or not those who represent it are, in my opinion, honorable. Let me obey because I trust in you.

If only I realized how much you love me, I would have no need of rules. It seems that they arise most often as a result of abuse or injustice. We work backwards, trying to undo a wrong. If only we could avoid it in the first place.

How can I follow you by keeping your commandments today? When I receive the Sacrament of Penance, let me acknowledge my transgressions with candor and humility. Strengthen my resolve to seek only your will and to respect those to whom you entrust us, your people.

He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and 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.”
(Matthew 22:37-39)

How do I love you with all my heart, Lord? My heart is the most vital of all organs, the one we cannot lose. It pumps the blood which contains the elements of life to every other organ, to the very tips of our fingers and toes. The heart, then, is already yours, and when I acknowledge that, I love you.

My soul is the life-breath that you kissed into me. How can it help loving you? All I have to do is remember.

Remembrance is the function of the mind, the seat of consciousness, and over that I have some control. If I allow myself to be silent, to just be; if I center myself and ignore the countless thoughts which vie for my attention, then I can focus on loving you. I want to love you consciously and unconsciously.

The second commandment tests us, for loving another creature takes more effort than loving our Creator. Help me to recall that we are made in your image. Not only do we belong to you, but, in you, to one another. How can I wish harm to part of myself? How can I pass judgment, even on myself? Only you know our motives.

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, you show us, my Jesus, what the word neighbor means. When I help someone, I am both being a neighbor and recognizing that person as my neighbor. In every circumstance of this day, let me, by your grace, not just to love my neighbor, but to be my neighbor.

Philip found Nathaniel and told him, “We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth. But Nathaniel said, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
(John 1:45-46)

My Jesus, you are the One. We are not told how Philip came to know that, only that you found him and said, “Follow me.” His friend, though, had not yet encountered you and wasn’t convinced. Philip’s answer, “Come and see,” shows his belief that once Nathaniel saw you, he, too, would know.

Perhaps when someone asks why we believe, we should answer simply, “Come and see.” Do I even think to invite others to share what you have shown me? If they are searching, you have already given them the grace to want you. If I tell how I find you in silent prayer, in reading Scripture and reflecting on it, and, most of all, of course, in Mass and the Sacraments, it might encourage them. I can also pray for them, that you might guide them as they seek.

Nathaniel was astounded that you knew who he was. Just getting to know someone, then, just listening, I can support the journey toward you. You have so much more to show us all. Keep us open to your Word and your will.

Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give the last 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?
(Mathew 20:14)

“Oh, look,” say the workers who were hired earlier. “That man worked only a few hours, and see how much he got? Wow, we’ll get more than he promised us.” They watch as the next group gets the same amount. “Well, that is strange. But surely we’ll get more. We worked all day.” But when their turn comes, they get the same. They would have been happy with that if the others had received less. Now, they grumble, feeling cheated. Greed and envy lead them to judge both the workers and the landowner.

In today’s business world, it would be unjust, indeed, to base wages on race, gender, or other prejudices. If one person gets a bonus or a promotion and another does not, the latter might feel slighted. We judge and compare, always on the lookout for any perceived slight. We might even say to you, Lord, “Why does that person have more blessings than I? Am I not as righteous? Look, everyone knows he is wicked, and yet he gets everything he wants. It isn’t fair.”

“Comparisons are odious.” I read that when my daughter was little and I wondered whether she was behind schedule or ahead of it. That quote helped to balance me.

Balance me now, when I am tempted to envy others, Lord. You have given me more than I need, more than I bargained for, and certainly more than I deserve. Others might have different gifts, but I have the ones that are right for me. Let me never cease to thank you. If I complain, remind me to take what I have and get on with life.

And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother for my name, will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life.
(Matthew 19:29)

Lord, what am I willing to give up for your name? It surprises me how small the things that hold me back are. I have no house, no parents, no land. My family is scattered. None of this is by choice; so how can it be for the sake of your name? As long as I offer my losses to you, put you first in my life, and serve you to the best of my ability, I can still be your disciple. I offer you whatever I have, my joy, my pain, my struggles, my successes, and my failures. You fill me with your joy. Grant that it might overflow and encourage others. Keep me open to your will and to the needs of my brothers and sisters.

Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have, and give to the oo, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

My Jesus, I say that I want to follow you, and I think I can give up what I own, but then I discover that I am unwilling to do without a little electronic device. Please show me how to let go of my attachments. You can heal my addiction to comfort and convenience. For most of my life, there were no computers, no cell phones, no microwaves, and still we lived comfortably and well. I wonder what riches trapped that young man and made him sad. Dare I judge him, when I, too, feel owned by my possessions? What happened to my decisions to get rid of things? It is easy to give up things I don’t use, but changing my routine is wrenching.

The disciples left their boats, their nets, their businesses, and their homes when you said, “Come.” They didn’t turn back. Unlike the people in Exodus, they did not lament the comforts they had left behind. I admire them, and I feel sorry for the man in today’s Gospel. I feel sorry for me. Please help me to choose the real treasure.

Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And the woman’s daughter was healed from that hour.
(Matthew 15:27-28)

The woman whose daughter was possessed was a Canaanite, a stranger and a pagan. She called out to you, my Jesus, in a time when women did not speak to men in public, even to their husbands. She was humble and yet persistent, witty and bold. Though you refused her at first, you relented when you realized her faith and sincerity.

The prophets had great faith, and yet they were courageous enough to argue with you, Father. They pleaded with you and turned back your wrath. If we are honest about who you are and who we are, we will not be afraid to approach you.

Let us also be approachable. Once we know someone, that person is not a stranger. What keeps us from welcoming others? In his quatrain, Edwin Markham states, “Love and I had the wit to win. We drew a circle and took him in.” Let there be no outsiders. Bring us together.

Children were brought to Jesus that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked them, but Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.
(Matthew 19:13-14)

Lord, if it be your will, I would like to have these verses read at my funeral. It has always been my favorite passage. Please make me childlike, humble and trusting. Let me never turn away from a little child, for you will never turn away from me. Give me a child’s sense of wonder. Let me see your world as they do, with fresh eyes.

I gave you a land which you had not tilled and cities which you had not built to dwell in; you have eaten of vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant.
(Joshua 24:13)

Lord, I have so many luxuries which I had no part in providing. I live in a city that was built 50 years ago, but certainly not by me or my ancestors. We watched our house being built by others. We altered it over the years, but did little of the work ourselves.

Every day I eat food from plants I neither sowed nor harvested and animals I neither raised nor butchered. . We are so far removed from the land that we take for granted. I so seldom consider the source of what I use or the labor that went into it. Bless all those that contributed anonymously to my comfort.

I am very thankful that I can see trees, birds, squirrels and deer from my window and that I can plant a few flowers and herbs in a shared garden. Help me today to appreciate everything I have and everyone who helped bring it together.

His master summoned him and said to him, “you wicked servant. I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?
(Matthew 18:32-33)

Lord, you forgive me again and again, much more than 77 times. What right do I have, then, to hold a grudge against anyone who hurts me? Please take from me any anger that I still cling to, and any instinct to avoid people who insult or annoy me. Give me compassion for all my brothers and sisters. I ask this in your name, my Jesus.

For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
(Matthew 18:20)

Lord, I think of this statement every Thursday during our Communion service, for our number has dwindled drastically. Some have moved away; some have died; one is in rehab, another in hospice care. Others just stopped coming. We are down to four when we were once fifteen. Still, we gather in your name, sing your praise, and receive you in the Eucharist. Of course, we know you are with us. Please keep us going.

Sorting some papers yesterday, I came across the notices I printed about the upcoming Mass at the end of this month. I will deliver them tomorrow. Holy Spirit, please reach out to all who will read them.

At noon today, as I join with my parishioners via the internet, let me participate as though I were physically present. I know that you are with us all.

The almighty has done great things for me and holy is his name.
(Luke 1:49)

Mary said yes, Lord, and gave you birth. When you called yourself “Son of Man,” you meant Son of a human, and that human was a woman. Through Mary, we are your brothers and sisters. In her, you become Flesh, the very Flesh we receive in the Eucharist and whom we will see at your right hand, our Father. Through Mary, you do great things for all of u. Your name is Holy, Yahweh, you who are and in whom we are. Let me praise you today in Mary’s Magnificat.

As Jesus and his disciples were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men, and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.” And they were overwhelmed with grief.
(Matthew 17:22-23)

I wonder, Lord, whether the disciples heard anything after the words, “and they will kill him.” Were they so shocked that the phrase about your being raised didn’t penetrate? If they heard that, would they not have felt wonder as well as grief?

Looking back now, we view your passion in the light of your resurrection; yet we still grieve at the inhumane way they treated you, who had come as the Son of Mary, to be a brother, even to those who tortured and killed you. You were turned over to your own.

The passage that follows about the taxes seems trivial and out-of-place, but you were still with them, still teaching and guiding them. You are here now, in the miracles and the mysteries, in the most profound truth and in the little, daily questions. Let me then, follow whatever laws are not sinful, whether it be a traffic law or something vital. Let me not give scandal, even if I am exempt. Help me to be obedient in little things without losing sight of the most holy.

After he had fed the people, Jesus made the disciples get into a boat and precede him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening, he was there alone.
(Matthew 14:22-23)

This, dear Jesus, was a brief respite between two miracles, a chance for you to be alone with the Father and Spirit. If you who are perfect need time to consult, how much more, then, do we? How can we hope to accomplish anything without your counsel? Please make me more faithful to silent prayer.

He said to them, “Because of your little faith. Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
(Matthew 17:20)

Lord, when we try to do things ourselves, we fall. Like Peter looking down at the waves, like me succumbing to stage fright when singing, we take our eyes away from your power and onto our own weakness. To have faith, then, is to let go of our fears, our doubts, even of our reason. If no one has ever moved a mountain, that does not mean that no one can. If we forget that all things are possible with you, we are left to our own devices. If we remember, if we allow you to take over, only then can we overcome our challenges. You must increase; we must decrease. Let us listen to Mary and do whatever you tell us, and say with her, “Be it done unto me.” Then you will show us your glory.