Monthly Archives: September 2017

He said to them, “Take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, and let no one take a second tunic.”
(Luke 9:3)

Lord, your disciples, who had already left their livelihoods and their homes to follow you, are now instructed to go off with no provisions to proclaim your Kingdom and heal the sick. They have to become beggars, depending on the kindness and hospitality of those they will meet.

Could I trust you enough to walk away from the life I know, to become completely vulnerable? I would have to give up not only my possessions, but my pride, my independence, my love of comfort, my complacency, whatever status I enjoy , and my American self-reliance. Could I even survive without air conditioning, heat, my recliner, running water, books and notebooks?

You did not send the disciples alone, though, but in pairs. I, too, would need a companion. Whatever you ask of me, you will provide for me. Show me your will and how to adapt and let go, whether gradually or all at once.

He said to them in reply, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.”
(Luke 8:21)

Your mother, my Jesus, did hear the word, consent to it, and act on it. So did your disciples. You invite us all into your family, even into your very Body. How blessed are we!

How can I act on your word today? How can I share it? I see few people and influence even fewer, but I have to trust you to use me as your instrument. I will keep meditating; I will try harder to be open to your plan for me. When I hear anyone maligning another, I will speak out. If I love you, you will give me courage to resist gossip and negativism. My Jesus, I trust in you.

“No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel
or sets it under a bed;
rather, he places it on a lampstand
so that those who enter may see the light.
For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible,
and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light.

(Luke 8:16-17)

Lord, so many things are hidden from me, even the state of my own soul. Still, if I only let you shine through me, if I become transparent, you will reveal you divine plan of mercy and love. Cleanse me; empty me, so that you light will not be obstructed. You saw Nathanael as a man “in whom there [was] no deception. He did not hide his light, even though at first he didn’t recognize who you are. Help me to deceive no one, especially not myself. Only then can you work in and through me. How can I be more honest today?

*Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this 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?’

(Matthew 20:14-15)

Earlier in this passage, the workers who were hired first grumbled, “You have made them equal to us…” Our human minds are not content with being equal. We want to be higher. Yet, to be treated equally by you, Lord, is to have all, even when others have all. Your infinite Love is not divided. Thanking you for making us one in you, for making us equal.

“Odyous of olde been comparisonis, And of comparisonis engendyrd is haterede.” John Lydgate wrote that in the 15th century and Shakespeare, in As You Like It, changed it to “Comparisons are odorous.” I like Shakespeare’s version. Why are we so intent on measuring? We are like the Pharisees who broke down your law to fit human standards. How far could one walk on the Sabbath? What was the portion of the oldest son? Even Peter, your rock, asked “How many times?”

Someone said that you made us in your image and we keep trying to return the favor. We cannot pin you down to human standards, and we could never earn your merciful love. If you didn’t give freely, without limit, you would not be God and we would be doomed. As St. Paul so wisely stated, “God forbid that I should presume to pass judgment, even on myself.”

Teach me to love, to forgive, and to rejoice that we are one in you.

But as for the seed that fell on rich soil, they are the ones who, when they have heard the word, embrace it with a generous and good heart, and bear fruit through perseverance.
(Luke 8:15)

How can I be ready to receive your Word, Lord? Only you can prepare my soul. Till it, throw out the stones that block it, dig deep, water it, weed out the thorns that choke it, nourish and enrich it. I will keep listening and meditating, trusting that you will grow and bear fruit in me. I surrender to your merciful care. I open myself to absorb your love. Give me a generous heart and courage to let you work and grow in me.

But you, man of God, avoid all this. Instead, pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness.
(1 Timothy 6:11)

Paul instructs Timothy to avoid the traps of seeking for riches and to pursue instead a list of virtues. Some of these are the same as the gifts and fruits of your Holy Spirit, Lord, which I have been examining.

Am I righteous? Do I do the right thing? In this complicated world, it can be difficult to discern what that is, but you have given us the framework of your commandments. Please help me to act according to the love for which and out of which you create me.

If I have devotion to you, I will want nothing more than your will, and nothing less. Love is the basis. Faith is my guide.

The Archdiocese of Washington quotes Mother Angelica in a post, “Patience is adjusting your time to God’s time.” If I remember to think, not as humans think, but as you do, I can learn to wait for you, Lord. When I think that everything depends on me, I become frantic. Help me to realize how small I am and how great you are. Let me float with your current, not try to swim against it. You will take me where I need to be.

If I am patient, I can be gentle, for I will see things from your perspective. Paul is not ordering Timothy (or me) to possess these traits, for only you can give them. We have only to pursue them and to trust in you.

And he gave some as Apostles, others as prophets, others as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of the ministry, for building up the Body of Christ.
(Ephesians 4:11-12)

What you give us, Lord, if for the purpose of building up your Body, the Church. How can I serve you and my brothers and sisters in you? I sometimes feel restricted, unable to use what gifts I have, and yet it is not for me to know how you are using me. The most important role you have granted me is that of extraordinary Eucharistic Minister. Even when I am not distributing your Body to the infirm and aged, I can help to facilitate our Communion Service for those who come to us. Thank you, Lord, for entrusting me with this ministry, of which I could never be worthy except for your grace. Please help me to carry it out with reverence and humility.

Today, as we celebrate the call to St. Matthew, let me remember that we are all called to follow you.

They are like children who sit in the marketplace and call to one another,
‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance.
We sang a dirge, but you did not weep.’

(Luke 7:32)

Lord, we are your contrary children, never satisfied. Like the Israelites who grumbled about the food you provided in the desert, like those who criticized John the Baptist for fasting and you, my Jesus, for eating with sinners, we can find fault with anything and anyone. How can we learn to look for what is good, to find you in all things?

Yesterday, I wanted to take advantage of the last cool day for a week or more. I went out to fill the bird feeders and took with me a notebook so I could write and pray by the garden. There is a family or colony of skunks in the woods, and something must have frightened them. The odor was more than I could bear. So I walked farther on, to the other side of the pond. I sat on a bench and wrote my reflection, then went closer to the pond to take a photo. The sun was low and shimmered on the water. I walked around to the other side, snapping more photos as I went. When I reached the opposite shore, the sun had turned the whole pond to gold. I came home filled with peace.

Thank you for that skunk! It forced me to go toward your beauty. Help me to love whatever you give me, for I know you give out of love.

Women, similarly, should be dignified, not slanderers, but temperate and faithful in everything.
(1 Timothy 3:11)

This is probably written about deaconesses, Lord, but shouldn’t we all hold ourselves to this standard? You created me in your image; that is reason enough. You gave me a feminine nature, the physical and emotional ability to mother and nurture, and with it the strength to endure pain and sorrow. You chose the mother of your Son, a strong, gentle woman, to be a model for us. In simplicity, she gave herself to your will. In charity, she set aside her need to ponder her situation in order to be with Elizabeth until the birth of John the Baptist. Without nagging, she scolded her Son for getting “lost” in the temple and urged him to help at the wedding feast. In silent grief, she stood beneath the cross. Graciously, she accepted us all as her children. Tenderly, she cradled the limp body as she had cradled the Infant in Bethlehem. When she spoke, she had reason. Never did she complain or speak ill of another.

When I am tempted to listen to gossip, let me turn to Mary. Let me be temperate – tempered, tamed — not ruled by emotions or pride. Make me worthy of your gifts.

Beloved:
First of all, I ask that supplications, prayers,
petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone,
for kings and for all in authority,
that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life
in all devotion and dignity.

(Timothy 2:1-2)

It is my wish, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands, without anger or argument.
(Timothy 2:8)

Lord, the fact that I have the freedom to lead a “quiet and tranquil life” does not excuse me from my obligation to pray and work that others might have the same opportunity. I do pray daily in thanksgiving for everyone and everything, and in petition that you will bless and guide all, especially those in authority.

I imagine the homeless; despised, shunned, confined to the noise and confusion of the streets. I imagine the aliens, afraid to confide in anyone, terrified of being separated from their families. I imagine struggling families, forced to live in unsafe neighborhoods. How, then, can I let myself fret about unpaid medical bills or critical neighbors? I have leisure, quiet, a wooded back yard, a refuge from noise and bustle. I wish I could share it with those who are starving for open space. Please help me to grow, not only in inner peace, but in fervent prayer that my brothers and sisters might find places to lift up their hands “without anger or argument.”

Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight.
(Sirach 27:30)

In our time, we speak of holding or nursing a grudge, but this image sounds so much fresher and expressive, Lord. We don’t merely hold on to our anger; we envelop it and draw it close. The person who hugs is the one who is damaged by it. What we cling to defines us. Hateful thoughts will destroy the hater.

So much of my prayer lately focuses on letting go. You tell us, Jesus, to forgive seventy-seven times, which means indefinitely. In the prayer you taught us, we recite, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” To forgive is to let go of anger. If I am still sulking about real or perceived insults, I am letting them rule me. Please help me to examine my attitudes honestly and humbly.

A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but the evil person out of a store of evil produces evil; for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.
(Luke 6:45)

Lord, I have been reflecting lately on the fruits which spring from the gifts of your Spirit. I cannot achieve goodness on my own, but you will give it to me if I truly desire it, for you are merciful and want me to bear good fruit. Fill my heart, then, with your Spirit, for only through you can I nourish others. Let me be the tree that the gardener wants to spare and prune for another year. I may never know what purpose I serve, but you do, and you will achieve it with or without my cooperation. Still, I yearn to cooperate in your divine plan, your ongoing creation. Make me good, Lord.

Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.
(John 19:27)

Mother Mary, your Son gave you to us through his beloved disciple, and us to you. I want to take you into my heart. You said so little that was recorded in the Gospels, and yet your words have strengthened, guided, and inspired me all my life. “Be it done unto me” reminds me that I am God’s instrument. “Do whatever he tells you” teaches me to trust him. With you, “my soul magnifies the Lord.”

You who consented to give flesh to Divinity, pray for me.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that he world might be saved through him.
(John 3:17)

Father, you created this world and it is your will that it be saved. Through you, through the death and resurrection of your Son, we are called to live eternally. Please let me participate in your sacrifice. I endure so little, and yet you accept whatever I offer. Take, then, my pain, my frustration, my disappointments and distractions. Take my weakness and my protests. Transform me by your cross.

Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.
(John 19:27)

Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man.
(Luke 6:22)

I know there are people that hate, exclude and insult me, but is it because of your name, my Jesus? If it is because I have offended them, let me learn from their criticism. There are times, though, that I can tell it is our faith they resent, when they complain about the half hour a week we use the community room for our service. I don’t understand, but if these little indignities are a taste of what you and your disciples endured, then I can rejoice that you allow me to suffer them. When you said to Paul, “Why do you persecute me?” he saw that it was not a philosophy, sect, or heresy that he was trying to eradicate, but your very Person. Help me always to honor and uphold you.