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Please forgive me, anyone who has been reading these reflections, for the gap. I wrote them but haven’t published them yet; so I am going to start with today’s and go backwards. I will put all from October together in one post later, and fill in the first half of November as well. Practical matters delayed me; so I am starting over. Thank you for your patience.

And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.
(John 1:51)

Jesus, Son of Man, Son of God, you are king of the angels. Michael cast Satan into Hell. Gabriel announced your birth to Mary. Raphael restored sight to Tobit. The archangels are you messengers, defenders, and healers, and close to you as any being can get. I pray, then, that they will guide and support me in this earthly journey.

Nevertheless we urge you, brothers and sisters, to progress even more, and to aspire to live a tranquil life, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you.
(1 Thessalonians 4:10-11)

Lord, I do aspire to live a tranquil life, and you afford many opportunities. I have solitude and silence, trees, birds, squirrels and deer right outside my window, and time to pray and rest in you. Minding my own affairs takes some effort when I am surrounded by people who notice and broadcast whatever anyone does. If I keep to myself I am peaceful, but how can I contribute to anyone that way? It is easy to mind my own business when there is no one to interfere. Help me to seek those I can support without meddling. Let me be kind to all without getting drawn into gossip and judging.

As for working with my hands, when I cook and clean just for myself, it is hard to see the benefit. I understand that I can pray while I work, and that I can offer what is tedious as a small share in your suffering, and for the good of your Mystical Body. Still, I long to be more useful. One of my neighbors mentioned that there is someone, an immigrant, who is seeking help with English, and I pray for the opportunity to use my experience and skills. I pray that she will get in touch. Meanwhile, show me even the tiniest ways that I can eases the burdens of my neighbor. Nothing is small if it is done for love of you and my brothers and sisters in you. I will reflect on St. Therese’s “little way.”

And the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently.

For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.
(Luke 16:8)

While not condoning dishonesty, Lord, you point out that your children should be as diligent in doing good as the shrewd servant was in providing for himself after his dismissal. Our trust in you does not excuse us from discerning which actions to take. Once we have prayed and tested our motives, you will guide us according to your will.

Today, I have placed my body in the skilled hands of the surgeon and my soul in your merciful love. I will follow instructions and do whatever you tell me.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

So should it be with you. When you have done all you have been commanded, say, “We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.
(Luke 17:10)

Lord, your disciples ask you to increase their faith, and you speak about humility. If we know that we have nothing of our own, then we trust in you. We cannot glory in any of our achievements, for it is you who achieve. We do not expect praise for our service, for we are made to know, love and serve you. When we remember who we are and who you are, we do have faith, even if it is smaller than a mustard seed.

Faith consists not only on waiting on you, but on waiting for you, as well. Today’s first reading, from Habakkuk, finds the prophet wailing, “How long, O Lord?” He sees destruction and violence everywhere, as do we in this era. You answer, “If it delays, wait for it.” You tell him to press on, even when he sees no results. That is faith! Paul exhorts Timothy in the second reading to bear his share of hardships for the sake of the Gospel.

Our persecution as Christians now is more subtle, perhaps, but also more insidious. Our values are ridiculed as outdated, politically incorrect, and non-inclusive. When expedience is the norm, life itself becomes relative. Only by faith can we respect and champion it.

Please help me today to work and wait, trusting that you will make straight our crooked paths.

Everyone in the crowd sought to touch him because power came forth from him and healed them all.
(Luke 6:19)

Before appointing the Apostles, Lord, you went up to the mountain by yourself to pray. In the meantime, a crowd gathered from many lands. Those who sought to touch you were Jews and Gentiles alike.

Still today, we seek to touch you, my Jesus, and you do not retreat from us. Before your death and resurrection, you gave us your very Body and Blood. How could we be any closer to you than in the Eucharist? You still hear us; you still heal us.

You know our infirmities before we do. You know our weakness, our temptations, our emptiness. Only you can fill us; nothing less can satisfy our yearning. Let us not fear to approach you.

I entrust to you today my needs and the needs of all my brothers and sisters, especially those for whom I have promised to pray.

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.

For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.
(Matthew 12:50)

Lord, what is your will for me at this moment? It is easy to observe this prayer time, but afterwards I will have to make decisions about how to organize my day. Please help me to discern what is the best next step. While I plan and implement my schedule, let me not forget that you are still with me. Let me welcome what interruptions there may be and help anyone who calls or knocks. My life is yours. This day is yours.

Look at the birds of the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they?
(Matthew 6:26)

Once, years ago, when I was sitting at the edge of the woods, watching birds at the feeders, I thought, “Birds are free because they take what they find.” At the time, I didn’t realize that I was just rephrasing your words, my Jesus.

How free I would be if I stopped thinking about what I need and paying attention to what I have in the present moment! Do birds think about tomorrow? They come back to their source of food and water, and if they should find it empty, they fly farther.

Some of us get upset when something is not in its familiar place, or something new has been added. Why do we resist change? I think it challenges our sense of security. Yet it is that very security that inhibits our freedom. The disciples left their posts, their boats, their livelihoods to follow you, with no idea where the journey would take them. What courage you gave them! Only the brave are free.

Are the birds brave, then? No, they are simply acting on instinct. It is we who are free to choose and we who must be brave to let go. I will not envy the birds, then, but I will pray to be so attuned to your will that following it becomes instinctive. Show me how to see and appreciate this moment.

I have told you this so that you may not fall away. They will expel you from the synagogues; in fact, the day is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God.
(John 16:1)

Lord, it is still true today that people who kill Christians think they are worshipping you. Help us to remember that you warned us. Spirit of God, give us the courage to persevere in your truth.

I am facing some resentment now because I want to bring you in the Eucharist to our Communion group while our minister is away. They say I am trying to take over, that I am not qualified. Of course I am not worthy to give or receive you, but you will say the word. You love us each so intimately that you want us to swallow you. If I can be your instrument, let me not fall away. I am just a lay woman, but the need is indeed extraordinary and you will not deny yourself to us because I am not a Priest or even a man. Please forgive our ignorance and humble us so that we might take and eat.

When he has driven out his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they recognize his voice.
(John 10:4)

My Jesus, you know me. Father, you created me. Spirit of God, I am baptized in you and you show me how to follow. Let me never lose sight of you, leading me to your eternal pasture.

I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever, and the bread that I will give is my Flesh for the life of the world.
(John 6:51)

Oh living bread, Body of Christ, nourish us. Make us one in you. I may once again have the privilege of distributing the Eucharist. Please help me to serve you reverently and humbly. Thank you for caring for these sheep who are physically separated from the congregation by age, infirmity and immobility. We are not separated from you, and in you we are joined with all of your flock. Let us remember and rejoice.

But Susanna cried aloud, “O eternal God, you know what is hidden and are aware of all things before they come to be: You know that they have testified falsely against me.”
(Daniel 13:42)

Yesterday, we reflected on the woman caught in adultery; today we read about Susanna, who was willing to die rather than sin against you, Lord. You saved both of them, the innocent and the guilty, but the lecherous men who had accused Susanna were sentenced to death. The men who had shamed the adulterous woman were themselves shamed.

Susanna was God-fearing, while the other woman had turned her back on you. Only you could read their hearts, upholding one, forgiving the other. With you there is justice and mercy.

How can I act justly and with mercy in my daily life? If I see something that needs correcting, let me address the person responsible instead of complaining and gossiping to others.

Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.
(Matthew 5:18)

Can heaven pass away, Lord? I am not sure how that word is used in this passage, but eternity, by definition, cannot end, and you are eternal. It is the external existence that is always changing, always progressing toward an end.

What does not change is your love, and it is this love upon which your law is based. Your law is our guide, leading us to receive and share your love.

In your time among us, my Jesus, you clarified and intensified the law of love. How can I follow it today? I have debts of gratitude to pay to my family and friends. While I work to fulfill them, let me keep your law in my heart and follow it mindfully.

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