Saturday, November 29, 2014

Reflection: Luke 12:34-36

34th Week of Ordinary Time – Luke 12:34-36

Today’s Gospel is extremely short: only 3 verses. However, it is a powerful Gospel. Jesus is instructing his disciples to beware! He is cautioning them not to be drowsy or sleepy from drinking or from the stresses of everyday life. Again Jesus is reminding his disciples of the importance of being awake and alert.

The “everydayness” of life can become numbing. For most of us, I assume our daily routine is just that: routine! I assume that 5 days out of the week are fairly predictable: we go to work, we go to school, we clean the house, help the kids with homework, go grocery shopping, watch TV, etc. Routine is good for most of us. Routine makes life more structured and also a bit more predictable. There is comfort in routine. Routine gives us a sense of what to expect in my day. That can be comforting!

The downside of routine is that we may become drowsy or even metaphorically “sleepwalk” through our day. We do what we need to do, our bodies are there. However our “spirit” may not be very present or alive. On some days, we simply may go through the motions. In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us we need to be alert since we do not know when He will come!

Jesus wants us to be ready and prepared. Jesus also wants us to actively wait for his coming. At times, Jesus comes in disguises! Thus, we have to be alert and attentive or we will miss Jesus and the gift of His presence. Today may we strive to be awake to the many ways that Jesus will come to us. May we be awake to beauty, to the people we encounter. God is coming! Will we be asleep or awake? This is our choice to make!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Reflection: Luke 12:29-33

34th Week of Ordinary Time –Luke 12:29-33

As we draw near to the end of the Church year, the readings have a somber tone. In today’s first reading (Revelation 20: 1-4, 21-2), John is writing about the “end times” and what had been revealed to him. Today Jesus tells his disciples to be attentive to signs that will appear. These signs will tell them when the Kingdom of God is near. His followers need to be awake to what is going on around them. Jesus is not trying to frighten his disciples. He simply wants them to be prepared for being fully united with Him.

Today Jesus also is reminding us to be attentive and watchful, for we also do not know when “The End” will come nor do we know when our personal end will come. Today is a good day to ask ourselves: Am I ready? Am I waiting? Am I fearful or peaceful as I await Jesus’ coming?

Today (and every day) may we prepare ourselves for Jesus’ coming. May we live our lives well, be loving and generous, not only with our families and friends, but also with the people we meet who are in need – be that emotional, spiritual or financial. We do not know the day nor the hour, however, we can be prepared! That we can control!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Reflection: Luke 17:11-19

Thanksgiving Day – Luke 17:11-19

Today we have a welcome break from the somber readings that we hear as our current liturgical year comes to a close. Today we celebrate Thanksgiving Day, which has a completely different tone. As is appropriate on Thanksgiving Day, the Scripture readings reflect the goodness and generosity of our loving God!

The Gospel chosen for Thanksgiving Day is the story of the 10 lepers. We know this story well. Jesus was traveling throughout Samaria and Galilee and as he entered one of the villages, ten lepers approached him. They must have heard stories of the many wonders and miracles Jesus had performed. As soon as they see him, they cry out to Jesus and they beg him to have pity on them. (Remember that in the time of Jesus, lepers were considered unclean and dangerous. They were exiled from the community.)

Jesus heard their cry and plea but He did not perform the miracle they had hoped for. He did not immediately cure them. Rather, Jesus instructed the lepers to go to the Temple and present themselves to the priests. That is all He said to them. I wonder if the lepers were disappointed in Jesus’ response. They had heard of the wonders and miracles he had performed!

However, as the lepers began to leave, one of them realized that he had been healed! Immediately he turned around and went back to Jesus. He immediately fell to his knees, thanking and praising Jesus. What a wondrous, amazing and life-changing gift Jesus had given him! Imagine how the leper must have felt. Now he could return home to his family. He no longer would be exiled! What a wondrous gift he received!

Each and every day Jesus also gifts us abundantly. At times I also do not recognize or notice the gifts Jesus has given me. I may be preoccupied with my problems or worries! Or I am too busy with one task or another! Often I simply don’t notice the small yet valuable gifts and blessings that I have been given.

On this day of Thanksgiving may we strive to be aware and mindful of the abundance of gifts God has given to us! May we also resolve to consciously look for our blessings each and every day. And may we remember to thank the “One” who gifted us!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Reflection: Luke 12:12-19

34th Week of Ordinary Time –Luke 12:12-19

In today’s Gospel, Jesus continues his description of the “end times.” He tells the crowd that they will be taken to the synagogue officials and then be thrown into prison. Jesus also tells his listeners that they should not defend themselves in regard to any charges. However, Jesus does promise to give them the wisdom and courage they will need when they have to respond in these circumstances. Jesus does not stop there. He gives them more bad news. Jesus tells that they also will be betrayed by their families and friends! And they also will be hated — all because of Jesus!

Pause for a moment and put yourselves in their shoes. How would you react if Jesus was telling you this? Personally, I think my first instinct would be to walk away from him! Jesus wants his disciples to understand the seriousness of their commitment to follow him. The path that Jesus is walking is not an easy one! He wants his disciples (and us) to understand that if we choose to follow him, we also will have trials and difficulties! This path most likely will not be easy.

Are we truly ready to say yes to this call? Is our love for Jesus and our desire to follow Him strong enough for us to wholeheartedly say yes — despite the difficulties that may come our way? We know well that life is not easy and we realize that at times we will experience trials and pain. We do want to follow Jesus! However, we have to say yes to all that possibly might happen. Will we follow Jesus? Or not?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Reflection: Luke 21:5-11

34th Week of Ordinary Time – Luke 21:5-11

“The days will come”. . . . Today Jesus tells his disciples that one day the temple will come down! Naturally his disciples want Jesus to predict the future: they hope Jesus to tell them exactly when the temple will be destroyed. They also want Jesus to give them a sign to look for so they will be prepared for this event.

Jesus does not answer their questions directly. Rather, He tells his disciples to watch for signs such as natural disasters, earthquakes, tsunamis, wars, uprisings. I assume that His prediction may have stirred up quite a bit of anxiety in his disciples. However, immediately following these statements, Jesus tells his disciples they should not be frightened.

Do you remember the anxiety and fear that was rampant after the September 11th attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C.? Do you remember where you were and what you were doing on the day Al Qaeda terrorists hijacked planes and coordinated suicide attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon? Take a moment and remember that day. Where were you? How did you hear this news? What was your response to all that was happening?

Events such as this tragedy also may be a reminder to us that “we know neither the day nor the hour” of our death! None of us have any guarantee of tomorrow. We truly only have today and perhaps only this moment! These types of events make us fearful (and understandably so)! However, these events also have the potential to motivate us to intentionally live each day well.

The reality is that none of us know the specific time of our death. However we do know that every day we are given a gift: the gift of 24 hours! How will you and how will I spend our gift, our time, today? Who will we spend our time with? Is God part of our answer?

Monday, November 24, 2014

Reflection: Luke 21:1-4

34th Week of Ordinary Time – Luke 21:1-4

Today we begin the last week of our current Church year. Next Sunday we will begin a new Church year with the First Sunday of Advent. This week Jesus shifts his focus as He begins to prepare his disciples for what is to come.

Today Jesus is in the temple. As was the custom, the worshipers who came to the temple made a ritual offering. As He sat in the temple, Jesus observed the many people who were coming and going. He noticed several wealthy people making very substantial offerings.

Then Jesus noticed an older woman, a widow, who came and quietly gave two small coins. Jesus suspected that her resources were extremely limited. Despite this reality, the woman came and quietly made her offering to God. Yes, the widow only gave two small coins, but given her circumstances, her offering likely was a significant portion of her limited resources! Her generous offering clearly speaks of what was most important to this woman: God and the Temple of God!

What do we offer to God? Do we make a donation to our Church or to another worthy work or cause? How generous are we? However, do we also give God our love, our precious time and our attention? Do we bring our worries and concern to God? Do we thank God for the many blessings we receive? Yes, we do need to support our churches and good works! However, what God desires most is us! God is waiting! Will we come?

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Reflection: Matthew 25:31-46

Matthew 25:31-46 – The Feast of Christ the King

Today we celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. This feast is one of the most solemn feasts of our Church year. This week is the final week of our current Church year. Next Sunday, the 1st Sunday of Advent, we will begin a new Church year.

The Gospel reading for the feast of Christ the King may be a bit different than we anticipate. Given the name of this feast, we might assume that today’s Gospel would focus on Christ’s power, might and glory. Yes, in this Gospel Jesus does say, “when the Son of Man comes in glory He will sit on his throne and judge the nations.” However, Christ’s judgment differs from the way the world judges. Christ’s judgments of the nations will not be determined on the power and might the nations have but the nations will be judged on their care, concern and compassion for the least among them.

This Gospel is fitting as we enter into the final week of our Church year. This feast also reminds us that our time on earth is limited. This reminder may be one we prefer not to hear! However, this feast does give us the opportunity to reflect on our lives. Ask yourself: if you knew that you only had one month or one year to live, what would you do? What emotions do you think you would experience? Who and what would take priority in your life: your family, friends, work, enjoying life? Is God included in this list?

Our daily choices tell us what is most important in our lives. Think about your day: what and whom do you give your time and yourself to: work, play, family and friends, prayer? Seriously, who and what is most important to you at this time in your life? Is God in this picture?

The reality is that life can and does get crazy! At these times it can be easy to lose sight of who is “King” in our lives! This feast of Christ the King is a clear reminder of the One who should be first on our list and first in our lives!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Reflection: Luke 20:27-40

Luke 20:27-40 – 33rd Week in Ordinary Time

Today’s Gospel may be a bit difficult to understand. The Sadducees are challenging Jesus. They give him a scenario about seven brothers. The oldest brother married a woman who gave him no children. This man died without any offspring. However, the man had 6 brothers. Each brother in their turn married this woman. And each brother in turn died, without having any children! What is Jesus saying to us in this Gospel?

As we approach the end of this Church year, these readings invite us to pause and reflect on our lives. How are we living? Are we living in a way that is bearing “fruit” for our families, our friends, our co-workers, our world? Jesus’ talk of “the end time” might make us fearful or apprehensive! It sounds pretty alarming!

However, Jesus may simply be inviting us to stop and reflect deeply on our lives. How am I living? How well am I loving? Am I sharing the gifts I have? These may seem like small choices in a very big world. However, my choices and our choices affect everything and everyone in this world! What will I choose to do today?