Thursday, November 26, 2015

Reflection: Luke 17:11-19

Thanksgiving Day – Luke 17:11-19  

On this day of Thanksgiving, the Gospel reading is the account of Jesus healing the ten lepers.  Jesus was traveling through Samaria and Galilee.  As he entered a village ten individuals with leprosy came to meet him.  Naturally they kept their distances from him as they were considered “ritually unclean.”   In the book of Leviticus it is written: "The leper who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his/her head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip and cry, ‘Unclean, unclean.  The leper is unclean as long as the disease is active and s/he shall dwell alone outside the camp.” (Leviticus 13: 45-56)  Sad to say, leprosy is still active in our modern world.  We also have modern day versions of leprosy such as AIDS and other severely contagious or disfiguring diseases.  These diseases typically isolate the men and women who have contracted the disease.  

In today’s Gospel only one of the lepers returned to thank Jesus for his miracle.  All 10 of the lepers were healed but only this man returned to Jesus with a heart full of gratitude and praise.  Jesus had given him a great gift, a gift he never expected.  How could he not thank Jesus?  Yet, there were nine other lepers who also were healed.  Why did they not return to thank Jesus?  

Today we celebrate Thanksgiving.  On this special day Americans typically gather with family and friends to enjoy a delicious dinner and one another’s company.  However, are we mindful of thanking Jesus/God/the Spirit for the many blessings we have been given?  Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday.  However, we may not always express our thanksgiving to the God who blesses us abundantly.  Today thank the people in your life who nurture you, love you and accept you for who you are.  What a great gift they give you!  And thank Jesus for the many ways He graces and strengthens you!  Have a blessed and happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Reflection: Luke 21:12-19

Wednesday of the Week of Ordinary Time – Luke 21:12-19

Today’s Gospel is not easy to listen to.  Jesus continues his warnings to the crowds: “They will seize and persecute you, hand you over, and you will go to prison all because of my name.”  Jesus also instructs the people: “Do not prepare your defense in advance.  I will give you such wisdom that you will need.”  And also Jesus warns them that they may be betrayed by family members who may “hand them over” and “some of you will be put to death.” 

After these words, Jesus does speaks a few words of consolation to his listeners: “True, you will be hated by all because of my name.  However, not a hair on your head will be destroyed.  By perseverance you will secure your life.”  Now ask yourself: are these last words of Jesus consoling and reassuring to you?  Or do they make you want to “slam the door on Jesus?”  Yet Jesus calls us to follow him!  And if we choose to follow him, the path also may lead us to the cross! 

These words of Jesus mirror the reality that we see and hear about in the world.  All over our world, people are being persecuted and killed because of what they believe, how they dress, or the belief that they are expendable!  We, in the United States, are not exempt from this behavior.  We see it on the evening news, read about it in the newspaper or online.  Supposedly we are a “first world country.”  However, our behavior and choices often negate these words.  At times, we also behave like “savages.” 

So what is the call of this Gospel?  Perhaps the call today is to be aware of how we interact with the people in our lives.  Are we inclusive of everyone?  Do we respect each individual we encounter?  Or do we savage one other with rumors, lies, or innuendos?  Today be mindful of your words and actions.  Be aware of your thoughts and “inner commentary.”  Today we have a choice to be negative and demeaning.  However, we also have the option to be accepting and respectful of every individual we encounter.  What will be our choice? 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Reflection: Luke 21:5-11

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

As the end of the current Church year comes close, the Gospel readings begin to focus on the “end times.”  Today’s Gospel begins with people commenting on the adornments of the temple and votive offerings.  After hearing their words, Jesus makes a statement that must have been unsettling to his listeners.  He said: “All that you see here, the days will come when there will not be left stone upon stone upon another stone.  All of the stones will be thrown down.” 

Naturally his disciples said: “When will this happen?  What signs can we look for so we will be prepared?”  Jesus then tells his disciples to “beware.”  He says: “Many people will come and try to deceive you, saying I am he or The time has come.’  However, do not follow them.”  Jesus also predicted that “one nation will rise against another nation.  And there will be earthquakes, famines and plagues.” 

Jesus’ description sounds like the state of our world today.  Nations are at war.  Men and women are starving and living in destitution.  Every day women, men and children are abused physically, sexually, and emotionally.  Numerous people are killed on the streets.  And as we well know, the United States is not an exception.  All of this and more happens every day in the United States.  Yet we claim to be civilized, a “first world country.” 

Today Jesus encourages us to “seek what will last,” to seek what is good and loving.  If each one of us did this, we might change our hearts, our country and perhaps our world.  What will we choose today?  Or will we simply maintain the status quo?

Monday, November 23, 2015

Reflection: Luke 21:1-4

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

In this Gospel we hear the story of “widow’s mite.”  (It is helpful to remember that today’s Gospel is a continuation from Saturday’s Gospel when Jesus was in the temple and the Sadducees were monitoring him and his teaching.)  Jesus noticed that the wealthy people were putting offerings into the treasury. Then he noticed a poor widow who put two small coins into the treasury.  Jesus was deeply touched by her loving generosity.  He commented: “This poor woman put more into the treasury than all the rest!  The others gave from their abundance.  However, this woman offered what she had!”

Jesus is not interested in how much people give to the Church, schools, and other organizations.  Jesus is looking for generosity of heart, not simply “generosity of wallet.”  Compared to other donors, this widow’s gift was a pittance.  However, the little that she gave came from her “want.”  She was struggling to make ends meet, yet she freely gave her “mite” to the temple treasury.  Jesus commended the woman for her love and her generosity.

Often, those of us who have more at our disposal may not appreciate the richness we have: food on the table, a bed to sleep in, enough income to “make ends meet” and people who love us. Today Jesus calls out to us and says: “Be thankful for the ‘riches’ in your life: food on the table, a roof over your head and people who love you.”  And Jesus also calls us to be mindful of the many people in our country and our world who do not have enough, be that food, money, housing, or employment.  Perhaps today we can share our “mite” with the individuals we encounter who may need some time, attention, resources or care.  Our “mite” may be a great blessing to them.  And we may find that this individual also is a great blessing to us!   

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Reflection: John 18:33b-37

Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe – John 18:33b-37

Today we begin the last week of our current liturgical year.  Next Sunday the Advent season and a new liturgical year will begin.  The Gospel chosen for this feast of Christ the King is a very solemn reading.  It is a reading from the Passion of Jesus Christ. 

Jesus had been arrested and was brought before Pilate. The first questions Pilate asked Jesus: “Are you the King of the Jews?  If so, what have you done?”  The dialogue between Pilate and Jesus continues from there.  The reality is: Jesus was a king.  However, Jesus was not a typical king.  Jesus was “a servant king.”  He came not to be served but to serve.  Jesus did not come to earth seeking power and influence.  Rather he preached God’s word, healed the sick and reached out to the poor, the lame and the outcasts of society. 

Today may be a good day to ask ourselves: How am I following in Jesus’ footsteps?  How do I reach out to the poor, the lame or the individuals who are on the margins of society?  Do I strive to be a servant to the people in my life?  Do I work to create peace and harmony? 

Perhaps the most challenging words in this Gospel are the last words of this reading: “Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” I invite you to take a few moments and ask yourself: How do I strive to listen to Jesus’ voice?  Do I allow Jesus’ voice to be drowned out by busyness, despair, worry or (you fill in the blank)?  Today make time to sit down, quiet down and listen for Jesus’ voice!  He will speak to you!  The question for us is: Will we be listening?

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Reflection: Luke 20:27-40

Saturday of the 33rd Week of Ordinary Time – Luke 20:27-40

In this Gospel reading several Sadducees approach Jesus.  Now the Sadducees did not believe there was a resurrection.  They came to Jesusand asked him: “Teacher, Moses wrote for us, If someone’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, his brother must take the wife and raise up descendants for his brother.”  Then they gave Jesus the scenario of a family of seven brothers.  The oldest brother married the woman but then he died childless.  In turn, the second brother married her.  However, within a short time he also died.  And then the third brother took the woman as his wife and he also died.  Imagine what this poor woman went through. 

However, the Sadducees were not concerned about the woman.  They simply were trying to trap Jesus.  They asked him: “At the resurrection, whose wife will this woman be?”   Jesus responded to them: “The children of this age marry and remarry.  However, those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage.”  Jesus answered their question but he was determined not to get caught in their web.

Life after death is a completely different realm.  We simply do not have the ability to envision it.  It is far beyond us. It definitely will not be like this world.  However, if we live our life in a loving and whole-hearted way, we need not be worried about what is waiting for us on “the other side.”  Truly, love is all that matters!  If we always strive to love and accept one another, we can let go of our worries about our “end.”  Do we trust that?  Do we trust Jesus?

Friday, November 20, 2015

Reflection: Luke 19:45-48

Friday of the 33rd Week of Ordinary Time – Luke 19:45-48

Today the Gospel reading is the account of Jesus driving out the merchants who were selling their wares in the Temple.  When Jesus realized what they were doing He was enraged.  He said to the merchants: “My house is a house of prayer!  You have made it den of thieves!”  I assume that the merchants also were enraged that Jesus had denounced them.  And after this incident, the chief priests, scribes, and the leaders of the people began to explore ways that they could put Jesus to death.  However, they were very cautious as the people were spellbound by Jesus and his teaching.

I doubt that any of us are “selling our wares” in our church, temple or mosque.  Yet when we enter our place of worship, are we mindful that we are in a sacred space, a place of worship?  Does our demeanor change when we enter this holy place?  Or do we come in, plop down and wait for the service to begin?  Or do we mindfully prepare our minds and hearts to worship God?

The next time you enter your church, I invite you to be aware of the sacredness of this “dwelling place of God.”  Also be mindful that God dwells within you.  Thus, you also are a sacred dwelling place of God!  Today may your words and actions reflect the reality that God dwells within you! 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Reflection: Luke 19:41-44

Thursday of the 33rd Week of Ordinary Time – Luke 19:41-44

Today Jesus was traveling up to Jerusalem.  When he saw the city on the horizon, he wept over it and said: “If this day you only knew what makes for peace.  However, it is hidden from your eyes.”  He then warns his listeners of the devastation and pain that would be inflicted upon them. 

Today Jesus is saying these same words to us.  Look at our world.  There is so much pain, conflict, war, and strife in our world.  And the saddest reality is: we, human beings, create and perpetuate the devastation and pain!  Yes, there are many natural disasters.  However, most of the pain and sorrow in our world is a result of humanity’s inhumanity to one another.  Today Jesus looks down on us and asks:  Haven’t you learned anything?  Why do you perpetuate such pain and sorrow?  You not only hurt the other, you also hurt yourself and those you love.

Today’s Gospel reading might prompt us to stop and ask ourselves: How do I perpetuate pain or sorrow by my actions or by my inaction?  Most likely, I am not shooting another person or dropping a bomb.  However, I may make a snide remark or ignore an individual who would appreciate some of my time and attention. 

Today, strive to share peace and love!  This may sound trite.  However, if someone gives you the gift of love and care, you may realize that this seemingly small gift truly is a great gift!