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Sister Rea McDonnell, SSND, offers daily reflections on the Liturgical Readings for each day. If you wish to share your own reflections or have comments or questions, please feel free to email Sister Rea. For information about Sister Rea's publications, visit our online gift shop.

Previous weeks 2005:   Jun 25-Jul01 Jun 18-24 Jun 11-17 Jun 04-10 May 28-Jun03 May 21-27 May 14-20 May 07-13 Apr 30-May 06 Apr 23-29 Apr 16-22 Apr 09-15 Apr 02-08 Mar 26-Apr 01 Mar 19-25 Mar 12-18 Mar 05-11 Feb 26-Mar 04 Feb 19-25 Feb 12-18 Feb 05-11 Jan 29-Feb 04 Jan 22-28 Jan 15-21 Jan 08-14 Jan 01-07 Dec 25-31 Dec 18-24 Dec 11-17 Dec 04-10 Nov 27-Dec 03 Nov 20-26 Nov 13-19 Nov 06-12 Oct 30-Nov 05 Oct 23-29 Oct 16-22 Oct 09-15 Oct 02-08 Sep 25-Oct 01 Sep 18-24 Sep 11-17 Sep 04-10 Aug 28-Sep 03 Aug 21-27 Aug 14-20 Aug 07-13 Jul 31-Aug 06 Jul 24-30 Jul 17-23 Jul 10-16 Jul 03-09 Jun 26-Jul 02 Jun 19-25 Jun 12-18 Jun 05-11 May 29-Jun 04 May 22-28 May 15-21 May 08-14 May 01-07 Apr 24-30 Apr 17-23 Apr 10-16 Apr 03-09 Lent 2005 Feb 02-08 Jan 25-Feb 01 Jan 16-20

Sunday, January 16, 2005
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

It is hard to believe that in just three and a half weeks we will begin Lent. The Isaiah reading today, one of the Servant Songs, is a lovely transition between Christmas and Lent. Today we hear of the Servant (originally all Israel, and then applied to the Teacher of Righteousness and finally to Jesus) set by God as a light to all nations that Godís salvation may reach the ends of the earth. An Epiphany theme echoed in the gospel in which John the Baptizer proclaims the Spiritís revealing Jesus. This wondrous, light-full manifestation of the Word made flesh will change in Lent. The Servant Songs will become the Suffering Servant Songs. Not that God will require, as Psalm 40 assures us, "burnt offerings and sacrifice" as we prepare for Lent, but rather a willingness to be with Jesus as he prays: "Here I am, Lord. I come to do what you passionately desire." 

What does God passionately desire? For you? For the world? Ask God and donít think. Try to hold your mind and heart empty and open, listen, and let God teach you. 


Thursday, January 13, 2005

Today we meditate on freedom. Hebrews assures us that we are partners with Christ, if we so choose. In the psalm we are asked to choose softened hearts. In Markís gospel a leper tentatively approaches Jesus. He is not free, according to religious and cultural norms, to approach anyone. Yet a deeper freedom urges him toward Jesus and he challenges Jesusí freedom. To touch a leper was to be made unclean, which the Jews define as a "state of alienation from God," or in other words, mortal sin. "If you choose," the leper says, "You can make me clean." Jesus touches the man and speaks clearly, directly: "I do choose. Be made clean." Then Jesus "sent him away at once" to perform the prescribed ritual. "But the man went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the word...." Would that, like the leper and Jesus, we were soft enough of heart to break through the various rigidities of religion and culture and follow our hearts!

Ask Jesus why he broke the law and touched the leper. Ask the nameless leper why he didnít obey Jesus. Ask for a softened heart and the freedom to move according to your heartís deepest desire, no matter who thinks what about you. Do you want to be partner with Christ? What might that mean in your life?

Friday, January 14, 2004

As if touching a leper were not bad enough, now Jesus will claim authority to forgive sins. His enemies watch, challenge and begin to plot--and it is only chapter two of the gospel. What makes Jesus so heedless of the Law and leads him burn his bridges? Only one criterion: love. Jesus touches a leper out of love for the man. Today Jesus forgives sin because he loves the paralytic and the manís four friends. Think of the devotion of those friends both to the paralytic and to Jesus. They climb on top of a house, remove the roof tiles and with strength born of love, raise their friend to the roof and lower him down.

Who loves you enough to bring you to Jesus? Whom do you love that way, so much that nothing can interfere with your love and your will to "get through" any crowd or obstacle? Pray with that fierce devotion today for those who love you and those whom you love. Bring them to Jesus.


Saturday, January 15, 2005

Again Jesus does the unthinkable and again his enemies snarl behind his back. They ask the disciples, not Jesus directly, why the Master eats with sinners. Jesus hears it and responds: "I have come to call not the righteous, but sinners." Hebrews invites us to lay our righteousness and sin open before the Word of God and let the Word lay bare our deepest motives. There is nothing to fear if we are "discovered" because "we have a high priest able to sympathize with our weaknesses,...like us in all things...[So] let us approach the throne of grace with boldness." Let us rejoice in our weakness and even sin, for then we will eat with Jesus in the heavenly banquet! 

Ask Jesus to convert you from your goodness. In your imagination approach the throne of God with Jesus, both of you "beset by weakness," and receive Godís welcome.

Sunday, January 16 - see the top of this page.

Monday, January 17, 2005

We celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King today, a man who like Jesus, "offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears." The reading from Hebrews today describes Jesusí agony in the garden. Jesus was afraid to die, not like the philosopher Socrates who, when condemned to drink poison, did so stoically. Ghandi, Dr. King, so many nameless others have braved death in spite of their fears and premonitions because their loud cries and tears were expressions of love for their oppressed brothers and sisters.

If there is any stoicism in you (a way until Vatican II we thought a path to holiness!) ask the Spirit to clean it out so that you may feel deeply, passionately the plight of the poor, desperate and deprived of this earth. Join Jesus in his passionate prayer.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Hebrews and the Alleluia verse focus on hope. Hebrewsí image of hope is an anchor, not dropped into the sea but thrown upward toward heaven, "the inner shrine, behind the curtain where Jesus, our pioneer, has entered."The Alleluia verse prays that Christ enlighten our hearts "that we might see the great hope to which we are called." Then the gospel, another controversial action by Jesus, demonstrates hope according to Jesus: sabbath laws were made for people (to give us rest); people were not made in order to obey sabbath laws. The criterion again is love, what serves love. That gives us hope.

Ask the Spirit to remind you of times when Jesus was a pioneer for you in hoping. Dark days when he was with you; depression which he too felt; sadness and grief which he too knew in crying over Jerusalem and his friendís death. What ever you have experienced, Jesus has blazed the way for you. Tell your pioneer how his leadership gives you hope.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Jesus is so human. Today he "looked around with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart." Yes, we are only in chapter 3 of Markís gospel and his enemies begin a conspiracy against Jesus, "how to destroy him." And what is the "sin" of which Jesus is guilty? Healing a man with a withered hand on the sabbath. His enemies would restrict Godís healing love, bind it with legalities and persecute the one who puts flesh on that healing touch of God.

What make you angry? Do you see any pattern? What grieves you? Share those feelings with Jesus who is no stranger to hurts, slights, persecution, hardness of heart. Are there other feelings which pain you? Talk them over with this very feeling healer. Show him what is withered in you. Rest in his healing gaze.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Hebrews assures us that Jesus "always lives to make intercession" for us. He always tells God in the words of Psalm 40: "Here I am. I come to do your will." In the gospel he asks the disciples to have a boat ready for him because the crowds coming for healing are pressing upon him. In these three readings we have some clues about how to pray. First, when others or duties "press upon us," we need a way to preserve our sanity and solitude. Often that is taking time for prayer. Secondly, prayer opens us and makes us available to all the ways God manifests Godís will, Godís choices, Godís passionate desire in our daily life. Our response is Jesusí: Here I am. Finally, if intercession is "always" good enough for Jesus, we need not discount our prayers for others, ourselves, situations in the world.

After some intercessory prayer, keep alert all day to opportunities for solitude, and to finding Godís will in the events and encounters of today. Pray "Here I am; I come to do your will" frequently today.

Last updated: Sunday, 6 February, 2005 3:04 PM

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