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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

Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Conversion of St. Paul

We have a choice of two accounts of Paulís "conversion", both from Acts, the first (ch 22) Paulís own address to the people of Jerusalem; the other (ch 9) Lukeís account. No horse, but both tell of a great light and a voice, a revelation. Both recount Paulís meeting with a very hesitant Ananais who offers Paul spiritual direction. Conversion experiences are best discussed with a wiser person. Paul was not converted from Judaism to Christianity, let alone converted from sin. However, he was converted to grace. He had a change of heart about who and what saves. Only Christ. Not Paul, not the Law. "In keeping the Law I was perfect, but I count that as so much garbage for the sake of knowing Christ Jesus." (Phil 3) Knowing Christ changed his life, re-directed his considerable energy. His major metaphor, the Body of Christ, may well have been born in his light-filled experience: he who has never known Jesus in the flesh is persecuting Christ in the brothers and sisters in Damascus.

If you have had a major conversion moment, reflect again on the experience and respond to God. If your conversion is an almost daily occurrence, reflect on that and respond to God. What would you like God to change in your heart today?

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Jesus asks us to pray for vocations. So many parishes include that prayer, and how good to know that we are following Jesusí directive: "Ask the Lord of the harvest (a "plentiful harvest") to send laborers into the harvest." We usually understand those laborers to be priests and religious, but in this context, Jesus and the early churchís life, there were no priests and religious. That plentiful harvest are all those who have not known God, and we all, no matter what our state in life, have a call, (vocare in Latin is "to call") to spread the good news. The good news, this gospel goes on to specify, is "Peace to this house." And if anyone welcomes that good news, we are to say "The kin-dom of God has come near to you." 

Look at Jesus looking at you, calling you, sending you to proclaim peace. Let his peace flow from his loving gaze into your being. Rest in his peace. Then all day long, as you meet anyone, whether in your heart or out loud, bless that person with the peace of Christ.

Thursday, January 27, 2005                

Hope is a prominent theme in Hebrews. In todayís passage, hope means confidence, and a bold approach to God directly through "the new and living way" which Jesus opened for us, access to God. We can come near to God "with a true heart in full assurance of faith." Why can we dare to "hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering?" Because God who has promised us this nearness is faithful. Then our author asks us to be creative in provoking one another to love and goodness. We are urged to continue to meet together and to encourage one another. 

What is your experience of approaching God? What are some of your best experiences of "meeting together" in community prayer? For what do you hope, for yourself and your relationship with God, and for your communal prayer. Share your hope with Jesus.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Still Hebrews urges hope. If we reflect on all we have already gone through because we believe, our memories will give us hope. Even if we ourselves were not persecuted and jailed for the faith, we share in the sufferings of those who were/are imprisoned. That com-passion deepens our hope. "Do not abandon that confidence of yours...we are not among those who shrink back." Rather, we are like the mustard seed which Jesus uses in his parable, so small and weak. When we are sown in hope, we grow great in Godís eyes.

Memory and hope, roots and wings. As you reflect on your life, what have you endured that has made you stronger, given you hope for the future? Ask for the gift of hope for yourself and all who are hopeless about the violence, wars, poverty, hunger in our world. Have compassion with those who suffer now.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

In our continuous reading of Hebrews, we reach a connection between the first reading and the gospel. We begin with "Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." The gospel is of Jesusí rebuking the storm on the sea and then scolding his friends: "Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?"

What storms do you see and feel around you? What does Jesus say to you? Donít be afraid to be afraid, for later in his life he was terrified of death (cf Hebrews 5:7). Tell him of your fears, and your fears for your family, our country, the world. Ask to believe and to hope. "Lord, I do believe. Help my unbelief!"

Sunday, January 30, 2005
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthewís Beatitudes begin, Blessed (or Happy) are the poor in spirit. Luke pronounces the poor blessed. Both are true, but todayís other readings confirm Matthewís interpretation. The first reading is Godís promise of a "little people" (anawim) in the midst of Israel who would be humble, lowly and honest. Paul links the Corinthian Christians with the anawim, not many wise, not many powerful, not many well-born. "God chooses the foolish in this world to confound the wise, chooses the weak to shame the powerful, chooses the lowly and despised." Riches or poverty donít count, but being willing to accept our weakness, limits, creaturehood--this is honest and wise humility. Happy are we when we are merciful, peaceful, gentle, single-hearted, and especially when we know our utter dependence on God.

Can you recite the Ten Commandments? Can you write the eight Beatitudes, and the promises which accompany them? Try it. Interesting how many of us know the Jewish Law better than Jesusí invitation to happiness. Ponder all eight in your heart and ask to learn, deeply, what makes you both happy and holy.

Monday, January 31, 2005

The author of Hebrews recites a litany of First Covenant saints, men and women brave and holy, and "yet all these, commended for their faith, did not receive what was promised," that is Jesus. Who receives Jesus, but the weak and lowly anawim of Israel, but also the pagan Gerasene, demon driven and wretched, shackled, naked, screaming at Jesus. The gospel says the man "was howling and gashing himself with stones." Jesus casts out about 2000 demons, leaving the demoniac "sitting, clothed and in his right mind."  

Get inside this man so very tormented. Did you ever feel out of your mind with grief or wild with rage or prostrate with depression? Did you ever howl or, figuratively, gash yourself, so very desperate? Throw yourself in that memory at Jesusí feet. Then, when you have felt his loving touch and gaze, bring each wild one in your life, or in our world to him for healing.

Tuesday, February 1, 2005

"Beloved," our first reading begins, "since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [to the faith], let us lay aside every weight and sin that clings so closely. Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, our eyes fixed on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith..." The image is of the ancient marathon runner, stripped to a loin cloth, oiled so his body could cut through the air. "Eyes on the prize," our culture says. Eyes fixed on Jesus, our faith says. Our pioneer, the one who runs before us, blazes the trail, has been through it all first, first born of many brothers and sisters. Eyes fixed on Jesus is the most simple and effective way to contemplate.  

First, remember your own cloud of witnesses, those who led you to deeper faith and hope. Then, pray for the gift of being freed from self-absorption, eyes firmly on self. Ask to keep Jesus always in your sights. If you falter in this race, what does he do? If you sit on the sidelines, where is he? If you trip and sprawl, how is he with you? How do you respond to this pioneer?

Last updated: Sunday, 6 February, 2005 3:03 PM

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