PRAYER / Daily
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
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January 25, 2005
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
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.
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?
January 26, 2005
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."
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.
January 27, 2005
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.
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.
January 28, 2005
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.
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.
January 29, 2005
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?"
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!"
January 30, 2005
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
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
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.
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."
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.
February 1, 2005
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.
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?
Sunday, 6 February, 2005 3:03 PM
School Sisters of Notre Dame, Baltimore Province
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Baltimore, MD 21212-1016
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