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.
In over 6,000 languages today, the story of Jesus giving us the Spirit, his peace, and his mission will be told. In 6,000 languages today, the Spirit deep within us will "put our unutterable groanings into words which God can understand" (Romans 8:26). The psalm offers us the familiar refrain, "You send forth your spirit and they are created and you renew the face of the earth." Many nations, many cultures, many languages -- all being re-created and renewed. Alleluia!
Ask the Spirit to refresh your imagination. Then picture our planet, our globe linked by living waters and swirling air currents. Imagine Jesus speaking in 6,000 languages, saying "Peace!" Stay with that image. When a distraction flits by, return to Jesus saying -- to you -- "Peace."
Let us pray with todayís Sequence: "Come, with blessed radiance bright; Come, our heartís unfailing light. Shine with grace, in our heartís most secret place. Bend the stubborn mind and will. Melt the frozen, warm the chill." Come, Holy Spirit, come!
Once, Pentecost was such a major feast that we celebrated the octave. However, today we jump into the middle of Markís gospel. Having meditated for weeks on the Acts of the Apostles, now, with Mark we will be pondering the acts of Jesus. A child whom the disciples could not heal is brought to Jesus. The father of the boy, like the leper in Mark 1:47, says, "If you are able to do anything, have pity on us and help us." Jesusí response is the same as to the leper: "If you are able!?!" Why do we too doubt? We so often tack onto our prayers, "if it is your will." Of course it is Godís will that children be healed! The father in response cries our cry: "I do believe! Help my unbelief!"
Get into this gospel scene. You are the father/mother/friend of someone who is self-destructive ( the boy throws himself into the fire). You have tried everything: mercy, tough love, withholding love, money etc. No disciple of Jesus, no counselor, no doctor has been able to help. So you say to Jesus: "If you are able..." and see what happens next.
Jesus, I do believe. Help my unbelief. Help our unbelief. Deepen our trust in you and your will to heal.
Sirach is part of the Wisdom literature. Today this book offers us the biblical definition of faith: "Cling to God." The reading continues: "Accept whatever befalls you....trust in God..." The psalm continues in that same wisdom tradition: "Take delight in the Lord and God will give you your heartís desire."
What is your heartís deepest desire? Let the Spirit bubble up in you, and see what may surprise you. Many desires may bubble up. To what/whom will you cling? How will you show your delight in God today?
We remember, Jesus, how you take delight in us, and so we ask you, Holy Spirit, to refresh our delight in him. Joyful, joyful we adore you!
The gospel is so applicable to today when even Catholics are divided. The disciples want to prohibit someone not of their "in" group who is casting out demons in the name of Jesus. Jesus does not want to stop such a person. Jesus is wise. The New Testament understands Jesus as Wisdom herself, the deepest thought of God, whom we call Word-made-flesh. Sirach reminds us that we who seek Wisdom "from early morning are filled with joy." Although we may not be able to understand Godís Wisdom, whom ancient Jews called the throne partner of God, if we follow her lead, she will gladden us.
How does Jesus express Godís deepest self to you? How does Jesus gladden you? Tell him. Pray that all Christians may know him personally and intimately.
Jesus, Wisdom of God, thank you for coming among us in the flesh, for exploring and making known to us the very depths of God. May we join you in those depths today.
Sirach warns us against "cheap grace," understanding forgiveness from God that allows us to keep on sinning. Not so. While Jesus praises those who give cold water in his name, he goes on to condemn those "who put a stumbling block (skandalon in Greek, our word "scandal") before one of these little ones. Better if a millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea." This has modern implications in the wake of the priestsí sex scandal in our country. Not only priests but fathers, uncles, older brothers. And women caught in sexual addictions as well.
Let us pray for those who harm children in any way: certainly sexually, but also by substituting material goods for love and discipline, for neglect and/or emotional abuse. Let us pray for Godís forgiveness of those who can admit their sin, and for Godís light to cut through the denial that often prevents them from seeing the harm they cause. Let us ask forgiveness for every sharp word we have spoken to "a little one."
God of mercy, help us to value your mercy and forgiveness, and never take it for granted. Help us never to abuse love, whether yours or anotherís, and especially when offered to us by a little one.
Today Sirach praises friendship while warning against false friends. Today Jesus spells out that divorce as practiced in his day is an injustice. Jewish men were allowed to divorce their wives for so small a matter as her putting too much salt in his food. Jewish women were never permitted to initiate divorce. Mark is written to Gentiles perhaps 30 years after Jesus. Jesus is indeed strict about divorce and marrying another. We however have absolutized his teaching. It may well be that he is calling for justice on behalf of women. Would that marriage was between "faithful friends...sturdy shelter...life-giving medicine."
Let us pray today about marriage: our own, our familyís, our friendsí and ask God to keep the couples we know both faithful and bonded in deep friendship. Let us mention our friends by name as well, and give thanks.
Holy Spirit, you are the sacrament, the bond of friendship between the married and among all Christians. Deepen our bonds of unity and peace. Make us one in Christ.
The Psalm verse, "As a father has compassion on his children, so God has compassion..." ties our two readings together. Sirach reviews all of creation. Jesus welcomes the little children, the fruit of marriage, and tells us we must receive the kin-dom of God as a child does. "God remembers that we are dust," the Psalm continues. "We flourish like flowers in the field; the wind sweeps over us and we are gone." But our children continue: children of our bodies, of our minds, all that we co-create with God. We in our creativity may forget that we are dust, mortal, destined to die. God remembers and has compassion.
Who are the children in your life? Where is the creativity in your life? Ask for the gift of adding to the beauty of creation, to the order in creation. Let everything you do today in word or work build up the beauty of the kin-dom.
God, we thank you for the beauty of your creation, the beauty of our children. Give us the gift of compassion for all that you have made, even those who oppose us, or what the world calls ugly.
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