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.
Such unexpected affection from Paul as he closes a most painful and confrontative letter to the Corinthians. But that love and affection undergirds all of our readings. When God first called Moses, who asked the name of God, he heard : "I am who I am." In this later chapter of Exodus, Moses asks to know the beautiful name of God, and hears: "a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness." Our response can only be: "Glory and praise forever!" Who does not know John 3:16? No simple slogan, it is a deep revelation of the communion within God, which God extends to us through the humanity of Jesus and the working of the Spirit. "Glory and praise forever!"
The "merciful and gracious" God is rachem, a play on the Hebrew word rechem which means womb. Godís is a womb-compassion. Can a mother ever forget her child? Rest today in the womb of God. Is it peaceful, quiet, nourishing for you? Is it a sea of swirling possibilities which bathes you? Let it be an invitation to intimacy with God. Respond.
"Glory and praise forever!" We give you thanks for your great glory, God of womb-compassion, Word-made-flesh, Holy Spirit-bond of all creation!
Our theme of affection continues. Sirach proclaims: "How great is the mercy of God!" The psalm assures us that God is our hiding place in all our troubles. Jesus encounters a rich man who has kept the commandments all his life. Jesus looks at that man tenderly. Another translation: Jesus looked at him and loved him. This is the beginning of contemplation. Jesus looks at us.
Donít try to remember the next lines of the gospel story. Just stay as long as you can, letting Jesus look on you tenderly. Ask for the grace to take it in, to absorb his deep affection for you. Look at him with all your own feelings, whether a return of love, or with fear, or sadness or.... You are contemplating.
Jesus, thank you for gazing at us with such love and affection. Help us to return your look of love, and to let your love flow through us today to any one whom we meet. May our every smile be a look of love.
Todayís theme might be, "Be generous as God is generous." Sirach exhorts us to offer God every gift with a cheerful face and dedicate those gifts generously because God will "repay you sevenfold." The psalmist too invites us to offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving. Jesus responds to Peter who wants to know "whatís in this for me?" Jesus does promise a hundredfold, and persecution.
Be bold. Ask Jesus what you can expect in return for your praying, your service, your works of justice and charity. Listen to him. Jesus is not "into" a false piety that pretends our giving is altruistic. What does he promise you?
Jesus, how we would love to give and not count the cost. Let us grow day by day ever more generous, ever less self-absorbed. Thank you for accepting us just as we are, today.
"Let your compassion come speedily, for we are brought very low," the psalmist prays. Then Jesus gives instructions about ambition and lowliness -- and self-absorption. James and John, supposedly special friends of Jesus, have just heard him say he will be mocked, scourged and killed. Centered on themselves, the next moment James and John are asking for special places "in his glory." Jesus responds that the "great among you must be your servant." Christ continues to live out his servanthood through us, for he came "not to be served, but to serve."
Ask the Spirit to call to your mind all the service you offered yesterday. Small things like washing the crumbs from the counter, re-filling the toilet paper roll, answering phone or doorbell. If you live alone, remember that adding any beauty or order to the world is a kind of service. So cleaning the crumbs, fixing some flowers or watering plants are service too. Ask to be of some service each day.
Jesus, fix our eyes on you, not on our wants and ambitions. You must increase, we must decrease. Thank you for calling us to join you in service of your people and reverence for your creation.
After a poetic exposition of all the words and works of God which "sparkle," Sirach asks, "Who could ever tire of seeing God's glory?" However, in the gospel we meet blind Bartimaeus who cannot "see" God's glory. Against the criticism of the crowd he makes a spectacle of himself, shouting out for Jesus to have mercy on him. Jesus calls him over and asks, "What do you want me to do for you?" How respectful Jesus is. Bartimaeus addresses him as "my teacher." A good teacher of adults asks what the students want to know. Perhaps the blind man wanted a home for his family or the healing of his little daughter. He wants to see.
Hear Jesus ask you: "What do you want me to do for you?" Let the Spirit bubble up your deepest desires. Donít censor them. Lay them all before Jesus and watch him in action -- on your behalf.
Jesus, open our eyes day by day to see God's glory. Never let us tire of finding God in all things, seeing God's glory in every one and every thing. Thank you.
Jesus is in a rotten mood. The fig tree is no help when he is hungry, so he curses it. The money changers in the Temple enrage him. Priests and scribes plot to kill him. And what does he say after all that? "Have faith in God.... Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone."
Remember your last rotten mood, your latest day of despair or rage. Tell Jesus all about it, and then listen to him tell you about the fig tree, the temple, and perhaps more. Friends share these feelings on a deep level. After the two of you have it all out in the open, pray the Lordís prayer together, paying special attention to "forgive us our trespasses, for we do forgive those who trespass against us."
Thank you, Jesus, for choosing us to be your special friends. We want to share everything with you, knowing that you honor our every feeling, accepting us as we are. Thank you for sharing your feelings with us too.
Jesus' authority is attacked by his enemies. He refuses to tell them by whose authority he acts. The author of Sirach tells us that his authority comes from his lifelong search for wisdom. "I sought wisdom openly in my prayer...and I will search for her until the end." To God who gives wisdom, the author will give glory. Jesus and we receive authority from God, from the Wisdom of God made flesh. The root of the word "authority" is author. The root of you, the author of you is God.
Ask the Spirit to ground you in the wisdom of God. Ask for the fruit of the Spirit which is self-control, taking responsibility for your own life. You are who you are. Ask for the grace to accept that self, in its rootedness.
Wisdom of God, Jesus our friend, you let us search and you let us find you. Thank you for centering us in you, rooting us in God, letting all fruits flow from Godís authorship of our lives.
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