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.
This is a feast of unity and peace. "God has granted peace in your borders; with the best of wheat God feeds you," announces the psalmist. Paul continues proclaiming the unity that comes from participating in, sharing in the one cup, the one loaf: "We though many are one body." And we ourselves are the body given for others. As St. Augustine taught in giving communion, "Receive what you are. Be what you receive."
Pray for those who hunger for peace and justice. For those who are physically hungry. For those who hunger for acceptance and love. For those who hunger for God.
O God, sharpen our hunger for you, for Jesus, for your Spirit. Let us truly be the Body of Christ to all whom we meet, and let him love and accept each one who hungers through our welcome and our love today.
To touch the dead, in Jewish law, makes one unclean. Tobit, a Jewish exile in Assyria, wants to share his meal with one less fortunate. Instead, when he hears one of this people has been murdered, he tell us that he "sprang to my feet, leaving the dinner untouched, and I carried the dead man from the street...." To touch a corpse, the rabbis taught, was to be made unclean, that is, a state of alienation from God. Jesus in raising Jairus' daughter takes her by the hand. The Pharisees would accuse him of being alienated from God. Tobit and Jesus show us that God does not judge sin as we might.
Tobit is a "good Samaritan," risking contamination to do kindness. When have you "sprung to your feet" to risk an act of justice, kindness, honesty? Ask the Spirit for the gift of courage, and the wisdom to see sin only as God, not humans, see it.
Open our eyes, good God, and give us the generosity and courage to "spring up" when we recognize a need, even if our helping is risky. Clear our consciences and give us the mind and heart of Christ.
Singing is twice praying, Augustine teaches. Three hymns spring from today's readings: "The Father will dance," "Yahweh is the God of my salvation," and the Magnificat. "Your God is in your midst," Zephaniah proclaims. How true for Mary who carries God in her womb, how true for Mary and Elizabeth with God between them. "With joy you will draw water from the springs of God's great kindness." How true as both women find new depths of life, God's life, between them. "My whole being magnifies God!" How true for all of us who pray the Magnificat, giving God all glory.
If you know any of the three songs mentioned above, sing them now and throughout the day. You might make a visit, in person, by phone or letter, to glorify God who has blessed you with this relationship.
Thank you for sharing your mother with us, Jesus, for letting her visit us in our prayers, and for her prayers on our behalf.
In our first reading we hear the despair of two holy people: Tobit who pleads with God for death, and Sarah, whose seven husbands have all died before the marriages were consummated. Take my life, she begs God, or at least "hear me in my disgrace." Jesus too contends with the possibility of a wife with seven husbands, and the question of to whom she will belong in the resurrection. His response: "When they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage."
God is not in competition with our human loves. God is the love between husband and wife, between friends, and in families. God is the bond uniting us. Pray for all those with whom you are bonded by blood and/or by choice. Pray for those who see no way out of their distress, especially those whom you know and love.
Hear us, loving God, whether we feel disgrace, or are graced with many friends. Thank you for all the love in this world, and keep our eyes focused on you as the bond of all relationships.
The story of young Tobias' marriage to Sarah is lovely, with emphasis on brotherly and sisterly love, the love of friendship which leads to deeper union than even that of sex. Tobias and Sarah get out of their marriage bed first to pray together: "Grant that we may find mercy, and that we may grow old together." Although our continuous reading of Tobit is cut short here, we know that they indeed did live long together in marriage.
Let us pray today for all those who want to marry and cannot, have not, or never will. Let us pray for a deepening of communal love among all people and an expelling of the demons of lust in our culture. Let us pray for those in troubled marriages that they may count on God's love, and grow old together.
Thank you, loving God, for the gifts of marriage and for vocations to single life and religious community. Teach us all that your call to holiness, unity and peace is our true vocation, whether single or married.
We are God's treasured possession, we hear first, not because we are the greatest but because we are the least. Thus God has set God's heart on us. We respond with a paean to God's merciful and faithful love and compassion. Then John makes sure that we know God first loves us, and only that makes us capable of loving God and others. We can be sure that God lives in us if we are loving one another. Jesus points to his own heart, gentle, humble, and welcoming of the least, the little ones, all who are weary and heavy burdened.
When do you feel "least", weary, heavy burdened? Whom do you have a hard time loving? With whom is it difficult to be gentle? Lay these less than perfect attitudes and relationships before God. Offer them to Jesus and ask for a share in his heart.
Jesus, open us as your heart was opened to all kinds of people: the difficult, sinners, pompous, hypocrites. Open our hearts to friendship as you befriended even those disciples who irritated you. Thank you for calling us "friend."
Although this is a memorial feast, it has special readings. In Isaiah Israel, a type of Mary, rejoices in God who clothes her like a bride with robes and jewels of salvation. The song of Hannah, mother of Samuel, when she finally gives birth, offers Luke a model for Mary's Magnificat when she meets Elizabeth. Finally, we see Mary's heart torn with worry like any mother's who has lost her child just turned man in Jewish culture.
As Mary pondered so much in her heart, let us today ponder her heart with its real life experiences of worry, exaltation, misunderstanding, kindness, humdrum tasks, questions. Ask her to join you in the events you are experiencing at this point in your life. Has she ever been through anything like this?
Mary, our Mother, we honor you in all the events, experiences, feelings of your very human life. Thank you for your willingness to let God do with you what was needed for our salvation. Make us willing, we pray.
School Sisters of Notre Dame, Baltimore Province
6401 North Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21212-1016
Comments or questions? E-mail us
Technical questions about this website? E-mail our WebSpinner