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.
After a banquet of Sunday feasts, we finally relax into Ordinary Time. Yet, there is no resting on our accomplishments, for Jesus reminds us there is no limit to our loving. God through Hosea makes it clear: "It is faithful love that I want, not sacrifices, knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings." Psalm 50 echoes that desire of God's. What is faithful love? Eating with sinners, with those who are not like us--whether politically, morally, religiously, nationally. To love as Jesus loves is to welcome the stranger and eat with the sinner. This is God's will.
What do you prefer to offer God: mercy or sacrifice? What does each mean to you? How you feel/think about what God's desire for our continuing to grow in love? To know God in Hebrew means to be intimately united with God. What is your desire?
O God, thank you for straightening our priorities. Give us a deeper share of your Spirit, your love and your faithfulness so that we may extend that to those whom we love and those whom we find hard to love, our near neighbors and our far neighbors.
Paul's second letter to the Corinthians is often called his letter of woe, or his sorrowful letter, so it is no surprise that, as we begin our continuous reading of it, it is coupled with Psalm 34, one in which we assure one another that God is close to the brokenhearted. No matter what the affliction, Paul calls God the "Father of mercies and the God of all consolation." Underlying his message is this answer to a perennial question: why do we suffer? So that we might experience consolation, and so console others. Jesus in his sermon on the mount even calls us happy when we suffer hunger for justice, mourning and persecution.
When has your "mourning been turned into dancing," your dying into new life, your suffering into consolation? If you cannot remember, ask the Spirit to remind you of this continuing pattern of Christian life: out of every dying, new life arises. Look for that pattern today.
We seek you, God, that our faces may be radiant with joy. Deliver us and all your people from every fear and make us happy in living the Beatitudes.
The psalm's antiphon is a prayer that God's face shine on us. Jesus continues the shining theme, saying that WE are the light of the world. How close our union with the Light! And for what purpose? To give glory to God, as Paul writes too. Jesus is the faithful Yes to all God promises, and through him, Paul says, we say Yes to the glory of God. In response to our Yes, God anoints us and gives us the Spirit.
When have you felt God's Yes to you? Have felt God's anointing you? Pouring the Spirit into your heart and life? How will you say Yes to God today? How much do you want union with the Light? Share all this with God.
O God, let your face shine on us, for we long for union with you. When your glory appears, our joy will be complete. Let us see your glory in the ordinary moments of this day.
In hearing Paul we continue the glory theme. He reminds us that when Moses met God to receive the stone tablets he had to cover his face, God's glory so permeated Moses? being. How much more we who are ministers of the Spirit will shine with God's glory. Yet Jesus does not do away with the Law but makes it full, full of the Spirit. If we break the Law, Matthew's Jesus says, we will be least in the kin-dom of heaven. But notice, we are still and always included.
What tensions arise in you between the Spirit and the letter of the Law? What have you been taught as a youngster? How has the Spirit been moving you to freedom? Share this journey and your doubts and joys with Jesus.
Thank you, Jesus, for your Spirit who is always setting us free from the Law. Keep us alert to all the ways we might say Yes today to your Spirit's transforming us into you, that together we might be Light for all peoples.
Paul continues to contrast his image of the veil over Moses face and the freedom offered us by the Spirit. "Now the Lord is Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. And all of us...are being transformed into the image of Christ, from glory to glory. Such is the influence of the Lord who is Spirit." The psalm proclaims that the glory of God dwells in our land where mercy and faithfulness spring up from the ground and justice and peace will kiss. In the gospel, Jesus calls for love and reconciliation.
As you pray for your own transformation into Christ, pray for our country, that in the United States justice and peace may kiss, that polarized peoples, especially those calling themselves Christian, will attend to Jesus? insistence on reconciling love. BEG God for unity in our nation and among nations.
Jesus, we beg you to remove any hatred, fear, bigotry from our hearts. Open our eyes to all peoples, all religions, all races as called by you into one new family, the very kin-dom of God. To you be the kin-dom, the power and the glory.
As we listen to Jesus? harsh words, remember that Matthew was writing to a Jewish community who understood hyperbole, exaggerated speech. Paul was writing to a very mixed community in Corinth whom he calls, like himself, clay vessels. We hold treasure, Christ, in clay pots to show that God's glory shines through our humanity, "so that the life of Jesus may shine forth in our mortal flesh." Why? "So that grace, as it extends to more and more people, might increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God!"
Pray in gratitude for your "mortal flesh," for your earthen vessel which lets light and grace be present in today's world. Let your gratitude move slowly over every part of your body from head to toe. Let Christ's light bathe each cell with his light.
O God, "may the life of Jesus always be made visible in our bodies." Help us reverence our bodies, even limited, weak or sick. Give us the grace to reverence the bodies of others.
Paul and Barnabas are named apostles, although in the gospel Jesus sends out the Twelve. Acts shows how Barnabas is sent (apostollein, in Greek), sent by the Spirit and sent by the church. What do we make of this? First, that anyone sent is an apostle. Secondly, that the Spirit and the church are Jesus Christ at work in the world today. Thirdly, that Barnabas, while not one of the Twelve, has every right (as Paul makes eminently clear about himself as well) to be named apostle. And we too are thus apostles. When we know Jesus as the Christ, alive and at work in the world, we are sent by the Spirit to be attractive signs of his continuing, loving, faithful presence. What an honor! What a responsibility!
When and how did you come to know that Jesus is really alive and active? What was your response then? What do you want your response to be now? Ask the Spirit to show you where and to whom you are sent -- just for today.
Thank you, sending Spirit, for calling us to know Jesus, to be united with him, to be him in the world today. Help us to say, with St. Paul, "It is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me." Send us, Holy Spirit.
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