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.
We donít know in the first reading whether Solomon voiced his desire to God in a dream or while awake. Godís invites: "Ask what I should give you." Solomon wants a wise, discerning, understanding heart. The Psalm highlights that wisdom comes from the Word of God. Paul writes the Romans that all things work together for us, another description of the wisdom which sees all things as whole. Finally, Jesus tells parables about the foolish wisdom of someone who finds a treasure, a pearl and sells all; and about the discernment needed to separate all that a fishing net might drag in. A householder, Jesus concludes, is able "to bring out of his treasure what is old and what is new." Not either/or but both/and.
Listen to God ask you directly: "What should I give you?" What do you want from God? Say it out loud. After sharing your desire with God, let your memory find many experiences where everything worked together for your good. Then you might use your mind to describe what a wise and discerning heart would look like in your life. Desires, memories, reason are all ways to pray.
Let our desires, God, be one with your desires. Give us wise hearts that we can treasure both the old and the new, understanding hearts that we may not judge, open hearts to absorb your Word. Thank you!
James is called son of Zebedee, but his mother takes center stage in todayís gospel. Jamesí and Johnís willingness to suffer leads the other apostles to jealous competition which Jesus quells by lifting up service as the hallmark of leadership. Indeed, we hold a treasure in earthen vessels, Paul explains. Anything we suffer is integrated with that of Jesusí, "so that the life of Jesus may be made manifest in this mortal flesh of ours." Dying and rising is the rhythm of Christian living, and the psalm about weeping turned to rejoicing emphasizes that as well.
What is your own experience that great ones serve, that out of dying comes life, that out of suffering comes union with Jesus? Ponder those experiences with Mary, the lowly one whom God made great, whose heart was pierced. Then broaden your personal experience to envision all those who are weeping around the world, and imagine them "coming home, with shouts of joy."
Holy Mary, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Holy Mary, we are mourning and weeping in this mortal flesh. Let the life of Jesus shine out from us today.
Although our four gospels do not tell us of Maryís parents, early legends have named them, and the community has honored them for centuries. Sirach invites: "Let us now sing the praises of our ancestors..." With so many grandparents in our society rearing their grandchildren, perhaps this feast can offer encouragement to them in bearing a new and usually unwelcome responsibility.
If you are a grandparent, invite this couple to have a cup of tea with you, and share stories of your grandchildren. If you are a parent, sit with them and ask their wisdom in rearing your children. Imagine their horror when Mary, not yet living in Josephís home, was found pregnant. Is that script in your family? Share your feelings with them. Then create a litany of thanksgiving for all your ancestors, as many as you can remember.
We praise you, our first Parent, for our parents, grandparents, all our ancestors. We beg you, Jesus, to grace our children and all our descendants. We thank you, Spirit, for your bond of unity in our families, and ask you to deepen it.
In our continuous reading of Exodus, the feasts have made us skip a verse of Exodus which is repeated frequently in the psalms. In Exodus 34: 6, when Moses asks to know Godís beautiful name, God positions Moses in the cleft of a rock to steady him and passes by, crying, "The Lord, the Lord, a God of womb-compassion, slow to anger, and full of mercy and faithfulness." Todayís reading tells of Mosesí face shining so as a result of his encounter with God that he keeps a veil over it. Jesus offers the parable of finding treasure and selling all "in great joy."
What is this treasure but Godís unconditional and faithful love!?! Sometimes we journal our prayer. Today, let God write to you. First, what name does God call you? Take paper, address yourself by Godís "beautiful" name for you, and then let the Spirit speak through your uncensored writing, Godís letter to you.
Wean us, God in whose womb-compassion we live and move and have our being, from any treasure that does not give us the great joy of finding you in it. Lead us to find you in all things!
Today we learn how the tabernacle (or tent) with the ark of the covenant traveled, leading the people, a cloud hovering over the tent by day, a pillar of fire by night. The glory of the Lord filled the tent. When the cloud/pillar moved, only then did the people move on. The psalmist exclaims as he/she ponders this journey: How lovely is your dwelling place! My heart and my flesh sing for joy!Would that we could be led by a visible cloud/pillar. We move by faith.
Where is Godís dwelling place for you? If you were taught to beware of pantheism, be not afraid. We have changed our understanding to pan-en-theism, God-in-everything. Take a walk and find God in the beauty of creation; watch the news and find God in the pain of people. Look around the dinner table and see God. Contemplate your own self as Godís dwelling place.
Help us to believe that every person is your lovely dwelling place, our God. Move us to deeper love and unity by your Spirit. Increase our faith so that we can obey what we now see only "darkly."
If you ever want to read the whole Bible do not start at the beginning. You can see how much of Leviticus is removed for our public reading! How well, however, Psalm 81, although not the verses used in liturgy, fits the feast of Martha, one of Jesusí dearest friends. Psalm 81 ends with Godís plea to us: "If only you would open your mouth, I would feed you with the finest wheat and honey from the rock." In todayís account of Marthaís preparing a meal for Jesus, she could quote Psalm 81: Open your mouth, Jesus, because I want to feed you with the finest! Jesus wants to teach her, she wants to feed him. What a mutual relationship they must have.
What does Jesus want to do for you? What do you want to do for him? Share your mutual desires.
Thank you, Jesus, for calling us, not servants, but friends. Thank you for showing us Godís steady compassion in the flesh. Thank you for all your teaching. Help us to listen with attention to you.
Our Leviticus reading stands in contrast to todayís gospel. God commands the people to a sabbath of Sabbaths, the celebration of jubilee. Herod orders the head of John the Baptizer on a platter. Dying and rising held together by the psalm which proclaims that Godís saving power WILL be known among the nations. Then Godís face will shine on us.
Remember all those who are persecuted and killed for their beliefs, or just because they are in the way. Call down Godís saving power on all those victims of injustice. Then watch God smile and shine beauty and comfort on all those who suffer.
Let your face shine on us, O God, and we shall be saved, set free, set in the way of justice for the least of our brothers and sisters. Let us be instruments of your loving power for peace.
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