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.
Our theme today is feeding the hungry. God promises food and drink to those who come to the waters. "Why do you labor for that which does not satisfy?" God asks through Isaiah. Godís abundance is hymned in the psalm. Paul assures us: nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Not even sin has the power to separate us from God. The gospel tells of Jesusí compassion for the crowds and then shows it, by his taking loaves and fish and feeding the multitude.
For what do you work? Does your work, do your possessions satisfy you? To what degree? How much do you count on Godís abundance, trust that nothing, even poverty can separate you from Godís love? What would satisfy you? Share that with God, and ask for it.
Help us, Spirit of God, to accept our one and only life-- just as it is. You have given so abundantly to satisfy our needs. Help us to give as we have received.
As Israel wanders in the desert they weep, longing for "meat...fish...cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic...and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at." Then Moses complains to God that this people is too great a burden to bear. God expresses the same poignant sorrow: "O, if only my people would listen to me! If they would only walk in my ways!" Jesus invites Peter to walk in Godís ways, to walk in trust over the stormy waters, to walk ON the water.
What do you long for? What do you look at day after day that wears you down? Show it to Jesus, this boredom, the burdens, or perhaps the frightening storms and crises in your life. Look at him looking at you, filling you with courage as he says so simply, directly to you: "Come." Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus during this prayer time and at various times during the day.
Thank you, our God, for forgiving the many times we do not listen to you, the times you weep over our lack of trust in you, in Jesus, in the Spirit. Help us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, not on our problems and lacks.
Although Miriam and Aaron complain to God about Moses, and God strikes Miriam with leprosy (why always the woman?), Moses pleads for his sister’s health. God loves to speak to Moses face to face, and so listens to his plea. Psalm 51 contains a prayer worth memorizing:
A clean heart create in me, O God, and a faithful spirit renew within me.In the gospel, Jesus--like Moses--is under attack, but says to his disciples about his enemies: "Leave them alone."
Do not cast me from your presence, and your Holy Spirit keep strong within me.
Give me back the joy of your salvation.
As you pray today, sit quietly after asking God to speak to you face to face. For a greater than Moses is here: you are the adopted child, the beloved of God. Then listen. Is there anyone who grates on you, or perhaps even attacks you? Hear Jesus tell YOU: Leave them alone. Hand them over to Jesus.
A clean heart create in us, O God, and keep us, your church, faithful to the Spirit within us. Give us back the joy of your salvation. Speak to us face to face all day long. Thank you for your presence!
Both readings deal with foreigners. In the first, Israel’s spies find the promised land pleasant but tremble before the foreign inhabitants, calling them giants. This sets the assembly weeping, and of course, complaining against Moses and Aaron, and God "loses it." Jesus loses it too in the gospel, calling a Canaanite woman a dog. He is on his way to the beach and this foreigner is pestering her."Jesus did not answer her at all"--at first. Can you imagine the scene she is creating? Finally she reminds him that dogs can have the scraps from Israel’s table. Matthew softens Jesus’ response. In Mark he says: Woman, for saying that, I will do what you want." Not for her faith, but for "saying that," for raising Jesus’ consciousness, helping him think outside the box. Like us in all things, his culture, his societal norms has "taught" him bigotry, although (like many of us) unconsciously.
Ask the Spirit to light up whatever in you is prejudiced against a person or a group of people (Muslims, gays, prisoners...) and to "create a clean heart" in you, renew you in your core belief in the one new family which Jesus’ dying created. Especially ask the Spirit to raise your consciousness and give you the mind of Christ.
We give all our heart to you, O God, that you may love through us, make us faithful to loving with you all the peoples of the earth. Forgive us our conscious and unconscious prejudices. Make us one.
How long we have been following Israel through the desert, and how may psalms recount God’s marvelous work in setting the people free, leading and feeding them. The Exodus from Egypt is so central to Israel that they celebrate it in every Jewish home year after year as Passover. It is much like our Easter story (and experience), in which Jesus is our leader out of death into new life, celebrated day after day in Eucharist. In euchariston, in thanksgiving for the gift of God’s freedom.
Ask the Spirt to show you how, over the years, you have let God free you more and more -- from sin, from self-absorption, from others’ expectations and rules, from .... What return can you make to God for all the good God has given you? Take up the cup of salvation. Perhaps an extra Eucharist if you don’t go to daily Mass, perhaps just a deeper awareness that the cup of salvation is our simple and continual thanksgiving.
You are the Christ, the son of the living God. Thank you for transforming us, day by day, into you, and sending us to continue your mission. Let us lead all whom we meet today to love and peace.
We are moving slowly through parts of the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Jewish scripture, also known as Torah. Numbers was an account of the census, and Deuteronomy means "second law", a re-telling of the giving of the Law on Sinai. In the gospel Jesus reminds us we have crosses to take up, shouldering them not alone but with him. The opening line of the psalm will be our mantra today: "I will call to mind the deeds of God, the wonders of old."
Ask the Spirit to help you call to mind all the ways in which God has acted on your behalf. Start with yesterday, then move back in your life, as Israel often did, never tiring of thanking for and rejoicing in their freedom. Look even at the crosses. Where was God in each cross? As you meet each cross (frustration, slight, bodily ache etc) today, can you say: Welcome -- and ask what you are to learn from it?
"Has any people heard the voice of God and lived?" We thank you for your voice, our God, in the joys and sorrows of your interacting with us, moment by moment. Please make us aware of you.
We focus on only two lines of scripture. From 2 Peter: "Pay attention to this (the glory of Jesus) as to a lamp shining in a dark place until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your heart." And from the gospel: "They looked up and saw only Jesus." What would Christian life be like if we looked only at Jesus, and then looked at all else through him? What if we really believed that no matter how dark our society seems, there is a lamp and deep within us a morning star?
Today we contemplate, very simply. Pay attention to the glory, the lamp, the light of Christ. Pay attention to the morning star in your own heart. Pay attention to Jesus who looks at you humbly and tenderly.
Lord, we believe! Help our unbelief! Give us hope and courage to look deeply at our brothers and sisters here and around the world and to see them through you. Light up all that is dark within us and around us. We trust in you to make us one.
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