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.
The story of Elijah meeting God in silence ("the small voice") is often misused. What God commands in that quiet voice is quite bloody. Jesus, on the other hand, does come in the tumult and terror of a storm at sea, calling to Peter to walk toward him. We are called to Jesus, not to war. Paul too is in anguish, and yet the psalm provides an antidote for all our distress: "God speaks peace to the people."
Listen in silence. Listen for God to speak peace -- to you, to your loved ones, to our world. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, no matter what personal storm you are passing through. As a representative of our church and our nation, keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, not on the threatening waves. Absorb Godís word of peace and absorb Jesusí steady gaze. Rest on this Sabbath day.
Lord Jesus, we know it is you, coming to us in storms and in silence. Help us to keep our eyes on you all day long. We cry to you on behalf of our church and our world: "Lord, save us!"
There is much furor in our country about posting the Ten Commandments in court houses. Moses in this book meaning "second law" rephrases the commandments of God, including justice for the orphan and widow and love, food and clothing for the stranger. Would those commands be posted in the court? Moses calls the people to a response of love because "God set Godís heart in love "on these people. In the gospel, Jesus who was not particularly devoted to the Temple still pays the required temple tax. Whether out of love or out of duty we are called to do "the right thing."
What are your duties, responsibilities? Do you take on too much responsibility, or not enough? In what circumstances do you do your duty out of love, in response to Godís first loving you? When do you slog through your duty? Ask the Spirit to give you peace and joy in fulfilling your responsibilities.
Turn us, you who set your heart on us, to the little ones, outcasts, widows, orphans and strangers in our midst. Give us courage to look after them in even some small way. Give us your heart of love.
Moses in his old age passes on his authority to Joshua who will lead the people into the promised land. Jesus shares his authority with children and urges us to "change and become like children." He himself does not lord it over us, but humbles himself to wash our feet. The gospel concludes with the story of God or perhaps Jesus searching for lost sheep. Some of our most lost sheep are children abused, emotionally, physically or sexually, by parents, relatives or priests. And some lost sheep are those very abusers. Jesus concludes "It is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones be lost."
Let us pray for those with authority: church officials, government officials, parents, teachers. Let us hold all those whom we know who have been in any way abused, and beg for their healing. This is Godís will, their shalom. Let us pray for one another that we always use our power to search for the lost and to "wash feet."
Alleluia! We do take your yoke on ourselves. We do learn from you, Jesus, for you are gentle and humble of heart. Alleluia!
Lawrence was as celebrated in the early church, not because of his vicious martyrdom (roasted on a spit, and supposedly joking: "Turn me over, as I am done on this side!") but because in the days before the priesthood was established, the deacon had major administrative duties on behalf of the bishop. Lawrence was known, as both the first reading and psalm underline, for his generosity to the poor of Rome, and he remains patron of the city. "Do not give reluctantly or under compulsion," Paul writes, "for God loves a cheerful giver...providing you with every blessing in abundance..."
Let us look today at the abundance in our lives. You might make a list of 50 things for which you are grateful. Then, ask the Spirit to teach you whether there is any way, today, that you might share the abundance with others.
You have come that we might have life, not a trickle of life, not just a thimbleful, but an abondanza of life and every blessing! Help us to rejoice, to be grateful, to share your abundance!
In our dying/rising pattern we begin with the new life of Israel, crossing the Jordan into the promised land. Then comes a real dying to ourselves as we hear Jesus insist that we forgive our brothers and sisters 77 times. He illustrates with a parable of the kin-dom of heaven in which the king forgives all the debt of his servant. However, that servant brutalizes his fellow servants and when the king hears of it, "the king handed the servant over to the torturers." The punch line should frighten us: "So will my Father in heaven do to you if you do not forgive your brother and sister from your heart." Forgiveness by God, continual and unconditional and faithful forgiveness, is not cheap grace.
Reluctantly, under compulsion, we heard yesterday, and today, the need to forgive "from the heart." Shall we make a list of 50 sins for which we have been forgiven, or 50 persons whom we need to forgive? Only the Spirit can give us the grace to be willing to forgive. It is a gift, grace. Beg for it.
Thank you for your kind and faithful mercy, given us from your heart. Save us from our unknown sins, from our complicities, and give us your grace that we might hand on forgiveness to all who hurt us, to all who hurt any of your children.
Although we have finished the selections from the Pentateuch, Joshua recaps all that God has done for the people since setting them free from slavery. Jesus is embroiled in the divorce laws re-cast by the Pharisees. For example, they taught a man could divorce his wife if she did not bear a child within 10 years, he could divorce her for putting too much salt in his food. Jesus says only one cause is allowed: if she commits adultery. Since a woman could never begin divorce proceedings in Jesusí time, we see that the men already then were "free" to commit adultery, and certainly to do as they wished with their "property," their wives. Jesus admits that not everyone can accept this teaching and that it is "given" to some to accept it. Strange that our church should decide that everyone should accept it.
Let us pray for women and children around the world who are enslaved in their own homes, enslaved in unjust job/school situations, enslaved for work or sex by traffickers, enslaved by their own poor self image.
Your glory is the human person, the woman, fully human, fully alive. We ask you to set all women free and help us to help you restore the women we know and love to their fully dignity.
Jesus plays with the children, laying his hands on them. Joshua calls the people to account, to their adult responsibilities. Will they serve God, the one who led them out of slavery? He responds with determination: "As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." The people agree, but Joshua doesnít buy it. No, he warns, you will start to follow foreign Gods. The people protest. Joshua says "You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the Lord, to serve God." The people promise to serve and obey God. So Joshua renews the covenant with them between them and God.
On anniversaries, couples renew their marriage vows; religious and priests usually renew their vows yearly. Write a covenant with God, one that spells out how very specifically you will serve God. Donít forget that God does not compete with our human loves, but completes our human loves. How will you serve?
Create in us new hearts, O God, hearts free from all the false gods we have chosen in our lives. As for us, we choose now to love you and serve you with all our minds, hearts and strength!
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