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 welcoming of foreigners is today's theme. Last week Paul wrote that he would be willing to be cut off from Christ, if only the Jews could come to Christ. Today it is the foreigner who comes to Jesus, and is insulted. A Canaanite woman tries to pull Jesus off his single minded mission to "the lost sheep of the house of Israel". Jesus implies that she is a mere dog, and without rejecting the insult, she turns it to her plea for help. In Matthew Jesus says, "Woman, great is your faith." In Mark, he says: "Woman, for saying that..." She has reminded Jesus of his own roots in the prophet through whom God assures salvation for the foreigners who come to God. His consciousness is raised by this persistent woman.
The psalmist prays: Let the nations sing for joy and praise you. Go around the world in your imagination and envision each nation singing praise to God, to Adonai, to Allah, to the universal Spirit. Pray for the foreigners in our own country and in prison camps who are unjustly treated.
"May your name be known upon earth, your saving power among all nations." Make us, your church, a powerful sign of your welcome and your care, especially for the outcast, Lord Jesus.
The whole of 1 Corinthians 15 spells out as much as we know about the raising of the dead. If we put aside the Greek notion of body/soul dichotomy which has prevailed some 2500 years, and see the human person as do Jewish and other eastern religions as a single entity, then of course Mary was raised to glory at the moment of her death. John's gospel sees Jesus exalted at the precise point of his death, so why not Mary? She is "lifted up" as she proclaims in her song to Elizabeth: "God has lifted up the lowly." He is the first fruits, and then "all those who belong to Christ." As for Mary, who belongs preeminently to Christ, then so for us.
Catholic teaching about our new body has been changing as we become less bound to the philosophy, the dualism in which we once clothed our theology. Who are your dearly beloved dead? Why not honor them as we honor Mary, with a loving conversation, even a dialogue with them In a dialogue, be sure to listen. Honor what you sense, hear, feel. They are alive and with you right now. Look at them looking at you tenderly.
God, creator and re-creator, thank you for your promise and for the reality of resurrection for us, all of us who belong to Christ. Deepen our awareness of how totally we belong, until that day when we come to life, totally, in him.
The call of Gideon to be a judge (a military ruler with an ad hoc assignment to lead Israel, for they had no king as yet) shows how God chooses the weak, the questioning to confound the strong and the wise. Gideon notes the pain of his people and wonders, "If the Lord has been with us, why has all this happened to us?" The angel of God demonstrates some power, and Gideon in response builds an altar which he names "The Lord is peace." The warrior worships the God of peace. The psalm continues: "God speaks peace....Justice and peace shall kiss. Faithfulness will spring up from the ground." When Faithfulness in the flesh sprang up from the ground on Easter, justice and peace mark all who belong to him.
When in your experience has God chosen the weak and made them strong--perhaps even you? Where in your life do justice and peace kiss? Look at Faithfulness looking at you with great tenderness and let him kiss you with peace. Stay with what you feel.
Speak peace, we beg you, our God, to all those who experience violence and more, to all those who perpetrate violence. Make us instruments of your peace and your justice.
If you are reading and praying with this web site, probably the dearest of the mercy-parables, the Prodigal Son, does not so much apply to you as this story of the workers in the vineyard. So many of us "good" people know that we have been hired at the break of day to work in God's vineyard, rearing our families, participating in charitable organizations, bringing Christ into the marketplace.Perhaps many of us have enjoyed the work, the adventure, the personal growth--until it comes time for the wages to be given. How many good people grumble that the last hired should not have the same pay as they! We may not be so flagrant as the prodigal, but in reality many of us are five o'clock workers. We have not yet begun to give our whole self to the kin-dom of God. When we acknowledge that we are mere servants, five o'clock workers, how glorious and freeing is the punch line of this parable: the Master is generous. We take our eyes off ourselves, our merits, our rewards and keep them fixed on the generous Master, and rejoice with those who count on God's mercy.
How and in what ways have you been converted from your goodness throughout your life? How, when did you know experientially that where sin abounds (not the wine and women of the Prodigal but the picky judgements of others, the daily refusals to love, the subtle thwarting of peace), grace more abounds. Praise God for the mercy, the grace (free gift), the unconditionality, the faithfulness of God's love for everyone, no matter their "merit."
Holy Spirit, bond of unity, we BEG you to release us from comparing ourselves with others in any field: spirituality, work, possessions, intelligence etc. Release us from our judgments and let us rejoice that our Master is generous with all.
We often hear that the point of Abraham's being asked to sacrifice his son Isaac is to show that God wants no human sacrifice. Yet here the judge Jepthath, on whom the Spirit of the Lord came to anoint him the warrior to rescue Israel, bargains with God, promising if he gets the victory to burn whoever first meets him as he arrives home. It is his daughter. And he dares to blame her for bringing trouble on him! He does kill her. Yet psalmist knows: "Sacrifice, burnt offering, sin offerings you do not desire" What God does want is an open ear, obedience, willingness to come when (as the gospel points out) called to the banquet, the wedding feast of the son.
Pray slowly, "Here I am, Love. I come to do your will." What might God's will look like as you have planned out your day? As you think of each task, repeat, Here I am... Be ready for some surprises, some disruptions of your schedule and prepare now: Here I am.... Be ready for some unexpected joys and pray now: Here I am....
We come to do your will, O God. Your will, your plans for us are plans of peace, shalom, what is healthy and wholing and full of integrity. Persuade each one of your people to live in integrity today.
Today Jesus reiterates the two great commandments: Love God with all that is within you. The psalm lists many reasons to love such a good and generous God: gives justice to the oppressed, food to the hungry, freedom to prisoners, sight to the blind, lifting up those bowed down, caring for widows, orphans and aliens. Secondly, love your neighbor as yourself. The reading from Ruth illustrates that command as she faithfully stays with her mother in law, although under no obligation to do so but love.
The second command is to love your neighbor as yourself. Check out today just how you love yourself. Ask the Spirit to show you all that is loveable within you. Make a list. Then offer all those loveable parts of you to God, loving God with all that is within you. How can you love your neighbor if you don't first love yourself?
We ask on behalf of the whole Body of Christ, especially those Christians who despise their bodies, their very selves, that you set us free, Holy Spirit so that we can indeed love our neighbors as we do indeed love ourselves.
At last! A woman who is worth more than seven sons! That is our Ruth who begins life in Israel, a foreigner, a servant. Her master, Boaz has seen her goodness to her mother-in-law and takes her as wife. When she bears a son, the women of the village praise Ruth whose love is worth more than seven sons. The gospel is more somber as Jesus warns us against calling anyone teacher or father. The Pharisees lay heavy burdens on others, but Jesus' disciples are to serve, and in their humble service they will be exalted.
Whom do you serve? Let them come before you in your memory/imagination and make a reverent bow toward them. Are there any whom you are burdening right now? Pray for their freedom. Any one laying burdens on you? Smile on them with the tenderness of Jesus and let the burden fall from you.
Thank you, God, for giving us Ruth as a model of caring for our elderly friends and relatives. Help us serve them by our visits, cards, calls. Make us instruments of your peace to them.
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