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.
This is an SSND web page, and so I invite us all to give thanks for the provincial team who has been guiding the Baltimore province for the last five and a half years. We will celebrate a Eucharist today to say thanks to them, and if they know that all of you are joining in our thanks with prayer, how much that will mean to them.
The gospel concludes today with a perfect punch line for all those who lead others: "The master is generous". In religious congregations our leaders invite, not order, us into the vineyard. Like God described by Isaiah, the ways of leadership in religious life today are not like the ways of the world. Our obedience is as Paul describes: we religious are "striving side by side with one mind for the gospel." Our poverty includes the realization that we may well be five o'clock workers, sinners, but so well loved because the master is generous. Our chastity is as Paul writes: "If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful work for me;" the flesh can yield spiritual fruit in service of others.
Besides thanking God with us for our provincial team, besides praying for an increase of Sisters, look at your own life. You too work for the gospel. How? You too yield fruit. How? And where does your work fit in God's hiring plan, according to Jesus' parable: early in the morning, noon, three p.m. or five in the evening? Keep your eyes fixed for a while on the generous master.
Thank you, Jesus, for the evangelical counsels, for inviting all of us whether lay, religious or clergy to work together with one mind in your vineyard. Please gift us with the master's generosity as we lead others to you.
As we rebuild the Gulf coast we can be encouraged by the pagan ruler Cyrus who is honored by the Jews as their liberator from the exile in Babylon. Cyrus had a religious experience in which he tells of God's charging him to build a temple in Jerusalem. Imagine the joy of the people as they return home. However, only those "whom the spirit of God had stirred, got ready to go up and rebuild the house of the Lord..." The psalmist cries: "May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy. They go out weeping, but return home rejoicing."
Pray for those who have lost so much in the hurricane. Pray for those whose loved ones and possessions have been destroyed by our invasion of Iraq. Pray for Jews and Palestinians who still feel exiled from their land. Pray for the "pagans" among us, who like Cyrus might experience God's call. Pray that the spirit of God might always stir you.
As you listen to our litany of petitions, Lord Jesus, we ask for the fullness of your Spirit that we might rebuild in our relationships that which may have been weakened or even destroyed.
Our first reading sounds like today's newspapers: it takes three changes of administration in Persia before the Jews have enough permission (red tape even then!) and money to "finish their building by the command of God..." Then what celebration, what worship, what feasting! We too are temples of God. Jesus says that all who "hear the word of God and do it are my mother and my brothers."
Imagine God celebrating you, God's own temple! What feasting, what joy in God's heart! When we know how much we are loved, how much more easily we respond with yet another depth of love. Ask to know God's word, more deeply, and do it, more deeply, today.
Our Mother Mary, thank you for hearing God's word to you and letting it become flesh of your flesh. Keep us open today to God's word taking flesh in us, that we might join you in giving Jesus to the world.
The call of Christ comes to all of us, a call to apostleship, to be sent with the good news. Some of us respond like Matthew who immediately left his livelihood to be with Jesus. Some of us are more like Mary, with some questions before we say a firm: "Be it done to me." Others of us are like Peter, full of questions, doubts, even sins. How do apostles behave? The author of Ephesians says: "with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
How do you put your baptismal call to apostleship into action? Ask the Spirit to show you. What more do you want? Even if you can't carry out your desires, remember that God loves your great desires so share them with God. Pray for unity in the Body of Christ.
Jesus, when politics seem to tear Christians apart in our country, keep us one in your Spirit. Help us to approach each other with humility, gentleness and patience. Help us to listen.
Herod wants to see Jesus, but for all the wrong reasons. In the first reading, the people of Israel, now back in their land , are busy about many things and the House of God goes unbuilt. Through Haggai, God shows the people how futile is their sowing, how they eat and drink and never have enough, make clothes but are never warm. First, seek the things of God ("go to the hills and bring wood and build the house") and everything will be added. Seek Jesus, we might tell Herod, for the right reasons and even you might follow him!
What do you seek? What satisfies you? What leaves you with a restless heart? Share all these desires and disturbances with Jesus.
Our hearts are restless until they rest in you, our God. Take the restlessness and dissatisfactions of so many people and give us new hearts that rest peacefully and in unity within your own heart.
Psalm 43 mediates between the joy of God's new temple and the sadness of Jesus' promise of persecution when he heads for Jerusalem. It begins with a plea for vindication, a question about feeling abandoned, and then the joy of receiving light and truth which lead to God's holy mountain, to God's own "exceeding joy." Dying/rising. In Haggai God promises courage, because God is with the people, and God will fill the Temple with the wealth and beauty of all the nations. Is that not what the raising of Jesus means? God has filled the crucified body with beauty, light and truth and courage.
Look for the dying/rising moments in your own life this past week. Ask the Spirit to help your memory. These specific ways in which we are conformed to Jesus are what we can bring to Sunday Eucharist when his dying/rising is present on our altar, in our community. Offer them now, in union with the Eucharist being offered around the world right now.
We adore you, O Christ, and your beauty-filled body. Thank you for the light, truth and courage you share with us. Help all of us to be less afraid because you have pioneered for us the way through death to new life.
Through Zechariah, God promises that the wall around Jerusalem shall be a wall of fire, to contain God's glory within it Through Jeremiah, God promises that the people shall be radiant over the goodness of God. Then Jesus says: "Let these words sink into your ears: 'The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into human hands.'" Jesus knows we don't get it, we block our ears, our hearts to the reality of evil, of death. We want glory and radiance. So "Let these words sink in...."
So often we think of contemplation as looking at Jesus, and rightly so, and very Greek, the language in which the gospels were written. For Jews, contemplation is more about hearing. So let us today contemplate with our ears: Let these words sink into our ears: Jesus will be betrayed and will die.
Save us, Jesus, free us from our denial of death, of evil. We ask this not only for ourselves but for our co-citizens. Forgive us our past refusals to see evil, hear evil, and especially to act against evil.
School Sisters of Notre Dame, Baltimore Province
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