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 way of the Lord is unfair," the people charge, but God responds through Ezekiel, "Is it not your ways which are unfair?" Too often we think of justice as tit for tat, even though we learned last Sunday that the master is generous and today's psalm sings of God's mercies (plural). When Jesus emptied himself, as the Philippians hymn recounts, he became obedient. We too, chapter 2 of Philippians begins, need this same mind in us, this same love in us, the same sharing, the same "compassion, the same humility, the same obedience as is in Christ Jesus. "Let each of you look to the interests of others." Midlife, psychologists tell us, brings the decision: shall we be generative or self-absorbed?
As you read all that Paul wants us to be, all that Christ calls us to be, what is bearing fruit already in your life? Where do you need the impetus of the Spirit to grow? What might need to be emptied out of you? Even if you are young or old, how will you answer that critical question: giving or self-absorption?
Holy Spirit, we ask you to free us from our preoccupations, our self-absorption, our addictions to the values of the world. Let us have this mind in us which was also, and is also, in Christ Jesus. Let us have his heart in us.
"Those who lose their life for my sake will save it," says Jesus in today's gospel. We begin this week with the feast of the North American martyrs, working in Canada and the United States. Then there is so much of the rest of the world, so desperately poor. This week please share a prayer which the SSNDs are using this year, "Prayer for the Millennium Goals," to eradicate world poverty. Each day we will take one section of that prayer and only one line of the day's scripture, and let the Spirit work in our hearts.
In a world when so many go hungry, let us make the fruits of Creation available for all, we pray to you, Creator God. "May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy!" (Psalm 124)
In a world where one billion of our brothers and sisters do not have safe drinking water, let us help the waters run clear, we pray to you, Spirit, fountain of living water. "God has filled the hungry with good things; God has satisfied the thirsty." (Communion antiphon)
In a world where so many children die so young, and so many mothers die in childbirth, and so many families are ravaged by disease, let us bring health and healing, we pray to you, Jesus, healer, and friend of all children. "I count all things worthless but to be found in Christ Jesus," (Alleluia verse) who continues his loving children, strengthening families, healing through us, in so many ways.
In a world where women carry such heavy burdens, let us recognize and restore the rights of all, we pray to you, God in whose image we are made, male and female we are made. "In the sight of the angels, I will sing your praises, O God." (Psalm 138) Michael, defend women oppressed, abused and trafficked. Raphael, guide women who journey to find food, water, medicine for their children. Gabriel, announce to each woman that she is favored by God. We pray.
Join us together, Spirit, bond of love among us, with a new sense of global community, a new awareness of our need for one another and for this fragile planet, we pray. "Let your compassion come speedily to meet us, for we are brought very low." (Psalm 79) May our lowliness, in communion with all the peoples of the world, please you, God. For you have regarded our lowliness and holy is your name!
Join us together, Spirit, bond of love among us, to bring hope as substantial as bread, to make human dignity as visible as wheat in the fields, we pray. "You who seek God, let your hearts revive." (Psalm 69) Revive us, give us in depth and in breadth, Spirit God, your gift of hope.
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