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.
Paul rejoices, the psalmist is offered a banquet with overflowing cup, Isaiah promises a feast where God wipes away every tear, and Jesus likens the kin-dom of heaven to a wedding banquet. There is a hitch as the parable ends, because a guest is found without a wedding garment. Yet look who is invited: "the good and the bad." Everyone is welcome. Paul has learned a secret, whether he is well fed or hungry, he is always satisfied by the riches of Godís glory.
We can learn that secret of Paulís too. Say "welcome" to each event, each encounter as you foresee it, or as you have experienced it today. Good or bad, "welcome." Charles Wesley, brother of Methodist founder, John, taught theology through the hymns he composed. So our prayer today will be this hymn, which perhaps will run through your day:
We come to join in your banquet of love. May it open our hearts and strengthen our hope so we may keep loving each other. May this meal truly join us as one. We ask in Jesusí name.
The SSNDs of North America, about 2, 500 strong, feel quite linked to Canada. To celebrate with them, we will use only one verse from the Romans reading: "[Jesus] was declared to be Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead...." Many adults often turn to Sisters, asking for a way to experience that spirit of holiness. Let the author of Colossians 3: 12-17, used in Canada today, give us a rule of life: "As Godís chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility , meekness and patience. Bear with one another and if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other, just as the Lord has forgiven you. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts...Be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly...with gratitude sing psalms, hymns and songs to God. Whatever you do in word or in work, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God."
Read that passage again and stop at any word which touches your heart. Sit with that particular Word of God and absorb it. Let it sink into you like rain or snow.
God of all nations, bless our neighbor Canada. Help us, with all the peoples of our world, to live a life of holiness, full of gratitude to you.
Paul insists he is not ashamed of the gospel, and then calls the Roman culture to repent by boldly pointing out its sinfulness. Jesus is even more pointed. He is invited to dine with a Pharisee and doesnít wash before eating. The Pharisee calls him to task and Jesus in turn calls all of them "Fools!" He does not mince words when it comes to straining gnats and swallowing camels. Laws of ritual purity can distract us from true holiness, union with God and each other.
Ask the Spirit to show you any way in which the foolishness of our culture might be creeping so subtly into your life. For example, we rush around doing so much that often our decisions are made without reflection and dialogue.
Free us, Holy Spirit, from any law that keeps us from union with you and all our kin around the world. Give us the gift of wisdom that we may see through the sinfulness of our culture and hone in on the grace in our culture.
Jesus is still at the table with the Pharisees and cries, "Woe! Woe to you, Pharisees!" Paul is still angry too, but warns about judging others since all of us are caught in sinful situations. He writes: "You have no excuse, whoever you are, to judge others, for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself." Some of us need to be converted from our goodness! "Do you not realize that Godís kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?" Paul asks.
Ask the Spirit to show you where you need to repent. That is metanoia-- have a change of attitude; in Hebrew, to repent means to turn. Listen for a while to the Spirit. How are you in your judgments of others? Of yourself? Ask to be converted from any self-righteousness that might lurk in your heart.
Here we come, just as we are to you, our God. We have not washed, and we trust your kindness. Turn our hearts again and again to you throughout this day. Let us show your kindness when we are tempted to judge.
All of us who so piously receive communion... It is no fun to eat with Jesus! Now he turns on the lawyers "at table with him" and continues his "Woes!" The meaning for today? Donít get caught up in being ritually pure, in keeping the law. Paul tells us why we can dare to leave that behavior behind -- as he did. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. So all are now justified by Godís grace as a gift." No big deal. We are all sinners, and we, not the self-righteous attract Jesusí attention. We are gifted, we are saved. "God justifies the one who has faith in Jesus." We are loved sinners. Alleluia!
How do you like being a sinner, lumped together with the prostitutes, the greedy, the liars of this world? With whom would you prefer to eat: with lawyers and religious leaders or with pimps and dictators? Share your feelings with Jesus. Ask to be converted from your goodness and to revel in being loved just as you are!
Thank you! Thank you, Jesus, for choosing to eat with us, sinners, and yet so precious to you. Help us to look on those we judge sinful as you do. Heal our hearts of judgment.
Finally the dinner is over, but the Pharisees and lawyers are out to trap Jesus who turns to the crowds and continues to berate the religious authorities and their secret sins. So we turn to Paul for the consoling good news: that God saves us without any work of ours. Abraham was justified, not as wages for work done, but as gift. Faith, that is clinging to Jesus, commitment to Jesus, saves us.
How is your faith in Jesus as savior, who doesnít need your work to love you? No, Jesus first loves us and then we respond by committing our lives in trust to him. Ask for a deepening of your faith, a deepening of your love for him.
Thank you, Savior of the world, for loving us just as we are. No work of ours can make us deserve your attention and kindness. We deserve nothing, and yet you give us all. Thank you. Thank you.
Paul teaches us that Godís love for Abraham wasnít because he kept the law but because he trusted God. "The promise rests on grace." Today we celebrate Teresa of Avila, a doctor of grace, one who teaches us the goodness of God and Godís great desire to draw us ever closer. Jesus puts it as "acknowledging him" fearlessly and not planning our words but, as Teresa would do, listening to "the Spirit who will teach you."
Listen today. In your prayer, sink into the center of yourself and discover grace, or Jesus, or the Spirit. Rest there in the center of yourself. If something distracts you, return to the word grace or Jesus or Spirit. Absorb this holy word of God.
Jesus, we do acknowledge you, we proclaim our love for you, our lover, our beloved, our savior, our friend. Make us fearless in sharing our faith in you and our love for you.
School Sisters of Notre Dame, Baltimore Province
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