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Saturday, January 20, 2018

Follow Me

“'Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.' Then they left their nets and followed him." Mk 1:17

Reading about the call of the disciples, it is natural to wonder if Jesus knew any of the men before inviting them to follow him. Did he notice something in them that would help announce the great salvific message of his Father? Did he know their families? Did he call them because he noticed them listening intently to him when he preached.

We have any number of reasons to hesitate when hearing the call of the Gospel. Discipleship, especially in the so called developed world, does not pay very well, nor does it promise fame or power, but resisting it can be difficult if not impossible for those who are honestly looking for a way of life that respects, even honors, all people.

The simplicity of the Gospel has not changed. Neither has its difficulty. Our task is to live its message of hope, transformation and submission to God with integrity and honesty. Admitting our dependence on God and being willing to serve others in his name remains a powerful invitation to anyone looking for a God who will never stop loving and challenging them.

Today, listen for the voice of the Lord in your life and follow it unreservedly.

Have you ever followed someone immediately without really knowing much about them?

Friday, January 19, 2018

David's Prayer

"David said, 'What has happened? Tell me.' He replied, 'The people fled from the battle, and many of them have fallen and are dead. Saul and his son Jonathan are dead too.'" 2 Sam 1:4

Occasionally, I meet someone who tells me they never pray for themselves, and I am stunned. Praying for oneself is natural and necessary. Surely, David, in his grief at the death of his friend Jonathan, prayed for himself. I can hear him say: Help me, O God, to accept your will and to live in your presence. Keep me focused on your desire for the world, not on my own grief, and show me the path you would have me walk.

Anne Dillard's little book on prayer, Help, Thanks, Wow is a delightful exploration of this kind of prayer. Dillard demonstrates that the universal cry for help is natural and ought to lead to prayer. When we are lost, terrified of tomorrow and confused about how to be present to others, the simple prayer, Help! is a very honest way to tell God that we need direction. Moreover, when we remember to say thank you to God for always being there, our prayer is complete.

Today, respond to someone else's request for help, even if you don't have time.

Why is it sometimes difficult for you to ask for help?

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Listening for God's Call

"He appointed Twelve, whom he also named Apostles, that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach." Mk 3:14

What does it mean to be with someone? We can be together in the same subway car, in the same business, in the same town or city, but this is not what Mark's gospel means when it says that Jesus appointed twelve apostles to be with him. Though the apostles themselves did not fully understand what Jesus was doing when he called them to follow him, they did know he wanted them to preach and drive out demons in his name. That their call would irrevocably change the world was not immediately evident to them. Like us, they were challenged to follow the Lord by faith not by sight. (2 Cor 5:7)

It is good to reflect upon our own vocations regularly.  How are we "with the Lord?"  Are we living committed lives of service and evangelization, and anxious to discern what else the Lord might want from us?  Do others recognize in us a power that comes, not from our own efforts and study, but as a gift from God?

Today, ask God to call you again and send you as his disciple into the world.

Without whom have you walked in faith?

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Jealousy

"Saul was very angry and resentful of the song, for he thought: 'They give David ten thousands, but only thousands to me. All that remains for him is the kingship.' And from that day on, Saul was jealous of David." 1 Sam 18:8-9

Jealousy is among the most destructive of emotions. Often rooted in our unhealthy need to think of ourselves as better than others, jealousy destroys relationships and can lead to a kind of violence that is both random and overwhelming. When one group, tribe or race in any society has infinitely more opportunities and resources than another, violence is almost inevitable.

Saul's jealousy of David emerges from a seemingly innocuous event. The women of Israel, celebrating David's victory over Goliath, hail David for slaying tens of thousands of their enemies, and although they honor Saul their song only mentions that he killed thousands. Saul is so jealous that he begins to plan David's murder but is undermined by his own son Jonathan, who warns David about his father's intentions.

Jealousy emanates from comparisons between and among us, which always diminish one or more people. Saying someone is stronger than another person or more intelligent, while strengthening one person, slights the other and encourages unhealthy competition. Jesus and the great saints made it a point to celebrate whatever strength a person had. Rather than compare one to the other, they lifted up the gifts God gave each person to build up the body of Christ. We can all avoid the sin of jealousy by doing the same.

Today, pray for the grace to see the gifts each person has.

What situations tempt you to be jealous of others

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

St Anthony, Abbot

"Looking around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart." Mk 3:5

St Anthony was reputed to be so attentive when listening to the Scriptures that he never needed spiritual books or a bible because he remembered everything he heard. (Office of Readings)

In the 21st century, it seems, we are less and less attentive since we have so many resources to help us remember. The almighty Google knows all. Type in or speak a question or even a few key words and there are usually more than one million places indicated where one might discover more information about the question asked. Is Google making us lazy?

When we examine our spiritual practices, it would be good to ask ourselves whether, even when we read the Scriptures, we rush to get through it rather than savor its delights. Although we have the freedom to pick up a bible anytime for reflection and nourishment, it is important not take God's word for granted. A slow reading of the scriptures can be enormously enriching.

Today, read one paragraph of the daily scripture slowly.

What is the best way for you to learn about and be transformed by God's word?





Monday, January 15, 2018

God's Spirit Rushes Upon Us

"The Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David." 1 Sam 16:13

Regularly in the scriptures God does not do what we expect God to do. The choice of David as King is a good example. After rejecting Saul as King, God tells Samuel that he will choose a King from Jesse's sons, but after Jesse has presented seven of his Sons to Samuel, all of whom seemed worthy by Jesse's standards, God is not satisfied. Samuel ask Jesse if he has another son. Yes, Jesse says, and sends for his youngest son David. When David appears God tells Samuel that this is the one and when Samuel anoints David, "the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him."

Most of us have known the rushing of God's spirit upon us, at least for a time, but we don't always respond as completely as David. Fearful that a call as radical as this might disrupt our lives and everyone around us, we resist. Today's reading reminds us not to be afraid. It is God's spirit that rushes upon us. We have only to rely on God to do the work of God. When we ask for the grace to put aside our fear, as David did, all things become possible.

Today, trust God's rushing spirit.

Has the Spirit rushed upon you?

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Weddings and their Promise

"Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?" Mk 2:20

It is no wonder that Jesus uses the image of a wedding to help his critics understand his larger message. Everyone in the ancient world knew how important weddings were. A time for families and tribes to deepen their bonds with one another, weddings lasted at least a week and the entire time was given over to the celebration of the new couple and the promise their marriage contained for their families and their faith community. 

Remembering that the Lord has made a covenant with us, married us, invites us to believe more deeply in the resurrection. At the time of Jesus, after a man was betrothed to his intended bride, he would leave her and return to his father's house, but before departing he would say, I go to prepare a place for you, the same words Jesus uses to assure his disciples that he would return for them after his death and bring them to the bridal chamber he had prepared for them in heaven.

Today, rest in the realization that Christ has betrothed himself to us forever.

What image do you use to help yourself remember Christ's eternal and total love for you?