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Saturday, July 11, 2020

God wants to be Fertile In Us

"Just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth,...so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth." Is 55:10,11

God's word is fertile. When mixed with the soil of our lives, it produces something extraordinary. God's word has the power to transform us, and our task is to welcome the Word and let it do its work. We are not in control of this process. God is, and we must let it happen Unless we take time for this process everyday, nothing of substance can happen.

Quiet and reflection, especially about how God's word impacts our lives, is a practice no adult Christian can afford to ignore. Only when we become very disciplined about life in the Spirit can we expect God's word to do its work, and this process is analogous to many other aspects of life. Only the naive think that walking once a week will get them into shape for longer walks, and only the arrogant believe they can learn without regular reading and study. Conversion, at every level of human existence, is hard work.

Today, remember how God has made your life fertile and offer a prayer of gratitude.

How have you experienced God's fertile actions in your life?



Friday, July 10, 2020

St Benedict, Abbot

“Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves." Mt 10:16

St Benedict, who is widely credited with founding the monastic movement in the Christian West, is a fascinating character. Like John the Baptist and so many others who found greed and all kinds of vice in their societies, Benedict felt like a sheep in the midst of wolves. Knowing he could not live the Gospel in a society that was so lost, he fled to a cave near Mt Subiaco to pray and to grow closer to God, but after three years, when a group of monks asked him to lead them, he left his cave only to be undermined by the monks themselves who objected to his strict rule of life and leadership style.

Soon after returning to the caves, other monks, who were more open to disciplining their lives, came to Benedict for guidance and before long there were so many that Benedict organized them into groups of twelve and wrote his now famous Rule of Life. Emphasizing work and prayer, Benedict's simple directives continue to guide men and women monks and nuns around the world, and can help everyone who is willing to allow the Spirit to direct their lives.

Today, examine your conscience in order to evaluate your lifestyle.

Have you ever been challenged to be as shrewd as a serpent but as simple as a dove?

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Shrewd

"Be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves." Mt 10:16

Sometimes Jesus' advice to his disciples startles us. Most of us understand the call of the gospel to simplicity and transparency.  Although it might be uncomfortable, we realize there is a challenge in the good news not to worry about how we appear before others, not to try to impress others with our insight or wisdom. If we embody God's wisdom, God will do what God needs to do in and through us.

Shrewdness, on the other hand, is not something we usually associate with gospel living. Shrewd people make deals, compromise their ideals and work a crowd to get their way. It does not sound like a stance the followers of Jesus should take.

While it is clear that Jesus does not want his disciples to take advantage of others, he does want them to protect themselves from manipulation. Shrewdness means not allowing oneself to be trapped by false praise or individual honor. The shrewd person listens with the heart and discerns well what it is God wants, not to enhance his or her personal reputation or prestige, but to enliven and build up the entire community of faith.

Today, listen deeply to who it is God would have you be, and act upon it discreetly.

Have you known shrewd people of faith?Shrew

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

All for God

"Whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there. And as for those who do not welcome you, when you leave that town, shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them.” Lk 9: 4-5

Letting go of our work and its success or failure is never easy, but the gospel is clear. It is our obligation to preach the Good News in word and deed and leave the results to God. Gospel spirituality is demanding. Called to be pilgrims going from place to place and taking nothing for the journey, we strive to live and speak the Gospel in such a way that God's direction can be clearly seen and experienced by those to whom we are sent.  

Demanding a radical humility, a total putting aside of everything that is not of God, we need always to remember that the Gospel is God's good news, not ours. Our task, like John the Baptist's, is to clear the ground before the Lord and make his path straight. Everything else is superfluous. 

This is not to say that we cannot be good instruments in God's orchestra. Each of us is gifted and our talents are the means God uses to invite people to know and love the Lord. Our insights, compassion, and thirst of justice can be wonderful signs of God's love for the world, but unless they always point towards the Lord, they can get in the way of God's glory. 

Today, let God's light shine and get out of the way.

What blocks you from being Good News?

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Sow Justice

"Sow for yourselves justice." Hos 10:12

It is often more important and fruitful to sow seeds of justice and hope than to engage in long explanations and arguments in order to convince others of the truth of your position and stance. Not infrequently, when we are honest, we realize that it is people who listen well and speak carefully and simply who influence us the most. These are the seed planters who sow and let God do the rest.

Years ago a priest friend invited me on  a golfing vacation. I was delighted, hoping that we would have lots of long discussions and share our life stories warts and all as we traipsed around different golf courses. That was not his intention. Vacation was simply a time to rest, relax, eat well and enjoy doing nothing except play golf. Each evening over a drink he would asked me what I enjoyed most about the day and only later did I realize how important his question was. Like the seeds Jesus sowed in the hearts of his followers, my friend was teaching me that unless we learn to enjoy purely and simply the everyday pleasures that dot our lives, we will soon become boring, unimaginative automatons from whom justice cannot flow.

Today, breathe deeply and take five minutes to do nothing but enjoy breathing. 

Who sowed seeds of justice in your heart and life?

Monday, July 6, 2020

Sheep Without a Shepherd

"At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd." Mt 9:36

Jesus seems always able to summon mercy and understanding when meeting the poor and broken. Somehow he sees those most in need with compassionate eyes and heart, and responds to them without judgement. While Jesus can be hard on those who should know better, he seems never to dismiss the struggling. In fact, the scripture tells us that he sees them as sheep without a shepherd.

Jesus' mercy can easily be taken advantage of, but only those trying to control the world worry about this. While some will surely risk living an unfocused life thinking they have nothing about which to worry since Jesus promises undying love to all even the biggest sinner, Jesus continually seeks out sinners, inviting them to reconciliation and new life.

As C.S. Lewis reminds us in An Examined Life, "God was the hunter and I was the deer. He stalked me, . . . took unerring aim and fired,"(1). Captured by God's love, we find ourselves spending more time being grateful than worrying about our past faults, and discover, to our delight and God's, that we have very little time for wrong doing and sin. Filled with gratitude for all that God is and does, our joyful and free spirits shout Good News.

Today, ask forgiveness of God and move forward.

Which of your faults and sins do you find most difficult to avoid?

Sunday, July 5, 2020

God Espouses Us

"I will espouse you to me forever: I will espouse you in right and in justice, in love and in mercy; I will espouse you in fidelity, and you shall know the LORD." Hos 2:22

Hosea's prophecy is stunning in its directness and imagery. God is a bridegroom, newly in love with his Bride, and anxious to commit himself to his people forever without measuring the cost. God's love for us, his holy people, is full of justice and mercy and assures us that we shall always know him in this manner.

There is, however, a danger we must avoid. Knowing that God's love is unconditional and forever can cause us to take God for granted. Knowing God will always be near, waiting like a Bridegroom for us to respond, we can fail to discipline ourselves at prayer or ignore the needs of the poor, both practices demanded by the Bridegroom. When we do this, we cheat ourselves and God's beloved of the fruits of God's love.

Today, pay extra attention to someone you have been taking for granted.

What image of God is most strengthening to your faith?