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Saturday, July 25, 2020

Solomon's Wisdom

"The LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream at night. God said, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.” Solomon answered:...Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong." 1 Kgs 3: 5,7

What are the deepest desires of your heart? This is the question God poses to Solomon, and the King's answer both pleased and startled God. Solomon asks for an understanding heart and Wisdom, qualities we most often associate with aging, but Solomon is a young man who understands how important it is to know right from wrong  and to be just and merciful.

It is intriguing and revealing to question ourselves in the same way God questioned Solomon. When we or our loved ones are sick, we usually ask for health. When we lose a job or are behind on our rent or mortgage, we ask for work or another way to pay our bills. Solomon asks for wisdom, not for power, wealth, influence or skills as a warrior, and becomes a model for all. When we have the courage to ask to be whatever it is God needs us to be, we can let go, trust God and live life to the full.

Today, ask God for an understanding heart, especially towards those who have hurt you.

What do you think are the marks of a wise person?

Friday, July 24, 2020

St James, the Apostle

"We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body." 2 Cor 4:8-10

St James, the Apostle, is mentioned often in the gospels as a close companion of Jesus. Perhaps most importantly he is present at the Transfiguration when Jesus reveals himself as a prophet and patriarch with Moses and Elijah. A close friend of Jesus, James and his brother John were nicknamed "sons of thunder" by Jesus because of their fierce commitment to the Gospel, even if some of it was misplaced, but his zeal for the Gospel gave him the strength to endure martyrdom.

The Patron of Spain, James's fame increased over time as hundreds of thousands of pilgrims make their way to Compestela, where tradition suggests his relics are preserved. Believing that James had the courage to leave Jerusalem in order to announce the Good News in Spain, pilgrims today stream to his shrine hoping to let go of life patterns that steal their humanity and their faith.

The boldness of St James both in his ministry with Jesus and in bringing the Gospel to Spain is a wonderful example for contemporary Christians. In a society obsessed with stability, security and power, we would do well to listen to the example of James to let go of what seems permanent in order to discover the God who lives within and among people everywhere as guides on their journeys.

Today, be bold in living the Gospel.

What in your life calls you to live the Gospel boldly?

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Rocky Ground

"The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy. But he has no root and lasts only for a time. When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately falls away." Mt 13: 20-21

There is rocky ground in all our lives, and while we have to acknowledge it and accept it, we should not obsess about it. Whether our early years were difficult and confusing, or your marriage was sour almost from the beginning, we need to find a way not to let our dark days dissuade us from living with joy and hope. Our parents or our partners may have disappointed us, but God cannot abandon us, and faith demands that we ask God to be the ground of our lives. Only then can we be sure that no matter how rocky life is or might become, God's love will sustain us.

Whether St Francis of Assisi ever reconciled with his father is not known. That we don't know about this suggests that Francis' choice to live simply and reject the values and wealth of his family was a death blow to the support he hoped for and which most of us yearn for from our families. While Francis was remarkably successful helping warring towns reconcile, it must have hurt him deeply that he failed to convince his father that his choice of radical poverty was of God. 

Letting God find the good ground in our lives and asking for the grace to let go of our failures is an important step on our spiritual journeys. If we worry too much about the rocky ground, we will miss the good God is already doing within and through us.

Today, be grateful for the God has done in you. Let go of failure.

How has God surprised you on your pilgrim journey?

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Open Your Eyes and Heart

“But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear." Mt 13:16

Seeing is a wonderful gift, one we can easily take for granted. Only an injury to the eye, even a slight one, makes us sit up and take notice. That we can see and appreciate the beauty of all creation is remarkable, and while it seems simple it really is very complex. So many parts of our body have to work together for us to see, and Jesus uses this very basic faculty to teach us about sensing beyond what our eyes and ears and brain working together offer us.

Some of the Jewish leaders, who could have worked with Jesus to proclaim God's reign, did not want to see, hear or admit that Jesus had remarkable powers and insight, that he understood and interpreted the Torah in a way that freed people to live the Law more fully and deeply. Because they feared their power was being challenged and undermined, they chose to be blind and confronted Jesus at every turn but were never able to dissuade or distract ordinary people from acknowledging what they experienced.  We all need to learn that seeing with the mind and heart is as important as seeing with our eyes alone, otherwise we will miss the transforming power of the Gospel.

Today, open your eyes slowly and look around at the glory of God's creation.

Have you had an experience that helped you see God's action in your life more clearly?

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

St Mary Magdalene

"Jesus said to her, 'Mary!' She turned and said to him in Hebrew, 'Rabbouni,' which means Teacher." Jn 20:16

Neither the disciples on the road to Emmaus, nor Mary Magdalene, recognized Jesus immediately after the resurrection. Why this was is not clear. The disciples may have been too angry or hurt by Jesus' death, and Mary's grief may have blinded her. Only after the Lord calls her by name does Mary recognize him.

Most of us have experienced this in everyday life. If we are waiting for someone at an airport or bus station and they don't appear with the other arriving travelers, we find ourselves wondering whether we missed the person for whom we are waiting or whether they are on a different flight. We scan the crowds, ask others if they were on the same flight for bus, and sometimes check to see if they are at other exits. Only when the person calls our name or we see them sitting in a corner of the station do we realize that our anxiety blinded us to the obvious.

It is clear that the gospels want to teach us about the resurrected Jesus through signs and sounds. We have only to quiet ourselves and pay attention to see the risen Jesus among us. Every time we gather for the Eucharist the Lord is among us in the breaking of the bread. Every time we pause to listen to him in prayer, he lives within us. When we open our hearts to hear the word as a call to change, we encounter the Christ who is always active, but when are hearts are troubled or distracted by large or small concerns, we miss the presence of the One who is always looking for us.

Today, remember the times the Lord called you by name.

What concerns most often blind you to the presence of God in the world?

Monday, July 20, 2020

We are God's Family

"Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother." Mt 12:50

We are the family of Jesus. It is that simple and that clear. It is also important. While some might be unnerved when Jesus stretches his followers to think of anyone who listens to and tries to live God's word as his family, it is not a rejection of his own family.

Jesus loved his mother and family deeply. That he wanted everyone listening to him with an open heart to see themselves as his brothers and sisters did not diminish his respect for and love of his immediate family, but was a way to break down the artificial and unnecessary barriers between and among people.

Jesus' love for all people is a lesson for us. We are called to love everyone as He did. We are not free to reject anyone for reasons of race, religion, culture or ethnicity. While it is obvious that there are some people who will be more difficult to love than others, if we want to call ourselves Christians, we must put aside every prejudice to love as Jesus did.

Today, love someone to whom you are not attracted.

What kind of people are most difficult for you to love?

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Walk Humbly

“Only to do the right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.” Mi 6:8

It can seem overwhelmingly impossible at times to live simply for God and not worry about personal goals, wealth, property and even our health. God does not ask us to be successful, and the prophet Micah is at his wit’s end trying to convince the people to whom he was sent  that God does not want thousands of rams or burnt offerings from his chosen people, but only their fidelity to a life of gratitude before God for all God does.

Why won’t we believe this? What can’t we believe it? In the West, at least, competition between and among people, especially men, is still a driving force that often artificially props up our self image even if it does nothing for the life of the community, and we convince ourselves, sometimes with the help of televangelists, that God wants us to succeed. When we are really crazy with these ideas we convince ourselves that it is our success that pleases God, and unfortunately our success sometimes attracts clergy who see our wealth as a ticket to their own success as pastors.

Today, walk humbly and see how it feels.

What are your most difficult obstacles in living a life of faith in a culture of success?