Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Living One Commandment Completely

 "You are not far from the reign of God."  Mk 12:34

The scribe in today's gospel, unlike many other leaders in the Jewish community into which Jesus was born, seems very open to listening to the Lord. In fact, after Jesus answers his question about  the first and most important commandment of the law, he repeats Jesus' response almost word for word. Then Jesus says to him and all his listeners: "You are not far from the reign of God."

Knowing which is the first and most important commandment of the law is not enough to be considered a disciple of Jesus. If we really accept that loving God and loving our neighbors as ourselves is fundamental to the Good News, then we must live these commandments. In fact, to be a disciple means to be transformed by the truth of Jesus' word, and to change our lives to reflect our new conviction.

All of us know that exercising is important for good health, but unless we actually walk vigorously, or swim or workout, knowing that good health depends of exercise does us no good. The same is true for the gospel. If we believe that to be poor in spirit, meek, and hungry for justice is foundational to Jesus' message, then we must act on these beliefs. We must live humbly and do justice. It is that simple.

Today, pick one of the beatitudes (Mt 5) and live it.

What are your biggest obstacles to loving God and neighbor?

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Silly Arguments

 "Teacher, Moses wrote for us, If someone's brother dies leaving a wife but no child, his brother must take the wife and raise up descendants for his brother." Lk 20:27

When the Sadducees, who denied the Resurrection, tried to trap Jesus in a silly argument about which of a woman's seven husbands would be her husband in the afterlife, Jesus refuses to take the bait. The Sadducees are stuck trying to be right and use logic to reinforce their argument, but Jesus insists that the after life is not about marrying or giving in marriage, but in accepting the gift of living with God forever. Failing to appreciate this free gift of God, the Sadducees walked away thinking they won the argument while the crowd who listened to Jesus drew even closer to him.

Not infrequently, we are like the Sadducees. Insisting that we are right in an argument in order to win, we jeopardize our relationship with both friends and foes, making it very difficult to find common ground in the next go round. Without a relationship, even simple conversations become problematic and awkward. and that is what happens to the Sadducees. Embarrassed and confused by Jesus they look for other opportunities to prove their point and lose any chance to hear the transforming word of God. Unless we listen to the Lord with an open spirit, the same can happen to us.

Today, ask God for the gift of listening with an open heart.

When has your pride interfered with your ability to hear the truth?

Monday, June 5, 2023

Tobit's Pride

 "So she retorted: 'Where are your charitable deeds now? Where are your virtuous acts? See! Your true character is finally showing itself!'” Tb 2:14

Stress can make us say terrible things. Tobit, newly blind and no doubt feeling trapped and confused by his inability to see, hears a goat bleating and asks his wife where it came from. Hannah tells him that the goat was a bonus from her employers for her weaving, but Tobit refuses to believe her and tells her to return it to its rightful owner. Finally, Hannah responds angrily and asks Tobit where all his charity has gone.

How often when we are upset we look for a scapegoat, a situation or a person to blame for how we are feeling. Uncomfortable with ourselves, we even attack others, deflecting attention from our disquiet and allowing ourselves not to pay attention to whatever is troubling us. When Tobit attacks Hannah, he undermines all his good works, until he recognizes his sin and begins to weep and pray, asking God not to punish him for his cruelty to Hannah.

Acceptance of whatever we are asked to carry in life is the path to reconciliation with whomever or whatever we blame, and is the ground of renewal both for individuals and communities. Tobit's prayer should be ours whenever we lose our focus and begin to blame others.

Today, ask forgiveness from someone you have offended.

What burdens are most difficult for you to carry?

Sunday, June 4, 2023

St Boniface

 "Therefore, beloved, since you await these things, be eager to be found without spot or blemish before him, at peace. And consider the patience of our Lord as salvation." 2 Pt 3:17

Being a missionary has always been difficult. One must leave the comfort and security of a culture, family and religious system that one knows, and enter a totally different world asking God to show you the path to integration and transformation. The best missionaries have always been the most attentive listeners, people who sense the goodness of the people to whom they have been sent. Knowing they are called, like St Paul, to discover the God who is already present in every culture and people, women and men missionaries live in gratitude and awe because of the God they encounter in the people to whom they have been sent.

St Boniface knew these challenges in spades. Sent to the German church that had lost its way, Boniface had to minister with compassion to an uneducated clergy and a community that was more interested in its own interpretation of the Gospel than the word preached by Jesus. Preaching reform and renewal, Boniface's influence was deep because he not only called people to reexamine their values, he also established houses of prayer throughout Germany. The church only prospers when it builds its catechesis and worship on a foundation of prayer.

Today, pray for those who face a daily martyrdom in their own homes.

Have you experienced faith in another cultural context? What was it like?