Saturday, July 31, 2021

Feed Someone

 "Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life." Jn 6:27

While Jesus accepted the people who followed him for who they were, he also knew that some sought him out for the wrong reasons, and he regularly corrects and challenges them and us not to look to him  only for miracles and food, but to pray and work for a food that will last.

Although we know this side of Jesus, it can be difficult to accept his directives, especially when we are struggling. Anxious to be free of suffering for ourselves or others, we pray for God's intervention without bothering to think or even wonder whether our desire will help build God's reign.

When we read the scriptures about the people Jesus healed, we are reminded not to focus too narrowly on the wonder of healing, but on the life of faith which the healed person led. Mark's gospel is especially telling in this regard. "Go," said Jesus, "your faith has healed you." (Mk 10:52) Ultimately, the healing of Jesus is for others. Jesus expect those he heals to "go" and announce the Good News by the way they live and care for others.

Today, feed someone with kindness.

What most interferes with your following Jesus freely?

Friday, July 30, 2021

St Ignatius Loyola

"Now Herod had arrested John, bound him, and put him in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, for John had said to him, 'It is not lawful for you to have her.'” Mt 14:2

In a brief biography about Ignatius Loyola we read, "As a member of the Velazquez household, he was frequently at court and developed a taste for all it presented, especially the ladies. He was much addicted to gambling, very contentious, and not above engaging in swordplay on occasion." (Ignatius life) In other words, Ignatius was a typical young man of the privileged class. 

More concerned with his own pleasure and ephemeral power than the welfare of others, Ignatius was arrogant, entitled and aggressive, not someone his contemporaries would have imagined becoming one of the great and most revered saints of the Western Church. But God had plans for Ignatius, and God's desire for him won out. 

Badly wounded in battle, Ignatius had nothing to do but fantasize about a woman he hoped to marry. Unsatisfied and dispirited, when he began to read a life of Christ and the lives of the saints, his spirit quieted and he felt peaceful. Discernment of Spirits, for which he would become famous, was born. Ignatius knew that his heart was driving him away from his former life more deeply into the Gospel, and when he responded God drew him closer and led him towards other young men who were eager to life a Gospel life. Not long afterwards the Society of Jesus was born.

Today, let your heart speak its truth and ask for the grace to follow it.

Have you had religious experiences that changed your life?

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Letting God Surprise Us

 "A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house."

How many signs do we need to believe that God is among us? It is a beautiful morning in Beacon, NY Cool with a promise of clear skies and a warm afternoon, it is difficult not to rejoice in the glory of another day. I know there are some, especially the chronically ill, for whom a day like this means little. Others are struggling with family difficulties or the lack of a job that allows them to support their family, but there is no excuse for not breathing deeply, enjoying the simple wonder of clean air and asking God for the faith to live this day fully in Christ.

Jesus warned the people of his day about very similar things. Although he was among them as a clear sign of God’s love, many refused to look at him as a gift to the world and kept challenging him to prove himself according to their narrow standards. Some rejected him because he was a carpenter's son. Other's turned away because he came from the wrong town. The lesson was clear then and now. Unless we open our hearts and spirits to all people and look at them with God's eyes, we might miss meeting the Messiah in our everyday lives.

Today, expect to be surprised.

What prejudices do you have that you need to confront?

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Sts Martha, Mary and Lazarus

 "When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping, he became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said, 'Where have you laid him?' They said to him, 'Sir, come and see.' And Jesus wept." Jn 11: 33-35

The raising of Lazarus from the dead is confusing at best and impossible at worst. If Jesus is such a good friend of Lazarus and knows Lazarus is sick, why does he wait two days before going to him? It seems to most of us that Jesus' delay is unnecessary, even cruel. No wonder Lazarus' sisters complain when Jesus finally appears in Bethany. Convinced Jesus was the Messiah, Martha and Mary wonder aloud to Jesus: If you had been hear, our brother would not have died. Are they accusing Jesus of not caring about them or Lazarus?

In any case, when Jesus finally speaks with Martha, she and those grieving with her are weeping. Distraught and upset by his friends' sorrow, Jesus weeps and proceeds, even though Lazarus has been in the tomb four days to raise him from the dead. Jesus' power over death calls us to a new level of faith. We must trust the Lord no matter how sick or disabled we might be and how often he seems to be absent, because he is Lord of the living and the dead.

Today, don't be afraid to weep about your own unbelief. Submit yourself to the Lord and ask him to raise you up.

In what ways are you drawn to the humanity of Jesus?

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Buried Treasure

 “The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field." Mt 13:44

Many people never find their buried treasure, and some give up looking for it, but the Gospel is clear. A faith filled life demands that we ask ourselves about our treasures and discern whether what we cling to is really of God or our own misguided desire for security and control over life. The believer realizes, often early on, that nothing we can possess is really of ultimate value, even our families and our friendships. Only when we let go are we free to know and trust God in all things.

Having the courage to let go of what feels secure and solid, is the mark of the Christian who wants to grow more deeply into God's heart. Trusting that God always has something new for us allows us to rejoice in what is, let go of what no longer helps us or the community of faith and open up new treasures of God's bounteous gifts.

Ask God to help you discern what gifts a close friend might need.

Who showed you new faces of God's love throughout their lives?

Monday, July 26, 2021

Listening for the Truth

 “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” Mt 13:36

In recent days, while trying fruitlessly to figure out the purpose of the Corona Virus, I stumbled upon this Gospel text and wondered whether the apostles were as confused as I am these days. Viruses are like upside down parables. Our task is not to figure them out, but to learn how to live with them and let them speak to us.

This is not bad advice for most of us most of the time. Listening to others with open minds and hearts may not help us make sense of upsetting and baffling realities, but it does let others know we respect them and trust them. Perhaps that is what the Apostles were demonstrating in asking Jesus to help them understand the parable of the weeds, and perhaps that is what we need to do in the midst of this pandemic. Ask the Lord for insight, wisdom and acceptance and the explanation might take care of itself.

Today listen to someone who is confused even if you can't help them.

Whose presence in your life helped you live with confusion and upset?

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Sts Joachim and Anne

 "The seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.” Mt 13:23

Although we are certain of nothing about Joachim and Anne, even their names, they were the parents of Mary and the grandparents of Jesus, the couple whose example and instruction formed Mary in faith. It was from Joachim and Anne that Mary would have first heard the Torah, and learned to pray, and it was Mary's prayer that gave her the courage to accept God's invitation to be the mother of Jesus.

Grandparents are becoming increasingly important in the 21st century, especially in the United States. Because almost half of children are born to unmarried women,(CBS) grandparents are often called upon to parent a second time but without the authority they might have enjoyed with their own children. How they negotiate these muddy waters will play a hugely important role in their grandchildren's lives. If they can somehow maintain their compassion and nurturing in ways that help their grandchildren feel secure and focused, especially in faith, they will offer them a gift beyond anything they could buy them.

Today, pray for grandparents

Who taught you most by their lives about faith?