Thursday, February 9, 2017

Jesus Saves All Who Call Upon Him, Jews and Gentiles alike

In today’s Gospel,  Mark 7: 24-30, a Syrophoenician woman approaches Jesus, asking that He heal her daughter, that is, to “drive out the demon” that possesses her.  Jesus says to the woman:  “Let the children be fed first. For it is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” Sounds harsh; doesn’t it?  Jesus was sent first to the children of Israel, not to Gentiles—that is what He is telling her.e is telling her   .  The woman is not deterred in her request and says to Jesus:  “Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.” Jesus then commends her for her faith and immediately heals her daughter. “For saying this, you may go. The demon has gone out of your daughter.”
Jesus is teaching His disciples that God reaches out to both Jews and Gentiles, that  is, that God has come to save all people, not just the Jews. 

As we pray over upon this passage, we may reflect upon our own faith in Jesus and the “demons” from which we need to be healed. What weaknesses within us keep us from doing the good that God has planned for us today? And who in our families and among our relatives needs Jesus’ healing touch so that they, too, live up to their potential as children of God, created to let their light shine for all to see and from which others can benefit, being drawn , also to living a life of faith in God, in oneself and in others who need us to show the way to the Father?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

God's Infinite Generosity

Today’s first reading, Genesis 1: 20-2: 4a, is a continuation of the creation story, whereby God creates an abundance of every living thing upon the earth: birds of the air, fishes of the sea, creeping things, cattle and all kinds of wild animals and says after creating all of them: “Be fertile, multiply,” populate the earth with more of your kind, seeing that all that He had made was good.  Then, God created humankind in His image; the image of the Divine He created us, in God’s likeness, “male and female He created [us]” and said: “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over…all living things that move on the earth.” God also gave us “every seed-bearing plant all over the earth and every tree that has seed-bearing fruit on it to be [our] food [along with] all the animals of the land, all the birds of the air,” the fishes in the sea, and “all the living creatures that crawl on the ground.”  Then God rested and enjoyed all of His creation.

What a generous God, providing everything for us to exist in peace, enjoying fullness of life and delighting in all of God’s creation!  And, moreover, in His creation of us, God made us like Himself. We are created in God’s image. Think of the Trinity, a community of three persons (though one God) relating equally to one another. No one person of the Trinity dominates the other. All share equally the gifts of divinity: the power, the creativity, the Wisdom, the Prudence, the Counsel, the Reverence, and the Courage. And you and I are created in the likeness of the Trinity, of God.  When we live the Trinitarian life, each of us relates respectfully to each other. Each of us relates prudently, lovingly, creatively, courageously, wisely in meeting each other’s needs and being one with the other in holiness and grace, in power and majesty, in love and forgiveness. 

What a generous God, who shows us in the Trinity how to live according to God’s likeness!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Let It Be according to God's Creative Word

In today's first reading, Genesis 1: 1-19, we are presented with the beginning of God's creation of our world, a world covered with darkness, "a formless wasteland," prior to God's intervention. God spoke "Let there be light," and "there was light."  He then "separated the light from the darkness. God called the light 'day,' and the darkness he called 'night.'"  He spoke again, saying "Let there be a dome in the middle of the waters, to separate one body of water from the other." And so it was. God spoke again, saying: Let the water under the dome [under the sky] be gathered into a single basin, [which God called the sea] so that the dry land [the earth] may appear."  God then called forth vegetation of all kinds  to cover the earth and lights to appear in the sky, separating day and night and to "mark the fixed times, the days and the years."

To this very day, each created thing functions according to the boundaries and purposes for which each was brought into being. Night follows day every day! The four seasons follow each other every season.  Vegetation of every kind reproduces its fruit year after year. And each of the vast oceans and seas stay within the boundaries God set for them as well!

God spoke, period! God continues to speak to this very day. If God says, "let it be," it is as God commands.  Jesus showed us this side of God during His public ministry. The winds obeyed Him. Storms ceased, when Jesus spoke to them. Diseases were healed.  The dead were raised. Demons fled and came out of anyone of whom they had taken possession.  Through the power of God's Word,  good continues to happen and evil continues to be rendered powerless for those who have faith, as it was, also, for Jesus.  On the cross, darkness and death, also,  had no power over Him. He rose from the dead and the darkness of Calvary gave way to the Light of the Resurrection. The same will be true for us as we give credence to our faith in Christ Jesus, beginning with the good you and I bring forth today and the evil that flees in the face of God's grace at work within and around us--at work because we call upon our God to help us transform darkness into light, chaos into order, sickness into health, hatred into love, evil into goodness and so on!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Jesus Christ is the Same Yesterday, Today and Forever

In today’s first reading, Hebrews 13: 1-8, St. Paul admonishes us to allow “love [to] continue, to “not neglect hospitality, for through it some have unknowingly entertained angels. Be mindful of prisoners,” Paul says to us, “as if sharing their imprisonment, and of the ill-treated as of yourselves, for you also are in the body,” awaiting redemption, as they are.  “Let your life,” he challenges, “be free from love of money but be content with what you have,” for God “will never forsake you or abandon you”.

How fitting for our times, as millions of people seek hospitality, as they flee for their lives and the safety of their children and as they seek refuge in countries not ravaged by war-filled violence of undue proportions.  Millions of people are being ill-treated around the world, including in our own country.  More and more people within and outside of the U.S. face difficult times,  as one nation after another threatens the other with dire consequences if they make choices that threaten the security of us all.  With hatred peppering the speeches of world leaders and threats being hurled toward anyone who challenges leaders from pushing forth their personal agendas, it is likely that hard times lull in our futures. Paul invites us to “[r]emember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.”

Thursday, February 2, 2017

God Sends His Messenger

In today’s first reading the Lord shares the following promise with us through the prophet Malachi: “Lo,” the Lord says, “I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me; and suddenly there will come to the temple the Lord whom you seek, and the messenger of the covenant whom you desire. Yes, he is coming,…but who will endure the day of his coming? And who can stand when he appears? For he is like the refiner’s fire, or like the fuller’s lye….He…will purify the sons Levi….”

That messenger is Jesus!  Suddenly, without fanfare, quietly, the Lord will appear in each of our lives.  God may visit us in the beauty of creation, in the sun and moon and stars; in the warmth of spring or the heat of summer and fall, in the smile of a child or the unconditional love of a pet.  God may also appear in the call from a friend or a family member, in a letter or an email that brings good news.  God may also come, Malachi tells us, “like the refiner’s fires, or like the fuller’s lye…He will purify” us.  That kinds of visitation may be in the form of an earthquake or in another violent way. God then comes to us hidden in the storm that could easily shatter our confidence, weaken our knees, bring a tremble to our voices.  God’s visitation may be in news of a serious illness, our own or that of a loved one.  Those kinds of visitations reinforce our dependence upon God, our need of God.  Acknowledging such, we are purified of pride and arrogance. 

Am I looking for God, as God searches for me?  In those situations that frighten me, God is there as anchor, as rock, as Savior, Comforter, and Confidante.  “Come to Me,” Jesus says to us in Matthew 11: 28, “all you who labor and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Seeking Peace and Holiness

In today’s first reading, Hebrews 12: 4-7, 11-15, St. Paul instructs us to “[a]lways be wanting peace with all people, and the holiness without which on one can ever see the Lord. Be careful that no one is deprived of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness should begin to grow and make trouble; this can poison a whole community.”

In this same passage, Paul reminds us that the Lord disciplines his sons and daughters.  The purpose of that discipline is that we may grow in holiness and, thus, not deprive others of the grace of God that gives life to the whole community. That discipline might come from a correction from another or by a disturbance in my relationships or within myself that alerts me that something is not right. I then need to take note and look at what part of the suffering I am causing. And when I discover how I have contributed to the turmoil, I then need to do my part to restore the peace, that is, acknowledge my part and, possibly, apologize.  When I am ranting within myself about something, frustrated and upset and pointing a finger at someone else's role in the commotion, I find it very helpful to say to myself: Dorothy, you have the most to improve.  That helps me let go and embrace the peace God wants to give me.

  At the end of each day, it is also helpful to reflect upon whether or not I have been a source of holiness in the community, that is, have I,  by my love and forgiveness, by my peace and serenity, by my hopefulness and faithfulness to the Gospel, allowed the grace and mercy of God to flow through me into others? Or, on the contrary, have I poisoned the atmosphere by my unresolved anger and bitterness,  by my selfish ambitions and unforgiving stance, by hidden pride lurking in my attitudes or by my hopelessness and disloyalty to the Gospel of Christ?