Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Marvels the Lord has done!

In today's first reading, Romans 8: 18-25, St. Paul reminds us that "the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed to us." "Creation," Paul says to us, "awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God; for creation was made subject to futility not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it,  in hope that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God...[A]ll creation," Paul tells us, "is groaning in favor pains even until now; and not only that, but we ourselves who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the reception of our bodies."

You and I and creation are all one, as we all move and live and have our being in God and God in us and, thus, we in one another.  The sufferings that any of us, and any part of creation,  "are as nothing compared with the glory" that awaits us in eternity.  The transformation of all of creation, of all creatures of this earth and of humankind will be mind-bottling. The glorious freedom that we all will experience is not something we can imagine on this side of the grave.  The robe of glory, the robe of salvation, the robe of righteousness that each of us wears and which God sees when He looks upon  us, even now, and which was bought for us by the blood of Jesus, we will see when the veil is lifted from our eyes and we enter our eternal homes.  That is why the psalmist in today's responsorial psalm proclaims:  The Lord has done marvels for us, as we will, like the Israelites brought back from exile, will be stored to our true home in eternity when we pass through the door of death!  PRAISE THE LORD! THANKS THE LORD! GIVE GOD THE GLORY!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Set Free from our Infirmities

In today's responsorial psalm, Psalm 68, we pray: "God is a saving God for us," and proclaim that "God arises; his enemies are scattered, and those who  hate him flee before him. But the just rejoice and exult before God; they are glad and rejoice."  Our response to the psalm is: Our God is the God of salvation."  Jesus, who is God, reveals God's saving nature to us in today's Gospel, Luke 13: 10-17.  A woman crippled for 18 years enters the synagogue. She "was  bent over, completely incapable of standing erect." As soon as Jesus sees her, he calls her over to Him, lays His hands on her and says:  "Woman, you are set free of your infirmity."

That is our God: compassionate, tender, caring, ready to heal us of our infirmities, wanting to set us free, even before we ask.   We are that woman! We are also servants of Jesus, entrusted with the same healing powers with which Jesus set this woman free! Crippling spirits, that of others and our own, can be healed by our gentleness, our caring words, our forgiving words, our words of compassion, our understanding.

Jesus went about doing good. And as He did so, there were, many times, persons in the crowd who challenged him, as in this case with the leader of the synagogue:  Indignant that Jesus healed this woman on the sabbath, the man said to the crowd: "There are six days when work should be done.
Come on those days to be cured, not on the sabbath day." At that moment, I suspect, "cold water" was thrown on the rejoicing crowd.  Has there ever been a time when you or I made some disapproving comment and the entire exciting crowd became silent, as though hit with a bomb!

Jesus, though was not silenced. He recognizes hypocrisy in us when He sees it. He said to the leader of the synagogue and to the crowd colluding with him:  "Hypocrites! Does not each one of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his ass from the manger and lead it out for watering? This daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound for eighteen years now, ought she not to have been set free on the sabbath from this bondage?  

Are there times when you and I object to the good done by another, times when we apply the letter of the law to others and miss the spirit's call to be compassionate, understanding and act out of love?  Have we been hypocritical in our demands on others when we, too, have done exactly what we object in another?  You and I need to remember that, before God, we are not any better than anyone else. Like everyone else, we need God's salvation.  May God, in Christ Jesus,  set us free of whatever binds us from standing tall in God's love and mercy!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Imitators of Christ

In today's second reading, 1 Thes 1: 5c-10, St. Paul says to the people: "[Y]ou became imitators of us and of the Lord, receiving the word in great affliction, with joy from the Holy Spirit, so that you became a model for all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia." Yesterday I had the privilege to attend a funeral of a relative.  She, too, became an imitator of the Lord. She received the Word in the good times of her life and the not-so-good times. She experienced the joy of the Holy Spirit in her relationships with her loved ones and sometimes experienced the sadness that comes with efforts to love and be loved.  And in the end, through the Holy Spirit working in her,  became a model for all the believers who knew her.

Life is not easy by any stretch of the imagination. We encounter the good spirit and the opposing spirit within us and within others, as I mentioned in my most recent blog. I walked into my place of work this morning and someone points out how I have been deceived by someone. No, life is not easy. A part of me wants to set the record straight, which I could by the evidence shown me. Or I can let go and let God. In the turmoil, however, I know that the "Lord is my strength," as we pray in today's responsorial psalm. God is "my rock, my fortress, my deliverer."  As I brought all of the issues to the Lord in prayer this morning, I opened the Scriptures three times and pointed to a passage on each page. The  Lord gave me the following three messages:  The first passage was from Gal 5: 24--You cannot, Dorothy Ann, belong to Christ Jesus, unless you crucify all self-indulgent passions and desires. In this case, I need to crucify my need to make things straight. The second passage was from Luke 10: 23-24--Happy the eyes that see what you see, for I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see and never saw it, to hear what you hear, and never heard it, and the third from Col 3: 11--There is only one Christ. He is everything and He is in everything!"  I am blessed to hear the words of Christ over and over again and to "see" Him at work in me and around me.

What are your blessings? What are you hearing and seeing that brings you to the feet of the Lord? What is God asking of you?

Friday, October 27, 2017

Humbly, Taking Everything to the Lord in Prayer

In today's first reading, Romans 7: 18-25a, St. Paul speaks about the struggle to do good. Sometimes the good spirit within  us  wants to do good but is met by an opposing spirit!  We all know that struggle. We are resolved to ask forgiveness, for instance, or to deal with a challenging issue but do not do so. We are determined to make that difficult phone call but do not do so. We intend to turn off that TV program or the computer and take time to play outside with the children but stay glued to the Internet, to Facebook or to a TV program. We are nudged by God to bring flowers home to our spouse for her birthday but find an excuse to go right home empty-handed.

"The willing is ready at hand, but doing the good is not. For, [St. Paul says of himself,] I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want. ...[W]hen I want to do right, evil is at hand. For I take delight in the law of God, in my inner self, but I see in my members another principle at war with the law of my mind." Paul asks the question: "Who will deliver me from this mortal body? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord."  The same is true for you and me.

I have found that when I honestly place a personal difficulty before the Lord in prayer, describing the frustration I am experiencing and asking God for help, I feel uplifted and confident that the next time I will overcome the opposing spirit. It is very important for me to be honest in prayer about the struggles of the day.  What I also find important is that I refrain from beating myself up for the times I fail to do the good I would like to have done and, with the psalmist in today's responsorial psalm, pray:  Teach me wisdom and knowledge, for in your commands I trust. You are good and bountiful; teach me your statutes....Let your compassion come to me that I may live,  for your law is my delight....I am yours; save me, for I have sought your precepts" (Psalm 119).

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Righteousness and Eternal Life

In today's first reading, Romans 6: 19-23, St. Paul expands on yesterday's Scriptures. As "slaves of sin," Paul tells us, we "were free from righteousness. But what profit did you get...?For the end of those things [which are offensive to God and separate you from Love] is death.  But now that you have been freed from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit that you have leads to sanctification, and its end is eternal life."

All of us are on a journey that leads to eternal life.  We will be given an option when we die, I believe,  as we are now given: choose life or choose death, eternal death that is!  Just as now we are asked whether or not we want to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, so, too, in death, I believe, we will be asked that same question.  On this side of the grave, all things work for the sanctification of those who believe. And even when I am in a period of unbelief, even when I have turned away from God, God waits for us to come back to Him. And when we do, He opens His arms to receive us into His heart.  He welcomes us in the same way as the Father of the prodigal son welcomed his wayward son, rejoicing, throwing a welcome-home party, giving us the best of what He has: sanctification and salvation!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Gift of Grace

In today's first reading, Romans 6: 12-18, St. Paul instructs us on the difference of being "under the law" or "under grace." He speaks of being obedient slaves either to sin or to grace. St. Paul warns us that we become slaves to the one we obey, whether that be sin or grace.  Sin leads us to death. Grace leads us to righteousness.  The incredible gift of Jesus' passion and death--the ransom paid for our salvation--is that, "although [we] were once slaves of sin, [we] have become obedient from the heart to the pattern of teaching to which ]we] were entrusted. Freed from sin, [we] have become slaves of righteousness."

But how do we know whether we are slaves of sin or slaves of grace, you may ask.  When I am a slave of sin, I exist in darkness, so to speak.  I am then naked before God, as Adam and Eve were. I am then blinded as were the Pharisees, a finagler as was Peter, a traitor and schemer as was Judas, an adulteress or adulterer or one accusing/judging others of sin when I myself am a sinner and any other form of walking away from God.  I may be entertaining sinful acts, wishing harm to someone or rejoicing in harm that comes to another. On the other hand, if I am a slave of grace, I stand before God as did Abraham, Moses, David; as did Mary and the beloved disciples in the Scriptures. As a slave of grace, I am engaged in acts of love, in being just in my dealings with other; in being forgiving of self and others, in being humble and merciful. As one who is an obedient slave to grace, I am relieving the sufferings of others or supporting others in their suffering as did the disciples standing beneath the cross of Jesus, as did Jesus in healing the sick of a variety of diseases, welcoming others into His presence, calming "stormy seas" and restoring hope and life to others, in offering help where assistance is needed.

Who was I today: a slave of sin or a slave of righteousness?  Who do I want to be tomorrow? What do I need to change in  me if I am following erring ways and not co-operating with grace?

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Glorifying God

In today's first reading, Romans 5: 12, 15b, 17-19, 20b-21, St. Paul reminds us that, just as sin came into the world through the disobedience of Adam and Eve, so, too, did righteousness come into the world through Jesus, the Incarnate  Son of God, who was obedient to the Father even unto death.  Psalm 40, speaking of Jesus, says: "Sacrifice or oblation you wished not, but ears open to obedience you gave me. Burnt offerings you sought not; then said I, 'Behold I come.'  In the written scroll it is prescribed for me, to do your will, O my God, is my delight."

You and I are made righteous through the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Because of Jesus' obedience to His Father, and ours, grace overflows into our lives, as Paul also proclaims:  "Where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through justification for eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."  When you and I admit our sinfulness and acknowledge our neediness of God's overflowing graces,  and when we submit our will to the will of God, those graces are poured out upon us in an abundance that only God is capable of bestowing upon us.  May God's generosity lead us to say, with the author of Psalm 40: "The Lord be glorified."  And may that glorification of God become a reality by our words and deeds in the everydayness of our lives!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Manipulator and the Manipulated

In today's Gospel, Luke 12: 13-21, someone approaches Jesus and asks Him to "tell [his brother] to share the inheritance with [him]."   Jesus' response is classical:   "Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator"?  Smartly, Jesus does not allow this person to get away with manipulating him!

How easy to thrust one's responsibility onto another person and to do so with finesse!  When it is done to us, or at least when someone does that to me, I initially experience shock! If I am not on my toes, I get sucked into the other's manipulative schemes! Only through a strong prayer life  and by recognizing our dependence upon the Lord are we prepared to recognize the moments God puts into our path to strengthen us in setting firm boundaries and to seeing the teachable moments before us, as did Jesus. Immediately Jesus sees the greediness of the person asking him to intervene. "Take care," Jesus says to the person, "to guard against all greed, for though you may be rich, one's life does not consist of possessions."

We are called to be"rich in what matters to God," not to pile up possessions for possession sake! By pursuing material things as the goal of life, we miss the purpose for which God put us here on earth. We are here to build the Kingdom and to be concerned about what God wants of us, that is, to repeatedly fall in love with the Lord, with others and with ourselves.  We are here to help others in need, to alleviate suffering--physical, spiritual, psychological--thus growing in love.  We do what God wants of us when we strive to be of one mind with the Lord and when we seek to obey the greatest of the commandments, that is, loving the Lord, our God, with our whole heart, our whole soul, our whole mind and our neighbor as ourselves (cf   Luke 10:27).

What, today, have I done to "guard against greed," whether that be accumulating unnecessary material resources or guaranteeing that I am #1 and/or that I triumph over others? Seeking either of those "possessions" does not stores up treasure for oneself in heaven (Luke 12:21).  What have I done today to open myself up to the Lord, recognizing my need for His Spirit to arm me, protect me, and enlighten me to being manipulated by others or to being the manipulator?

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Joy of Salvation

In the response to today's responsorial psalm, Psalm 32, we pray: "I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation."   Have you ever gone to prayer totally disgusted with yourself: the way you may have acted in certain situations, the way you may have ranted and raved about encountering difficult co-workers, the choices you may have made that reveal your weaknesses, are an embarrassment to you, deplete your energy and show that you want nothing short of perfection, thus frustrating yourself and others? And then you open the Scriptures and read: Blessed the [one] to whom the Lord imputes no guilt (Psalm 32) because Jesus has totally atoned for your sinfulness and wiped away all your sins. And for that reason God says to you and me, through Psalm 32: In you, I see no guile." And God assures you that He has taken "away the guilt of [your] sin.  My child, God says, "Be glad" in Me "and rejoice, you just [one]; "exult," you have been made "upright" through the blood of my Son."

This was my experience in prayer this night as I poured out my troubles to the Lord and  laid my frustrations at His feet!  Truly, I have experienced the "joy of salvation." What is your experience when you pour out your troubles to the Lord?

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Sent forth as Disciples of Jesus

In today's Gospel, Luke 10: 1-9,  Jesus commissioned 72 disciples to go forth in His name.
"Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way. In whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace to this household. If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to
you....Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, cure the sick in it and say to them, 'The Kingdom of God is at hand for you.'" 

Jesus is saying to you and me, as disciples of Jesus, that our work as disciples of Jesus will not be easy, as we are being sent as lambs among wolves.  Risks and dangers are part of the terrain! We are sent to build God's kingdom just as Jesus did!  To be effective, it is important that we maintain our personal peace--we cannot share what we do not have! We also need the gift of discernment to recognize when another is not open to the peace we bring in God's name. If there is no openness, we need to move on, maintaining the peace God has given us.  Furthermore,  persons and places we visit are to be left in better shape than before our visit. And, yes, after our visits, those we spent time with should come to know that the Kingdom of God is real!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

According God the Glory God Deserves

In today's first reading, Romans 1: 16-25,  St. Paul gives testimony concerning the Gospel and its meaning in his life: "I am not ashamed of the Gospel," Paul proclaims.  "It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: for the Jew first, and then Greek. For in it is revealed the righteousness of God from faith to faith; as it is written, 'The one who is righteous by faith will live.'"

Further on in this Scripture passage, Paul states: "...what can be known about God is evident [to the wicked]. Ever since the creation of the world, [God's] invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made. As a result, [the wicked] have no excuse; for although they knew God they did not accord him glory as God or give him thanks. Instead, they became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless minds were darkened."

We can be other "Pauls," not ashamed of the Gospel and realize that "it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes," or we can choose to court wickedness, that is,  turning away from God and from all that is good in this life, disregarding the needs of others, engaging in bigotry, misogyny, greed, narcissistic pursuits, abusing power and acting out of pride and prejudice or
whatever separates/divides us from one another and from God.  In our claims to be wise, Paul warns us, we actually become "fools and [exchange] the glory of the immortal God for the likeness of an image of mortal man..." When we do so, God, in Paul's words, will hand us "over to impurity through the lusts of [our] hearts..."  We will have "exchanged the truth of God for a lie and revered and worshiped the creature rather than the creator, who is blessed forever."

Paul is talking to us right here in the U.S., I'm afraid! And, personally, each one of us needs to ask ourselves whether we have "exchanged the truth of God for a lie."  In our heart of hearts, we know the truth!  Also, I believe, we need to,  reflect upon whether or not we are worshipping creatures rather than the Creator--that which we most treasure is where our hearts lie.  On what, on whom, each day do I spent the majority of my time?  How angry do I get when a loved one calls me to task, reminding me of my responsibilities to family, to my religious community, to the vows I pledged at the altar?

Monday, October 16, 2017

Belonging to God

St. Paul, in today's first reading, Romans 1: 1-7, reminds you and me that we "belong to Jesus Christ", not to anyone else. No, not even to our parents or grandparents, husbands or wives.  We belong to Jesus, the Son of God, the Creator of the Universe, the Savior of humankind.  What does that literally mean? How do we get our arms around that belief? Or do we? Is it a mystery of God's incredible love in that God, through His Son's death and resurrection, has adopted us as His sons/daughters?  As  adopted sons or daughters of God, that also means that we are heirs of God.  The inheritance awaiting us is heaven itself, that is, eternal life with God: the all Good, the only Good, the ultimate Good, the absolutely Good, infinite Goodness, Compassionate Goodness, Merciful Goodness.   Who does not want to be with that kind of Goodness?

God does not enforce this Goodness upon us, however. God does not coerce us to accept His Infinite goodness or our eternal inheritance.  We can  turn our backs on God. We can follow our will and not God's. We can say "No thank you" to God, even though, as the psalmist says in today's responsorial psalm: "His right hand has won victory for [us], his holy arm."  That victory means eternal life with God forever for those who reverence God, acknowledge God, accept God as Lord of the Universe and Master of all humankind!

I accept God's gift of infinite love, mercy and forgiveness. I want to become one with God in all I do and say! How about you?

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Eternal Wedding Feast

In today's Gospel, Matthew 22: 1-14, Jesus speaks to us through the parable of a king who gives a wedding feast for his son.  Twice the king sent out servants to invite in wedding guests. The invitation was ignored by some. Others beat and even killed the servants. The king, enraged, sent out troops to destroy the murderers.  When the feast was ready, the king sent other servants out to invite "whomever you find."  Both the good and the bad were invited and the "wedding hall was filled with guests".  One person entered "without a wedding garment" and was thrown out "into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth," as "many are invited, but few are chosen."   

Obviously, Jesus is speaking about the banquet in heaven to which we are all invited. Will you and I 1) ignore the invitation, 2) beat the messengers physically and/or verbally with rebellious words and/or with words that ridicule, 3) kill the messengers, 4) attend the banquet without "a wedding garment" with which we are clothed by good needs, by love and forgiveness of others, by generosity and helpfulness to the poor and needy, by repentance, honest admission of wrong-doing and acceptance of God's mercy, by justice in relating to others?

What choices are you and I making by the way we live our lives?

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Abundant Kindness of our God

In the opening prayer of today's liturgy, we state that God, in the abundance of his kindness, surpasses the merits and the desires of those who entreat him, that He pours out his mercy upon us beyond our imaginings, pardons us of dreaded offenses and gives us what we dare not ask.  In today's gospel, Luke 11: 5-13, Jesus reminds us that if someone comes to our door at midnight asking for a loaf of bread, though we may turn him away initially, we would, by this person's insistence, respond positively to his request so that he stops pounding on our door in the middle of the night.  Jesus then asks us: who of us would give our children "a snake when he asks for a fish...a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?" And we need to remember that God, in the abundance of his kindness, surpasses the merits and the desires of those who entreat him, that He blesses us beyond our imaginings, and, yes, gives us what we dare not ask!

What a God!  "Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief!"

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

God's Mercy

In today's first reading, Jonah 4: 1-11, Jonah describes God as "a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger, rich in clemency, [and] loathe to punish."  Knowing that truth, Jonah is reluctant to carry out God's command to warn Nineveh of impending disaster, if they fail to repent.  Nineveh repents and Jonah is angry with God.  It's like Jonah says to God: "I knew you would relent and not punish Nineveh. That is why I did not follow your command, in the first place. And sure enough, You showed them mercy when they put on sackcloth and sat in ashes, fasting and praying for forgiveness. I knew I should not have delivered your message!"  Angry, Jonah withdraws and pouts.

How often do we not act just as Jonah did!  God is merciful to the persons whom we believe, beyond a doubt, deserve to be destroyed. Those persons repent and go their merry way, rejoicing in the Lord. We were sure that these persons deserved punishment but were spared. And we pout, more often than not, and feel the pain of being embarrassed, as we spouted out the evil against the penitents!

May we have the humility to come to the Lord ourselves and say: "Be merciful to me,  O Lord."

Monday, October 9, 2017

Following God's Lead or My Own

In today's first reading, Jonah 1: 1-2:2, 11, Jonah flees from God much like a small child dashes away from its parents when they want the child to do something that is unpleasant or difficult to do.  In Jonah's case, God asks him to "[s]et out for the great city of Nineveh, and preach against it; their wickedness has come up to me."  In an attempt to get away from God, Jonah boards a ship going in the opposite direction away from Nineveh.   On the sea, a terrific storm arises,  The turbulence is so horrific that the ship is about to sink.  The crew members determine that the problem is Jonah and,  in an attempt to save their own lives, throw Jonah overboard. A quiet comes over the waters and all is well for the crew but not so well for  Jonah. He is swallowed up by a huge fish which coughs Jonah up on the shores of Nineveh!

The theological message of this story is quite obvious. God is in charge of our lives and has sent us here to carry out His will both in small things and not-so-small things. When we rebel and choose our own will above God's, our lives are thrown into turmoil!  We lose our peace of mind, tossing and turning at night, for instance, unable to sleep.

When was the last time I refused to follow God's plan for my life? How have I rebelled? What kind of turbulence has my disobedience caused others in my life?  We might also ask ourselves what needs to be "thrown overboard," so that we restore our relationship with God and one another!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Our Relationship with God

In today's first reading, Baruch 4: 5-12, 27-29, the prophet says to the people of Israel: "Fear not, my people! Remember, Israel, [that] you were sold to the nations not for your destruction; it is because you angered God that you were handed over to your foes. For you provoked your Maker with sacrifices to demons, to no-gods; you forsook the Eternal God who nourished you and you grieved Jerusalem who fostered you.  She [Jerusalem], indeed, saw coming upon you the anger of God...."

Is it possible that we, too, today, have "angered God"?  Is it possible that we, too, today have "provoked [our] Maker with sacrifices to demons, to no-gods"--to money, to wealth, to power, to domination, to militarism, materialism, consumerism, sexism, hedonism, relativism and, any other "isms,"?

To what, I ask myself, have I turned for the "life in abundance" that Jesus promises us in the Gospels and, as a result, have "provoked" my Creator God, forsaking "the Eternal God who [nourishes me]?  Do I seek happiness, comfort, love, wisdom, counsel only in "no-gods"?  Or do I seek God in the solitude of my heart, in the Scriptures, in communal worship, in personal and familial prayer times, in honest dialogue with fellow disciples of "the Eternal God," who nourishes us with "the true bread that comes down from heaven"?

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Rejoicing in the Lord

In today's first reading, Nehemiah 8: 1-4a, 5-6, 7b-12, Ezra, the priest, gathered all of the men, women and children old enough to understand to an assembly. "From daybreak until  noon, he read "the book of the law of Moses which the Lord prepared for Israel."  At every liturgical celebration the priest or minister also read from the Scriptures,  a "law," prepared for our instruction, inspiration and strength. As in the O.T. gatherings when "the scroll" is opened "so that all the people might see it (for he was standing higher up than any of the people)...," our priests, from the raised sanctuaries in our churches,  bless "the Lord, the great God, and all the people..." As in Old Testament gatherings, we, by our attendance at liturgical celebrations, are reminded that each day "is holy to our Lord" and that "rejoicing in the Lord must be [our] strength."

How true is this for you, for me? Is "rejoicing in the Lord" our strength or do we bypass the Lord and seek strength in places and in persons are who unable to lift us up and, in no way, are God substitutes?

Sunday, October 1, 2017

The Challenge of Discipleship

In today's second reading, Philippians 2: 1-11, St. Paul admonishes us to do "nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his [her] own interests, but also for those of others."  Paul's statement--"but also for those [the interests] of others," implies that it is important to meet one's own needs and the needs of others. Self-neglect will lead to anger and resentment.

In terms of doing "nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather humbly regard others as more important than yourselves,"  we have Jesus as an example of these behaviors. "Christ Jesus,...though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped [vainglory]. Rather, he emptied himself [for our sakes]  taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross" [regarding us more important than himself].

In today's responsorial psalm, Psalm 25, we pray:  "Your ways, O Lord, make known to me; teach me your paths, guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my savior."  Jesus teaches us, by example, to follow God the Father's way, as He, in fact did throughout his life for our sakes.  As a disciple of Christ, you and  I are challenged to set aside our pride and selfishness and, with the courage, wisdom, humility, and generosity of Jesus to do as He did--give our lives for others! May God give us the graces today to follow Jesus' example.