What does it mean to be rich in what matters to God? Most of us can probably describe well what it means to be rich. Some of us would like to be rich. Some of us are already rich and don’t know it.
Jesus teaches that possessions and wealth are not bad. Rather, it is one’s attitude toward possessions that matters. We can become possessed by possessions, focused on things and wealth, rather than keeping God as the center of our lives. The danger is often greed and selfishness. I know too many people, some in my family, who worked so hard to accumulate more and more, saying that they would enjoy life when they retire. They would spend more time with their wife and children, visiting family, reading books, volunteering for church activities and learning how to pray more when they retire. And they died soon after retirement began, and some even before.
Jesus teaches me to trust God, not myself, and to be rich toward God. What do I need to grow rich in the sight of God? What do I need for this growth to take place? I’m going to reflect and pray for conversion on my part at Mass this weekend. See you there? Together, in community, we can explore God’s calls to us to be “rich toward God.”
Choosing to be Mary in a Martha World
Ah, the dilemma! A domestic squabble between two sisters? Entertaining or listening? What’s the priority? “Fussy Martha” and “Resting Mary” is the way Anne Osdieck describes the two sisters who welcome Jesus into their home. Martha she says “readied the table, readied the meal, and poured fine wine.” Her idea of welcome was to put out the best in entertainment. Mary on the other hand, sits at the feet of Jesus, letting his voice fill her soul. This weekend, we pray that we too do the “one thing that is necessary.” Paying attention to the person in need is to be preferred over everyday responsibilities. It’s a new priority!
Jesus’ “home visit” does another thing. He is approving a shift, a change in traditional, physical boundaries in Jewish homes that delineated “male space” and “female space.” By sitting at the feet of Jesus, Mary crossed the line. Only a disciple of a teacher would do this and only a man could be a disciple. When Martha notes that Mary is not where she belongs, helping in the kitchen, Jesus makes clear where he stands—and where Mary can sit. Once again, Jesus is signaling a “new creation,” a discipleship of equals. And it isn’t finished yet.
When have our concepts of “where people belong” changed?
What concepts of “where people belong” still need to be changed?
call us to rest at your feet and hear;
to share for a while with you
the one thing that is
Let us feast on it
as we bustle
Persisting in Prayer
When you think of yourself and your prayer life, which image fits you best? Are you praising and rejoicing? Begging and pleading? Interceding for others? In advising us to ask—seek—knock in our prayer, Jesus is reminding us that prayer always takes us out of ourselves, and places us before God. What do we ask of God? Are we like Abraham, bargaining or asking for justice? Are we bold in our prayer? What would that look like? If the Our Father is our prayer, are we serious about the forgiveness part? The words “persistent” and “persistence” are found in the readings. This weekend, we can ask for Abraham’s courage to be persistent before God and we will find God with us in every life circumstance. We can dare to go outside ourselves, to consider what discipleship demands of us, and to place ourselves before God. Isn’t the Eucharist just such an opportunity? See you on Sunday for persistent prayer and prayer for persistence!
Who is the neighbor to the wounded man?
Think of the Good Samaritan story as if it happened today. Where do you see the “beaten ones” in your neighborhood, city or world? What groups need the Samaritan? The trafficked? The immigrants? The refugees? The homeless or the hungry? Who are the Samaritans who are helping these defenseless ones to live a fuller life? Whether it is large or small, is there anything you can do to help any of the “beaten ones” we see? Can we cross the road?
With whom do you identify in the story: the beaten one, the Levite, the priest, the Samaritan or the lawyer? How do you hear Jesus speaking to you through this parable? The question of “who is my neighbor” baffles us at times. On a poster I found this quote: “The point of the Good Samaritan story is not evangelism. The point is to love people you don’t know who are from places where you don’t live. They too are your neighbors.” I’m going to work at widening my heart as I listen to this parable this weekend. Another discovery I made is Ron Rolheiser’s alternate telling of the parable that brings it into modern times. Am I the person who would most unlikely be the Good Samaritan? Here is the link:
What does it mean to be “sent on mission?” When have you experienced being sent? What was the mission? What resources did you have made available to you? With what attitude did you approach your mission?
If we pay attention to Luke’s Gospel this weekend, we have some clues about what it means to be like one of the 72 missionaries Jesus sent. He sent them in pairs; no one was sent alone. They took along no resources, except their belief in the message, their faith and the companionship of each other. The power to heal and restore relationships came not of their own doing, but always through God’s power. It was a power given to them “on loan.”
Think of all the ways we do things in pairs at St. Francis. We prepare for sacraments in pairs—we have marriage couples forming themselves, with the assistance of sponsor couples, for life-long commitments. We have sponsors or godparents for the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. We frequently enter a relationship of prayer partners at retreats and in between gatherings. Our Small Church Community gatherings end with actionable “being sent” rituals. We are co-mission-ed and sent to be missionaries to others when we dig wells to provide water in remote areas of Guatemala, when we help build affordable housing or provide needed repairs for our neighbors in need, when we serve on ACTS teams to witness to the power of God’s love, mercy and forgiveness in our lives.
Jesus asks those sent to be single-minded, to be completely focused on leading others to a relationship with God that promises eternal life! We gather together this weekend to focus on being sent on mission!
Was Jesus homeless? What does Pope Francis name as Jesus’ house? In their total giving, the Pope mentions that both God the Father and Jesus step outside themselves. How does “coming out of ourselves” relate to “loving our neighbor” from the Second Reading? Anne Osdieck offers these questions for our reflection this weekend.
Jesus lived the daily realities of most ordinary people… He cried in front of the suffering of Martha and Mary on the death of their brother Lazarus; he called a tax collector to be his disciple and also suffered the betrayal of a friend. In Christ, God has given us the assurance that he is with us, in our midst. “Foxes,” Jesus said, “have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest His head” (Mt 8:20). Jesus did not have a home because his house is the people—that is, us; his mission is to open all God’s doors, to be the loving presence of God… He gives himself totally.
What does this mean for us? … following Jesus means learning how to come out of ourselves—to reach out to others… to go to the outskirts of existence…
Remember well: stepping outside of ourselves, like Jesus, like God has stepped outside of himself in Jesus and Jesus stepped outside of himself for all of us.
Pope Francis, “Step Outside Yourself and Bring Faith to Others,”
General Audience 3/ 27/2013
Can you imagine sitting on a bench just like this with Jesus asking you, “Who do you say that I am?” Have you recently told someone about your relationship with Jesus? This whole week, 141 Sisters of Divine Providence have been focused on our commitment of “furthering the mission of Jesus” wherever we are, whatever it is that we are doing in ministry. As we remember the mission that our founders began in Texas 150 years ago, we ask ourselves, “To what ‘new territories’ are we being called?”
Many of you have reflected on your reading of Matthew Kelly’s book, Rediscovering Jesus. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, we know that every day Jesus is revealed to us, even rediscovered, if we pay attention to the calls that come to us in daily living our vocational call. Happy Father’s Day, guys! May God bless you with new insights about your role not only in providing, but also in loving your children into being the best they can be. And may the communion of saints in heaven, which includes many of our dads, today provide cherished memories and remembrances of wisdom and love shared bounteously.
The ultimate measure is love! And where there is generous love, mercy flows lavishly!
The un-named woman with the alabaster jar! The party crasher! That’s how we see her. We are filled with images of tears that wash the feet of Jesus, her hair being used as a drying cloth and the kissing of Jesus’ feet. Perhaps we can smell the expensive perfume poured on Jesus’ head. What did Jesus do when this woman audaciously enters and begins her ritual of love and gratitude? While others name her a sinner and shame her, Jesus reclines and accepts her as she is, without speaking. Pope Francis shares this reflection:
The sinful woman teaches us the link between faith, love and gratitude. Her “many sins” were forgiven her and therefore she loves much, “but he who is forgiven little, loves little” (v. 47). Even Simon has to admit that the one who has been forgiven more, loves more. God has enclosed everyone in the mystery of mercy; and from this love, which always goes before us, all of us learn to love. As St. Paul reminds us: “In Christ, we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he has lavished upon us” (Eph. 1:7-8). In this text, the word “grace” is practically synonymous with mercy, and is called “lavish,” that is, beyond our expectations, for it carries out God’s saving plan for each of us. Dear brothers and sisters, let us be grateful for the gift of faith. Let us thank the Lord for so great and unmerited a love. Let us allow Christ’s love to be poured out into us: the disciple draws from and is grounded in this love; and on this love everyone can be nourished and fed. In this way, in the grateful love that we, in turn, pour out on our brothers and sisters, in our home, on our family, and in society, we communicate the Lord’s mercy to everyone.
Compassion Brings New Life
Paying attention to what is going on in life can move us to compassion. Elijah and Jesus both paid attention to two widows whose only sons had died. What are you paying attention to that awakens compassion in you? And how does God visit other people through you?
By paying attention to God and to the other, we feel with the other, and God responds to us and through our words and deeds. Pay attention to what is going on around you, in your family life, in the community and in the world touches us and moves us. If Elijah or Jesus were here today to move us to compassion, who are the hurting people, who are the hurting communities that they would direct us to?
How would they ask us to restore those who are suffering to NEW life? Pope Francis names them for us all the time: the imprisoned, Syrian refugees, the poor, homeless persons and countless others.
If we turn to God in prayer like Paul, if we listen to our prayers of intercession on Sunday, we will know what groups need our attention. And through our attentive compassionate response, the Lord will visit his people again!
“Take it; this is my body.”
Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them,
and they all drank from it.
Why are meals, eaten in the company of others so important to us? There’s so much more that happens when food, conversation and care are shared. Most of the time we linger and long for the time when we can do this again. Meals seal our loves and our lives. We become that which we receive—family, friendship, companionship. We are bound together in new ways. Eucharist is like that too! It seals us to one another. It promises a future. It provides food for the journey of life, of faith, of conversion.
As you think about your lifetime, in what ways has sharing in the Eucharist made you that which you receive?
To what or to whom has Eucharist made you more committed, more covenanted?