14th Sunday of the Church Year
Saint for the day:
Romans 8:9, 11-13
\\\"Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.\\\"
The first thought that comes to me this morning, as I read through these appointed scriptures, is that most of us don’t know how to rest. Somewhere along the line we got the notion that WE have to work at getting to that point of rest. Yet in today’s first scripture from the book of the prophet Zechariah we hear the words, \\\"Shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem! See, your king shall come to you! (Zachariah 9:10) I love the story of the Israelites wandering in the desert until they come upon the great barrier of the sea. Their first reaction is to cry out to Moses, \\\"Now look what you’ve done! You’ve brought us to this deserted place to die!\\\" (Exodus 14:11) Moses’ response is key to all of our struggles: \\\"You only have to calm; stand firm and you will see what the Lord will do to save you.\\\" (Exodus 14:13-14) Being in the presence of God is not so much about the process of getting somewhere as it is about standing firm and confident that the Lord – the savor of the world – will come to meet us. If all of our energy goes into trying to get into the presence of God there won’t be any room for God to squeeze into what tiny space we’ve left for Him in our hearts. Our second scripture reading for today’s Liturgy reminds us, once again, \\\"You are not in the flesh … you are in the spirit where God dwells in you.\\\" (Romans 8:9) When today’s Holy Gospel tell us that this mystery has \\\"… been hidden from the wise and the learned and revealed to little ones\\\" We have to understand this to mean that it’s not so much an action that begins with us and our cleverness but more a matter of our just being in the presence of God and allowing Him to gradually reveal Himself to us. Most of us think that we’ll eventually get to the \\\"pearly gates\\\" where God is going to ask us what we accomplished in our lives. I think we’re going to be surprised when all he asks us is, \\\"Did you love one another as I have loved you?\\\" He’s not going to ask us how many great churches we’ve built or how many books about his love that we’ve written but, only, \\\"Did you love one another as I have loved you?\\\" This is where we have to put our focus. And we do this by allowing the Lord to be yoked to us so He can give us rest: \\\"For my yoke is easy and my burden light!\\\" (Matthew 11:30) Amen!
Saturday in the 13th Week of the Church Year
Saint for the day: St. Anthony Zaccaria (1502-1539)
Scripture Readings for today\\\'s Liturgy:
“I will hear what God proclaims; the Lord – for he proclaims peace to his people.” (Psalm 85:9)
This first verse from today’s Responsorial Psalm is encouraging for us, especially after all our previous readings from the Book of the Prophet Amos. It’s like – “Ok! We know that we didn’t always live up to your expectations, Lord, and we didn’t always follow you as we should … but have a heart!” The words from the rest of this psalm should give us enough encouragement to return to the Lord our God. As I say so often, we can get all the encouragement we need if we just read through these psalms slowly and see them speaking directly to us. So, go ahead. Put your own name in the text: “Daniel will hear what God proclaims; Justice shall walk before Daniel, and salvation, along the way of his steps.” If we don’t hear the word of God speaking – in some way – directly to us … what’s the point of reading it? We often speak of ”Jesus, the WORD made flesh” and we need to make that statement real – e.g. in fleshed – in our own lives.
In today’s Holy Gospel Jesus, once again brings it into the “present, perfect tense” by saying, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?” We have to remember that Jesus, himself, said, “I am with you always…” (Matthew 28:20) Even in so many of those Old Testament stories it’s the “Chosen People of God” who are the ones who walk away from God. Not always the other way around. When Jesus uses the image of the wineskins we are being led to understand that our reception of Jesus begins on the natural level: crushed grapes are nothing to write home about until they go through a kind of death/resurrection process of becoming new wine. We can’t get away from understanding that our encounter with Jesus is going to require some grace-filled change or transformation. A death to things as we know them in order for us to rise up new and changed persons. The ending verses of today’s Responsorial Psalm hold the promise: “The Lord himself will give his benefits; our land shall yield its increase. Justice shall walk before him, and salvation, along the way of his steps.” (Psalm 85:13) Don’t forget to put your own name in where it’s appropriate in order to get the fullness of this promise. Amen!
Friday in the 13th .Week of the Church Year.
Saint for the day:
Amos 8:4 … 12
\\\"Blessed are they who observe his decrees, who seek him with all their heart.\\\"(Psalm 119:2)
It isn’t always easy for us to understand some of these Old Testament scriptures since we are coming from a different perspective. However, I think it wouldn’t be too hard to see some of the situations in almost any part of our world, today, where things are in turmoil and peace and livihood are difficult. In so many ways the saying, \\\"… there is nothing new under the sun\\\" (Ecclesiastes 1:9) still rings true. Weather conditions are changing; the ice cap is melting. Draughts and crop failures are making life difficult for many. For the others: moonsons and hurricains! Sounds kind of horrible! Then, once again, our Responsorial Psalm brings us back with a sense of hope. Read through it again but change the sense of it to make it more personal: \\\"when/how do I observe his decrees? Do I seek him with all my heart? Do I get my noushment from the Word of God?\\\"
Today’s Holy Gospel, with the call of Matthew, once again, brings us back to the reality that we are all sinners who are called to leave whatever it is we are doing to follow Jesus. It’s also important for us to see that Jesus didn’t tell Matthew to get his life in order or spend 40 days in the Temple. He just said, \\\"Follow me!\\\" Too many of us think that we have to get our lives in order before we actually accept the invitation from Jesus. That tells us that the following of Jesus is like \\\"on-the-job-training.\\\" He takes us where we’re at and leads us to something better. The beginning of the \\\"Morning Offering\\\" prayer is key: \\\"Oh, Jesus, … I offer thee all my prayers, works, joys, and sorrows of this day …\\\" Maybe that’s why the Church gives us these Old Testement readings to remind us that our live’s stories are more or less the same stories of people who struggle to follow God’s ways all throughout history. We’re all going to have to wander around in one desert or another and our faithfulness bounces in and out of God’s presence. If we look at the \\\"call\\\" of any of the characters in the entire bible we can see how God works. He knows us through and through and never gives up on us as we make our stumbling way to the Kingdom. He’ll always keep asking us, \\\"Do you love me as a friend? Once. Twice. But eventally he asks us, \\\"Do you love me in the ‘lay-down-your-life-for me’ way? And, even if we can only say, \\\"You know I love you as a friend\\\" He’ll still tell us, \\\"Come, follow me\\\" hinting that we’ll work out the rest \\\"On the Way!\\\"
July 3, 2014 – Thursday in the 13th Week of the Church Year
Saint for the day: St. Thomas the Apostle
Scriptrue Readings for today\\\'s Liturgy:
“Jesus said to Thomas, ‘Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.’” (John 20:29)
Since my surname is “Thomas” I’ve always considered this to be our “Family’s Feast Day.” But it wasn’t until I was a Dominican and came in contact with the German, Dominican Sisters at our House of Studies, that I learned how to really celebrate a “feast day.” These sisters knew how to make a feast day special and so they approached their work – in the kitchen or the landry – differently than on all other days. They put away their “work habits” and put on their “Sunday-go-to-church best, heavy, wool habits and only did the work that was actually necessary. With this in mind, go back and read today’s first Scripture from Ephesians which tells us something about our identy and followers of Jesus. “We are no longer strangers and sojourners, but … fellow citizns with the holy ones and members of the household of God.” But don’t stop there. Go on to the Responsorial Psalm which tells us what we need to do in claiming this “citizenship:” “Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.” (The response verse from Mark 16:15) Maybe poor Thomas was out doing just that when Jesus came and found the others locked in the upper room. We have to ask ourselves, why is Thomas marked as “doubting” when they, themselves believed on the basis of having seen Jesus? The others only tell Thomas, “We have seen the Lord.” But it’s Thomas who maks the dramatic, ‘faith statement,’ “My Lord and my God!” Sacred art makes a big deal out of this sceanerio, depicting Thomas poking his finger into the wounds of Jesus. But the Holy Scriptures don’t actually say that Thomas did that. He just makes his, now famious declaration, “My Lord and my God!” The only thing the others are recorded as saying was, “We have seen the Lord!” I think our “bottom line” might be to put it all together so that we can say, both, “I have seen the Lord” and “My Lord and my God.”
Then, we need to go back to that verse from the Responsorial Psalm, “Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.” Put on your “Sunday Best” and have the courage to go out from the security of some kind of a locked, upper room and be able to say, “I have seen my Lord and my God!”
The very Rev. Fr. Lewis Mary Shea, OP was a Dominican friar from the Chicago Central Province of St. Albert the Great,...
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Psalm 32:8