Saturday in the Fourteenth week of the Church year.
Dear Friends: I’m travelling and connections to the Internet are not always available so today’s Reflection is “archieved” from 2012.
Saint the day: St. John Jones & John Wall (c. 1530’s & 1620’s):
“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ’Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?’ ‘Here I am, I said, send me!’”
This wonderful reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah brings us right into the presence of God who is surrounded by the Seraphim all crying out, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy … Lord God of Hosts.’ If I was to make a movie of this scene I would probably call it, “Kissed by an angel.”
All of us, called by the Lord, are brought into His presence ‘… with fear and trembling’ not in the sense of being afraid and scared, but in awe of the wonder of God. Just think about it for a moment. We are there in the presence of God and caught up in the “Holy, Holy, Holy” with all the angels.
“It’s awesome” as the saying goes, to be in His presence. Yet this is what all of us are called to. The – “Whom shall I send”- phrase quoted above is spoken to each one of us. And It’s spoken over and over again as we make our journey into the Kingdom.
Then, the most incredible thing happens: we are kissed by an angel! One of the Seraphim comes with a hot coal and touches our lips. Like gold tested in the furnace our lips are purified and we are given both the courage and the words to speak.
If we translate this happening – going back to pre-Vatican II days – and remember how we used to receive Holy Communion on our tongues – it is the very presence of Jesus that gives us that perfect “Kiss of Peace” along with the strength to go out and proclaim the Good News that we have heard. Nowadays most of us receive Holy Communion in the hand but the image is still there: we reach out to embrace the real presence of Jesus. Amen!
Friday in the 14th week of the Church Year.
Dear Friends: I’m travelling and connections to the Internet are not always available so today’s Reflection is “archieved” from 2008.
Saint for the day: St. Benedict (480?-543)
“Jesus says, ‘Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be as shrewd as serpents and as simple as doves.”
This quote is another one of those sayings that we’ve heard before and there’s always the tendency to just pass over it without letting it sink in. Certainly, we know Jesus as the “Good Shepherd” but now it sounds as if He’s just letting us go in the midst of wolves. So what are we to make of this? No mention of green pastures or fresh water. The reality of life is that it is hard and even those who claim to be doing good are more interested in their own advancement than knowing that the Kingdom of God is in their midst. Jesus, the Good Shepherd is handed over to the authorities and all the sheep flee. And when He’s asked to explain Himself he remains silent.
“Be as shrewd as serpents and as simple as doves.”
I don’t watch very much TV but when I do I usually land on the Discovery Channel to watch some kind of “nature program.” Last night they focused on serpents and it certainly was revealing to see how cunning these snakes could be. They have one thing in mind: find a meal and devour it as fast as you can!
On the flip side, though, any program about birds seems to really focus on the words of Jesus, “Consider the birds of the air … your father takes care of them.”
So, what does Jesus mean when He asks us to be “shrewd?”
I think that it means we are to be single-minded when it comes to following Jesus and we are to be grounded in His promises. The snake just looks for the next meal. Do we hunger for the bread of life? Do we really believe that God will take care of us like the birds of the air?
Life following Jesus is no “Polly-Anna,” “La la life.” There will be hard times. We will be abandoned like Jesus was when His friends all fled. As Dr. Scott Peck says in the opening of his book, “Life is hard. That’s a fact. So just get on with it!”
But let’s not forget that in the end Jesus promises us both a resurrection and an infilling of the Holy Spirit as we continue our journey into the Kingdom. “I hold you in the hollow of my hand and I will never leave you.” Believe it! Amen!
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Thursday in the 14th Week of the Church Year.
Saint for the day: St. Veronica Giuliani (1660-1727)
Hosea 11: 1 … 9
“I drew them with … bands of love; … like one who raises an infant to his cheeks; (Hosea 11:4)
“Let us see your face, Lord, and we shall be saved. (Today’s Responsorial Verse)
“Jesus says, … ‘As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” (Matthew 10:7)
The above three quotes from the Scriptures for today’s Liturgy seem to hold the key to our understanding of how God calls us and what we need to do in following Him steadfastly. In the scripture readings from the Book of the Prophet Hosea we can’t help but see that God is always calling us back to His loving presence but not in anger or vindictiveness. The image from this Hosea Scripture is very important for us to understand: God draws us back “with human cords of love; …as one who raises an infant to his cheeks;” I know that I’ve used this image in previous reflections but I’ll repeat it since it is so important to our understanding of how God draws us back into His Love.
When I was in grammar school we used to go across the street from the school to a park for our recess. The boys would play various sports games while the girls sat around in little circles making necklaces out of the small, white daisies that grew in abundance on the grass. They would carefully make a little slit in the stem of the daisy and carefully poke the stem of another daisy through that slit. The continued doing this – always being very careful to work very gently - until they had a necklace that they could wear around their necks. Every time I read this section of Hosea I can’t help but think that this is how God calls us back into His loving presence. No “fire and brimstone” here but only gentleness. The second part of that Hosea quote is also important: “I fostered them like one who raises an infant to his cheeks;” (Hosea 11:4) It’s when we let God draw us to Himself that the words from today’s Response verse: “Let us see your face, Lord, and we shall be saved” are possible. It’s when we allow God to draw us close that we are saved. But we’re not saved just to gloat over it. The opening words of today’s Holy Gospel put it square into context: “As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” (Matthew 10:7) The Lord calls us back to Himself in order to give us the ability to know His love firsthand and to be able to share that with others. The image of the daisy chain of love is important for us to remember as we go out. We’re never given a mandate to go forth with drawn swords and shouts of retribution but only to draw others by means of the gentle love that we have received from our own relationship with God/Jesus. The Gospel goes on and tells us what we are to do: “cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, drive out demons.” (Matthew 10:8) Use whatever images come to you to help you see that you are being drawn close to the Lord. It’s only when you can know that God draws you close that you’ll be able to draw others. St. Thomas Aquinas says, “You cannot give what you do not have.” So the response verse holds the key: “Let us see your face, Lord, and we shall be saved” with the implication that we’ll be able to pass that on to others. Amen?
Wednesday in the 14th Week of the Church Year.
Saint for the day: St. Nicholas Pick & Companions (d.1572)
Hosea 10:1 … 12
Having a heart with pure intentions gives us the authority to take the “word of God to His people. The people of God in the OT times struggled to find & stay on the path of God’s love for them. They got caught up in all kinds of distractions and often chose to follow false God’s. Even in our own time we can fall into traps of “false-isms” that can seem to give us a new understanding of how to follow Jesus /God. We always want to know the truth and to have an edge into God’s being. I recently heard that there was a discovery of a manuscript – pre-dating the Christian era speaking of a messianic figure who suffered, died and rose after 3 days. In the end we have to ask, “What would that data do to our understanding of Jesus?” Is anybody going to be able to find the empirical proof about God & Jesus? Just the thought of how God could “brake Jesus into our world” in a particular time and place is enough to boggle the mind. We can spin our wheels for our entire lifetime chasing after this Medjogoria or that Shroud; a faith healer or … when all God asks of us is to have an honest heart. Do I cease believing in Jesus just because someone finds a document or fact from here or there? Does my faith rest on facts or trust? Belief in the Holy Spirit or belief in ….? Here you can just fill in the blanks! Amen.
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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