Hanging on His Words

November 18, 2022

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase inspired by the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

Every day He was teaching in the temple area…all the people were hanging on His words. (Luke 19:45-48)

HANGING ON HIS WORDS: When I read scripture, I often think about how underwhelmed Jesus must be by our response to Him. When He was here on earth, passionate people followed Him from town to town. Many of his disciples dropped whatever they were doing to be with Him, leaving their homes and livelihoods behind. Sinners climbed trees to see him. The sick were lowered through roofs by friends, and some reached out in the hope of simply touching His tunic. Today we read that “the people were hanging on His words.” They listened to what He had to say. They loved Jesus and were attentive to Him.

For many of us, Jesus is an afterthought. We listen to Him when we get the chance. We pay attention to Him when we need Him.

What would it be like to truly hang on Jesus’ every word? To drop everything else we are doing and really take to heart the Gospel message, giving Him our full attention?

Maybe it is unrealistic to think that could happen today, but I encourage us all, as we head toward the Advent season, to take steps in that direction by giving Jesus more of our attention or at the very least some of our attention.

Peace

November 17, 2022

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase inspired by the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

As Jesus drew near Jerusalem, he saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If this day you only knew what makes for peace…” (Luke 19:41-44

PEACE: Peace. It is sought-after and elusive. We want it but don’t know how to get it. When we find it, it tends to be short-lived. Speaking for myself, there is nothing more that I want for myself and those I love than peace – peace of mind and of heart.

So many people are trying to manage the stress they have allowed to be a part of their lives. We can see in their attitude and demeanor, and perhaps even in their physical appearance, that they are losing their battle against stress. They cannot find peace.

Peace is a rare commodity, so people who seem to be at peace really stand out in the crowd. They seem calm and confident, even-tempered and content. Their presence may actually even make those around them feel more at peace. What is their secret?

The amount of peace we have in our lives is directly related to the amount of control we are willing to relinquish. Human beings LOVE to be in control or at least feel like they are in control. The greatest challenge we face in life is turning over control of our lives to God – putting our complete trust in God’s will.

Until we are able to trust God and turn all of our anxiety, fear, and doubt over to him, peace will continue to allude us. May that be our prayer, “God, allow me to trust you. Make me strong enough to know I need your help and courageous enough to relinquish control to you. My life is yours.”

Don’t just invite God to “ride shotgun” – give him the keys.

More Will Be Given

November 16, 2022

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase inspired by the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

He replied, ‘I tell you, to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.  (Luke 19:11-28)

MORE WILL BE GIVEN: The concept of “the rich getting richer” has a negative connotation, as it seems to imply that the gap between the haves and the have-nots grows wider. That is usually a financial or economic viewpoint. The Gospel is not talking about money and investing, is it?

Well, it is not talking about money, but it is talking about investments, and dividends to a certain extent. God has invested in us. He has given us not only gifts and talents, but also a limitless capacity to love. He expects his investments to pay off. In fact, He has big plans for us. He fully expects us to change the world.

Although we are each but a single individual, if we all buy into this concept of changing the world, it is possible. There are few things more powerful than a positive ripple effect. If each one of us uses our God-given gifts to glorify Him and serve others, it is possible. If each one of us max out our capacity to love by bringing love and joy to all we do, it is possible. If we come together as individuals to form the one Body of Christ, as we are called to do, it is possible.

When I do all of this, I am rich. When we do all of this, the rich get richer.

In Order to See Jesus

November 15, 2022

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase inspired by the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. (Luke 19:1-10)

IN ORDER TO SEE JESUS: Lack of height is what kept Zacchaeus from seeing Jesus. What is keeping us from seeing Jesus?

Is it shame? Our sinful life has piled layer upon layer of guilt and shame on us. We don’t see Jesus because we don’t want to see Jesus. He could certainly not love someone as unlovable as us, right?

Is it fear that keeps us from seeing Jesus? Seeing Jesus and having Him as part of our everyday life will mean acknowledging that we are no longer in control. His will be done is a scary thought for anyone.

Is it our focus on accumulating earthly wealth that is keeping us from seeing Him? We spend all your time and effort on our job so that we can make more money and acquire more things, so there is no time left for Jesus.

Maybe it’s apathy. Maybe our life is perfect as it is…

Your Faith Has Saved You

November 14, 2022

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase inspired by the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

“Have sight; your faith has saved you.” (Luke 18:35-43)

YOUR FAITH HAS SAVED YOU: Today we meet Bartimaeus, a persistent blind man. He heard Jesus was near, so he began to call out to Him. People tried to tell him to stop. Jesus was an important man. He couldn’t be bothered by blind beggars on the side of the road. Bartimaeus responded by calling out to Jesus even louder. He would not be denied; he would be heard.

And so he was. Jesus rewarded Bartimaeus’ perseverance by giving him his sight.

What others considered an annoyance, Jesus heard as perseverance. What others viewed as embarrassing, Jesus saw as courageous. What others thought was impossible, Jesus made possible.

Bartimaeus was persistent because he believed Jesus could give him sight. Jesus saw a man of faith and rewarded him accordingly.

Homily: Choosing to Model Our Faith

November 17, 2022 – Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Readings: Malachi 3:19-20, 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12, Luke 21:5-19

I am not preaching today, but the following is a homily I delivered on these same readings BACK IN 2013:

In today’s second reading, St. Paul writes: “…we wanted to present ourselves as a model for you, so that you might imitate us.

Back when my oldest daughter, Mary, was in kindergarten, I would occasionally have the job of picking her up from school. As I was waiting in the parking lot one afternoon, I saw the line of kindergarteners being escorted to the lot by their teacher. I spotted Mary, and it was clear that she was very excited about something. She shifted from foot to foot, literally jumping with excitement, all the while trying to stay in line and follow the teacher’s instructions.

Finally it was my turn to pull up, and Mary ran-walked to the car, carrying her lunch box and several art papers. She was about to burst and was obviously anxious to tell me some big news. I thought maybe she had been chosen as a line leader, or perhaps was picked to be on a kickball team at recess.

She jumped into the car, strapped on her seatbelt, and turned toward me, waiting for me to ask her how her day was.

“Did you have a good day?” I asked her.

“Yes!” she said, bouncing in her seat.

“So what happened?”

Nearly yelling, she said, “An eighth grader said ‘Hi’ to me today!”

Continue reading

Persistence

November 12, 2022

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase inspired by the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? (Luke 18:1-8)

PERSISTENCE: For the purposes of a better understanding of this Gospel, and others like it, I think it is important to distinguish between being a squeaky wheel and being persistent. The only thing that matters to a squeaky wheel is that he gets what he wants, and he won’t stop squeaking until he gets it.

Someone who is persistent stays after it even after he has been told, “No” – possibly rejected more than once. The reason he stays after it is because he believes. He believes in the cause and he believes that the recipient of his request can fulfill it.

Pray, pray, and pray again for what is missing in your life or for what is needed to ease the suffering of others. Be persistent, but be sure to present these prayers to God with a faith-filled heart. Don’t just squeak.

End of Time

November 11, 2022

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase inspired by the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

Jesus said to his disciples: “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days of the Son of Man; they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage up to the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.” (Luke 17:26-37)

END OF TIME: What was Jesus trying to tell his listeners?  What is Jesus saying to us today? We all know that at some point, the “end of time” will come.  However, we do not know the day or the hour it will arrive.  Nor do we know what this experience will be like.  The stark description Jesus gives us is not an inviting nor a hopeful message.

The gift is – today and every day we have a choice.  Each morning, I can ask myself: How will I live my life today?  Will I choose to carouse as they did in Noah’s day?  Every day we have a choice.  If we live each day in a loving manner, we will have no need to be fearful of dying.  However, if we are hurtful or indifferent to the individuals in our lives and to the world, we may get some “fire and brimstone.” 

Every choice we make is a significant choice!  Today (every day) is a good day to make thoughtful and loving choices and decisions.  If we strive to love each and every day, we will have no need to be afraid of dying!  The gates of heaven will be wide open and Jesus will be waiting for us and he will welcome us with open and loving arms!  It is our decision to make.  What will we choose?

Note: The reflection above is an excerpt from “The Dome Blog” – offered by the Sisters of St. Benedict of Ferdinand, Indiana. http://ferdinandbenedictines.blogspot.com/2015/11/reflection-luke-1726-37.html

Kingdom of God is Among You

November 10, 2022

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase inspired by the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

“The coming of the Kingdom of God cannot be observed, and no one will announce, ‘Look, here it is,’ or, ‘There it is.’ For behold, the Kingdom of God is among you.” (Luke 17:20-25)

KINGDOM OF GOD IS AMONG YOU: While the passage above may seem complicated, it can be summarized by a familiar adage – “missing the forest for the trees.”

The Pharisees had a certain image in mind as to what the Christ would look like and how he would act. They also were awaiting some mind-blowing revelation as to what the kingdom of God would or could be.

The Pharisees couldn’t see the forest for the trees. Jesus – the Christ – stood right before their eyes. The Kingdom of God they anticipated was attainable – here on earth as well as eternally in heaven – by following his teachings of Jesus.

At times, we are Pharisee-like. We too are challenged to see Christ when he is making himself known to us – in the beauty of a sunrise, in the laughter of a child, in an affirming word from a friend, or the hug of a loved one. We have access to Christ daily in the Eucharist, in Scripture, and when serving others. However, when we are struggling with all life throws at us, we may throw up our hands in exasperation and wonder, “Where is God when I need him?”

We can’t see the forest for the trees – we don’t recognize his presence because we are expecting a lightning bolt experience or a miraculous interaction. We don’t appreciate that God walks with us daily, disguised as our family members, co-workers, fellow parishioners, and even strangers offering us a welcoming smile or nod.

If we give Christ the attention he is due and keep focused on our obligation to love God and neighbor, we create a kingdom of God on earth and are promised eternal life in the kingdom of heaven.

Cleansing

November 9, 2022

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase inspired by the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

Jesus found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money-changers seated there. He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money-changers
and overturned their tables.. (John 2:13-22)

CLEANSING: When I climbed inside of today’s gospel, I got an interesting view of what was going on in the temple that day. I saw the moneychangers that had their tables flipped over by Jesus. I saw the marketeers that watched Jesus drive their livestock out of the temple with a whip. I saw the Pharisees that pointed at Jesus with indignation.

I saw Jesus and felt his anger, but where was it being directed?

He did not seem to be upset with people. Oddly enough, Jesus seemed angry at the temple itself – or at least at the activities taking place there, at what it had become. He was angry to see how misguided the actions were. There was a complete lack of understanding of what God expected.

God didn’t want believers to sacrifice turtledoves, sheep, and goats. He wanted THEM! He wanted them to sacrifice themselves – to offer themselves to him – not their blood, but their heart and soul – he wanted to be a priority in their lives.

Day after day Jesus watched people spill the blood of sacrificial animals at the foot of the temple’s altar, then exit the temple, only to treat their fellow man with contempt. How many times had he seen people walk by those in need, offering them nothing, only to spend money on sacrificial animals at the temple? How many times had he heard the Pharisees recite ancient prayers in the temple, yet question Jesus when he healed the sick on the Sabbath or chose to dine in the house of a sinner?

This gospel story is often referred to as the cleansing of the temple. Once inside the gospel, I discovered I was the temple! Jesus was cleansing ME!

We give lip service to God, providing him with what we think will suffice, then we go about our lives selfishly seeking to satisfy our own desires – searching for something else to satisfy us, something else to fill us.

We must drive out the misplaced priorities that clog our path to the true temple of faith. We must embrace and live out the first commandment: “I, the LORD am your God, You shall have no other gods besides me.”

Cleansing our temple means making God a priority in our lives once again.