Monthly Archives: August 2013

22nd Sunday of the Year – Humility

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Study:  Consider people you know who relate to others in a humble and open manner.

Pray:  Where in your own life can you ask God for the humility to address a situation or concern?

Serve:  How might you be able to humbly help another, without thought of reward or recognition?

22nd Sunday Readings

The first reading and Gospel today invite us to practice the virtue of humility.  This is a good reminder, especially since this virtue often gets little or no attention.  Let’s face it – humility is not the sort of idea that sells advertising or readily leads to promotions.  Often humility is viewed as an outlet for the weak and pious.

So what does it mean to be humble?  Here are a few things it is NOT:
* we do not grovel or belittle ourselves
* we do not pretend that we are worthless
* we do not ignore our blessings or talents
* we do not adopt a self-debasing attitude

Humility is a virtue that is fundamentally rooted in our faith.  It is based on these points:

1.  There is a God; I am not Him!

2.  I am made in God’s image & likeness

3.  God does not make junk

4.  I have sinned and made mistakes

5.  God has redeemed me through the Cross

In this light we are called to two essential elements.  First, we need to gain an accurate sense of PERSPECTIVE.  We recognize God’s presence in our lives, and we see and acknowledge our own sin and weakness.  We must truly examine ourselves in the light of the Lord’s grace and love.

Second, we are called to a faithful and healthy RESPONSE.  If I see and understand myself with honesty, then I will act in a manner that reflects my need for God’s forgiveness.  I treat others according to the teaching of Christ:  with love, forgiveness, mercy and hope.  Knowing our own sinfulness thus allows us to respond to others with compassion…… and humility!

Humility thus requires a few basic ingredients.  We are asked to honestly know our hearts; we discover and trust in the Lord’s grace; we respond to our brothers and sisters with heightened awareness; we recognize that our lives have meaning – as we share the gifts and talents (given to us by God) for the good of our world.

When these ingredients are present we discover a profound freedom and joy.  God loves us!  We are invited to see clearly and act accordingly, thus allowing our lives to honestly reflect our faith in Christ.


21st Sunday of the Year – Gathered Together

Pope Francis WYD

Study:  When in life have I encountered a diverse group of people?  How did the experience change me?

Pray: What in my life needs to be touched by the Lord so I can relate with others as a disciple of Christ?

Serve:  Are there divisions in my life right now?  If so, how can I help bring unity and peace to the people in my life?

21st Sunday Readings

Watching Pope Francis during World Youth Day in Rio brought back memories of my own twenty years ago.  It was 1993 when I traveled to Denver, Colorado to see Pope John Paul II.  I was about to begin graduate theology in the seminary, and I thought that the experience would “be good” for me as I prepared for the priesthood.

I was right.

During that amazing week I treasured many rich and wonderful experiences, but one that will forever remain in my mind was the final mass.  I was leading a group of students who had hiked into the park site the day before, and as the evening passed we visited with people from around the world.

Everywhere you looked there were nations represented by young adults singing, dancing, playing music, and talking.  Walking among the groups I picked out many languages – Spanish, Italian, French, Polish, Swahili, Greek, Chinese – and others I did not recognize.

People were friendly!  If you stayed with a group they would get you to sing or dance with them, or else they would try to communicate – even when a language barrier was present.  On that night we knew in our hearts that despite our differences, we were united together as one family.

Isaiah today proclaims in the first reading that distance, language, and race will not keep God away from the nations of the world.  The Lord will set a sign among the peoples, inviting them to gather and stand united in the midst of God’s glory as one family and one community.

This proclamation reminds us that we, too, are invited to be open to one another, regardless of the differences that may appear.  For just as the Lord calls all together, so too do we recognize the unity we share as children created in the image and likeness of God.

We have many opportunities to express this unity everyday.  Do we show warmth and hospitality to strangers and guests?  Do we welcome others who speak or look differently from us?  Do we cultivate attitudes that respect others, despite our differences?

When we are open to other people, we begin to see as God sees.  We recognize that as the Lord’s children, there is much more that unites us than what divides.  We discover that God’s family is truly blessed by the differences that make us unique.


20th Sunday of the Year – Keep Running the Race

Runner

Study:  When in my life did I hit a “wall” – an obstacle that seriously affected my life?

Pray:  Call upon the Lord for the wisdom and courage to face the challenges before us.

Serve:  Who in my life can I encourage to continue?

20th Sunday Readings:

I have a lot of respect for marathon athletes.  The sport of running is grueling in both physical and mental ways, demanding discipline, dedication, and concentration.  Running is hard work, and those athletes who embrace the sport demonstrate their willingness to accept a difficult challenge.

While many runners work out with a partner or a group, running is ultimately an individual sport.  Whereas a team sport allows a person to have a poor performance and still win, a runner who breaks down is lost.  The energy, stamina, and focus must come from each runner, or the race will not be completed.

Runners often talk about the “Wall.”  At some point (usually toward the end of the race) the body revolts.  Concentration is lost, breathing is labored, and the legs feel like they are made of lead.  To the runner it seems almost impossible to continue, and for a time it is only by sheer will, as one foot is forced ahead of the other, that the runner goes on.

Where do runners get this kind of strength?  Where do they find the energy and determination?  Every runner is different, yet every one relies on some kind of conviction or encouragement to continue.  This focus – to finish running the race – gives them the power to see it through.

“Running the Race” has much to tell us about the journey all of us encounter in our lives.  For we know that there are times when we encounter our own personal wall, that obstacle, event, or sin which drains our strength and concentration.  At these moments we can feel exhausted – beyond help, guidance, or the desire to continue.

The letter to the Hebrews reminds us that at these times we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the source and center of our faith.  It is the Lord’s example which gives us the hope we need to face the challenges and obstacles of any given day.  By ourselves we can stumble and fall to temptation and sin, but with the strength of Christ we continue, finding new life where we thought there was none.

Running a race IS hard work; the same is true for life.  We know that the journey is not easy.  Yet we know that through our faith in Jesus we have a source of strength that will not abandon us.  The Lord is near, inviting us to continue and finish the journey, inspired by the example of Christ.


19th Sunday of the Year – Wisdom for the Journey

Modern Pilgrims

Study:  What do you do to prepare for an upcoming event?  What steps do you take to be ready?

Pray:  What challenges do you face right now?  What do you need to ask from the Lord to be prepared?

Serve:  Is there anyone in your life who could use support at this time?  Perhaps you are being called to be a companion on their journey…

19th Sunday Readings

The readings this week offer insight regarding life as a pilgrimage.  As we journey through this life, with its challenges and blessings, we can look to these readings for guidance:

* The courage to trust in God’s promises [1st]
* God calls us to be his own people [psalm]
* Abraham’s example of faith [2nd]
* Be prepared!  Stay alert and awake! [gospel]

The first reading reminds us that our ancestors put their trust in God’s promises.  As they were led out of Egypt to the Promised Land, the Lord guided and directed them through faith.

The Psalm expresses thanksgiving for the Lord who chooses us to be his own people.  Here it is God who delivers us from death and protects us in times of great danger and crisis.

In the Letter to the Hebrews we see how Abraham’s example of faith is a model for us.  He did not know where God would lead him, nor was he aware that the Lord would raise up a vast number of descendants who claim him as their father in faith.  Indeed, even his son, Isaac, would be a test!

Finally, the Gospel surfaces the themes of preparation and readiness.  The parable of the good servant is a reminder of some basic expectations we carry in this life:

1.  What is my purpose?  (Values & Priorities)
2.  What are my gifts? (Skill, Resources, etc.)
3.  Do I use what I have been given?

It is crucial to note that until we know what is important in life, we cannot adequately prepare for it.  Until we know what are the resources, talents, and gifts we possess, we cannot properly use them with purpose.

If life is indeed a journey, then like Abraham we must travel through times of uncertainty and difficulty – but always with the hope that God is with us.  Our conviction that God will strengthen us for the journey is no guarantee that life will be easy, but it does remind us that we will be given what we need to continue.

The challenge occurs when we reflect on what we truly have been given.  When we recognize just how blessed we are, we are humbled by the expectation of our faith.  For much will be required of the person entrusted with much.