Sometimes the most awkward place to share our faith is around those who know us best. Drawing strength from the Lord and St. Paul in the readings today, may we authentically follow Christ with an open heart.
Monthly Archives: August 2020
Study: When was a time when I failed to speak up? When was a time I failed to listen?
Pray: Call upon the Lord for the wisdom to know when to speak and when to take heart to the words of another.
Serve: Is there someone in my life right now that I am called to speak to? Or listen to?
Do you remember the Aesop’s fable “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” that we used to hear as children? It is a simple yet profound tale. A young boy is given the responsibility to watch over the animals in the event of an attack from the wolves. Bored of his duties he calls out “Wolf!” and laughs as the area villagers come running.
Delighted with his game the boy cries “Wolf!” a few more times, each time getting the attention of the people. Finally disgusted with his actions they no longer respond, even when a real wolf shows up and attacks the child; his failure to keep watch prevented his message from being heard.
In the first reading today Ezekiel says that being a prophet is a lot like being a watchman. The watchman was responsible for protecting the people from bandits and wild animals. The watchman was required to stay alert, remaining vigilant and ready to call out in a moment’s notice should danger arise.
If danger came, and the watchman failed to alert the people, then the watchman was at fault. But if the watchman called the alarm and no one came, then the people were at fault. Simply put, if the watchman does his duty and no one comes, then those who hear the warning and fail to respond are held accountable.
Likewise, anyone who hears a word of encouragement or guidance and fails to respond is also accountable. Ezekiel, the Psalm, and the Gospel today all point out that there are times when we must open our hearts to messages that we may not want to hear. We may be tempted to “harden our hearts.”
Let’s face it. No one wants to be told what to do. No one wants to be disciplined or chastised; we love our freedom and independence too much for that! Yet there are times when the Church is empowered to keep watch, lest members of the community drift into choices and actions which are harmful and destructive.
This is not easy! The scriptures today alert us to the fact that there are moments when we may be asked to either give or receive a hard word out of love. We might have to give it – to help another from making a mistake. We might have to receive it – and allow another to help us from falling into trouble. Keeping watch is never easy, but without the support of each other, we run the risk of a far greater harm.
Note: This post was first published on September 4, 2017.
The Lord speaks directly and to the heart: all disciples must take up their crosses and follow Him. What’s our unique cross today, and how will we carry it? May we call upon Christ for the courage and conviction we need.
John the Baptist came to point others to Jesus, and his death inspires us to face our sufferings with fervent hope in Christ through His victory on the Cross.
The Lord’s parable to “stay awake” reminds us that being prepared and alert are essential components for our spiritual life.
St. Paul offers inspiring words to describe a disciple who is caught up in the grace of Jesus Christ. May these words apply to us as well!
St. Paul reveals by his example and teaching that all of us are called to give our best effort in whatever labor we do. Our task is to see how the daily work we complete on earth helps build the Kingdom of Heaven…then do it!
St. Paul exhorts us to stand firm and draw our strength and encouragement from our faith in Jesus Christ.
The feast of the Apostle, Bartholomew, inspires us to live our faith as we go out into the world and the tell the Good News to those around us.
Study: Recall a moment when you encountered personal suffering. What gave you strength to continue?
Pray: Many people are suffering right now in our world. Pray for those in need and join your heart with them to God.
Serve: Where is the suffering face of Christ in your life right now? How can you help another who is in need?
Some of the toughest questions I routinely encounter as a priest occur during sickness or untimely death. In the midst of great suffering and pain, a loved one comes up to me and asks, “Father, why did this have to happen? Why do they have to suffer? Why doesn’t God take the pain away?”
In the anguish of the moment no answer is adequate; the pain hurts too much, and seeing another suffering is often too hard to describe with words. Our hearts feel more than we can say, and the emotions overflow the limits of our soul.
We encounter suffering in many ways: at the graves of loved ones; in hospital and nursing home rooms; at the bedsides and wheel chairs of homebound; through news stories of tragedy; and in quiet moments all alone. Many of us are familiar with the grief and pain of suffering, and we are quick to recognize its presence in those around us.
In the Old Testament and Gospel readings today we encounter suffering. Both Jeremiah and Jesus raise two crucial points:
1. The pain is real.
2. The suffering is part of their witness.
First, neither Jeremiah nor Jesus deny that suffering is part of their lives. They do not hide from it, repress it, pretend it is not there, or run away out of fear. Their suffering is real; they acknowledge the truth of what they must face and confront it.
Second, the pain they face is part of their ministry. Simply put, they suffer because they have remained faithful to God. Jeremiah burns with the fire of a prophet; to remain silent would destroy him and deny God’s word. Jesus knows that only through his death and resurrection can he fulfill his Father’s will; to run away would deny God’s plan for salvation history.
From the example of Jeremiah and Jesus we discover that our suffering is part of a much larger picture. We know that suffering is an element of life, mixed with the joy and beauty we encounter daily. We know that it will come in difficult and sometimes unexpected ways.
Yet God is present in our suffering. Just as Jeremiah and Jesus knew that God was present with them, so too we can see that the Lord is near, giving us strength and hope. Thus suffering may be a way that we draw closer to God, mindful of our need.
Note: This post was first published on August 26, 2014.