Tag Archives: Friendship

17th Sunday of the Year – The Power of Relationships

Study:  Think about a best friend or cherished family member.  What qualities do you find particularly precious?

Pray:  Is there a relationship in your life in need of healing?  Ask the Lord for grace, wisdom, and guidance to make it happen.

Serve: Is there a relationship in your life that needs to be renewed?  What can you do to strengthen the connection?

Mass Readings – 17th Sunday of the Year

A thumbnail sketch of the readings this week looks something like this:

  • 1st Reading – Abraham haggles with God over the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah
  • Psalm – “Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me.”
  • 2nd Reading – We were buried in baptism and risen with Christ through his Cross
  • Gospel – The Lord’s prayer, a friend & neighbor, and a father & son

In all of these readings we see the power of relationships at work touching hearts and changing lives.  We are not meant to walk through this life (or the next) alone; rather, God calls us into communion and invites us to deepen the connections we have with the Lord and one another.  Looking at it this way, the readings point out that a relationship with God makes many things possible:

  • Abraham pleads and negotiates with God to try to save the people.
  • The Psalmist proclaims the Lord’s help in time of trial.
  • Our baptism connects us to Christ’s saving death & resurrection.
  • We can call God “father” and request, give, and seek for what we need.

Our relationship with the Lord is made possible through Jesus.  For remember, God makes it possible for us to draw near, and God invites us to enter into this very unequal relationship to raise us up as the Lord’s sons & daughters.  We’ve been “allowed in” to this intimate and tender connection with Christ.

And thus we are called to strengthen our relationships in two distinct ways – with the Lord and with the people in our lives.  That means we are called to consider how we might spend a little quality time building and strengthening our connections.  With the Lord that means Prayer, Sacraments, Service, and a Call to Holiness.  With other people it means forgiveness, charity, “wasting time” with loved ones in wholesome recreation, and seeking to bring out the best in one another.

And if something is wounded or broken…if a relationship is in need of healing – then ask the Lord for the grace to make it happen!  Remember:  the Lord calls us into relationships.  May we take the gift of today to strengthen these connections in our lives.

 


Presentation of the Lord – He understands, because He’s been through it

helping hand

Study:  Recall a moment when someone really understood you.  You felt safe, relaxed, and at peace knowing that you were loved completely and sincerely.

Pray:  Take a moment to open your heart to Jesus.  You might want to read/pray the readings today (especially the 2nd reading from Hebrews) and gaze at the Cross.

Serve: Is there someone in your life you can reach out to?  Is there someone with whom you might be able to be present without judgment or bias – but simply meet them where they are in kindness, respect, and love?

Presentation of the Lord Readings

During my study as a seminarian I served as a chaplain at a hospital.  I had the opportunity to work with a rich diversity of people from a variety of skills and backgrounds.  Through this time I learned much about my strengths and weaknesses as a minister.

One day I was assigned to visit a man who had a heart attack.  He was unhappy, sullen, and angry at me (and everyone else who came in).  He kept claiming that he was “as healthy as an ox” and had “never been sick a day,” but we could all see that his life was in a fragile state.

In my visit I tried to speak about some of the topics that the doctors and nurses had been urging:  physical exercise, diet, use of alcohol, stress, and other related issues.  He refused to speak.  He shouted, insulted, complained, and denied the fact that he even needed to be in the hospital!

I (being very inexperienced at the time) thought I could wear him down by simply being more stubborn – sitting there and listening until he just ran out of air.  Suddenly, a middle-aged man walked in the room and asked me if he could visit with the patient alone for a few minutes.

I stepped outside, visited a few patients, and after about an hour I saw the man come out of the room with a big smile.  He went over to the nurse on duty and informed her that the patient was willing to listen to any medical advice and act on it!

When I asked him what happened, he said, “You see, I was once like him – in the hospital bed, denying everything, angry at everyone, and blaming every person – except the only one who could make a change…ME!  I showed him my scars, told him about the procedures, the medications, and the fact that I feel better now then I ever have.”

He then looked at me and continued, “I guess he just needed to hear it from someone who knows what it’s like.  Someone who understands because he’s been through it.”

We see a similar connection in the book of Hebrews today.  Jesus became like us – he suffered, died, and rose from the dead that sin and death might no longer have power.  He knows what it’s like to face the challenges and burdens of life, and because he understands, he is able to help us, guide us, and strengthen us in our moments of need.

Perhaps now is the time to recognize that the Lord knows us.  He knows what it’s like to face the challenges of life, and we can rejoice that the Master of the Universe comprehends our hearts – better then we do!  Maybe today is our chance to stop and turn to the Lord and allow him to love us.  Perhaps all we really have to do is stop “doing” for a moment and “be” present to Jesus.

It’s good to have a friend who knows exactly what we are going through and helps us on the way!