Isaiah imagines a world so harmonious that the “wolf shall be the guest of the lamb … the cow and bear shall be neighbors … the baby shall play by the cobra’s den” (Isaiah 11: 6, 8). In the First Reading for Tuesday of the First Week of Advent, he envisions a time of peace ushered in by God and his messiah when “there shall be no harm or ruin” (Isaiah 11: 9). This is not a fairy tale. This is God’s intention. God will accomplish it. I do God’s will when I strive for harmony in my relationships with those I encounter daily. I also do God’s will when I work to change the social structures that violate others. What are you going to do today?
In the First Reading for Monday of the First Week of Advent, Isaiah prophesies the future Day of the Lord as a new world order of peace. On that Day, “nations … shall beat their swords into plowshares … They shall not train for war again” (Isaiah 2: 4). This is good news for a war ravaged world. Violence accomplishes nothing other than more violence. Isaiah knows this. God knows this. Walking in God’s path is the only way out of this cycle of violence. I pray we all learn to “walk in the light of the Lord” (Isaiah 2: 5).
In the Gospel for Wednesday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time, Jesus predicts the presecution of his disciples. He promises his help. He knows they will prevail. He encourages them to remain steadfast. He reassures them: “By your perseverance you will secure your lives” (Luke 21: 19). Sometimes I feel persecuted for my faith. I strive to love others as Christ. I experience resistance from my own imperfections or opposition from others. I pray for perseverance. God wants us to persevere. For what do you need perseverance today?
Jesus warns his disciples to be aware of false teachers in this Gospel for the Memorial of St. Cecilia. He did not want them to be deceived by those predicting the end time. Jesus wanted them to pay attention to him. I can be anxious about many things, much less the end of the world. I need to pay attention to Jesus who tells his disciples to “not be terrified” (Luke 21: 9). What scares you? Take it to prayer.
In the parable of the Widow’s Offering, Jesus commends her for offering “her whole livelihood” (Luke 21: 4). In the Gospel for the Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Luke recounts this story of a poor widow who donated more to the Temple treasury than the wealthy donors. Though she gave a smaller donation, she gave a more valuable one. She gave all she had. The rich gave their surplus. God has blessed us with all good gifts. God invites our wholehearted response to this graciousness. I want to follow the widow’s example. How about you?
After Jesus chased the money changers out of the Temple, the Pharisees unsuccessfully tried to put him to death. Luke tells us in the Gospel for Friday of the Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time they did not succeed because “all the people were hanging on his words” (Luke 45: 48). Hanging on Jesus’ words prevented violence, in this case against Jesus himself. I wonder how often I hang on the words of Jesus. Perhaps I would react more peacefully to daily crises if I did. I really want to act more out of love instead of react in anger or in ways that cause violence to myself and others. How do you act when you hang on Jesus’ words?
“To the upright I will show the saving power of God” (Psalm 50: 23 ) prays the psalmist in the Readings for the Memorial of St. Elizabeth of Hungary. I often minimize God’s power in my life. After all, I am an adult. I can manage on my own! The spiritually wiser [upright] I become, the more I realize what little I can do without God. Did I birth myself? Do I control the weather? What did I do to deserve my loving wife and family? Nothing! God’s gracious generosity abounds in my life. Look out for God’s saving power today.
“[God], in his mercy, will give you back both breath and life” (2 Maccabees 2: 23). With these words grom the First Reading for Wednesday of the Thirty Third Week of Ordinary Time, the mother of the Sons of Maccabee comforted her sons as they were martyred. She reassured them of a life with God after their mortal death. This is an early reference in the Old Testament to life after death that comes to completion through the resurrection of Jesus. I am comforted by my Christian faith in the resurrection of the body and life everlasting. Ever since my father died when I was thirteen, I look forward to seeing him again. I want tell him about my siblings, spouse, and children. We have a lot of cathing up to do. Whose welcoming you to the afterlife?
Today’s Old Testament Reading for Tuesday of the Twenty Third Week in Ordinary Time tells the story of Eleazar. He was a scribe during the time of the Maccabbees. He suffered martyrdom for refusing to abandon the Jewish dietary laws. The Greek king demanded under penalty of death that Jews apostasize and eat pork. Eleazar refused to disobey God. “This is how he died, leaving in his death a model of courage and an unforgettable example of virtue not only for the young but for the whole nation” (2 Maccabbees 6: 31). Like Eleazar we all face crises that call for courageous virtue. What virtue do you need today?
With these words Jesus cures the blind man in the Gospel for Monday of the Thirty Third Week in Ordinary Time. The blind beggar called out, “Jesus, the Son of David, have pity on me” (Luke 18: 35). His faith in Jesus as messiah saved him. How does faith save us? A close relationship with Jesus the Lord saves us from the blindness of jealousy, rivalry, hatred, anger, and other vices that lead to violence to ourselves and others. Christ helps us keep our eyes focused on what really matters. How’s your eyesight today?