In the Reading for Tuesday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time, Moses encounters God in the column of cloud outside the meeting tent. “The Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as one man speaks to another” (Exodus 33:11). Because of Jesus, we can speak to God face to face again. Jesus is God incarnate, in the flesh. By Baptism, Jesus lives in us. We are Jesus in the flesh, members of the Body of Christ. We are the face of Jesus when we love without limits. By God’s grace others see in us the face of Jesus. In whom do you recognize the face of Jesus?
Martha pleads with Jesus for help in the Gospel for the Memorial of Saint Martha and Mary. Jesus visits her and her sister, Mary, after their brother, Lazarus, died. Grief stricken, Martha asks Jesus for comfort. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you” (John 11:22). Martha trusts implicitly Jesus love for her. She knows he loves her as God loves her. Even in her grief, she is confident God wants the best for her. She knows Jesus will deliver. And he does. I tend to trust myself more than God. I think I alone am capable of dealing with life’s problems. I am uncertain God will come to my help. Yet God has come to my assistance even when I did not want it. I pray to trust Jesus as Martha does. How has God come to your assistance?
God delivers the Ten Commandments in the Reading for the Memorial of Saints Joachim and Anne. God commands a day of rest because “In six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them; but on the seventh day he rested” (Exodus 20: 11). I marvel at our God who created all the heavens and all the earth. The beauty of sun and moon, stars and clouds, rivers and lakes, oceans and mountains and of all God’s created world overwhelm me. The beauty of birds and flowers, squirrels and trees, horses and grasslands, my spouse and my neighbor, and of all God’s creatures astounds me. Praise God for his sovereign majesty. What impresses you about God’s creation?
St. Paul reflects on the amazing power of God in the Reading for the Feast of Saint James, Apostle. “We hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us” (2 Corinthians 4:7). Despite Paul’s human frailties (“earthen vessel”), God’s power (“treasure”) is evident in his ministry. Through his afflictions, setbacks, trials, and other adversities, God continues to do great things. God has accomplished great things through my trials, challenges, and even failings. God has nurtured loving relationships through me and for me with my spouse, children, family, friends, and others. I am in awe of the wonderful things through the power of God in Christ that have happened in my life, sometimes in spite of myself. What good things has God accomplished through your frailties?
Jesus tells the Parable of the Sower in the Gospel for Wednesday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time. At the end of the story, he advises, “Whoever has ears ought to hear” (Matthew 13:9). Jesus tells the crowd to pay attention to the meaning of the story. The sower is God. The seed is the reign of God. Different soils are different receptions. Despite setbacks, God’s reign is bearing fruit. The story encourages hope in and inspires fidelity to God. Where do you find hope in the presences of God?
In the Gospel for the Memorial of Saint Mary Magdalene, the Risen Lord appears to her. Weeping over the empty tomb, Mary mistakes him for the gardener. When Jesus speaks to her, she recognizes him. She “went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord,’ and then reported what he told her” (John 20:18). Like Mary Magdalene, we get distracted by our own troubles. Overcome with her grief for Jesus, she doesn’t recognize him. Preoccupied with our concerns, we too miss occasions to see the Lord. When attentive, we recognize God’s love in the simple kindnesses of a family member or friend, daily meals, the beauty of a summer day, the face of a stranger, and more. Where have you seen the Lord?
In the Reading for Friday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time, God instructs Moses about the meal on the eve of freedom from Egypt. “This day shall be a memorial feast for you, which all your generations shall celebrate with pilgrimage to the LORD, as a perpetual institution” (Exodus 12: 14). Jews continue to celebrate God’s saving action at Passover. At holiday meals my family and I commemorate God’s love. With favorite recipes and stories, we thankfully remember the love of our deceased parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. We pray that we love others as they loved us. The Church does this at the Eucharistic banquet. We give thanks in Christ for God’s love for us, we are spiritually nourished in Christ, and we go forth in Christ to love others. How do your family meals and/or the Eucharist nourish you in love?
Jesus encourages his disciples to follow him in the Gospel for Thursday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time. “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest … For my yoke is easy, and my burden light” (Matthew 11:28,30). Jesus does not promise a life free of suffering. He promises his help in bearing whatever suffering we endure. Our burden is easier because of God’s loving and merciful company. How does God help you with your burdens?
God speaks to Moses from the burning bush in the Reading for Wednesday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time. “The cry of the children of Israel has reached me, and I have truly noted that the Egyptians are oppressing them. Come, now! I will send you to Pharaoh to lead my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt” (Exodus 3:9-10). With God’s help, Moses did lead the Israelites to freedom in the Promised Land. God hears our cries. When I am in trouble, I am confident God is taking care of me. Like the Israelites who wandered in the desert, I am often uncertain how God is helping me. Nevertheless, I know in my heart God wants the best for me. For what do you need God’s help today?
Jesus teaches about the demands of discipleship in the Gospel for the Memorial of Saint Bonaventure. ” …whoever does not take up [the] cross and follow after me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:38). Jesus urges his disciples to change their lives and follow him for the sake of the reign of God. Following Jesus’ example of self-less love is difficult. With what do you struggle in following Jesus?