In the Reading for the Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Jeremiah watches a potter shape clay. “Can I not do to you, house of Israel, as this potter has done? says the LORD. Indeed, like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, house of Israel” ( Jeremiah 18:6). Jeremiah compares the potter to God and the clay to us. As the potter shapes the clay into a pot, God fashions us into God’s image and likeness. I take great hope from this prophecy. God is not done with me yet. No matter what mistakes I have made God can help me start over. Through the power of the Holy Spirit and my desire to change, all things are possible with God. How can the Holy Spirit fashion you as a child of God?
In the Gospel for Wednesday of the Seventeenth Wednesday in Ordinary Time, Jesus tells another parable of the reign of God. “The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” (Matthew 13: 44). This wise person gladly gives everything for such a valuable find. Jesus encourages us to do the same for the kingdom of God. He wants us to enjoy a chance of a lifetime. His disciples joyfully dedicate themselves to the kingdom of God. Christians joyfully give anything it takes to love others as Jesus does. How joyfully do you respond to Jesus invitation to love God and others?
In the Gospel for the Memorial of Saint Martha, Jesus visits her and her sister, Mary. While Martha is busy serving, Mary is visiting with Jesus. Martha complains. Jesus responds. “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her” (Luke 10: 41-42). Jesus is not scolding Martha for making too many courses for the meal. He is teaching her and her sister what is most important for a disciple. Listening to the words of Jesus is the most important part of following him. Jesus message of loving self sacrifice motivates true hospitality or any other Christian service. How can God help you listen better to Jesus?
In the Gospel for Monday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time, Jesus tells a parable. “The Kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch was leavened” (Matthew 13: 33b). Jesus compares the power of God to yeast. A little yeast has the power to change flour into bread. Imperceptibly, little by little, the yeast grows to rise the dough. God’s plan works the same way. Slowly but surely God’s power is transforming the world. God’s power is alive and active everyday and in everyway. God is transforming the world through the power of a kind word, a loving sacrifice, a quiet moment, a beautiful sunset, a prayer, a peaceful resolution, and through countless other ways. How is the power of God active in your life?
In the Gospel for Thursday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time, Jesus explains why he teaches in parables. “To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away” (Matthew 13: 12). Parables are stories about the hidden plan of God. Those who are open in faith and hope to news of God’s saving plan will understand more. Those who are closed, will not. Many obstacles can close our hearts to God’s will: jealously, greed, selfishness, intolerance, violence, and others. How can God help your heart be more open?
In the Gospel for Friday f the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time, the hungry disciples pick grain on the Sabbath. The Pharisees criticize them for disobeying a law that prohibits reaping on the Sabbath. Jesus defends the disciples. “I say to you, something greater than the temple is here. If you knew what this meant, I desire mercy, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned these innocent men” (Matthew 12: 7). In their defense, Jesus emphasizes loving mercy. He is more concerned about acts of loving kindness. I too have conflicts between doing the correct thing or doing the loving thing. When raising children, my wife and I enforced the family rules. We tried to discipline our sons by holding them accountable with much mercy. Often the rules were adjusted for the sake of love. How does God help you act out of loving kindness?
In the Gospel for Wednesday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time, Jesus praises God for the childlike. “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike” (Matthew 11:25). Jesus recognizes the simplicity of children. Jesus wants our attitude to be like that of children. Children rely totally on the adults in their lives, especially their parents. Jesus wants us to rely on God in the same way. For disciples of Jesus, God means everything to them. As children rely on their parents, we ultimately rely on God for shelter, food, clothing, love, guidance and more. For what blessing(s) do you give glory to God?
In the Gospel for the Memorial of Saint Bonaventure, Jesus reproaches the unrepentant townspeople. “Woe to you … For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day” (Matthew 10: 21a, 23b). With great drama, Jesus laments their unwillingness to believe. Even the people of Sodom (and Gomorrah) would have repented if they witnessed Jesus’ mighty deeds. Jesus knows sin has consequences. He wants to shake them and us out of complacency. He understands the damage caused by a mean word, an infidelity, a preoccupation with possessions, a disregard for the poor, a prejudice, a violent action, and other hurtful behaviors. How can God help you love others more?
In the Reading for the Memorial of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, God demands care for the helpless. God despises prayers from people who oppress and mistreat them. “Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good. Make justice your aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow” (Isaiah 1: 16-17). Christ expects the same. As his disciples, we must care for those who cannot care for themselves. Christ wants us to take care of the poor and helpless: a mentally ill family member, a senior citizen neighbor on a fixed income, a grief stricken friend, a local inmate incarcerated far from home, migrant women and children, and others. How do you care for the helpless you know?
In the Reading for the Memorial of Saint Benedict, Hosea gives hope to God’s People. “I will heal their defection, says the LORD, I will love them freely; for my wrath is turned away from them” Hosea 14: 4). In the time of Hosea, Israel was sick from infidelity to God. Idol worship and immoral practices corrupted their relationship with God and one another. Upon their repentance, God welcomes them back unconditionally. God promises them a new life of blessings. Hosea speaks about hope based on God’s faithful love. God’s unconditional love heals me. This love gives me hope to try again when I have failed God, myself, or others. How does God’s unconditional love give you hope?