In the Gospel for the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, Jesus climbs a mountain with Peter, James and John. “And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, ‘Lord, it is good that we are here'” (Matthew 17: 2- 4). Peter acknowledges how good it is to experience the glory of Jesus. Like Peter, James and John, we too have experiences of God’s glory. We get glimpses of the powerful presence of God in our lives. The smile of a baby, the bud of a flower, a loving companion, a kindness to a stranger, a shared meal all can be experiences of God’s incredible love for us. On these occasions, we know it is good for us to be there. When have you experienced the power of God’s love?
In the Gospel for Tuesday of the Eighteenth Week in Ordinary Time, the Pharisees criticize the disciples for ritual uncleanliness. The disciples are not washing their hands before meals. Jesus adjusts the Pharisees priorities. “It is not what enters one’s mouth that defiles the man; but what comes out of the mouth is what defiles one” (Matthew 15:11). Jesus reminds the Pharisees that the moral life is more important than food laws. I can relate to the Pharisees. I have placed tasks over people. I have been mean to my family. I have barked out orders during last minute preparations for a family get together. I once berated my son for breaking a glass jar of olive oil on the garage floor. He was only helping me bring in the groceries from the car. On those occasions, I was more focused on the tasks at hand than the people involved. We all forget that our priorities are not God priorities. God wants us to love everyone, every time, every way. How can Jesus help you get your priorities straight?
In the Gospel for the Memorial of Saint John Vianney, Jesus calms the storm. The disciples are alone at sea when a storm brews. At daybreak, they see Jesus coming towards them. “When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. ‘It is a ghost,’ they said, and they cried out in fear. At once Jesus spoke to them, ‘Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid’ ” (Matthew 14: 25-27). We are like the disciples at sea. We have storms in our lives. We often step into the unknown: a new apartment, a new job, the death of a loved one, a divorce, and more. These situations can make us feel vulnerable and afraid. Jesus calms the storms in our lives. Like Peter, we can ask for help. In Jesus, God helps us find the courage to face our fears. How has God encouraged you or someone you know?
In the Gospel for the Memorial of St. Alphonsus Ligouri, the people of his hometown take offense at Jesus. “Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds? Is he not the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother named Mary and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? Are not his sisters all with us?” (Matthew 13:54-57). Believers today are not offended by Jesus. They believe Jesus is the Risen Lord. They can still take offense at others out of jealousy. Jesus’ experience with his jealous neighbors makes me examine my conscience. Why am I envious of others? Do I wish I had their gifts and talents? Do I lack confidence in my own? Why am I not grateful for them glorifying God by their words and deeds? I pray for God’s healing grace to see Jesus in them. How can God help you heal your jealousy?