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REFLECTIONS

EASTER SUNDAY

This Easter Sunday I would like to focus on the experience of three people, Mary Magdalene, Thomas, and Peter.  They each have something to teach us about ourselves, Jesus and the Resurrection.  We will look at their individual reaction to the death of Jesus,  Jesus' individual reaction to each of them, and the individual mission which was entrusted to each. 

MARY MAGDALENE 

Her reaction to the death of Jesus: she is preoccupied with getting the spices needed to anoint the body of Jesus.  She does observe the Sabbath rest, maybe because of what others would think.  She comes to the tomb with her programmed expectations.  She is busy responding to her loss by doing something.  Her words are repeated three times almost like a lament, "They have taken his body and I don't know where they have laid him."  She is so disoriented by this unexpected turn that she doesn't recognize Jesus when he is present to her.  She thinks he is the gardener. 

Jesus deals with Mary by calling her by name.  He leads her out of the darkness of her sorrow.  In this calling she receives recognition and again moves into action.  She clings to Jesus.  He then tells her, "Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the father." 

Jesus then missions her with the words, "But go to my brothers and tell them, 'I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"   The writer of the fourth Gospel states:  "Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples, 'I have seen the Lord,' and what he told her."  Jesus had progressively led her from the darkness of sorrow to the light of joy.  This joy she could now share.  Her witness to Jesus would be different because she was different. 

 

THOMAS 

Thomas reacts to the death of Jesus by going off by himself alone to deal with his loss.  He probably went over his contacts with Jesus to see where he (Thomas) had been wrong.  This Jesus whom he thought had the key that would tie all his searching and synthesizing together now had died ignominiously on a Cross.  He needed time alone to process his thoughts, to regroup. He was dealing with the darkness of doubt. When he does rejoin the group he is presented with the information that they have seen the Lord.  He thinks that this must be some kind of delusional thinking.  He must have his own personal proof, put his finger in the wounds of the hand and his hand into the side. 

Jesus comes to Thomas.  Jesus particularizes his approach to Thomas. There is nothing of the don't touch words directed to Mary Magdalene. In fact Jesus tells him just the opposite, come and touch. 

Thomas is overwhelmed and bursts forth his own, My Lord and My God. His profession of faith must have enriched the others.  Thomas was the one who gathered so much information, he was always perceiving things, even things that others missed.  Doubting Thomas became believing Thomas and inspired the others to greater depths of belief.

PETER 

Peter responds to the death of Jesus by returning to his familiar home and task, fishing in Galilee.  He was overwhelmed by all that had happened to Jesus and how it had all affected him.  He obsessed about his own protests, his denials, his flight, his going out and weeping bitterly.  It was all too much for him.  He was overwhelmed by the darkness of his own powerful emotions. He was in a fog.  

So when Jesus comes to them on the shore, Peter doesn't recognize Jesus but John does.  But upon recognition he does the impulsive thing (Peter always seemed to be doing the impulsive thing) and jumps into the water. 

Jesus takes Peter by himself and questions him, "Simon, son of John do you love me?"  Peter responds, "Yes Lord you know that I love you." But it would seem that Peter's heart wasn't in it.  Maybe he was still dealing with the fact that he had denied Jesus.  A second time Jesus questions him:  "Simon son of John do you love me."  Peter's response was the same a second time.  Now he was probably preoccupied with the fact that he had denied knowing Jesus not once but three times.  A third time Jesus questions Peter, and this time the emotional Peter comes through.  The Gospel writer tells us:  "Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, 'Do you love me?' and he said to him, Lord you know everything;  you know that I love you."  Now that Peter was engaged with his emotions Jesus could tell him more.  Peter would have to surrender.  " . . . when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted;  but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go."  Jesus uses images, symbols in dealing with Peter, feeder of lambs and sheep, bound for the Lord. 

In Peter's surrender Jesus could say to Simon, now Peter again, "Follow me." 

But Peter was preoccupied about the beloved disciple that was following:  "Lord what about him?"  The content of Jesus' words is Peter don't worry about him, just do what I want of you.  Peter did this.   

CONCLUSION 

One of the aspects that stands out so clearly in these stories is that the three persons are very different.  They are treated very differently by Jesus and they are missioned differently by Jesus.  Easter lessons for us would be:  we are different people, one from the other, we experience different darkness.  Jesus comes to us and treats each of us differently but offers us life and light.  He also has a particular expression of the Gospel that he wants you and I to live.  Be the Easter life of Jesus for yourself, for others, for the world.

Source of reflection: Dave Jackson

 

PALM SUNDAY

Today has two triumphs, triumphal entry into Jerusalem with the Palms and procession, the triumph of Jesus over death, sin, and darkness through his passion and death.

Two qualitative commentaries on this Sunday's Gospel I quote for me and for you:

From Celebrate, March-April, 2001

"There is a sense in which the passion of Jesus in Luke is the gospel's final great parable of divine love and mercy.  There is, for example, no mention of the details that Jesus found the disciples sleeping three times in the garden, or that all deserted him.  We are not told that his executioners spat upon him or bound him to be brought to Pilate.  Judas' betrayal is recounted, but there is no mention of plotting or of an agreement with temple authorities or of his subsequent suicide.  At the moment of Peter's betrayal, there is the unique look that Jesus gives him which leads to repentance.  Instead of cries of anguish from the cross, there are words of forgiveness:  "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." And perhaps even the climax of the gospel is the touching story of Jesus dialogue with the "good thief."  His words, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise," allude to Jesus as the new Adam opening up the possibility of right relationship with God to the whole of humanity."

from Raymond Brown's, Crucified Christ in Holy Week, Liturgical Press, 1986

"Luke's Portrayal (of the Passion) is quite different (than Matthew and Mark's).  The disciples appear in a more sympathetic light, for they have remained faithful to Jesus in his trials (22: 28).  In Gethsemane if they fall asleep (once not thrice), it is because of sorrow.  Even enemies fare better, for no false witnesses are produced by the Jewish authorities, and three times Pilate acknowledges that Jesus is not guilty.  The people are on Jesus' side, grieving over what has been done to him.  Jesus himself is less anguished by his fate than by his concern for others.  He heals the slaves ear at the time of the arrest; on the road to Calvary he worries about the fate of the women; he forgives those who crucified him; and he promises Paradise to the penitent "thief" (a figure peculiar to Luke).  The crucifixion becomes the occasion of divine forgiveness and care; and Jesus dies tranquilly praying, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit."

Happy Holy Week and Glorious Easter to all.

Source of reflection: Dave Jackson

 

FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT

Today’s liturgy focuses on leaving the past and beginning something new.  This idea is heard in all three readings.  In the first reading we hear God say:  “See I am doing something new.”  It speaks of God forming a people for himself.  The second reading speaks of something new in knowing “Christ and the power flowing from his resurrection.”  The Gospel has Jesus offering a sinner a chance to reform and live newly.

1) It is interesting to reflect on when we most often hear these words of Jesus:  “Let the one without sin cast the first stone.”  Usually when a politician or business person has been caught doing something wrong we hear, “let . . . ” This expression of Jesus has become a watchword for those guilty of some offense and caught. A variation on this is the expression “those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

2) One of our Priests said he can’t hear this Gospel without thinking about the variation of this story told about Jesus. It is a little bit irreverent. For Catholics we hold that Mary was conceived without sin and remained sinless.  So as the story goes, Jesus says the words:  “Let the one without sin cast the first stone.”  Suddenly a stone comes whizzing by.  Jesus turns around and says, “Mother please.” 

3) But onto the more serious aspects of this Gospel.  In this brief passage there are three main actors: the scribes and Pharisees, the woman and Jesus.  With whom do we most closely identify?  We are to be sure sinners, like the woman.  Adultery is only one sin a sexual sin.  That may or may not be our area of sinfulness.  It is interesting how we hear this story.  Most people think this woman is a prostitute.  And yet there is nothing in the story to indicate that.  She may have been a married woman.  We assume that this was her life style, adultery.  But it might have been the first time that she committed adultery.  It may not have been.  Some commentators speculate that her husband set her up to be caught.

4) Of course the question asked, usually by women, is why isn’t the man also brought before Jesus.  Do we have here another example of the double standard?  The woman is standing before Jesus and everyone. St. Augustine says, “misery and mercy.”   She is confronted with her sinfulness.  She is caught.  She is also silent before her accusers.  Her only words are in response to Jesus question.  She hears Jesus not ignore her sin, but not ignore her, nor condemn her.  “Go.  But from now on, avoid this sin.”  She is challenged to change her life.  What do you think is the end of the story for the woman?  Do you think she changed.  I do.  The experience of being forgiven is a powerful experience.  But interestingly enough even though Jesus forgave her, she might not have been able to forgive herself.  It is entirely possible that her husband couldn’t forgive her.  This would be especially true if this wasn’t her first time.  You do have to wonder what happened to her.

Some times we do things and aren’t able to forgive ourselves.  Some times we do things and others aren’t able to forgive us.  Some times things happen to us and we aren’t able to forgive God.  In the story of David and his son by Bathsheeba (2 Samuel 12: 15-35) his Son falls deathly sick.  David mourns him sorrowfully.  But David is able to forgive himself, to forgive God, to love his wife, conceive another child, Solomon.

5) But we must face the painful truth that perhaps the people we are most like in this story is not the sinful woman but the scribes and pharisees.  Are we constantly accusing people?  Do we in our conversations condemn and bring to light the sinfulness of others?

Do we have to be rebuked by Jesus?  Do we have to slink away?  Notice that John says: “then the audience drifted away, one by one, beginning with the elders.”  So being part of a mob scene, being condemnatory, being unforgiving is not limited to any particular age group.  At least the elders have the wisdom to see themselves confronted by Jesus.  They didn’t have the wisdom of age, not to condemn, but at least they move away first.

6) But similar to Last Sunday’s Gospel there is a further challenge. 

Last Sunday we examined ourselves for similarity to the younger son, the sinner or the older son, like the Pharisees.  Again we have a sinner and the scribes and Pharisees.  But we also have Jesus.  The challenge is not only to accept the forgiveness of Jesus for ourselves.  This we should do.  But the challenge is that Jesus is offered to us as an example of the kind of person we should be.  We are to be forgivers as Jesus was.  In this Gospel he is forgiving and not condemning.  He not only forgives the woman, but it would be implied he forgave the scribes and pharisees as well.  He not only did not condemn the woman, but notice the gentle way that he rebuked the scribes and pharisees.  We are to be like Jesus.  We are confronted with a tremendous challenge here.  To live newly this way we must be grasped by Christ and know the power of his resurrection as Paul says from prison to the Philippians.

To do something wrong and to be loved and forgiven is a powerful experience.  We sometimes say:  “To err is human, to forgive is divine.”  But we sometimes use this as an excuse.  Well I did wrong, but I’m only human.  That’s right but that’s only half the truth.  To forgive is divine, but that is the challenge of being a Christian, to become like Christ, to forgive.  With forgiveness we can be either on the giving end or the receiving end.  Words like, Please forgive me aren’t in some of our vocabularies.  Words like, “I forgive you,” aren’t in some of our vocabularies.

Yes we are forgiven.  Jesus paid a tremendous price for our sins.  But we cannot be his followers and not forgive our neighbor whom we can see and who needs forgiveness and say we love God whom we cannot see.  We must be forgiven and forgiving.  We need God’s help.

Source of reflection: Dave Jackson

FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT

Today's Gospel story is the focus of this Sunday.  It is a story about a family.  It appears to be a single parent family (the mother is not mentioned).  It is difficult to know how long a time span it took for this story to take place.  It is a familiar story that we wish to hear newly.  The three main persons in the story are the father and his two sons.  We might listen to the story to understand which of the three we most identify with.

(In the past I have used this Gospel for a dialogue homily: asking questions.  Thus it's form.)

What problems did you hear in this family's story?

What difficulties does the young son have?  (He's a black sheep.  He disobeys his father.  He breaks his father's heart.  Some even say that to want his share of the inheritance is equivalent to wishing his father dead. )  Do you think the father would have been angry with him?  What happens to him once he leaves?  (Wastes his money, loses it all.  Has to take on work taking care of pigs [unclean animals for the Jews, didn't eat pork, against their religion].  He is hungry.  Famine.  Would even like to eat the food of the pigs. )  What brings about a change in him?  (Being hungry.  Thoughts of his father. Thoughts of the servants in his father's house that have plenty of food.)  What does he do?  (Confession of sin:  I have sinned against God and against you, I no longer deserve to be called your son, treat me as one of the hired servants.  He "breaks away" and heads back. 

On his arrival.  What is the Father's response?  What other kind of responses might
the Father have given?  I remember that some years back a Spring Breaker was
involved in an auto accident.  His parents came to make sure that their name was not listed as the responsible person.  They also learned that the boy had given his grandmother's name when injured.  They wished to remove her name as well.  His life style had led  them to totally disown him.  This father is not like that.  What are the signs of the father's forgiveness?  (ring, new clothes, sandals, even more important embrace and kiss on the neck, rejoicing, kill fatted calf, music and dancing.) 

What difficulties does the older son have?  (Jealousy, anger.  He had lived his whole
life doing what the father expected, being faithful.)  But what about his attitude?  Had he done his duty with a good spirit do you think?  (His own words condemn him:  "all these many years I have 'slaved' for you. )  Here we have an example of those people who live life with the grind it out attitude of lifeless obedience.  There is nothing of the joy and happiness or freedom which characterizes the faithful son or daughter.  He has a problem with his brother.  Notice how he changes the facts.  He doesn't say, "my brother".  He says, "but 'your son.'"  My father used to call me his son when I was good, but to my mother he would say "your son" did such and such¼when I did something I should not have done.  There is something of family dynamics here.  The older son accuses his brother falsely.  The story teller told us that he squandered his money on dissolute living.  The elder sons says, "having gone through your property with loose women."  The contrast in Spanish is even better.  Between una vida disordenada, and  y con prostitutas.  The older son is clearly resentful (resentimiento) of his brother.  He has slaved under obedience to his father.  He becomes angry with the brother and with his father.  And what is his father's response to him?  "Well, if that's the way you are going to act, to hell with you."  That isn't just another translation, that's a totally different response than what the father actually does do.  The father goes out, he invites him in to the festival celebrating the dead brother now restored to life.  Does the older son go in? 

We can perhaps identify with parts of this story.  I personally identify with the younger son, but I also identify with the older son.  But in the liturgy this morning we are confronted with another reality.  In the second reading we heard that we are called to be a new creature in Jesus.  He has reconciled us to God.  He has been like the father in the story.  But then Paul tells the Corinthians and us, that the task of reconciliation is ours.  We are to be reconcilers.  We are to find ourselves in the father.  We all live in families.  We all have problems, with brothers, sisters, parents, grand parents, brother in laws, sister in laws, uncles, aunts, mother in laws, father in laws, etc.  Do we also have the experience of being reconcilers?  Are we like the father?  This is the challenge of the story for us.  We are forgiven:  thanks be to God.  But we are to be reconcilers like the Father.  God help us.

Source of reflection: Dave Jackson

 

THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT

There is much to reflect on in this Sunday's readings.  The first reading has the "burning bush" experience of Moses and Moses' call.  The second reading reminds us that the signs given to the People in their Exodus experience didn't touch some Israelites.  The same thing can happen to us.  In the Gospel we hear three different stories: one about Pilate, one about a tower, and one about a fig tree.  The first two caution hearers to repent or perish.  The last tells us to bear fruit or perish.  But this story also reveals something of the mercy of God.

PILATE.  Jesus is told of a political disaster.  The tellers expect him to answer with sympathy and denunciation of Pilate.  Instead Jesus challenges their supposition that there is a connection between sin and suffering.  He turns the attention away from criticism of the hated enemy and turns it into painful criticism of the tellers.  He confronts them:  there are evil forces at work in their movement that will destroy them if they do not repent.

TOWER.  Jesus further turns the attention away from the hated enemy by recalling a natural disaster, an Act of God.  It is possible that the tower was part of an aqueduct project that Pilate was engaged in.  People suffer not just from political oppression.  Jesus again challenges their supposition that there is a connection between the destruction suffered and the sin committed.  In a refrain he tells them and us:  Repent of your sins or you will perish.  He does not say, repent or you will suffer.

FIG TREE.  It is in a vineyard, does not produce fruit, takes up space and drains strength out of the ground.  The owner and vine dresser have cooperated in the planting.  The owner outlines the problem and offers one solution:  cut it down, judgement.  Jesus listeners would probably recall the vineyard mentioned in Isaiah 5.  There a disappointed vineyard owner does not find a good crop.  He passes immediate judgement:  remove the hedge, break down its wall, make it a waste and command the clouds that they rain no rain on it.  But here the vine dresser evaluates the problem and suggests a hoped for solution. Mercy.  He wants a one year period of grace, let it alone, forgive it.  He will give it special attention, renewing grace (hoe and manure).  The salvation for the tree comes exclusively from outside.  Renewal cannot come from within the resources of the tree itself.  It cannot gather the strength it needs from its own roots.  The vine dresser must act to save the tree and at the same time the tree must respond to these acts or they are of no avail.  We don't know the outcome.

Jesus likewise calls us this third Sunday of Lent to read the signs.  We must read the signs of our own lives, the signs of calls to conversion that God is giving us, the signs of our own times, of our own lives.  Maybe today, at this Mass, during this Lent, God is trying to give me and you a "burning bush" experience.  What might that be? He is also teaching us clearly:  "don't attribute suffering to sinfulness." How do I view suffering?  Do you hear the words, "repent or perish?"  Lent for us is a period of grace.  Jesus wishes to give us saving and renewing graces. What saving and renewing graces am I seeking?  The fig tree of itself, depending on its own resources, was powerless.  Yet the vine dresser offered a period of grace and renewing graces, (hoeing which disturbs the ground and manuring).  (Some one has said, "some times we need to be shit upon to grow." Note: may not be appropriate for your church.)  What we can't do of our own resources, God as the vine dresser can do.  Remember also that God is a pruner. What in me needs pruning?  Like the fig tree, we must respond or those acts of God are of no avail. What responses to God have I been making so far during Lent?

Source of reflection: Dave Jackson

 

SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT

This is Transfiguration Sunday,  there was a change in Jesus appearance, we must change more than appearances in our conversion process.

God promises Abram descendants as numerous as the stars.  He also promises the Land.

Paul tells the Philippians and us, "He will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself."

After telling the disciples and us that he must go up to Jerusalem to suffer and die, he gives them a glimpse of his glory.

Here we touch promise and a certain mystical aspect of our Christian life.  Like Peter we may want to solidify it and turn the moment into a building project or a ritual.  We always would rather stay with the glory than the way to the cross.  But with Jesus are Moses and Elijah.  Aaron the priest or David the king are not with Jesus.  Moses who led the people out of slavery to freedom and Elijah whom king Ahab called "the troublemaker of Israel" are with Jesus.  They are speaking about the Exodus of Jesus.  He must pass through the cross to arrive at the Resurrection, the promised Land for all eternity.   In an instant the glory is gone and Jesus and the disciples must return to not only earth but down from the mountain top.  Jesus leads the way.  They make their way around the edges of the cliffs, over the rocky road, back down the mountain to the very bottom of the hill: to the dirty towns and hurting people and unbelieving officials and ineffective institutions below, where the sick and outcast, the abandoned and infected wait for them, expecting the miraculous, expecting to be healed.

We cannot hope to have a peak or mountain experience without the long trek up the mountain, the long journey to find God.  But we cannot hope to stay on the mountain, on highs.  We have to get "down and dirty" as the expression says. Pope Francis has encouraged priests to have "the smell of the sheep".  That isn't only for priests who are ordained but for those of us who at are Baptism were signed with Chrism to be "priest, prophet and shepherd (king).  We are to find goodness within ourselves (be transfigured and shine with new light) and put this into action.  What of God's goodness is God showing me, how am I putting it into action?

The traditional practices of Lent are prayer, fasting and alms giving. 

This Lent we need to examine what we are praying about, but then ask "What am I doing about it?"  Lent doesn't work unless we do.  Let us get about our praying and doing.

Source of reflection: Dave Jackson

 

FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT

After 15 years as founder and director of the Mexican American Cultural Center in San Antonio, Virgilio Elizondo  went on to be pastor of San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio (I think the oldest cathedral in the U.S.)  He says:  "As one parishioner told me, 'I like to come to San Fernando because in hearing the words of Jesus explained to me, I discover good things about myself I had never suspected, and I can't wait to leave church so I can put them into action.' ” My own understanding of Christian conversion was redefined by this experience: a discovery of the goodness within us that we have not yet activated.  Our most painful and destructive sin is the failure to recognize the God instilled goodness within us. If we do not recognize it, how can we activate it?  No wonder the Gospel call to conversion is called "Good News"."

So my Lenten conversion attempts will be to let God show me some goodness in me that I have not activated or put into action.  I extend to you the invitation to join me in this Lenten Conversion adventure.

The Gospel presents us with the devil tempting Jesus.

It would seem that the temptations hinge on the words,  "If you are the Son of God"  This is exactly what the devil is challenging.  All that Luke tells about Jesus in the rest of his Gospel depends on Jesus' passing this test with honor.

As we begin Lent the Gospel takes us back to the end of Jesus' forty days.  We begin our forty days, Jesus ends his.  One may wonder if these temptations are real, literal or symbolic.  Surely the comparisons with the years in the desert are not coincidental.  Forty days, forty years; desert for the Jews, desert for Jesus.  The challenge to turn stone into bread reminds us of miraculous manna to feed the wanderers.  The desert people denied God to follow a golden calf.  Jesus is challenged to tempt God.  But here Jesus is faithful, the Jews were unfaithful.

During Jesus' public life he was tempted to multiply loaves.  People wanted to make him an earthly king.  The people called for spectacular signs to attract people.

On Ash Wednesday we heard, "Come back to me with all your heart."  My call to conversion this year is framed in the words of Fr. Virgil Elizondo, "a discovery of the goodness within us that we have not yet activated."  Many years ago I thought of Lent as returning to the loving embrace (arms) of God our Father.  I used another expression then, "to be hugged by God."  It seems to me that when we do get a good hug we are affirmed in our goodness.  We must let ourselves be hugged by God this Lent.  We must let our loving Sacred Heart of Jesus speak to our hearts.  He wants us to hear of our goodness. 

When we come in contact with the holy, we also become more aware of the unholy in us.  The Pope’s words for Ash Wednesday some years ago, speak about what conversion means:

“Let us understand the appeal the austere rite of ashes addresses to us, one expressed in two formulas: 'Repent and believe the Gospel' and 'You are dust and to dust you shall return'." The first is a call to conversion, a word that must be considered in its extraordinary seriousness. The call to conversion, in fact, exposes and denounces the easy superficiality that often characterizes our life. Conversion means to change direction in the path of our life: not, however, a small adjustment, but a real turnaround.  

"Conversion is to swim against a current of lifestyle that is superficial, incoherent and illusory, a current that often drag us down, dominates us and makes us slaves of evil or at least prisoners of moral mediocrity. With conversion, instead, we aim for the high standard of Christian life, we entrust ourselves to the living and personal Gospel, which is Jesus. He is the path we all are called to follow in life, allowing ourselves to be enlightened by His light and supported by His strength that moves our feet. Conversion is not simply a moral decision that corrects the way we live, but it is a choice of faith that draws us fully into intimate communion with the living and concrete person of Jesus. "His person is the final goal, He is the deepest meaning of conversion. Repent and believe the Gospel are not two different or casually combined things, rather they express the same reality. Conversion is the total 'yes' of those who surrender their lives to the Gospel, responding freely to Christ who first offers Himself to man as the way, truth and life, as the only one who liberates and saves.

Repent and believe the Gospel is not only at the beginning of Christian life, but it accompanies us at every stage. Every day is a time of favor and grace. Every day, even when there are difficulties and fatigue, tiredness and falls, even when we are tempted to abandon the path of following Christ and close in on ourselves, in our selfishness, without realizing that we need to open ourselves to the love of God in Christ, to live the same logic of justice and love.”

But let us stress finding the goodness that we have not activated.  Then we are called to action, to activate the goodness that we discover.

There is nothing magical about Lent.  Lent doesn't work unless we do.

Source of reflection: Dave Jackson

 

EIGHTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

Today's Scripture readings are full of sayings, some from the Old Testament or Hebrew Scriptures and some from the Gospel.  Sayings are common in various languages and cultures.  Spanish is full of "dichos". 

The Gospel sayings portray a human Jesus deeply immersed in the culture of his time and drawing on the folk wisdom of that culture, but turning it into a demanding challenge.

Two distinct ways of viewing the world emerge.  Some people are spiritually blind, produce evil fruit, act hypocritically, lack integrity (hear without acting) and build their lives on shaky foundations.

Others, like their teachers, are self-critical, bear good fruit and act out of the goodness of their hearts. 

Psychologists tell us that often those things we most dislike in others tend to be our own less desirable characteristics.  We are invited to reflect on how our peculiarities might seem healthy to ourselves, but those of our family, friends and neighbors might bother us and so we would like to change them. 

One of my favorite "dichos" from Spanish is: " CADA PERSONA TIENE SU PROPRIA LOCURA."  To me it means "Each person has their own brand of craziness." 

Jesus advice is for us to look inward before blaming others for problems.  We should be more concerned about the goodness of our own hearts than the thorns and brambles around us. 

Unless there is someone who can't speak here, we have all been given the gift of speech.  But speech also can be used for good or for bad.  We can encourage, thank, inspire, assure, confirm and wordfully grace others.  But we can also discourage, darken, accuse, falsify, lie, belittle and dispirit others.  Such a powerful gift. 

We hopefully are good trees, but we have some bent limbs and we can pray with the loving Unbender Who wishes to bless, encourage and give life through us.

One of the weaknesses of our Catholicism is that we too often separate theory and practice, saying and doing, knowing and being, words and deeds.  Our Catholic Church as institution has been more concerned with correct doctrines, opinions, the absence of heresy, truth, faith than with correct deeds, love, charity.  We must look at ourselves to see whether this split is in us.  Do our words say one thing and our actions another?  Jesus did not simply "preach" this primacy of practice; he lived it.  The message of Jesus invites us to deep personal introspection today:  am I seeking to remove the speck in others eyes, when I still have a plank in my own?

Are my words endorsed by my life, my sayings my acts, my appearance by my truth?  Am I authentic?  Am I integrated?  Do my thoughts, feelings, words and actions all match up?  Are there splits that I need to ask Jesus to help me to face during Lent?

Reflection by Dave Jackson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 


 
   

 

 

 
 
 
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