“Within my earthly temple there’s a crowd. There’s one of me that’s humble, one that’s proud. There’s one who loves his neighbor as himself, and one who cares for naught but fame and self. From much corroding care I would be free, if once I could determine which is me.” (Poem by Edward Sanford Martin) This is the basic truth about each of us and we all know it. So the basic question becomes: Which self do you wish to express? Some kind of self-denial is inevitable.
Ash Wednesday –
On Ash Wednesday we acknowledge that there is no pointing at other people or groups or nations as being uniquely evil and in need of repentance. Gathered as the church on this Ash Wednesday we declare the honest truth about ourselves. “Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned.” Today we are all called to turn from sin and be faithful to the gospel.
When we look at others, do we recognize the face of Jesus in our sisters and brothers? Jesus tells the disciples “Keep your eyes open!” The disciples struggle to recognize and acknowledge who Jesus is: The Son of God, the Messiah. Similarly, we often struggle to recognize the face of Jesus in those around us. Today, may the light of Jesus take away any blindness so that we can recognize the face of Jesus in everyone we meet.
In today’s Gospel Jesus counsels us not to look for signs. The Pharisees witnessed all the miracles of Jesus yet they keep asking for a sign. Our lives are filled with signs: our families, communities and friends who love and support us, the wonders of creation: the air we breathe, the water we drink, the beauty of a sunrise or sunset, a child’s smile, the grace of someone’s kindness, support and forgiveness. What we do need is the openness of heart and the vision of faith to realize those signs in our midst.
Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time –
All of life is sacred from beginning to end. In the scriptures religion is not a part of life or an addition to life; it is the whole of life. If our life is divorced from faith and faith from life, then we are on thin ice to the point where I question how we can call ourselves followers of Jesus Christ. Let us determine today to put our faith, our religion into action. Because that is how we will be judged.
The people who were fed by Jesus had heard stories about how God provided for their ancestors when they wandered through the desert, how God provided manna for them to eat. They all prayed Psalm 23 which spoke about God giving his people to rest in green pastures. How could any good Israelite knowing the scriptures full well not see what was unfolding before their very eyes. During this quiet time of the year, we can fine-tune our senses, our spiritual life, so that we will be aware of what is happening in our midst.
The heavy crosses which we carry through life are often lightened when we find someone we can talk to and who is a good listener. Are we good listeners that we might be able to meet the needs of others? Are we really listening to our spouses, our children, our friends? Young people, are you really listening to you parents, educators, friends? How very often people are crying out for help, but we are not hearing them because of being so tuned into ourselves and our own concerns.
Our Lady of Lourdes –
Have you ever wondered if you have the right ingredients for your prayer? The woman in today’s Gospel had them all and her prayer was answered. First and foremost, she had LOVE. She made the misery of her child her own. This woman had FAITH. It was a faith which grew. This woman had unbeatable PERSISTENCE. This woman had the one supremely effective quality in prayer, she was sincere. This woman had the gift of CHEERFULNESS. This “prayer recipe” always works.
St. Scholastica –
The crucial matter is the orientation of the human heart. For Jesus, the orientation of our heart is not about emotions or what we feel about others. The heart is the center of our will. It is where decisions are made about how we live with others. Evil thoughts, theft, murder, and more are all deep within. Jesus does not come to perfect our manners but to cleanse us from within.
This grace of freedom which Jesus was offering could not be accepted by the Pharisees. Jesus passed on this sense of freedom to his disciples. Jesus was attacking a system which put rules and regulations before human need. We all need rules and regulations, but they have a place in our lives and never take precedence over compassion and love for one another. The commandment of God was that the claim of human love and human ties should come first.