The Greatest Love of All

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The Catholic Calendar for Wednesday, September 19, 2018
Wednesday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Scripture from today’s Liturgy of the Word:
1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13
Psalm 33:2-3, 4-5, 12 and 22
Luke 7:31-35

A reflection on today’s Sacred Scripture:

Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:8).

St. Paul’s love discourse is most associated with matrimonial love because it speaks of love’s permanence. It’s often the selected reading at weddings because it teaches the betrothed how to give of themselves and resolve differences by means of the greatest spiritual gifts, faith, hope and love.

But since we all have God within us and God Himself is love, this writing is unquestionably meant to inspire us all—not just the wedded, but also single persons who are especially close to Jesus as they journey toward perfection and holiness without a human family.

Paul’s “excellent way” is sure to lead us all there as we strive eagerly for these gifts which are found in imitating the virtues of Christ. It’s impossible to ever envision our Lord as jealous, pompous, inflated, rude, self-seeking, quick-tempered or brooding. But we easily see these in ourselves because we only partially know Him; we only partially know love.

So this writing of Paul’s encourages us to emulate Jesus in patience, kindness, perseverance, belief, hope and endurance, whether with our spouse or any one of our neighbors. These are the same virtues that lead us to love in the first place and that will ultimately lead us to knowing fully, the greatest Love of all.  e.

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small gifts, great love

The Catholic Calendar for Thursday, September 13, 2018

Scripture from today’s Liturgy of the Word:
Luke 6:36-38

A reflection on today’s Sacred Scripture:

“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you” (Luke 6:36-38).

Where else in the New Testament does Jesus speak so intimately to each of us? None of us has the same opportunities to be merciful, to love, to forgive. Jesus gives each of us different talents that match the role He assigns us. Talents come in as many varieties as there are people, and all are equally important to His perfect plan. But we must use our talents to do His will by giving away gifts we design from our own passions and from our own desire to give.

A smile is a gift when it transforms a life. A prayer is a gift when it alters the direction of a soul. Wealth is a gift when it feeds a stranger. A word of encouragement is a gift when it lifts the spirit of someone we find hard to love. These gifts seem minor to us, but their weight is measured by Jesus alone. Our small gifts given with great love are just as precious to Him as a gift given by someone we hold high, like Mother Teresa, whose arms were a gift to countless children as she held them with their last breath.

Jesus places people of His choice, not ours, in our path for us to love. We must not waste the opportunity, but move forward according to this assumption, using our free will.

Our reward will be measured on its own and against no one else’s. We’ll recognize that our gift was considered great in Jesus’ eyes when the measure He returns to us fulfills the deepest desires of our hearts.

Once again, we learn that loving acts bring us the greatest joy!

e.

Crowd Control

A reflection on today’s Gospel:

St. Mark describes crowds of people traveling long distances to experience the miracle of Jesus.  Crowds so large and desperate,  Jesus expected to be crushed by them.  Imagine!

How quickly word would spread if Jesus were here with us today, curing the sick and healing the sick of heart.  With our technology, word would spread so quickly, Jesus would be crushed during his first appearance.  Even if you weren’t sick, imagine touching Jesus! We couldn’t build an auditorium big enough to hold such crowds.

Since Jesus isn’t with us in the physical sense, the “crowds” of today are more like large gatherings. Even with the growing popularity of mega-churches and worship halls, there’s no threat of anyone being “crushed” or “pressed upon.”  The only crushing and pressing that comes to mind are among frantic shoppers on Christmas Eve or mobs of rock fans waiting to get good seats to a Stones concert.  How sorry we might see ourselves as we enter eternal life, standing before the beautiful Light of the World crying, “You are the Son of God” (Mark 3:11) and recalling the hours we spent seeking material pleasures while Jesus waited in the long line of our life to touch us.

Jesus fulfilled His mission on earth so that we, in the present, can touch Him through faith.  He’s reserving a front row seat in eternity for each of us.  Follow the road to Him and He’ll make the journey short…no crowds, no long lines – no waiting!

e.

Holy Family

The Catholic Calendar for Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Scripture from today’s Liturgy of the Word:
Luke 1:39-47

A reflection on today’s Sacred Scripture:

“How does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”
(Luke 1:43)

Each year for the past several Christmases, a special manger has sat beside our Christmas tree. I’d been searching for the perfect Nativity set since I was married 37 years ago, but never found one that suited my heart, and since my mother knows precisely my taste, was also on the lookout for just the right one.

The day she found it, it was summertime. She excitedly called to tell me how she’d come across it at a garage sale for just $2.00. She knew the moment she saw it that I’d love it and couldn’t wait for me to see it. She was right. The next time I visited, I was thrilled as she carefully pulled the manger and each statuette out of the box. Although it was daylight, we plugged in the cord and together admired each of the figures the little bulb was illuminating. It was a special moment between us, and our hearts leapt for joy like the child in Elizabeth’s womb when Mary greeted her!

Later that year when the Christmas season arrived, I couldn’t wait to set up the manger and its figurines. It was an old set, but well preserved; similar to the one I’d grown up with. Whoever owned it previously had kept it intact, but now, for reasons unknown to me, could no longer carry on their tradition. So I was doing it for them, and would see to it that their joy would be shared with new Christmas visitors. My last task was to hook the angel carrying the banner, “Gloria” onto the tiny nail at the top of the roof. I plugged in the light, and my heart leapt for joy all over again.

As guests would look in at our Christmas tree, they’d each have a different, but wondrous reaction as their eyes reached my “new/old” manger. One quietly gasped and another drew near and gazed into the welcoming glow the little bulb was giving as it streamed light onto the three Wise Men who never stopped seeking Jesus the way I never stopped seeking what is now the most significant part of my Christmas. I was pleased for the faith and wonder of my guests and silently prayed for them the way Elizabeth did when Mary greeted her in today’s Gospel, “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:45)

I especially remember the reaction of a friend who, unable to call to mind the name “Holy Family,” asked me, “Is that the Loving Family?”  “Yes,” I answered. “It is.”

e.

Thrill of Hope

 

The Catholic Calendar for Wednesday, December 6, 2017 
Wednesday of the First Week of Advent

Scripture from today’s Liturgy of the Word:
Isaiah 25:6-10a
Psalm 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6
Matthew 15:29-37

A reflection on today’s Sacred Scripture:

They glorified the God of Israel! (Matthew 15:31)

Wherever we turn these days, Christmas music plays, and for some of us this year, the words to the traditional carols we’ve come to know by heart have suddenly taken on new meaning. Old, familiar jingles about Christ’s birth now seem to resound with significance, bursting with the presence of His Gospel!

The popular hymn, O Holy Night, is full of such moving words; it speaks of the world lying long in sin, “’til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.” Such were the great crowds of the lame, blind, deformed and mute in today’s Gospel. Imagine them, the sick and weary, the hungry, approaching Jesus up on the mountain, filled with “a thrill of hope.” Envision them, “falling on their knees” as our compassionate Savior placed them at His feet and cured them! Jesus took pity on that crowd of four thousand and fed them with only seven loaves and a few fish.  Imagine the “weary souls rejoicing!”

Jesus holds no less compassion for our weariness and hunger as He continues to heal us with His Word and feed us through the Eucharist. We give thanks for these gifts which we receive in faith, and rejoice along with the souls on that mountain, “Sweet hymns of joy! In grateful chorus raise we! Let all within us praise His holy Name!”

e.

Today’s Readings