“Lord, help me to see.”

Sunday, March 3, 2019 Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

You can find the full readings here. This Lectio is based on the Gospel reading, Luke 6:39-45.

Reading

Jesus told his disciples a parable,
“Can a blind person guide a blind person?
Will not both fall into a pit?
No disciple is superior to the teacher;
but when fully trained,
every disciple will be like his teacher.
Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye,
but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?
How can you say to your brother,
‘Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,’
when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own eye?
You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your eye first;
then you will see clearly
to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye.

“A good tree does not bear rotten fruit,
nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit.
For every tree is known by its own fruit.
For people do not pick figs from thornbushes,
nor do they gather grapes from brambles.
A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good,
but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil;
for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.”

Standout words:

blind, like his teacher, your eye first, store of goodness, fullness

Reflection

“Lord, do I see? Do I see clearly? Can I see more clearly?”

If I enter into this reflection with the goal of correcting my brother, I’ll never see. If I only see the Publican and his unworthiness, I’ll leave unforgiven. If I only see the Pharisee and his pride, I’ll leave full of myself and not God.

“It’s me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer.” How can I be fruitful if I’m not well-planted? How can I be my brother’s keeper if I can’t keep the custody of my own soul?

So, with this understanding, what am I to do? Cry out to Christ, “Show me who I am, and make me who I am supposed to be!” Then, and only then, when I am full I can be a blessing to those around me.

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Hurry Up and Wait

Occasion: Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

You can find the full readings here. This Lectio is based on the reading from Romans 8:26-27

Reading

Brothers and sisters:
The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness;
for we do not know how to pray as we ought,
but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.
And the one who searches hearts
knows what is the intention of the Spirit,
because he intercedes for the holy ones
according to God’s will.

Stand-Out Words

weakness, intercedes, intention of the Spirit, God’s will

Reflection

This short reading seems very appropriate for me at this time. During the last few days, I have had a few people ask for prayers. The past week has been trying for me in particular. For one, I had a job application turned down. There have also been a few personal issues that my family has been facing and they really came to head this past week.

We all know how to simply ask God for something we want. “Lord, please help me get this job.” “God, please help me get this promotion.” “Please, Lord, heal my sister.” What about when we have multiple issues? What about the times when it seems there is one major thing after another and there is a domino effect and it all just comes crashing down on top of us? In those times, ever stop formally making the specific request and just crying out, “Lord, HELP!?”

I felt like that the other day. It felt like I had been praying forever for these certain intentions and things seemed to only be getting worse. One morning on the way to work, I spoke to God a bit more casually than I normally do. “Lord, where are you? Things are past desperate, and I need your help, PLEASE!”

Later that day, I actually got some good news. Not a total resolution, but a ray of hope pointing in one direction. My mother and I were discussing all this, and I felt that I had been disrespectful to God. She pointed out that even the saints lost patience and were fearful because they did not always understand God’s will, or if He was even listening. St. Therese of Lisieux wrote, “While I do not have the joy of faith, I am trying to carry out its works at least.”

Another point St. Paul makes in this reading is that we may not always know what to pray for. We may think we know our needs, but the Holy Spirit truly does know them, and intercedes on our behalf. Maybe this is what it means to just tell God, “Here is the issue, Lord, and I place it in Your hands!”

I know God does everything at the right time and in His own way. I do not always feel it, and sometimes I wonder if I can wait as long as He can, but I know He does it. Knowing and feeling are two different things.

Sometimes, knowing is all we have. For now, at least, I
feel like I can keep stepping a little bit longer.

(Written by Joseph Cook, posted by Rusty Tisdale)

“I am the gate.”

Occasion: Fourth Sunday of Easter

You can find the full readings here. This Lectio is based on the Gospel reading, John 10:1-10.

Reading

Jesus said:
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate
but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber.
But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.
The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice,
as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
When he has driven out all his own,
he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him,
because they recognize his voice.
But they will not follow a stranger;
they will run away from him,
because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.”
Although Jesus used this figure of speech,
the Pharisees did not realize what he was trying to tell them.

So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
I am the gate for the sheep.
All who came before me are thieves and robbers,
but the sheep did not listen to them.
I am the gate.
Whoever enters through me will be saved,
and will come in and go out and find pasture.
A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy;
I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”

Standout words & phrases

thief, robber, the sheep hear his voice, will not follow a stranger, did not realize, I am the gate, life, abundantly

Reflection

“The sheep recognize his voice.” Do we? Do I? Firstly, am I a sheep – part of Christ’s flock? I claim to be. Often I want to be. But am I? Yes. Because I’ve heard him speak the words of life, an abundant life. And I follow him.

Or I try. I really do want to follow him. But there are thieves and robbers whose voices call to me, enticing me to follow them instead. And often I do. And the Good Shepherd seeks for me and brings me back to his fold. I don’t deserve it. But God’s love is rich in mercy. It endures forever.

“I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved.” Jesus often went out of his way to tell us of his uniqueness. “I am the Truth.” “I am the way.” “No man comes to the father but through me.” The scriptures tell us that there is no other name by which men can be saved. It is imperative that we hear his voice. That we follow him. How else can we find pasture and rest?

What can I do to better listen? Turn off the noise of this life. Do I need to hear the latest news on the hour, every hour? Does it matter if I don’t know the latest popular music or watch the most talked about television? Do I seek after celebrity gossip, or worse – gossip about my neighbor? Do I purposefully fill my ears with the voices of strangers and wonder why the Shepherd’s voice seems so distant and small?

 

Your brother will rise

Fifth Sunday of Lent, April 2, 2017

You can find the full readings here. This Lectio is based on the New Testament reading, John 11:3-7, 17, 20-27, 33B-45.

Reading

The sisters of Lazarus sent word to Jesus, saying,
“Master, the one you love is ill.”
When Jesus heard this he said,
“This illness is not to end in death,
but is for the glory of God,
that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.
So when he heard that he was ill,
he remained for two days in the place where he was.
Then after this he said to his disciples,
“Let us go back to Judea.”

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus
had already been in the tomb for four days.
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming,
she went to meet him;
but Mary sat at home.
Martha said to Jesus,
“Lord, if you had been here,
my brother would not have died.
But even now I know that whatever you ask of God,
God will give you.”
Jesus said to her,
Your brother will rise.”
Martha said,
“I know he will rise,
in the resurrection on the last day.”
Jesus told her,
“I am the resurrection and the life;
whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live,
and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.
Do you believe this?”
She said to him, “Yes, Lord.
I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God,
the one who is coming into the world.”

He became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said,
“Where have you laid him?”
They said to him, “Sir, come and see.”
And Jesus wept.
So the Jews said, “See how he loved him.”
But some of them said,
“Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man
have done something so that this man would not have died?”

So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb.
It was a cave, and a stone lay across it.
Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”
Martha, the dead man’s d, said to him,
“Lord, by now there will be a stench;
he has been dead for four days.”
Jesus said to her,
“Did I not tell you that if you believe
you will see the glory of God?”
So they took away the stone.
And Jesus raised his eyes and said,
“Father, I thank you for hearing me.
I know that you always hear me;
but because of the crowd here I have said this,
that they may believe that you sent me.”
And when he had said this,
He cried out in a loud voice,
“Lazarus, come out!”
The dead man came out,
tied hand and foot with burial bands,
and his face was wrapped in a cloth.
So Jesus said to them,
Untie him and let him go.”

Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary
and seen what he had done began to believe in him.

Standout words:

 

glory of God, if you had been here, your brother will rise, Jesus wept, untie him and let him go

Reflection

“I am the resurrection and the life.” Jesus Christ, God from God, Light from Light. The Word that was spoken and the universe came to be now speaks beside the grave of a dear friend. And he is perturbed. And he weeps.

For what does he weep, and what has upset him so? Some have said it was the lack of faith that perturbed him. Perhaps. But I believe it was the condition of death itself. The people lacked faith because death was the end result of life. And Jesus knew that “from the beginning it was not so.”

Jesus knew that man was created for more than this – mourning at a tomb, thinking of what might have been if only the Master had arrived earlier. Jesus also knew that his own tomb awaited him. That his own death on the cross was just a few days away. For Death and Hell to be vanquished, Jesus came to suffer and die.

Jesus raised Lazarus, demonstrating his power over death. And then he suffered at the hand of the Romans, died on a cruel instrument of torture, was laid in a borrowed tomb, and raised again on the third day – so that all who believe in him may live eternally.

God, you give life. Help us to be life givers as well. To those we meet who are ignorant of your love. To those who suffer from bodily ailments. To those who fear death. May we be our brothers’ keepers. And trust that by your life-giving grace they will rise.

 

Return to me with your whole heart

Ash Wednesday, March 1, 2017

You can find the full readings here. This Lectio is based on the Old Testament reading, Joel 2:12-18.

Reading

Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God.
For gracious and merciful is he,
slow to anger, rich in kindness,
and relenting in punishment.
Perhaps he will again relent
and leave behind him a blessing,
Offerings and libations
for the LORD, your God.

Blow the trumpet in Zion!
proclaim a fast,
call an assembly;
Gather the people,
notify the congregation;
Assemble the elders,
gather the children
and the infants at the breast;
Let the bridegroom quit his room
and the bride her chamber.
Between the porch and the altar
let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep,
And say, “Spare, O LORD, your people,
and make not your heritage a reproach,
with the nations ruling over them!
Why should they say among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?'”

Then the LORD was stirred to concern for his land
and took pity on his people.

Standout words:

return to me with your whole heart, rend your hearts, let the priests … weep, took pity

Reflection

The first step of recovery is recognizing we need help. As we enter this period of Lent, the Church calls us to see ourselves as we are. It’s a difficult proposition. Our lives are busy. Our attention is drawn elsewhere – anywhere but inwardly. Our thoughts of ourselves are not introspective and lack depth. Like our thoughts of others and of God, our thoughts of ourselves are distorted.

“God you know me. You know me better than I know myself. Show me who I really am, and who you’ve called me to be.” This small prayer is one I use often. I know that I can’t see myself clearly, but God can. And when the Holy Spirit searches me and shows me those parts of me that I’m withholding from God’s grace, I can then repent of my hardheartedness.

“God resists the proud,” the book of James tells us. How can I be proud when I’m laid bare before the loving look of Jesus? Jesus, help us return to you. Seek those hidden parts, and let the light of your love bring them to your Light.

Anguish has taken wing

Sunday January 22nd, 2017 Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

You can find the full readings here. This Lectio is based on the Old Testament reading, Isaiah 8:23 – 9:3.

Reading

First the Lord degraded the land of Zebulun
and the land of Naphtali;
but in the end he has glorified the seaward road,
the land west of the Jordan,
the District of the Gentiles.

Anguish has taken wing, dispelled is darkness:
for there is no gloom where but now there was distress.
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom
a light has shone.
You have brought them abundant joy
and great rejoicing,
as they rejoice before you as at the harvest,
as people make merry when dividing spoils.
For the yoke that burdened them,
the pole on their shoulder,
and the rod of their taskmaster
you have smashed, as on the day of Midian.

Standout words:

glorified, anguish has taken wing, dispelled is darkness, abundant joy

Reflection

The coming of Jesus Christ is described by the Apostle John as a light shining in darkness. Jesus came to lead us away from the darkness that envelops so much of the world and that whispers to each of us at times, “This is all there is, and there is nothing else.” But God’s call to us, the resounding call of the Gospel, is that God has entered into our world to bring us “joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Pet. 1:8). 

A life in Christ is not a promise of good times and easy living. In fact, we are promised persecution and derision. But we are told to, “Count it all joy . . . when you meet trials of various kinds” (James 1:2). It is a great mystery that in Christ, no matter our circumstances, can be found peace that “passes understanding” (Philippians 4:7).  In Jesus, anguish has taken wing.

May we all place our trust in Jesus, the light of the world. And in looking at him — the author and finisher of our faith — may the darkness of this world fade away in his great light.