O You of Little Faith, Why Did You Doubt?

08-13-2017Weekly ReflectionsWe Celebrate Worship Resource, Vol. 42, No. 2

Lord, save me!” Peter shouts (Matthew 14:30). He is sinking not just into the water washing over him; he is drowning in fear. What happened? Listen carefully. At first, the apostles think it is a ghost coming toward them across the water in he dark night. They cry out in fear. But Jesus calms them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid” (14:27). Fear is one of the greatest threats in the Bible. Many times people are told not to be afraid. Fear indicates a loss of faith. Peter, however, responds to Jesus’ call to courage: “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water?” (14:28). Jesus simply says, “Come,” so “Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus” (14:29). Read that line again. But then, “when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened” and he began to sink (14:30). Fear replaces faith. Peter watches the waves, not Jesus—but not totally: “Lord, save me!” Then, “Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter, and said to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’” (14:31).

Is this the question Jesus asks you? When has your fear overcome your faith?

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This is My beloved Son...Listen to Him.

08-06-2017Weekly ReflectionsWe Celebrate Worship Resource, Vol. 42, No. 2

This is My beloved Son...Listen to Him.

Today we remember that glimpse of glory given to Peter, James, and John when Jesus had taken them up a mountain to pray with him. Imagine what it must have been like for these three fishermen to see Jesus, whom they had come to know as their leader and friend, as a preacher, teacher, wonderworker, exorcist, healer, and forgiver of sins, suddenly transformed, radiant, brilliant, engaged in conversation with two of the greatest figures in their history, Moses and Elijah. For a few moments they saw Jesus in full glory, then heard a voice from heaven call him "my Son," telling them—and us—"listen to him" (Matthew 17:5). We also hear the prophet Daniel's vision of God in heaven, the Ancient One, receiving someone called the Son of Man and "giving him dominion, glory and kingship" over all peoples and nations (Daniel 7:14). This vision in Daniel captures Jesus' final destiny, but first there was the cross. The Eucharist reminds us that we are destined for glory with Christ. But first we continue to live out the dying to selfishness and sin, thereby offering others glimpses into the glory yet to come.

How are you being called to "listen to him"?

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What treasures in your life are worth giving up all you have?

07-30-2017Weekly ReflectionsWe Celebrate Worship Resource, Vol. 42, No. 2

What would move you to sell all you have to possess something of great value? Two parables today present such behavior. In the first, the finder accidentally stumbles over a treasure hidden in a field, but once he discovers it, he goes and sells everything to buy the field. And he does this with joy. In the second parable, a merchant is deliberately searching for fine pearls and when he comes upon one, he also sells everything to purchase it. What is Jesus saying here? Whether you stumble upon the kingdom of heaven or deliberately seek it out, once you find it, it is worth giving all you have. The kingdom of heaven is Matthew's way of talking about God's presence in life, the gift of God that is God. In the first reading, young King Solomon responds to God's offer—Ask for anything and I will give it—by requesting wisdom, that is, an understanding heart to judge justly and wisely. Wonderful! Paul names another great gift as the call to love God, a gift given to us at Baptism.

What treasure do you seek? What gift do you ask God fortoday?

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God is Always on Our side

07-23-2017Weekly ReflectionsWe Celebrate Worship Resource, Vol. 42, No. 2

A “no weeds” approach to life is tempting. When we find an idea, a value, an action, or even a person or group of people that threatens what we think or do, appreciate, or honor, the tendency is to oppose it. Cut down this weed and burn it. Jesus counters this impulse in today’s parable of the weeds and the wheat. Premature action could lead to destruction of life. So, the wise householder decides to let weeds and wheat grow together until harvest, so the wheat can be saved. This parable mirrors the reading from Wisdom, which speaks of God as one who judges with clemency and governs with leniency, giving people “good ground” in which to grow. Such divine generosity is also exhibited in the parable of the tiny mustard seed that grows into a bush housing all the birds who dwell in its branches, and in the parable of the yeast that signals the penetrating power of God’s mercy. St. Paul writes about the Spirit interceding for us even in our weakness. Overall, today’s scriptures place God firmly on our side, even when destructive powers (“weeds”) threatens to overwhelm us.

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God's word makes the Earth fertile and fruitful

07-16-2017Weekly ReflectionsWe Celebrate Worship Resource, Vol. 42, No. 2

For Isaiah, God’s word is like the rain and snow that come down from heaven, making the earth fertile and fruitful. God’s word is both effective and efficacious. For the next three weeks, we hear Jesus the storyteller, sowing parables as seeds that will bear fruit by revealing the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. A seed is a wonderful symbol of God’s power working through something small, which often seems to be God’s way of doing things. This third great discourse of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel gathers together stories Jesus told during his ministry. These parables enable the proclamation of God’s ongoing presence and working in our world and our lives. The seed of God’s word continues to fall into the soil of our communities and our individual lives or ends up being choked off by our cares or our indifference. But at other times, God’s word does send down roots and bears fruit beyond all expectation. Through this word, God enters into conversation with us. Which of Jesus’ teachings do you see bearing fruit in yourself? Which needs some effort on your part?

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For my Yoke is Easy, and my Burden is Light

07-09-2017Weekly ReflectionsWe Celebrate Worship Resource, Vol. 42, No. 2

In today’s Gospel, notice how Jesus praises God, first as Father, then as Lord of heaven and earth, bringing together intimacy and transcendence. His primary relationship with the One Israel called Lord is captured by the word “Father.” This relationship of Father-Son defined Jesus in a way that takes us into the heart of the mystery of the Trinity. But then Jesus opens his relationship to us: “No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one know the father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him” (Matthew 11:27). More wonderful still is Jesus’ revelation to us that Father has revealed “these things” to the little ones rather than the wise and learned. What “things” are these? The truth that the Son is meek and humble of heart, the one foretold by Zechariah as coming not as a warrior but as a peacemaker, bringing peace to the nations, a cause for rejoicing. In a world so often torn by war and violence, Jesus wishes us to put on his yoke, to be guided living in the Spirit of God (Romans 8).

Do you ask the Son to reveal the Father to you...daily?

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Have you taken up your Cross?

07-02-2017Weekly ReflectionsWe Celebrate Worship Resource, Vol. 42, No. 2
As in last Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus’ words today continue his instructions to the Twelve as he sends them out as missionaries, proclaiming the kingdom of heaven to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 10:6). This series of statements was probably gathered from different moments during Jesus’ ministry into this one speech. We can think of them as

“one-liners” and consider each one separately. Jesus is to be the first love of the missionary. The missionary has to be willing to take up the cross as Jesus did, to give his life for Christ’s sake. On the other hand, those who receive these missionaries receive Christ, and they will be rewarded. We see this happening in the first reading, when the hospitality of the childless woman of Shunem is eventually rewarded by the prophet, who tells her that she will have a son within a year. The reading from Romans shows us the generosity of God when we give ourselves over to dying with Christ in living out our Baptism: If we die with him, we shall live with him.

How are you “living for God in Christ Jesus” by participating in the work of a missionary who proclaims Jesus Christ by your life?

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