Our seminarian Stephen Durkee shares with us another beautiful reflection today. I hope you enjoy.
Thursday of the 17th Week
Exodus 40:16-21, 34-38
Matthew 13: 47-53
Next week, I will be fishing with my father and my brothers. I have been preparing for this week for some time by gathering my best fishing lures and getting together my fishing clothes. All the things I am doing for this fishing trip are the same things I need to be doing in my spiritual life as attested to by our readings.
In our Gospel today, Jesus is telling yet another parable. Jesus tells us a huge net is being dragged behind two boats. It is covering the whole lake and when it is full of fish, it is dragged to shore. When the fishermen get to shore they begin to collect the fish and separate the “bad ones” from the “good ones.” Jesus asks, “Do you understand what I am saying?” The people respond, “I Do!”
Parables are to shake us up, leaving us pondering the meaning and having us reflect on how we fit into the parable. So do we understand the meaning of the parable for us? All of us will one day be caught up in the net. The fish are not examined or questioned, the “good ones” are saved, and the “bad ones” are not thrown back into the water, but are thrown out.
What we need to do is be more like Moses in our first reading. Moses is obedient to God and follows all the instructions from on how to build the dwelling tent exactly. Three times Moses is told to do as the Lord commanded him and Moses obeys the Lord.
We can ask ourselves, “Do we have the wisdom to be obedient to the Lord in what he wants of us today?” Obedience is not a yoke that hangs on our neck; obedience sets us free, to do God’s will because we know of what not to do. Let us rejoice in this Eucharist that our Lord comes to meet us, and let us be strengthened to what he commands of us.
Wednesday of the 17th Week
Exodus 34: 29-35
This is my favorite mug to drink my morning tea. I like the size of it, the color, the handle, and that a good friend gave it to me as a gift. This is a Styrofoam cup. I could drink my morning tea from it, but I chose not to. My cup does nothing to enhance the flavor of the tea. All I am concerned about is getting enough warm, caffeinated tea in me to get me moving in the morning. Either cup will do fine, but I choose to use the one that was a gift.
This got me reflecting this morning, in the way that I look at what is not really important and how I should be focusing on what is important. I focus a lot of the cup that is symbolic of my life. I focus on all that I have to do today, all my worries, and all my aches and pains. What I need to concern myself with is the tea, which is symbolic of Jesus Christ. Our readings put us in touch with what is important.
In our first reading, Moses is so focused on God, (the tea) that his spends a lot of time in the presence of God in prayer. He offers petition prayer, but also prayer of thanksgiving and praise and worship. Moses is so focused on God that when he comes out from the meeting tent, his face is shining with the glory of God. Will our face show the glory of God?
In our gospel story, you may think it is about the raising of Lazarus from the dead, but it is not! That is the outside of the cup. The story is about the tea, about Jesus Christ and what Martha needs to profess, her faith in him. When Jesus finally arrives, she lets him have it for not being there when her brother died. Again, the outside of the cup. However, she immediately gets to what is important (the tea) by making the strongest profession of faith in all of John’s gospel, “I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son God.”
Our readings today challenge us to keep our focus on Jesus Christ, (the tea) and the outside of the cup will take care of itself.
Tuesday of the Seventeenth Week of Ordinary Time
Exodus 33:7-11; 34:5-9, 28
I have a home in GH that I get to on my day off. I consider this pace my sanctuary. It is a place of rest, but is also a place where I go to be with God in a safe and holy place. I do everything I can to get there, and I do everything I can to keep it holy. Our readings today present us with the same question, “What are the places that are our sanctuaries in our life this day?”
In our first reading, Moses sets up a “meeting tent” outside of the camp, where he would go to meet God. If anyone needed to inquire about God, they would go there and tell Moses. As Moses went into the tent, the holy of holies, a pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance. Moses would speak to God and be given the directives of how to direct the people.
In our Gospel, Jesus has just given the parable of the sower and the seeds, and now he dismisses the crowd and goes into a home and calls for his disciples to follow him. He wants to give them a safe place to ask question if they need, and he wants to drive home the meaning of the parable to them in the private and safe place of a home.
What are the safe sanctuaries that we have in our lives, our homes, our cars, our bedrooms? We should be doing everything we can to protect them. Our best sanctuary is right here, may we meet God as he comes to me with us.
Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
II Kings 4:42-44
What is preventing us from know the abundance of God’s goodness? Our readings today are all about God showing people his abundance. I can look at my own life and say, “It is hard to know of God’s abundance!” I now have pain where I have never had pain before, I have family situations that I cannot control, and I constantly worry about things. I am just like the people in our readings today who say, “I do not know of your great abundance, because there is too much going on in my life. Our readings are a gift to us to look again, and to see God’s abundance in our lives.
Our story from II Kings takes place at a shrine, where a man brings to Elisha the prophet his first fruits to make an offering to God. First fruits were always offered to God because it was the best most tasty of the harvest. Elisha says, “Give it to the people, to eat.” The man responds, “It is not enough it is only 20 loaves and there are 100 people.” What Elisha wants the people to know is God’s great abundance for them because they were starving? He wanted them to know that God will take care of them even when they thought their lives were hopeless. God wants us to live a life of abundance.
In our gospel, there are 5000 people who need to be feed and Jesus turns to Philip and says, “Where can we buy enough food for these people to eat?” Philip responds, “Two hundred-day hundred days wages would not be enough to feed this many people!” Andrew begins to go through the crowd and ask if anyone has any food, no one is willing to give any of the food they have. A small little boy says, “I have five barley loaves and two small fish.” Andrew responds, “What good is this, it is still not enough? Jesus takes the loaves and the fish blesses it, and he gives it to the people to eat, and they know of this life in abundance.
What I love about this story is that it is a little boy who steps forward to save the day. The little child is a sign to us that even the little we have we can bring to God, and he will take that and return it to us with his great abundance.
We all gather as God’s chosen and holy people to grow together in Christ. Our Eucharist is given to us as God says, “Come to me with what you have, and I can heal you and give you a life of abundance in me. May we come to know this hidden mystery in our lives this day.
Friday of the 16th Week
Exodus 20: 1 – 17
Matthew 13:18 – 23
Before weekday mass, I am in the sacristy preparing to celebrate mass with all of you. I have no idea if there will be five people in attendance or thirty-five people in attendance. The other thing that always strikes me like today is there is old and young, single and families. We come because God seeks a relationship with us, and we seek back a relationship with Him. Our readings are very beautiful as they speak about how God desires a relationship with us, and God is willing to use everything in his power to make this happen.
In the Old Testament, we have lots of examples of how God uses thunder, lightning, strong wind and even a whisper to have a relationship with his people. In our first reading, God is seeking a relationship with his people by giving to them the Ten Commandments. God is the author of the Ten Commandments, and they are addressed directly to the people, so they will know how to live and what not to do. The point behind the Ten Commandments is that obedience to them will bring holiness.
In our Gospel, Jesus uses a parable to explain how God is seeking a relationship with his people. The parable of a farmer who throws seeds everywhere at great abandonment is by our standards of farmer practicing poor farming skills. He throws seeds on soil that has little chance to grow and on soil that has a great chance to grow, but the farmer has great confidence that there will be a great harvest. The point of the parable is that God gives all of us the equal chance to have the seed of his word grow in our hearts.
As we gather this morning, God is doing his part to have a relationship with us this day. However, the choice is all ours! There will be times that we will do his will and there will be times when we will not. May the Eucharist strengthen us to have this relationship with God that he desires of us.