Sunrise to Sunset
“From sunrise to sunset, let the Lord’s name be praised.” (Psalm 13:3 CEB)
 

Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Sunday, September 23, 2018 to Saturday, September 29, 2018  

 Sunday, September 23, 2018

 

Today’s Readings: Wisdom 2: 12, 17-20; Psalm 54: 3-8; James 3:16 – 4:3; Mark 9: 30-37.  

 

Today’s Reflection: Today’s first reading from the book of wisdom addresses the suffering of the “just one,” especially the suffering that results from the cruelty of others. This cruelty is driven by self-centered egos that want only comfort in life and will not tolerate any challenge to be more than they can be. The letter of James calls this “jealousy and selfish ambition.” It’s a refusal to acknowledge our own ongoing need for conversion.

 

The second reading is an apt description of the human condition; the warring within the human heart. As the letter of James is written to an early Christian community, most likely Jewish Christians, this is not so much a chastisement of their evil and bad behavior, but rather a pastoral letter of encouragement. It is a reminder that conversion is an ongoing process, not a onetime event. He gives them an “antidote” to jealousy and selfish ambition. He tells them they can recognize the kingdom of God present among them where there is peace, gentleness, compliance, mercy, sincerity and “good fruits.”  They are continually transformed in Christ to the extent that they seek goodness.

 

Today’s gospel from Mark includes a second prediction from Jesus of his approaching passion, which is “prophesized” in the reading from Wisdom. “He will be tortured and put to the test, condemned to a shameful death.”  This leaves the disciples speechless - confused and fearful. How alone he must have felt!

 

When they arrive in Capernaum Jesus changes the subject: “What were you arguing about on the way?” Again, they were speechless, embarrassed because they had been discussing among themselves who was the greatest… again the self-centered ego at work. Then Jesus sat down and called together his closest followers for this important teaching moment. What he tells them next must have been quite a shock. “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” Taking a child, he placed it in their midst, and putting his arms around it, he said to them, “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.” If this had been the 21st century, we might interpret this action as welcoming innocence and trust, vulnerability and dependence. But in this time and place, children had no status, they were not even considered to be a person. And what was the child doing in the room with the teacher and his disciples? The child’s place was with the mother and other siblings. How does this change your understanding of Jesus’ words?

 

In my work here at Creighton with professional health care students, I often here about their desires to be of service and not to be selfish. This bodes well for our future health care providers! Sometimes we need to talk about what they consider “selfish” – what is driven by the self-centered ego and what is just good, healthy self-care. I tell them that taking time to work out and care for their bodies or taking time to be alone to pray, be quiet and reflect and care for their souls is not selfish. Quite the opposite – we must take good care of ourselves in order to be able to give ourselves away! Healthy self-care is driven by gratitude for the gift of life that we have been given. Self-care and service to others are not in opposition to each other but rather service is the good fruit of healthy self-care.

 

Diane Jorgensen – Chaplain in the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions at Creighton University.

 

Today’s Prayer:  O God, who founded all the commands of your sacred Law upon love of you and of our neighbor, grant that, by keeping your precepts, we may merit to attain eternal life. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Monday, September 24, 2018

 

Today’s Readings: Proverbs 3: 27-34; Psalm 15: 2-5; Luke 8: 16-18. 

 

Today’s Reflection: The psalm response: “The just one shall live on your holy mountain, O Lord,” speaks to the core of both of today’s reading. The Old Testament reading from Proverbs offers us an example of the proper way of living. We are shown how to “love our neighbor as ourselves” in the first few verses of the reading and then “loving God” by obeying his moral code.

 

The Gospel alludes to the light of a lamp. Jesus exhorts us to bring both his words and teaching into the light for others to see and responds to. We are also told “to take care of how we hear.” The ability to hear the word of God clearly should be easy, but at times it is not. The answer for me is in prayer, meditation, quiet listening, and spiritual direction. Only by applying all these tools am I able to “take care of how I hear.”

 

Joe Zaborowski – Director of Purchasing at Creighton University.

 

Today’s Prayer:  O God, who founded all the commands of your sacred Law upon love of you and of our neighbor, grant that, by keeping your precepts, we may merit to attain eternal life. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

 

Today’s Readings: Proverbs 21: 1-6, 10-13; Psalm 119: 27, 30, 34-35, 44; Luke 8: 19-21.

 

Today’s Reflection: I have found myself telling our students and other groups to whom I have been asked to speak recently the story of two friends and a cricket.  It goes something like this...two friends who have not seen each other in some time reunite in the home of the one friend who lives in a large, sprawling urban area.  The visiting friend lives in a more rural area and is an avid practitioner of Ignatian spirituality. As the two friends are walking down a particularly congested sidewalk in the middle of the thriving, pulsing city, the rural friend stops the city friend in her tracks and says, “Wait...do you hear that?”  The city friend looks around quizzically and says, “Hear what? Take your pick! There’s any number of sounds I can hear.” “No, no,” says the more contemplative friend, “Do you hear that cricket?” Now the city friend is totally puzzled. “A cricket?! In this mess of noise? Are you serious?!” The rural friend says, “Come, follow me.”  They carefully dash across four lanes of traffic dodging buses and bicyclists and taxis all rushing by. They then find themselves in front of a very posh, upscale hotel outside of which are two large, potted bushes. The rural friend crouches down, parts the bottom branches of the bush, and sure enough there is a cricket in the soil singing away.  The city friend is stunned. “How in the WORLD did you hear that amidst all of this,” she asks, gesturing to the crush of humanity swirling around them.  The Ignatian-trained friend stands up and says, “Watch this.” She takes a few coins out of her pocket and drops them on the concrete sidewalk.  Instantly everyone within earshot spins around looking at the ground, checking their pockets to see if they had dropped their money. The practitioner of Ignatian spirituality says with a wry smile, “We choose to listen to that which we value.”

 

Today’s readings are all about listening to God’s word - God’s voice - and acting upon it.  We are invited to consider what value we place on the voice of God amidst all the other voices that clamor for our attention in life.  We listen to what we value, and Jesus is calling upon us to listen to God’s voice above all else.

 

In the Book of Proverbs, Solomon writes, “Whoever makes a fortune by a lying tongue is chasing a bubble over deadly snares.”  (v.6) What a potent image. From childhood, many of us know the fragile, fleeting nature of a bubble. As they were cast into the air, we would run screaming after them only to soon realize they had burst upon the tips of our fingers or faded silently into the atmosphere.  Solomon suggests that to set our eyes on worldly objects, especially those that bend our moral compass, will not only lead us astray, but will cause our feet to get caught up in snares that leave us trapped in death-dealing places. Alas, stay attentive to that which captures the gaze and the effect it has on our feet.

 

I was recently on a pre-sunrise hike to a mountaintop with a large group.  It was pitch black and I didn’t know the route. In fact, the only person who knew the route was the one leading us.  I put my trust entirely in that person at the front of the pack and in my headlamp that helped illuminate the right next step.  This makes me think of what the Psalmist sings today, “Guide me, Lord, in the way of your commands.” Jesus goes on in the Gospel story to emphasize the importance of hearing and acting on God’s word in order to be led in a faith-filled direction - to be trusting followers who listen well and take the next step up the mountaintop where the sun will rise.  We listen for the crickets.
At times we can find ourselves wondering if we are indeed listening to God’s voice or that of some imposter.  It is then that we can pray the words of Thomas Merton from his work, Thoughts in Solitude:

 

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.  I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end.  Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.  But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.  And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore, will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.  I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”

 

Kyle Lierk – Director of Campus Ministry at Creighton University. 

 

Today’s Prayer:  O God, who founded all the commands of your sacred Law upon love of you and of our neighbor, grant that, by keeping your precepts, we may merit to attain eternal life. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

 

Today’s Readings: Proverbs 30: 5-9; Psalms 119: 29, 72, 89, 101, 104, 163; Luke 9: 1-6.

 

Today’s Reflection: Imagine the following:

 

You’ve been recruited for a new job.  Your trainer has every confidence in you.  You’ve had the opportunity to observe your trainer for a bit.  Shortly after joining your new group, you are directed to leave town.  You are to go out and perform your new job.  You aren’t told how long you will be gone.  You cannot take anything with you.  No snacks for your travel.  No change of clothes and no money.  Remember, you know what to do.  Your trainer has deemed you qualified to go out and perform your new duties. 

 

Do you have questions?  Where are you going?  Who are you to meet?  What exactly are you to do?

 

Now imagine how the twelve apostles may have felt.  As I reflected on the meaning of today’s gospel, two words came to mind: faith and trust. 

 

Jesus had faith in the apostles.  The twelve men had faith in Him.  Afterall, Jesus wasn’t the most popular guy to be associating with.  Jesus trusted that the twelve men knew what to do.  The twelve trusted in Jesus.  If they listened to and followed Jesus’ example they would be just fine.  The journey might not be easy, but it everything would be ok. 

 

As I reflect further, I realize that my ability to have faith, and to trust in Jesus could use some work.  I try to surrender to Jesus and to the unique plan that was created for me.  But when I really think about it, I begin to ask questions.  Why did I have to endure this pain?  Why wasn’t I given the ability to fix this or that?  How come I didn’t have the gift of hindsight when I had to make that important decision?  Why do bad things happen to good people?

 

Just for today, take some time to consider faith and trust.  When has our ability to trust been challenged?  How strong is our faith when things don’t seem to go as we want? 

 

Some thoughts on faith and trust from some incredible people:

 

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase. ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish that He didn’t trust me so much. ~ St. Theresa of Calcutta

 

Angela Maynard – Assistant Director Clinical Support/Operations at Creighton University.

 

Today’s Prayer:  May you be magnified, O Lord, by the revered memory of your Saints Cosmas and Damian, for with providence beyond words you have conferred on them everlasting glory, and on us, your unfailing help. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Thursday, September 27, 2018

 

Today’s Readings: Ecclesiastes 1: 2-11; Psalm 90: 3-6, 12-14, 17; Luke 9: 7-9.

 

 

Today’s Reflection: My five-year-old daughter is a kindergartner.  As one of the oldest children in a multi-aged classroom of three, four and five-year-olds, she has the distinct privilege of being the teacher’s special helper and being challenged with individual lessons.  She’s learning a lot of new academic skills and reinforcing social and emotional skills of leadership, helpfulness, cooperation, patience and problem solving.

 

A few days ago, when I was badgering her about household chores and being a good helper to keep our house clean (such as picking up her dirty clothes from the bathroom floor and putting them in the laundry basket before she takes a bath), she declared, with honesty and innocence, “I don’t want to be a good helper all the time – it’s hard work!” 

 

A little surprised by response, I gently and compassionately told her in five-year-old terms that helping people is really what her job is in life, now and in the future.  Of course, learning, exploring, playing are all crucial to her development, too, but helping is another one of those essential skills that we hope she carries throughout her lifetime as a focus of how she spends her time.  It was a mini-lesson, of sorts, on her namesake -St Ignatius’ – First Principle and Foundation, the goal of life is to praise, reverence and serve God, and an extension of reaching that goal, we are called to help and serve others, and advocate for their well-being.  He spoke often of “helping souls” when joining together with his friends to form the Jesuits.  She took my words with thoughtful, pondering silence and proceeded to hop into the bathtub.  When she was done with her bath, she picked up the laundry, with a less-tired reluctance.  Maybe it was coincidence, maybe not.  Regardless, it got me thinking about how to teach this value to her in a deeper way, without it just being part of a daily list of tasks that I would like her to accomplish.

 

Today’s first reading from Ecclesiastes invites us to think about how we spend our time, how we spend our lives.  What is the real purpose of our work, our labor?  What is the purpose of what we do when the earth and sun and everything just continues on after we’re gone?

 

Perhaps there is an invitation for us to be more helpful towards those who are suffering, or perhaps to examine how we use our time.

 

Reflecting on a model for us – St Vincent DePaul – today on his feast day, and how he prioritized his time, also invites us to care for others.  He dedicated his life to serving the poor, helped reform the clergy in the French Church and was known for his generosity and charity. 

 

Perhaps there is an invitation for us to be part of the reform in our Church today…a Church that has struggled immensely with sexual abuse scandals of clergy and leaders, particularly recently in the United States.  Perhaps there is an invitation for us to be more generous and charitable today, with the inspiration of St. Vincent de Paul.

 

Our Gospel passage today is brief and focuses on Herod’s confusion and curiosity.  He is confused by who Jesus is and expresses his curiosity to know who this person is.

 

Perhaps there is an invitation to us to seek to know Jesus better and more deeply, as Herod’s curiosity is described in our Gospel reading.

 

Today, I pray that each of us, in our own way, answers an invitation to grow closer to God and to all of God’s creation, to advocate and serve on behalf of others, particularly those most vulnerable.  St. Ignatius, pray for us. St. Vincent de Paul, pray for us.

 

Colleen Chiacchere – Assistant Director, Magis Catholic Teacher Corps at Creighton University.

 

Today’s Prayer:  O God, who for the relief of the poor and the formation of the clergy endowed the Priest Saint Vincent de Paul with apostolic virtues, grant, we pray, that, afire with that same spirit, we may love what he loved and put into practice what he taught. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Friday, September 28, 2018

 

Today’s Readings: Ecclesiastes 3: 1-11; Psalm 144: 1-4; Luke 9: 18-22.

 

Today’s Reflection: In all four Gospels, there come times when the followers of Jesus are pictured as stating definitely that Jesus is the One, the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, the Sent.  We hear one such declaration by Peter in today’s Eucharistic liturgy.  Jesus, in somewhat of a surprise, tells them strictly not to tell this to anyone else.

 

I could reflect upon the closing verse about Jesus’ predicting His own suffering, death and resurrection.   I do not avoid this, but rather am choosing rather to ponder about Jesus’ praying in solitude. With all the various forms of prayer about which much is written and available, how would it be if we entered into His solitude!  Would there be some encouragement there for our prayer?

 

The human intellect can hold one thought for about one single second.  That is not very long. We reach for the new, the different.  In relationships we expect the new or newer or latest.  We can so easily become bored, even with things which once fascinated us, or persons who delighted or attracted us at one time.  We hunger for the different even within the familiar, even about ourselves.  “What’s new” we ask of old friends, because we are already so aware of what is old.

 

Perhaps even this little Daily Reflection is interesting today and maybe, for some, even for tomorrow, but not for every day.  It can’t be that good.  Many people experience praying as good when there is something ‘new’, something about Scripture, God, Jesus, or even themselves which they never knew before.  The “good” is what is “new”.  Many there are who think they are not very good at praying, because their thoughts “drift” or their imaginations take them far away from the originating verse or image or idea.  It is amazing to me how quickly I get from Jesus as the Good Shepherd or Peter’s profession of faith to how I lost that big fish off my hook three weeks ago or just what am I going to say in class this afternoon.  “How did I travel so quickly, so far!”  I must not be much of a saint, just a good thinker or wanderer.

 

Ah, but as usual I digress, or wander.  I have to present something new or different for you so you will think I am a good writer.  I know that and I think that of myself too.  So back to Jesus praying in solitude.

 

We bump into His humanity as we bump into our own in prayer.  He may have been thinking about His disciples and just how fragile their faith was in Him and His ways and mission.  His human ways may have prevented Him from rapturous union with His Father.  This may have prevented Him from being so disappointed with their human fragilities.    I would wish that Luke had told us just how long Jesus prayed in solitude.  We wonder just how long good praying takes, maybe it is just one second here, and one there. We maybe can string a few seconds together and find contentment in our judging ourselves as good-praying folk.  I wonder if Jesus evaluated His prayer and qualitatively gave Himself a grade.  This is our major defect in praying and can usually result in our prayer not being enjoyable, peaceful or new! 

 

Now here’s what’s new!  What is new and different is the quality of our life after we spend time praying.  That is what can be evaluated if you are into such things.  The encounter comes before results just as pregnancy comes before birth.  What is “new” then is the fruit of praying.  Jesus was interrupted in His prayer, not just by wandering thoughts, but by wondering disciples.  His relationships, His authenticity, His fidelity were the fruits of His praying in solitude.  His compassionate availability was the fruit of His being so available to His humanity and His prayer.

 

Larry Gillick, S.J. – Director, Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality at Creighton University.

 

Today’s Prayer: O God, who taught the Martyr Saint Wenceslaus to place the heavenly Kingdom before an earthly one, grant through his prayers that, denying ourselves, we may hold fast to you with all our heart. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Saturday, September 29, 2018

 

Today’s Readings: Daniel 7: 9-10, 13-14; Revelation 12: 7-12; Psalm 138: 1-5; John 1: 47-51.

 

Today’s Reflection: “War broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels battled against the dragon. The dragon and its angels fought back, but they did not prevail and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.” Revelations

 

In the heart of Paris near Notre Dame Cathedral there’s a powerful statue of St. Michael the Archangel based, most likely, on today’s reading from Revelations. He’s armed for battle – a million miles from the images of Hallmark Christmas card angels that typify American depictions of angels.

 

Of course neither the statue of St. Michael nor the lacy angel that tops my Christmas tree is theologically accurate because Catholics believe that angels are pure spirits. We often talk about the angels and the saints but they are very different. Heck, we’ve seen some of our favorite modern saints like Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II on TV. There’s no need to imagine what they did or how they looked.

 

So if angels are pure spirits, what do we make of today’s reading from Revelations?

 

The story recounts a symbolic heavenly clash between good and evil that parallels the ongoing earthly struggle between these opposing forces. In Revelations, God uses angels and dragons as his instruments. In this world, he uses us, if we are willing.

 

We emulate Michael (minus the sword) every time we stand up for the least of God’s people or work for peace, justice and kindness etc. From the story in Revelations, we learn that we need courage and support from others to defeat the forces of evil just as Michael did.

 

Although not included in today’s passage, Scripture writers often depict angels as messengers. Since this also is the feast of Archangels Gabriel and Raphael, we should recall Gabriel’s role in the Annunciation and Raphael’s mission to Tobias in the Old Testament. These stories of angels remind us that we too can be God’s messengers to others.

 

It’s interesting that the first prayer that many mothers teach their children is the “Angel of God.” Like countless others, I said it every night when my mom put me to bed.  Is it possible that our moms were our real guardian angels? They also were the messengers who first taught us about God. If you had an angelic mom as I do (she’s 95), I hope this makes you smile.

 

And remember that even if angels are pure spirits, we can emulate them in fighting for good and in being messengers of God’s love to others.   

 

Eileen Wirth - Retired Chair of the Department of Journalism, Media and Computing at Creighton University.

 

Today’s Prayer:  O God, who dispose in marvelous order ministries both angelic and human, graciously grant that our life on earth may be defended by those who watch over us as they minister perpetually to you in heaven. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 __________ __________ __________ __________

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

 

Unless otherwise noted, Reflections are taken from the "Daily Reflections" and “Praying Ordinary Time” sections on the Creighton University's Online Ministries web site:
http://www.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/online.html
Used with permission.

 

Daily Prayers are selected from the “Collect of the Day.” As they appear in CatholicCulture.org, an online ministry of Trinity Communications.
https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/calendar/day.cfm