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

Thirty-Second Week in Ordinary Time
Sunday, November 11, 2018 to Saturday, November 17, 2018  

Sunday, November 11, 2018

 

Today’s Readings: 1 Kings 17: 10-16; Psalm 146: 6-10; Hebrews 9: 24-28; Mark 12: 38-44.  

 

Today’s Reflection: The readings in today’s liturgy present us with the stories of two women outstanding in their generosity.  The first woman Elijah encounters in his travels.  She is poor and is in survival mode with her son; famine has control of her country.  The second is likewise a widow, the subject of the “widow’s mite” in the gospel.

 

In the first account, the prophet Elijah meets a woman who is gathering sticks for the fire to prepare a meal for herself and her son.  Elijah approaches her and asks her to bring him some water to slake his thirst after his journey.  As she moves away to get him the water he also requests some bread.  She announces to the prophet that she is about to prepare food for herself and her son. It is to be her last supper, because she will have no more supplies to prepare any more food for her and her son to survive any longer. They are in dire straits.  But Elijah has still another task for her to do, “but first make me a little cake and bring it to me, then you can prepare something for yourself and your son.”  He’s got to be kidding!  She’s on her last steps and he adds still another job for her to do for him.?

 

But then we get the saving message Elijah has been sent to deliver: Do Not Be Afraid. “The jar of flour shall not go empty, nor the jug of oil run dry.”  She did what she was asked to do, and the flour and oil did not disappear.  She and her son were able to ride out the drought fortified with God’s gift given through the prophet.

 

The gospel scene today recounts the story of Jesus observing people putting money into the treasury.  Rich people put in large amounts for the treasury, but Jesus noted for his disciples to observe that the poor widow who added a couple of cents gave more than the rich people, because (the rich) gave from their surplus, but the widow gave from “her poverty. . . (from) her livelihood.”

 

The comparison between the two women is astounding.  We observe that both gave abundantly from their poverty.  We, too, give out of our own poverty of spirit.  To give from one’s poverty calls us to a leap of faith, hope and love.  Elijah and Jesus/his disciple’s model for us our response to people in need.

 

Who are the persons we serve today?  To name but a few: those seriously sick among us; those who have lost lifetime jobs; Those who, like the widows, lack the necessities of life; the constant stream of people-migrants who wander our earth in search of a home, mercy and peace.

 

Dearest Lord, open our hearts that we will respond to the needs of our sisters and brothers in their call for healing and wholeness.  Bless them through our openness and be present as your disciples.  Help us to be abundant with our love as you have demonstrated to us in your superabundant care for us.

 

Tom Shanahan, S.J. – Theology Department & chaplain for the men’s and women’s intercollegiate basketball teams at Creighton University.

 

Today’s Prayer:  Almighty and merciful God, graciously keep from us all adversity, so that, unhindered in mind and body alike, we may pursue in freedom of heart the things that are yours. 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, November 12, 2018

 

Today’s Readings: Titus 1: 1-9; Psalm 24: 1-6; Luke 17: 1-6. 

 

Today’s Reflection: Today we remember St. Josephat. He was a Polish-Lithuanian monk, active in the early 1600's. The short version of his life story is that favored unity between the Eastern Church and the Roman Church. For his efforts at unity, he was hacked to death by opponents of union, and became an important martyr.

 

In Luke's gospel Jesus says some important things to his disciples, and to us, which have a contemporary ring.

 

"Things that cause sin will inevitably occur,
but woe to the one through whom they occur."

 

He tells us, "Be on your guard!"

 

One of the most difficult things many of us have to deal with is the experience of living in a world which seems to be more and more divided and ugly. We are reminded by Jesus that this will happen in our world, but cautions us to be on our guard against the sins that are seemingly everywhere around us.

 

"If your brother sins, rebuke him;
and if he repents, forgive him.
And if he wrongs you seven times in one day 
and returns to you seven times saying, 'I am sorry,'
you should forgive him."

 

Jesus wants us to be reconcilers. It seems that we aren't too far from St. Josephat's dilemma. If we try to be a unifier, it can feel like we'll be hacked to death. The forces of division are strong. St. Ignatius warned us that if the Enemy can't tempt us to something that is gross and crude, the Enemy can appear as "an Angel of Light," proposing things that appear good and devout, and use them for very evil and divisive ends. We need to reflect on which Spirit is behind the passionate desires we sometimes have. And, we need to seek repentance for the spirits within us which give in to divisiveness - even for seemingly good reasons. Making the other into a "demon" is one of the ways we go down that path. Jesus urges us to be bridge builders and to repair divisions and to heal wounds and to forgive.

 

And the Apostles said to the Lord, "Increase our faith."
The Lord replied, "If you have faith the size of a mustard seed,
you would say to this mulberry tree,
'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it would obey you."

 

The Apostles knew that Jesus was asking something very challenging of them, so the natural plea was, "Increase our faith." It seems we just can't be more loving and self-less and unifying, without a whole lot more faith. Jesus counters with the assurance that it only take faith "the size of a mustard seed." Jesus wants us to turn to our faith, no matter how small, unattened to, it might be, or how fragile it might be. A little faith is enough. I suspect he means to say that if our starting point is not the arguments and differences and loyalties we have, but rather, the faith in God's love and mercy for us, we'll be okay in loving as we have been loved. Only the Enemy could turn faith into something that divides us. The Holy Spirit always gives faith that - even in a small quantity - can give us the courage and the peace to be a uniter, a reconciler, a healer, a bridge builder. In the Holy Spirit, real differences melt, as our common Creator and our common destination - all gifts to each of us - bring us together.

 

God of us all, may we be healed and brought together as your people. It was the desire Jesus expressed in his prayer to you the night before he died - that we all would be one. Help us turn to you in faith, that we might repent of all our divisiveness and that we might seek forgiveness and greater unity. May your Spirit inspire us to see the common good, over our own individual good. May we be martyrs - at least witnesses - of the self-sacrificing love you shared with us in Jesus, who died for all of our sins. Let reconciliation begin in our homes and in our closest relationships. May unity always be more important than victory, forgiveness always be sought before judgments, and may solidarity guide our hearts to care for those most on the margins and most in need of our love.

 

Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are. John 17:11

 

Andy Alexander, S.J. – Director of the Collaborative Ministry Office at Creighton University.

 

Today’s Prayer:  Stir up in your Church, we pray, O Lord, the Spirit that filled Saint Josaphat as he laid down his life for the sheep, so that through his intercession we, too, may be strengthened by the same Spirit and not be afraid to lay down our life for others. 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, November 13, 2018

 

Today’s Readings: Titus 2: 1-8, 11-14; Psalm 37: 3-4, 18, 23, 27, 29; Luke 17: 7-10.

 

Today’s Reflection: Today we honor Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini.  In reviewing her storied life, we find a young girl from a large family living in Italy.  She experienced a rather ordinary childhood, but was touched by many “extra ordinary” events throughout her life.  Those events helped develop a heart focused upon the wellbeing of all those God had placed in her life – from Europe and on to North & South America.  Through the establishment of schools, clinics, orphanage, and hospitals, she left a truly profound impact for good upon our world.  So, was she simply a hero for us?  Or perhaps a very uniquely gifted individual?

 

Today’s readings provide an unmistakable answer to those questions.  An answer that has the power to turn our comfortable lives up-side-down.

 

In his letter to Titus, Paul explains that as a follower of Christ, we are to be a good example to all those around us.  If we are older, we need to be temperate, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, love and endurance.  If younger, modeling integrity with dignity.  Paul reminds Titus (and us) to live temperately, justly, and devoted.  Just as Jesus lived his life on earth and gave himself for us.  Sounds a lot like how Saint Frances chose to live her life.

 

Today’s Responsorial Psalm provides further advice for doing good in our lives.  We are reminded to trust in the Lord and to take delight in the Lord.  It would seem that these are much more than suggestions for doing good.  They are REQUIRED for doing good. 

 

Paul’s letter and the Psalm provide a vivid directive for doing good, but Jesus chose to re-emphasize how this all works.  In the 14th chapter of the Gospel of John,  Jesus provided significant comfort to his disciples, reminding those that love Him to keep His word – to love, serve, and do good.  But then in today’s reading in Luke, Jesus takes that command to an all new level.  Following God’s directives is not only something we all need to do, but it is also something we are “obligated to do”!  What a life changing concept, followers of Jesus are obligated to do good - not to earn grace, but because that is what followers of Christ must do.  We do not do good so that others will notice or to earn praise.  As servants of our heavenly father, doing good is something that we just take delight in, because we love and follow Jesus. 

 

Dear Heavenly Father, open my heart to see the world as Jesus sees it.  Help me to see what needs to be done and give me the courage to selflessly follow your will and do it.  Thank you for the perfect example provided by Jesus and for all your Biblical directives that provide the blueprint for doing good in our troubled world. 

 

In the name of Jesus,
Amen

 

Larry Hopp – Retired Director of the Energy Technology Program at Creighton University. 

 

Today’s Prayer:  Grant us, we pray, O Lord our God, the constant gladness of being devoted to you, for it is full and lasting happiness to serve with constancy the author of all that is good. 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, November 14, 2018

 

Today’s Readings: Titus 3: 1-7; Psalm 23: 1-6; Luke 17: 11-19.

 

Today’s Reflection: Today's Gospel reading is basically clear, although there are at least two "problems" with it.  For one, Jesus is passing along the border between the Jews of Galilee and the Samaritans, and it is clear that the one who returns to give thanks is a Samaritan.  Given the enmity between the two groups, why does Jesus send the man to show himself to a Jewish priest?  Or does He? 

 

And why does Jesus complain about the others not coming back to give thanks?  They were obeying Him...   Although Jesus Himself indicates that "it is mercy I desire and not sacrifice" in Matthew 9:13 and 12:7, I Samuel 15:22 says that it is "obedience and not sacrifice" that God desires and a text in Hosea speaks of "love, not sacrifice“ (6:6).

 

I guess that looking specifically at this passage, though, brings out the Samaritan's very personal reaction as primary: he was indeed obeying Jesus and saw his healing, but the urge to give thanks and praise overcame all other imperatives for him.  Note that the text says he returned “praising God” and yet, after falling to his face at Jesus' feet, it is Jesus whom he praises.

 

Jesus heals all the lepers, not making them into angels but allowing them to be renewed and refreshed, ready to live normal lives, to seek and serve God once again.  When Jesus heals us, do we return to give thanks and praise even though we have not yet seen the end of our healing?  Do we appreciate and use that new life with as much fidelity as we can? 

 

Scott McClure – Former Assistant Director of the Magis Catholic Teacher Corps at Creighton University.

 

Today’s Prayer:  Almighty and merciful God, graciously keep from us all adversity, so that, unhindered in mind and body alike, we may pursue in freedom of heart the things that are yours. 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, November 15, 2018

 

Today’s Readings: Philemon 1: 7-20; Psalm 146: 7-10; Luke 17: 20-25.

 

Today’s Reflection: The entire book of Philemon consists of a letter written from jail by Paul to Philemon, a fellow Christian.  Paul was imprisoned for preaching the “Good News” of Jesus Christ. While he was a prisoner, he met Onesimus, an escaped slave, who became his friend, and whom he converted to Christianity.  The drawback to this relationship was that Paul’s dear friend, Philemon, owned Onesimus.  Paul convinced Onesimus to return to Philemon, and Paul, himself, would make restitution for anything that the slave owed Philemon.  By sending Onesimus, Paul says, he is truly sending part of his own heart.  Paul clearly cares about this man. He loves him as a brother and true Christian. Paul makes it very clear that he would like Philemon to forgive him, accept him as a brother, and to send him back as an equal to Paul, to help him in his ministry.   Paul is being pragmatic on the surface, but he is also showing his love for a fellow Christian.  His message is that we are all brothers; we are equal.

 

We are similar to Onesimus in that we have all transgressed in some way, but Jesus Christ has paid our debt and set us free.  What will we do with our freedom? Will we thank God and move ahead with our own aims, or will we join our fellow Christians to work for the greater glory of God? We have great freedom as God’s people, but there are always those who are not yet free, and in need of our help. We are all equal in God. If we truly believe this, we will love, and actively help one another.

 

The responsorial Psalm is especially poignant, not only in the light of Paul’s letter, but in the context of the times in which we are living. The Lord secures justice for the oppressed; provides food for the hungry; sets captives free; …the Lord protects strangers. The Lord will provide. If we are with God, we are his instruments. We should act on his words.  Do we see the spirit of God moving in our own actions today?   Are we, as the people of God, giving ourselves to make the lives of others better?

 

“When will the Kingdom of God come”? Jesus tells us today that the “Kingdom of God cannot be observed, and no one will announce ‘Look here it is’, or ‘There it is.’ For behold, the Kingdom of God is among you.”   The Kingdom of God is, indeed, among us.  God is the vine, and we are the branches. God is with us and in us.  We are his instruments, and the living Kingdom, especially when we carry out his greatest commandment -- love one another.   Provide food for the hungry; set captives free; protect strangers. These acts desperately need to be done. The Kingdom of God is among us. We should make it as evident as a flash of lightning, but possibly, more lasting.

 

Thomas Quinn – Professor of Anatomy and Surgery and Assistant Dean for Medical Admissions at Creighton University School of Medicine.

 

Today’s Prayer:  O God, who made the Bishop Saint Albert great by his joining of human wisdom to divine faith, grant, we pray, that we may so adhere to the truths he taught, that through progress in learning we may come to a deeper knowledge and love of you. 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, November 16, 2018

 

Today’s Readings: 2 John 4-9; Psalm 119: 1-2, 10-11, 17-18; Luke 17: 26-37.

 

Today’s Reflection: The lessons for today are highly relevant to us in their reminders to make good choices regarding how we live our lives.  On the “light” side, we are called to walk in the truth, follow the commandments, remain in the teaching of Christ, observe the Lord’s decrees, seek him with all our hearts, treasure his promises, and stand erect with your heads held high.

 

That is a good list to re-read each morning.  But all too often we are tempted to make other choices.  On the dark side, we get taken in by deceivers, our hearts go astray, and we seek worldly wisdom and satisfaction in earthly pursuits.

 

The message today is that even though we know the difference between walking in the truth and being deceived, we have much difficulty making wise choices in practice.  So, when we read the lessons today, we can see the fragility of our humanity.  But it seems to me that there is a great deal of encouragement in all these lessons as well.  My optimism stems from the fact that from the very beginning, we are told to love one another.  It is through love that we can uplift each other.  And through looking at ourselves via self-reflection of the wonders of the commandments, we can see how they keep us in loving relationships with each other.  That is the good news.

 

The bad news is that the choices to remain in the teachings of Christ are difficult because we get distracted with the activities of life.  We certainly all know that.  We can easily get dragged down.  Still, the hope that I feel after reflecting in the lessons for today is that if we take time out to treasure the Lord’s promises to us and to accompany each other in following the commandments, it is a lot easier to stand erect and raise up our heads.  I am thankful today that I am part of a large community of faith that helps me make better choices.  I especially pray today that my life will be an instrument of love and compassion to others in that community struggling to remain in Christ’s teachings.  It seems to me that if we first remember to love one another, the walk in the truth gets a lot easier. 

 

Barbara Dilly – Creighton University’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology.

 

Today’s Prayer: O God, who made Saint Margaret of Scotland wonderful in her outstanding charity towards the poor, grant that through her intercession and example we may reflect among all humanity the image of your divine goodness. 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, November 17, 2018

 

Today’s Readings: 3 John 5-8; Psalm 112: 1-6; Luke 18: 1-8.

 

Today’s Reflection: The Widow and the Wicked Judge

 

“Pray always without becoming weary.”  (Luke 18:1)

 

It was far from a fair fight.  The judge had power.  The widow was a speck.   Nothing to bother about.  But through the years, the widow did not lose sight of God’s presence in her life.  She stood firm because she was not alone.  Long ago the judge might have listened.  Now, cranky and corrupt, he did not hide his contempt.  But his scorn was no match for her spirit.  The judge got weary faster. 

 

Cornered, even a spiteful deity will eventually yield.  But God is Mercy.  So we hang in there and pray.  Help me.  God, I’m afraid.  I’m lost.  I screwed up.  Christ have mercy.  What can we do?  Please give me words to say.  You are my strength.  Thank you.  Oh, thank you.  So much to be grateful for.  The golds and browns of autumn praise you.  So, do I.

 

The hours rush by.  Where is prayer found?   Pause.  Breathe.  Listen.  Feel the ground.  Come back to the self.  Come home.  God slips in the smallest crack.  In the quiet, what was lost is found.

 

Are you religious?  Are you political?  Do you challenge social norms?  Do you long for a contemplative life?  The philosopher Father John Kavanaugh, S. J., died 6 years ago this month.  He warned against driving a wedge between faith and activism.  This false dilemma suggests a crooked, not a pure heart: “It is a most dangerous separation.  For it is precisely this splitting of faith from social reality that seduces the religious impulse into a stance of mere accommodation to political and economic power.  Hence, the…dangerous tendency: the identification of faith with cultural standards, even cultural idols” (Following Christ in A Consumer Society, xiv).  For Kavanaugh, the message of Jesus’ life is clear: “neither more interiority nor more activism, but precisely an integration of both; an activity that is truly revolutionary and a faith that is fully holy: saintly revolution” (xv).

 

When Jesus looked for an exemplar of constant prayer, he chose a woman who demanded justice.  The just one shines bright and “shall never be moved.”

 

Jeanne Schuler – Professor of philosophy at Creighton University.

 

Today’s Prayer:  O God, by whose gift Saint Elizabeth of Hungary recognized and revered Christ in the poor, grant, through her intercession, that we may serve with unfailing charity the needy and those afflicted. 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