Daily Reflection
September 17th, 2003
Andy Alexander, S.J.
University Ministry and the Collaborative Ministry Office
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.
Memorial of St. Robert Bellarmine, S.J.
1 Timothy 3:14-16
Psalm 111:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
Luke 7:31-35

"To what shall I compare the people of this generation?"

I love to watch Jesus in the midst of a messy conflict.   (The 7th Chapter of Luke's gospel is worth reading in its entirety. here)  He has encountered tremendous faith from a Roman centurian who trusts God's power.  He brought the only son of a widow back to life.  And then the disciples of John the Baptist bring him a question from John, who is now in jail:  "Are you the one, or should we expect someone else?"  Jesus tells them to go back and reassure John by reminding him, "the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the good news proclaimed to them."  After Jesus tells the crowd what an incredible person John was, Luke adds the following words:

"All the people who listened, including the tax collectors, and who were baptized with the baptism of John, acknowledged the righteousness of God; but the Pharisees and scholars of the law, who were not baptized by him, rejected the plan of God for themselves."

Then we have today's gospel, with its indication of the frustration Jesus must have felt.  This generation.  They can't be pleased.  John comes, living with the greatest austerity, and they say he's crazy.  I come and live a normal life among the people and they say: 'Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.'  They can't be pleased.

The chapter ends with tomorrow's gospel about a sinful woman who disrupts a private dinner Jesus is invited to at a Pharisee's house.  Why does this woman show such incredible love and devotion to Jesus?  Because her sins - her many sins - are forgiven.  And, she is filled with joy and gratitude before the one who forgives her.  What's behind the Pharisee's cool reaction to Jesus?  He hasn't let his heart be opened to the saving love of Jesus. 

Today is a great day to pause and ask ourselves how we react to Jesus.  If we know who he is, what he has done, and we do good and avoid evil and pray when we can, but still feel "distant" or indifferent toward Jesus, or at least it's all still "in our heads," then today might be the day to ask for more.  If we keep Jesus at a safe distance, not relevant to or engaged in our daily life issues, we can change all that, by pausing today to let him be our Savior.  Not a distant savior, but the One who loves us as no one else can, the one who compassionately understands our life story, our struggle, our infidelity, the fearful way we live, our patterns of impatient crabbiness, our difficulty with loving selflessly, and our indifference to the cry of the poor.  The One who loves us right there.  The only one who can love us into a grateful response.

Dear Lord, you know how busy I've gotten.  You know where my attention has been.  You know what attracts me, what threatens me and what leads me to self-love.  Thank you for beholding me today with such understanding, such compassionate love.  Please forgive me today.  I am sorry for what I have let distract me from you.  In your mercy let me celebrate your love today.  Let me share your love with the people closest to me first, with more gentleness, more understanding, more affirmation and expressions of appreciation and love.  Help me heal some wounds, and to avoid being a source of negativity and division.  Free me to listen to the needs around me.  Most of all, let me smile today.  Lighten my step.  Lift my spirit.  And, I will sing your praises for the rest of the day.

Links to summaries of the life of
St. Robert Bellarmine, S.J.


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