Daily Reflection
of Creighton University's Online Ministries
July 21st, 2011
Chas Kestermeier, S.J.

English Department
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Thursday of the 16th Week in Ordinary Time
[398] Exodus 19:1-2, 9-11, 16-20b
Daniel 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56
Matthew 13:10-17

In our first reading we see God shaking a mountain, speaking in thunder and trumpet blasts, and generally imposing His existence and power by terrifying the people.  He seems intent here on leaving the Israelites no possibility of ignoring Him, but in other places in the Old Testament He appears in more subtle and gentle manners: He comes as a gentle whisper (1 Kings 19:11-12) and shows His power in providing food in a simple way (1 Kings 17:14). 

In the New Testament Jesus continues with the more personal and simple approach, teaching with authority, healing/forgiving, and feeding abundantly with only the most reduced resources.  Right from the beginning, in His discernment in the wilderness following His Baptism, Jesus rejects any very visible and overwhelmingly grandiose demonstration of who He is; He meets His flock in their everyday human concerns.  In our Gospel today He especially concentrates on our response to Him in our little choices.

I believe that the key to today's passage, then, is that we mistakenly prefer the dramatic and the convincing so that we do not have to take any real responsibility for our choices.  We adopt a position or a role and identify ourselves narrowly by that stance.  We harden our hearts by sticking to our guns, refusing to find new growth in what Jesus has to show us and to say to us in the here and now: just as those who encountered Jesus in the New Testament, most notably the Pharisees and other leaders, we hear but do not understand, we see but refuse the obvious message.  We reject change, what is coming to be, growth, today's revelation of who God is and who He calls us to be in the light of that understanding.  We avoid risk; we resist trusting the Lord and His love, a mature relationship with God, and the love that lets nothing stand in the way of our being His. 

So?  We need to go to prayer far more frequently and personally than we do and to become familiar with the Holy Spirit.  We must learn to let our faith take over our lives and change us, not just once but in every moment, in every encounter that the Lord sends us --- and that is a constant call to respond anew to His love...

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