|“Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.”
- Matthew 8
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Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
Sunday is the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time, when Jesus compares our faith to the mustard seed. Our faith, like that tiny seed, can grow large and put forth large branches, having an effect on those who we may not even know we have touched.
Thursday is the Memorial of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, of the Society of Jesus.
The first readings this week continue our readings from 1 & 2 Kings and other Old Testament books. It follows Elijah and Elisha - powerful prophet and agents of God's word for the people.
The gospels this week continue the Sermon on the Mount, from Matthew's Gospel. In revealing his new and deeper way, Jesus shares a most counter-cultural law, “offer no resistance to one who is evil.” And, he tells us to “Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.” He proclaims, “I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. ... For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?” And, just when we think he is asking the impossible of us, he goes even further, “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” He warns his disciples against hypocrisy, “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them.” Praying and fasting have their own reward from the Lord. Jesus tells us to keep our prayer simple, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him,” and he teaches us the Our Father. Jesus tells us that “The lamp of the body is the eye. If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light.” The week ends with his invitation to us to trust in God. “Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?”
Sunday is the Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, with special readings. Luke's Gospel show us the deep faith of Elizabeth and Zechariah as their newborn son is named John. “All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, 'What, then, will this child be?' For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.”
Daily Prayer This Week
There is nothing like the Sermon on the Mount to help us hear the message of Jesus, and to let ourselves be addressed by those words. All of us can ask for these graces with real specificity, that is, with real people and real daily circumstances in mind. We know with whom we need to “turn the other cheek” and to love more. We know the circumstances in which we are tempted to “be religious” in the right circumstances only. Upon reflection, each of us can take the time to “locate” our hearts, by discovering what we tend to “treasure.” We can do a simple check on ourselves: we make a list of the five most important things in my life. Then we can make a list of the five things I spend most of my time on. Comparing the lists will help us get concrete about asking the Lord for the grace we need to put our lives back in balance. All of us can name what we worry about. And so we can all ask for the graces to “seek first” the Kingdom of God
All of this reflection can happen throughout the week in the background of our daily life, if we get into the habit of focusing for a few moments each morning. If we take just 30 seconds, at the edge of our bed each morning, it will begin to establish a habit of living more reflectively.
Our version of a brief moment with the Lord - friend to friend - can be repeated and made more specific, while we are going about our day. Some days, we might have 20 such moments of prayerful conversation with our Lord - guided by the Word, the desires that are surfacing, and the events of our daily lives. And, each night, we can give thanks for this deeper relationship with the Lord that is developing in my heart.
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