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“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart...
Ninth Week of Ordinary Time: June 2 - 8, 2013
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Ninth Week of Ordinary Time
Sunday in the U.S. is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. For the rest of the world it is the Ninth Sunday of Ordinary Time and in the gospel Jesus cures the servant of a centurion, who tells Jesus, “I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof.”
Monday is the Memorial of Saint Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs. Wednesday is the Memorial of Saint Boniface, Bishop and Martyr. Friday we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, which is always followed on Saturday by Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
This week is our only exposure to the Book of Tobit in the two year cycle of weekday readings. The Book of Tobit is a novel in the Wisdom literature tradition. We read the story of the misfortunes Tobit and a young woman, named Sarah. The story is about God's fidelity, even though they are tested, and their perseverance in prayer and works of charity. The songs of praise in Tobit this week are extraordinary.
Mark's Gospel offers stories of how Jesus is in the midst of a struggle with the religious leaders in Jerusalem who do not like them. He tells them the Parable of the tenant farmers, telling them that the stone rejected by builders has become the cornerstone. They almost arrest him. His opponents try to ensnare Jesus with question about the temple tax, but he isn't trapped by them. When they question him about the resurrection, Jesus tells a parable which teaches that God is the God of the living. When asked which is the first commandment, Jesus gives two - highlighting the equal importance of love of God and neighbor. Jesus is both Son of David and Messiah and Lord. Jesus warns of those who abuse widows on spiritual pretexts and tells his disciples to notice the widow who gave from her poverty.
On Sunday, the Tenth Week of Ordinary Time in Luke's Gospel, Jesus shows his compassion for the Widow of Nain by raising her son from the dead. “'Young man, I tell you, arise!'“ The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.”
Daily Prayer This Week
This week of prayer can be very blessed. Just as Jesus looked out on that crowd of followers and saw the spiritually poor, who were mourning and stripped of all success, looking for justice, yet themselves merciful and seeking to make peace with others, Jesus looks upon us this week. His words to us remain the same, “Rejoice and be glad.” All week, we can ask for the grace to understand and embrace the blessedness of poverty, of our grief, of our seeking for justice, of how difficult it is to be merciful and be a peacemaker. We are blessed in this place, because Jesus promises we will be comforted, we will be shown mercy, we will be God's children, because the Kingdom of Heaven is ours.
So, the first movement for the week is to let Jesus change our perspective on things. We can practice all week seeing things from Jesus' point of view. When we get angry with someone, we might be tempted to scream at them or worse. Instead we can let Jesus speak to our hearts and help us with the grace to forgive that person and actually love, as Jesus loves. If our eye causes us to sin, we can hear Jesus reminding us that we'd be better without that precious gift of our sight, that suffering the deadly effects of what is happening to us, through our fantasies.
This type of daily prayer, finding intimacy with God throughout our very busy days, can only work if we keep focusing on what we are desiring each day. And that can only work if we begin each day, naming our desires. Keep the desires simple: for example, “Lord, today, please help me see the grace you are offering me in the poverty I feel in this situation.” It can take only seconds to say that in the morning when I get up, or while I'm showering or getting dressed. But, by saying it out loud to ourselves, we give shape to a background place of conversation with the Lord all day. With some focused moments of prayer throughout the day, our desires will interact with everything that happens to us.
“It is here, Lord, that you are asking me to surrender my anger. Mercy is so hard, but it is the way to life you are offering me. I know you desire mercy more than sacrifice. I so much want to know the blessedness of being a loving person. I feel more peaceful just knowing you are with me as I try to respond to this person with more compassion and forgiveness.”
Each evening, our daily prayer comes to closure. We briefly look back through our day and remember those moments of “connection” and thank the Lord for the graces given. It takes practice, but the rewards are what we truly desire.
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