August 25, 2018
by Nancy Shirley
Creighton University's College of Nursing
click here for photo and information about the writer

Saturday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 424

Ezekiel 43:1-7ab
Psalms 85:9ab and 10, 11-12, 13-14
Matthew 23:1-12

Praying Ordinary Time

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Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Praying in Times of Crisis

Our readings today focus on our relationship with God and our mutual commitment.  In the Old Testament, God demonstrates commitment to the people of Israel.  He displays His Glory and tells us this is where He will dwell forever with us, His children.  The responses reiterate what dwelling in Glory can mean for us. The images are so beautiful:

Kindness and truth shall meet;
justice and peace shall kiss.
Truth shall spring out of the earth,
and justice shall look down from heaven.

Yet, this Glory only dwells when we open our hearts to it.  A gift given – but it must be opened to have the benefits.  It must be embraced, not squandered!  There needs to be gratitude not an attitude of entitlement with this taken for granted and set aside.

Near indeed is his salvation to those who fear him.

While the Old Testament uses the word fear often in this relationship, I believe it is more of a reverence, a standing in awe, not a run and hide fear.  It is an embracing of the gift and recognition of the immensity of it.  And still, then and over the ages, we fall short in our part of this commitment and wonder why we do see the outcomes promised.

In the gospel, Jesus puts this in a new perspective, one that I clearly need of late.  This commitment, this relationship is not an abstraction with a “people” rather a very personal relationship.  There may be some that appear to the conduit for it and share the interpretations.  We can learn from what they teach and help us to understand the deeper meanings.  However, Jesus clearly warns not to follow their example.  Their frailties are not different from our own.  We must look beyond their behaviors to what is the truth – they are NOT the example for us.  Jesus is our example, God is our Father.  Those of the earth and the Man-made rules are just that, of the earth.  Our eternal glory is not of this earth, not of earthly standards or examples. 

You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers.
Call no one on earth your father;
you have but one Father in heaven.

I found this prayer this week as I was seeking an “end to summer” prayer but it is perfect for us in recognizing our real commitment and with Whom that commitment lies.

God to enfold me,
God to surround me,
God in my speaking,
God in my thinking.
God in my sleeping,
God in my waking,
God in my watching,
God in my hoping.
God in my life,
God in my lips,
God in my soul,
God in my heart.
God in my sufficing,
God in my slumber,
God in mine ever-living soul,
God in mine eternity.
(Ancient celtic oral traditions - carmina gadelica)
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