Thursday, May 19, 2016

Reflection for the 7th Week in Ordinary Time, Part 2

Thursday – Priorities

In today's Gospel, Jesus challenges us to examine our priorities. What is more important, He seems to ask, your physical life or your eternal soul?

“If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off,” He proclaims. “It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire.”

“And if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off,” He continues. “It is better for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna.”

“And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out,” He concludes. “Better for you to enter into the Kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.”

Does Jesus really mean for us to take these shocking statements literally? Should we really do such violence to ourselves? No. This is an example of the exaggerated rhetoric Jesus sometimes uses to get and hold our attention. Our hands, feet, and eyes do not really cause us to sin, but our greed, pride, and selfishness do. Those are the things that we must cut off and pluck out if we are to let go of sin and enter into eternal life with God.

Jesus leaves us with a question of priorities. What do we need to let go of if we truly want to embrace Him?

Friday – Persevere

Life is not easy. We all learn that from a very young age. Our fragile bodies are easily weakened and broken. We get sick. Natural disasters sweep down upon us. Circumstances change rapidly. People leave us or betray us. We lose loved ones to death.

But through it all, God calls us to persevere. We keep going through the rough times because we know there is something more than this earthly life. We trust that God has a plan and that everything that happens to us can teach us something important and help us prepare for eternity. We cling to our faith that God is merciful and compassionate and will never give us more than we can handle. If He allows us to be tried, it's because He wants to strength and purify us.

We agree, then, with St. James when he says, “Indeed we call blessed those who have persevered.”

Saturday – Prayer like Incense

“Let my prayer come like incense before You.”

Just picture that for a moment: your prayers rising up like fragrant incense before God. Inhale the sweet and spicy blend of praise, thanksgiving, intercession, and petition. Get lost in the dense cloud of love rising up to the throne of the One Who is Love. Meet Him in that cloud, greet Him there, and settle in for a long stay. Keep the incense of prayer flowing up from the depths of your being, every moment of every day. Live in God's presence with your heart focused eternally on Him.

“Let my prayer come like incense before You.”

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