Sunday, June 5, 2016

Reflection for the 10th Week in Ordinary Time, Part 1

Monday – Our Guardian

In today's psalm, we hear that all our help comes from God, the One Who made the heavens and the earth yet stoops down to care for His children. He never sleeps but rather watches over us constantly. He stays right beside us, alert and protective.

Indeed, the Psalmist proclaims, God is our Guardian. The Hebrew word for guardian here is the participle of the verb shamar. It means to keep, to watch, to protect, and to preserve. And that's exactly what God does, day and night, wherever we are, at every moment of our lives.

If this is so, we might wonder why bad things happen to us. If God is truly guarding us, why aren't we safe from all evil? First off, sometimes we walk away from God's protection and go our own way. We make a free choice to step out of His rules and His care. Like a good parent, He still watches us, but He also sometimes lets us learn the lesson of what happens when we stray.

Second, God sometimes allows bad things to happen to us because He has a higher purpose for us. Suffering disciplines us. It teaches us things. It scrubs off the spiritual muck that accumulates on us because of sin. It conforms us to our Suffering Savior. It helps us grow in virtue. It even helps us spread God's graces to others in the process of subjective redemption. In this case, then, the bad things that happen to us are really part of God's loving care and guardianship. He is acting just like the protective Father that He is, watching over us, helping us grow, and preparing us for Heaven.

(Information about Hebrew vocabulary comes from

Tuesday – The Light of the World

Jesus is the light of the world. He shines as God incarnate, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity Who became Man in order to die for our sins and open the way to Heaven. His love and His teaching and His presence in the sacraments illuminate all who come to Him with open hearts and minds.

But Jesus doesn't want to be the only light in the world. In today's Gospel, He tells His disciples, and by extension us, “You are the light of the world...your light must shine before others...”

How can we be lights? We who are so small and weak and sinful? We who so often feel like we are in the dark?

We can be lights because we can shine with His light. When we were baptized, we received sanctifying grace, the very indwelling presence of God in our souls. If we remain in that grace, we have His light inside us. Our job is to become transparent so that light can shine through us to others. How do we become transparent? We ask God. We pray. We receive the sacraments with devotion. We read and meditate on the Scriptures. We work to grow in virtue. We perform acts of love.

Then, as we become more and more transparent, that light will shine before others, God's light illuminating the world through His children that all may see it and give Him glory.

Wednesday – A Dramatic Display

Today's first reading presents a dramatic display. The prophet Elijah is the last of his kind, the only remaining prophet of the one true God, but he is so confident in his Lord that he is willing to go head to head with the 450 prophets of Baal to prove to the people the identity of the real God.

The prophets take Elijah up on his challenge. He tells them to prepare a young bull, put it on the wood of the altar, and then call upon their god to come down in fire to devour the sacrifice. The prophets did so, but of course there was no answering spectacle, just silence. They jumped around and yelled. Still nothing. Elijah couldn't resist taunting them just a bit. “Call louder,” he encouraged sarcastically, “for he is a god and may be meditating, or may have retired, or may be on a journey. Perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” The prophets obeyed. They didn't know what else to do, but the only response was a loud silence.

Finally Elijah put a stop to all the nonsense. He called the people over to him and proceeded to prepare his own sacrifice. But he added another element to the mix. He instructed the people to pour water all over the offering and the wood and the altar. They obeyed so well that water flowed down and settled in a trench. The whole place was soaked.

Then Elijah prayed, asking that God reveal Himself to the people that they might know Him. And God did. Fire flashed down from the sky and consumed the offering, the wood, the altar, the dust, and even the water in the trench. God had certainly made His point. The people fell on their faces, crying out, “The Lord is God! The Lord is God!”

Does it take a dramatic display to turn our attention to God? Does He have to go all out to prove Himself to us? What does it take for us to realize how much God loves us? In fact, God has already given us an even more dramatic display than He created in response to Elijah's prayer. He suffered and died on the cross to save us from our sins, and He rose again on the third day, conquering death forever. How much more do we need?

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