Sunday, August 14, 2016

Reflection for the 20th Week in Ordinary Time, Part 1

Monday – Magnifying the Lord

On this Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we listen as Mary proclaims her Magnificat. This song of worship begins with Mary's declaration, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” But this translation doesn't do justice to Mary's beautiful words. The original Greek word for “proclaims” is megalunō, a verb that literally means “to magnify,” as older translations emphasize.

Think about this for a moment. What are the characteristics of a magnifying glass? First off, it is clear, transparent. It doesn't call attention to itself but rather serves as a tool to a greater end. Mary is like this, too. She is clear and transparent with no smears of sin at all. She doesn't call attention to herself but is eminently pleased to serve as God's tool to bring the incarnate Savior into the world.

Now think about what a magnifying glass does. It makes things loom large. It makes the details of an object stand out so that the object may be better known. Mary does the same. She makes God loom large. By her words and actions, she shows Him to the world that others may know him better.

When we pray the Magnificat with Mary, we, too, declare that we magnify the Lord, that we are clear and transparent, that we are His tools who show Him to the world that all people may know Him better and that He may loom large in the minds, hearts, and lives of all.

(Information about Greek vocabulary comes from

Tuesday – For God All Things Are Possible

In today's Gospel, Jesus gives us some major encouragement: “...for God all things are possible.” Let us cling to these words. When all hope seems lost, let us remember that “for God all things are possible.” When we are at our wits' end and don't know what to do, let us remember that “for God all things are possible.” When doubts and fears overwhelm us, let us remember that “for God all things are possible.” When we don't understand, let us remember that “for God all things are possible.” When it's hard to love and hard to forgive, let us remember that “for God all things are possible.” When we want to give up, let us remember that “for God all things are possible.”

These words, “for God all things are possible,” express the highest trust in God. We know that He can and will give us whatever we need. He can and will do for us whatever is best. He can and will support us even in the darkest times. He can and will give us an abundance of faith, hope, and love. He can and will pour His grace into our hearts. We need only be open to Him and remember that “for God all things are possible.”

Wednesday – The Landowner

One hot summer day a landowner needed a few more men to work in his vineyard. At dawn he went to the marketplace where the day laborers congregated and picked out a few promising looking fellows. But these weren't quite enough. So he went back at nine and hired a few more. He might have had enough at this point, but he decided to go back for a few more yet, and at noon he did just that.

By five o'clock, the landowner's generosity was really kicking in, so he went back to the marketplace one last time. If there was anyone still left there, he would give them some work, and indeed he did.

When evening came around, the laborers all lined up to receive their pay. The landowner started paying those who had gone to the vineyard at five o'clock and gave them the usual daily wage. He continued in the same fashion all the way along the line, handing out the same wage to each worker.

Those who had started working earlier in the day started to grumble. They thought they should receive more than those layabouts who hadn't worked nearly as long or as hard. The landowner heard their murmurs and asked them a pointed question: “Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage?” They had to admit that they had.

“Take what is yours and go,” the landowner concluded, “What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?”

Aren't we blessed that God is even more generous than the landowner? He gives us every opportunity to accept His offer to work for and with Him, and He rewards even our weakest sincere efforts more bountifully than we can imagine. So let us take up the invitation of the eternal Landowner and bask in His generous love.

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