Sunday, September 11, 2016

Reflection for the 24th Week in Ordinary Time, Part 1

Monday – What God Wants

What does God want from His people? This is the question the psalmist explores in today's Responsorial Psalm.

Will ritual worship suffice to please God? No, says the psalmist. God wants people who truly listen to Him and obey His commands. These are people who come to Him willingly, offering themselves as well as their gifts.

God wants people who take delight in doing His will. These are people who recognize that He really does know best and that His will is always set on their greatest good. These are people who embrace His will with joy and conform their own wills to His in trust and peace.

God wants people who proclaim Him to others. These are people who aren't afraid to talk about God openly, to declare the truth of His moral law, and to testify to His work in their lives.

God wants people who worship Him with love and joy. These are people who truly appreciate the gift of His saving grace, who seek God at all times and in all places, and who are glad to belong to Him and to praise and glorify His Name.

Tuesday – The Widow's Son

Imagine the grief of the widow of Nain. Her only son was dead. He was the only person she had in the whole world, the one who supported her, defended her, and loved her. Now she was on her own. She felt as though her life would never be good again.

As her son was being carried out for burial, the widow saw a large crowd approach. She wondered briefly what could be happening, but her grief was so strong that she didn't really care all that much. Then a Man stepped out of the crowd and approached her. She stopped and stared. There was something different about Him, a presence she couldn't quite grasp. His face softened in pity when He saw her tears, and He spoke to her words of comfort that touched her heart: “Do not weep.”

Then the Man did something amazing. He reached out and touched her son's coffin. The bearers, startled and unsure, stopped. Then the Man's voice rang out, clear and confident: “Young man, I tell you, arise!”

The widow couldn't believe her eyes. At these words, her son, her beloved son, who had without a doubt been dead, sat up and spoke. The Man looked at the young man with love, beckoned the widow to come near, and gave her son back to her. Her tears turned to tears of joy as she embraced her son and felt his arms around her. It was a miracle. A pure, wonderful miracle. It could be nothing else.

The widow didn't even hear the whisperings of the crowd as they tried to process what they had just witnessed. She was too intent upon her son. But she did turn to thank the Man Who had just given her such an amazing gift. She couldn't quite find the right words, but she knew He understood. As He walked away, she wondered, a bit belatedly, Who He was, this Man Who held so much power over life and death.

Wednesday – Exalting the Cross

It was an instrument of torture, a device used to trample the rights and mangle the bodies of anyone who dared defy the Roman Empire. It was a threat and a warning to anyone who might get the idea that the Romans were not fully in charge.

Yet today we exalt the Cross. We venerate it. We hold it high and look upon it with respect and even devotion.

What a change! The meaning of the Cross was entirely transformed by Jesus. He embraced the Cross as the instrument of our salvation. He chose to die a torturous death on the Cross in order to forgive our sins and open the way to Heaven. He took upon Himself the punishment that His people had merited when they broke the covenants they had made. He went all out, suffering to the extreme in His body that we may never have to suffer separation from Him.

That is why we exalt the Cross today. And that is why we courageously pick up our own crosses and follow after Jesus, conforming ourselves to Him and offering our own suffering (united with His) for the salvation of souls.

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