Sunday, September 18, 2016

Reflection for the 25th Week in Ordinary Time, Part 1

Monday – Shine

“Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”

Today's Gospel acclamation reminds us that we are called to shine in this often dark, dreary world. We are called to shine God's light into every place we go and upon every person we meet.

To do this, we have to become transparent. We have to scrub away sin, wipe away worry, and polish up our virtues. We need to get rid of anything that could block or dim God's light. In other words, we must get out of the way so that God can shine through us and work in us.

That brings us to the second half of the acclamation, which is all about good deeds and motives. As God's light shines through us, as we become more and more transparent, God transforms us. His light and His grace work on us from the inside out. We become more loving, more compassionate, more caring, more willing to serve, better able to do good to others. But we don't take the credit for those good deeds that we do. We give all the glory to God, for without His grace, we could never do anything good at all.

When we do this openly and honestly, other people catch on. They see how much we rely on God for everything that is good, and they begin to glorify God, too, in praise and thanks giving for His light and His love that shine through us.

Tuesday – Directed and Proven

Today's first reading from the Book of Proverbs tells us how God handles our hearts. First, the author presents an image of God holding a heart in His hands and directing it. The heart is fluid like a stream of water, and God guides it wherever He pleases in paths that are just right.

Reflect on that for a moment. Are you allowing God to direct your heart? Have you placed it in His hands? Do you trust Him to know just the right paths for you? Do you believe that He will guide you onto them and keep you safe if only you don't resist Him?

Second, the author explains that God proves people's hearts. The Hebrew verb translated as “proves” here is tākan. It refers to weighing or estimating or measuring or regulating. God looks closely at our hearts to see how they measure up. He sees and knows everything about them. There is nothing hidden from His gaze. He understands all our motives (better than we do!), and He unpacks every one of our rationalizations and excuses. If we are willing to listen to Him, He will tell us about ourselves and help us see the truth about our own strengths and weaknesses, our own choices, our own sins.

Are you willing to listen to God? Do you want to know what He wants to tell you about the state of your heart?

Lord, please hold my heart in Your hands and direct it along the right paths. Prove my heart, too, Lord. Measure it, please, and let me know how I'm doing so I can change my ways as I need to and always grow closer to You. Amen.

(Information about Hebrew vocabulary comes from

Wednesday – Bear with One Another

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul doesn't hesitate to declare exactly how he expects Christians to act toward one another. “Live in a manner worthy of the call you have received,” he instructs. Be humble. Be gentle. Be patient. Bear with one another in love. Preserve unity in peace.

All of these directives are critical, but one stands out as particularly important. Bear with one another in love. We all mess up. We all hurt the people we love. We all say and do things we should not. We all make bad decisions that have negative consequences for others. Unfortunately, this kind of behavior is all too human.

So Paul gives us a very practical command: Bear with one another in love. Endure. Keep going. Put up with others even when they are at their worst. Forgive. Move on. Start over. Remember that we are all horribly imperfect and weak. Love anyway. Be thankful that others bear with us. And of course, be especially grateful that Jesus always bears with us.

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