Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Reflection for the 32nd Week in Ordinary Time, Part 2

Thursday – Brother, Not Slave

In today's first reading, St. Paul is writing to a man named Philemon with a very special request. Philemon had a slave named Onesimus...or at least he used to. Apparently, Onesimus had escaped and somehow become a companion of Paul. Paul feels it is best to send Onesimus back to Philemon even though he is loathe to part with him, but since Onesimus and Philemon are both Christians, Paul suggests a new arrangement. Onesimus is to be Philemon's brother, not his slave.

As we read and meditate on Paul's request, we should think about how we behave toward the people around us. Are they more like brothers or more like slaves? Do we value them for their own sake or use them for our own purposes? Do we see them as human beings with dignity, made in the image and likeness of God? Do we treat them accordingly? Are we all one family in God?

Friday – Treasuring the Promise

“Within my heart I treasure Your promise...” What has God promised us? Grace in this life if we accept it. Eternal life in Heaven if we remain in His grace here on earth. Love. Forgiveness. Truth. Beauty. Goodness. A place in His family. A relationship with Him. A share in His divine life.

What a promise this is! Can we really say with the psalmist that we treasure this promise? The Hebrew word for “treasure” is tsaphan, and it means to store or hide or protect. We, then, ought to store God's promise deep within our minds and hearts and protect it so we never lose it. We ought to reflect deeply on it in the hidden places of our being so that we can know its value and accept it as our own.

Take some time today to reflect on God's promise, to examine it in all its beauty, and to make sure that it is securely placed in your heart so that you may treasure it always.

(Information about Hebrew vocabulary comes from

Saturday – A Negative Comparison

In today's Gospel, Jesus tells the parable of the judge and the widow. The judge doesn't care about justice for anyone. He clearly practices his profession for himself alone. But the widow won't give up. She knows that she's right and that she's going to get a favorable response if she just keeps on bugging that judge. Finally, the judge gives in, fearing that the widow will wear him out with all her stubborn pleas. He renders a just decision for her, and she is satisfied.

When we first hear this parable, we might wonder what Jesus is getting at. Surely God isn't like that unjust judge, is He? He doesn't hold out on us just because He doesn't feel like answering or is busy with other things, does He? He doesn't get tired of our pleading and give in just to get rid of us, right?

God, of course, doesn't do any of these things. Jesus is using a negative comparison here. God is the opposite of the unjust judge. He is perfectly just, and He doesn't hold back good things from His people. When we pray to Him, He always hears and answers.

It's just that sometimes He doesn't answer quite the way we would like. Sometimes He says “No” to our prayers or “Wait.” Then, like the widow, we have to persevere. We have to keep praying, asking God to do what is best for us and to help us understand that whatever He is doing is for our good even when we don't see it.

The widow couldn't trust the judge to do the right thing, but we can always trust our God because He always has our best interests in His mind and heart. We just have to remember (and be reminded) that prayer is far more about getting Someone than about getting something, and that's why we must “pray always without becoming weary.”

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