Sunday, November 13, 2016

Reflection for the 33rd Week in Ordinary Time, Part 1

Monday – Read, Listen, Heed

As we near the end of the Church year, we turn our attention to the Book of Revelation. After an introductory verse proclaiming the nature of the revelation (“what must happen soon”) and a nod to the author (St. John), we receive a threefold blessing.

“Blessed is the one who reads aloud and blessed are those who listen to this prophetic message and heed what is written in it, for the appointed time is near.”

While the blessing applies explicitly to the Book of Revelation, it can be extended to cover all of Scripture. We are blessed when we read Scripture, when we listen to the message God gives through it, and when we heed that message.

Let's look at each of these in turn.

The Greek word for “read” is anaginōskō. It literally means “to know again” with certainty. Isn't that exactly what we do when we read Scripture? We know again with certainty the message that God gives us, and we get to know it better and better each time we read it. The more we read Scripture, the more we know God and His love for us. And we are blessed.

The Greek word for “listen” is akouō. It implies more than just the physical sense of hearing; rather, this verb carries overtones of learning and understanding. When we listen to Scripture, we learn about ourselves, about our world, about our heritage, about our God, and about the divine plan for our lives. When we dip into Scripture's unfathomable depths of meaning, we come up with a bit more comprehension of reality every time. And we are blessed.

The Greek word for “heed” is tēreō. It literally means to keep or guard or preserve. When we heed Scripture, we allow it to burrow deep within our hearts and minds, and we keep it there. We make God's words a part of our very selves, and we refuse to let them go because we recognize their infinite value. And we are blessed.

May we, then, always read, listen to, and heed Sacred Scripture and open our hearts to the blessing that God longs to pour out through His words of love. Amen.

(Information about Greek vocabulary comes from HELPS Word Studies on 

Tuesday – Reality Check

Have you ever noticed how often Jesus gives us a reality check? In today's first reading, Jesus tells the Church at Laodicea, “I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.”

Apparently these folks were dedicated to the middle of the road. They weren't wiling to make a strong commitment to anything, one way or another, including their Christian faith. Perhaps they thought they would wait and see what happened as time went by. Maybe they thought they were doing just enough good stuff to squeak into Heaven. They were pretty good people after all. Shouldn't that count for something?

Jesus doesn't stop there. He reminds the people of Laodicea of their usual attitude: “For you say, ‘I am rich and affluent and have no need of anything...’” But then He proceeds to tell them how He sees them: “ are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” So much for their pride! They may have plenty of material goods, but they are living in spiritual poverty.

Take a moment to examine yourself. Does either part of this reality check apply to you? Are you lukewarm about your faith? If so, what might you do to turn up the heat? (Hint: pray, pray, pray!) Do you think you're sitting pretty good in life? If so, are you talking about material stuff or spiritual necessities? Are you living in spiritual poverty? If so, what might you do change your circumstances. (Hint: ask God for an outpouring of His grace!)

Wednesday – King

Today's parable is a familiar one all about a master giving gold coins to his servants and telling them to use the money well. Two of them do so; the other one doesn't. It's a story with an important message.

But if we're not careful, we might miss another significant element in the tale. The master is leaving for a reason; he is going away to obtain a kingship for himself. But the people he wishes to rule over don't want him. They despise him. They want nothing to do with him, and they refuse to accept him as their king.

Why? Perhaps because he is a demanding master. He expects obedience. He makes claims. He exacts consequences upon those who oppose him.

But this is only one side of the master. He is also fair and generous. To those servants who obeyed him, he gave a lavish reward...much more than their small efforts would normally merit. He would even have been satisfied if the disobedient servant had merely put his coin in the bank, an action that would have required minimal risk and no effort at all.

So what is Jesus getting at here? Perhaps He is inviting us to reflect on whether or not we accept Him as the King of our lives. Jesus is like the master. He can be demanding. He expects obedience. He makes claims on us. He allows us to experience the consequences of our actions. But He is also fair and generous...far more than any human master ever could be.

Lord Jesus, be the King of my life, and give me Your grace that I may always be an obedient servant. Amen.

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