Daily Devotion—Monday, March 30

Sunday Reflection (March 29, 2020)

We may spiritually stumble because we do not pay attention, or we may stumble because we gladly enjoy that into which we are stumbling. Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit guides us to the light of God’s revelation in Jesus Christ (John 11:9-10). When we neglect the Holy Spirit, we trip and walk in darkness, and poison our relationship with God and others.

The Good News is that being guided by the Holy Spirit in the way of Christ, we experience life and peace, healing, and wholeness (Romans 8:5-11). In turn, we bring about peace, healing, and wholeness in our strife-filled, broken world. We do not have to wait until the afterlife for life and peace. It is within our reach today. May we set our minds and attitudes on the things of the Spirit and be weary of fleshly things that poison our relationships.

Pothole Traps / Stumbling / John 11:9-10; Romans 8:6-11

When I was growing up on Jesse Street, Tim and Jeff Burns lived on a parallel street, Banner Street. T get to their large back yard you walked through our front yard, turned right, went a few yards, turned left and followed the path into and through their back yard. Their back yard was a great hang out for the neighborhood 9-12-year-old boys.

Occasionally we would form gangs, and not violent ones, just a gang of boys which was not at all uncommon in those days. One would be at the Burns house and the other at Richard Wilson’s who lived further out two parallel streets away on Main Street but within walking distance. I was part of the Burns gang and Jeff came up with the grand ideal of building potholes in his big back yard. We would cover them with grass to disguise the pothole. We hoped to trick the Wilson gang into chasing us through the back yard and then watch the Wilson gang step into them at full gallop. They never bit the bait and I think they had a spy who happened to be my older brother.

One night I forgot about those pot-hole traps. Darting across the Burns back yard to go home I stepped in one of them and went flying through the air. I skidded across the grass and dirt skinning my knees, elbow, and arms. I lay there a few minutes, got up and went home, because being about 11, I recovered quickly, but the other person to land in one of our pot-hole traps was not running, he was carrying a few groceries. It was Mr. Burns. Although his wife and adults called him Hap for Happy, he was not happy that day. He firmly told his son Jeff: “Son, you’re gonna have to fill those pot-holes!” We filled the potholes that very evening.

Our Gospel Reading is about stumbling and all of us have stumbled at one time or another. I want us to think about spiritual pothole traps that cause us to stumble and draw us away from God and others. We may spiritually stumble because we do not pay attention, or we may stumble because we gladly enjoy that into which we are stumbling. Yet, through the Holy Spirit, God guides us to the light of God’s revelation in Jesus Christ (John 11:9-10).

Although the Apostle Paul does not contrast light and darkness in our specific Scripture Reading, e does contrast the flesh with the spirit. By “fleshly things” Paul is not degrading human biological functions such as food and sex in their proper bounds; rather, he means fleshly actions rooted in bitterness, hatred, competition, and jealously. I am sure that all of us have felt the heartache and despair that such actions bring. We also probably know more about participating in such actions that we may like to admit. Nevertheless, think of spiritual pot-hole traps as actions and attitudes arising from malice and hatred that poison our relationships with God and others. It is counter to the spiritual things that bring life, healing, and wholeness which Paul means by the one word: Peace (Romans 8:5-11).

When we neglect the Holy Spirit, we trip and walk in darkness, and poison our relationship with God and others. Yet, the Good News is that being guided by the Holy Spirit in the way of Christ, we experience life and peace, healing and wholeness. In turn, we bring about peace, healing, and wholeness. We do not have to wait until the afterlife for life and peace. It is within our reach today. May we set our minds and attitudes on the things of the Spirit and be weary of fleshly things that poison our relationships.

Prayer for the Week (March 29-April 4)

Let us pray for the courage to embrace the world in the name of Christ: Father in heaven, the love of your Son led him to accept the suffering of the cross so that we might find life in divine forgiveness. Change our selfishness into self-giving. May we embrace the world you have given us and transform the darkness of its pain into the life and joy of Easter. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

(Sunday Missal, alt.)

Daily Devotion—Wednesday, March 25

Sunday Sermon—March 22, 2020

 

Prayer for the Week (March 22-March 28)

Let us pray to God who has revealed the divine kingdom in Christ: God, in Christ, you declared what is blessed and proclaimed that joy is found in your kingdom. Your kingdom honors what the word despises: Weakness, poverty, mourning, mercy, pity, meekness, purity, peace. May Christ’s Church and our lives reveal your kingdom. Amen.

(Lightening from the East)

Sunday Reflection (March 22, 2020)

Have fear and suspicion ever caused you to mistreat someone? In our Gospel Reading, fear and suspicion cause the religious leaders and even the disciple
to mistreat a blind man. They wondered what sins he or his parents had committed to bring about his blindness. When he is healed and receives sight, the religious leaders were highly suspicious and fearful. Jesus refused to act out of fear and suspicion (John 9:1-41). Jesus saw his blindness as an opportunity to do good: Heal the blind man!

May we not mistreat anyone because of our fear and suspicion. God’s love and compassion revealed to us Jesus Christ has been brought to us through the Holy Spirit. May we treat others as if they are created in the image of God! May we treat others as Christ did. In this time of Covid-19 watch your fear and suspicion. Be wise but not mean and ugly, and as verse 3 of John 9 remind us, consider it an opportunity to do good and bring about healing. Pray for all the medical professionals from doctors to nurses to janitors on the front line of bringing about healing. Look for opportunities to do good as much as you are able, even if it means staying at home for most of us.

Fear and Suspicion / Misjudging others / John 9:1-41

If you have seen a Frankenstein movie you know that being sewn together from the body parts of dead people makes a grotesque appearance. If you have not seen a Frankenstein movie maybe you have watched jolly Herman Muster. He has a grotesque appearance, but he has a great personality and comedic. Nevertheless, in the Frankenstein movies, his grotesque appearance causes fear and suspicion among the villagers. Their fear and suspicion lead them to mistreat Frankenstein. They chase and taunt him with what he fears most: Flaming torches.

Frankenstein flees the village and stumbles upon the house of a blind man who does not see grotesque appearance of Frankenstein. The blind man treats Frankenstein with dignity and respect – as if he was created in the image of God. Frankenstein reflects this kindness and respect by behaving well, learning to read, and improves in social grace and maturity, but the villagers find him. He must flee again.

Have fear and suspicion ever caused you to mistreat someone? In our Gospel Reading, fear and suspicion cause the religious leaders and even the disciple to mistreat a blind man. They wondered what sins he or his parents had committed to bring about his blindness. When he is healed and receives sight, the religious leaders were highly suspicious and fearful. Jesus refused to act out of fear and suspicion (John 9:1-41). Jesus saw it as an opportunity to do good: Heal the blind man!

This text could produce many sermons, but I want to focus upon fear and suspicion which have the potential to lead us to be blind to our own faults and failures. Fear and suspicion lead us to highlight and exploit the faults and failures of others, even if there is neither fault nor failure. Fear and suspicion lead to the mistreatment of illegal immigrants. Fear and suspicion lead us to mistreat our enemies in the name of national security. Fear and suspicion have led to the mistreatment of Muslims and Jews. Fear and suspicion have led to the mistreatment of the neighbor we do not particularly understand or care to understand. Fear and suspicion have led to the mistreatment of homosexuals. Fear and suspicion have led to the mistreatment of the mentally ill.

May we not mistreat anyone because of our fear and suspicion. God’s love and compassion revealed to us Jesus Christ has been brought to us through the Holy Spirit. May we treat others like the blind man treated Frankenstein – as if they are created in the image of God! May we treat others as Christ did

In this time of Covid-19 watch your fear and suspicion. Be wise but not mean and ugly, and as verse 4 of John 9 remind us, consider it an opportunity to do good and bring about healing. Pray for all the medical professionals from doctors to nurses to janitors on the front line of bringing about healing. Look for opportunities to do good as much as you are able, even if it means staying home for most of us.

Prayer for the Week (March 15-March 21)

Let us pray to God our Father that Jesus be the source of our life: Creative and forgiving Father you let people experience your mercy when they encounter your Son, Jesus Christ.
Attune us to his voice speaking your Word of forgiveness and love. Dispose us to follow his example as the Holy Spirit forms Christ within us and among us. Amen

(Claretian Publications)