Reflection for September 22, 2013
25th Sunday in Ordinary Time
First Reading: Amos 8: 4-7
Second Reading: 1 Timothy 2: 1-8
Gospel: Luke 16: 1-13
These readings are statements or teachings about stewardship…about being responsible for one’s own actions regarding those things placed in our care or the gifts given to us by God or others. Immediate reflection first calls to mind how I share with the poor or less fortunate. But further musings challenge me to ask how generous I am with my God. How does my day reflect the time and thought I spend in prayer or awareness of my blessings?
Gracious, generous God, let my life be centered around you. Let the abundance that is your gift to me be shared with all. May my time, talents and possessions serve you and your holy people and may I not forget you in the midst of my busy life of giving and doing. Amen.
Elna Stemann, OSF
I woke up this morning and was thinking about chance, fate, luck, faith, however it is that I live so securely in a little town in SE Indiana. The things I have on my mind this morning I suspect are far from those things my counterpart in Damascus would have on her mind this morning. I do not start my day giving any thought whatsoever to being gassed with chemical weapons or preparing for a missile strike. I have an abundance of food, as do my pets. I am surrounded by choice. Should I have the Kenyan, organic Yukon, or Columbian coffee? Will it be eggs or waffles? I have plenty to read. I can reach out to my loved ones and friends without effort trusting that my phones or my Internet or my vehicle or even my legs can carry and convey me to them. I hear tree frogs and cicadas of the early morning no whistling bullets no fear of walking barefoot in my own yard. My trash pickup came on time without interruption. The running water in my home made washing my dishes easy, doing a load of laundry automatic, taking a shower welcome on this muggy morning. School buses make their way to pick up children who wait openly by the roadside for another day at school. But somewhere in Damascus today a woman about to turn 50 like me can say none of those things. She had a different morning beginning hours ago. I don’t even know her name. But she is there. And I am thinking of her.
Healthcaring Committee Chair at Oldenburg Franciscan Center
“What is within our grasp, we find with difficulty” (Wis. 9:16). The readings of this Sunday are among the most challenging in Scripture and in the case of the Gospel, one of the harshest passages against selfish possessiveness. The responsorial psalm reminds us starkly that we are mere humans, our days are numbered and most of them are filled with anxiety and trouble. The passage from Wisdom confronts us with the awesome truth that we as humans can never really know God’s mind since our reasonings are unsure and our intentions are unstable. Paul calls Philemon to a somewhat heroic stage of forgiveness, to receive back with loving forgiveness his former slave Onesimus, who had run away with stolen goods, not as as a returning slave but as a beloved in Christ. And Jesus shakes us up with his distressing announcement that unless we turn our backs on our loved ones and ourselves we cannot be his disciples! It isn’t easy to walk in the footprints of Jesus and proclaim God’s love by our very lives. In fact, it is almost impossible unless we can become truly spiritually poor, unless we can embrace honestly our vulnerability and neediness, unless we can dare to let go of anything or anyone or any aspect of ourselves which keeps us from experiencing the power of Christ’s Spirit working in us in ways we cannot imagine. Unholy possessiveness of any sort keeps us from finding “what is in our grasp”–the “waking in the morning, filled with God’s love and sweetness” (Ps. 90)–the joy of being Christ’s disciples.
God, you are always with us as loving, compassionate and forgiving. But we so often in our self-centeredness and pride refuse to acknowledge our need for you and instead serve other “idols” which soon possess us and prevent us from hearing your call within us to become the gifts you created us to be, persons who share your Presence with all with whom we love and work. We dare to ask you to DISTURB us when we refuse to take the time to truly listen to your messages to us; DISTURB us when we hold on to things or persons which lessen the pain of seeking YOU when our hearts are restless; DISTURB us when we are tempted to give you, sparingly, from our abundance rather than from the very substance of our hearts. DISTURB us enough to become willing in love to “take up our Cross daily” to walk in your footprints.
S. Norma Rocklage, OSF