Religion

Catholic Sunday Reflections: September 9, 2018: 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion

Mass Readings:
1st Reading: Isaiah 35:4-7 Responsorial: Psalm 146:7-10
2nd Reading: James 2:1-5 Gospel: Mark 7:31-37

SS Peter And Paul Catholic Church Lagere Ile-Ife

The burning sands will become pools. (Isaiah 35:7)

Isaiah’s promises seem extravagant, don’t they? If we look at them literally, they are quite marvelous. God will permanently alter the Holy Land itself. If we read these verses spiritually, the promises become even more inspiring: God is promising to alter us at the very center of our hearts. This is exactly what he has done too. He has made us a new creation! But for all the generosity he has shown us, God still asks us to come and receive his grace. He still asks us to settle ourselves in his presence so that he can fill us up.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux, a twelfth-century monk from France, explained it this way:
The man who is wise . . . will see his life as more like a reservoir than a canal. The canal simultaneously pours out what it receives; the reservoir retains the water until it is filled, then discharges the overflow without loss to itself. . . . You too must learn to await this fullness before pouring out your gifts. Do not try to be more generous than God.

God never intended us to be a “canal,” always giving away whatever we receive, never holding onto anything for ourselves. No, he wants to take care of us—day after day after day. He knows that if we can learn to be like “reservoirs,” not only will we become more joyful and peaceful, but we will also become more effective in caring for the people around us.

We pour ourselves out every day: for our children, for our aging parents, for our coworkers, and for our neighbors. But if we spend all of our time taking care of everyone else, we’ll end up physically exhausted and spiritually depleted.

There’s nothing wrong with taking five or ten minutes each day to soak up the love and mercy of God. There’s nothing wrong with becoming a reservoir instead of a canal. God’s extravagant promises are for you just as much as they are for everyone else.

“Here I am, Lord. Come and fill me up!”

Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion:

1. The first reading from Isaiah begins with these powerful words of encouragement from the Lord: Thus says the LORD: Say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you. It continues with these words: Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared; then will the lame leap like a stag, then the tongue of the mute will sing. Streams will burst forth in the desert, and rivers in the steppe. The burning sands will become pools, and the thirsty ground, springs of water.

  • In what ways are these words a prophetic foreshadowing of the works of Jesus performed during his time on earth, as well as in the world today?
  • How does this reading reflect the ways you have received encouragement and strength from the Lord in a time of trial through the Sacraments, prayer, or Scripture? Any examples?

2. The Responsorial Psalm also speaks of God’s great love and care for the needy, in particular, those who are oppressed, hungry, captive, blind, bowed down, fatherless, and widows. It ends with these words: The fatherless and the widow the LORD sustains, but the way of the wicked he thwarts. The LORD shall reign forever; your God, O Zion, through all generations.

  • How has Jesus Christ fulfilled the words of this Psalm?
  • Of course, as Christians, we are also called to reflect God’s love to others. What are some things you can do to better reflect God’s love and care to the oppressed, hungry, captive, blind, bowed down, fatherless, and widows.?

3. In the second reading from the Letter of James, we are told to show no partiality as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. The letter goes on to apply these words to how we are to treat the rich and the poor. It ends with these words: Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Did not God choose those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he promised to those who love him?

  • Why do you think it is important to God that there be no partiality in how we treat the rich and the poor?
  • What do you think it means to show no partiality? How well are you doing at showing “no partiality”?

4. In the Gospel reading, Jesus miraculously heals a deaf man with a speech impediment. The reading ends with these words by Jesus to the people who brought him the deaf man. It also includes their reaction: He ordered them not to tell anyone. But the more he ordered them not to, the more they proclaimed it. They were exceedingly astonished and they said, “He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

  • In what ways are the healings of Jesus signs of his divine nature? (Hint: see the first reading from Isaiah and the responsorial psalm.)
  • Have you ever experienced a time when your prayers for healing were answered? What impact did it have?
  • Do you believe that your prayers can be instruments of healing, and a reflection of Jesus’ compassion, in the lives of the sick?
  • What keeps you from praying more often for others for healing?

5. The meditation is a reflection on the “extravagant” promises of the first reading, including these words: The burning sands will become pools (Isaiah 35:7). The meditation ends with these words: “God never intended us to be a “canal,” always giving away whatever we receive, never holding onto anything for ourselves. No, he wants to take care of us—day after day after day. He knows that if we can learn to be like “reservoirs,” not only will we become more joyful and peaceful, but we will also become more effective in caring for the people around us. We pour ourselves out every day: for our children, for our aging parents, for our coworkers, and for our neighbors. But if we spend all of our time taking care of everyone else, we’ll end up physically exhausted and spiritually depleted. There’s nothing wrong with taking five or ten minutes each day to soak up the love and mercy of God. There’s nothing wrong with becoming a reservoir instead of a canal. God’s extravagant promises are for you just as much as they are for everyone else.”

  • Why do you think the meditation emphasizes the importance of being a “reservoir” for God’s grace, love, and blessings — not just a “canal”? What message is it trying to convey with these analogies?
  • In what way does this allow us to “become more effective in caring for the people around us”?
  • How important to you is it to take “five or ten minutes each day to soak up the love and mercy of God”? How important should it be?

Take some time now to pray and ask the Lord for a fresh infilling of his Spirit and for the grace to live a life of faith, courage, and generosity. Use the prayer below from the end of the meditation as the starting point.

Source: http://www.catholiclane.com/reflections-for-sunday-september-9-2018-23rd-sunday-in-ordinary-time/

 

Categories: Religion

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