Thursday, August 21, 2014

Which group are we in?

"Jesus said, 'The Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son...'"
Matthew 22:2
This Gospel about the wedding feast--the original guests would not come, the king ended up inviting all the people in the streets and they came. Then the curve ball--the one guy who is there and doesn't have a wedding garment and is thrown out into the street. Mystifying! Pray-As-You-Go this morning talked about the two sets of people.  The first group are people who feel they are too bad for God to love them. They feel so inferior they couldn't possibly be part of God's family.  They are to be reassured by this Gospel.  They are actually the ones sought after in the streets and welcomed to the banquet.  The others are represented by the guy without the wedding garment.  They are in and feel no gratitude or appreciation for the generosity that allowed them to be in.  They take their "in-ness" for granted.  Maybe they are judging and gossiping about the other guests.  Maybe they are smug and conceited.  Anyway, out they go! There is no room for those at the banquet who cannot be appreciative and grateful. So, which group are we in?  Food for thought on a rainy Thursday!  Love, heidi

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Stop judging the late-comers!

"Are you envious because I'm generous?"
Matthew 20:15
The Gospel of the late laborers seems to really tweak our human sense of justice, doesn't it? I mean, the late workers in the vineyard receive the exact same wage as those who worked all day in the hot sun.  True, it was the agreed upon wage when they first arrived a the vineyard, but still...we feel like we do when we get up to the cashier at Kohl's and have to pay full price!  What??  This Gospel teaches us that God's justice is completely different than our human justice.  We think you should get what you pay for, what you deserve, what you have earned.  God lavishes love on us so generously as to look wasteful (think 12 baskets of leftovers!) Are we envious of God's generosity? Are we judging people unworthy? How about we not judge people at all, like Jesus commanded? What if we allow God to do what God does best...figure it all out with love and compassion? What if we realize that WE are the late-comers to the field and we thank God for loving us generously?  That's a lot to ponder on a Wednesday, but let's think about it! Love, heidi

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

We won't need anything!

"Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God."
Matthew 19:24
Typically, this reading makes me a little squeamish, does it you?  Because, relatively speaking, we are so rich. What does this mean for us?  I read a wonderful reflection on this in "Give Us This Day" this morning. Sr. Meg Funk said that this whole reading should actually be a comfort to us.  It means that, when we die, "we will not need anything." That perspective takes the sting of this reading out a bit!  There will not be that panic feeling that we don't have what we need when we get to heaven.  I won't have purse panic!  There won't be that scary moment that we will need an ID or a credential of some kind.  We can rest assured that we will have everything we need to enter in with God--nothing but ourselves.  We just need ourselves; no payment, no fee, no letter of reference.  God will greet us just the way we are.  With God's infinite grace, we will pass through that eye of the needle and into God's embrace.  Happy Tuesday! Love, heidi

Monday, August 18, 2014

Do it, Rich Young man!

"A young man approached Jesus and asked, 'Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?'"
Matthew 19:16

A couple of thoughts, today, on this Gospel.  First, thanks to Pray-As-You-Go, I realized that all the commandments Jesus points out to the young man are the commandments regarding how we treat others (see verse 18).  I had always just seen the "get rid of your stuff" part and didn't really dwell on the commandments Jesus quotes to him.  In other words, it's how we treat others that will give us eternal life.  That is so rich to me!  Also, I remembered reading this Gospel last summer on retreat at the Hermitage.  I was discerning my "next step" and, once I came up with what I thought that should be, Jesus asked me what would I give up to make it happen? Would I be willing to let go of anything to reach the deepest desire of my heart?  Since I have been on that journey now for a few months (Spiritual Direction training), I can see that, yes, I have had to give up vacations, resources, and so much free time.  But the fact is, it has been easy because the reward has been so wonderful.  So, my message to the Rich, Young man is:  Do it!  Have a yard sale and give up your possessions to follow Jesus!  You won't miss a thing and the reward is fabulous!  Love, heidi

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Canaanite woman, dogs and Jesus having a difficult day...

Matthew 15:21-28
I pondered today's Gospel, using the Ignatian technique of imagining myself there and taking it in first-hand.  This is how I saw it:
It's hot and smelly as I walk along with the group of people following Jesus.  I hear a woman call out to him and it startles me.  I think, "Uh oh."  I immediately get nervous because confrontation makes me anxious.  And I feel very anxious. I watch Jesus and he slows a bit, but then keeps walking, not responding to the woman's cry.  The two guys closest to Jesus say something to him, motioning for him to move forward. I can't tell if they are telling him to just answer her request and be done with it, or send her away--"We're ALL tired and done dealing with the crowd!"  Jesus stops and shakes his head, sadly.  "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."  I felt that Jesus was sad this woman didn't fall into his jurisdiction to "fix." The woman pushes through the crowd, making me even more nervous--this could get dicey.  She kneels down in front of Jesus, begging him to have pity on her.  Her daughter is suffering with a demon. I glance between the woman on her knees in the dirt and Jesus' face.  He shakes his head, again sadly, and uses a rather unkind metaphor about giving the children's food to the dogs.  I wince. Ouch.  Unfortunate choice of words, Jesus!  I feel sorry for the woman and am a little disappointed in Jesus.  But, whoa!  What did she just say?  I clarify with the person next to me because I just can't believe she said what she said.  "The scraps that fall from the table are given to the dogs?"  Did I hear that right?  I eagerly search Jesus' face.  I see it soften and his eyes seem to be moistening.  He gently takes her hands in his hands and helps her to her feet.  He says to her, "Woman."  Such a term of intimacy and endearment!  (He calls his mother that!)  He tells her that her faith is amazing and her daughter will be healed.  He gives her hands a squeeze and sends her off to her daughter.  He turns back to the way he was going and shakes his head again, as if to say, "Wow...what a powerful lesson that was!"