The Week of July 1, 2018
SUNDAY - 2018
thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Brief reflections on the
week’s Scripture readings.
Brothers and sisters: As you excel in every respect, in faith,
knowledge, all earnestness, and in the love we have for you,
may you excel in this gracious act also…
Not that others should have relief while you are burdened,
but that as a matter of equality
your abundance at the present time should supply their needs,
so that their abundance may also supply your needs, that there may
As it is written: Whoever had much did not have more,
and whoever had little did not have less.
(from 2 Cor 8:7, 9, 13-15)
A few weeks
ago, the little historic town near where I live was hit with a second
devastating flood in as many years. My neighborhood did not suffer much damage,
and my parish--always generous--took up a collection to help those who had lost
everything. Then, out of the blue, we received a very generous donation from a
parish in New Jersey. They had been helped by other parishes during the
devastation of Superstorm Sandy several years ago, so they decided to “pay it
forward” and support our efforts. What a wonderful, gracious act!
This is what
Paul is addressing to the Corinthians in today’s second reading. The community
in Jerusalem is suffering from famine, and Paul asks the Corinthians to share
their abundance--and he throws in a little peer pressure about the generous
Macedonians as well—Paul knew all about fundraising techniques!
is encouraging us to look differently at the highly proprietary way in which we
in capitalistic societies view resources and possessions. He calls us to look
beyond our own community and country, to the needs of all God’s children, and of
the world itself, to look for equality and fairness in allocating resources.
of this seems overwhelming. What can one person, one family, even one community
do to make a change that matters? Take to heart the words of anthropologist
Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed
citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”
been articles recently on the sad phenomenon that people are feeling more and
more disempowered to affect change. As Christians, it is so important we
remember one of the most overlooked parts of Jesus’ ministry—his ministry of
empowerment. Yes, he is God, and yes, he cured the sick and lame, but he also
healed people of their powerless by reminding them they could “go in peace
for their faith had healed them.” Jesus empowers us with faith to do “even
greater things” than he did (Jn 14:12).
So make changes in your own home to
hoard less of the world’s resources. Donate your excess food and clothes. Use
less water. Cut way down on the use of plastics. Make sure people in your
community get a fair share of the resources open to the community. Sponsor a
child at camp or a family at the local YMCA. Lobby local, state, and national
politicians for an equitable distribution of goods and services. Don’t throw up
your hands in disgust or complacency. Go change the world!
you who never think of God. Why do you recite my statutes, and profess my
covenant with your mouth, though you hate discipline and cast my words behind
While none of the prophetic books are cheery, the Book of Amos, featured this
week, is one of the least so. The author attacks Israel’s hypocrisy, and today’s
psalm passage is in keeping with Amos’ warnings. It’s a “zinger” to wake us up.
There are no big feasts for a while, no times of preparation to keep us focused
on God. We may need help acting upon God’s statutes, not just occasionally
reciting them. As you rise each day, make a conscious decision to love. Ask the
Spirit to keep you aware and in tune with God’s presence all around you.
“In (Christ Jesus) you also are being built together into a dwelling place of
God in the Spirit.”
Paul’s use of the present tense: you “are being” built into a dwelling place
for the Spirit…not you have been or you will be…you are, right now. Yes, of
course the Spirit has already taken up residence in us through the virtue of our
baptism, but every day, we are being built into a productive place from which
the Spirit can venture out through us. We are not complete, and there will be
many a time that what we’ve started building may need to be torn down a bit for
the structure to remain true. Don’t lament if you’ve let the dwelling fall into
disrepair or you think you don’t have the right tools to build. Allow the Spirit
do the structural work from the inside and your dwelling will emerge strong and
secure and ready to house the world!
“Hate evil and love good,
and let justice prevail at the gate…”
(Am 5:14-15, 21-24)
When I read
this, I think of the refugees and asylum seekers trying to make their way to a
safe place to raise their kids. I heard in a presentation that the only reason
parents risk taking their children out on rickety boats to cross the
Mediterranean is if the water is safer than the land. The same holds true for
parents seeking to escape poverty and gang violence. This is a complex issue
that demands civil resolution. The prophet Amos calls for justice at the gate:
Yes, some seeking to enter our countries are set on doing evil, and we must weed
out such individuals. But must we throw out all the wheat because of the
presence of some weeds? Pray today for the leaders of nations, that they will
work together to find just and fair solutions to this terrible situation. Do
your part by being a welcoming presence to those in your community who might be
living in fear.
“‘I was no
prophet…I was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores. The LORD said, Go, prophesy
to my people Israel.’"
We’re familiar with shepherds being called to guide God’s people, but WHAT in
the world is “a dresser of sycamores?” This tree is not the same one we know of
in North America; the Egyptian sycamore produces figs. For the fruit to be
edible it must be cut open while it’s young or it becomes bitter. Amos’ “side
gig” is to tend these trees so he and his neighbors have good fruit to eat. Amos
is called by God to guide the people, but as a prophet, he’s called at times to
cut open their hearts to hear God’s word. There are prophets among us today. Are
we open to their words and wisdom? Or are we just too tired and bitter?
"We will buy the lowly man for silver, and the poor man for a pair of sandals;
even the refuse of the wheat we will sell!"
(Am 8:4-6, 9-12)
We are appalled at the stories
about scam artists—criminals really—taking advantage of the young, the old, and
the vulnerable. Given the number of scam calls I receive, it’s scary to imagine
how many people they entrap in their webs. So what do I do about it? I usually
just block the number and move on, but how will that help the next person they
dial or email? These charlatans need to be exposed for what they are. Yes, the
Lord will punish them for their deeds, but I need take the time to be a
responsible citizen and Christian and report them to authorities; there are
several legitimate websites that allow me to do that. Do you have an elderly or
young neighbor or family member? Offer to help them discern a legitimate offer
from a scam. Be a prophet like Amos. Don’t be afraid to call out those who use
others for their own profit.
“People do not put new wine into old wineskins.”
(Mt 9: 14-17)
As difficult as it may be, there
are times when we need to move forward and abandon the old. We have changed,
grown, and who we are no longer fits in what was. Pray for the strength to
discern when God is calling you to let go.
© 2017, Elaine H. Ireland. “Come and
Reflections are available at
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Ireland has a passion for working with parents and anyone who struggles to
maintain a sense of God’s love and peace amid the day-to-day challenges of life.
She has a master’s degree in Spiritual and Pastoral Care from the Pastoral
Counseling department at Loyola, Maryland, with a focus on developmental
psychology and spiritual guidance. Rooted in Ignatian spirituality, she is
a writer, retreat and workshop leader, and presenter on topics such as pastoral
parenting, “letting go,” and finding the spiritual in the midst of everyday
life. She lives in Ellicott City, Maryland with her husband, Mark and children,
David and Maggie.
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