Thus says the LORD:
Just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down
and do not return there till they have watered the earth,
making it fertile and fruitful,
giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who
so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth;
my word shall not return to me void,
but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.
(from Is 55:10-11)
You have visited the land and watered it; greatly have you
Softening it with showers, blessing its yield.
(from Ps 65)
There are lovely
images in today’s Old Testament verses…of rain and fertility, growth
and fruitfulness. As Christians, we assume God’s “word” in Isaiah
refers to Jesus. But perhaps we need to expand our interpretation to
include ourselves in that as well.
Imagine God saying to you, “Just as
the gifts I have given you, and joys and sorrows of your life, water
and nourish your heart and soul, making them fertile, giving you
seeds that feed others, so shall you return to me, having done my
will and achieving the end for which I sent you. I will bless the
fruits of your life.”
Living the Word…
Have you ever
considered “the end” for which you have been sent by God? It’s
intimidating to think about--to imagine that God, in God’s intimate
knowledge of each of us, has a purpose for us as individuals, and
sees the potential we each have inside. Yes, it’s intimidating,
especially IF we are relying on ourselves to figure it out on our
own; IF we think we need to run out and start “doing” right away; IF
we believe it is all up to us; IF we are so caught up in results
that we fail to understand our role as the sowers, not the reapers.
Look at Jesus’
life. He always relied on the Father for direction and guidance. He
spent many years living a simple life, listening and discerning his
call. He knew it was not him who acted, but the Father through him.
And clearly, he left this earth having sown seeds. He—and we-- still
await the fullness of the harvest.
The quest to find
our purpose requires awareness, simplicity, and openness. We don’t
need advanced degrees or years of study or going to the ends of the
earth to find it. God’s will for us “is not too
mysterious and remote.” (Dt 30:11) But it does require us to put
aside what we have planned in order for God to live through us.
There are several readings this week that present the
realities and the costs of discipleship. Spend some time in quiet
prayer with this and the other readings. Ask God directly: “What is
the end for which you have sent me?” Then listen. Just listen.
17: "Whoever loves father or
mother or son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me."(Mt
least Matthew isn’t as harsh as Luke who tells us we must “hate”
father, mother, son, and daughter! What Jesus is really telling us
is to follow the first commandment: “You will have no other gods but
God.” In the past, we’ve discussed the idea of “holy indifference,”
a concept in Ignatian Spirituality. It isn’t the attitude of
“whatever” or not caring. It’s the acceptance that, to be Christ’s
follower, no one, nothing can come before God and God’s will for us.
Reflect honestly on how you live. Who or what might you love more
Jul 18: Jesus
reproached the towns since they has not repented: "Woe to you! For
if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and
Sidon, they would long ago have repented in sackcloth and ashes.”
The Greek word for repent has its roots in “metanoia,”
which means a lasting change in heart and mind.
I scratch my head trying to figure out why the people
of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum seem to take Jesus’ miracles
for granted. (Is it possible they’ve been instructed by the elders
to ignore them?) But yet, have I allowed my life to be changed by
the miracles of love and mercy Christ showers on me daily? Or do I
take these gifts for granted? As is the case in much of the
spiritual life, metanoia is not a one-and-done deal. Allowing God to
change us takes constant awareness of both the miracles we
experience and the sins and mistakes we make. How will you let God
change your heart and mind…and change your life today?
"I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for
although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to the childlike” (Mt
When I read this passage, I have to wonder: Has God really hidden
things from the wise and learned, or is it the wise and learned who
have closed their minds and hearts and choose not to listen?
Jul 20: Moses
said, "When I go to the children of Israel and say to them, 'The God
of your fathers has sent me to you,'
if they ask me, 'What is his name?' what am I to tell them?"
If we rely on Stephen’s discourses in
Acts, Moses is around 80 years old when he encounters the burning
bush. It’s been 40 years since he left Egypt, guilty of murder and
scorned by his fellow Israelites. He’s got a good life in Midian: a
nice wife and father-in-law, two sons, flocks to tend. Why would he
want to dig up all that old, painful stuff and go back to rescue his
brethren who didn’t trust him anyway? If only he had just ignored
that darn bush! But he couldn’t. And neither can we. Sometimes God
asks us to do uncomfortable things: to forgive or ask forgiveness
for a hurt long buried away; to help a friend or relative we’d just
as soon forget; to do something we don’t think we are capable of
doing. Is there a call burning in your heart?
“How shall I make a return to the LORD for
all the good he has done for me?”
“…the invitation of this gentle, loving savior
expects nothing difficult or extraordinary of you.
He is not making impossible demands on you, he only
asks that your good intention be united to his so that he may lead,
guide, and reward you….Indeed…God is only asking for your heart.”
(Jean-Pierre De Caussade)
On my bed at night I sought him whom my heart loves but I did not
find him. I will rise and go about the city. The watchmen came upon
me, as they made their rounds. “Have you seen him whom my heart
loves?” (Sgs 3:1-4)
In the Catholic tradition, it is the
Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, the Apostle to the Apostles. This
reading from the Song of Songs describes the intimate love of a
bride for her groom. In this passage, the bride takes a big risk,
wandering the streets at night in search of her lover, unfazed by
the presence of the night watchmen, heedless of the danger. It’s not
unlike the risk Mary takes in today’s gospel, approaching Jesus’
tomb while it is still dark, knowing it is guarded by Roman
soldiers. Her love impels her to seek him. Being a disciple, having
this kind of intimate love, does in fact require us to take some
risks. Love always does. Does your heart burn for Christ? Are you
willing to seek him, heedless of the costs?