The Week of August 12, 2018
SUNDAY - 2018
Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Brief reflections on the
week’s Scripture readings.
Elijah went a day's journey into the desert,
until he came to a broom tree and sat beneath it.
He prayed for death saying: "This is enough, O LORD!
Take my life, for I am no better than my fathers."
He lay down and fell asleep under the broom tree,
but then an angel touched him and ordered him…
"Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!"
He got up, ate, and drank; then strengthened by that food,
he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb.
(From 1 Kgs 19:4-8)
prophet’s life is lonely and hard. When we think of Elijah, we might be tempted
to imagine him, a saint of the Old Testament, being whisked into heaven on a
chariot of fire. But for the 20 or so years he prophesied in Israel, he was
considered a nuance, “a disturber.” He spent most of his time on the run or in
hiding. In this passage, we hear he is ready to throw in the towel. He questions
himself and his call; he questions God. His words remind me of Peter’s when he
is too is called: “Depart from me Lord, for I am a sinful man.”
we study the lives of holy people throughout the ages, we might tend to sanitize
their lives, looking only at their holiness or dramatic sacrifices. Conversely,
especially for more modern day saints, we might look more closely at their
shortcomings. Pope Francis tells us in his recent exhortation,
Gaudete Et Exsultate:
Not everything a saint says is
completely faithful to the Gospel; not everything he or she does is authentic or
perfect. What we need to contemplate is the totality of their life, their entire
growth in holiness, the reflection
of Jesus Christ that emerges when we grasp their overall meaning as a person.
In the reading
from Ephesians today, Paul gives us sound advice as to how we might work on our
saintly and prophetic call: “Live in love.” Yes, he means we should strive to
show compassion and kindness as we go about our day, but even more so, he calls
us to live in awareness of God’s presence—Love--at all times. God’s love is the
nourishment we need to strengthen us on our journey to holiness.
with the Pope’s words:
This is a
powerful summons to all of us. You too need to see the entirety of your life as
a mission. Try to do so by listening to God in prayer and recognizing the signs
that he gives you. Always ask the Spirit what Jesus expects from you at every
moment of your life and in every decision you must make, so as to discern its
place in the mission you have received… May you come to realize what that word
is, the message of Jesus that God wants to speak to the world by your life.
you are feeling the temptation to seek out the nearest “broom tree,” challenge
yourself to consider instead ways to live in love. Jot down a few ideas on the
lines below. Ask the Spirit for awareness and guidance.
“And he has lifted up the horn of his people. Be this his praise from all his
faithful ones.” (Ps 148)
When I was
growing up, each mom in the neighborhood had a different bell to summon their
kids home for dinner (or to tend to the bedroom they “forgot” to clean!) In
ancient times, tribes had different horns and calls to summon their members as
well. Jews still use the shofar to call the faithful on high holy days. Muslims
are called to prayer five times a day. In Christianity, the angelus bells would
remind us of the good news announced to the world. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if
people of all faiths could gather together to pray for peace? Wouldn’t it be
wonderful if this could be the praise from all his children? Let’s start small.
Get your family and friends together and commit to a brief moment of silence for
peace at noon each day. (You can set a call to prayer on your cell phone!) If
each person who reads these words could gather just five people, just think
about the strength of the prayer we could offer! Let me know if you’re up for
of man…open your mouth and eat what I shall give you…” Written on (the scroll)
was: Lamentation and wailing and woe! ... I ate it, and it was as sweet as honey
in my mouth. (Ez
Thinking that God’s words of lamentation, wailing, and woe are as sweet as honey
is a little hard to swallow. It gets even harder as you read on in the Book of
Ezekiel—it’s not until chapter 36 that you get any taste of redemption and
mercy. I am reminded of Jesus’ words to take up his yoke for it is easy and his
burden is light. What yoke, what burden would that be?! There are very few of us
who make it through this life without some suffering and pain. Our woes can be
self-inflicted, like the sins of the Israelites; or, they can befall us out of
no fault of our own. How they ‘taste’ to us, how light the burden really is
depends on our faith and trust in God; that everything we experience—the good
and the bad--belongs in the story of our lives and opens us up to a total
reliance on God—the very yoke Jesus was willing to accept and that he offers to
us. Reflect on this when you are struggling to find meaning in suffering.
daughter, and see; turn your ear, forget your people and your father’s house.”(Ps
Today, in the Catholic tradition, we celebrate Mary, mother of God. While the
words of this psalm refer to the bride of a Jewish king, it is an apt one for
Mary as well. “Forget your people and your father’s house.” When Mary agreed to
bear Jesus, it required her to ignore the limitations of her humanity, to risk
shame on her father’s house, to risk her life. As Mary watched Jesus grow and
move into his ministry, she also had to let go of the messiah images she and her
kin held for so many years. Mary’s “yes” required a lifetime of sacrifice and
resolute faith in God’s word. Turn to her if you are struggling with God’s will
will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from
his heart.”(Mt 18:
What does it
mean to forgive from my heart? I don’t think Jesus adds this phrase by accident.
He is human, remember. He knows how tough this is. I try to forgive everything
because I don’t like the feeling of holding a grudge. It can be more of a
protective, intellectual exercise than one that comes from my heart. Forgiving
from my heart requires me to sit with and accept the pain and suffering I feel
and to allow love to heal the hurt. That takes time, patience, and prayer. If
heartfelt forgiveness and mercy are hard for you, consider reading, Don’t
Forgive Too Soon, by the Linns.
17: His disciples
said to him, “If that is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to
Top of Form(Mt
from Matthew gets under my skin. The disciples are basically saying, “If I can’t
throw my wife out for any reason whatsoever, it is better for me not to take the
risk.” But Jesus calls them out: ‘Sorry guys, but you can’t do that anymore.
Just because you are bored or tired or want a change doesn’t cut it.’ This is a
good message for us today as well, a commentary on the importance and
seriousness of marriage. It is not an institution one enters casually, without
forethought and a willingness to sacrifice, and that applies to all people—men
and women--who enter into this commitment. Let’s pray today for all married
"Let the children come to me and do not prevent them; for the Kingdom of heaven
belongs to such as these.”
(Mt 19:13-15) I imagine Jesus
sitting among children torn apart from their parents, languishing in fear,
desolate, damaged perhaps for life—not just in the US, but on borders and in
villages all over the world. We cannot call ourselves Christian if we do not
acknowledge and remedy these sins committed against those to whom the Kingdom
belongs. We cannot cast judgment on other countries when we are guilty as well.
© 2017, Elaine H. Ireland. “Come and
Reflections are available at
To receive “Come and See” via email, send a request to
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.
We hope you
enjoy "Come and See!"
and we welcome your input. Please contact Elaine Ireland at
with questions, comments, and responses.
© 2009 - 2018, Elaine H. Ireland - Images@FaithClipart.com