Brothers and sisters: Have no anxiety at all,
but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your
requests known to God.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,
whatever is gracious,
if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy
think about these things. Then the God of peace will be with
(from Phil 4:6-9)
Pondering the Word …
you ever experienced the feeling of really doing God’s will? Maybe
it was saying or doing exactly the right thing for a relative
or friend. Perhaps it was finding out about a positive impact you
had without being aware of it. You feel a sense of peace--not pride,
not a feeling of accomplishment or success, but peace. You are aware
that you were nothing more (or less) than a channel for God’s love.
It’s an amazing feeling!
Old Testament and gospel readings today are harsh, but wedged in
between the dire warnings is this beautiful passage from St. Paul
that describes a life of peace, free of anxiety, if we choose to
live in Christ. Too often we focus on the bad things that could
happen if we don’t live according to God’s rules rather than on the
peace that living in the Light brings. I imagine we all remember,
perhaps in vivid detail, times when we rejected God. If we’ve been
unable to accept God’s forgiveness or forgive ourselves, those
negative feelings endure as well.
reality, heaven and hell are right here, right now. We can choose to
live in God’s peace or we can opt to reject God and his mercy, and
struggle in anxiety and fear. Remember Moses’ words to the
Israelites before they entered the Promised Land. It is our
have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse.
Choose life…by loving the Lord, your God, heeding his voice, and
holding fast to him.”
Living the Word…
and pray today about what gets in the way of living your life in the
peace of God. Do you have unrealistic expectations of what life
should be or how others should act? Expectations not grounded in our
ever-changing reality are the major source of anxiety in our lives.
Maybe you are holding on to the past in unhealthy ways. Pray the
Holy Spirit will guide you to choose life by letting go of things
that block the Light of heaven from shining on your life.
Still the men rowed hard to regain the land, but they could not...
“We beseech you, O LORD, let us not perish for taking this man's
life”…they threw (Jonah) into the sea, and the sea's raging abated.
Struck with great fear of the LORD,
the men offered sacrifice and
made vows to him. (Jn 1: 1-16; 2: 1-2, 11)
We don’t always
get to hear all the details of Jonah’s perilous voyage. The mariners
with whom Jonah is traveling are not Jews. When the storm arises,
each cries out to his own god. Jonah fesses up and tells them to
throw him into the sea, yet they continue to row hard towards shore.
Even when, in desperation, they throw him over, they ask Jonah’s God
for mercy, and when the storm abates they make vows to God. One
could argue they came to believe out of awe and fear, but it is
Jonah’s sin and his willingness to take responsibility that bring
them to encounter God. Our goodness and obedience can lead others to
God, but often it is instead our repentance and faith, despite our
sinful nature, that can be the one thing that invites people to
Oct 10: Jonah
began his journey through the city, and had gone but a single day's
walk when the people of Nineveh believed God. (Jn
3:1-10) "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried
about many things.” (Lk 10:38-42)
Ever wonder how certain stories
get paired up in the Lectionary? What in the world does Jonah have
to do with Martha and her busyness? I don’t know the official
answer, but one thing strikes me: God is asking both of them to look
at things differently. Jonah fails to see how God can be present to
the Ninevites. He assumes God’s mercy will not be available to them.
Martha assumes she knows exactly what she (and therefore her sister)
is supposed to do, so much so that she ignores the presence of God
right in front of her. We may need God to shake us up as well, to
surprise us into changing our perspectives on other people or on
what God is calling us to do. Assuming we know what God wants can
get us into big trouble. Pray each morning for the grace to
recognize God in others and to listen to how God is calling us.
“And should I not be concerned over Nineveh, the great city,
in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons
who cannot distinguish their right hand from their left?”(Jn
Testament stories portray an image of a vengeful God, but there are
several, like the one today, which are enlightening and reassuring.
God has been merciful to Jonah, but here, God chastises him for his
selfishness and lack of mercy. God is teaching Jonah by calling him
out on his own hypocrisy and preconceived notions. God also shows
great love and patience for the Ninevites who, out of ignorance,
can’t distinguish right from wrong. This reading calls me to
confront the times I am judgmental of people whose background and
upbringing never exposed them to morality, when I fail to
acknowledge God’s mercy for me, or when I refuse to show mercy to
others. Spend time in prayer reflecting on this important lesson.
“Ask and you will receive; seek and you will
find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who
asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who
knocks, the door will be opened.” (Lk 11:5-13)
“If you had the choice, which
would you choose:
the granting of your petition or
the grace to be peaceful whether it is granted or not?”
(from Taking Flight, by
Anthony de Mello)
Oct 13: “Every
kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste and house will
fall against house.” (Lk 11:15-26)
This passage comes up several
times in the lectionary cycle. Indeed, the divisions in many
countries appear more pronounced these days. Perhaps it is just that
we hear so much more about it now, but the seriousness of this
message cannot be overstated. Pope Francis calls us to dialogue. Not
Twitter or Face Book, but face-to-face, civil, respectful dialogue
with those whose views are different from our own. This is the only
way we can free ourselves from the echo chambers of social and
mainstream media and break through to common ground. How will I
facilitate dialogue today? How will I reach out to someone whose
ideas differ from mine?
Oct 14: “Crowd
upon crowd in the valley of decision; near is the day of the LORD in
the valley of decision. (Jl 4: 12-21)
“The valley of decision” is a provocative phrase. St.
Ignatius of Loyola, in his rules for discernment, advises us not to
make major decisions in times of darkness, so if you are in the
darkened valley of depression or anxiety, look up towards the Light.
Pray for patience and wisdom. Seek counseling to help you move