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The Week of June 25, 2017

The 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time


 

Brief reflections on the week’s Scripture readings.

 


The Word…

For your sake I bear insult, and shame covers my face.
I have become an outcast to my brothers, a stranger to my children,
because zeal for your house consumes me,
and the insults of those who blaspheme you fall upon me.
(from Ps 69)
 

 

Pondering the Word…

Several years ago, I was waiting for my car to be serviced. An older woman, dressed conservatively with a large cross around her neck, was in the waiting room as well. I thought she might be a nun. We struck up a conversation and I learned she was a grandmother, and that her son and his 13-year old daughter had moved in with her. The son’s marriage had been tumultuous and the girl had seen way too much for her young age. She talked about her efforts to relate to her granddaughter, and told me she spent time watching the girl’s favorite shows which included MTV music videos (which, at the time, were receiving a lot of press due to their explicit sexual nature). My surprise was obvious, then she said, “I have to know what I’m up against.”

So what does this story have to do with today’s Psalm? When we hear that “zeal for your house consumes me and the insults of you fall upon me,” we may think of Jesus cleansing the temple, or the anger that wells up inside of us at obvious words of blasphemy and the defacing of sacred places or shrines; or of times we are struck to our core by militants and terrorists who protest violently against religion or kill those of other faiths.

But how do we react to the scorn and blasphemy of God’s law we witness each day? Rampant gun violence; blatant disregard for the poor, the elderly, and refugees; racial injustice; unconscionable abuse of our planet; tacit acceptance of immoral or violent media; lying politicians and business leaders. The list goes on.

“To tolerate is to teach.” What lessons do we impart to our children when we fail to acknowledge and confront the abuse of God’s earth and God’s creatures that happens every day?

Living the Word…

I was so impressed by this woman’s willingness to engage her granddaughter where she was. She took time to discuss what they were seeing on the screen:  What do you think about the way women are treated and portrayed in these videos? Do you think this is how people really live? How does all this violence make you feel? The grandmother could have stormed off and taken out her disgust on the granddaughter, but she opted instead to expand the girl’s perspective on life and what life could be.

To live the Good News as Jesus did, we are called to engage life as it is. Yes, there may be times for ‘clearing the temple,’ but we don’t want our zeal make us miss an opportunity to reach out and perhaps change a perspective or two. If you interact with teens and young adults, think about engaging them where they are (and where they are might not be where you think they are!)  Even if your kids are younger, make sure to discuss your values as they pertain to everyday events. They are hearing and seeing more than you think. 


Jun 26:  “The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.” (Mt 7:1-5)

I have always thought about this passage as it pertains to how I judge or “measure” others, but I began to think about the ways in which I judge myself as well. Many people have a much tougher measuring stick for themselves than they do for other people. When they do something wrong, they think, “How could I do such a thing? I am better than that.” Oh really? If we are particularly hard on ourselves or those closest to us, it’s a good idea to make sure the standards we have set don’t stem from a sense of pride. If we err and we atone to others and to God, the refusal to let go of our guilt means we have not really accepted God’s forgiveness. Cast away from you all the crimes you have committed, and make for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies, says the Lord GOD. Return and live!” (Ez 18:31-32)

Jun 27: “He who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.”(Ps 15)

How do you “do justice?” We hear the expression that something does not “do justice” to some other thing, person, or object, meaning its full potential is not realized.  So when we “do justice,” we allow the person to whom we offer justice a chance to reach their potential, an opportunity to receive or become what has been denied to them in the past.  This psalm verse calls for some reflection. If I want to live in God’s presence, how will I “do justice” today?

Jun 28: “By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?”(Mt 7:15-20)

Interestingly enough, it’s not uncommon for people to try to pick grapes off of thornbushes, particularly if they thought they were getting grapes there in the first place. It’s called “escalation of commitment,” caused by the need for justification or ego preservation. People don’t like to admit they were wrong about an initial decision, and some continue to give money to scams, follow “wolves in sheep’s’ clothing,” or remain in dangerous sects or groups, even though they might cognitively realize their mistake. A lot of business is conducted with this very phenomenon in mind. Young people can fall prey by remaining with a social group or a boyfriend/ girlfriend they know is not good for them. Do you know anyone caught in this web? Are you stuck in this pattern? Ask Jesus to shed light on your situation and give you the courage and strength to walk away.

Jun 29: “I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.”(2 Tm 4: 6-8; 17-18)

“With whom is Paul competing? He finishes the race, but does he win?” In our dualistic, win-or-lose world, we tend to compete with and hope to defeat others so we feel better about ourselves. But, in life and in truth, the only person we’re up against is ourselves—our true selves. Competing well and finishing the race is to be willing to purge that which is false from our hearts, keeping faith God will see and reward our struggle.  Our life is not about the finish line. It’s about how we get there.

Jun 30:  “…For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork.” (Ps 128)

I’ve just learned a new term for parents who work out everything ahead of time for their kids: “Lawnmower parents.” You know, the ones who move every obstacle out of their kids’ ways, even to the point of doing their work for them. There is nothing more important for true self-esteem than to enjoy the results of our own efforts. It is tasteless, bitter fruit we eat when someone else just hands it to us, especially when we are just learning or capable to do for ourselves. While not all the fruit of the work of our hands—or that of our children’s hands—will be sweet, if we truly own it, it will nourish us in essential ways. Remember that.

Jul 1:  A centurion approached him. "Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully." He said to him, "I will come and cure him." (Mt 8:5-17)

One aspect of this story that might get missed is Jesus’ willingness to go the centurion’s home. The centurion is a Roman and even though we learn in Luke’s version he’s a really good guy, he is still a Gentile. Jews are forbidden to enter Gentiles’ houses. But it seems Jesus dismisses this taboo out of hand, willing to go to the servant’s bedside. To what places and situations am I willing to go? How far will I go to lend a healing hand?
 


© 2017, Elaine H. Ireland.  “Come and See!”

Reflections are available at http://www.preacherexchange.com/comeandsee.htm

To receive “Come and See” via email, send a request to ehireland@loyola.edu


Elaine 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 ehireland@loyola.edu with questions, comments, and responses.

 

© 2009, Elaine H. Ireland - Images@FaithClipart.com


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