Monday, November 26, 2018
Rv 14:1-3, 4b-5; Lk 21:1-4
...and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins.
Jesus sits down and observes the contributions of all those gathered in the Temple. The wealthy come forward first, dramatically offering large monetary contributions. While absent from Luke’s narrative, Mark emphasizes the fanfare — often literally marked with a trumpet blast — as the rich throw significant amounts of money into the treasury. To those other than Jesus watching, the poor widow’s gift is unimpressive; he, however, sees the purity of her sacrifice. He instructs the disciples to take notice of what he knows is an extravagant gift. She provides the perfect model of selflessness and generosity. How something looks on the outside is often deceiving. We are easily misled by appearance. We may also try to fool others with our own flashiness or superficial gestures. God knows our hearts. He sees beyond our outward actions and comprehends our deepest intentions. No lavish action can hide insincerity.
Generous Lord, help me to be selfless in sharing not only my monetary gifts but also my immense riches of time, kindness, understanding, forgiveness, acceptance, and love.
Tuesday, November 27, 2018
Rv 14:14-19; Lk 21:5-11
“...the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down."
Luke’s dark imagery tempts us to fearfully speculate about the end times. Jesus makes it clear, however, that the destruction of the Temple and the end of the age are separate. The fall of Jerusalem and the burning of the Temple in 70 C.E. can certainly be seen as a concrete interpretation of the first part of Jesus’ warning, but it did not usher in the end. Sadly, widespread war, natural disasters, and human suffering are commonplace. Those who use incidents of darkness and tribulation as signs of the Lord’s immediate coming in final judgment take advantage of others’ fear. We don’t know the exact time of his coming. Acting as if we do makes us false prophets. We can be vigilant and prayerful, but we must do so as eager witnesses to his salvation and light, not as fear mongers of unavoidable destruction and damnation.
Give us, steadfast Lord, an indestructible faith to withstand the falsehoods and temptations of despair. Give us unwavering hope to joyfully anticipate your coming in glory.
Wednesday, November 28, 2018
Rv 15:1-4; Lk 21:12-19
"They will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name.”
Torture, arrest, persecution and even death are a reality for millions of Christians in the world today. According to Aid to the Church in Need, at least 75 percent of the victims of religiously motivated violence and oppression are Christians. Religious belief is the reason for discrimination, loss of property, abduction, torture, rape, slavery, banishment and murder for more than 215 million Christians worldwide, according to the Open Doors USA World Watch 2018 report. At least one Christian church somewhere in the world is attacked weekly, and Christians are routinely detained or imprisoned without trial. We must commit ourselves to increasing education, raising awareness, encouraging engagement at both the grassroots and global levels, and standing in solidarity with all of our persecuted brethren — Christian or otherwise.
God of all, safeguard your people from hate and intolerance. Fill the hearts of those who oppress with compassion and mercy.
Thursday, November 29, 2018
Rv 18:1-2, 21-23; 19:1-3, 9a; Lk 21:20-28
Then those in Judea must flee to the mountains.
As hostile Gentile armies surrounded Jerusalem, Jews perished in large numbers. Many Christians, however, fled across the Jordan River and avoided the tragic outcome of Jerusalem’s fall. Religious discord of all kinds is still a major cause of civil war and flight. According to the U.S. State Department, 74 percent of the world’s population lives in countries “with serious restrictions on religious freedom.” A significant increase in migration has heightened awareness of the vulnerability of migrants and refugees as well as increased skepticism. There are obvious differences in willingness to open borders. Recipient nations may deny protection or shelter immigrants based on religion, exacerbating the problem or politicizing the response. An increasing number of religious refugees today find themselves facing uncertainty. With narrowing protection, denied asylum, and limited resettlement options, they fear being forcibly returned to persecution in their homeland. Jesus calls us to welcome the stranger. How do we defend religious freedom for all and protect the most vulnerable?
Almighty God, watch over those victimized and fleeing for their faith. Help us to bring safety, security and comfort to those who have no place to call home.
Friday, November 30, 2018
Rom 10:9-18; Mt 4:18-22
St. Andrew, apostle
Thus faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.
In Metaphysics, Aristotle said, “There is nothing in the intellect that was not previously in the senses.” St. Thomas Aquinas offers a similar assessment of the senses’ connection to intellect. God communicates to us through what we see and hear. Our hearing involves interaction and there is an expectation of exchange. We indicate listening, understanding and engagement through an appropriate response. Pope Benedict XVI wrote in Lumen Fidei, “Faith is our response to a word which engages us personally, to a ‘Thou’ who calls us by name.” Today, we celebrate St. Andrew who is honored as the Protoklete or “First Called.” When he heard John the Baptist speak of Jesus, Andrew sought his brother Simon Peter and brought him to the Lord. Andrew professed with faith and hope, "We have found the Messiah” (John 1:41). He became the preacher and interpreter of the word of Christ for the Greek world. May our hearing the word of Christ push us to an equally enthusiastic response.
Gentle Shepherd, let me hear and know your voice above the noise, confusion and conflicting calls of my day.