Daily Bread ~ Scriptural Reflection



Monday, February 18, 2019
Gn 4:1-15, 25; Mk 8:11-13

The Pharisees … began to argue with Jesus.
The manner of Abel’s death and the conflicts Jesus must constantly battle with the Pharisees bring to mind a passage from the Letter of James: "For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice." Cain murders his brother because he is jealous of God’s preference of Abel’s gift over his own. Jealousy of Jesus’ ability to draw crowds leads the Pharisees to plot against him, even for his death. To be envious of another’s good fortune once in a while is human nature but when it leads us to justify attitudes and behaviors that compromise the dignity of others, it becomes a slippery slope. The best antidote for jealousy is to nurture a habit of gratitude every day.
Help us Lord, to appreciate daily what we have and those who enrich our lives.


Tuesday, February 19, 2019
Gn 6:5-8; 7:1-5, 10; Mk 8:14-21

Do you not yet understand or comprehend? Are your hearts hardened?
It is not hard to picture Jesus shaking his head at the shallow concerns of his disciples.While he is trying to teach them about God’s salvation and to warn them of the perils they will face as disciples, their minds are on their stomachs! How often are my choices based on quick comfort without any concern of the deeper consequences of those choices? I have been guilty of choosing convenience over environmental responsibility when buying products. I have overlooked the ethical labor practices of companies that manufacture products I desire. I have gossiped and indulged in activities that have impacted the dignity of others. Has Jesus ever sighed in exasperation at my thoughtless choices and shallow concerns? I dread to think how often.
Forgive me Lord, when I choose convenience over conscience.


Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Gn 8:6-13, 20-22; Mk 8:22-26

[Jesus] sent him home and said, “Do not even go into the village.”
Our environmentalist daughter has been telling us for years of the hazards created by our cultures obsession with cheap, plastic packaging. Yet my own environmental conscience was only awakened one summer when I saw many beautiful shorebirds washed ashore because they had suffocated or starved to death after becoming entangled in plastic debris floating in the ocean. My purchasing and disposal habits were forever changed. Like the healed blind man in today’s Gospel, insights are sometimes gained slowly, but once acquired we cannot in good conscience return to old beliefs and habits. Insights into God and our faith can change dramatically our perspective of ourselves and the world around us.
Renew our sight, God of light, that we may always be open to grow in faith and understanding.


Thursday, February 21, 2019
Gn 9:1-13; Mk 8:27-33

Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.
The way Jesus rebukes Peter has always sounded rather harsh to me. The sense behind the rebuke became clearer to me when I read Fr. Roger Karban’s reflection on this reading and who paraphrased these lines; “Stop being an obstacle to my ministry, Peter! Get your unbelieving face out from in front of me and go behind me; be a disciple! Do what I do, not what you would like me to do.” Like Peter, most of us would prefer that our discipleship not involve suffering, but to follow the teachings of Jesus often places us on a path of uncomfortable choices and difficult consequences. The cross that Jesus asks us to bear is the willingness to risk suffering, as he did, for his message and his mission.
You are the Christ! Give me the courage to be your disciple.


Friday, February 22, 2019
1 Pt 5:1-4; Mt 16:13-19
The Chair of Saint Peter the Apostle


Do not lord it over those assigned to you, but be examples to the flock.
Peter is one of my favorite people in Scripture. He is a man with a generous heart, but is sometimes oblivious to the needs of others. He doesn’t always think before he blurts out his opinion, but he is remorseful when he screws up. He has great courage, but on at least one occasion, he panicked, disowned a friend in need and ran. He is acutely aware of his weaknesses and humbly acknowledges that he needs God to become a better person. He is made of the stuff of our own humanity, and this is probably why Jesus chose him to lead the disciples after his time on earth. He is a role model not only for leaders, but for every person who strives to follow Jesus in their imperfect humanity.
St. Peter, pray for us and for all of God’s beloved humanity.


Saturday, February 23, 2019
Heb 11:1-7; Mk 9:2-13
Saint Polycarp, bishop and martyr


Anyone who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
For many, faith is like passing an exam. If you pray hard enough and follow the right formula you can reach the passing grade. God will then be pleased and grant your wish. Yet Jesus describes faith in more relational terms. Like any good relationship, it is dynamic and built on a desire to understand the other more deeply; growing together in new directions. It is never “achieved” but is a constantly evolving transformation. Sometimes, like Peter, we would like to stay in a state of awe and fascination, but life demands that we move from those mountains. We need to stay connected to God through the valleys of struggles and doubts. We are always rewarded when we seek to know God better in all circumstances.
May our love for each other carry us through the joys and sorrows of life, O God.





Monday, February 25, 2019
Sir 1:1-10; Mk 9:14-29

Before all else, Wisdom was created.
Sirach is a nice enough book. It’s not Ben Sira’s fault that, by the time he is writing, Job has gotten long in the tooth, and the fire of the prophets has been reduced to embers. It’s the end of an age, Greek in the ascendancy, on the threshold of the New Testament. The best thing is the portrait of Wisdom, the Greek feminine "Sophia," who is waiting for her Christian interpretation. The gender is not a problem! There’s more than one icon of Jesus as womanly Wisdom, including a stunning version by modern iconographer William Hart McNichols. (See Christ All Merciful.) Eternal, all-knowing, all-flowing, "It is the LORD; he created her through the Holy Spirit, has seen her and taken note of her. He has poured her forth upon all his works"
Your throne stands firm from of old; from everlasting you are, O Lord!

Tuesday, February 26, 2019
Sir 2:1-11; Mk 9:30-37

For in fire gold and silver are tested, and worthy people in the crucible of humiliation.
A friend of mine just took up knitting and is already taking orders for sweaters, afghans and scarves on Facebook. The Book of Sirach is not much different, a warm and roomy comforter. “You who fear the Lord, love him, and your hearts will be enlightened.” Don’t worry, be happy. Everything’s gonna be alright. “Wait on God, with patience, cling to him, forsake him not; thus will you be wise in all your ways.” It’s nice to know the Bible can be so user-friendly. Even humiliation does not sound so bad. Lent will begin in about a week, and we will get daily challenges to everything we hold dear. Meanwhile, we get this: “Has anyone hoped in the Lord and been disappointed?”
We take delight in you, O Lord, who grant all our heart’s requests!

Wednesday, February 27, 2019
Sir 4:11-19; Mk 9:38-40

Whoever loves Wisdom loves life; those who seek her will be embraced by the Lord.
For Ben Sira, if Wisdom is a woman, so she is a mother! “Wisdom breathes life into her children.” Here in Honduras, where I live, and perhaps where you live as well, the wisdom of women is even physical. At a gathering of, say, the Legion of Mary, a big woman sits down, and her lap becomes a sofa where a kid or even two nestle like newborns. Her words, in prayer or comment, “reveal her secrets” to us. There’s no greater secret than the love God has for us. A mother may “discipline” us for a time, but “then she comes back to bring us happiness.” It is a full measure! “She will heap upon us treasures of knowledge and an understanding of justice.” Let us bask in the glow!
My lips pour forth your praise, O Lord, because you teach me your ways!

Thursday, February 28, 2019
Sir 5:1-8; Mk 9:41-50

Delay not your conversion to the Lord, put it not off from day to day.
Now Ben Sira is hitting close to home! I do not deny my sinfulness, or my sins, but I do seem to put God’s forgiveness in the “plus” column rather quickly. Not so fast, says Ben Sira: “Of forgiveness be not overconfident, adding sin upon sin.” Because “God’s name is mercy,” as Pope Francis says, I might forget that my name is mud as long as I treat God like a sugar daddy. Maybe the best way to appreciate forgiveness is to practice it myself, not with conditions like “I forgive, but I don’t forget,” or “I’ll forgive, but they have to be sorry first.” As Ben Sira says, “Say not, ‘I have the power.’” He warns us not to be “deceitful.” Indeed, the one we deceive most often is ourselves.
Blessed are we, O Lord, to meditate on your law, day and night.


Daily Bread Authors from Celebration
Paige Byrne Shortal, longtime contributor to Celebration, serves as coordinator and editor for the Daily Bread writers.
Miguel Dulick lives in a mountain village in Honduras, Central America. Originally from St. Louis, he holds degrees from St. Louis University and Weston School of Theology, Boston.
Mary Joshi lives in Moncton, NB, Canada. Raised Catholic and married to a Hindu, Mary helps coordinate the RCIA for her parish unit and is a reflection writer for the parish bulletin. She holds degrees in history, English and deaf education.
Jeanne Lischer grew up in St. Louis and Ghana, West Africa, where her parents were missionaries. She is a graduate of United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, was ordained in 1990 in the United Church of Christ, and is currently the pastor for two rural congregations in Missouri.
Patricia Russell graduated from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Mich., with degrees in English and secondary education
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