Sunday, July 14, 2019 Daily Bread for July 14, 2019
"And who is my neighbor?" - Luke 10:29
Monday, July 15, 2019 Ex 1:8-14, 22; Mt 10:34–11:1 Saint Bonaventure, bishop and doctor of the church\
Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. It is interesting to hear how we introduce ourselves to other people. Words are chosen carefully in the hope that we can influence their first perception of our character. What descriptors would we use to identify ourselves? Would we use our family connections, our profession, where we studied or the geography of our origin? Jesus’ words may seem to be “anti-family” upon first glance, but he is telling his disciples that however they perceive themselves there is one description that surpasses all others. They are first and foremost beloved children of God and disciples of Christ. This is the lens through which we are to view ourselves and each other. This is our most basic identity, and all other descriptors are minor in comparison. We are created in your love, Lord God, so that we might become your love to others.
Tuesday, July 16, 2019 Ex 2:1-15a; Mt 11:20-24
Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! Anyone who has marvelled at the many colors of a sunset across a pristine sky or gazed in wonder at the miniature perfection of a newborn’s hands and feet or listened to the incredible variety of birdsong at the dawn of a new day would not deny that evidence abounds of God’s “mighty deeds done in our midst.” But do I simply admire them, or do I appreciate them enough to change my habits in order to safeguard these gifts from God? Do I see God’s creative hand in the most vulnerable around me or work to protect the health of God’s natural beauty around me? Would God preface my name with the words “Woe to you!” because I am too busy or apathetic to allow an encounter with God’s mighty deeds to move me into more responsible attitudes and habits? Refresh my jaded sight, O God, that I might work to protect and nurture the gifts you have given us.
Wednesday, July 17, 2019 Ex 3:1-6, 9-12; Mt 11:25-27
Although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. While we may appreciate one who is childlike, we usually don’t feel the same way about one who is childish. Childish evokes images of someone easily frustrated and focused only on one’s own immediate desires. To be childlike, on the other hand, is to possess a wide-eyed wonder at life’s simple pleasures, to love without judgment or to forgive another’s weaknesses with unconditional mercy. To be childlike is to be able to savor today’s joys without worrying about tomorrow’s disappointments. Many of us lose these gifts when we age; we are too busy for awe or too cynical to trust in people’s inherent goodness. I sometimes think that if Jesus had been born into our modern, pet-friendly world, he might have told a parable about the loyal generosity of a beloved family dog to help us understand today’s Gospel. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Thursday, July 18, 2019 Ex 3:13-20; Mt 11:28-30
Come to me…for my yoke is easy and my burden light. Whenever I would complain to my mother about my life as a teenager, she would always say, “You know, this too shall pass.” Experience and faith had taught her that if she placed her worries and pain into God’s care each day, she would in time, find the strength she needed to get through them. So often in Scripture we hear God’s encouragement, “Do not be afraid. I am with you” (Isaiah 41:10, NIRV). As the much beloved Psalm 23 relates, God does not create bypasses or promise to remove the dark valleys of our life, but God does promise to be our guide and support every step of the way. Knowing that we are never alone in our suffering and sorrows can make the yoke of life easier to handle and our burdens lighter to carry. In times of doubt or fear, O Lord, restore my awareness and trust in your loving presence.
Friday, July 19, 2019 Ex 11:10–12:14; Mt 12:1-8
I say to you, something greater than the temple is here. One of my favorite professors in the education department warned us, “You cannot teach a student who refuses to learn. All of us, learn more effectively by invitation than by obligation.” He encouraged us to nurture the desire to learn in our students rather than focusing only on the content. It is advice I still find relevant in my RCIA ministry. Prayer is more meaningful when we see it as an invitation from God rather than an obligation of faith. Any relationship based on love, respect and a genuine desire to know the other better enriches our lives more than one based on obligation, fear, guilt or habit. From the day we are born, God invites us into relationship and spiritual transformation. Loving God, you do not call us to be successful, but to be faithful.
Saturday, July 20, 2019 Ex 12:37-42; Mt 12:14-21
He will not contend or cry out, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets. A friend of mine has a plaque above her desk that reads, “You don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to.” It is advice I need to remember more often. Even Jesus is careful to choose his battles. We hear how he often withdrew from possible confrontations and gave himself time and space to pray and seek out God’s guidance. Some of us have witnessed (or participated in) arguments that were fueled by reactions of defensive anger. Issues rarely get resolved when anger is allowed to escalate and the dignity of the participants is compromised. Justice and peace are a more likely result when we step back and give God time to guide our words. An attitude of mercy prevents us from damaging “bruised reeds” of dignity or extinguishing weakened flames of self-worth. Merciful God, place a guard over my mouth that I may become a more effective disciple.
Sunday, July 21, 2019 Daily Bread for July 21, 2019
"There is need of only one thing." - Luke 10:42
Monday, July 22, 2019 Sg 3:1-4b or 2 Cor 5:14-17; Jn 20:1-2, 11-18 Saint Mary Magdalene
Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping. This feast always refreshes the summer and helps us remember in the lengthening weeks of “Ordinary Time” the real reason for every (liturgical) season, namely, the Resurrection! So Mary Magdalene’s story is crucial. Mary’s weeping at the empty tomb marks the feelings of anyone who has had an experience of Jesus that is indispensable for any “faith” at all. Then, he says, “Mary!” For someone who calls his own mother “Woman,” this is quite an expression of intimacy. Some wonder how such an excited entry as the Song of Songs got into the Bible; Mary Magdalene can tell us! “On my bed at night I sought him whom my heart loves … but I did not find him. … in the streets and crossings, I will seek him whom my heart loves.” Can we come with you, Mary? O God, you are my God whom I seek, for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts.
Tuesday, July 23, 2019 Ex 14:21–15:1; Mt 12:46-50
The children of Israel marched into the midst of the sea on dry land ... . If you ever played by the river as a kid, you know that just because the water goes down doesn’t mean you can walk through the mud. But in the great story of the Exodus, there is the miraculous and the meteorological. God divides the Red Sea, but the text carefully notes: “The Lord swept the sea with a strong east wind throughout the night and so turned it into dry land” (italics added). Likewise, the return of the water to trap the pursuing Egyptians takes all night — “at dawn the sea flowed back.” Is it still a miracle if it is in slow motion? A lot of wondrous events in our life can be easily explained in completely natural terms. But, graced by faith, we can still see our good and gracious God, can’t we? I will sing to you, O Lord, for you are gloriously triumphant!
Wednesday, July 24, 2019 Ex 16:1-5, 9-15; Mt 13:1-9
Here in the desert the whole assembly of the children of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. You know you are in trouble when you find yourself in the desert of sin! But all this grumbling by the Israelites is really annoying, this longing for Egypt where they had been slaves! I would like to think I would value freedom over “fleshpots.” But no amount of ingratitude can block God’s grace. “I will now rain down bread from heaven for you,” and “in the evening quail came up and covered the camp.” That should hold them — for a while, anyway. I am sure I am often just as fickle, just as fussy, just as entitled before God, dismissing even the most tender signs of the Lord’s love. But having just witnessed about 20 children make their first Communion, my heart opened up again! Lord, you rained manna upon them and gave them heavenly food; they ate the bread of angels.
Thursday, July 25, 2019 2 Cor 4:7-15; Mt 20:20-28 Saint James, apostle
Whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant. James and John are the sons of Zebedee, but it is their mother who bends Jesus’ ear in today’s Gospel: “Command that these two sons of mine sit, one at your right hand and the other at your left, in your Kingdom.” The most Jesus can promise is their drinking “my chalice” of ultimate service. But, indeed, the brothers are special. Along with Peter, Jesus takes them into his most intimate moments, such as raising the daughter of Jairus, his transfiguration and his prayer in Gethsemane. John is “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” James, “the Greater,” according to tradition, plays the decisive role in the Council of Jerusalem, which opened the church to the Gentiles; he is the first martyr among the Apostles, beheaded by Herod. Is there any chance I could share a seat with them? O Lord, you have done great things for us, we are glad indeed!
Friday, July 26, 2019 Ex 20:1-17; Mt 13:18-23 Saints Joachim and Anne, parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary
I, the Lord, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. Just to be clear, the Ten Commandments are not another form of slavery. God did not free Israel from slavery in Egypt just to kill their freedom in the desert. People chafe under any kind of limits or strictures. But the commandments are a pact, an alliance, a covenant. In freedom, Israel promises that they “shall not” do these dishonorable things, most of them abuses of their own families and neighbors. Of course, they break their promise almost immediately with the golden calf. Freedom is such a burden! We would rather bow to peer pressure than to the Lord. We would rather make a mess than take care of each other. But let’s keep our eyes on the prize! Your law, O Lord, is perfect, refreshing the soul; your precepts are right, rejoicing the heart!
Saturday, July 27, 2019 Ex 24:3-8; Mt 13:24-30
Moses… took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you.” It is very good to spend these days with the Book of Exodus, since Jesus constantly refers to it, revising the commandments on his own authority in the Sermon on the Mount, taking Moses as his personal counselor at the transfiguration, and above all by instituting the “new and eternal covenant” with his own blood. Today’s reading is probably the highpoint of Israel’s desert experience: “All that the Lord has said, we will heed and do!” After this, things pretty much go downhill. Let me take the hint and stay close to the Lord, above all in the Eucharist. May I not become complacent, presuming on God’s mercy, as if my word meant nothing. God Most High we offer you praise as our sacrifice, to fulfill our vows to you!
Sunday, July 28, 2019 Daily Bread for July 28, 2019
"...And to the one who knocks, the door will be opened." - Luke 11:10
Monday, July 29, 2019 Ex 32:15-24, 30-34; Jn 11:19-27 or Lk 10:38-42 Saint Martha
They exchanged their glory for the image of a grass-eating bullock. Moses comes down from the mountain after a life-changing face-to-face with the Almighty only to find his people worshipping a golden calf. And Moses’ response is less than divine. He has himself a little temper tantrum and throws down the holy tablets “written on both sides … made by God.” In response, the psalmist sings of the people who exchanged their glory for something less worthy. Today, we celebrate St. Martha who, some might say, exchanged her glory for anxiety and worries, indulging her pride as the perfect hostess. Might we ask ourselves, for what do we exchange our glory? What would we rather have or do than nourish the divine spark within us? For me it is the little things — a window seat on my next flight, an edge as I wait in line to register my car, the last thin mint cookie. Without thinking, I act on that inner competitive spirit that wants to be first or best or at least comfortable, as if I deserve more than another of God’s children. St. Martha, and all you holy men and women, pray for me that I may regard others as I do myself.
Tuesday, July 30, 2019 Ex 33:7-11; 34:5b-9, 28; Mt 13:36-43
Jesus dismissed the crowds and went into the house. His disciples approached him … . Today’s readings are about both the accessibility of God and intimacy with God’s people. Moses goes to the meeting tent, where he converses with the LORD. And not only Moses, but “anyone who wished to consult the Lord.” How lovely is that? In the Gospel, Jesus retires to a house (we are not told whose house), and his disciples ask him to explain the parable of the weeds in the field from Matthew, which we heard Saturday. An interesting note: In the telling of the parable to the crowds, the emphasis is on patience with the “weeds” — those who are not believers — while the explanation to his disciples describes the terrible end of those who remain wicked. Perhaps we can infer that is not for everyone to judge those whose behavior is not Christlike. Mistakes in judgment are likely as the weed described is darnel, a poisonous weed that looks like wheat in its early stages. With such an accessible, approachable God, even the most wicked may someday see that happiness lies elsewhere and find themselves in the tent with God, confessing their sins and accepting God’s forgiveness. Who are we to take away that opportunity from anyone? Merciful and gracious God, you who know us and forgive us, give us the grace of patience with others.
Wednesday, July 31, 2019 Ex 34:29-35; Mt 13:44-46 Saint Ignatius of Loyola, priest
Then the children of Israel would see that the skin of Moses' face was radiant … . Some have described today’s account from Exodus as the transfiguration of Moses. What is the source of that radiance? Encounter with the divine, certainly, but what is the inner experience that presents as radiance? Not fear. Not even awe. I think it is that deep down feeling of contentment, happiness, delight and pleasure that we call joy. And that is the very word used in the Gospel to describe the one who “out of joy” trades all for the treasure of the kingdom. I’ve witnessed brief transfigurations. I remember a widow at the funeral of her husband. I served as cantor and had to bring my infant son with me. In a moment of inspiration, I handed my baby to the widow and the grief softened to delight and stayed that way throughout the funeral Mass. I’ve seen the faces of ordinary, lumpy, tired folks transfigure as they sing. Or sometimes, it is on the faces of those coming forward to venerate the cross. We can’t sustain those moments of transfiguration in this world, but I think they must be little glimpses of what heaven is like. Transfigure us, O Lord, that we may reveal your face to the world.
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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