Monday, August 12, 2019

August 18, 2019 Challenges of Jesus

August 18, 2019   Challenges of Jesus - Year C

Reading I: 
Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10

Psalm:  40

Readings II:  Hebrews 12:1-4

Gospel:  Luke 12:49-53

Are you ever surprised that sometimes when you look at a situation, yet another person sees the same thing, but interprets it very differently from you? Well, this is not something new.

Jesus, Himself, had that same experience. In the Gospel of John (7:41). Jesus was preaching to some people who were so impressed that they believed Him to be long-awaited Messiah. Others in the group did not believe that He could be the Christ because He came from Galilee, and they argued that He was supposed to come from Bethlehem.

When Jesus cured a blind man on the Sabbath (Jn 9:16), some claimed that if He wouldn’t observe the Sabbath, He couldn’t be from God. On the other hand, other people believed that He had to be of God to be able to perform the miracle. 

In spite of the fact that Jesus’ mission was to bring about a Kingdom of His Father, characterized by unity and love, He experienced discord. Jesus strove to be a unifier. His message was one of love. It must have been so painful for Him to have Himself, His preaching and compassion misunderstood. 

Jesus expressed His grief in the following words: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you that kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you. How often have I longed to gather your children as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings and you refused.” (Mt 3:37) When I had the privilege of sitting on a rock in the Garden of Gethsemane overlooking Jerusalem, those words came to me and touched me deeply.

Division can be very painful. Today, devout parents who brought up their children with faith grieve when those children turn away from their faith. The pain of seeing their beloved grandchildren deprived of what is so important for their long-term happiness is difficult to witness.

There is a normal tendency for teens and young adults to assert their independence in a variety of ways. I can recall when I was in high school that I decided that I would not be a Catholic just because my parents were. I read books on apologetics (defending the faith) which led me to embrace the faith personally. Of course, the Holy Spirit also was guiding me.

However, today there is also the disillusionment from scandals related to clergy misconduct and some peoples’ sense that they do not need God. Sometimes, they are brought back to faith when they mature and realize the weakness of human nature and/or they have hardships which make them turn back to God for help.

What can we do? In the meantime, we are to love them, pray for them, and give them the example of a truly faith-filled person. A favorite prayer of mine is “Lord, into your hands I commend __________’s spirit.”

 Reflection Question:  Is there someone who is struggling with faith issues for whom you can pray or offer help?

Spanish Translation of Reflection Above...
Desafíos de Jesús

¿Alguna vez te sorprende que a veces cuando miras una situación, otra persona ve lo mismo, pero lo interpreta de manera muy diferente a ti? Bueno, esto no es algo nuevo.

Jesús mismo tuvo esa misma experiencia. En el Evangelio de Juan (7:41). Jesús estaba predicando a algunas personas que estaban tan impresionadas que creían que era el Mesías tan esperado. Otros en el grupo no creían que Él podría ser el Cristo porque vino de Galilea y argumentaron que se suponía que debía venir de Belén.

Cuando Jesús curó a un ciego en sábado (Jn 9:16), algunos afirmaron que si no observaba el sábado, no podría ser de Dios. Por otro lado, otras personas creían que tenía que ser de Dios para poder realizar el milagro.

A pesar de que la misión de Jesús era lograr un Reino de su Padre, caracterizado por la unidad y el amor, experimentó discordia. Jesús se esforzó por ser unificador.  Su mensaje fue de amor. Debe haber sido tan doloroso para Él haberse entendido mal, su predicación y compasión.

Jesús expresó su dolor en las siguientes palabras: Jerusalén, Jerusalén, tú que matas a los profetas y apedreas a los que te son enviados. “Cuántas veces he anhelado reunir a tus hijos cuando una gallina junta sus polluelos bajo sus alas y tú te niegas”. (Mt 3:37) Cuando tuve el privilegio de sentarme en una roca en el Jardín de Getsemaní con vista a Jerusalén, esas palabras me llegaron y me conmovieron profundamente.

La división puede ser muy dolorosa. Hoy, los padres devotos que criaron a sus hijos con fe se afligen cuando esos niños se alejan de su fe. Es difícil presenciar el dolor de ver a sus queridos nietos privados de lo que es tan importante para su felicidad a largo plazo.

Hay una tendencia normal para que los adolescentes y adultos jóvenes afirmen su independencia de varias maneras. Puedo recordar cuando estaba en la escuela secundaria que decidí que no sería católica solo porque mis padres lo eran. Leí libros sobre apologética (defender la fe) que me llevaron a abrazar la fe personalmente. Por supuesto, el Espíritu Santo también me estaba guiando.

Sin embargo, hoy también existe la desilusión de los escándalos relacionados con la mala conducta del clero y la sensación de algunas personas de que no necesitan a Dios. A veces, vuelven a la fe cuando maduran y se dan cuenta de la debilidad de la naturaleza humana y / o tienen dificultades que los hacen volver a Dios en busca de ayuda.

¿Qué podemos hacer? Mientras tanto, debemos amarlos, orar por ellos y darles el ejemplo de una persona verdaderamente llena de fe. Una de mis oraciones favoritas es Señor, en tus manos encomiendo el espíritu de __________”.

 Pregunta de Reflexión:  ¿Hay alguien que está luchando con problemas de fe por los cuales puede orar u ofrecer ayuda?

Stephanie Morris, Ph. D, Historian, Certified Archivist, emerita
We can always pray for family and friends without giving God details of specific needs – He knows already. We just need to ask God to help them. We can assist those struggling with faith issues by being a good example of what a “faith-filled” person is/ does. Strengthen our own personal faith so that it shines like a lighthouse, radiating God’s love and mercy. If someone asks you a question about faith, listen to what and how they ask. Answer their question and guide them from what they know and feel to knowing God’s love and feeling God’s mercy.

Pat Chiaffa, ASBS
I really appreciate the prayer you shared with us. I am one of the grieving parents you mention whose children have turned away from the faith.  Thus, I will name each of my sons in commending their spirits to Our Lord. What I find uplifting about this prayer is that I release my control of the outcome, trusting that God will meet the unique needs of each person for whom I pray. I include my mother, knowing that God knows my concern for her health and ease of daily living. I name my estranged sister hoping for healing and connection.  It is a wonderful prayer to whisper for all those for whom I have promised to pray. I am finding this aspiration very freeing to recite when I am feeling aversion toward leaders who abuse their status and make decisions that put the lives of innocent victims at risk.  I experience greater inner peace when, instead of complaining about someone or getting worked up about an issue, I offer that person or cause in prayer to Our Lord who loves us all unconditionally. 
In his recent series entitled, “Black Women Mystics,” Richard Rohr highlighted the writings of Dr. Diana L. Hayes, the first African American woman to earn a Pontifical Doctorate in Theology. Dr. Hayes writes, “This is our calling as Christian faithful: to recognize the Christ in everyone. And to reach out a hand of hope, to speak a word of love, to sing a song of happiness, to share a tear of joy or pain, to speak a word of praise, to murmur a prayer, to stand together against those forces that would divide us, isolate us, and block our flow toward home.”
Dr. Hayes cites Micah 6:8 as the basis for her belief: 
       You have been told…what is good
       And what the Lord requires of you:
       Only to do the right and to love goodness,
       And to walk humbly with your God.
As I journey through life, troubled by the appearance of darkness, and dismayed at the incomprehensible acts we commit against one another, it is easy to get drawn into the negative energy that surrounds me. It is, therefore, good to recall the Scripture passage from Micah often, knowing my peace depends on my ability to keep my focus on Christ’s Light and Love. Centered in Christ’s love, I am able to resist the temptation to react to the ill behaviors of others and recognize within them the suffering Christ. From a place of compassion, I commend their Spirit to the Lord, our true Source of hope and healing.
Imagine how lovely the global landscape would be if all Christians embraced and embodied the call to “recognize the Christ in everyone.”

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