One-Minute Reflection: Mark 7:20 (30 Days of Prayer for Unity #20)

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“And he said: “What comes out of a man is what defiles a man” (Mark 7:20-RSV)

Reflection

Social media’s insidious nature is the impression of safety—the entitlement to say anything without regard to unity.

Many decent hearts become stubborn and go astray in the realm of social media (cf Psalm 95:8-10), trading wisdom and unity for pride and “likes.” 

Today’s Intention: Lord, give us the wisdom to pray before we post, to reflect on the impact on our soul, others, and unity. 

Peace and Goodness

Scripture Message and Food Insecurity

On this Sunday, all the scriptures (Is 25:6-10A, Philip 4:12-14, 19-20, Mt 22:1-14) reference food. I invite you to read and reflect on them in relation to our times.

According to the U.S.D.A, there over 37 million people in the United States, that is equivelant to the entire population of Texas and Arizona, who are food insecure. These individuals and families go hungry or eat low quality food because of the lack of money and other resources. The pandemic has made the situation worst. Conservative estimates indicate that 1 in 8 Americans do not have enough food to eat. Think about that for a moment. One out of eight people you will encounter today is food insecure.

Christians have a responsibility to be generous to the community at all times but especially in times of need. People are in need for food. That gives us an opportunity to be generous, to share in their distress. That is what God desires from us. There is no doubt that our prayers are important, but our generosity is what pleases Jesus and those in need: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” (Mt 9:13). Paul confirmed Jesus’ command when he said to the Philippians: “I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry…. I can do all things in him who strengthens me. Still, it was kind of you to share in my distress” (Phil 4: 12-13).

Recently, I read a Jewish story about generosity which captures today’s themes. The story says that “in hell, people sit around a great banquet table piled high with food. Each person is given a fork six food in length, far too long for them to maneuver into their mouths. They are starving. In heaven, on the other hand, people sit around exactly the same banquet. But in heaven each feeds the person across the table. And in so doing, all are filled” (Alan Morinis, Everyday Holiness: The Jewish Spiritual Path to Mussar).

I encourage you today to take a moment to think about how you can help people experiencing food insecurity. Can you make a contribution – money or time – to an organization like Catholic Charities or your local food bank? Can you spare a coin to someone in need? Can you make that a habit? How can you influence our government, civic, and religious institutions to help those suffering from food insecurity?

Finally, I pray to God that if you are suffering from food insecurity that He guards your hope. That you keep Paul’s words in your heart: “I can do all things in him who strengthens me.” Trust in Isaiah’s words: “On this mountain the LORD of hosts will provide for all people a feast of rich food and choice of wines” (Is 25:6). That you accept Jesus’ invitation to “come to the feast” of the Eucharist.

Let’s pray:

Sharing the loaves and fishes,
You gave us an image of solidarity with the hungry, O Lord.
Sharing yourself in the bread and wine,
You called all to the table, O Lord.
Give me the hunger to be a part of the feeding
And the healing of this world.
Nourish me with your Grace,
So I may work with joy to serve your children.
Open my eyes and my heart
To recognize those in poverty
And increase my awareness
Of the structures and systems
That need to be changed
So we may all break bread together.
In your name we pray for the end of hunger.

  • Prayer for the End of Hunger, Jesuit Resource Education for Justice

May God bless you.

Invitation

There are two actions when responding to an invitation. We can either accept it or reject it. I realize that some people may say that there is also the “maybe” or “tentative” response. At the end, however, you either go or don’t go where you are invited.

In today’s Gospel (Luke 7:36, 8:3), Jesus accepts an invitation by a Pharisee to dine at his house. Doing so led a sinful woman to find him. Through their encounter we witness the power of repentance and forgiveness. The woman is so sorrowful that her tears wash Jesus’ feet.  Her pain becomes an invitation for our Lord to come into her life. Jesus accepts this invitation too and, thus, forgives her sins.

Another option we have when we receive an invitation is to reject it. In the Gospel of Mark, the encounter between Jesus and the rich man (Mark 10:17-31) illustrates this point. When Jesus invites the man to follow him, he rejects the invite. The man was too attached to his possessions to accept the invitation.

In our daily lives, we are constantly sending, accepting or rejecting invitations.  It is a way of controlling who becomes part of us. Who are you inviting, accepting or rejecting? What is your motivation in either case? Is God invited or rejected into your house? Are sinners welcome into or avoided in your life?

To know the answers to these questions, we must be intentional in our prayer. Our salvation depends on it because through our decisions sometimes we are like the Pharisee, the sinful woman, the rich man, and Christ. Which one are you?

Second Sunday of Advent

Readings:

Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11
Psalm 85:9-14
2 Peter 3:8-14
Mark 1:1-8

“In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD” (Isaiah 40:3).

Our hearts are the wilderness God wants to prepare for his return. To fulfill his desire for us, we must not just make a path for him, we must build a highway; one that can receive his glorious salvation. We must level the mountains and hills blocking the radiance of his light.  We must smooth the rough edges, which like the crown of thorns placed on Christ, are our cause of pain and suffering (cf. Isaiah 40:1-4).  Only “[T]hen the glory of the LORD shall be revealed” (Isaiah 40:5).

God wants to grant us salvation; he wants to show us his mercy. This is why he sent his son so we could experience a living example of kindness and truth, justice and peace. These four conditions are necessary means to prepare for the Lord’s coming (cf. Psalm 85:11-15).

We cannot assume that we can put off our preparedness for tomorrow; like a thief, God’s arrival is unknown (cf. 2 Peter 3:10). Therefore, it is important that while we wait, we do what we can “to be found without spot or blemish before him” (2 Peter 3:14).

God, however, expects more from us that just to be prepared. God wants us to evangelize others, just as John the Baptist did, to prepare them to receive him (cf. Mark 1:2-3). We cannot hoard God’s message of salvation. He meant for us to share it the same way he shared his son with us.

– God, I give my heart to you this day; may you will it to please you.