News Category: In Step with the Readings

Gospel Meditation

February 23rd, 2020
7th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Gospels continue to challenge us to the core. This is especially true in the way our social relationships have developed. Feeling safe and secure in the world are not things that come easily these days. Actually, we may find ourselves feeling more reservation, caution, reluctance, and fear than ever before. In a moment’s notice, life can drastically change. When someone has been intentionally and violently hurt, especially someone we love, we can all too easily find ourselves very attracted to the Old Testament philosophy of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”

Intellectually, we know this is not what Jesus wants us to do. But on some level it just seems to make practical or even political sense. After all, why should we allow someone to get away with a heinously violent act? Yet, Jesus cannot be any clearer than he is with this! Offer no resistance to one who is evil. Turn the other cheek as well. When pressed into service, go two miles. Do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow. Love your enemies. Now, take a moment to reflect on all of this. Consider a horrible act of violence committed against someone you love. Listen. Think. Be honest. Can you do as Jesus directs?

We want to be holy. But we are more comfortable with a definition of holiness that can keep us saying our prayers and on our knees in church. We are not comfortable with a definition of holiness that has something to say about to how we react to and negotiate life. We like to keep a sharp and strong line between the secular and the sacred. In fact, we would prefer that the doors between them be kept closed. God wants us to be holy as He is holy. If God sees this one way and we see it another, then where does this leave us on our journey to God?

Our minds like the practical, worldly, and secular answers to things. They are more black and white and at first glance appear to make more sense. Holiness wells up from our souls and is beyond reason. It cannot be explained. It is something we just simply know comes as a result of deep prayer. The truly contemplative eye knows inwardly that what Jesus asks is true and then willingly does it. It may not be easy.

©LPi

MEDITACIÓN DEL EVANGÉLIO

7º Domingo del Tiempo Ordinario
23 de febrero de 2020

Existe una relación profunda entre la Primera Lectura y el Evangelio de la Liturgia de hoy. Moisés, mandado por el Señor, habla a la asamblea de la siguiente manera: “Sean santos, porque yo, el Señor, soy santo.” (Levítico 19:2).Se daba la ley de la santidad donde toda la asamblea era invitada. Dios, por medio de Moisés, ordenaba al pueblo de Israel a ser santo como Él. Jesús daba a sus discípulos la misma dirección, no solo de santidad sino de perfección. ¡Santos y perfectos! Cada día es una oportunidad para ser mejor que el día anterior; es una oportunidad perfecta para escalar la santidad. Jesús, en el Evangelio, habla hasta de si alguien “te golpea la mejilla derecha, ofrécele también la otra.” (Mateo 5:39).¿Qué significa esto? ¿Cómo vivirlo en la sociedad violenta en que vivimos?

Significa que todos debemos de poner un granito de arena yendo más allá de las necesidades de la otra persona; no se acepta el conformismo. La perfección es precisamente estirar el servicio al otro hasta que duela. Es decir, haciendo actos buenos sin dramatismo. Visitar un enfermo, saludar al vecino, escuchándose en familia sin gritos ni peleas que lastiman y amargan el día. La santidad se construye con actos pequeños; los santos así se forjaron. Santa Teresa de Calcuta decía que: “Haz cosas ordinarias con un amor extraordinario. El amor comienza en casa, y no es cuánto hacemos, sino por la cantidad de amor que ponemos en la acción que hacemos.” (Solía decir estas palabras, según un sacerdote amigo de ella).

©LPi

Live the Liturgy ~ Inspiration for the Week

What does it mean to be holy? God has definite ideas about the answer. Not bearing hatred for your brother or sister, not seeking revenge or holding grudges, loving your neighbor as yourself, treating human beings as the temples of God they are, offering no resistance to someone who wants to hurt you, turning the other cheek, not turning your back on someone, loving your enemies, praying for those who persecute you, and striving for perfection are some of the ways holiness can be pursued. Holiness, understood through God’s eyes, is attainable by all of us. It comes from making the right Gospel-centered choices and not falling victim to lesser temptations, reactions, and desires. Knowing what holiness actually involves, is it something you really want?

©LPi

VIVIR LA LITURGIA ~ INSPIRACIÓN DE LA SEMANA

¿Qué significa ser santo? Dios tiene ideas definidas sobre la respuesta. No odiar a tu hermano o hermana, no buscar venganza o guardar rencor, amar a tu prójimo como a ti mismo, tratar a los seres humanos como los templos de Dios que son, no ofrecer resistencia a alguien que quiere lastimarte, poner la otra mejilla, no darle la espalda a alguien, amar a tus enemigos, orar por los que te persiguen y luchar por la perfección son algunas de las formas en que se puede buscar la santidad. La santidad, entendida a través de los ojos de Dios, es alcanzable por todos nosotros. Proviene de tomar las decisiones correctas centradas en el Evangelio y no ser víctima de tentaciones, reacciones y deseos menores. Sabiendo lo que realmente implica la santidad, ¿es algo que realmente quieres?

©LPi

Everyday Stewardship ~ Recognize God in Your Ordinary Moments

Going the Extra Mile

So often in life, people are concerned about the minimum requirements. What is the minimum I must do to get a certain grade? What is the minimum I need to do to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation? What exactly do I have to do to make my boss happy?

This concern does not stop with everyday life but continues into our relationship with God. What exactly is required of me for salvation? How much time, talent, and treasure are enough? Jesus does not call us to this way of life, but instead to a life of unbounding generosity and surrender.

Jesus said, “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.” The minimum requirement is one mile; however, we are not to be disciples of minimum requirements and checking off boxes. We are to go the extra mile because that is how we bear witness to the transforming power of Jesus Christ. That is how we change lives and share the grace and love we have received in abundance. Nothing ever changes by doing the minimum. There is no real glory given to God by responding to His call with the minimum.

Imagine a world where all of us good stewards give without ceasing and go far beyond the minimum requirements. Our world would be a very different place. So, what is stopping us?

— Tracy Earl Welliver, MTS

©LPi

LA CORRESPONSABILIDAD DIARIA ~ RECONOCER A DIOS EN LOS MOMENTOS ORDINARIOS

Ir más allá

Muy a menudo en la vida, las personas están preocupadas por los requisitos mínimos. ¿Qué es lo mínimo que debo hacer para obtener una calificación determinada? ¿Qué es lo mínimo que necesito hacer para recibir el Sacramento de la Confirmación? ¿Qué debo hacer exactamente para hacer feliz a mi jefe?

Esta preocupación no termina con la vida cotidiana, sino que continúa en nuestra relación con Dios. ¿Qué se requiere exactamente de mí para la salvación? ¿Cuánto tiempo, talento y tesoro son suficientes? Jesús no nos llama a este estilo de vida, sino a una vida de generosidad y rendición sin límites. Jesús dijo: “Si alguien te obliga a llevarle la carga, llévasela el doble más lejos.” El requisito mínimo es llevar la carga; sin embargo, no debemos ser discípulos de los requisitos mínimos para marcar las casillas. Debemos hacer un esfuerzo adicional porque así es como damos testimonio del poder transformador de Jesucristo. Así es como cambiamos vidas y compartimos la gracia y el amor que hemos recibido en abundancia. Nada cambia al hacer lo mínimo. No hay verdadera gloria dada a Dios al responder a su llamado con el mínimo.

Imagina un mundo donde todos nosotros, buenos corresponsables, damos sin cesar y superamos con creces los requisitos mínimos. Nuestro mundo sería un lugar muy diferente. Entonces, ¿qué nos detiene?

— Tracy Earl Welliver, MTS

©LPi

Live a Life of Mercy

For Sunday, February 23, 2020
7th Sunday in Ordinary Time

God's Mercy Endures

Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18
1 Corinthians 3:16-23
Matthew 5:38-48

Recently, I posted a controversial article on social media, and not surprisingly, I was met with a slew of responses from friends describing ways they either agreed or disagreed with me. It was like a lot of social media debates — one sided, heated, and in the end, somewhat pointless. As I reflected, I wondered if my posting was necessary much less virtuous. Had I accomplished what I set out to do? Did I change anyone’s mind, or did I stir up discord in friends who normally interact in unity? Was my posting helping further the kingdom of God on earth, or did I compete against that goal?

As I ponder the readings for this weekend’s Mass, I find my answer. The theme of holiness is pervasive in each reading, but looking deeper, the theme of mercy shines even more. Indeed, all of Christ’s followers are called to be as holy as he is. But more than that, the holiness we are called to is only made possible by his unending mercy, as the psalmist rightly proclaims: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he put our transgressions from us.” It simply isn’t enough to say we want to be like Christ. Instead, true disciples are called to be living witnesses of his love and mercy to all those they encounter — whether in person, online, or in passing.

The Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order shares that “… all people of good will, are called to build a more fraternal and evangelical world so that the kingdom of God may be brought about more effectively. Mindful that anyone ‘who follows Christ the perfect man, becomes more of a man [i.e., human] himself,’ let them exercise their responsibilities competently in the Christian spirit of service.”

To me, this rule exemplifies precisely how we are to heed the words of Jesus in the Gospel. He doesn’t call us to keep count, to hold on to grudges, or to constantly defend ourselves when wronged. When I posted the controversial article on social media, it was clear that everyone had an opinion to defend. Rather than helping build a more evangelical and fraternal world, the post became a space for “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” only with words and intellectual arguments.

In the first reading, Moses is called by God to not only be holy, but to show no revenge. The antidote to the selfish desire for revenge is mercy. Even from the days of Moses, God has shown mercy is one of His greatest attributes. This mission of mercy is also given to all His followers.

The psalm continues with this theme as we sing of the Lord’s kindness and mercy. I often wonder if my social media activity is a reflection of God’s action or the opposite. I wonder if those who follow me could say my posts are “kind and merciful.” God reveals Himself as a just judge who speaks immutable truth, but this is not separate or isolated from His unending kindness and love toward humanity. If I don’t follow that same mission, I cannot say I’m truly Christian.

The final gut check for me is found in the words of St. Paul in the second reading as he reminds us that we are temples of the Holy Spirit. This means that even those who disagree with me bear the image of God. They should be treated accordingly, not with a tolerance that accepts sin, or with an avoidance of proclaiming the truth, but through actions and words that truly exemplify the love we have received from our Father. This is a love that calls us to conversion and holiness, but one that is kind and merciful.

So, in the end, I realized that posting the article didn’t help anyone see Christ better. Instead, it sowed a seed of division and discord. The readings this weekend urge us to live a life of mercy in order to be holy so we can be saints someday. A saint is one who sees the beatific vision. That vision needs to start on earth in how we treat those around us who are temples of the Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit with whom we want to spend eternity.

Angie Windnagle

Why Do Catholics Do that?


Why do Catholics call Fat Tuesday “Shrove” Tuesday?

Commonly known as Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras, the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday has been traditionally spent feasting (especially on pancakes). It is also called “Shrove Tuesday,” recalling the tradition of going to Confession. The word “shrove” comes from “shrive” – the English word for confessing one’s sins and receiving absolution.
In fact, there was a custom of churches ringing the “shriving bell” on this day. The goal was to start Lent with a clean soul and a repentant spirit.

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