Friday, November 25, 2011

Get Ready for Sunday

“Get ready for Sunday.”  The readings for the First Sunday of Advent are Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2b-7, 1 Corinthians 1:3-9, and the Gospel from Mark 13:33-37.

The first reading this coming Sunday is from the Prophet Isaiah.  With the Israelites in exile because of their infidelity, Isaiah writes about reconciling with God the Father.  Although Isaiah writes about God hiding his face from them, we know that it really is a matter of us turning our face from God.  In the second reading, St. Paul reminds the Corinthians about the grace and blessings given to them by God through Jesus. 

In the Gospel, Jesus is telling his disciples to be watchful for the second coming of the Lord.  By virtue of the parable of the traveling man who instructs “the gatekeeper to be on watch” Jesus is planting the seed for diligence within his followers.  

As I prepare for Sunday, the three readings convey a theme to me that is important as we start the Advent season.  Our loving God is always there when we return to him, and seek him out for forgiveness.  Through his gift of grace we know of this love for us.  Finally, because we do not know when Jesus will return, we should be watchful and prepared.  In essence, we should use the grace God has given us to be in communion with the Lord, and not in a spiritual exile.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Harsh Words

The other morning while reciting the Morning Prayer from the Breviary, the reading struck me as very timely.  There have been some issues at work lately and I’ve probably vented to colleagues more than I should have about the sources of my consternation.  So when I started reading Ephesians 4:29-32 it was if the Holy Spirit was giving me a “Gibbs Head Slap” (yes, an NCIS reference) with regard to my complaining.  To save you the time of reaching for your Bible, I’ve included the verse below.

“Never let evil talk pass your lips; say only the good things men need to hear, things that will really help them.  Do nothing that will sadden the Holy Spirit with whom you are sealed against the day of redemption.  Get rid of all bitterness, all passion and anger, harsh words, slander, and malice of every kind.  In place of these, be kind to one another, compassionate, and mutually forgiving, just as God has forgiven you in Christ” (The Liturgy of the Hours IV, p 758)
St. Paul’s advice is as sound today as it was for the Ephesians.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Get Ready for Sunday

“Get ready for Sunday.”  The readings for the 33th Sunday in Ordinary Time are Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6, and the Gospel from Matthew 25:14-30.

The first reading this coming Sunday is a beautiful passage about the ideal wife.  The tasks performed by the wife have changed, at least for most parts of our country, but the expression of love it timeless.  In the second reading, St. Paul tells the Thessalonians a similar message to what we heard in the Gospel last week, about being ready for the coming of Jesus.  In his own way, Paul reminds the Thessalonians to live their lives such that they are always prepared for the Lord’s return.
The Gospel is the parable of the man who leaves his servants with various amounts of currency while he is away.  Upon his return he assesses what each of the three servants have done with the money, rewarding them or punishing them based what they did with the money that was entrusted to them.  It goes to a point I was trying to share in my “Teach a Man to Fish” post.  Like the man in the parable, God has given us, his servants, various talents.  We can put those talents to good use, generating a “return” that is seen favorably by God, or we can waste them and face the consequences later.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Teach A Man to Fish

I am a firm believer in the Chinese Proverb, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.  Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”  So it is with that perspective, when I read Matthew 25: 35-40, I wonder, are charitable acts the only way to live up to what Jesus is telling us about the judgment of nations?  Must the care for the hungry, care for the thirsty, care for the naked, or care for the sick simply be addressed through charity?  Or, can this care be done in ways that allow these “least brothers” of Christ to provide for themselves?

In Mark 13:7, Jesus tells us, “The poor you will always have with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them,” so there will always be a need for us to be charitable.  Consider though, if, much like in the Chinese Proverb, we were to teach, and more importantly, provide opportunities for our brothers and sisters to feed, and cloth and care for themselves, we are also living the teachings of Jesus.

As business men and women, as entrepreneurs, as investors, we have been blessed with opportunities to use our God-given talents, our ideas, and the wealth that is the fruit of our labors to provide opportunities for the “least brothers” so they too may utilize their God-given talents.  For instance, I was reading about the reopening of the Faribault Woolen Mill in Faribault, Minnesota (Faribault blanket mill revival restores US jobs, 11/06/2011).  Two cousins have taken their talents, along with their wealth they earned in other ventures, and purchased the Faribault company out of bankruptcy.  Earlier this year they reopened the mill, providing jobs once again to mill workers and weavers who either were unemployed, or were fortunate to find work elsewhere, but wanted to return to the mill.  The 35 or so employees have been given an opportunity to use their God-given talents once again to earn a living and provide for themselves.  This was made possible by two individuals who are using their God-given entrepreneurial talents.  If I were to surmise that this is being done according to God’s will, in this one small example, there are now 35 or so people who are eating when hungry, drinking when thirsty, being treated when ill, and being clothed by the fruits of their own talents, made possible by the opportunity extended by two men who have the opportunity to use their own God-given entrepreneurial talent.

Let us not forget, although we may have taught a man to fish, he still needs opportunities to use those skills to feed him for a lifetime.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Not Too Late to Get Ready for Sunday

“Get ready for Sunday.”  The readings for the 32th Sunday in Ordinary Time are Wisdom 6:12-16, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, and the Gospel from Matthew 25:1-13.

The first reading pertains to seeking out divine Wisdom.  In the second reading, St. Paul assures the Thessalonians, and us, that believers in Jesus who die before His return will be raised up.  And in the Gospel reading, Jesus teaches his disciples the virtue of being vigilant and, more importantly, prepared for His return through the parable of the virgins and their lamps.