Father David's Reflection for Wednesday of Week Seventeen (Ordinary Time)

Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola The Responsorial (Psalm 99) declares words that should find a constant echo in our hearts: “Holy is the Lord our God.” Exodus 34: 29-35 tells us what happens to those who engage in intimate conversation with God. After Moses had received the revelation of God’s inmost being, of his “glory,” his face became radiant — so much so that the people were “afraid to come near him” until he called them. And then he had to put a veil over his face. This same thing happens to us, even physically. It is not as dramatic or intense as the Scripture describes of Moses, but just as real and visible. People who “see God” in prayer — not in the visions and ecstasies of the myst

Father David's Reflection for Tuesday of Week Seventeen (Ordinary Time)

The Responsorial (Psalm 103) assures us: “The Lord is kind and merciful.” These are the words Moses heard in Exodus 33:7 to 34:28 when “the LORD passed before him, and proclaimed, ‘The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” The Jerome Biblical Commentary (on John 1:14) calls these words a “virtual definition of God.” He is the God of “enduring love,” of steadfast love and faithfulness. This is the God we must reflect in ministry: a God of “steadfast love.” We must never let people’s faults or apathy, or even their rejection of us, turn us away from loving and serving them. Because God doesn’t. And we must be on guard a

Father David's Reflection for Monday of Week Seventeen (Ordinary Time)

The Responsorial (Psalm 106) invites us: “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good.” Always. Exodus 32: 15-34 shows the need we have for something visible and present that we can deal with to experience our relationship (interaction) with God and be assured of God’s relationship (interaction) with us. An invisible, intangible God just seems too vague, too far-away to keep us confident that he is “with us.” While Moses was in camp, he fulfilled this need. In a sense he was an “idol” for the people: not that they worshipped him, but that his visible, physical presence made them feel safe. When he delayed on the mountain, they said to Aaron, “Make us a god to be our leader. As for the man Moses…

Father David's Reflection for the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Inventory What is the key to praying well? What should we pray for? — especially as ministers? What gives us hope that our prayers will be answered? Input The Entrance Antiphon gives us hope by reminding us, first of all, that God is and that he is “holy,” different from us. “God is in his holy dwelling.” And God gives us all we need: “a home to the lonely… power and strength to his people.” The Opening Prayer(s) give us reasons to pray with hope. First they encourage us to see what God is and does: God is holiness, beauty and power. We ask God to “open our eyes” that we might “see your hand at work in the splendor of creation, in the beauty of human life.” “Touched by your hand our world is

Father David's Reflection for Saturday of Week Sixteen (Ordinary Time)

The Responsorial (Psalm 50) paints a picture of happy life on earth. It urges us: “Offer to God a sacrifice of praise.” But in the context of a community that recognizes God’s creation as “perfect in beauty,” his covenant as the way of truth and justice, and his fidelity to those who “call upon him in time of distress.” Exodus 24: 3-8 is the account of the great moment when the Jews, as a whole People, formally entered into their covenant with God. First Moses built an altar of stones to symbolize the presence of God. He assembled the whole people around it. In front of each tribe he built a pillar of stones, twelve to represent the twelve tribes. He offered bulls in sacrifice, took half of

Father David's Reflection for Friday of Week Sixteen (Ordinary Time)

The Responsorial (Psalm 19) reminds us: “Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.” Exodus 20: 1-17 shows God ministering to us. Ministry is always communication in some form, and it is always, however indirectly, the communication of God’s truth, God’s love, God’s life to people. Here God is communicating to his People the “operator’s manual” for the human nature he gave us. The Ten Commandments are the “instructions on the bottle,” the manufacturer’s guide for living human life in the way that lets us get the most out of it. The word “Commandments” might throw us off. We might assume, without thinking about it, that the Commandments are just some rules God arbitrarily lays down for the

Father David's Second Reflection for Thursday of Week Sixteen (Ordinary Time)

The Responsorial (Daniel 3: 52-56) exhorts us to give God “glory and praise forever.” St. Augustine said, “We cannot love what we do not know.” So the level of our praise and love will be determined by the level of our knowledge of God: the more we know him, the more we will appreciate him. However, we can know what we do not see. In fact, if we only know what we see, that is superficial knowledge. We say, “Appearances deceive.” With God, we know that anything we can perceive with our senses, understand with our intellects or resonate to with our emotions will conceal as much as it reveals of his total, infinite Truth, Goodness and Being. So human beings throughout history have sought to kno

Father David's Reflection for the Feast of St. James, the Apostle (Ordinary Time)

This James is named “the Greater,” or “Big James,” either because he was older, taller or called by Jesus before “James the Less” (“Little James”). James and John were Zebedee’s sons. Jesus nicknamed them Boanerges, “Sons of Thunder.” They were chosen with Peter to witness the Transfiguration and Agony in the Garden. James, the first apostle to be martyred, was beheaded by Herod Agrippa c. 44 A.D. A tradition says he preached in Spain and that in the ninth century his body was taken from Jerusalem to Santiago de Compostella, one of the most popular pilgrimage shrines of Europe. [1] Their mother’s ambition for James and John in Matthew 20:20-28 sparked Jesus’ warning to Church authorities: Yo

Father David's Reflection for Wednesday of Week Sixteen (Ordinary Time)

The Responsorial (Psalm 24) declares: “The Lord gave them bread from heaven.” How does God do this? Exodus 16: 1-15 may tell us where the word we translate as “daily (epiousion) bread” in the Our Father came from. It was apparently coined by the Christians, as it is not found anywhere else in Greek. Fr. Ray Brown’s analysis concludes it means “future bread” or “bread of the morrow.”Like the manna that God promised to give his people “in the morning,” and of which they were to gather only a “daily portion,” enough for each day.[1] In the Gospels the expression “to give bread” (arton diaonai) only occurs in a Eucharistic context.[2] Jesus called himself the true bread from heaven that gives et

Father David's Reflection for Tuesday of Week Sixteen (Ordinary Time)

The Responsorial (Exodus 15:1) repeats: “Let us sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory.” How did killing the Egyptians glorify God? In Exodus 14:21 to 15:1, when the Israelites sang to God, “for he is gloriously triumphant; horse and chariot he has cast into the sea,” we should not see God as the stereotype of some misguided (and fictional) military nut who seeks “glory” by killing people. On the contrary, the rabbis tell that when the Egyptian army was destroyed, the angels broke out in praise. Then they looked over and saw God weeping. Asked why, God replied, “The Egyptians are my children too!” The point of the Exodus story is that God saves: “The Lord saved Israel on that day

Father David's Reflection for Monday of Week Sixteen (Ordinary Time)

The Responsorial Verse invites us, “Sing to the Lord; he has covered himself in glory” (Exodus 15:1). What is God’s glory? Where do we see it? The Hebrew word for glory, unlike ours, does not speak of fame, but of the actual value of someone. God’s “glory” is God himself revealing his power and holiness, the majesty and dynamism of his being. What reveals the glory of God to us? In Exodus 14: 5-18, when the people saw the Egyptians coming in pursuit, in their fright they thought God had betrayed them. And this is the temptation we all feel when pain is unbearable. Where is God? Why does he let this happen? For countless [Vietnam] veterans that same question remains unanswered. They… are conv

Father David's Reflection for the Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Mystery of Ministry Sunday 16, Ordinary Time, Year C Inventory The Responsorial Psalm answers the question, “Who may abide in your tent? Who may dwell on your holy mountain?” The answer is, “Those who do justice shall live in the presence of the Lord” (Psalm 15). What does it mean to live “in the presence of the Lord”? Does it depend on our environment? On how quiet or busy we are? Does ministry distract us from God? What enables us to be always conscious of God? Input The Entrance Antiphon tells us, first of all, that everything depends on God: “God himself is my help. The Lord upholds my life.” But a lot depends on the attitude we have toward what we do: “I will offer you a willing sac

Father David's Reflection for Saturday of Week Fifteen (Ordinary Time)

The Responsorial (Psalm 136) tells us: “His love is everlasting.” And every act of Christian ministry today says the same thing. In Exodus 12: 37-42 God shows his “steadfast love” by fulfilling his promise to Abram that his descendants would be brought home after four hundred years. The number “six hundred thousand” could be just a Semitic exaggeration common in Scripture, or the word for “thousand” (‘elep) can also mean “family,” which would bring the number down to about 6,000. The point, however, is not numbers but God’s fidelity. And this is what God told the Jews to celebrate annually in “a vigil to be kept for the LORD by all the Israelites throughout their generations.” This was the P

Father David's Reflection for Friday of Week Fifteen (Ordinary Time)

The Responsorial (Psalm 116) encourages us to celebrate God’s saving work: “I will take the cup of salvation, and call on the name of the Lord.” Exodus 11: 10-14 presents us with the root source of everything God does to heal and save us. Before God delivered his people from the slavery of Egypt he had them sacrifice the “paschal lamb.” “Pasch” is the Hebrew for “Passover, and “paschal” means anything related to the feast of Passover, which celebrated the night the destroying angel “passed over” the houses marked with the blood of the lamb. The lamb was a preview of Jesus, the true Paschal Lamb, whose sacrifice on the cross delivered the human race from bondage to sin. So for Christians “pas

Father David's Reflection for Thursday of Week Fifteen (Ordinary Time)

The Responsorial (Psalm 105) gives us a distinguishing characteristic of God: “The Lord remembers his covenant forever.” God never rejects us. The word “steadfast” appears 187 times in the Bible. In Exodus 3: 13-20 Moses asks how the Israelites will know that God has sent him to them. And the proof he asks for is the fundamental proof that accredits every true minister: “If they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” Authentic ministry is grounded in personal knowledge of God. If we are just the ministers of a “system” or a “religion,” no matter how good, but without personal — and preferably intimate — knowledge of God, who will listen to us? Who should? God tells Moses at t

Father David's Reflection for Wednesday of Week Fifteen (Ordinary Time)

An enlightening comment on the Lord’s choice of Moses is in the Responsorial (Psalm 103): “The Lord is kind and merciful.” It should help us to accept our own call to minister. In Exodus 3: 1-12 God appeared to Moses in the flame of a burning bush. “And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.” Moses had a special reason to be afraid. He was out there in the desert because he had murdered an Egyptian (Exodus 2: 11-15). Nevertheless, God chose him to be the one through whom God would deliver his people. And on this same mountain (Horeb, also called Sinai) God would later give his Commandments and make his covenant with the people through Moses. Do we need more encouragement to be

Father David's Reflection for Tuesday of Week Fifteen (Ordinary Time)

The Responsorial (Psalm 69) calls us to remain aware that the only real answer to any of our needs is God: “Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.” In Exodus 2: 1-15 we see God saving Moses from physical death; first by putting him into a “basket” that floated — more precisely, a “chest,” which is the same Hebrew word used for Noah’s “ark” in Genesis 6:14. In Christian tradition Noah’s ark has become a symbol for the Church, in which we are saved. The name “Moses,” in Hebrew Mosheh, is like the Hebrew mashah, which means “to draw out.” In Christian tradition, we are actually saved by going down into the water of Baptism, as into death, and being drawn out again or raised up as mem

Father David's Reflection for Monday of Week Fifteen (Ordinary Time)

The Responsorial (Psalm 124) calls us to believe, in spite of all appearances: “Our help is in the name of the Lord.” In Exodus 1: 8-22 the descendants of Israel (Jacob) are given reason to doubt God’s care for them. “Joseph died, and all his brothers, and that whole generation…. Now a new king, who knew nothing of Joseph, came to power in Egypt.” And this king, noticing “how numerous and powerful the Israelite people are growing,” adopted a policy of semi-genocide, killing all male babies and reducing the living “to cruel slavery.” How much faith did it take for the Israelites to proclaim then, “Our help is in the name of the Lord”? With hindsight, the rest of the Psalm justifies this concl

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