The Week of July 22, 2018
SUNDAY - 2018
sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Brief reflections on the
week’s Scripture readings.
Brothers and sisters: In Christ Jesus you who once were far off
have become near by the blood of Christ.
For he is our peace, he who made both one
and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his flesh,
abolishing the law with its commandments and legal claims,
that he might create in himself one new person in place of the two,
thus establishing peace, and might reconcile both with God,
in one body, through the cross, putting that enmity to death by it.
Pondering the Word…
“For he is our peace.”
One of the themes you pick up on in the Pauline letters to the
new Gentile Christian communities is dismissing the argument that they are
second-class citizens due to the requirements of Jewish law. Through Christ--the
fulfillment of the law--any dividing walls, literal and figurative, erected are
torn down, so that each and every person might be reconciled with God. This was
God’s plan all along, and the Jewish people were called to be the harbingers of
this new world order where all would be one, united with and in God.
This was God’s dream for his children. It is still God’s dream
for us today: that through God’s love and mercy, made flesh in Christ, our
peace, we can break through the barriers of fear that keep us closed and “far
off” from one another, within our homes and communities, and within our world.
How will you live God’s dream of peace today?
Living the Word …
Take a look around at your life. What walls have you erected? Are
they walls to keep you in or others out--or both? I’m not talking here about the
basic physical structures we need to shelter us from the elements. Also, there
are times in our lives when figurative walls are needed to keep us emotionally
But how can you tell if a wall you’ve erected is still necessary?
Ask yourself, “Does this wall bring me true peace?” Perhaps you erected
it at a time when it was really needed, but it has outlasted its usefulness and
become a hindrance. Maybe you are just so used to having it as part of your
emotional landscape that you don’t have the energy to look at what lies beyond.
The only peace we
can find in this world is through Christ, the one who came to break down the
dividing walls of hate and fear that keep us apart. Ask Christ to help you
slowly but surely dismantle those walls that separate you from others and keep
you from being truly free.
Hear, O mountains, the plea of the LORD, pay attention, O foundations of the
earth! ...”O my people, what have I done to you, or how have I wearied you?
Answer me!” (Mi 6:1-4,
How does it feel to imagine God pleading like this with us? I can
intellectualize it and say, ‘Well, God isn’t like this. God doesn’t get
frustrated like the God portrayed in the prophetic books. God’s not looking for
me to answer, blah, blah, blah.’ Or I can feel deeply in my heart and soul how
God’s passionate love for me stirs in him a need to understand why I keep
rejecting him, over and over and over again. Sit in prayer with this image of
God who wants you to love him as he loves you. Talk to him about the
difficulties you face in trying to do what is right and just. Walk humbly with
God and share your deepest feelings and fears.
24: While Jesus
was speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers appeared outside,
wishing to speak with him.
"Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, asking to speak with you."
What do you think Mary and Jesus’ brothers want to talk about?
Right before this story appears in Mark (3:31-35), there’s a passage that says
his relatives were trying to seize him, saying, “He is out of his mind.” (3:21)
What would you speak about to Jesus at this juncture? Imagine yourself as one of
the players in this story: are you among the group listening to Jesus? The
go-between that alerts Jesus to his mother’s presence? Are you Mary or one of
his sisters or brothers? Are you Jesus? What goes through your mind and heart
during this exchange? Let your imagination lead you in prayer through this
hold this treasure in earthen vessels that the surpassing power may be of God
and not from us. We are.... perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted,
but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”
(2 Cor 4: 7-15)
And earthen vessels we are indeed, with cracks and imperfections;
a bit wobbly, not always in balance. The potter has formed us for perfection,
but through use and abuse, being broken and repaired, we have weakened. But God,
the potter within, holds us together and allows our vessels to withstand any
“I remember the devotion of your youth, how you loved me as a bride,
following me in the desert, in a land unsown.”
(Jer 2:1-3, 7-8. 12-13)
Sometimes, I worry about God’s memory. ‘Are you talking about the
Israelites from the Book of Exodus? You know, the ones who complained every step
of the way…the ones who built that golden calf? Those Israelites?’ God, the
ultimate parent, doesn’t dwell on past hurts or rejections. God remembers the
vulnerability and innocence of the people he set free from slavery in Egypt. God
acknowledges the leap of faith the Israelites took in venturing out into the
barren desert. I think about God’s unending love for me, despite my past and
present (and future) sinfulness…Come to think of it, I guess I shouldn’t worry
about God’s memory at all!
“At that time they will call Jerusalem the LORD's throne; there all nations will
be gathered together to honor the name of the LORD…”
“This was God’s dream for
his children. It is still God’s dream for us today.” A good follow-up to our
reflection on Sunday that God’s dream is for all nations to be gathered together
to honor “the name” of the Lord. Not “my name” for the Lord or “your name” for
the Lord. THE name. ”O my
people, what have I done to you, or how have I wearied you?”
‘Why can’t you
accept that I am all in all, and answer to whatever name each one of you has for
me. My relationships are both unique to each and universal to all. This is
reason for joy and celebration, not strife and fear and war. Gather together and
let me bless and love you—all of you!’
Thus says the LORD: “Reform your ways. Put not your trust in the deceitful
words…if each of you deals justly with his neighbor; if you no longer oppress
the resident alien, the orphan, and the widow; if you no longer shed innocent
blood in this place, or follow strange gods to your own harm, will I remain with
you in this place…”(Jer
The Book of Jeremiah
is not an easy read, but an enlightening one nonetheless. Commentary says it was
likely read by the Jewish people in exile, when they had plenty of time to look
back and reflect on the state of their lives prior to the Babylonian invasion.
As is often the case with prophets, Jeremiah was far more influential after his
death, but God’s message is the same throughout all generations: reform your
ways; treat each other fairly; be kind to strangers and foreigners that live
among you; care for the vulnerable; stop shedding innocent blood and succumbing
to false gods. If you are feeling “in exile” these days, think about sitting
down with Jeremiah and gleaning the lessons so appropriate for our lives today.
© 2017, Elaine H. Ireland. “Come and
Reflections are available at
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Ireland has a passion for working with parents and anyone who struggles to
maintain a sense of God’s love and peace amid the day-to-day challenges of life.
She has a master’s degree in Spiritual and Pastoral Care from the Pastoral
Counseling department at Loyola, Maryland, with a focus on developmental
psychology and spiritual guidance. Rooted in Ignatian spirituality, she is
a writer, retreat and workshop leader, and presenter on topics such as pastoral
parenting, “letting go,” and finding the spiritual in the midst of everyday
life. She lives in Ellicott City, Maryland with her husband, Mark and children,
David and Maggie.
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