Isaiah 49:1-6; Acts 13:22-26; Luke 1:57-66, 80
Today is known as “Little Christmas”. It is the birth of the sixth-month older cousin of Jesus. There were some who believed John to be the Christ, but the Gospels make it quite clear that his destiny was to be the forerunner and baptizer of the Christ.
There is nothing known or written about any friendship they enjoyed after their womb-to-womb meeting during Mary’s visitation to John’s mother, Elizabeth. John is pictured as having a light to shine toward and upon Jesus, but as the Evangelist John writes in his first chapter, “He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light.” John 1, 8
When I was a child, the gospel from today seemed straight forward – no one can serve two masters, so pick one and stay on that team. I didn’t need to be told not to worry about life because life’s worries didn’t really impact me. I had a nice home, plenty to eat, pleasant diversions. Life was good, and although I didn’t think about it then, I probably felt like the birds in the sky, singing and soaring and doing what I was called to do with blissful abandon.
The lessons for today are appropriate for people who experience distress and anxiety. At some points in our lives, all of us have fears and call out to God for rescue. But we usually don't do so from the perspective of first acknowledging that our anxieties are often due to our lack of trust and our inability to honestly confront our weaknesses and our daily need for God to reveal God's light in the midst of our lives.
We are a sinful people, easily duped by the enemy, distracted by the false lights that move our lesser selves. There are so many ways that we can transgress on our path to the Lord, countless side trips that can divert us from our true calling, to be reunited with God. I think most of us realize we are sinful, most understand that we personally are not immune from stumbling. That is why when we stop to reflect on the love of God, and the sacrifice of Jesus, we are both humbled and chastened, and with the psalmist we can give thanks for the greatness of the Lord.
Mt 6:1-6, 16-18
God loves a cheerful giver. I love this phrase from Corinthians, not just in its meaning for alms and good works. God doesn’t just mean that we smile when we write out a check or grin when we drop off clothes at Goodwill (thought I think that’s a good idea too.) When I think of God loves a cheerful giver, it reminds me of finding God in all things, in our day-to-day lives -- not only when we are in church or praying or performing service. I want to be a cheerful giver among my co-workers, my neighbors, the woman at the checkout line at the grocery store.
We are very happy to welcome Sr. Binita Soreng, a new member to the international community in Procura, Rome. She is a junior Sister, born in Jharkhand, North India and belongs to Simdega Diocese. She is the fifth child in the family. In the year 2010 she joined the Pallottine Missionary Sisters in India and made her first profession in 2014.
In the first week of June, the Sisters of our Switzerland Delegature, as part of our General Visitation, hosted Sr. Izabela Swierad SAC, Superior General and Sr. Anna Maldrzykowska SAC, Councilor and General Treasure. A cordial, sisterly atmosphere, cheerfulness and good humor followed a midst the beautiful Swiss landscape. The sisters have once again, strengthened us with their testimony of faith and trust in the Lord, living everyday life in peace, mutual love and joyful gratitude.
“. . . love your enemies . . .”.
Almost everyone is familiar with that command. And almost everybody thinks that, while perhaps an ideal, it is hopelessly unrealistic. Maybe. But maybe some context might help us understand how central this really is to being Christian.
What, after all, does it mean to be Christian? Not to save ourselves, as perhaps we once thought. God has done that for us. No, our job is to continue the work of Jesus – the Jesus who called people to change their priorities and submit to God’s gentle reign. Christians are a community of disciples, having disciple roles, and doing disciple work.
“Offer no resistance to injury . . . turn the other cheek.” These phrases are among the most famous and most difficult of any which the Gospels record as coming from the lips of Jesus. If we listen to them long enough to really hear them, before being frightened off by them, we usually hear in them an admonition to passivity in the face of conflict.
Ezek 17:22-24; 2 Cor 5:6-10; Mk 4:26-34
Can our God really help us? Can we really have hope in the midst of great struggles?
These are the questions being asked and addressed in today's readings - by Ezechiel's community, by the community in Corinth, and by the community under persecution, who first heard Mark's gospel, and by us today.
At the time of the Babylonian captivity, it seemed that the people had no more hope - and that they certainly wondered how God's promises could be fulfilled. Is is possible for God to be faithful? In the midst of this? The power of their captors seems overwhelming. Ezekiel explains that God really is powerful. God can, and will, take a shoot and plant it as their future. What appears to be powerful will be brought down and what is lowly will be raised up. Mary speaks like that in her Magnificat. The child conceived in her womb would be that surprising sign of God's fidelity.