Thursday, August 21, 2014

Sunday Gospel Reflection, August 24, 2014: I will give you the keys...

What would you do with the keys to the kingdom?

In our reading from Isaiah this Sunday, Eliakim, son of Hilkiah, is master of the palace; as such, he has access to the storerooms, from which he administers grain, and also to the king’s treasury.  But when God places the key of David upon his shoulder, Eliakim’s most significant role becomes his control over access to the king himself, and through him, to God; his duty is to facilitate access to those in need.  It is a huge responsibility…

We hear echoes of this notion of access in our gospel reading from Matthew as well, when Jesus – the Key of David incarnate – gives Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven, telling him, Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven… Why entrust these keys to Peter?  They are a gift, as is the revelation to Peter that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.  Because of his very openness, Peter can be seen as a stable basis upon which to build a church, a foundation capable of giving people access to God.  Peter understands that God is at work in his life, and proclaims the Good News; he is thus an open conduit through whom others may find access to God.  It is not up to Peter to understand the gift – Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!  How inscrutable are his judgments, Paul tells the Romans.  It’s not up to Peter to seek power in some hierarchy, either; it’s about his willingness to grow toward the depth of meaning Paul is suggesting, toward the unfathomable depth of God’s love for him, expressed in God’s kindness and truth (Psalm 138).  From that place of eternal love, Peter can be rock, strength, foundation… like Eliakim, a peg in a sure spot, the consummate source of stability through whom access to God is open and reliable.

We, too, have been entrusted with the key
  -- we, the Church, must provide access to God, and to salvation, to all who seek it.  And so perhaps we must each ask ourselves, what are we doing with the keys to the kingdom?  Are we a solid foundation, grounded in the eternal and boundless depths of God’s love, providing access to that love for all?

This post is based on Fr. Pat's Scripture class.
Image source

Monday, August 18, 2014

Radiate Love

Each time anyone comes into contact with us, they must become different and better people because of having met us.  We must radiate God’s love.  By our living and working together as God’s family, we proclaim that unity in the Church, as well as by working with all people, serving all people, of any religion, colour, caste or race.  We have been created in order to love and be loved.

Love does not measure… it just gives.
--Mother Teresa
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Quotation source

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Sunday Gospel Reflection, August 17, 2014: Even the dogs eat the scraps...

Are there limitations on who receives God’s love?

In this Sunday's readings, the prophet Isaiah is tasked with bringing surprising news to the people of Israel, a cohort that has long believed itself to be the chosen people.  I love you, God says to them, and I expect you to stay in relationship with me through your attention to my Word:  Observe what is right, do what is just.  In this way, God intends for Israel to draw the entire world to God, as Psalm 67 reminds them:  May God let his face shine upon us, so that his way may be known among all nations.  For – and here's the shocker – God’s covenant is by no means exclusive:  all who hold to my covenant, them will I bring to my holy mountain, Isaiah tells them.  Jews and foreigners alike must thus respond to the invitation to covenant with justice and hearts open to the love of God.

Jesus demonstrates this same principle in his encounter with the Canaanite woman in Matthew's Gospel.  This woman, who dares to approach Jesus and beg for healing for her suffering daughter, is at first apparently rebuffed by Jesus:  when she asks for help, he responds with an apparent insult, It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.  But her persistent faith in his power to heal – his divine power – and Jesus’s reaction, O woman, great is your faith! show that God’s love is not reserved for some ill-defined elect; rather, it is open to all who, like her, have open hearts, to all those who hope, to all those who believe… Which is precisely what the Jews have failed to do, Paul notes, in his Letter to the Romans.  The disobedience of the Paul’s race, the Jews, lies in their rejection of the Good News, in their failure to embrace Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah.  Yet ultimately, God will have mercy upon all, Paul assures the Romans, so long as they are one day open to Jesus’s love in their hearts.

For the gift and the call of God are irrevocable.  God’s love is the source and culmination of all gifts, the source of our call.  And all – God’s grace, God’s graciousness, God’s love for creation – all this makes salvation possible, for God’s love never changes.  To the contrary, it calls us unceasingly to life.  And once a heart is opened in love, there is no taking it back.  So respond to the call, and open your hearts wide to receive God’s infinite, flowing love!

This post is based on Fr. Pat's Scripture class.
Image source

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Empty Vessel

Empty Vessel

When the time comes for us to place ourselves before God’s divine goodness to communicate with him alone, which is prayer, simply the presence of our spirit before his, and his before ours, forms prayer, whether or not we have holy thoughts or feelings.  It is only necessary, in all simplicity and without any violent effort of spirit, to hold ourselves before him.

As we pray, we must be like an empty vessel, vulnerable before God so that he can distill his grace in us little by little as he pleases, as content to remain in such emptiness as we would be to be filled to the brim.
--St. Jane de Chantal,
whose feast we celebrate on August 12.
Quotation source:  Ste. Jeanne-Françoise Frémyot de Chantal, Sa vie et ses oeuvres, Vol.2, Entretien 30, pp.324-325.