Reflections for the Week
Hold on to Jesus Firmly
Peter was the most impulsive of all the apostles with his tendency to act without thinking of what he was doing. The incident in the Gospel reflects Peter’s impulsiveness. He often failed and was upset with his own behaviour. Jesus always tried to show his disciples how difficult it was to follow him before they set out on the way he taught them. A great deal of failure in our lives happens when we act on impulsiveness and allow our emotions to get the better of us. Fortunately Peter, in the moment of his failure, held on to Jesus firmly. Every time Peter fell, he rose again. His failures only made him love the Lord more deeply and trust him more intently. The Lord keeps watch over us at all times, and especially in our moments of temptation and difficulty. We must rely on the Lord for his strength and help. Jesus assures us that we need not have to fear if we trust in him and in his great love for us. When difficulties or trials threaten to overwhelm us, how should we respond? With faith and hope in God’s love, care and presence with us.
God’s Word Fr Reuben Tellis
Elijah, in the First Reading, wants to flee from danger. Because he is doing everything for God, he expects God to come to the rescue. He awaits God in spectacular events, but God is not in the external signs of what may be seen as power: great winds, earthquake, and fire. God, however, comes in “a tiny whispering sound.”
Yes, there are moments in our lives when the force that suddenly makes us face the seemingly insurmountable problems or difficulties that beset our daily grind is a tiny whispering prayer in our heart, a desire, a resolve bespeaking an intimate, acknowledged presence of God. And our attitude must only be openness and availability.
The Gospel narrates that even Jesus, who led his disciples to feed the people, feels the need to pray. Preachers, teachers and retreat facilitators know this very much. Without prayer and introspection, one’s ministry is in shambles. But while Jesus is away, the disciples who are in a boat are tossed by a storm. Yes, even the ones who claim to be near the Lord do experience storms and difficulties!
Yet they are so caught up by the winds that they mistake the approaching Jesus for a ghost. Only when the Lord assures them, the way God assures Moses on Mount Sinai, “I Am,” that they are brought to their senses: “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Sometimes our eyes are cast on the problems and not on the presence of Jesus whose light will make us see solutions. We must not fear.
365 Days with the Lord Fr Gil Alinsangan SSP
Today’s Gospel reading says something very revealing about Jesus. It says:
“He went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone.” Thus the Gospels often show Jesus withdrawing by himself to commune with God. If he felt he needed to pray often and at length, would we not feel bound to imitate him? After all, being sinners, we need prayer far more than Jesus did.
On this topic, let us listen to the advice of a real master of spiritual life, Henri J M Nouwen. This is what he says in his book, With Open Hands:
“If we say that it’s good to turn to God in prayer for a spare minute, or if we grant that a person with a problem does well to take refuge in prayer, we have as much as admitted that praying is on the margin of life and doesn’t really matter.
“If we think that a little prayer can’t do any harm, we will soon find that it can’t do much good either. Prayer has meaning only if it is necessary and indispensable. Prayer is prayer only when we can say that without it, we cannot live.”
As the saying goes: if we are too busy to pray, we are too busy. Let us honestly look at our prayer life and see if it needs some adjustments in order to conform to our model in prayer, Jesus Christ.
365 Days with the Lord Fr Nil Guillemette SJ
The Assumption of Mary into Heaven
In the Gospel for the Feast of the Assumption, two women, both expecting a child, greet each other. The setting is a village in Israel and they are two pregnant women unknown to the greater world. For every mother, expecting a child is a profound human experience, but in this instance St Luke creates a sense of expectation in all of us since these two children will affect our destinies. This event is at the centre of God’s promise to humankind from the beginning.
The feast expresses the age-old Christian conviction that the body that enshrined the Word made flesh could not linger in the grave, but was summoned by her Son to enjoy, body and soul, the joys of his kingdom. In the words of the solemn definition of the Assumption: “the Immaculate Mother of God, Mary ever-Virgin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up, body and soul, into the glory of heaven.”
But this day is a feast for us as well. Mary was one of us: uniquely privileged by God, but still one of us. Where she has gone, we too can follow. That is the prospect of hope for us too. This body is not destined to lie in death: it is part of God’s creation and destined to rise again in glory.
Many artists have tried to depict the Assumption. But so often, the woman they show is perfect in every feature, supremely beautiful. Perhaps it would be more realistic to show a body bearing the signs of toil. Mary was a hard-working woman, with hands roughened by labour at the washing place and the fire. She knew what it was like to be exhausted with the routine of keeping a home going and she suffered the grief of watching her Son’s death. All of us experience the physical and emotional demands of life. She shared these toils, joys and sorrows with us. On this feast she reassures us: “Where my Son has brought me, he can bring you also.”
We can look up out of the routine of this life which Mary shared, to the prospect ahead of us. We can take a deep breath and get on with living. “Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back home.” The great moments of the Magnificat were followed by the daily reality of life. Mary who was assumed into heaven lived with both her feet firmly on the ground we share.
The Living Word Redemptorist Publications.
Fr Bill's Thoughts