Today's Scriptural Meditation Readings:
Februrary 1 A.D. 2009
Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
Psalm 95:1-2, 6-7, 7-9
1 Corinthians 7:32-35
A reflection on today's Scripture:
The first reading today from Deuteronomy gives us an amazing insight into God's patience and mercy toward the people of the Covenant.
The setting is in the desert, where the Israelites are stalled on their journey toward the Promised Land. Why are they stalled? Because their parents grumbled against God in their lack of faith. So now the young people beg Moses not to subject them anymore to God's fire and thunder. "Moses," they cry, "you are flesh and blood like us. You be God's voice, please." And God agrees with their request by saying to Moses, "I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kin."
But God gives a warning. Any prophet He chooses had better take the job seriously. So Moses becomes the first of a whole line of prophets for Israel who would reveal God's plans for the future Messiah, Who will be called the Suffering Servant, Wonder-Worker, Lamb of God, and Prince of Peace. He will redeem them from their sins, and will heal their illnesses.
In the Gospel, Jesus announces to the people that the Kingdom of God has finally arrived. He proceeds to amaze the people by driving out a demon from a man who confronts him in the synagogue. He does it with an authority unlike that of their religious leaders.
Place yourself in that scene in the synagogue. Looking around, you might see one or two who might look enviously at the man freed of his demon. Would you be envious, too, knowing that you yourself might have a demon or two? What demon would you like driven out? The demon of depression or stress, perhaps? In the second reading, St. Paul tells the Corinthians, "I should like you to be free of anxieties." Are you so afflicted?
Stress has been pictured as an old man with head bowed down carrying a load of feathers which he thinks to be lead. Or a man trying to cross a bridge, and he hasn't even gotten to it yet.
Stress comes from trying to control everything, especially things that are beyond our control. Perhaps it's the economy, or lack of health care, or lack of a job. Stress comes from trying to be perfect in everything, all the time. No one is perfect except Jesus Christ.
Some years ago Richard Carlson wrote a book called Don't Sweat the Small Stuff. It was so popular that it became a series of books. He wrote,
"Make peace with imperfection."
"If someone throws you the ball, you don't have to catch it."
"Life isn't an emergency."
"Give up on the idea that more is better."
"Stop blaming others."
"Get comfortable not knowing."
"Resist the urge to criticize."
St. Paul urged us not to sweat the small stuff.
Jesus told us very clearly in the Gospels not to let worry get out of hand, not to be afraid, but to trust the power and the plan of His Heavenly Father. "Call on me," God says, "and I will answer you." Take the load off your shoulders and just give it to the Lord. And pray.
Of course, some concerns are legitimate, like whether or not we pray enough every day. Do we calm our spirits and shut out distractions, so that we can really listen to the Lord? We should worry about our lack of trust, our lack of awareness that only one thing is necessary -- to give over our worries to the Lord, and believe that our faith will be rewarded. If we do, the tension will drain from us.
So we're back in that synagogue. Jesus is coming toward us. Tell Him of your demon. Ask Him to free you from it. Then, freed from that demon, you can with renewed energy, praise Him, serve Him and love Him with joy!
- Msgr. Paul Whitmore
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Sunday, February 1, 2009
Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lives of the saints:
Full Scripture text from today's Liturgy of the Word:
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