October 22, 2014

Thursday of the 29th Week of Ordinary Time

Today’s Readings: October 23, 2014
Ephesians 3:14-21
Psalm 33:1-2,4-5,11-12,18-19
Luke 12:49-53
www.usccb.org/bible/readings/102314.cfm
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
ccc.usccb.org/cccradio/NABPodcasts/14_10_23.mp3

Jesus, light my fire!

If I were to choose one scripture that represents my prayer for you, it would be today’s first reading. If I were to try to explain why – and why I write these daily Good News Reflections – it would be with the words of Jesus from the Gospel reading: "I want to light a fire; how I wish it were already blazing!"

Why isn’t it blazing? Because none of us fully realize how much God loves us. When we're unloving, it's because we don't understand the depth of God's unconditional, merciful, faithful, never-ending love for us. This love is the fire that burns up sin, sets us on fire with the light of Christ, and energizes us with the fuel of God's own energy.

God's love is the fire that ignites me each morning. Look around. Who else is on fire, burning with desire to serve him? Do you see it in every priest, deacon, religious, church staff and volunteer minister? Do others see it in you? How I wish every Christian had this fire igniting their activities on Earth! The world would be transformed.

God placed this fire within you at your baptism. Are you fanning this flame? Are you letting it light up the world around you?

Look at what Jesus said he had to do to set the world on fire. What baptism was he talking about? Not the water baptism he'd already received in the Jordan River. It was the baptism of painful self-sacrifice. The inner motivation that enabled him to endure the cross and accomplish the goal of providing us with eternal salvation came from a deep yearning to spread the fire of his love. It came from the passionate urgings of love, which filled him with an undying desire to rescue us from death and destruction.

Have you felt this way about anyone? The ones who are most on fire in their ministries are those who have suffered much and discovered God's love in the pain. When we make sacrifices because we feel a passionate love for others, we're spreading the fire of God's love. This is why Saint Paul said we must be "rooted and grounded in love."

By loving others, we come to know "the breadth and length and height and depth" of Christ's love. If we wait to feel loved before we give love, we never understand God's love.

Fire purifies us by separating the waste material from the precious; it destroys whatever does not belong to the kingdom of God. When we blaze with the fire of God's love, our sinful tendencies get burned out of us.

Jesus mentioned that this fire divides households, i.e., it divides us from loved ones who remain self-centered and unloving as they make choices that keep them trapped in their sinfulness. Nevertheless, we must continue to burn with love for them. This heats up the fire within us, which purifies us further. And gradually, the world becomes more heavenly.

© 2014 by Terry A. Modica of Good News Ministries (gnm.org)
For PERMISSION to copy this reflection, go to gnm.org/copyrights.htm
For professionally published reflections and other Good News materials for RCIA, church bulletins, etc., please visit Catholic Digital Resources at catholicdr.com

To sign up to receive the Good News Reflections by email, go to gogoodnews.net/DailyReflections

October 21, 2014

Wednesday of the 29th Week of Ordinary Time

Today’s Readings: October 22, 2014
Ephesians 3:2-12
Isaiah 12:2-6
Luke 12:39-48
www.usccb.org/bible/readings/102214.cfm
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
ccc.usccb.org/cccradio/NABPodcasts/14_10_22.mp3

Eternally busy servanthood

What complaints do you have? What are you doing to improve each situation that has caused you to grumble?

Whenever we're unhappy, it's a sign that we need to do something – take action – to make a change. The feeling of being irritated and displeased is a grace-filled urge to make changes by using the gifts and training and insights that God has given us. It's not supposed to make us cranky; it's meant to motivate us off our lazy seats and do whatever we can, with God's help, following his guidance, always alert to his timing.

Change starts by pointing the finger of responsibility at ourselves. Are we unhappy with others? We cannot change them, but we can improve something in our own lives to relieve the misery. Are we actively searching for alternate ways to get our needs met? Are we humble enough to change ourselves when wishing that others would change?

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus warns about the unfaithfulness of those who claim to be Christian yet disregard the Lord's will. When we know what needs to be done for the kingdom of God and we have the ability to do something about it, but do nothing, this is the grievous sin of apathy compounded by disobedience.

Sometimes we're unaware of what needs to be done or how to get it done. As Jesus said, we're only accountable for what we understand. This is why a person who breaks a Church law without understanding it is to be given patience and time, along with evangelization and education – by those who do understand.

Woe are we if we see a need and understand its importance and have the ability to fix it and neglect to take action! Jesus wants to find us busy serving the kingdom of God in our daily lives all the way up to the hour of our deaths: in our secular workplaces and other positions in the world, not just in church. Remember, we don’t have to look religious to be serving God.

The "Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity" from Vatican Council II was written to remind us that we are all called and gifted to "renew the temporal order". We are enabled and required to restore the temporary world to the condition that God wants for it, which is a reflection of the eternal world of heaven.

Society tells us that our goal for aging is to live longer and enjoy lots of restful retirement years with plenty of time to play and cater to ourselves. But Jesus did not say, "Blessed is the servant whom his Master finds busy when he returns, unless he's retired." There's always a way to serve God, even if our bodies become totally disabled.

Christian servanthood is the greatest possible lifestyle, because it has eternal results. Why would we want to give that up to do crossword puzzles and watch TV all day?

God has gifted you with the means to serve him. You can make the world a better place – and he is relying on you! Amidst the increasing crises of our world today, your service is all the more necessary.

© 2014 by Terry A. Modica of Good News Ministries (gnm.org)
For PERMISSION to copy this reflection, go to gnm.org/copyrights.htm
For professionally published reflections and other Good News materials for RCIA, church bulletins, etc., please visit Catholic Digital Resources at catholicdr.com

To sign up to receive the Good News Reflections by email, go to gogoodnews.net/DailyReflections