Reflection for the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2024

When Jesus returned to His hometown after a rather lengthy absence, His own people were suspicious of Him. They were so familiar with Him, and expected certain things of Him, but definitely not what they were now seeing. So, they took offense at Him.

Here’s what they thought about Jesus: We know him. He’s a ne’er-do-well like a lot of people around here. Don’t invite him to the party, and for sure don’t trust anything he says. Don’t you remember his dad? Just a simple carpenter, after all.  How can he be talking about God and the Law like a great rabbi? Something must be going on. Something’s just not right here. So we think to ourselves as we hear this Gospel, That was terrible of them to make such rash judgments of Jesus!

This past week at our Motherhouse a number of us were talking about striving to live a life of perfect charity toward everyone. One Sister, speaking of people in general, brought up an interesting image. She said sometimes we keep in our heads files of certain people we think we know, and therefore don’t like. They’ve always been fussbudgets, or crabby, or left-wingers, or self-centered. Sister went on to say that we can memorize what’s in our ‘Susan file’ and ‘Fred file’ and automatically presume that since that’s the way they were, then that’s the way they will always be. We can come to think that we’re experts on certain people, and if they don’t act the way we ‘expect’ them to, then something must be wrong. Suspiciously wrong, even! Sister’s imagery became the catalyst for a deep, intense discussion on the way we can become judges of others.

People are so often deeper than we know. They carry burdens we would never be able to carry ourselves.  They have their faults, but when we think about it, we have the same ones. Maybe that’s why we don’t like them: we see in them what we dislike in ourselves. Would that we could spend as much time looking for the good in others as we have in cataloguing what we see as their shortcomings.

Maybe we should cull our files this week; look at ways we might have labeled certain relatives, co-workers, neighbors.  Let us ask Jesus to help us shred their files and begin noticing their goodness, their kind eyes, their open hands, recognizing them in the same confession line in which we find ourselves.

People change. They seek God, and they find God waiting for them. They struggle to overcome addictions, and strong mentors embrace them with their loving support, enabling them to turn bravely from the darkness to face the light. People we thought would never make anything of themselves find a cause that ignites a fire within that moves mountains for the poor or the downtrodden.  We see what look like faults in a person and discover instead the motivation of altruism that moves them to compassionate acts that make an everlasting transformation in another.

Today we pray the responsorial verse, “Our eyes are fixed intently on the Lord, pleading for His Mercy.” And we add, Forgive us, Lord, for the judgments we have passed on others. Have mercy on us so we can shred those files we’ve been holding on to and instead begin to carry those persons in our hearts with a love that comes from our own conversion. We ask this with eyes ready to see the truth about ourselves and about our brothers and sisters. Amen.

May Jesus grant us the conversion we need, even as He is bringing about amazing conversions in those who travel the Eucharistic Pilgrimage with Him. Remember that as we leave the church each week carrying in our hearts our Eucharistic Jesus, we are a Eucharistic Procession. May people we pass, work and speak with be transformed by Jesus Whom they see reflected in our eyes, and hear in our words.

God bless you, and may we all love one another.

“With Mary, our lives continually proclaim the greatness of the Lord and the joy experienced in rendering service to Him.”

Holy Rule

Make a difference today ~ help us reach those in need!