By Nancy Nobrega
In the Gospel today Luke explains that if we want God’s help we should just keep asking. He will help us, and we should not get discouraged if we don’t get the help we need right away. The way He explains it makes me think that God will help us if we keep “bothering” Him – that we will stop nagging if He gives in. It does sound quite a bit like how we are with our children. We are told often that God loves us unconditionally, so we might think that we don’t need to be thankful for the wonderful things we receive from Him. Life is messy but, we get lots of help and little miracles every day if we are present to His grace. We love our children unconditionally too. If my children ask me to help them, it certainly makes me feel better if they have expressed appreciation for my help and also if the help that I give them is paid forward to siblings, friends and strangers. I bet that applies to anyone who gives anyone else a helping hand. Don’t we all feel better when we see the help and kindness spread and that there has been a realization of how important helping others is?
God sent Jesus to teach us the way. Now it’s our turn to show our children and each other the way. Be a good example…brainstorm with your kids how they might pass on kindness in their day. Are we not all so pleased when we see children who are kind and polite? They are watching and mimicking us! How can we pay forward the help that God has given us? We could be more cheerful. A smile and an encouraging word to friends and strangers goes so far! Remember when someone said something nice to you and how that just made your day? I know it makes me feel so good, and acknowledging that has made me brave enough to compliment strangers on good manners, thank wait staff who have looked after me, give a helping hand and a smile to tired young mothers with cranky children, let folks who are in a mad rush go ahead of me in line and call that acquaintance (not close friend) who has been having a hard time.
A friend of mine keeps granola bars in his glove compartment to hand out to the homeless instead of giving money or wondering how to give money in a safer or better way. Another friend has made sure that her children, who are now old enough, take the time to call elderly relatives who have cared for them over the years and who might be at home alone. Remember when Grandma used to take you to the park, well maybe now it’s time for you to take her for a walk in the park on a nice day or go have tea with her on a rainy one. And of course, before we ask God for help we can say thank you by acknowledging all the blessings that are in our lives, that we sometimes take for granted and that make our lives gentler and easier. Even in the midst of our most awful days there are helps: the perfect parking spot just before we think we will “lose it” because everything is going wrong, the letter from a friend that fills us with joy, the visit that is out of the blue and so nurturing, a kind word or compliment for a job well done, or that we saw that someone paid forward a kindness that we offered to them.
2 Timothy 3.14 – 4.2
An Unfinished Miracle by Fr. Norm Tanck, CSB Ten lepers come to Jesus seeking a cure. “Jesus, have mercy on us!”, they cry out. Jesus hears their prayer and tells them to go to the priests who had the authority to declare them cured. But the priests also had the power to restore them to the community from which their disease alienated them. Nine were cured and healed, one however, a Samaritan, was cured of his illness but not healed of what alienated him from others. He no longer had leprosy, but was still and would always be a Samaritan, hated and alienated because of his ethnicity and religious beliefs. I suppose that he returned to thank Jesus for the cure, but wonder if he came back to Jesus also because he had nowhere else to go, no one else to share his joy with and no one who would welcome him as a person, not a category, a disease or stereotype. He came back with gratitude but also with faith that Jesus would love and accept him as a person, as a brother, a child of God. In many ways, this is an unfinished miracle, because there needs to be healing in the hearts of those who still reject the Samaritan because he was a Samaritan. Like the healing of the 10 lepers, who recognize and own their leprosy, this healing begins by recognizing the prejudices and fears, attitudes and hatreds that cause people to be excluded and alienated from us because of their nationality or ethnicity, the colour of their skin or the language they speak, by their sexuality or gender orientation, or by what they believe or don’t believe. Today’s readings challenge us to ask along with the lepers, “Jesus, have mercy on us”. Help us, Jesus, to see others as you do, sons and daughters of God, brothers and sisters to each other. Sunday’s Readings: 2 Kings 5.14-17 Psalm 98 2 Timothy 2.8-13 Luke 17.11-19
The Right Thing
By Nancy Nobrega
Doing the right thing – seems like something we shouldn’t even have to think about. ‘Hey… I always do the right thing – but do I really?’ That sounds so easy before we think about it in a specific situation in our own lives. It’s also pretty easy to tell someone to do the right thing when it is not our situation at all — so easy to be wise then! Do we know what the right thing is? Of course we do… or do we? In the Gospel today we are told not to trust anyone who is not honest in a little thing because it will likely follow that they won’t be honest in anything else. I know in my life if someone lies to me, I find it hard to believe anything they say later even if I agree with them…or at least I second guess. That’s confusing! It doesn’t mean I am not friends with them but I would not make decisions based on their advice. They may not have even known that they were not telling the truth or that is how they saw the situation or perhaps they did not know all the circumstances. There are two sides to this. We should do the right thing but we should not judge someone else for doing the wrong thing. Oh my. What does one do? Well for starters a friend told me what her wise dad once told her when she was upset because a friend had behaved badly. He said, “when you meet God at the Gates of Heaven, He will not ask you what your friend did, He will only want to know about you.” In other words it’s really none of your business to judge. If you behave well, then perhaps your friend will see how you are behaving and see that it works well for you and decide that she will try to behave better too. That feels a bit arrogant, thinking that we are such good examples when we really may not be. More confusion. In the second reading today, Paul tells Timothy that he wants to be very clear that he was appointed…a teacher …in faith and truth. In the context of the letter he is saying to not listen to false teachers. He says, “I am telling the truth, I am not lying.”…He highlights how important truth is. ….” there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and the human race, the man Christ Jesus..” Knowing what the right thing is, or doing it may not always be easy, but if we ponder the life of Christ, and we place ourselves in the hands of the Holy Spirit and ask him to direct our steps…. “just show me what to do God” – if we let go and then are present to what our hearts hear (even if sometimes we are disappointed by what we hear) we will likely be closer to “dong the right thing”. How wonderful it is to know that we are in God’s embrace and that if we accept His love things might still be a challenge but not so confusing? I am working on not sighing loudly when I hear God say “choose the harder path” but a sense of humour is so helpful and is such a gift too! God thought of everything! Sunday’s Readings: Amos 8.4-7 Psalm 113 1 Timothy 2.1-7 Luke 16.1-13