October 20th - 2019
The 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Moses said to Joshua,
"Pick out certain men and engage Amalek in battle.
I will be standing on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand."
Moses climbed to the top of the hill with Aaron and Hur.
As long as Moses kept his hands raised up, Israel had the better of the fight,
but when he let his hands rest, Amalek had the better of the fight.
Moses' hands, however, grew tired;
so they put a rock
in place for him to sit on.
Meanwhile Aaron and Hur supported his hands,
one on one side and one on the other,
so that his hands remained steady till sunset.
(from Ex 17:8-13)
Pondering the Word…
Here’s another story about how God
chooses to work through community. Moses has the staff of God in his hand—the
staff that wrought great wonders and signs in Egypt. The staff that parted the
Red Sea. Surely, if God wanted Amalek and his people driven from the land, God
could easily take care of it without Moses, Joshua and his men, Aaron, and Hur,
or a staff for that matter!
But that’s not how God works. God
chooses human beings to manifest his power. The people look to Moses as their
leader, but here we see Moses can’t do it alone. He is not some superhuman; he
is an old man with great faith and humility, not afraid to welcome the help of
others. He doesn’t assume he can do it on his own. He doesn’t assume he is
better than anyone else. He even pleads with God to share the Spirit with
everyone: “Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord
would place his Spirit upon them?” (Nm 11:29)
Communities of faith are imperfect,
but that’s no surprise—they are made up of imperfect human beings—and good
leaders know they too cannot do it alone. Billy Graham once said that if you are
searching for a perfect faith community, go ahead, find one and join it. It
won’t be perfect anymore! In recent times, there has been a movement away from
community and organized religion. Some prefer to do God’s will on their own,
without the support of others, but more than likely, such an effort will fail.
We tire, we get discouraged.
Some of the first words in
Scripture tell us: “It is not good for humans to be alone.” Let’s set out
together as we strive to bring God’s awesome, amazing power to a world in need.
Living the Word…
Do you have a few Aarons and Hurs
in your life? If so, make sure to express your gratitude to them for the times
they’ve held you up, steadied you when you were weary or about to fall. If you
lack a support system, ask yourself why. Is it “rugged individualism” that
keeps you from accepting help? Are you searching for perfection? Are the
communities you belong to the “fair-weather” kind, only there for you when
things are going well? Are those communities based on doing good or just having
fun? (You can do both, you know!) Finding a good community takes work and it
takes openness, but is well worth the effort. Do you know someone who belongs to
an open, supportive, healthy community? Ask them about it and how they found it.
Consider what is important to you and do some research. There are Aarons and
Hurs out there for you too!
Oct 21: “Guard
against greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of
possessions.” (Lk 12: 13-21)
”Do not pay too much attention
to fame, power, or money. Someday, you will meet a person who cares for none of
these, and then you will know how really poor you are.”
“Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their
master's return from a wedding,
ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks.”(Lk
What does “gird
your loins” really mean? Well, to put it gently, it is to protect vulnerable
parts of the body. Men and women would tie up their long robes in such a way as
to both free their legs for running or for doing chores like harvesting, and to
protect themselves. (There are step-by-step instructions on the internet and
people still do this today when they set out to do manual labor.) So girding has
both practical and protective purposes. Jesus talks to us about doing this same
thing for our minds, souls, and hearts. We want to be free of inordinate
attachments, things that can get in the way when we set to the task at
hand—bringing forth a harvest of good. And we want to protect these vulnerable
parts of ourselves so we can be ready when God calls us, not just at the end of
our lives, but every day as we venture out into the world. Let’s start each day
girding ourselves with a robe of prayer to free us and protect our most valuable
“You must be prepared, for
at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come." Peter said, "Lord, is
this parable meant for us or for everyone?"(Lk
Jesus answers Peter with yet
another analogy. He indicates that, yes, it is meant for everyone, but woe to
the ones who know the master’s will ahead of time and fail to fulfill it. Too
often, we look at these parables and think of God’s punishment, rather than
understanding that the real pain comes from separating ourselves from God. The
“severe beating” that Jesus refers to is really the one we inflict upon
ourselves when we turn away. Anyone and everyone who has a conscious knows how
this feels, whether they acknowledge God or not. But those blessed with
knowledge of and faith in God can suffer that much more when we fail to fulfill
God’s will and return for God’s great mercy and unconditional love. Although
none of us can know for sure, I believe it is God’s will to have ALL his
children home. Let’s make sure if we know the way, we return to the path when we
stray, and are willing to invite others along as well.
“But now you have
been freed from sin and have become slaves of God…”
Without the context of
this passage from Romans, the end of the quote (at least in this translation)
disturbs me. Paul is using the master/slave analogy to describe the hold sin,
addiction, and lawlessness can have on our bodies and souls. But it’s important
to remember we have free will. We are not slaves nor does God want us to be
slaves, but to choose the path of love freely. Remember Jesus’ words in John 15:
“I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master
is doing. I have called you friends.” A slave does what he or she is told;
they have no knowledge of what God is doing in their lives. Are you a slave or
are you Jesus’ friend?
“For I do not
do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want.”
(Rom 7: 18-25)
This is one of the more
comforting verses in all of Paul’s letters, and one we should always take to
heart. Even the great Saint Paul faltered in his desire to be and do good. It
does no good to browbeat ourselves when we fail. Admit your mistakes, make
amends, ask for forgiveness, and move on. Accepting our flawed humanity is a big
step toward humility and the acknowledgment of our need for God’s love and
mercy. Take solace in these words. We are all only human. Pick yourself up, dust
yourself off, and try again.
“The concern of the flesh is death, but the concern of the spirit is life and
Challenge yourself to see if you can be aware today of how much time you spend
on concerns of the flesh versus concerns of the spirit. Paul is not talking
about basic needs like food and shelter when he uses the phrase “concerns of the
flesh;” nor is he referring to just sins of the flesh. These concerns can be
things like undue anxiety about finances, holding a grudge, or win/lose
behavior. And concerns of the spirit aren’t limited to prayer or church
attendance. It can mean spending time enjoying nature, expressing gratitude,
reaching out to help someone. How do you tell the difference? Concerns of the
flesh drain us. Concerns of the spirit give us life and peace.
Ireland has a passion for working with parents and anyone who struggles to
maintain a sense of God’s love and peace amid the day-to-day challenges of life.
She has a master’s degree in Spiritual and Pastoral Care from the Pastoral
Counseling department at Loyola, Maryland, with a focus on developmental
psychology and spiritual guidance. Rooted in Ignatian spirituality, she is
a writer, retreat and workshop leader, and presenter on topics such as pastoral
parenting, “letting go,” and finding the spiritual in the midst of everyday
life. She lives in Ellicott City, Maryland with her husband, Mark and children,
David and Maggie.
We hope you
enjoy "Come and See!"
and we welcome your input. Please contact Elaine Ireland at
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