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Come and See!
15th Sunday, Week of July 14, 2024


The Word…

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens,
as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, …
In all wisdom and insight, he has made known to us the mystery of his will…
In [Christ], you who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised holy Spirit,
which is the first installment of our inheritance
toward redemption as God’s possession, to the praise of his glory”

(from Eph 1:3-14).


Pondering the Word …

Over the years, I haven’t written much on the Letter to the Ephesians. It is something of a theological minefield and therefore above my pay grade, so I tend to avoid it. But two phrases pique my interest, so I checked them out in the literal Greek translation I use: that God, through Christ, “has made known to us the mystery of his will, which was his purpose in him;” and, we are “sealed with the Spirit of the promise, the Holy One, who is an earnest of our inheritance until the liberation fee is paid for what has been procured.”

Quite a mouthful, but to summarize the obvious: In Jesus, the mystery, the inscrutable nature of God and God’s will are made flesh, made evident. That is God’s purpose alive in Jesus. “Salvation is not the story of God’s rescuing us from an evil universe but of God’s coming to live in the universe with us so that we finally recognize how good the universe is.” (Michael Himes, from The Mystery of Faith: An Introduction to Catholicism, 2004, pp. 17–18).

And, at Pentecost and at our own anointing, we received the “Spirit of promise;” not the full inheritance, for which we wait in hope, in God’s good time. But I’m intrigued: what is meant by “the liberation fee” yet to be paid? Didn’t Christ, by his death and resurrection, pay the price in full?


Living the Word …

Again, don’t count on me for the scholarly, theological explanation (although I’ve read several, but still don’t get it!) I sometimes wonder though, contrary to the apocalyptic descriptions in Revelations that people like to use to scare us, whether God is just waiting for us to figure this all out. Jesus came to show us how to live according to God’s will, to show us that God’s universe, and by extension, we ourselves are good. Very good (Gn1:31). Could it be that God wants us to live that inherent goodness before the final installment is paid?

The mystery of God’s will is no mystery at all: Praise and love and be grateful to our Divine Creator. Love all creation, all beings, and ourselves as Jesus taught us to do by his life. Call upon the Holy Spirit of promise and have faith and hope that God’s will—the Kingdom of love and peace—will be in God’s time. Hasten that Kingdom by your life.


Mon, Jul 15: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword.
…Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it”
(Mt 10:34-11:1). It irks me that people use this passage to justify violence. Jesus is not saying this is what he wants. It’s that he knows humanity all too well (Jn 2:24), and our drive to prove ourselves right, to defend our stance or the status quo even if it means estranging ourselves from others. Provision: Lose “your life” today. How will I put aside my need to have things my way, my need to be right? How will I set aside my lust for comeuppance or revenge? Usually, these feelings involve minor things, but I do know families torn apart by politics and religion. (If you’ve never heard the song, Living Years--https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hr64MxYpgk —give it a listen.) Will you be the one to extend an olive branch, to agree to disagree and mend the breach?

Tue, Jul 16: “Watch yourself and be tranquil, do not fear… because of these two smoking tails of firebrands… If you do not trust, you shall not hold firm” (Is 7:1-9, Hebrew). I hear God’s message resonating in the present situation facing people of peace and justice throughout the world. Yes, we must continue to work diligently to ensure the “blazing anger” and voices of violence, revenge, and nationalism do not prevail, but we also cannot forget to trust in God’s plan for the world. God also tells Ahaz, “Within sixty-five years, Ephraim will be crushed, no longer a nation,” Ephraim being one of the two “firebrands.” This will be in God’s time, not Ahaz’s time. Provision: Have faith. The reality about things being on God’s time is a challenge for me to accept, and yet if my faith is real, this must be true. “Do not ignore, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day” (2 Pt 3:8). Let us all pray today that we do not fear, and to have faith in God’s plan, but that we continue to be courageous in bringing about God’s kingdom of peace and justice.

Wed, Jul 17: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me…For my yoke is easy, and my burden light" (Mt 11:25-27). So, just what yoke are you referring to, Jesus, ‘cuz your life doesn’t look too easy to me?!” There’s a theme that emerges in the readings this week: we find peace when we come to understand God’s role and God’s will in all we do. Jesus’ life may not have been easy, but his burden was light for he understood and trusted God would make all things work for good, all things new. Provision: Have faith, 2:  I think this is what Jesus is telling us today. The yoke he bears is light because it is in God’s hands. Surely, he suffered in his humanity, as we suffer, but his other nature was divine, and he knew in his soul that God was in control. Our second nature is divine as well. Today, pray to strengthen your faith and put your burdens in God’s hands.

Thu, Jul 18: “Oh Lord, grant peace to us, for our every act you have wrought for us” (Is 26:7-9, 12, 16-19, Hebrew).
A great follow-up to yesterday’s reflection. Yes, we need to pray for peace because, as we reflected on Tuesday, it can be hard, with our focus on our finite existence, to recognize God’s hand in all that we do, not by controlling us, but by empowering us. Provision: Be empowered by your faith. Just as Jesus was empowered by faith, we too are empowered. What will your faith strengthen you to do today?

Fri, Jul 19:  Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed. … He wept bitterly. (Is 38:1-6). Scholars say couches in Eastern houses lined the walls for people to recline or rest when they were ill. We hear Hezekiah turned his face to the wall so that his tears might not be seen by others. Provision: Don’t turn away from compassion. Hezekiah could have just wanted privacy as he prayed fervently to God. When we are suffering, such times of private prayer are essential. But don’t be afraid to let your sorrow and pain be seen by others who can offer companionship and compassion. Accept their support and prayers. Don’t face your trials alone.

Sat, Jul 20: “Do not forget the poor, O Lord!” (Ps 10). Recently, the US Council of Catholic Bishops announced a 50% staffing cut in the Justice, Peace & Human Development department which houses programs on international policy, environmental justice, racism, and domestic anti-poverty initiatives. I guess it is wise to withhold judgment until they are more transparent about how the cuts will impact the initiatives themselves, but on the surface, this action is disturbing and not in line with the Catholic population in general. Provision: Let your voice be heard. Some bishops and Christian leaders have already published statements questioning and opposing this action. While Catholics don’t have a say in church decisions, might a postcard campaign with the Psalm verse above be in order? “Take with you words” (Hos 14:2).


Elaine 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 ehireland@gmail.com with questions, comments, and responses, or to receive Provisions free via email.


© 2024, Elaine H. Ireland


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