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Reflections for Sunday, August 14, 2016

Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion

Mass Readings:
1st Reading: Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10
2nd Reading: Hebrews 12:1-4
Responsorial: Psalm 40:2-4, 18 Gospel: Luke 12:49-53

What Does It Mean to Fix Our Eyes on Jesus?

. . . keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus. (Hebrews 12:2)

At one point during the Israelites’ journey to the Promised Land, God told them to make a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. That way, anyone who was bitten by a serpent could look at the bronze snake and live (Numbers 21:8-9). Likewise, Jesus told Nicodemus, “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life” (John 3:14-15).

On one level, fixing our eyes on Jesus is a physical action. We look at the cross hanging in our church or our home, and the very image fills us with wonder. On a deeper level, the author of Hebrews is asking us to fix our “spiritual eyes” on Jesus—the eyes of our hearts, so to speak, so that we can come in touch with the mind of Christ.

As we fix our eyes on Jesus, we will see his tender love for us. He knows us intimately. He never looks down on us, threatens us, or rejects us. He is always calling out to us, “Come to me . . . and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

As we fix our eyes on Jesus, we will hear him telling us that we can count on him. We will hear him say, “My word is unchanging” (1 Peter 1:25). “My salvation is unchanging” (Hebrews 7:24-25). “My love is unchanging” (Jeremiah 31:3). “My gifts are unchanging” (James 1:17). And “I myself am unchanging” (Malachi 3:6).

So today, fix your eyes on Jesus, so that the presence of God can become your strength. Like Moses, insist on being in his presence (Exodus 33:13-15). Like King David, confess that you can’t live without him (Psalm 27:8). You will find your time with Jesus becoming the most important part of your day. Why? Because just as Jesus promised Nicodemus, you will find yourself being lifted up to heaven!

“Lord, I fix my eyes on you. You are the author and perfecter of my faith.”

(Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing us to use meditations from their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.)

Questions for Reflection or Discussion

1. In the first reading, Jeremiah is persecuted and thrown him into a cistern filled with mud. Why? Because he prophesied the truth to the king, and to all the people, that Jerusalem would be overthrown by the Chaldean army.
• Why do you think the people reacted so strongly to the prophetic words of Jeremiah?
• Why do you think the king changed his mind and had Jeremiah rescued?
• Have you ever been persecuted or attacked for speaking the truth, especially when it was not popular with the listeners? How did you respond to the attacks?

2. The responsorial psalm begins with these words: “I have waited, waited for the LORD, and he stooped toward me. The LORD heard my cry. He drew me out of the pit of destruction, out of the mud of the swamp.” The psalmist cried out to the Lord with an unwavering trust and faith in him as his “help” and “deliverer.”
• In what way do these opening verses parallel the first reading?
• Was there ever a time when you cried out to the Lord in a difficult situation to be your help and deliverer? What were the results?

3. The second reading states that “For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God.” The author of Hebrews goes on to say that Jesus did this “in order that you may not grow weary and lose heart,” especially in your “struggle against sin.”
• What do these words from the second reading mean to you?
• In what way does knowing that Jesus Christ endured the cross and shed his blood for your sins, help you not to “grow weary and lose heart” in your “struggle against sin”?

4. In the Gospel, Jesus speaks these words, “Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” He then goes on to describe these “divisions.”
• How do you understand these words, especially since Jesus is called the Prince of Peace?

5. The meditation is a reflection on these words from the second reading “keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2). It ends with these words: “So today, fix your eyes on Jesus, so that the presence of God can become your strength. Like Moses, insist on being in his presence (Exodus 33:13-15). Like King David, confess that you can’t live without him (Psalm 27:8). You will find your time with Jesus becoming the most important part of your day. Why? Because just as Jesus promised Nicodemus, you will find yourself being lifted up to heaven!”
• What do these words mean to you?
• What steps can you take during your times of prayer each day to keep your “eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith”?

6. Take some time now to pray and ask the Lord for the faith to persevere in running and winning the race of life by keeping your eyes fixed on Jesus. Use the prayer below from the end of the meditation as a starting point.


Maurice Blumberg is the Director of Partner Relations for The Word Among Us Partners, (http://www.waupartners.org/), a ministry of The Word Among Us (http://www.wau.org) to the Military, Prisoners, and women with crisis pregnancies or who have had abortions. Maurice was also the founding Executive Director of the National Fellowship of Catholic Men (http://www.nfcmusa.org/), for which he is currently a Trustee. He can be contacted at  [email protected] or [email protected].