Reflections for Sunday, August 9, 2015

Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion

Mass Readings:
1st Reading 1 Kings 19:4-8
2nd Reading: Ephesians 4:30–5:2
Responsorial: Psalm 34:2-9
Gospel: John 6:41-51

Winning the Spiritual Battle through the Power of the Holy Spirit

Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God. (Ephesians 4:30)

We all know how easy it is to conjure up fabrications that will deceive someone. We know how easy it can be to try to “get even” with someone who has hurt us. And we know how easy it is to get down on ourselves and think of ourselves as worthless. And yet we also know how to be generous and help someone who is in need. We know how to forgive someone who has hurt us. We know how to be patient, especially in those situations that agitate us.

We seem to know a lot. But what we don’t always know is that we are in the midst of a spiritual battle. On the one hand, that wily and crafty person we call Satan operates behind the scene, urging us to sin. On the other hand, the Holy Spirit is at work, urging us to be loving, kind, caring, and generous.

Now, here is the thing: when you reject the temptations of the devil, he simply gets angry and more determined to cause you to sin. But when you reject the Holy Spirit by ignoring his promptings or falling into sin, he doesn’t become angry. He grieves. Then he devises a new plan to help you turn away from sin and come back home.

This spiritual battle is going on all the time. So what can we do about it? First, we can continually tell ourselves that the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Blessed Trinity, loves us. When we know that someone loves us unconditionally, that knowledge causes us to say, “I never want to hurt you or violate you.” What a wonderful protection against sin!

Second, we can set our hearts on never grieving the Holy Spirit. How? By not allowing any love to overshadow him. How else? By trying our best to love everyone and treat everyone as we want to be treated—with honor, respect, and mercy.

“Lord Jesus, help me never to grieve your Holy Spirit.”

(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 Group Discussion

  1. In the first reading, God responded to Elijah’s grumbling by providing sleep and food. Have you ever been in a situation where, like Elijah, you were worn out or overwhelmed by your circumstances? When you are discouraged do you sometimes grumble or complain? How would you describe the difference in how you feel when you look for relief and strength by turning to the Lord vs. grumbling and complaining? Why is there such a difference?
  2.  In the Responsorial Psalm, we are invited to focus on the fact that it is not just human food that God provides us. He also gives us the opportunity to taste and see his very goodness – through prayer, Scripture, and the Sacraments. How have you used prayer, Scripture, and the Sacraments to be delivered from “fears”, “shame” and “distress”? When you “sought the Lord” in prayer, what were the ways in which the Lord “answered”, “saved”, and “delivered” you?
  3. The second reading from Ephesians begins with these words: “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). What do these words mean to you?
  4. In Ephesians, St. Paul also reminds us of areas where we may have harmed relationships through our “bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling.” What specific steps can you take to restore some broken relationships in your life?
  5. We are also asked by St. Paul to be “imitators of God” and “live in love” by being “kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another, as God has forgiven you in Christ.” With the Holy Spirit’s promptings, what specific steps can you take to show God’s kindness, compassion, and forgiveness in your family, your neighborhood, your parish, and your work environment?
  6. In the Gospel reading, Jesus proclaims these astonishing words: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him up on the last day.” What do these words mean to you? How can you use these words as a prayer to your heavenly Father to draw those in your family (and others) to the Lord — especially those who are far from him?
  7. The Gospel reading ends with these words of Jesus: “I am the living bread came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world” (John 6:51). These words are a foreshadowing of the Cross and the Eucharist. Every Sunday in the Eucharist the God of the Universe will offer himself, “body and blood, soul and divinity” to you. We know that Jesus our Lord wants to draw near to you as your food, your rest, your strength, your peace, your refuge, your healer and deliverer, and your promise of eternal life!  What steps can you take at Mass to make this more of a reality in your life?
  8. The meditation reminds us that we are in a “spiritual battle” and that “This spiritual battle is going on all the time.” The meditation goes on to describe two steps we can take to help us in winning the spiritual battle. How well are you doing, currently, in applying these steps to your own life? What are some ways you can do even better?
  9. Take some time now to pray for a greater openness to receiving Jesus, the Bread of Life, in a new and deeper way; and for the grace to never grieve the Holy Spirit, who dwells in you – through a lack of love and forgiveness in your actions. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the 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  mblumberg@wau.org or mblumberg@aol.com.