Reflections for Sunday, February 16, 2014

Meditation and Questions for Reflection and Group Discussion
(Sirach 15:15-20; Psalm 119:1-2,4-5,17-18,33-34; 1 Corinthians 2:6-10; Matthew 5:17-37)

The Paradox of the Cross

What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard … (1 Corinthians 2:9) 

The cross of Christ was the last thing anyone expected. The Messiah was supposed to come in triumph and reign in peace, wasn’t he? So when God decided to save humanity through a rejected and crucified rabbi, it didn’t make sense. Our human minds, though equipped with many fine faculties, cannot know the mind of God on our own. 

At Calvary something new began. God revealed his wisdom in a way he had not done before. He showed us that the greatest gift is to give of oneself in sacrificial love—and he led the way on the cross. He revealed that his will is accomplished in ways that don’t always seem logical to us. Jesus’ death scandalized the religious leaders who were awaiting a more conventional hero. And the wise men of the time thought that victory through defeat was a foolish concept. But for those who believed, the wisdom of the cross became the heart of a life of faith and trust. 

Even today, God wants the paradox of the cross to become the center of our lives. We know that everyone is capable of discerning right from wrong. But to peer into the mind of God and understand his thoughts—this can come only through the Spirit. Only the Spirit can teach us the logic of divine love, a logic based on self-giving and not self-preservation. 

Today, try to look at your circumstances through the eyes of the Lord. You may discover that a difficult acquaintance deserves just as much dignity as a trusted confidant. Or you may see a surprise pregnancy as a blessing from God rather than an unwelcome interruption. The more open to the Spirit you are, the more you will see with new eyes and become a light to the people around you. 

“Father, thank you for sending your Son to offer himself for our sake. Holy Spirit, teach me the wisdom of the cross that I might love as Jesus did.” 

(Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing us to use meditations from their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission. The Word Among Us Mass Edition contains all the readings and a meditation for each of the daily and Sunday Masses.)

Questions for Reflection/Discussion

  1. In the first reading, we hear these words: “The eyes of God are on those who fear him.” What do you believe it means to fear God? What role does godly fear play in how you live your life? 
  2. The first reading also speaks of the free will God has given men – to obey or disobey him, to trust him or reject him, to choose life or death, and to choose good or evil. Why do you think human free will is such an important part of God’s plan for us? 
  3. The responsorial psalm speaks of those who obey God’s commandments and seek the Lord “with all their heart.” Why is seeking the Lord with all your heart so important in obeying God’s commandments? What steps can you take to seek the Lord more diligently and “with all your heart”? 
  4. The second reading reminds us that God has chosen to reveal his wisdom to us so we can speak it to others? Do you believe this? How well are you doing in speaking God’s wisdom to others? How can you do better? 
  5. In the Gospel, Jesus presents to his disciples (and to us) a set of commandments and standards that far exceed even the Ten Commandments. Do you believe that with God’s grace — and the power of the Spirit, the power of the cross, and the power of the name of Jesus — it is possible to live a life in accordance with these commandments and standards? Why or why not? 
  6. The meditation speaks of the “paradox of the cross.” For example, triumph and peace through “a rejected and crucified rabbi” and “victory through defeat.” What does the paradox of the cross mean to you? In what way does it apply to your life? 
  7. Take some time now to pray and ask the Lord for the grace and the faith to understand more deeply the paradox and the wisdom of the cross — and the grace and the faith to apply the power of the cross to your life. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as a starting point.

These reflection questions are provided courtesy of The Word Among Us.

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