Reflections for Sunday, July 3, 2011

Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion

(Zechariah 9:9-10; Psalm 145:1-2,8-11,13-14; Romans 8:9,11-13; Matthew 11:25-30)

Becoming Holy by the Power of the Holy Spirit

 If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live (Romans 8:13).

What images come to your mind when you hear the word “holiness”? Do you think of Mother Teresa’s radiant face as she fed the poor and comforted the dying? Or the serenity and composure that seem to mark every portrait of the Virgin Mary that was ever painted? Does conjuring up these images only make you more frustrated, as you see your own failings? Well, don’t worry. Paul teaches us today that holiness does not just settle on special people automatically. It is the result of our cooperation with grace—a cooperation that can be costly. 

In today’s second reading, Paul admonishes us to do away with those things in our lives that are opposed to the Lord and his way of life. They could be specific “deeds of the body,” like lying, stealing, or impurity. But, they could also be attitudes of the mind that separate us from the Lord: prejudice, resentments, judgments, and arrogance. Paul promises that as we put these things to death—as we turn away from them and fight their influence in our lives—we will become holy. We can even become saints!

But there’s a catch. Paul urges us to do all this “by the Spirit.” His own experience had taught him that human effort alone could not bring about the holiness he sought. He needed the help that only God could give—and so do we.

So get into the habit of turning to the Holy Spirit during the course of your day. Ask him for his divine power to help you say “no” to sin and “yes” to Christ. Start paying attention to his promptings. He’s always speaking; we just need to learn how to listen—to our consciences, to the Scriptures, to our loved ones, and even to the thoughts that pop into our heads. The Spirit is on your side. He wants to make you holy

“Come, Holy Spirit, into my heart. Transform my thoughts, intentions, and actions by your grace.” 

(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/Discussion

  1. In the first reading, we see the contrast between the Savior who is “meek” and his powerful impact on bringing “peace to the nations.” Can you share an example from your own life where you succeeded by meekness instead of power?
  2. In the first reading, the Lord also tells us to “Rejoice heartily” and to “shout for joy.” In the responsorial psalm, the psalmist tells us to praise, extol, and bless the Lord. What are some things the Lord has done in your life that would cause you to do this?
  3. In the responsorial psalm, we also read of the Lord who is “gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness”.  With whom might the Lord be asking you to respond in this matter this week?
  4. In the letter to the Romans, St. Paul asks us to “put to death the deeds of the body.”  You can do this because, “You are not in the flesh; on the contrary you are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you” (Romans 8:9). In your life, what “deeds of the body” do you need “to put to death”? How do you think the Lord wants you to do it?
  5. In the Gospel, Jesus says that when it comes to revelation, his Father has “hidden these things from the wise and learned,” but he has “revealed them to little ones.” What do you think this means?  What specifically can you do this week to open yourself ore tohear from the Lord in prayer, through Scriptures, or at Mass?
  6. Jesus also says in the Gospel that he will make our heavenly Father known to us.  In light of the following words of Jesus, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9), what do you think the Father is like?
  7. The meditation encourages us to “get into the habit of turning to the Holy Spirit during the course of your day. Ask him for his divine power to help you say ‘no’ to sin and ‘yes’ to Christ.” How often do you do this? What steps can you take to make this a regular part of your day?
  8. Take some time now to pray for a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit and ask Him to transform you more and more into the likeness of Jesus. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.

(The discussion questions were created by Maurice Blumberg, the Director of Partner Relations for The Word Among Us Partners, (http://www.waupartners.org/), a Ministry of The Word Among Us (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. Maurice can be contacted at (Enable Javascript to see the email address) or (Enable Javascript to see the email address).)

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