Reflections for Sunday, October 23, 2011

Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion

(Exodus 22:20-26; Psalm 18:2-4,47,51; 1 Thessalonians 1:5-10; Matthew 22:34-40)

 Living Out Our Christian Faith as Catholics

You became a model for all the believers” (1 Thessalonians 1:7).

Paul really liked the Thessalonians! It seems that their faith and their joy in the Lord gave him a lot of comfort. So let’s take a look at the witness of these early believers to get a glimpse of how we too can live the Christian life and share our faith with those around us.

First, Paul says that they received the word with joy (1 Thessalonians 1:6). The Thessalonians heard about the gospel, they experienced the power of God, and they welcomed Jesus into their lives. The Holy Spirit has given us the same power. So let us, like them, welcome Jesus and embrace him more each day.

Second, Paul says that they received his message “in great affliction, with joy” (1 Thessalonians 1:6). Life wasn’t always easy for them. But their witness tells us that we don’t have to let the hardships of life take away our joy. As we persevere in faith, we will find ourselves surrounded and supported by Jesus’ love, just as they were.

Third, the Thessalonians wasted no time in proclaiming their newfound faith (1 Thessalonians 1:8-9). They mustered up the courage to tell other people about Jesus. News of their dramatic conversion to Christ seems to have traveled far and wide. Like them, we are called to share the gospel, with love and kindness (1 Peter 3:15-16).

Finally, they lived out the early church’s rallying cry: “Come, Lord Jesus!” Filled with the Holy Spirit, they fixed their eyes on heaven. Their longing for Jesus’ second coming can teach us to have a similar focus in our lives. We should all look forward to the end of time, when heaven will be ours!

The Thessalonians have left us a powerful example. May we all decide to work on these four simple points so that we too can become noble examples of faith.

“Jesus, fill me with your joy and your power today.” 

(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, the Lord clearly identifies with the plight of the “alien,” “widow,” “orphan,” and “poor neighbors.” He goes on to say, “If he cries out to me, I will hear him; for I am compassionate.” Why do you believe the Lord speaks of his harsh punishment towards any one who wrongs or extorts these needy groups of people? How does your attitude and actions towards the needy compare to the Lord’s compassion? How could it be more like the Lord’s? 
  2. In the responsorial psalm, the Lord is called “my strength,” plus “my rock, my fortress, my deliverer,” and “my rock of refuge, my shield, the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”  What do these mean to you? What examples in your own life can you give of any of these descriptions of the Lord? 
  3. In the second reading, St. Paul tells the Thessalonians that they are a “model for all the believers.” How would you rate yourself as a Christian “model” to others? What needs to happen in your life to make you an even better “model”? 
  4. In the Gospel reading, Jesus tells us that the greatest commandment is to love God with everything. St. Paul says that our ability to love God is a response to his having loved us first. What can you do in your times of prayer to focus more on God’s love for you? 
  5. The second greatest commandment is to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Can that honestly be said of you?  Why or why not?  What needs to change in the way you relate to your family or others, so that you can love them the way God wants you to love them?
  6. The meditation ends with these words: “The Thessalonians have left us a powerful example. May we all decide to work on these four simple points so that we too can become noble examples of faith.” These four points can be summarized as follows: 1) “welcome Jesus and embrace him more each day”; 2) “don’t let the hardships of life take away our joy” and “persevere in faith”; 3) “share the gospel, with love and kindness;” and 4) keep our eyes fixed on heaven, long for Jesus’ second coming, and “look forward to the end of time, when heaven will be ours”. Are you willing to work on these four points and allow the Holy Spirit to make you “noble examples of faith”? As you do, what do you expect to happen? 
  7. Take some time now to pray for the grace to live out your faith each day by the power of the Holy Spirit, and not by your fallen human nature. 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.