Reflections for Sunday, September 21, 2014

Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
(Isaiah 55:6-9; Psalm 145: 2-3,8-9,17-18; Philippians 1:20-24,27; Matthew 20:1-16)

Bringing Glory to God by Our Thoughts and Actions

Conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ. (Philippians 1:27)

Paul speaks today about his desire to bring glory to Jesus by the way he thinks and acts. Don’t his words about Christ being “magnified” in his body sound a lot like Mary’s desire to magnify the Lord (Philippians 1:20; Luke 1:46)?

Essentially, Paul was telling the Philippians that he would rather die than live so that he could be in heaven with Jesus. And yet he was still committed to serving the Church until the day when the Lord would call him home. He was content either way, for in both situations he was magnifying the Lord.

This kind of thinking runs opposite to our normal philosophy, doesn’t it? We typically prefer living. We usually have fears about dying, about the unknown, and about judgment day. We also tend to be a little more self-concerned than Paul seems in this passage!

Still, we may not be in as bad shape as we think. Deep down, beyond the fear and the selfishness, we all sense that heaven will be fantastic. We sense that meeting Jesus face-to-face will be the best moment of our lives. Sometimes, we even find ourselves thinking, “I can’t wait to go to heaven!”

These aren’t just random theological thoughts, either. They have a direct bearing on our everyday lives. This is especially true with parents. Think about how, in spite of their occasional selfishness, mothers and fathers pour out their lives for their children. They devote so much time, energy, and money to their families. Like Paul, they prefer to stay where they are so that they can continue to serve and form their children.

This is why it is critical for parents to conduct themselves in a way worthy of the gospel. The jury may be out on “trickle-down economics,” but “trickle-down parenting” works. Parents who love Jesus, who honor each other, who pray together, and who train their children in virtue will see their children flourish.

“Lord, show me how to magnify your life for the benefit of my family.”

(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 Mass readings and prayers, and a meditation for each of the daily and Sunday Masses.)

Questions for Reflection/Discussion

  1. The first reading encourages us to “seek” and “call” upon the Lord.  When we do, we are assured he is “near” and “may be found.”  He is so near in fact that in the Eucharist, the very God who created the universe let’s us partake of himself!  How would you describe your preparation to receive Christ in the Eucharist?  How could you improve it?
  1. The responsorial psalm assures us that God is “gracious,” “merciful,” and “compassionate.” How important is it to you to avail yourself of Christ’s kindness and mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation?  What keeps you from taking advantage of God’s love and forgiveness more often?
  1. In the second reading, St. Paul states his desire that “Christ will be magnified in my body” and exhorts us to live a life “worthy of the gospel of Christ.”  How do these statements apply to how you live your life as a Christian? What can we do individually, and together with others, to make these a greater reality in our lives?
  1. In the Gospel reading, we hear Jesus saying to the laborers, “you too go into my vineyard.”  Pope John Paul II said that this was addressed not just to the apostles but also “to all who desire to be authentic disciples of the Lord.”  In what ways can you become a more active laborer in the Lord’s vineyard? For example, are there some steps you can take to take to be more active in the life of your parish?
  1. Jesus also turns our human sense of justice and generosity on its head when he says, “Are you envious because I am generous? Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”  Does your own human sense of justice and generosity sometimes keep you from seeing the love and mercy of God toward you and in the lives of others?  Why? In what specific ways do you need to change in order to have more of God’s heart of mercy and forgiveness toward others?
  1. The meditation, reflecting on Paul’s words in the second reading, opens with these words: “Paul speaks today about his desire to bring glory to Jesus by the way he thinks and acts.” Many centuries later, St. John Neumann expressed this same desire in this way: “Teach me your will that I may begin and end all my actions for your greater glory.” How important to you are having your thoughts and actions bring glory to Jesus and your heavenly Father? What steps can you take to make it even more important?
  1. Take some time now to pray and ask the Lord to show you how you can glorify and magnify Him in a greater way in the lives of your family and loved ones? Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.

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