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March 31, 2020

Nm 21: 4-9

From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; but the people became impatient on the way. The people spoke against God and against Moses, ‘Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food.’ 

Then the Lord sent poisonous serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, ‘We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord to take away the serpents from us.’ So Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live.’ 

So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Quickly forgotten gifts

For the Israelites in today’s reading, the water that “flowed abundantly” (Nm 20:4) from the rock was not enough and the food they received “in abundance” (Nm 11) was “miserable” and insufficient (Nm 21:5).  One reason we read stories like this from God’s saving work among the Israelites is because our human nature has not changed. The gift God gives us one day is quickly forgotten on the next and what was a miracle on Monday is by Friday all but taken for granted.  How many times has a kind word or deed done by a co-worker, family member, or friend been forgotten the minute he or she does ‘that thing’ that always gets on our nerves? How often do we take for granted the mundane gifts God gives us day after day?

—Erin Kast, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the Midwest Province studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Practice: Pay attention to God’s small gifts today and give thanks for them.

Prayer: Jesus, give me eyes to see, ears to hear, and wisdom to understand all the ways you have and continue to sustain me on life’s journey.

—Erin Kast, SJ


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

March 21. 2020

Lk 18: 9-14

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ 

But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Humility that lifts up others

Today’s reading makes it quite clear that we don’t want to “exalt” ourselves. Rather, humility is the key. But these words—somewhat lofty in tone—may inadvertently leave us paralyzed.

Should I stay silent about my skills in front of my supervisor so as not to appear pretentious? Should I keep my excitement about a new opportunity from my friends to appear humble? Should I sideline my own goals because they might make me stand out?

Separating prideful urges from more humble ones takes real discernment. But the Pharisee in today’s reading helps us see through the fog in his less-than-humble prayer: “God,” he says, “I thank you that I am not like other people.” He’s not concerned with using his gifts for others.

A sure sign of pride is a desire to separate ourselves from those we deem lesser; humility seeks to lift others up.

—Eric Clayton is a senior communications manager at the Jesuit Conference.

Prayer

Let me have too deep a sense of humor ever to be proud.
Let me know my absurdity before I act absurdly.
Let me realize that when I am humble I am most human,
most truthful,
and most worthy of your serious consideration.

—Daniel A. Lord, SJ


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

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March 31, 2020

Nm 21: 4-9

From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; but the people became impatient on the way. The people spoke against God and against Moses, ‘Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food.’ 

Then the Lord sent poisonous serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, ‘We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord to take away the serpents from us.’ So Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live.’ 

So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Quickly forgotten gifts

For the Israelites in today’s reading, the water that “flowed abundantly” (Nm 20:4) from the rock was not enough and the food they received “in abundance” (Nm 11) was “miserable” and insufficient (Nm 21:5).  One reason we read stories like this from God’s saving work among the Israelites is because our human nature has not changed. The gift God gives us one day is quickly forgotten on the next and what was a miracle on Monday is by Friday all but taken for granted.  How many times has a kind word or deed done by a co-worker, family member, or friend been forgotten the minute he or she does ‘that thing’ that always gets on our nerves? How often do we take for granted the mundane gifts God gives us day after day?

—Erin Kast, SJ, is a Jesuit scholastic of the Midwest Province studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago.

Prayer

Practice: Pay attention to God’s small gifts today and give thanks for them.

Prayer: Jesus, give me eyes to see, ears to hear, and wisdom to understand all the ways you have and continue to sustain me on life’s journey.

—Erin Kast, SJ


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

March 21. 2020

Lk 18: 9-14

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ 

But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Humility that lifts up others

Today’s reading makes it quite clear that we don’t want to “exalt” ourselves. Rather, humility is the key. But these words—somewhat lofty in tone—may inadvertently leave us paralyzed.

Should I stay silent about my skills in front of my supervisor so as not to appear pretentious? Should I keep my excitement about a new opportunity from my friends to appear humble? Should I sideline my own goals because they might make me stand out?

Separating prideful urges from more humble ones takes real discernment. But the Pharisee in today’s reading helps us see through the fog in his less-than-humble prayer: “God,” he says, “I thank you that I am not like other people.” He’s not concerned with using his gifts for others.

A sure sign of pride is a desire to separate ourselves from those we deem lesser; humility seeks to lift others up.

—Eric Clayton is a senior communications manager at the Jesuit Conference.

Prayer

Let me have too deep a sense of humor ever to be proud.
Let me know my absurdity before I act absurdly.
Let me realize that when I am humble I am most human,
most truthful,
and most worthy of your serious consideration.

—Daniel A. Lord, SJ


Please share the Good Word with your friends!