Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 643: Listen for the gentle whisper of the Spirit : A reflection on the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 16:13-20)
13 When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
16 Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
18 And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
19 I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
20 Then he strictly ordered his disciples to tell no one that he was the Messiah.
“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God” (Rom. 11:33). When the Word became flesh, he shrouded the riches of his glory and mercy in a vessel of clay (CF. 2 Cor. 4:7). Whenever we come face to face with the revelations of God’s infinite and super-abundant love for us, all that we can say is “THANKS.” Pondering the depths of God’s wisdom and knowledge leads us to offer ecstatic praise to him who made us and keeps us in existence. These moments of worship take us deeper and deeper into the mysteries of God’s infinite love and draw us closer to his heart.
God's Grandeur by Gerard Manley Hopkins
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
The poet proposes a very serious question for our postmodern, techno-centric age. Surrounded by the grandeur of God, why do so many people not recognize his glory and submit to his authority? In our sophistication, we have learned to take so much for granted. We have put up a noise barrier that filters out the gentle whisper of the Spirit. The Psalmist wrote: “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Ps. 19:1). And we can make Jacob’s words our own: “and I did not know it” (Gen. 28:16). Because of work and other concerns weighing upon us, we keep our heads down, and our sight low. Surrounded by a cloud of darkness and living in a culture of death, we abort our future, euthanize our past, and anesthetize our present. The Lord utters a word to those who are walking in the valley of darkness. “Lift up your heads, behold your redemption is drawing near” ( Lk. 21:28).
When the psalmist heard that inner voice, he wrote: “I lift up my eyes to the heights from where will come my help” (Ps. 121:1). My brothers and sisters, thanks to the depth of the riches of God’s mercy, we too can lift our eyes to the heights of Mount Calvary from where shall come our salvation. As we turn our gaze towards the Cross, let us focus our sight on Christ who is the Son of the living God. Georgia O’Keeffe once said: “To fully appreciate the good things in life — from the beauty of nature to the joy of friendship — we have to take time to notice them, by choosing to give them our full attention.” We need to stop what we are doing, at least for a moment, and respond to the voice we have heard. It has spoken to the deepest longings of our hearts and invites us to speak to the heart of our beloved Master.
“To fall in love with God is the greatest romance;
to seek Him the greatest adventure;
to find Him, the greatest human achievement.”
(St. Augustine of Hippo)
Jesus Christ is the anchor of our soul and the cornerstone of our life. He sets before each one of us an open door, which no man can shut. As we cross the threshold we bring both body and soul into the eternal glory prepared for us before the world began. Christ himself is the gift and the revelation of the glory of God that the Father sent into the world because of his great love for us. Unlike us, God breathes life into our future. He treasures our past and he holds our present in the palm of his hands. He knows every event that has ever happened and ever will happen and is happening in our lives. Being the Alpha and Omega, Christ is the beginning and the end of all that we are. All knowledge and all wisdom and all riches originate in him and are held together by him. Everything he created exists to make him known. “Oh, the depth of the riches and the wisdom and the knowledge of God!” May the revelation of the Son and his ways move you to stand in awe of him. May you acknowledge him as the beginning, the middle, and the end in all you think and feel and do so that, in all things, God may be glorified.
Standing with Peter, we receive the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and make his profession of faith our own. Gazing into the eyes of Christ, we see the reflection of the Father’s face. Christ is the image of the invisible God and the revelation of the Father’s beauty. As messiah-king, he comes into the world to accompany us as we continue our pilgrim way to the Father. The Incarnate Word brings us to the ultimate vision of supreme beauty in the kingdom of the Father. When Jesus asked Peter, “Who do you say that I am?” He was asking him to put his faith into words. Like Peter, we are invited to speak of our relationship with the One who makes the Father’s love for us tangible. With Peter, we are invited to acknowledge our belief in our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, and to bear witness to his love by the way we live in the world.
When we acknowledge Jesus as “the Son of the living God,” our Heavenly Father freely offers us grace to change our lives and to participate in the process of making all things new. As we manifest the person of Jesus to the world we enable others to acknowledge him as “the Son of the living God.” By entering into moments of silence to ponder the mysteries of the kingdom, we open wide the door of our hearts to the One who desires to make his dwelling within us. When we speak to others of the One who has captured our hearts, we show them the way that leads to the springs of life-giving water. “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God” (Rom. 11:33). May the words the bishop speaks to the newly ordained deacon while giving him the Gospel Book, become a rule of life for us.
Receive the Gospel of Christ, whose herald you have become.
Believe what you read,
teach what you believe,
and practice what you teach.
Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO
Prayer: “Dear Lord, Forgive me for letting the noise of this world drown out your voice. I’ve felt distant from you, and I long to draw near to my Heavenly Father once again. I know you are here with me now as I pray. Help me sense your loving presence and listen as you speak.”
Quote from a Saint: “God speaks in the silence of the heart. Listening is the beginning of prayer” ― Saint Teresa of Calcutta
Questions for reflection:
Do you notice the grandeur of God in your everyday life? If not, what can you do to start? How do you think this would improve your faith life?
Surrounded by the grandeur of God, why do you think that so many people not recognize His glory and submit to his authority? How can we lead people to recognize His glory?
Have you put up a noise barrier that filters out the gentle whisper of the Spirit?
Reflect on the quote from Georgia O’Keeffe: “To fully appreciate the good things in life — from the beauty of nature to the joy of friendship — we have to take time to notice them, by choosing to give them our full attention.” Do you give the good things in your life your full attention so that you can fully appreciate them? If you are only giving partial attention to them, take the time this week to pause and focus on these good things.
May you acknowledge him as the beginning, the middle, and the end in all you think and feel and do so that, in all things, God may be glorified.” If you were to acknowledge God in this way, even some of time, how do you think it would change how you view yourself? Those around you?
How do you bear witness to God’s love by the way you live in the world? How do you see others doing this?
Do you live in a way that manifests the person of Jesus to the world? When you consider that it can enable others to acknowledge Him as “the Son of the living God,” might that change how you live your own life?
“Believe what you read, teach what you believe, and practice what you teach.” If we followed these principles what would our Church community look like? What about our personal lives?
How often do you enter into moments of silence to ponder the mysteries of the Kingdom? Do you open wide your heart to God? What changes would you expect to happen as you open your heart more and more?
--Kristen & Benjamin Rinaldo
Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 642: We are the living stones of the Church : A reflection on the First Letter to Timothy (1 Timothy 3: 14-16)
14 I am writing you about these matters, although I hope to visit you soon.
15 But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.
16 Undeniably great is the mystery of devotion,
Who was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated in the spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed to the Gentiles,
believed in throughout the world,
taken up in glory.
“You should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the Church of the living God” (1 Tim. 3:15). This Church is found on the cornerstone who is Christ. Each of us is a living stone that the Master builder has fitted together to build up the Church. As living stones, we are fitted together and cemented in place by the Holy Spirit. Because of the Master architect’s plan, we both support and are supported by one another. God the Father draws us into an intimate relationship with every other stone and the cornerstone, Jesus Christ. Having been fitted together into the Temple of the Holy Spirit, we need to be connected to Christ who is our foundation and support. As Christ is our helpmate and companion, we are to be helpmates and companions to one another.
Having been called out of the world and bound to Christ, we are to embrace and support all those that the Father considers precious in his sight. The image of living stones held together by the bond of love presents a vivid picture of a secure and intimate relationship with Christ and all His members. We, all of us, are to be one in Christ as he is one in the Father. We are called to live as people loved by God, who have been created out of love, to love one another. The household of God is meant to be a place of refuge for people who are lost in darkness. Having been bonded to him who is the way, the truth, and the life (CF. Jn 14:6), we are to speak the truth in love (CF. Eph.4:15).
All who have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ and have become living stones in the house where the Most-High dwells. The Temple of the Living God is the depository of the Living Word and a living testament to the Truth. We live and move in Him who chooses to live in us. We are to serve as beacons for those tossed about in the turbulent seas of life. Having our anchor in Christ, we stretch out our hands to those in trouble. We are partners with God in the task of building up the kingdom.
As I was putting together this reflection, our Jewish brothers and sisters were celebrating Rosh Hashanah. I will conclude with a few random comments I borrowed from Chabad.org. “Not only is Rosh Hashanah about the One Above, but it is also about us below… He created the world. But we drive it to its destiny. That is why it is called “the beginning of Your works”—even though it is not the anniversary of the creation of the universe but of the human being. It is the true beginning, as all of time begins on this day... On this day, more than any other, we are empowered to switch tracks, to transform our destiny and thereby the destiny of all of creation … Through us, the bitter darkness that shrouded truth and goodness can become a flaming torch of light. By connecting our minds to the mind of our Creator, opening our hearts to His boundless love, and laboring to transform His world into a place where one being cares for another so that the many become one… Together, let us recreate our world, make order from confusion, harmony from destruction, caring and compassion where apathy had reigned, light out of darkness.”
Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO
Prayer: “O, Heavenly Father, give me a heart like the heart of Jesus, a heart more ready to serve than be served, a heart moved by compassion towards the weak and oppressed, a heart set upon the coming of your kingdom in the world of men and women.”
Quote from a Saint: “What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.” ― St. Augustine
Questions for reflection:
1. Consider this statement: “Because of the Master architect’s plan, we both support and are supported by one another.” Have you ever thought about God as the Master architect? Do you ever consider the bigger picture for your life? How have you supported others and/or been supported by others? How do you see this as part of God’s master plan?
2. “The image of living stones held together by the bond of love presents a vivid picture of a secure and intimate relationship with Christ and all His members.” How do you see the Church and its members being held together by the bond of love? Does this imagery help you to understand the relationship between Jesus and His church and between the different members of the Church?
3. When we use the living stone imagery for the member of the Church, does this change how you think about the other members of the Church? What do you think about those members of the Church that you disagree with or find difficult to love?
4. Does your local parish feel as if it is made of living stones that are interconnected? If not, can you think of any ideas that might help to start forming a sense of community?
5. When have you been a beacon for those tossed about in the turbulent seas of life? How can you make yourself more visible and attract others in need of help?
6. How can we use the example of Christ as our helpmate and companion to become the helpmate of those around us?
7. How do you open your heart to “His boundless love”? How does doing this make is so that you can transform the world to place of order, harmony, and compassion?
8. In what ways can we open our mind to the mind of our Creator?
9. How does your local parish reach out to those outside of your church? Are you active in any ministries that help to create light out of darkness? If not, bring this to prayer and see if God is calling you to become involved.
--Benjamin & Kristen Rinaldo
Oratory of Divine Love Reflection 641: The Parable of the Talents.: A reflection on the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 25: 14 - 30)
14 “It will be as when a man who was going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them.
15 To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one—to each according to his ability. Then he went away. Immediately 16 the one who received five talents went and traded with them, and made another five. 17 Likewise, the one who received two made another two. 18 But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground and buried his master’s money.
19 After a long time the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them.
20 The one who had received five talents came forward bringing the additional five. He said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents. See, I have made five more.’ 21 His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’
22 [Then] the one who had received two talents also came forward and said, ‘Master, you gave me two talents. See, I have made two more.’ 23 His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master’s joy.’
24 Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter; 25 so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground. Here it is back.’
26 His master said to him in reply, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant and gather where I did not scatter? 27 Should you not then have put my money in the bank so that I could have got it back with interest on my return?
28 Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten. 29 For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
30 And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’
The parable of Jesus, like all the others, is always an invitation to listen and receive God’s grace and also an invitation to use our imagination to enter and make the teaching our own - to personalize it so it speaks to you, to me.
In the interaction between the man and his servants, we can imagine an attitude of trust and respect by the man for the abilities and good will of his servants. And he is rewarded by their acceptance as he departs in a good spirit for a long journey.
In reality, two respond well in taking the talents, ﬁve and two, trading and increasing the amount. On his return, the man readily compliments them in these words, “Come share your master’s joy!” However, the servant with the one talent has an authority problem. For him, the master is a tyrant so he buries the talent in the ground with disdain, with ignorance of the gift.
When the man returns after a long time, he returns the talent, dirtied from being buried, dirtied with his spoken anger and no longer hidden disdain. He refused the gift; he set himself apart and therefore, being thrown into the darkness outside is, in fact, only a conﬁrmation of his own decision and attitude. It can be said to him “This is what you wanted!”
A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. To us, men and women committed to the Lord, the parable presents a lesson on receiving and responding. I believe we can say that in our very human lives, we are all three servants. Sometimes in receiving God’s gifts with awareness, we have responded to God with lived gratitude. And sometimes, due to ignorance or sheer willfulness, we have not. “No, thank You, God- not now!”
Every parable poses a question as this one does: Where do I stand? How is my heart moved by God’s generosity? Is there wisdom or foolishness in my life?
Today, the ﬁrst Saturday in September, we celebrate the memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary - she who models total receptivity and total response - she who bore and lived Wisdom. As our mother and model, she tells us over and over, “Do whatever He tells you” - whatever He tells you - therefore, listen and in listening, obey, and in obeying become more His servant.
Fr. Justin Sheehan, OCSO
Prayer: “Lord, I am grateful for the gifts you have personally chosen for me. Please give me the courage and strength to invest my gifts to grow your kingdom as you so desire. I yearn to be like the first and second servants in this story—eager to use well what I have been given. Amen.”
Quote from a Saint: “Whatever skills I have acquired, whatever gifts I have been given, I place them at Your service.”—St. Augustine
Questions for reflection:
1. Do you have any problems with authority? Does this stop you from being a good servant to God?
2. Which servant are you from the parable? When have you been the bad servant? The good? Where do you stand right now in relation to this parable?
3. How is your heart moved by God’s generosity?
4. Is there wisdom or foolishness in your life?
5. Do you listen for what God is saying so you can “Do whatever He tells you”? What can you do to listen better?
6. When you hear what God says to you, do you obey and “become more His servant”?
7. Do you ever say “No, thank You, God- not now!”? What have been the consequences? When you get off track what do you do to get back in line with following God’s will?
8. Have you ever considered what talents the Lord has given you? If not, bring this with you to your next moment of prayer.
9. How have you used the talents that the Lord has given you: for the sake of the Lord and His Kingdom or for your own personal gain?
--Benjamin & Kristen Rinaldo