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Bible Reflections View Comments

May God Give You Peace
By Diane M. Houdek
Source: Bringing Home the Word
Published: Sunday, July 7, 2013
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I was looking for a small gift for a friend the other day and ended up browsing the Quotable line of magnets, mugs, and other items. I found a wonderful quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”

It came to mind as I was looking at the readings for this Sunday. We can be so focused on what we don’t have that we miss what we do have. We can be so consumed by what we haven’t done that we take for granted all that we have in fact accomplished. And always we hold on to grudges and resentments, sometimes not even realizing that we’re doing it. We spend far too much of our time criticizing, whether we’re pointing fingers at our own weakness or at other people’s failures. We are, in Emerson’s words, encumbered by old nonsense.

In the Gospel, Jesus sends his disciples out to spread the message of the kingdom. To do this well, they needed to be wholly committed to their task. And they needed to make sure that their focus was on spreading the Good News. This is why Jesus counsels them not to dwell on those who reject the message. The act of shaking the dust of unrepentant towns from their feet is less an act of rejection than it is a way of setting themselves free of destructive attitudes of revenge and retribution.

Just before today’s passage from Luke, we read that Jesus and his disciples were passing through a town in Samaria that rejected them. Luke tells us Jesus’s response was simply to go on to the next town. James and John, loyal followers that they were, wanted to call down fire on the townspeople. When the disciples return to him with stories of their success, it becomes clear that they are a bit intoxicated with their first taste of the power of God working through them. Jesus again says, “Do not rejoice that the powers are subject to you. Rejoice rather that your names are written in heaven.”

Power is always a danger among those who lead. If that power is not consciously turned toward doing good for others, the temptation to take out one’s frustrations, old hurts, and unhealed wounds on those who stand in opposition or are simply weaker can be difficult to overcome.

Pope Francis has been consistently preaching to the cardinals, bishops, and priests in Rome—and throughout the Church—to remain humble and guard against the urge to misuse power for their own advancement. Like Jesus with his disciples, he is reminding them to stay focused on the commitment to Christ and to God’s people that lies at the heart of every true vocation. This applies to us as well, whatever our state in life.

More than anything else, the message of the kingdom of God is one of peace. We are called to be at peace with God, with others, with ourselves. Jesus tells us, “Peace is my gift to you.” Like any gift, it is ours to receive. But in order to open our hands to God, we have to let go of the things of this world.



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Augustine of Hippo: A Christian at 33, a priest at 36, a bishop at 41: Many people are familiar with the biographical sketch of Augustine of Hippo, sinner turned saint. But really to get to know the man is a rewarding experience. 
<p>There quickly surfaces the intensity with which he lived his life, whether his path led away from or toward God. The tears of his mother (August 27), the instructions of Ambrose (December 7) and, most of all, God himself speaking to him in the Scriptures redirected Augustine’s love of life to a life of love. </p><p>Having been so deeply immersed in creature-pride of life in his early days and having drunk deeply of its bitter dregs, it is not surprising that Augustine should have turned, with a holy fierceness, against the many demon-thrusts rampant in his day. His times were truly decadent—politically, socially, morally. He was both feared and loved, like the Master. The perennial criticism leveled against him: a fundamental rigorism. </p><p>In his day, he providentially fulfilled the office of prophet. Like Jeremiah and other greats, he was hard-pressed but could not keep quiet. “I say to myself, I will not mention him,/I will speak in his name no more./But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart,/imprisoned in my bones;/I grow weary holding it in,/I cannot endure it” (Jeremiah 20:9).</p> American Catholic Blog Lord, please fill my heart and soul with the confidence that you will always provide what I need, when I need it, and let me be obedient to you.

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