small picture of flowers


   St. Francis de Sales ("Introduction to the Devout Life") asks us to consider our meditation on God's word as a walk through a flower garden. There are lots of choices, lots of beauty, and lots of great smells. So just select one or two flowers that appeal to us right now, and pick those fragrant delights. Just so, select one or two points in God's word that appeal to you as you meditate on your daily spiritual reading. Our own "flower garden" could be the Bible, or the Liturgy of the Hours, or any spiritual resource we choose. Then Francis advises us to think frequently about those flowers that we have picked, and "smell them spiritually during the rest of the day."

  Below are some of the appealing "flowers" that I picked to enjoy during the day.

NOTE: You can view the previous Daily reflections here: Archives

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  November 21, 2013 (Thursday): — Luke 19:41-44(41,42a,44b)As Jesus drew near to Jerusalem, he saw the city and wept over it, saying, "If this day you only knew what makes for peace...[but this city will be destroyed] because you did not recognize the time of your visitation."

         Jesus weeps over Jerusalem for not understanding His message of peace. It is a very tender moment, and one can "feel" the love that Jesus has for his people and the holy city of Jerusalem. (What does your heart say to you when you hear that Jesus wept?) He foretells the destruction of the city [by the Romans only thirty-three years later]. The sad part is the clear implication that if the Jewish people had accepted Jesus as their Messiah, and had accepted His message, then the city would not have been destroyed. The prophet Isaiah had prophesied that a savior was going to be born, the only mediator of peace; in fact, he would be the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6)! But by rejecting him, their rigid behavior was going to have consequences.
         Someone once said, we read about Jesus weeping, but we never read about Jesus laughing. Yes, artists portray him smiling and laughing, but we do not read about it in scripture. Jesus had cause to weep: destruction always follows when people do not respond to the gospel call to repentance. People bring destruction on themselves; it is not willed by God!
         My flower for today: I will reflect: does Jesus weep over my lack of repentance, or my laxity in attending to my faith journey? How do I feel when I think of Jesus crying about my sins and imperfections? What will I do about that?

  November 20, 2013 (Wednesday): — Luke 19:11-28(21a,20b)"Sir, I was afraid of you, for you are a demanding I kept your gold coin stored away in a handkerchief."

         The gold coin, called a "mina" in the 1st century AD, was worth about 3 months wages, a very large amount of money! This large sum of money given to each servant represents the gift God gives to each disciple for the purpose of advancing the kingdom of heaven. The purpose of the story is to get our attention and shock us (if need be) into realizing the seriousness of our life situation, and our attitude toward using God's gifts, pending the return of Jesus at the end of time.
         In the parable, the master gave them the gold knowing each servant's ability to do something with it. In the same way God gives each of us disciples a unique gift for living life in such a way as to contribute to the spread of the gospel. So we have no excuse for doing nothing with the gifts of God. The fearful servant not only had a wrong and distorted image of his Master, but he also represents disciples who are not interested enough in the kingdom of heaven to do anything about it.
         My flower for today: I will reflect on my own image of God: I will see Him not as a harsh judge, but rather as a generous giver who expects us to use all of our gifts.

  November 19, 2013 (Tuesday): — Luke 19:1-10(5b)"Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house."

         Zacchaeus does not know Jesus and has never seen him. But he makes a move to do just that, even if his motive is only curiosity. What does Jesus do? He calls Zacchaeus by name, and invites himself to dine with Zacchaeus!
         This is a great story that should provide great hope to everyone! Jesus always responds to the slightest movement toward Him, no matter how small or imperfect it may be. Jesus came to call sinners, not the righteous; so if you think you are too wicked or immoral to come into His presence, think again! Remember, he gave us freewill, and he will not violate that freedom. So it is still incumbent upon us to make the movement towards Him. He has already placed the desire in our hearts to draw closer to Him; but it is up to us to act upon our desire.
         The flower I picked for today: I will recognize that Jesus never forces himself upon me, that I must make a movement towards Him. This highlights the importance of attending to my daily prayer life, beginning from the first moment in the morning that I awake from sleep.

  November 18, 2013 (Monday): — Luke 18:35-43(38)The blind man shouted, "Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!"

         The blind man was one of the few who could really "see"! He uses a title, "Son of David," that is always associated with the role of Messiah, because the Messiah will bring salvation to those who believe in Him. The blind man believes!
         The healing of this man who was blind is absolute confirmation that Jesus is the awaited royal descendent of the House of David. He is indeed fulfilling part of his mission, which—as the prophet Isaiah pointed out—is to bring sight to the blind (also repeated by Luke, 4:18). Scholars point out that the "setting" of this episode near Jericho also underscores Jesus' royal identity. Jericho not only offered a place of refreshment for travelers before making their final ascent to Jerusalem, but it was also the route of entry into the holy city used by Israel's kings at the annual enthronement festival.
         My flower for today: I will proclaim the truth today: Jesus is Lord, Messiah, and Savior, my King and my God! Lord, help me to always see you clearly, in your word and in your people!

November 17 (Sunday), 2013: 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12(see my "Didja Know?" commentary for this date here).

  November 16, 2013 (Saturday): — Luke 18:1-8(7) "And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them?"

         If an unjust human judge will give in to persistent pleas for help, will not a just God respond to persistent pleas for justice? Of course He will! But here is the key: are we willing to be patient and allow God to respond in His own way and in His own time? This requires faith, believing that the Lord hears and will answer all prayers that are in accord with His will.
          The Queen of Peace, who continues to appear at Medjugorje since 1981, has been urging all Catholics to pray for peace ("there will be no peace without prayer and fasting"), and to pray persistently for our priests. She asks us to pray the rosary daily; to fast on bread and water on Wednesdays and Fridays; to read scripture daily; to attend Mass every Sunday and as often on weekdays as possible; and to go to Confession monthly. It is a roadmap for persistent prayer.
         My flower for today: I will do an honest evaluation of how I have responded to the Mother of God's request.

  November 15, 2013 (Friday): — Luke 17:26-37(26,28a,30,37b) "As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days of the Son of Man...Similarly, as it was in the days of Lot...So it will be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed...Where the body is, there also the vultures will gather."

         As we approach the upcoming Advent season, the demand remains the same: Be Prepared! We will never know when the end-times will appear; but we do know that it will happen suddenly and unexpectedly. Therefore: be prepared!
         It is very important to recognize why Jesus uses the images of Noah and Lot and vultures. It is about destruction and death, for those who are unprepared. The flood came suddenly in Noah's time, even the folks had lots of time to prepare since they could see Noah building the ark. Also, the destruction of Sodom was sudden, and the righteous had to flee instantly. Finally, the only time you see vultures gathering is when there is "road kill," dead meat to feast upon. These are very vivid images, all designed to remind us that judgment will occur suddenly, unexpectedly. Therefore, you and I had best be prepared, living each day as if it is the last day of our lives. And we do not live in fear; we live in hope of eternal life with Jesus.
         My flower today: I will not take my salvation lightly. I will examine my conscience to make sure that there is no unforgiveness remaining in me, and that I have perfect contrition for my sins.

  November 14, 2013 (Thursday): — Luke 17:20-25(24) "For just as lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be [in his day]."

         Isn't it amazing how people have a perpetual fascination about wanting to know when "the end" will come, or when Jesus will return. Well, such an obsession or even anxiety about the end-times is out of place, because Jesus says there is no way that anyone will be able to predict the exact time of his second coming. In fact, if we get too anxious about the end of the world, we will miss the more important fact: the kingdom of God is already among us! This is what Jesus is teaching us today. We find His presence in his word and teachings in Scripture, and his Real Presence in the great Sacrament of Holy Eucharist.
         To help that sink in, remember the image that Jesus uses: the end will come like "lightning." So all we need to do is what (hopefully) we are already doing: prepare as if today is the day when the Lord will call us home. In other words, tend to our spiritual journey on a daily basis, to include prayer and scripture meditation in prime time.
         My flower for today: I will pay attention to those around me today, and look for the fruits of the Holy Spirit (compassion, forgiveness, love, peace, patience, etc.). Those are the signs that the kingdom of God is in our midst.

  November 13, 2013 (Wednesday): — Wisdom 6:1-11(10-11) "For those who keep the holy precepts holy will be found holy, and those learned in them will have ready a response. Desire therefore my words; long for them and you will be instructed."

         The author of the Book of Wisdom is addressing those who have authority. He wants them to fully understand that all authority comes from God as a gift, and therefore we are accountable for how we use those gifts. As the author says in verse 3b, "the Most High shall probe your works and scrutinize your counsels!"
         Notice that I said "we" are accountable. In one way or another, everyone is placed in a position of authority at one or more times in their life. So we ought not to be thinking only of kings and princes of the olden days, nor simply of the power exercised by politicians or their appointees. The author is speaking to all of us. One must never abuse their position or authority, even as a parent, in a manner that is arbitrary or capricious. Authority is given to provide others an ordered way of life. Genuine authority is always rooted in truth; if it strays from objective truth, it becomes "disordered" authority. Unfortunately, we see an enormous amount of that disorder, based on the laws passed which do not recognize the dignity of either individuals or the family unit. (Permissive laws that encourage abortion, euthanasia, and same-sex marriages jump to mind immediately, as well as inhumane immigration laws.)
         My flower today: I will take time today to review and discern whether or not I am using my authority properly.

  November 12, 2013 (Tuesday): — Luke 17:7-10(10b) "We are servants; we have done what we were obliged to do."

         Discipleship isn't about perks or earning God's rewards. It is all about carrying on the mission of Jesus, spreading the truth of God's love. That is a duty, a responsibility as a baptized Catholic. We seek no reward in this life, because our goal is eternal life with God. Discipleship is definitely not a capitalistic concept where we expect an immediate payment for our services. No, it is about self-sacrifice, detachment from disordered desires for "things," and humbly serving others. In the end, we will be judged by our response to the gospel demand, by our works of mercy, and our faithfulness on our spiritual journey home.
         My flower today: I will root out any self-seeking, and endeavor to think–say–do only that which brings honor to God.

  November 11, 2013 (Monday): — Wisdom 1:1-7(4) "Into a soul that plots evil, wisdom does not enter, nor does she dwell in a body under debt of sin."

        The Book of Wisdom is noted for its contrast between the way of life and the way of death, the way of the righteous and the way of the wicked. So the author is implicitly parroting Moses who said: "Choose life, not death" (Dt 30:19). The request to be "wise" is an invitation to the Christian to become another Christ, to live the Christ-life daily as an intentional disciple. It is the key to life, at least for those who choose wisely. And that key is unlimited forgiveness (gospel: Luke 17:4).
        A flower to pick today: I will seek and find the wisdom of Christ in a daily program of meditation on the scriptures read at Mass.

November 10 (Sunday), 2013: Luke 20:27-38,40(see my "Didja Know?" commentary for this date here).