Branching-Out

'Hear the Word!' by Bill Ayres: Fourth Sunday of Lent

Posted by Bill Ayres on Mar 26, 2022 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the First Book of Samuel

(Chapter 16:1,6, 6-7, 10-13a)

Saul had been chosen to be the first ruler of the united Israelite kingdom. He was anointed by Samuel, but then God rejected Saul because of his disobedience. Israel needed a new king, and God had chosen one of Jesse’s seven mature sons. All seven were presented to Samuel, and all seven were rejected. Then Samuel asked Jesse if he had any other sons, and Jesse presented David, who was only a teen. He was the one that God chose. God said, “Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance, but the Lord looks into the heart.”

How do you and I see? Do we judge by appearances, or do we look into the heart of each person and not judge them superficially? Our society seems to judge mostly by appearances: “the beautiful people” and the rich and famous receive most of the media attention and accolades. We know that is wrong, but it is easy to become seduced by the appearances and wealth of the “stars” of entertainment, politics, sports, and business and miss the depth of the persons in our midst who are truly genuine if not glamorous.

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm:23)

“The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.” Jesus called himself “The Good Shepherd”. The term shepherd in his time was a symbol for extreme caring. The shepherd endured the heat of the day and the cold of night as well as the dangers of the dessert and the mountains. That kind of dedication is how Jesus cares for us today but we need to accept his care that is always there even when we do not feel it.

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Topics: man born blind, Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, RENEW International, Fourth Sunday in Lent

'Hear the Word!' by Bill Ayres: Fourth Sunday of Lent

Posted by Bill Ayres on Mar 13, 2021 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the Second Book of Chronicles

(Chapter 36: 14-16, 19-23)

This reading tells the people of Israel how the terrible Babylonian Exile happened and how it ended.

“In those days, all the princes of Judah, the priests and the people added infidelity to infidelity, practicing all the abominations of the nations and polluting the Lord’s temple which he had consecrated in Jerusalem. Early and often did the Lord, the God of their fathers, send his messengers to them, for he had compassion on them and his dwelling place. But they mocked the messengers of the God, despised his warnings, and scoffed his prophets, until the anger of the Lord against his people was so enflamed that there was no remedy. Their enemies burnt the house of God, tore down the walls of Jerusalem, set all of its palaces afire, and destroyed all its precious objects. Those who escaped the sword were carried captive to Babylon….”

So, that is how the Babylonian Exile began and this is how it ended:

“The Lord inspired King Cyrus of Persia to issue this proclamation throughout his kingdom…. ‘All the kingdoms of the earth the Lord, the God of heaven, has given to me, and he has also charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem which is in Judea. Whoever, therefore, among you belongs to any part of his people, let him go up, and may his God be with him.’”

Somehow, the God of the conquered people of Israel reached into the heart of this powerful king, and the people are once again free. Of course, there were also political reasons for the king to free the Israelites, but the author attributes it all to the Lord.

There is an old saying that “God works in strange ways.” Perhaps, when you think about it, you’ll recall that happening to you, not only in the ancient past but now.

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 137)

“Let my tongue be silenced, if I ever forget you.” Are there times when you seem to be tongue-tied, unable to talk to God in prayer? Sometimes, your deepest prayer may simply be silence. No words come to you. Relax! It may take a while, but the Spirit that dwells within you will hear you in the silence.

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Topics: Bill Ayres, Lent, Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, Fourth Sunday in Lent

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