Branching Out Blog

Oh, So Blessed!

Posted by Sharon Krause on Aug 15, 2022 6:00:00 AM

Today we celebrate the feast of Mary’s Assumption into heaven, and I can just picture Mary running to embrace her loving son again! How blessed she is! And we come upon that word, blessed, four more times in the reading from Luke’s Gospel today (1:39-56)..

Elizabeth says Mary is “blessed among women” and that the baby in Mary’s womb is “blessed.” She points out also that Mary is “blessed” because she believes in the fulfillment of the Lord’s words to her.

Then Mary acknowledges that she will be called “blessed” by all generations henceforth. The whole room is filled with joy and gratitude for God’s blessings! Can you remember a time you were so joyful?

Let’s look at Mary’s beautiful “Magnificat” and pick out the blessings mentioned in the poetic prayer. Right away, we consider God’s abundant mercy for those who obey and acknowledge Him. We are reminded of God’s strength which he uses to lift up the lowly and to fill the hungry. By his actions, he directs us. He keeps his promises, so He teaches us about faithfulness. We remember the importance of humility and of what it really means to be “rich.” God is a very loving Father and his name is truly holy and should be revered as “holy.”

We can almost feel the leaping of John the Baptist in Elizabeth’s womb. Mary’s spirit, she says, is rejoicing. Perhaps we can remember when we have felt our spirits rejoicing. We know we have been blessed over and over. We can prayerfully savor those blessings and share our joyful gratitude without necessarily writing such lovely poetry. It is a good idea, though, to acknowledge God’s goodness and generosity. While not bragging to others, we certainly can share how blessed we are and point out others’ blessings as well. It is so easy to complain. How much better to proclaim the greatness of the Lord! (v. 46)

Let us add our own personal memories in the following prayer of thanks:

Dear Loving Father, I trust in your unending mercy. Forgive me for (       )
and for times I have wavered in my faithfulness.
Thank you for giving me hope.

Lord of Strength, I trust you will lead me to new blessings, as you show me how

   to help (       ) and others who may need assistance.

Ever-present Lord, show me how to keep loving promises to (       ) and others.
Give me perseverance and belief in the talents you have given me.

Lord, give me gentle reminders to be humble and to be aware of what is truly

valuable and important, especially in the areas of (       ).


You know me and I am so glad You do!

Your name is holy. Thank you for your beautiful name. May I use your name only in a loving way.


Sincerely,

Your oh so blessed follower,

Amen.
  

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Topics: Assumption of Mary, gifts from God, Gratitude to God, Scripture, scripture readings, Sharon Krause

'Hear the Word!' by Bill Ayres: 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted by Bill Ayres on Jul 10, 2021 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the prophecy of Amos

(Chapter 7:12-15)

Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah and Amos were prophets who were rejected by their own people. Amos was rejected by Amaziah the priest of the important temple in Bethel. “Off with you visionary!” Amaziah told the prophet, but Amos refused. “The Lord took me from following the flock,” he said, “and said to me, Go, prophesy to my people Israel.”

Amos was especially concerned with the way poor people were treated by those in power. Most people in his time and place, in the eighth century BC, were poor, so he was most unpopular with the elite, because he spoke the truth to power no matter the consequences. He especially challenged people who thought of themselves as strictly religious but were unjust to those whom they considered inferior.

It is important to see Jesus as following the long tradition of Hebrew prophets whose messages of healing and warning were rejected. Jesus was much more than a prophet, but he certainly was that as well.

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 85)

“Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.” When have you recently experienced the kindness of God? Perhaps it was in prayer, through the kind words of a loved one or help from a stranger or someone you hardly knew. God’s kindness comes to us in many ways through many people. Let us give thanks for God’s kindness and all those who share it with us.

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Topics: Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, Book of the Prophet Amos, call to discipleship, gifts from God, RENEW International

'Hear the Word!' by Bill Ayres: 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted by Bill Ayres on Jun 12, 2021 6:00:00 AM

A reading from the book of the Prophet Ezekiel

(Chapter 17:22-24)

Here we are, in the Babylonian Captivity once again. It was one of the lowest, seemingly hopeless periods in the history of Israel, and Ezekiel was one of the exiles. This story about God planting a small branch of a majestic cedar (the famous Cedar of Lebanon) on the top of “a high and lofty mountain” is a metaphor for God bringing hope to Israel even in its darkest hour. That hope could have come only from God.

Responsorial Psalm

(Psalm 92)

“Lord, it is good to give thanks to you.” It can happen at any time. You look into the eyes of someone you love. You walk the beach and see a beautiful sunset. You are given a true gift that means so much to you. Or it is nothing so profound. You simply open your heart to God for all God’s goodness, and you give thanks.

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Topics: Reflections on the coming Sunday's Gospel, gifts from God, holy spirit at work, RENEW International

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