Reflection for Friday, July 30, 2021: 17th Week of Ordinary Time.
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|The Lord God has always been open with His people. In today's reading from Leviticus, Moses received specific instructions regarding festivals dedicated to the Lord. They involved a sacrifice, an oblation, that was often the first fruits of the harvest. A sheaf of grain was waved by the priest as the people made their supplications to the Lord. In addition to the days of offering the fruits of their labor, the people were also asked to have days of atonement to mortify themselves, and to make offerings. For each festival, the instruction included the phrase, "...you shall do no sort of work" in order to echo the schedule of the work of creation. Even God rested on the seventh day. The people were to rest, relax, and step back from their labor in order to praise the Lord in this rare silence and calm. Another remarkable aspect of God's instruction is how very little He asks: a sheaf of grain, minimal self-mortification, abstention from eating leavened bread, yet He gives us so much.|Many centuries after Leviticus was written, God gave us the ultimate gift for our offering, His son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ. Christians often make offerings or fast, and continue to observe, in some fashion, the special days that God related to Moses. We are now able daily to offer to God the rarest of sacrifices, the body and blood of Jesus, present in the Eucharist. We are drawn and held together by the continuous sacrifice to the Father of the ultimate gift, the body and blood of Jesus. We should thank the Lord for the freedom from the bonds of sin that God has given to His humble creations. Sing with joy to God, our help.|The gospel today recounts a day that Jesus returned to his "home town," Nazareth. He spent some time teaching in the synagogue; the people were amazed by his wisdom. Their astonishment was tempered, however, by the fact that Jesus was raised in Nazareth, was known as a carpenter, and his family lived in the town. They, no doubt, wondered: "How does he know so much? He is a man like us." They soon became upset and offended. Jesus responded to their unease with one of the best-known biblical quotes: "A prophet is not without honor except in his native place, and in his own house." It seems that our tendency is to discount the words of a person who is well-known and seemingly equal to us. The ability to listen and to discern the truth, and to be open to positive change in our lives is necessary for growth in faith, prayer, and in our daily lives. The incentive for this may come from unexpected sources. So many people and occasions may convey God's message each day. We need humility to realize that we can all help each other to become stronger, and informed in our faith. Teilhard de Chardin, S.J., in his book, Hymn of the Universe, touched this point when he wrote, " ...when we learn to break through the dividing walls of our egoism and raise ourselves up to an entirely new perspective, so that habitually and in a practical fashion, we fix our gaze on the universal realities."
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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