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Spiritual Reflections

Easing the way for others

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Wherever construction or demolition is taking place, there is often a crowd of onlookers whose curiosity has drawn them to the site. They look on, usually silently, as gigantic machines haul debris away while other heavy equipment carries all the supplies that will eventually become a new edifice. They look on as roads are paved and lines are drawn to ensure the safety of future travelers. They look on as bumps are smoothed and sharp curves are rendered less dangerous.

Promises, promises

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In a cold and fallow season of waiting, watching and wondering, it is not surprising to find ourselves reflecting on the past and looking toward the future, taking stock and hoping for something better to come. Advent is the season of promise par excellence. We willingly wait. We anticipate the birth of Jesus and all that symbolizes for us, and we do so in the light of promises extending back to the Hebrew Scriptures and beyond.

The verdict

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Who are you? Where do you come from? What do you know? What have you accomplished with your life? Those are more or less the questions one is supposed to answer on a résumé. Although some are tempted to creatively enhance the narrative, in the end it's vital that the person described by the responses be recognizable as the one whose name is at the top of the page.

Authentic discipleship

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As we approach the end of the liturgical year, the focus of our Sunday readings turns to the end times and to what is expected of those who claim to be faithful disciples of the living God. As disciples, we are expected to know and live out the covenant relationship that God has initiated and that we have accepted.
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A communion of saints

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This year, Nov. 1, the Solemnity of All Saints, falls on a Sunday. The solemnity supersedes the Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time and offers Lectionary readings unique to its themes. All the readings focus on our status as "children of God" (second reading) called into loving and eternal relationship with God and with all those who belong to God.

The least are greatest

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How often do we secretly find ourselves standing with James and John, hoping for the public recognition of being with Jesus in glory? Having read the Scriptures and learned something of manners, few of us would be as unsophisticated and obvious as they were. (Matthew 20:20-23 makes their mother the petitioner, thus salvaging something of the brothers' reputation.)

With God, all is possible

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Have you ever felt that the challenges of being an authentic disciple are just too great? Have you ever been overwhelmed by Jesus' teachings? Love your enemies; pray for your persecutors. Offer no resistance to injury. When a person strikes you on the right cheek, turn and offer him the other. In giving alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Do not lay up for yourselves an earthly treasure. Store up treasure in heaven. Forgive without limit. Do not turn away the borrower. Sell what you have and give to the poor. Judge not, lest you be judged.

Yokemates

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"They are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate."

This affirmation of the intent and sanctity of marriage, first set forth in the Book of Genesis and then repeated by the Marcan Jesus, may appear to be a beautiful but impossible ideal -- as seem so many of the teachings postulated by Jesus in the Gospel. But Jesus was not a proponent of the impossible.

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In This Issue

April 22-May 5, 2016

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