DAILY MEDITATION: PSALM 23:1-6
Only goodness and kindness follow me all the days of my life. (Psalm 23:6)
What is it like to be “followed” by goodness and kindness? One sense of the Hebrew word for “follow” is “to chase after.” That can sound pretty negative. It can make you think of a policeman chasing a criminal or a dog chasing a cat.
But “follow” can also mean “to pursue” or “to attend closely to.” While “chase after” might enkindle dread, God’s pursuit produces hope. He is relentless only in his desire to bring goodness to us. He is in ceaseless pursuit of us with only the best of intentions.
Sometimes it can be hard to believe that truth, especially when we are facing difficult situations or trials. At those times, fear and anxiety seem to be the only things following us. Or we can fail to see God’s goodness and kindness attending closely to us when the confusion and demands of daily life seem overwhelming.
In today’s first reading, Susanna is falsely accused and facing execution. Feeling powerless, she cries out, “O eternal God . . . ” (Daniel 13:42). And the eternal God answers her. His goodness and kindness pursue her in the person of Daniel, who speaks wise words, conducts a shrewd examination, and obtains her pardon. Susanna hadn’t been alone in that garden when two scheming old men trapped her; God’s goodness and kindness had been right behind her, following her every move.
God’s goodness and kindness are following closely behind you too. Perhaps they will reach you through another person, as they used Daniel to help Susanna. You might see them in a kind word spoken to you at just the right time, or a small token of affection from your spouse, or wisdom that suddenly dawns on you for a pressing situation. Even if the difficulty you are facing doesn’t get resolved in the way you had hoped, you can still trust that you will see God’s goodness and kindness manifested at just the right time and in just the right way. Above all, know that whatever happens, you can count on the Lord to attend to you closely—not just in desperate situations, but all the days of your life.
“Help me, Lord, to recognize your goodness and kindness in the events of my life today.”
Daniel 13:1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62
DAILY MEDITATION: JOHN 11:1-45
Lazarus, come out! (John 11:43)
From a homily by Pope Francis:
“We all have within us some areas, some parts of our heart that are not alive, that are a little dead. . . . But if we become very attached to these tombs and guard them within us and do not will that our whole heart rise again to life, we become corrupted and our soul begins to give off, as Martha says, an ‘odor’ (see John 11:39), the stench of a person who is attached to sin. And Lent has something to do with this. Because all of us . . . can hear what Jesus said to Lazarus: ‘He cried out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!’” (11:43).
“Today I invite you to think for a moment: Where is the dead part of my soul? Where is my tomb? . . . Let us think: what part of the heart can be corrupted because of my attachment to sin, one sin or another? And to remove the stone, to take away the stone of shame and allow the Lord to say to us, as he said to Lazarus, “Come out!” That all our soul might be healed, might be raised by the love of Jesus, by the power of Jesus. He is capable of forgiving us. We all need it! All of us. We are all sinners, but we must be careful not to become corrupt! Sinners we may be, but he forgives us. Let us hear that voice of Jesus who, by the power of God, says to us, ‘Come out! Leave that tomb you have within you. Come out. I give you life, I give you happiness, I bless you, I want you for myself.’
“May the Lord today, on this Sunday, which speaks so much about the resurrection, give us all the grace to rise from our sins, to come out of our tombs; with the voice of Jesus, calling us to go out, to go to him.” (April 6, 2014)
“Jesus, I hear you calling. Help me to rise from my sins.”
DAILY MEDITATION: JOHN 7:40-53
Never before has anyone spoken like this man. (John 7:46)
There’s a lot of confusion in this passage. Some thought Jesus was a prophet. Others thought he was the Messiah. Others doubted that he was anything special because of his place of birth. And still others thought he should be arrested because his words scandalized so many of the religious leaders.
But there was one group of people who wasn’t confused: the Temple soldiers. They decided not to arrest Jesus. Their reason for disobeying direct orders? “Never before has anyone spoken like this man” (John 7:46). Something about Jesus and his way of speaking made them pause and question themselves. Jesus’ words had found a way into their hearts, and those words took them by surprise and challenged them to think differently about the Lord whose Temple they were sworn to protect.
We all get confused sometimes. We have questions about our faith. We may struggle with a particular Church teaching. Sometimes we read Scripture without truly understanding what is being said or why. Sometimes it’s the events of our own lives—difficult periods of waiting, grieving, or watching people suffer—that leave our heads spinning. So what should we do? We can learn something from these Temple guards: listen to Jesus in his word.
There is power in the word of God. And we can experience this power when we are open and listening to it. Anyone can hear a Bible passage being proclaimed, but those who are thirsting for God will hear it address them personally. So will those who are eager for truth, those who know how empty their hearts are without the Lord, and those who are tired of living only for themselves. In each of these situations—and countless others—the Holy Spirit finds open hearts, and he comes to them. He gives glimmers of God’s love and invites them to keep pursuing him.
We don’t know what ultimately happened with these guards, but we do know one thing: their lives were upended that day, and they couldn’t go back to living as before. And neither can we.
“Come, Holy Spirit, and speak God’s word to my heart.”
Psalm 7:2-3, 9-12
Meditation from Word Among Us
“ I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. ”
Ordination Date: 7 July 2001
Ordination Date: 25 February 1989
Ordination Date: 10 May 2014