Your Daily Tripod
"Your Daily Tripod" reflects the personal Fourth Day journeys of its authors and editors. We are happy to have companions like you share in this project. Our prayer is that these reflections will invite and inspire your Fourth Day journey of Piety, Study and Action as much as writing or editing them inspires our journey and brings us all close moments with Jesus and our neighbors.
“Don’t Become Complacent” by Colleen O’Sullivan
Of this, I became a minister by the gift of God’s grace that was granted me according to the exercise of his power. To me, the very least of all the holy ones, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the inscrutable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for all what is the plan of the mystery hidden from ages past in God who created all things, so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the Church to the principalities and authorities in the heavens. (Ephesians 3:7-10)
Jesus said to his disciples: “Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” (Luke 12:39-40)
Give thanks to the Lord, acclaim his name;
among the nations make known his deeds,
proclaim how exalted is his name. (Isaiah 12:4bcd)
Late last week, my brother received a much-needed gift in the form of a double lung transplant, for which many prayers of gratitude have been lifted to heaven! Before that, he had been ill for quite a long time and part of a transplant program since the end of last year. Waiting had become the order of the day for our whole family. And the wait had gone on for so long that the waiting itself had become our reality, so much so that I was caught off guard by the call saying there were lungs for him and that he was on his way to the hospital.
When we are waiting for something, even when we know something will happen, we can be lulled into complacency. Every one of us knows that we will die, yet how many people are prepared for that? How many of us live each day as if it could be our final one? I would guess not all that many. As a Church, we proclaim our belief that at the end of time, Jesus Christ will return in glory, and all creation will be redeemed, yet the 2000-plus years since Jesus walked the earth have served to provide us with a false sense of complacency. There’s always tomorrow, we tell ourselves. However, in today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that that isn’t true.
We human beings are great at putting things off till “tomorrow.” We’ve failed to take sufficient care of our environment, and the results are plain to see everywhere around the world – ice caps melting, forests ablaze, wild hurricane seasons in some places, endless droughts, and consequent famines, etc. We postpone setting wrongs right or forgiving others until it’s no longer possible.
The Apostle Paul, as we can see, doesn’t procrastinate. He knows there is no time like the present to spread the Christian faith. He writes to the Christians in Ephesus of the particular work God has set before him - to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles. The Gentiles are co-heirs with the Jews of all the promises of Christ. On every page of every letter of Paul’s that we still have, we see him proclaiming the Word, explaining it, and instructing his friends on how a true believer lives his or her life. Up to this point, no one would have conceived of Jews and Gentiles united in belief about much of anything.
You and I are called to follow in Paul’s footsteps. God’s grace has abundantly touched every one of us. We are all asked to go out and share that grace in some way with those we meet. Jesus reminds us of that in today’s Gospel reading, “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much.”
God seized Paul in a highly dramatic fashion on the road to Damascus and shared with the former persecutor of Christians precisely what God desired of him. Perhaps none of us has received such an explicit mandate as the Apostle, but God has something for each of us to do. Neither Paul nor Jesus drifted through their days. They were on missions, and we should be, too.
When you pray and reflect today, you might ask yourself what you believe God has for you to do. Are you living a life of purpose, living out that call? Or are you just drifting along with the flow, with no particular goal in mind? Whatever answers you come up with, share them with Jesus in prayer, and listen for what he says to you in reply.
“The Whole Structure Is Held Together” by Melanie Rigney
So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone. Through him, the whole structure is held together and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord; in him, you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22)
The Lord speaks of peace to his people. (Psalm 84:9)
“Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.” (Luke 12:43)
Lord, help me to find my role in your household.
News flash: It’s not all about us.
Oh, we can help and hurt people while we’re here. But few of us will be remembered by name in three generations from now.
That is not necessarily a bad thing. It is a humbling thing.
The writer of Ephesians reminds us of this, that through Christ, “the whole structure is held together and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord.” We individually are not responsible for holding the world, let alone the kingdom, together. What we are responsible for is opening ourselves for being built into the household of God.
This is a good thing. It is not necessarily an easy thing.
Being built into the household of God involves making ourselves pleasing to him. The corporal and spiritual works of mercy are a good place to start. The most challenging place to start is those two greatest commandments.
Yes, few people will remember most of us by name or image three generations from now. But if we are obedient and faithful, they may find it easier to be built into the household of God because maybe, just maybe, each of us has the opportunity to leave the world just a bit better than we found it, to make the household of God just a bit stronger for having conformed ourselves to the Lord’s desire.
Make that your news flash for today, not who’s ahead or behind in the upcoming elections.
Do something today to bring souls into the house. Don’t let it be fake news.
Image credit is: Free-Photos from Pixabay
“Give the Lord Glory and Honor” by Wayne Miller
Thus says the LORD to his anointed, Cyrus, whose right hand I grasp, subduing nations before him, and making kings run in his service, opening doors before him and leaving the gates unbarred: For the sake of Jacob, my servant, of Israel, my chosen one, I have called you by your name, giving you a title, though you knew me not. I am the LORD, and there is no other; there is no God besides me. It is I who arm you, though you know me not, so that toward the rising and the setting of the sun, people may know that there is none besides me. I am the LORD; there is no other. The word of the Lord.(Isaiah 45:1, 4-6)
Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all you lands. Tell his glory among the nations; among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.Give the Lord glory and honor. (Psalm 96:1, 3, 4-5, 7-8, 9-10)
Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy to the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace. We give thanks to God always for all of you, remembering you in our prayers, unceasingly calling to mind your work of faith and labor of love and endurance in the hope of our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father, knowing, brothers and sisters loved by God, how you were chosen. For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and the Holy Spirit and with much conviction. (Thessalonians 1:1-5b)
Shine like lights in the world as you hold on to the word of life. (Philippians 2:15d, 16a)
The Pharisees went off and plotted how they might entrap Jesus in speech. They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. And you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion, for you do not regard a person’s status. Tell us, then, what is your opinion: Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?” Knowing their malice, Jesus said, “Why are you testing me, you hypocrites? Show me the coin that pays the census tax.” Then they handed him the Roman coin. He said to them, “Whose image is this and whose inscription?” They replied, “Caesar’s.” At that, he said to them, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” (Matthew 22:15-21)
Abba, we give you thanks always for the miraculous ways you Love us in all the experiences of our everyday lives. Fill us with your love to see and hear and recognize and praise Your Presence in our world.
The voices I hear today:
Isaiah: King Cyrus was a monotheistic believer who conquered Babylon and wisely offered restoration to the people enslaved. He may not have known it, but his wise, regal decision was inspiration planted in his heart by Our Loving God, who loved not only the Jews but all people unjustly taken from their homes and lands. We have the story of the immense impact this had on our spiritual forefathers and their homeland.
Our God will use many unlikely authorities in our lives to draw us closer to Him. Am I aware of the actions in my world today that offer a call to a more significant loving relationship with the Father and His Children?
Psalm 96: Give the Lord glory and honor.
Worship and forever praise God for His Blessings in all things. Do not worship earthly rulers – they are only the icons and vessels through which God (I Am) acts to exercise His Love in all of us.
Paul:Thanksgiving for the Love of God made flesh in his Thessalonian community through their loving support. Who do I need to thank for the living Love of God poured out on me today?
Jesus: His consistent message is always: Be IN the world, but not OF the world. Use the world’s things for the world’s activities. But keep your heart and mind firmly in relationship with God through Jesus in the Holy Spirit! Give Caesar what belongs to Caesar – but, more importantly, do not obsess over-dependence on the goods of this world for security and peace. God’s Presence in your heart is the only source for that.
So, what do I do with all this wisdom, encouragement, and scolding?
How do I love the son reeling from a year of unemployment, divorce, and near-death health?
How do I love the son struggling with his inherent communications issues while trying desperately to be a good provider, father, and husband?
How do I love the son who, after a lifetime of denial, has suddenly fallen head-over-heels in Love with Our Lady’s Rosary?
How do I love my wife, the simple, pure, precious heart, giving every ounce of herself to pass the Love of Our Lord to all of our family and the beautiful community with which God has surrounded us?
For me and my house, we shall worship the Lord – and show up faithfully at Group Reunion to encourage and be encouraged by our brothers and sisters!
Make a Friend! Be a Friend! Bring Christ to your Friend! And celebrate the miracle of salvation, redemption, and foolish empowerment that will occur when we let go of our addictions and egos.
Aided by Spirit, Propelled by Grace by Beth DeCristofaro
In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because it intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will. (Romans 8:26-27)
I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither (John 15:5-6)
“’It is time to walk’, to set out on the paths of joy, of prayer, of fraternity, of time lived as graced! Let us be taken by the hand of St Teresa as we go through the journey of life. May her footsteps always lead us to Jesus.”[i]
Paul and Teresa lived in turbulent times. Neither of them gave up on either their dogged discipleship or their incredible positivity that with God, all things are indeed possible. As a child, Teresa longed to be a missionary. Instead, she spent her life right in Avila, her hometown. Paul traveled the world. Both evangelized, wrote and taught from, being rooted, at home, in their spiritual journeys.
As close to us as anyone, including ourselves, Jesus is the conduit of the life that God has given us. Theresa of Avila’s writings are of life’s path to God and prayer is a dialogue with God without which we are in danger of losing our way. Paul taught that the Spirit aids us and Theresa envisioned that as we spend time in prayer we become more able to be with and move in concert with the Spirit, coming closer to the fulfillment of union with Christ. However, this happens due to God’s grace. We place our hearts in a state of love then act in love which is the essence of prayer.
Theresa felt that friendship with Jesus defined her prayer. She felt actual friendship with saints. She believed that friends in Christ, including worldly ones, are vital to the Christian life. And for Theresa, joy in the journey was a necessity no matter the mundane tasks of life. As she reformed the Carmelite order she taught this necessity to all her congregations and practiced it herself. Small committed communities are encouraging, faithful society of friends with which to make our way along the path to Christ.
How is your community bearing you along on your path to Christ? How are you bearing others along with you? Are there reforms you need to make or simply a joyful recommitment?
[i]Message of Pope Francis to the Bishop of Avila on the occasion of the opening
of the Teresian Jubilee Year http://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/pont-messages/2014/documents/papa-francesco_20141015_messaggio-500-teresa-avila.html
“Led by the Spirit” by Colleen O’Sullivan
Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like… In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Galatians 5:19-21a, 22-23a)
The Lord said: "Woe to you Pharisees! You pay tithes of mint and rue and every garden herb, but you pay no attention to judgment and to love for God. These you should have done, without overlooking the others. Woe to you Pharisees! You love the seat of honor in synagogues and greetings in marketplaces. Woe to you! You are like unseen graves over which people unknowingly walk." (Luke 11:42-44)
(Psalm 1:1-2) Blessed the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners, nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD and meditates on his law, day and night.
My grandmother once commented that she had lived from the time of the horse and buggy days of the late 19th century to when we put a person on the moon. When I ponder that observation, I see just how many things had changed during her lifetime and how much faster things are changing today. Many families have multiple vehicles in their driveways, where once would have stood a barn for the wagon or carriage and horse. A child today grows up with all manner of computers, iPads, cell phones, and other technology. We can start our cars remotely, check our cell phones to see who’s at the door at our home miles away. I don’t think my grandmother ever ventured far from home when she was young, but in pre-COVID19 days, people could jump on a plane whenever they wanted and travel to the farthest reaches of our planet.
We human beings are what never seems to change much, though. Human strengths and weaknesses are pretty much what they always have been. Our Scripture readings for today are just as pertinent as they were the day they were written. We have been reading Paul’s letter to the Galatians in recent days. Too many people live self-directed lives if Paul is to be believed, and he was a keen observer of human behavior. We don’t all live by the Spirit and, consequently, display what Paul calls the works of the flesh. We can even sometimes see in ourselves exactly what he’s talking about – people who are jealous or envious of others, people whose hearts are full of hatred for others and who give in to angry impulses, people who don’t compromise and work with others. These works of the flesh explain how we’ve become a country of extremes, unable even to engage in civil discourse with one another without slinging accusations and spewing rancor.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus accuses many of the Pharisees of being “like unseen graves over which people unknowingly walk.” They’re dead inside. They do the outwardly correct thing like pay a tithe of herbs but don’t possess within themselves the love and mercy of God toward others. The world is full of tiresome people like this if you look around. They masquerade as upright citizens but get to know them, and you’ll see there’s not much kindness or concern for others there.
Fortunately, there are also great numbers of individuals who live by the Spirit. We see the fruits of the Spirit in all they do. I think about the volunteers at St. Mary of Sorrows in Fairfax who tirelessly work to feed the hungry, asking for food and donations, shopping for perishable items, spending hours on their feet filling bags, and distributing the groceries where they’re most needed. I think of Fr. Stefan Starzynski walking endless miles at INOVA Fairfax Hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic to anoint the seriously ill and dying. I know of families where grandparents, aunts, and uncles have stepped up to the plate so that parents can work, and someone can provide child care or supervise virtual learning at home.
There are quite a few people whose lives reflect the fruits of the Spirit. Fill in the blanks with people you know who live in the Spirit. You don’t hear so much about them, because they rarely make the headlines. Bad news sells better, unfortunately.
Both Paul’s letter to the Galatians and today’s Gospel allow us to look at our own lives more closely. Do we live lives focused on ourselves and our interests? Do our actions and relationships end up causing more chaos and discord than harmony? Or can others see the fruits of the Spirit in what we do and the way we treat our brothers and sisters?
As we’re reflecting on this, to keep ourselves honest, maybe take the time to list ways in which our actions have caused hurt to others or to the entire Body of Christ, or specifically how the fruits of the Spirit have been generated in our lives. Offer your reflections to the Lord in prayer when you have done this.
“What Is Within” by Melanie Rigney
Let your mercy come to me, O Lord. (Psalm 119:41a)
“Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside? But as to what is within, give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you.” (Luke 11:40-41)
Lord, I cannot say it better than the psalmist: Let Your mercy come to me.
It was a tarantula, the size of my hand, crawling down my bedroom blinds.
I woke up with a start, got out of bed on the side farther from the window, cautiously, and turned on the light. No skittering varmint. I went over to the blinds and with even more caution, rattled them a bit. Still nothing.
I left the light on and got back to sleep fairly quickly. But the next morning, I wondered what it was all about. Eventually, I decided it was about the inside of the cup. I’d been focusing on external activity, attempting to do what I told myself was for God and community but really had more than a bit to do with my ego and with comfort. I was a Pharisee. That realization made the path forward pretty clear.
Maybe you are wiser and a better person than I am. But I daresay there’s a bit of the Pharisee in all of us—going through the right motions, but not necessarily for the right reasons. We give the inside short shrift because we don’t think anyone will see it except us. We are wrong. Let the world laugh at our outside when it seems grimy and messy; keeping what’s inside clean will let us sleep well.
Turn the light on your inner tarantula.
Image credit is 25106 from Pixabay: https://pixabay.com/photos/tarantula-spider-insect-grammostola-1198225/
Readying Ourselves for the Feast By Beth DeCristofaro
On this mountain the LORD of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines. On this mountain he will destroy the veil that veils all peoples, the web that is woven over all nations; he will destroy death forever. (Isaiah 25 6-8)
"The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast, but they refused to come. … Then he said to his servants, 'The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come. Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.’ The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests. (Matthew 22:2-3, 8-10)
Dear God, I pray that in every circumstance and in all things, I learn to live in humble or abundant circumstances. May I do all that I can do, and do them for (Jesus) who strengthens me. (from Philippians 4:12-13)
Matthew uses the Old Testament image of a wedding feast to portray what God’s gift of final salvation will be like. At weddings there is usually much happiness, possibly even giddiness, sharing of new moments and precious memories with others, helping out those tasked with hosting, dancing, overindulging. A great time is had by all! Yet Matthew warns his readers that those Chosen must take advantage of the invitation and that there are many places available for “all peoples” if we choose to decline. The parable speaks directly to the experience of Matthew’s audience but it also reminds them and us that the feast is a communal event, not a sole activity. God invites us to share this joy with grateful hearts not to sit in a salvific corner by ourselves.
Born in God’s image yet touched by sin, we cannot meet the standard to enter the Kingdom on our own. Jesus freely interceded on our behalf because we fall short. Jesus established his Holy Church so that as a community we can engage together in the building of the Kingdom he established but not yet perfected. It takes a roomful to party! It takes a community to make church and to feast together. Paul thanked the Philippians for taking him in when he was in distress. He then witnessed to Jesus who empowered him and them to enter the feast.
In Matthew’s parable, some who refused the invitation harmed the messengers. We must walk away from harmful thoughts and actions and walk toward God’s thoughts and actions to enter the feast. Greed, corruption, self-centeredness, fear, lust, bitterness can slam the doors if we indulge in them. God asks us to practice compassion, kindness, humility, patience, generosity. These actions influence others. We are invited individually yet we are part of God’s greater whole.
What am I wearing, what am I holding on to which inhibits my fully feasting with Jesus? Who do I have trouble picturing feasting with me? Why? Pray today to be enabled, to be grateful and accepting of the invitation for myself and those Chosen with me.