Category Archives: Matthew

The bad and the good

Károly Ferenczy (1862–1917)
Sermon on the Mountain
oil on canvas, 1896
Hungarian National Gallery

Jesus said to his disciples, “Your heavenly Father… makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.” Matthew 5:45

Whenever I catch myself judging others, I remind myself that God loves all people equally. No one’s life is more or less valuable to the One who created us all in love and for love.

Lord, help me to see as you see and love as you love.

Add flavor

George Pencz (ca.1500-1550)
To Feed the Hungry
Engraving
National Gallery of Art

Jesus said to his disciples: “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” Matthew 5:13

No matter our situation, we can add flavor to life by sharing kindness with those who are hungry for attention. We can offer the shelter of our compassion to those who are suffering. We can wrap the lonely in the caring warmth of our companionship.

Today I will seek quiet moments to pray and meditate so that I may not lose my taste for loving and serving my neighbor.

Darkness dispelled by love

Léonard Gaultier, 1561-1641
Follow Me and I will Make You Fishers of Men
engraving, probably c. 1576/1580
Washington, National Gallery of Art

Anguish has taken wing, dispelled is darkness: for there is no gloom where but now there was distress. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone.
Isaiah 8:23b—9:1

The light of hope is always with me in the person of Jesus, who calls me by name and asks me to follow his way of forgiveness, compassion, and peace.

Lord, you are healing for those who suffer from despair, grief, and injustice. Help me to bring your light of love with me today that I may be a comforting presence to those in need.

Blessed with peace

Rip Caswell (b.1962)
Baptism of Christ

May the Lord bless his people with peace. Psalm 29:11b

Today may we be blessed with
trust in God’s unfailing presence,
confidence in God’s love and patience,
comfort in God’s peace.

Pay homage

attributed to Payag (Indian)
The Magi Follow the Star, from a Mirror of Holiness (Mir’at al-quds) of Father Jerome Xavier, SJ (1549–1617)
Opaque watercolor, ink, and gold on paper, between 1602 and 1604
Cleveland Museum of Art

And behold, the star that [the magi] had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. Matthew 2:9b

Would I have seen the star that would lead me to find Jesus? Or would I have been like King Herod, unable to see and follow, afraid and troubled?

Today I will look for and pay homage to the light of God’s self-revelation in nature, in the people I encounter, in prayer and meditation. I will not be afraid to welcome God’s presence.

Leaving home

Flight into Egypt
France, 17th century
polychromed oakwood
collection of the Musée L, Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium

Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. Matthew 2:14

Imagine how frightened Joseph and Mary were — and how courageous — to leave their homeland in the face of danger and persecution, and to make a new life in a strange country.

My ancestors came to America from Ireland, most of them so poor they traveled in steerage. One side of the family was illiterate. On the other side, my great-great grandmother died soon after arriving in New York and so did the baby twins to whom she had just given birth. Men on both sides of the family took work as laborers and mill workers. They saved what they could from their tiny salaries, bought houses, turned their yards into vegetable gardens, and made sure their children got a good education. Today I live very comfortably, thanks to the courage of my ancestors.

May I always extend a welcome to newcomers. May I be grateful for their example of courage and their reminder of my own family story. May I remember Jesus, too, was a refugee.

 

 

 

Patience

“…the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.”
Matthew 11:5

See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You too must be patient. James 5:7b-8a

In patience I find
gentleness
forgiveness
endurance
forbearance
compassion
hope

Today, Lord, bless me with patience.

Whose star

JESUS MAFA. The Three Wise Men, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN.

The star of the Christ leads me by the light of love, hope, compassion, and peace to reveal God’s goodness in me, my neighbor, and the world.

Other stars in our world attract me with the promise of riches, power, ease, and fame.

And then there are the dark stars that seduce me into depression, despair, and discontent.

I must choose with the wisdom of the magi the star I will follow.

And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. Matthew 2:9b

In this moment

Unknown Icon Painter, Russian (active 1690-1710 in northern Russia)
The Holy Trinity
egg tempera on wood, between 1690 and 1710

We are in the presence of God. Now.

We are not alone. We have not been abandoned. The Lord is with us always.

Listen to the silence. Feel the fullness. Absorb the peace.

Trust.

[Jesus approached and said to them,] “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20b

The mystery made known

And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. Matthew 2:9b

Those who have made the trek, followed the star, and encountered the Christ teach me that the power and light of love can never be fully obscured. May their example renew my faith when it is clouded by pain, depression, or grief, and rekindle my hope when it is diminished by disappointment, disillusionment, or discouragement.