Hear The Cry of the Poor

For he shall rescue the poor when he cries out,
and the afflicted when he has no one to help him.
…the lives of the poor he shall save.

From Psalm 72:12-13

One of my favorite images of Jesus is Jesus The Teacher. I found great joy in my own teaching career and I’m pleased that Jesus and I have this vocation in common. I suppose the similarities end there as Jesus’ curriculum extended far beyond my own. Nonetheless, I’ve decided to turn to what I know best to ease myself and hopefully a few of you into a productive Spring 2019. I know. Spring began in March and summer will be here in less than a month. Still, I’m easing into spring because the cold weather distracted me from getting serious about this seemingly elusive season. Regardless, it’s time for me to get serious…

When I taught, I began every day by reviewing my lesson plans. The teachers who are reading with you know that the lesson plans they prepare provide their daily agendas. They include relevant page numbers and activities for various school subjects and blocks of time. Lesson plans keep all concerned focused on the given day’s priorities. I’m thinking that I’ll make better use of my days if I focus upon Jesus-the-Teacher’s priorities for me.

The passage above from Psalm 72 seems to be a good place to start. Jesus ministered to the poor in all of their forms. The world around you and me is filled with people who suffer equivalent woes. Jesus-the-Teacher might suggest that we plan our days to do the things we must and to reach out to the poor we meet along the way.

Loving God, help us to reach out to the poor among us as Jesus would.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

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God’s Still With Us

May his name be blessed forever;
as long as the sun his name shall remain.

Psalm 72:17

In just two weeks, Christmas will be here. My husband has stolen away for a few well-deserved hours at the health club. I completed the tasks at hand and took full advantage of the quiet house. I settled myself in the living room at the feet of our Christmas Tree. Since childhood, this has been my favorite place to await Christmas Day.

I basked in the sparkling lights and inhaled the scent of pine. After a whimsical peek at the tree’s eclectic array of ornaments, my eyes rested upon the crèche below it. The tiny figurines huddled there give life to the greatest story ever told. I recalled childhood discussions with my mother regarding this amazing birth. I also recalled lessons offered by the good sisters which underscored all that my mother told me about that amazing baby boy. Heaven and earth came together the day Jesus was born! His story changed this world forever. As I sat beneath our Christmas Tree, I realized once again that his story has changed my own life forever as well.

No matter how some attempt to distort it, Jesus’ message regarding God’s unconditional love and God’s presence among us continues to instill hope.

Good and gracious God, I can never thank you enough for the gift of your love and your presence in my life. Gift all of your people with a tangible sense of your presence and hearts sensitive enough to respond.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Back To The Basics

God shall rescue the poor when they cry out,
and the afflicted when they have no one to help them.

Psalm 72:12

I enjoyed teaching in spite of those occasional days when both my students and I were not at our best. On such days, I learned not to become angry. Rather, I acknowledged all of our humanity and the troubles which sometimes accompany it. With that, the kids and I took deep breaths and moved on. Near the end of the school year, these days threatened to increase in frequency because all concerned where in dire need of summer break. It was then that I found a creative and productive way to lighten our collective mood.

It was late May when I challenged my second graders to list an alphabet’s worth of things which they hoped to do during the coming summer. Afterward, they wrote short paragraphs and drew illustrations for each entry. In the end, I stapled these into each child’s “My Summer Wishes” book. This effort provided ample subject matter which carried over into most of our lessons during those last days of school. It also netted a precious memento of each child’s hope for better things to come.

Not long afterward, I remembered this alphabetic effort. To ease myself through a trying time, I used one letter per day to designate one of God’s gifts to me. This little exercise changed my attitude and truly led me to a much better result than I expected. Tomorrow, I’m going to return to the basics. It will be the first of twenty-six days of reflections inspired by the ABCs.

Loving God, regardless of the troubles which beset us, from A to Z, you face them with us.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Wait With Joy!

May his name be blessed forever;
as long as the sun his name shall remain.

Psalm 72:17

In just ten days, Christmas will be here. My husband has stolen away for a few well-deserved hours at the health club. I’ve completed the tasks at hand so I’m taking advantage of the quiet house. I settled myself in the living room where I had an unobstructed view of our Christmas Tree. Since childhood, this has been my favorite place to await Christmas Day.

I basked in the sparkling lights and inhaled the scent of pine. After a whimsical peek at the tree’s eclectic array of ornaments, my eyes rested upon the crèche below it. The tiny figurines huddled there give life to the greatest story ever told. I recalled childhood discussions with my mother regarding this amazing birth and the lessons offered by the good sisters and priests. They underscored all that my mother had told me about the baby boy in whom heaven and earth came together that first Christmas. His story changed the world forever. During those quiet moments before our Christmas Tree, I realized anew that his story changed my own life forever as well.

On my way to the study, I found myself humming Happy Birthday. Yes, Happy Birthday to Jesus! The gifts of his life and lessons continue to nudge us a bit closer to all that God hopes for us. Now there is reason to rejoice!

Gracious God, I can never thank you enough for the gift of your presence in my life. Gift each of your children with a tangible sense of your presence and a heart sensitive enough to respond.

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

B… Blessed Are We!

May his name be blessed forever;
as long as the sun his name shall remain.
In him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed;
all the nations shall proclaim his happiness.

Psalm 72:17

B is for Blessed. As soon as I acknowledged that “B” is the letter for today, I typed “blessed”. You are blessed and so am I. We wouldn’t walk this earth if we weren’t intentionally breathed into existence by our creatively loving God. I use the adverb “creatively” intentionally. You see, God’s blessings often befuddle me. Most of the time, I don’t recognize them until long after a given person or circumstance has moved on. A lifetime of chance meetings, one-liners which lodge in my memory, unexpected friendships, unexplained opportunities and seeming setbacks prove this over and over again. Though I don’t realize it much of the time, I am indeed blessed.

As I consider and offer thanks for the blessings in my life, I must acknowledge that these blessings include everyone around me. This is the challenging part because “everyone” includes those who occasionally give me a headache, a heartache, a soul-ache or worse. How can I look upon these people as blessings? God knows and I must know, too. So it is that I must gently remove the wrapping which conceals the blessedness hidden within myself and within those whom I pass along the way. Only then will I discover the fullness of God’s precious gifts.

Creatively Loving God, help us all to see our own blessings and those of others with your perceptive eyes. Give us grateful hearts that we may appreciate both fully.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

A… Abundant Gifts

He shall be like rain coming down on the meadow,
like showers watering the earth.

Psalm 72:6

I’m delaying my errands this morning until after 9:00. I live down the block from our neighborhood school and this is the first day of classes after winter break. Walking children, buses and automobiles dictate my schedule and insure the safety of all concerned. The extra time this morning is a gift which I’m enjoying with gratitude. I’m preparing for my errands quite leisurely, leisurely enough to slip in a prayer for teachers and children everywhere who are easing themselves back into their classroom schedules and the rigors of teaching and learning. After praying for them, I offer thanks for my own teaching career and its completion. Today, retirement is a particularly beautiful thing!

A few years ago, I turned to the ABCs of my career and life in general to inspire the New Year. Since I enjoyed that writing and many of you enjoyed the reading, I’m going to do the same to welcome New Year 2017. Will you join me as I begin at the beginning with A?

A is for Abundance. Each of us is a treasure-trove to ourselves and to others. We are filled with abundant gifts which no one possesses in the same configuration as we do. It’s up to us to look within for our own abundance and to share it generously with those we’ve been given to love. It’s also up to us to find and to acknowledge the abundance in others and to empower them to do the same.

Loving God, help us to recognize the abundance in ourselves and in those around us. May we all use our gifts well!

©2017 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved