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


Keep God In Mind

Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God…
Therefore you shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your, with all your soul and with
all your mind. Take to heart these words…
Bind them at your wrist as a sign and
let them be as a pendant on your forehead.

From Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Today is Friday. While Catholics abstain from meat in observance of Lent, our Jewish sisters and brothers observe the Sabbath which begins at sundown. While in Israel, the rush of activity before Sabbath began was notable. Everyone hurried to get home to partake of their Shabbat Dinner. As we strolled along, we saw groups of Jewish worshipers garbed for the evening’s gathering.

Many of the men wore small cube-shaped leather cases on their foreheads. These little boxes were held in place with strings tied on the back of ones head. Before any of us could inquire regarding what we saw, our guide explained that these little boxes are Phylacteries. They hold small copies of passages from the Jewish Torah. These little boxes and a second one worn on the arm remind the wearer to keep God in mind and to keep the Law during their daily lives. Orthodox Jews wear Phylacteries in response to the passage from Deuteronomy which I cite above.

I smiled to myself as I listened. The author of Deuteronomy certainly understood human nature. How often we overlook God’s perspective on things! We become so distracted by our trials and tribulations that we forget to turn to the One who is at our sides in everything. I know that my worst moments occur in the midst of this very scenario.

This Lent, we need only turn to the life of Jesus for reminder after reminder of God’s presence in our lives. Jesus accomplished all that he did because he never lost sight of his Father. Even in the worst of circumstances, when I acknowledge God’s presence, I can do what needs to be done as well.

Loving God, thank you for remaining at our sides.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Lead Us Well

I will fulfill my vows…
Psalm 22:26b

On this Feast of St. Blaise, I can’t help thinking of our relatively new archbishop, Blaise Cupich. The truth is that I don’t often give the poor man much thought. This is not the result of any disrespect or lack of concern. It’s just that my daily life doesn’t often require reliance upon or interaction with him. Still, I can’t help offering a prayer for him today and I do so with good reason.

You know, a good portion of our spiritual awareness is partially the result of the efforts of archbishops, popes, pastors, rabbis, imams, preachers, deacons, priests, nuns and teachers of many sorts. When these people exhibit the beliefs we hold dear in their work, especially their leadership, they enhance our faith communities and our own relationships with God. When these people err, whether in big or small ways, they drive us from those communities. Sometimes, we find comfort with other believers in another place. Sometimes, we dismiss those imperfect communities as non-salvageable and we retreat into ourselves. We form a mini-community of self and God. While some of my greatest inspiration comes in “me and God” moments, I admit that I do enjoy sharing God’s wonder with others.

So, today, I pray for Blaise Cupich. I ask God to grace him with the wisdom, stamina and love he needs to bring God into everything he does as archbishop and as one of God’s people. I add another prayer for everyone in leadership in the faith communities which fill this world.

Loving God, help our spiritual leaders to align their hearts with your heart. Help them to lead with love, compassion and mercy just as you lead each of us from within. Give them the vision and the courage to look at all things with your eyes and to respond accordingly.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved