Connections DAILY

The WEEKDAY homiletic resource from the editors of Connections

Connections DAILY is the ONLINE newsletter of ideas and images designed to help homilists develop their own brief reflections on the daily Gospel readings.

For each weekday Gospel pericope, Connections DAILY provides an image or idea for a brief, one-to-two minute homily, concluding with a brief prayer that summarizes the point.  The reflection/prayer usually centers on the day's Gospel, but occasionally is inspired by the first reading or the day’s feast or saint whose memorial is being observed.  Because time is a factor at most weekday Masses, each Connections DAILY reflection focuses on a single point or idea, applicable to the common and everyday world of the parish community.

Connections DAILY is available ONLINE ONLY: each week’s reflections are e-mailed to subscribers the previous week (sorry, Connections DAILY is NOT available in a hard-copy, “paper” version).  Connections DAILY is sent in an easy-to-save-and-edit format, enabling you to “cut and paste” material as you need.

Subscriptions to Connections DAILY are $56 per year.

Take a look at Connections DAILY— a sampling of reflections is included below.  If you preach — or have thought about preaching — a brief, meaningful reflection every day, Connections DAILY is the resource you’re looking for.

CLICK HERE for subscription information and an order form . . .

A sampling of reflections from Connections DAILY . . .

WEDNESDAY of the First Week in Ordinary Time

Rising very early before dawn, Jesus left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.  Simon and those who were with him pursued him and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you.”
Mark 1: 29-39

We all know how Jesus feels in today’s Gospel:  Everyone seems to be looking for us.  Our families, our bosses, our teachers, our friends, our parishes, our communities – everyone wants a “piece” of us.

So we all need that “deserted place” where we can re-charge our spiritual batteries in the quiet of our hearts.  What is important to note in today’s Gospel is that Jesus is very intentional about making time for prayer – he gets up early to have the time for quiet prayer and reflection.

We have to do the same thing: to make the time for prayer, to carve out a few moments in our busy day to escape to the “deserted place” within our hearts to re-connect with God.  It might be a few moments to read the day’s Gospel or one of the psalms, to offer a decade of the rosary, to read a few pages of a book by a spiritual master, or just to be quiet in the peace of God.

Lead us, O God, to that deserted place” where we find your peace, where we hear the reassurance and consolation of your voice, where we drink from the spring of your grace and wisdom.

THURSDAY of the First Week in Ordinary Time

“If you wish, you can make me clean.”
Mark 1: 40-45

The chances are good that today you will encounter a leper.

No, not someone with a terrible illness or who exhibits the ravages of Hansen’s disease, but someone who is treated like a leper: the guy who constantly says the wrong thing, the kid who always seems to be a beat off from everyone else, the family who just isn’t like ours for whatever reason.

The challenge to us is the same as the leper’s challenge to Jesus: to want to make them “clean,” to seek to remove whatever barriers isolate them from the rest of us, to overlook their faults and sins because we realize that our faults are overlooked and our sins forgiven by our loving God.

Welcome the leper you will meet today, in gratitude to the Jesus who “cleans” our hearts of the leprosy of selfishness and arrogance.

Open our hearts and hands, O God, to welcome into our lives and embrace those we shun as unclean and rejects as “lepers.”  By the light of your grace, help us to see you in one another, recognizing that they have been created by you in your sacred image.  May the compassion and generosity your Son has taught us be the means for “cleansing” away the leprosy of pride, greed and intolerance from our lives and communities.

WEDNESDAY of the Second Week in Ordinary Time

Looking around at them with anger, and grieved at their hardness of heart, Jesus said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.”  He stretched it out and his hand was restored.
Mark 3: 1-6

“Hardness of heart . . . ”

We all know that feeling.  Too many disappointments, too many hurts, too many broken promises have hardened us.  We hesitate to hope; we isolate ourselves behind walls of cynicism; we are constantly on our guard; non-commitment is our default position.

But the Gospel Jesus calls us to put aside our hurts and dares us to hope.  He shows us the possibilities for re-creation, for healing, for living lives of meaning and purpose.  In Christ, reconciliation and forgiveness become realistic approaches to centering our relationships with others; justice becomes a compelling force for re-creating society; compassion becomes an imperative.

Sometime today you may feel the discouragement and resentment that can “harden” your heart.  Catch yourself when you feel that way – and let yourself reach out, let yourself forgive, let yourself love as did and does Jesus.

Restore our hearts to hope, O God, and heal our spirits of cynicism and doubt.   Help us to transform our lives by your grace; enable us to work for reconciliation and justice in the certainty that we can reveal your kingdom in our time and place.

FRIDAY of the Second Week in Ordinary Time

[Jesus] appointed Twelve, whom he also named Apostles, that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach and to have authority to drive out demons . . .
Mark 3: 13-19

A pastor remembers one of the most important lessons he learned in ministry:

“When I was a seminarian, a veteran pastor told me that you can tell a lot about a church by how much people linger with each other after worship.  If church members hang around and talk until you have to turn out the lights and push them out the door, and then talk more outside, it’s a sign of a good church.  But if church is rushed and as soon as the Amen is sounded, they head out the door to their cars, with everyone going their separate ways, that is not a good sign.”
[Kyle Childress, writing in The Christian Century, October18, 2011.]

In today’s Gospel, Jesus begins to organize his Church with the calling of the Twelve to take on his work of preaching and healing.  But in “summoning” them to himself, he summons us to one another.  To realize our call to be church begins with realizing that, as we belong to Christ, we belong to one another.  Our church’s work of being vehicles of God’s reconciliation and justice, of being witnesses to Christ’s resurrection, of being signs of the Father’s love in our midst begins in our own parish and is lived first within our own families and communities.

Lord Jesus, help us to respond to your call to be Apostles in our time and place, within our parishes and communities.  May our everyday kindnesses to one another and quiet offerings of comfort and support make us your Church – a community dedicated to your justice and compassion.

TUESDAY of the Third Week in Ordinary Time

“For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
Mark 3: 31-35

Jesus’ words seem, at first, a little cruel and insensitive toward his family. 

But Jesus is not ignoring his family or diminishing his relationship with them.  In today’s Gospel from Mark, Jesus is expanding our understanding of “family.”  By virtue of our shared humanity, we are sons and daughters of God – and therefore brothers and sisters to one another.  Jesus comes to reveal the God who loves us like a father loves his beloved children – and that relationship extends to one another as brothers and sisters.  Our “family” includes not just our own clan but our neighbors, friends, fellow parishioners – and any and all who seek our help.

Jesus asks us to realize what it means to belong to one another, to recognize and embrace our “connectedness” to every child, woman and man as daughters and sons of the same God.

Open our hearts to see one another as brothers and sisters in you, O Father.  In our kindness toward others, in our commitment to forgiveness and reconciliation, may we bring to completion your kingdom of peace and justice.

SATURDAY of the Third Week in Ordinary Time

[Jesus] woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet!  Be still!”
Mark 4: 35-41

Oh, to have that power:  To be able to stand up in the midst of the storms swirling around us and just say Stop!  To face all those impatient and demanding people in our lives and just say Enough!  To be able to end the conflicts and skirmishes we get drawn into and just say Be still!

Maybe we have more power here than we think.  Maybe if we approach our lives as Jesus does – realizing that God’s love is a constant presence in our lives, making time for quiet, focused prayer, embracing Jesus’ spirit of humility and compassion in our decision-making – we can calm storms before they begin to form and still conflicts before they bubble up. 

Easier said than done, to be sure.  But with God at our back, we can discover within ourselves the courage and wisdom to steer our boats through the squalls and waves that threaten to sink us.

Father of peace, place your hand with ours on the tillers of our boats and help us to bring peace and stillness to our busy lives.  In embracing your Son’s spirit of compassion and selflessness, may we bring calm to surging waters and quiet to roaring winds that threaten us and those we love

MONDAY of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Night and day among the tombs on the hillsides [the man] was always crying out and bruising himself with stones.
Mark 5: 1-20

The man possessed by the spirit Jesus calls Legion is one of the most pitiful characters in the Gospels.  Obviously mentally ill, the poor man is forced to live “among the tombs” - not a beautifully landscaped park like our cemeteries, but a desolate, dark plot on the edge of the city.  

Without realizing it, we often live “among the tombs.”  When we let our fears stop us from doing what is right, when our own interests make us back away from taking the just course, when our lack of confidence prevents us from reaching out to someone in need or when our own pride makes us refuse help we desperately need, we are letting that fear, selfishness, and pride “bury” us. 

The resurrection is not confined just to Easter morning or the second coming.  Christ comes to show us the way out of the “tombs” in which we bury ourselves and embrace, in the here and now, the life of God in all its joy and hope.

Raise us up, O Lord, from the “tombs” in which we bury ourselves.  Help us to realize the possibilities for resurrection in our everyday lives; may your grace enable us to break the chains and shackles of despair, fear and pride that prevent us from living our lives to the full.

WEDNESDAY of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

“A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.”
Mark 6: 1-6

Look around this parish.  Look around your neighborhood.  Even look around your family.

There are prophets living right here among us – prophets in our parish, prophets in our communities, prophets in our workplaces and schools, prophets in our own homes.  They aren’t the larger-than-life prophets of Scripture; they are just-our-size prophets.  Unnoticed, quietly going about their lives, these prophets put themselves second for others, know exactly the right thing to say and do without  drama or fanfare, and engender trust and integrity that enables them to bridge any division and estrangement.

These prophets would be aghast at being called “prophets.”  We’re just ordinary folk, they would insist, embarrassed at the thought.

But they are prophets.  They proclaim the presence of God in our midst.

Prophets live among us, unnoticed and unappreciated.  Let us “honor” them by respecting the Gospel values they live and embrace those values in our own efforts to become prophets ourselves.

O Lord, continue to raise up prophets in our midst who help us to realize your compassion and justice in our homes and schools and workplaces and churches.  May we learn from them how to take up the prophet’s work of transforming our lives and world in your peace.

THURSDAY of the Fifth Week of Ordinary Time

“Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.”
Mark 7: 24-30

We are pretty quick to label people: good, bad; friend, enemy; liberal, conservative; potentially helpful contact, can’t do anything for us.  Our labels are often unfair, superficial and divisive; our tags scream our contempt and self-righteousness.

In today’s Gospel, we hear from a victim of such labeling.  The woman who approaches Jesus is a Greek Gentile – two big strikes against her.  She asks Jesus to heal her daughter.  Jesus initially rejects her because she is not one of “the children” of God, implying that she is among the “dogs.”  But for her daughter’s sake, the woman will not allow herself to be dismissed because of how others have labeled her.  She speaks up, saying that even “dogs” are fed by God’s hand.  Jesus exalts her dignity by healing her daughter.

Every day we let labels dictate our relationships – who’s in, who’s out, who’s worth our time, who isn’t worth bothering with.  Today, before you walk by or avoid someone who is not on your “A” list, remember the woman in today’s Gospel.  Like her, that person is more than a label.

Transform our hearts, O Lord, to recognize your goodness in those we ignore or forget.  Help us to put aside the labels we slap on others and approach them with respect for the dignity that is theirs by being your sons and daughters.

FRIDAY of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

[Jesus] put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, “Ephphatha!” (that is, “Be opened!”)
Mark 7: 31-37

“Ephphatha!”  Jesus says to the deaf man.

“Ephphatha!”  Jesus says to us, as well.

“Ephphatha!”  “Be opened!”

“Ephphatha!”   Be open to my Word of joy and hope.  Be opened to the possibilities for reconciliation and resurrection in your everyday lives.  Be open to grace enabling you to bring healing and wholeness to the broken in your midst.

“Ephphatha!”  Do not be deaf to God speaking in the cries of the poor and hurting in your midst.  Do not be silent in the face of injustice and hurt.  Do not stand by helplessly or be afraid when the compassion of the heart calls you to the work of reconciliation.

Hear our prayer for Ephphatha, for openness, O Lord.  Open our spirits to behold your loving presence in our midst; open our vision to see you in others; open our hearts to hear you in the cries for help in those around us.

MONDAY of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

[Jesus] sighed from the depth of his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign?”
Mark 8: 11-13

The evangelist Mark has a unique description of Jesus’ response to the Pharisees’ demand for yet another miracle or sign.  Mark writes that Jesus “sighed from the depth of his spirit.”

We’ve all know that “sigh” -- that frustration, disappointment, hurt and despair we feel in the depths of our souls.  We have all reached that point of hopelessness, of wanting to quit and walk away, of just giving up.  How much more can we do?  How much more can be expected of us?

Jesus’ frustration with the obtuse Pharisees is clear in Mark’s Gospel.  But Jesus marshals within himself the ability to hope: to carry on in the belief that there will be, in the end, a point to our continuing to help, to forgive, to reach out; that God will ultimately make all things work for good. 

When we are overwhelmed with a sense of failure or when we are just done in with frustration – as Jesus feels today – may we know Jesus’ sense of hope; may we carry on with Jesus’ conviction that we can bring to reality God’s kingdom of reconciliation and peace here and now.

Hear the “sigh” from the “depths” of our souls, O God.  Despite the defeats and frustrations we experience in trying to live your Son’s Gospel of reconciliation and compassion, may we continue with the assurance that your Spirit is with us, giving meaning to what we fail to see or understand.

WEDNESDAY of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

Looking up the [blind] man replied, “I see people looking like trees and walking.”
Mark 8: 22-26

Sometimes we can’t see things as they really are.  Our biases, our fears, our own interests limit our vision to perceive only “people looking like trees and walking.”

Our faith is centered on the idea that the Gospel is a lens that illuminates every moment and experience of our everyday lives; Jesus’ word serves as a prism that enables us to see others as more than their “labels” but to realize the dignity every man, woman and child possesses as a child of God. 

Our tired and strained eyes need care and often corrective lenses; the lens through which our hearts and minds behold the world also need regular adjustment and correction, to see clearly God in our midst and to perceive God’s Spirit prompting us to realize the many great opportunities we have to bring light into the darkness of ignorance and dispel the shadows of fear.

Open our eyes, Lord Jesus, to see you in everyone and in every moment; heal us of our blindness to the needs of our brothers and sisters; correct our vision to perceive the Father’s presence in our midst in every act of generous forgiveness and selfless generosity that you enable us to do and to receive from others.