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 $54 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 . . .

TUESDAY of the Seventh Week of Easter

“I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world.”
John 17: 1-11a

No one of us discovered God on our own.  No one comes to Jesus because they read his biography and decided that Jesus is the Savior.  Nobody can experience the Spirit of God in their lives alone.

No, every one of us came to believe in Jesus because of people we love and trusted love and trusted Jesus.  We discovered the love of God in their love for us.

Chapter 17 of St. John’s Gospel is a prayer that Jesus offers just before departing for Gethsemane on Holy Thursday night.  Jesus begins with praying for his disciples to whom he has entrusted his Gospel of reconciliation and peace.  He asks God to bless the ministry they will soon begin.  That ministry has continued through the centuries every time some parent teaches their child how to pray, every time a teacher helps a student understand a Gospel story, every time someone tells a friend how God helped him transform his life.

Today, give thanks for those who helped you discover God and God’s love in your life – and return the favor by sharing that same Word with someone you love.

Lord Jesus, as we have come to you through the love and inspiration of parents and friends, of pastors and teachers, may others now come to know you and your transforming love through us.  By your grace, may we become reflections of your love and vehicles of your forgiveness, for our broken world.

FRIDAY of the Seventh Week of Easter

Jesus said to Simon the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love?”
John 21: 15-19

Today’s Gospel is one of the most touching episodes in John’s Gospel.  Appearing to the Eleven after his resurrection, Jesus asks Peter if he loves him.  Peter answers that he does.  Jesus asks a second time, and again Peter proclaims his love for Jesus.  A third time Jesus asks and, Peter, his voice rising, assures Jesus that he loves him.

Only a matter of days before, Peter denied even knowing Jesus.

But rather than confront Peter over his denial, Jesus offers Peter the opportunity to be reconciled with Jesus – and with himself, to get beyond his own sense of failure and disappointment with himself.  In forgiving Peter as he does, in affecting reconciliation with Peter, Jesus transforms Peter’s regrets and shame into a new understanding and conviction of the Gospel the fisherman has witnessed. 

Today, find some way to enable someone to be reconciled and “made whole” in spirit, enabling that person experience a sense of “resurrection” in his or her life.

O Risen Lord, make us your “fishers” of humanity: to seek re-birth rather than condemnation, to rejoice in reconciliation, “feed” one another with your bread and fish of compassion and peace.

 

TUESDAY of Week 10 in Ordinary Time

“You are the salt of the earth . . . “
Matthew 5: 13-16

By itself, salt isn’t much.  It has no use by itself – you wouldn’t just eat a handful of salt.  It’s only when salt is added or mixed with something else that its goodness emerges.  It brings out the flavor of our favorite foods; it melts the hard ice of winter making treacherous roads safe; it purifies water and blood.

Jesus calls us to be “salt” for the earth.  He doesn’t call us to isolate ourselves from the brokenness and sin of the world or walk away from the problems and unpleasantness of life; Jesus calls us to engage our world, to participate fully in every dimension of life – but to bring to our homes and communities and workplace and playgrounds the “salt” of compassion, justice and reconciliation in which the goodness of God can emerge and blossom.

Help us, Lord Jesus, to be the salt of compassion, of justice, of forgiveness for our broken world.  In your spirit of humility and gratitude, may we bring forth the goodness and hope of your love in our midst.

THURSDAY of Week 10 in Ordinary Time

“But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother is liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raqa,’ will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna.”
Matthew 5: 20-26

To call someone “Raqa” is asking for a fight.

As we hear in today’s Gospel, “Raqa” is not a term of endearment.  The word literally means “empty-headed.”  To call someone “Raqa” is to question someone’s intelligence and competence; “Raqa” is to diminish someone as worthless and foolish. 

While we may not actually call someone “Raqa” outright, our lack of empathy or silent hostility can have the same effect; our attitude of self-importance and pride effectively labels those we consider lesser lights as “Raqa”; our pursuit of our own interests at the expense of others is to condemn the poor and struggling as “Raqa.”

Think about that word “Raqa” today – and be aware of how you might throw out that word without even realizing it.

Open our hearts, O God, to realize the many ways we hurt, diminish and beat down those struggling and hurting, those in need and in crisis.  May our offering of the bread and wine of your Son’s Eucharist make us, like him, the means of reconciliation and healing in our own homes and parishes and communities.
 
WEDNESDAY of Week 11 in Ordinary Time

“When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.”
Matthew 6: 1-6, 16-18

Every day is a push.  It’s one thing after another – at work, at school, at home.  But all of those demands on us are important, necessary – and good. 

But before long, we resent all those demands on us; we pull it all off, but we want to scream.

Jesus understands that frustration, that exhaustion.  But he reminds us that all we do for others is, in fact, good.  Whatever we do for others is one more brick in building his Father’s kingdom.  Even the most mundane tasks of the day – a supportive word to a colleague, making lunch for the kids – are manifestations of God’s love in our midst. 

So in the course of the busy-ness of today, take a moment to remember the good that will be realized from what you do, the happiness that will be realized from the work of this day.

And smile.

Gracious God, may we live our lives in constant awareness of your love in our midst.  Instill in us a spirit of joy, that every prayer we offer and every good work we are able to do may be signs of your reign of peace and compassion in this time and place of ours.   

THURSDAY of Week 11 in Ordinary Time

“This is how you are to pray:  ‘Our Father . . . thy kingdom come, they will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Matthew 6: 7-15

We’ve all prayed the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel countless times.  But there is one phrase in The Lord’s Prayer that we pray that we may not fully realize what we are praying for:

“Thy kingdom come.”

Don’t we know what we’re saying there?  Do we realize the meaning of those words?  Do we really want the kingdom of God to “come”?

Thy kingdom come:  A kingdom in which the rich serve the poor, the sick and infirm are honored, the lost and marginalized are welcome.

Thy kingdom come:  A kingdom where humble service is the heart of authority.

Thy kingdom come:  A kingdom where every human being is respected as a son and daughter of God and loved as a brother and sister in Christ.

They are the three most powerful words we pray.  Their implications are enormous.

Are we willing to transform our own “kingdoms” into God’s?

Father, may your spirit instill in us the courage and vision to work to make “your kingdom come” in our time and place.  May our smallest acts of generosity and hidden efforts for what is right and just be the foundation stones of that kingdom.

WEDNESDAY of Week 12 in Ordinary Time

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you is sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves.”
Matthew 7: 15-20

The fashion magazines say this is how you should dress and look. The home and garden cable channel insists that the perfect home design include these colors and textures and finishes. The advertising “prophets” and media “shamans” preach to us about what is the latest, the best, the indispensible for our lives and lifestyles.

But, in the midst of all of this, Jesus comes to preach his “simple” Gospel of living a life that is centered on loving others and discovering the joy of generosity and forgiveness. The real challenge is to keep the fashionistas and tech gurus in perspective: that such things may make our lives easier and more manageable, but they are not what God’s gift of this incredible life is about. 

Do not fall prey to the “wolves . . . in sheep’s clothing,” Jesus warns, that entice us away from the hard road of the Gospel to their version of Easy Street (that is profitable for them, not necessarily for us); beware, Jesus says, of the “false prophets” who distract us from things of God for the shallow and vacuous.

Open our hearts, O God, to realize your love in our crowded lives and hear your Word of peace in our busy days. Do not let us become so obsessed with the quality of our lifestyles that we diminish the meaning and purpose of our lives.

THURSDAY of Week 12 in Ordinary Time

“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.”
Matthew 7: 21-29

There’s an expression in real estate: This house has good bones. It means that this house is built well -- the foundation is solid, the structure is strong. The place may have gone through a few renovations and style makeovers over the years, but the building itself is sound.

In the image of the solidly-build house, Jesus asks us to consider the “structure” of our own lives, how solid is the foundation of ethical and moral values by which we live our lives, how strong the framework and walls that protect us and those we love from the rain and heat and wind that beat down and on and through our homes and hearts. Our lives are more than the latest styles and colors and décor; our lives are the “bones” of God’s grace that makes our “houses” homes where God dwells with us in our love and welcome and ready forgiveness for one another.

Come, O God, and make your dwelling in our homes and hearts. May your justice be our home’s foundation, your peace be the roof, and your compassion be the frame of the homes we build and maintain for those our families and loved ones.

TUESDAY of Week 13 in Ordinary Time

“Lord, save us! We are perishing!”
Matthew 8: 23-27

Chances are today will be a stormy day – at some point today, in all probability, an unexpected gale will swell up and threaten to capsize your little boat as you navigate the shoals of everyday life.

Today’s Gospel reminds us that we are not alone in our life-boats. Christ – fully awake – is present to us in the values of our hearts, in the love and support of family and friends, in the wisdom of teachers and mentors and coaches. If we look, with determination and conviction, we can see his light in the midst of the dark and violence.

In the midst of the storms we encounter in our lives as parents and spouses, in our workplaces, in our classrooms, in our relationships and struggles, we can right our vessel and restore calm in our grasp of Jesus’ Gospel of justice and reconciliation.

Save us, O Lord, when our lives are battered by winds of conflict and tempests of change. May your word of peace and reconciliation calm the rising waters around us and enable us to navigate our vessels to the dwelling place of your Father.

FRIDAY of Week 13 in Ordinary Time

[Jesus] saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” 
Matthew 9: 9-13

As you are sitting at your desk preparing your sales presentation, Jesus calls to you, Follow me.

As you are feeding your baby, Jesus calls to you, Follow me.

As you and your friends are cruising the mall or shooting baskets after school, Jesus calls to you, Follow me.

Jesus calls us in the very busy-ness of our lives to follow him. The call to follow him is not a “pass” to walk away from family and responsibilities, but to consider how we can fulfill the many roles and work we do – as parents, as students, as friends, as business executives, as workers – in the Gospel spirit of justice, compassion and peace.

Christ Jesus, may we “follow you” in our homes, in our parishes, in our classrooms, in our own “customs posts.” Help us to live your Gospel of justice and reconciliation wherever our journey takes us, in every situation we confront, in every relationship with family and friends.

THURSDAY of Week 14 in Ordinary Time

“Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.”
Matthew 10: 7-1
5

In his first instructions to the Twelve as they set out to preach, Jesus sets the tone for their ministry: Pack light. No tipping. Always say thank you.

The work of the Gospel, Jesus says, is quite simple: What God has given us, we are to give to others. The blessings we have received we are to use to bless others. Simple – but hardly easy.

So discipleship begins with a sense of gratitude to God, a realization that God has blessed us with so much. Embracing such a spirit of gratitude in difficult economic times, in times of hurt and struggle, in times of abandonment and isolation, is not easy. But is the heart of faith: to know that we are loved by the God who created us and that that love is a reality in every moment we draw breath, and that we always live and move and find our being in that love.

May your Spirit of compassion and gratitude dwell within our hearts and homes, Lord Jesus, that we may bring your healing, your forgiveness, your peace to all you place in our lives.

FRIDAY of Week 14 in Ordinary Time

“When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
Matthew 10: 16-23

We have all heard that voice inside of us: the voice that prods us to do the right thing; the voice that we try to ignore when it pushes us into a direction we do not want to go; the voice that nudges us to be polite, to be kind, to ignore the slight, to forgive when we are just about to let the guilty party have it.

That voice, Jesus says, is the voice of the Spirit of God speaking to us in the depths of our hearts. That voice can be a struggle to hear or seem silent altogether when things are most difficult. But Jesus assures us – promises us — that when the demands on us are overwhelming, when the cost exacted of discipleship is too high, when our faith puts us on a collision course with the rest of the world, that voice of the Spirit will direct our consciences and illuminate the path we know we need to take.

The hard part is stopping long enough and paying attention enough to listen.

Speak, Lord, to our hearts and spirits your Word of wisdom, your Gospel of justice, your call to reconciliation and conversion. Quiet our noisy spirits and open our busy hearts to hear your Word of love and hope when we are least able but most in need to hear it.

TUESDAY of Week 15 in Ordinary Time

“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented in sackcloth and ashes.”
Matthew 11: 20-24

You meet a neighbor at the mall, and he remarks how helpful your daughter has been to his daughter who was struggling with chemistry. “Your daughter’s a great kid,” he says. You smile proudly – but you had no idea . . .

You get a card from a friend who has just gone through a difficult illness. She is very grateful for that afternoon you spent with her, visiting, playing cards, and reading to her. It was no big deal to you – but it meant a lot to her.

After a horrendous week at work, you decide to invite the family over Sunday night for a barbecue. Just as you are about to say grace, you look down the table and see the smiling faces of your children and grandchildren. The office suddenly seems like an alien planet. You realize how blessed you have been.

In the never-ending busy-ness of every day, we take for granted all the wonderful people in our lives; we don’t realize all the blessings we have received. The demands and expectations make on us numb us to the spirit of humble gratitude that Jesus calls us to embrace. That is exactly why Jesus condemns the villages of Chorazin and Bethsaida: Jesus had preached and healed many in those towns, yet they remained unaffected and unmoved by the compassion of God in their very midst. 

Look around your world today – and offer a prayer of thanks for something or someone who manifests the love of God in your midst.

Transform our hearts with gratitude, O God, that we may realize the many good things with which you have blessed our lives. Re-create us in joyful humility as we may celebrate your love in our midst in the love of our families and friends and in the compassion of those who minister to us and advocate for us.

WEDNESDAY of Week 15 in Ordinary Time

“I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and learned you have revealed them to the childlike.”
Mathew 11: 25-27

Have you ever taken a child to the circus or to the zoo? It’s a marvelous experience not only for the child but for adult. Kids see things with a sense of wonder and enthusiasm that finds joy in the simplest things and the beauty in what we “old folks” take for granted.

Children also have this uncanny ability to get to the hard of the matter. They can ask questions that make you doubt your grasp of what you thought was pretty clear and straightforward. They are happily unencumbered by the complexities of adulthood, blissfully unaware of the complexities of the real world. They approach things with an honesty and simplicity that cuts through our rationalizations and justifications to explain away the mess we adults have made of the world.

It is that “child-like” honesty and integrity Jesus asks us to embrace. Faith is not “childish” nor does faith pretend the world is a perfect fairy tale where everyone lives happily ever after; child-like faith is focused on people rather than things, seeks what is right and good above all other considerations, cuts through the complications we appeal to justify our self-centeredness.

May your Spirit, O God, lead us to child-like faith that seeks you first in all things. Do let us devise justifications and rationales for being less than the people of righteousness you have called us to be. Never let us forget that we are your children, called to be brothers and sisters to all your sons and daughters.

TUESDAY of Week 16 in Ordinary Time

“For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.”
Matthew 12: 46-50

Today’s Gospel asks us to think “bigger”:

Jesus asks us to have “bigger” tables – with enough room to make a place for one more.

Jesus asks us to keep “bigger” calendars – always with enough time for someone in need.

Jesus asks us to open our arms “bigger” – wide enough to embrace every one as our brothers and sisters in him, honoring one another as sons and daughters of God. 

Today’s Gospel should not be read as Jesus diminishing his own family but as Jesus asking us to embrace a “bigger” vision of family that recognizes the face of Christ in everyone, a “bigger” vision that honors every one as a child of God our Father, a “bigger” vision that sees our parish altar as a family table of brothers and sisters in Jesus, the Bread of Life.

Expand our vision and hearts, Lord Jesus, that we may see one another as members of your family and embrace one another as brothers and sisters under your Father’s providence. In following your Gospel of humble servanthood, may our family tables we places of welcome and peace for all who come to our door; may all be embraced in our compassion and understanding as you embrace us in your love.

SATURDAY of Week 16 in Ordinary Time

“No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest . . . ”
Matthew 13: 24-30

Yes, we good people live among a lot of “weeds.”

But we can be real “weeds” ourselves, too.

We are quick to point out the “weeds” that surround us and we make no secret of our willingness to uproot them and cast them into the fire. But sometimes we are the “weeds” who hurt others; our self-centeredness brings ruin to the garden we all share and undermine the harvest we all work for; our self-centered taking up all the air and water and nutrients of the soil leaves others in desperate poverty.

The Gospel challenges us to recognize our own weed-like behavior and to realize Jesus’ call to be wheat: wheat that becomes bread for all, wheat that feeds and supports others, wheat that selflessly gives of itself for the common harvest.

Lord, help us to be wheat for our hungry world. Do not let us live our lives as selfish weeds that take up and dominate, but may we embrace the example of wheat, giving of ourselves to become the bread of your compassion and peace.

MONDAY of Week 17 in Ordinary Time

“The Kingdom of heaven is like yeast . . . ”
Matthew 13: 31-35

There are things we do every day because we have to.

We all have a list of things we do every day, without fail. They just have to get done and we’re the only ones who can – or will – do them. After a while, we resent the time it takes to get these mundane tasks done.

But remembering that those tasks make good things possible for our families, that they bring happiness to others, that they bring hope and healing to those we care for, can transform those tasks into moments of love.

Such remembering is the “yeast” of the Gospel: the love than enables us to find joy in even the most mundane, most boring and dreariest work; love that makes our simplest, ordinary kindnesses expressions of Christ’s compassion; love that discovers life’s fulfillment in serving others as did Christ.

O God, may we create your Kingdom in our own time and place by becoming the “yeast” of compassion and reconciliation. Help us to make our simplest kindnesses and hidden acts of generosity and care the “bread” of peace in our midst.

TUESDAY of Week 17 in Ordinary Time

“Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age.”
Matthew 13: 36-43

We all have “weeds” in our lives that need to be uprooted. 

But we don’t have to wait until the final harvest to pull them up and burn those things that get in the way of our relationship with God, that have become obstacles to our relationships with family and friends, that have become distractions in living the lives we would like to live. 

Plowing under everything in our lives that are problematic is not very realistic. But today, “burn” a weed or two that takes up time and energy from your life. Pull up those distractions and expectations that prevent you from enjoying the happiness of family and friends or stop you from being a source of God’s compassion and peace to others.

May your Word that you have planted within us help us to realize the harvest of your justice and compassion that you have entrusted us to produce. Help us to recognize the “weeds” that undermine our lives; may your grace enable us to uproot them so that we may realize the fullness of your presence in our midst.