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.

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.

TO ORDER: Connections DAILY is $60 per year . . . BUT current subscribers to the Connections Sunday newsletter are invited to take advantage of a special introductory offer: a one year subscription to the DAILY for only $50. 

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


A sampling of reflections from Connections DAILY . . .

TUESDAY of Week 33 in Ordinary Time

“Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.”
Luke 19: 1-10

If we found ourselves standing before the Lord as Zacchaeus does in today’s Gospel, what could we say to justify ourselves?  If we think about honestly and objectively, there’s probably a great deal each one of us could say: 

Lord, I’m raising two children and trying to teach them to live lives of generosity and integrity . . . Lord, I’m caring for a sick husband and, despite the hardship, he’s the most important thing in the world to me . . . Lord, I have made a mess out of my life but, with the help of family and friends, I’m working hard to put things back together . . . Lord, the joy of my life is the time I give to Big Brothers or the Alzheimer’s Association or the breast cancer awareness organization.

In our generosity, in our own efforts at reconciliation, in our stubborn insistence to find some reason to hope, “salvation comes to this house” of ours, that God has made a place for himself at our table.

We are all Zacchaeuses, struggling to live lives of purpose and meaning.  And just our willingness to struggle to do what is right is blessed by God.

Come and stay at our houses, O Lord.  May your salvation come to our homes and hearts, enabling us, in our simplest and everyday acts of compassion and justice, our hidden and common efforts to imitate your Gospel, to bring your reign into our time and place.

WEDNESDAY of Week 33 in Ordinary Time

“Sir, here is your gold coin; I kept it stored away in a handkerchief, for I was afraid of you, because you are a demanding man.”
Luke 19: 11-28

Have you had wanted to do something good for someone – but backed off?  An individual or family you know is going through a hard time and you think of something you can do to be of help – but you start to think that your idea is silly or that it might be misinterpreted or make little or no difference.  So you keep your distance.

We’ve all had that experience – we understand the plight of the servant who keeps the coin entrusted to him by his demanding master wrapped safely in a handkerchief: to risk the coin was unthinkable! 

No, Jesus says – take a chance!  God has given us any number of resources and talents that can accomplish many good and positive things in our world; every day offers new possibilities to bring transforming hope to others.  Risk it, Jesus says, risk it all – and you will realize even more than you thought.  Mistakes and failures happen – but God calls us, first, to faithfulness.

O God, you have entrusted us with your “coin” of reconciliation and justice not for to be hoarded for ourselves but to be invested in building of your kingdom.  Help us to risk what you have given us in order to create your kingdom within our lives and hearts.

TUESDAY of Week 34 in Ordinary Time

“All that you see here – the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.”
Luke 21: 5-11

Remember the things you cherished when you were a kid?  It might have been your collections of comic books or baseball cards, a favorite doll, games, photos.  They were the most important things in the world at the time – your world, at that time in your life.

But over time, the things that are most important things to us change as our world changes – and we change: doll houses give way to real houses, baseball cards are replaced by mortgages, story books become text books, the favorite toys of our childhood are put aside to take up the tools of our adult professions.  As our lives go on, things are replaced by much more valuable intangibles: love of family and friends, the satisfaction of doing what is right and just, the joy of bringing joy to others.

Jesus’ sobering words in today’s Gospel remind us of that reality.  Our happiness, our sense of completeness, our life’s fulfillment are not found in amassing things but in embracing the values of the heart – the things of God.

O God, Giver of all good things, help us to become rich in the things of the heart: compassion, mercy, forgiveness and peace.  May your voice lead us to the things of heaven; may your Spirit illuminate our journey to your dwelling place.

FRIDAY of Week 34 in Ordinary Time

“Consider the fig tree and all the other trees . . . ”
Luke 21: 29-33

Between now and the first day of winter, select a tree – a maple or oak near your house that you know will bud and blossom in the spring.

Let this tree be an “icon” for you, a place where you can go to pray in the winter ahead.

As Jesus suggests in today’s Gospel, trees are signs of God’s constant presence in our midst.  In the spring and summer, they give their all to produce their harvest of fruit and wood for our use; in the fall, their magnificent color seems a blessing from God for the produce they have provided; and in the winter, they quietly regenerate and take in water and nutrients in their roots in the deep earth. 

So select a “prayer tree” for yourself.  And when the winter becomes a little too cold, when the gray skies becomes too overwhelming, let your prayer tree help you through it, reminding you that the love of God is in your midst, that God’s promise of spring will be realized.

Help us, O Lord, to embrace the hope of the Gospel fig tree.  May we find always find reason to hope, to persevere, to move ahead even in the darkest winter days.  Let the trees of the wood inspire us to selfless and humble generosity and remind us of your promise that spring will come to every heart and spirit.

 

FRIDAY of the First Week of Advent

“Do you believe that I can do this?”
Matthew 9: 27-31

This is the season for “believing.”  Jesus’ question in response to the blind men’s request – Do you believe I can do this? – echoes throughout Advent:

Do we believe that Christ’s coming can transform our own little stables into God’s dwelling place?

Do we believe that we can be prophets of Christ’s coming – that we can transform, in our smallest, simplest acts of charity and justice, the barren deserts of our lives into thriving gardens of forgiveness, hope and support? 

Do we believe that “peace on earth” is possible in our complex, competitive, market-driven world?

We often wonder, at this time of year, if children still “believe”? 

Do we?

Open our eyes, O healing Christ, that we may believe again in your Word of peace and healing.  Open our hearts that we may bring the hope of your birth into every place and season.

SATURDAY of the First Week of Advent

“As you go, make this proclamation:  ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’  Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons.”
Matthew 9: 35 – 10: 1, 5a, 6-8

Could you buy an extra gift for someone this Christmas?  There are many charities and social service agencies that welcome gifts, including toys, books and clothing, to help make Christmas a little brighter and merrier for someone.

So add an extra gift to your shopping list.  Select a gift thoughtfully, deliberately (check with the charities and agencies first – they usually have suggestions and are aware of specific needs you can provide for).  But, as you shop, try to see the person who will be receiving your gift; imagine what his or her days are like, their struggle to make the pieces of their lives fit, the despair and fear that part of their day-to-day existence.  Put as much time and thought into that gift as you put into a gift for your spouse or child or loved one. 

Then do one more thing.  Take the receipt for the gift and put in an envelope.  Then place the envelope on your Christmas tree, or near the family manger scene, or on your family table.  Make that person who will receive your gift – whom you will never meet or know – a part of your Christmas celebration.  Include them in the prayers you offer in joy for the coming of the Christ.  In your generosity and prayer, you can make God’s kingdom a reality for them.

O healing Lord, help us to realize this Advent our own “authority” to bring healing and hope to others.  By our own hidden and unremarkable efforts to live your Gospel of humble generosity, may we “drive out” the demons of despair, raise up the fallen and stumbling, and restore the lost and abandoned to hope in the coming of your kingdom.

TUESDAY of the Second Week of Advent

Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God.  Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her service is at an end, her guilt is expiated.
Isaiah 40: 1-11

Give comfort . . . speak tenderly . . . fear not . . .

In today’s first reading, God’s speaks through the prophet Isaiah, calling Israel to be the voice of his compassion and his hands of healing and compassion to one another.

Take up that call yourself today.  Be God’s prophet of compassion and peace for someone who is hurting.  Speak tenderly to someone in crisis or who is hurting, assuring them of your help and support.  Give comfort to someone in pain, in crisis, in doubt; mirror God’s peace to the suffering, the fearful and the doubting, help them see the presence of God in their lives.

Sometime today you will have the opportunity to be the voice of God’s comfort, peace, love.

So please speak up.

O God of compassion, unloosen our lips and open our hearts that we may speak your word of hope and compassion to all in our lives.  In the understanding and consolation we extend, may others hear your word of peace and be held in your loving embrace.

WEDNESDAY of the Second Week of Advent

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Matthew 11: 28-30

Rest?  At this time of year!  Easy?  Have you seen my list of things to do between now and Christmas?!  Burden?!  The decorating, the shopping, the cooking, the cards, the mailing.  How can you even suggest we slow down, let alone “rest”!  We’re in full Christmas mode here!

Actually, this is the best time of the year to remind ourselves that Christ calls us to “rest” in him: to catch our breath, to clear our eyes to see what is important, to unplug the Jingle Bell machine and connect with the peace that is uniquely Christmas.

Easier said than done, of course.  But make time to embrace the true holiness, the “stillness” of this season.  Make room in these busy days to “rest,” to “unburden,” to soak in the peace of Christmas, to let our souls drink the cool water of the spring that is Christ, to embrace what God says to us in the quiet of our hearts.

May we find rest in you, Lord Jesus.  Help us to approach the expectations of these busy days in the spirit of your humble and meek heart, that we may celebrate your birth with wonder at your great love present in our midst.

TUESDAY of the Third Week of Advent

I will leave as a remnant in your midst a people humble and lowly, who shall take refuge in the name of the LORD.
Zephaniah 3: 1-2, 9-13

The remnant – that small group of faithful souls who maintain, in a broken world, their hope and trust in God’s Word, who keep their eyes on God through the darkness enveloping them. 

Despite the violence and persecution around them, Zephaniah’s remnant carries on in God’s spirit of compassion and peace, continues to trust in God’s ways of reconciliation and justice.  The remnant, with humility and selflessness, reveals the generosity and kindness of God’s presence in the midst of life’s darkest, messiest moments.

We are part of this remnant.  God calls us in this Advent to be that bright – if small and hardly seen – shard of light illuminating the winter darkness with hope and joy.

Make us part of your remnant, O God.  Let your presence assure us when things seem hopeless; let your light illuminate our most dangerous paths.  May our most hidden acts of generosity and most humble works of justice be a stone in the building of your kingdom.

DECEMBER 17

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
Matthew 1: 1-17

Getting together, being re-united with family, is one of the most wonderful aspects of this season.  During the holidays, most of us celebrate the great blessing our parents, children, brothers and sisters and extended family.  At Christmas we re-connect with those who came before us, with those who raised us and taught us, with those who made us the individuals we are and enabled us to grow and establish meaningful and fulfilling lives – and now, we try to do the same for those who come after us.  We cherish throughout the year the photos and letters we exchange and the videos we record this season.  In those images and letters, we realize how blessed we have been by God.

Today’s Gospel is Jesus’ “family album,” of sorts.  Matthew begins his Gospel story with a genealogy of Jesus’ ancestors.  His list includes desert nomads and kings, shepherds and farmers, craftsmen and peasants, saints and sinners, men and women.

And that “list” includes all of us — and our children and grandchildren and their children and grandchildren.  In God, we are connected to one another – and through one another, we are connected to God.  We are embraced in the love of God that gives birth to all of creation; we are made whole in the love of God that takes on our humanity in a little cave in Bethlehem.  In God’s love, we become family.

God of all times and seasons, you reveal your love in and to every generation; your presence blesses us in every loving, nurturing friendship.  As we have experienced your generous and healing love within our own families, may we be vessels of that love for those who follow us; may our friendships with others be the means for building a lasting and loving relationship with you, the Source of all that is good and loving.  

DECEMBER 19

. . . Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this?  For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.”
Luke 1: 5-25

We all have our Zechariah moments when things just seem impossible, out of sync with our expectations, unreasonable and absurd.  How can God expect me – me?! – to be able to do this?  Me – incompetent, talentless, sinful little me!

Yet God calls every one of us – Zechariahs all – to bring his justice and mercy to birth in our own time and place.  Sometimes we need a Gabriel to remind us not to worry or be afraid, to put aside our doubts and fears and allow ourselves to hope, to realize the possibilities, to embrace God’s grace despite ourselves. 

As Zechariah learns, sometimes it’s a matter of being quiet and doing the hard work of hope.

Help us, O Lord, to put aside the fears and doubts that prevent us from bringing your compassion and peace to birth in our own homes and stables.  Still our spirits, quiet our hearts, so that we may always find reason to hope and believe that reconciliation and love are always possible, despite our doubts and cynicism.


DECEMBER 21

Elizabeth cried out in a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.  And how does this happen that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”
Luke 1: 39-45

Elizabeth is one of the remarkable figures of the Gospel.  Mary’s “going in haste” to be with her indicates the love and esteem she held for her elder cousin.

Elizabeth seems to be everyone’s “big sister” and “godmother” in her family.  Mary goes to be with her during what had to be a difficult pregnancy for the older woman – but Mary undoubtedly sought Elizabeth’s wisdom and experience to help the teenager sort out the incredible, inexplicable thing that was happening to her.  Elizabeth’s greeting “most blessed are you among women” is one of affirmation and comfort to her young cousin.

Elizabeth possesses the depth of faith to see God’s hand in all of this — and the courage and trust to welcome it.  Her ability to recognize the holy in her midst enables her to support Mary in her young cousin’s most traumatic hour; it gives her the strength to bear the physical pain of bearing a child at her own advanced age.  As must have been the case in all of her life, the wise Elizabeth sees God in yet another difficult and confusing moment in her life.

This Christmas, let us be grateful for the Elizabeths in our own families, those who by their generosity of heart, joyfulness of spirit, and wisdom of years help us realize God’s presence in our midst.

O God, we thank you for the Elizabeths of our own families, who are sources of love, wisdom and support for all the members of our families.  Bless them with the happiness and grace that they give to us; hold them in your loving embrace as they hold each member of our family in theirs.

DECEMBER 27

St. John, apostle and evangelist

Mary Magdalene ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we do not know where they put him.” 
John 20: 1a, 2-8

If you were to compose your own version of the life of Jesus, what would you write?  What stories of Jesus, what wonders that he worked, what details of his life and death – and resurrection – would you include?

The very idea of trying to write a Gospel is too daunting a challenge to take seriously.

But we do write the Gospel.  Our lives are – or should be – the Gospel.  The values we live, the moral lessons we teach our children, the ethical code by which we conduct our lives, are our retelling of the Gospel.  The hope we cling to, the justice we fight for, the peace we seek to create in our homes and communities is the story of Jesus in our midst.

On this third day of the Christmas season, we celebrate the feast of the writer of the Fourth Gospel.  John was one of Jesus’ closest friends and intimates and witnessed many of the events and people he chronicles in his story of Jesus. As we remember John and the beautiful Gospel he wrote, let us remember that we too are Gospel writers, that the love we give and receive, the forgiveness we seek and extend, the kindness we offer and are blessed to receive, all proclaim in a language more beautiful than words the Gospel of Jesus, the Word made flesh who dwells among us.

Write your Gospel on our hearts, O God, and give our spirits voice to proclaim it as we seek to imitate the humble compassion and selfless servanthood of your Christ.  Let even our simplest, most ordinary acts of generosity and comfort mirror your Word who lives in our midst as the Risen One.

DECEMBER 30

There was a prophetess, Anna . . . advanced in years [who] never left the temple, but worshipped night and day with fasting and prayer.  And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.
Luke 2: 36-40

Anna lives right here in our own parish and community.  She is the elderly woman who struggles to come to church every day or prays every morning in her room.  She keeps a list of all the people she prays for: the granddaughter who just gave birth to her first great-child, the son and daughter-in-law who are going through a difficult time in their relationship, the grandson off to his first year of college, the neighbor about to undergo surgery.  She has a kind word for everyone she meets.  She radiates kindness and graciousness.

Most families have an Anna: the grandmother (or grandfather, for that matter) or great aunt (or uncle) who has become a model of kindness and a source of wisdom for the family and who, with compassion and care, provides a listening heart and loving counsel to all who come to her. 

So let us give thanks today for the Anna’s in our families and parish.  And let us pray that we may become Anna’s for the people of love, that we may help them realize the presence of God in their midst.

O God, we thank you for the Anna’s in our lives whose prayer and presence among us reveal your love among us.  Open our hearts to receive your Son into our homes and hearts with joyful gratitude.  May his presence in our lives enable us to become, like Anna, prophets of your justice and mercy and ministers of your compassion and peace.