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 $60 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 . . .

Week 32 in Ordinary Time

WEDNESDAY 32

“Ten [lepers] were cleansed, were they not?  Where are the other nine?”
Luke 17: 11-19

Years ago, a man and woman made a sizable contribution to their church to honor the memory of their son who was killed in the war.

When the pastor announced the generous donation, a woman whispered to her husband, “Let’s give the same amount for our boy!”

“What are you talking about?” her husband asked.  “Our son wasn't killed.”

“That's exactly why we should make the gift,” his wise spouse responded.

For men and women of faith, gratitude is an awareness that should be reflected in every moment of our lives.  Like the Samaritan leper in today's Gospel, we come to realize that we have been “cured” despite the challenges we face, that our blessings far outweigh our struggles, that we have reason to rejoice and hope despite the sadness and anxieties we must cope with. 

For the disciple of Jesus, gratitude is a constant, a perspective and attitude that give joy to every moment and experience of our lives. 

Make us a people of thanksgiving, O God.  May we always be aware of your many blessings to us, especially in times of difficulty and despair, in experiences of loss and pain.  May we embrace a perspective of humble gratitude, enabling us to give thanks for your many gifts to us by sharing those gifts with all our brothers and sisters in need.

THURSDAY 32

“For behold the kingdom of God is among you.”
Luke 17: 20-25

At the end of a busy day, a mom who has not stopped since six that morning, puts her little boy to bed, snuggling up with him before he falls asleep, listening to his prayers, and reading his favorite story to him.  The kingdom of God is among you.

After a full week of classes, projects and part-time jobs, a group of college students spend their Saturday mornings at the community center serving as tutors, coaches and mentors to kids at risk.  The kingdom of God is among you.

Officially “retired,” he spends the better part of his days running errands for the housebound, making Meals-on-Wheels deliveries, and taking care of any number of things for his children and grandchildren.  The kingdom of God is among you.

Jesus’ words to the Pharisees are addressed to us and every generation of disciples:  The kingdom of God is not only to be found in eternity but in our own time and place, in every act of compassion, in every moment of forgiveness, in every attempt to imitate the mercy and justice of God.  Watch and listen today – the kingdom of God is among us.
 
Open our eyes and hearts to behold your kingdom in our midst, O God of all goodness – and may your Spirit animate us, as well, that we, too, may set about the work of building your kingdom of joy, charity and peace.

FRIDAY 32

“Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses it will save it.”
Luke 17: 26-37

Anne Lamott, in her wonderful book Plan B: Further Thought on Faith, reflects on finding God in the noise and busyness of our lives:

“It’s magic to see Spirit, because it’s so rare.  Mostly you see the masks and holograms that the culture presents as real.  You see how you’re doing in the world’s eyes, or your family’s, or – worst of all – yours, or in the eyes of people who are doing better than you – much better than you – or worse.  But you are not your bank account, or your ambition.  You’re not the cold clay lump you leave behind when you die.  You’re not your collection of walking personality disorders.  You are Spirit, you are love, and even though it is hard to believe sometimes, you are free.  You’re to love, and be loved, freely.  If you find out next week that you are terminally ill – and we’re all terminally ill on this bus – what will matter are memories of beauty, that people love you, and that you loved them.”

It’s so easy – especially at this time of the year – to get caught up in the busyness of life that we lose sight of exactly why we are alive in the first place.  As Anne Lamott says so beautifully, we are driven not by the things of the world but by the Spirit of God – the Spirit we encounter in the many everyday epiphanies of God’s love and peace in our families and community and parish.

So today close the accounting ledgers a little early; carve out a little “free time” in your calendar. 

And the let the Spirit drive.

Fill our empty spirits, O God, with a sense of gratitude for the wonders of your love around us.  Help us to let go of our baseless fears and unimportant wants in order that our hearts may be embraced and, in turn, embrace others in your compassion and peace.

Week 33 in Ordinary Time

TUESDAY 33

“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 33

“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.

SATURDAY 33

“ . . . they are the children of God because they will are the ones who will rise.”
Luke 20: 27-40

We are now at the end of gray November.  The branches of the trees are bare, the last leaves have been gathered up, the garden beds have been covered.  Daylight is more precious; the sky has taken on the dark cast of winter.  Our focus is on winter.

But the gardeners among us are always looking ahead to the spring planting season.  They may be starting seedlings indoors; a few weeks ago they buried the bulbs that will be the first flowers of spring.  In gray November, the earth begins its winter rest -- but will rise again in the spring.  Gardeners know.

In today’s Gospel Jesus is speaking to a group of Sadducees mired in November grayness.  The outrageous hypothetical situation they conjure up for Jesus comes out of their own cynicism and hopelessness regarding Jewish belief in the resurrection of the just – a belief that Jesus has spoken of regarding his own fate.  They are so caught in a cynical winter frame-of-mind that they cannot embrace the hope and promise of springtime resurrection. 

Let’s not allow ourselves to get trapped in the same gray November mindset, but to always remember Jesus’ promise that spring will come when we can rise from our tombs of grief, hurt and cynicism.

O Risen Christ, may we embrace the promise of your resurrection in every moment of our lives.  Re-create the grayness of our souls into an awareness of your constant presence in our midst; transform our cynical exhaustion that grips our winter spirits so that we may realize the potential we have to bring your kingdom into this place and time of ours.

Week 34 in Ordinary Time

MONDAY 34

“ . . . this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.”
Luke 21: 1-4

We underestimate the power of the widow’s pennies:  They are the kind words that lift us up; they are the time a friend gives to listen as we vent our frustrations; they are the help we receive with our homework. 

Each one of us, as well, has our own supply of the widow’s pennies to give.  The power of the widow’s pennies comes from the fact that they are not extra.  We’ve worked hard for them and we need every one of them – but by God’s grace we give them not because we can spare them but precisely because we can’t spare them.  The widow’s penny is the time we don’t have but give anyway, the few dollars we need to get through our day, the kindness and help we are in no mood to give.

The real value of the widow’s mite is in the love we possess that enables us to give them away – and the faith that our few pennies can do great things in the reign of God.

May we possess the generosity of heart and the spirit of faith of the widow, O God.  May we be always ready to give, to heal, to comfort, to lift up; may we give readily from our own poverty, despite our own needs, grateful that the few pennies we are able to give can make a difference in the life of another.

TUESDAY 34

“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 34

“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.