The State of Oklahoma has paused its executions until May 2023. This is hopeful news as it indicates that the state is not only looking over its method of execution but also allowing more time for appeals to be filed and reviewed. Members of the state legislature who still support the death penalty have expressed concern over the possibility of executing innocent persons. This is a step forward.
There are many simple, mundane little jobs we do every day. Why not make those jobs more than chores? I say we should add a little prayerfulness and stir well. Here are some examples, but we all can add or subtract ideas.
LAUNDRY. As I sort these clothes, O Lord, help me to learn to discern better what things in my life need to be sorted through carefully and, maybe, made better. I am grateful for those favorite clothing items that I enjoy wearing, but as I spray and treat small stains on my clothing, may I resolve to work to remove any habits that sully my relationship with you, my Lord. When I fold and put the clean clothes away, may the Holy Spirit help me to order my life and feel a sense of peace.
DISHES. Lord, I am thankful for the food that has been on these dishes and in these cups. You have been so generous, Lord, and I don’t always remember to say grace before or after meals.
I think of the cup of wine at the Last Supper that you passed to your apostles after you changed the wine into your blood. You are such a generous Lord, sharing and giving your Body and Blood to us as divine nourishment. May I hold you close and let your love spill out to others.
COOKING. Lord, I remember your feeding so many followers with just five loaves of bread and a couple of fish. I remember the account of your having breakfast waiting for your apostles when they had finished fishing. Preparing meals is not just about food. Help me to remember that love, care, and camaraderie can be there as well. Bon appetit!
SWEEPING. Not only am I cleaning and clearing the way for my family and friends, but I am clearing the way for you to work in my life today, Lord. With your help, I will avoid those pesky little temptations that get in my way, and I will use my precious time to spread happiness and love—even in simple, little ways. I will endeavor not to sweep difficult decisions under the rug, but rather to ask the Holy Spirit for inspiration and wisdom.
MAKING THE BED. Good day, Lord! Thank you for comfortable sleep which gives me time to rest and reset. I remember that your infant bed was a manger, and I assume that as you walked various places in your public ministry, you did not have a soft, well-made bed on which to sleep. Help me never to take my comfort for granted. Enlighten me that I may use my well-rested self to bring comfort and consolation to your other children.
There are so many kinds of leftovers, some good, and some not so good. With big and busy holidays, for example, there are often various amounts of leftover foods from the specially planned feasts. How long do the turkey remnants last in your refrigerator? Are there crumbly samples of many different cookies left over from the workplace cookie exchange? Was that big casserole too overwhelming to finish at one sitting?
For the most part, I like leftovers when it comes to food. Leftovers can mean I don’t have to plan a meal or bake something new. Often leftovers even taste better the next day. Sure, many meals of “repeats” can get to be too much, but from my experience, that does not happen very often.
Let’s get out of the realm of leftover foods. How about leftover laughter? What fun it is to recall a humorous incident or a funny joke and chuckle again to yourself. How about meeting a friend with whom you had shared a silly experience, and when your eyes meet, burst into laughter again?
There are treasured memories—-leftover thoughts—that linger with us for years. We joyfully recall life experiences with family members and friends who have moved away or passed away. We might remember and savor first-time happenings or last-time moments. We may love to rehash happy occasions or holy spiritual highs. Not long ago, we read in Sacred Scripture that after the shepherds visited the newborn Jesus,
Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. (Luke 2:19)
Of course, certain memories may be sad or punctuated with grief but remain part of our “leftovers repertoire.” Perhaps some thoughts that pop into our minds can involve resentment. I have heard of families that deal with leftover resentment or grudges for years. Nothing good comes from unforgiveness. Grudges should be discarded as if they were moldy aged food leftovers. The time with which each of us has been blessed should be used for producing and fostering positive, loving, and fruitful relationships and memories. We should pay attention to what St. Paul advises in Philippians 4:8:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just,
whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any
excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
I encourage all of us to be very careful which leftovers of any sort we carry with us this year. Making a resolution to invite the Holy Spirit into each day of our lives—and keeping that resolution—is a good ingredient for future promising leftovers!
Have you noticed that we can look at something and not really see it? Either our attention isn’t well focused, or we are distracted by preconceived ideas or hesitations. The Holy Spirit can help us see better in many circumstances. I suggest that we visit my word-beach and collect some “see-shalls”.
Those who see beyond themselves and their own agendas and spend their time and creativity loving others shall be surprisingly rewarded.
Those who honestly see the error in some of their thoughts, words, or deeds, and work to correct their bad choices shall find renewal and refreshment with the Holy Spirit’s help.
Those who, with clear eyesight, see the equality of all God’s children—our brothers and sisters—and treat everyone fairly shall share the joy of new friendships and freedoms.
Those who see the importance of not dwelling in the past but making the most of the present shall experience new confidence and a stronger trust in our loving Father, God.
Those who humbly see their brothers’ and sisters’ need for forgiveness and willingly offer it shall receive forgiveness themselves and peacefully enjoy reconciliation with the Lord.
Lent is an ideal time to remember how Jesus forgives sinners. Below are six “medi-stations” based on gospel accounts wherein Jesus forgave sinners publicly.
1. Jesus forgives a paralytic. In Mark’s Gospel (2:1-12), we read of a paralytic who was brought to Jesus for physical healing. After four companions lowered the man from an opening in the roof. Jesus first said, “Son, your sins are forgiven” (v. 5). Jesus teaches about priorities. Certainly, it is important to be able to walk; but having one’s sins forgiven is even more important. How are my priorities this Lent? Should I walk on over to the Sacrament of Reconciliation? The all-powerful, all-loving Jesus will give us a clean bill of spiritual health if we ask for it in faithful prayer.
Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. (Psalm 32:1-2)
2. Jesus forgives a woman caught in adultery. In John’s Gospel (7:53-8:1-11), Jesus says he will not condemn an adulteress and cautions her not to sin again. Jesus had just told the people watching, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (v. 7). Am I quick to judge other people? Have I ever considered sharing with others little strategies I have used to help me refrain from some sinful behavior? Helping can be better than criticizing.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the guilt of my sin. (Psalm 32:5)
3. Jesus says salvation has come to the house of Zacchaeus. Jesus says salvation has come to the house of Zacchaeus. In Luke’s Gospel (19:1-10), Jesus tells Zacchaeus that salvation has come to his house and that the lost has been saved. Zacchaeus was inspired by Jesus to atone and make reparations for all his sins as the chief tax collector in Jericho. He did not just climb a tree but also climbed out of his sinful ways of extortion. At times, I might feel that my sinful habits are too hard to overcome; but if I invite Jesus to stay at my house and help me to be persistent in prayer, I can be hopeful and willingly keep trying.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit. (Psalm 51:10-12)