Daily Reflection
February 17th, 2000
Maureen McCann Waldron
The Collaborative Ministry Office
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James 2:1-9
Psalms 34:2-7
Mark 8:27-33

“You are not judging by God’s standards but by man’s!”
                                                                                                     Mark 8:33

Several years ago, a group of American attorneys and judges went on a religious retreat to the Dominican Republic.  Part of the retreat included being hosted in the homes of families in remote mountain villages, where English was as scarce as electricity or running water.

Before they left the United States, the group spent time in prayer and various preparations, including translating helpful phrases into Spanish so they could communicate with their host families.  How would they explain in Spanish their occupations?  How could they explain the various levels of judges in the complex American legal system?  Would the word “magistrate” be a better word to help their host families understand?

Once there, they were overwhelmed with love and kindness, and an incredible generosity and sharing on the part of their hosts.  They were honored guests in these homes and special meals were cooked over humble stoves, fueled only by sticks.  Love and affection was showered on them as they were welcomed completely into these families with whom they could barely communicate.

It was only later that they realized they never had a chance to try out one part of their well-practiced Spanish.  No one had asked them, “Where do you work?” or “What do you do?”  Their prominent positions in the United States meant nothing to these simple people who loved and cared for them not because of who they were but simply because they were.

Perhaps that is the same lesson Jesus gives us in today’s gospel when he urges us to live and think by his standards, not those of the world in which we live.  The trappings we surround ourselves with and the honors and titles we collect as if they are some kind of protection from the world are not God’s world, but ours.  It’s not that these things we have in our lives are bad -- rather it’s the strong attachments we sometimes feel for them or the ways we can use them to replace relationships in our lives.

When Jesus asks the apostles who they say he is and they tell him they believe he is the Messiah, he “strictly orders them not to tell anyone.”  Was that because he didn’t want anyone else to know or because he knew they really didn’t ‘get it.’  Maybe they were still looking for the Messiah who would save them from any sufferings and surround them with glory and riches.

Jesus isn’t here to take us away from suffering and pain but to enter into the reality of the pain and suffering we face as humans.  He stays with us in the difficulties.  His Kingdom isn’t one of detachment from the world but of being a part of the world with us, in all of its joys and sorrows. 

Dear Lord, you ask me who I say you are.  You are the one who saves me from my sin and death's power to overwhelm me.  Thank you for all you are in my life and for the strength you give me to be a part of this world.  May I not prevent you from going to Jerusalem for me.  May I not hesitate to enter into the mystery of life with you.

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