Daily Reflection for Monday February 15, 2021
Peace and Blessings, Friends and Parishioners,
We encourage you to reflect on Monday’s readings at this link:
If you prefer to use your own Bible, the readings are:
First Reading: Genesis 4:1-15, 25
Responsorial: Psalm 50:1, 8, 16-17, 20-21
Gospel: Mark 8:11-13
Our reflection on Monday’s readings:
“The Lord asked Cain, ‘Where is your brother Abel?’ Cain answered, ‘I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?’” Genesis 4:9
Years ago, I helped form Small Church Communities (SCCs) at St. Monica. The mission of SCCs is to bring people together to connect their faith to what is happening in their lives. We spent time discussing a 1995 essay called “Bowling Alone,” written by Robert Putnam and expanded into a book in 2000. Putnam argued that the social frameworks that once held us together have crumbled. Americans spend more time bowling, but they are bowling alone.
Ideally, SCCs are a source of a kind of “social capital.” Groups are supported by the parish and led by scripture and Catholic teaching to notice God working in their lives. The goal is not to create isolated admiration societies of faithful people, though SCCs usually become places of deep support and belonging. When rooted in relationship, trust, and led by the Holy Spirit, SCC members will be awakened and driven into the world to help and engage with others. Not only others, but The Other … the people in our communities and social circles that differ from us, challenge us, and are difficult for us to understand. Knowing The Other is critical to knowing God.
In the 20 plus years since I was introduced to the “bowling alone” metaphor, the United States has become more divided. We surround ourselves with like-minded thinkers and turn away from ideas that challenge our beliefs. As the gulf between us widens, more and more people feel alienated and alone. We cease relating to each other as brothers and sisters of Christ.
I am my brother’s keeper. If I don’t make an effort to connect with people and understand ideas that differ from my own, I am complicit in creating the hostile atmosphere that inevitably results. Most of us prefer avoiding conflict, but occasionally we need to challenge ourselves to reflect on tough issues together because we won’t grow and learn if we don’t. If people of faith aren’t able to engage in civil conversations, who can? If we don’t allow God to bring us together, we will continue to be torn apart.
Today I pray for openness of heart and mind. When temptation urges me to hide with my tribe and push The Other away, I ask God to soften me and give me the courage and wisdom to respond with gentle understanding.
May God’s Peace Be with You,