Daily Reflection for January 6, 2020
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: 1 John 3:22-4:6
Responsorial: Psalm 2:7-8, 10-12
Gospel: Matthew 4:12-17, 23-25
Our reflection on Monday’s readings:
“We belong to God, and anyone who knows God listens to us, while anyone who does not belong to God refuses to hear us. This is how we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of deceit.” 1 John 4:6
When I returned to reflection writing in 2018, it was because my friend Don Cooney was sick and unable to write his twice-monthly reflections. It was presented as a temporary, substitute assignment, but I knew that Don was unlikely to return. He died on my birthday that year, and I have continued to “fill in” for him ever since.
Don and I had a holy, spiritual connection. I didn’t know his children, never dined at his house or met him for coffee. We didn’t socialize outside of church. In this way, we knew only the best parts of each other. He was an unwavering cheerleader. When I took a brief sabbatical from writing, he asked me every time we were together when I would write again. I teased that he was the only one who saw my absence as a loss.
Don belongs entirely to God now, but his kind, holy spirit continues to be a strong presence in my life. Don was a holy listener; he saw God in me when I was unable to see it in myself. We prayed with and for each other and I was better because of it.
When Don wrote about today’s readings in 2016, he described the Ignatian practice of the discernment of spirits. Ignatius taught that when one is motivated by good spirits, he/she will feel a sense of peace, joy, and love—a sense of consolation. When one is moved by evil spirits, there is a sense of desolation: confusion, doubt, or disgust indicate a decision that has drawn one away from God.
In the Quaker tradition, Friends may assemble a clearness committee to aid in discernment. In this prayerful process, trusted people who know God help an individual identify whether she is being motivated by a spirit of truth or a spirit of deceit.
I have never asked for help from a clearness committee, but I have an informal team of “God listeners” whom I trust to help me see the way that leads me closer to God and to avoid choices that pull me away from Him. I miss Don’s physical presence in my life, but he remains a vital presence in my connection to God—a distant, but still booming cheerleader and prayer buddy.
As you make decisions today (large or small ones), pause to notice whether you are feeling a sense of consolation or desolation. Consider who might be on your team of God listeners and enlist their help in determining a path that leads you closer to God’s truth in your life.
May God’s Peace Be With You,