Leaving the Ducks Behind

First Reading: Ecclesiastes 1:2-11

Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth,
vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!
What profit has man from all the labor
which he toils at under the sun?
One generation passes and another comes,
but the world forever stays.
The sun rises and the sun goes down;
then it presses on to the place where it rises.
Blowing now toward the south, then toward the north,
the wind turns again and again, resuming its rounds.
All rivers go to the sea,
yet never does the sea become full.
To the place where they go,
the rivers keep on going.
All speech is labored;
there is nothing one can say.
The eye is not satisfied with seeing
nor is the ear satisfied with hearing.

What has been, that will be;
what has been done, that will be done.
Nothing is new under the sun.
Even the thing of which we say, “See, this is new!”
has already existed in the ages that preceded us.
There is no remembrance of the men of old;
nor of those to come will there be any remembrance
among those who come after them.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14 AND 17BC

R. (1) In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
You turn man back to dust,
saying, “Return, O children of men.”
For a thousand years in your sight
are as yesterday, now that it is past,
or as a watch of the night.
R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
You make an end of them in their sleep;
the next morning they are like the changing grass,
Which at dawn springs up anew,
but by evening wilts and fades.
R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain wisdom of heart.
Return, O LORD! How long?
Have pity on your servants!
R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.
Fill us at daybreak with your kindness,
that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days.
Prosper the work of our hands for us!
Prosper the work of our hands!
R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.

Gospel: Luke 9:7-9

Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening,
and he was greatly perplexed because some were saying,
“John has been raised from the dead”;
others were saying, “Elijah has appeared”;
still others, “One of the ancient prophets has arisen.”
But Herod said, “John I beheaded.
Who then is this about whom I hear such things?”
And he kept trying to see him.



Our thoughts are so important.

The Church offers us powerful readings today to remind us just how important they are. That famous “vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!” reading stings, doesn’t it? It stings me a bit.

In the Gospel, we meet the complex, confused character of Herod who was so fascinated with Saint John the Baptist. He is still disturbed by the saintly man he had murdered. And Herod seems similarly intrigued by Jesus of Nazareth because he kept trying to see him.

What haunting words.

Herod, for all his evil acts, kept trying to see him.

What do I hope to see? What do I look for in my day-to-day life? What do I long to see when I look at others?

Our thoughts are so important.

The readings today help us to call a duck a duck. Do you know this saying? “If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck . . . it’s a duck!”

If it’s a duck, or a vanity, leave it. Continue to spend your day looking for Christ. If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck . . . leave it alone. Don’t chase ducks. We’re about building the Kingdom of God. Most of you are building the domestic Kingdom of God. High-five. Just wear your woman-cap, mom-cape, or in my case, sister-head-cape and leave the duck (or vanity)!

The founder of the my religious order, the Daughters of Saint Paul, Blessed James Alberione, gave us lots of different flavors of what I call ‘Spiritual Red Bull.’ They are powerful spiritual practices that launch us way beyond the ducks, the unessential vanities of life, and into the heart of the mysticism of the Saints.

Here are some practical tips inspired by Blessed James Alberione and today’s Gospel:

1) When I am feeling overwhelmed, upset, or in any way unsettled, I stop to call a duck a duck.
2) Next I make an act of faith (leave the duck). “Lord you are huge. You are my Protector, Provider, and Savior. You are bigger than this, so I give it to you.”
3) Then I repeat some powerful short prayer, like:
Jesus, I trust in you.
Your love is enough for me.
or like my sisters you can pray, Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus, make us Saints!

As I seek Jesus in my day-to-day life, I discover He has been looking for me all along. The heart of the spiritual life is allowing Love to look at me and for me to remain. Right. Here. In His Love.

The heart of the spiritual life is allowing Love to look at me. Click To Tweet

Lord Jesus, help me to seek Your face at every moment of my real (and often hectic) life. Help me to allow myself to be seen by You at every moment. You are my home. May Our Blessed Mother help me to seek you. May she help me know that in You all will be well. I love you. Amen.

photo credit

Sister Maria Kim Bui is a Daughter of Saint Paul, women religious dedicated to evangelization in and through the media. She is originally from Tempe, AZ, spent most of her fourteen years in religious life in the northeast, and is part of a bilingual evangelization team of sisters serving in Texas. Find out more about her here.

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