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Reflection on the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Posted on October 22, 2023, by Eileen Custy SL

“Render unto God what is God’s and to Caesar what is Caesar’s.”

As a child I remember thinking about God as an old man – a grandfather though I didn’t know any of my grandfathers – with a long beard sitting on a throne dealing out gifts and punishments. I knew God loved me but at the same time I was afraid of God – what would happen if I did something bad? As a result, my first confession was a terrifying experience. A little girl in front of me turned around and said “Sister, she is crying.” I couldn’t stop. Neither Sister Francetta nor my sister were able to console me, and I was the very last to go into the terrible dark box to receive my punishment for my bad deeds. I have never liked going to confession since. Thank God I’ve been changed in my thinking along the way so here is what I think about this God of ours today:

In a pretty free paraphrasing of Isaiah, we hear, “I am God and there is no other, there is no God besides me. I am the Holy One, the source of all love. I have called you by your name.”

Who is this God who calls God’s self “I am. I am who I am” that sacred name: Yahweh. Mystery! Source of all life. Love energy penetrating all living things and driving the evolution of all of creation. Author of a universe or perhaps several universes so vast, that the human mind cannot possibly grasp their enormity. New revelations about the intricacies of life just on this planet are revealed every day. Our earth and universe form one enormous mass of relationships starting from the smallest of particles to the farthest galaxy. Each cell communicating with its neighbor(s). Hydrogen and oxygen cells uniting to form water, water bringing life to all living things. Imagine the two tiny cells uniting to form you, a unique human being like no other! As important for us: everything in nature is in relationship with something else! 

O God, send us your Spirit to teach us, we, who have the intelligence to make a choice, how to live in relationship to others in the same way the rest of nature lives. And you say, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!” “Love one another as I have loved you.” We need that message in the chaotic world in which we are living right now.

Eleanor Craig recently sent a description of the traditional ways of the Clatsop-Nehalem Confederated Tribes. The people in our world today would do well to listen to our indigenous ancestors. I don’t want to quote all of them but here are a few pertinent statements from their list of traditional ways:

  • We work cooperatively together for the good of all people.
  • All natural things are our brothers and sisters. They have things to teach us if we are aware and listen.
  • Our older children look after their younger brothers and sisters.
  • We honor the old ones for their wisdom. They are not cast aside but continue to hold a place of honor in our families and communities.
  • Our way is giving and sharing. If someone is greedy, they will lose everything in the end. We honor a person for what they’ve done for the people, not for what they’ve done for themselves. 

These days I say to myself, “Just relax – God is love and that is all you need to know – the rest is pure mystery, and you’re never going to figure it out even if it is fun to try. Just rest in that love.” 

There is one more lesson to be learned, this one is from Thessalonians, again I am paraphrasing: “Brothers and sisters, each one loved by God, we give thanks to God always for all of you, calling to mind your work of faith and labor of love and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ, knowing how you were chosen for our Gospel did not come to you in word alone, but you were empowered by the Holy Spirit.”

A couple of weeks ago in a prayer I referred to this Sunday morning prayer group as a house church like those gatherings described in the Acts of the Apostles. We can’t share a meal or conversation in the way they did but we have become a faith community. We choose to be together, to be with each other in spirit. We have attached ourselves to one another through prayer and gather with our mysterious God speaking to us through Jesus and each other. Like nature itself, we have formed a relationship.

As we go about our separate lives this week, let us pray for each other, being grateful for the many gifts each of us has and giving thanks for each other. We have an opportunity that many people long for – let us treasure it. And remember: Give to this mysterious God what God gives to us, simply love, for God, for nature, for people and ourselves.


Eileen Custy SL

Eileen Custy was born and raised on a dairy outside of Denver and attended a one-room schoolhouse for her first eight years. After a year of college at Loretto Heights, she joined the Sisters of Loretto. In spite of the fact that she thought at that time she never wanted to be a teacher, she loved the work and taught for 46 years. Most of those years were spent in El Paso, Texas. Eileen “retired” in 2004 and moved to Kentucky, where she served as an administrative assistant to the Motherhouse Coordinator for nearly 20 years before retiring in November 2023. Eileen continues to serve the Motherhouse Community, particularly pastorally.