WHAT Did You Say?

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Daily Reflection – 12/3/2020

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to his disciples: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.”( Matthew 7:21, 24-27)

Reflection

Words have a powerful effect. They can build up, they can destroy. They can be truth, they can be false.

We all know it and we all have experienced it. Words dripping with honey but when we taste them, they are bitter. Words spoken in praise of God but there is nothing behind them. Words preaching equality for all while hiding the sour taste of actions that are anything but. Words spoken in Church which mask a life that denies the very meaning of Christianity.

Words that are not matched by action.

St Ignatius wrote that love is found in deeds rather than in words. Our action speaks far more volumes than our words. No matter how many times we go to our churches to worship God and as long as it is superficial it has no meaning. We can fall on our knees every day in prayer but as soon as we rise, our language and criticism of others and their actions bespeak the rage in our hearts. Jesus tells us that is the type of “house” which will be washed away. A true working faith is something that bears witness to Jesus long after we get up off our knees.

There is only one way in which a person’s sincerity can be proved, and that is by one’s practice. Fine words can never replace good deeds. Our character is revealed in the choices we make, especially when we are tested. Do you cheat on an exam or on your income taxes, especially when it will cost you?  Do you lie, or cover-up, when disclosing the truth will cause you injury or embarrassment? A true person is honest and reliable before God, one’s neighbor and oneself. 

Look around us today. Our society is deeply polarized. Words of faith are bandied about. Yet, vile characterizations are thrown out so easily that even the word “vitriol” pales. We can’t live there. We can’t retreat to our homes, falsely claiming that we can ignore it because it doesn’t affect us. It does affect and infect us. For ourselves and for our eternal lives, we MUST match our words with actions that speak of Christ.

Christian words spoken without Christ, without a relationship with Christ, without love for Jesus Christ are meaningless. Here is something we need to hold onto: It’s not what we do in the name of the Lord that matters; it’s what the Lord does in our life. When we step aside from our pride, our vanity, our pettiness and let His love open our hearts and build a foundation, then and only then will we know the peace of Christ. Then and only then have we built the foundations of our hearts on solid rock. Then and only then will be become truly Christian. Then and only then will our words and actions be in concert with His love.

Is your house of faith solidly anchored on the rock that is Jesus or is it still shakily planted in the sand?

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, give me the wisdom, foresight, and strength of character I need to do what is right and good and to reject whatever is false and contrary to your will. May I be a doer of your word and not a hearer only”.

Daily Note

To be a follower of Jesus means that behaviors and actions–the manner in which we live out our daily lives–are the artifacts of the inner life of faith. More to the point, mere words, performance of deeds, even miraculous ones done in the name of Jesus, or random deeds of mercy will not affect one’s eternal destiny. Religiosity will not help either. It’s only when our deeds driven by a Christ filled heart are matched by our hearts.

How Much Do You Love?

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Daily Reflection – 12/2/2020

Sacred Scripture

Moving on from there Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, went up on the mountain, and sat down there. Great crowds came to him, having with them the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute, and many others. They placed them at his feet, and he cured them. The crowds were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the deformed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind able to see, and they glorified the God of Israel. Jesus summoned his disciples and said, “My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, for they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, for fear they may collapse on the way.” The disciples said to him, “Where could we ever get enough bread in this deserted place to satisfy such a crowd?” Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” “Seven,” they replied, “and a few fish.” He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, gave thanks, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied. They picked up the fragments left over—seven baskets full. (Matthew 15:29-37)

Reflection

Today’s Gospel is one of the most memorable passages in sacred scripture. We have all heard and read it countless times. As I reflected on this scripture, time and again, I was drawn back to one word: “love.” Because love drove every element of this beautiful narrative and its message should teach us about the love that we are expected to use every day.

Let’s look at the crowd. They were a mix of the mute, the deaf and the ill; the lost and insane and ordinary citizens. They were carried and lifted up a steep hillside by so many people. People cared enough about them to make the effort to see this wonderous rabbi: Jesus Christ. The love of others helped to get them there.

Today, we see the same crowds. People feeling abandoned, depressed, physically and emotionally maimed. And not enough of us reach out in the type of love that Jesus expects of us. It’s not enough to give a few dollars, it’s not enough to visit an orphanage a couple of times a year, it’s not enough to help foster a helpful program. Are those good and necessary. Absolutely! But how soiled are our hands? How much are we really vested? How much do we feel the pain of those cut off?

Jesus did. Jesus knew each of their needs and, through his love, not only were they physically fed but they encountered, head on, the enormous love that the Son of God had for them.

And for you and me.

For you and me. The Lord of Life and Love knows our needs. He knows the deeper recesses of our mind. He waits for us to reach out but many of us don’t see the need. Many of us are content in whatever corner of the world we have carved out. Maybe we feel content about who and what we are. We pride ourselves on our self-sufficiency. But He knows what healing we need. Each of us is in need of healing. It may be physical or emotional. He is there. He awaits. We need to be open to Him and let and let his love surround us so that, refreshed, we can love Him by living Him.

Living Him means that we are expected to show up each day with charity – to bring others to His healing and transformation. We are asked to carry that stretcher up a hillside, to guide the blind who do not see Jesus Christ in their life, to touch the maimed with our love and let them know they matter. When his compassion and caring are freely and openly given in love of Him, we are opened to a new horizon and a glimpse of what lies ahead in our eternal life. That love exhibited in our life is what the path that leads to the eternal wedding banquet looks like.

We need to meet Jesus on that path of love for others. If we don’t, we may miss Him as he passes by.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, you alone can satisfy the longing and hunger in our hearts.  May I thirst for your kingdom and find joy in your presence. Give me the true bread of heaven and nourish me with your life-giving word.”

Daily Note

Love is not always very practical or convenient. Jesus’ heart is moved with compassion for all those who have sought him out. He knows the sacrifices that they have made in searching him out, and he is not going to leave them disappointed. The disciples saw only the practical problem, but in his charity towards his neighbor, Jesus all but ignores it. What can I learn from Christ’s attitude? Will I ever be let down or not be satisfied if I seek Christ with a sincere heart?

Time For The Building Blocks !!

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Daily Reflection – 12/1/2020

Sacred Scripture

At that very moment he rejoiced [in] the Holy Spirit and said, “I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.” Turning to the disciples in private he said, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.” (Luke 10:21-24)

Reflection

How sweet! How Joyful! How Tender!

In today’s Gospel passage we read of the joy of Jesus as He thanks His father in heaven for revealing to his disciples the wisdom and knowledge of God. In His prayer, we also learn how we can both know and experience God in our daily life.

It all begins with building blocks.

Did you ever watch a small boy play with blocks? He sees endless possibilities as the blocks are arranged and built into whatever his mind conceives. He plays with an endless determination and a quiet joy. During these moments there are no filters on his imagination. No one is telling him what to build. No one is even reminding him of what can and cannot be used. His mind is innocent and unfiltered. He plays with a quiet joy. He sees without pretense.

Why was Jesus so joyful because the Father “had hidden these things from the wise and the learned (and) revealed them to the childlike.” It was the simple people and the children who were able to see the kingdom of God among them. They are the ones Jesus felt close to. They see purely without pretense and acknowledge their dependence and trust in the one who is greater, wiser, and more trustworthy.

That simplicity of heart is coupled with humility because humility turns the heart towards grace and truth. Just as pride is the root or every sin and evil, so humility is the only soil in which the grace of God can take root.  It allows God to do all. A humble, meek heart opens itself to the need for prayer and opens itself to knowing God.

We need to imitate the resourceful little child who falls on the ground and then runs to his mother to be scooped up in a loving embrace. If we can remember our littleness on one hand and God’s pure, loving benevolence on the other, we’ll permit—even delight in—his wiping away from our faces the blood and tears caused by our sins. Only when we surrender ourselves into God’s forgiving, tender hands can we say that we know him.

A strong, independent, all resourceful attitude may feed the American ideal but it’s the small, dependent, open and trusting spirit that leads us to knowing God and receiving His love.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, give me the child-like simplicity and purity of faith to gaze upon your face with joy and confidence in your all-merciful love. Remove every doubt, fear, and proud thought which would hinder me from receiving your word with trust and humble submission.”

Daily Note

Children have a deeper sense of wonder, openness and trust. When the Father reveals Himself to children, I think He is saying that the truth, the Good News and mission is simple, uncomplicated and accessible to all of us.

Further, children are able to take in information and process it without changing its meaning, or checking their reaction to it. It seems the younger we are, the more comfortable we are being our natural selves. As we mature, we put up mental walls to protect ourselves. We change our behavior to please others in the hope that it saves us from strife.

If we could all try to be as natural as a child more often, perhaps we could clear the barriers and receive more of God’s grace.

Deep, Deep Inside

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Daily Reflection – 11/30/2020

Sacred Scripture

As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him. (Matthew 4: 18-22)

Reflection

The call of Jesus to his disciples is well known and marks the beginning of the Christian Church. But our understanding of “the call” may not be as appreciated as it is in our lives.

We begin with the very words themselves – “the call”. To many, that seems as if it exists where it should – in Sacred Scripture and to others. After all, many view a call as something that not only happened biblically but really happens in actuality to those who serve in ministry.

Or perhaps we tend to describe it in terms that are more “comforting.” A call to the medical profession. A call to parenthood. A call to science. A call to teaching and so on. But these contemporary terms disguise the true nature of THE call i.e. that is to answer the call of Jesus in our lives and to profess the importance of Jesus in all that we do. Because that is what a follower of Jesus is and does.

That happens when we go deep inside and listen to where our heart is. That happens when we go deep inside and ask ourselves the hard questions of who we are, what we do and WHY we do it. That happens when we go deep inside and are truly honest with ourselves about what we value in this life and beyond. Do we value this temporal world and its attractions or do we value an eternal life with Him?

Remember that no one of us starts out as an ideal disciple, but as we follow, our hearts will begin to change. What we are now isn’t an obstacle to what we can become— not to the Lord. He has had a vision for our life from the moment we were conceived. It’s a vision of fullness, not emptiness. It’s a vision in which every part of our personality—all of our talents, our character traits, and even our unique quirks—is filled with his life and is used to build his kingdom.

As we follow Jesus, our life is all about Him. It means we leave behind the life we might have had planned, that was centered around our self. Now the question of our life is no longer not what we want to do; it’s what He leads us to do. It’s no longer what we “feel” like doing; it’s what His word teaches you to do. Your life is not about what we can “achieve” here on earth, but what we store up in heaven.

The choice is to give our lives to Jesus, and follow him, or to try to live life on our own. It’s a choice between actively believing in Jesus or pas­sively accepting a kind of “default” life in which we just go along with the rest of the world.

We can only give our life one day at a time, though. We can only follow Jesus one step at a time. When Jesus called the disciples and they left everything and followed him, they did not know where the road would lead. But they took the decisive step away from their nets toward Jesus. I wonder what concrete step Jesus is asking you to take today? I wonder how you will leave the shallows and cast out into the deep, into the deep, deep love of Jesus?

Maybe, though, you feel all tangled up in your nets and that you can’t get free. You’re all tangled up and you’re gasping for breath. The good news is that Jesus wants to come to you and slowly disentangle you. The good news is that Jesus wants to come to you and liberate you so that you know the fullness of life.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, you have called me and continue to call me throughout this day. Help me to respond with love, a love that trumps all my other loves, likes and desires. I don’t want you to have to wait for me, Lord. Just show me what you want and give me the courage and generosity to give it to you, no matter the cost.”

Daily Note

Scripture reveals Jesus to us and the call he is giving us  They are showing us that he is not just a good man whose example we should follow; he is the holy Son of God who became man so we could become beloved sons and daughters of God. They also show us that he is not a God who tests our faith by making us suffer; he is the Lamb of God who laid down his life so that we could be transformed into his very image and likeness!

Hope Not Fear, Promise Not Despair

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Daily Reflection – 11/26/2020

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to his disciples: “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, know that its desolation is at hand. Then those in Judea must flee to the mountains. Let those within the city escape from it, and let those in the countryside not enter the city, for these days are the time of punishment when all the Scriptures are fulfilled. Woe to pregnant women and nursing mothers in those days, for a terrible calamity will come upon the earth and a wrathful judgment upon this people. They will fall by the edge of the sword and be taken as captives to all the Gentiles; and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.” (Luke 21:20-28)

Reflection

This is a prophecy of the end of times, a.k.a. the apocalypse, the Omega, Armageddon, the End Times, the promised return of Jesus to judge both the living and the dead.

But it is also a Gospel of promise and of hope . . . the last verse reminds us; “But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.”

The message was initially directed toward Christians in situations of crisis and meant to offer hope and comfort by placing their struggles in the larger story of Christ’s eventual triumph over evil and return in righteousness. These same words can apply to us, and so we should focus less on the specific descriptions and instead fasten our eyes on Jesus’ words of promise.

He commanded us not to fear, but live in hope No matter what may come, no matter how bad things may get, no matter how bleak the future may seem, Christ has promised to return for us and all creation.

We may not know the day or the hour when all this is to take place. No one has a map by which to read or predict the future. No one has a decoding key to explain current events in light of an apocalyptic timetable. But we do have this promise: that Christ will return to redeem us and all the world.

That promise is especially important in our world today. Around us wars are raging and people are suffering. In these troubled times, we must focus on the majesty, power, and love of Christ. Though the world may seem to be in turmoil, we can put our hope and trust in His. It’s part of the Christian DNA.

 The very heart of Christianity is inclusion and welcome and invitation. It is trust and contentment and hope that cannot be overtaken. It is serving and yielding and sacrificing. It is reaching out, not pointing fingers. It is offering words of praise not derision. It is seeking opportunities to build bridges, not to constantly tear down fences. Faithful following of Christ gives us the best assurance that our lives have meaning.

We look forward to the day of Jesus’ return in glory. We are called to help others prepare for that day and to be ready to greet it with confidence. On the last day we might regret many things, but we will never regret the things we did for Christ.  Until then, let us make our hope in the Son of God’s return burn brightly in our hearts, until the sky shines brightly with his glory. And he will say, “I forgive you. Welcome into paradise.”

Now, that’s more than a little hopefulness: that’s comfort, reassurance, glad tidings of great joy. “I forgive you. Welcome into paradise.”

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, fill me with gratitude for the gift of redemption and increase my hope and longing for your return again in glory. May that day bring joy to my heart rather than sorrow. Help me to serve you faithfully and to make the best use of my time now in the light of your coming again.”

Daily Note

For those who have tried to live by the vision and values of the Gospel, for those who have tried to seek and find Jesus in all the people and events of their lives, who have spent hours with Him in intimate dialogue, it is the time of their final liberation, a time when there will be no more sorrows, no more tears, no more hardships, no more disappointments. Rather, they will be entering an unbroken time of love and intimacy, of freedom and peace, of joy and consolation.

Swimming Upstream?

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Daily Reflection – 11/25/2020

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to the crowd: “They will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name. It will lead to your giving testimony. Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute. You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives.” (Luke 21:12-19)

Reflection

Today’s Gospel passage may seem bleak, or dark, or perhaps threatening. But the words of Jesus Christ are never that. In fact, in one sentence, he offers us everlasting hope.

The history of Christianity, is replete with the courage, faith and serenity of the early martyrs who, in the face of tortures and executions, were the proximate cause of the conversion of hundreds of thousands. So many conversions would ensue from their deaths that the early Christians coined a saying, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of [new] Christians.”

None of us here may have to suffer for Christ to the point of shedding our blood, but all of us have indeed been suffering to the shedding of tears. We may not have suffered in courtrooms or jails, but we have suffered at kitchen tables reading newspapers, in living rooms in front of television sets, in our work places, in our schools, in gyms, on the streets, even outside of some of our churches. We may not have sensed ourselves “hated by all” on account of our fidelity to Jesus and the Church He founded, but many us now know what being derided and despised because of our beliefs feels like.

The greatest temptation that faces any of us whenever we’re suffering, whenever we’re doing anything hard and challenging, is to give up. Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel the same message that Winston Churchill gave his countrymen during the height of World War II, when so many Brits were wondering if the fight against Nazi tyranny was worth it. He got up to the microphone and gave what many scholars say was the greatest speech of this famous orator’s whole life, eighteen words in all: “Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, give up. Never give up. Never give up. Never give up.” That’s the message Jesus gives us at the end of the Gospel: “by your perseverance, you will save your lives.”

Sometimes the greatest gift we can be given is that which is most difficult, because it fosters this virtue of perseverance. By remaining strong through the trials of life and by retaining hope, mercy and confidence in God, we will become victorious. This is such an important message. And it’s a message that is certainly easier said than done. But when difficult opportunities present themselves to us, we are able to live this

But we know from His words that He will be there with us no matter what, giving us “words and wisdom,” courage and grace to remain as faithful to Him to the end, as He has been and will be faithful to us to the end. When we base our lives on fidelity to Him who is faithful, we can weather any storm with confidence. St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “No trial has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it” (1Cor 10:13).

By his perseverance, he opened the gates of heaven. By our perseverance, we will enter those gates. Not a hair on our head will perish, because we will gain every strand back, gloriously, at the final resurrection. That is His promise!

Prayer of The Day

Lord Jesus, your grace and mercy abounds even in the midst of trials and difficulties. Help me to seek your kingdom first and to reject whatever would hinder me from pursuing your way of peace, righteousness, and holiness. Fill me with the joy and hope of your everlasting kingdom.

Daily Note

The Lord Jesus tells us that there will be trials, suffering, and persecution in this present age until he comes again at the end of the world. God intends our anticipation of his final judgment to be a powerful deterrent to unfaithfulness and wrongdoing. God extends grace and mercy to all who will heed his call and his warning

No Stone Unturned

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Daily Reflection – 11/24/2020

Sacred Scripture

While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, Jesus said, “All that you see here—the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.” Then they asked him, “Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?” He answered, “See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’ Do not follow them! When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end.” Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.”(Luke 21:5-11)

Reflection

The words of Jesus were startling to those around him. The temple of Jerusalem was not only immense and not only breathtaking in its opulence but it stood as a reminder of their relationship with God. The destruction of the Temple foretold change that was soul shattering and humans have an issue with change.

Then came 2020 and the pandemic exposed fissures in our society that were deep, ominous and life threatening. Change, not as we like it, was imposed upon us. Change, not as we like it, magnified the inequalities in our society. Change, not as we like it, shook at the fabric of our family life – sometimes through disease, sometimes through the body politic. The temples of our lives seemed destined to tumble and perhaps be destroyed.

When Jesus foretold how difficult their lives were going to be, it was as if he was telling us of the effect of the changes upon us. The people who first heard this story were afraid. Jesus doesn’t sidestep their fear, and he doesn’t fan it. He tells them the truth. You will be arrested. You will be persecuted. This is a time of trial in every sense of the word. And your job is this: testify, stand up, step up, speak out. Remember who you are and proclaim it. You are equipped for these times with wisdom and endurance and ultimately grace-you will gain your souls. And you will not be alone.

In Luke 21:15-19, Jesus assures his listeners and disciples: “For I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair on your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls” (Luke 21:15-19).

He was assuring and strengthening them and us by saying, “I’ve set my table right in the midst of all of this. It’s in these places of fear and loss and confusion and pain that I set my table and I am a guest among you.”

In power and poverty and privilege and in pain, even as we endure persecution and the pain and complexity of our modern world, these are the places where Jesus sets his table, where he grants us the words and wisdom of a Kingdom vision, that welcomes our neighbors and even our enemies–where Jesus comes to be our welcomed guest.

God extends grace and mercy to all who will heed his call and his warning. Do not pass up, even for one day, God’s invitation of grace and mercy to seek first his kingdom of righteousness and peace. This day may be our only chance before that final day comes.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, your grace and mercy abounds even in the midst of trails and difficulties. Help me to seek your kingdom first and to reject whatever would hinder me from pursuing your way of righteousness and holiness. Fill me with the joy and hope of your everlasting kingdom.”

Daily Note

Today we hear our Lord tell us that the Kingdom of God is near, and it’s coming with all its fullness. But until that moment comes, I think our Lord is more interested in having us see the significant signs to be seen here on earth, than the signs to be seen in the heavens … not the signs in the sun and the moon and the stars, but signs in you and me and all of us. We are not so much called to see the signs, but rather to be signs … signs of God’s kingdom in the here and now.

Adjusting Our Attitude

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Daily Reflection – 11/23/2020

Sacred Scripture

When Jesus looked up, he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins. He said, “I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.” (Luke 21:1-4)

Reflection

It’s easy to sum up this passage and move on. It certainly is not about where the decimal point is placed. But in the recognition that it is about quality rather than quantity lies a powerful lesson.

I know that you and I agree on the fact that the Lord knows all things and that includes everything about us. In Provers 15 we read that “The eyes of the Lord are in every place.” Nothing is too little to escape His observation. No act is too trifling to be noted down in the book of His remembrance. The same hand that formed the sun, moon, and stars, is the same hand that formed the tongue of the gnat and the wing of the fly with perfect wisdom. 

Our two givers in today’s Gospel passage are represented in light of their heart’s relationship to the Lord. The heart of the rich man is small and miserly, turned from the light of Christ toward the rusty glow of Mammon and enamored with the treasures he’s stored on earth. On the other hand, the heart of the widow is a queen of heaven, as it were, holding fast to her Lord and gazing with hope and confidence into his face.

God knows what we hold back and why. He also knows how much we sacrifice and the attitude which has prompted that sacrifice. All around us are people who are living for the Lord but who would seldom receive human recognition. Jesus, however, notices. He knows people’s hearts as they give and serve. Not one kindness we do in the name of Jesus and for the glory of the Kingdom will be forgotten. Not one sacrifice for the Savior will go unnoticed. He knows the truth behind our gifts and is blessed when they come from a generous, joyous, and sacrificial heart.

And there are those who use their religious practice as a means of drawing attention to themselves.  In itself, this does not negate the value of the act itself, but it diminishes the merit that one derives from it.  On the other hand, there are those, like this poor widow, for whom public acts of piety are a sincere expression of their deep faith and trust in God.

Our faith must be lived deeply, so deeply that it permeates every ounce of our life. Whenever we are living for Him there is no thought of how much of us it takes. There is no thought of what others might think of us. Nor is there any thought of what it might gain us in His eyes. We give because we believe. We give because our trust and faith in Him says that is the only way. We give because we truly want to try to contribute toward the building of His kingdom. We give because we are profoundly grateful for His presence in our lives.

We give because no matter what we do for Him is valued. Why? Because Christ looks at what a person is and not what a person has, Psalm 40:17 says it so well:  “I am poor and needy; but the Lord thinks upon me.”

How blessed are we to be in His gaze! How blessed are we to live in His love!

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, your love knows no bounds and you give without measure. All that I have comes from you. May I give freely and generously in gratitude for all that you have given to me. Take my life and all that I possess – my gifts, talents, time and resources – and use them as you see fit for your glory.”

Daily Note

These words teach us that Christ looks at something more than the mere amount of a person’s gifts in measuring their liberality. He looks at the proportion which their gifts bear to their property. He looks at the degree of self-denial which their giving entails upon them. He would have us know that some people appear to give much to religious purposes who in God’s sight give very little, and that some appear to give very little who in God’s sight give very much.

With-In and With-Out

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Daily Reflection – 11/20/2020

The very fact that this is the only incident in which Jesus Christ physically reacted in anger should underscore His message.

Jesus honors His Father’s house of prayer by cleansing it of unholy practices. Here, we see Jesus’ startling and swift action in cleansing the temple of those who were using it to exploit the worshipers of God. His reaction was emotional and harsh. With anger on his face and a whip on his hands, he drove the sellers and moneychangers out of the temple. Surely, it is unthinkable for many of us to see Jesus this way, which is far from what we know of him as forgiving, understanding and compassionate with the people around him. But can we blame him?

This passage reveals not only something that Jesus did long ago, it also reveals something that He desires to do today. He desires to root out all evil within the temple of our world, and He desires to root out all evil in the temple of our hearts. Each soul is a temple that should be set aside solely for the glory of God and the fulfillment of His holy will.

Our soul is a temple may be unusual terminology but it speaks to us about who we are. Our soul, our being, our life came from God, our Father. He created each of us to do good, to build bridges, to be a beacon of His light. More profoundly, each person who prays with a sincere devotion becomes the temple or house of God.

 But when the exterior act of attending a church to enter into communion with Him is subverted by the interior condition of our soul, our prayer becomes a hypocrisy.

The Lord wants to share his holiness with us. If we approach God’s word with a humble attentive heart and with a willingness to be taught by the Lord, then we are in a good place to allow God’s word to change and transform us in the likeness of Christ. The Lord wants to teach us his ways so that we may grow in holiness.

What is our answer? Are we willing to allow Jesus, our King, to reach into the broken places of soul? To see the places of regret, of shame, of hopelessness? .  The places where we, blocked you off from us? Are we willing to allow Jesus to march into those places today and turn over some tables? 

Jesus desires to bring about purification in many ways. He desires to purify the Church as a whole, each society and community, your own family and especially your own soul. Do not be afraid to let Jesus’ holy wrath work its power. Pray for purification on all levels and let Jesus accomplish His mission.

“Lord Jesus, you open wide the door of your house and you bid us to enter confidently that we may worship you in spirit and truth. Help me to draw near to you with gratitude and joy for your great mercy. May I always revere your word and give you acceptable praise and worship.”

Jesus is still teaching us up to this very minute. Teaching us how to properly live our lives, teaching us that life is not so much of material and intellectual accumulation. For Jesus life is service, life is humility, life is sacrifice, life is about simplicity.

Is there a template on how to properly live our life? Of course, there is and it’s no other than the life of Jesus himself. To live according to His life is the perfect life template, but would we dare to live the life of Jesus? Let us teach the life of Jesus by our way of life.

Do You Feel His Tears?

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Daily Reflection – 11/19/2020

Sacred Scripture

As Jesus drew near Jerusalem, he saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If this day you only knew what makes for peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. For the days are coming upon you when your enemies will raise a palisade against you; they will encircle you and hem you in on all sides. They will smash you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another within you because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” (Luke 19:41-44)

Reflection

Jesus weeping. There are a few times when Jesus displays the strongest of emotions; anger and sorrow in particular, and every time he does it is always when he is confronted with a lack of faith.

And in this Gospel passage, Jesus weeps over Jerusalem for the same reason. Jesus foresees his crucifixion, but even worse, he foresees that, despite his crucifixion, Jerusalem will not be spared. The forces that be, will still try to squash this new Church under their heel. The forces that be, will not be converted by the resurrection. And Jerusalem will be destroyed and the temple gone forever.

This has such a visible effect on him in that he sheds tears for the people of God, but they are not tears of self-pity. His divine heart longs for the salvation of all men and women past, present, and future, and he is revealing through his tears his Father’s love for every one of his children. He longs for all to be saved and to come into his glory!

Just as they were then, so they are now. He sheds tears for each of us when we stumble through our faith or, worse yet, we deny our faith.

There are so many around us who deny their faith. There are those who don’t have time for their faith. They are simply too busy to do the “God thing.” There are those who, for one reason or another, have used a personal tragedy or a failed opportunity to turn away from Christ. There are those who twist their faith to justify anger, hatred, lack of compassion. There are those who believe that their wrongdoings of the past disqualify them from God’s love and God’s forgiveness.

But just as a good cry has a cathartic effect on our minds and hearts, so too do the tears of Jesus weeping over us and around us. We live in a fractured world. We live in a world where so many try to do good but the world around us dulls the beauty of their actions and world. There is a shortage of faith in this world.

That shortage of faith also means that there are too many missed opportunities. Each of us knows that we don’t know the moment – the moment when we or those we love are called to leave this place. If that is so then why we do walk away from the extraordinary love that Jesus Christ has for each of us? Why do we lose the moment?

This moment could be the moment for you and for me. The moment when we stop in our tracks, fall to our knees and allow his tears to wash over us. To allow those tears to wash us clean. To allow those tears to embolden us to a new life – a new life marked by our actions. Actions that reflect the love and the life of Jesus Christ.

Jesus is right here, right now, knocking at the door of our hearts just as He did at the gates of Jerusalem. Will you let Him weep?

Or will you stand up and walk anew in His love. Emboldened to proclaim your faith in Him. Emboldened to truly stand up to injustice. Emboldened to decry evil in whatever form it exists and wherever it exists. Emboldened to recognize the dignity and equality of each person. Emboldened to stop twisting our interpretation of the words of Christ to justify our personal perspective and instead to follow the words of Christ. Follow them by living them right now. Emboldened to drop your political label and wear only one label – the label of a Christian.

In time, the Lord will take charge of this world. In time the Lord will sort out the wheat from the chaff. That time may be beyond yours and mine. But this world needs you and I washed clean by the tears of Jesus Christ and strengthened by His love to claim our place in this world and affect this world by living His words.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, you have visited and redeemed your people.   May I not miss the grace of your visitation today as you move to bring your people into greater righteousness and holiness of life. Purify my heart and mind that I may I understand your ways better and conform my life more fully to your will.”

Daily Note

God calls us to follow Jesus’ way of peace and love. That means we need to be willing to allow God’s Spirit to reveal to us, and convict us of, those places where we do violence to others through our passive aggression, gossip, character assassination, cutting words, and defensiveness. And we need to allow God’s Spirit to shift our gaze to our connections with others. As Richard Rohr says, “When we see our connection with others before emphasizing our differences, we will be much happier, and it will be a much happier world, too.”