Praying Not Asking

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Daily Reflection – 7/2/2020

Sacred Scripture

He entered a boat, made the crossing, and came into his own town. And there people brought to him a paralytic lying on a stretcher. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.” At that, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said, “Why do you harbor evil thoughts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic, “Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.” He rose and went home. When the crowds saw this they were struck with awe and glorified God who had given such authority to human beings.( Matthew 9:1-8)

Reflection

These eight lines of scripture reveal much to us about Jesus Christ, about human friendship and, most of all, about praying in faith.

For the Jews, an illness such as paralysis was a punishment from God for sin. Notice that Jesus does not at first say, ‘pick up your mat and walk’ but He says, ‘your sins are forgiven’. Christ’s power to forgive and to heal is a focal point of this story. Jesus, after speaking to the Scribes, says to them, “But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,” then He said to the paralytic, “Get up, pick up your bed, and go home.”  And he got up and he went home. 

Here Jesus demonstrates His authority and His power.   Here He evidences His deity.  He evidences who He is.  He is explicitly making a truth claim here.  In other instances, He was doing other things when He did miracles, but in this instance, He is specifically making a claim, He says, “I am doing this that you may know that I have the power to forgive sins.”  He is pressing home a claim of truth upon these scribes, and upon all those who are present.

The friends of the paralytic teach us about the strength of faith. They journeyed with the friend to a place that Jesus was and fully expected that He would heal their friend. They did not ask, they did not plead, they did not engage in a quid pro quo. Instead they simply brought their friend and fully expected that Jesus Christ would heal their friend. They believed, they understood, they acted on their belief.

And that brings us to intercessory prayer. His friends brought  the paralyzed man to Jesus to see what Jesus could do, not to ask for what they want or hope.  Their prayer is complete trust in God’s will.  Lord do you see what we see in this suffering man?   What is Your will Lord?

Many people wonder how to pray and for what they should pray.  This Gospel lesson teaches us one aspect of prayer – just present the names of those you care about to God.  Let God decide what they need.  You don’t have to ask for anything, just care about others and offer them up to God in prayer. 

Prayer isn’t necessarily about you knowing everything you need to say and knowing how to say it perfectly.  It is you placing before God those you care about, asking God to consider them.  In as much as God is love, let God decide what to do with those for whom we pray.  Don’t tell God what to do, ask God to note those you are concerned about.  In this way we can pray for everyone whether we think they deserve mercy or judgment – place them all in God’s hands and then let God do God’s own will!

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, through your merciful love and forgiveness you bring healing and restoration to body, soul, and mind. May your healing power and love touch every area of my life — my innermost thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and memories. Pardon my offences and transform me in the power of your Holy Spirit that I may walk confidently in your truth and righteousness.”

Daily Note

Great men, no matter how great they are, don’t go around forgiving people’s sins.  It’s an amazing thing, isn’t it, when Christ walks up to another man, a man who He has never met before, and suddenly says, “I forgive your sins.”  If I  did that, people would think that I was  just a few bricks short of a load.  The Lord Jesus walks up to this man and says, “You’re forgiven.”  Great prophets, great moral teachers, philosophers, they don’t do things like that.  Only the sinless Son of God walks up to people and says, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’  How blessed are we by Him.

The Darkness In Our Lives

My Reflections...: Reflection for Wednesday July 4, Thirteenth ...
Daily Reflection – 7/1/2020

Sacred Scripture

When Jesus came to the territory of the Gadarenes, two demoniacs who were coming from the tombs met him. They were so savage that no one could travel by that road. They cried out, “What have you to do with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the appointed time?” Some distance away a herd of many swine was feeding. The demons pleaded with him, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of swine.” And he said to them, “Go then!” They came out and entered the swine, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea where they drowned. The swineherds ran away, and when they came to the town they reported everything, including what had happened to the demoniacs. Thereupon the whole town came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him they begged him to leave their district. (Matthew 8:28-34)

Reflection

What? The evil in my life? I know no evil. I shook my head sadly when I had that conversation. It came from a good Christian. A person who attended Church, studied scripture, took advantage of the sacraments, by all outward signs, led a good life. There was simply disbelief on his part that he contributed to evil.

The sad truth is that each of us does. Evil exists around us because we allow it to exist. When we see evil and do not confront it. When we see evil and offer a prayer while we go on our way leaving it to someone else to do battle with it. Each of these times and more, we give it freedom to dwell around us and in doing so to dwell in us.

The danger is that we give freedom for the Evil One to have an influence in our life. As it stays with us it also slowly but surely controls our thoughts and actions.

But all is not lost if we know and have faith in Jesus and if we try to live His teachings in every moment of our life, the Evil One will run away from us, evil or anything that is evil will have no place anymore in our value system and in our life.

Jesus took pity on these men who were overtaken by a legion of evil spirits. The destructive force of these demons is evident for all who can see as they flee and destroy a herd of swine. After Jesus freed the demoniacs the whole city came out to meet him. No one had demonstrated such power and authority against the forces of Satan as Jesus did.

Jesus is ready and willing to free us from anything that binds us and that keeps us from the love of God. The risen Lord’s life-giving power at work in our lives is stronger than the forces in our world which dehumanize and damage. That is why we need always to be people of hope. The Lord at work among us and through us can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, in the words of Saint Paul. We need to open ourselves to the Lord’s presence so that he can work through us. In contrast to the townspeople in the gospel reading who asked the Lord to leave the neighborhood, we invite the Lord to use us as his instruments in his healing and life-giving work.

Prayer of The Day

“Jesus, you have the power to make all things new, including the way I think and act. Come and shine your light on my life to show me where I am missing the freedom you offer me.”

Daily Note

God’s word reminds us that no destructive force can keep anyone from the peace and safety which God offers to those who seek his help. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand; but it will not come near you. . . Because you have made the Lord your refuge, the Most High your habitation (Psalm 91:7,9).

Weathering Life’s Storms

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Daily Reflection – 6/30/2020

Sacred Scripture

As Jesus got into a boat, his disciples followed him. Suddenly a violent storm came up on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by waves; but he was asleep. They came and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” He said to them, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?” Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm. The men were amazed and said, “What sort of man is this, whom even the winds and the sea obey?” (Matthew 8:23-27)

Reflection

There is not one of us who has not faced major storms in our life. How we weather those storms is a test of our faith and how we live our lives.

In today’s Gospel, it wasn’t the waves that woke Jesus but rather the cries of his disciples. He wasn’t upset because they woke him. What upset Jesus was their weak faith. They had no trouble believing in Jesus when the sun was out and the lake was calm. But their poverty of faith led them to not trust in him enough to know that he would take care of them even in face of a violent, life-threatening, storm.

Fear is part of all of us. We are fragile creatures at the mercy of the elements. We think that we are in control and we do everything we can to maintain the illusion of coping and managing our circumstances. But there are times when we panic, when we can no longer cope, when we feel that we are drowning. We come to the end of ourselves and we cry out: “Lord, save us!”

You can have faith as little as a mustard seed, but it can accomplish great things if you are willing to use it in moments of danger. Consider the storm in your life, whatever it is: physical, emotional, financial, or relational; whatever the difficulty is that you face, how can you exercise the faith that you have, whether little or great? Too often, the tendency is to worry about everything that has brought us to this point. We blame ourselves for not taking better care of ourselves or those we love or we review all the poor decisions that we or our loved ones have made. We focus on ourselves and our earthly circumstances. When we do that, we are feeding our fears. This is the opposite of faith. We are not looking to the greatness of God and his provision for our life. We are acting as though it all depends on us, and that we have to take care of everything. The waves are sweeping over our boat and we fear we are going to drown. But we are not alone. Jesus is always in the boat with us.

Faith is trust in a great God and  dependence on a loving and caring God. Faith is a personal relationship with God who has revealed himself to us in Jesus. Faith is the realization that the Lord is with us always. Faith is believing that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength. Faith is believing that Jesus can calm the storm. Even the winds and the waves obey Jesus. He is the Lord of nature. There is no storm that is beyond his control. He is with us in the storm, through the storm and after the storm. He has experienced the pain of betrayal, the pain of physical suffering, the pain of bearing the sins of the world, the pain of aloneness, the despair of rejection, the terrors of hell. There is no depth he has not plunged. When we think that we are sinking we must believe that he is underneath us to hold us up .“Underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deut.33:27). When storms arise in our lives and fears chill our hearts Jesus is there to preserve us. We have to trust that he will bring us through to safety.

Whenever we encounter trouble, the Lord is there with the same reassuring message: “It is I, do not be afraid”.

Prayer of The Day

Lord, may I always recognize your abiding presence with me.  And in times of trouble or fear may I find courage and strength to respond as you would. Help me to rely upon you in all circumstances and to trust in your help both in adversity and in temptation”.

Daily Note

I am always likely to face storms as I move on in the small boat of my life. These storms test my faith. The lesser the faith, the greater the fear. This miracle of Jesus indicates that he can calm the storms in me. I cannot expect the sea to be calm always, but I can ask Jesus to calm the storms always: the storms within and the storms without. So, whenever I find myself doubting how far I can go, Jesus insists me to look back and remember how far I have come. I remember all the battles I have won and all the fears I have overcome with his constant help.

Answering The Ultimate Question

My Reflections...: Reflection for June 29, Saturday: Solemnity of ...
Daily Reflection – 6/29/2020

Sacred Scripture

When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (Matthew 16:13-19)

Reflection

It is easy for the Apostles to answer for others when Christ asks “Who do people say that the son of man is?”  They give their responses freely and willingly with great zeal and eagerness to please the Lord.  However, Christ’s next question: “Who do you say that I am?” seems to silence the group.  Instead, they turn to Peter, their leader, for a response.

Peter responds: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”  Peter comes into himself by acknowledging the role that God played in his life. 

Eventually, all of us must answer this question for ourselves.  Who is Jesus for us?  We can stay surface level or we can venture deeper, as Peter did when He allowed the answer to come from within.  Peter had a lot of courage answering the way he did.  Peter’s answer was personal and that is exactly how we need to answer this question.  Only the Holy Spirit, who fills us with Grace and Divine knowledge, can reveal to the depths of our beings who Jesus is for each of us.  

How do you respond to such a personalized question?  Because God works in our lives in very personal ways, we must answer this question very personally and intimately with him.

How long have you been in your relationship with God, and do you really know him on a personal level?  Do you know how he works specifically with you in your life?  How does he communicate with you? 

What does God’s voice sound like in your life? 

We are able to recognize the speech patterns and inflections of the voices of our loved ones.  We are able to hear their voice and know who they are without seeing their face. Can we do this with God? 

If you truly want to complete the introspection, then there is one other question that deserves answering:  What do those closest to us think about us? Do they consider us true followers of Christ? Do they see us as persons of integrity, worthy of emulation? Only when those closest to us know us as persons of integrity can we begin to hope that they will in fact be willing to acquire the values that we strive to teach them and that they will allow us to lead them further along the road.

What is far more important however than what our family and friends think is what God thinks. The final question that we must ask ourselves then is what God says about us. Can God really look at us and say this is my child in whom I am well pleased?

Prayer of The Day

All powerful and ever-loving God, we thank you for letting us know that You are our Father and that Jesus your Son is our Redeemer. Help us to so live that we will be known as your children. Help us in our words and actions to reveal your compassionate and loving face to the world, so that in all countries and in all cultures. You may be known and accepted by all Our Father.

Daily Note

May we come to know Jesus, in whatever special way He has planned for us, and discover each day the answer to that big question, “But, who do you say I am?”   

The Power of His Touch

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Daily Reflection – 6/26/2020

Sacred Scripture

When Jesus came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. And then a leper approached, did him homage, and said, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” He stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I will do it. Be made clean.” His leprosy was cleansed immediately. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you tell no one, but go show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.” (Matthew 8:1-4)

Reflection

Normally a leper would be stoned or at least warded off if he tried to come near a rabbi. Jesus not only grants the man his request, but he demonstrates the personal love, compassion, and tenderness of God in his physical touch. The medical knowledge of his day would have regarded such contact as grave risk for incurring infection.  Jesus met the man’s misery with compassion and tender kindness.  He communicated the love and mercy of God in a sign that spoke more eloquently than words.  He touched the man and made him clean — not only physically but spiritually as well.

By cleansing the leper, He restored this man’s entire life to him. He was living as an outcast, separated from the community; his leprosy, in a sense, took everything from him. But he had faith in Jesus and presented himself to the care and mercy of God. The result was that he was made whole and restored to full health.

Jesus often would tell those who were healed to tell no one. One reason for this was that Jesus’ acts of love and mercy were not done for His own benefit, rather, they were done out of love. Jesus loved this leper and wanted to offer Him this precious gift of healing.

The parallel to our lives is joyfully obvious. Jesus healed the leper out of compassion and, in return, only wanted the man’s gratitude. He did not need to make this a public spectacle.

The same is true with us. We need to know that God loves us so much that He wants to lift our heavy burdens and heal our weaknesses simply because He loves us. He doesn’t do it first because it will benefit Him, rather, He does it out of love for us.

The very nature of an act of love and compassion is such that it should be done simply out of love. In fact, doing something loving and compassionate that is not noticed by anyone helps us grow in love and compassion. It purifies our intentions and enables us to love for love’s sake.

His love is simply more powerful than any person’s sin, no matter how grave. He is not afraid to be associated with sinners or to touch lepers. It was this same love that moved the Word to become “flesh and dwell among us” (John 1:14). By taking our human nature to himself he “stretched out his hand and touched us.” When we give Jesus our sins he nails them to the cross — and it is precisely at the cross that we discover two things: the true nature of our sin and the infinite love the prompts Jesus to touch us.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, may I grow in love of others and express that love in a pure way. May I never be motivated by a desire for vain praise. Jesus, I trust in You.” 

Daily Note

Sin knocks at the door of our lives, but thanks to Jesus we do not have to continue in it. When Jesus heals us, he also gives us the strength (grace) to stay healthy. He heals us so that we may freely walk with him and imitate him in our lives. But do I want to leave aside all my sin? What former leper would ever wish to return to his leprosy? Ultimately it is the heart that must be made clean by way of constant prayer, the sacraments and a genuine effort to do what we know is pleasing to God.

It’s Always Been About The Foundation

My Reflections...: Reflection for Thursday June 28, Memorial of ...

Daily Reflection – 6/25/2020

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. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’ Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’ 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.” When Jesus finished these words, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.( Matthew 7:21-29)

Reflection

If you have ever experienced a crisis in your life, then you can certainly relate to today’s gospel.  Many people have experienced an episode in their lives when it seemed like everything was falling apart.  Sometimes our lives actually do fall apart because of the death of a spouse, a divorce, the loss of a child, family member or friend.  Most of us can recall at least one experience in our lives that was absolutely heartbreaking and perhaps our lives underwent a major change because of it.  It wasn’t easy, was it?

Jesus talks about the storms in our lives in today’s gospel: The meaning of this verse in the gospel seems pretty simple.  Our faith in God is the bedrock of our lives.  We can handle whatever life throws at us, as long as we are firmly grounded in our faith in God.

The kind of foundation we build our lives upon will determine whether we can survive the storms that are sure to come. It takes foresight to know how a foundation will stand up against adverse conditions.  Building a house on a flood plain, such as a dry river-bed, is a sure bet for disaster!  Jesus prefaced his story with a warning: We may fool humans with our speech, but God cannot be deceived.  He sees the heart as it truly is — with its motives, intentions, desires, and choices (Psalm 139:2).

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 must choose between what is true or false, and good or evil.  We must be active, living Christians every day of our lives. We know this, not on the authority of any saint or Apostle, but on the authority of Christ himself.

Nominal Christianity will get no one to heaven, he tells us. Only those who have led their daily lives, according to the rules he laid down, will hear the welcome words on his judgment day: “come you blessed of my Father, possess the kingdom prepared for you.” The rules he laid down were summarized by Christ in another place: “Love of God and love of neighbor, on these two commandments stand the whole law and the prophets too” (Mt. 22: 34-40).

The love of neighbor may be the harder of the two. We have so many reasons for loving God, for thanking and adoring him. But the neighbor, who often seems so unworthy of our charitable help, who is so often ungrateful, how difficult it is for weak nature to continue being kind and helpful to him! Yet it is by our true love of neighbor that we prove our love for God, as St. John tells us, when he says: “Anyone who says ‘I love God’ and hates his brother is a liar” (1 Jn. 4: 20). This is strong but true language.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, you are the only foundation that can hold us up when trials and disaster threaten us. 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

A true person is honest and reliable before God, neighbor, and oneself. Such a person’s word can be taken as trustworthy. What can keep us from falsehood and disaster?  If we make the Lord and his word the rock and foundation of our lives, then nothing can shake us or keep us from God’s presence and help.

What’s In A Name ?

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Daily Reflection – 6/24/2020

Sacred Scripture

When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her. When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said in reply, “No. He will be called John.” But they answered her, “There is no one among your relatives who has this name.” So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called. He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,” and all were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God. Then fear came upon all their neighbors, and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea. All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, “What, then, will this child be?” For surely the hand of the Lord was with him. The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel.( Luke 1:57-66, 80)

Reflection

The Orthodox churches around the world reserve this day to celebrate the birth of John the Baptist. We call him the Baptist. Eastern Christians call him the Forerunner.

While only Luke’s gospel tells us of the marvelous circumstances surrounding his birth,  each of the four gospels tells us of his essential work in preparing the way for Jesus. And well he did . . . to the point of diminishing himself. And John found joy in this.  “My joy is now full.  He must increase and I must decrease.”

John the Baptist was joyful because he was humble.  In fact, he shows us the true nature of this virtue.  Humility is not beating up on yourself, denying that you have any gifts, talents, or importance. The humble person does not sheepishly look down on himself.  Actually, he does not look at himself at all.  He looks away from himself to the Lord.

At one time or another, every human being battles a nagging sense of inadequacy. Pride is sin’s approach to dealing with this.  Proud people are preoccupied with self, seeing all others as competitors.  The proud perpetually exalt themselves over others in hopes that this will provide a sense of worth and inner peace.  Of course, it doesn’t.  Human history has proven that time and time again. Pride always comes before the fall, as it did in the Garden of Eden.

Recognizing that our dignity and self-worth is a gift from God relieves us from this stressful burden.  Freed from the blinding compulsion to dominate, we can feel a sense of satisfaction when others recognize that God is God and honor him as such.  We can even be free to recognize God in someone else and rejoice when others notice and honor God’s goodness this person.

Each of us bears another name . . . Christian..  At baptism, you were also signed with the name of the Holy Trinity, and so God’s name is upon you.  God has therefore claimed you for His own and desires to bless you as His child.  For if God has given you His name, then He has made you a member of His holy family.

You have a choice every day of whether or not to accept that holy and awesome name. Every time that you believe and obey God, you are accepting His naming and claiming of you. Each time we act in His spirit, we are increasing His name and honoring ours.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, I thank You for choosing me before the foundation of the world and claiming me as Your own.  I thank You for giving me Your name and making me a part of Your family.  Help me to honor Your name by believing You when You speak and obeying when You command.” 

Daily Note

As we look around our communities, nations, and world, we see the manifold ways that God could use us to announce the good news and to call out injustice in our midst. At times it may appear that our work on behalf of the Kingdom is futile or hopeless. This is something Isaiah acknowledges when he reflects: “Though I thought I had toiled in vain, and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength, yet my reward is with the Lord, my recompense is with my God.” John, too, might be considered a failure by worldly standards, someone imprisoned by the state and executed out of jealousy and insecurity. Yet, as Jesus Christ has made clear, death does not have the last word for those who sincerely pursue the path of holiness God has placed before all of us. Though the challenges may be great and the struggle for justice real, the “hand of the Lord” is with us as much as it was with John in the desert.

What’s In A Name ?

Luke 1:80 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was ...
Daily Reflection – 6/24/2020

Sacred Scripture

When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her. When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said in reply, “No. He will be called John.” But they answered her, “There is no one among your relatives who has this name.” So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called. He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,” and all were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God. Then fear came upon all their neighbors, and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea. All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, “What, then, will this child be?” For surely the hand of the Lord was with him. The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel.( Luke 1:57-66, 80)

Reflection

The Orthodox churches around the world reserve this day to celebrate the birth of John the Baptist. We call him the Baptist. Eastern Christians call him the Forerunner.

While only Luke’s gospel tells us of the marvelous circumstances surrounding his birth,  each of the four gospels tells us of his essential work in preparing the way for Jesus. And well he did . . . to the point of diminishing himself. And John found joy in this.  “My joy is now full.  He must increase and I must decrease.”

John the Baptist was joyful because he was humble.  In fact, he shows us the true nature of this virtue.  Humility is not beating up on yourself, denying that you have any gifts, talents, or importance. The humble person does not sheepishly look down on himself.  Actually, he does not look at himself at all.  He looks away from himself to the Lord.

At one time or another, every human being battles a nagging sense of inadequacy. Pride is sin’s approach to dealing with this.  Proud people are preoccupied with self, seeing all others as competitors.  The proud perpetually exalt themselves over others in hopes that this will provide a sense of worth and inner peace.  Of course, it doesn’t.  Human history has proven that time and time again. Pride always comes before the fall, as it did in the Garden of Eden.

Recognizing that our dignity and self-worth is a gift from God relieves us from this stressful burden.  Freed from the blinding compulsion to dominate, we can feel a sense of satisfaction when others recognize that God is God and honor him as such.  We can even be free to recognize God in someone else and rejoice when others notice and honor God’s goodness this person.

We should always remember that each of us bears another name . . . Christian..  At baptism, you were also signed with the name of the Holy Trinity, and so God’s name is upon you.  God has therefore claimed you for His own and desires to bless you as His child.  For if God has given you His name, then He has made you a member of His holy family.

You have a choice every day of whether or not to accept that holy and awesome name. Every time that you believe and obey God, you are accepting His naming and claiming of you. Each time we act in His spirit, we are increasing His name and honoring ours.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, I thank You for choosing me before the foundation of the world and claiming me as Your own.  I thank You for giving me Your name and making me a part of Your family.  Help me to honor Your name by believing You when You speak and obeying when You command.” 

Daily Note

As we look around our communities, nations, and world, we see the manifold ways that God could use us to announce the good news and to call out injustice in our midst. At times it may appear that our work on behalf of the Kingdom is futile or hopeless. This is something Isaiah acknowledges when he reflects: “Though I thought I had toiled in vain, and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength, yet my reward is with the Lord, my recompense is with my God.” John, too, might be considered a failure by worldly standards, someone imprisoned by the state and executed out of jealousy and insecurity. Yet, as Jesus Christ has made clear, death does not have the last word for those who sincerely pursue the path of holiness God has placed before all of us. Though the challenges may be great and the struggle for justice real, the “hand of the Lord” is with us as much as it was with John in the desert.

Of Course, It Is Hard

Matthew 7:13-14 | KCIS 630
Daily Reflection – 6/23/2020

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces. Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the Law and the Prophets. Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.”( Matthew 7:6, 12-14)

Reflection

Following Jesus through the narrow gate is difficult but the reward lasts for eternity. Is that worth it for you?

Entering into the narrow gate means following Christ, not just sometimes or part way, but completely. It means sacrificing to Him, and surrendering your life to Him. While to most of us, this seems like an impossible task, we also know that it certainly is not impossible. But phrases like “sacrificing to Him” and “surrendering your life to Him” not only make some squirm but also many feel that it is reserved for the saintly. In truth, the lives of saints can give us direction and purpose.

It is worth it to examine the metaphor in a more granular way. Jesus used this metaphor to reinforce his lesson about choosing the one true way which leads to peace with God rather than separation and destruction.

The word “narrow” is generally pejorative. We like to think of ourselves as broad-minded. No one wants to be considered narrow-minded. But the gospel calls for a certain narrowing of focus in following Christ, excluding some pathways that are easy and well-trodden. Saying “yes” to Christ’s way requires saying “no” to selfish ways. But any “narrowing down” and self-denial in the following of Jesus ultimately leads to a great expansiveness, a full sharing of God’s life. What lies beyond the narrow gate has a length, breath, width and depth which surpasses our knowledge.

While one can saunter through a wide gate without a second thought, to get through a narrow gate we must concentrate and focus our attention. It takes commitment to get through such a narrow gap. Being a true follower of Jesus requires both commitment and desire.

Attending Church each Sunday is uplifting and enriching. It also brings you closer to those who share your beliefs. But that alone is not passing through the narrow gate. It’s being obedient to God’s word and refusing to follow the way of those who think and act contrary to God’s law. It’s having the strength and the wisdom to stand up and distance ourselves from those whose words or actions are contrary to the Golden Rule.

When we encounter life’s crossroads, we have a choice to make which will affect our eternal life. When we follow or do not stand away from those who are antithetical to the Golden Rule we have a choice to make which will affect our eternal life.

Do the choices you make help you move towards the goal of loving God and obeying his will?

Prayer of The Day

“Let me love you, my Lord and my God, and see myself as I really am – a pilgrim in this world, a Christian called to respect and love all whose lives I touch, those in authority over me or those under my authority, my friends and my enemies. Help me to conquer anger with gentleness, greed by generosity, apathy by fervor. Help me to forget myself and reach out towards others.” (Prayer attributed to Clement XI of Rome)

Daily Note

The Lord Jesus gives us freedom to choose which way we will go. Ask him for the wisdom to know which way will lead to life rather than to harm and destruction. “See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil.. Therefore choose life that you and your descendants may live” (Deuteronomy 3:15-20). Choose this day whom you will serve (Joshua 24:15).” Behold I set before you the way of life and the way of death (Jeremiah 21:8)”. If we allow God’s love and wisdom to rule our hearts, then we can trust in his guidance and help to follow his path of love, truth, and holiness.

Looking Within Is The First Step

Matthew 7:1 - Latter-day Saint Scripture of the Day
Daily Reflection – 6/22/2020

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to his disciples: “Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.”  (Matthew 7:1-5)

Reflection

In today’s scripture, we hear Jesus proclaim another moral standard that is consistent with what it means to live as a follower of Christ. It’s a moral standard that is abused and compromised every day throughout the world. It’s the “sin” of judgemental hypocrisy.

Unfortunately, a lot of damage has been done to the Christian faith by Christians who say one thing and do another.  It is of utmost importance that we live lives of consistency and integrity in order to safeguard the name of Christ, whom we represent.

Jesus is not suggesting that we have no right to make moral judgments about human behavior, and he is certainly not suggesting we have no right to hold others accountable. He doesn’t condemn mutual accountability and moral responsibility and the need to address sin in the church—he addresses hypocrisy.

It makes little sense to approach a Christian brother or sister about their specific sin if we are committing the very same sin and are unwilling to address it or break free from it.

How easy it is to misjudge and how difficult it is to be impartial in judgment. Our judgment of others is usually “off the mark” because we can’t see inside the person to their inner motives and intentions, or we don’t have access to all the facts, or we are swayed by instinct and unreasoning reactions to people. It is easier to find fault in others than in oneself.

Jesus also reminds us that judgment always reciprocates. In other words, the measuring stick used to measure the lives of others will be the same measuring stick held up against their lives by God himself.

The truth is we should all be sorrowful about sin in our lives. And when we see it, we should address it, confessing it and forsaking it out of reverence for God. It is only when we are consistently doing this ourselves that we are qualified and able to address the sins in the lives of our brothers and sisters in the church, which we must do as well.

Prayer of The Day

“O Father, give us the humility which realizes its ignorance, admits its mistakes, recognizes its need, welcomes advice, accepts rebuke. Help us always to praise rather than to criticize, to sympathize rather than to discourage, to build rather than to destroy, and to think of people at their best rather than at their worst. This we ask for thy name’s sake.” (Prayer of William Barclay, 20th century)

Daily Note

We are commanded to judge the sin, not the sinner.  When we point out someone else’s sin, we should do so with love and compassion, and with the intent of helping the person see that their actions are not only hurting others, but hurting themselves.  We should want them to see that their relationship to God is more important than anything, and that it is important to us as well.  When we sum it all up, in order to love one another we must obey the command of Jesus’ to teach one another the commandments.