The Contours of His Heart

Daily Reflection – 8/4/2020

Sacred Scripture

Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a lonely place apart. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. As he went ashore he saw a great throng; and he had compassion on them, and healed their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a lonely place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” And he said, “Bring them here to me.” Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass; and taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children. (Matthew 14: 13-21)

Reflection

The story of the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand is well known. It appears in all four of the Gospels and is told with an understated simplicity that speaks to the historical veracity of the event and to the supernatural power at the heart of it. There are many levels to the narrative, beginning with the literal one: Jesus, moved with great pity, miraculously fed the hungry crowds that followed him into the wilderness.

But to better appreciate this story, we should be mindful of what Matthew wrote about immediately prior: the violent and heinous murder of John the Baptist by Herod the tetrarch. John had been imprisoned because he publicly rebuked Herod—who considered himself a Jew—for marrying his sister-in-law Herodias . Herod, bound by a rash promise made at his birthday celebration, ordered the execution of John, who was beheaded in prison.

The contrasts that emerge are so telling. The violent and egomaniac Herod is contrasted with Jesus, who is moved by pity, mercy, and love. Herod grasped after earthy power and pleasures; Jesus, on the other hand, reached out in humility to the townspeople who hungered for his words.

While Herod feasted in a palace and shed innocent blood, Jesus and his followers ate simple food miraculously multiplied. And in doing so, as the Gospel of John emphasizes, Jesus taught how his innocent body and blood would be given up as true food and true drink for our salvation.

Herod was a self-serving man driven by strong and sinful passions: lust, violence, anger. Jesus was perfectly oriented to the will of his Father, continually spending time in prayer so he could bring light and life to those dwelling in darkness and in the shadow of death.

The multiplication of the loaves and fishes is a microcosm of salvation history, a concrete demonstration of how the Incarnation reaches man where he lives so man can live where he cannot reach on his own.

Prayer of The Day

Lord Jesus Christ, you satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts and you feed us with the finest of wheat (Psalm 81:16). Fill me with gratitude for your blessings and give me a generous heart that I may freely share with others what you have given to me.

Daily Note

The feeding of the five thousand shows the remarkable generosity of God and his great kindness towards us. When God gives, he gives abundantly. He gives more than we need for ourselves that we may have something to share with others, especially those who lack what they need. God takes the little we have and multiplies it for the good of others.

These Words Are The Bedrock of Our Faith

Jesus Walks on Water - Bible Story Verses & Meaning

Daily Reflection – 8/3/2020

Sacred Scripture

Jesus made the disciples get into a boat and precede him to the other side of the sea, while he dismissed the crowds. After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening, he was there alone. Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified.
“It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear. At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid. “Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me! “Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt? “After they got into the boat, the wind died down. Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying, “Truly, you are the Son of God.” After making the crossing, they came to land at Gennesaret. When the men of that place recognized him, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought to him all those who were sick and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak, and as many as touched it were healed (Matthew 14:22-36)

Reflection

When troubles come our way, often, we forget that God is still with us or wonder where He is. It is strange really, but that is what happens to so many people when they get upset. They think God has gone on holidays. But that is not so. God is still with us. We cannot always rely on our feelings, and we can rely on them still less when there is something bothering us. The truth is that God is with us always, whether or not we feel his presence. Remember when Jesus was worried, he prayed and received strength in prayer to face his passion.

In these times, it is important to rely on absolutes. Not another person’s feelings but rather that absolute voice that is inside each of us. That voice which some characterize as “conscience,” others (including me) believe that it is the Holy Spirit – the breath of God that each of us has. It is the bedrock of faith.

We should keep in mind that life is truly a journey to God, a journey of growth and maturation and there is often more growth and maturation in the valleys than on the mountaintops. Trials are an opportunity to grow closer to God and if we don’t learn our lesson from a trial the first time it comes I would not be surprised if God were to allow the same or a similar trial to come our way again so that we learn the next time and grow closer to him. So, when a trial comes our way some of the questions we can ask ourselves are, “Are you trying to say something to me, God, during this trial?” “What are you trying to teach me during this crisis, God?” “What do you want me to learn, God?” Someone has said that when a trial comes our way, we should milk it for meaning. Trials are opportunities if we want to succeed spiritually and really grow close to the Lord.

One of the things learned during a trial is that we cannot do by our own strength what we can do with the grace of God. What we cannot do by nature we can do by grace.

One important lesson of today’s readings is that, in our turbulent world (and much of the turbulence is in our own hearts), Jesus is the source of peace. Jesus told his disciples at the Last Supper (John 14:27), “Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.” These words were spoken just before Jesus was to be arrested, tried and executed by his enemies. The “world” cannot provide peace in such a situation but Jesus can and does. It is for us to learn how to find the Jesus who gives peace in the ups and downs, in the storms of our own lives.

Hold on the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel and remember that His words are addressed to men and women in every trial, “Courage. It is I. Do not be afraid.”

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, help me to trust you always and to never doubt your presence and your power to help me.  In my moments of doubt and weakness, may I cling to you as Peter did.  Strengthen my faith that I may walk straight in the path you set before me, neither veering to the left nor to the right”.

Daily Note

In reality, I think we’re all in various parts of this Gospel at any one time.  Some may be near the beginning of the story, being tossed by waves and contrary winds, not recognizing the presence of Jesus.  Some may not recognize Him when He comes to us.  Some of us vacillate between moments of walking on the water with the Lord and moments of sinking as we look at ourselves and our lives.

The goal, always, is to look for Jesus and, having found Him, to go to Him.  When you are afraid or are sinking, cry out to Him.  When He asks you to come to Him, even though what He asks is as unlikely as walking on the water, come to Him.  And when He delivers you or comes to you in any way today, come before Him to worship Him as the Son of God.

Make it your goal today to see Jesus, and when you do, to share Him with someone else.

Relax, I’ve Got You

Pin on Bible Verses
Daily Reflection – 7/31/2020

Sacred Scripture

And he did not work many mighty deeds there because of their lack of faith. ( Matthew 13:58)

Reflection

Imagine yourself by the ocean enjoying the day. You grab a raft and paddle out into the water. A current pushed you out father than you intended. You begin to panic but you see a life guard paddling after you. Just then a wave knocks you off the raft but the life guard is only a few inches away. He has a hard time holding on to you because you’re struggling so much. You have a hard time believing he can really help you. “Let go!” he shouts over the water. “I’ve got you.” As you finally surrender, he gets you free and is able to bring you to the shore safe and sound.

Today’s Gospel tells us that Jesus wasn’t able to perform many miracles in his hometown because of the people’s weak faith. Mind you, the people weren’t thrashing around emotionally, but they still couldn’t bring themselves to surrender to Jesus. They stayed stuck in their limited logical thinking, even though he was right in front of them, offering them a way out and a way up.

Rather than being proud of Jesus and his intelligence and wisdom, some of his neighbors and relatives took offense at him. I wonder: Were they jealous of Jesus? Did they think that Jesus thought that he was better than they were? Or were they envious of him? By their words and actions, they scorned Jesus! And thus, he was not able to work any great deeds there. Their lack of faith was too deep!

In our journey with the Lord, we too need to learn to surrender to Jesus. This is an important element in the call to faith: to trust that Jesus knows what he’s doing and to believe that he is strong enough to save you. Yes, faith has to do with knowing the tenets of the Church. Yes, it has to do with trying our best to follow the commandments and to care for the poor and needy. And yes, it has to do with sharing our beliefs and standing up for what is right. But at the heart of faith is this call to surrender. Without this, all the other things lose their power.

Christ want to work miracles in our lives. He wants to help us be a light for others. If we can shake off our superficiality and lack of faith, we will discover the powerful presence of the Savior who helps us live each moment with depth and love. He can do miracles in our life. He can help us live the virtues which are most costly for use. But we have to be willing to take a risk for Christ and trust him totally.

What gets you stuck? Fear over the future? Guilt or resentments from the past? A “logical” approach to the present that doesn’t leave room for the grace of God? Whatever it is, know that Jesus is inviting you to something greater. Imagine him standing in front of you, his arms open wide. Hear him tell you, “Relax. I’ve got you. You can let go.”

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, I know you want to do great things in my life. Help me to see how you can transform the ordinary, seemingly unimportant circumstances of my day into moments when your grace triumphs. Enable me to be docile to your Holy Spirit, so he can do miracles in my life.”

Daily Note

Jesus is all powerful, but our unwillingness to accept the fact that we are important enough for Him to work miracles within us can blunt the power. His work is hidden, sometimes even denied, to those who refuse to believe in Jesus’ power. So, let’s be a people who not only pray, but pray with faith and expectation, anticipating Jesus’ mighty work and providential surprises.

It’s Always Your Choice

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Daily Reflection- 7/30/2020

Sacred Scripture

“Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”  Matthew 13:49-50

Reflection

Each passing day our world grows more secular. Each passing day, sin grows with it. Each passing day, the world nudges us to call the immoral, moral. Each passing day, morals that we were taught seem to become twisted and used by others to justify deviant behavior.

But we must never forget that there is a connection between how we live in this world and our ultimate destiny in the next life. The two are undeniably linked. During our earthly lives we have many opportunities to learn how to know and love God. God is the Just Judge and Merciful Father who desires that we journey towards our true home in heaven by freely choosing to avoid sin and being faithful to the gospel.

If we knowingly and freely choose sinfulness and evil throughout our lives, without ever repenting, our eternal destiny will be alienation from God. We sin when we refuse to respond to God’s loving presence in our lives and in our world. We also sin when we choose estrangement from God. While God always invites us to return to his loving presence, he will not force us to do so.

How we choose to live in this world has a bearing on the next life. We cannot be with God for ever in heaven unless we are with him during this earthly life. We prepare for the next life — a life enjoying the eternal happiness of heaven — by living this life as fully as possible in the presence of God. We are challenged to be faithful to Christ’s teaching and example, keeping his commandments.

We can freely choose: we either seek God and make goodness a part of our life, or we prefer to stand on the precipice of death. Or with Christ or against him. To convert ourselves means to freely opt to become one of the upright ones and live a life worthy of his sons. However, within us we have the experience of sin: we realize the good we should do but we do the evil, instead; what do we do to provide our lives with a sense of true unity? We, alone, cannot do much. Only if we place ourselves in God’s hands shall we be able to attain the goodness and be counted amongst the upright ones.

Reflect, today, on how strongly you are opposed to sin.  Sin is evil and destructive.  You must always love the person who commits sin, but you ought never offer support or approval for their actions that are contrary to the law of God.  Standing strong in the face of cultural opposition is a great act of love and may free some, one day, from the “wailing and grinding of teeth” of which Jesus spoke.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, where sin abounds grace abounds all the more.  Your grace is so needed today in our world and in my life.  Help me to stay strong in my opposition to evil and sin so as to be among those who are gathered into Your Kingdom.  Give me courage to do all I can to help those on the path of destruction.  Jesus, I trust in You.”

Daily Note

During our earthly lives we have many opportunities to learn how to know and love God. God is the Just Judge and Merciful Father who desires that we journey towards our true home in heaven by freely choosing to avoid sin and being faithful to the gospel. Building His kingdom on earth means living our lives in His light and following His commands. If more of us tried to build that kingdom, more of us would know the ultimate rewards.

I Am Here, I Am Here

167 Best LUKE images in 2020 | Gospel of luke, Luke, Verses

Daily Reflection – 7/29/2020

Sacred Scripture

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”  Luke 10:41-42

Reflection

There’s a scene in a Dr. Seuss story, Horton Hears a Who, when all of these small Who’s have to get the attention of Horton the elephant and his other enormous neighbors.  It takes all of their little voices together to make enough noise to be heard, as they cry out over and over: “We are here!  We are here! 


Surely a big piece of what Jesus is trying to convey in these gospel stories as he makes his way from town to town is simply that:  “I am here! I am here!”  I’m standing right in front of you.  You who long for a closer walk with God.  You who long for a sign that God is with you and for you.  You who wish God would make himself known to you in a real way.  “I am here!” says Jesus. 

Jesus’ words that are recorded for us seem at least to convey: Martha, I am here!  Emmanuel, God with you.  I am here.  Please enjoy our time together.  Please allow yourself to be where you are, even for just a moment.  As I mentioned a few chapters ago, “the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away,” (Luke 5:35) but right now, Martha, I am here.  Be here with me. 


That’s the opportunity that Mary seized, that her sister did not.  The opportunity to notice Jesus’ presence.And that’s where I am most convicted by this story.   Because while I don’t think Jesus is saying service is wrong, and sitting still is inherently better, I do think he’s saying, “I am here!” and sometimes I’m far too busy to see him. I’m worried and distracted by many things instead of focusing on the one needful thing, which is to ask “Where is Jesus in this moment?”  Is he sitting right in front of me, and I haven’t even noticed?  Is Jesus in the joyful exuberance of a young child, or in a moment of meaningful conversation with a friend?  Was Jesus present in a moment of silence I didn’t allow myself today, surrounded as I was by noise and chaos?  Or, busy as I was with service – some of it truly good and worthwhile service – did I miss the face of Jesus in that person I was serving?  Or in the face of a person that was serving me?

Do we focus on the one thing necessary or do we get caught up in the daily grind? We spend so much effort on our daily tasks, sacrifice to make time for exercise and maintain our health, and seek help through counseling and career preparation and advancement. How much time do we devote to our souls and the cultivation of the interior life? St. Ignatius pointed out that the spirit needs exercise, even more than the body, for when the body passes away we will be judged by the state of our soul

“You are worried and distracted about many things,” Jesus says, to all of us modern-day Martha’s.  “There is need of only one thing.”  Choose the better part. Because no matter how many categories of life we may be trying to juggle on any given day, wherever we go, there we are. 

What if we tried to really be there? And even more importantly, what if we managed to remember Jesus is there too?

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, help me to seek Your still silent presence.  Help me to surrender over my anxiety and worry.  Jesus, bathe me in Your grace and help me refocus each and every day on You.  Jesus, I love You.  Jesus, I trust in You.”

Daily Note

Jesus was revealing a deep spiritual truth: that life cannot be lived to its fullest, and enjoyed to its utmost when we are always running around; when we are spending too much time at work; when we are worried and distracted by so many things. Sometimes we need to sit and rest and listen to what God is saying. That is the “better part” of it, as Jesus said. Life is to be lived in balance, with time spent nurturing our connections with friends and family, with the world around us, and with God. There are the important things in life, and we need to tend to them and care for them.

There IS A Difference

Matthew 13 - Verse 23 (Ref Bible Love Notes) | Bible love, Love ...
Daily Reflection – 7/28/2020

Sacred Scripture

Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his Kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”  Matthew 13:40-43

Reflection

Most Christians live with the concept that, at some point, they will pass over to God. And well they should.

It comes down to what we do with our discipleship that matters. Those who do not receive Jesus’ message and live a life of righteousness, but instead choose to do evil and harm others will be left outside his kingdom and face eternal punishment.

Either/or. But it’s not so easy. Jesus warns us that there is an enemy who seeks to destroy the good seed of his word before it can bear fruit. Both good and evil can be sown in our hearts like tiny seeds which germinate, and in due time yield a harvest of good or bad fruit. We must stand guard lest evil take root in our hearts and corrupt us.

The kingdom itself is spiritual but we, its members, live in a physical and sinful world This kingdom represented by believers, or “sons of the kingdom” is found not only in the church, but in businesses, in education, in labor, and in government; but so are the weeds.  This is why we need patience.   God is not yet going to remove the weeds, so we have to learn how to live within this reality as Christians.  So, the point to see is that this reality becomes a challenge, not only because these weeds are present, but because the enemy of Christ – the devil himself – seeks to destroy the wheat by the works of his people: the “sons of the evil one.” 

The reality is that there will be a distinction or difference between believers and unbelievers that at times may be hard to detect, yet God’s people will live in this mixed population until the final judgment.  This reality is illustrated for us in the parable before this one, the parable of the Sower, which teaches us that the very nature of the kingdom is that not all the seeds planted become wheat, for various reasons.  Yet all these seeds live together in the world, as our parable today teaches us, and sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference, even in the church.

As Peter said, “The devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  The reality is this: the devil and his weeds are going to make life difficult for those who live in the kingdom, wherever the kingdom manifests itself.

Charles Read wrote “Sow an act and you reap a habit.  Sow a habit and you reap a character. Sow a character and you reap a destiny.” In the day of judgment each will reap what he or she has sown in this life.  Those who sow good will shine in the kingdom of their Father. They will radiate with the beauty, joy, and fullness of God’s love.

The very reason for the weeds among the wheat is to call us to teach and to do the opposite and to help us realize that we must not be complacent.

If we persevere through all things now, and we strive to do so with patience and grace, we can be certain that all the struggle and all we have to endure will be worth it in the end.  In the kingdom of God, we will be at peace, and joy will fill our lives forever.  We need to be sure that we  have “ears to hear” this truth and hold on to it through all things.

Prayer of The Day

Lord, help me to keep my eyes on You and Your final victory.  Help me to patiently await Your final victory and to endure the evil of this world with the grace and strength You give me.  May I never forget the final promise that You have spoken to me.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Daily Note

When Jesus does return in all His glory and sets all things right, will the evil we now endure even matter?  In fact, from the eternal perspective, the evil we endure should only serve to give us holy endurance.  It has all potential to be used by God to manifest His grace and strength in our lives.

Reflect, today, upon the eternal perspective. 

Look Through These Glasses, Please

One Tiny Seed | Sayville UMC

Daily Reflection, 7/27/2020

Sacred Scripture

“The Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.”  Matthew 13:31b-32

Reflection

A mustard seed – tiny, not very impressive, average looking. But all of us know what a mustard seed can produce.

Today’s scripture has a way of turning conventional thinking on its head. In the American culture where power, wealth, and winning are so important, the parable of the mustard seed is nothing short of counter-cultural or even revolutionary. It challenges us to look through a different lens.

The kingdom of God is not a kingdom of power and might, but a reign of love. The kingdom of God (kingdom of love) comes into being by spreading from person to person and not by force. It is a quiet revolution: at first silent and imperceptible (like the mustard seed planted in the earth), but ultimately dynamic and transformative. Love is not linear, it grows exponentially. 

That’s where you and I come in. That’s where you and I are so important.

The parable of the mustard seed challenges us to rethink what is possible. Even the tiniest of faith or positive action can have impact disproportionate to the “investment”.  As I look around, I see so many needs in our world. The needs are so great, I often wonder if it is worth even trying to make a dent. You look to the left and right and see individuals who are dynamic, well educated, gorgeous, rich, and the list goes on. Why should I (or we) “plant our little mustard seed” when there are others around us who are going to be better at it—whatever “it” is—than we are?  

But God doesn’t care about my credentials. It is not a matter of how hard I work or how good we are. We are enough! We are merely asked to respond to the invitation—the invitation to plant our mustard seed. To offer who we are, where we are. We are not asked to worry about whether our efforts will be successful, noticed or honored.

 God is the soil that makes those seeds grow and God has promised that even the smallest amount of faith or faithful action will bring things into our life, our community, and the world beyond our expectations. Like the ripples made by a small stone thrown into the water, our faith and actions send waves into the world around us.

Jesus wants to use each one of us for the building up of His Kingdom. We may feel as though we cannot do much, that we are not as gifted as others, that we will not be able to make much of a difference, but that’s not true. But the truth is that each one of us is packed with unbelievable potential that God wants to bring to fruition. All we must do is allow Him to work.

He made you and me with the intention to bring forth His Kingdom through you and to do so in an abundant way. It is your responsibility to simply believe this and to allow God to do what He desires to do in your life.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, I know that without You I am nothing.  Without You my life has no meaning.  Help me to embrace Your perfect and glorious plan for my life and, in that plan, to achieve the greatness to which You call me.  Jesus, I trust in You.”

Daily Note

The parable of the mustard seed offers both reassurance and promise. Reassurance that we are enough and that even the tiniest demonstration of faith or faithful action will have an impact. We each are invited to take our own “baby steps of faith”: a gentle touch, a note of sympathy, a word of encouragement, standing up for those who cannot, helping someone in need, offering our time, talent or treasure. These are just some of the mustard seeds we are invited to plant.

Faith Is A Verb

Matthew 13:3-9 – karinforeman.com
Daily Reflection – 7/24/2020

Sacred Scripture

“Hear then the parable of the sower. The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the Word of the Kingdom without understanding it, and the evil one comes and steals away what was sown in his heart. The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the Word and receives it at once with joy. But he has no root and lasts only for a time. When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the Word, he immediately falls away. The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the Word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the Word and it bears no fruit. But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the Word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.” (Matthew 13:18-23)

Reflection

Today’s Gospel is well known and oft repeated. Biblical scholars have written volumes about the various seeds and some have written about the soil.

As an avid gardener, I read this passage and focus on the soil. I have tilled enough earth to know that it can always be improved.

The parable of the sower depicts our individual response to Jesus’ call for us to follow Him.  We can be like the rocky soil, rejoicing over God’s truth for a time, but not allowing it to change us much, leaving our shallow roots to wither from the persecutions we endure and the troubles that come our way. Troubles will always come. There will always be illness, family strife, shattered relationships, financial worries, and unmet expectations. And persecutions are promised for those who genuinely try to follow after Jesus’ example.

The difference lies, Jesus says, in the way that we choose to respond. If our faith is shallow, untended, and not watered, we will not have the strength to withstand those difficulties. The harshness of the world is quick to burn up the life of Christ if we do not work to protect and care for it.

But the follower of Christ recognizes that each of us  has been called. And over two millennia, many have embraced this call; they have let it grow in their hearts by means of sharing their faith through their words and actions.

To be that rich soil, we have to continually remind ourselves that faith is a verb. It must be exercised to bear fruit. The seed of the kingdom, the living Word, has been planted within us. We are asked to live the word of God so that each of us, in our own way can bring our part of the world back to God.

 Does that sound too grand? Too ambitious? Something beyond us?

It is not if we remember that the Lord spreads us in the field of the world to bear a harvest for the Kingdom to come. However, it begins with one person, one grain, one seed, at a time.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, help me to guard the word you have planted in my heart that no doubt or temptation may keep me from believing and obeying you. May I be fruitful in your service and may I never fear to speak of you to others and to share with them the good news of the gospel.”

Daily Note

The power to effect redemptive change in the world comes from the life of God within us. It is amazing how little leaven it takes to raise a loaf of bread. Those little particles of yeast have the power to ferment, to change the lump of wet dough into a loaf of aromatic, tasty, nourishing bread.

Look To See, Listen To Hear

Daily Reflection – 7/23/2020

Sacred Scripture

The disciples approached him and said, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” He said to them in reply, “Because knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted. To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand. Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says: You shall indeed hear but not understand, you shall indeed look but never see. Gross is the heart of this people, they will hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and be converted, and I heal them. But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear. Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.” (Matthew 13:10-17)

Reflection

An interesting reading for today . . . of course, it is not a Gospel about the Gospel. BUT in explaining to his disciples why he used parables, Jesus opens the door as to the posture and the perspective that is needed to truly hear His words. More importantly, to internalize those words.

Over the years, I found that it was a common occurrence to hear and observe the “ Yes, but not yet” aspiring Christians. They want Jesus in their lives but just not yet. They are afraid that when Jesus comes into our lives, he will turn things around. So they go through the motions but don’t fully open their hearts and minds to Him.

God can only reveal the secrets of his kingdom to the humble and trusting person who acknowledges their need for God and for his truth. The parables of Jesus will enlighten us if we approach them with an open mind and heart, ready to let them challenge us. If we approach God’s word with indifference, skepticism, and disbelief, then we, too, may “hear but not understand” and “see but not perceive.” God’s word can only take root in a receptive heart that is ready to believe and willing to submit. If we want to hear and to understand God’s word, we must listen with reverence and faith.

Knowing Jesus personally, understanding the things of God, is not reserved for a privileged few. It’s for everyone who desires it; everyone who looks with eyes open, hoping to see; everyone who listens with ears tuned, longing to know more of God, not just to hear the sound of his words. God delights in satisfying hearts that hunger and thirst for more of him. It is possible to hear from Him personally, to experience His presence, to learn from Hm, and to gain understanding.

When it comes to Jesus there is a lot to be seen and a lot to be heard. Jesus is worth more than a cursory look and a half-engaged listen. The more carefully we look at Jesus the more we will see, and the more attentively we listen to him, the more we will hear. That is what Jesus means in the gospel reading when he says, ‘for anyone who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough’. The more we attend to the Lord, the more we will receive and the more blessed we will be.

As Jesus declares at the end of the reading, ‘Happy are your eyes because they see, your ears because they hear’. Jesus is alive among us as risen Lord; he is there to be seen and to be heard by us all. He is visible and audible to us in and through each other, especially in and through those who are most vulnerable. We pray for eyes to see and ears to hear his presence among us.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, I do want to know You. I do want to seek You and to discover all that You have to say. Help me to turn to You in all things and to grow continually deeper in the life of faith. Jesus, I trust in You. Amen.”

Daily Note

One goal of a parable is to get someone thinking. It’s a way of drawing them in so that they can engage their minds with the Word that was spoken. When someone is open to the Truth, such as the disciples, Jesus is able to lift the veil and speak clearly, deeply and beautifully about the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven. This must be our goal. We must seek to understand all Jesus speaks and believe it wholeheartedly. In fact, once we do begin to believe and, subsequently, live what we come to believe, we will begin a wonderful journey of faith and understanding that we never knew existed before.

Do You See Him?

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Daily Reflection – 7/22/2020

Sacred Scripture

On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.” But Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had been. And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” She thought it was the gardener and said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabboni,” which means Teacher. Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and what he told her. (John 20:1-2, 11-18)

Reflection

Mary Magdalene knew Jesus as a man and was witness to His numerous miracles and very powerful teachings yet they were not enough for her to recognize Him. She was caught up in her emotions about Jesus and could not recognize him in her grief.

There is an interesting parallel here to our lives. We tend to view Jesus through our eye glasses. His presence is often defined by the experience of our lives and often that prevents us from truly knowing Him.

We may say we know Jesus yet we may not recognize Him especially when life becomes difficult and hard, and not easy to accept and understand. The Savior of the world and Master may be so near us yet we do not recognize Him. He comes in all sorts of ways, in lowly guise and not as one of the world’s powerful and great ones. He comes to us through the most painful situations and at times even from the brokenness and woundedness of those around us.

Our understanding of what the world should be and our vulnerability to the values of our material world provide a barrier towards our recognition of God and the acceptance of His will. We cannot see Him in our adversities, troubles and afflictions. We are so preoccupied in looking for Him that we get lost along the way. We are like the Jews of His time who expected the Messiah to be in a bright shining armor who will place them on top of the world.

Today, God is asking us how well we know Him. He wants to know if we will ever recognize Him should we encounter Him on the boulevard of broken dreams.

The person who knows God follows His will out of His love for Him just like Mary Magdalene. Knowing God is not cerebral but personal and experiential. Knowing Him is not simply trusting Him but living in daily fellowship with Him even amidst adversity and persecution.  It is obedience founded on love. That is why, one who claims to know God yet chooses who to obey and which precepts to obey within His church cannot truly be His follower. One who is hostile to his/her fellow does not really know God. One who is wrapped up within themselves and engages in self-aggrandizement betrays the words of Jesus to follow Him in our lives.

Today, let us look deep into our hearts and ask ourselves how well we know our God. Has God’s love for us been perfected? Has it accomplished its very purpose and has it reached its end in producing obedience to His request that we love Him above all and our neighbor as ourselves?

Prayer of The Day

“Jesus, I want to follow you wherever you go. Help me to live for you.”

Daily Note

You see, Mary, like all of Jesus’ followers only knew Him as God on earth; theydid not know Him as God in heaven. They only knew Him from a limited perspective, they did not know Him in all His glory. They did not know His power over sin and death, and how there were still so many things that He came to do. They did not have the understanding of how He came to suffer and die for all of us, and to be risen in victory over sin and death. They were holding on to what they knew, and by doing this they were placing limits on God. They were bringing God down to their level and fitting Him into something that they could grasp. What they needed to do, and what we need to do in our lives, is let God be God.