Reflecting Him

A series of spiritual contemplations on the role of the Lord in our daily life

Letting God Be God

Image result for free photo of John 20:11-18

Daily Reflection – 4/23/19

Sacred Scripture

Mary Magdalene 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 onto 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 20:11-18)

Reflection

Jesus says to her, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.” Now why would Jesus say this? Was Mary clinging to His clothes? Was she tugging at His tassels? Was she grabbing onto His legs like a little kid? Most likely she was not physically holding on to Him, so why would Jesus say this? I think it is because Mary was holding on to the past, of how she knew Jesus.
You see, Mary, like all of Jesus’ followers only knew Him as God on earth; they did 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. There are no limits on God, and we should not be trying to limit Him or reduce Him to anything. We all need to let go and let God be God.
He is in charge, we will never fully understand Him, and the reality is that God is a mystery, and will never be fully revealed to us while we are on earth. Our simple intellects cannot even begin to grasp all that is God. The sooner we realize that we are the ones who are limited, and Jesus is Lord, the better. 

 Prayer of The Day

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, we praise you for the gift of our lives and for the many blessings in our lives. Help us to never veer from you path and your ways. Lord, we are the ones who are limited, help us to never try to reduce you or limit you. We praise you for your many gifts in our lives, may we each be good stewards of all that you entrust to us. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Note

Jesus called Mary Magdalene by name and he calls us by name to spread the good news of the Kingdom of God through our witness at home, at school, at work, in church, at the grocery store and even in traffic.
We encounter Jesus every day of our lives: in the people we interact with, in the rising and setting of the sun, in the breaking of the bread during Mass, in our response to the needs of our brothers and sisters.

 

Living The Most Precious Gift

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Daily Reflection- 4/22/19

Sacred Scripture

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce this to his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” While they were going, some of the guards went into the city and told the chief priests all that had happened. They assembled with the elders and took counsel; then they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him while we were asleep.’ And if this gets to the ears of the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” The soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has circulated among the Jews to the present day.( Matthew 28:8-15)

Reflection

Yesterday was the glorious feast of Easter joy. Today the churches are quieter as we begin to return to “normal” life. But what can be “normal” after Easter? Can we be the same people we were before the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus?

In today’s first reading, we see Peter as anything but the fearful disciple we have seen in the past. In a loud, clear voice he stands in the midst of a crowd and proclaims that Jesus is the Messiah. This “new” Peter speaks in a different and more confident voice than the one who had huddled in terror in the locked upper room after the crucifixion. Now he says he can “speak confidently” and, quoting David, says his heart is glad and his tongue has rejoiced. He has been changed.

Have we been moved that dramatically by the events of the past week? Are we as courageous as Peter? Perhaps we are more like the women hurrying away from the tomb, half-overjoyed and half-fearful. Yes, there is good news, wonderful news … but can we allow ourselves to believe it? Can it really be true?

Jesus gives us the answer as he meets the women rushing from the tomb. His first words to them – and us – are “Peace!” and then “Do not be afraid!” Jesus wants us first to be at peace, to feel the love and redemption he offers us. Yes, it is true and now, as believers, witnesses to this miracle of love, we are asked by Jesus to “go and carry the news…”

Today we are still carried along on the joy of Holy Week and Easter Sunday liturgies. We may feel the call of Jesus in our lives asking us to spread the good news to our brothers and sisters. Today we have the courage, the energy and the joy inside. But can this last? We remember Peter’s fear and know of our own, so deeply entrenched. It doesn’t matter. We will, at times, forget, fall asleep, deny Jesus and run away fearfully, forgetting the joy. But always, always he will be there to meet us with his arms gently open, his eyes filled with love.

“Peace!” he says, greeting us with the understanding of someone who truly knows us and our faults – and loves us anyway. “Don’t be afraid.”

Each of us is called to live and to treasure the peace. But we are also called to live out our faith – not just in the way we conduct ourselves each day but to witness to the living Christ – to encourage others to discover that Peace and that Light? Is that something you do ? It should be because that is the most precious gift of the resurrection.

 Prayer of The Day

Lord, may we always live in the joy and hope of the resurrection and never lose sight of its truth for our lives.

Daily Note

We were buried therefore with him by baptism unto death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom 6:4). 

The Challenge of The Cross

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Daily Reflection – 4/19/19

Sacred Scripture

When he had said this, Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to where there was a garden, into which he and his disciples entered. Judas his betrayer also knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. So Judas got a band of soldiers and guards from the chief priests and the Pharisees and went there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. Jesus, knowing everything that was going to happen to him, went out and said to them, “Whom are you looking for?” They answered him, “Jesus the Nazorean.” He said to them, “I AM.” Judas his betrayer was also with them. When he said to them, “I AM,” they turned away and fell to the ground. So he again asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” They said, “Jesus the Nazorean.” Jesus answered, “I told you that I AM. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.” This was to fulfill what he had said, “I have not lost any of those you gave me.” Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus. Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its scabbard. Shall I not drink the cup that the Father gave me?” So the band of soldiers, the tribune, and the Jewish guards seized Jesus, bound him, and brought him to Annas first. He was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. It was Caiaphas who had counseled the Jews that it was better that one man should die rather than the people. Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Now the other disciple was known to the high priest, and he entered the courtyard of the high priest with Jesus. But Peter stood at the gate outside. So the other disciple, the acquaintance of the high priest, went out and spoke to the gatekeeper and brought Peter in. Then the maid who was the gatekeeper said to Peter, “You are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” Now the slaves and the guards were standing around a charcoal fire that they had made, because it was cold, and were warming themselves. Peter was also standing there keeping warm. The high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his doctrine. Jesus answered, “I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the Temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said.” When he had said this, one of the police standing nearby struck Jesus on the face, saying, “Is that how you answer the high priest?” Jesus answered, “If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong. But if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?” Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest. Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They asked him, “You are not also one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” Again Peter denied it, and at that moment the cock crowed.( John 18:1-19)

Reflection

For Jesus the focus is not on suffering and death. It is on love. That’s why Jesus can give himself to the cross. He doesn’t look at the cross, he sees through it. Death is not the end. Jesus trusts the Father’s love more than his own death.

Peter, however, can neither look at the cross nor the one who is dying. “I do not know him. I do not know him. I do not know him.” Peter fears death is the end. For Jesus and for himself. In a sense he’s right. Without love death is the end. Without love the entire earth becomes a tomb. *

There’s no question that Jesus suffered and died. Mary suffered, cried, and had her heart broken by grief. Good Friday does not deny any of that. Those things were real in the crucifixion of Jesus and they are real in our own lives. We cannot help but look at the many crosses of our lives and world and see sin and brokenness, suffering, sorrow, tears, loss, and death.

But what if there is more to see? What if those are simply the veil that Jesus’ death tears down?  What if we are to see love there as well? That’s what makes this Friday good. The crucified love of Christ is stronger and more real than death. The crucified love of Jesus does more than join us in our sufferings and dying. It carries us through them. God’s love defeats sin and death. Every time.

Every day we must decide which we trust more, death or love. That decision in many ways determines our world view, guides our relationships, affects how we approach the circumstances of our lives, and colors our image of God. Can we see and trust the crucified love of Good Friday in our deaths, in the violence of our world, in our losses and sufferings, in the brutalities we experience, in the sins we commit? That is both the challenge and the hope Good Friday offers.    

Prayer of The Day

Jesus, may your victory on the cross fill me with the courage to persevere in times of difficulty and the hope to see beyond the cross to the joy of the Resurrection.

 

His Model for Our Life

Image result for free photo of John 13:1-15

Daily Reflection – 4/18/19

Sacred Scripture

 Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end. The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over. So, during supper, fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God, he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Master, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.” Jesus said to him, “Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed, for he is clean all over; so you are clean, but not all.” For he knew who would betray him; for this reason, he said, “Not all of you are clean.” So when he had washed their feet and put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”( John 13:1-15)

Reflection

In the Gospel of John, the distinctive action of Jesus at this meal that is recalled is his washing of the feet of the disciples. It is an act of humble service usually performed by a slave. In washing their feet at this moment, Jesus is summing up a life of service to the God he called “Abba” and to God’s people. What he does at this table is emblematic of what he has been doing all along as he walked with his disciples. This act, too, anticipates the meaning of the cruel death he is about to undergo. As unjust and senseless as his crucifixion may be, his death will be invested with meaning because it will become one final act of service to God and to the human family.

After he finishes washing the feet of his disciples, Jesus tells them, “If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet.” As people of the Eucharist, we are privileged to receive Christ’s gift of self to us – the greatest gift we could ever receive on this earth. We are blessed to experience real communion with Jesus, a genuine sharing of presence that is the heart of this wonderful sacrament.  The Risen Christ, who shared this meal on the eve of his own passion, hosts us and serves us each time we gather to celebrate the Eucharist. As people of the Eucharist, you and I are also called to be people of the basin and towel. We are invited to emulate this Jesus through lives of loving service to others. We are called to wash the feet of one another.

Bread and wine, basin and towel.  This is the “stuff” of  Christian life. These symbols are at the very center of our identity as followers of Jesus. For young adults, and for adults of all ages today, these symbols represent an ongoing challenge. They are countercultural because they challenge the “Me First” thinking that often prevails in our society. They signify an approach to life different from the one that tells us to look after the needs of others only after we have taken care of our own needs. 

Prayer of The Day

Lord Jesus, Grant me the humility and charity to imitate your virtues. I wish to learn to wash the feet of others, so give me the grace to let down my defenses and simply reach out to do good, without worrying how others may react to me.

 Daily Note

Jesus’ whole life was an example of service towards men, fulfilling his Father’s will to the point of dying on the cross. Here our Lord promises us that if we imitate him, we will find true happiness which no one can wrest from us. We need to reject from our hearts any pride, any ambition, any desire to dominate; and peace and joy will reign around us and within us, as a consequence of our personal sacrifice.

 

 

Is It I ?

Image result for free photo of Matthew 26 :14-25

Daily Bulletin – 4/17/19

Sacred Scripture

 One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went off to the chief priests and said, “How much will you give me if I hand him over to you?” They promised to give him thirty pieces of silver, and from then on he kept looking for the best way to hand him over to them.
On the first day of the Festival of the Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and said to him, “Where do you want us to prepare the Passover meal for you?” Jesus answered, “Go into the city, to the house of a certain man, and tell him: ‘The Master says: My hour is near, and I will celebrate the Passover with my disciples in your house’”. The disciples did as Jesus had ordered and prepared the Passover meal. When it was evening, Jesus sat at table with the Twelve. While they were eating, Jesus said” Truly, I say to you: one of you will betray me”. They were deeply distressed and asked him in turn, “You do not mean me, do you, Lord?” He answered, “he who will betray me is one of those who dips his bread in the dish with me. The Son of Man is going as the Scriptures say He will. But alas for that one who betrays the Son of Man; better for him not to have been born”. Judas, who was betraying him, also asked, “You do not mean me, Master, do you?”. Jesus replied, “You have said it”. (
Matthew 26,14-25)

 Reflection

Judas never believed that in betraying Jesus he was handing him over to a sentence of torture and death. He was shocked later when the chief priests and the Sanhedrin declared that Jesus must die and brought him before Pontius Pilate. He never thought that he was going to kill Jesus by betraying him. And as we say it we should realize retrospectively what Judas never grasped prospectively, that our sins, whether venial or mortal with respect to God’s presence within our soul, are all fatal when it comes to Jesus.

Grasping this will strengthen us in the fight against sin that is supposed to continue well beyond the end of Lent. We would never gossip if we knew that our gossip would kill Jesus or kill someone else. We’d never steal if we knew that our theft would murder Jesus or murder someone else. We’d never neglect a needy person if we knew that as a direct result Jesus would die or that that Lazarus at our gates would die through our omission. But the spiritual reality is that our sins are really what led to Jesus’ death. He died to take away our betrayals, our infidelities, our iniquities.  Like Judas, we don’t want Jesus to die, but unlike Judas, we now know in hindsight what our sins will do and have done. 

On this last day of Lent — tomorrow we enter into a new liturgical season, the shortest of the year, the Blessed Triduum — it’s key for us to grasp what the Lord is calling us to do as we turn away from sin and are faithful to the Gospel. The word of what our sins have done to Jesus should arouse us to contrition, to repentance, to amendment. Jesus wants us to have that same firm resolve to set our faces toward him with trust and not to rebel or to turn back. He preaches this eloquent “word” to arouse the “weary,” because he knows that more than anything else our sins wear us down. We’re also worn down by trying to struggle against evil on our own without God. He comes to join us in that fight. 

The words Jesus preaches to the weary are “This is my Body, which will be given up for you,” “This is the chalice of my blood,” and “Do this in memory of me!” This is what gives us the strength to set our faces like flint toward Calvary and not turn back.  Similarly, we’re called to hunger as the “appointed time draws near” and to arrange our hearts and souls so that Jesus may celebrate the Passover within us, helping us to pass with him from death into life. The Lord in his great love has indeed answered us. He has given us himself to strengthen us not to betray him, not to hand him over to those who want to abuse him, but to give him to the Father and ourselves with him and in that act give ourselves over to others for the salvation of the world. 

Prayer of The Day

Lord, I have betrayed you so many times, even when I do such a simple thing as not saying grace in a restaurant out of fear that others will notice. May the experience of your Passion and death help me to have the courage to live by my convictions at all times.

 Daily Note

However we look at it, the tragedy of Judas is that he refused to accept Jesus as he was and tried to make him what he wanted him to be. It is not Christ who should be changed by us, but we who must be changed by him. We can never, and must never, use God for our purposes.
The tragedy of Judas is that of a man who thought he knew better than God. As we enter even deeper into the mystery of Holy Week, Christ invites us to do what he did, to put our lives in God’s hands and say with him: “Father, not mine, but your will be done”

 

 

Waiting For Us To Love

Image result for free photo of John 13:21-33, 36-38

Daily Reflection – 4/16/19

Sacred Scripture

Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served, while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him. Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. Then Judas the Iscariot, one of his disciples, and the one who would betray him, said, “Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages and given to the poor?” He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief and held the money bag and used to steal the contributions. So Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Let her keep this for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” The large crowd of the Jews found out that he was there and came, not only because of Jesus, but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. And the chief priests plotted to kill Lazarus too, because many of the Jews were turning away and believing in Jesus because of him.( John 12:1-11)

Reflection

Today’s gospel reading juxtaposes, but also brings into stark contrast two very important persons in the life of Jesus, two men who belonged to his inner circle of friends: Peter who was to become the leader of his band of apostles, and Judas, a man whom Jesus trusted enough to make him the ‘treasurer’ of the group.

Both men shall sin, both shall fall short and fail to live up to the demands of loyalty and friendship. But whereas Peter repents and recognizes the immensity and boundlessness of Christ’s forgiveness, compassion, and understanding, Judas will know only despair and hopelessness, because his vision can see no farther than the pain and suffering his betrayal will cause the one person he has loved and committed to giving his life.
Sin can damage the bond of friendship between ourselves and a God who cares deeply for us. And yet, as St. Paul tells us: “Where sin abounds, grace abounds even more”. (Rom. 5:2) This was something Judas forgot, but Peter remembered.
Our God is a loving, merciful, and patient God who is willing to wait for us to turn away from our sins, and is always ready to give a repentant sinner a second chance. Lent is a time we are asked to turn away from sin and recover our original blessedness, as Peter did. God is patient and is willing to wait. But we can’t make him wait too long.

Prayer of The Day

Lord Jesus, If I were to contemplate you more often as you hang scourged and bloody upon the cross, I’m certain I would be able to rest in your love and base my actions on that one truth. I know that you have loved me with an eternal love: you have proven it there on the wood of the cross.

Daily Note

Christ loves us in our weakness, in our failings, in our sinfulness. That is the message of this Holy Week. His love is not a reward for good behavior. The Lord gives his love to us before we do anything and he is faithful in his love for us even when we betray and deny him in various ways. His faithful love encourages and inspires us to keep returning to him and to keep renewing our following of him.

 

The Price of Love

 

Image result for free photo of John 12:1-11

Daily Reflection – 4/15/19

Sacred Scripture

 Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served, while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him. Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. Then Judas the Iscariot, one of his disciples, and the one who would betray him, said, “Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages and given to the poor?” He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief and held the money bag and used to steal the contributions. So Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Let her keep this for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” The large crowd of the Jews found out that he was there and came, not only because of Jesus, but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. And the chief priests plotted to kill Lazarus too, because many of the Jews were turning away and believing in Jesus because of him.( John 12:1-11)

Reflection

In today’s gospel,  Mary sits as Jesus’ feet when he comes to her and Martha’s home.  She listens to him teach.  In today’s passage from John’s gospel Mary is again at Jesus’ feet in her home.  But her role has changed.  She now anoints Jesus for burial.  Martha in both gospel scenes busies herself with service, and Mary in both chooses “the better part.”

Mary has the prophetic insight of realizing that Jesus will be dead soon.  Because she also knows that he is the royal Messiah or “anointed one,” she gives him a lavish anointing.  The narrator says that the fragrance from the oil filled the whole house.  The image might be expanded to say that the fragrance filled the universe.  The death Jesus is about to undergo will redeem humanity for all its sins.

We too might anoint Jesus in a sense.  We can spare some time daily this week to meditate on the meaning for ourselves of Jesus death and resurrection.  Through these events we know the Son of God.  By these events we are freed from the guilt of our malicious acts.  Because of these events we like Jesus are destined to glory.

Yet, how many will take the time to meditate on that? How many will pay lip service to the events of this week, yet, go on with the busy-ness of life? How many recognize that we know not when our chance for eternal life will arrive? Now is the time – in this sacred week – to lavish our love and gratitude to our Almighty God.

 Prayer of The Day

Lord Jesus, faith comes so hard to me.  I should be aware of all the good you have worked in my life. Help me to look with the eyes of faith that will bring me to an unshakeable belief in you, a faith like that of those who witnessed your raising of Lazarus.

 Daily Note

Today, take the time to look back briefly on your life and try to notice all the things Christ has done for you, so that by reflecting on these things your faith and trust in Him will deepen.

 

 

Actions Always Reveal

Image result for free photo of John 10:31-42

Daily Reflection – 4/12/19

Sacred Scripture

The Jews picked up rocks to stone Jesus. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from my Father. For which of these are you trying to stone me?” The Jews answered him, “We are not stoning you for a good work but for blasphemy. You, a man, are making yourself God.” Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods”‘? If it calls them gods to whom the word of God came, and scripture cannot be set aside, can you say that the one whom the Father has consecrated and sent into the world blasphemes because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? If I do not perform my Father’s works, do not believe me; but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may realize and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” Then they tried again to arrest him; but he escaped from their power. He went back across the Jordan to the place where John first baptized, and there he remained. Many came to him and said, “John performed no sign, but everything John said about this man was true.” And many there began to believe in him.( John 10:31-42)

Reflection

Notice that Jesus doesn’t flinch. He speaks the truth. But he does invite his critics to see that his words aren’t empty words. And so he invites the acid test. He says to them: “If I do not perform My Father’s works, do not believe me; but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may realize and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.”

In effect, he was saying: “I do not ask you to accept my words. But I do ask you to accept my deeds.” He tells them that if they do not wish to believe his words, then they should believe him on account of the deeds he has done in his Father’s name.

A word is something about which one can argue; but a deed is something beyond argument. Jesus does not base his claims on what he says, but on what he does. As it was for Jesus, so must it be for us. We sometimes hear it said: “You’ve talked the talk; now let’s see you walk the walk”. 

Eight hundred years ago, a wealthy young man went around gathering friends around himself and preaching to people about poverty, humility, and absolute abandonment and trust in God’s providence. His wealthy father, furious at his seeming disregard for property, challenged him before the bishop to be true to his words. The young man proceeded to take off all his clothes and handed them over to his father—his ultimate act of living concretely and genuinely, the poverty, humility, and absolute trust in Divine Providence which he had preached.

When many years later, Francis of Assisi was ordained a deacon, he chose not to be ordained a priest in fidelity to the commitment to total humility that he had made to God and to himself many years before. Francis knew how to “talk”, but he knew how to put flesh and blood to that “talk”. He “walked the walk”. His actions bore witness to the genuineness of his words.

 

Prayer of The Day

Write upon my heart, O Lord, the lessons of your holy word, and grant that I may be a doer of your word, and not a forgetful hearer only.” 

 Daily Note

Jesus is the perfect teacher in that he does not base his claims on what he says but on what he does. The word of God is life and power to those who believe.  Jesus shows us the way to walk the path of truth and holiness. And he anoints us with his power to live the gospel with joy and to be his witnesses in the world.  Are you a doer of God’s word, or a forgetful hearer only?

 

The Never Ending Promise

Image result for free photo of John 8:51-59

Daily Reflection – 4/11/19

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to the Jews: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever keeps my word will never see death.” So the Jews said to him, “Now we are sure that you are possessed. Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.’ Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? Or the prophets, who died? Who do you make yourself out to be?” Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is worth nothing; but it is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ You do not know him, but I know him. And if I should say that I do not know him, I would be like you a liar. But I do know him and I keep his word. Abraham your father rejoiced to see my day; he saw it and was glad. So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM.” So they picked up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid and went out of the Temple area.( John 8:51-59)

Reflection

The notion of someone being stoned to death is abhorrent to us. It still happens in those few places where Sharia Law is operative. Yet, thankfully, we consider such behavior to belong to a past age. It wasn’t uncommon in the time of Jesus. You may recall that Stephen, the first Christian martyr, was stoned to death.

In today’s gospel reading, Jesus’ opponents wanted to inflict the same fate on him, ‘at this they picked up stones to throw at him’, presumably with a view to killing him. It was a precursor of Jesus’ crucifixion.

What aroused such deadly anger from some people towards Jesus were the claims he was making for himself. There are two powerful claims Jesus makes for himself in today’s gospel, one at the beginning and the other at the end of the reading, ‘whoever keeps my word will never see death’, and ‘before Abraham ever was, I am’. Jesus was claiming to pre-exist Abraham and declaring that whoever believed in him would exist beyond this earthly life. They would never experience ultimate death. These claims, for believers, rather than arousing anger bring great consolation.

According to John’s gospel, Jesus pre-existed the universe. ‘In the beginning was the Word’. He came from another world, the world above, into this world. The Word became flesh. He offered the life of this other world, eternal life, to all who believed in him, to all who opened their lives to his coming. His journey from this world back to his heavenly Father was a journey that all who believe in him would also travel. This is good news which brings meaning and joy to our lives.

Any person calling himself/herself “Christian” understands that from our earliest years, we begin a journey with Christ. Each moment that we breathe is a moment when we choose to walk with Christ or walk away from Christ. The ways of the world work against that focus. It is only when we have encountered Christ in our life or when we grow old and contemplate the nearness of the end of our mortality do we realize that the journey has always been there. The incredible part is that the journey has no ending. The journey promises eternity. Faced with that, how can we ever choose to walk away?

Prayer of The Day

Loving God, even though I cannot see you; I trust and believe that you are always present to me.  Give me the strength and the courage to always be present to you. Amen.

Daily Note

Take these last days of Lent to really examine how God has been working in your life. Today, take a few minutes to remember a moment of consolation, a moment where you really felt the presence of God in your life, and sit with that moment embracing the closeness of our God even in the midst of great mystery. 

 

 

When Faith and Attitude Intersect

Daily Bulletin – 4/10/19

Jesus said to those Jews who believed in him, “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will become free’?” Jesus answered them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. A slave does not remain in a household forever, but a son always remains. So if a son frees you, then you will truly be free. I know that you are descendants of Abraham. But you are trying to kill me, because my word has no room among you. I tell you what I have seen in the Father’s presence; then do what you have heard from the Father.” They answered and said to him, “Our father is Abraham.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works of Abraham. But now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God; Abraham did not do this. You are doing the works of your father!” So they said to him, “We were not born of fornication. We have one Father, God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and am here; I did not come on my own, but he sent me.”( John 8:31-42)

 Reflection

Such bigots! They were all too ready to stone a woman to death and then go home to their wives and children. How could they live with themselves? It’s hard to get one’s mind around it. But then that’s what religious legalism is all about. It has no heart in it.

This is what Jesus encountered with the scribes, Pharisees and many of the Religious Leaders. Their legalism and hardness of heart meant that they were incapable of compassion, mercy and forgiveness. How unlike they were to the God whom they worshipped. Such religious bigotry still exists in the world today . We have the tendency to seek security behind laws, rules and regulations, forgetting that these are meant to guide us not control us. The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. It is only a heart that has been softened by the living presence of Jesus that will be able to reach out with love, mercy and compassion. This is the Church’s call to us. In this, Jesus is always our model and example. The more we grow in our relationship with him, the more we become like him. The truth is that the only one who could really throw a stone at the woman chose not to. Rather he showed mercy and compassion. In doing this, and by challenging those religious bigots, he saved her life and gave her a fresh start, a second chance. Didn’t she deserve that? Don’t we deserve that? To them she was just a sinner. To Jesus she was a person, a child of God whom God loved – even in her sin. What good news this was for her! What good news this is for us!

Prayer of The Day

Father, help me to be merciful as you are merciful. Thank you for the many second chances you have given me. May I always be aware of my need to healing and forgiveness and never give in to judgement and condemnation of others. Amen.

Daily Note

Faith isn’t real until it touches our attitudes and, above all, our concrete choices. To “remain” in the word of Christ means to conform our lives to his life and his virtues, especially the virtue of charity, which is the very essence of Christian doctrine and morality. To “remain” in his word is, as some would say, “to walk the walk.” In another passage, we are told that it is not those who say “Lord, Lord…” who will enter the Kingdom, but only those who do the Father’s will in their lives. Remaining in his word is the stuff of sanctity – it’s also the stuff of daily perseverance and of knowing how to get up, dust ourselves off, and begin again each time we falter. How well do I “remain” in Christ’s word? Could an impartial observer see from my attitudes and actions that I follow Christ?