Fogging Up The Prism of Faith

Pin on (Matthew 9:12-13, Luke 5:31-32) "It is not the healthy who need a  doctor, but the sick." "I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

Daily Reflection – 9/21/20

Sacred Scripture

As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” (Matthew 9:9-13)

Reflection

Here are five lines of scripture that are powerful in their direction for our lives and our relationship with God.

The first message that jumps out is that Jesus invites all of us to share His presence in our lives, regardless of who we are, regardless of what we may have done in the past, or how confused our present life may be.  Jesus does not judge us or condemn us: instead he invites into His home, shares himself with us and invites us to share ourselves with Him.

Just as God, in Christ, has invited those on the margins into his home without judgement we are to invite people into the home of our church and our hearts without judgement, so that we can share His love with them. and encourage them to journey with us.

But judging others overtly or subconsciously is one of the down fallings of human kind. How quick we are to judge outward appearances, or to believe the gossip of others, or even worse to discriminate because of color, or gender, or bias. YET, we claim the label of Christian. Sorry, the two simply do not go together. No way, no shape, no how.

That also brings us to an institutional fault or even an institutional chasm. Too often, our churches tend to encourage us to stay focused on our beliefs and that means socializing only with those who adhere to our beliefs — to live in some sort of holy huddle as if mixing socially with those who do not think as we do will somehow infect our spirituality. But Jesus’ approach is the complete opposite. He is quite happy to host a dinner party for tax collectors, sinners and disciples – and he is quite happy for his disciples to mix socially with tax collectors and sinners.

I am reminded of a parish on the West Coast to which I was assigned. I asked the pastor about when the ministers in our town met together (a most common practice in the United States). The pastor replied that the ministers preferred not to. I was incredulous and asked why. He said that they believed our denominational differences were too great!! YET, we claim the label of Christian. Sorry, the two simply do not go together. No way, no shape, no how.

Finally, Jesus cuts through false religiosity. The Pharisees practiced an institutional form of religion. They were so intent on pursuing purity through obedience to their laws that they had forgotten the heart of their faith. He is reminding them and us that all the rituals and sacramentals are utterly meaningless unless we practice mercy and love and kindness and compassion towards others. The externals never compensate for lacking the commands of the love commands. YET, we claim the label of Christian. Sorry, the two simply do not go together. No way, no shape, no how.

Today let each of us embrace humility, love and mercy towards others just as Jesus has taught us. Let us prioritize our neighbors than ourselves and God in heaven will reward us in equal measure.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus Christ, You have taught us to be humble, loving and merciful to our neighbors. Strengthen our hearts and souls so that we may never waver away from this solemn call to unconditionally serve others from our hearts.”

Daily Note

It is important to examine the degree to which we see and judge everything in our life through the prism of faith. A true believer, a real apostle, must form this “sixth sense” in all of his/her daily dealings. We form this habit through prayer, our frequent and intimate contact with God. We need to ask God for the gift of faith, which gives us a new perspective on life.

It’s Always Been About Inclusion

Jesus and the woman of Samaria by J H Hartley
Daily Reflection – 9/18/2020

Afterward he journeyed from one town and village to another, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. Accompanying him were the Twelve and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their resources.( Luke 8:1-3)

Reflection

Century after century, women have had to fight for their rightful voice in society. Century after century, there have been examples of women who have helped change their society. Yet, if we return to the base line of Christianity, we see that it was the historical Jesus, through his welcoming and responding to women who taught  us much.

As he did with so many mores, rules and laws, he turned the traditional view upside down. He showed by example that society then was mistaken. In that society, women did not have the status of men and were denied basic rights.

Jesus defies these expectations in at least four ways, which have implications for us.

First, Jesus refused to treat women as inferior. Given the decidedly negative cultural view of women in Jesus’ time, the Gospel writers each testify to Jesus’ treating women with respect, frequently responding in ways that reject cultural norms. He recognizes their dignity, their desires and their gifts.

Second, Jesus refuses to view women as different. Women who had any flow of blood were considered ritually unclean. Anything or anyone she touched was deemed unclean. Jesus recognizes the dignity of women in situations that seem by ritual law to demand judgment, for example, the sinful woman who anoints Jesus (Luke 7:36-50) and that of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:3-11).

Third, Jesus steps over expected boundaries between men and women by his acceptance of women as disciples. Unlike rabbis of his day, Jesus taught women about Scripture and his way of love.

Fourth, not only did Jesus have women disciples, but the Gospel writers also assure us that they were prominent recipients of Jesus’ self-revelation.

While we live in a time and culture far different from that of the historical Jesus, his way of welcoming and responding to women has much to teach us. And it is a sad commentary that this sentence is even written.

The fact is that men through the centuries have carved out a role for themselves that too often speaks of a distinction that separates them in a superior role. Yet, it is women who give men birth, nurture men, support them, provide emotional support, and in truth are the rocks upon which societies are built. The Christian Church itself was bounded by men and women whose faith was so strong that they gave their life for it.

Wherever we are in our life’s journey, there is but one teacher who will always show us the way. Then and now, Jesus Christ welcomed all of his children to His banquet and treated them with dignity, equality, respect and compassion. Can each of us say that we treat all we meet with the same?

Prayer of The Day

Lord, I am but one of your children. Help me always to respect that each person deserves my respect, compassion and dignity. Help me to realize that if I am to be a true follower there never can be any form of discrimination in my heart.

Daily Note

Jesus recognized that women had gifts for discipleship, and he was not afraid to call these women forth. Women today need to hear that the Christian Church recognizes their “leavening,” and welcomes their creativity and spirituality for the gifts that they can be to the “whole batch” that is our Church and our world.

A Heart Opened In Love

Luke 7:36-50 - YouTube
Daily Reflection – 9/17/2020

Sacred Scripture

A certain Pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him, and he entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. Now there was a sinful woman in the city who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee. Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment, she stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to bathe his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said. “Two people were in debt to a certain creditor; one owed five hundred days’ wages and the other owed fifty. Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both. Which of them will love him more?” Simon said in reply, “The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven.” He said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet, but she has bathed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she anointed my feet with ointment. So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” The others at table said to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” But he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (Luke 7:36-50)

Reflection

Today’s scripture is replete with several messages. For me, this a beautiful story of a hand extended in love met by a heart filled with love.

The “back story” of course begins with how rude Simon had been to Jesus from the time he entered his home. Notice the signs of respect that were not given to Jesus, as a respected guest in his host’s home. He was here judging Jesus.

But the sinful woman has heard of Jesus. She has probably heard his teaching. She has heard his gracious words of God’s love and forgiveness and healing and restoration.Her self-image is tattered and ragged. She is shunned by the best people and used and abused by the worst. Yes, she is still broken, but now she can see light and hope beyond.

Jesus, the ultimate source of love, sees her heart and recognizes her need for forgiveness. He doesn’t judge. He doesn’t put her in a category or attach a label. He recognizes a person who needs forgiveness so that she can move on with her life.

Our Lord’s loving treatment of both the woman and of Simon displays a remarkable balance of kindness. He carefully avoids the opposite extremes of condemnation and indifference to others’ sins. The reason Our Lord is able to offer hope and consolation to the repentant sinner as well as to invite the proud with a gentle call to repentance is that Christ will die for both. In this we see Christ’s goodness. He comes to save us all, but we must choose to accept his goodness.

Christ stands before each of us, and offers us his friendship. The more we accept His offer, the more we are transformed to become what we are meant to be. His offer of friendship is accepted by opening our hearts to allow Jesus in without fear or obstacles. Accepting Jesus’ friendship empowers us to do what others would never dream possible for us. We are asked to put aside our judgement and labels. We are called to be God’s hands now, hands to comfort and welcome the sinner or someone who may have offended us; we are God’s heart now—hearts to love and forgive and refuse to hang on to bitterness. The divine within us calls us to understand one another so we can forgive and then be free to love. A contemporary poet puts the question to us with these words: “Is there anyone we wouldn’t love if only we knew their story?” “Is there anyone we wouldn’t forgive if only we knew their story?”

 Accepting Jesus as our friend, frees us from baggage of the past, so that we can live the life of Jesus fully now.

Prayer of The Day

Lord Jesus, your grace is sufficient for me. Fill my heart with love and gratitude for the mercy you have shown to me and give me joy and freedom to love and serve others with kindness and respect.

Daily Note

“Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Those last three words are just as important as the others. Go in peace. They express the great gift of forgiveness – freedom, the freedom to be whole, to be at peace with oneself and one’s community. We’re no longer bound by guilt or shame; we’re no longer bound by holding on to the righteousness of someone else having hurt us. Henri Nouwen calls it “the freedom to move on.”

From Her Womb (Part II)

Near the Cross - John 19:25
Daily Reflection – 9/16/2020

Sacred Scripture

Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.

(John 19:25-27)

Reflection

Mary stood beneath the cross. She beheld the wounds from which the blood flowed; she saw the hands and feet pierced with nails; she heard the blasphemies and the jeers of His enemies. She heard and saw all this, and it had to cause indescribable pain to her maternal heart.

She could do nothing to allay the sufferings of her Son. The wounds were open; she could not bind them. The lips were parched with a burning thirst; she could not hand Him a drink. The Holy Face was disfigured by spittle and blood; she could not refresh it.

She bore all her sufferings with a heaven-born patience.

At the heart of all this is a lovely story about the greatest gift of the love of a son for his mother, who has indeed poured out her love for him all his life as only a mother can.  Within that lies life’s lessons.

It is deeply moving that Jesus in the agony of the Cross, when the salvation of the world hung in the balance, thought of the loneliness of his mother in the days ahead. Even in the moment of his cosmic battle, he did not forget the simple things that lay near home.  To the end of the day, even on the Cross, Jesus was thinking more of the sorrows of others than of his own. So too should we never forget that the sorrows of people around us are an invitation to extend His love.

We should look also at the women and the disciples simply being there during Jesus’ hour of need.  They had the courage to face the pain and ultimate death of their loved one and to face the danger of being there at the foot of the cross.  It is easier to be at a distance where you can’t really see, can’t really hear, can’t really participate. But we must never forget that the kingdom of God means our always being there, showing up, not being afraid to share in painful experiences and even to hold the hand and wipe the brow of the dying. That is part of His call to us. To live out our faith in the actions of our lives.

Our being part of the kingdom of God on earth also means that we need to be open to transformed and deepened relationships. We have heard the voice of Jesus call us into new relationships because of our life with him.  The church is a community in which we are able to be brother and sister, mother and father together, not because of our birth, but because of Christ’s call to us. 

Finally, the gift of this somber story is the resolute courage of Mary. No matter that the sword had pierced her heart, she bore the suffering and the anguish with not a word of complaint nor tears from her eyes. She believed in her son, accepted the pain and went on to help His disciples as they built His church.

When we stand at the foot of a cross in our lives, how do we respond? With self-absorption and cries of self-pity? Or do we call upon our faith in Him, accept the suffering and continue to move out to help others. Remembering always that we are called to love one another. For that was at the heart of all that He did us and should be in our hearts as we live out our lives.

Prayer of The Day

Lord God, the suffering of your Son for us reminds us that while life may sometimes be filled with pain, we are to rise above the anguish, offer it up to you and use it to fuel our steps as we build His kingdom. Help us always to remember that and to live out His command of love.

Daily Note

His love for us meant that families broken by the adversities of life shall find a new home in the family of Jesus. Families broken apart because of a betrayal by blood shall be placed in the household of God. Strangers shall become fellow citizens; the lonely shall be surrounded by brothers and sisters; the abandoned shall be adopted; the barren shall be comforted by sons and daughters by faith.

From Her Womb . . .

Mysteries Of The Rosary by Maura Pauli
Daily Reflection – 9/15/2020

Sacred Scripture

Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. (John 19:25-27)

Reflection

The world is reeling from the pandemic. Its citizens hold their collective breaths in anticipation of a second wave projected in the Fall of 2020. We search for meaning. We look for hope. We want to believe in something greater than that which we are experiencing.

This passage from John offers us both hope and courage.

Reflect on the scene with me. Here we stand at the foot of the cross. Watching the man whom we believe is the Son of God crucified on a cross. Standing at the foot of the cross stands His mother. Can you imagine her pain, her suffering? Suffering was not new to Mary.

Mary suffered when she gave birth in a filthy stable, far from home. Mary suffered when she heard that Herod wanted to kill her baby. Mary suffered when she was forced to become a refugee in Egypt. Mary suffered as she watched a whole nation misunderstand and taunt her son. And here, at the foot of the cross, Mary suffers again as she watches her son being crucified for a crime he has not committed.

Jesus thinks about his mother. He knows how much she is suffering. Watching her in pain was torment enough, let alone everything else he was going through in those moments. Even in his dying moments, Jesus’ concern was for the future well-being of his family. He looks down at Mary and his disciple John. Two people who believe in his mission. Two people who believe in his claim to be the Son of God, the Lord and Savior of the world. Jesus sees in them a new family.     

 A new family is created in the shadow of the cross. Through the blood of Christ shed for us, a new home, a new community comes to life. A new family is born.  It is here, at the foot of the cross, as Jesus sheds his blood and a woman embraces a boy and a boy embraces a woman – it is here that the church is formed!

Mary brought the Son of God into mortal life. She now steps forward to help form a new family.

It is the church, the people of God, through whom God brings us to life. It is the church, in the form of your neighbor or your parents or your colleague or your Sunday school teacher, who first preached the Good news about Jesus to you.

It is the church, the people of God, through whom God nurtures and grows us – whether that is through services, teaching, praying, receiving baptism and communion. It is the church, the people of God, who offer us love and care.

It all starts at the foot of the cross. That is where the Mother of Jesus and the disciple who Jesus loved are standing.

At the very heart of the church, of the people of God, is the cross. The Christian Church binds us to one another. His blood flowing from that cross covers each of us and emboldens each of us to believe in Him, to believe in the family of human kind, to live a life that is centered on His teachings, to understand that we are not one, not alone but brother and sister to one another, and when the time comes for each of us to pass, to know that there is not darkness but rather the brilliance of His love to help us on the next step of our journey. (to be continued).

Prayer of The Day

Lord, we pray that you bless your family who form your Church so that we might become a place that embraces the lonely , the injured, the suffering person and welcomes the stranger, for the glory of your name. Amen.

Daily Note

Whatever else Jesus intends with these words from the cross, he means to signal a hopeful future: with God as our Father, Jesus as our elder Brother and the Spirit as the One who unites the brokenhearted, like Mary and John and the rest of us, into a family that, by grace, becomes a foretaste of the home for which our hearts everlastingly yearn.


THIS is love

Readings for 1/27-2/2/20 – First Lutheran Church of Boston
Daily Reflection – 9/14/2020

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to Nicodemus: No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. ( John 3:13-17)

Reflection

It is a love like no other love that you may have experienced. It is unconditional. It is unmerited and undeserving. No words can describe it except this – It is a love demonstrated by the greatest act of sacrifice – a Father who gives up a Son and a Son who give up his life.

There is no word in our human language that could ever convey to the human intelligence the immensity of it.

St John tells us in one brief sentence that it defies definition, baffles all description, that it is inexpressible, unspeakable. “God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son.” The gift of His Son would have to be the proof and measure of God’s love. We may consider it, but never comprehend it; we may know it, but it surpasses all knowledge; we may speak of it, but it is unspeakable; we may search the breadth, length, depth and height of it, but all dimensions and magnitudes fail to supply plummet or compass by which we may tell the extent of it. His gift is unspeakable.

Not some warm fuzzy kind of emotion or sentiment. It is profoundly deep and complex. The Incarnation and the Cross; the suffering the Son had to endure; His sorrows, the suffering and shame of Gethsemane and Golgotha, the darkness, the woe, His death and shedding of his blood taken together is the answer to the question of the extent of God’s love. It was God’s utterance of an unutterable love; His love declared by His unspeakable gift.

An unspeakable gift must produce unspeakable joy. Every earthly pleasure is speak able because it is temporary and conditional. But God’s unspeakable gift of Love carries us beyond the confines of this realm, beyond the limits of time and space, and thus thrills us with divine joy, unspeakable in human speech. It is the joy of faith, the joy of love, not natural but divine. And strange though it may seem, this unspeakable joy goes along with the heaviness of the Cross.

 On earth, trials and sorrow will be our inevitable lot, a light affliction nonetheless; but in heaven, we can only experience a far more exceeding weight of glory. All that is imperfect, and belongs to our present state of mortality, will be swept away by the power of immortality. And that which is humanly unspeakable will now be spoken because and heaven’s language will become our familiar tongue.

When it comes to love, humanity’s version is but a pale shadow compared to the truth of God’s love.  “God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son.” This is God’s love and it is this type of love that God would have us show to others. Have you accepted that challenge? If so, are you living that challenge?

Prayer of The Day

Lord Jesus, you have been kind and forgiving towards me. May I be merciful as you are merciful. Free me from all bitterness and resentment that I may truly forgive from the heart those who have caused me injury or grief.

Daily Note

We see in this gospel that the decisive point is that whoever scorns God’s love condemns himself. God is not at all eager to condemn men. He is nothing but Love, Love that goes as far as the Father sacrificing his Son out of love for the world. There is nothing more for him to give us. The whole question now is whether we accept God’s unconditional love so that it can prove efficacious and fruitful in our lives, or whether we choose to continue to cower in our darkness in order to evade the illuminating love of his grace. If we choose the latter, then the description in the gospel fits us – we are those who “hate the light,” we hate true love, and we affirm our egoism in any form whatsoever, often mistaking such egoism for love.

The Art of Self-Deception

Tissot The Blind Leading the Blind painting - The Blind Leading the Blind  print for sale
Daily Reflection – 9/11/2020

Sacred Scripture

He also told them a parable: “Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully qualified will be like the teacher. Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Friend, let me take out the speck in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye. (Luke 6: 39-42)

Reflection

Christian judgementalism is rampant today. Too many are quick to tell you what is “right” or, even quicker, what is “wrong.” We seem to have developed an orthodox rigidity which freezes our eyes from looking inward. What can’t we observe with the perception of our eyes? Ourselves and our own behavior!

And that’s why today’s Gospel is about far more than judging others. Jesus is calling on us to develop our capacity for critical and honest self- reflection.

When our own eye is obscured by what is in it, in other words when our moral consciousness is malformed or not fully awake, our own perception of other’s moral status may be warped and distorted. Christ’s point therefore is that it is essential for accurate judgement to look at ourselves first before we look at others. 

The Christian moral life, by definition, must include a life-long process of critical self-reflection. This means not looking with our eyes to the exterior world and judging it, but learning first to look inwards and reflect on ourselves.

If we take the first step and honestly observe our own flaws and sins then we are led to the second step in the process.  That consists of deliberately changing the behavior that is inconsistent with His word. After all, we can only teach others what we have taught ourselves.

Jesus wants us to learn this lesson because most of us tend to trivialize or excuse the serious sins that we have and yet point out the small sins of others and make them seem more serious than they are. He wants us to change so that we don’t become blind guides who may lead others into a pit.

Another more common expression is for us to be the change we want to see in the world. The prerequisite to personal guidance, leadership, or any type of moral guardianship of others has to be that. Someone who has a malformed conscience cannot bring others to perfection, but only lead them into his own sin as well.

Thinking the best of other people” is necessary if we wish to grow in love.  And kindliness in “judgment “is nothing less than a sacred duty.  But that “judgment” can only come from a heart that is refreshed by honesty built on correcting our own faults first.

Prayer of The Day

“Dear Lord, I pray for humility and meekness. Help me to free myself of all manner of pride and being judgmental. Help me to see and judge others in the way You want me to see them.”

Daily Note

Jesus was not against people pointing out other’s sins or flaws, in fact it is our duty to do so. However, we are not to do so from a higher position of judgement, but rather from the position of a mentor. A teacher teaches from example. During Christ’s time on earth, Jesus lead a fellowship of his apostles – he treated them as friends that he ate and slept beside. Yet, he never shied from reproaching them for their failures – but always loved and forgave them. We should never utilize moral judgement of others as a method of division from the sinful, but rather as a form of love towards them – the willing of the good of the other.

Follow THE Leader

Pin van Laronda Martin op Life is a Blessing | Geloof, Goed advies,  Affirmaties
Daily Reflection – 9/10/2020

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to his disciples: “To you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well, and from the person who takes your cloak, do not withhold even your tunic. Give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same. If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, and get back the same amount. But rather, love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most

Reflection

Over the last four plus decades of ministry, this Gospel always seems to invoke the greatest angst. It raises the most questions and sometimes, while acknowledged as the word of God, is placed upon a shelf for greater reflection some day in the future.

The root of the angst comes from who we are as human beings. The pessimistic viewpoint is that human beings are hard-wired for sleep, not mercy. Our instinct is for pleasure, not pain. Our nature moves us to satisfaction, not self-denial. Our problem is that we tend to focus too much on ourselves and our own immediate needs and overlook the needs of others

Jesus knows this. No one has to teach Jesus about the ways of the human heart. He also knows that our hard-wiring moves us to save ourselves, to seek pleasure, to shun pain. These are good instincts, but Jesus wants more for us.

He wants us to love as God loves. That love means that we need to focus more on others. We can only do this if we have a strong inner sense of security and self-acceptance. Then we are not too worried about what people say about us or do to us.

And then, too, we can turn our attention much more to the one who is hating or harming. We will begin to ask why do they have to act in this way. What is hurting inside them that drives them to such behavior? Already we are just by thinking in this way beginning to care for our enemy and beginning to love him or her.

And is not this a much better solution to the problem? To bring peace back into that person’s life and initiate a healing process in them and between them and me.

Jesus is not at all asking us to do something “unnatural”. We do not naturally want to hate or be hated. We want to love and to be loved. We see many parts of the world where – for years – there has been a process of hatred and retaliation in a never-ending spiral of vengeance and loss of life.

The only way to break this cycle is to follow Jesus’ advice. It is not a lose-lose or lose-win situation; it is a win-win situation where everyone benefits.

Perhaps words of the late Mother Teresa are appropriate here:

“Love, to be true, has to hurt. I must be willing to give whatever it takes not to harm other people and, in fact, to do good to them. This requires that I be willing to give until it hurts. Otherwise, there is no love in me and I bring injustice, not peace, to those around me.”

This, in fact, is the love that God has for us. It is a one-sided love in the sense that a return is not expected. God reaches out in infinite love to every single person without exception. God wishes every person to experience that love; God wishes the fullest well-being of every single person. That love of His is often not returned; it is often rejected or ignored. But it always continues to flow.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, your love brings freedom and pardon.  Fill me with your Holy Spirit and set my heart free that nothing may make me lose my temper, ruffle my peace, take away my joy, nor make me bitter towards anyone”

Daily Note

With God all things are possible.  He gives power and grace to those who believe and accept the gift of the Holy Spirit.  His love conquers all, even our hurts, fears, prejudices and griefs.  Only the cross of Jesus Christ can free us from the tyranny of malice, hatred, revenge, and resentment and gives us the courage to return evil with good.  Such love and grace have power to heal and to save from destruction.  Do you know the power of Christ’s redeeming love and mercy?

When Empty Is Full

Luke 6 20 Blessed are you PowerPoint Church Sermon | Presentation Graphics  | Presentation PowerPoint Example | Slide Templates

Daily Reflection – 9/9/2020

Sacred Scripture

Raising his eyes toward his disciples Jesus said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours. Blessed are you who are now hungry, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who are now weeping, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice and leap for joy on that day! Behold, your reward will be great in heaven. For their ancestors treated the prophets in the same way. But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. But woe to you who are filled now, for you will be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will grieve and weep. Woe to you when all speak well of you, for their ancestors treated the false prophets in this way.” ( Luke 6:20-26)

Reflection

Our Gospel passage today is often referred to as the Sermon on the Plain. The beatitudes preached by Jesus are not only different in locale but different than in Matthew’s report of the beatitudes.

Luke’s version is more direct than Matthew: no mention of “poor in spirit” here; it is the poor who are blessed. No hungering for righteousness; it is those who are hungry who will be filled. The addition of corresponding woes further highlights the notion of a future of blessedness which awaits Jesus’ disciples. In Luke, the sermon is preached to the disciples, not the crowd as a whole, thus placing added emphasis on Luke’s concern with the theme of discipleship, its requirements and its rewards.

It’s the very nature of discipleship that is so central to this teaching. As we read this Gospel, the Beatitudes jar our sensibilities. Those who are poor, hungry, weeping, or persecuted are called blessed. This is, indeed, a Gospel of reversals. Those often thought to have been forgotten by God are called blessed. In the list of “woes,” those whom we might ordinarily describe as blessed by God are warned about their peril. Riches, possessions, laughter, reputation . . . these are not things that we can depend upon as sources of eternal happiness. They not only fail to deliver on their promise; our misplaced trust in them will lead to our demise. The ultimate peril is in misidentifying the source of our eternal happiness.

Jesus’ way of happiness, however, demands a transformation from within — a conversion of heart and mind which can only come about through the gift of the Holy Spirit. How can one possibly find happiness in poverty, hunger, mourning, and persecution? If we want to be filled with the joy and happiness of heaven, then we must empty ourselves of all that would shut God out of our hearts. Poverty of spirit finds ample room and joy in possessing God alone as the greatest treasure possible. Hunger of the spirit seeks nourishment and strength in God’s word and Spirit. Sorrow and mourning over wasted life and sin leads to joyful freedom from the burden of guilt and oppression. God reveals to the humble of heart the true source of abundant life and happiness. If we want to be filled with the joy and happiness of heaven, then we must empty ourselves from all that would shut God out of our hearts.

The Beatitudes are often described as a framework for Christian living. Our vocation as Christians is not to be first in this world, but rather to be first in the eyes of God. Today’s scripture challenges us to examine our life in the context of our ultimate horizon, the Kingdom of God. The true question each of us must face is just that . . . Do we live our life to be first in the word or first in the eyes of God?

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, increase my hunger for you and show me the way that leads to everlasting happiness and peace. May I desire you above all else and find perfect joy in doing your will.”

Daily Note

Today’s  Gospel invites us to place our trust in God, to see wealth not in terms of goods or cash, but in terms of love and relationship. The things we crave cannot guarantee personal happiness but that one thing we absolutely need, Christ, can and does. We increase our wealth and our happiness in the very recognition of that.

A Model For All Models

Encouraging Word: Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give  birth to a son, and they will… | Jesus verses scriptures, Matthew 1,  Christian quotes verses

Daily Reflection – 9/8/2020

Sacred Scripture

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, Son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.” (Matthew 1:18-23)

Reflection

In the midst of all that is occurring in our world comes this beautiful Gospel. Beautiful because it tells of the birth of Jesus and beautiful, because second only to Jesus Christ, stands the model of Mary, His mother.

Theological anthropologists trace the lineage of human beings whom God has sanctified through the conduct of their lives and the imprint they left on the world. Therein lies the heart of today’s message. The story of Maru.

Mary was really the most ordinary person to come before Jesus. If you were to walk down a busy street in a large city, and Mary walked by you, you probably would never recognize her.  That’s because Mary lived out the Gospel so fully.  She lived out the Gospel even before Jesus became a human being.  It’s because Mary lived out the Gospel so completely that Jesus became a human being.  But living out the Gospel is really very simple, very quiet, and very ordinary.  It doesn’t mean being famous, or looking for attention from others, or wanting to be better than those around you.

Mary listened for God’s voice every day, letting His Will for her life sink into her heart, and carrying out that will with the love of her own human heart.

The Lord desires to come to you and make His dwelling within your heart.  But when He comes to you, what does He find?  What is the condition of your heart?  Some hearts are like a fragrant rose garden.  There is light, beauty, magnificence and radiance.  It’s a place of peaceful repose and a place made holy by the presence of our Lord.  Other hearts are like a dark prison cell, cold, isolated and dreary.  These are the souls who are trapped in a cycle of sin and have failed, over and over, to allow the Lord to enter in.  But He does choose to enter your heart, no matter the condition.  Be it a fragrant field of roses or the darkness and isolation of a prison, the Lord wants to enter.

Ponder the inner chamber of your heart.  Be honest and reveal this hidden place to our Lord.  If your heart is more like a dreary dungeon, cold, dark and isolated, then know that you, more than any other, are invited to receive the Mercy of God.  He desires to come to you and open the door to that prison in which you feel trapped and isolated.  He does not shy away from you in this darkness and will enter in.  But when He enters, He does so to break you free.  He desires to transform your soul into a place of sweet delight.  This takes work, surrender, honesty, humility and trust.  But God can do all things.  His Mercy produces the soil, the Sun, the seed, the water and everything needed to recreate the inner chamber of your soul. 

As a member of God’s family, you have an important role to play in God’s plan, just as Mary did. As a parent, sister, brother, daughter, son, friend, co-worker, or neighbor, he wants you to bear Christ to the people around you, just as Mary did.

Give yourself unreservedly to God – he will use you for greatness in his kingdom
When the Lord calls us to serve, we must not shrug back because we think that we have little or nothing to offer. The Lord takes what ordinary people, like us, can offer and uses it for greatness in his kingdom. Is there anything holding you back from giving yourself unreservedly to God?

Prayer of The Day

Lord Jesus Christ, you are the Son of God and the Savior of the world. Inflame my heart with a burning love for you and with an expectant faith in your saving power. Take my life and all that I have as an offering of love for you, who are my All.

Daily Note

Let us make this day a day to start practicing Mary’s virtues. For me, she models the virtues of a trusting Faith in the power of God (“nothing is impossible for God’); perfect obedience to the will of God, (“be it done to me according your word”);  the humility of “the handmaid of the Lord,” who surrendered her whole being to God unconditionally; the spirit of sacrificial and sharing love; and the acceptance of suffering.