From Pain to Life

Daily Reflection – 5/27/2022

Sacred Scripture

“Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy. When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world. So you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. On that day you will not question me about anything. Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.”(John 16:20-23)

Reflection

As Jesus approached his crucifixion, he tried to help his disciples with this sort of confusion. He knew that they would be faced with a huge challenge when they saw him die on the cross. To prepare them, he explained that this was part of the great story that he had called them into. They would experience wrenching grief, and they would feel out of step with the rest of the world. But that wouldn’t be the final chapter. Their grief would be turned to joy, and the story would take on a whole new meaning.

While the disciples had to wrestle through the grief of Jesus’ death, you and I have come in later in the plot. We know about Jesus’ resurrection! If you can try to center our life in Jesus’ victory, you’ll know a joy, a stability, and a peace that nothing in this world can take away from you.

But at times we lose sight of God’s story. We forget that our joy comes from Jesus’ salvation, not from the story that the world offers us. Losing focus, we can begin to lose our trust that God is with us. That’s why we need to immerse ourselves every day in the story of the Scriptures. We need God’s word to sharpen our focus.

True joy – everlasting joy– comes only through a deep connection with our God, one built on and sustained by a deep reservoir of prayer. If we don’t remember who we are and who we belong to, we can be pulled off course by any flash in the pan, but that’s not what brings true joy; only true faith can provide that.

True faith requires work on our part. It is not simply prayer, nor is simply studying the word of God. It is both of those combined with living out and standing up for our faith. At times, in today’s world, that seems as if it’s a daunting task. But his disciples lived and taught their faith even to the point of martyrs’ deaths. Against that, can standing up for our faith, living out our beliefs, stepping away from our egos and occasional self-pity, is any of that harder than our Christian forefathers bore? Any harder than the Christians who died in the death camps of Nazi Germany for their faith and their attempt at saving their Jewish friends and neighbors? Any harder than today’s Christians in the Middle East who, as recently as yesterday, are martyred on the streets for their faith?

His word, our prayer, our lives combined with one eternal and immoveable reality. Jesus is always with us. Today Jesus is certain to come to us.  Never forget that you are part of an epic story. You are one of the “great cloud of witnesses” whose lives have been changed by the Lord (Hebrews 12:1). You aren’t just a passive observer; you’re an active participant. You have a role to play today in moving this story forward.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, I surrender my anguish and burdens to You.  I unite them to Your Cross and trust that You will be there in all things walking with me through my life.  May I keep my eyes on the goal and rejoice in Your steadfast love.  Jesus, I trust in You.”

Daily Note

Jesus wants his disciples to know and believe that after the difficult days of his crucifixion and death, new life will come forth for them.  Jesus also wants us to know and believe that after our difficult days, we also will experience new life.  Once again, we will see him and experience His presence with us.   We will be able to rejoice when Jesus gifts us with new life and hope.

Let The Light Brighten Your Day

Daily Reflection – 5/26/2022

Sacred Scripture

“A little while and you will no longer see me, and again a little while later and you will see me.” So some of his disciples said to one another, “What does this mean that he is saying to us, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me,’ and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?” So they said, “What is this ‘little while’ [of which he speaks]? We do not know what he means.” Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Are you discussing with one another what I said, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.” (John 16:16-20)

Reflection

I am sure you remember, as I do, driving in a car with a small child to a special destination. The child was filled with excitement and anticipation. In one way or another, the child asked: “How much longer before we get there?” Perhaps you were the child and you asked the question.

All the joy felt by the child was well and good. Their full attention was on the destination. For that moment in time, there was nothing else.

As adults, we tend, at times, to slip into the same mode.

If it is a moment of celebratory joy, we focus with great anticipation on that moment. We focus on the “how long question.”

If we have problems and distress, we pray for relief and/or strength to carry us through. We focus not only on the “how long” but we often add the “why” question.

Jesus had to prepare the disciples psychologically for the sufferings they would encounter. He was teaching them to look beyond the moment and even the event. This is what Jesus Christ is trying to tell us today. That while we are here on earth we will have to suffer, weep and mourn for the sake of the Kingdom of God especially because that which the world does is the opposite of what God wants the world to do.

But we need to remember that Jesus is always here and providing for us. There is no need to worry or to be afraid, for if we are striving to follow Him and to serve Him in our lives, then we will certainly see Him again. And like the moment that a mother sees her newborn baby, there will be nothing but joy at that moment when we see Jesus.

As we look beyond the horizon, we must always remember that the certainty of the Resurrection is the certainty of newness, of new life for us. A prisoner has joy in being set free from captivity. But that joy is complete and made full when he or she puts the walls of the prison far behind them and in righteousness and confidence, really enjoys a life of freedom.

We need always to focus on the joy of the Resurrection. We need to look beyond the cross to see the joy and the hope of being reunited with Him who is pure love.

The brilliant light that lies beyond the horizon is that after all these sufferings, paradise awaits us in heaven where we will join the communion of Angels and Saints to live happily and eternally in the presence of God.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, I do want to gaze upon You.  I want to see Your splendor and glory.  I want to see You risen from the dead and take great joy and delight in this reality.  Help me, dear Lord, to experience the incredible joy that comes from knowing You, our Resurrected Lord.  Jesus, I trust in You.”

Daily Note

Reflect, today, upon your own reaction to the reality of the Resurrection of our Lord.  Spend some time today gazing upon the Risen Lord.  Look at His victory.  Look at His glory.  Look at Him who calls you to a deep faith.  With your eyes fixed on Him, all else that tempts you to discouragement simply fades away.

Stop! Listen. Please Listen

Daily Reflection – 5/25/2022

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to his disciples: “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16: 12-15)

Reflection

Jesus told his disciples that he would send them the Spirit of truth who will guide you into all the truth …and declare to you the things that are to come (John 16:13). Jesus knew that his disciples could not fully understand on their own everything he had taught and revealed to them while he was physically present with them. He knew that they would need the ongoing guidance and help of the Holy Spirit after he returned to his Father in heaven. That is why he assured them that the Holy Spirit would take what he had spoken to them and guide them into a fuller understanding of God’s wisdom, power, and glory he wished to share with them so they could live in the joy and freedom of his love and truth.

What has that to do with us? Everything.

It begins with an ending. Yours and mine.

God gave us Creation to get to know him through seeking, even groping, in order to find him. God wants an intimate relationship with all of us, so that in him would “live and move and have our being” and grasp that we “are his offspring,” that he seeks to adopt us as his beloved children.

Life is not a debating society, religion is not just a thing to think about, but the most consequential thing we do, because there is a judgment coming on which our continued life will depend.

Faith is a never-ending journey during which we learn about ourselves and God.

We absorb the truth of the Gospel at God’s pace, not ours. He knows what is best for us at any given moment, and we can trust that we are as holy and perfect as he desires for us to be, providing we avoid sin, don’t cling to attachments, and are faithful to prayer and the sacraments. Are there obstacles within us that keep us from loving Christ?

Regardless of what we see or hear around us in this topsy-turvy world where we are told that black is white and white is black, the truth is not democratic; we don’t get to vote on it. And we don’t get to avoid inconvenient truths because we don’t like them. How do we conform our hearts and minds to the truth of the Gospel when it doesn’t seem to jive with what the world says or, perhaps, even with what our own heart wants to hear? This is where we need to cultivate the virtue of trust. God, who is all good, really knows what’s best for us. We are called to live in the Spirit, trusting in the Lord with all our heart (Proverbs 3:5). The proverb continues, “In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path” (Proverbs 3:6). In whom do we trust?

The Holy Spirit has “everything the Father has,” and everything the Spirit has is ours as children of God. The “things that are coming” include the powerful gifts of the Holy Spirit, which are at work in our lives to this day. Furthermore, “things that are coming” include our own death and resurrection to eternal life (God willing), about which we still know very little except what St. Paul told us, “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). How blessed are we to receive truth and gifts of all kinds from the Father, through the Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit who is present in our lives!

So, stop every day. Take a deep breath. Open yourself to the Spirit. Let the Spirit speak to you. The breath of God is alive in you. Waiting to reveal the way and the path.

How blessed are we.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit and guide me in your way of life, truth, and goodness. Free me from ignorance of your truth, and from deception and moral blindness caused by sinful pride and the refusal to believe and obey your word of truth. May I love you with all of my heart, mind, and strength, and seek to please you in all things.”

Daily Note

Today, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we, too, proclaim the same ancient faith which the apostles taught – that Jesus died, and was buried, and rose again on the third day, and will come again to judge, raise the dead, and give everlasting life (from the Apostles Creed). We not only share the same faith which was given to the apostles, we also have the same Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead. The Lord Jesus gives each of us his Holy Spirit as our divine Teacher and Helper that we may grow in the knowledge, wisdom, and strength of God. Do you listen attentively to God’s word and allow his Holy Spirit to give you understanding of God’s truth and plan for your life?

To Be A Child of God

Daily Reflection – 5/24/2022

Sacred Scripture

But now I am going to the one who sent me, and not one of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I told you this, grief has filled your hearts. But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes he will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation: sin, because they do not believe in me; righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see me; condemnation, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.( John 16:5-11)

Reflection

Have you ever thought about how our life is filled with good-byes?

It begins in our earliest years as we pass from one threshold of age to another. In each threshold, there is a good-bye to someone or something. As we grow older the good-byes multiply to persons, places, milestones, things. Admittedly, it is true that most good-byes are followed by a “hello” to another person, place or event. But saying good-bye is always difficult.

The Apostles knew about saying good-bye. They had already said good-bye to their former lives to follow Jesus. So their hearts are filled with the sadness each of us has known when we say good-bye permanently. But our good Lord knows their hearts and in this Gospel passage, he not only reassures them of not being alone but also lets them know why they are receiving this gift.

I sometimes think we don’t truly appreciate and recognize what it is that Jesus is saying here.  It was necessary that Jesus would leave, because He wanted to send us something very special.  Now just think about that for a second.  Why couldn’t Jesus have simply remained with us, and sent the Holy Spirit?  Why was it necessary for Him to leave for the Holy Spirit to come?  How on earth is this a better outcome?  The answer is Pentecost.

The Holy Spirit is sent to complete God’s work in us.  While Jesus takes on human flesh and becomes one of us, the Holy Spirit enters into humanity to become one in us.  I think it is worthy of silent reflection to bask in the awe that God has united Himself to us in this way.  We have the Holy Spirit in us, and He shares with us His gifts, His power, His life!  That is most definitely to our advantage!  No longer are we children of darkness and sin, but the Holy Spirit has transformed us into children of God. 

When Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to come and burn the hearts of His early disciples so that they may all remain united to Him and the Father, so that they may be one with Him in both spirit and in truth, He had in His heart the intentions of every person  of all generations. He had all of us in His heart so that we may be filled by His presence, so that we may have Him always despite all that may come to separate us from Him.

Jesus’ love for us is constant and His kindness endures forever. His right hand has saved us!

Prayer of The Day

“Come Holy Spirit, and let the fire of your love burn in my heart. Let me desire only what is pure, lovely, holy and good and in accord with the will of God and give me the courage to put away all that is not pleasing in your sight.”

Daily Note

Saying goodbye permanently to a love one or a friend is always a heart wrenching experience. We may even wish that there would be no more goodbyes anymore. But the reality of life is that we shall say goodbye permanently someday whether we like it or not we shall say goodbye on a time that God has willed for us. But let us not let our goodbye be a forgetful experience by not doing something indelible in the lives of our fellowmen. As we live in this world let us do something good that will remain forever in the minds of those who know us. So that when our time to say goodbye come our beautiful deeds would forever be imprinted in the hearts of those who know us.

The Link to God

Daily Reflection – 5/23/2022

Sacred Scripture

“When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me. And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning. I have told you this so that you may not fall away. They will expel you from the synagogues; in fact, the hour is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God. They will do this because they have not known either the Father or me. I have told you this so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you. ( John 15:26-16:4)

Reflection

Jesus, speaking in the setting of the last supper, tells his disciples that he is speaking to them in the way he is so that ‘your faith may not be shaken’. Jesus was aware that beyond the time of his death and resurrection, his disciples’ faith in him would be shaken and put to the test.

He knows that suffering will come their way, in the form of persecution and hostility, and suffering might be undermining of their faith in him. The words of Jesus to his disciples can speak to our experience. Our own faith can be shaken by various experiences. Sometimes it is personal suffering through the illness or death of a loved one, sometimes it is through the efforts of others to undermine our faith, or the failures of people of faith or family members whom we trusted – all of these experiences and many others can contribute to our faith being shaken.

Jesus makes a promise to his disciples, and to all of us. He promises to send the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit, and he tells us that this Spirit will enable us to witness to him, even in the dark experiences of life. He wants them, and us, to know that we will never be alone. His presence is always with us. The paraclete (translated as one who is close by us) is there.

The power of our Lord is beyond words and comprehension. Even in those times when our prayers seem not to be answered, the Holy Spirit is there to guide us, to hold our hand, to show us a way out of the darkness, to remind us that our faith is a gift from God. The giver will always be there to. It is truly the gift that never ends.

The need for reassurance in our faith is even greater, for most of us live in a distraction-filled world. Most modern Christians have the vocation of living the Gospel and being wives, husbands, religious, ministers and priests as well. Then there are the vocations imposed on them by their various professions. Sometimes. It not very easy to be able to experience the effect of the resurrection in our lives. Each of us needs all the help we can get. That is accomplished in us by the power of the Holy Spirit. We need him for the progress of that ongoing conversion that must characterize our lives as Christians. We need the Spirit that Jesus speaks.

We need to make ourselves aware of the Holy Spirit within us. To many, it is amorphous. But the Spirit is as real as the other two aspects of God: the Son and the father.

When our faith feels fragile, there can be no better prayer to pray than, ‘Come Holy Spirit, fill my heart’ or in that lovely prayer to the Holy Spirit, ‘Heal our wounds, our strength renew; On our dryness pour thy dew’.

Prayer of The Day

“O merciful God, fill our hearts, we pray, with the graces of your Holy Spirit; with love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self-control.  Teach us to love those who hate us; to pray for those who despitefully use us; that we may be the children of your love, our Father, who makes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  In adversity grant us grace to be patient; in prosperity keep us humble; may we guard the door of our lips; may we lightly esteem the pleasures of this world, and thirst after heavenly things; through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  (Prayer of Anselm, 1033-1109)

Daily Note

We have been given the Holy Spirit to help us live as disciples of Jesus Christ. The Spirit gives us courage and perseverance when we meet adversities and challenges. Do you pray for the Holy Spirit to strengthen you in faith, hope and love and to give you courage and perseverance when you meet adversities and challenges?

You Have Been Chosen . . .

Daily Reflection – 5/20/2022

Sacred Scripture

“This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.” (John 15:12-17)

Reflection

“ Love one another.”

The beauty and the power of those words have reverberated throughout Christianity since they were first uttered.

On the face of it, the words are simple. But to most, the power of living those words seems almost herculean. After all, as humans, we are subject to human frailties . . . anger, self-pity, inadequacy, emotions, sadness, fatigue and more. How can we rise to the challenge of loving one another as He loved us?

We can IF we focus on a key phrase of this discourse by Jesus. “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain.” We live in a time when we have deep fear about our personal powerlessness. Institutions and problems seem to not only dwarf us but to consume us.  But we are not powerless. God created us for a purpose. Jesus reminds us that each of us is chosen. Yes, you and I have been chosen.  We need to internalize that before we can open ourselves to the task of loving.

But even more empowering is that Jesus promises that our love will not only bear fruit, but fruit which abides. In other words, lives motivated by love have meaning. They’re fertile.  They’re powerful. They live. Think for a moment of the child you were or a child that was part of you. Isn’t that love powerful? Isn’t that love a thing of beauty? Isn’t that love a treasure? You chose, either through parentage, or adoption, or family to foster that love. Having fostered that love, there is nothing that you would not do . . . including laying down your life for that love.

Again, reflect, understand and then embrace the fact that you are chosen by God. Chosen to be part of His plan of salvation. You and I are not mere mortals or pawns on a chessboard. You and I are individuals chosen to fulfill His gospel of love.

And once we grasp it, then we need to understand that we are fueled by a power far greater than we could imagine. Jesus tells us that he is our friend and he loves us whole-heartedly and unconditionally. He wants us to love one another just as he loves us, whole-heartedly and without reserve. His love fills our hearts and transforms our minds and frees us to give ourselves in loving service to others. If we open our hearts to his love and obey his command to love our neighbor, then we will bear much fruit in our lives, fruit that will last for eternity.

Remember those words. You are chosen. You are appointed. Your witness of love will and does enable others to love, to believe and to hold on to His promise. May God grant each of us the unselfish love to hear His voice . . . and the courage to act on it by following His call.

Prayer of The Day

“Teach us, good Lord, to serve you as you deserve, to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labor and not to ask for any reward, save that of knowing that we do your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  (Prayer of Ignatius Loyola)

Daily NoteNo matter how “unqualified” we may feel at times to make a difference, we must remember that God does not see us that way. Rather, He sees the infinite potential within each of us and chooses to use that potential for the building up of His Kingdom. Reflect, this day, on those  two short phrases: “I have chosen you” and “Go and bear fruit.” Accepting your call from God will change your life and will also change the lives of those whom you are called to serve.

The World’s Most Powerful Words

Daily Reflection – 5/19/2022

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to his disciples: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete.” (John 15: 9-11)

Reflection

In today’s Gospel, Jesus says the most important words in the history of the world. They’re important whenever anyone says them, but the fact that God himself said them in the way that he said them makes them life-changing: “I love you,” he tells us.

But then, Jesus puts them into a context that ought to astound us: “Just as the Father loves me, I love you.” The Father loves him perfectly. The Father loves him profoundly and intimately. And Jesus tells us that he loves us in that same way. And he doesn’t merely love us “all” in that way, but he loves each of us in that way, as St. Paul wrote in his letter to the Galatians, “He loved me and gave his life for me” (Gal 2:20).

Grasping the enormity of God’s love is essential not only for the Christian life but for human life. We need the love of family, the love of friends, the spousal love of a husband or wife, the total self-giving love of someone who values us that much. Without it, we’re lost. We’re an enigma to ourselves.

And what is true in terms of human love is also true in terms of divine. There are many people who have never really experienced the love of the Lord. Their notion of the faith is perhaps an angry God, or a distant, negligent God, or a God who is a stern taskmaster making sure they fulfill all their duties lest they be punished. Many people are filled with a type of self-pity and self-hatred because they have never experienced God’s love and often don’t believe they are lovable by God or anyone else. Today Jesus says to them, and to all of us, “I love you … just as my Father loves me!”

Then Jesus gives us the most important command of the Christian life. “Remain in my love.”

It is crucial for us to remain in Christ’s love and in relationship with him because we thirst for him as well. Our world longs for perfection and satisfaction, but we will never be able to achieve this as the world sees it. The perfect body, the perfect job, the perfect grades, house, family, car – none of these can satisfy us like we often think it will. Christ knows this because he knows us intimately – “You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb” (Ps 139:13). He did not merely make us for this short life on earth – Christ made us to live eternally with him in heaven! Christ calls us to live this calling as citizens of heaven and to follow his commandments so that we may know him and his infinite joy.

Living in his commands can be simple if we grasp this one thought. If we love God, we’re going to love what he loves. Jesus, in loving the Father, loved the Father’s will. Likewise, if we truly love the Lord and remain in his love, we will love what he loves and seek to do what he out of love wills for us and others.

Prayer of The Day

“Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you have blessed us with. Lord, help us to never stray and to always remain in your loving care. Lord, you choose to pour out your love and mercy on us no matter what, help us never to forget this. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Daily Note

There is nothing that we can take more peace and comfort in than knowing that we have a God that loves us so much and only wants us to have the best. He is love Himself, the source of all love; and there is nothing greater in this world than loving and being loved. We have a chance to remain in the source of love, but we must choose to live by His rules, not our own. If we are obedient servants and choose to live by His commandments, then we can live in His love. If we choose to go it our own way, then we cut ourselves off from this life-giving love that He offers us.

It’s Just as Much About the Do’s Than the Dont’s

Daily Reflection – 5/18/2022

Sacred Scripture

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”(John 15:1-8)

Reflection

There is a profound beauty in today’s Gospel. It’s the invitation to keep our lives centered on Jesus Christ and in so doing, our lives will be blessed abundantly. Not so much in terms of materiality but rather that our lives are magnified by His presence in us. He is the true vine and each of us has the opportunity to be a fruitful branch.

Our actions, our words, our very being can be used to bring Him glory. Our actions, our words, our very being can be used to bring others to Him. Our actions, our words, our very being can be used to magnify His love for us throughout the world. He wants our lives to be fruitful and He wants to use us as powerful instruments of His grace in the world.  That is both humbling and, at the same time, glorious!

In truth, isn’t that what we believe as followers of Christ? Christianity is not just a religion of “don’ts” but one of “do’s”. Christ is very definite about it, “You must bear fruit in plenty,” fruits of good works.  The only thing that matters is “faith working through love” (Gal. 5:6) or as St James beautifully put it: “What good is it to profess faith without practicing it? Such faith has no power to save one, has it?”

We bear fruit abundantly by being attached to and living in the Vine, Jesus Christ. We must be abiding in Jesus and He in us, and stay in communion with all the others who abide in Jesus. This life of union with Christ is necessarily something which goes far beyond one’s private life: it has to be focused on the good of others; and if this happens, a fruitful apostolate is the result.

But Jesus reminds us that there is a balancing that must take place continuously. It lies in a spiritual pruning that each of us is called to do. A life of good acts which is not accompanied by a spiritual life focused on Jesus Christ falls far short. So too does a life of prayer not accompanied by being Jesus to one another.

Spiritual pruning takes the form of letting God eliminate the vices in our lives so that the virtues can be properly nourished.  This is especially done by letting Him humble us and strip away our pride.  This can hurt, but the pain associated with being humbled by God is a key to spiritual growth.  By growing in humility, we grow ever more reliant upon the source of our nourishment rather than relying upon ourselves, our own ideas and our own plans.  God is infinitely wiser than us and if we can continually turn to Him as our source, we will be far stronger and better prepared to let Him do great things through us. 

Pray this day that you will let the Lord prune away all that is not of Him in your life.  Trust in Him and His divine plan and know that this is the only path to bearing the good fruit God wants to bear through you.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, may I be one with you in all that I say and do.  Draw me close that I may glorify you and bear fruit for your kingdom. Inflame my heart with your love and remove from it anything that would make me ineffective or unfruitful in loving and serving you as My All.”

Daily Note

There are many seductions and distractions in our world also inviting us to make our home in them but if we do our branch will wither and we will not bear fruit. There are many voices in the world telling us to eat the apple from the tree and then we will have life and all will be well. But after eating the apple we discover that we are worse and even more unhappy. So, we make our home in Jesus. He alone is the Way, the Truth and the Life and when we make our home in Him, we bear fruit.

Building A Channel for God’s Love

Daily Reflection – 5/17/2022

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to his disciples: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me tell you,
‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe. I will no longer speak much with you,
for the ruler of the world is coming. He has no power over me, but the world must know that I love the Father and that I do just as the Father has commanded me.” (John 14: 21-37)

Reflection

What a powerful and instructive Scripture!

What might it have been like to be a disciple and hear Jesus say, “If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father…”? We might be incredulous and wonder how we could possibly rejoice in his leaving us? We might think about all we had experienced with him and learned from him and wonder, “What will we do without you?” Yet Christ’s leaving them allowed him to be present throughout history, all the way to this very day.

His leaving is what allows him to be present to each of us through the gift of the Holy Spirit in our lives. A little later in this Gospel, Jesus said, “But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7). Christ ascended into heaven so that he could send his Holy Spirit, and it is through the Holy Spirit that Christ is alive to us right now. 

While Jesus troubled the disciples by explaining about his impending death, he also comforted them by promising the Holy Spirit who will “teach you all things and remind of everything I have said to you (Jn 14:26). He has promised that though he is leaving them, he will not leave them as orphans, but will come to them (Jn 14:18).

The Christian life is a continual interchange of love between God and those who belong to Jesus Christ. We belong to Jesus when we love him and keep his commands. Typically, we think of love as an emotion, but true love encompasses our entire being: mind, heart, will, and body. Let me explain.

You begin to keep his commands when you first believe that Father sent Jesus and that he is the Son of God. This insight into Jesus’ identity is seeded into your mind by the Holy Spirit.

Once you know who Jesus is as the Son of God and learn of his kindness and grace, you are drawn to him emotionally. You love him because he first loved you. Most people think that love is fulfilled at this point, but your love must continue forward.

Jesus then reveals his will to you. He does this through scripture, the sacraments and by the work of his Spirit within you.

As Jesus lived by the motive to do the will of the Father, so must you. Finally, you must put his teachings into action through the faculty of your body. Your love for him is finally fulfilled when you act on his commands and put his teachings into practice. 

That’s how we build a channel for his love to fill us, to motivate us, to save us and to bring us home to his father.

Prayer of The Day

 “My God and Father, I live in a world that is busy and filled with division and conflict. When I hear your promise of peace, I feel a great longing to experience it in my life. I believe that you are faithful and that if you promise something, you will give it. Help me remember, though, that it is your peace, not my idea of peace, that you give. Keep my eyes set on you, my ears open to your words, my heart open to your life within me. I hope in your providence that brings all things together for my good. I love you for your constant love, for your ongoing presence and care in my life.”

Daily Note

The peace that Jesus is telling his disciples about is a peace that comes from trusting the Father. As he faced his Passion, Jesus instructed, “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” His example shows us that peace does not depend on everything going right in our lives, but rather it is rooted in trust in the Father’s goodness and his desire for our ultimate happiness. He wants us to experience peace in the midst of the trials of our lives by trusting him with ourselves and all that is dear to us. 

It’s All About Love

Daily Reflection – 5/16/2022

Sacred Scripture

He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me does not keep my words; and the word which you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. “These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (John 14: 21-26)

Reflection

Years ago, while preparing a group of teenagers for Confirmation, one of the most talkative and brightest students raised his hand and said: “You know, I am supposed to step forward and be confirmed, but I still don’t get this part about the Holy Spirit. I just don’t understand.”

I remembered this passage from scripture and read it. I used it to discuss the magnitude of the love that God has for us and for the gift of his love manifest in the Holy Spirit.

Saint Augustine says the Lord loves each of us as if there were only one of us to love. God’s love for each of us is as real and tangible as the love of a mother for her child and the love of a lover who gives all for his beloved. God made us in love for love – to know him personally and to grow in the knowledge of his great love for us and to love him in return. God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5) and love is listed first among the fruits of God’s Spirit (Galatians 5:22).

God who gave His son for our salvation also gives us the living presence of His Spirit within us.

Because God’s Spirit is the Spirit of love. God’s Spirit can animate our hearts with the power of loving. When love seems impossible, the Spirit can infuse us with the gift of divine love, the very love of the Father and Son. Then, with the Spirit’s help and guidance, we can love one another and live as the body of Christ.

If faith looks backward to Christ’s resurrection and hope looks forward to Christ’s return, love is the very present life of Christ’s body. Love never ends (1 Cor 13:8). The promise towards which we strain is the promise to see God face to face. God’s love is both the goal and the means by which we attain it. Those who live in love abide in God (1 John 4:16).

As Christians, we look back on the victory of Christ’s resurrection and we look forward to the final triumph of God. The Spirit is our guarantee of God’s activity and promise. The Spirit is the first installment of God’s kingdom, enabling us to live in faith, hope, and love.

Years later, I knew this student as an Army officer and a proud and loving husband and father. In our conversation, he reminded me of that class and added: “To this day, when I want to grow in my love and act in His name, I remember the Holy Spirit in me. The Spirit is my constant companion. I have learned to ask for strength and guidance because my asking actualizes my relationship with the Holy Spirit and opens my heart to allow the Spirit to work within me.”

When he finished, I smiled ruefully and thanked him for the teaching he had just giving me.

Prayer of The Day

Lord Jesus, in love you created me and you drew me to yourself. May I never lose sight of you nor forget your steadfast love and faithfulness. And may I daily dwell upon your word and give you praise in the sanctuary of my heart, You who are my All.

Daily Note

God’s Spirit is given to us to keep our hope alive. It is the Spirit who points us forward to the final victory which God has promised. Reminding us of Christ’s lordship, the Spirit strengthens us to persevere even in the presence of evil and death. Even when it seems that all is lost, the Spirit prompts us to hope for what we cannot see, waiting for God’s salvation with patient endurance (Rom 8:25).