Daily Reflection – 6/25/19
Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces. Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the Law and the Prophets. Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:6, 12-14)
The gospel reading for today comes from near the end in Matthew’s gospel known to us as the “Sermon on the Mount.”
Rather, chapters 5 through 7, contain some key statements of Jesus given for those who would answer the call to discipleship, including the Beatitudes and the Our Father prayer. Yet the “sermon” itself is really a series of Jesus’ statements most likely said at various times during Jesus’ public life and covering a wide variety of topics.
Jesus tells us today that the Law and the Prophets (a shorthand for the entire Hebrew Bible) is contained in the well-known aphorism, “do to others whatever you would have them do to you.” Coupled with the earlier expression of the Beatitudes (in chapter 5) and Matthew’s expression of the Our Father (in chapter 6), here we are challenged and encouraged to live our lives effectively in relation to those around us.
How often have we heard this and similar expressions of the “golden rule” and in the very hearing of it been challenged to look into our actions to see if we live out the command properly? One way of understanding the “Sermon on the Mount” is to see it as Jesus’ way of inviting us to incorporate into our lives the way that Jesus wants us to live so that we can “enter through the narrow gate” (of heaven). Today’s gospel reading gets our attention as it reminds us that indeed the gate is narrow and “those that find it are few!”
Am I one of those “few?” I’m afraid that I will never know for certain the answer to this most pressing question. But I do have some control in the matter. That control comes from continually taking seriously the demands of treating others as I would wish to be treated.
Today’s gospel reading has with it the call to look outside of myself towards others and the way that I am towards them, the way that I treat them. My prayer is that I can accept this call and live it out, knowing that hearing the call may be the beginning of opening myself to the work of Jesus in my heart and in my actions especially towards others.
I certainly find consolation in that thought because the focus is on Jesus the caller and not so much on me the responder. My prayer is that I continue to allow myself to be opened to the Spirit of Christ in my life – however that Spirit comes to me: through the beatitudes, the Our Father, or Jesus’ rendition of the Golden Rule (all segments of the Sermon on the Mount).
Prayer of The Day
Thank you, Lord Jesus, for your call to discipleship in our world today. Help each of us to respond with generosity to your ongoing call in our lives, a call to wholeness and holiness as we relate to one another and to You.
The verse in today’s gospel reading, ‘enter by the narrow gate’, implies that following this rule of treating others as we would want them to treat us will not always be easy. Narrow gates require an effort to get through. The narrow gate Jesus speaks about then leads to what he calls a hard road. Jesus’ teaching requires a daily dying to self, putting the good of the other before our own good. The way of life that he sets before us is a difficult and challenging way. Yet, Jesus declares that it is the way that leads to life. It is a life-giving path for us in the course of our earthly life, and it will lead us to eternal life, a sharing in the Lord’s own risen life.
Daily Reflection – 6/24/19
When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her. When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said in reply, “No. He will be called John.” But they answered her, “There is no one among your relatives who has this name.” So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called. He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,” and all were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God. Then fear came upon all their neighbors, and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea. All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, “What, then, will this child be?” For surely the hand of the Lord was with him. The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel.( Luke 1:57-66, 80)
John the Baptist’s path is that of all Christian disciples, not to seek out glory for self or family, not to pursue success measured by fame, fortune, or power, but to find our true selves through our love of God and neighbor.
The process is similar to our life of discipleship, slowing discovering the richness of God’s creation in ourselves by removing the blandness of sin that so often covers it up.
This is what John did. He found his role in salvation history not through power or even his own greatness but by calling people to repent, live their lives more faithful to God, and pointing them to Christ. This is what Jesus did. He became God’s messiah and not the one people expected.
This seems like an easy choice—God not fame, fortune, power—but the choice is usually not this stark. One can imagine John’s parents wanting to intervene in their son’s life to protect him from being mocked or arrested, desiring to bring him home to comfort and protect him, yet this sheltering would have thwarted his calling. Similarly, we might be concerned about money, especially in the current economic conditions, and make small choices to prepare for retirement, to save for a rainy day, to take care of our children. Nothing is wrong with these, but we can also, over the slow passing of time, find ourselves so focused on these goods that we lose sight of the needs of the neighbor and the stranger and to the God that appears in their form.
Each day we must attend to God who is perpetually calling out, “hear me”, “listen, O distant peoples”, to return to the way of life, to return to the protection of life, to return to the fullness of life. It is a life God designed for us before our birth and when we are named, a life that might look like failure or foolishness to others and even ourselves at times, but a life that ultimately has an essential role in salvation history, a role like that of John the Baptist.
Prayer of The Day
Lord, you have put family members and other loved ones in my life for a reason. I’m to help them get to heaven, and they are to help me do the same. Remind me of this truth, and especially help me not to interfere with the plans you have for the children in my life.
God has hopes for every child born into the world, and we share that hope when we bring our children for baptism. We hope that they will find God’s love in their lives and the care of Jesus, as John the Baptist did. As they grow older we are happy to see them growing as were John’s parents, and also happy when we see them becoming generous, compassionate and caring for others and committed to making a better world. We hope they can take on the best values we try to pass on.
All of us, young and old, can ‘prepare the way of the Lord’ by our lives – what we say and how we say it, what we do and how we do it.
Daily Reflection – 6/21/19
Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Matthew 6: 19-23)
Who does not long to discover a hidden treasure? The human heart was made for the happiness and security treasure promises, for the joy it brings. But one fundamental problem presents itself: to what kind of treasure should we entrust our heart, our inmost being, our very self? Christ alerts us to the false treasures which tug at our heart each day — earthly treasures of fine clothes, or possessions, or wealth.
Christ offers us the one treasure worthy of the human heart, the one treasure that will not betray us, the only one that can accompany us through the grave and across the threshold to eternal life. What is that treasure? It is the person of Christ himself and all of the good actions we do for his sake. Living for Christ alone, loving him above all else, giving up our lives, our very selves for him, constitutes the only treasure rich enough to satisfy the human heart — the only one capable of fulfilling our deepest aspirations. Only this treasure will remain for all eternity, immersing us in a joy that is ever beginning, ever new. “For where your treasure is, there also your heart will be.”
Christ’s teaching about the eye as the lamp of the body might at first glance seem obscure, unrelated to his previous exhortation to store up treasures in heaven. But a second look reveals an inner link. Scholars say that the eye referred to in this passage refers to the intentions which lie behind our actions. Christ exhorts us to childlike simplicity in all that we do and even in the way we view events and others. Deep within, we realize that earthly treasure truly does not give us love nor security. Only God can give us true security! Our greatest need is love: love from God and from the people in our lives. If we see Christ in others, if we are able to perceive the Father’s providential hand behind everything that happens to us in life, if all we do is done out of love for Christ, then truly our whole body will be flooded with light.
Prayer of The Day
Thank you, Lord, for the clear message of your Gospel. Thank you for showing me how to live my life with eternity ever in view. Thank you for being the one treasure that alone can satisfy the longings of my heart.
Today, stop and ask yourself: who and what is the real treasure/s in your life? I invite you to write these treasures down. It may be only a few people or things. However, it is a gift to appreciate the true and lasting treasures in our lives. Then give thanks to God for these wondrous gifts.
Daily Reflection – 6/20/19
Jesus said to his disciples: “In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. This is how you are to pray: ‘Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.’ If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”( Matthew 6: 7-15)
(Today, we are departing from our usual format of Scripture, Reflection, Prayer and Daily Note and presenting the Lord’s Prayer phrase by phrase)
The challenge and the danger begin right in the first two words. We address God as Father, the source of life and of everything that we have; we have nothing purely of our own. But God is not just ‘Father’; he is ‘our ‘Father. And that ‘our’ includes every single person who lives or has ever lived on this earth; not a single person can be excluded.
In addressing God as ‘our Father’ we are acknowledging that every human person, including myself, is a child of God and therefore that we all belong to one huge family where we are all, in a very real way, brothers and sisters to each other. There is no room here for rejection, or hatred, or prejudice or contempt of any kind based on race, nationality, color of skin, gender, sexual orientation, social class, religion… If I am not prepared to accept every single person as a brother or sister, I will have problems even beginning to say this prayer.
2, Hallowed be thy name :
Of course, God’s name is holy no matter what we say or think. We make this prayer for our sake more than for his. Here we are praying that God’s name be held in the deepest respect by people everywhere. That is not the case: some people despise his name and others do not even know it. We pray that the whole world will know God’s name, which is to say, to know and recognize God as their God and Lord, their Creator and Conserver and the final end of their lives on this earth. It is, in fact, another form of the next petition.
3, Thy kingdom come:
We have already spoken about the nature of the kingdom. It might be more accurate to say, ‘Your kingship come’. In other words, we pray that every person in our world may put themselves consciously and willingly under the kingship and lordship and the love of God. We do this, above all, by our working together to make this world the kind of place that God wants it to be – a place of truth and love, of justice and peace, of sharing and caring. In one sense, of course, God is Lord irrespective of our relationship to him. But it is clearly his will that people, on their part, should accept that loving lordship as the centre of their lives. And that is the work of the Church and of every single Christian, indeed of every person anywhere – to help people recognize the kingship and lordship of God and to accept it as the key to their present and future happiness.
4, Thy will be done on earth – as it is in heaven:
This, in a way, is simply another way of saying what we have already asked for in the previous two petitions. For that is the will of God that people everywhere recognize the holiness of his name and submit themselves gladly to his kingship and lordship in our world. We do that most effectively by identifying totally with the mission and work of Jesus to bring life, healing and wholeness to our world. To do the will of God is not simply to throw aside what we want and accept God’s will even when it is totally contrary to our own. We are only fully doing God’s will when we can see clearly that what he wants is always what is the very best for us. And we are only fully doing his will when we fully want what he wants, when our will and his will are in perfect harmony. Then we do what he wants and we do what we want. We are praying here to reach that level of oneness.
5, Give us this day our daily bread:
It does not look like it but this also is a step forward for us. First of all, we are only asking for what we need now. Later in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus will tell us not to be anxious about the future. We are asking for what we need today; tomorrow is another day. We take care of one day at a time.
But there is one little word here that is highly significant. It is the word ‘us’. Who is that ‘us’? Just me and my immediate family? or my parish? or my neighborhood or my town or my country? Surely it is the same as that ‘our’ in the first petition – it includes every single person. I am praying, therefore, that every single person have bread to eat today. We know, of course, that there are millions of people (some of them in rich countries) who do not have enough to eat or who suffer from malnutrition and poorly balanced diets. In praying that all of ‘us’ have our daily bread, are we expecting God to drop manna from the skies or are we not reminding ourselves that the feeding of brothers and sisters is our responsibility? If people are hungry or badly fed, it is not God’s doing; human beings are responsible in most cases (outside of natural disasters).
6, And forgive us our trespasses ( or debts ) as we forgive those who trespass against us (or are in debt to us.)
Again we take a bold step with this. We are asking that God’s forgiveness to us be conditional on our readiness to forgive those we perceived to have hurt us in some way. That is a daring thing to do. And forgiveness does not simply mean uttering a few words. Forgiveness in the Scripture always includes reconciliation between offender and offended. In fact, I would go even further and say that the fully Christian person is never offended, cannot be offended. The true Christian has a rock solid sense of their own security and their own inner worth which no other person can take away. When such a person is the recipient of some attack, be it verbal or physical, their first response is to reach out to the attacker with concern and sympathy. It is the attacker who has the problem, not the one attacked. Most of us have a long way to go to reach that level of inner peace. ‘If what you say about me is true, I accept it; if it is false, then it is false. Why should I take offence?’
7, And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
In the end, we acknowledge our weaknesses and our total dependence on God’s help. We pray that we will not find ourselves in a situation where we fall seriously. We ask to be protected from the powers of evil with which we are surrounded.
Some texts conclude with “For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory for ever. Amen”, which is used by many Christian denominations and is now included in the Roman Catholic Eucharist after the Lord’s Prayer but separated by a prayer for peace. It is believed that this conclusion, not found in most MS., was introduced for liturgical reasons.
Finally, in addition to simply reciting this prayer in the rapid way we normally do, we could sometimes take it very slowly, on one petition at a time and let its meaning sink in.
Or we could just take one petition which is particularly meaningful to us at any time and just stay with it until it really becomes part of us.
Daily Reflection – 6/19/19
Jesus said to his disciples: “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.” (Matthew 6: 1-6, 16-18)
Jesus warns his disciples not to do good deeds simply so others will think well of them. Jesus wants his disciples to be aware of their motivation for what they do. He wants them to do what is right or good because they desire to help others, love others and make the world a better place. Jesus hopes their actions and decisions will flow from love of God, love of the Gospel and love for the people and the world.
How often do we stop and examine our motivations? It is easy to move through the day and simply go about our business. Are we concerned about others or are we too preoccupied to even notice the people around us? At times, do I choose to do something so the other person will think well of me? Do I go to church because that is truly where I want to be? Or do I attend simply because I am supposed to or want to be seen as spiritual? When I am tired, do I ignore someone who might need some help? And if I am in a bad mood, do I take it out on another?
I assume that all of us have made some of the choices listed above at times in our lives. If the majority of our time and attention is focused primarily on us and our needs, it might be well to reflect on our choices. Most often the source of our happiness is in the people in our lives. Hopefully, most of the people around us bring us joy and love. Yes, there will be difficult times. However, if love is present, difficulties can be worked out. And in day to day living, it is their presence, love and care that is the greatest gift we receive!
Today may we be mindful of our choices and decisions. Jesus also reminds us to be aware of our motivations. Why do we make the choices we do? Do our decisions flow from care and concern for others? Or do I usually do what is best for me? We all have heard the saying: “what would Jesus do?” Today we might experience a choice or challenge as we go about our day. May we pause for a moment and thoughtfully ask ourselves: What would Jesus do? And then just be still for 60 seconds and listen for His answer! Jesus will respond!
Prayer of The Day
Almighty God, our hope and our strength, without You we falter. Help us to follow Christ
and to live according to Your will. Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
What Jesus does here is test the reality of God in our lives. How easy it is to do religious things if other people are watching—preaching, praying, attending church, reading the Bible, acts of kindness and charity, etc. The reason for this is not only the commendation we might get, but more subtly the sense that the real effectiveness of our spiritual acts is on the horizontal axis among people, not the vertical axis with God.
Daily Reflection – 6/18/19
Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5: 43-48)
Life in our world has many sorts of enmity. Enmities between a husband and wife on the brink of divorce, bullies and their victims, a person betrayed by a friend, and more. Enmities between nations at war or adversaries in civil war. Between cheaters and cheated, criminals and victims. Among the wealthy and among the poor, and between rich and poor. Whatever the sort, only two options occur to me as possible for those embroiled in enmity. Let it be, or deal with it. There really isn’t any “in between.”
Letting an enmity be will likely make it worse. Recrimination will increase. Old hurts will get bruised and new ones will be perpetrated.
Dealing with the enmity requires both parties to turn their faces to one another and listen. Each needs to acknowledge to the other their own responsibility for the division, and to forgive the hurt and misunderstanding the other has caused — more or less in that order. When all this takes root — on both sides — genuine reconciliation, which consists of deep-down mutual forgiveness, becomes a real possibility. But sometimes it will occur only with the grace of God. If that is the case, then both sides will benefit from praying for the grace to reconcile.
For reconciliation to stick, the process needs to grow towards mutual love. This is more than mutual tolerance or respect. To come to a point of praising, revering, and serving an enemy one needs to experience the mutual forgiveness and healing which reconciliation makes possible. Then, as reconciliation flourishes, union of hearts and minds becomes a desired goal to work for, and the love that results will abide. When union and love are achieved, they become the doorway to peace, deep and enduring peace — which is the polar opposite of enmity. This is a tall order, but at least we can try. For, as Christians, we are Christ for others. We teach others the way to live by our words and actions; in doing so, we reveal God. In other words, being “perfect” really means being Torah for others, showing others how God is faithful and how he has a loving concern for the world.
Prayer of The Day
Have mercy on me, O God, in your faithful love, in your great tenderness wipe away my offences; wash me clean from my guilt, purify me from my sin (Psalm 51)
By telling us to “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect,” our Lord is saying we have an opportunity to become fully human by imitating the loving qualities of God. Such a conversion has many implications. It cannot be an individual affair with God. If we are to emulate the type of selfless love that radiates from God, the true hallmark of our conversion will be our ability to conduct ourselves in ways that allow our words and our deeds to show others the love of God.
Daily Reflection – 6/17/19
Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles. Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.” (Matthew 5: 38-42)
Today’s Gospel passage, once again, is part of the Sermon on the Mount. Once again, we are presented with a radical teaching and one which, in today’s world, seems antithetical to the ways of the world. The news is replete with violence, with people being treated unjustly, with countries determined to regain what was lost, with world “leaders” whose words and actions are mean-spirited, aggressive and dismissive.
Evil for evil, violence for violence, hit for hit, word for word will never change anything. It only escalates the violence and entrenches us deeper in the way things already are. It only reveals who we serve and who guides our thinking and actions.
So, what is a follower of Christ to do? It would certainly be hard to find words more radical than these words. Who would dare to speak them, if not the Son of God himself? He would live them out fully in his own life, allowing himself to be nailed to the cross by evil men. Is it really possible for us to live them as his followers, as Christians? Jesus wants us to resist evil with active nonviolence, stand our ground, speak the truth, insist on our common humanity, disarm our opponent, risk suffering love, trust in God, and work for the conversion of our opponent, so that the one who does evil or supports systemic injustice, changes. The goal is to lead the opponent to a change of heart, to melt his heart, win him over to the truth, stop the violence, and help others discover God’s reign of love and peace.
There is a starting point for each of us. Jesus came to call us into and show us the way of perfection. Most often we can discover our holiness, move towards perfection, and reveal God’s Spirit within in us by looking at the painful, demanding, and burdened places of our lives. They are in all our relationships, the people we live with, in our places of work, the busyness of everyday errands, the victims of injustice, and the stranger on the street. Which course will we pursue? The way of the world or the commandment of love ?
Prayer of The Day
Lord, you present a message that is not easy for my fallen nature to accept. However, I believe in your words, and I trust in you because you alone have the words of eternal life. As I begin this moment of prayer, I turn to you as one in need. I want only to please you in all I do.
The world tells us there are only two options in the face of violence: fight back with violence or run away and do nothing. But Jesus offers a third alternative, “a third way”: active nonviolence resistance. Jesus doesn’t advocate passive resignation or indifference to evil. Quite the contrary. He teaches and practices active, steadfast resistance to every form of violence and injustice. He just does not use the same means as the oppressor.
Daily Reflection – 6/14/19
Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into Gehenna. “It was also said, Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce. But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” ( Matthew 5:27-32)
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is taking us deeper, beyond the Ten Commandments. He’s saying, “You have heard this, but I say to you …” In this section, he’s reminding us of the commandment to not commit adultery. And, he is calling us to face the heart on two issues – lust – specifically, lust in our heart, even with our eyes and our attitude toward fidelity and commitment as expressed in matrimony.
Using the power of hyperbole, he says that if our eye or hand causes us to sin – basically to give in to lust, that is, to want something I can’t or shouldn’t have – then we should put a stop to the lust. Jesus reminds us that lust is deadly for us and it is better to experience the challenge of dying to this addiction that to face eternal death.
We can cringe when he talks about adultery and divorce. Jesus isn’t insensitive to the great tragedies that lead to divorce today. He’s trying to challenge the Jewish tradition which gave all the advantage to the man. In today’s language we’d say that a sacramental marriage – one which mirrors Christ’s own love and fidelity for his Church – should last forever.
I think that Jesus hopes that married couples will not simply be faithful to their marriage vows in a minimal way but that married couples also will strive to keep their commitment strong and their love deep.
In today’s world, every day we hear of celebrity couples as well as couples we know who are separating and getting a divorce. However, I believe that a mindset has evolved over the years that if a “marriage is not working as I want it to work,” then it is time to move on. In many cases this is true. If abuse, anger, or unhealthy behaviors have destroyed a marriage, then getting a divorce or separating likely is a healthy choice.
However, we also need to remember the disposable culture in which we live. Many items that we buy have a short shelf life in our society.
This pattern of a disposable culture often transfers to other areas of our lives: such as a committed relationship, responsibility for children and other family members who need to be loved and cared for.
We need to strengthen our culture, our world, and our lives with good and healthy values that encompass our planet and all of creation. Hopefully, we will model these values every day of our lives by the choices we make.
Prayer of The Day
Lord, begin a new work of love within me. Instill in me a greater love for your commandments. Give me a burning desire to live a life of righteousness, sincerity and holiness. Purify and transform me that I may be fully conformed into the likeness of Christ.
There is a chastity that all of us are called to, in which we are called to give witness to what ii is to regard each human person with dignity and reverence, never to be seen or used as an object of my pleasure or needs. We can pray for the healing our world’s need to return to respecting each and every person as a child of God. As we each move in that direction, with freedom, it will be so much easier to appreciate and love one another, the same way our Lord loves each of us.
Daily Reflection – 6/13/19
Jesus said to his disciples: “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison.” (Matthew 5:20-26)
Sin leaves us empty, broken, wasted; feeling abused and used and utterly worthless. “Turn back to me”, says the Lord. He invites us to turn back and reconcile with our brother and sister before doing anything else. You cannot move forward if broken; otherwise the pain will only get worse.
What does it mean to surpass the righteousness of the Pharisees? It means to recognize our own sins! The righteous will always be good at pointing fingers at others but never at themselves. If the Lord is to create a new heart, a new spirit in us, then we will have to get rid of the old to make room for the new.
The Lord invites us to come to Him with open arms, bent knees and broken hearts. The Lord invites us to come to him as our Savior rather than as our Judge. Better to go to the Lord as our Savior and King than as our Judge and Ruler.
The Lord invites us to forgive and be forgiven; to love and be loved. He calls us from afar, from within, from above. We can heed the call or else, prepare for a long drawn out battle with the devil of intrigue, suspicion, jealousies and falsehoods. We will not win!
Whatever happened to the Pharisees? Why did they turn so nasty? How did they get to that place in their lives where they could no longer love or recognize goodness and purity? How did they get so cynical, judgmental and vicious? Believe me when I tell you: all these things are near to us! All these things that I hate in others are near to me!
The Lord highlighted, in every word and gesture, what was wrong with the World.
Jesus is reminding us that yes, we can follow the Law and be good people. However, he is calling us to go beyond the letter of the Law and acknowledge that we have a greater responsibility than just what the Law calls for. We are called into communion with each other and in doing so, with God. When we can see the face of God in others, then we know that we are close to being who Jesus challenges us to be because our hearts are changed. He is calling us to a new beginning. It isn’t an easy road and if we struggle today, then we always have tomorrow to try again.
Prayer of The Day
Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. We thank you for the opportunity to go out and love others as you love us. Lord, help us to never let go of you, and to always follow your ways. Help us be slow to anger and quick to love. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.
If we come to worship God and there are feelings of anger, revenge or hatred in our hearts, then our worship remains incomplete. It is only an external worship and not true worship. God does not need our adoration, but if want to adore him it must also come from within. It can’t come from within if we harbor anger, malice, bitterness or negative judgements about others. That is false worship and certainly not adoration.
Daily Reflection – 6/12/19
Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-19)
So Jesus says that the Law is still to be observed. He is not saying that every single injunction of the Law (some of which seem very strange to us) has to be literally observed but rather that the spirit behind those injunctions is still in force. His words are meant to console but they are also a challenge. The New Law does not mean simply the addition of new elements. There is now a ‘paradigm shift’ to a Way which goes beyond laws to the Law of Love.
To truly grow in faith, we need to be ready to move forward creatively to new ways of understanding our faith and living it out. The traditions of the past are still valid but we must never get bogged down in them to the extent that we do not respond to the clear signs of the times. Tradition can be understood in two ways: either as a fundamental belief that has existed from the very beginning or simply a way of doing or understanding things which has been around for a long time.
When should we and our Church stop changing? we hear some people ask. The answer is, Hopefully never. The day we close ourselves to change is the day we die, as Paul warns us in the Second Letter to the Corinthians. To quote Cardinal Newman: To live is to change; to be perfect is to have changed often. He knew about change. He made radical changes in his own understanding of the Christian faith, changes which he saw as unavoidable although they involved great sacrifices on his part.
If we want to truly lead others towards Jesus by following God’s commandments, we cannot simply follow the rules, because people will recognize that we are not being sincere. Instead, we must enter into God’s commandments so that faith is not only going through the actions, but an easily recognized part of our lives
Prayer of The Day
Son of God, you died for me on the cross to pay for my sins and manifest your unconditional love for me. Thank you for showing me the way home to the Father. Holy Spirit, you heal me and strengthen me and set me on fire from the most intimate depths of my soul. Thank you for your loving presence within me. Jesus, help me to live authentic freedom in union with your will.
Let us each take a few moments to think about ways that we can enter more fully into God’s kingdom. Are we following God’s commandments because we have to? Or have we allowed God’s commandments to enter into our lives? God wants us all to obey his commandments and lead others to follow him; he wants us to be called greatest in his Kingdom!