Will You Accept the Invitation?

Image result for free photo of Matthew 22: 1-14

Daily Reflection – 8/22/19

Sacred Scripture

Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’ But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’ Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”( Matthew 22: 1-14)

 Reflection

This parable is not difficult to understand, and probably wasn’t all that obscure to the chief elders and scribes of the time either, at least the first part of it. The first city to get the invitation was Israel, and the prophets were the servants abused and murdered by the Lord’s people. The refusal to attend would end with the destruction of Jerusalem. The second round of invitations is the church of Jesus gathering everyone else to the Father, but not everyone gathered will enjoy the feast.

God invites all to the banquet of salvation, but we have to prepare ourselves for the event when it comes; we have to look for that invitation and be open to its call, preparing ourselves to receive it. The man in this parable remained clothed in his sin and iniquities, not realizing that such a call would come or would come at that moment. None of us know the moment when we will be called to the feast. We must live the life Jesus teaches us to live in order to prepare for that call, that moment when we find ourselves in front of the Lord.

Jesus has invited each of us to his “wedding feast.” He extends this invitation each and every day. Ask yourself: what is your response to Jesus’ invitation? Do you have an excuse why it is impossible for you to attend the feast: “I have work to do.” Or: “I have another commitment.” Or: “I am tired.” 
Each and every day Jesus invites us to his “wedding feast.” It is our choice and our decision to attend or to refuse his invitation. How will you respond to Jesus’ invitation today? Be awake and alert: It may come in an unusual manner or through an individual you may not expect. Jesus will grace us through this encounter!

Prayer of The Day

Lord, may I always know the joy of living in your presence and grow in the hope of seeing you face to face in your everlasting
kingdom.” 

Daily Note

We will only be welcomed into God’s kingdom if we welcome Christ’s gift of salvation. Like some in this parable we must shed the soiled garments of sin and be clothed with Christ. In other words, we must repent for our sins and allow ourselves to be wrapped in the gift of God’s love and mercy. God invites and wants to welcome all of us into His kingdom. But do we really want that, and are we prepared to do what He requires of us?

To Let Go Is To Know Peace

Image result for free photo of Matthew 20: 1-16

Daily Reflection – 8/21/19

Sacred Scripture

Jesus told his disciples this parable: “The Kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. Going out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and he said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard, and I will give you what is just.’ So they went off. And he went out again around noon, and around three o’clock, and did likewise. Going out about five o’clock, he found others standing around, and said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard.’ When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Summon the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and ending with the first.’ When those who had started about five o’clock came, each received the usual daily wage. So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more, but each of them also got the usual wage. And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last ones worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us, who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’ He said to one of them in reply, ‘My friend, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?’ Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”( Matthew 20: 1-16)

 Reflection

Jesus was using this story to make hos disciples aware that He wants all mankind to taste the sweetness of heaven. In Revelation, we are told …..“Come.” Let anyone who hears this say, “Come.” Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life.  Today this includes us all, no matter how late in the day we come to Him to accept His gift of salvation.  The lame, the sick, and even the dying will be welcomed, and those of us who have given our lives to Him should feel pure and unselfish joy when a new soul comes to faith.  

Many of us do not take into consideration the sovereign love that God has for us all.  He patiently waits for all to come to Him, even to the last minute.  What seems unfair to some takes away the point that Jesus was making.  He was telling us He wants even the lowly to come and live in His kingdom.  ” For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) We are inheritors of these plans if we choose to come forward in faith.

Why be envious because God is generous?’  It is not always easy to understand the ways of God. In this Gospel parable we see the workers failing to understand why those who worked just one hour received the same wages as those who worked all day.  It reminds us of our futile attempts to understand why some people seemingly have been dealt a better hand than others going through life. Why does God apparently give more blessings to some than to others? We approach this question from our own light but the answer lies elsewhere. There is another way I would like to look at this; God has a perfect plan for your life.  If others have more than you it does not mean that God loves you less. God loves each of us specially. God is our friend and is not unjust to us. Think of parents and children. Parents have a different relationship with each child but love each child. God deals differently with each of us because God loves each of us in the way that God knows best for us and His kingdom.  The attitude to have is one of trust in God.” 

Prayer of The Day

God our Father, may we love you in all things and above all things and reach the joy you have prepared for us beyond all our imagining. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.

 Daily Note

God is the one who will judge in fairness and truth.  We do not have the right to judge others and yet we do it all the time!  Most of us have been gifted with abundant blessings.  Today may we give thanks for the gifts and graces that we have received and let us thank God for the many gifts we have been given!  May we let go of judgment, envy, and jealousy.  If we choose to do this, we will be happier and more peaceful.

 

 

 

To Gain Is To Lose

image.pngDaily Reflection – 8/20/19

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to his disciples: “Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” Then Peter said to him in reply, “We have given up everything and followed you. What will there be for us?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you that you who have followed me, in the new age, when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory, will yourselves sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”( Matthew 19: 23-30)

 Reflection

 We know from the Gospels that Christ spends most of his public ministry preaching about the Kingdom of heaven. God wants to be the King of our hearts. This is impossible if we are attached to things. When Christ says that it will be hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of heaven, he is speaking to every person. Christ is saying that to be attached to material things means not having room for God. It’s not a matter of riches. Just as a mountain climber doesn’t use heavy gear or take a weighty rucksack, in our spiritual climbing of the mountain (which is our intimate relationship with God), we need to be free of anything burdensome.

The reaction of the disciples helps us to remember how easy it is for us to be attached to ourselves, to things, to pleasures and to desires. To leave all of these in order to get to heaven may seem impossible for us to do. In fact, it is. No one can overcome these attachments without the help of God’s grace. That is why Christ says, “For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” God will take us to heaven if we let him. We can reach God when we empty ourselves and allow his grace fill our hearts.

We can usually give up something in order to receive something better. That is why the apostle Peter, not really sure of what “the prize” of his following Christ is, asks the Master, “What will there be for us?” The reward of our renunciation is to be with Christ, forever sharing in his glory. The awesome thing is that Christ tells us it’s not something we will receive in the future, but something we can already begin to receive here on earth. St. John of the Cross, who had a profound love for Christ, understood very well that “to come to the possession you have not, you must go by a way in which you possess not”

Prayer of The Day

Lord, thank you for reminding me about what is necessary for me to do in order to reach heaven. It’s so easy to get caught up with the things of this world and forget that they are worthless when compared to heaven.

Daily Note

At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by “I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in.”

 

How Much Will You Give ?

Image result for free photo of Matthew 19:16-22

Daily Reflection – 8/19/19

Sacred Scripture

A young man approached Jesus and said, “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?” He answered him, “Why do you ask me about the good? There is only One who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He asked him, “Which ones?” And Jesus replied, “You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; honor your father and your mother; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions. ( Matthew 19:16-22)

Reflection

Ask yourself: how would you respond if Jesus asked you (and me) to sell all that we own and give it to the people in need? Would we have the inner freedom to dispossess ourselves of everything that we own? For most of us, this might seem impossible to do.

Yet if we truly wish to follow Jesus, he desires that we give our all to him. It may not mean dispossessing ourselves of everything we own. However, it most likely will require changes in our lives and in our priorities. These changes may be very stretching for us and require sacrifice. Are we truly willing to make difficult decisions and to change our lives and our lifestyle to follow Jesus? 

To get to heaven, and everybody should really want to, one thing is totally necessary: “Keep the commandments”. That means to avoid sin. God’s love for us precedes the commandments. When we love someone, we do not treat that person in any old way, but rather in a way that reflects the love we have for that person. So, we keep the commandments not just to follow a moral code, but to show in a specific way our love for God. This step is very important, but it is only a first step to heaven.

The rich young man had no trouble with living the commandments. Feeling confident, he asks for more, and Christ asks him to leave his possessions. He wasn’t expecting this. He went away sad, because he had many possessions. The problem is not having possessions, but that having many possessions makes us more preoccupied with material things than with “things of above”, as St. Paul would say (see Colossians 3:1). In the Gospel, Jesus says, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21).

The reality is: following Jesus is not always an easy or strife-free path. At times, doing what Jesus would do stretches us far beyond our comfort zone. Will we gladly follow Jesus? Or will we turn away sad and dismayed because we are not willing to sell all we have, leave home and family to follow Jesus? 

Today Jesus is asking you and me to follow him. How will we respond to him? Will we gladly follow him? Or will we walk away sad and disheartened? It is our choice!

 Prayer of The Day

Dear Lord, help me to love you above all things. I realize that I am attached to things that sometimes lead me to forget you. And yet, I can’t avoid hearing in the depths of my soul your words: “You cannot serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24). Help me understand that it is not worthwhile to have many things, but not have you.

Daily Note

Jesus helps the young man, and us, turn the question around: “What do I lack?” becomes, “What do I have too much of?” When we know what we have too much of, we know what possesses us. We discover the limits of our freedom. We discover what our desires really are. Ignatius of Loyola says, “Love expresses itself in deeds more than in words.”

What Is Permanent If Not Love?

Image result for free photo of Matthew 19: 3-12

Daily Reflection – 8/16/19

Sacred Scripture

Some Pharisees approached Jesus, and tested him, saying, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?” He said in reply, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator made them male and female and said, For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? So, they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” They said to him, “Then why did Moses command that the man give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss her?” He said to them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery.” His disciples said to him, “If that is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” He answered, “Not all can accept this word, but only those to whom that is granted. Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it.” (Matthew 19: 3-12)

Reflection

The Pharisees heard Jesus’ teaching against divorce at the Sermon on the Mount, a teaching which contradicted the practice of the Jews. And so they sought to trap him in this instance into putting his teaching in opposition to Moses. But Jesus knew their twisted intentions and grounded his teaching on God’s original plan for man and woman. He knows that they were looking to get around the will of God and carve exceptions. His focus was on what God intended.

He boldly upholds the sanctity of marriage. Jesus, as the Son of God, cannot be mistaken in interpreting the law. He is the Son of God. He was there when the law was given to Moses. He was even there when the first couple was created.

The gift of Marriage is so important because here a couple is given the chance to encounter God in the most unique way where the family is built. However, presumed to have love in the first place, love between two individuals ought to be the reason for their coming together and deciding to enter into a lifetime partnership before God and man. As they swear to each other and promise to love each other for the rest of their lives with full consent, marriage is contracted and blessed.

Contrast that with the tendency in today’s world to view personal relationships as conditional. They are only important if it works. If a marriage is not working, the couple may decide to divorce rather than go to counseling. If a friendship is “on the rocks” we may decide to walk away from it. If an individual has hurt me, I may decide to end the relationship. It would be too difficult and painful to work through it with the individual. And would I ever be able to trust them again?

When difficulties arise, we may be tempted to walk away rather than to stay and try to work it out. Today Jesus calls us to take our personal relationships and commitments very seriously. True, deep and loving commitment is the most precious gift we can give to another person. Yes, we will mess up and of course there will be difficulties. However, a loving and long-lasting relationship (marriage, friendship, family, church community, etc.) may be the greatest gift we receive in our lifetime. 

Take a moment and think about the people in your life who have loved you, forgiven you, held you, laughed with you and celebrated precious moments with you. Can you imagine your life without them? No doubt, there also have been very difficult times in your life with these people. However, you knew that these individuals loved you and that they would support you. Today give thanks for their presence in your life. Give thanks for the many gifts and the love they have given you. And perhaps take the time to personally thank them for the gift they continue to be to you!

Prayer of The Day

Jesus, give me the faith and confidence to believe with all my heart that your grace is enough for me. Teach me to believe that your commands are always supported by your grace and that I can live as a new man in you.

 Daily Note

Jesus affirms that a loving and faithful marriage is a manifestation of the kingdom of God. This being said, it is God’s faithfulness in accompanying us as human beings which is the ground on which any of our human faithfulness may be built. Be it living out our commitment to God within a religious community, within a searching or dedicated single life, or with our beloved, we all draw upon the inexhaustible spring of God’s love and mercy. This living water gives us what we need to thrive, to hear the call to fidelity in our own circumstances, and to respond generously how we can.

THE Model of Humility and Trust

Image result for free photo of Luke 1: 39-56

Daily Reflection – 8/15/19

Sacred Scripture

In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.” And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home. (Luke 1: 39-56)

Reflection

Mary, partially enlightened by her heartfelt knowledge of God’s plan as revealed in the Old Testament scriptures, could not see clearly how God’s plans would work themselves out in the end. Even so, humbly and trustingly she put her faith in them, and for that wise faith she was “blessed among women,” as Elizabeth exclaimed. The Lord is constantly hoping that we will put our trust in him in the same way, so that he can shower his blessings upon us as well.

We glimpse Mary’s vision of reality, in which God rules all things with perfect power and with a wisdom that confounds the vain ambition of men. Humility, a serene recognition of our utter dependence on God, unleashes the power of divine grace in the world. Those who depend on themselves – the rich, the self-satisfied, the proud, the powerful – thwart God’s action in and through them. This is Mary’s secret – and it is a secret no longer. She teaches it to all who are willing to learn.

How humble Mary must have been! Unspoiled, uncontaminated by original sin and the slew of selfish tendencies it sets loose in our souls. But Mary shows us so much more.

God is already caring for us long before we realize it. He has had a plan in mind for us, a particular vocation, a unique role in his Kingdom, from before we were born, before we were ever conceived. In discovering and living out that plan we find our true and lasting joy. Why else is John the Baptist able to “leap for joy” while he is still in his mother’s womb? Only because God had made him the herald, the precursor, the one who would announce the imminent manifestation of the Messiah – this was his God-given mission in life, his vocation. Before he is aware of it, he is already fulfilling it.

Likewise, before we hear God’s call in our life, he is already preparing us to follow it – and hoping that when the call comes, we will respond generously, so that he can make our hearts leap continually with joy until he welcomes us into his heavenly Kingdom.

Prayer of The Day

Mary, my Mother, teach me your secret. Teach me to be truly humble, truly great in God’s eyes, so that my life will bear fruit for Christ’s Kingdom

Daily Note

Today’s Gospel highlights Mary’s faith. Mary’s faith enabled her to recognize the work of God in her people’s history and in her own life. Her openness to God allowed God to work through her so that salvation might come to all. Mary is a model and symbol of the Church. May we be like Mary, open and cooperative in God’s plan of salvation.