What Language Are You Speaking?

Mark 3:20-35: The Family of God – God Centered Life
Daily Reflection – 1/19/2022

Sacred Scripture

Jesus entered the synagogue. There was a man there who had a withered hand. They watched Jesus closely to see if he would cure him on the Sabbath so that they might accuse him. He said to the man with the withered hand, “Come up here before us.” Then he said to the Pharisees, “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” But they remained silent. Looking around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart, Jesus said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel with the Herodians against him to put him to death. (Mark 3:1-6)

Reflection

The legal scholars and religious-minded Jews were filled with fury and contempt for Jesus because they put their own thoughts of right and wrong above God. They were ensnared in their own legalism because they did not understand or see the purpose of God for the Sabbath commandment (remember the Sabbath day – to keep it holy – Exodus 20:8). Jesus shows their fallacy by pointing to God’s intention for the Sabbath: to do good and to save life rather than to do evil or to destroy life (Mark 3:3).

To do good and to save life. The heartbeat of Christianity. We all believe that. I know. But do we speak that?

The language of Jesus is one of unity and communion.

In Jesus’s language, success is not victory for some partisan group or political party. Success is not adding to the polarization that so marks our society. Success is finding common ground and promoting the good of all.

The Holy Spirit is the Giver of Life, so the truth of Jesus enshrines the dignity of life. Jesus spent his ministry proclaiming good news to the poor and to the outcast, so the world of Jesus is one in which economic policies not only protect the wealth of the successful but also take into consideration the widow, the unemployed, and those without sufficient health care. All should be able to share in the goods of society.

If we speak the language of Jesus, if we hold fast to Jesus’s truth, we show ourselves to belong to Jesus, to accept his world, his kingdom.

We need to revert to the language that we were taught as Christians in Sunday School. The next time that we are engaged in a discussion over booster shots and health and protocols, we should listen patiently to the other person. Even if we don’t disagree, our patient respect will show that we follow Jesus. It is a light of kindness.

As we enter a store, we should make a conscious effort to be gracious to those who work there, placing their well-being on an equal footing with the things we seek to buy. That kindness will testify that we believe in God’s love. It is also a light of gratitude. The next time we meet someone involved in public service, a health-care worker or a teacher, we should express gratitude for the service they provide. That thankfulness will reflect the thankfulness we owe to God, for all the blessings we receive.

In a world where the actions of adults have devolved intro tantrums of children, where fists are threatened instead of words, we are called to a higher standard. Its one of respect, patience, kindness and gratitude.

It’s the language of Jesus Christ.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, in your victory over sin and death on the cross and in your resurrection you give us the assurance of sharing in the eternal rest of heaven. Transform my heart with your love that I may freely serve my neighbor for his good and find joy and refreshment in the celebration of Sunday as the Lord’s Day.”

Daily Note

Jesus was fully aware that the Pharisees and others like them throughout history would be too hardened to grasp the beauty and greatness of his mercy, of the “doing good” that he intended to accomplish by his Passion. Jesus did not for one minute allow himself to be diverted from his journey to Jerusalem. He wants nothing more than for his love to be received. Now is the time to turn our hearts fully to Jesus, to soften them and purify them from all pharisaical attitudes. 

Peering Inside Your Heart

Mark 2:27-28 | The son of man, Sayings, Marks
Daily Reflection – 1/18/2022

Sacred Scripture

As Jesus was passing through a field of grain on the Sabbath, his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain. At this the Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?” He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry? How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest and ate the bread of offering that only the priests could lawfully eat, and shared it with his companions?” Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:23-28)

Reflection

Jesus’ disciples are scolded by the scribes and Pharisees, not for plucking and eating corn from the fields, but for doing so on the Sabbath. In defending his disciples, Jesus argues from the scriptures that human need has precedence over ritual custom.

He points out that in the absence of any other food, David and his men ate the high priests’ offering bread.  Jesus cited this as an example of how rules, even God-given ones, are not intended to take precedence over human need. In this way, Jesus tells us something important about divine rules: God made them, and he made them to serve humans, not to rule humans.

Let’s repeat that: divine rules are made to serve humans, not to rule humans.

That’s where the train falls off the track for some Christians. Christians who believe that, as long as they follow superficial “rules,” they will gain eternal life. They fail to put together the understanding that any rules they follow will run fallow if their lives don’t match the good intent of the rules themselves.

Jesus came to teach us that the core of authentic human life is love. The person who loves, Paul wrote, fulfills the law. We could say that the only reason the law of God exists is to point us toward a life of love. To love is to enter into the divine fellowship of the Holy Spirit, to dwell in the eternal love of the Father for the Son and of the Son for the Father.

WOW! Think about it.” To love is to enter into the divine fellowship of the Holy Spirit, to dwell in the eternal love of the Father for the Son and of the Son for the Father.”

It comes down to recognizing that our love for others is at the core of what we say and what we do. That is how we are evaluated and that is how we will be judged.

John wrote that if a person loves God, then that person will love his brother. William Barclay wrote: “The best way to worship God is to help men” It might be easy to think that loving God and loving one’s neighbor are two different things. They are not. Our love for God is expressed precisely in how we treat others

The reality of today causes me to wonder where the command of loving one another went.

The divisiveness, the anger, the contempt, the use of slogans to show disdain, the taking of iron clad positions and saying: “If you are not with me, you are against me.” Then add to all of that an unprecedented rise in incivility, in hate crimes, in total contempt of the institutions of our society.

Is there love of God in that? The measure of our sincerity when we call ourselves Christians is how we treat others. The very  gospel itself  is a declaration of God’s love.

Love doesn’t come by programs. It comes in its own way in its own time. It is strengthened and proven in the crucible of self-sacrifice, patience and forbearance. It cannot be explained; it can only be lived. It’s something you live out, not something you evaluate on a scale of measurable outcomes. It’s messy, not predictable. Sometimes it hurts, sometimes it thrills. It’s never static. It doesn’t play by the rules; the rules can’t keep up.

There is only mark of the authentic Christian. It’s living out the love of Christ. It gets difficult when there are so many disingenuous Christians at all levels. It gets unbelievable when ministers of God betray that in their time in the pulpit. But each of us must hold ourselves to the truth – the love of God entrusted to us to be shown to all those in our daily lives.

Wear the label of authentic Christian . . . one who, every day, examines his/her heart against the gospel of love. Did you contribute to that today?

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, may I give you fitting honor in the way I live my life and in the way I treat my neighbor. May I honor the Lord’s Day as a day holy to you. And may I always treat others with the same mercy and kindness which you have shown to me. Free me from a critical and intolerant spirit that I may always seek the good of my neighbor.”

Daily Note

Jesus reminds the Pharisees that the Sabbath was given for our benefit, to refresh and renew us in living for God. It was intended for good and not for evil. Withholding mercy and kindness in response to human need was not part of God’s intention that we rest from unnecessary labor. When we celebrate our Sabbath, do we do so by having lived a life in fulfillment of the two great commandments.

Are You The Same Person As Yesterday?

1 John 2:6 Illustrated: "Whoever claims to live in him must walk..." —  Heartlight® Gallery
Daily Reflection: 1/17/2022

Sacred Scripture

Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and people came and said to him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. The days will come, when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day. No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; if he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wine skins; if he does, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but new wine is for fresh skins.” (Mark 2: 18-22)

Reflection

Are you the same person as you were yesterday? Of course not. The incidents of yesterday, the passing of time in our lives, the people we engaged with yesterday, have all affected who you and I are today. As a result, we are changed. Depending on yesterday, it might be slight or monumental.

That change marks our faith life as well. That’s why faith is a journey. Not the same as yesterday and hopefully enriched by our experiences. The challenge is to be aware of the complexions of our faith and remain true to its role in our lives, to remain true to what our faith is telling us, to accept that every new day brins us the opportunity to live our faith, changed yes, but constant in our desire to live his word.

Each day, God gives us some wine to carry.  Sometimes it is old, mature wine.  Old wine is compatible with our usual habits, our old friends, our common expectations.  Those days on which we are asked to carry old wine are comfortable, easy days, days that we enjoy. 

But not infrequently we are asked to carry new wine, wine that presents unexpected occurrences, new demands, surprising ideas.  There is plenty of new wine in our world and in our lives. 

We have been challenged facing the new realities that came into place from the pandemic.

We have been challenged because we are dealing with a divided society.

We have been challenged because too many in politics have put their personal gain before ours and they attempt to move us as prawns upon their chessboard. 

There are personal examples: changes that happen in our family, poor decisions that our children make, new realities in our work, in our marriage.

Where do we go then on this journey of faith?

We start where we began. A coming to Christ. A belief that Jesus Christ came for us, died for us, and brought the promise of eternal life. We start by offering our will to him and never letting go.

It is the sacrifice of one’s own will as a beautiful and pleasing offering to God the Father with Jesus, as a fragrant and salvific, “Not my will, but yours, be done.”

And then comes another day of experiences, of people, of society. How do we carry this new wine?

By understanding that he asks us to remain hopeful and he asks us to be true to his word. Hopeful, because we continue to believe that the wine that God gives us, even if it is still fermenting and difficult to carry, is nevertheless a gift.  If we continue to be flexible and hopeful, we will eventually recognize the good things that God is offering us. By remaining open to the wisdom of the Holy Spirit residing in us, we gain that understanding.

Being true to his word means that we will live our lives in a way that may even be contra to the world but still in sync with his teachings.

If we believe that, if we live that, then we become the wineskins that carry the good news, the new wine of Christ’s kingdom.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit, that I may grow in the knowledge of your great love and truth. Help me to seek you earnestly in prayer so that I may turn away from sin and willfulness and conform my life more fully to your will. May I always find joy in knowing, loving, and serving You who are My All.”

Daily Note

The Lord gives us wisdom so we can make the best use of both the old and the new. He doesn’t want us to hold rigidly to the past and to be resistant to the new work of his Holy Spirit in our lives. He wants our minds and hearts to be like new wine skins – open and ready to receive the new wine of the Holy Spirit. Are you eager to grow in the knowledge and understanding of God’s word and plan for your life?

He Forgave, Why Can’t You?

Where Is God When We Lose? — The Female Athlete Mission
Daily Reflection – 1/14/2022

Sacred Scripture

When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it became known that he was at home. Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them, not even around the door, and he preached the word to them. They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd, they opened up the roof above him. After they had broken through, they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to him, “Child, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there asking themselves, “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming. Who but God alone can forgive sins?” Jesus immediately knew in his mind what they were thinking to themselves, so he said, “Why are you thinking such things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, pick up your mat and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth”—he said to the paralytic, “I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home.” He rose, picked up his mat at once, and went away in the sight of everyone. They were all astounded and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.” (Mark 2:1-12)

Reflection

The headline of this reflection is meant to be provocative.

It is meant to provoke an inner reflection on the actions and people in our lives – particularly those actions and people whom we say we have forgiven but whose actions remain in our minds and hearts.

The very summit of God’s plan was the reconciliation of the human race with God. Today’s scripture reminds us of how important it was to Jesus. When a paralyzed man was dangerously lifted onto a roof and lowered into his midst in a home where Jesus was teaching, the first thing Jesus did was to heal his sins. The physical healing, which was important but less important than that, came later.

Heaven rejoices more for one repentant sinner than for 99 who didn’t need to repent, as Jesus would say later. The second lesson of this scripture is the importance of bringing friends to Jesus so that he can give them his merciful love like the friends of the paralytic brought him to Jesus. 

Over and over throughout his life and right up to the cross. Jesus forgave.

Yet, human nature bridles against true forgiveness. Sure, we say the words of forgiveness but don’t forget the actions or words that hurt us. We use a myriad of excuses to justify it to ourselves. Phrases such as “ I forgive but never forget.” Or “ I did forgive but I will forever be on guard so it doesn’t happen again.”

The problem is that as long as the hurt lies in our heart, the forgiveness is not total.

“What?” you say. “Of course, I forgave. Remembering the incident just keeps me on guard.” So, let me explain.

The goal of the Christian life is to be like Christ. Not in the heavenly sense but in the human sense of emulating Chris’s life in our deeds and words. Thus, as Christ forgave, so should we.

When we don’t or when we can’t, then we are disobedient. Most of the time, we don’t do it willingly. What happens is that when we allow actions or incidents of the past to color our life, we are allowing evil to enter our lives. Painful memories bring on darkness and darkness is not the dwelling place of God. The end product of darkness is not being able to see the light. We need to avoid those actions which distance ourselves from the light of Christ.

We use prayer to help keep us in the light. We focus on praying for the gift of forgiveness. We pray for keeping our minds and spirits focused on the good. When we forgive, we are emulating Christ. When Christ removed the weakness of the flesh which crippled and maimed, he healed the whole person.

It is a great thing to forgive people’s sins – who can forgive sins, but God alone? For God also forgives through those to whom he has given the power of forgiveness.

It is in emulating Christ that we are in the very presence of Christ. It is in that presence that we find healing and we can accept reconciliation. In deed, we can discover life itself.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, through your merciful love and forgiveness you bring healing and restoration to body, soul, and mind. May your healing power and love touch every area of my life – my innermost thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and memories. Pardon my offenses and transform me in the power of your Holy Spirit that I may walk confidently in your love, truth, and righteousness.”

Daily Note

Jesus claimed an authority which only God could rightfully give. Jesus not only proved that his authority came from God, he showed the great power of God’s redeeming love and mercy by healing the cripple of his physical ailment. This man had been crippled not only physically, but spiritually as well. Jesus freed him from his burden of guilt and restored his body as well. The Lord is every ready to bring us healing of body, mind, and spirit. Is there any area in your life that cripples you from walking in the freedom of Christ’s transforming love and forgiveness?

The Problem With Walls of Exclusion

Lepers Quotes: top 65 famous sayings about Lepers
Daily reflection – 1/13/2022

Sacred Scripture

A leper came to him and kneeling down begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched the leper, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.” The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean. Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once. Then he said to him, “See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.” The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter. He spread the report abroad so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places, and people kept coming to him from everywhere. (Mark 1:40-45)

Reflection

The leper in today’s scripture was healed by Jesus for a number of reasons. Because healing showed the loving compassion of Jesus, healing brought the leper back to the fuller community, healing was a reward for the leper’s faith.

At the very heart of the gospel is the conviction that whatever divides us lessens us and that we are never complete until we are united with one another. Now to live in a world without divisions, without barriers, may seem impossible at the present time.

There are those who encourage us to exclude, to build division, to become more isolated, to turn inward and feed our innermost fears.

Every responsible Christian needs to stop and reflect on divisiveness and exclusion. Why?

Because the ministry of Jesus was always concerned with reconciliation, with bringing people together. This is why Jesus in today’s gospel heals the leper, not simply to remove the disease but to remove the barrier, so that the leper might again join the community.

Jesus knows that it’s all too easy to take necessary barriers and turn them into convenient prejudices.

Jesus understands that it’s all too easy to take the fear of a real enemy and allow it to exclude someone who looks like an enemy.

 Jesus realizes that every time we identify a particular person or group within society and use that identification to push that person away, we are playing a dangerous game.

Each time we exclude someone because of race or religion, because of sexual orientation or appearance, we are working against the kingdom of God

When we work against the kingdom, we are in fact working against our own best interests.

Even in those circumstances where we must accept divisions within the community, the gospel always regrets and mourns those barriers and longs for the time when they might be erased.

Sometimes we imagine that we can separate ourselves from others without any consequence or danger to ourselves. Sometimes we might think that we can divide ourselves from those who are different with impunity. But the gospel warns us about setting up such barriers too casually. The gospel understands that when we choose to build walls, they are just as likely to hurt us as to protect us.

It is a myth to think that we are better off alone, separated from others. We all inhabit the same planet, and the life of each person is interwoven with the lives of others in one great tapestry of life. Whenever we choose to pull out a particular thread of that tapestry, we begin to unravel the whole cloth.

There may indeed be times when dividing ourselves from others is necessary, but Christians always regret and mourn such barriers, because we know that they are not part of the ultimate plan of God.

That is why we continually commit ourselves to reconciliation, to forgiveness, and to building unity. We above all others should know that whenever we choose to divide ourselves from one another, we do so at our own risk.

Inclusion, not exclusion, is the teaching of Christ. Reaching out, not turning inward, is the teaching of Christ. Union, not disunity, is the teaching of Christ. Speaking words of comfort and love, not words of hatred, is the teaching of Christ.

Living in hope, not fear, is the way of Jesus Christ.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, inflame my heart with your love and make me clean and whole in body, mind, and spirit. May I never doubt your love nor cease to tell others of your mercy and compassion.”

Daily Note

Christ came into this world to present us with a new and challenging vision of ourselves and of others. It is not new to say that we need others. But it is new to say that we need every other, because every other is a part with us in the same body. And this body is not the body practical, or the body political, or the body commercial. It is the Body of Christ.

The Taste of Suffering

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Daily Reflection – 1/12/2022

Sacred Scripture

On leaving the synagogue Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John. Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They immediately told him about her. He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them. When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. The whole town was gathered at the door. He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him. Rising very early before dawn,  he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. Simon and those who were with him pursued him and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you.” He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose, have I come.” So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee. (Mark 1: 29-39)

Reflection

No matter how weary he was, Jesus always drew strength from his Father to minister to the people.

His innate compassion and love for everyone he encountered shone throughout the Gospel of Mark. Simon’s mother-in-law was changed fundamentally by her healing experience of Christ. Not only was her illness gone, she felt a compelling desire to wait upon Jesus.

But there is more because at nightfall, as soon as the Sabbath was over and people could move about, they brought all the sick and possessed to Jesus, so much so that Mark tells us “the whole town was gathered at the door,” and Jesus cured them all one-by-one.

It would have been exhausting work. But he healed them to give a foretaste of the resurrection when all our illnesses will be healed and all demons and temptations will have been cast out.

Each of us knows that we have a little taste of salvation every time we’re cured of a really bad fever, or severe back pain, or a terrible headache or liberated from a serious temptation. Jesus by these healing and exorcising miracles was giving us a little down payment of the joy that awaits at the Resurrection. But he wasn’t taking all illnesses away. He didn’t take away all pain and suffering. But he committed himself to show us, through that suffering, the path to perfection with him.

Therein is a powerful lesson for each of us. Suffering and pain are part of the human condition. But we know through scripture and faith, that they were not meant to be. They are not willed to be by Him.

Whenever each of us confronts pain and suffering, we are reminded that he is there. Jesus Christ, who took on the human condition, knew suffering far beyond that which most of us will ever know.

With all the pain of the cross, Jesus forgave sin, forgave his persecutors, then   looked down at his mother and reminded her that she was part of a greater family. He then gave himself up to his heavenly father.

It’s a model of enduring through pain that should be vivid in our memories. He took on that suffering so you and I could be saved. He gave up his life so that you and I would gain our heavenly life.

His suffering was the ultimate gift of his love to us.

THAT is what we need to hold onto whenever we are undergoing the pain that life can bring. We are never alone, regardless of how much we think we are. Jesus, the constant companion is at our side.

We may be worn down by the difficulties of our life. Jesus, the constant presence is there to walk with us and uplift us by his love.

When we face the nearness of death, Jesus stands at our side and reminds us of the gift that awaits us with him.

Suffering forces proud men and women to allow others to care for us, to give others a chance to love us, to force us when we’re ill out of our supposed self-sufficiency.

Throughout it all, Jesus is there at our side.

Jesus came because he knows what we most need. He brought us the medicine of the word and of the sacraments. We need the medicine of Jesus’ truth, of his preaching, more than any medicine or treatment.

We need him throughout the journey of our life through bright days and dark days. When we internalize that, when we live that life, we are almost home. That’s when Jesus turns to us, holds our hand, smiles and reminds us that he walked every step with us.

And ultimately, he will welcome us to his father’s home.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus Christ, you have all power to heal and to deliver from harm. There is no trouble nor bondage you cannot overcome. Set me free to serve you joyfully and to love and serve others generously. May nothing hinder me from giving myself wholly to you and to your service.”

Daily Note

Do you allow Jesus to be the Lord and healer in your personal life, family, and community? Approach the Lord with expectant faith. God’s healing power restores us not only to health but to active service and care of others. There is no trouble he does not want to help us with and there is no bondage he can’t set us free from. Do you take your troubles to him with expectant faith that he will help you?

See Through The Darkness

Mark 1 21 28 21 They went to
Daily Reflection – 1/11/2022

Sacred Scripture

Jesus came to Capernaum with his followers, and on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught. The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes. In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit; he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” Jesus rebuked him and said, “Quiet! Come out of him!” The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him. All were amazed and asked one another, “What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.” His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee. (Mark 1:21-28)

Reflection

Jesus entered the synagogue and taught. All those who listened to him, St. Mark tells us, were “astounded at his teaching, for he taught with authority and not like the scribes.” He then showed the tremendous power of his authoritative words by silencing and casting a demon out of a man.

So why is this unclean spirit in a synagogue? A synagogue was a holy place, a place where Jews gathered to study the law and to praise God. We have a holy place, a holy assembly, and a holy teaching. In the midst of all this goodness, a demon cries out, “What do you have to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?” What is this spirit doing there? We can certainly presume that he did not come to listen to Jesus’ teaching.

I think that one of the possibilities as to “why” to you is that the Gospel situates the unclean spirit in the synagogue to teach us something about evil. Sometimes we think that evil can be limited to only certain places, that unclean spirits can be restricted to the graveyard, the deep woods, or where thieves gather. Sometimes we imagine that if we are very good people, if we love and act with justice, if we have faith in God, then we can keep evil away from where we are. 

This Gospel warns us that such thinking is naïve. If an unclean spirit can shout out in a holy synagogue and in the presence of Jesus the Messiah, then evil can appear anywhere.

Evil in the form of sickness, anxiety, even in natural disasters seems to have the ability to move freely throughout the world. It attacks people indiscriminately: the rich and the poor, the moral and the immoral, those who believe in God and those who do not.

If we know that then perhaps there are two important truths flow from this insight. The first is this: When evil touches our lives, we should not automatically conclude that we have done something wrong. Evil has more access than we imagine . If you survey the people who were so tragically killed in the tsunami, you would find that many of them were wonderful people who prayed regularly. Evil moves around our world and has access to every person and place.

This leads to the second important truth: If evil has as such access to our lives, then our strategy cannot be how can I prevent evil from coming, but rather how do I deal with evil when it arrives? If we cannot keep evil away, then we must ask, “How can I confront it?”

Here is where faith is helpful. We believe in faith that we have access to the power of God, a power that is stronger than the power of evil. So, when evil touches our life, we can draw upon our faith in God and ask for God’s assistance. Faith allows us to have courage in the face of sickness, to have hope after divorce, to find strength even in failure and peace in the face of death.

The same Jesus who drove the demon out of the synagogue is our Lord. We can turn to him and ask for his strength as we face the demons in our lives.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, your word is power and life. May I never doubt your love and mercy, and the power of your word that sets us free, and brings healing and restoration to body, mind, heart, and spirit.”

Daily Note

Before this man with an unclean spirit, Jesus’ authority was on perfect display. Jesus simply and commandingly ordered, “Quiet, Come out of him,” and the demon immediately obeyed. No wonder the crowds were amazed! Our modern conception of Jesus tends to focus on his mercy, his forgiveness, and his personal love for each of us. And, while these things are true, Jesus is also a God of infinite power and might. As creatures before our Creator, we owe him praise, humble adoration, and perfect obedience. “Yours, Lord, are greatness and might, majesty, victory, and splendor. For all in Heaven and on earth is yours; yours, Lord, is kingship; you are exalted as head over all” (1 Chronicles 29:11).

Go Fish!

Mark 1:17-18 | Inspirational pictures, Jesus quotes, Picture quotes
Daily Reflection – 1/10/2022

Sacred Scripture

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.” And passing along by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and followed him. (Mark 1: 14-20)

Reflection

The kingdom of God is the central theme of Jesus’ mission. It’s the core of his gospel message.

How do we enter the kingdom of God?

John the Baptist gave us the first key. Repent.

Repentance means to change – to change my way of thinking, my attitude, disposition, and life choices so that Christ can be the Lord and Master of my heart rather than sin, selfishness, and greed. True repentance requires a contrite heart (Psalm 51:17) and sorrow for sin and a firm resolution to avoid it in the future. The Lord Jesus gives us grace to see sin for what it really is – a rejection of his love and wisdom for our lives and a refusal to do what is good and in accord with his will. His grace brings pardon and help for turning away from everything that would keep us from his love and truth.

Then we come to the second key. Believe.

To believe means totally to submit oneself to a reality on the basis of a trust in the one testifying to the reality. To believe means to entrust ourselves fully to Jesus and on the basis of that trust to ground our lives on what he says. Because of our trust in Jesus, we believe in what he reveals to us about God the Father and we ground our existence on that Father’s love and call.

But you know that. There are two other lock openers that should be at the core of our belief. They are both explicit in their direction.

The third key is “follow me” or “Come after me.” Jesus says those words to Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John in the Gospel and they immediately left their nets, their boats, their fish, their employees and their families to follow him. They believed in Jesus already enough to leave everything behind and base their entire life on his word calling them to follow him and become fishers of men. Likewise, for us it’s not enough to repent and to believe, because the Lord Jesus always calls us to follow him in faith, turning back on other things.

And all of that brings us to the next key. Fish.

That’s right, fish. The Lord in calling us to be with him and sends us out. The two great verbs in his vocabulary are “come” and “go.” Once we begin truly to live in his kingdom, we begin to share his hunger for everyone to enter. We will “catch people” for the kingdom of God if we allow the light of Jesus Christ to shine through us. God wants others to see the light of Christ in us in the way we live, speak, and witness the joy of the gospel.

The Lord takes what ordinary people, like us, can offer and uses it for greatness in his kingdom. That is an honor for each of us and speaks to his love for us.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, you have called me personally by name, just as you called your first disciples, Simon, Andrew, James, and John. Help me to believe your word and follow you faithfully. Fill me with the joy of the gospel that your light may shine through me to many others.”

Daily Note

The gospel calls us to trust, to open our hearts and allow Christ to make his dream for us a reality. All of us can think of things in our lives we had thought would be different, things in our family, things in our business, things in our relationships. There were successes we never achieved and dangers that we did not avoid. But today’s gospel tells us that all those expectations are secondary. What is primary is that Christ has called us and we are to follow him. And we should follow him because he is trustworthy. We can place our lives in his hands as long as we remember that his commitment to us is not to give us what we expect—but to give us what is good.

Willing Us To Be Strong

Friday after Epiphany: 09 Jan – 1 John 5:5-13; Luke 5:12-16 ~ the Giver of  Life – The Peanut Gallery
Daily Reflection – 1/7/2022

Sacred Scripture

It happened that there was a man full of leprosy in one of the towns where Jesus was; and when he saw Jesus, he fell prostrate, pleaded with him, and said, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I do will it. Be made clean.” And the leprosy left him immediately. Then he ordered him not to tell anyone, but “Go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.” The report about him spread all the more, and great crowds assembled to listen to him and to be cured of their ailments, but he would withdraw to deserted places to pray. (Luke 5:12-16)

Reflection

The leper, in today’s scripture, did something quite remarkable. He approached Jesus confidently and humbly, expecting that Jesus could and would heal him. Normally a leper would be stoned or at least warded off if he tried to come near a rabbi. Jesus not only grants the man his request, but he demonstrates the personal love, compassion, and tenderness of God in his physical touch.

This is the Jesus we’re called to imitate. The Lord turns to each of us today and says, “Come, follow me!” We’re not called, necessarily, to imitate Jesus in caring for those with Hansen’s disease, because, thanks be to God, leprosy has been eradicated in the United States and in most of the world.

Most of us — as far as I know — are not gifted with the Lord’s divine power to work stupendous miracles of healing, so we’re not called to imitate Christ the healer.  But what Christ is calling us to do is to love the outcasts with the same love that he does, the love which would make him go to the Cross again for them if he needed to. And to do this, we need courage!

This is the courage that St. John describes as flowing from believing that Jesus is the Son of God, the faith that makes us through, with and in him, a victor over the world, a champion over fear, a winner over the hardness of heart that can lead us to turn away from others rather than turn toward them with Christ-like love.

Christ wants us to love with a special predilection the many other types of lepers today, all those who are modern outcasts. those who think that their sins cannot be forgiven; the economic lepers like the homeless and the very poor, the racial lepers like the gypsies or, depending upon where one lives, those of a particular skin color, be it black, or brown, or yellow; and the emotional lepers, those who, because of their own psyche or others’ actions, feel completely alone and abandoned.

 These are among the ones Jesus wants us to reach out and heal through our very human touch, to bring back from the margins into communion with us and with him.

Christ knows our hearts. He knows our fears. He knows our weaknesses. He knows our longings. His first apostles were good men, but all of them had fears and all of them abandoned him in the Garden and eleven of the twelve were still fugitives as he was dying. But their failures led them to turn to him anew and the power of the Holy Spirit coming down on Pentecost, and the Spirit’s gift of Courage, emboldened them.

 For us, knowing our frailties, we need to approach him like the leper in today’s Gospel and simply say to him, with trusting faith, “Lord, if you will it, you can make me bold!”

And we know that Jesus will never give us a stone when we ask for bread, or a poisonous eel when we ask for a fish. He will say, we can be absolutely sure, “I do will it. Be made strong!” And he will, in giving us that grace, give us plenty of opportunities to put that gift of courage into action despite our fears. He will say to each of us, “Do not be afraid. It is I. Take Courage. I have conquered the world!”

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, inflame my heart with your love and make me clean and whole in body, mind, and spirit. May I never doubt your love nor cease to tell others of your mercy and compassion.”

Daily Note

How do you approach those who seem difficult to love, or who are shunned by others because they are deformed or have some physical or mental weakness? Do you show them kindness and offer them mercy and help as Jesus did? The Lord Jesus is always ready to show us his mercy and to free us from whatever makes us unclean, unapproachable, or unloving.

Moving From No To Yes

Pastor Rick Warren - Throughout the Bible we see an important truth  illustrated over and over: The Holy Spirit releases his power the moment  you take a step of faith. Learn More -
Daily Reflection – 1/6/2022

Sacred Scripture

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news of him spread throughout the whole region. He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all. He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the Sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord. Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” And all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. (Luke 4:14-22)

Reflection

Isaiah had prophesied that the Messiah would come in the power of the Holy Spirit to bring freedom to those who suffered from physical, mental, or spiritual oppression (see Isaiah 61:1-2).

Jesus came to set people free, not only from their infirmities, but from the worst affliction of all – the tyranny of slavery to sin, Satan, and the fear of losing one’s life. God’s power alone can save us from dejection, hopelessness, and emptiness of life. The Gospel of salvation is “good news” for everyone who will receive it.

Jesus asks that we embrace the good news calls us  not to be an idle listener, but a doer of the Word.” Jesus Christ came to found a family, as he said, whose mother, brothers, and sisters are those who “hear the word of God and observe it.”( Hebrew, as you know, uses the same word for “hear” and for “obey)

To become a doer of the word carries with it the need to obey the word. There comes the problem with many who profess to be a follower of Christ. But there is something that most Christians forget.

It’s the process of moving from “no” to “yes” and that is the Christian journey.

This movement from “no” to “yes” is a fundamental Christian pattern that is routinely present in the Scriptures. Peter denies Jesus, but later repents. Thomas refuses to accept Jesus’ resurrection, but then becomes a believer.  Paul persecutes the early followers of Jesus, but then converts and becomes one of the great apostles of the church. 

Whenever we follow that pattern, we find ourselves in very good company.  But if we are going to follow this basic Christian movement, we must start by admitting our denial.  We must begin by owning that there are ways in which we say “no,” ways in which we are flawed, ways in which we need to change.

So what are the ways that you say “no” in your life?  What are the ways you need to change?  Do you find yourself judging others, being impatient with those who think or act differently than you do?  Are you prejudiced towards those of a different race, religion, nationality or sexual orientation? 

Do you find yourself so concerned about your own needs and desires that you ignore your responsibility to the people in your life: to your spouse, to your children or parents, to your friends? 

How often do we find ourselves refusing to admit that we are wrong, never saying we’re sorry or asking someone else for forgiveness?  How often do we get so caught up in the details of life that we turn ungrateful, forgetting to thank the people who serve us and help us day after day?

Whatever flaws you find in your life, whatever mistakes you have made, they need not control you.  Our past does not determine our future.  Our history is not our destiny.  A sin can be forgiven.  A flaw can be mended.  A life can be changed.  Through our Baptism, we are part of a community where sinners become saints on a daily basis, where those who judge learn to understand, where those who think only of themselves become servants of others.

It is never too late.  Mercy never runs out.  With God’s help, our worst “no” can become a clear and glorious “yes.”

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, you are the fulfillment of all our hopes and dreams. Through the gift of your Holy Spirit you bring us truth, freedom, and abundant life. Fill me with the joy of the Gospel and inflame my heart with love and zeal for you and for your kingdom of peace and righteousness.”

Daily Note

What can bring us true freedom and joy? In Jesus we see the healing power of God’s love and mercy in action. Wherever Jesus went, people gathered to hear him speak about the kingdom of heaven and God’s promise to bring freedom and healing to those who put their trust in God. His gracious words brought hope, joy, and favor to those who were ready to receive him. Now, today, is the day when we should re-commit ourselves to his way.