When Jesus Is Silent . . .

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Daily Reflection – 8/4/2021

Sacred Scripture

Then Jesus went from that place and withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not say a word in answer to her. His disciples came and asked him, “Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.” He said in reply, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But the woman came and did him homage, saying, “Lord, help me.” He said in reply, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed from that hour. (Matthew 15:21-28)

Reflection

We believe that Jesus is divine, and we also believe that he is fully human. And it is in his humanity that he is influenced by his culture and that he acts at times with incomplete knowledge.

In today’s Gospel Jesus struggles with boundaries. He withdraws from Israel to Canaanite country, and a Canaanite woman comes and asks him to heal her daughter. The Canaanites were not Jews. They were pagans who worshipped many gods. Their sacrifices were seen by Jews as abominations.  Most Jews of the time would withdraw from Canaanites. They would not interact with them. 

Jesus seems at first to follow this approach. He does not respond to the woman.

Total silence. St. Matthew, an eyewitness, tells us, “But he did not say a word in answer to him.” It seems weird. It seems almost a cruel thing to do to a desperate mother. But Jesus, who almost certainly was prepared to work the exorcism, wanted to effectuate a far greater miracle on that day on behalf of the woman, on behalf of the disciples with him, and on behalf of all of us, and to do that, he needed to try her faith.

 For us, we, too, need to learn how to deal with God’s silence. We pray and often we don’t seem to get a response. We pray again and it seems the door has remained shut. How we do handle it? Many of us give up, we stop praying, we think God doesn’t care, but what God is often doing in these circumstances is giving us a chance to learn how to pray perseveringly so that we may grow in faith to such a degree that we will always persevere in fidelity. Jesus is never silent. It’s only our ears failing to hear what he is saying or our minds rejecting the words because they are not what we want to hear.

The second lesson that springs from this Gospel is how we live and deal with the labels we use to define people.

We who follow Christ are asked to deal with other people in truth, not according to the false and prejudicial labels, which are often found in our environment. If we claim to be believers, we must not say, “This is the way Jews are. This is the way Moslems are. This is the way alcoholics, or homosexuals or people of a different race are.”

 We must ask ourselves whether we are viewing others through our own real experience or through the prejudices that labels can convey. To allow our lives be directed by the half-truths of labels is a serious flaw. It places us in direct opposition to the design of God.

God makes people. We make labels. So instead of letting our lives be directed by the prejudices that a label can carry, we are obliged to discover and to respect the real people God has made.

We cannot claim to be a follower of Jesus Christ and use language and labels to set us apart. We are called to be inclusive and to live according to the great commandment. Do we do that or do we allow the rhetoric of the day to influence who we are as children of God?

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, your love and mercy knows no bounds. May I trust you always and pursue you with indomitable persistence as this woman did. Increase my faith in your saving power and deliver me from all evil and harm.”

Daily Note

Jesus praises a Gentile woman for her faith and for her love. She made the misery of her child her own and she was willing to suffer rebuff in order to obtain healing for her loved one. She also had indomitable persistence. Her faith grew in contact with the person of Jesus. She began with a request and she ended on her knees in worshipful prayer to the living God. No one who ever sought Jesus with earnest faith – whether Jew or Gentile – was refused his help. Do you seek the Lord Jesus with expectant faith?

Getting In The Way of God

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Daily Reflection – 8/03/2021

Sacred Scripture

Then he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was many furlongs distant from the land, beaten by the waves; for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. But immediately he spoke to them, saying, “Take heart, it is I; have no fear.” And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus; but when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “O man of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” And when they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. And when the men of that place recognized him, they sent round to all that region and brought to him all that were sick, and besought him that they might only touch the fringe of his garment; and as many as touched it were made well. (Matthew 14:22-36)

Reflection

Does the Lord Jesus seem distant when trials or adversity come your way? It was at Jesus’ initiative that the disciples sailed across the lake, only to find themselves in a life-threatening storm. Although they were experienced fishermen, they feared for their lives. While Jesus was not with them in the boat, he, nonetheless watched for them in prayer. When he perceived their trouble, he came to them on the sea and startled them with his sudden appearance.

The Lord keeps watch over us at all times, and especially in our moments of temptation and difficulty. Jesus assures us that we have no need of fear if we trust in Him and in his great love for us.

That’s our faith.

The issue is that many of us, like Peter, have not made that certainty a pillar of our lives. Or relationship with God is never ending and ever transforming. But too often we put a period where God inserted a comma.

When you and I feel that we have come to the end of our rope, that nothing new can happen, today’s gospel encourages us to hope that God can move us forward. When we find ourselves alienated from our friends, because we said something that was wrong, did something that was cruel, or tried to slip by with a lie, we can find our relationships in shambles. Today’s gospel encourages us to believe that estrangement does not have to be final, that apologies work, and that humility has traction. God can heal what is broken.

When we are dismayed because of the bad decisions made by our children or our grandchildren, we say, “Things could have been so well if they had used money responsibly, if they married somebody else, if they avoided alcohol and drugs. But now they are finished. They have no future.” This gospel asks us to believe that God can still surprise us. God can still move the people we love beyond their mistakes.

When we are devastated because we have lost someone that we love in death, and the hole in our heart is so huge that we are certain we will never recover, this gospel encourages us to believe that God can still save us, still move us to a new place.

Never put a period where God has placed a comma. Our lives may have ground to a halt. But where we find ourselves is not the end. We believe in a God who can do new things and is committed to save us. Jesus can drive the demon out. Our God can move us past the painful pause and lead our lives to a blessed conclusion.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, help me to trust you always and to never doubt your presence and your power to help me. In my moments of doubt and weakness, may I cling to you as Peter did. Strengthen my faith that I may walk straight in the path you set before me, neither veering to the left nor to the right.”

Daily Note

Peter acts as the representative of what belonging to the church means. He knows that he is called to follow Christ. So, when he sees Jesus walking on the water, he asks permission to do the same (verse 28). Yet Peter is not a perfect disciple. When he sees the strength of the storm he doubts and begins to sink. Jesus pulls him up and uses Matthew’s gentle rebuke to failing disciples “You of little faith” Through Peter, Matthew has shown us what it is to be a disciple. We will doubt and will need to be pulled up by Jesus time and again. But we also share in the dignity and power of Jesus. When united to the risen Lord, we too can walk on water.

An Invitation To See His Face

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Daily Reflection – 8/2/2021

Sacred Scripture

When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns. When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said, “This is a deserted place and it is already late; dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.” He said to them, “There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves.” But they said to him, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.” Then he said, “Bring them here to me,” and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over—twelve wicker baskets full. Those who ate were about five thousand men, not counting women and children. (Matthew 14:13-21)

Reflection

Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand is the only miracle recorded in all four Gospel accounts. Perhaps it’s because each Gospel writer was so moved by what they saw and heard on that day.

In the final analysis, its not about the miracle itself. It’s what the miracle can do for us if we choose to accept it.

Jesus’ visceral compassion led him to teach, to heal, to feed, to forgive, and to pray for, call and send out laborers with the same compassion on the crowds. He wants to transform us by that mercy to see things with the eyes of his own bursting heart, to notice how many are wandering without direction in life and teach them the truth and instruct them how to live by following Jesus the Way.

He wants us to see how many are suffering physically, psychologically and spiritually and seek to become nurses of the Divine Physician. He wants us to notice the multitudes starving physically or spiritually and to give them the nourishment they need. He wants us to see how many are carrying around the wounds of expiated guilt or severed revelations and to bring them God’s mercy and to God’s mercy. In all of this, he wants us to become hard workers, not just bodies, in his fields and to pray insistently for other diligent laborers to join us in becoming the compassionate upset stomach of the Mystical Body of Christ.

So, you know that, right? So, what’s the point?

Its all about transformation. The more we act in the way of Jesus Christ, the more we change. In that transformation, there is an even greater miracle. We begin to see the face of Jesus. God gave us His Son so that we could see him. See him in his actions, feel him in his example, know him in our personal life.

We look to God to give us the food we need in each season of our life. We open our hands to receive what he opens his hands to give us, as he seeks to satiate our deepest desires.

Paradoxically we go into the desert to have our thirst quenched. Jesus knows that for each of us life can become so busy, people can sometimes be coming and going in such great numbers, that we don’t have time for the most important things, not to mention “even to eat.” And so, Jesus calls us apart from everyone else not merely so that we can physically rest and eat, but so that he can give us spiritual rest — through yoking ourselves to him anew — and spiritual food.

In the words of the Prophet Isaiah, Jesus in daily prayer and on retreat tells us, “Come, receive grain and eat.… Come, drink wine and milk!” He beckons us, “All you who are thirsty, come to the water!” He desires to give us this nourishment “without paying and without cost.”

In all of that lies the miracle of Jesus Christ. To come to us, to be there always so we can feel his love for us, to remind us that we are never alone, to ask us to act in his name. The more we do in His name, the more we change. We lead with compassion, not judgement. We give to help not for recognition. We follow him and live our lives each day doing our best to model his words.

As we do all of that, we are drawn closer and closer to him. The closer we become to him, the more we experience his presence and see his face.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus Christ, you satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts and you feed us with the finest of wheat (Psalm 81:16). Fill me with gratitude for your blessings and give me a generous heart that I may freely share with others what you have given to me.”

Daily Note

The feeding of the five thousand shows the remarkable generosity of God and his great kindness towards us. When God gives, he gives abundantly. He gives more than we need for ourselves that we may have something to share with others, especially those who lack what they need. God takes the little we have and multiplies it for the good of others.

In Truth, How Open Is The Door To Your Heart?

How Does Your Garden Grow? – Reflecting Him
Daily Reflection – 7/30/2021

Sacred Scripture

He came to his native place and taught the people in their synagogue. They were astonished and said, “Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds? Is he not the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother named Mary and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? Are not his sisters all with us? Where did this man get all this?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and in his own house.” And he did not work many mighty deeds there because of their lack of faith. (Matthew 13:54-58)

Reflection

Today in the Gospel we encounter a real-life illustration of many of the lessons Jesus has been teaching us in the Parables of the Kingdom over the last eight days. When Jesus returns to his hometown synagogue to sow the Word of God, he didn’t find in everyone the fruitful soil he found in his mother and foster-father. He found some rocky soil that immediately responded to his words with astonishment as well as much packed down soil by the wayside that totally resisted his message.

Jesus could do no mighty works in his hometown because the people who were familiar with him were closed-minded and despised his claim to speak and act in the name of God. If people come together to hate and refuse to understand others different than themselves, then they will see no other point of view than their own and they will refuse to love and accept others.

There is too much of that around us. People spend far too much time on the internet trying to prove a point or worse yet distorting facts to justify their position. To many people, conspiracy theories are a daily feeding. What they do not realize is that the source of hatred that feeds these theories is from the evil one. After all, hatred is not the teaching of Jesus Christ but rather an anathema to his gospel.

The Lord Jesus offers us freedom from sin, prejudice, contempt, hatred  and fear. His love and grace sets us free to love others with the same grace and mercy which he has shown to us. Only Jesus can truly set us free from the worst tyranny possible – slavery to sin and the fear of death. His victory on the cross brings us pardon and healing, and the grace to live holy lives by the power of the Holy Spirit.

It is only when we believe God has chosen us and can recognize the very sound of our voice that we can live in freedom. Jesus’ words are clear. We belong to him. He knows our voice. He will always care and protect us. We need then, to stand in that personal relationship. We need to draw the strength that comes from Christ’s commitment to us. Jesus says, “I love you.” We need to believe that He is serious!

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, your love conquers every fear and breaks the power of hatred and prejudice. Flood my heart with your mercy and compassion, that I may treat my neighbor with the same favor and kindness which you have shown to me.”

Daily Note

What it comes down to, what is at the heart of our religion is that we know that we are daughters and sons of God. We believe that we have a personal relationship with Christ. We trust that regardless of who we are or the mistakes we have made, God will remain faithful to us and protect us. We believe that Jesus knows the pitch of our voice and knowing everything about us, still freely chooses to love us and protect us. Outside of that relationship, faith is simply a matter of words and religion a system of ideas. Words and ideas are not going to save us. Only love can save us.

Was This A Spiritual Smack-Down?

Luke 10:42 KJV - But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen
Daily Reflection – 7/29/2021

Sacred Scripture

As they continued their journey he entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)

Reflection

Our Gospel today is often misinterpreted.

It sounds as if we are witnessing a spiritual “smack down” of Martha. But that is far from the case.

Jesus is not criticizing Martha for her actions. In fact, what she is doing is good and necessary. She is providing comfort and hospitality to Jesus. Jesus addresses Martha because he sees that although she is doing the right thing, it is not bringing her joy. Instead, her work is causing her worry and anxiety.

All of us have things we must do. We need to provide for our family. We strive to be good parents. We have responsibilities at work. We need to make life decisions such as what will I do after high school or after college. All of these efforts require time and energy. They are necessary. But what the character of Martha asks us is this: Are our responsibilities lifting us, up or pulling us down?  When we do the things that we must do, do they give us satisfaction, or are they depleting us?

If they are depleting us, then we might find ourselves in a condition that one author has called “sunset fatigue”. This is when at the end of the day, the people who need our love the most, the people to whom we are most committed end up getting the leftovers. Sunset fatigue is when we are simply too tired, too drained, or too occupied to love the people to whom we have made the deepest promises.

Martha has sunset fatigue.

She’s doing the right thing, but it is depleting her, making her anxious and worried. This is why Jesus addresses her and shows her a way out. He points to the activity of her sister Mary, who listens to the Lord as he speaks. If Martha is the sister who represents worry, Mary is the sister who represents listening. What Jesus is telling Martha and us is that if we wish to overcome fatigue, worry, and anxiety, the way to do this is by listening. We do not need to do less. We need to hear more. We do not ignore our responsibilities, but we choose to be present to the people who are most important in our lives.

At the end of a busy day, when our mind is filled with concern and anxiety, Jesus asks us to listen to someone who loves us: to ask our eight-year-old how was day camp; to speak to our teenager about a friend who’s been hospitalized; to ask our spouse what was the best part of the day. As we listen to the people who love us, we become grounded and our anxiety is reduced.  

We all know that we have a responsibility to worship God that is why we go to Church, read scripture, do our best to follow the words of Jesus in Matthew. But often we do those things with a distracted mind. We do but we do not listen . . .  to listen to the Word of God as it addresses us. Because if we listen, we will hear the voice of Christ, and that will remind us to whom we belong. That will give us peace.

Jesus addresses Martha because he is concerned that she is worried and fatigued.  Jesus uses the example of Martha to speak to us, to say that when we are filled with anxiety and depleted, it is important to listen to the people who love us and to hear the voice of God in our lives. This is why Jesus says that listening is the better part. Not that it is more important than working or doing. But because it is only through listening that the work we do will give us life.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, I desire to find the better part. Grant me perseverance in prayer to come before you where your grace transforms me. I am willing to change so I can discover what it means to live all life’s challenges with my eyes focused on you and my heart centered on you.”

Daily Note

Jesus wasn’t at all minimizing the importance of what Martha was doing; he was focusing, rather, on how she was doing it. The last thing Jesus would want would be for all of us merely to sit at his feet and allow everyone else to work to serve us. That’s certainly not the Christian way or the way Jesus adopted. Like Martha, we are called to work hard serving others but we’re supposed to do it with the spirit of Mary. That’s what the sanctification of our work is all about, to have Martha’s hands and Mary’s contemplative heart, so that we won’t be distracted by many other things, but so focused on Jesus in work, at school and in family life that we’ll be getting fed by him in action and be better equipped to feed others not just by our work but with the One working within us. Each of us is called to work as hard as Martha, out of love for God and others, in setting an eloquent, attractive example like Mary, the example of a life with Jesus at the center.

Are You Part of The Scandal?

Meditations in Matthew Thirteen: the Treasure and the Pearl – MIKE ROGERS  AD 70
Daily Reflection – 7/28/2021

Sacred Scripture

“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.” (Matthew 13:44-46)

Reflection

Discovering God’s kingdom is like stumbling across a hidden treasure or finding the one pearl of great price. When we discover the kingdom of God we receive the greatest possible treasure – the Lord himself.

I know you agree with that. The issue is the scandal that confronts us each day. Scandal? Yup!

We see in this parable that God is the merchant, and God is searching for us. There is no explaining why God is so determined to find us. God has already given us our lives, our minds, our abilities, our families and friends. God has already given us his Son and the promise of eternal life. But God wants more. God wants to possess us as his own.

We are the ones who usually pass on this opportunity. We believe in God, and we know that all good things come from God. Yet we pray, “God, thank you for all that I have received—for my life, for my job, for my family and friends—but could you please remain a giver from afar? Why do you have to come so close? I am not really ready to be all in. Can’t I just live a moral life and go to church on the weekends? I love you, and I will praise you. But I really don’t want to be your possession.” 

Yet despite all of our protests that we are too busy, that we are too fearful, that we are too sinful, God keeps coming. God keeps searching for an opportunity to catch our imagination, to break our routine, to open our hearts so that he can have us. No effort is too great, no distance is too far to keep God from coming, always hoping that we will be willing to go deeper, that we will be willing to hand ourselves over. Then we would see what satisfaction there is in following the gospel, how much sense it makes to forgive our enemies, what energy we would have to work for justice, and what joy would be ours to be God’s own.

We can always say no. We can always resist this deeper relationship. But God does not give up. What God values determines the search, and to God we are not a small piece of plastic. We are a pearl of great price. He wants us to be his. In the end it is both sensible and wise to give in. In fact, it is our salvation to let ourselves be found.

The parable reminds us that obtaining the most important things in life is not a process over which we have control. It is a process over which God has control. And God is not bound to use our wisdom or our efforts. Now, should we go for what is the most important thing? Should we seek our heart’s desire? By all means—with all of our energy and strength. If we try sincerely, sometimes like the merchant searching for fine pearls, we will find it. But on those days when our energy runs out, on those days when our searching seems futile, on those days when we cannot even think of another thing we can try, the gospel reminds us not to give up hope. God still intends to save us. God still intends to give us our heart’s desire. And it is possible to stumble on the most important things, like finding a treasure hidden in a field.

Each day we need to learn that we live with confidence. God is in charge. Whether we are looking for God or not, God is looking for us. And God is always successful.

Now that’s a pearl worth any price!

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, reveal to me the true riches of your kingdom. Help me to set my heart on you alone as the treasure beyond compare with any other. Free my heart of any inordinate desires or attachment to other things that I may freely give to you all that I have in joy and gratitude for all that you have given to me. May I always find joy and delight in your presence.”

Daily Note

God constantly gives us the chance in life to choose him as our treasure, to value him more than we value the good things of life, to esteem him even more than we value our own life. And so, we have to persevere in choosing the treasure of the kingdom and not give in to the temptation to trade it for something fleeting and far less valuable. 

Can You See The Darkness?

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Daily Reflection – 7/27/2021

Sacred Scripture

Then, dismissing the crowds, he went into the house. His disciples approached him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” He said in reply, “He who sows good seed is the Son of Man, the field is the world, the good seed the children of the kingdom. The weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears ought to hear.” ( Matthew 13:36-43)

Reflection

If you garden, you know how insidious weeds are. At the beginning, one can’t tell the difference between a weed and a plant. They grow side by side with the emerging plants and it’s not until they are almost fully grown before you can tell they are weeds. But when you pull them up, the roots of the weed are often intertwined with the new plants. So, a person hs to be very careful about weeding.

This parable is all about weeding, It’s the weeds of our daily life sown by the evil one that can lead us astray. Often, they are not immediately visible. Often, they have grown too much before they are discovered.

Evil seldom comes to us in its true form. Peace is a genuine good. To live in harmony with the people around us, to get along with the people that we know and love is a blessing. But when the desire to keep the peace leads us to be dishonest with our spouse, when the desire to go along with the group prevents us from telling our friends that they are wrong to abuse drugs or alcohol, peace becomes merely a garb to cover something harmful. The devil is pleased to use peace so that we might enable others to fall.

Service is at the heart of the gospel. To give of ourselves, to sacrifice our desires for the sake of another, is following the very example of Christ. But when others use our generosity to manipulate us, when our giving is used to abuse or hurt us, it is no longer a good. The devil rejoices to use our desire to give as a way to enslave us. That is why we must draw boundaries to protect ourselves.

Love is Jesus’ greatest commandment. The love of our family and friends is a profound good. But love of the people close to us can be used to diminish those who are different from us. The devil delights in using the love of our family and friends or the love of our country to lessen and denigrate others.

The devil continues to crawl along and spread evil in our world. His final defeat will not occur until Jesus returns and destroys every evil forever. Until that day, our job is to take up Jesus’ mission, to fight with him against the evil that surrounds us, to undermine the power of evil in our world.

Sometimes we imagine that being a Christian is merely about knowing the Creed, coming to church, avoiding sin. These are all good things. But at the heart of discipleship is the commitment to join in Jesus’ mission, to take up arms against evil – wherever we find it.

On the last day, we will be called before the Lord to give an accounting of our life. If we come before him and say, “You know, I have said my prayers and I have tried to be as holy a person as I could be.” Jesus will say “Good. But what have you contributed to the destruction of evil? How have you fought at my side against those things that are against God’s will? Have you attacked prejudice or have you increased it? Have you attacked those things that are contrary to God’s will? Have you opposed injustice or have you tolerated it? Have you eschewed violence or have you fed it?” And it will be a bad day for us if that last day is the first time, we ever realized that this is what Jesus has asked us to do.

Being a disciple of Jesus is taking up the battle against evil. It is more than avoiding sin. It is helping to create a new world. Following Christ is more than keeping ourselves pure. It is standing with Christ, facing the devil in the eye and saying, “Your power stops with me.”

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, may your all-consuming love rule in my heart and transform my life that I may sow what is good, worthy, and pleasing to you.”

Daily Note

Jesus’ parable teaches us patience lest we judge before the time is right. Jesus also warns that there is an enemy who seeks to destroy the good seed of his word before it can bear fruit. Both good and evil can be sown in our hearts like tiny seeds which germinate, and in due time yield a harvest of good or bad fruit. We must stand guard lest evil take root in our hearts and corrupt us.
In the day of judgment each of us will reap what he or she has sown in this life. Those who sow good will shine in the kingdom of their Father. They will radiate with the beauty, joy, and fullness of God’s love. Do you allow the love of Jesus Christ to rule in your heart, thoughts, and actions?

Think Small, Go Big

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Daily Reflection – 7/26/2021

Sacred Scripture

Another parable he put before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed which a man took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.” He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.” All this Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed he said nothing to them without a parable. 36 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet: “I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.” (Matthew 13: 31-35)

Reflection

Ah, that tiny mustard seed and that good old leaven. They come back again to show us how each of us can be changed and, in that change, have a major effect when we live God’s word.

It’s all about yielding our lives to Jesus Christ, not for a moment, not for a day but in its entirety. Dedicating our lives and our families to Jesus Christ.

The Lord Jesus wants us to become the living 21st century illustration of this parable. He wants us to have the opportunity to experience the exhilarating growth of the mustard seed. As we root ourselves in him, we have every hope that, just like thousands of times before us in the history of the Church, we’ll get bigger again and many others will be able to nest in the branches that will come from this union. Christian influence rather than waning will wax. We just need to trust in him as the first Christians did.

The imagery of the bread is the whole world and we are called to be the leaven. Jesus teaches us essentially that one Christian in a neighborhood, or one truly Christian family on a street, one faithful Christian in a workplace or school should be enough over time to transform that neighborhood, street or school or workplace.

Just imagine the effect of a Christian exercising their faith in values that go beyond current values, and their hope in something that is not seen and that one would not dare to imagine. Through this wordless witness these Christians stir up irresistible questions in the hearts of those who see how they live: Why are they like this? Why do they live in this way? What or who is it that inspires them? What are those values that seem so different than the values portrayed in the media? That witness is a silent and powerful example. 

That is evangelization! That is living your life for others. You don’t need to be an orator. You don’t need to look a certain way or to be someone else. You don’t need to be a street corner preacher. All you need to do is live a life that is in concert with the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Funny but lately, I find myself with a new label. It doesn’t identify me as belonging to a political party, or a particular individual or a current way of thinking. But it is the identity that best defines me and my values.

When people ask which party I belong to, or whether I am conservative or liberal, I simply answer: “I am a Matthew 25 Christian”.

If we think that way, if we take on and live the values of a true Christian, not only does our faith grow, not only will our lives inspire us but we will be transformed. In that transformation, we will be ready to meet our God. When all the masks are removed, when all the words are silenced, we can stand before Him and simply say: “ I did my best to live your word.”

Prayer of The Day

“Heavenly Father, fill me with your Holy Spirit and transform me into the Christ-like holiness you desire. Increase my zeal for your kingdom and instill in me a holy desire to live for your greater glory.”

Daily Note

The tiny mustard seed literally grew to be a tree which attracted numerous birds because they loved the little black mustard seed it produced. God’s kingdom works in a similar fashion. It starts from the smallest beginnings in the hearts of men and women who are receptive to God’s word. And it works unseen and causes a transformation from within. Leaven is also a powerful agent of change. A lump of dough left to itself remains just what it is, a lump of dough. But when the leaven is added to it a transformation takes place which produces rich and wholesome bread when heated – the staple of life for humans.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

My Reflections...: Reflection for Monday July 30, Seventeenth Week in  Ordinary Time: Matthew 13:31-35
Daily Reflection – 7/23/2021

Sacred Scripture

“Hear then the parable of the sower. The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the kingdom without understanding it, and the evil one comes and steals away what was sown in his heart. The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the word and receives it at once with joy. But he has no root and lasts only for a time. When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately falls away. The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit. But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.” (Matthew 13:18-23)

Reflection

The parable that Jesus uses in today’s Gospel is all about our growth.

The parable is carefully shaped to fit the contours of our lives. After all, the parable is not about agriculture, but about human existence. It is not about seeds, but the Kingdom of God.

What this parable tells us about our life is this: We will never succeed in all of our projects and goals. We will never fulfill all of our hopes and dreams.  We will never remain connected to all of the people who we love. Some of our hopes and dreams will not grow and will disappear as quickly as the seed that was eaten by the birds. Some of our projects and goals will start to grow, but then become scorched and wither away because of lack of root. Some of the people that we love will not love us in return. Others will form a relationship with us for a while but will not be able to adjust to new circumstances. In time our relationship with them will suffocate, like the seed that is choked by the thorns.

Either because of our own mistakes or because of other circumstances, many of the hopes and dreams that we have will not come to fruition. Much of what we desire will be lost like seed that does not grow.

But this parable also includes a harvest–a rich harvest. For all the seed that does not grow, there is other seed that produces a hundred, sixty, and thirty-fold.

 Jesus is calling us to focus on the harvest. For all the goals, for all the relationships, for all the dreams that were never fulfilled, this parable calls us to remember all of those realities that did grow, that did bless us and sustain us still. We must not focus on the parts of our lives that have failed or live our lives in guilt and self-pity. We cannot base our lives on all the what-ifs. What if – I tried harder? What if – circumstances were different? What if – I made another decision? All of these what-ifs have no future. Attaching our lives to them is as useless as crying over spilt milk or over seeds that never grew.

Instead of lamenting about all the things in our life that did not happen, this parable calls us to rejoice in the things that did happen—in the goals we were able to achieve, in the hopes that we were able to realize, in the relationships that still support us to this day. They are God’s gifts to us. There might be many of our hopes and dreams that did not materialize, but the ones that did are enough to provide a bountiful harvest, a rich life.

We can choose to focus on all of our dead dreams and wrap ourselves in despair. Or we can choose to accept the harvest that has been given us with thankfulness and joy. How do you choose to live your life? What do you choose to see–a triumph or a tragedy? Only you can decide. Let those who have ears to hear, listen.

Prayer of The Day

Lord Jesus, help me to guard the word you have planted in my heart that no doubt or temptation may keep me from believing and obeying you. May I be fruitful in your service and may I never fear to speak of you to others and to share with them the good news of the Gospel.

Daily Note

God’s word can only take root in a receptive heart which is docile and ready to hear what God has to say. One lesson is clear: the harvest is sure. While some seed will fall by the wayside and some fall on shallow ground and never come to maturity, and some be choked to death by the thorns; nonetheless a harvest will come. The seed that falls on good soil, on the heart that is receptive, will reap abundant fruit. Are you teachable and eager to learn God’s truth? And do you allow anything to keep you from submitting to God’s word with joy and trusting obedience?

Why Not Learn From Her?

John 20:18 KJV - Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that
Daily Reflection -7/22/2021

Sacred Scripture

On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.” But Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had been. And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” She thought it was the gardener and said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher. Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and what he told her. ( John 20:1-2, 11-18)

Reflection

Today’s Gospel can teach each of us qualities that are critical for our spiritual journey. They are qualities that were inherent in Mary of Magdala – the apostle to the apostles.

When Mary understood that despite the horror of the cross Christ had been raised up, she proclaimed that truth fearlessly. Even though the apostles held a higher status, even though her message was open to ridicule, Mary told Peter and the others, “I have seen the Lord.” That is why her name is remembered and why we must imitate her courage.

That courage came from her love—the love that she had for Jesus in the goodness that she could see in him, the love she had for herself in what she might become were she to find forgiveness. This woman found courage from her love, the courage to act. Where do we need courage with the people we love? Do we need courage to say to our spouse, “You know, it’s not working. Something needs to change.” Do we need courage to say to a friend that their misuse of alcohol or drugs is hurting and even destroying him or her? Do we need the courage to say to some member of our family, “Your constant words of criticism and prejudice are unacceptable. They need to stop.”

It is not easy to speak the truth to those we love. We need to draw from our love and find the courage to act.

The second quality is the generosity of spirit that came from Mary’s commitment to Jesus.

Mary heard Jesus preach. She understood the gospel and accepted it. She wanted it to succeed. She did not simply accept it in her heart and pray about it. She generously chose to offer her life and her resources in Jesus’ service. 

How is that an application for our lives?

What in our lives are we are committed to, in what do we believe? Do we allow our commitment and belief to lead us to generosity? We believe in our children. Are we generous with our presence and our time to make sure that they know our wisdom and our love? Perhaps we belong to some group that is important to us. Are we generous with our time to mentor younger members so that they can carry on once we are gone? Perhaps we are committed to a better world. Does that commitment translate into the generosity of helping the homeless and the sick, of protecting the environment?

It always comes down to not just accepting the word of God but internalizing that word to such a point that it drives our live. For years, I have used a personal motto that guides my life: “To Love Him is to Live Him.” I hope and pray that motto resonates within you.

Prayer of The Day

“Come Holy Spirit, be my teacher and guide. Open my ears to hear God’s word and open my eyes to understand God’s action in my life. May my heart never grow dull and may my ears never tire of listening to the voice of Christ.”

Daily Note

God can only reveal the secrets of his kingdom to the humble and trusting person who acknowledges their need for God and for his truth. The parables of Jesus will enlighten us if we approach them with an open mind and heart, ready to let them challenge us. If we approach God’s word with indifference, skepticism, and disbelief, then we, too, may “hear but not understand” and “see but not perceive.” God’s word can only take root in a receptive heart that is ready to believe and willing to submit. If we want to hear and to understand God’s word, we must listen with reverence, faith and commitment to those words..