Why Bother To Change ?

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Daily Reflection – 1/18/2021

Sacred Scripture

The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were accustomed to fast. People came to Jesus and objected, “Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?”  Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day.  No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak. If he does, its fullness pulls away, the new from the old, and the tear gets worse. Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the skins are ruined. Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins.” (Mark 2: 18-22)

Reflection

In today’s Gospel, Jesus reminds his disciples that He came to teach a new Way – one that was radically different than the Pharisees taught. In the religion of that day, loyalty to God was expressed through strict observation of laws and external practices of commitment like fasting.

The Way of Jesus is quite different. It is primarily interior rather than just exterior. It is ultimately rooted in relationships based on love, a love that always seeks the well-being of the other. If we judge what Jesus does by the old ways, we will have difficulties. We need, as Paul says, “to have the mind of Christ”.

His message needs to be received with an open heart and an open mind. Truth is that just as it is then, it is now. All of that requires change. We don’t like change. The result? Too often, we don’t change. We cling to the “old ways.” Nothing wrong with the old ways, except . . . Except that we forget the old ways were in constant change and we fail to recognize that. We look at the “old ways “as if they were immoveable and inviolate. Because by viewing them that way, we don’t have to change. But that is our perspective, not reality.

The disciples recognized something we need to recognize. Any living relationship, father, son, husband, wife, is always changing. It’s for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and health. The one thing that we know about our relationship with God is that it’s going to be changing and hopefully deepening.

Change is one of the ways in which God reveals himself to us and, makes manifest the Divine Presence. Like marriage, faith is a relationship and like marriage, the relationship of faith may have its ups and downs, but it’s always, always developing and growing. As events around us change then we must look for how we can deepen and enrich our faith in those events.

To use labels for a moment,  would suggest that only a person who is a good “conservative” can really be a good “liberal.” It’s not a matter of one or the other. Only the person who remembers and relishes and reverences the past can be truly open to the possibilities of new things in the future. So, the spiritual life means being truly conservative, truly liberal, and then truly radical. The word “radical” quite simply means “one who seeks the roots, one who goes deep, one who finds the foundation, the rock.” A radical is the one who is seeking the root of the Gospel and in a radically changing world, the one root truth is that we are God’s and God is love. That is the one constant.

If we develop a good balance in our spiritual life, we can not only deal with change, we will find change a major way in which we come to know God and to develop a deeper relationship with God. A living relationship with God in Christ will always be growing, always be changing, always be deepening. That’s the joy of living a spiritual life.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, 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 and fasting 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.”

Daily Note

Jesus understands that there are times when we can no longer put wine into old wine skins. There are times when new ideas will only be destroyed if we put them back into old categories. What we need is a new container, a new system, a new vision. When we find it, we have found a “breakthrough moment.” The challenge is that “break through moments” are meant to be a frequent part of our lives. We need to experience them on a regular basis because learning is a life-long process and learning is more than just accumulating new data. We need new wine skins by which we can see life in new ways. 

Ready To Hoist The White Flag of Surrender?

Put God first, and you'll never be last | I don't own this image
Daily Reflection – 1/15/2021

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 four friends in the Gospel were successful in bringing their friend to Jesus because they saw the obstacle of the crowds, a small house, and the sheer impossibility of bringing their friend to Jesus. So, they climb up to the roof and begin to dig through the dirt and the hardened mud and the palm leaves.  They do the hard work of digging through the roof in order to get to Jesus.   They clear out a passage that they then can use to lower their paralyzed friend down into the house where Jesus will see him and reach out to him and heal him.

They saw the obstacle and overcame it. One of the primary reasons we sometimes fail to have a truthful relationship with Christ is that we don’t SEE the obstacle. We do the right things, use the right words, go to Church and we move through life. But there is this void. It’s not quite spiritual deadness but we don’t feel the vibrancy of our faith.

We need to start with the truth. We need to recognize that there is an obstacle in our way. Because when we start with that and reflect on that, we realize that the obstacle is that we have not given in to God. We haven’t given in by recognizing that we keep coming back to self and ego. We keep hanging on to “me” and will not yield to the fact that the “we” we need is God and me. But the primacy of God in our lives is what should be central.

We are pretty good at hiding. Just like the Scribes in today’s Gospel. They had a serious obstacle as well.  An obstacle which separated them from God — their own arrogance, their own certainty of their rightness, their holiness, their purity.  It’s another obstacle which many in our society struggle with as well: the arrogant certainty of their rightness, their own sense of personal holiness and purity. A smug attitude that that they and only they have the right position, Yet that perspective separates them from others and puts a large moat between them and God. We have to stop and ask ourselves whether we are seeing the world with blinders on – blinders that we create and not in unison with God.

But THE biggest obstacle that gets in the way of a faith filled relationship with God is our desire to be like others rather than like God. It is  one of the great tricks of the evil one.  We fall for it over and again. Jesus stressed we first need to give to God. We need to obey him above men. We need to desire that his kingdom come and his will be done. When we fail to do that, that’s when, to some degree, all Hell breaks loose (hmm, based on events, it makes you wonder).

Perhaps its time to raise the white flag and surrender your life in faith, and say, “Lord I’m giving you everything, I’m giving up the war against you, and I’m going to put my life in your hands and live under your authority from now on.” If you’ve never done that, I hope that you do. I hope that you’ll do it today.

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

What kinds of hard work do we need to do in order to get to Jesus? In what ways are we paralyzed in our lives, in what ways are we confronted by seemingly insurmountable obstacles that divide us from our loved ones, from others and from God?  This is the question posed by this text.  Before we can fully respond to God’s call and freely follow Jesus, before we can be free in our relationships with others we need forgiveness and healing.  Gifts that God, through Jesus is prepared and waiting to provide for us.  But first, perhaps, we have some dirt to dig through!

Leprosy of The Heart

Mark: 1:40-45 | Spiritual Leprosy - River Bible Church
Daily Reflection – 1/14/2021

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 him, 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

Doing small things with love was a favorite saying of Mother Theresa. It was part of her daily encouragement to the sisters in her order who ministered to the most marginalized in India.

There is no dispute that their charism was compassion.

It’s an appropriate beginning to this reflection which reminds us of the compassion of Jesus Christ. On a personal note, of all the virtues of Jesus Christ, it is compassion which drives my ministry.

In these days especially, it is compassion which each of us needs in abundance. The pandemic has not only brought death but it has also brought fear, alienation and anxiety.  When it is overlaid with the complexities of strife, anger and incivility of our society, it can also leave us with leprosy of the heart – an overall numbness that leaves us separating from the world, sometimes overlooking the suffering, and deadening our reactions and feelings to life.

I understand that some may intentionally acquire leprosy of the heart as a way of coping. But, in the end, it does not preserve. Instead, it stagnates our emotions. You and I need to constantly resist it so that its effect is not permanent.

Suffering is part of the human condition. It is a mystery somehow bound up with the invasion of God’s good creation by evil. But the God we see in the face of Jesus Christ is a God who always works to alleviate human suffering; he doesn’t send it as a punishment. It may be true that since the time of Jesus our prayers for the alleviation of human suffering have not always been answered in the way we would have liked; this again is part of the mystery. But it should not cause us to doubt the basic desire of God is to deliver us from evil, not to inflict it on us.

So where is God in the midst of this suffering. Look around. It is you and me. We are the reflections of God. To live that reflection is to heal ourselves from any kind of leprosy that separates us from ourselves, from others, and from God.

Jesus calls each one of us to destroy the walls that separate us from others and to welcome the outcasts and the untouchables of society. God’s loving hand must reach out to the poor, the sick, and lepers — through us — and Jesus wants us to touch their lives. Mother Teresa’s life was a great example for us and her motto of : “Do small things with great love,” is so directional. Her “small things” left a big impact on the lives of the poor and outcast. She also said that, “The biggest disease today is not leprosy, but rather the feeling of being lonely and unwanted.”

As we reach out to heal others, a miracle of healing will occur in us. That small voice in our lives which, at times, leaves us feeling lonelyor  marginalized or isolated will be healed. We will be filled with His love. Just as God went beyond the walls and mores of Israel to bring compassion to the suffering and reconciliation to the outcasts, He will do the same for us.

Prayer of The Day

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

Daily Note

Jesus reached out and physically touched the leper. He violated every medical warning and social taboo. By touching the leper Jesus lets the leper know that He will take his place not just as a man with a contagious disease but as one who is socially contaminated as well. When we read this Gospel, we cannot help but feel how little we know of true compassion!

We can do no less. We can be the hands that touch a wounded soul. We can express the words that soothe a wounded spirit. We can be the arms that hold and hug a person who may be dying. We can be the friend who sits and listens and loves another because we see a special child of God in need.

You Tired Too ?

In the Wilderness by Ron DiCianni | Jesus christ art, Pictures of jesus  christ, Jesus pictures
Daily Reflection – 1/13/2021

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

Sometimes the news of the world just seems overwhelming. Sometimes it seems as if we are presented with one dilemma or another. Sometimes it just tires me out. Sometimes I just need a break.

Sometimes I forget to practice that which I preach.

Then comes along today’s Gospel and hits me smack between the eyes.

Jesus, God made man, knew what his human side needed. After curing Simon’s mother-in-law, he continues through his day and cures multitudes. He does it almost as if his human side was indefatigable.

At night, he stops. BUT before plunging into the next day, he goes off to pray. Jesus, God made man, goes off to pray to God, his father. In the early dawn. No distractions. No news of the world. Not even one of his disciples with him. Alone.

Aha. Here comes the message.

Truth is too many of us don’t take the time to truly pray. Too many of us don’t take the time to do more than offer up a laundry list of things we need to happen in our lives.

We need to remember that while we can’t stop life from coming at us, we sure can attend to the life that is given us.

That means attending to our relationship with God so that it is He who moves through our lives and it is He who guides our next step.

Simple, huh? It is. We need to remember that.

We have to start with establishing the fact that prayer is a communication between living beings. Prayer is communication with a being who lives forever, knows more and better than we do, and is in love with us.

Like any communication with a living being, we make a statement and wait for a response. We often times can be accused of talking over God, especially when it is not what we want to hear.

So, prayer requires listening.

As we read in today’s Gospel, prayer is set apart. Prayer is a safe place. This is important because prayer can be a really great thing for everyone, but especially for those who are struggling.

Prayer is our own. It should be our own. It should not be what someone tells us to say unless we have asked for their recommendation. Because it is our own, we can be brutally honest. There is no need to tell God, “Yes, I love my neighbor,” when God knows our heart and knows we cannot stand our neighbor. I recommend to clients that they tell God the truth: “Lord, I cannot stand my neighbor. Please help me understand this.”

Prayer is a source of renewal. It renews us because we pray to the one who is pure love. Knowing that we are loved, loving that we are special, knowing that He worries over every hair in our head, is more than comforting. It renews and energizes us.

I am a great believer in all of this. Yet, I fail more often at doing it right. So, don’t learn from me. Instead learn from Him.

Set aside time each day to be with Him. Listen after you have finished talking. Treasure the silence with Him. Let His love wash over you. Let Jesus Christ renew you.

Maybe not “everyone is looking for you.” But He is.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, help me to recognize that you wait for me each day. You ask only to be the Lord of my life. Help me to recognize that in the silence, you will come to me.”

Daily Note

The human side of Jesus knew what it felt like to be worn out by crowds of people. And so, He needed some quiet time to re-orient himself. To re-connect with his spiritual source. To re-energize. As with everything He did, he taught us what to do. Each of us need to find time alone in prayer, in meditation, time alone with God. There is no substitute for this. Without it, our souls wither, and our strength fades.

This IS You. This IS Me.

Blood ties aren't the onl... | Quotes & Writings by Tahseen Arif | YourQuote
Daily Reflection – 1/12/20321

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

Authority. A word that summons different emotions. When used for the good – for example, teaching – no one has an issue with the word. But when abused – as in the exploitation of another – we all have an issue with it.

But the word itself is different than what most of us believe. The root of the word is author – to create something original from one’s own self. From the essence of who a person is.

That brings us to today’s Gospel when Jesus speaks with authority. He speaks and acts in a way that comes directly out of his essence.

And who questions that authority?  A person possessed. A person who stands for all that is troubled, confused, misunderstood. A demon hiding behind the mask of a person.

You and I know something about masks, right? We all wear then – often. We can find a myriad of reasons “why.” Often, we even develop a rationale that revolves around the mask wearing being “necessary” or “so as to not hurt somebody.”

The irony is that those masks we put up, those personas, keep us from having the very things we think they will gain us; things like intimacy, love, acceptance, healing, forgiveness, and authenticity.

You and I are called to something greater than wearing a mask. You and I are called to help build His kingdom on this earth. WOW!

You and I have been chosen to accomplish that task out of who you and I are. Not imagined. Not acted. But from the authenticity of our lives. Not what we think others wanted.

We pursue God with all of our heart and soul and mind and strength. We put the teachings of Jesus into action in our daily lives. And then we must be honest and real in sharing our experience with one another.

The more we know about Christ we grow in faith and become more open to God. The more we do these things, the more we realize that when we start living our lives, and live them for God, the context of being part of Jesus Christ changes the way we relate to the world.

When Jesus Christ is the authority in our lives, we don’t need a mask. Our lives become stronger, bolder, livelier, and more joyful. We have been given our own context. We are placed in our own story.

Within that story, Christ asked us to reflect him. To reflect Him through our lives and our experience. Not anyone’s else. Him through us!

You and me !!!

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, we often come to you as if you are an insignificant thought, a guiding principle that is nice and easy. Help us to be honest with you about who we are, what we have done and what we have failed to do. Give us the strength we need to live as your disciples, filled with the authority you bring as our Creator and Our Lord.”

Daily Note

Jesus is still teaching to us today. He teaches with authority because it is his own profound experience and it is his deepest desire to heal our distressed spirits, so we too can experience for ourselves and participate in the building of His kingdom.

How Did I Wind Up Here ??

Fisher Of Men, Are You Mending Your Net? | God TV
Daily Reflection – 1/11/2021

Sacred Scripture

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea – for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him. (Mark 1:14-20)

Reflection

You and I can’t be that much different. We’re human. Humans not only have the same traits but, more often than we realize, we have the same experiences. Of course, the situation surrounding the experience may be different but the essence of the experience is the same.

That’s also another reason why reading the Gospel touches us. It speaks to our common experience which leads us to the question of: “How did I wind up here?”

You and I are here because you and I have been given a mission. But to understand what is expected of us, today’s Gospel reminds us that Jesus said we have to repent and believe. Funny thing about those two words. They don’t mean as you might think.

Repent literally means to turn around. Jesus is telling us that to fulfill his purpose for our lives, we need to reorient the way we think. As humans, we tend to be tainted by selfishness, egocentricity, blind ambition and a host of other characteristics that prevent us from seeing the word of God come alive in our lives. We let go so that our life may be reoriented, so that we can now travel in a new direction, so that we may be open to receive the life of God anew. When we let go, everything is transformed – including our nets, boats, and fathers.

Ultimately, it’s about letting go of our own little life so that we can receive God’s life.

Then comes the second word – believe. To believe is to take Jesus at his word and to recognize that God loved us so much that he sent his only begotten Son to free us from bondage to sin and harmful desires. God made the supreme sacrifice of his Son on the cross to bring us back to a relationship of peace and friendship with Him. He is our Father and he wants us to live as his sons and daughters. God loved us first and he invites us in love to surrender our lives to him.

We surrender our lives to him so that we can be more than ourself. He calls us to be something in the world. Not a “something” measured by mercenary standards but a “someone “ who has been given a powerful responsibility by Him. He calls us to be someone for others. To be some one for others.

The writer Frederick Beuchner wrote that our vocation in our life emerges in that place where the passion of our hearts meets the hunger of the world.

That’s the intersection where you and I are placed. The world today is very hungry – hungry for kindness, empathy, concern, sensitivity, truthfulness, fidelity and a million more needs.

Our mission is to participate with God in God’s own saving grace. If that sounds too grand for you, remember that Jesus Christ chose the most ordinary of men to follow him. When he said “follow me,” they responded immediately. They did not as” How Did I get here?”

They got it! They understood that their “new work” was to move to a larger vision, to orient their life in a new direction. They got the fact that their little story of life was connected to a much larger story of life – God’s life.

How and why did you and I get here? Because God wants you and I to help carry out His kingdom. Every day. In every way.  Now more than ever in this world, you and I are here because the world needs more of us who live out His word. . . to help feed the hunger of those who don’t hear it, those who are marginalized, and those who can see Him in 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 call of Jesus to us is not some broad, general teaching, but always a personal, unique call. Jesus calls me. He is inviting me into something. And he is leading me somewhere according to the person that I am, in respect to the story of my life, and the nature of my personality. Often enough we might not think that something is being coaxed forth from within us, or that our journey of life has a special direction about it. However, one of the great insights we can be given, spiritually, is to be able to look back over our life and see how things have, in fact, unfolded in a particular direction. The path is always there. We need to find it and follow it home.

Just Love Me

Joseph Prince on Twitter: "Everyone who encounters Jesus never leaves the  same. He can free you from the guilt of your past and the labels that have  been put on you—just one
Daily Reflection – 1/8/2021

Sacred Scripture

Now there was a man full of leprosy in one of the towns where he 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

Today’s Gospel is at the core of the ministry of Jesus Christ. Tender. Compassionate. Loving. Unceasing. All Encompassing.

A love as no other.

A love that He asks to be shared. By us.

But to be able to share the love of Christ with others, we must learn how to love Him.  We need to seek Him out, sit at His feet and learn from Him, follow Him around the Gospels, watching what He does, listening to what He says. He wants to teach us to become fishers of men, and the first step in that is learning to love all people, learning to even touch the untouchable.

Although Jesus loves to meet people’s physical needs, He doesn’t want people to come to Him only to have those physical needs met. He wants people to come to Him so that He can meet their greatest need – that of eternal life. He wants people to seek him for spiritual healing, not just for physical healing.

We need to know that God loves us so much that He wants to lift our heavy burdens and heal our weaknesses simply because He loves us. He doesn’t do it first because it will benefit Him, rather, He does it out of love for us.

One lesson we can learn from this has to do with our own acts of love and mercy towards others. When we go out of our way to show love and compassion, are we OK with no one knowing? Too often we want to be noticed and praised.

But the nature of an act of love and compassion is such that it should be done simply out of love. In fact, doing something loving and compassionate that is not noticed by anyone helps us grow in love and compassion. It purifies our intentions and enables us to love for love’s sake.

Then we are ready to take the next step.

Christ wants us to love with a special predilection the many other types of lepers today, all those who are modern outcasts, all those on the existential peripheries.

Those whom the world considers ugly or unattractive, those whose illnesses are too long-lasting that few want to care for them; the psychological lepers, those with mental illness or mental disabilities, the spiritual or moral lepers, those who think that their sins cannot be forgiven; the economic lepers like the homeless 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 act of selfless love.

Henri Nouwen once wrote: “Sometimes I see humanity as a sea of people starving for affection, tenderness, care, love, acceptance, forgiveness and gentleness. Everyone seems to cry, “Please love me.”

That was the cry of this leper. That is the cry of many people we all come into contact with every day. Let us be like Jesus, and reach out and touch the untouchable. We all need to ask Jesus to help us learn to love those we would rather not love, and to love those who maybe don’t get much love.

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. As He loves us, so too are we to love,

Hey You ! Yes, You

Luke 4:18-19 by mvcquotes on DeviantArt
Daily Reflection – 1/7/2021

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. They also asked, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?” (Luke 4:14-22)

Reflection

The Gospel today presents both a dramatic scene and a serious exhortation.

Here is Jesus returning to his home town of Nazareth after being baptized by John The Baptist. Some in his town heard of his dynamic preaching so they come to the synagogue keenly interested in this carpenter’s son.

He is handed the scroll, opens it, reads the passage, and then announces that it is fulfilled in Him, and then sits down in the posture of serious preaching.

The message is few in words but powerful in effect. It marks the very nature of His ministry, His outreach to all including the marginalized and His expectations of you and me.

His itinerant career is a pattern for every Christian life, in a sense. He is the light of the world, and through his disciples – through their words, actions, and example – he brings that light to shine in all the sin-darkened corners of the globe. He wants to bring his truth (that which he taught) and his grace (that which heals both body and soul) to every human heart and to every nation. This is his mission; and its ours as well.

As Christians, as little Christs, little anointed ones, not only are we called to announce the Gospel, care for those imprisoned, blind, oppressed, and sing of the Lord’s mercy, but we are called to incarnate God’s word, to become living, breathing exegetes and walking commentaries

Each of us is called not to be an idle listener, but to be 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.” We are always called to hear the word of God as a word to be done, as a word to be fulfilled in us who hear it.

But are enough of us doing that? It’s not about wearing our kneeling pads. Nothing wrong about that but if that’s all that there is, we have missed the message.

It’s hearing, obeying and carrying out the very word of God. It’s using the word of God to measure our daily actions – to evaluate whether we have indeed reached out, lived out and opened ourselves to the Holy Spirit.

Our mission in life, in the Church, and in the world is one that we must carry out depending on God’s supernatural grace and following his supernatural lead. Much of the frustrations, conflicts, and discouragements that Christians experience come from forgetting this fact. We decide what we can do. We choose the agenda. Some even twist the words of Sacred Scripture to fit their own agendas. Too often, we don’t stop, reflect and let the Holy Spirit speak to us, open us, direct us.

Remember Mary’s words? “Let Thy will be done.” Are we willing to allow His words of Truth to penetrate our hearts and transform our life? Are we willing to let His will be done in our life . . . by living out His will?

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

Jesus came to bring “good news” to those who suffer, to free captives, and to cure the blind – he came because we needed him to come. We suffer the moral agony of incurable selfishness; we are shackled by our strong tendencies to sin; we are blinded by the sparkling allure of temptation, we put our ego above all. We too often forget that He came to be our Savior. And when we truly contemplate him, he attracts us with a force that leaves all other material realities far behind. If we want to experience life as God means it to be lived, all we need to do is call upon the name of Jesus and follow where he leads; he is all for us, the perfect friend, the one we can trust without limits.

The Issue Is Our Hard Heads

Guest Post—Xochi Dixon “Walk by Faith…with Jesus in sight!” – Kathy Ide  Writing and Editing Services
Daily Reflection – 1/6/2021

Sacred Scripture

Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray. Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified. Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened. (Mark 6:45-52)

Reflection

The world suffers. The pandemic rages. Hospitals are running out of beds. Front line workers are emotionally and physically exhausted.

Where is God?

The waters of life in 2021 are unchartered. In our lifetimes, we have not seen anything like this. We are not only physically spent; we are emotionally exhausted.

Why isn’t God acting?

Enter today’s Gospel. Shortly after the disciples saw Jesus multiply the loaves and fishes and feed thousands, they put out into a boat. The winds roar. The water threatens to capsize. They are terrified. They forget the miracle they had just seen. They wondered where was their God.

He was there at the moment they needed Him. He reassured their unbelief when they thought He was a ghost.

He says : I AM. The same words uttered by God to Moses at the burning bush.

I AM.

Most of us are like the disciples. Our hearts may be filled with the love of God but our heads aren’t quite there because we keep asking: “Where is God.” C.S. Lewis referred to that as Putting God in the Dock … putting God on trial … demanding answers from Him … assuming that He must prove Himself to us! Why doesn’t He protect us better? Why doesn’t He help us sooner?

Where is God?

 He is here. With us. As He always is.

These times make many of us feel that we are at the end of our own resources. The picture of the disciples “straining at the oars” is a good one for us. Some may even feel that we are in the storm and that God may even have abandoned us. it’s in these very situations that we learn something about Jesus.

The disciples, in this moment, failed to grasp how God had worked in the past, and apply that knowledge to their current situation. We’re left with the same test. If we understand that God has visited us in the person of Jesus, we can be assured of his presence no matter what we go through. We can have confidence in any storm that we go through.

We were not created to be inundated by the toxic pool of hate, the toxic pool of sinfulness, the toxic pool of a virus that drains our life.

We were created by God to live by faith, to immerse ourselves in the depths of his mercy, to adore him on land and on sea, to be strengthened by him and know that we’ve got nothing to fear because he is with us, even if we’re in the midst of ferocious storms.

St, John reminds us of the love that God has for us and inspires us to love God in return. “God is love,” he says, “and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him. In this is love brought to perfection among us, so that we may have confidence on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world.”

Following Christ does not mean an exemption from suffering. Following Christ will sometimes lead us directly into a position of suffering and hardship. We should not be surprised to encounter those times. But again, St. John reminds us: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love.”

We are created to be brought to perfection, to completion, in the love of God, which will help us to be courageous because it drives out fear. When we know God loves us and has triumphed even over death, we’re unafraid of anything, including dying.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, may I never doubt your saving help and your ever watchful presence, especially in times of adversity. Fortify my faith with courage and my hope with perseverance that I may never waver in my trust in you”.

Daily Note

Jesus our Messiah is the One who truly sees their (and our) situation and willingly steps through the storm and on the surface of the sea to bring them peace and save their souls! He gives His word of authority. He gives His word of peace. “Take heart, I am He. It is me. I am in charge, just as you see! Now stop being afraid!” He doesn’t abandon disciples when they don’t get it! He never abandons those who just don’t seem to get it. Rather He graciously reveals Himself again and again!

That’s why He sends them out on the boat, why He waits, and why He walks by – to reveal Himself to the disciples who still didn’t get it … even after the feeding of the 5000. That’s why He comes to us again and again and again. To reveal Himself as the Lord and God of our salvation.

It’s Your Turn . . . Again

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Daily Reflection – 1/5/2021

Sacred Scripture

As Jesus went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. When it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now very late; send them away so that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy something for themselves to eat.” But he answered them, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “Are we to go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread, and give it to them to eat?” And he said to them, “How many loaves have you? Go and see.”’ When they had found out, they said, “Five, and two fish.” Then he ordered them to get all the people to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and he divided the two fish among them all. And all ate and were filled; and they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. Those who had eaten the loaves numbered five thousand men. (Mark 6:34-44)

Reflection

Of all the miracles Jesus did, this is the only one which is repeated in all four gospels.

As such, there is a lesson which each of the Gospel writers believed was imperative to teach. Of course, there is the obvious message that when the Lord 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.

That lesson, as do all Gospel lessons, leads us back to ourselves. We always have to stop and ask what is it saying to ME? We must do that because it is His word that should be our moral compass in a world that seems to have lost direction.

Society is on edge; the mob explodes in panic at even a hint of a wild dog. Too many people face physical and spiritual hunger. Many wonder “Why am I here?” or “What should I do with my life?” “Does anyone love me?” “What will become of me?”

That’s where you and I come in . . . again.

“Again” because we have to. There can be no kingdom of heaven in our living if we do not know the right path. Teaching the kingdom of heaven is to teach freedom, and to heal people from slavery, and free them from powerlessness in the face of the wild dogs and the false shepherds.

Jesus says if we want to be His disciples, His followers, we’ve got to get involved, we’ve got to be willing to sacrifice for our sisters and brothers, to deny self so as to be able to help them. He makes it quite clear that it is the best way to live, the happiest way. Why? Just look at the reward! What a joy it must have been to be a part of that exciting incident, feeding the five thousand with just five loaves of bread and two fish. And to end up with more than at the start. 

In His words ” You go feed them.”

The joy that we receive springs from the fact that we are helping people “feed their soul.” If we miss the feeding of the soul that Jesus engaged in as he “taught them many things,” we short change ourselves and the hungry crowd in which we live.

Think of the times that you have stepped out in faith and gone beyond your comfort zone to help another. Think of the times that you have received.

Time and again, each of have stories to share of “blessings in disguise” where there were people, time, places, or instances that God used to bring this miracle into our daily struggles. We also have to recognize those apparent miracles that not only inspire people but also made their faith stronger and changed their lives or ours.

They become God’s face for us to encounter. Indeed, God created us in His image, and the manifestations of these sensations partly fulfill our purpose to be His instruments in spreading His infinite love and mercy.

Getting involved makes our Christian lives a joy. We become a part of God’s exciting work in the world. And without a doubt we will end with more than we began with, more joy, more meaning, more of God’s blessings both spiritual and temporal. 

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

Sharing loaves to the hungry may sound clichéd for others, but for the starved, it’s a miracle. Sharing loaves doesn’t limit to it literally. Part of our time to listen to a friend in despair and comfort him is sharing our loaves of bread to him. Calling a relative and asking him how he is and his family is also sharing our meals. Making children laugh and teach them to be grateful for daily miracles and blessings is also sharing our loaves. Being kind to the people we live in one roof (like our family) is also sharing our loaves. More so, forgiving ourselves from our past mistakes and sins is also sharing God’s living bread.