The Gift Is His Love of You

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Daily Reflection – 12/10/19

Sacred Scripture

What is your opinion? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray? And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray. In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost. (Matthew 18:12-14)

Reflection

 We know that Jesus is the shepherd and we are the “sheep.” At times in our lives, we also wander off or stray from the Shepherd and from the flock. When we feel lost and alone, we may not feel Jesus’ presence as we would like to. Yet Jesus is with us! Jesus never leaves us! Typically, we are the one who wander away from Him. Hopefully at some point we realize that we are lost and we decide to return home to the One who loves us unconditionally!

 The shepherd will search until what he has lost is found. What was new in Jesus’ teaching was the insistence that sinners must be sought out time and time again.  God does not rejoice in the loss of anyone, but desires that we be saved and restored to friendship with him. That is why the whole community of heaven rejoices when one sinner is found and restored to fellowship with God.

The true gift is that Jesus searches for us until He finds us and we allow Him to bring us home! Jesus never gives up looking for us or longing for our return Jesus, the Good Shepherd, watches over every step we take. Do you listen to his voice and heed his wise counsel? Do you follow the path he has set for you – a path that leads to life rather than death? A path that recognizes that all life is sacred. A path that calls us to cry out when the dignity of life is diminished. A path that mandates that each of us must call out those actions, those words, those actions which do not recognize that every individual, every life deserves to walk in the love and the protection of the Shepherd.

 Prayer of The Day

Lord Jesus, nothing escapes your watchful gaze and care. May I always walk in the light of your truth and never stray from your loving presence. May I live your truth. May the words from my mouth and the actions from my hands serve as proof that I am one of your flock.

Daily Note

Jesus prophetically calls on all of us to accompany the least among us. Christ’s preferential option for the poor, the disabled, and the outcasts of His society must be emulated today. We must search for that single lost sheep, the lowest of the flock, for in them we shall find Christ rejoicing more than in the found flock. Walking with the oppressed and marginalized – the lost sheep – we respond to the prophetic words calling out from the desert. Isaiah told us that the Kingdom was coming, and it is through Christ and His lost sheep that these works shall build the Kingdom, on earth as it is in heaven.

What Stands In Your Way?

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Daily Reflection – 12/9/19

Sacred Scripture

When the days drew near for Jesus to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village.( Luke 9: 51-56)

Reflection

 This Gospel offers still another directional about that which it takes to be a true follower of Christ.

James and John are so indignant at the Samaritans for rejecting Jesus that they actually seek vengeance. Now you have to admire their faith here. They have no doubt that they can actually do this. God had filled them with power to heal and to cast out demons. The problem was with their attitude and that they completely misunderstood Jesus’ mission.

Jesus didn’t want them to call down fire. Jesus did not come to destroy but to save. The issue here is of a judging spirit.

As Christians we are called to be kind and gentle, not resentful of those who oppose us. Yet how often do we “call down fire” on those with whom we disagree instead of praying for them and gently instructing them in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth?

How often in the parishes I have served have I seen “pillars of the community” dissolve into something else when they impose their judgement of others and their true inner compass is revealed.

Think about it. How can you possibly walk to the cross with Jesus when you have a judging spirit? The roadway of discipleship is the road of the cross. The purpose of the cross was salvation for man, not judgment. All who reject that cross will be judged, but we are not the ones to do the judging. 

 Prayer of The Day

 “Heavenly Father, keep my mind fixed on the surpassing joys stored up for me in your kingdom.  And let me be willing to put up with all the suffering, hardship, and pain that may come my way in serving you.”

Daily Note

Howard Marshall writes: “Those who would follow him wherever he goes must be ready to share the homeless lot of the Son of man, to place discipleship above the claims of family and duty, and to persevere to the end. The commitment required is absolute, and goes beyond that of a pupil to a rabbinic teacher, or of an Elisha to an Elijah.” What stands in the way of you following Jesus today?

 

 

The Gift of Sight

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Daily Reflection – 12/6/19

Sacred Scripture

As Jesus passed by, two blind men followed him, crying out, “Son of David, have pity on us!” When he entered the house, the blind men approached him and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I can do this?” “Yes, Lord,” they said to him. Then he touched their eyes and said, “Let it be done for you according to your faith.” And their eyes were opened. Jesus warned them sternly, “See that no one knows about this.” But they went out and spread word of him through all that land.( Matthew 9:27-31)

Reflection

Healing is a powerful force in our lives – be it physical or emotional. We all reach a point that we seek healing and ask for the strength to go through an adversity.

There are questions for all of us that flow from this. What is the healing that we wish to ask Jesus for?  Do we cry out to Him?  Do we follow Him?  Do we truly believe that Jesus has the power and the desire to heal us?  Do we trust that Jesus will answer our prayer?  Have you ever cried out to Jesus but He didn’t seem to hear you?  If/when this happens, how will you respond?  Will you turn and walk away from Jesus?  Or will you continue to cry out, trust and follow Him?

What about those who have offended us either personally or by the way they are living?

Do we really believe that Jesus can heal them?  When we pray for them, do we ever say “Yes, Lord, I believe that you can heal my friend, or family member.”  or “Yes, I believe you can heal this situation?”  The spoken word has power.  If it didn’t, Christ would have just healed these two blind men on the spot and been on his way.  But, he didn’t.  He asked them to say the words, “Yes, Lord” to affirm their belief in him.

We need to affirm. To affirm, we need light. Clouds, like distractions, can block the sun’s rays. Sin, like the night, can turn off the light! Seek, clear and believe. This is today’s message. The blind men are holy today because they sought and things cleared up for them. Our lives are in His hands. He knows what is good for us.  We need to remove the cataracts from our eyes so as to see much more clearly! To remove the cataracts, we need to step out in faith and walk away from our egotistical blindness into the light of Him who loves us. Are you willing to do that today? Walk in total faith? Trust in total faith?

Prayer of The Day

Dear God, give us eyes to see the blessings all around us and hearts and tongues eager to share what we witness. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Daily Note

Christmas is fast approaching and there are very few perfect families or perfect friendships.  In fact, sometimes the most perfect, Christian families or our most devout friend, can be the ones who are the most judgmental of others who are not like them.  We need to be careful of this trap.  We have to judge situations sometimes, but we are called to not judge the person.

Advent is not just a time to seek the Lord; it can also be a time to clear things that distract us from the Lord.

 

 

How Strong Is Your Foundation ?

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Daily Reflection – 12/5/19

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to his disciples: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.”( Matthew 7:21, 24-27)

Reflection

We all know that there is a clear difference between hearing and listening. Hearing is much simpler than listening.  When I hear the other person, I literally hear their words and the content.  However, I may not hear the layers of emotion or meaning that the individual may be trying to convey.  When we truly attend to what another person is saying, we not only hear their words, we also are attentive to their tone of voice, facial expression, anxiety level or their sense of calm.  We also may get a sense of what they have not said.  

Much of our day is spent hearing what others are saying.  And this is appropriate.  Most of our conversations are functional or casual conversations.  However, do we recognize it when another person needs us to truly listen to them?  At times, we all need someone who will do more than simply hear our words. We need individuals in our lives who take the time to truly listen to us.  

However, Jesus also wants us to listen to Him.  He desires that we truly attend to what He is saying.  In his Holy Rule, St. Benedict instructs us: “listen with the ear of your heart!”  Listening with our ears is second nature to us.  However when we “listen with our hearts,” we are fully present and attentive to the other person.  Today Jesus will invite you (and me) to “listen attentively with the ear of your heart.”  Will we take the time and give Him the attention He desires? 

 Prayer of The Day

Lord, you are the only foundation that can hold us up when trials and disaster threaten us. Give me the wisdom, foresight, and strength of character I need to do what is right and good and to reject whatever is false and contrary to your will   May I be a doer of your word and not a hearer only.

 Daily Note

Builders usually lay their foundations when the weather and soil conditions are at their best.  It takes foresight to know how a foundation will stand up against adverse conditions.  Jesus prefaced his story with a warning: We may fool humans with our speech, but God cannot be deceived.  He sees the heart as it truly is — with its motives, intentions, desires, and choices (Psalm 139:2). There is only one way in which a person’s sincerity can be proved, and that is by one’s practice.  Fine words can never replace good deeds.  Our character is revealed in the choices we make, especially when we must choose between what is true or false, and good or evil.  What can keep us from falsehood and disaster?  If we make the Lord and his word the rock and foundation of our lives, then nothing can shake us or keep us from God’s presence and help.  Is the Lord and his word the sure foundation of your life?

 

A Time for Searching Within

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Daily Reflection – 12/4/19

Sacred Scripture

At that time: Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, went up on the mountain, and sat down there. Great crowds came to him, having with them the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute, and many others. They placed them at his feet, and he cured them. The crowds were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the deformed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind able to see, and they glorified the God of Israel. Jesus summoned his disciples and said, “My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, for they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, for fear they may collapse on the way.” 

The disciples said to him, “Where could we ever get enough bread in this deserted place to satisfy such a crowd?” Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” “Seven,” they replied, “and a few fish.” He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, gave thanks, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied. They picked up the fragments left over–seven baskets full. (Matthew 15:29-37)

Reflection

Advent is a spiritual Spring time. It is the Lord’s preferred time for small miracles. The crowd following Jesus in the gospel was hungry, spiritually and physically. Like them, we should be looking and praying for a God who is with us, to provide for all our needs, and be able to truly accept that.

As we begin to prepare our hearts for Christmas, we should stop ad reflect on how our Christmas is the exact opposite of Christ’s Christmas!  He had so little.  We have so much.  We have lights, Christmas trees, stockings, fireplaces, chestnuts roasting, presents, Rudolph, Frosty, sales and gift cards.  The Lord only had His mother, the Father and a star above Him.  He had so little yet had it all. 

The manger scene is a quiet reminder to all of us:  Do not judge.  Do not judge.    How quickly some would judge that very scene today and the family in that scene. Immigrants who have nothing and camping in a shelter for animals! How quickly we would shake our heads and conclude that they were a hopeless and helpless family.  How wrong we would be!   They are not hopeless or even helpless.  They are Holy, a Holy Family, that which is missing in so many of our families today. 

The Lord had little and yet, he had it all!  The Lord had His mother, the Father, and their unconditional love.   

Faith does not come from human ingenuity or craftiness.  Hope does not come from material wealth.  Joy does not come from comfort.  Love does not come from the bottom up.  Faith, hope, joy and love come from God who gives us our identity and our mission.  Mary knew what she was doing.  Joseph knew what he was doing.  Christ knew what he was doing.  For this reason alone, nothing – no one, no circumstance – would influence their life more than God.  This is what brings joy to the world, to us.

Let’s reflect on the manger scene, on a stable that has no Christ.  Now let’s reflect on a home that has no Christ; on a life that is devoid of Christ. 

Yes, we love to size things (and people) up.  We size them up either scientifically or psychologically, but rarely spiritually.  And by doing so, not only do we size things up incorrectly; we also miss out on the best part of life:  its meaning. 

No wonder the poor in spirit are constantly teaching and feeding the prideful at heart.

Prayer of The Day

Lord, you alone can satisfy the longing and hunger in our hearts.  May I thirst for your kingdom and find joy in your presence. Give me the true bread of heaven and nourish me with your life-giving word.

Daily Note

Our lives are stressful, and we become tired; the mind eventually affects the body. We spend sleepless nights, experience aches and pains, sadness and tears. Advent is a time for anticipation: the Lord will always be there for us, but like the crowd, we feel vulnerable. We need to live the meaning of trust. To trust Him is to believe that he will take care of us, that His will is the will that guides and protects us, that His love will surround us and cleave to our hearts.

 

 

 

You ARE Worth It !

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Daily Reflection – 12/3/19

Sacred Scripture

Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.” Turning to the disciples in private he said, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.” (Luke 10:21-24)

Reflection

Christ came from heaven to earth to be with us!  He literally went from eternity to time to be with us.  To me, the fact that He did it is much more impressive than how he did it.  I’m not interested in knowing how He did it.  I want to understand why He did it.  

Why did the Lord do it?  By all accounts, it was to restore a broken relationship.  What does it take to move heaven and earth?  By the looks of it, it takes great humility.  No wonder why the Lord arrived to us as a child; but not only a child, a very poor child, a child born in a stable.

Secularists will say that He was born poor.  Believers will say he chose to be poor.  Which one is it?  It doesn’t matter.  What matters most is what He did with His poverty.  He did nothing.  He didn’t take advantage of it.  He wasn’t discouraged by it. 

Maybe He wanted to teach us, the “talented” and “gifted” of this world, that it will never be what you have that makes you who you are, but how you love that makes you who you are:  a gift. –  human dignity descends to us from what is above us:  God.   

God restored man’s dignity when He sent (and gave) His only Son to us.  Yes, with a child asleep in a manger, in a town called Bethlehem, and during a cold silent night, the child Jesus, without uttering a single word, delivered a simple message to all of us from His Father.  He said with his presence: “You are worth it.”   

Advent is that time of year to remember this.

When you love someone, you are more than willing to go the extra mile, to do whatever it takes, to go to great lengths to fix a problem.  Our Lord and Savior went above and beyond the imaginable to fix our relationship with Him.  He moved Heaven to earth.   

Advent is that time of year for us to go to great lengths, to go the extra mile and to do whatever it takes to fix our relationship with the Lord. 

God moved Heaven.  Now it’s our turn to move earth. 

 Prayer of The Day

Lord Jesus, give me the child-like simplicity and purity of faith to gaze upon your face with joy and confidence in your all-merciful love. Remove every doubt, fear, and proud thought which would hinder me from receiving your word with trust and humble submission.

Daily Note

Jesus makes it possible for each of us to personally know God as our Father. To see Jesus is to see what God is like. In Jesus we see the perfect love of God – a God who cares intensely and who yearns over men and women, loving them to the point of laying down his life for them upon the cross. Do you pray to your Father in heaven with joy and confidence in his love and care for you?

Ah, But Whom Do You Trust?

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Sacred Scripture

When Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion approached him and appealed to him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.” He said to him, “I will come and cure him.” The centurion said in reply, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed. For I, too, am a man subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith. I say to you, many will come from the east and the west, and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the kingdom of heaven.”(Matthew 8:5-11)

Reflection

Advent is that time of year to help our faith progress; to remind ourselves that prestige, authority, health and wealth will never be enough to get us to the top of the Lord’s mountain.  Holiness is not against any of these things; it is simply independent of all of these things. 

But with God’s grace and my humility, all things are made possible:  faith, hope and love are made possible.  The Roman centurion possessed incredible faith and hope because he possessed incredible humility; Incredible, if you consider his position, authority, and power.

Authentic acts of humility are like tiny spaces and crevices in God’s mountain.  These tiny openings, which appear to be useless to the untrained eye, are not.  They are spiritual openings to God’s mercy and compassion, allowing grace to enter into our lives.  They allow us to climb out of our pit and into God’s arms. 

Is your faith in Jesus as strong as the centurion’s was?  This man did not doubt that Jesus was able to heal his beloved servant.  When you pray to Jesus and ask him to help you, grace you, or heal you, do you trust and believe that Jesus will do so?  I suspect that many of us do not trust that Jesus will do as we ask.  This reaction may come from past requests when Jesus did not seem to “answer” our prayer or our request.  Yet, perhaps after a time, we may have realized that Jesus did answer our prayers; however, in a way we never expected.

We can only approach Jesus with a humble attitude, like that of the centurion. That way we can live the hope of Advent: the hope of salvation and life, of reconciliation and peace. Only he who acknowledges his poverty and realizes that the meaning of life is not to be found in himself, but in God, in turning his life over to Him, can really have hope. Let’s approach Christ confidently, and, at the same time, make the centurion’s prayer our own.

 Prayer of The Day

Lord, increase my faith that, like the Centurion, I will always trust in you

Daily Note

We human beings have a tendency to “box Jesus in.”  Often Jesus responds to us in a manner we wouldn’t expect.  Our part is to pray to Jesus. . .and keep an open mind and an open heart.  Jesus will respond to us!  However, most likely it will not be in the way we expected.  Today I invite you to open your heart and mind.  Jesus is with you and He is working in your life!  Trust Him!  He will not disappoint!