Giving Up Something You Can’t Keep To Gain Something You Won’t Lose

Daily Reflection – 8/16/2022

Sacred Scripture

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

Reflection

Here it is again. That persistent old camel who knows he has to get  down on his knees to enter through the small gate while his owner unloads the side bags to help him get through. It takes a lot of work, persistence and focus on the end goal. But the camel does it. Jesus reminds the disciples though that it is easier for the camel to do than a wealthy person to enter the kingdom of God.!

Did Jesus had a problem with wealth? No. Jesus had several wealthy acquaintances including a tax collector who became a disciple. He did have a problem with the attitude that comes to many who are wealthy. He is saying that to be attached to material things means not having room for God. Just as a mountain climber doesn’t use heavy gear or take a weighty rucksack, in our spiritual climbing of the mountain (which is our intimate relationship with God), we need to be free of anything burdensome.

Our lives sometimes get so pre-occupied and anxious with the accumulation of material wealth and amassing even more that God gets pushed out of life and the one who is Source and Sustainer of all goodness finds no place in our hearts and minds.

Jesus is reminding us that the more we have around us the harder it will be for us to not get used to looking for our security there and trusting God instead. The destiny that God wishes for us is that we should return to Him on the last day where we will receive our reward for the good work we did for Him here on earth. Humility and meekness is the key to serving God and whomever puts himself first before men, will become last in God’s eyes and whoever puts himself last before men, will become first in the Kingdom of God.

That is counterintuitive in a society where so much emphasis is put on achieving wealth. But think about it. How many of us truly revere people who are known only for material achievement? Isn’t it true that we admire and respect those that have lived lives that are centered around making this world better? Some of them were and are wealthy. But what we tell ourselves and our children about are about those whose lives have enriched (no pun intended) the lives of others,

Jesus offers us an incomparable treasure which no money can buy and no thief can steal. The thing we most set our heart on is our highest treasure. Material wealth will shackle us, like a bound slave, to this earth unless we guard our heart and set our treasure in God and his kingdom of everlasting life and joy.

Jesus makes us realize that unless we discover, maintain and hold on to the Lord as the Supreme Treasure of our life and consider all other riches and wealth as flowing from His Mercy.  Instead of clinging on to worldly wealth, may we cling to the Lord, who alone can help us to find the true meaning of our lives! Instead of holding on to material glory, may we hold on to the Kingdom of Heaven, where alone can we find the perfect peace and happiness!

There is a quote that fits so well here: “A person is no fool to give up what he cannot keep, in order to gain what he cannot lose.”

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, you are my only hope. I commit myself to you as Lord and Savior. Help me to become the person you want me to be. Amen”

Daily Note

Jesus offers us an incomparable treasure which no money can buy and no thief can steal. These are the good things that we set in our hearts, the values that we uphold, and the principle of being more not having more. Accumulating much material wealth, on the other hand, is not dreadful unless we guard our hearts and set our treasures on God and His everlasting kingdom.

Think About The Strength Of His Love For You

Daily reflection – 8/15/2022

Sacred Scripture

Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.” But Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him.” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?”  Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (John 1:45-51)

Reflection

Today’s Gospel has one central message but needs the context explained to grasp it. So, let’s talk about Nathaniel and the fig tree. Nazareth was at the crossroads of the ancient world where people from different cultures and religions would pass through. It’s very possible that Nathaniel thought that religious teachers from Galilea were not orthodox enough in their understanding and interpretation of the law of Moses.

When Philip brought Nathanael to Jesus, Jesus did something which only God could do! He opened Nathanael’s heart and his innermost thoughts and desires to God’s revelation.

For the people of Israel, the fig tree was a symbol of God’s peace and blessing It provided shade from the midday sun and a cool refreshing place to retreat, pray, and reflect on God’s word. Rabbis often gathered their disciples under the shade of the fig tree to teach them the wisdom and revelation of God’s word in the Scriptures.

It is very likely that Nathanael had been thinking about God’s word while sitting “under his fig tree” and reflecting on God’s promise to send a Messiah King who would free his people from sin and oppression and usher in God’s kingdom of righteousness and peace for the whole world. Through the gift of revelation Nathanael recognized that Jesus was truly the Messiah, the everlasting “Son of God and King of Israel” (John 1:49).

The Lord Jesus offered Nathanael the greatest gift of all – the gift of friendship with God and the offer of free access to God’s throne in heaven.

Jesus’ death on the cross, where he defeated sin and won new life for us through his resurrection, opens the way for each of us to come into a new relationship with God as his adopted sons and daughters.

This is how much that Jesus loves us. This is the kind of bond that Jesus establishes with us. Jesus does not love us from the outside, stepping into our life now and then to help us with this and that. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who knows us as his own and who lays down his life for us. Jesus loves us from the inside, knowing who we are, remembering how our relationship began and then developed, understanding our every doubt, hope and fear. Jesus loves us from the inside. He knows our heart.

And what this means is that we can turn to Jesus when we cannot turn to anyone else. When, even after years of marriage, your spouse still does not understand why a particular friend means so much to you, Jesus understands. When others wonder why you are not yet over grieving the loss of a person you love, Jesus does not wonder. He knows your soul. When even you cannot explain why you are unable to forgive someone who has hurt you, Jesus knows your pain and is already moving you toward forgiveness.

Jesus loves us from the inside. That kind of love does not promise that every phase of our life will be easy. it does not assure us that every good thing we attempt will be successful. But the love of Jesus promises this: He will hold onto us with a strength that nothing can break and walk with us faithfully, until we reach the other side.

Prayer of The Day

“Heavenly Father, through your Son Jesus Christ, you have opened the way to heaven for each one of us. As you personally revealed yourself to your beloved patriarchs and apostles, so reveal yourself to me that I may recognize your presence with me and know the power of your kingdom at work in my life. May I always find joy and peace in your presence and never lose sight of your everlasting kingdom.”

Daily Note

 Christ’s heart is deeply moved by our acts of faith in him, despite any prior reservations or doubts we may have had. He knows whom he chooses, and he longs for intimate friendship with us. When Nathanael acknowledged who Christ was, Jesus showed him where he longed to take him—to be with him in heaven: “You will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” Everything in our life is just an excuse to draw us closer to God in this life, and ultimately into the next. Nathanael’s life was challenging, and he would lay down his life through a brutal death. But as he looks back on his life from heaven, he knows well that it was worth it to make the choice to follow Jesus that day. 

Marriage Is Never About 2 People

Daily Reflection – 8/12/2022

Sacred Scripture

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

Reflection

The Pharisees heard Jesus’ teaching against divorce at the Sermon on the Mount, a teaching which contradicted the practice of the Jews. And so they sought to trap him in this instance into putting his teaching in opposition to Moses. They were hoping to discredit him. But Jesus knew their twisted intentions and grounded his teaching on God’s original plan for man and woman.

The disciples seem to be discouraged at first, because the new teaching of Jesus is difficult to live: “then it is better not to marry.” They are seeing things through their own narrow experience and through the lens of popular opinion. Yet they must make the transforming encounter with the grace of Christ.

We, too, need to believe in that grace and to communicate it to others, since it enables us to love others “as he loved us.” It is what brings the vitality and freshness to our Christian lives, and makes us able to offer something new and hopeful to the world around us.

And that brings us to why, in this case, 1+1 does not equal 2. Why? Christian marriage is not a union of just two parties. It is a couple’s union with a third party—God.
 If we believe that then the marital relationship takes on a totally different perspective. Instead of a discourse on dissolubility, the discourse is constructive and about building, not tearing down. If Christ is truly a part of a marriage, doesn’t the dynamic of a marriage change?

The call of Jesus Christ is to each of us, in all of what we do and in all of what we say. We need to be truly more disciplined about believing and acting on that. The ideal is that all that we do and say in a relationship reflects Jesus Christ. Can we do that? That may be a daunting task. But it means that marriages will be profoundly changed wen each person decides that decisions, actions and words should be made on how much they mirror Christ.

Is it difficult at times? Of course! But there is a wonderful quality of all that Jesus teaches. He knows each of us. He loves us where we are,but he keeps calling us to where we should and need to be. It is in that constant “stretching” of ourselves that we grow as followers of Christ.

It is in that constant growth that we pave the way for us to be with him forever.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus Christ, your call to holiness extends to all in every state of life.  Sanctify our lives–as married couples and as singles–that we may live as men and women who are consecrated to you.  Make us leaven in a society that disdains life-long marriage fidelity, chastity, and living single for the Lord.”

Daily Note

Jesus sets the high ideal of the married state before those who are willing to accept his commands.  Jesus, likewise sets the high ideal for those who freely renounce marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.  Both marriage and celibacy are calls from God to live a consecrated life, that is to live as married couples or as singles who belong not to themselves but to God.  Our lives are not our own, but they belong to God.  He gives the grace and power to those who seek to follow his way of holiness in their state of life. 

Try To Understand The Nature of Forgiveness

Daily Reflection – 8/11/2022

Sacred Scripture

Peter approached Jesus and asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. That is why the Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount. Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt. At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’ Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan. When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a much smaller amount. He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ But he refused. Instead, he had him put in prison until he paid back the debt. Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master and reported the whole affair. His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?’ Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt. So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart.” When Jesus finished these words, he left Galilee and went to the district of Judea across the Jordan. ( Matthew 18:21 – 19:1)

Reflection

When Peter posed the question of forgiveness, he characteristically offered an answer he thought Jesus would be pleased with.  Why not forgive seven times!  But Jesus countered with the proposition that one must forgive seventy times that.  Jesus made it clear that there is no reckonable limit to forgiveness.

How many times have you or someone you know said, “I want to forgive, but it is just too hard”? It is true, that it is difficult to forgive others who have wronged us, but forgiveness is not supposed to be that hard. I believe that forgiveness is hard because we make it so. Some don’t want to let go of the memories or the wrongdoing against us. Part of this is a protective measure to make sure that no one can hurt us like that again. Part of it is that some tend to like to play the victim, but self-pity for it is an emotion that can trap us and make us unable to forgive.

Perhaps we need to concentrate on the benefits of forgiveness.

Forgiveness is a sign of strength. To free myself from what others think of me; from the opinions of the world; from my own faults and failures; from resentment and revenge. I have nothing to prove to anyone because forgiveness requires courage! “Depart from me Lord, for I am a sinful man…Peter, from now on, you will be a fisher of men!” The Lord is capable of great forgiveness because he knows who he is, and he knows what he must do. He is fully human – a man! He invites us to follow him.

Forgiveness creates space for new life. Forgiveness is an act of hopefulness and resurrection for the one who forgives. It is the healing of our soul and life. Forgiveness takes us out of darkness into light, from death to life. It disentangles us from the evil of another. It is the refusal to let our future be determined by the past. It is the letting go of the thoughts, the hatred, the fear that fill us so that we might live and love again.

Forgiveness is realism. We are all sinners and justice would demand our very own condemnation. But the Lord’s life was a life of forgiveness. He forgave his disciples and his enemies; his people and their occupiers. Most importantly, he forgave our sins and those who sin against us

Forgiveness is equivalent to holiness. Forgiveness is impossible without God’s grace. I can only forgive my enemies and my brothers by an infusion of God’s love for me – a personal experience of God’s mercy towards me, and by a desire to forgive those who sin against me.

Finally, forgiveness is not human; it is Christian.To forgive means to imitate the Lord in his dealings with humanity, a rebellious humanity, that does not seek God but rather its own pleasures even at the expense of others.

We must remember how easily our Father in heaven forgives us each day. Shouldn’t we be able to make this choice as well? I think that the more that we keep in mind how quick God is to forgive us, and the more that we do it, then forgiveness can be an action that comes more easily for us.

Jesus, who insisted that disciples be ready to forgive, does not withhold his own forgiveness from them when they fail to do so.  Jesus understood the human heart and its struggles.  His desire was always to set hearts free. Forgiveness does that.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, you have been kind and forgiving towards me.  May I be merciful as you are merciful.  Free me from all bitterness and resentment that I may truly forgive from the heart those who have caused me injury or grief.”

Daily Note

C.S. Lewis, a contemporary Christian author wrote: “Mercy will flower only when it grows in the crannies of the rock of Justice: transplanted to the marshlands of mere Humanitarianism, it becomes a man-eating weed, all the more dangerous because it is still called by the same name as the mountain variety.”  If we want mercy shown to us we must be ready to forgive others as God has forgiven us.

There Is No Life If There Is No Death

Daily Reflection – 8/10/2022

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to his disciples: “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.” (John 12:24-26)

Reflection

The Gospel passage today establishes two key beliefs of the Christian faith: Christ dies so the fruit of humanity can be reconciled with God and grafted to Him. Implicitly, Jesus also addresses His listeners and readers, too. He gives us the “how” of living a Christian life so that we can, in fact, dwell with Him.

In ministry, we often discuss the concept of dying to self. Yet, to many, it is a pulpit statement. The fact is that it is far from a phrase in preaching. Jesus is offering us a path to life that seems counterintuitive—in order to live, you have to die. It’s not just about keeping the ten commandments. Christianity is not keeping the rules and being somewhat interested in Jesus.

Jesus dying for our salvation is also His design for our imitation. He is saying to us: if you want to be with me then prepare to become like me. Prepare to follow me on the road I am going. How?

By adopting His plans as our plans. Do the things he did. Care about the things he cared about. Christians are those people who see the glorified Jesus and serve him. We are those who are changed by the work of Christ so that we give ourselves to the work of Christ. Christians work the works that God sent Jesus to do. Christians serve Christ and follow Christ by joining in the grain harvest. Serving and following Jesus demand our everything.

The faithful in Christ must die to the self-serving allurement of this world. The allurement of this world, lies in the emphasis of self.  When we die to the ideology of worldly thinking, we gain eternal life in Christ. Jesus is not telling us to forget the life we live in this world. He is telling us, instead, to imitate Him in living it: Mercy, unconditional love, self-giving, forgiveness, welcoming the marginalized, and service to others are ways in which we can imitate Christ. For Jesus states that “Whoever wants to serve me must follow me.”

Our thinking and living must be transformed.  Although our thoughts gravitate toward self-will, self-comfort, and self-satisfaction, the answer lies in the life of Jesus. He provides the road map to living. Through His example and grace, we can all imitate and live a life guided by loving God and neighbor.

When we do that, we are assured that the Father will honor anyone who seeks to live a life modeled on Him. Surely, imitation of Christ is inescapably the standard of Christian perfection.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, help me to choose to follow you with my whole life. I want to empty myself so that I can serve others. I want to bear much fruit for your kingdom!”

Daily Note

We become a Christian by a decisive surrender to Jesus Christ through which, by faith in him, he becomes our Lord. Then comes a lifelong experience of becoming in practice what we are by your position. And that becoming strengthens our assurance that we are real. If we are not living a life that focuses on being His light to those around us then we are only pretending to be His followers

Ah, But Do You Really Know Him?

Daily Reflection – 8/9/2022

Sacred Scripture

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them, and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; “See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven. What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.( Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14)

Reflection

 “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them.” (Isaiah 11:6)

In today’s scripture, the disciples ask Jesus for a criterion so they can measure the importance of the persons in the community: “Who is the greater in the Kingdom of Heaven?” Jesus answers that the criterion are the littler ones!

Children in the ancient world had no rights, position, or privileges of their own. They were socially at the “bottom of the rung” and at the service of their parents, much like the household staff and domestic servants. What is the significance of Jesus’ gesture? Jesus elevated a little child in the presence of his disciples by placing the child in a privileged position of honor at his right side

Reflect for a moment on all the children in your life.

A childlike heart is a Christlike heart. A heart that is innocent, without deceit, forgives easily and exhibits simplicity and credulity. A heart that finds it easy to trust, that embraces its weakness; one that is not worried about the future and totally depends on parents for all needs.

 Children simply live in the present moment and accept things as they are.  This is an especially beautiful thing they do with people too.  Children accept certain kinds of people that society rejects sometimes, (the homeless, mentally ill, alcoholics, drug addicts, etc.).  Children see the inner beauty of a person, instead of noticing the flaws and shortcomings that most adults notice first in a person.

The simple of heart know that they belong to God – he is their father, teacher, and provider – the one who shows them the way of peace, joy, and life everlasting. They are content to recognize their total dependence on God who is the source of all goodness and every good gift.

Would it not be of great happiness to relate with a childlike heart in our relationship with God and people around us? To relate with the heart of a child it is of great importance that we possess certain qualities, one of those qualities include humility which was not exhibited by the apostles in the gospel of Matthew (18:1-5).

We become humble by focusing on His greatness, not our smallness. The best way to become sensitive to his grace is to spend time with Him: to give thanks to him for what he has done for us, and to learn of his ways. The more we sit at His feet, in fact, the more prepared we’ll be for heaven—because that’s exactly what we’ll be doing for all eternity!

A person’s faith is built on a foundation of developing a personal relationship with God. It is through the development of that relationship that we see and feel God’s graces in our life. All of our effort must be directed toward building that personal relationship.

To love God is to know him. To know him is to see his movements in our lives. To glorify God is to thank him for his daily moments in our lives. He is always there.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, teach me your way of humility and simplicity of heart that I may find perfect joy in you. May your light shine through me that others may see your truth and love and find hope and peace in you.”

Daily Note

We can easily fall into the same trap the apostles did if we put serving the Lord ahead of relating to him. He wants us to put him first in our lives, but we can’t do that by running ourselves ragged. His first concern is that we come to know him, and that we are filled with his life-giving Spirit. That’s what will make us vessels of his mercy, doing his will and not worrying so much about the seating arrangement in heaven!

Please Take Advantage of This Opportunity

Daily Reflection – 8/8/2022

Sacred Scripture

As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of man is to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.” And they were greatly distressed. When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the half-shekel tax went up to Peter and said, “Does not your teacher pay the tax?” He said, “Yes.” And when he came home, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tribute? From their sons or from others?” And when he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook, and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel; take that and give it to them for me and for yourself.” (Matthew 17:22-27)

Reflection

On three different occasions in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus predicted he would endure great suffering through betrayal, rejection, and the punishment of a cruel death. He wanted to remind the apostles the very reason for his being. Jesus defeated the powers of death and Satan through his cross and resurrection. The Lord Jesus offers us true freedom and peace which no one can take from us.

But it is our choice, isn’t it?

Throughout our life as followers of Christ, we are reminded of that invitation. It comes to us in the daily cycles of our living. Many of you here have the general knowledge that you should make contact with another. But every so often God puts in your mind a thought, or you catch something in the glance of another person, or you turn a corner and suddenly realize that God is personally asking you, “Why not do something about that now? I am inviting you to act.”

Now God keeps sending these personal invitations because God loves us and desires that we have a deeper and richer life.  But no matter how many times the invitation is sent, we retain the freedom to choose, the freedom to refuse the invitation. We are too busy or we don’t feel like doing that or our immediate family takes priority.

When we choose to refuse a personal invitation of God, there are consequences. When a person refuses the invitation to take some action to heal their marriage, that choice might well lead to a life that is empty or to the upheaval of divorce.  When we choose to put aside to some other day the opportunity to make contact with someone that we love, reach out to an ageing parent, spend more time with our children, tell the truth, or reach out in reconciliation to someone else, God does not become angry. But we have no guarantee that the same invitation will be offered to us tomorrow. 

If such opportunities slip through our hands, we have to deal with the consequences.

God will not punish us, but life will.  There is no more bitter pain than the realization that things could have been different if I would have chosen better, if I would have said yes to the invitation that was offered to me. 

Circumstances in our life change. What is possible today is not always possible tomorrow. The people with whom we need to be reconciled will not always be with us. The people we want to thank or tell them that we love them could be taken in an instant. When that happens, the door is locked and we can no longer get in.

But it is not just the circumstances in our life that can change. We ourselves change depending upon our decisions.

Every time we say no to an opportunity for life or growth it is easier to say no again. Every time we make a decision not to act, we begin to build a habit that lessons our freedom. The decision not to be honest moves us closer to living a lie. The decision not to be generous and forgiving begins to create a pattern of selfishness and inflexibility. Every time we say no to a good opportunity, we reduce the chances of recognizing the next opportunity that comes along. God will never cease to provide opportunities. The grace of God will never dry up.  But we can dry up.

That is the warning of today’s Gospel. God will never change in God’s desire to save us. But our circumstances can change and we can change. God will never lock the door to shut us out. But the circumstances of our life can shut us out, and we can lose the desire to enter by the choices we refuse to make. If there is an open door in your life, walk through it. If you need to forgive someone, do it. If you need to thank someone or tell someone that you love them, don’t wait until tomorrow. If there is an opportunity for change or growth, take it. God will never change, but our lives can.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, your death brought true life and freedom. May I always walk in the freedom and power of your love and truth and reject whatever is contrary to your will for my life.”

Daily Note

God’s will is to save us. God is always willing and open to invite us in to eternal life. But salvation is a two-way street. It requires our participation. God’s intention is not the only factor. God will never change in God’s desire to save us. But two things can change: our circumstances and our very selves. When these things change, we can find that the door in fact is locked.

Are You Ready To Lose Your Life ?

Daily Reflection – 8/5/2022

Sacred Scripture

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay everyone according to his conduct. Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.”(Matthew 16:24-28)

Reflection

What is losing our life to God mean?

It is the very essence of being a Christian.

With practice, it gets easier and easier.

Its all about “living” with God every day. That should not be that difficult. After all, he has lived with us every day of our lives.  He doesn’t work 9-5. He is there every moment. What’s more is that he knows us intimately. He knows every hair on our head and every cell of our body. NO ONE knows us as intimately as God does.

Think about that. Think of his constancy with us and think of his knowledge of us. Now, we move to the next step, we must be consciously AWARE of that. If we are consciously aware of that, then our entire life will change.

Since God is constantly at our side, how does that govern our interaction with the world, with the words we speak, the actions we take? It should govern all.

It’s a lot more difficult to sin when we know he is at our side. It’s a lot easier to cope when we know he is there to help us every step. No matter what cross we may have to bear, that cross is lighter when we know he will help us bear it.

Losing our life to God is turning it over to him. Not just in an altar call, or a moment of spiritual epiphany. It is ALWAYS.

Ah, but we are human and the flesh is weak. How can we achieve that?

It’s a lifelong process.

Ignatius of Loyola gave us the Examen and I would like to introduce it to you if you are not aware of it.

The examen is done at the end of our day. It consists of five parts.

The first part is to thank God for the blessings of the day. We do that by reviewing and giving thanks to how God’s love touched us that day, how we saw God in others that day.

The second is to ask God for the grace to see and overcome our failings of that day. Here we are asking God for an insight and a strength to make our daily lives more in concert with His life and commands.

The third is to review the day to see our spiritual experiences throughout the day. Look for the stirrings in your heart and the thoughts that God gave us. That also means we look for those things that have not been of God.

The fourth is to ask God for his healing touch to forgive us those moments that have not been in keeping with his commands.

The fifth is to look at the next day and plan on how we can live it in accord with his will.

Does that sound like a lot to you? It shouldn’t. If we have turned over our life to him then we need his grace to become more like him. By choosing to do God’s will no matter how difficult it could be, we actually lose our old self and we are transformed to the new creation that God has wanted us to be. By giving up our old life, we find our new life in Jesus, our Lord and Savior.

Today, God is calling all of us to give up self and allow Jesus to prevail in every aspect of our lives. He wants us to be firmly founded on Jesus, live His life and allow ourselves to be subsumed by His will, so that we can truly say that we are one with Him and in Him we live and move and have our being!

Prayer of The Day

“Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and all my will, all that I have and possess.  You have given them to me; to you, O Lord, I restore them; all things are yours, dispose of them according to your will.  Give me your love and your grace, for this is enough for me.” (Prayer of Ignatius of Loyola, 1491-1556)

Daily Note

Everything we have is an out-right gift from God.  We owe him everything, including our very lives.  It’s possible to give God our money, but not ourselves, or to give him lip-service, but not our hearts.  A true disciple gladly gives up all that he has in exchange for an unending life of joy and happiness with God.  God gives without measure. The joy he offers no sadness or loss can diminish.  The cross of Christ leads to victory and freedom from sin and death.  What is the cross which Jesus Christ commands me to take up each day?  When my will crosses with his will, then his will must be done.  Are you ready to lose all for Jesus Christ in order to gain all with Jesus Christ?

Which Priorities Govern Your Life? That Answer Tells Us About Our Faith.

Daily Reflection – 8/4/2022

Sacred Scripture

When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Then he strictly ordered his disciples to tell no one that he was the Messiah. From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” (Matthew 16:13-23)

Reflection

Today’s Gospel is a powerful teaching about faith and the lack thereof!

Jesus asked, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter stood up and boldly replied that Jesus was far more than a great prophet, far more than the greatest figure in centuries, far more even than Moses. He wasn’t just the Messiah, the long-awaited Savior for whom the Jews had been waiting for a millennium. He was the Son of the Living God.

 Peter’s proclamation was a great act of faith, a bold profession holding nothing back.

But as we know from scripture, such solid faith does not fully describe Peter. In 16:21-27 Jesus will rebuke Peter for not accepting the message of the cross saying, “you are a stumbling block to me” (16:23). The “rock” Peter is both a firm foundation and a stumbling stone. in 14:22-33 when Peter tries to walk on the water, doubts, and then begins to sink. As Jesus pulls him up out of the waves, he says, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” (14:31). 

 Like the rest of the disciples who are “of little faith,” Peter is both a real believer and also one prone to weakness and doubt.

In truth, our faith is much like Peter’s. We really believe, but we never believe completely. Although our flaws like Peter’s can cause others to stumble and fall, our faith, if it is real, can provide a foundation upon which the belief of others can stand. Our faith is seldom great and never perfect, but God still calls us to change the world.

Far too many will profess their faith through their lips but not their hearts. We talk the talk but not walk the walk. God wants each of us to be a rock of faith. He wants us to so live our lives that others see Christ in our lives.

How do we do that? In Psalm 131, we read :” Like a weaned child is my soul in me.” We need to wean ourselves of the things in this world. Before anything else should be our God. He, and only he, should be the center of our lives. When he is the center of our lives then our life, as we know it, is changed fundamentally. Every word we utter, every action we take is done in the spirit of Christ. Now THAT is giving him glory. THAT is singing his praise because our lives have become a song of love and gratitude to Him who loves us.

And the secret is that by trusting in God, by believing in His presence, by living out our faith does not simply lead us to the kingdom. It increases our joy and confidence as we proceed towards it.

Prayer of The Day

Lord Jesus, I profess and believe that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God. You are my Lord and my Savior who has set me free from sin and deception. Make my faith strong like the Apostles Peter and Paul and give me boldness to speak of you to others that they may come to know you as Lord and Savior.”

Daily Note

Jesus asked his disciples a rather generic question: “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” But there was no mistaking the very personal nature of the second question, “And who do you say that I am?” Our relationship with Jesus, to which every single one of us is invited, knows no end, has no gaps in time, is 24/7 and makes every minute of our life count in a new and profound way. Loving Christ gives our life its whole meaning. 

But How True Is Your Faith?

Daily Reflection – 8/3/2022

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

Christians say they have faith but each of us needs to stop every day and think about how real and how present is the faith we profess,

In today’s scripture, Jesus seems indifferent to the plea of the Canaanite woman. 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.

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. So, Jesus probes and says: “It is not right to take children’s bread and throw it t o the dogs. “The Canaanite woman answered within the cultural context of the time, “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” With this gesture of humility, she professed herself as one who begged for the blessings that she knew only he was able to offer and no one else. She professed her faith in Jesus. Her faith was rewarded double-fold: an expression of admiration and an act of healing.

Therein lies a lesson for each of us.

It starts with humility. We need to humble ourselves before our God. What does that mean? Is certainly is not demeaning ourselves.

But it does mean that we acknowledge and live with God as the center of our lives and we trust that he will provide. The act of humility begins each  day when we  quiet ourselves, recognize our relationship with our God and ask him to be an active part of our day.

It’s no different than a child loving and trusting his parent. Each day they go for a walk and the child confidently puts his hand in his father’s hand and off they go. The child is instinctually trusting.

We need to learn how to instinctually trust God.

Too often we do not trust God. 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 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 Muslims 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.

Think about it. How many times a day do we use labels not just to define but also to include or exclude?

But we are all children of God.

I know that sounds like a simple sentiment. But we must live the faith that we believe.

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?