To Be Rooted in Him

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Daily Reflection – 11/15/19

Jesus said to his disciples: “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days of the Son of Man; they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage up to the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Similarly, as it was in the days of Lot: they were eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, building; on the day when Lot left Sodom, fire and brimstone rained from the sky to destroy them all. So it will be on the day the Son of Man is revealed. On that day, a person who is on the housetop and whose belongings are in the house must not go down to get them, and likewise a person in the field must not return to what was left behind. Remember the wife of Lot. Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses it will save it. I tell you, on that night there will be two people in one bed; one will be taken, the other left. And there will be two women grinding meal together; one will be taken, the other left.” They said to him in reply, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the body is, there also the vultures will gather.”( Luke 17:26-37)

Reflection

What’s the point of this analogy?  It’s inevitable that a thing will happen when the necessary conditions are fulfilled.  The return of the Lord is certain, but the time is unknown. The Lord’s judgment comes swiftly and often unexpectedly.  Jesus warns his listeners to not be caught off guard when that day arrives.

What does Jesus mean when he says that one will be taken and another left? Intimacy with a godly person does not guarantee that one will enter heaven on the day of judgment.  God’s judges each person individually according to how they have lived their life and responded to his grace.  No one can discharge his or her duty by proxy or association. 

The good news is that God gives grace, security, and refuge to those who seek him with faith and contrition.  He gives us the grace to know him personally and to accept his lordship over our lives.  And he gives us the power of the Holy Spirit to live each day for his kingdom, and the readiness to receive him when he returns.  God’s judgment is good news for those who are ready to meet him. Their reward is God himself, the source of all truth, beauty, goodness, love and everlasting life.

The people in Noah’s time ignored the Lord’s warning of judgment. They missed the boat, literally! Whose boat are you taking — the world’s boat to success and happiness or God’s boat to heaven and bliss with him? Those whose hope is firmly anchored in heaven will not be disappointed when God’s judgment comes. They rejoice even now that they will see the Lord in his glory! Is your hope firmly placed in God and his kingdom?

Prayer of The Day

Lord Jesus Christ , you are my hope and salvation.  Help me to never lose sight of the goal of heaven and give me fresh joy and zeal to live each day for your kingdom.”

Daily Note

The time of God goes by invisibly in our time, but independently of us and of our time. We cannot interfere in time, but we have to be prepared for the moment in which the hour of God becomes present in our time. It could be today, it could be in one thousand years. What gives us security is not to know the hour of the end of the world, but the certainty of the presence of the Words of Jesus present in our life. The world will pass, but the word of God will never pass.

 

 

The Seeds of the Kingdom

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Daily Reflection – 11/14/19

Sacred Scripture

Asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus said in reply, “The coming of the kingdom of God cannot be observed, and no one will announce, ‘Look, here it is,’ or, ‘There it is.’ For behold, the kingdom of God is among you.” Then he said to his disciples, “The days will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. There will be those who will say to you, ‘Look, there he is,’ or ‘Look, here he is.’ Do not go off, do not run in pursuit. For just as lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. But first, he must suffer greatly and be rejected by this generation.( Luke 17:20-25)

Reflection

Jesus surprised the Pharisees with the answer that the kingdom or reign of God was already here! Jesus spoke of the coming of God’s kingdom as both a present event and an event which would be manifested at the end of time.

How does the Lord Jesus make his presence and his kingdom known to us today? Like a seed planted in fertile soil, Jesus, the sower of the soul, plants God’s kingdom first in our hearts. The kingdom begins from within and transforms our hearts to be like God’s heart — a people who know the power of his love, mercy, and forgiveness. Jesus reveals himself in many countless ways to those who seek him with eyes of faith. When we read the word of God in the bible Jesus speaks to us and reveals to us the mind and heart of the Father. He promises unbroken fellowship and freedom from the fear of being forsaken or cut off from everlasting life with God (John 6:37). And he offers us the hope of sharing in his resurrection.

Is your hope and desire to see God face to face?

Jesus identified himself with the “Day of the Lord”. “Son of man” was understood as a Messianic title for the one who would come not only to establish God’s kingdom but who would come as Judge of the living as well as the dead. Jesus points to his second coming when he will return to complete the work of restoration and final judgment. While we do not know the time of his return, we will not mistake it when it happens. It will be apparent to all, both believers and non-believers as well. In Jesus we see the power and the glory of God’s kingdom. His power overthrew the powers of darkness and sin. Jesus knew that the only way to victory was through the cross. On that cross he defeated death and canceled the debt of sin for us. The victory of his cross opens the way for us to become citizens of God’s kingdom.

Do you seek the coming of God’s kingdom with joyful hope?

Prayer of The Day

Lord Jesus Christ, may your kingdom come and my your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Be the Ruler of my heart and the Master of my life that I may always live in the freedom of your love and truth.

Daily Note

Our mission is to bring men and women into the Body of the Savior which is the seed of His Kingdom. As with all seeds, it has the entire genetic composition of what it will be within it. The Kingdom will be manifested in its fullness when Jesus returns as King to “make all things new”.  (Rev. 21:5) Yet, it begins now – as we live our lives as its seed and sign in the Church on mission. 

How Quickly We Forget

 

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Daily Reflection – 11/13/19

Sacred Scripture

As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him. They stood at a distance from him and raised their voice, saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” And when he saw them, he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” As they were going they were cleansed. And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”(Luke 17: 11-19)

Reflection

Two words jump out at me when I read this Gospel . . .  gratitude and love.

Gratitude stands out in this parable as well. “And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.” 

Gratitude is an enormously important human virtue. It starts with the realization of our blessings, an intentional act that requires effort and attention. The healed leper then “returns.” He changes the direction of his journey and returns to the one who bestowed great mercy. The next move is to glorify God, acknowledging that God is the source of this precious grace. The newly cleansed leper thanks Jesus from his knees. This is a striking expression of gratitude. 

Finally, Jesus turns to this humble, faith-filled, thankful human being and says, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.” Go. Go tell your family, friends and neighbors the marvels God the Father has done for you. Go proclaim my mercy to those who do not believe. Go live a life full of faith and gratitude. Go be merciful, in turn, to your neighbor. 

Today, a leper invites us to ask God to increase our faith. Today, a leper models for us the beauty of genuine gratitude. When was the last time you pondered your many blessings, fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him?

Jesus cannot resist a cry for pity. For him, a soul in need is an obligation to help. He needed no convincing, no cajolery – these lepers cried out to him from the depths of their hearts and automatically his heart was moved. We see it over and over again in the Gospels – his heart being moved to miraculous action by the needs of those around him. Of course, that same sensitivity was the motive for his coming to earth in the first place – love simply can’t hold back when it sees others in need. This truth about Jesus can be the source of our confidence in him, but it should also be the source of our own activity in the world.

Gathered together each week, we hear the words of Jesus that challenge us to be healed of our pride, selfishness, anger, apathy, laziness and deceit. We are reminded to serve the needs of others, particularly the poor among us. Then we are sent out into the rest of the week to witness to all that we have known in Jesus. We work, we serve, we pray, we love, we remember and give thanks for all God’s gifts until we are drawn to gather around his table.

 Prayer of The Day

I love you my Lord, because you are love itself. Forgive all that is in me that does not come from your love and does not reflect your love. If I am to become what you want me to be, it will happen only if I allow you to act in me.

Daily Note

The human race was infected with mortal selfishness by original sin. Christ saved us, not with a mere command, but by his Incarnation, life, suffering, and painful death on a cross. How many of us render him sincere, heartfelt thanks for all he has done for us?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can You BE A Servant ?

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Daily Reflection – 11/12/19

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to the apostles: “Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here at once and take your place at the table’? Would you not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’? Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!'” (Luke 17:7-10)

Reflection

In today’s Gospel, we receive a reminder of humility that we so often forget. So often I find in the American culture that we rarely even think to acknowledge those who serve us, much less thank them or offer them an invitation to our table. There seems to be this innate feeling of deservedness within our culture which can taint us as Christians and keeps us from remembering that we too are servants of God, no more valuable than those we so carelessly cast aside.

God calls us all to service, not selfishness; and our attitude (or mindset) makes all the difference in this. It is our attitude that is a direct reflection of what is truly in our hearts. I think that most people today would read this Gospel and feel outraged, saying things like “that’s not fair!” I would ask, why isn’t it fair though? Isn’t it the place of the servant to wait on the master? Shouldn’t the servant first take care of their responsibilities before they are to pursue their own interests? I see this passage not as a master/servant power struggle; but rather a reminder of who’s will should go first … our will or God’s will?

We must remember our role in this life. We are not the master, we are not the kings; these are God’s place; and we are His. God blesses each of us more than we deserve, for this we should feel thankful … not entitled.

Someone once told me that those of us in wealthier nations should be envious of those living in third world poverty. She explained: “Because the poor fulfill their servitude to God in the daily sufferings that a life in poverty presents to them. It is we, the rich and privileged of the world who must deny the materialistic life that lies before us and counter-culturally live an unprofitable life for the poor.” Her point reminds us that we, too, are servants, unprofitable servants, who are obliged not only to serve God, but to serve one another.

Prayer of The Day

Lord, thank you for all that you have given to us and for all that you have given us .Lord, without you, we would not be the men and women that we are; may we always remember your sacrifice for us and may we sacrifice for you while here on earth. We pray that your will be done in our lives and that we seek nothing more than to be faithful servants of you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen

Daily Note

When I read the word ‘servant’ from Luke 17:7, I think of those who serve us every day; those who exist to us without a name or face. I think of those working in the United States at jobs most would reject only to be called ‘illegal’ and ‘alien.’ I think of Ethiopian coffee farmers growing the very product that has become so profitable around the world who cannot even feed their children. I think of these ‘servants’ and wonder why the majority of us living in the first world have so easily excluded ourselves from being servants as well.

 

Faith + Trust + Obedience

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Daily Reflection – 11/11/19

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to his disciples, “Things that cause sin will inevitably occur, but woe to the person through whom they occur. It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he wrongs you seven times in one day and returns to you seven times saying, ‘I am sorry,’ you should forgive him.” And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” The Lord replied, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to (this) mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. ( Luke 17: 1-6)

Reflection

What’s the driving force in your life?  Jesus speaks of two forces at work in our lives — the power of temptation to sin and the power of faith to overcome obstacles.  The scriptures warn us about the snare or enticement to go astray and to do what is evil.  “Keep me from the trap which they have laid for me, and from the snares of evildoers! “(Psalm 141:9)  The Jews held that it was an unforgivable sin to teach another to sin. If we teach another to sin, he in turn may teach still another, until a train of sin is set in motion with no foreseeable end. Jesus warns his disciples of the terrible responsibility that they must set no stumbling block in the way of another, that is, not give offense or bad example that might lead another to sin. The young in faith are especially vulnerable to the bad example of those who should be passing on the faith.

While Jesus warns against the sin of bad example and scandal, he also demonstrates the power of faith for overcoming temptation and obstacles. What did Jesus mean when he said that our faith can move trees and mountains as well (see Matt.17:20; Mark 11:23)? The term “mountain remover” was used for someone who could solve great problems and difficulties. Don’t we often encounter challenges and difficulties which seem beyond our power to handle? What appears impossible to human power is possible to those who believe in God’s power. Faith is a gift freely given by God to help us know God personally, to understand his truth, and to live in the power of his love. God expects more from us than we can do by ourselves.  Faith in God is the key for removing obstacles and difficulties which keep us from doing his will. We are his servants, and he is ever ready to work through us and in us for his glory. For faith to be effective it must be linked with trust and obedience — an active submission to God and a willingness to do whatever he commands. Do you trust in God’s grace and power to resist temptation and to overcome obstacles in doing his will?

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, help me in my weakness and increase my trust in you and in your power to resist temptation.   Give me the grace and strength to choose what is right and to set a good example for others, especially to those who are young in the faith.”

Daily Note

How is it going for you with your life of community, with your life of forgiveness? Have other people hurt you? Have you hurt other people? Do you find it hard to forgive and seek reconciliation? Do you take the initiative to restore a good relationship, or do you just sit back and stew in your juices? When you see a brother or sister in Christ going off track, do you just ignore it and block it out of your mind? Or do you do the risky thing and try to help that brother to come to repentance? You see, our failure to pursue forgiveness and reconciliation and repentance and restoration–this leads to bitterness, broken relationships, and conflicts in our family and in the church. And if you just stay within yourself and your own resources that you can muster up on your own, that will always be the case.

 

 

 

How Much Is He Worth ?

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Daily Reflection – 11/8/19

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to his disciples, “A rich man had a steward who was reported to him for squandering his property. He summoned him and said, ‘What is this I hear about you? Prepare a full account of your stewardship, because you can no longer be my steward.’ The steward said to himself, ‘What shall I do, now that my master is taking the position of steward away from me? I am not strong enough to dig and I am ashamed to beg. I know what I shall do so that, when I am removed from the stewardship, they may welcome me into their homes.’ He called in his master’s debtors one by one. To the first he said, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He replied, ‘One hundred measures of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note. Sit down and quickly write one for fifty.’ Then to another he said, ‘And you, how much do you owe?’ He replied, ‘One hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note; write one for eighty.’ And the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently. For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.”( Luke 16:1-8)

Reflection

The teachers I remember most have always been those who have taught me that we can be serious about what we’re learning while keeping a sense of humor at the same time. A great deal of Jesus’ effectiveness as a preacher comes from his being able to teach very serious things, and perhaps keep a serious face while telling people something rather funny.

Now why would Jesus be telling a parable like this unless he wanted to draw out something serious from something totally ridiculous? And the Jewish rabbis, from time to time, did in fact use humor whenever they wanted to make a very serious point. That perhaps is what Jesus is doing in the gospel.

They were, after all, typical men of the world, who have given all their energy to achieving money and the good life. They were what Jesus calls the “children of this world”. And we are told that if we, his followers, would only show the same dedication and resolve in pursuing goodness, we could achieve so much more! And neither is he telling us that wealth is bad or that we should neglect our worldly affairs. He is, however, telling us to regard things in the proper perspective; and that while some of us find ourselves having to actively pursue the treasures of this world, we should just as eagerly pursue the treasures of heaven.

Behind the humor of our gospel today then, are lessons Jesus would want us to seriously think about: If only we were as eager and ingenious in our attempts to attain goodness as the rascals in the gospel are in attaining money and comfort, we would all be better persons. If only we would give as much attention to things which concern our souls as we do the things which concern our business, we would be much better men and women. And If only we would desire God as eagerly as we sometimes desire material wealth, we wouldn’t only be wealthy, we would be truly wealthy. For we will possess wealth that “no moth can destroy, no rust can corrode, and no thief can ever steal”.

Prayer of The Day

God of power and mercy,
May we live the faith we profess
and trust your promise of eternal life.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Daily Note

You cannot serve God and money. Jesus is very clear in his affirmation: No servant can be the slave of two masters; he will either hate the first and love the second, or be attached to the first and despise the second. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money”. Each one of us should make a choice, and ask himself/herself: “Whom do I put in the first place in my life: God or money? It is not a question of a choice made only with the head, but of a very concrete choice of life which includes attitudes.

 

Actions Are Never Neutral

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Daily Reflection – 11/7/19

Sacred Scripture

Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So he told them this parable: “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. “Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”( Luke 15: 1-10)

Reflection

The reason that the shepherd rejoiced when he found his lost sheep, and the woman rejoiced when she found her lost coin, is because they regained something that was valuable to them.  We are like that to God.  Our souls are the most precious thing in the universe to Him.  He loves us much more than we love our own family members and friends.  It hurts Him when we stray from love.  On the surface it may seem like everything is humming along smoothly in our life.  We’ve got everything under control.  But deep inside our hearts are a different matter.  If we do not love first and foremost, then we have strayed from God and strayed from the essence of Christianity.

One other point worth noting about today’s gospel, is that the shepherd and the woman in the parables both called their friends and neighbors to come celebrate with them, on finding what they had lost.  Love is a communal thing.  Our actions affect the entire Body of Christ.  When one of us gravely sins, it affects the entire church, as was the case with the priests convicted of the sexual abuse of minors.  It affected the whole church.  The opposite is also true though.  When one of us grows in holiness, this also affects the entire church.  Remember Mother Theresa?  Saint Paul II?  Their holiness affected the church throughout the world, but also many others outside of our church as well.

A thought for the day might be to remember this.  That our actions are not neutral.  We either build up one another, and the entire church in the process, or we tear others down like Paul before he came to know Christ.  In the long run, these small everyday actions build up into something beautiful for the Lord Jesus, or not.

Prayer of The Day

Father above we thank you for the gift of this day. Guide us in all that we do, and glory be to you for all that we have and all that we are. Lord we pray for all those who are lost in this world and who do not know your love. May they be brought to the joy and peace that can only be found in you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 Daily Note

Many times we view helping others and helping to find others as an inconvenience. Thank goodness that God does not think or act this way. When we are lost, He help us along and is continuously allowing grace to flow in our lives so that we can be found. Of course, we do have to cooperate with that grace. And when those who are lost are found, we know that there will be great rejoicing in heaven!