Darkness Descends But Light Follows

Umulalilo wa kwa Yesu | Amasambililo ya Bana aya mu Baibolo

Daily Reflection – 4/7/2020

Sacred Scripture

When he had said this, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified, “Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, at a loss as to whom he meant. One of his disciples, the one whom Jesus loved, was reclining at Jesus’s side. So Simon Peter nodded to him to find out whom he meant. He leaned back against Jesus’s chest and said to him, “Master, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it.” So he dipped the morsel and [took it and] handed it to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot. After he took the morsel, Satan entered him. So Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” [Now] none of those reclining at table realized why he said this to him. Some thought that since Judas kept the money bag, Jesus had told him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or to give something to the poor. So he took the morsel and left at once. And it was night. When he had left, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. [If God is glorified in him,] God will also glorify him in himself, and he will glorify him at once. My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. You will look for me, and as I told the Jews, ‘Where I go you cannot come,’ so now I say it to you.” Simon Peter said to him, “Master, where are you going?” Jesus answered [him], “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now, though you will follow later.” Peter said to him, “Master, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow before you deny me three times.” (John 13:21-33, 36-38)

Reflection

Betrayal. Denial. Rejection. Darkness. Forgiveness. Understanding. Love. Light.

Today’s scripture is a gamut of emotions. Girdling all of it is love. Because without love, there cannot be betrayal and rejection. And without love, there cannot be forgiveness.

In my early years of ministry, I did a lot of marital counseling. In the course of that, I counseled couples and individuals who felt betrayed and denied. Betrayal is horrible! It is one of the most painful experiences in life, especially if the person who betrayed you was someone you loved and trusted, a person that you believed also cared about you. I felt their pain and strove to bring them back to a place where they could see light rather than only dark.

Today, we are reminded that it was Christ who suffered first. It was He who underwent betrayal, humiliation, and torture, before any of us could experience pain, rejection, or discomfort of any sort. No act of humbling sacrifice can compare to that of a God who chose to become one of us and embraced what most of us would avoid.

Christ’s passion is also a source of hope for those who truly suffer, especially those who do not have any choice – the sick, lost, and poor among us. Knowing that we will all face our trials and tribulations; Jesus constantly prepares us and gives us strength just as He prepared His disciples in the Last Supper.

Jesus still gives His life for him.  We would think that someone who is so evil and who will not repent, should be cast off and destroyed, but even for such a person, God still loves him.  That is because God does not compartmentalize His love.  Even for those who reject Him, God’s love remains.

At times in our lives, we also have been hurt, disappointed, perhaps betrayed by someone we loved. What a gift it is that we can turn to Jesus when we are broken by betrayal or deceit. No matter what we experience in life, Jesus has trod the path before us. He understands. He loves us and longs to walk with us!

I think that should bring us a lot of hope, if we ever think that we are so marred by our sins, that we might wonder if God could ever love us.  Even if we do not repent like Judas, God still loves us with all of His heart.  We can have the confidence to know that, no matter what, God will always receive us back into His loving arms, because even if we are not willing to lay down our lives for Jesus, He has already laid down His life for us.

 Prayer of The Day

 “Give me, O Lord, a steadfast heart which no unworthy thought can drag downwards; an unconquered heart which no tribulation can wear out; an upright heart which no unworthy purpose may tempt aside. Bestow upon me also, O Lord my God, understanding to know you, diligence to seek you, wisdom to find you, and a faithfulness that may finally embrace you; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.”  (Prayer of Thomas Aquinas)

Daily Note

As we make the journey of Christ’s Passion in this season of the pandemic, it is time to release our grip on the sins that we cling to in fear or shame. Instead, let us cling to the mercy of Christ. Jesus himself faced many forms of sin, especially during his Passion, including betrayal, denial, and abandonment by his own friends. Yet the church says emphatically that at this dark hour, Jesus gives his life and “becomes the source from which the forgiveness of our sins will pour forth inexhaustibly”. Turn to Jesus in this time of trial. His love is enduring. His love is strengthening. His love is all forgiving.

 

 

Does Love Have A Price?

Daily Reflection – 4/6/2020

Sacred Scripture

Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served, while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him. Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. Then Judas the Iscariot, one [of] his disciples, and the one who would betray him, said, “Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages and given to the poor?” He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief and held the money bag and used to steal the contributions. So Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Let her keep this for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” [The] large crowd of the Jews found out that he was there and came, not only because of Jesus, but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. And the chief priests plotted to kill Lazarus too, because many of the Jews were turning away and believing in Jesus because of him. ( John 12:1-11)

Reflection

Does love have a price? I believe most of us would say “ Of course not.” And that is at the heart of today’s passage from scripture.

Just a few days from His crucifixion, Jesus enjoys a respite with people He loved. In the midst of it, Mary comes forward from her room with a clay jar, filled with a costly ointment. She breaks open the jar, pours it on the feet of Jesus and wipes her Lord’s feet with her hair.

Mary brought sweetness not only in the physical sense, but the spiritual sense as well.  Her lovely deed shows the extravagance of love — a love that we cannot outmatch.  The Lord Jesus showed us the extravagance of his love in giving the best he had by pouring out his own blood for us and by anointing us with his Holy Spirit.

It was Mary’s experience of the great love of Jesus for her that gave her such love in her heart for him. In that is part of our tale.

The people who love Jesus most are those who experience his love for them most. Sometimes it is born from joy and sometimes it is born from tragedy. Regardless of the source, love for Jesus comes from a deep perception of the wonder of the person of Jesus as our God and creator, from the perception of the greatness of our need, and the greatness of the sacrifice Jesus made for us in dying for us on the cross.

The other side of this beautiful scripture is the reaction of Jesus. Jesus let this woman express her extravagant love by receiving her gift. We need to learn to be more open to the love of others especially outside of our own families. Those that love Christ will always have a generosity of spirit and we also need to have a generosity of receiving. As we enter Holy Week, there is a simple truth at its very core.: God so loved the world that he gave his only Son. Let us also remember that Christian faith without passion, without giving, without extravagance, is a pretty dull thing. Jesus gave himself lavishly, generously, completely for the sake of the world. Let us dwell in that gift and commit ourselves to lives that are given wholly to his service.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, may I follow the example of this holy woman, Mary.  Help me to humble myself before You and honor You with my whole life.  Dear Lord, nothing in life is more important than You and my total adoration of You.  Draw me in, dear Lord, humble me before Your glory and help me to love and worship You with my whole being.  Jesus, I trust in You.”

Daily Note

We learn from this scripture the important truth that we cannot love Jesus too much, and nothing is too great or too costly to do or give for him. It also tells us that love for Jesus is the great motivation for service for Jesus. Love for Jesus is that which causes us to live for Jesus, and the greater our love, the more ready we will be to give our lives for him.

 

The Rock I Hold

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Daily Reflection – 4/3/2020

Sacred Scripture

The Jews picked up rocks to stone Jesus. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from my Father. For which of these are you trying to stone me?” The Jews answered him, “We are not stoning you for a good work but for blasphemy. You, a man, are making yourself God.” Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, ‘You are gods’? If it calls them gods to whom the word of God came, and Scripture cannot be set aside, can you say that the one whom the Father has consecrated and sent into the world blasphemes because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? If I do not perform my Father’s works, do not believe me; but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may realize and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” Then they tried again to arrest him; but he escaped from their power. He went back across the Jordan to the place where John first baptized, and there he remained. Many came to him and said, “John performed no sign, but everything John said about this man was true.” And many there began to believe in him. (John 10:31-42)

Reflection

In just one week, we will look at the cross and meditate upon the death of Jesus Christ. What it meant in His time, what it means today and what it will mean for the generations that follow us.

It’s a somber time for all of us. For me, it has always been a painful time. The enormity of pain the human Jesus suffered for us is beyond anything I can imagine. The ridicule and the rejection seared his mind. We know that Jesus was fully human and fully God. We know from the Gospels that Jesus did experience the full range of emotions: joy, sorrow, sadness, fear, pain, etc.

Today’s Gospel points to that day and reminds us of the rocks we hold in our hands. How do we do this? When we cease to acknowledge the dignity of human life, when we encounter an immigrant and falsely presume he or she is a threat, when we do nothing to address the widening gap between the richest and the poorest in our world, when we tolerate exploitation and human trafficking, when we see the rise of dictators around the world and stand silent, and  all the other personal and social sins that lead to dehumanization.

 In short, we have the opportunity to gaze upon the eyes of Christ on a daily basis, but do we discover Christ in those eyes or do we look away, turn inward, and lock ourselves in the prisons of our own desires? Worse yet, do we pick up a rock when we put the values and teachings of today’s society over the words of God ?

Jesus knew that there was a purpose in what God was asking of him. He also trusted that God was there with him at all times. Above all, Jesus trusts that he is not alone. His Father sent him and his Father is with him. Jesus places complete trust in his Father. Ultimately, Jesus also believes that good will come from his suffering.

And this above all is the time we need to internalize that. We need to remain deeply convicted about all that God has said and revealed to us.  This deepens our ability to trust God in all things. We need to hold on to the fact that it was our Father’s love that sent His son to us. It is our Father’s grace that forgives us when we pick up that rock. It is our Father’s will that we live eternally with Him. It is our Father’s strength that will get us through difficult times.

Prayer of The Day

Lord, as we draw near to the commemoration of Your own suffering and death, help me to unite my crosses to Yours.  Help me to see in my daily struggle Your presence and strength.  Help me to see the purpose you have for me in the midst of these challenges.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Daily Note

One key to holiness is that in the midst of persecution, suffering, hardship and sorrow, we stand firm in the truth.  It’s always tempting to think that we must be doing something wrong when things do not go our way.  It’s easy to be confused by the lies and calumny that the world throws at us when we try to stand for goodness and the truth.  One thing God wants of us, in the midst of our own crosses, is to purify our faith and resolve to stand firm in His Word and Truth.  

 

 

 

 

 

THE Promise To Which We Hold

The Gospel of the day: 22nd March – Archdiocese of Malta

Daily Reflection – 4/2/220

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to the Jews: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever keeps my word will never see death.” So the Jews said to him, “Now we are sure that you are possessed. Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘Whoever keeps my word will never taste death.’ Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? Or the prophets, who died? Who do you make yourself out to be?” Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is worth nothing; but it is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ You do not know him, but I know him. And if I should say that I do not know him, I would be like you, a liar. But I do know him and I keep his word. Abraham your father rejoiced to see my day; he saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM.” So they picked up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid and went out of the temple area. (John 8:51-59)

Reflection

The pandemic that is sweeping the world is establishing a new norm . . . in our thoughts, in the way we interact with others, in the very way we live. It is a norm that we wish was not present in our lives. But it is.

Against that background, we read a key promise in today’s Gospel – in fact, THE promise which is at the heart of our spiritual life . . . Amen, Amen, I say to you,“before Abraham came to be, I AM.” The double “Amen” with which Jesus responds to the Jews is both an  indication of a new teaching and on the other of a deep revelation. While on the one hand there is a contrast of tenses: the past (Abraham was) and the present (I am), on the other hand the “I am” saying is used here in the absolute sense indicating that Jesus identifies himself with God. Jesus is infinitely greater than Abraham since Jesus is one with God.

The difficulties of our present life can cause us to wonder if God has forgotten us. But the fact is that God does not withdraw his covenant. Just as he remained faithful to Abraham and Sarah and just as he remained faithful to the Israelites despite the many times they turned from him, so too will he remain faithful to us.

On the cross, Jesus forged a new covenant with us; he has promised to save us from sin and death and to be with us always. These are solid promises that we can rely on, no matter what else is going on in our lives.

God’s covenant is forever. It was his initiative, and he has pledged to uphold it. God gives us the gift of faith and understanding to grow in our knowledge of him. Jesus challenged the people of Israel to accept his word as the revelation of God. Jesus made a series of claims which are the very foundation of his life and mission. What are they? First, Jesus claims unique knowledge of God.  Jesus claims that the only way to full knowledge of the mind and heart of God is through himself.  Jesus also claims unique obedience to God the Father.  He thinks, lives and acts in the knowledge of his Father’s word.  To look at his life is to “see how God wishes me to live.”  In Jesus alone we see what God wants us to know and what he wants us to be. That is truly a constant that brings us hope. That is truly a constant to which we can hold when all else seems to be changing.

Prayer of The Day

 Let’s give thanks to the Lord for his faithfulness. Let’s continue to trust in his word and strive to remain faithful to him. Let’s believe in our hearts that he is our God and that he will always keep his word to us.

Daily Note

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Jesus was not just a man who came, lived, died, and then rose again.  He is the immortal timeless One, who always was and always will be.  In Jesus we see the eternal God in visible flesh. His death and rising make it possible for us to share in his eternal life.  Do you live in the hope and joy of the resurrection?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being Blind to Sin

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Daily Reflection – 4/1/2020

 

Sacred Scripture

“If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will become free’?” Jesus answered them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. A slave does not remain in a household forever, but a son always remains. So if a son frees you, then you will truly be free. I know that you are descendants of Abraham. But you are trying to kill me, because my word has no room among you. I tell you what I have seen in the Father’s presence; then do what you have heard from the Father.” They answered and said to him, “Our father is Abraham.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works of Abraham. But now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God; Abraham did not do this. You are doing the works of your father!” So they said to him, “We were not born of fornication. We have one Father, God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and am here; I did not come on my own, but he sent me.”( John 8:31-42)

Reflection

What’s it like to sin? We know the answer to that question? Don’t we?

Or are we like the Pharisees in today’s Gospel? We don’t see the sin.

If I were to ask you to recite the ten commandments, most of you would be able to do so. If I were you ask you if a violation of those commandments was sinful. I venture to say that you would answer with a resounding “yes.”

But sin can be insidious. So insidious that we don’t see it. Or so alluring that we are charmed by it. That is the sin that also enslaves us. So seductively that we fall into its arms and don’t recognize the cold embrace of its grasp.

You see it’s easy to see an overt betrayal of one of the commandments. But what about insidious sin? The sin of a person angered by life and who carries it throughout the day. Quick to protest. Quick to argue.  Quick to become enraged. Quick to brow beat someone else.

What about the person in a position of church leadership – the one who is a constant victim and needs that position of leadership to validate herself/himself and then uses that platform to judge, to criticize and point out the wrongs of another. Ever so quietly and adroitly.

What about the person who uses sarcasm to belittle or demean but when confronted by its damage quickly claims that they were only joking (after the hurt is done to another).

 Or the parent who measures one child versus the other and slowly wears down the self-esteem of the child who doesn’t measure up. These and more are the instances when sin enslaves. These are deep behavioral patterns that take control, envelop and bring a person to a darker place.

Jesus tells us that the moment sin is committed, we are bound by it, and it entraps us. We no longer can see the truth clearly but view a distorted version of it. We are blinded by our own sinfulness and cannot see the truth of happiness and love. The hold of sin is so profound, that we cannot lift its power from our life.

The good news of the gospel is that Christ has set us free from the power of sin, slavery of selfishness, freedom from the fear of what others might think or say about us, and freedom from hurtful desires and the power of sin.

Through the power of his Holy Spirit we can choose to walk in His way of love and holiness. A disciple is a follower and a listener.  If we listen to the words of Jesus, with a humble and teachable spirit, he will give us the grace and the power to follow in His way of holiness.  Ask the Lord to open your ears to His word that you may be attentive to His voice.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, write your words of love and truth upon my heart and make me a diligent student and a worthy disciple of your word.”

Daily Note

Perhaps you are like those in the Gospel, denying that you are trapped by sin; perhaps you don’t want to believe that you are enslaved. Examine your conscience and ask Jesus to help you return fully to His grace. Ask Jesus to help you love HIM and to be free.

 

 

 

The Light of the Cross

Many believed in him | Pathways to God

Daily Reflection – 3/31/2020

 

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to the Pharisees: “I am going away and you will look for me, but you will die in your sin. Where I am going you cannot come.” So the Jews said, “He is not going to kill himself, is he, because he said, ‘Where I am going you cannot come’?” He said to them, “You belong to what is below, I belong to what is above. You belong to this world, but I do not belong to this world. That is why I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins.” So they said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “What I told you from the beginning. I have much to say about you in condemnation. But the one who sent me is true, and what I heard from him I tell the world.” They did not realize that he was speaking to them of the Father. So Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM, and that I do nothing on my own, but I say only what the Father taught me. The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do what is pleasing to him.” Because he spoke this way, many came to believe in him.( John 8:21-30)

Reflection

As we come closer to the end of the Lenten season, we are offered a passage from scripture which points us to the very cross of salvation. The cross of salvation which is at the heart of our Christianity. Without it, there is no Christianity.

Jesus explains to the Pharisees that if people could not recognize him in his word then they would recognize him in the Cross — when the Son of man is lifted up. 

The reason why they misunderstand is because they and Jesus stand on opposite sides. They are from below and of this world, Jesus is from above and not of this world. If they want to change their position, they can only do so by recognizing in Jesus, God. The leaders are not able to do this.

The enormity of what lies ahead for Jesus is the enormity of those who are followers of Christ. Jesus’ coming into the world was not primarily to die but to save. If this salvation could only be achieved through his death on a cross, then so be it. Jesus was willing for it if this was to be the only way. He was also aware that because of his faith, trust and confidence in the Father that his crucifixion or being lifted up on the cross would also be his resurrection and ascension, his being exalted. Even as he is crucified, the very ones who crucify him realize that what they have done is nailed love incarnate to the cross. This love accepts, forgives and continues to love even from the cross.

The cross is the ultimate proof of God’s love for us. God so loved the world that he gave us his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).   To fail to recognize Jesus and where he came from is to remain in spiritual darkness; to believe Jesus and his words is to walk in the joy and light of God’s truth.  There are certain opportunities in life that come and do not return. Each of us is given the opportunity to know and to accept Jesus Christ, as Lord and Savior.  But that opportunity can be rejected and lost. Life here is limited and short, but how we live it has everlasting consequences. Do you take advantage of the present time to make room for God so that your life will count for eternity?

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, grant this day, to direct and sanctify, to rule and govern our hearts and bodies, so that all our thoughts, words and deeds may be according to your Father’s law and thus may we be saved and protected through your mighty help.”

Daily Note

Pope Francis recently wrote : “ The Cross is a mystery: the mystery of the love of God who humbles himself, who empties himself to save us from our sins. Our wounds, those which sin leaves in us, are healed only through the Lord’s wounds, through the wounds of God made man who humbled himself, who emptied himself. This is the mystery of the Cross.”

We Are All Guilty . . .

John 8:7 Illustrated: "Dropping It?" — Heartlight® Gallery

Daily Reflection – 3/30/2020

Sacred Scripture

Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. But early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area, and all the people started coming to him, and he sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand in the middle. They said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” They said this to test him, so that they could have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he bent down and wrote on the ground. And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him. Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”( John 8: 1-11)

Reflection

Today’s Gospel reminds us that we are all guilty of adultery . . . if you will accept another dimension of adultery as infidelity. Infidelity of spirit and infidelity to morality.

Isn’t it true that we are often self-righteous like the Pharisees, and ready to spread scandal about others with a bit of spicy gossip.  Isn’t it true that we can be judgmental about the unmarried mother, the people who don’t look like us, the immigrant, the homeless, the alcoholic, the drug addict and the shop-lifter? We decide to set the standard of behavior based upon our inner demons. To make the comparison to the Pharisees even more accurate, how many people involved in Church work are the harshest of critics?

All of us are like this woman. We are truly guilty in the eyes of a holy God. All have sinned, all are caught by God’s justice.

Against that harshness comes this beautiful, grace filled scripture. Just when we are about to be condemned, Jesus steps in to rescue us. Some people may have grumbled that day that sin should be paid for. But it was paid for on a Roman cross outside the city walls of Jerusalem when Jesus died for the sins of the world. Jesus didn’t condemn this woman because he knew that not many days in the future he would be condemned for her when he died on the cross.

There is an expression I once read that has applicability here: “Every saint has a past; every sinner has a future.” If you are a saint, you do indeed have a past and you would be a better saint if you remembered your past and considered what you were before Jesus found you. If you are a sinner, then by God’s grace you can have a wonderful future if you will come to Christ and trust him as your Lord and Savior.

The order of Christ’s words in this Gospel are very important. He didn’t say, “Sin no more and then I won’t condemn you.” Sadly, words like that are the type imposed by humanity. Instead we hear words of grace. And its grace that says “I have forgiven you. Now let me also change your life.” We don’t change in order to be accepted; we change because we have already been accepted. Nothing motivates a new life like grace received into the heart. Grace does what rules can never do.

Prayer of The Day

We thank you Lord Jesus for your life on earth taught us the meaning of love and of forgiveness.  Help us to know more and more of you and your forgiving love. Help us to move away from judgement and to open our hearts to forgiveness

Daily Note

Jesus gave the woman pardon and a new start on life. God’s grace enables us to confront our sin for what it is – unfaithfulness to God, and to turn back to God with a repentant heart and a thankful spirit for God’s mercy and forgiveness. Let each of us know  the joy of repentance and a clean conscience.

 

The Path Forward

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Daily Reflection – 3/27/2020

Sacred Scripture

Jesus moved about within Galilee; he did not wish to travel in Judea, because the Jews were trying to kill him. But the Jewish feast of Tabernacles was near. But when his brothers had gone up to the feast, he himself also went up, not openly but as it were in secret. Some of the inhabitants of Jerusalem said, “Is he not the one they are trying to kill? And look, he is speaking openly and they say nothing to him. Could the authorities have realized that he is the Christ? But we know where he is from. When the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from.” So Jesus cried out in the temple area as he was teaching and said, “You know me and also know where I am from. Yet I did not come on my own, but the one who sent me, whom you do not know, is true. I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.” So they tried to arrest him, but no one laid a hand upon him, because his hour had not yet come.( John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30)

Reflection

Today’s scripture presents us with a panoply of human emotions . . . rejection, prejudice, uncertainty and rigidity. Not exactly positive expressions but certainly expressions that each of us have known and perhaps even expressed.

The Galileans rejected Jesus because He was not what they expected. They wanted certainty and He brought uncertainty to their beliefs. The Rabbis were not only guilty of that but they brought a prejudice. In their mind, he was from Nazareth, not Bethlehem.

Further, their teaching was that the Messiah would rise up as one would restore their dignity and rightful place as the chosen people of God.

In spite of these emotions around Him, Jesus perseveres. He continues to preach the Word of God. He continues to openly declare His relation with the Father. He continues to publicly affirm His mission and purpose on the earth. Jesus is the Epitome of convictions and passion! Nothing could make Him compromise His convictions. Nothing could make Him lay down His principles of life.

In this period of fear and uncertainty as we each seek to make sense of the pandemic occurring around us, we are forced inward (literally and figuratively). In these periods of introspection, we need to hold onto certainty. That certainty is Jesus Christ.  We hold on to Him and all He stands for. We hold on to Him who transcends history. We hold on to Him who promises us eternal life. He provides the strength, the peace and the constant through the centuries.

This is the time when we should deepen our passion for the Lord and His kingdom. This is the time that we should contemplate how we will emerge from this pandemic. There is one path forward from this place. We commit to living our lives as if our individual lives were the only Gospel that people “encounter, hear and experience.”

Prayer of The Day

Lord, I pray that I act as a witness to the love flowing from Your Heart.  Give me the grace to be real, genuine and sincere.  Help me to become a pure instrument of Your merciful Heart so that all my works will give testimony to Your mercy.  Jesus, I trust in You.

 Daily Note

We cannot be indifferent to the claims which Jesus makes on us. We are either for him or against him. There is no middle ground. We can try to mold the Lord Jesus to our own ideas and way of thinking or we can allow his word of truth to free us from our own sinful blindness, stubborn pride, and ignorance. Let each of us accept all that Jesus has taught and done for us with faith and reverence. The consequences are enormous, both in this life and in eternity.

 

 

 

But Whose Approval Matters ?

Image result for free photo of John 5:31-47

Daily Reflection – 3/26/2020

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to the Jews: “If I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is not true. But there is another who testifies on my behalf, and I know that the testimony he gives on my behalf is true. You sent emissaries to John, and he testified to the truth. I do not accept human testimony, but I say this so that you may be saved. He was a burning and shining lamp, and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light. But I have testimony greater than John’s. The works that the Father gave me to accomplish, these works that I perform testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me. Moreover, the Father who sent me has testified on my behalf. But you have never heard his voice nor seen his form, and you do not have his word remaining in you, because you do not believe in the one whom he has sent. You search the Scriptures, because you think you have eternal life through them; even they testify on my behalf. But you do not want to come to me to have life. “I do not accept human praise; moreover, I know that you do not have the love of God in you. I came in the name of my Father, but you do not accept me; yet if another comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe, when you accept praise from one another and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God? Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father: the one who will accuse you is Moses, in whom you have placed your hope. For if you had believed Moses, you would have believed me, because he wrote about me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”( John 5:31-47)

 Reflection

Approval is the most fleeting commodity there is. It is true that we all seek it. It is nice to hear the compliments of others. And, with some, it is an absolute requirement for their day. Very few of us are indifferent to what other people think of us. If we meet with disapproval, we tend to think that there is something wrong with us. We sometimes measure our worth in relation to how others see us. Human approval can confirm us in our sense of self-worth. Human disapproval can undermine our sense of self-worth

 I have lost count of the number of parishioners, over the years, who wanted to impress me so that I would then compliment them on their words or their actions. While I understood the need for that, it was difficult for me to render “the words” they wanted to hear.

So I would and have turned instead to talk about the one approval that matters – not yours or mine but the approval of God. Jesus tells us that specifically in today’s scripture. The more important question is not ‘What do others think?’ but ‘What does God think?’ ‘How does God see me?’.

Look at His life on earth. The very opposite of human approval is human rejection. Jesus experienced the ultimate in human rejection by being crucified. Yet, at the very moment when he had lost all human approval, he had the approval of God. God was faithful to him and raised him from the dead.

And perhaps you ask: “How do I win the approval of God?” The simple answer is by being Jesus. What? you say. I can’t be Jesus! But you can. Of all the works that Jesus performed, there was one that stood out above all. It was His humble and all-encompassing love. Jesus was genuine, honest and pure of heart.  He exuded every virtue one could have.  It was His ordinary actions of love, care, concern and teaching that won over many hearts first and foremost.  His miracles were profound but His believers came and followed Him because of who He was.

You may not be able to perform miracles but  you can act as a beacon if you allow the Heart and Love of our Father to shine through you in your daily actions.  Even the smallest action of genuine love speaks volumes to others. 

THAT is your call and mine. Yes, we will often fail but every time we succeed will speak volumes to those who know us and THAT is what winds the approval of God.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, grant  me the grace to be real, genuine and sincere.  Help me to become a pure instrument of Your Heart so that all my actions will give testimony to Your love.”

Daily Note

The Lord Jesus reveals to us the very mind and heart of God. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit he opens our ears so that we may hear his voice and he fills our hearts and minds with the love and knowledge of God. It is that love and transformation that sets us free from sin and grants us the promise of eternal life.

 

 

Faith Is More Than A Word

Image result for free photo of Luke 1:26-38

Daily Reflection – 3/25/2020

Sacred Scripture

The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.( Luke 1:26-38)

Reflection

Beyond the Gospels, much has been written and sung about the mother of Jesus Christ. Even those who downplay her role in the history of the Christian Church will agree that her faith, as portrayed in sacred scripture, was complete and serves as a model.

What is that faith that has stirred so many words?

Mary doesn’t just assent to the pregnancy, but to laying down her life for the Lord – both literally and figuratively. She commits her all to surrendering to His will. All she can know at this point from what the angel tells her is that she will give birth and that her child will live. Even so, Mary has true faith that the Lord’s will is greater than any of her own worries or cares, and even if it means hardship and danger for her, Mary wants what the Lord wants and willingly conforms herself to His will. She does not seek assurances, nor hold back her conformity in some sort of alternate plan in case things go in a direction she doesn’t like

We too are called to do the same if we wish to have a true and abiding faith. The same Messiah that formed such a close relationship with Mary from dwelling within her asks us to take Him within ourselves. He invites us, each day, to receive Him into our deepest selves as Mary did, and allow Him to grow there.

Like Mary, we have the gift of free will, which means we have our own ideas about how our lives are to go. That is our gift from God, and the manner in which we are made in His image. We have our hopes, our dreams, and our plans, and we often put our trust in those and our own designs more than the Lord’s.

But God also gives us grace and he expects us to respond with the same willingness, obedience, and heart-felt trust as Mary did. When God commands, he also gives the help, strength, and means to respond. We can either yield to his grace or resist and go our own way. Do you believe in God’s promises and do you yield to his grace?

Prayer of The Day

“Heavenly Father, you offer us abundant grace, mercy, and forgiveness through your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Help me to live a grace-filled life as Mary did by believing in your promises and by giving you my unqualified “yes” to your will and plan for my life.”

Daily Note

We have a wonderful model in Mary.  Like Mary, we need to keep ourselves grounded in the God we know, trust and love.  If we do this, then we may believe and trust that we will receive the grace and strength we need.  This will bring us peace.  God will bring us peace!