It’s All About You, Not Me

Take Up Your Cross and Follow Me! | HubPages
Daily Reflection: 8/7/2020

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

Over the last two millennia, much has been written about the meaning of taking up our crosses and following Jesus Christ. For me, the second sentence truly completes the message that we are receiving.

Let’s begin with taking up our cross. Our very lives give us a variety of crosses. Some of them are more difficult than others. It is never easy to accept a cross, be that illness, financial worries, family difficulties, depression, joblessness, etc. However, what may be helpful or detrimental to us is how we view our cross. Do we view it as a punishment from God? Or do we believe that crosses simply are part of our lives, just as joy and love are part of our human condition?

The reality of being human means that we will suffer, just as we will experience joy, love, peace and comfort. The gift is: when we are carrying a cross, Jesus is with us and he will help us to carry our cross. Jesus also will grace us with comfort, peace and strength as we deal with our cross.

For that to happen, we must understand that it is Jesus’ will for us to die to our sins, our world and our very own self. To follow Him, He wants us to live His life of compassion, love, mercy and humility. To follow Him is follow His nothingness, His powerlessness and be closest to the ground, the least and the last of all. When we deny our old drives, aspirations, dreams, inclinations and plans and decide to choose God’s will for us, we are actually picking up our cross and carrying it.

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.Not a lot of us will be asked to die for God’s cause. But what our Lord wants is for us to be able to die to ourselves, again and again, as we do His work and relate with one another. He wants us to yield to His control without any reservation and conditions so that we do not claim any rights whatsoever.

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?

It’s Your Mountaintop Too

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Daily Reflection – 8/6/2020

Sacred Scripture

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my  beloved Son; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” (Matthew 17:1-9)

Reflection

It is difficult to be optimistic right now. The Coronavirus continues cutting its deadly swath around the world. All the economic news is depressing. The partisanship of politics has never seemed so raw and mean spirited. Try as we might, there’s just not enough good news to help us feel positive about the future. It’s hard to see beyond today and believe that the world as we knew it will ever return. How we feel affects the way we look at things and the way we look at the world.

And today comes the Gospel passage describing the Transfiguration. On the mountain Peter, James and John saw that there was more to Jesus than met the eye. During the transfiguration they got a glimpse of the future glory of Jesus’ resurrection. Like them we too get glimpses of the presence of God in our lives. Transfigurations are waiting for us—in the face of a newborn child, in the eyes of someone we love, in a quiet moment of prayer, at the peak of a mountain above the tree line when it seems you can almost see forever, standing in front of a beautiful painting that seizes our imagination. Christ is in each of these peak experiences—we just have to see with the eyes of faith and we’ll catch a glimpse of the glory of Christ which we will one day share.

The good times take us through the bad times. So, when our cross is heavy or when we are tempted to despair about the meaning of life, we should s look beyond the pain of the present moment and remember those times when we got glimpses of God, those times when God sent us his consolations. We need to look beyond the pain of life and see the presence of God in our world.

Jesus shows us God, by showing us what it means to be human. And really being human means being in the muddle and mess that Jesus was in. This is where God is. Peter wanted to grasp the divinity without the failure, but the flash of the divine, the glimpse of meaning, only comes out of the failure. Out of the Cross. There’s no place to find God except in man, and no way to find man except in Jesus Christ.

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

The Cross helps us to recognize Jesus when we meet him in the random encounters we have with those who suddenly need us. There’s no straight and settled road towards God. The coming of the Son of Man is like a lightning bolt, and you never know when the revelation is to be offered to you. Perhaps at the most unlikely moment , just when you’re at your most irritable with that boring, grasping person who needs you. The gospel makes us ready for the sudden transfiguration of such moments; ready to see God, to see Christ in the mess of being human.

In Her Faith Lies Our Challenge

Matthew 15:21-28 28 She was persistent in her plea, stubborn in ...

Daily Reflection – 8/5/2020

Sacred Scripture

At that time Jesus 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

The persistence of the Canaanite woman in today’s Gospel is remarkable. The response of Jesus is not remarkable but expected. Yet, in His response, lies a challenge for us.

The words of Jesus initially sound so harsh, so mean, so wrong. They are. But maybe they are not about Jesus or the woman. Jesus is naming the reality of the world in which they both live. The reality is that there are children and there are dogs. We see it every day. Some have while many do not. Some are in and others are out. For some life flourishes. Others struggle to make it another day. Children and dogs.

Jesus can be seen as holding a mirror up to the disciples, revealing their prejudice and bigotry and challenging the woman to stand up for her dignity in the face of hatred. Christ, by healing her, sends a strong message to his disciples that he has come both for the Jewish people and the Gentiles as well. It is an interpretation that can see Jesus provoking the woman to boldness in the face of hate.

This interpretation reminds us that human dignity is something that people need to defend. Due to our fallen nature, we can easily fall into the trap of embracing a prejudicial mindset that tears down people based on exteriors. We love to proclaim how we are a people of equality, but a walk through the park or the mall with ears carefully attuned to the conversations around us can reveal otherwise. Whether it be the color of one’s skin, the size of one’s waste line, the cloths that someone is wearing, the limp in the walk of someone with a physical disability, the snide comment with a sexual undercurrent, or the homeless person who hasn’t had a chance to shower in over a week, we can become vicious and treat people like dogs in the bad sense. We need Christ to hold this mirror to our face and be reminded of the dignity that all people possess.

The dignity of the person is the only legitimate end in any society. The rights of the individual precede the rights of the state, or the rights of the majority within a society. If the state or the majority do not ensure the dignity of the individual, they lose moral legitimacy.

Respect for the individual transcends mere legal means. Those in society must foster the virtue of solidarity: to treat others as self. This includes the poor, the disadvantaged, the illiterate. This also includes those who look, think, or act differently. Prejudice based upon social or cultural differences is incompatible with God’s plan. We cannot hold it within us nor should we tolerate any person – regardless of station in life – who treats any one with prejudice or lack of respect for the dignity of another.

God made us all in his image. We all possess the power to choose. When we choose to serve others, especially those different from ourselves, we choose to be formed in God’s likeness. Because we serve God’s creatures in the same way God serves them, we take on divine qualities. We take steps closer to his likeness.

Prejudice, injustice, and social separation promote the likeness of the demon. To battle this image, we all need the faith of the Canaanite woman whose loyalty broke down barriers. May our prayer be as persistent as hers and our trust as strong.

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

The end of solidarity is not the merely a sense of equity between members of a society. Solidarity transcends the material need. The virtue bonds people from different social backgrounds, classes, and cultures together in a common purpose that finds its source in faith.

The Contours of His Heart

Daily Reflection – 8/4/2020

Sacred Scripture

Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a lonely place apart. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. As he went ashore he saw a great throng; and he had compassion on them, and healed their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a lonely place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” And he said, “Bring them here to me.” Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass; and taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children. (Matthew 14: 13-21)

Reflection

The story of the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand is well known. It appears in all four of the Gospels and is told with an understated simplicity that speaks to the historical veracity of the event and to the supernatural power at the heart of it. There are many levels to the narrative, beginning with the literal one: Jesus, moved with great pity, miraculously fed the hungry crowds that followed him into the wilderness.

But to better appreciate this story, we should be mindful of what Matthew wrote about immediately prior: the violent and heinous murder of John the Baptist by Herod the tetrarch. John had been imprisoned because he publicly rebuked Herod—who considered himself a Jew—for marrying his sister-in-law Herodias . Herod, bound by a rash promise made at his birthday celebration, ordered the execution of John, who was beheaded in prison.

The contrasts that emerge are so telling. The violent and egomaniac Herod is contrasted with Jesus, who is moved by pity, mercy, and love. Herod grasped after earthy power and pleasures; Jesus, on the other hand, reached out in humility to the townspeople who hungered for his words.

While Herod feasted in a palace and shed innocent blood, Jesus and his followers ate simple food miraculously multiplied. And in doing so, as the Gospel of John emphasizes, Jesus taught how his innocent body and blood would be given up as true food and true drink for our salvation.

Herod was a self-serving man driven by strong and sinful passions: lust, violence, anger. Jesus was perfectly oriented to the will of his Father, continually spending time in prayer so he could bring light and life to those dwelling in darkness and in the shadow of death.

The multiplication of the loaves and fishes is a microcosm of salvation history, a concrete demonstration of how the Incarnation reaches man where he lives so man can live where he cannot reach on his own.

Prayer of The Day

Lord Jesus Christ, you satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts and you feed us with the finest of wheat (Psalm 81:16). Fill me with gratitude for your blessings and give me a generous heart that I may freely share with others what you have given to me.

Daily Note

The feeding of the five thousand shows the remarkable generosity of God and his great kindness towards us. When God gives, he gives abundantly. He gives more than we need for ourselves that we may have something to share with others, especially those who lack what they need. God takes the little we have and multiplies it for the good of others.

These Words Are The Bedrock of Our Faith

Jesus Walks on Water - Bible Story Verses & Meaning

Daily Reflection – 8/3/2020

Sacred Scripture

Jesus made the disciples get into a boat and precede him to the other side of the sea, while he dismissed the crowds. After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening, he was there alone. Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified.
“It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear. At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid. “Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me! “Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt? “After they got into the boat, the wind died down. Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying, “Truly, you are the Son of God.” After making the crossing, they came to land at Gennesaret. When the men of that place recognized him, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought to him all those who were sick and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak, and as many as touched it were healed (Matthew 14:22-36)

Reflection

When troubles come our way, often, we forget that God is still with us or wonder where He is. It is strange really, but that is what happens to so many people when they get upset. They think God has gone on holidays. But that is not so. God is still with us. We cannot always rely on our feelings, and we can rely on them still less when there is something bothering us. The truth is that God is with us always, whether or not we feel his presence. Remember when Jesus was worried, he prayed and received strength in prayer to face his passion.

In these times, it is important to rely on absolutes. Not another person’s feelings but rather that absolute voice that is inside each of us. That voice which some characterize as “conscience,” others (including me) believe that it is the Holy Spirit – the breath of God that each of us has. It is the bedrock of faith.

We should keep in mind that life is truly a journey to God, a journey of growth and maturation and there is often more growth and maturation in the valleys than on the mountaintops. Trials are an opportunity to grow closer to God and if we don’t learn our lesson from a trial the first time it comes I would not be surprised if God were to allow the same or a similar trial to come our way again so that we learn the next time and grow closer to him. So, when a trial comes our way some of the questions we can ask ourselves are, “Are you trying to say something to me, God, during this trial?” “What are you trying to teach me during this crisis, God?” “What do you want me to learn, God?” Someone has said that when a trial comes our way, we should milk it for meaning. Trials are opportunities if we want to succeed spiritually and really grow close to the Lord.

One of the things learned during a trial is that we cannot do by our own strength what we can do with the grace of God. What we cannot do by nature we can do by grace.

One important lesson of today’s readings is that, in our turbulent world (and much of the turbulence is in our own hearts), Jesus is the source of peace. Jesus told his disciples at the Last Supper (John 14:27), “Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.” These words were spoken just before Jesus was to be arrested, tried and executed by his enemies. The “world” cannot provide peace in such a situation but Jesus can and does. It is for us to learn how to find the Jesus who gives peace in the ups and downs, in the storms of our own lives.

Hold on the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel and remember that His words are addressed to men and women in every trial, “Courage. It is I. Do not be afraid.”

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, help me to trust you always and to never doubt your presence and your power to help me.  In my moments of doubt and weakness, may I cling to you as Peter did.  Strengthen my faith that I may walk straight in the path you set before me, neither veering to the left nor to the right”.

Daily Note

In reality, I think we’re all in various parts of this Gospel at any one time.  Some may be near the beginning of the story, being tossed by waves and contrary winds, not recognizing the presence of Jesus.  Some may not recognize Him when He comes to us.  Some of us vacillate between moments of walking on the water with the Lord and moments of sinking as we look at ourselves and our lives.

The goal, always, is to look for Jesus and, having found Him, to go to Him.  When you are afraid or are sinking, cry out to Him.  When He asks you to come to Him, even though what He asks is as unlikely as walking on the water, come to Him.  And when He delivers you or comes to you in any way today, come before Him to worship Him as the Son of God.

Make it your goal today to see Jesus, and when you do, to share Him with someone else.

Relax, I’ve Got You

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Daily Reflection – 7/31/2020

Sacred Scripture

And he did not work many mighty deeds there because of their lack of faith. ( Matthew 13:58)

Reflection

Imagine yourself by the ocean enjoying the day. You grab a raft and paddle out into the water. A current pushed you out father than you intended. You begin to panic but you see a life guard paddling after you. Just then a wave knocks you off the raft but the life guard is only a few inches away. He has a hard time holding on to you because you’re struggling so much. You have a hard time believing he can really help you. “Let go!” he shouts over the water. “I’ve got you.” As you finally surrender, he gets you free and is able to bring you to the shore safe and sound.

Today’s Gospel tells us that Jesus wasn’t able to perform many miracles in his hometown because of the people’s weak faith. Mind you, the people weren’t thrashing around emotionally, but they still couldn’t bring themselves to surrender to Jesus. They stayed stuck in their limited logical thinking, even though he was right in front of them, offering them a way out and a way up.

Rather than being proud of Jesus and his intelligence and wisdom, some of his neighbors and relatives took offense at him. I wonder: Were they jealous of Jesus? Did they think that Jesus thought that he was better than they were? Or were they envious of him? By their words and actions, they scorned Jesus! And thus, he was not able to work any great deeds there. Their lack of faith was too deep!

In our journey with the Lord, we too need to learn to surrender to Jesus. This is an important element in the call to faith: to trust that Jesus knows what he’s doing and to believe that he is strong enough to save you. Yes, faith has to do with knowing the tenets of the Church. Yes, it has to do with trying our best to follow the commandments and to care for the poor and needy. And yes, it has to do with sharing our beliefs and standing up for what is right. But at the heart of faith is this call to surrender. Without this, all the other things lose their power.

Christ want to work miracles in our lives. He wants to help us be a light for others. If we can shake off our superficiality and lack of faith, we will discover the powerful presence of the Savior who helps us live each moment with depth and love. He can do miracles in our life. He can help us live the virtues which are most costly for use. But we have to be willing to take a risk for Christ and trust him totally.

What gets you stuck? Fear over the future? Guilt or resentments from the past? A “logical” approach to the present that doesn’t leave room for the grace of God? Whatever it is, know that Jesus is inviting you to something greater. Imagine him standing in front of you, his arms open wide. Hear him tell you, “Relax. I’ve got you. You can let go.”

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, I know you want to do great things in my life. Help me to see how you can transform the ordinary, seemingly unimportant circumstances of my day into moments when your grace triumphs. Enable me to be docile to your Holy Spirit, so he can do miracles in my life.”

Daily Note

Jesus is all powerful, but our unwillingness to accept the fact that we are important enough for Him to work miracles within us can blunt the power. His work is hidden, sometimes even denied, to those who refuse to believe in Jesus’ power. So, let’s be a people who not only pray, but pray with faith and expectation, anticipating Jesus’ mighty work and providential surprises.

It’s Always Your Choice

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Daily Reflection- 7/30/2020

Sacred Scripture

“Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”  Matthew 13:49-50

Reflection

Each passing day our world grows more secular. Each passing day, sin grows with it. Each passing day, the world nudges us to call the immoral, moral. Each passing day, morals that we were taught seem to become twisted and used by others to justify deviant behavior.

But we must never forget that there is a connection between how we live in this world and our ultimate destiny in the next life. The two are undeniably linked. During our earthly lives we have many opportunities to learn how to know and love God. God is the Just Judge and Merciful Father who desires that we journey towards our true home in heaven by freely choosing to avoid sin and being faithful to the gospel.

If we knowingly and freely choose sinfulness and evil throughout our lives, without ever repenting, our eternal destiny will be alienation from God. We sin when we refuse to respond to God’s loving presence in our lives and in our world. We also sin when we choose estrangement from God. While God always invites us to return to his loving presence, he will not force us to do so.

How we choose to live in this world has a bearing on the next life. We cannot be with God for ever in heaven unless we are with him during this earthly life. We prepare for the next life — a life enjoying the eternal happiness of heaven — by living this life as fully as possible in the presence of God. We are challenged to be faithful to Christ’s teaching and example, keeping his commandments.

We can freely choose: we either seek God and make goodness a part of our life, or we prefer to stand on the precipice of death. Or with Christ or against him. To convert ourselves means to freely opt to become one of the upright ones and live a life worthy of his sons. However, within us we have the experience of sin: we realize the good we should do but we do the evil, instead; what do we do to provide our lives with a sense of true unity? We, alone, cannot do much. Only if we place ourselves in God’s hands shall we be able to attain the goodness and be counted amongst the upright ones.

Reflect, today, on how strongly you are opposed to sin.  Sin is evil and destructive.  You must always love the person who commits sin, but you ought never offer support or approval for their actions that are contrary to the law of God.  Standing strong in the face of cultural opposition is a great act of love and may free some, one day, from the “wailing and grinding of teeth” of which Jesus spoke.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, where sin abounds grace abounds all the more.  Your grace is so needed today in our world and in my life.  Help me to stay strong in my opposition to evil and sin so as to be among those who are gathered into Your Kingdom.  Give me courage to do all I can to help those on the path of destruction.  Jesus, I trust in You.”

Daily Note

During our earthly lives we have many opportunities to learn how to know and love God. God is the Just Judge and Merciful Father who desires that we journey towards our true home in heaven by freely choosing to avoid sin and being faithful to the gospel. Building His kingdom on earth means living our lives in His light and following His commands. If more of us tried to build that kingdom, more of us would know the ultimate rewards.

I Am Here, I Am Here

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Daily Reflection – 7/29/2020

Sacred Scripture

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”  Luke 10:41-42

Reflection

There’s a scene in a Dr. Seuss story, Horton Hears a Who, when all of these small Who’s have to get the attention of Horton the elephant and his other enormous neighbors.  It takes all of their little voices together to make enough noise to be heard, as they cry out over and over: “We are here!  We are here! 


Surely a big piece of what Jesus is trying to convey in these gospel stories as he makes his way from town to town is simply that:  “I am here! I am here!”  I’m standing right in front of you.  You who long for a closer walk with God.  You who long for a sign that God is with you and for you.  You who wish God would make himself known to you in a real way.  “I am here!” says Jesus. 

Jesus’ words that are recorded for us seem at least to convey: Martha, I am here!  Emmanuel, God with you.  I am here.  Please enjoy our time together.  Please allow yourself to be where you are, even for just a moment.  As I mentioned a few chapters ago, “the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away,” (Luke 5:35) but right now, Martha, I am here.  Be here with me. 


That’s the opportunity that Mary seized, that her sister did not.  The opportunity to notice Jesus’ presence.And that’s where I am most convicted by this story.   Because while I don’t think Jesus is saying service is wrong, and sitting still is inherently better, I do think he’s saying, “I am here!” and sometimes I’m far too busy to see him. I’m worried and distracted by many things instead of focusing on the one needful thing, which is to ask “Where is Jesus in this moment?”  Is he sitting right in front of me, and I haven’t even noticed?  Is Jesus in the joyful exuberance of a young child, or in a moment of meaningful conversation with a friend?  Was Jesus present in a moment of silence I didn’t allow myself today, surrounded as I was by noise and chaos?  Or, busy as I was with service – some of it truly good and worthwhile service – did I miss the face of Jesus in that person I was serving?  Or in the face of a person that was serving me?

Do we focus on the one thing necessary or do we get caught up in the daily grind? We spend so much effort on our daily tasks, sacrifice to make time for exercise and maintain our health, and seek help through counseling and career preparation and advancement. How much time do we devote to our souls and the cultivation of the interior life? St. Ignatius pointed out that the spirit needs exercise, even more than the body, for when the body passes away we will be judged by the state of our soul

“You are worried and distracted about many things,” Jesus says, to all of us modern-day Martha’s.  “There is need of only one thing.”  Choose the better part. Because no matter how many categories of life we may be trying to juggle on any given day, wherever we go, there we are. 

What if we tried to really be there? And even more importantly, what if we managed to remember Jesus is there too?

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, help me to seek Your still silent presence.  Help me to surrender over my anxiety and worry.  Jesus, bathe me in Your grace and help me refocus each and every day on You.  Jesus, I love You.  Jesus, I trust in You.”

Daily Note

Jesus was revealing a deep spiritual truth: that life cannot be lived to its fullest, and enjoyed to its utmost when we are always running around; when we are spending too much time at work; when we are worried and distracted by so many things. Sometimes we need to sit and rest and listen to what God is saying. That is the “better part” of it, as Jesus said. Life is to be lived in balance, with time spent nurturing our connections with friends and family, with the world around us, and with God. There are the important things in life, and we need to tend to them and care for them.

There IS A Difference

Matthew 13 - Verse 23 (Ref Bible Love Notes) | Bible love, Love ...
Daily Reflection – 7/28/2020

Sacred Scripture

Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his Kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”  Matthew 13:40-43

Reflection

Most Christians live with the concept that, at some point, they will pass over to God. And well they should.

It comes down to what we do with our discipleship that matters. Those who do not receive Jesus’ message and live a life of righteousness, but instead choose to do evil and harm others will be left outside his kingdom and face eternal punishment.

Either/or. But it’s not so easy. Jesus warns us that there is an enemy who seeks to destroy the good seed of his word before it can bear fruit. Both good and evil can be sown in our hearts like tiny seeds which germinate, and in due time yield a harvest of good or bad fruit. We must stand guard lest evil take root in our hearts and corrupt us.

The kingdom itself is spiritual but we, its members, live in a physical and sinful world This kingdom represented by believers, or “sons of the kingdom” is found not only in the church, but in businesses, in education, in labor, and in government; but so are the weeds.  This is why we need patience.   God is not yet going to remove the weeds, so we have to learn how to live within this reality as Christians.  So, the point to see is that this reality becomes a challenge, not only because these weeds are present, but because the enemy of Christ – the devil himself – seeks to destroy the wheat by the works of his people: the “sons of the evil one.” 

The reality is that there will be a distinction or difference between believers and unbelievers that at times may be hard to detect, yet God’s people will live in this mixed population until the final judgment.  This reality is illustrated for us in the parable before this one, the parable of the Sower, which teaches us that the very nature of the kingdom is that not all the seeds planted become wheat, for various reasons.  Yet all these seeds live together in the world, as our parable today teaches us, and sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference, even in the church.

As Peter said, “The devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”  The reality is this: the devil and his weeds are going to make life difficult for those who live in the kingdom, wherever the kingdom manifests itself.

Charles Read wrote “Sow an act and you reap a habit.  Sow a habit and you reap a character. Sow a character and you reap a destiny.” In the day of judgment each will reap what he or she has sown in this life.  Those who sow good will shine in the kingdom of their Father. They will radiate with the beauty, joy, and fullness of God’s love.

The very reason for the weeds among the wheat is to call us to teach and to do the opposite and to help us realize that we must not be complacent.

If we persevere through all things now, and we strive to do so with patience and grace, we can be certain that all the struggle and all we have to endure will be worth it in the end.  In the kingdom of God, we will be at peace, and joy will fill our lives forever.  We need to be sure that we  have “ears to hear” this truth and hold on to it through all things.

Prayer of The Day

Lord, help me to keep my eyes on You and Your final victory.  Help me to patiently await Your final victory and to endure the evil of this world with the grace and strength You give me.  May I never forget the final promise that You have spoken to me.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Daily Note

When Jesus does return in all His glory and sets all things right, will the evil we now endure even matter?  In fact, from the eternal perspective, the evil we endure should only serve to give us holy endurance.  It has all potential to be used by God to manifest His grace and strength in our lives.

Reflect, today, upon the eternal perspective. 

Look Through These Glasses, Please

One Tiny Seed | Sayville UMC

Daily Reflection, 7/27/2020

Sacred Scripture

“The Kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.”  Matthew 13:31b-32

Reflection

A mustard seed – tiny, not very impressive, average looking. But all of us know what a mustard seed can produce.

Today’s scripture has a way of turning conventional thinking on its head. In the American culture where power, wealth, and winning are so important, the parable of the mustard seed is nothing short of counter-cultural or even revolutionary. It challenges us to look through a different lens.

The kingdom of God is not a kingdom of power and might, but a reign of love. The kingdom of God (kingdom of love) comes into being by spreading from person to person and not by force. It is a quiet revolution: at first silent and imperceptible (like the mustard seed planted in the earth), but ultimately dynamic and transformative. Love is not linear, it grows exponentially. 

That’s where you and I come in. That’s where you and I are so important.

The parable of the mustard seed challenges us to rethink what is possible. Even the tiniest of faith or positive action can have impact disproportionate to the “investment”.  As I look around, I see so many needs in our world. The needs are so great, I often wonder if it is worth even trying to make a dent. You look to the left and right and see individuals who are dynamic, well educated, gorgeous, rich, and the list goes on. Why should I (or we) “plant our little mustard seed” when there are others around us who are going to be better at it—whatever “it” is—than we are?  

But God doesn’t care about my credentials. It is not a matter of how hard I work or how good we are. We are enough! We are merely asked to respond to the invitation—the invitation to plant our mustard seed. To offer who we are, where we are. We are not asked to worry about whether our efforts will be successful, noticed or honored.

 God is the soil that makes those seeds grow and God has promised that even the smallest amount of faith or faithful action will bring things into our life, our community, and the world beyond our expectations. Like the ripples made by a small stone thrown into the water, our faith and actions send waves into the world around us.

Jesus wants to use each one of us for the building up of His Kingdom. We may feel as though we cannot do much, that we are not as gifted as others, that we will not be able to make much of a difference, but that’s not true. But the truth is that each one of us is packed with unbelievable potential that God wants to bring to fruition. All we must do is allow Him to work.

He made you and me with the intention to bring forth His Kingdom through you and to do so in an abundant way. It is your responsibility to simply believe this and to allow God to do what He desires to do in your life.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, I know that without You I am nothing.  Without You my life has no meaning.  Help me to embrace Your perfect and glorious plan for my life and, in that plan, to achieve the greatness to which You call me.  Jesus, I trust in You.”

Daily Note

The parable of the mustard seed offers both reassurance and promise. Reassurance that we are enough and that even the tiniest demonstration of faith or faithful action will have an impact. We each are invited to take our own “baby steps of faith”: a gentle touch, a note of sympathy, a word of encouragement, standing up for those who cannot, helping someone in need, offering our time, talent or treasure. These are just some of the mustard seeds we are invited to plant.