Swimming Upstream?

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Daily Reflection – 11/25/2020

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to the crowd: “They will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name. It will lead to your giving testimony. Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute. You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives.” (Luke 21:12-19)

Reflection

Today’s Gospel passage may seem bleak, or dark, or perhaps threatening. But the words of Jesus Christ are never that. In fact, in one sentence, he offers us everlasting hope.

The history of Christianity, is replete with the courage, faith and serenity of the early martyrs who, in the face of tortures and executions, were the proximate cause of the conversion of hundreds of thousands. So many conversions would ensue from their deaths that the early Christians coined a saying, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of [new] Christians.”

None of us here may have to suffer for Christ to the point of shedding our blood, but all of us have indeed been suffering to the shedding of tears. We may not have suffered in courtrooms or jails, but we have suffered at kitchen tables reading newspapers, in living rooms in front of television sets, in our work places, in our schools, in gyms, on the streets, even outside of some of our churches. We may not have sensed ourselves “hated by all” on account of our fidelity to Jesus and the Church He founded, but many us now know what being derided and despised because of our beliefs feels like.

The greatest temptation that faces any of us whenever we’re suffering, whenever we’re doing anything hard and challenging, is to give up. Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel the same message that Winston Churchill gave his countrymen during the height of World War II, when so many Brits were wondering if the fight against Nazi tyranny was worth it. He got up to the microphone and gave what many scholars say was the greatest speech of this famous orator’s whole life, eighteen words in all: “Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, give up. Never give up. Never give up. Never give up.” That’s the message Jesus gives us at the end of the Gospel: “by your perseverance, you will save your lives.”

Sometimes the greatest gift we can be given is that which is most difficult, because it fosters this virtue of perseverance. By remaining strong through the trials of life and by retaining hope, mercy and confidence in God, we will become victorious. This is such an important message. And it’s a message that is certainly easier said than done. But when difficult opportunities present themselves to us, we are able to live this

But we know from His words that He will be there with us no matter what, giving us “words and wisdom,” courage and grace to remain as faithful to Him to the end, as He has been and will be faithful to us to the end. When we base our lives on fidelity to Him who is faithful, we can weather any storm with confidence. St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “No trial has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it” (1Cor 10:13).

By his perseverance, he opened the gates of heaven. By our perseverance, we will enter those gates. Not a hair on our head will perish, because we will gain every strand back, gloriously, at the final resurrection. That is His promise!

Prayer of The Day

Lord Jesus, your grace and mercy abounds even in the midst of trials and difficulties. Help me to seek your kingdom first and to reject whatever would hinder me from pursuing your way of peace, righteousness, and holiness. Fill me with the joy and hope of your everlasting kingdom.

Daily Note

The Lord Jesus tells us that there will be trials, suffering, and persecution in this present age until he comes again at the end of the world. God intends our anticipation of his final judgment to be a powerful deterrent to unfaithfulness and wrongdoing. God extends grace and mercy to all who will heed his call and his warning

No Stone Unturned

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Daily Reflection – 11/24/2020

Sacred Scripture

While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, Jesus said, “All that you see here—the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.” Then they asked him, “Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?” He answered, “See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’ Do not follow them! When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end.” Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.”(Luke 21:5-11)

Reflection

The words of Jesus were startling to those around him. The temple of Jerusalem was not only immense and not only breathtaking in its opulence but it stood as a reminder of their relationship with God. The destruction of the Temple foretold change that was soul shattering and humans have an issue with change.

Then came 2020 and the pandemic exposed fissures in our society that were deep, ominous and life threatening. Change, not as we like it, was imposed upon us. Change, not as we like it, magnified the inequalities in our society. Change, not as we like it, shook at the fabric of our family life – sometimes through disease, sometimes through the body politic. The temples of our lives seemed destined to tumble and perhaps be destroyed.

When Jesus foretold how difficult their lives were going to be, it was as if he was telling us of the effect of the changes upon us. The people who first heard this story were afraid. Jesus doesn’t sidestep their fear, and he doesn’t fan it. He tells them the truth. You will be arrested. You will be persecuted. This is a time of trial in every sense of the word. And your job is this: testify, stand up, step up, speak out. Remember who you are and proclaim it. You are equipped for these times with wisdom and endurance and ultimately grace-you will gain your souls. And you will not be alone.

In Luke 21:15-19, Jesus assures his listeners and disciples: “For I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair on your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls” (Luke 21:15-19).

He was assuring and strengthening them and us by saying, “I’ve set my table right in the midst of all of this. It’s in these places of fear and loss and confusion and pain that I set my table and I am a guest among you.”

In power and poverty and privilege and in pain, even as we endure persecution and the pain and complexity of our modern world, these are the places where Jesus sets his table, where he grants us the words and wisdom of a Kingdom vision, that welcomes our neighbors and even our enemies–where Jesus comes to be our welcomed guest.

God extends grace and mercy to all who will heed his call and his warning. Do not pass up, even for one day, God’s invitation of grace and mercy to seek first his kingdom of righteousness and peace. This day may be our only chance before that final day comes.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, your grace and mercy abounds even in the midst of trails and difficulties. Help me to seek your kingdom first and to reject whatever would hinder me from pursuing your way of righteousness and holiness. Fill me with the joy and hope of your everlasting kingdom.”

Daily Note

Today we hear our Lord tell us that the Kingdom of God is near, and it’s coming with all its fullness. But until that moment comes, I think our Lord is more interested in having us see the significant signs to be seen here on earth, than the signs to be seen in the heavens … not the signs in the sun and the moon and the stars, but signs in you and me and all of us. We are not so much called to see the signs, but rather to be signs … signs of God’s kingdom in the here and now.

Adjusting Our Attitude

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Daily Reflection – 11/23/2020

Sacred Scripture

When Jesus looked up, he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins. He said, “I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.” (Luke 21:1-4)

Reflection

It’s easy to sum up this passage and move on. It certainly is not about where the decimal point is placed. But in the recognition that it is about quality rather than quantity lies a powerful lesson.

I know that you and I agree on the fact that the Lord knows all things and that includes everything about us. In Provers 15 we read that “The eyes of the Lord are in every place.” Nothing is too little to escape His observation. No act is too trifling to be noted down in the book of His remembrance. The same hand that formed the sun, moon, and stars, is the same hand that formed the tongue of the gnat and the wing of the fly with perfect wisdom. 

Our two givers in today’s Gospel passage are represented in light of their heart’s relationship to the Lord. The heart of the rich man is small and miserly, turned from the light of Christ toward the rusty glow of Mammon and enamored with the treasures he’s stored on earth. On the other hand, the heart of the widow is a queen of heaven, as it were, holding fast to her Lord and gazing with hope and confidence into his face.

God knows what we hold back and why. He also knows how much we sacrifice and the attitude which has prompted that sacrifice. All around us are people who are living for the Lord but who would seldom receive human recognition. Jesus, however, notices. He knows people’s hearts as they give and serve. Not one kindness we do in the name of Jesus and for the glory of the Kingdom will be forgotten. Not one sacrifice for the Savior will go unnoticed. He knows the truth behind our gifts and is blessed when they come from a generous, joyous, and sacrificial heart.

And there are those who use their religious practice as a means of drawing attention to themselves.  In itself, this does not negate the value of the act itself, but it diminishes the merit that one derives from it.  On the other hand, there are those, like this poor widow, for whom public acts of piety are a sincere expression of their deep faith and trust in God.

Our faith must be lived deeply, so deeply that it permeates every ounce of our life. Whenever we are living for Him there is no thought of how much of us it takes. There is no thought of what others might think of us. Nor is there any thought of what it might gain us in His eyes. We give because we believe. We give because our trust and faith in Him says that is the only way. We give because we truly want to try to contribute toward the building of His kingdom. We give because we are profoundly grateful for His presence in our lives.

We give because no matter what we do for Him is valued. Why? Because Christ looks at what a person is and not what a person has, Psalm 40:17 says it so well:  “I am poor and needy; but the Lord thinks upon me.”

How blessed are we to be in His gaze! How blessed are we to live in His love!

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, your love knows no bounds and you give without measure. All that I have comes from you. May I give freely and generously in gratitude for all that you have given to me. Take my life and all that I possess – my gifts, talents, time and resources – and use them as you see fit for your glory.”

Daily Note

These words teach us that Christ looks at something more than the mere amount of a person’s gifts in measuring their liberality. He looks at the proportion which their gifts bear to their property. He looks at the degree of self-denial which their giving entails upon them. He would have us know that some people appear to give much to religious purposes who in God’s sight give very little, and that some appear to give very little who in God’s sight give very much.

With-In and With-Out

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Daily Reflection – 11/20/2020

The very fact that this is the only incident in which Jesus Christ physically reacted in anger should underscore His message.

Jesus honors His Father’s house of prayer by cleansing it of unholy practices. Here, we see Jesus’ startling and swift action in cleansing the temple of those who were using it to exploit the worshipers of God. His reaction was emotional and harsh. With anger on his face and a whip on his hands, he drove the sellers and moneychangers out of the temple. Surely, it is unthinkable for many of us to see Jesus this way, which is far from what we know of him as forgiving, understanding and compassionate with the people around him. But can we blame him?

This passage reveals not only something that Jesus did long ago, it also reveals something that He desires to do today. He desires to root out all evil within the temple of our world, and He desires to root out all evil in the temple of our hearts. Each soul is a temple that should be set aside solely for the glory of God and the fulfillment of His holy will.

Our soul is a temple may be unusual terminology but it speaks to us about who we are. Our soul, our being, our life came from God, our Father. He created each of us to do good, to build bridges, to be a beacon of His light. More profoundly, each person who prays with a sincere devotion becomes the temple or house of God.

 But when the exterior act of attending a church to enter into communion with Him is subverted by the interior condition of our soul, our prayer becomes a hypocrisy.

The Lord wants to share his holiness with us. If we approach God’s word with a humble attentive heart and with a willingness to be taught by the Lord, then we are in a good place to allow God’s word to change and transform us in the likeness of Christ. The Lord wants to teach us his ways so that we may grow in holiness.

What is our answer? Are we willing to allow Jesus, our King, to reach into the broken places of soul? To see the places of regret, of shame, of hopelessness? .  The places where we, blocked you off from us? Are we willing to allow Jesus to march into those places today and turn over some tables? 

Jesus desires to bring about purification in many ways. He desires to purify the Church as a whole, each society and community, your own family and especially your own soul. Do not be afraid to let Jesus’ holy wrath work its power. Pray for purification on all levels and let Jesus accomplish His mission.

“Lord Jesus, you open wide the door of your house and you bid us to enter confidently that we may worship you in spirit and truth. Help me to draw near to you with gratitude and joy for your great mercy. May I always revere your word and give you acceptable praise and worship.”

Jesus is still teaching us up to this very minute. Teaching us how to properly live our lives, teaching us that life is not so much of material and intellectual accumulation. For Jesus life is service, life is humility, life is sacrifice, life is about simplicity.

Is there a template on how to properly live our life? Of course, there is and it’s no other than the life of Jesus himself. To live according to His life is the perfect life template, but would we dare to live the life of Jesus? Let us teach the life of Jesus by our way of life.

Do You Feel His Tears?

Jesus praying over Jerusalem. - Artist - Greg Olsen? | Jesus pictures, Greg  olsen art, Lds artwork
Daily Reflection – 11/19/2020

Sacred Scripture

As Jesus drew near Jerusalem, he saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If this day you only knew what makes for peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. For the days are coming upon you when your enemies will raise a palisade against you; they will encircle you and hem you in on all sides. They will smash you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another within you because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” (Luke 19:41-44)

Reflection

Jesus weeping. There are a few times when Jesus displays the strongest of emotions; anger and sorrow in particular, and every time he does it is always when he is confronted with a lack of faith.

And in this Gospel passage, Jesus weeps over Jerusalem for the same reason. Jesus foresees his crucifixion, but even worse, he foresees that, despite his crucifixion, Jerusalem will not be spared. The forces that be, will still try to squash this new Church under their heel. The forces that be, will not be converted by the resurrection. And Jerusalem will be destroyed and the temple gone forever.

This has such a visible effect on him in that he sheds tears for the people of God, but they are not tears of self-pity. His divine heart longs for the salvation of all men and women past, present, and future, and he is revealing through his tears his Father’s love for every one of his children. He longs for all to be saved and to come into his glory!

Just as they were then, so they are now. He sheds tears for each of us when we stumble through our faith or, worse yet, we deny our faith.

There are so many around us who deny their faith. There are those who don’t have time for their faith. They are simply too busy to do the “God thing.” There are those who, for one reason or another, have used a personal tragedy or a failed opportunity to turn away from Christ. There are those who twist their faith to justify anger, hatred, lack of compassion. There are those who believe that their wrongdoings of the past disqualify them from God’s love and God’s forgiveness.

But just as a good cry has a cathartic effect on our minds and hearts, so too do the tears of Jesus weeping over us and around us. We live in a fractured world. We live in a world where so many try to do good but the world around us dulls the beauty of their actions and world. There is a shortage of faith in this world.

That shortage of faith also means that there are too many missed opportunities. Each of us knows that we don’t know the moment – the moment when we or those we love are called to leave this place. If that is so then why we do walk away from the extraordinary love that Jesus Christ has for each of us? Why do we lose the moment?

This moment could be the moment for you and for me. The moment when we stop in our tracks, fall to our knees and allow his tears to wash over us. To allow those tears to wash us clean. To allow those tears to embolden us to a new life – a new life marked by our actions. Actions that reflect the love and the life of Jesus Christ.

Jesus is right here, right now, knocking at the door of our hearts just as He did at the gates of Jerusalem. Will you let Him weep?

Or will you stand up and walk anew in His love. Emboldened to proclaim your faith in Him. Emboldened to truly stand up to injustice. Emboldened to decry evil in whatever form it exists and wherever it exists. Emboldened to recognize the dignity and equality of each person. Emboldened to stop twisting our interpretation of the words of Christ to justify our personal perspective and instead to follow the words of Christ. Follow them by living them right now. Emboldened to drop your political label and wear only one label – the label of a Christian.

In time, the Lord will take charge of this world. In time the Lord will sort out the wheat from the chaff. That time may be beyond yours and mine. But this world needs you and I washed clean by the tears of Jesus Christ and strengthened by His love to claim our place in this world and affect this world by living His words.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, you have visited and redeemed your people.   May I not miss the grace of your visitation today as you move to bring your people into greater righteousness and holiness of life. Purify my heart and mind that I may I understand your ways better and conform my life more fully to your will.”

Daily Note

God calls us to follow Jesus’ way of peace and love. That means we need to be willing to allow God’s Spirit to reveal to us, and convict us of, those places where we do violence to others through our passive aggression, gossip, character assassination, cutting words, and defensiveness. And we need to allow God’s Spirit to shift our gaze to our connections with others. As Richard Rohr says, “When we see our connection with others before emphasizing our differences, we will be much happier, and it will be a much happier world, too.”

Nothing Is Not An Option

The Parable of the Ten Minas - Luke 19: 11-27 - Emmanuel Keighley
Daily Reflection – 11/18/2020

Sacred Scripture

While people were listening to Jesus speak, he proceeded to tell a parable because he was near Jerusalem and they thought that the Kingdom of God would appear there immediately. So he said, “A nobleman went off to a distant country to obtain the kingship for himself and then to return. He called ten of his servants and gave them ten gold coins and told them, ‘Engage in trade with these until I return.’ His fellow citizens, however, despised him and sent a delegation after him to announce, ‘We do not want this man to be our king.’ But when he returned after obtaining the kingship, he had the servants called, to whom he had given the money, to learn what they had gained by trading. The first came forward and said, ‘Sir, your gold coin has earned ten additional ones.’ He replied, ‘Well done, good servant! You have been faithful in this very small matter; take charge of ten cities.’ Then the second came and reported, ‘Your gold coin, sir, has earned five more.’ And to this servant too he said, ‘You, take charge of five cities.’ Then the other servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your gold coin; I kept it stored away in a handkerchief, for I was afraid of you, because you are a demanding man; you take up what you did not lay down and you harvest what you did not plant.’ He said to him, ‘With your own words I shall condemn you, you wicked servant. You knew I was a demanding man, taking up what I did not lay down and harvesting what I did not plant; why did you not put my money in a bank? Then on my return I would have collected it with interest.’ And to those standing by he said, ‘Take the gold coin from him and give it to the servant who has ten.’ But they said to him, ‘Sir, he has ten gold coins.’ He replied, ‘I tell you, to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. Now as for those enemies of mine who did not want me as their king, bring them here and slay them before me.’” After he had said this, he proceeded on his journey up to Jerusalem. (Luke 19:11-28)

Reflection

Today’s Gospel passage presents a parable rich in implication for how we are living our life and what we are doing to prepare ourselves for eternity.

The nobleman in the parable is Jesus, who left this world but who will return as King one day. The servants the king charges with a task represent followers of Jesus. The King has given us gifts and we are to be faithful to serve Him until He returns. Upon His return, Jesus will ascertain the faithfulness of His own people in terms of what we have done with His commission,

The “commission” is the gift given us by the death of Christ on the cross which promises us the gift of eternal life. That commission also includes the talents and gifts that each of us has for doing good. Doing good by living the words of Christ and sharing them with others through the actions of our life.

 As the parable shows, God abhors indifference and honors those who use their talents and gifts for doing good. Those who are faithful with even a little are entrusted with more! But those who neglect or squander what God has entrusted to them will lose what they have.

No one can stand still for long in the Christian life. We either get more or we lose what we have. We either advance towards God or we slip back.

What is your present preoccupation right now? Are you very busy with the things of this world? Seeking how to increase your wealth to buy more and bigger “toys.”? Many of us are perhaps like this: very earthly and always very busy with earthly things. But if we are all busy with the affairs of this world where would we be after our journey in this world is already over and done with? Where would we end up if we do nothing for the kingdom of God in this world? 

The questions that beg to be asked are multiple. Do we look for Christ in the poor and most especially in the isolated and the forgotten people in the world around us? Do we seek, where we can and where it is possible, to bring Christ to those hurting in our communities? What have we done to share the Gospel today, or this week, with others, and how have we shared it? Have we been a reflection of Christ today? Most of all, have we made time for God today in prayer and reflection? We can’t do any of those other things in the way that Christ would have us do them if we do not truly know Jesus, and we can come to know him through our prayer life.

In our faith life doing nothing is never an option or faith in Jesus that is kept to oneself is never an alternative. We must share this faith that Jesus has entrusted to us in whatever manner possible so that it could grow and have life.

When we share your faith, our commission is amplified because we  enrich our spiritual life and become a productive servant of the Lord.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.  Come and be the ruler of my heart and thoughts and be the king of my home and family.  Help me to make good use of the gifts, talents, time, and resources you give me for your glory and your kingdom.”

Daily Note

By virtue of knowing Christ, we have all been given at least one “coin” and the responsibility to grow it in our hearts, and on our minds, and on our lips. If we hide that coin – keeping it buried or tucked away where it’s not even considered – we risk losing everything . . . literally, everything. We must do what we can to grow the wisdom and knowledge of the Kingdom here on Earth, to best prepare ourselves for entry into eternity with our Maker. Any other action is being foolish with the gifts we’ve been granted.

Let’s Go Climb A Tree

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Daily Reflection – 11/17/2020

Sacred Scripture

At that time Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town. Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.” And he came down quickly and received him with joy. When they all saw this, they began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:1-10)

Reflection

You have to give him an “A” for effort. Zacchaeus, that is. Here he is, a tax collector, despised by his own people, cut off from the ability to love and be loved. His very job puts him at odds with the people around him.

Why would Jesus single him out for the honor of staying at his home? You know the answer.  Zacchaeus needed God’s merciful love and in his encounter with Jesus he found more than he imagined possible.

Through the story we see a change in Zacchaeus, from a man who wanted to see what all the fuss was about – just like any other by-stander – to a man who was profoundly touched by the presence of Jesus in a way that drove him to make amends for his life of sin. We see a change in him from manifest greed to spiritual poverty; from unclean to purity.

Zacchaeus took the first step though. He climbed the tree to see this man called Jesus. His interest was sparked by what he heard. He could have stayed home but he went above and beyond. He left his comfort zone. He left te place that he was in and went to a far more uncomfortable place.

What about us? How often do we seek out Christ in our lives? Seek him out persistently?

Too frequently, we forget that faith is not a vicarious experience. While others can help to bring us to Jesus, He calls our name and we must personally respond. Not just once, but every day, every moment. Faith is a door into an ongoing, intimate dynamic relationship with a living, loving God who, in Jesus Christ, has come to seek and save the lost. Jesus reminds us “You did not choose me but I chose you.” (John 15:16)

He calls us most when we are feeling the most vulnerable. The loss of a loved one. A broken marriage. Perhaps marginalized because of our race or our looks. Destitute. Homeless. Feeling cut off from others and unloved. Those, and more, are the especially sensitive times when Jesus sees us in the tree and calls us down to be with Him.

The effect of Jesus on the life of Zacchaeus, his experience of grace and unconditional love melted him and put him into circulation. His change of heart resulted in a change of life, a change that the whole community could experience as genuine.

That change of heart, that change of life, that movement from “back there” to “out here” surrounded by His love and strength awaits each of us.

Look up and look out. Seek out Jesus in your daily life. He waits for you and me each day with love, acceptance and renewal. He waits to call us to a new place. A new relationship. Don’t turn away from that. Don’t turn away from the face of Jesus Christ.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, come and stay with me.  Fill my heart with your presence. Help me to see my life as one that is intimately connected with you. Let all that I do and say demonstrate that belief.”

Daily Note

Zacchaeus needed God’s merciful love and in his encounter with Jesus he found more than he imagined possible. He shows the depth of his repentance by deciding to give half of his goods to the poor and to use the other half for making restitution for fraud. Zacchaeus’ testimony included more than words. His change of heart resulted in a change of life, a change that the whole community could experience as genuine. The Lord is always ready to make his home with us.  Do you make room for him in your heart and in your home?

Ah, But Can You See

Jesus Heals a Blind Man II Painting by Melani Pyke

Daily Reflection – 11/16/2020

Sacred Scripture

As Jesus approached Jericho a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging, and hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what was happening. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” He shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!” The people walking in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent, but he kept calling out all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me!” Then Jesus stopped and ordered that he be brought to him; and when he came near, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” He replied, “Lord, please let me see.” Jesus told him, “Have sight; your faith has saved you.” He immediately received his sight and followed him, giving glory to God. When they saw this, all the people gave praise to God. (Luke 18:35-43)

Reflection

Now this is a beautiful and powerful lesson in faith for each of us. But we need to see it in order to grasp it.

Here was Bartimaeus, a beggar by misfortune who once had vision but now is blind. Every day engaging in the same repetitive actions . . . feeling his way around the world that he could no longer see, destitute and dependent on whatever alms he could beg, locked in a world of total darkness. Most of us have experienced that in one form or another. There are life moments when we may be spiritually and emotionally blind – wondering whether anyone understands, cares and will even respond to our need. Some people pass by, some might offer a word of encouragement and pass by while others might lecture us without giving the caring and the love we need.

But Bartimaeus was different in one key trait. He had faith – a persistent faith. He already sees that Jesus can give him sight before Jesus does anything! The blind man knew that persistence was at the heart of receiving from Jesus. He calls out to Jesus but the crowds tell him to be quiet. But we persists.

 Jesus gives to the blind man what the blind man already believes.  Jesus doesn’t even claim to heal the man, he tells the blind man, “your faith has made you well.”  The fact that the man could see with the eyes of his heart enabled his eyes to be opened.  As St. Paul says, “for we walk by faith, not by sight”  (2 Corinthians 5:7).

What about us? Isn’t it true that we sometimes use faith as if it was a lottery ticket? We want to receive something from God, so we pray about it maybe once or twice and then, when we don’t receive it, we think, “Oh well, that’s that, then…”   

Encountering Jesus was no lottery for Bartimaeus: he was persistent until it happened. If we want to receive from God, we must develop persistence: not because he is unwilling to give to us and needs to be worn down but because, as we develop persistence, so we develop strong, spiritual character and we grow into spiritual maturity.

Bartimaeus knew something else that we sometimes forget because we do not really believe or because we don’t sense how important we are in God’s eyes. He knew specifically what he wanted. His request was tangible.  Jesus said, “What do you want me to do for you?” and he replied, “Lord, let me see again”. 

Tangible prayers, more specific prayers, are a great encouragement to us because we more easily recognize God’s acting in our lives.

As mortals, we will never comprehend all that God will do for us. None of us fully understand all the truth about God. We all have a weak understanding and we all have so much to learn: all of us are beginners in the faith.

But that doesn’t matter to Jesus: he does not ask for knowledge and learning. He asks only that we are persistent, that we respond to him when we hear him call and that we ask his involvement in our lives in a direct and tangible way.

If we join the blind man in approaching Christ like that then, like him, we will receive healing and peace and grace and our lives will be transformed.

Jesus said to the blind man, “What do you want me to do for you?”  He asks us the same question each day. Do we have the eyes of faith to believe that?

Prayer of The Day

Lord Jesus, open the eyes of my heart and mind that I may see and understand the truth and goodness of your word. May I never fail to recognize your presence with me and to call upon your saving grace in my time of need and healing.

Daily Note

Jesus says two very beautiful things to Bartimaeus. The first is about the greater miracle than the healing of his physical sight. “Your faith has saved you!” The Lord not only gave him his wish to see but heard his initial cry to have mercy on him, and Jesus’ generosity far outdid Bartimaeus’ imagination to ask. Faith in response to God leads to salvation, and even though Bartimaeus didn’t dare ask for that, God gave it. And likewise, in response to our bold trust in him, in response to our leaving our stuff behind and hustling toward him, in response to our sincere telling him what we want, God responds by giving himself to us and granting us far more than we had implored.

So, How Are You Living ?

November 2018 - Daily Prayer
Daily Reflection – 11/13/2020

Sacred Scripture

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, someone who is on the housetop and whose belongings are in the house must not go down to get them, and likewise one 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

Today’s Gospel directs us to the end times as well as the uncertainty of life. It is highlighted, not to frighten us, but to keep us focused and ready to meet our Creator.

It presents us with an invitation to serious reflect on how we are living our own lives. After all, we are all going to die.  The question is how are we living? Jesus has been revealed, is being revealed and will be fully revealed. What difference does that truth make in the way we are living our everyday lives, and in how we are using time?

Two thousand years ago the ancient Greek writer, Seneca, wrote: “It is not that we have so little time, but that we have wasted so much of it”

In that context, Jesus presents us with an apparent paradox. Trying to save your life will be the cause of you losing it, but losing your life will be the way you save it. What does this mean?

Basically, if we try to direct our lives and our future by our own effort, things will not work out. By calling us to “lose” our life, Jesus is telling us that we must abandon ourselves to Him. Now “abandoning” our life to another is a negative thought in the American culture. After all, isn’t this “the land of the free?” Doesn’t the American culture expect and reward us to be independent, self-sufficient and ever strong? When carried to the point where our ego is the ego-in-chief, it is all wrong and contra to everything that Jesus Christ taught.

We are to trust Jesus and ask him to guide us into doing those things that are consistent with His holy will. This is the only way to save our life. We save it by letting go of our own will and letting God take over.

This level of trust and surrender is very difficult at first. It’s difficult to come to the level of complete trust in God. But if we can do just that, we will be amazed at the fact that God’s ways and plan for our life is far better than we could ever come up with on our own. His wisdom is beyond compare and His solution to all our concerns and problems is perfect.

That is why the Lord prayed that “we are in the world, but do not belong to this world” (Jn 17: 15). The life of a follower of Christ is marked by detachment from much of worldly distractions and vain glory and separation from sinful ways and evil tendencies.

Listen to the everyday dialogue around you today – especially in the United States. How much of it deals with helping and loving one another? How much of it focuses on the act of self- giving to others? How much of it is positive and uplifting? Is any of it directed toward helping you grow in the ways and teachings of Jesus Christ? Toward helping you live your life as His follower?

The choices we make now – for or against Christ – will either lead us on the path of life or death – heaven or hell. Nothing could be clearer.

Prayer of The Day

Lord, I give You my life, my cares, my concerns and my future. I trust You in all things. I surrender all. Help me to trust You more each day and to turn to You in complete abandonment. Jesus, I trust in You

Daily Note

As we consider the timeline of God’s unfolding plan, the redemption of the whole cosmos, the God who gives and governs time, invites us to re-dedicate ourselves to living differently, in time.  We are to live as though time really does matter. We are invited by grace to give ourselves away for others; to imitate the One who gave Himself for the entire human race. We are invited to pour ourselves out as Jesus did. If we live life this way, when we face Him on that final day, we will do so with our arms full of gifts borne over time. These gifts will have paved the way for eternity.

Do You Need Directions?

God Colors | everyday encouragement
Daily Reflection – 11/12/2020

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

Travelers throughout the ages have always searched for the quickest way to reach their destination. Hold onto that thought.

In today’s Gospel the Pharisees ask Jesus, with a mixture of interest, curiosity, and fear when will the Kingdom of God come? When will it be the last day, the end of the world? Imagine how perplexed they were by Jesus’ answer!

Jesus tells them the kingdom of God is not to be identified with a point of time. He also refuses to locate the reign of God “here” or “there.” He simply says that the reign of God is already in your midst.

That should not surprise us. After all, Christ’s kingdom is concerned more about the state of the soul and the struggle between good and evil than external nations. His Kingdom is not a place but a condition where God reigns. Jesus taught what God wanted us to do. When we follow Jesus, God reigns in us.

Today, almost one in three people claim Jesus as Lord and King. That has happened because the kingdom of God continues and that kingdom of God is not tied to a particular political or cultural or societal or civic expression.

Because God’s Kingdom is not dependent on governments. Regardless of what political climate we are in, we must be living for God’s glory and to be light in a dark world.  We must be living as Kingdom citizens now.  We’re not waiting for Christ’s return to live like Christians but we’re doing so now in anticipation of His return.  We’re not waiting for a democrat or a republican to hold office to life for the King, we’re not waiting for conditions to be favorable or unfavorable, tolerant or intolerant of Christians. Instead  we live and submit to the reign of Christ here and now. THAT is what is important. Not a political slogan. Not succumbing to a way of living that is contra to the teachings of Christ. His Kingdom is the ONLY kingdom we should be pursuing.

St. Bernard speaks of the three advents of Christ. The first advent is Christmas; the third advent is the one in which Christ will come to judge the living and the dead. The second, or middle, advent is the “time of visitation” by which Christ is present and active in each of our lives. It is there, where the first and the third advents appear on a personal and experienced level. Jesus’ verdict on Judgment’s day will reflect whether we have lived as citizens of His Kingdom.

That’s the shortest direction to His Kingdom. This Kingdom that unpredictably will start “outside” may commence right now “inside” us. The last day starts its configuration right now, inside us. If we want to be allowed into the Kingdom in that last day, we must let the Kingdom get inside us, right now.

The Lord is present now in the words and deeds of people that build up and heal and bring life. Not tear down and sow discord.  The Lord has assured us that we will never be without his presence. What we need are eyes to see and ears to hear, the eyes and ears of faith. Like the disciples earlier in Luke’s gospel we need to pray, “Increase our faith.”

Prayer of The Day

Lord Jesus Christ, may your kingdom come and may 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

God’s Kingdom is present every time grace is at work. It’s so easy for us to be overwhelmed by the evils of this world and to miss the presence of God. God is alive in countless ways all around us. We must always strive to see this presence, be inspired by it and love it.

Reflect, today, upon the presence of the Kingdom of God present among you. Do you see it in your heart? Do you daily invite Jesus to rule your life? Do you acknowledge Him as your Lord? And do you see the ways He comes to you through your daily circumstances or in others and in your daily situations? Seek Him out constantly and this will bring joy to your heart.