And Your Answer Is . . .

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Daily Reflection – 2/20/2020

 

Sacred Scripture

Now Jesus and his disciples set out for the villages of Caesarea Philippi. Along the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” They said in reply, “John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said to him in reply, “You are the Messiah.” Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him. He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days. He spoke this openly. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples, rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”( Mark 8:27-33)

Reflection

So who do you say He is?

The answer to that tells us much about where we are on the journey of faith. Is the answer more from what we hear from our pastor? Or is the answer more in terms of that which the secular society teaches us – the Republican Jesus or the Democratic Jesus or the Socialist Jesus?

Is your Jesus on a cross in your Church? Or is your Jesus your daily companion? Or is your Jesus deep inside your spirit and your life? Has he walked with you through a suffering? Has He given you courage in a period of distress and disharmony? Has He spoken to you silently as you asked for His help? Has He forgiven you of a perceived injustice? Has He forgiven you for all the times that you may have substituted the world for Him?

In truth, He is all and some of these. But He is far beyond all of these. He is our Savior. He is our God. He is the essence of where our greatness lies. Allow me to repeat that. He is the essence of where our greatness lies.

Each of us have seen or heard or perhaps even been comforted by great love. Love that was purely self-less. Love that prompted actions toward us that had no expectations of recompense. Love that was personified in the persona of another. THERE was the essence of greatness. There was a glimpse of who our Lord, our God, our Savior is.

Through sacred Scripture and tradition, God has revealed to us who Jesus is, and it is our choice and ultimately our duty to respond to this revelation with an act of faith, by choosing to believe, with the help of God’s grace, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.

It’s those acts of faith that define us and our relationship to Him. It is in the very way we live our daily life. It is in the manner in which we live our very life.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, I believe and I profess that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Take my life, my will, and all that I have, that I may be wholly yours now and forever.”

Daily Note

Every day, every minute, every moment of our life, we cannot do something more worthwhile than being in the mind and heart of God. So our hearts must beat his own beat, sing his own song, and whisper his own silence. But this is possible only if we know who God is in our life, his place and his role.

One Step At A Time

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Daily Reflection – 2/19/2020

Sacred Scripture

When they arrived at Bethsaida, they brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. Putting spittle on his eyes he laid his hands on him and asked, “Do you see anything?” Looking up he replied, “I see people looking like trees and walking.” Then he laid hands on his eyes a second time and he saw clearly; his sight was restored and he could see everything distinctly. Then he sent him home and said, “Do not even go into the village.” (Mark 8:22-26)

Reflection

This is the only Gospel that shows Jesus healing someone in stages. Within that lies a message for each of us.

This week, we have been talking about faith being a process. It isn’t given to us, we don’t get it all in one setting and, in truth, for us to know the full blessings of a faith filled life, we learn to give up our life to him . . . we can’t be number one in our life but rather we must allow him to be the primary driver of our life.

Our spiritual enlightenment is a gradual process of coming to understand what God wants of us, or our mission in life. Many of us start out blind. Our egos rule. Our pride, our vanity get in the way of knowing God to the full. Then, with the help of Providence, we begin to see that His presence in our lives is more important. So, we begin to embrace His love and His presence in our lives.

But, in truth, many stagnate at that point. Like the blind man, we see but not fully. Too many things are blurry. Often though, the Lord rubs spittle in our eyes – sometimes through a miracle, sometimes through a tragedy, sometimes through the actions of a friend. But something happens and we begin to see the Lord more clearly.

As we begin to see Him more clearly, we can not help but be directed outward. His love was for us. Our love for Him is brought to life through others. We are directed to be that friend to another. As the blind man’s friends brought him to Jesus. As Jesus did by taking the blind man’s hand. We are brought to recognize that His love must be shared by us for one another.

The blind man, once he could see a little, clearly began to believe some more. And once his faith grew, Jesus laid hands on him again, bringing his healing to completion The action of healing the man twice in a row tells us that Jesus is patient and merciful and will take the little we have, and the little we offer, and use it the best He can. He will work to transform our little faith so that we can then take another step closer to God and grow in faith.

Prayer of The Day

Lord, take the faith I have and lead me one step closer to You and Your merciful heart. Amen.

Daily Note

Jerome, a third century father of the church, explains the spiritual significance of this healing for us:  “Christ laid his hands upon his eyes that he might see all things clearly, so through visible things he might understand things invisible, which the eye has not seen, that after the film of sin is removed, he might clearly behold the state of his soul with the eye of a clean heart.”

How Visible Is The Path

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Daily Reflection – 2/18/2020

Sacred Scripture

They had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. He enjoined them, “Watch out, guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” They concluded among themselves that it was because they had no bread. When he became aware of this he said to them, “Why do you conclude that it is because you have no bread? Do you not yet understand or comprehend? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear? And do you not remember, when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many wicker baskets full of fragments you picked up?” They answered him, “Twelve.” When I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many full baskets of fragments did you pick up?” They answered [him], “Seven.” He said to them, “Do you still not understand?” (Mark 8: 14-21)

Reflection

Jesus came to show the world a new way. The disciples were clutching their old beliefs to retain a false sense of control and righteousness.

Jesus, realizing that the disciples were not getting His message of watching out for the leaven of other authorities, had to go back to the basics because they were worried about food.

He had to remind them that they need not worry about food, look who they were with, the person who feeds thousands out of a few loafs of bread. He had to remind them to count their blessings and to trust in God before they could begin to hear and understand the other important messages, He had for them

Aren’t we like the disciples? How often do we focus on a perceived lack when what we’re asked to see is God’s love for us and the whole world – compassion that knows no bounds? It’s more than enough for every soul on the planet, today and for all eternity.

Because of our fixation with the immediate and the material, we don’t focus on the real goal – our eternal union with Him. The part that we often forget is that there is a clear path for that eternal union. It lies in our willingness to give ourselves to Him. The journey of truly following Him is the gift of self, of abandonment, of service, of availability, of acceptance of conflict, knowing that there will be resurrection. The cross is not an accident on the way, but forms part of this road. In a world organized around egoism, love and service can exist only crucified! Anyone who makes his life a service to others, disturbs and bothers those who live attached to privileges, and therefore suffers. 

Saint James reminds us that, “all good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.” (Jas 1:17).  Everything that we have in life and all that we are is not because of us, it is because of God. If we truly believe that then each of us should willingly turn the focus of our life to Him and ask simply that He use our life for His glory.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, you alone can sustain me with your life-giving Word and Spirit.  Give me joy and strength to serve you always and help me to turn away from the leaven of sin and worldliness which brings corruption and death.”

Daily Note

Our Christian faith is based on a love-relationship with God. From this love, our actions and our rituals flow. From this love flows our non-judgmental attitude to others. Into this love happiness enters from God and flows from us to others.

 

Still Looking For That Sign ?

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Daily Reflection – 2/17/2020

Sacred Scripture

The Pharisees came forward and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. He sighed from the depth of his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Amen, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” Then he left them, got into the boat again, and went off to the other shore.( Mark 8:11-13)

Reflection

Just three verses from Mark’s Gospel but three verses that pack a strong message for all of us.

Jesus had just completed performing miracles of an unprecedented nature. Yet the Pharisees demanded an even more powerful sign. Jesus knowing that the hearts of the Pharisees were already hardened simply sighs and walks away.

Sound familiar? It should because you and I have been here many times in our lives. There are times when everything seems to go awry. Nothing seems to be going right. At times like these we might keep asking God to give us some sign that he is on our side and cares for us. But if we don’t receive the sign it is possible that we lose faith and some may even stop believing.

The reality is that on those occasions our faith has been tested. When we respond by walking away, we are forgetting that faith is  a constant process of building. It doesn’t come in a flash. It isn’t contained in a prayer. It doesn’t occur in an event. It is countless days and countless times when we yield, perhaps even sigh, and accept the reality of the circumstance.

The vast majority of us don’t have perfect faith. But there are some who do. The most meaningful years of my ministry were the years I spent in Panama. There I saw, over and over again, examples of perfect faith. As I walked in the countryside seeing little of material wealth, I also found people who were spiritually rich – far more than most.

I found people who understood that faith is patient, That faith is built upon trust. That faith is built on understanding that the Lord will answer us in His time and on His terms. So many never quarreled with that. They accepted because they had perfect faith.

Authentic faith is not based on miracles. Faith is authentic if it helps us through the trials of life. Faith enables us to steadfastly trust in God.

Faith is understanding and trusting that God is always at our side. It’s discovering new life in nature. Its discovering that in the warm rays of the sun, the Son is there to comfort us. Its finding that out of a tragedy, He walks at our side to strengthen and console. Its recognizing that a hardened heart to another offers little but cold stone. But forgiveness is a warm spring. It is needed, it is cleansing and it is there to nourish.

Will you pause for a moment after reading this and pray for each other to trust and believe that God is with us and that God is gracing us — no matter what we feel.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, show me your goodness and favor that I may praise you all my days.  And give me unshakeable hope in your saving word that nothing may deter me from trusting in you completely.”

Daily Note

Theresa of Avila’s prayer book contained a bookmark which read: “Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you; All things pass: God never changes.  Patience achieves all it strives for.  Whoever has God lacks nothing, God alone suffices”. 

Is God enough for you?

You Are Invited. Do You Accept?

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Daily Reflection – 2/14/2020

Sacred Scripture

Again he left the district of Tyre and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, into the district of the Decapolis. And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him off by himself away from the crowd. He put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, “Ephphatha!” (that is, “Be opened!”) And [immediately] the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly. He ordered them not to tell anyone. But the more he ordered them not to, the more they proclaimed it. They were exceedingly astonished and they said, “He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and [the] mute speak.”(Mark 7:31-37)

Reflection

There is a powerful lesson and a powerful invitation in today’s scripture.

We are invited to act like Jesus.  We are invited to change lives. We are invited to leave the comfort zones in which we live and live out his command.

In a world where there are so many raised voices. So many fingers pointed. We forget that there is a larger silent majority. Those that have no voice . . . those that believe they have no voice. We are meant to discern the place where there is an obstacle, a blockage, a complex that stops others from being listening and speaking persons. When a child is ill and we help her to put words on what’s wrong, we give her a space to grow in. When an adolescent is in the midst of conflicts and breakdowns, he/ she is happy to meet someone who can say a word of confidence, a word of hope, a dynamism that lets that child find value in life.

When someone is rejected by their peers or friends that they loved and feels that no one cares for them we are urged to recite, “Ephphatha – Be opened.” When someone who knows the truth has been silenced because no one respects his or her opinion, we must cry out, “Ephphatha – Be opened.” The way we say, “Be opened,” is by saying the words of encouragement that others need to hear.

We need to be both the one who is healed as well as the one who heals. We are to hear the cries of the poor. Open our ears, our hearts and our minds to the plight of those around us. We are to speak about the injustices that afflict our world; we are not to sit as if we were mute when we can speak and make a difference. But if we are to be healed, then we must heal others. Pull the earphones from those who are listening to destructive and pessimistic lyrics. Say the good things, the words of hope that people need to hear. Call to participation those who are sitting idle on the sidelines of life. Let others hear, let others speak and in doing so they will say again, “That one does all things well; the deaf hear and the dumb speak.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit and inflame my heart with love and compassion. Make me attentive to the needs of others that I may show them kindness and care. Make me an instrument of your mercy and peace that I may help others find healing and wholeness in you.”

Daily Note

The Lord treats each of us with kindness and compassion and he calls us to treat one another in like manner. The Holy Spirit who dwells within us enables us to love as Jesus loves. Are you willing to share that love and compassion with others ?. Are you prepared to accept the invitation by Christ to open the eyes and hearts of those around you to the love that is theirs to claim?

 

 

 

 

 

To Step Out In Faith

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Daily Reflection – 2/13/2020

Sacred Scripture

From that place he went off to the district of Tyre. He entered a house and wanted no one to know about it, but he could not escape notice. Soon a woman whose daughter had an unclean spirit heard about him. She came and fell at his feet. The woman was a Greek, a Syrophoenician by birth, and she begged him to drive the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, “Let the children be fed first.  For it is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” She replied and said to him, “Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.” Then he said to her, “For saying this, you may go. The demon has gone out of your daughter.” When the woman went home, she found the child lying in bed and the demon gone.( Mark 7:24-30)

Reflection

A Gentile woman puts Jesus on the spot by pleading for his mercy on her daughter who was afflicted with an evil spirit.  At first Jesus seemed to pay no attention to her, and this made his disciples feel embarrassed. Jesus does this to test the woman to awaken faith in her. And the woman responds with a faith which should inspire us.

She had great spiritual insight. She was not asking the Lord to alter the way he was implementing the plan of God. She was simply asking for a “crumb.” Faith is based upon understanding the will of God. It is founded upon knowledge — not mere emotion.

This mother illustrated the connection between faith and unfavorable circumstances. Great faith will rely upon the Son of God. Faith becomes stronger in times of distress for those who tenaciously depend on God (cf. James 1:2-4).

This woman demonstrated that great faith seeks the welfare of others. Those who trust in God will intercede for others. How much more ought we to be concerned about the spiritual welfare of those we love?

The Gentile lady showed the relationship of faith and humility. Her humble disposition complimented her genuine faith. Great faith is seeing one’s complete dependence upon God.

She taught us that great faith endures. She was steadfast and resilient in her request of the Lord. Reminiscent of the woman who pursued the unjust judge, she reminds us to always pray and never give up (cf. Luke 18:1ff).

The distressed mother exemplified that great faith in the Son of God will result in a great deliverance. What a relevant message. We need to cultivate great faith so that we may obtain the greater deliverance through the Great Physician — the healing and  the salvation of our souls.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, 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 for all evil and harm. “

Daily Note

The faith of the Woman in today’s Gospel grew in contact with the person of Jesus. She began with a request and she ended on her knees in worshipful prayer to the living God. No one who ever sought Jesus with faith — whether Jew or Gentile — was refused his help. Do you seek Jesus with expectant faith?

 

 

 

The Demons We Create

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Daily Reflection = 2/12/2020

Sacred Scripture

He summoned the crowd again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile. When he got home away from the crowd his disciples questioned him about the parable. He said to them, “Are even you likewise without understanding? Do you not realize that everything that goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters not the heart but the stomach and passes out into the latrine? But what comes out of a person, that is what defiles. From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile.” (Mark 7: 14-23)

Reflection

The religious leaders were concerned with avoiding ritual defilement. Jesus points his listeners to the source of true defilement — evil desires which come from inside a person’s innermost being. Sin does not happen. It first springs from the innermost recesses of our thoughts and intentions, from the secret desires which only the individual soul can conceive. 

But God sees what is in our hearts. Even if no one else sees this we should never forget the fact that God sees all. That’s all that matters. That which is in our hearts can either do great damage to us or do great good.

Only God can change our hearts and make them clean and whole through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Like a physician who probes the wound before treating it, God through his Word and Spirit first brings it to light that we may recognize it for what it is and call upon his mercy and grace for pardon and healing. 

But to receive his mercy, we must admit our faults.  Its far easier to blame another source or another person. Or it’s too easy to slip behind our Christian mask and pretend if we are not at fault.

Spend some time with Jesus. Let him put his finger on just one trait he would like to work on with you. Is it kindness or humility? Patience or generosity? Gentleness or straightforwardness? Each of these is a manifestation of love. Each is a blessing that can “come out” of us more if we ask the Lord for help.

Jesus is eager to pour his grace into you so that you can become more like himself in this special corner of your heart. Open yourself to His love so that what comes “out from within” gives glory to Him and helps build His kingdom on earth.

 Prayer of The Day

 Lord, fill me with your Holy Spirit and make my heart like yours. Strengthen my heart and my will that I may I choose to love what is good and to hate what is evil.

Daily Note

Reflect, today, upon that which is inside your heart. This introspection should also challenge you to look at your motivations. Why do you do what you do and why do you make the decisions you make? Are they choices that come from an honest and sincere heart? Or are they choices that are based more on how you will be perceived? Hopefully your motives are pure. And hopefully those pure motives come from a heart that is deeply united to the heart of Christ.

 

 

 

Are You In A Relationship?

Finding Your Way Back to God

Daily Reflection – 2/11/2020

Sacred Scripture

Now when the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands. (For the Pharisees and, in fact, all Jews, do not eat without carefully washing their hands, keeping the tradition of the elders. And on coming from the marketplace they do not eat without purifying themselves. And there are many other things that they have traditionally observed, the purification of cups and jugs and kettles [and beds].) So the Pharisees and scribes questioned him, “Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?” He responded, “Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written: This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts.’ You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.” He went on to say, “How well you have set aside the commandment of God in order to uphold your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and ‘Whoever curses father or mother shall die.’ Yet you say, ‘If a person says to father or mother, “Any support you might have had from me is qorban”’(meaning, dedicated to God), you allow him to do nothing more for his father or mother. You nullify the word of God in favor of your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many such things.” ( Mark 7:1-13)

Reflection

Today’s Gospel directs us to answer a fundamental question: Are you in a relationship with God? Or even more specifically, what is the relationship you wish to have with Jesus?  Is a superficial relationship with Jesus all you want or do you desire a deeper and more intimate relationship with Him?  Jesus wants all of us: mind, body, and soul! 

In spite of the power of that invitation and the indescribable love contained in it, too often we often act as if God dwells in the church building, but not in our offices, streets, or homes. We think that strict rules defining who is “in” or “out” reflect the mind of God and determine who qualifies as a recipient of God’s favor. We think Christians own God, and the people of other faith traditions can be despised and cast aside. We think people of different skin color from ours are evil-minded and outside our duty to be compassionate, welcoming, and healing. If we are truly listening to the Gospel message of Jesus, how did we get so blind and close-hearted? God must look at our world and cry.

Going to church, having a quiet time, singing some songs—these things are easy. Loving God and people fully and completely as Jesus describes is not easy. It’s not even hard. It’s impossible! You cannot make yourself love God. You cannot make yourself love people. Though you can change your behavior, you cannot change your heart.

Thankfully, thankfully, thankfully, we have Jesus. Jesus secures for us much more than a new set of traditions. He secures for us rescue from our failure to obey God and new hearts capable of obedience.

If your lips and your heart do not match, close the gap. Maybe you’re going to church out of tradition, but in your heart you’d rather be elsewhere. Maybe you sing the Sunday songs, but your heart feels cold toward the lyrics. Maybe you speak in Christian jargon that your heart doesn’t really believe. You must close the gap between your ‘lips’ and your heart. But how?

Since you cannot change your heart, change your lips. Start being honest. Start speaking, singing, acting in alignment with your heart. Say to God, “I want to want you, but I don’t. Please forgive me and help me.” Or, “I know I should want you, but I don’t. Please forgive me and help me.”

And here’s the really good news. He already knows, and he loves you. He knows your heart better than you do, and he loves you. When you speak honestly with him like this, he won’t be shocked. Like a father whose wayward son is finally returning home, he’ll run to embrace you.

 Prayer of The Day

Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit and make my heart like yours. Strengthen my heart, mind, and my will that I may freely choose to love what is good and to reject what is evil.”

Daily Note

Compassion, care, inclusion, and love are at risk in our world today. God is calling each one of us to do what we can to live by the core messages of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not by trying to “contain” God but by living the moral and ethical demands that Jesus calls us to fulfill.

 

 

 

Through The Eyes of Faith

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Sacred Scripture

After making the crossing, they came to land at Gennesaret and tied up there. As they were leaving the boat, people immediately recognized him. They scurried about the surrounding country and began to bring in the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. Whatever villages or towns or countryside he entered, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak; and as many as touched it were healed. (Mark 6:53-56)

 Reflection

How would we react if Jesus appeared to us today? Would we seek Him out and ask Him to heal us? What is the healing that we would ask for? Or would we be skeptical and watch Jesus from a safe distance? What is it that might keep us from approaching Jesus and asking Him for what we desire: fear, a sense of unworthiness, skepticism or shyness? For answers, perhaps we need to revisit the scene from today’s Gospel.

The response to Jesus and his power to heal had grown exponentially. After having attempted to escape the crowd for prayer, rest, and renewal, Jesus once again is recognized “and people rushed about that whole region and began to bring the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was.”

There were two predominant emotions at play here. Hope and Faith. The same two emotions are prevalent today. It is hope that draws us to Jesus as well—the hope that in him we might find some meaning for our lives, courage in the face of overwhelming foes, healing of spirit or body, peace in the midst of turmoil. We come to Jesus with faith in his power to accomplish what we alone cannot do. Some might say that this is little more than wishful thinking, but wishful thinking is based upon luck, the alignment of the stars, or pure chance. Our hope is anchored in the faith that the one to whom we turn knows us personally, cares for us individually, and by the power of his victory over sin and death reigns as the Lord of all creation.

Jesus is in our midst today and every day! However, we may not “see” Him as the people in His day did. However, if we have “eyes of faith,” we will see and experience Jesus. And He will gift us with the grace we need for this day. However, we need to have open eyes and believing hearts! We also need to be on the lookout for Jesus. We need to expect Him to come to us. True, we do not know the day nor the hour nor the manner in which he will appear. However, if we are “awake” we will experience Jesus in some way today! Be alert! He is coming!

 Prayer of The Day

Lord Jesus, let my heart sing for joy in your presence.  Give me eyes of faith to recognize your presence and fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may walk in your way of love and peace.

Daily Note

Do you pray to the Father with confidence that he will show you his will and give you what you need to follow him?  Ask the Lord to increase your faith and gratitude for his merciful love and provision for your life.

Do You Stand With Him ?

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Daily Reflection – 2/7/2020

Sacred Scripture

King Herod heard about it, for his fame had become widespread, and people were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead; that is why mighty powers are at work in him.” Others were saying, “He is Elijah”; still others, “He is a prophet like any of the prophets.” But when Herod learned of it, he said, “It is John whom I beheaded. He has been raised up.” Herod was the one who had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married. John had said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” Herodias harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so. Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man, and kept him in custody. When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him. She had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday, gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee. Herodias’s own daughter came in and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you.” He even swore [many things] to her, “I will grant you whatever you ask of me, even to half of my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the Baptist.” The girl hurried back to the king’s presence and made her request, “I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her. So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head. He went off and beheaded him in the prison. He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl. The girl in turn gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb. (Mark 6:14-29)

Reflection

Today’s Gospel presents the details surrounding the beheading of John The Baptist. Some would say “even more than necessary.” But is it? Too often, the stories of countless men and women who gave their life for their faith become just that . . . stories. They are interesting. They may even inspire. But they seem to exist outside of our immediate spheres.

What occurred in all of these reports is that men and women gave their lives in the battle for the Kingdom of God. What we prefer to forget is that the battle is still raging and it is one in which we are all involved! Some will remain conscious of it and speak out and act out their belief in Jesus Christ. Others will come up with one excuse or another as to why it is not their responsibility. Others will turn a deaf ear. But the work of God is like a stream, and when someone puts a rock in the stream, the water flows around the rock. This is what the first century disciples of Jesus had to discover, and this is the discovery that we continue to make today – that despite the setbacks, the hardships, and despite those we lose along the way, the work of God continues, joy comes in the morning, or, in the words of Martin Luther, “The City of God remaineth”.

Many have gone before us in this battle and others will follow, and no one of us is invulnerable. All of us, sooner or later, will fall, but the work of God continues. I will fall, but the work of God will continue. You will fall at some point but the work of God will continue!

We are called to keep the lights bright in the City of God. We are called to be one of those lights. Not to keep the light burning behind a closed door. Not to keep the light hidden in the secrecy of our minds and prayers. But to stand boldly and declare our belief in Jesus Christ. To help the marginalized, to loudly decry wickedness, to don the armor of a soldier for Christ. That is our obligation, that is our call.

If we truly consider ourselves followers of Jesus, then we do need to speak the truth we believe even if it is not the popular opinion. Today may we ask Jesus for the courage to speak and act on our beliefs—even if it may upset the other person. Today may we ask John the Baptist to share his courage, honesty and directness with us!

Prayer of The Day

Heavenly Father, form in me the likeness of your Son that I may imitate him in word and deed. Help me to live the Gospel faithfully and give me the strength and courage I need to not shrink back in the face of adversity and temptation.

Daily Note

John put his life on the line for what he believed. Do we speak what we believe, especially if our opinion or thoughts deviates from the norm? Or do we simply keep silent? Or if directly asked, do we equivocate on our response? Or do we simply avoid the question?