The Continuing Battle For Our Souls

Daily Reflection – 10/8/2021

Sacred Scripture

When Jesus had driven out a demon, some of the crowd said: “By the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons, he drives out demons.” Others, to test him, asked him for a sign from heaven. But he knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste and house will fall against house. And if Satan is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that it is by Beelzebul that I drive out demons. If I, then, drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your own people drive them out? Therefore, they will be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that I drive out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you. When a strong man fully armed guards his palace, his possessions are safe. But when one stronger than he attacks and overcomes him, he takes away the armor on which he relied and distributes the spoils. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. When an unclean spirit goes out of someone, it roams through arid regions searching for rest but, finding none, it says, ‘I shall return to my home from which I came.’ But upon returning, it finds it swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and brings back seven other spirits more wicked than itself who move in and dwell there, and the last condition of that man is worse than the first.” (Luke 11:15-26)

Reflection

When we understand today’s gospel correctly, we understand what is at the heart of Jesus’ mission.

Jesus was performing dramatic miracles and driving out demons, right before the very eyes of immense crowds, and yet so many of those eyes didn’t seem to see what was really happening. Some of the crowd accused him of being on Satan’s side, and others asked for more signs.

Jesus came into this world to defeat evil, to oppose all that is against God’s will. The devil in this scene represents the evil of the world, which Jesus intends to destroy.

The work of the devil is to divide and the main focus of Jesus’ work is to save us and sanctify us by bringing us into communion with God and in Him with others. 

 We remember from St. Mark’s Gospel the two essential aspects involved in life with Jesus: he calls us to be with him and to send us out. The devil wants to divide us from Jesus and prevent our going out as effective, ardent apostles. And he normally seeks to achieve both objectives by division, dividing us from genuine love of neighbor and thereby separating us from God.

Look at the world that surrounds us right now.

A world that has grown increasing polarized as a result of two world wars and never-ending wars between nation, various genocides and the cold war. As a result of a growing separation between north and south, between rich and poor, developed and developing, countries have become playgrounds for the evil which seeks to draw us away from living the words of Jesus Christ.

Our faith stands on the conviction that the cross and resurrection of Jesus has broken the back of the devil and has inaugurated the ultimate defeat of evil. But that defeat is not complete. Even though the devil’s back is broken, he continues to crawl along and spread evil in our world.

His final defeat will not occur until Jesus returns and destroys every evil forever. Until that day, our job is to take up Jesus’ mission, to fight with him against the evil that surrounds us, to undermine the power of evil in our world.

Augustine of Hippo said that our lives have a God-shaped void which only God can fill. If we attempt to leave it vacant or to fill it with something else which is not of God, we will end up being in a worse state in the end.
What do you fill the void in your life with? The Lord Jesus wants to fill our minds and hearts with the power of his life-giving word and healing love. Jesus makes it very clear that there are no neutral parties in this world. We are either for the Lord Jesus or against him, for the kingdom of God or against it. We cannot serve two kingdoms opposed to each another. There are ultimately only two universal kingdoms which stand in opposition to one another – the kingdom of God – his kingdom of light and truth – and the kingdom of darkness – which is opposed to God’s truth and justice and which is dominated by Satan’s lies and deception. If we disobey God’s word, we open to door to the power of sin and the deception of Satan in our personal lives.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, be the ruler of my heart and the master of my home. May there be nothing in my life that is not under your lordship.”

Daily Note

Sometimes we imagine that being a Christian is merely about knowing the prayers, singing the songs, coming to church, avoiding sin. These are all good things. But at the heart of discipleship is the commitment to join in Jesus’ mission, to take up arms against evil – wherever we find it.

Being a disciple of Jesus is taking up the battle against evil. It is more than avoiding sin. It is helping to create a new world. Following Christ is more than keeping ourselves pure. It is standing with Christ, facing the devil in the eye and saying, “Your power stops with me.”

Remembering The Times He Did Not Answer?

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Daily Reflection – 10/7/2021

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to his disciples: “Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,’ and he says in reply from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.’ I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence. And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” (Luke 11:5-13)

Reflection

We have all prayed to God for so many things. We have asked him for so many graces and favors; we have sought and knocked so often, but it seems that more often than not our petitions are ignored.

 Doesn’t it? Be honest.

So many problems, so much suffering, so many difficulties and failures, sins and sorrows—if God really is the Good Father who wants to give us more than we even know how to ask for, why is life such an unending flow of tears and tribulations?

If only we remember one thing, we will never get stuck in cynicism and discouragement. If only we remember what Jesus told Pilate just hours before he sacrificed his own life to redeem us from sin. Jesus told Pilate, “My Kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).

 The fulfillment he yearns to give us is much deeper than we realize, although he sometimes allows us to glimpse it even in earthly terms. Those are the times we believe our prayers are answered.

But it’s the act of prayer which is the true reward.

Prayer is more than a request. It is primarily a relationship.  We should ask for what we need.  But the clearest reason why we ask is because we understand that we are in a relationship with the God who loves us.  Just as in every other loving relationship, we are called to share our wants, our needs, and our hopes with the person who loves us.  So, the clearest truth about prayer is that it reminds us that we are related to a God who cares for us and leads us.

Even if our requests are not answered, two things always happen when we pray. 

The first is this: we remember who we are.  When we pray, we remember that we are not the center of the universe. That can be very helpful for many of us.  When we pray, we realize that God is the center of the universe, and that for all of our efforts and projects we need to trust God’s plan. We need to believe that God will bless us and direct our lives. 

The second thing that always happens when we pray is we grow more sensitive to God’s action in our life.  Because prayer reminds us that God is active, the person who prays sees life in a new way and is more attentive to the blessings and the graces that occur in our lives and in the lives of others.  So, every time we pray, we remember who we are and we grow more sensitive to God’s grace.

The sacred scriptures today remind us of the importance of prayer and ask us to pray more, to speak in our own words to God about our lives. God is more than a fact. There is no action more fundamental to faith than prayer.  So, we should not be afraid to ask.  Prayer is never wasted. Every time we pray, we remember who we are, that we are beloved daughters and sons of God.  And every time we pray, we grow more sensitive and attentive to the beauty and power of God’s action among us.

Prayer of The Day

“Heavenly Father, you are merciful, gracious and kind. May I never doubt your mercy and love nor hesitate to seek you with confident trust in order to obtain the gifts, graces, and daily provision I need to live as your beloved child and constant friend.”

Daily Note

God invites us to pray insistently not because he is unaware of our needs or because he is not listening to us. On the contrary, he is always listening and he knows everything about us lovingly.” But because we pray as we live and live as we pray, he wants to develop in us through prayer the type of perseverance we need to remain faithful in life.

The Words That Bind Us

Teach Us To Pray – God In All Things
Daily Reflection – 10/06/2021

Sacred Scripture

Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say:

Father, hallowed be your name,

your Kingdom come.

Give us each day our daily bread

and forgive us our sins

for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us

and do not subject us to the final test.” (Luke 11:1-4)

Reflection

The disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. They had been watching him. They had been traveling with him, seeing how he passed his time. Clearly, prayer was an anchor for the Lord. Clearly, the disciples recognized that their own life of prayer was not at the same level as Christ’s prayer. But they wanted to grow, to improve. They wanted their prayer life to be what it should be.

So, they asked the master to teach them.

He did in a simple prayer that encapsulated all that he was teaching. All that he wanted his disciples to be. if we take these words to our heart, we are led to a relationship. A relationship that marks our common bond as sons and daughters of God. And a relationship that binds us to the love of our father.

He began by putting an adjective on the word Father: “Our.” We don’t pray just for ourselves or alone. We pray for and with all of the others who are sons and daughters of that same Father, those who are our brothers and sisters.  We begin to look at each as the other really is, as a spiritual sibling, as a beloved fellow son or daughter of the same Father to whom with Jesus and Mary we turn. 

You and I. His children. All of us.

If we believe that and treasure that then the person who annoys me, the person whose politics are vastly different than mine, the person who has harmed us, all of them have one thing in common – they are our brothers and sisters. Worthy of his love and that means worthy of my love.

Jesus’ prayers were all to the Father, to whom he turned with great trust and love. In teaching us how to pray, Jesus was trying to form us to enter into his own divine filiation and to pray with loving confidence.

He told us in the Sermon on the Plain that if earthly parents aren’t sadists but know how to give good things to their children, so God the Father won’t give us a stone when we ask for bread, or a poisonous eel when we ask for fish, but will give himself — the Holy Spirit — no matter what we ask for.

Think about that. When we are going through a hard time, when we are facing the most severe testing of our life, when we are sitting by the side of a loved one and praying for recovery, our Father does and will answer us.

While we pray for a specific outcome, our Father answers us by giving of himself in the Holy Spirit. . . to give us strength to move through adversity, to give us peace in a time of turmoil, to comfort us in our tears. While humanity created the evil that surrounds us at these moments, our Father holds us close and whispers his love in our ears.

So many things strike us about this prayer, which is itself a revelation about what being a Christian really means. It shows that Christianity is eminently relational. Relational between us and Father and relational in our bond to one another.

The power of the Incarnation is a vibrant, ongoing restoration of relationships that sin has broken. Even our moral duties are presented by Our Lord in this prayer as relational: “for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us.”

Christianity is not a moral code. Christianity is not a one-time acceptance of a creed. Christianity is a friendship journey, with all the vibrancy and drama that come with a commitment to any meaningful relationship. If it ever starts to feel dry, boring, or predictable, we can be sure that we have strayed from its true path.

We just have to keep nourishing our desire to live more like Jesus, to learn from him, to discover in all the ups and downs of our daily life all the lessons he wants to teach us and all the graces he wants to give us. Then, when we are ready for the everlasting adventure of heaven, he will take us home.

Home to our Father.

Prayer of The Day

“Father in heaven, you have given me a mind to know you, a will to serve you, and a heart to love you. Give me today the grace and strength to embrace your holy will and fill my heart with your love that all my intentions and actions may be pleasing to you. Help me to be kind and forgiving towards my neighbor as you have been towards me.”

Daily Note

The prayer that comes to us from Jesus is truly unique; it is ‘of the Lord.’ On the one hand, in the words of this prayer the only Son gives us the words the Father gave him. He is the master of our prayer. On the other, as Word incarnate, he knows in his human heart the needs of his human brothers and sisters and reveals them to us.”

Fatigue of Our Hearts

JOY BIBLE - Home
Daily Reflection – 10/5/2021

Sacred Scripture

Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” The Lord said to her in reply, “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 10:38-42)

Reflection

We have all been where Martha is in today’s scripture. We all get so busy, doing “things”, that the things we do no longer bring us joy. We do them because they need to be done.

Jesus is not criticizing Martha for her actions. In fact, what she is doing is good and necessary. She is providing comfort and hospitality to Jesus. Jesus addresses Martha because he sees that although she is doing the right thing, it is not bringing her that subtle feeling of pleasure for working so hard.  Instead, her work is causing her worry and anxiety.

All of us have responsibilities like Martha, things we must do. We need to provide for our family. We must strive to be good parents. We have responsibilities at work. We need to make life decisions such as what will I do after high school or after college. All of these efforts require time and energy. They are necessary. But what the character of Martha asks us is this: Are our responsibilities lifting us, up or pulling us down?  When we do the things that we must do, do they give us satisfaction, or are they depleting us?

If they are depleting us, then we find ourselves in a state of spiritual exhaustion. The result of that is the people who need our love the most, the people to whom we are most committed end up getting the leftovers.

We are called to imitate Mary in choosing the better part and truly allowing Jesus to feed us as he desires to do. It’s not enough for us to know what our priority should be. We also have to choose it. It’s not enough just to know where the treasure is buried, we need to make the choice to sell off other things that own us so that we can buy the field. That means reorienting our life to make Jesus truly its center. To choose Jesus as the best part of all was Mary of Bethany’s great wisdom and we will be wiser the more we imitate her.

What Jesus is telling Martha and us is that if we wish to overcome fatigue, worry, and anxiety, the way to do this is by listening. We do not need to do less. We need to hear more. We do not ignore our responsibilities, but we choose to be present to the people who are most important in our lives.

At the end of a busy day, when our mind is filled with concern and anxiety, Jesus asks us to listen to someone who loves us: to ask our eight-year-old how was day camp; to speak to our teenager about a friend who’s been hospitalized; to ask our spouse what was the best part of the day. As we listen to the people who love us, we become grounded and our anxiety is reduced.  

If we listen, we will hear the voice of Christ, and that will remind us to whom we belong. That will give us peace, if we truly listen, then the work we do will give us life.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, to be in your presence is life and joy for me. Free me from needless concerns and preoccupations that I may give you my undivided love and attention.”

Daily Note

The voice of the Lord reaches out to us amid the noise of our self-absorption and invites us to release the tangle of worries that paralyzes our hearts: Only one thing is necessary: to stay close to the Lord, to listen to him, to trust in him, to do all things joyfully for him. We want to do good things. We want to fulfill the duties of our state in life. But as we engage in all our activity, we tend to lose sight of the real reason behind everything—simply to love God and love our neighbor. Whenever our loving work becomes a joyless burden, we need to do exactly what Martha did: burst in on Jesus, unburden our hearts, and listen carefully to whatever he has to say to us.

Love Is The Only Answer

Luke 10:25-37 — Sermon Books — Third Way Church
Daily Reflection – 10/4/2021

Sacred Scripture

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered right; do this, and you will live.” But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, `Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’  Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed mercy on him.” And Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10: 25-37)

Reflection

The parable of the Good Samaritan is well known to every Christian. So well known that the phrase itself has worked itself into the vernacular . . . if someone helps another in distress, the phrase Good Samaritan is often used.

So, you already know the story. Why bother to read on? Because too often we don’t stop long enough to ponder its meaning as well as its effect on us.

The answer lies in the fact that when we read this parable, we put ourselves in the role of the Samaritan. After all, Jesus did say “Go and DO likewise.”

But what if we were the victim – beaten and left by the side of the road to die? Look at it from this perspective with me.

As the victim, you and I would want a person full of love and compassion to stop and tend to us. We would probably pray that someone would come by. We would forever treasure that person and extol his/her virtues.

The fact is that someone already has. Someone has already come into our lives and promised to be there for us, forever compassionate and forever giving love.

This is what Jesus did to us, drawing close to us when we were dying, left in a ditch, mugged by the evil one, left for dead. He bound our wounds, carried us on his shoulders, poured his precious blood into us, brought us to the inn of the Church and promised to repay everyone who is kind to us at his second coming. And He wants us to follow him in loving like this.

Jesus not only taught God’s way of love, he also showed how far God was willing to go to share in our suffering and to restore us to wholeness of life and happiness.

His death brought us freedom from slavery to sin and the promise of everlasting life. He willingly shared in our suffering to bring us to the source of true healing and freedom from sin and oppression. True compassion not only empathizes with the one who is in pain, but takes that pain on oneself in order to bring freedom and restoration.

Jesus wants us to grasp that the most important thing we need to do, the greatest way we can serve him, is by loving God with all we’ve got and loving our neighbor, the concrete neighbor in need whom we encounter each day. Loving that neighbor in deeds is what he wants. Loving that neighbor even if we do not agree with him or her.

If we truly DID that, we would not be living in a world that is do indifferent, so divided, so at odds with one another.

We need to care, as God does. We need to love as God does.

The Kingdom of God that Jesus Christ came to establish is a Kingdom of Good Samaritans, in which we recognize we’re our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, and readily — not just out of duty but out of genuine, sincere neighborly love — tend to the wounds. If we were that, then being the victim would change. We would be surrounded by people who loved us and sought to help us.

The more we ponder Jesus’ own wounds in his sacred humanity, the more straightforward this becomes. When we ponder with faith and real love Jesus’ suffering, when we see his scourge marks, when we look at the nail marks and his bleeding head and bloody eyes, we become Veronicas and Simons of Cyrene.

Then we’re able to see Christ in the distressing disguise of those who likewise are beaten down by the world, who are hungry, thirsty, naked, a stranger, ill, imprisoned or otherwise in need (Mt 25:31-46). And we draw near to care for the One who drew near to care for us.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, may your love always be the foundation of my life. Free me from every fear and selfish-concern that I may freely give myself in loving service to others, even to the point of laying my life down for their sake.”

Daily Note

Jesus truly identified with our plight, and he took the burden of our sinful condition upon himself. He showed us the depths of God’s love and compassion, by sharing in our suffering and by offering his life as an atoning sacrifice for our sins upon the cross. His suffering is redemptive because it brings us healing and restoration and the fulness of eternal life. God offers us true freedom from every form of oppression, sin, and suffering. And that way is through the cross of Jesus Christ. Are you ready to embrace the cross of Christ, to suffer for his sake, and to lay down your life out of love for your neighbor?

Hardening of Our Faith Arteries?

Pin by David Duerksen on Verse Images | Bible apps, Listening to you,  Rejection
Daily Reflection – 10/1/2021

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to them, “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. And as for you, Capernaum, ‘Will you be exalted to heaven? You will go down to the netherworld.’ Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.” (Luke 10:13-16)

Reflection

Hardening of our arteries is the beginning of our leaving this world and passing over. We understand that.

But just as life threatening is when our faith leaves us or when we consistently turn away from the Lord.  Just as blood courses through our veins so does our faith. Our faith is a constant presence, a gift from God. We can’t ignore its role in our life, for it is life giving.

Jesus described the spiritual hardening of the arteries at the end of today’s scripture in terms of what happens to him and what will likewise happen to us. Either God’s word will be received or rejected.  “Whoever listens to you listens to me,” Jesus says. “Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”

Jesus is calling all of us to ponder whether we really listen to him or reject him, especially as he speaks to us through his emissaries, the apostles, and through other faith filled Christians.

This means that we are not only God’s disciples but God’s messengers. With our example, our deeds, and our words, Jesus is continuing to spread his Gospel in the world; he speaks through us. This is our core identity as Christians — disciples who are missionaries, followers of Christ who are also his messengers. But this also means that he continues to speak to us through our brothers and sisters in Christ.

He also has us recognize that one of the greatest gifts we give to others is the opportunity to receive Jesus through receiving us, which is why we go out to evangelize.

We can choose to follow God’s call when we hear it in the Gospels, in our conscience, through the compassionate acts of another, in the teachings of the Church—or not.

 We can choose to accept God’s invitation of mercy as often as he makes it–and he makes it unceasingly–or not. True, our freedom is not absolute. It is conditioned by many factors, but it is still present. And what we do with it, how we respond to the challenges, opportunities, and invitations that God sends or permits, determines the kind of person we will be.

In this sense, Christians are the ultimate existentialists: Our existence is a gift, and what we choose to do with that gift day after day determines whether our lives will end up being “meaning-full” or “meaning-less.” God invites us to be his partners in building up a Kingdom of infinite value, but he refuses to force us.

His heart is not indifferent to the indifference of the people he loves and wants to fill with his grace. We encounter this passionate heart of the Lord throughout the holy Scriptures. God is constantly intervening in the life of his people, constantly calling them to trust him and follow him. And even though they often do not or will not hear and heed him, he simply will not give up. He continues to speak out, to call, to invite. He cares. We matter to him—deeply! Let that sink in: I matter to Jesus; he cares deeply about me.

If we take that into our heart, if we embrace that love as he embraces us, each of us would find the words from our mouth change, the thoughts in our minds turn to the positive and that which is healthy, the actions of our lives becoming a beacon of light and hope for the Christ who so loves us.

Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, give me the child-like simplicity and purity of faith to gaze upon your face with joy and confidence in your all-merciful love. Remove every doubt, fear, and proud thought which would hinder me from receiving your word with trust and humble submission. Let me be an emissary of your love.”

Daily Note

Why does Jesus lament and issue a stern warning? The people who heard the Gospel here very likely responded with indifference. Jesus upbraids them for doing nothing! Repentance demands change – a change of heart and way of life. God’s word is life-giving and it saves us from destruction – the destruction of soul as well as body. Jesus’ anger is directed toward sin and everything which hinders us from doing the will of God and receiving his blessing. In love he calls us to walk in his way of truth and freedom, grace and mercy, justice and holiness. Do you receive his word with faith and submission or with doubt and indifference?

Preaching Without Words

His Word in Pictures: Matthew 9:37,38
Daily Reflection – 9/30/2021

Sacred Scripture

Jesus appointed seventy-two other disciples whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. He said to them, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way. Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this household.’ If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you, for the laborer deserves his payment. Do not move about from one house to another. Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, cure the sick in it and say to them, ‘The Kingdom of God is at hand for you.’ Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you, go out into the streets and say, ‘The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you.’ Yet know this: the Kingdom of God is at hand. I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day than for that town.” (Luke 10:1-12)

Reflection

For me, one of the most memorable quotes of men and women who have given their life for Christ was uttered by Francis of Assisi when he said: “Preach the gospel always and, if necessary, use words.”

The 72 disciples in today’s Gospel were sent out to do exactly that.

Jesus gave his disciples instructions on how they were to carry out their ministry. They must go and serve as people without guile, full of charity (selfless giving in love) and peace, and simplicity.

They must give their full attention to the proclamation of God’s kingdom and not be diverted by other lesser things.

They must travel light – only take what was essential and leave behind whatever would distract them – in order to concentrate on the task of speaking the word of the God.

They must do their work, not for what they can get out of it, but for what they can give freely to others, without expecting reward or payment. “Poverty of spirit” frees us from greed and preoccupation with possessions and makes ample room for God’s provision. The Lord Jesus wants his disciples to be dependent on him and not on themselves.

He gave them a message to carry. Jesus placed words on the lips of the 72 as he sent them out: He said that they were to wish their listeners “Peace” and to say that “the kingdom of God is at hand!” The two are intrinsically connected.

Jesus wanted them to be heralds of the joy that comes from peace and reconciliation with God, which has an enormous potential to attract others who are so obviously not at peace with God and others.

Why were the 72 so effective? Why was that message grow to be a predominant religion which would survive 13 waves aimed at snuffing it out?

Because they lived out the words of Christ. Isn’t that more effective than words?

When we preach the gospel, we do not show up with Jesus, as if we were delivering pizza. Our purpose is to identify in the lives of others the ways in which Jesus is already present to them. If we wish to be proclaimers of God’s word, we must be people of humility, realizing that Jesus is already there before we arrive.

Many of us have members of our family who do not practice the Christian faith. Maybe at one time they did, but do so no longer. How do we preach the gospel to them? Not by lecturing them where they should be on Sunday mornings. But rather by humbly making ourselves a part of their lives, celebrating with them their blessings, standing with them in their struggles. They know how much our faith means to us and our presence to them gives that faith credibility. Our love and acceptance of them is a proclamation of the kingdom of God.

Whenever someone in our life suffers from loss or pain, we have an opportunity to proclaim the gospel. When someone must cope with the loss of a loved one in death, the breakup of a marriage, or a serious illness, our compassion and our presence are signs that God is near. We do not need to wear our faith on our sleeve. Simple words such as “I am praying for you,” are more powerful than deep theological arguments.  They witness that God is close and that God cares.

When we see something that is wrong, an injustice in our workplace, bullying in our school, we have the chance to proclaim the gospel. We do this not by offering scripture quotations, but by standing with the person who is demeaned and insisting, “This is not right. This needs to change.” They will see in our commitment and courage the faith that motivates us, and they will hear that the kingdom of God is at hand.

We are called to spread the gospel. This means we must be people of faith and commitment. But it is the humble person who is most likely to succeed. A friend is more effective than a philosopher. A companion progresses more easily than a teacher. A servant moves hearts more deeply than an orator.

Let’s go preach the Gospel today and try not to use words.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, may the joy and truth of the Gospel transform my life that I may witness it to those around me. Grant that I may spread your truth and merciful love wherever I go.”

Daily Note

When you look at the spread of Christianity through the first centuries, it was precisely through two sources, charity and martyrdom. The charity was legendary: the new Christians were selling their property and laying the proceeds at the feet of the apostles to share with whoever in their new family of faith needed it. This was just one expression of their loving communion. The love that existed among them was so strong that people were busting down the doors of their house churches to enter, despite the fact that to be a Christian entailed in some places persecution and even death.

Let’s Talk About Angels

September 29 2021 Gospel Reading and Reflection: John 1:47-51
Daily Reflection – 9/29/2021

Sacred Scripture

Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him.” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” Jesus answered and said to him,
“Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (John 1:47-51)

Reflection

Today’s scripture is beautiful in so many ways.

We have this lovely story of Nathaniel and his new faith. It is very likely that Nathanial had been thinking about God “under his fig tree” and reflecting on God’s promise in the Scriptures to send a Messiah King who would free his people from sin and oppression and usher in God’s kingdom of righteousness and peace for the whole world.

Through the gift of revelation Nathanael recognized that Jesus was truly the Messiah, the everlasting “Son of God and King of Israel” (John 1:49). The Lord Jesus offered to Nathanael the greatest gift possible – the gift of friendship with God and free access to God’s throne in heaven.

We are presented with a beautiful imagery of Jesus. Jesus’ response to Nathanael’s new faith is the promise that Jesus himself will be the “ladder which unites earth with heaven.” Jesus proclaims that he is the fulfillment of the promise made to the Patriarch Jacob and his descendants. Jesus is the true ladder or stairway to heaven

Jesus’ death on the cross, where he defeated sin and won new life for us through his resurrection, opens the way for each of us to come into a new relationship with God as his adopted sons and daughters. The Lord Jesus opens the way for each one of us to “ascend to heaven” and to bring “heaven to earth” in the daily circumstances of our lives. God’s kingdom is present in those who seek him and who strive to do his will.

Finally, we are reminded of the gift of the angels and the role they play in our life. Angels are messengers of God’s presence to us, their actions in the bible portray God’s justice, love and protection.

The Scriptures tell us the angels are God’s servants and messengers. “They are the mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word” (Psalm 103:20). The angels belong to Christ and were created for and through him (Colossians 1:16). The Letter to the Hebrews speaks of the role of the angels in God’s plan of salvation: “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14).
God’s angels watch over us as his guardians. Throughout scripture, we are told that God’s protection is the quality which the angels most clearly portray. Psalm 91:11-12 tells us that God will “command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.” Jesus tells his disciples “Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven” (Matthew 18:10).

Angels are messengers of God’s presence. They are not intended to be an object of fascination in themselves but a reflection back to the love of the One who sends them. If angels do not lead us to a deeper commitment in our relationship with God, they have failed utterly in their mission. But they never fail, only we do.

This scripture is all about His love for us manifested in so many ways. How blessed are we to be his children and to be surrounded by his angels as our protectors and guides.

Prayer of The Day

“Heavenly Father, through your Son Jesus Christ, you have opened the way to heaven for us. As you revealed yourself to your beloved patriarchs and apostles, so reveal yourself to me that I may recognize your presence with me and know the power of your kingdom at work in my life. May I always find joy in your presence and never lose sight of your kingdom.”

Daily Note

The angels are not only messengers but protectors and guardians as well. “For he will give his angels charge of you to guard you in all your ways” (Psalm 91:11). We are not alone in our struggle against sin and evil in the world. The armies of heaven fight for us and with us in the spiritual battle for our hearts, minds, and wills. Do you know the peace and security of a life submitted to God and to his way of peace and happiness?

The Lesson Staring At Us Each Day

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Daily Reflection – 9/27/2021

Sacred Scripture

And an argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest. But when Jesus perceived the thought of their hearts, he took a child and put him by his side, and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me; for he who is least among you all is the one who is great.” John answered, “Master, we saw a man casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he does not follow with us.” But Jesus said to him, “Do not forbid him; for he that is not against you is for you.” (Luke 9: 46-50)

Reflection

What can a little child possibly teach us about greatness? Children in the ancient world had no rights, position, or privileges of their own. They were socially at the “bottom of the rung” and at the service of their parents, much like the household staff and domestic servants.

What is the significance of Jesus’ gesture? Jesus elevated a little child in the presence of his disciples by placing the child in a privileged position of honor at his right side. Who is the greatest in God’s kingdom?

The one who is humble and lowly of heart – who instead of asserting their rights willingly empty themselves of pride and self-seeking glory by taking the lowly position of a servant or child.

Jesus never says to us merely “Do what I say,” but always, “Come, follow me!” He sets the example for us to follow.

For us to become great, we first need to exercise our divine filiation to the full, allow Jesus to receive us as children, and then, learning from Jesus’ love for us, similarly extend that same, loving, often unrequited gift of self to all those children of God sent to us.

It is meant to characterize the Church as a whole and it’s therefore meant to radiate in every believer. It’s essential to the very definition of the culture of life. The culture of life is one in which we receive others in the name of God as we would receive Jesus himself. And that welcoming of course extends not just to children at the beginning of life, but God’s children at all stages.

Jesus mentions little children because little children cannot repay us. We are good to them not out of some quid pro quo but out of sacrificial love. Jesus’ lesson today is that the Church, and believers, become great through humbly and lovingly receiving others and is reduced whenever we reject with hardened heart.

It forces us to see the overlooked in our lives.  You know who the overlooked are: the poor, the needy, the troubled, the non-persons who suffer because they have value in the eyes of so few.  But the overlooked are also the people who tried to love us and we did not love in return, the people who cried out to us and we did not hear, and every person we did not treat with the value that they deserved.

We should remember to include ourselves in their number.  Because everyone of us here has some part of our lives that we have overlooked.  There is some flaw that we were not willing to face, some fear that we will not deal with. Not dealing with those parts of ourselves is disastrous. None of us can become the person that God wants us to be unless we are willing to admit that there are flaws and faults in our life that we have overlooked.  If we had a second time around, would we not pray to see the people we have overlooked and the flaws in our own life that we were unwilling to face?

All of this requires a humble heart. The selfish ego withers when we walk the love of Christ.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, your grace knows no bounds. You give freely to the humble of heart and you grant us freedom to love and serve others selflessly. May my love for you express itself in an eagerness to do good for others”.

Daily Note

If Christ were to ask what do you want me to strengthen in your daily life, the majority of us would answer that we want to see and live out the primacy of relationships in my life.  I want to see the people I overlooked and the flaws in my own life I cannot face.  I want to see the hints of your presence in my daily routine.  If you make that request, do not be surprised if Christ will hear you.  Do not be surprised if Jesus grants your prayer.  For that is the good news.  The promise of the gospel is that the second time around can begin today.

Is Today The Day When You Will Step Forward?

What Does Luke 9:20 Mean?
Daily Reflection – 9/24/2021

Sacred Scripture

Once when Jesus was praying in solitude, and the disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They said in reply, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, ‘One of the ancient prophets has arisen.’” Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said in reply, “The Messiah of God.” He rebuked them and directed them not to tell this to anyone. He said, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.”(Luke 9:18-22)

Reflection

Today’s scripture contains a profound question for you and me.

Who do you say that I am?

Even adult Christians who believed as little children at some point must face the question directly, “Who is Jesus for me?” Otherwise, he or she runs the risk of reducing Jesus to a theory, a religion, or a tradition—ultimately void of meaning.

However, if someone is willing to open up to Jesus with sincere and persistent prayer and study, he or she, like Peter, will recognize in Jesus “the Messiah of God.” Essential to such a search is the realization that it is not principally finding the truth as much as it is encountering a person. Mature faith is born from meeting Jesus Christ.

Once we recognize Jesus as the Messiah, the very Son of God, neutrality is no longer an option. We must either bend the knee or reject him. To bend the knee means to adore and to obey him. Our worship of Jesus brings us grace and gradually forms our hearts and minds to be more like his (Galatians 4:19).

 His words and his example become the criteria by which we act. “What would Jesus do?” should not be a cliché. It is also in living with Jesus and like Jesus that others will discover him through us. St. Paul writes, “yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).

Jesus announced the type of Messiah he would be in the fullness of time: a Messiah who would suffer and die in order to bring us salvation, a Messiah who would summon us to be co-redeemers with him precisely through entering into his suffering, his death, and his resurrection.

This is the Messiah we are called in every time and in eternity to confess.

 In his Passion, we have a shift from death to life, from darkness to light, from sin to salvation, but one that is not cyclical but ultimately linear. There is a time to die but also a time to rise and the advantage that comes from all this toil is eternal reward.

This happens, as the Psalmist said, when we build our life on God as our rock, mercy, fortress, stronghold, deliverer and trustworthy shield. Even though man’s life is like a breadth and his days on earth like a passing shadow, the Lord notices him and takes thought of him, and comes to make his days not a passing shadow but an eternal life.

There is indeed “an appointed time for everything,” but in birth and death, planting and uprooting, weeping and laughing, rending and sowing, silence and speech, God’s grace is given to unite those moments to God so that they may all enhance the way we build our life on God as a stable, secure Rock and thereby confess him to be the long-awaited Messiah and Savior, the “same yesterday, today and forever.”

When we do that and allow that belief to guide all of our thoughts and actions then we can become the co-redeemer he wants. Co-redeemers. That is the mission to which you and I are called.

Isn’t it time for you and me to accept that, live that and be a light to the world?

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

If we want to share in the victory of the Lord Jesus, then we must also take up our cross and follow where he leads us. What is the “cross” that you and I must take up each day? When my will crosses (does not align) with God’s will, then his will must be done, To know Jesus Christ is to know the power of his victory on the cross where he defeated sin and conquered death through his resurrection. The Holy Spirit gives each of us the gifts and strength we need to live as sons and daughters of God. The Holy Spirit gives us faith to know the Lord Jesus personally as our Redeemer, and the power to live the Gospel faithfully, and the courage to witness to others the joy, truth, and freedom of the Gospel. Who do you say that Jesus is?