So, Let’s Talk About The Authenticity of Calling Ourselves Christian

Matthew 12 Jesus Is Lord of the Sabbath - Believe Trust
Daily Reflection – 7/16/2021

Sacred Scripture

At that time Jesus was going through a field of grain on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “See, your disciples are doing what is unlawful to do on the Sabbath.” He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry, how he went into the house of God and ate the bread of offering, which neither he nor his companions but only the priests could lawfully eat? Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests serving in the temple violate the Sabbath and are innocent? I say to you, something greater than the temple is here. If you knew what this meant, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned these innocent men. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”( Matthew 12:1-8)

Reflection

The older I grow, the more I realize how some things never really do change.

Today’s Gospel is a classic reminder of the call of Jesus – not sacrifice but mercy. It is particularly relevant in this decade.

Let’s review the context surrounding the words of this Gospel.

After the Babylonian Captivity the Jews realized — accurately — that the reason for their exile was because they had been unfaithful to God’s law, and in an excess of precaution began to become so obsessed about the little details of the law that they missed the forest for the trees.,

They determined in minutiae what would be the minimalist form of work and invented rules that many Jews began to take as seriously as the commandments.

Rather than the Sabbath being viewed as a gift of God giving us a chance to set the reset button in our relationship with him and others, rather than a day of love and freedom, it became a day of a more intense form of slavery. That’s one of the most important things that Jesus came to fix.

“It is mercy I desire, not sacrifice.” This is not the first time he’s said those words. We remember that after Jesus called St. Matthew to conversion and the former tax collector threw a party for all of his fellow sinners to encounter Jesus, the Pharisees complained that Jesus was associating with sinners.

Jesus replied that he had come to call sinners, not the self-righteous, and that it is the sick who need a doctor not those who think they’re fine. Then he said, referring to the prophet Hosea, “Go and learn the meaning of the phrase, “It is mercy I desire, not sacrifice.”

 Mercy is so much more valuable than the sacrifice of animals, because God is merciful and wants us, in receiving his mercy, to share it. Jesus was stressing that his critics had no mercy whatsoever toward the “innocent men” who had become his followers.

In repeating that phrase today, Jesus shows just how central it is for what he teaches and enfleshes: everything God does in his relationship with us can be summarized as an expression of his merciful love, and he so wants to transform us that we can become merciful like he is merciful.

The issue of authenticity in our lives is central to the teachings of Jesus Christ.

 In the United States today, we witness a country deeply divided. Polemics are the rule rather than politeness. Truthfulness takes a back seat to tartness of speech. More often than not, distortions of the truth are used to make a point. Anger, spiteful speech, threats of violence, in one form or another are more prevalent. The sadness is that many people who claim to be followers of Christ do this every day.

How can angry speech, exclusion of others, families torn apart by politics, ever be justified by a Christian? Dress it up any way you want, it is not Christ like!

If any one of us bears malice in our hearts, Jesus reminds us that before we come together in Church to worship Him, we first go to the person whom we have banished from our hearts and mend that relationship.

I wonder how full our churches would be if that command from Christ were followed on any Sunday. I wonder how many ministers, priests and rabbis would be there to teach the word of God if that command were followed on any Sunday.

Jesus is calling us to something that no law can demand. He is calling us to live our lives with hearts filled with justice, mercy, love and authenticity.

Prayer of The Day

Lord, make us to walk in your way: Where there is love and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance; where there is patience and humility, there is neither anger nor annoyance; where there is poverty and joy, there is neither greed nor avarice; where there is peace and contemplation, there is neither care nor restlessness; where there is the fear of God to guard the dwelling, there no enemy can enter; where there is mercy and prudence, there is neither excess nor harshness; this we know through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (Prayer of Francis of Assisi, 1182-1226)

Daily Note

You and I are challenged by the words of Jesus. We cannot be content merely to follow minimal requirements. We might be able to say, “You know, I never killed anyone.” But do we bear anger in our heart against people who are different or who disagree with us or who have hurt us? Jesus is asking us to let that anger go. We might be able to say, “I never committed adultery.” But what is our commitment to our marriage? Do we try to understand our spouse? Do we compromise? Are we willing to seek counseling when communication breaks down? These are the deeper values to which Jesus calls us. We might be able to say, “I never bore false witness against anyone.” But do we speak out when someone’s character is demeaned in our presence? Do we remain silent when a family member or friend makes a decision that is disastrous to him or herself or to others?

The Most Tender Words

Matthew 11:28-30 | Matthew 11:28-30, Bible promises, Life verses
Daily Reflection – 7/15/2021

Sacred Scripture

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”( Matthew 11:28-30)

Reflection

Each of us can remember words from scripture that touch our hearts. Each of us can remembers words from scripture that make us pause and reflect on them.

Today’s scripture passage ranks among the most memorable and the most tender. They also contain an invitation that could change our lives.

The invitation is to be yoked with Christ. Let’s review that since yoke is not the most widely used words in our vocabulary.

To be yoked with Jesus is to be united with him in a relationship of love, trust, and obedience. When we can do that Jesus promises to carry our burdens with us and gives us his strength to move on and to follow in his way of love.

We have all been at points in our life when we are confronted with a situation that either makes us feel terribly alone, or causes us overwhelming grief, or so consumes us that we obsess over it and lose our focus.

When we are tortured by fear and discouragement, we struggle to even recognize the presence of God when He does manifest himself to us.

Those times, especially, are when Jesus invites us to feel the strength of his arms and to turn to the strength of His love for us,

He knows all of our weakness and knows that sometimes the little strength we have can fail us. So, He invites us to offload all our problems on Him and in return He will give us His yoke, which is good to bear and light. Jesus tells us that in Him we will find rest when we go on our knees and pray.

The yoke that Jesus in giving us, is that of humility and meekness. Jesus is saying that we always feel burdened and troubled because we lack humility and meekness. He tells us to be humble and meek, just like Him and we will find rest. What’s that about? It’s all about recognizing our need for Him. To be as humble as a child who runs to His parents when he or she is afraid, bruised or concerned.

The way we are going to be able to learn how to grow more deeply in “spiritual childhood” is precisely through our labors and burdens, through our hardships and sacrifices. Jesus gives us this invitation to enter as children more and more deeply into God’s revelation precisely through all that we’re going through, through all the various obstacles and challenges. He says if we do, he will give us “rest,” he will “refresh” us, he will remake us. He will give us the strength to move through a situation. As we do that, we learn more about ourselves. In time, we even learn that the perils of our life have strengthened us. By acknowledging our need for Him — by turning to Him to walk with us — by trusting that He will listen to us –, by acknowledging our dependence on Him – all of those and more give us a greater insight into ourselves, our awareness, our ability to face the future.

Rather than ever let life drive us to our knees and make us despair, instead we go on your knees, with a humble and contrite heart and tell Jesus all your problems.

Jesus Christ will never let us down when we seek His help. We may not see His help, we may not be aware of what He is doing but we know with the certainty of our Christian faith, that He is there.

That is why we take our burdens to Jesus Christ and that is where we find rest.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus Christ, we bring our burdens to You because it is only in You that we can find rest. Give us Your yoke which is good to bear and is light. May You forever sustain in us humility and strength us in your love.”

Daily Note

The way we learn from Jesus is not in a classroom seated on a chair. It’s by being yoked in this loving bond with Jesus. And when we are living in that union, then we not only learn “from” Jesus, but, as the Greek of St. Matthew’s Gospel says more literally, we learn Jesus. He tells us to “learn me.” We learn his humility, which is the capacity to see ourselves as we really are before God and others and how much we need God. We learn his meekness, which is the self-disciplined tameness that allows us calmly to find our strength in Him. We’ve got so much to learn from him, but we first must come, take on his yoke, uniting ourselves to him and then we will learn from him all we need.

Through The Eyes of A Child

É no abraço que Deus cura.” – Busco A Luz
Daily Reflection – 7/14/2021

Sacred Scripture

At that time Jesus said in reply, “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.” (Matthew 11:25-27)

Reflection

Today’s Scripture always evokes a smile from me because it continually reminds me that the more I enter into a filial relationship with God the Father, the closer I will be drawn to Him.

To do that, I am also reminded that we have been given the gift of Jesus Christ. In Jesus we see the perfect love of God – a God who cares intensely and who yearns over men and women, loving them to the point of laying down his life for them upon the Cross. Jesus is the perfect revelation of God – a God who loves us completely, unconditionally, and perfectly.

But we forget that sometimes, don’t we?

We need to remember that we can’t get to know the Father as Father unless we see ourselves not just as children, but his children. Doing that only requires that we be open like children, we need to be receptive and trusting, we need to learn from Jesus, who is the revelation of how to relate to the Father as a beloved Son.

So let’s stay on that thought and relate it to our life. Whenever we give life to anyone, we can do things that others cannot do and that others cannot understand.  Whenever we give life to another person, we are connected to that person forever.  However, it is done, whenever life is given, connections are formed and those connections are essential for us.  Because when life is given and connections are formed, two things invariably emerge: worth and sacrifice.

It is only when we give life to one another that we really understand our own worth.  It is in the process of being connected to others that we see who we are and what our true value is.  When we are connected, our life has meaning

Connections also lead us to sacrifice.  If we are connected to others, we feel their pain.  When others to whom we are connected make bad decisions or are in danger, we suffer with them.  Because once we begin to love someone, it is only a matter of time before we suffer with them.  Once we are connected to someone, we will, in time, also be hurt.  Whenever we give life to someone, we must be willing to lay down our life time and again.  Both worth and sacrifice flow from the connections that support us, the connections that come from life that is shared.  This is nothing new.  It is our experience.  It is simply the way things are.

The good news found in this scripture is this: this giving of life that leads to a connection out of which worth and sacrifice flow, is not limited simply to us.  It also applies to God.  God is the one who gave us life and so God is bound to us by bonds that cannot be broken.  Just as the Good Shepherd cares for the sheep and is willing to lay down his life for the sheep; God cares for us and is willing to do all that is necessary to help us.  Because of this, we should never doubt our value in God’s eyes.  Because of this we should never think that God has forgotten us, no matter how difficult our life becomes.  God has given life to us and like a mother, can never stop caring for us, can never fail to save us.

We can doubt our own value but we should never doubt that God cares for us. .  Others can look at us and see us as expendable or worthless.  They can point to us and ask God, “How could you love these people?  They are so selfish, so judgmental, so wounded.  How could you care for them?  How could you be willing to lay down your life for them?  We could never do it.”  But to that question, God would simply shrug and say, “They are not your children.”

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.

Daily Note

Jesus is the icon of the Father and also speaks not only of the Father but also what he hears the Father saying. His whole mission on earth was to help us establish this loving bond with the Father, teaching us by his example and explicit instructions to pray, “Our Father.” And the way we enter into that relationship with the Father is not just through spiritual childhood but entering into Jesus’ spiritual childhood. Jesus joyfully exclaims in prayer, “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will!”

The Power To Change Our Lives

Matthew 11:28 NLT – LAUNCHING GROUND
Daily Reflection – 7/13/2021

Sacred Scripture

Then he began to reproach the towns where most of his mighty deeds had been done, since they had not repented. “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 in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. And as for you, Capernaum: Will you be exalted to heaven? You will go down to the netherworld. For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”( Matthew 11:20-24)

Reflection

Today Jesus preaches about three different places — Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum — that ultimately were unwelcoming to Jesus. On the surface, these were places that very much seemed to embrace Jesus.

But they had given welcome only to those parts of what Jesus was doing that had fit into their own categories. They weren’t really welcoming his message and mission. They weren’t really open to change. They had heard his words calling them to conversion, to a new way of life, to follow him in big things and in small, to love him more than they loved their parents or children or even life, and they responded not with open hearts but hardened ones.

There is some of us in that.

Too often, we use our ears to listen rather than our hearts. Our ears are made to filter out harmful bacteria. But our minds often use them to hear only what we want to hear.

But loving God and being open to His presence in our lives means that we yield our hearts to Him. That is where the awesome power of God begins.

When you and I look at our lives, we see many things we would like to change. We would like to believe more deeply, forgive more easily, love with fewer conditions. But when we try to move in that positive direction, we often fall short. Despite our best intentions and honest efforts, we remain stuck in our flaws. Like the house of Israel, we are helpless and hopeless. This is why it is crucial for us to believe that God can change us, that God is able to alter the terms of our relationship, that God can make us new.

We believe in God, but when it comes to changing ourselves, we try to do it ourselves. We think that our strategy and efforts can break a habit of sin or make us more generous people. But that is seldom the case. What we need is not different plans or more willpower. What we need is a new relationship. The good news is that that is exactly what God wants to give us.

We enter into that new relationship when we entrust ourselves to God, when we admit our weakness and inability to change, and ask God to transform us. When we say Lord, “I have been so hurt by that person that I cannot bend to forgive. I need you to bend me, so that I can let go of this hate. Lord, I have put such high expectations on my spouse and my children, that they are harming my relationships. I need you to loosen my expectations, so I can love the people in my life as they are, rather than how I want them to be. Lord, I am so quick to judge others because of their race, sexual orientation, or political viewpoint, and that fills me with anger. Lord, I need you to quiet those prejudices, so that I can live in peace again.”

When we are helpless and hopeless, God promises to change us. God promises to write, in a new way, on our hearts. Now, then, is the time to open our hearts, and let God in, so that we can become the people we are called to be.

Prayer of The Day

“Most High and glorious God, enlighten the darkness of our hearts and give us a true faith, a certain hope and a perfect love. Give us a sense of the divine and knowledge of yourself, so that we may do everything in fulfillment of your holy will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Prayer of Francis of Assisi, 1182-1226)”

Daily Note

God believes that there is a goodness in us. God believes that with the right amount of time that goodness can emerge and we see that the sins that we cling to do not belong in our hands. God is waiting, waiting for us to see. How often do we say ” I should have” or ” If only I could”. Those are all words of regression which keep us chained to the past, which bind us more tightly to our wounds. There is a better path. A path that leads us to change. A path that leads us to Him. Can you accept that?

Commitment With A Capital “C”

Matthew 10:34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not  to send peace, but a sword. | Matthew 15, Matthew 10 34, Peace on earth
Daily Reflection – 7/12/2021

Sacred Scripture

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s foes will be those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it. “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me. He who receives a prophet because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward, and he who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.” And when Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities. (Matthew 10: 34 – 11:1)

Reflection

Today’s Gospel spells out that which is expected of us in our relationship with God.

But it’s not about disliking our parents or arguing with a relative. It IS about the nature of commitment and priority.

The battle Jesus had in mind was not an earthly conflict between individuals and nations, but a spiritual warfare between the forces of Satan and the armies of heaven. Jesus came to wage war against the spiritual powers of this world that turn the minds and hearts of people away from God and his kingdom of joy, peace, and goodness.

The Scriptures make clear that there are ultimately only two kingdoms or powers and that they stand in opposition to one another – God’s kingdom of light and Satan’s kingdom of darkness. John the Apostle contrasts these two opposing kingdoms in the starkest of terms: We know that we are of God, and the whole world is in the power of the evil one (1 John 5:19).

The Scriptures describe the “world” as that society of people who are opposed to God and his kingdom of righteousness, truth, and goodness. Jesus came to overthrow Satan’s power and to set us free from everything that would hold us back from knowing, loving, and serving God who has loved each one of us with boundless mercy, compassion, and goodness.

God must take first place in our lives.

When Jesus said that “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me”: we start getting an inkling of the type of sword our Lord is wielding. He is giving us a criterion that starts from heaven downward because he is trying to lift us from the earth upward. What natural relationship is closer than the one between a parent and child, especially a mother and child? Yet even this bond must be subordinate to the love we have for God.

Why? Well, no creature, not even our parents, can bring us to the fullness of life and happiness that comes only from God. God wants us to love him, not because he needs our love but because we need him. He is objective reality, and we must always move from the subjective to the objective if we are to possess the truth. Jesus invites us to adapt our standards from the merely natural and passing to the supernatural and everlasting.

“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” This is a means by which we can become more united with Christ, the pearl of great price, because we might not appreciate him unless we have to choose him over all of the other good and beautiful pearls in our collection combined.

And that will also be perhaps the greatest preaching of the Gospel, that Jesus is someone worth that choice, and when we make it, he gives us a far greater joy than all of the beautiful human joys that we might have to relativize. That’s the mystery of rejection he talks about and how our faith in the midst of rejection might in and of itself be a form of the proclamation of the Gospel.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, give me the wisdom and courage I need to accept all You have revealed. Help me to love You above all things and to accept whatever the consequences are of me following You. Jesus, I trust in You.”

Daily Note

The Truth of the Gospel has the power to deeply unite us to God when we fully accept it as the Word of Truth. But another effect is that it divides us from those who refuse to be united to God in the Truth. Jesus offers this passage to strengthen us when this happens. If division happens as a result of our sin, shame on us. If it happens as a result of the Truth (as offered in mercy), then we should accept it as a result of the Gospel. Jesus was rejected and we should not be surprised if that happens to us, too.

Reflect, today, upon how fully you are ready and willing to accept the full Truth of the Gospel no matter the consequences. The full Truth will set you free and will also, at times, reveal the division present between you and those who have rejected God.

You Want Me To Do What?

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Daily Reflection – 7/8/2021

Sacred Scripture

“As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give. Do not take gold or silver or copper for your belts; no sack for the journey, or a second tunic, or sandals, or walking stick. The laborer deserves his keep. Whatever town or village you enter, look for a worthy person in it, and stay there until you leave. As you enter a house, wish it peace. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; if not, let your peace return to you. Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words—go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet. Amen, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.” (Matthew 10: 7-15)

Reflection

Today in the Gospel, Jesus sends the apostles on their first missionary journey

He was preparing them — and through them, us — to take his mercy to the ends of the earth. In this first expedition of evangelization, Jesus didn’t give them a lengthy message, just five words in St. Matthew’s Greek, and seven in our English translation: “The Kingdom of heaven is at hand!”

He then reminds them that which they have received must now be passed on to others without expecting a favor in return, whether it be in the form of a gift or payment. hey must give their full attention to the proclamation of God’s kingdom and not be diverted by other lesser things.

So far, most people get that. They nod their heads in agreement. But when pressed about the “requirement” that we help prepare the way and evangelize, the head nodding stops. We have all heard the multitude of excuses including “but that’s not who I am, I can’t go out and evangelize.”

The fact is that in preparing for the kingdom being at hand, it’s the process of becoming a disciple that is empowering and helps each of us evangelize.

Being a disciple of Jesus does not mean that we have achieved perfection.  It means we are making progress.  And the progress we make need not be earth-shattering.  It can occur in small steps. 

To be a disciple we do not have to reach a state where we can claim that we never lose our patience.  We only need to be more patient than we were last year.  To follow Jesus we do not have to achieve a generosity and simplicity to rival Francis of Assisi.  We only need to be more generous than we used to be.  In following Christ’s example, we do not need to possess a perfect love which never judges another or speaks and unkind word.  We only need to have a love which is growing rather than shrinking, expanding rather than turning inward.

Realistically, a disciple is one who is making progress.  And it would be wise to set our goals accordingly.  So do not say, “I will never lose my temper again.”  Just try to be patient with your spouse, with your children, with your parents for one day, for a half a day, for a few hours.  That would be a step in the right direction.  Do not say, “I will never judge another person or close my mind to a new idea.”  Just single out one occasion in which you truly try to listen, in which you take in the truth that another is trying to offer you.  That would be genuine growth.  Do not say, “I will be totally selfless and only think of others.”  Just find one person in need or trouble and put yourself out so the he or she might know that someone cares.  That would be a single grain of wheat falling to the ground and bearing fruit.

Being a disciple means that we are making progress.  You do not have to be the best parent in the world.  You only need to be a better parent in your own home.  You do not have to be the most generous person in the United States.  You only need to be someone more inclined to show interest in the elderly neighbor who requires your help.  You do not need to be the holiest person in your neighborhood.  You only need to take a step closer to becoming the person God calls you to be.

The reality is that people respond to witness far more than words. It’s through seeing our generosity that others will come to the source of all munificence. It’s through witnessing our trust in God’s providence that others will be opened to see how ever-reliable God is. It’s through our own peacemaking that others will begin to discern the Prince of Peace. It’s through the way we love each other, the way we forgive each other, the way we show the joy of mercy received and given, that others are able to come to the know God.

There, now, that wasn’t so hard, was it? When we take the steps to a lifetime of walking little steps closer to him, we have become the best evangelists of all.

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 your light wherever I go.”

Daily Note

When God gives us his word there comes with it the great responsibility to respond. Indifference will not do. We are either for or against God in how we respond to his word. God gives us his word that we may have life – abundant life in him. He wills to work in and through each of us for his glory. God shares his word with us and he commissions us to speak it boldly and simply to others. Do you witness the truth and joy of the Gospel by word and example to those around you?

Your Role In Triage

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Daily Reflection – 7/7/2021

Keepers Of The Tabernacle

Faith Series

Sacred Scripture

Then he summoned his Twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness. The names of the Twelve Apostles are these: first, Simon called Peter, and his brother Andrew; James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew, Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddeus; Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him. Jesus sent out these twelve after instructing them thus, “Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town. Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” (Matthew:10:1-7)

Reflection

Can you just imagine how the chosen 12 reacted after receiving this Great Commission? First, their lives were transformed. They went from being a disciple of Christ (learners) to being Apostles (evangelists for Christ’s message),

Christ chose these 12 as Apostles, not for what they were, but for what they would be capable of becoming under his direction and power. The world they were commissioned to serve was as tumultuous, as fractured and as topsy turvy as the world that faces us every day.

Guess what? The world we have inhabited needs us involved in His Kingdom just as the Apostles did. We are ordinary people who believe in the Word and do our best to live the Word.

The very best primer on living the Word is to look at the Beatitudes to see how God sees.

God sees as blessed those who are poor. God sees as valuable those who mourn, those who are lonely, those who are persecuted. The Beatitudes reveal that God is committed to those who are in need and those who suffer. It is because God is present to them, they are blessed. 

The Beatitudes do not say that it is a blessed or wonderful thing to be poor, or to be grieving, or to be persecuted. They do assert that whenever any of these distressful things happen to us, God comes to us. God is attracted to us because God knows our needs.

The challenge for us today is to stand in our faith that our God is recreating the world and calling us to participate. We are called to believe that God through Christ is establishing the kingdom. How Christ is going to lead us into that kingdom is not entirely clear. But this much is clear: If we are going to follow Christ, we have to begin by claiming his vision—we to see the world as God sees it.

It would be a world where peace triumphs over war, where people are liberated rather than exploited, where there is compassion and mercy for everyone. It would be a world that shuns violence and cares for the vulnerable first, a world of generosity over greed, a world of humility over arrogance, a world that embraces rather than excludes, a world where truth prevails over lies—the world as God sees it

In that vision lies our role. We need to be the nurses of the Divine Physician healing the wounds of those today. The Church is a field hospital in battle, it’s a trauma unit, and so many are wounded physically, emotionally, relationally, spiritually. We’re sent out as his apostles to try to care for people in their illnesses and to let Jesus and his healing into their lives, remembering that Jesus never healed just for healing’s sake, but to bring people to the deepest type of healing of all, spiritual healing by faith.

There it all is. You and I are called to triage in today’s world. Every small step we take to heal, to put on a band aid, to offer comfort and hope, to love in spite of another’s differences, to dry the tears of another, to offer our arms as an emotional sanctuary are all steps to building His kingdom.

What a great way to live our lives. I might even sign up for taking extra shifts!

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, you have chosen me to be your disciple. Take and use what I can offer, however meager it may seem, for the greater glory of your name.”

Daily Note

Those who follow Jesus must be people of hope because God cares for us in our need. We must also be people of solidarity, solidarity with the poor and oppressed. If God is close to those who struggle, if God is close to those who are persecuted or in need, we must act towards them in the same way. We cannot worship God and ignore those for whom God cares. We must as followers of Jesus be people who are committed to eliminating poverty and injustice and oppression because those are the very things that our God is also committed to eliminate.

Working for Faith or Is Faith Working?

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Daily Reflection – 7/6/202

Sacred Scripture

As they were going out, a demoniac who could not speak was brought to him, and when the demon was driven out the mute person spoke. The crowds were amazed and said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.” But the Pharisees said, “He drives out demons by the prince of demons.” Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness. At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” (Matthew 9: 32-38)

Reflection

What a tender and poignant Gospel.

Matthew tells us Jesus’ heart exploded with pity for the crowds because they were like abandoned sheep without a shepherd. And so, he turned to his disciples and told them, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so, ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.”

 Jesus had already spent days teaching these hungry crowds in their synagogues, curing every disease and illness and casting out demons. There was a need for urgent need for hardworking collaborators. He knew there would also be a pressing demand for such coworkers whose hearts likewise would be so moved with mercy that they would follow Jesus in caring for the vast crowds. And so, Jesus gave an imperative with no expiration date.

That imperative exists more than 2,021 years and it is directed at you and me. That imperative tells us to step out in faith and help those who, for one reason or another, are in need of love, understanding, forgiveness, loneliness and on and on.

We are to be the presence of God to others. At the heart of the gospel today is the conviction that our God is not absent, is not idle, but active. Through the resurrection of Jesus, God is working to establish a kingdom, a kingdom of justice, of peace and of love. We believe that that kingdom is being established through God’s power and through our cooperation.

Believers are always on the look-out to see signs of that kingdom, signs of God’s presence in our world. Because Christians are looking for those signs, their lives are characterized by joy and hope.

Christians are a joyful people because each time that we see a sign of God’s presence, we rejoice. Each time medical science takes another step towards conquering a terrible disease, we rejoice because we recognize that it is God’s action and power directing that development. Each time warring nations put down their arms and establish peace, we celebrate because we see that action as one step closer to God’s kingdom. Every time that we survive a difficult period in our marriage, recognize a family member has moved towards reconciliation, or learn that our child or our grandchild is born healthy and safe, we celebrate. We see in all of these events the signs of God establishing the kingdom.

We are also people of hope, because when evil strikes, we do not give up. When innocent children die of a terrible disease, when thousands of people are killed in war, when greed and selfishness characterize our culture, we do not stop believing that God is present. Instead, we hope that God is active in a way that we cannot yet perceive.

When someone we love is struck with cancer, when our marriage ends, when someone we trust betrays us, we continue to hope that God will still save us. We look forward to a future in which God’s action and love will become clear.

Other people will look at the blessings of life and the heartbreaks of life and interpret them differently. It is only with the gift of faith and our willingness to accept it that we can see God’s action among us. When we do, we also recognize that we are the people of faith who rejoice at blessings and reach out a healing presence when there is despair.

To be joyful, to have hope, to be a sign of God’s presence on earth. That’s what we are called to be. To allow our faith to strengthen and embolden us. Our faith will always sustain us. Our faith will grow when we reach out in love and in His light. How blessed are we to be people of faith. How blessed are we that when we step forward in faith we are strengthened by His love. How blessed are we to be called laborers in his vineyard.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, may your kingdom come to all who are oppressed and in darkness. Fill my heart with compassion for all who suffer mentally and physically. Use me to bring the good news of your saving grace and mercy to those around me who need your healing love and forgiveness.”

Daily Note

“Whenever the Gospel is proclaimed God’s kingdom is made manifest and new life and freedom is given to those who respond with faith. The Lord grants freedom to all who turn to him with trust. Do you bring your troubles to the Lord with expectant faith that he can set you free? The Lord invites us to pray that the work of the Gospel may spread throughout the world, so that all may find true joy and freedom in Jesus Christ.”

Always Waiting For Us, Always

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Daily Reflection – 7/2/2021

Sacred Scripture

As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” (Matthew 9: 9-13)

Reflection

When the Pharisees challenged Jesus’ unorthodox behavior in eating with public sinners, Jesus’ defense was quite simple. A doctor doesn’t need to visit healthy people – instead he goes to those who are sick. Jesus likewise sought out those in the greatest need. A true physician seeks healing of the whole person – body, mind, and spirit. Jesus came as the divine physician and good shepherd to care for his people and to restore them to wholeness of life.

The problem lies in our spiritual blindness. You see as we grow older, we take sides. God does not. We consider people who agree with us to be intelligent and worthy of respect and those who disagree with us to be ignorant and to be ignored. But God does not ignore anyone. God loves everyone as a son or daughter. We believe that when someone does something wrong, they should be punished.

But God is not looking for punishment. God is looking for an opportunity to show mercy. So, we can find ourselves at a standoff with God, because God is opposed to every expression of partisan thinking. God is against every example of glorified nationalism. God rejects every call for violent retribution. These are ways of thinking into which you and I can be tempted to fall.

Even if we do fall into partisan and vengeful thinking, God does not reject us. God does not walk away us. Even if we are unable to forgive, even if we are unwilling to consider another point of view, even if we are overcome with anger against our enemy, God does not give up on us. God keeps patiently calling for us to change.

He meets us where we’re at – just as he met Matthew where he was at – but he doesn’t want us to STAY where we’re at. He wants us, today, to leave whatever keeps us from him behind, completely behind. He wants to fill us with his mercy. He wants to call us sinners – you and me – to conversion. The question for us today is whether we’ll respond like Matthew.

But God gives us time to reach that understanding. And until we attain God’s perspective, God continues to walk by our side, loving us as daughters and sons.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, our Savior, let us now come to you: Our hearts are cold; Lord, warm them with your selfless love. Our hearts are sinful; cleanse them with your precious blood. Our hearts are weak; strengthen them with your joyous Spirit. Our hearts are empty; fill them with your divine presence. Lord Jesus, our hearts are yours; possess them always and only for yourself.” (Prayer of Augustine, 354-430)

Daily Note

If we wish to follow the example of St. Matthew, we need to put into action the call to conversion. To play with the analogy that Jesus gives us in the Gospel, we not only have to recognize that we need a doctor, but we must go to the doctor and do what he tells us is necessary for our cure. Sin is a progressive form of metastatic cancer that will kill us – and we never know quite how soon. Jesus is the oncologist who can and wants to cure us, but he won’t treat us against our consent. To be saved we first have to go to him, and then we need to follow his treatment regimen.

The Power of Healing

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Daily Reflection – 7/1/2021

Sacred Scripture

He entered a boat, made the crossing, and came into his own town. And there people brought to him a paralytic lying on a stretcher. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.” At that, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said, “Why do you harbor evil thoughts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic, “Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.” He rose and went home. When the crowds saw this they were struck with awe and glorified God who had given such authority to human beings. (Matthew 9:1-8)

Reflection

Jesus’ treatment of sinners upset the religious teachers of the day. When a cripple was brought to Jesus because of the faith of his friends, Jesus did the unthinkable. He first forgave the man his sins.

Jesus claimed an authority which only God could rightfully give. Jesus not only proved that his authority came from God, he showed the great power of God’s redeeming love and mercy by healing the cripple of his physical ailment. This man had been crippled not only physically, but spiritually as well. Jesus freed him from his burden of guilt and restored his body as well.

That, of course, is the message for us, that our wounds can be overcome. None of us moves through life without being wounded in some way. A person we love deeply dies. Through misunderstanding we hurt to a son, daughter, or friend in a lasting way. We break an important relationship because of a careless word or action.

The scars in Jesus’ body are there to assure us that the blood and pain of those wounds can be overcome. Jesus, of course, received his wounds as an innocent victim. We often are not so guiltless. Yet the hope of healing still extends to us. Through God’s grace, through the love of others, through our own patient endurance as time passes, our wounds can become scars. And our scars should not be hidden, because they are a part of who we are. They are a part of our story like Jesus’ scars were part of his story. We are only being honest when we say, “Yes, I’m the person whose father died much too young. I’m the one whose demands alienated my daughter. I’m the one whose decisions have placed my family in financial jeopardy.”

The gospel reminds us to admit that our injuries are a part of us. Our hurts cannot be erased, they can only be healed. And that is why we must not hide our scars from ourselves or others. They are the signs of healing. They are signs to remind us that that God has been faithful, that others have loved us, that our future can still be blessed—that we can move from death to resurrection.    

Everything that Jesus did, healing, teaching and speaking out against hypocrisy, were signs of something greater that Jesus was doing: he was forgiving sins. Reconciling the world to His father was Jesus’ mission. Thus, reconciliation is the re-creation of the world; and the most profound mission of Jesus is the redemption of all of us sinners.

And Jesus did not do this with words, with actions or by walking on the road, no! He did it with his flesh. It is truly he, God, who becomes one of us, a man, to heal us from within.” It was only to prove that he had the authority on earth to forgive sins that Jesus cured the paralysis. He had already given him a far greater gift!

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, through your merciful love and forgiveness you bring healing and restoration to body, mind, and soul. May your healing power and love touch every area of my life – my innermost thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and memories. Pardon my offences and transform me in the power of your Holy Spirit that I may walk confidently in your truth and goodness.”


Daily Note

The Lord Jesus is ever ready to bring us healing of mind, body, and soul. His grace brings us freedom from the power of sin and from bondage to harmful desires and addictions. Do you allow anything to keep you from Jesus’ healing power?