The Times They Are Changing . . .

Image result for free photo of John 5:1-16

Daily Reflection – 3/24/2020

Sacred Scripture

There was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem at the Sheep Gate a pool called in Hebrew Bethesda, with five porticoes. In these lay a large number of ill, blind, lame, and crippled. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been ill for a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be well?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; while I am on my way, someone else gets down there before me.” Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your mat, and walk. Immediately the man became well, took up his mat, and walked. Now that day was a sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who was cured, “It is the sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.” He answered them, “The man who made me well told me, ‘Take up your mat and walk.’” They asked him, “Who is the man who told you, ‘Take it up and walk’?” The man who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had slipped away, since there was a crowd there. After this Jesus found him in the temple area and said to him, “Look, you are well; do not sin any more, so that nothing worse may happen to you.” The man went and told the Jews that Jesus was the one who had made him well. Therefore, the Jews began to persecute Jesus because he did this on a Sabbath.( John 5:1-16)

Reflection

How somber this Lenten season has become. We entered Lent with all the good intentions of self-examination and a desire to improve our spiritual lives. By and large, most of us made the attempt and most of us continue to work at it.

Then came the pandemic! Then came the words of this Gospel and strikingly those that said: “Take up your mat and walk.”

No, I am not talking about healing (but that might occur). I am talking about the convergence of Lent and the pandemic superimposed with those words. Since this is a time which is turning us inward – literally and figuratively -, could it also be a time when that very inwardness leads us to truly examine our lives and to honestly address our lives with Him? To honestly examine our lives as to whether they are living out His words.

I don’t know about you but I see myself changing inwardly. Faced with the specter of so many deaths, so many ill, I am beginning to see life with a greater clarity. I am putting even greater value on those I love – family and friends. I am forgiving more. In spite of four decades in ministry, I am learning that selflessness and loving are not just aspirations but they are THE operative words of our life. I find myself listening to God more as I pray each day the names of people I love and those that have asked for prayer.

The circumstances of these days become powerful. I believe this is a time when Jesus is changing us.  He is calling us into a new way of being, seeing, acting, speaking, thinking. We are being called to a new life. When we can stand up and accept that then the circumstances of today become more manageable. Our actions will not change the events of life but they will change us.

“Rise, take up your mat and walk.”

At this very moment, The Lord is approaching you and me with the same question: “Do you really want to be changed and to be transformed into my holiness?”

“Rise, take up your mat and walk.”

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, put within my heart a burning desire to be changed and transformed into your holiness”.

Daily Note

The Lord healed the paralytic, in part, to tell you that He sees you. He sees you in need, looks at you and calls you to rise and walk. Do not underestimate the importance of allowing Him to perform a healing in your life.

Faith In These Times

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Daily Reflection – 3/23/2020

Sacred Scripture

At that time Jesus left [Samaria] for Galilee. For Jesus himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his native place. When he came into Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, since they had seen all he had done in Jerusalem at the feast; for they themselves had gone to the feast. Then he returned to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. Now there was a royal official whose son was ill in Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, who was near death. Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.” The royal official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” Jesus said to him, “You may go; your son will live.” The man believed what Jesus said to him and left. While the man was on his way back, his slaves met him and told him that his boy would live. He asked them when he began to recover. They told him, “The fever left him yesterday, about one in the afternoon.” The father realized that just at that time Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live,” and he and his whole household came to believe. Now this was the second sign Jesus did when he came to Galilee from Judea. ( John 4:43-54)

Reflection

Today’s Gospel is all about faith – solid, unwavering faith. In the crisis confronting the world today, we need to probe the depths of our faith. We need to understand and believe that the grace of faith given to each of us is the rock unto which we need to moor the barque of our lives.

Too often we over-think and question how God is working in our lives and where he is trying to heal and love us. At one point we may believe wholeheartedly in his power to save and heal and a moment later we may completely doubt his love.

We all pray for what we desire! But often what we receive is not exactly what we wanted. Does that mean that Jesus did not hear our prayer? Do we only believe in Jesus if He answers our prayers exactly as we specify? Perhaps the more fundamental question is: do we truly love, believe and trust Jesus? Do we trust that Jesus loves us and he is always with us? Do we truly believe that Jesus does gift and grace us?
We need to be open and listen deeply. Jesus will answer our prayer. However, our answer may have a different “take” or direction that we may not have anticipated. We need to be open and trust Jesus to bless us and grace us, as we truly need!

A severe sickness or the virus that is encircling the world is a time that may test our faith. What are we going to do if the doctor would tell us that we or someone we love only has a few months to live?

We must hold on tightly to our faith in Jesus and never give up no matter what our present circumstances are. This is for the reason that our faith in Jesus is much bigger than any trials or problems that we may face. Our faith in Jesus is far stronger than any sickness that could kill our bodies but not diminish our rock-solid faith in Jesus. 

Reflect, today, upon your own level of faith and trust.  And work to discern the actions of God in your life so that those actions produce greater faith.  Cling to Him, believe He loves you, know that He holds the answer you need and seek Him in all things.  He will never let you down.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, please increase my faith.  Help me to see You acting in my life and to discover Your perfect love in all things.  As I see You at work in my life, help me to know, with greater certainty, Your perfect love.  Jesus, I trust in You.”

Daily Note

John concludes his Gospel by saying, “He and his whole household came to believe.” He helped his family grow to faith that it was precisely Jesus’ healing word that worked the miracle. The Lord Jesus wants us to help us to grow to a similar responsiveness, to walk by his word in faith, to trust in his word, to journey according to his promises.

 

 

 

The Command From Which All Others Flow

Image result for free photo of Mark 12:28-34

Daily Reflection – 3/20/2020

Sacred Scripture

One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?” Jesus replied, “The first is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, ‘He is One and there is no other than he.’ And ‘to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself’ is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And no one dared to ask him any more questions. (Mark 12:28-34)

Reflection

No matter in which country you may be reading this, I daresay that the words of this command are known to you by heart. But what does it really mean in practice?

There are many Christians who believe they love the Lord because they have good thoughts about God, they admire Him, they think that he’s kind, merciful and generous. But Jesus is calling for much more than this. Love means choosing consistently, the good of the other for the other’s sake. Love is opting as a habit to sacrifice oneself for another, putting someone else ahead of us.  

There are many Christians who love God to the point of sacrificing for him, but it’s not enough to sacrifice some of the time, financial resources and talents that he’s given us for him and his glory. It’s not enough to give God some of their mind, heart, soul and strength. Jesus is calling us to love God with all we’ve got. It means that our hope is not just to be good people but to be really holy people.

Jesus calls us to love him with all our mind. How much of our mind do we dedicate to God? Do we try to think as God thinks in our decisions? Do we truly fill our minds with his thoughts through prayer and reading the Bible and good spiritual books?

Jesus likewise calls us to love him with all our heart. Do we really love God more than we love everything and everyone else in our life? Jesus says elsewhere in the Gospel that we’re not fit to be his disciple unless we love him more than our family members, more than our stuff, more than even our own life. This is obviously challenging but do we try to love him with all our heart?

He calls us to love him with all our strength. How much effort do we make to love him? Do we battle through distractions in prayer? Do we prioritize Church and really strive to pay attention?

He calls us to love him with all our soul.  Do we seek to stay free of all sin or do we compromise with sin and give in to gossip, complaining, holding grudges and the like? Do we take advantage of the opportunities for the Sacrament of Confession so that

Jesus goes a step further that that challenge to courage to love him with everything we are and have. He tells us that our love for God will be shown in our love for neighbor. Jesus elsewhere does say not “Love me as I love you,” but “Love one another as I have That means today that Jesus is calling us to love our neighbor, to love others in our community,, to love our family members, to love strangers and even enemies with all our heart, all our mind, all our souls and all our strength.

Prayer of The Day

Lord, I realize that in order to love You above all else I must come to know You.  Help me to be faithful to you in my commitment to know You and to seek to discover all the glorious truths of Your life. 

Daily Note

 The ‘commandment’ of love is only possible because it is more than a requirement. Love can be ‘commanded’ because it has first been given. … on the basis of an intimate encounter with God, an encounter that has become a communion of will, even affecting my feelings. Then I learn to look on this other person not simply with my eyes and my feelings, but from the perspective of Jesus Christ. His friend is my friend.

 

Lord, Enable My Faith

Image result for free photo of Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24

Daily Reflection – 3/19/2020

 

Sacred Scripture

Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ. Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. ( Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24)

Reflection

Throughout the traditional and Orthodox churches, today’s Gospel is read to honor Joseph, husband of Mary and “foster father” to Jesus Christ. How fitting that is. Because in the persona of Joseph, there are qualities upon qualities from which we can learn and even emulate.

The first virtue of faith in God is the one most noted by commentators. We know that quality well. Joseph accepted the voice of God spoken through an angel. But he learned that faith enables him to face uncertainty with strength, conviction and certitude. For him, it eliminated fear and replaced it with the joy of knowing he was following God’s will. For him and for us, faith helps us survive and faith helps us move on.

We need to look at Joseph as a husband as well. He was the perfect spouse. He embodied so many admirable qualities. He was hardworking, compassionate, understanding, patient, kind, and loving. Even more important, he also understood that in a Christian marriage, there are three – husband, wife and God.

Acknowledging God in his marriage also meant that he understood humility. Humbleness before God but also the humility that comes when one puts aside ones needs for what is best for a spouse or the family itself. Selflessness can only grow where there is true humbleness.

Finally, there is Joseph as father. He taught the young Jesus not only his trade but he modeled the very traits that were and are Jesus Christ, the Triune God. He modeled empathy, kindness, understanding, trust and faith.

The hardest lesson for all of us to learn and to live is that Joseph put his needs aside and accepted unequivocally God’s word and God’s guidance in His life. He did not anticipate that the role he accepted would be without anguish but he knew that the path on which he entered would be pleasing to God and guide him to eternal life.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, enable me to walk by faith each and every day.  Allow my mind to rise above my human frailty and to see Your divine plan in all things.  Help me to imitate the faith of Joseph as I live my daily life.”

Daily Note

It seems that throughout the Bible God is always to trying to tell us this—“Do not be afraid, Abraham, when I ask you to leave your homeland and to travel to a new place that will be your own. Do not be afraid, Moses, for I will be with you when you, a slave, speak to Pharaoh, the king of the Egyptians. Do not be afraid of any evil, David, for the Lord will be your shepherd no matter where you are. Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found grace with God” (Luke 1:28, paraphrase). Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid to act. Joseph, do not be afraid.

“In” or “Of” This World ?

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Daily Reflection – 3/18/2020

 

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-19)

 Reflection

There is one operative word in today’s Gospel that holds the key to living the Christian life . . . the word is “fulfill.” Jesus was instructing his disciples that to grow in holiness, to follow him, to be like Him meant moving beyond the legality of the law and replacing them with a new moral law: “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

A follower of Christ must learn to live a life grounded in mercy and love not in negative prohibitions but rather molding our lives, on the positive commandments of Jesus, the total love of God and neighbor which he showed forth in his life and death.

Those words sound good but practically how do we do that? How do we do that in today’s world? The “how” is simple in words. While we are in the world, we do not need to live like the world. There is a simple way to discern which path we are on. Do we follow God’s commandments because we have to? Or rather have we allowed God’s commandments to enter into our lives? If we really loved God, if we really focused our eyes on Christ then we would conform our lives to his.  When we conform our lives to be like Him, then we would find it easy to not live the ways of the world.

It doesn’t happen in an instant or in one event. Rather it is a road on which we et our minds and our feet. The Christian life is a journey. There will be setbacks and obstacles. But it is His call to you and to me. Knowing and embracing that call helps is become more resolute.

Little by little we try to become the person our Lord wants us to be as we endeavor in our lives to come closer to the Lord. God wants us all to obey his commandments and lead others to follow him; he wants us to be called greatest in his Kingdom!

 Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, grant us this day, the ability to adjust our thoughts, words and deeds so that they are in accord with your Father’s law of love and may we be saved and protected through your mighty help.”

Daily Note

On the tomb of Michael Ramsey in Canterbury Cathedral is an inscription taken from oe of the early fathers of te Church, St. Ireneaus:  “The glory of God is a living man and the life of man is the vision of God.”

 

 

 

Forgiveness Is Not An Option

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Daily Reflection – 3/17/2020

Sacred Scripture

Peter approached Jesus and asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. That is why the kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount. Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt. At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’ Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan. When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a much smaller amount. He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ But he refused. Instead, he had him put in prison until he paid back the debt. Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master and reported the whole affair. His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?’ Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt. So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.”( Matthew 18:21-35)

Reflection

Ah, here it is again. Still another parable about forgiveness. Still another teaching/reflection/sermon on the subject. Why such an emphasis?

You and I actually know the answer to the question. Each of us has received God’s forgiveness. We can pass on only that which we have received. Having experienced forgiveness at the hands of God and God’s people, we are then called to make it possible for others to experience it. Thus  the circle of Christ’s love expands ever wider to encircle one more lost sheep—and another—and another.

The second aspect is  that each of us is in a constant situation of needing to receive forgiveness as well as to give it.  Forgiveness is a foundational block of the Christian community’s flow of life.  In an imperfect world, each disciple is, at the same time, saint and sinner.  

Forgiveness is like a powerful river flowing from the heart of God, that sweeps up everyone and everything in its path.  God’s unconditional, forgiving love washes over sinners, gathers them up and carries them along in the same flow of forgiveness.  For a sinner to refuse forgiveness to another requires that sinner to withdraw from the flow of forgiving love, to swim to the bank, as it were, and to stay there alone, cold and self-absorbed – out of the reach of God’s love.

We are also commanded to forgive because forgiveness is all about love. Remember, the two greatest commandments are to love God and to love others. There is no way to forgive without loving, and there is no way to love without forgiving. We are all fallen humans, full of sin, selfishness, and short-sightedness. If we want to stay together in fellowship, then we must learn to forgive. And if you are obeying God’s command to love him and his creation, then you know how to forgive.

Stop at this moment. Reflect on the hurts you have experienced. Understand that by holding on to them, you are still captive to them. Pray for the person(s) who hurt you. Forgive them deep within your heart. Thank them for this opportunity to learn how to love God with all of your soul and all of your heart

Prayer of The Day

 “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred let me sow love. Where there is injury let me sow pardon. Where there is doubt let me sow faith. Where there is despair let me give hope. Where there is darkness let me give light. Where there is sadness let me give joy.” (Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi, 1181-1226)

 Daily Note

God has made his peace with us. Have you made your peace with God? If you believe and accept God’s love and pardon for you, then you likewise must choose to be merciful towards those who are in debt to you. Are you ready to forgive and to make peace with your neighbor as God has made peace with you?

The Antidote for Rejection

Image result for free photo of Luke 4:24-30

Daily Reflection – 3/16/2020

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to the people in the synagogue at Nazareth: “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place. Indeed, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah when the sky was closed for three and a half years and a severe famine spread over the entire land. It was to none of these that Elijah was sent, but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon. Again, there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. But he passed through the midst of them and went away.( Luke 4:24-30)

Reflection

Rejection is a bitter pill to swallow for most people. Partly because it strikes at that small part of us that may not feel as “worthy” or “as good” or “different” than the secular world. The recourse for many who experience it is to turn away from the source of the rejection or worse yet to shut off that source from our life. To do that, people will “love” less or strike back. Today’s Gospel reminds us that He who loves us the most understand rejection, dealt with it and left us a gift to deal with it.

When Jesus first proclaimed the good news of God’s kingdom to his own townspeople at Nazareth, he did not hesitate to confront them with their sin of indifference and unbelief. He startled his listeners and angered them when he complimented Gentiles who had shown more faith in God than the “chosen ones” of Israel.

But even in Nazareth, where repentance and introspection were discarded for anger and retribution, the light of Christ will lead people back to their faithful union with the Lord. God does not brood over injury or rejoice over wrongdoing but eternally hopes in our return to Him through our own free will, for our sake. That is the love, or caritas or agape, to which we are called, and which brings us closest to God.

He comes to each of us every day. To soothe us, to comfort us, to remind us of His ever-abiding love. He wants to help us. He knows what we need. He came with humility precisely in order that man might imitate Him.   And, without imitating Him, how could we be healed? 

The Lord brings healing and pardon to all who humbly seek him with faith and trust
We all stand in need of God’s grace and merciful help every day and every moment of our lives. Scripture tells us that “the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22-23).
 

Prayer of The Day

Lord thank you for the offering of your calm, peaceful loving presence. I seek your ways today Lord, carry me today as always do. I open my heart for you to fill it once again

Daily Note

” Could anyone refuse to love our God, so abounding in mercy, so just in all his ways? Could anyone deny love to him who first loved us despite all our injustice and all our pride? Could anyone refuse to love the God who so loved us as to send his only Son not only to live among human beings but also to be put to death for their sake and at their own hands?”(St. Augustine)

Are You Still Farming?

Image result for free photo of ( Matthew 21:33-43, 45-46

Daily Reflection – 3/13/2020

Sacred Scripture

“Hear another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a tower. Then he leased it to tenants and went on a journey. When vintage time drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce. But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat, another they killed, and a third they stoned. Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones, but they treated them in the same way. Finally, he sent his son to them, thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.’ They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?” They answered him, “He will put those wretched men to a wretched death and lease his vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the proper times.” Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes’? Therefore, I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.” When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they knew that he was speaking about them. And although they were attempting to arrest him, they feared the crowds, for they regarded him as a prophet. ( Matthew 21:33-43, 45-46)

Reflection

Are you a tenant farmer? I would guess that most people would say “of course not.” OK, then do you know the biblical tenant farmers. I would guess that most people would say “ Yes, of course, that is one of the better known parables.”

So, my answer is .  . “let’s not leave the parable of the tenant farmers in scripture.” After all, you and I are tenant farmers. We are all tenants in God’s creation. All of us have different circumstances, gifts, and resources, but those do not belong to us in the eternal sense. They are gifts from God to allow us to work on His behalf to the best of our abilities and circumstances. We do not need to become clerics to do this, of course, but we can exemplify the Word of God in our careers through ethical and moral conduct, by raising families that praise the Lord, and through building communities and cultures that reflect His values, rather than our own desires and amusements.

The issue is that many people will read this scripture and even this reflection and pass it over. The words sound right but through time and repetition, they lose most of their meaning for our daily lives. We may go through the actions but the actions lose some of their meaning. It’s a bit like selective hearing. Our ears hear but our hearts don’t listen.

If that is the case, there is another message in today’s parable . . .” the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.”  Let us take a lesson today from the wicked tenants, and instead of abusing our gifts; let us practice good stewardship and allow our lives to be fruitful … as they are meant to be.

Our parable today is an appeal from Jesus for us to respond to God’s initiative to save, to receive him.  There is no better way to sum up the meaning of Lent than to say that it is time for each of us respond to the saving action of Jesus Christ by being even better tenant farmers.  In this season we seek in a renewed way and with fresh energy to receive Christ, to welcome him, to listen to him and to live out our lives in Him and through Him.

Prayer of The Day

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, we praise you for all that you have given to us, help us to be good stewards of all that is entrusted to us.

Daily Note

The Lord calls and invites us to bear good fruits for others to be shared. During Lent, we have an opportunity to ask ourselves some key questions. When was the last time that we shared our good fruits with others? In our families, have we really lived- ut our Christian life and shared the good works with others? Have we inspired others in our neighborhood, in our community, in our church , in our workplace thru our examples and deeds?

 

 

 

Keeping Our Eye On The Prize

Image result for free photo of Luke 16:22–23

Daily Reflection – 3/12/2020

Sacred Scripture

When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham.  The rich man also died and was buried, and from the netherworld, where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.  (Luke 16:22–23)

Reflection

In just two lines of scripture, we are taught about ourselves and reminded vividly of what is expected of us.

So, let’s begin with the self-revelations. Too often, no matter how much we believe in the teachings of Christ, we wind up being indifferent. It’s not by intent. But we get caught up in our life, our family, our needs, our pain. As life unfolds around us, we forget the less fortunate down the street, across town or in other places. Or perhaps we even develop compassion fatigue.

But no need ever escaped the eyes of Jesus Christ. We are reminded that we are his eyes, his hands, his feet. There cannot be indifference in our lives if we believe we are brother and sister to one another.

The second self-revelation is about our focus in life. We all like nice things and we are creatures of comfort. There is nothing to be ashamed of there. The issue is a question of focus. Many of the more prominent “developed” countries are surrounded by affluence. Yet, amid the affluence, there is great poverty as well. God’s economy is far different than the secular economy. In God’s economy, those who hold on possessively to what they have, lose it all in the end, while those who share generously receive back many times more than they gave away.

Lazarus understood that. He did not lose hope in God. His eyes were set on a treasure stored up for him in heaven. The rich man, however, could not see beyond his material wealth and possessions. He not only had everything he needed, he selfishly spent all he had on himself. He was too absorbed in what he possessed. In the end, the rich man became the beggar.

Therein is a promise for us. To never lose hope because our Father rewards those who trust in him. The name Lazarus means God is my help.  Each of us needs to be Lazarus. Keeping our sight on all that Jesus taught, bringing His words to life in our life. Hebrews 6:19 assures us that those who put their hope and security in heaven will not be disappointed.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, you are my joy and my treasure. Make me rich in the things of heaven and give me a generous heart that I may freely share with others the spiritual and material treasures you have given to me.”

Daily Note

“God made both the rich and the poor. So the rich and the poor are born alike. You meet one another as you walk on the way together. Do not oppress or defraud anyone. One may be needy and another may have plenty. But the Lord is the maker of them both. Through the person who has, He helps the one who needs – and through the person who does not have, He tests the one who has.” 

His Chalice, Your Choice

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Daily Reflection – 3/11/2020

 

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said in reply, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?” They said to him, “We can.” He replied, “My chalice you will indeed drink, but to sit at my right and at my left, this is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”  (Matthew 20:22–23)

Reflection

To me, the importance of this passage from scripture lies in Jesus’ reference to the chalice that was offered to all of his disciples.

Yes, it was bold of the mother of James and John to ask for preferential treatment. But Jesus rebukes her gently. He then moves on to ask if they – and we – are prepared to drink from the chalice that will be offered. That chalice refers to the chalice of blood that His father had willed for Him so that we might be saved.

Jesus gave His complete self and we are asked to give our complete SELF. Just as Jesus held nothing back and gave everything, we too are asked to do the same. In most cases our giving of everything is not as vivid as it was for Jesus but it is just as real. How do we give our self completely?

By making a personal choice to put others first and to serve them with love and compassion and seek no reward. A true disciple must be ready to lay down his or her life in martyrdom of SELF for Christ and be ready to lay it down each and every day in the little and big sacrifices required. The Christian life is full of daily sacrifices, disappointments, set-backs, struggles, and temptations. For all of us, the “going” can seem tough most days.

But the reward is so great!

The shedding of His blood on the cross was the payment for our sins a price He paid that sets us free. Jesus laid down his life for us. This death to self is the key that sets us free to offer our lives as a sacrifice of thanksgiving and love for the Lord and for the people he calls us to serve.

 Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, make me a servant of love for your kingdom, that I may seek to serve rather than be served. Inflame my heart with your love that I may give generously and serve others joyfully for your sake.”

 Daily Note

An early church father summed up Jesus’ teaching with the expression “to serve is to reign with Christ”. We share in God’s reign by laying down our lives in humble service of one another as Jesus did for our sake. Are you ready to lay down your life and to serve others as Jesus did?