Making Those Decisions That Define Our Lives

Daily Reflection – 2/3/2023

Sacred Scripture

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

Reflection

While today’s scripture is gruesome in detail, it is also full of grace.

Grace that points us to the path of God. Allow me to explain.

Herod was a weak man. He sought to please those he deemed important to him. He wants to seem like a generous ruler to Galilean society but still seem powerful to the rest of his kingdom. Basically. he is trying to please many different groups of people and still find a way to keep his own integrity.

This is a position many of us can relate to. How many of us must make decisions every day that affect different people? And how often do we feel as if no one is happy with a decision? How often do we make decisions that only satisfy our ego? How many times can we affect a decision but choose not to say anything for fear of “standing apart from the crowd?”

We too must face those crossroads daily. Albeit without the drama. But every day, we make decisions that define our lives and character.

From my perspective, those decisions give us the opportunity to stand up for God. No matter how trivial or great.

The question I raise for us today is simple: When we make decisions, is the way of God at the top of the list that will affect that decision?

If you look at our world today, it doesn’t seem that way. Many of the leaders around the world wear the mark of a Christian. Yet those same leaders make decisions every day that are totally contrary to the ways of Christ.

They have an opportunity to be faithful but their lust for power and riches clouds their perspective. Their mentality not only affects the world but trickles down to us. We become emotionally fatigued and withdraw.

That is exactly what we can’t do.

We are called to keep the lights bright in the City of God. We are called to be one of those lights. Not to keep the light burning behind a closed door. Not to keep the light hidden in the secrecy of our minds and prayers. But to stand boldly and declare our belief in Jesus Christ. To help the marginalized, to loudly decry wickedness, to don the armor of a soldier for Christ. Those words may seem dramatic, but they are the truth. That is our obligation, that is our call. I believe that with all my heart and soul.

If we frame every decision we make as a chance to let grace into our lives, then we might make different decisions. It is easy to make choices to please those around us, but as we learn from Herod’s choice, this is not always the right thing to do. Herod had an opportunity for grace, but he decided against it. So, let’s learn from Herod’s mistake. Before we make a decision, let’s ask if we are making our decision to protect ourselves or to build up the kingdom of God? Because personally I would rather build up the kingdom even if it means missing out on things/events that, on the surface, might be more tempting.

Today, let each of us ask Jesus for the courage to speak and act on the beliefs of a follower of Christ. If each of us did more of that, perhaps our world might change.

Prayer of The Day

Lord God, as I face this day, let me remember the reason why I live it. I live it for you. I live it for your glory. I live it to bring your light to others. Allow those thoughts to guide my words and my actions today.

Daily Note

Today the faces have changed but the need for truth has not gone away. As we engage in our own tentative steps towards the truth it may be that sooner or later, we too must make our own choices whether to act. Have we ever encountered immorality which is a direct contradiction of what you believe your faith encourages you to stand for? Yet, we choose not to comment? Have you listened while a good person was maligned but you did not object? Have you ever sacrificed core beliefs because now, it was unpopular to rise against them? The choices are clear when we walk the path of Christ.

It’s Not Enough To Love Him

Daily Reflection – 2/2/2023

Sacred Scripture

He summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick—no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic. He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave from there. Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.” So they went off and preached repentance. They drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them. (Mark 6:7-13)

Reflection

In today’s Gospel, Jesus instructs the Twelve as he prepares to send them out to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom.

Normally, when we go on a trip, especially if we’re not accustomed to traveling, we prepare a list of the things we need to pack in our suitcase so that we don’t forget anything.

Jesus likewise prepares a list for the apostles, but it’s precisely a list of things not to take. He needed His disciples to be focused on the mission and committed to carrying out His word. He wanted them to depend on Him and to be free of any baggage that would slow them down.

Excess baggage slows down any traveler.

As we move through life, each of us faces that in the spiritual baggage we carry on our backs. It’s heavy, weighs us down and impedes us from living a fuller Christian life. Jesus is asking us to leave behind the bags of our hurts, our fears, and our dreams.

None of us can move through life without being hurt in one way or another. Someone treats us with disrespect, dishonesty or even violence. A person we trust betrays us. Someone we love walks away. Even after we remove ourselves from the circumstances in which the hurt occurs, the scars from that hurt can still follow us. They become heavy baggage that we carry from one place to the other. Such baggage says to us, “You are broken. You are worthless. You are damaged goods.” Jesus asks us to leave behind the baggage of our hurts.

Likewise with fear. Fear is not a bad thing. Fear serves a positive purpose of identifying and preparing us for danger. But, once we have done all that we can have to prepare, fear loses its value. Then, holding on to fear can turn into a continual worry that undermines us and paralyzes us. It is like carrying a bag of heavy stones with us wherever we go. Fear says, “The worst is going to happen. It is not going to work out. Things will certainly fall apart.” Such fear allows us to do very little. Jesus asks us to leave the bag of our fears behind.

Usually, we think of dreams in a positive sense. They can be so when they motivate us and inspire us. But there are some dreams that are impossible, and these dreams hurt us. They are dreams we want but have very little chance of achieving. Some goals are illusionary. Some people will not change. Some circumstances will not improve. When we insist on holding on to such false dreams, they become like a heavy cargo trunk that weighs us down. It robs us of our rest. It robs us of our joy, because we are always chiding ourselves for doing what cannot be done. Jesus asks us to leave the trunk of false dreams behind.

Clearly Jesus sends us out on a mission of love and service. But he wants us to travel light. What kind of useless burdens do you insist on bringing with you? What kind of heavy luggage are you determined to check for your flight? Jesus reminds us that such luggage is unnecessary. He asks us to leave the bags of our hurts, our fears, and our false dreams at home and fly free. When we learn to do that, we understand the power of depending on Him.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, make me a channel of your healing power and merciful love that others may find abundant life and freedom in you. Free me from all other attachments that I may joyfully pursue the treasure of your heavenly kingdom. May I witness the joy of the Gospel both in word and deed.”

Daily Note

By travelling light, the apostles would also come to know poverty of spirit. “Poverty of spirit” frees us from greed and preoccupation with our possessions and makes ample room for God’s provision. The Lord wants his disciples to be dependent on him and not on themselves. He wills to work in and through each of us for His glory. The more we can detach our occupation with the materiality of the world, the closer we come to depend on Him and the closer we come to living out His word.

You Are NEVER Alone and ALWAYS Loved

Daily Reflection – 2/1/2023

Sacred Scripture

He departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith. (Mark 6:1-6)

Reflection

In today’s Gospel, Jesus returns to his people and teaches in their synagogue, but he is rejected by them.

It doesn’t seem to be because of his words that Jesus is rejected. The people who reject him do not even discuss what he has taught them. Maybe it was out of social snobbery, or maybe it was out of the petty jealousy that Jesus was one of them but he is able to teach with an authority that they could not hope to possess?

No matter what wonderful teaching Jesus gave, no matter what great works he performed, there were some people who were pretty much going to reject him anyway. Jesus departed “amazed at their lack of faith.”

This rejection of Jesus in Nazareth points to a truth in our lives: sometimes it is the people who are closest to us who do not understand us and will not support us. How painful it is to have our gifts and talents accepted by many, but not accepted by those who are closest to us. How hurtful it is to wait for the approval of a mother, father, or grandparent; to wait for the acceptance of a brother or sister, and yet, never have that acceptance or that approval come. How debilitating it is when we find that those we are related to by blood or by marriage do not accept us.

This is the disturbing truth of today’s gospel. But in this scene, there is also a thread of consolation. If Jesus himself was unable to avoid rejection by those who were closest to him, then why should we be surprised if such rejection happens in our life? If Jesus who was Son of God nevertheless found himself helpless when his family refused to accept him, then certainly he will know our pain if we are denied acceptance.

Jesus endured that hurt. He also showed us how to respond to it.  The last line of the gospel says, “Jesus made his rounds of the neighboring villages and continued to teach.” When he was rejected in Nazareth, Jesus did not let that rejection undermine his identity or value. He did not reject his calling. He did not wrap himself in self-pity. He moved on.

 He moved on to the neighboring villages and there continued to teach to those who would listen and to those who would respond. In the same way if we were to experience rejection by those who are closest to us, we too are called to move on. We cannot make anyone love us, but we can refuse to allow rejection to dictate our future. We still have gifts to give. We still have people to love. We must believe that our gifts and love are real.

That is why you are never alone. Of course, life’s struggles may weigh us down. The loss of a spouse can momentarily weigh us done. But Jesus Christ is there, at your side. Acknowledge His presence. Talk to Him. Let your tears rush forward. Then when it’s done, lean on Him. Take another deep breath and move forward to help someone in distress.

ALWAYS remember that, in the God revealed in Jesus Christ we are never alone, we are never turned away, and we are always loved.

With that strength, we move on, and give our gifts to those who will receive them. Share you love with those who will respond to it. Believe that there still is life and love to be found, even if it is not in your own hometown.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, you are the fulfillment of all our hopes and desires. Your Spirit brings grace, truth, freedom, and abundant life. Guide me always to go forth and live your words.”

Daily Note

“Pray as you can, not as you cannot.” Different people will pray differently. But somewhere in all this we should tell God what hurts and grieves us in plain and unvarnished words and place these things in God’s hands and ask for healing and strength. We might not have all the explanations to give to God, but we can trust God to hear us and to understand, to love and accept us. And as the prayer develops and grows, we can learn to listen to what God has to say in reply in the depths of our hearts.

The Life Boats Around You

Daily Reflection – 1/31/2023

Sacred Scripture

When Jesus had crossed again [in the boat] to the other side, a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea. One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward. Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying, “My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live.” He went off with him, and a large crowd followed him and pressed upon him. There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years. She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors and had spent all that she had. Yet she was not helped but only grew worse. She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak.  She said, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.” Immediately her flow of blood dried up. She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who has touched my clothes?” But his disciples said to him, “You see how the crowd is pressing upon you, and yet you ask, ‘Who touched me?’” And he looked around to see who had done it. The woman, realizing what had happened to her, approached in fear and trembling. She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.” While he was still speaking, people from the synagogue official’s house arrived and said, “Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?” Disregarding the message that was reported, Jesus said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” He did not allow anyone to accompany him inside except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official, he caught sight of a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. So he went in and said to them, “Why this commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep.” And they ridiculed him. Then he put them all out. He took along the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and entered the room where the child was. He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!” The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around. [At that] they were utterly astounded. He gave strict orders that no one should know this and said that she should be given something to eat. ( Mark 5:21-43)

Reflection

Two people standing on the precipice of emptiness. Two people who wanted desperately to have the circumstances of their lives changed. Two people who believed, even before they experienced, that Jesus would change their lives.

What happened in their lives? What gave them hope when all around was despair? Those questions can and should be asked in the year, 2023.

Many are leading a life that is filled with blessings. Many feel spiritually empty. Many feel anger at the world in which they live.

Today’s scripture is a wake-up call. It reminds us that we need to do an inventory of our beliefs. It beckons us to live a life that is bound by His words. And it should present a case for not only believing in Jesus Christ but recognizing that we can’t live one way and say we are His follower. We can’t go to Church on a regular basis and then take to our laptops and spew anger. We can’t say that we live the teachings of Christ and then begin to distinguish people because of color or orientation.

No, we need to be filled with Jesus.

Jairus knew that. The hemorrhaging woman knew that. They believed without seeing. THAT’S where we need to be.

Filling ourselves with Jesus means that we have to have an encounter with Jesus. That happens when we set time aside each day to be with Him. To talk to Him. To acknowledge our frailties to Him. To understand that the emptiness we sometimes feel is because there is a void in our lives which only He can fill. To come to the realization that no matter how much we love people in our lives, there is one love greater than that.

Those are the hallmarks of a living faith.

The “reward” for living a life circumscribed by His teachings is that not only is our life filled. Not only do we positively affect the lives of others. We begin to know Jesus in our lives. To know Jesus.

Our role models in today’s Gospel knew Jesus. You can as well. It will give you a lamp in the darkness. It will cause you to joyfully life a life centered on another rather than your ego. It will allow you to make a positive change in the lives of those around you.

And when we are feeling lost or beleaguered or anxious, your faith will be there to steady you, to fill you and remind you that nothing is lost as long as we have Him in our lives.

Faith reminds us that love conquers all. If we just could reach out to touch Christ’s garment, if we could just bring Him to the place where we feel death is most real, like Jairus, then we will find healing. That is a faith that does whatever it takes to get to Christ for healing.

Prayer of The Day

Lord, you love each of us individually with a unique and personal love.  Touch my life with your saving power, heal and restore me to fullness of life.  Help me to give wholly of myself in loving service to others.

Daily Note

Do you have the faith to fight the crowds to get close to him? Do you believe that all one needs to do is reach out in faith and simply catch a thread of his garment, a strand from the vestment of the King, and that person will be healed? That is a faith that radically changes the world. That is the faith that can radically change us!

Freeing Ourselves Of The Ties That Bind

Daily Reflection – 1/30/2023

Sacred Scripture

Jesus and his disciples came to the other side of the sea, to the territory of the Gerasenes. When he got out of the boat, at once a man from the tombs who had an unclean spirit met him The man had been dwelling among the tombs, and no one could restrain him any longer, even with a chain, In fact, he had frequently been bound with shackles and chains, but the chains had been pulled apart by him and the shackles smashed, and no one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the hillsides he was always crying out and bruising himself with stones. Catching sight of Jesus from a distance, he ran up and prostrated himself before him, crying out in a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me!” (He had been saying to him, “Unclean spirit, come out of the man!” He asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “Legion is my name. There are many of us.” And he pleaded earnestly with him not to drive them away from that territory. Now a large herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside. And they pleaded with him, “Send us into the swine. Let us enter them. And he let them, and the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine. The herd of about two thousand rushed down a steep bank into the sea, where they were drowned. The swineherds ran away and reported the incident in the town and throughout the countryside. And people came out to see what had happened. As they approached Jesus, they caught sight of the man who had been possessed by Legion, sitting there clothed and in his right mind. And they were seized with fear. Those who witnessed the incident explained to them what had happened to the possessed man and to the swine Then they began to beg him to leave their district. As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed pleaded to remain with him But Jesus would not permit him but told him instead, “Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you.” Then the man went off and began to proclaim in the Decapolis what Jesus had done for him; and all were amazed. (Mark 5: 1-20)

Reflection

Jesus came to the Gerasenes in love. He came to heal, to save, to liberate. As he gets out of the boat, he is confronted by a shackled man, possessed by demons. The only way the citizens knew what to do with him was to keep him shackled and imprisoned in himself. He was more restricted and isolated because of it and rather than offer help, they drove him further into his dilemma.
The man cries out a refrain we hear around us often: “Why did God do this?’ We hear that refrain because it’s easier to affix the blame elsewhere

Each of us is shackled to one degree or another. Some less, some more. Some were placed on us in our childhood, and we never let them go. Some were placed on us by ourselves arising from situations where we felt we did not “live up.” Some were placed on us by the cruelty of another. Some were placed on us by society such as systemic racism. Some were placed on us by religion when we felt we were “unworthy” of God’s love.

The links grow stronger the more they are in place. The weight gets heavier the older we grow.  The more binding they become, the more embittered we grow. That bitterness leads us to lash out at others, at events, at our physical suffering. It becomes a permanent fetter on our ability to love freely.

Yet, the ability to break free is so very close.

It begins with acknowledging that we will no longer allow our lives to be darkened. To peer at those shackles and understand how much of their weight we created ourselves and the need to break free of their confinement. Then to understand that if they are societal shackles, we will not allow them to weigh us down. To claim our right to be the person He created us to be.

Determined to be freed, determined to recover, we turn to a doctor . . . in this case, the divine doctor.

We need to ask for the love of Jesus Christ to come to our aid.

You see if we truly love God. If we truly believe that we are created by Him and that our very existence has meaning, we can’t  allow shackles to bind us. We find our way to free ourselves of those shackles by focusing on the gift of His love.

Pause, for a moment and gaze upon a cross. As you do, remember and take into your heart the fact that the gift of the cross was for you.

The very Son of God gave his human body to be beaten, tortured, and given up so that you would be freed not shackled.

It really is that simple. We must always seek the light and live in His light. That is where He intended us to be.

The liberating word from Christ is when one hears for the first time that, no matter how heavy the shackle, you are worthy of being loved.


The words of the hymn come to mind: ““Just as I am without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me, O Lamb of God, I come.”

Worthy of being loved first and then accepting His love is the ultimate liberation from our shackles.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, unbind me that I may love you wholly and walk in the freedom of your way of life and holiness. May there be nothing which keeps me from the joy of living in your presence.”

Daily Note

God’s word reminds us that no destructive force can keep anyone from the peace and safety which God offers to those who seek his help.” A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand; but it will not come near you. Because you have made the Lord your refuge, the Most High your habitation.” (Psalm 91:7,9).

Staying Aware Of His Presence

Daily Reflection – 1/27/2023

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to the crowds: “This is how it is with the kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how. Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come.” He said, “To what shall we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.” With many such parables he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it. Without parables he did not speak to them, but to his own disciples he explained everything in private. (Mark 4:26-34)

Reflection

Do you believe in God’s presence within you?

Before we all answer “yes,” the follow on question would have to be “ then what do you about His presence within you?’

Let’s walk that path together.

We begin by acknowledging that God, through the Holy Spirit, is within us each moment of our lives. We believe that.

But accepting His presence also means that we recognize His presence in the way we live our lives. We do that by placing our lives under the word of God. We live our lives not according to our own tastes, tendencies and preferences but rather that they are in conformity with His teachings, His word and His preferences.

For many, including me, that means a constant struggle with our ego which, at times, goes against His word. But we must, each day, examine our lives to determine those aspects that require change and conversion. Yes, that requires efforts and disciple. But it is worth every second. Why?

Because His love is so encompassing and so eternal that it forgives us. A love that had no beginning is also a love that has no ending.

Think about that! Sometimes I tremble because of the enormity of His love. No matter what I have done, His love forgives me.

Yesterday, we talked about our self-image and how worthy we are because of His love. Couple the two thoughts and feel the magnitude about what that tells you about you.

Do you accept that? Then comes the answer to the second question . . . what do you about His presence within you?

When Jesus tells His listeners that the Kingdom of God is like a grain of mustard seed which is the smallest seed on earth, but which becomes the greatest of all shrubs, He is inviting us to look at the world with new eyes.

It’s the little things make a big difference, and the Kingdom of God is built on little things. They are the mustard seeds that we plant, and Christ magnifies those actions and makes them abundant. There is a tendency of the human condition to focus on the big things or problems of life and that’s OK. But you and I can only affect the life and the world around us. It’s not done at the expense of our call to love. For most of us, our call to love BECAUSE WE ARE LOVED should never come at the expense of His love.

You and I can do great things for God if you are willing to offer yourself to THE  Oone who has planted in you the tiny seeds of love, generosity, mercy, justice and kindness.

Each of us needs to spend more time looking for the mustard seed. To look for the first signs of His kingdom with faith and optimism. To never dismiss the small and insignificant. If we do that, we will not give up on ourselves, on others, or the church, or even on the world just because we see many signs of sin and brokenness.

Jesus Christ has called you and I to be His disciples. No matter what your situation or condition, He has something important for you to do. Believe that and it will change how you think and how you live in the world. Believe that and you will receive a new enthusiasm and excitement about life. Believe that and you and the world will be different.

Prayer of The Day

“Dear Lord, I pray that you allow the seeds of your words to take deep root in my life and transform me unto a fruit-nearing disciple of your kingdom.”

Daily Note

Where are you spending your energy? Are you too focused on the big moments, or are you attentive to the small ways that Christ is calling you to serve? Are you planting mustard seeds that will grow into something amazing, or trying to replant cedar trees on a hilltop? This week, be attentive to the small parts of your relational life – and get ready to see some Kingdom size results.

Never, Ever Doubt Your Worth. Now Repeat That

Daily Reflection – 1/26/2023

Sacred Scripture

He said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be placed under a bushel basket or under a bed, and not to be placed on a lampstand? For there is nothing hidden except to be made visible; nothing is secret except to come to light. Anyone who has ears to hear ought to hear.” He also told them, “Take care what you hear. The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you, and still more will be given to you. To the one who has, more will be given; from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”( Mark 4:21-25)

Reflection

Today’s Gospel message is one that most remember. It is also a scripture passage that has been frequently preached. In most cases, the message preached is that we all have a “light” within, a gift given to us by God. That is agreed upon by all.

So I ask you to think about that light within you from three perspectives. Let’s begin with your light, your gift.

Jesus also calls each of us to be light in our world.  Now take a moment and ask yourself, “How do I shed light in the world?”  Most likely many of the ways we strive to do this may seem insignificant to us.  However, small rays of sunshine still light up the world.  We should let these gifts that God gave us shine so brightly that all those we come in contact with feel the worth of our love and the love of God. Our world is in need of sunshine and hope. Today I invite you to share some sunshine with the people you encounter and to notice the ways in which others share sunshine with you.

I also think that Jesus was referring to the light as the Word of God: just by hearing God’s Word we have a light within us. We have all heard that we are loved and saved by Jesus and we are called to spread this message to everyone we meet, especially those who are stuck in a dark time. We need to be the light in their lives giving them the courage and strength to let their own lights shine bright. Even though we are all faced with dark times and obstacles we need to make sure that our lights are still shining brightly. Jesus’ words turn the darkness to light and fill our lives and the world with light and hope. We cannot just take God’s love and mercy for granted; we need to make sure that we are spreading his love to everyone. Today, let us be challenged to let our lights shine and help all those we encounter find their light.

Finally, let’s remember that God’s grace not only illumines the darkness in our lives, but it also fills us with spiritual light, joy, and peace. Jesus used the image of a lamp to describe how his disciples are to live in the light of his truth and love. Just as natural light illumines the darkness and enables one to see visually, so the light of Christ shines in the hearts of believers and enables us to see the heavenly reality of God’s kingdom. In fact, our mission is to be light-bearers of Christ so that others may see the truth of the gospel and be freed from the blindness of sin and deception.

Live with that light burning within you. You are His child. He loves you with the all-encompassing love of God. Don’t shy from that. It’s not the matters of the world that will prevail. It’s how you saw the light, drew close to its message of hope and then recognized how worthy and beautiful you are as His creation. In that knowledge, you walk in love and let His shine in you. Hold that thought forever.

Prayer of The Day

Lord, you guide me by the light of your saving truth.  Fill my heart and mind with your light and truth and free me from the blindness of sin and deception that I may see your ways clearly and understand your will for my life.  May I radiate your light and truth to others in word and deed.

Daily Note

Reflect, today, upon the mission you have been given by Christ to spread His Word.  Say “Yes” to that mission and then look for ways, each and every day, to sow His Word.  Expect much of the effort you give to unfortunately bear little fruit in a manifest way.  However, have deep hope and confidence in the fact that some of that seed will reach the soil that our Lord desires it to reach.  Commit yourself to the sowing; God will worry about the rest.

When You Doubt Your Faith

Daily Reflection – 1/25/2023

Sacred Scripture

On another occasion, Jesus began to teach by the sea. A very large crowd gathered around him so that he got into a boat on the sea and sat down. And the whole crowd was beside the sea on land. And he taught them at length in parables, and in the course of his instruction he said to them, “Hear this! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep. And when the sun rose, it was scorched and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it and it produced no grain. And some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit. It came up and grew and yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” He added, “Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear.” And when he was alone, those present along with the Twelve questioned him about the parables. He answered them, “The mystery of the Kingdom of God has been granted to you. But to those outside everything comes in parables, so that they may look and see but not perceive, and hear and listen but not understand, in order that they may not be converted and be forgiven.” Jesus said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand any of the parables? The sower sows the word. These are the ones on the path where the word is sown. As soon as they hear, Satan comes at once and takes away the word sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground who, when they hear the word, receive it at once with joy. But they have no roots; they last only for a time. Then when tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Those sown among thorns are another sort. They are the people who hear the word, but worldly anxiety, the lure of riches, and the craving for other things intrude and choke the word, and it bears no fruit. But those sown on rich soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.” (Mark 4:1-20)

Reflection

Is that us? In today’s Gospel, Mark highlights the importance of hearing nine times. It’s at the heart of Jesus’ parable of the sower.

The human heart is like a field that can, at different times, be open or closed. The word of God comes to us as we are, with our faults and failings, our gifts and talents. We bear fruit each in our own way at our own time.

Some folks hear Jesus, but their hearts are hard-packed. The seed never penetrates at all. Other folks hear Jesus and get excited about Him but when trouble comes, they bail. The third soil really stings. Here the word penetrates and deeply, but just as deep as other cares and worries. The word has competition and loses out to the other concerns of our heart. Those concerns choked out faith in Him.

Then there are those whose mind are open. At all times, they are willing to listen and to learn. He or she is never too proud or too busy to learn. They listen in order to understand. God gives grace to those who hunger for his word that they may understand his will and have the strength to live according to it.

Most readers of these reflections certainly have faith, to one degree or another. Even when that is the case, there are times in your lives when you question where God is. There may even be times when you feel you have lost the faith that once sustained you.

What do you do when you fall into a moment, a day or more, of doubting?

Then you must return to the basics of this life. Allow me to explain.

Start your day or moment by looking around at the moments in your life that fill you with love. Is it the warmth or love of someone close to you? Perhaps its that delightful smell of a newborn or the sweet scent of a child’s hair. Or it could be a beautiful sunrise or sunset that filled you with its beauty.

Hold those tangible moments of love or beauty or both close to you and give thanks that you have them.

Allow those moments to flood you, fill you, bring peace to you.

Now you are on a path that points you to peace and, with peace, comes the ability to breathe deeply and recognize that all that good and all that beauty didn’t just happen. It came because our Father wanted you to have that love so that you could love.

Slowly then give thanks to Him for the treasures that do surround you. Those treasures could be a person, an event, a minute that made you stop and say, “Thank you, God.”

Let that be enough for you. The seeds that were placed in your life will germinate in a new season of faith for you. Fruit that will lead to a deeper understanding of His word and drown out all the other words that are clamoring in your life.

Prayer of The Day

“Dear God, strengthen my heart to become the rich soil that hears Your Word, understands it, puts it into practice and action and finally bears for You abundant yield according to Your Holy Will”

Daily Note

The human heart is like a field that can, at different times, be open or closed. The word of God comes to us as we are, with our faults and failings, our gifts and talents. We bear fruit each in our own way at our own time.

Prayer is the measure to introduce us to the word of God. Prayer takes time, and by allowing God’s word to echo in our minds and hearts, it takes root and then bears fruit in life. Take a sentence or two from the gospel today, or even a word, and allow it be ‘your word’ for today. Like a bar of music, it can echo within you all day. The word of God will bear its fruit in you.

Understanding The Will of God

Daily Reflection – 1/24/2023

Sacred Scripture

Jesus’ mother and brothers came. As they stood outside, they sent someone to call him. The crowd sitting around Jesus told him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside asking for you”. He replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?”. And looking around at those who sat there he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does the will of God is brother and sister and mother to me.” (Mark 3:31-35)

Reflection

Today’s scripture offers an invitation that, if accepted, will change our lives.

Jesus’ comments can easily be misunderstood. Some will conclude that He was distancing Himself from His own family and that He was even disowning them to a certain extent.

 But nothing could be further from the truth.

Instead, he invites us to be part of His family. Joining that family contains but one provision.  

To do the will of God.

That leads to a number of questions for us. How do we know what the will of God is? Do we trust that whatever is going on in our lives (good or difficult), is the will of God? We all know that life is not easy. There are good times in our lives that bless us abundantly and there are painful and difficult times in our lives that may prompt us to question God or to wonder where God is. It is easy to sense God’s presence and love when all is going well. And often it is difficult to experience God’s presence when life is challenging. However, God’s presence doesn’t change; it is our perception that changes.

Think about the difficult periods of your life. Some will turn to God with even more devotion. But others are tempted to blame God for what is happening. To wonder “where is God in all of this?”

But those are the times we need God the most. We all know that bad things happen to good people. However, when we are the people that bad things are happening to, we may lose our normally clear perspective and belief.

Are we able to trust God at these times? Do we stay open to God’s presence and grace., God will be with us whether we believe that or not! God will never desert us! Isn’t that the very definition of what family is about ? Love, closeness and always being there for those you love.

If you can accept that then let’s discuss how we understand and then follow out the will of God.

What is the essence of being a Christian? It is certainly more than doctrine, precepts, and commandments. It is first and foremost a relationship – a relationship of trust, affection, commitment, loyalty, faithfulness, kindness, thoughtfulness, compassion, mercy, helpfulness, encouragement, support, strength, protection, and so many other qualities that bind people together in mutual love and unity.

God offers us the greatest of relationships – union of heart, mind, and spirit with himself, the very author and source of love (1 John 4:8,16). God’s love never fails, never forgets, never compromises, never lies, never lets us down nor disappoints us. His love is consistent, unwavering, unconditional, and unstoppable. We may choose to separate ourselves from him, but nothing will make him ignore us, leave us, or treat us unkindly. He will pursue us, love us, and call us to return to him no matter what might stand in the way. It is his nature to love. That is why he created us – to be united with him and to share in his love and unity of persons (1 John 3:1).

He will pursue us, love us, and call us to return to him. Now THAT is the WOW factor. Some may turn their backs on God and stray from the family. But time and again, scripture reminds us that He will seek out the one that is lost. He will never stop loving us!

Please take that into your heart today. Let His love which is greater than any earthly love flood you. Let His love for you – as you are – wash over you. Let His love be a never-ending companion for you. Let His love be both your strength and consolation.

If we accept and allow His love to surround us each day, we WILL know the will of God. It’s trusting Him, talking with Him, letting Words FILL us. If we do, we walk the path of God’s will.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, help me to always listen with an open heart. Help me to reflect upon Your words with faith. In this act of faith, allow me to grow deeper in my bond with You as I enter Your divine family. Jesus, I trust in You.”

Daily Note

There is a mysterious reality here. I can actually bring consolation to Christ’s heart. I can accompany him on his divine mission. I must be willing to renounce my will and do only the will of the Father. Can Christ point to me and say, “He is my brother; she is my sister; she is my mother”? I must look at my life and see what is not in conformity to his will. I must make a firm resolution to show my faith and love in the very thing that is most difficult for me.

Breaking The Chains Of Your Life

Daily Reflection – 1/20/2023

Sacred Scripture

He went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him. He appointed twelve [whom he also named apostles] that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach and to have authority to drive out demons: [he appointed the twelve:] Simon, whom he named Peter; James, son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James, whom he named Boanerges, that is, sons of thunder; Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus; Thaddeus, Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him. (Mark 3:13-19)

Reflection

Today’s Gospel marks an historic day in the life of the Christian Church. Jesus takes twelve of those who had been with him, walking with him, listening to Him, and He calls them to be His apostles . . .  anointing them to preach, to heal, to drive out demons.

Each of the twelve was an ordinary person engaged in ordinary tasks in their lives. In the choice of the twelve, we see a characteristic feature of God’s work: Jesus chose very ordinary people. They were chosen from the common people who did ordinary things, had no special education, and no social advantages.

Jesus wanted ordinary people who could take an assignment and do it extraordinarily well. He chose these men, not for what they were, but for what they would be capable of becoming under his direction and power.

 And the parallel for us? It’s both simple and profound. You and I are called to the same apostolate. You and I have been called to proclaim the Good News of His birth, to witness to the meaning of His life on earth and to attest to the meaning of His human death so that we could live eternally.

The fact is that too many move away from the significance of His call. Too many feel that “ the call” is reserved for the super church goer, those that are different, those that are “almost perfect.” Too many consider the message to be one that is  best discussed in a Church.    

But that is as far from the truth as it could be. 

 It’s our humanity that He wants to use.

It’s to our humanity that He issues the call not just to follow Him but to LIVE Him in the conduct of our lives.

He wants our humanity to speak to those around us. The words from our mouths and the actions from our hands.

He loves us so much that he asks us to be His light. To be in His light in simple ways. Moving out of our cocoon and stretching out a hand to help. Soothing the anxiety of a friend. Standing up to those that want to control others. Respecting the life and dignity of each person. Using our lives to comfort, to love and to make a difference.

God loves us, shaping us in Christ, encouraging us to develop the characteristics necessary for us to become his children. Only by discovering our God-given vocation —the true reasons for our life— and by fulfilling it on his terms, will we come to know ourselves as God knows us.

THAT is how we come to know God!

When we begin to take those actions which show the love of God. When we begin to reflect Him in our lives. We are changed. Little by little, we begin to notice that there is an added vitality to our loves. We feel more freely. We see life through different lenses. We find our heart moving us and speaking to us. We begin to feel the peace which has eluded us. We find that the chains of our past life which held us back, or shaped a self-image that is not positive, or held us in a place or a position which closed off our life, are broken.

We are free because we know the power of His name in our lives.

When the Lord calls us to serve, we must not hang back because we think that we have little or nothing to offer. The Lord takes what ordinary people, like us, can offer and uses it for greatness in his kingdom.

Be great today.

Prayer of The Day

Lord, fill me with gratitude and generosity for all you have done for me. Take my life and all that I have as an offering of love for you, who are my all.

Daily Note

And what does God require of those He calls? He asks us to live close to him as we serve him, and in return, He promises to stay close to us. Yet, God speaks to each one of us individually and specifically. Today, and every day, we must meditate upon the true nature of our call to vocation, answering his call with an increased love, born of our increased understanding of what He calls us to do and to be.