Rising Above So We Can

( A commentary on Mark 16: 15-20)

Ascension Painting by Danny Hahlbohm
Daily Reflection – 5/13/2021

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to his disciples: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God. But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs. (Mark 16: 15-20)

Reflection

Here it is. The Gospel that we hunger to hear.  After his death, Jesus is taken up into heaven and sits at God’s right hand.  This great ascension is Jesus’ final victory, when he leaves behind all of the pain and imperfections of this life and enters into glory.

The good news for you and me is that just as Jesus had a great ascension, one is promised to us.  For we believe that we who are faithful to Christ after our death will ascend into the embrace of a loving God to be with Christ forever.  So, the good news of the great ascension is that our life is moving upward, that despite all the pains and troubles of life, we are not ultimately descending, but ascending, that you and I are bound for glory.

Our faith also teaches us the great ascension also feeds the small ascensions of our lives.

Those are the movements away from limitation and pain, small steps which we take towards glory.  These small ascensions occur every time that you and I rise above a want or an expectation.  We want a lot of things.  A good deal of our energy and frustration in life is involved in trying to gain what we want. We often confuse the things that we want with the things that we need.  But we can in fact survive without them.  When we realize that we can, it is a small ascension.

When we realize that we can live with less, that we can live even though we do not have complete financial security, then we are not taking a step backwards; we are taking a step forward.

When we realize that not all people will like us and yet know that we still have reason to live and rejoice, that is not moving downward sbut upwards, upwards to realistic living. 

When we realize that even though we are sick and we have to deal with pain and medical procedures, there are still people who love us and there are still more than enough reasons to live, that is not delusion; that is a small ascension, a step towards glory.

Some expectations that can at times enslave us.  We expect that everybody in our family is going to understand us.  We expect that people will deal fairly with us.  We expect that the people we love will stay with us.  But when we realize that there is nobody in our family that will completely meet our expectations, but that we still can love them; when we realize that people will hurt and betray us, but that we can still forgive them; when we realize that the people we love do at times leave us, because they need to relocate, or because of divorce, or because of death, but that leaving does not mean that our life is over; each time we realize any of these things we have undergone a small ascension—leaving behind the expectations that enslave us, taking a step towards the God who embraces us. 

We cannot ascend above our wants and expectations simply by choosing to do so.  Like the great ascension that we celebrate today, ultimately the upward movement is because of God’s power and God’s strength, not our own.  But we can pray for such ascensions, and we can open our hearts and minds to them.

We are people who know that after our death, we have been promised a great ascension.  We should pray that God will grant us smaller ascensions today.  We should ask our Lord to lift us up above our wants and expectations, and draw us a step closer to his presence at the right hand of God.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, through the gift of your Holy Spirit, you fill us with an indomitable spirit of praise and joy which no earthly trial can subdue. Fill me with your resurrection joy and help me to live a life of praise and thanksgiving for your glory. May I witness to those around me the joy of the Gospel and the reality of your victory over the grave and gift of everlasting life.”

Daily Note

The great ascension is Jesus’ final victory, when he leaves behind all of the pain and imperfections of this life and enters into glory.

The good news for you and me is that just as Jesus had a great ascension, one is promised to us.  For we believe that we who are faithful to Christ after our death will ascend into the embrace of a loving God to be with Christ forever.  So, the good news of the great ascension is that our life is moving upward, that despite all the pains and troubles of life, we are not ultimately descending, but ascending, that you and I are bound for glory.

Reaching, Always Reaching

(A commentary on John 16: 12-15)

Pin by Joshua Berrier on My verse creations | Spirit of truth, Common  english bible, Sayings
Daily Reflection – 5/12/2021

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to his disciples: “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason, I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:12-15)

Reflection

The disciples are not yet fully aware of all that will occur or how drastically their lives are about to change. Jesus’ words to them probably sound like a riddle they can’t quite solve.

Even with all the unpleasant things they are hearing, Jesus speaks assurance to them promising that though difficulties are coming their way, they will not be alone and they will be equipped to live into the calling and mission they were invited to when Jesus first said “Come. Follow Me.”  

We know from the feast of Pentecost that the disciples, infused with the power of the Holy Spirit, went on – even beyond their human expectations, to bear witness to Christ and build the church we know today.

What does all of this mean for you and me? A lot!

We begin our understanding by recognizing that in our deepest self, we desire God. St. Augustine probably says this more beautifully than anyone else. He says, “You have made us, O God, for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

What Augustine is saying is that all through our life, with every choice we make, with every relationship we develop, with every dream that we dream, what is driving us forward is our desire to possess the goodness, the power, the presence of God.  Augustine believes that every good thing we see, every person that we love, every dream that attracts us is only a reflection of the ultimate goodness that is God.  Therefore, whether we are aware of it or not, we are always searching, always seeking, always wanting God.

Now St. Thomas Aquinas makes the same point from a different angle. He argues that because we were made for God, we are necessarily directed towards God.  We are hard wired, if you will, to always choose goodness, because every good thing is a reflection of God. 

Therefore, the challenge for us is not to desire God. In truth we can desire nothing else.  We are hardwired to reach out always for what we see as good.  The challenge for us is to see correctly, to reach out not for a false good but for a genuine one, to reach out for a true good rather than one that is illusionary. 

This is why it is so important in today’s Gospel that Jesus sends us the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth, the one who will guide us in all truth.  It is the role of the spirit to clarify for us what is genuine goodness and what is an illusion. 

The Holy Spirit is in us and awaits us. He awaits us so that our lives can be guided to both claim and to do the genuine good for which we were made.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit and guide me in your way of life, truth, and goodness. Free me from ignorance of your truth, and from deception and moral blindness caused by sinful pride and the refusal to believe and obey your word of truth. May I love you with all of my heart, mind, and strength, and seek to please you in all things.”

Daily Note

Jesus told his disciples that he would send them the Spirit of truth who will guide you into all the truth ..and declare to you the things that are to come (John 16:13). Jesus knew that his disciples could not fully understand on their own everything he had taught and revealed to them while he was physically present with them. He knew that they would need the ongoing guidance and help of the Holy Spirit after he returned to his Father in heaven. That is why he assured them that the Holy Spirit would take what he had spoken to them and guide them into a fuller understanding of God’s wisdom, power, and glory he wished to share with them so they could live in the joy and freedom of his love and truth.

The Link We Miss

(A commentary on John 16: 5-11)

The Work of God the Spirit - John 16:5-11 — A Reason for Hope with Don  Patterson
Daily Reflection – 5/11/2021

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to his disciples: “Now I am going to the one who sent me, and not one of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I told you this, grief has filled your hearts. But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation: sin, because they do not believe in me; righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see me; condemnation, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.” (John 16:5-11)

Reflection

The sadness of the disciples is real on this evening. Jesus seeks to comfort them with telling them of his gift – the gift of the Holy Spirit.

He tells them first of the reality of that gift. It cannot be given to them unless he ascends to his father. For It is through the Spirit of Jesus, the risen and ascended Jesus, that he can continue to be with his people at all times and in any place on earth. Yes, it is better that Jesus should go and come back through the Spirit.

That is where so many seem to miss the causal link. The Holy Spirit is Jesus Christ. It is the very breath of God that resides in each of us.

That is why Jesus tells the disciples and us that it was good that he left us because in comparison with the gift of His presence, the gift of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our life is more important. That’s how crucial the Holy Spirit is meant to be in our life as disciples and apostles.

The original word for convince also means to convict. The Holy Spirit works in each of us to make us realize that, as citizens of the world, we succumb too often to the ways of the world and act in sinful ways. We need the power of the Holy Spirit to lead us away from the error of our ways and to show us the way of love and truth.

The Spirit convinces us of God’s love and forgiveness and of our utter dependence on God for his mercy and grace. 

Humankind seems often to refuse to open its mind to the vision of life that Jesus gives. The Spirit reveals the meaning of Christ’s death as the condemnation of all that is evil in the world, above all in its denial of love as the center of living.

That is why each of us needs to listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in us. Yes, he is our paraclete, our advisor. We can listen to the Spirit in silence or in activity as long as we are open and focused.

Those pricks of conscience are real. It is the Holy Spirit cautioning us, reminding us and letting us know that we each of us is a portal of God.

When we yield to the Spirit, the Spirit will lead us to love. Love of God, love of each other and love of all that reflects the beauty and the peace of God our Father.

If you don’t feel the Spirit within, then ask for the Spirit to take priority of your life. He will come because he is already there, waiting for you to say the words “Come, Holy Spirit.”

Words that can change your life if you will let them.

Prayer of The Day

“Come Holy Spirit, and let the fire of your love burn in my heart. Let me desire only what is pure, lovely, holy and good and in accord with the will of God and give me the courage to put away all that is not pleasing in your sight.”

Daily Note

It is the work of the Holy Spirit to both convict us of wrongdoing and to convince us of God’s truth.  The Spirit convinces us of the righteousness of Christ, backed by the fact that Jesus rose again and went to his Father. The Holy Spirit also convicts us of judgment.  The Spirit gives us the inner and unshakable conviction that we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God. God’s judgments are just and good.  When we heed his judgments, we find true peace, joy and reconciliation with God. Do you allow the Holy Spirit free reign in your life that he may set you free from the grip of sin and set you ablaze with the fire of God’s love?

Open Yourself To The Secret

(A commentary on John 15:26-16:4)

John 15:26) The Work of the Holy Spirit: “When the Advocate comes, whom I  will send to you from the Father… | Scripture verses, Spirit of truth,  Prayer scriptures

Daily Reflection – 5/10/2021

Sacred Scripture

But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me; and you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning. . . .I have said all this to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues; indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do this because they have not known the Father, nor me. But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you of them. I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. (John 15:26-16:4)

Reflection

We all have moments of doubt. We all have moments when we evaluate the morality of a thought, a word, an action. We all have moments when the beauty and goodness of God shines bright through the deeds of another.

Throughout all of those moments is a constant. A constant that we might overlook at times. That constant is throughout scripture – from the Book of Genesis to the Book of Revelations.

That constant is the Holy Spirit.

It is and was a gift of God. We have been given the Holy Spirit to help us live as disciples of Jesus Christ. The Spirit gives us courage and perseverance when we meet adversities and challenges. The Spirit gives us wisdom when we contemplate a decision. The Spirit is the breath of God that each of us has.

Have you ever thought about the fact that the scriptures are always showing us what the Spirit does? Tracing those actions is important, because what the Spirit does tells us what God does. A history of the Spirit’s actions etches a portrait of our invisible God. We can identify seven actions of God’s Spirit within the scriptures. God’s Spirit creates, sustains, saves, judges, inspires, equips, and guides.

And that is the gift. The Holy Spirit makes it possible for us to know God personally. He gives us experiential knowledge of God as our Father. The Holy Spirit reveals to us the knowledge, wisdom and plan of God for the ages and the Spirit enables us to see with the “eyes of faith” what the Father and the Son are doing. Through the gift and working of the Holy Spirit we become witnesses to the great work of God in Christ Jesus.

Each of us is Christ’s minister of grace in our homes, our work places, our communities, our families and among our friends. That is where each of us lives out the Spirit. In those moments when we live out the presence of the Spirit, each of us becomes an icon of Christ.

Each day when we listen and open our hearts to the voice of the Holy Spirit, we become part of Cristian history spanning more than two millennia. While each of us may not find our way into published history, each of us perpetuates that history.

The Advocate is here, among, with, and in you and me–the chosen. The chosen. Think about that as you move through life.

Prayer of The Day

“Come, Holy Spirit, come and fill us with your power. Come and fill us with truth. Come and fill us with Christ Himself that we may bear him faithfully in our lives. This we ask in His name and for His sake. Amen.”

Daily Note

Jesus offers his disciples the best and truest of friends. Who is this promised friend? Jesus calls the Holy Spirit our counselor and advocate. Counselor is a legal term for the person who defends someone against an adversary and who guides that person during the ordeal of trial. The Holy Spirit is our Advocate and Helper who guides and strengthens us and brings us safely through the challenges and adversities we must face in this life.

It’s About Love. . . It’s Always Been About Love

( A commentary on John 15: 12-17)

Light Bible

Daily Reflection – 5/7/2021

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to his disciples: “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.”( John 15:12-17)

Reflection

I don’t think even Google could give you the number of articles and books that have been written about love through the last two millennia. Why so many? Because love is hard wired into the human condition. We crave it, we seek it, we thrive on it.

In today’s beautiful Gospel, Jesus tells us that he is our friend and he loves us whole-heartedly and unconditionally. He wants us to love one another just as he loves us, whole-heartedly and without reserve. His love fills our hearts and transforms our minds and frees us to give ourselves in loving service to others. If we open our hearts to his love and obey his command to love our neighbor, then we will bear much fruit in our lives, fruit that will last for eternity.

That is about as powerful and straight forward as it can be. Those are words that cling to our heart.

But so often, so many find loving so difficult.

C.S. Lewis wrote a famous essay on love saying that if you want to protect your heart from pain, you must give it to no one. You must enter into no serious relationships, not even with an animal. If you can isolate yourself from all relationships, your heart will not feel pain. In time, however, it will become incapable of feeling anything. If we choose to withdraw ourselves from relationships, we also choose to isolate ourselves from love and from life.

That is not an option for the followers of Christ.

His commandment is not to love God, or to love Jesus, but to love one another. God does not need to be mentioned because that love is only possible when God is acting in and through us. That is the touchstone of the genuineness of our love for God. And the measure of that love is that of Jesus for us. If that is not clear enough, he spells it out: the greatest possible love a person can have is to sacrifice one’s life for one’s friends. That may mean dying for others but it can also mean living for others; in either case our primary concern is concern for the need of the brother or sister. And it is the only path to demonstrate that we love God and that God’s love is in us.

Our love for the Lord will be shown by our love for others and not just by any old feelings of sympathy, but by our willingness to give our lives for others, which begins with giving our time, using our talents, and willingly putting others’ lives above our own.

Pope Francis made this point: “Jesus says something remarkable to us: ‘Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’ Love always takes this path: to give one’s life. To live life as a gift, a gift to be given — not a treasure to be stored away. And Jesus lived it in this manner, as a gift. … We must not burn out life with selfishness.”

And if you still question how and why, remember this Gospel because Jesus reminds his followers that he has chosen them, they have not chosen him. We do not confer any favor on Jesus by following him. We are only answering a call that has already come from him.

He chose each one of us, not the other way around. Of course, we have free will and choose for ourselves how to respond to God’s love. But he called and loved us first. God the Father chose us through Christ his Son as part of his plan for salvation. Yes, you and I are part of his salvific plan.

Think about that on the days when you are beating yourself up or having doubts about your worth. You are loved and you are part of his plan to bring humanity back to his father. Wow!

Prayer of The Day

“Teach us, good Lord, to serve you as you deserve, to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labor and not to ask for any reward, save that of knowing that we do your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Prayer of Ignatius Loyola)

Daily Note

The Lord Jesus tells us that he is our personal friend and he loves us wholeheartedly and unconditionally. He wants us to love one another just as he has loved us, wholeheartedly, without reserve, and full of mercy, kindness, and forgiveness. His love fills our hearts and transforms our minds and frees us to give ourselves in loving service to others. If we open our hearts to his love and obey his command to love our neighbor, then we will know his love more fully and we will bear much fruit – especially the fruit of peace, joy, patience, kindness, and goodness – the kind of fruit that lasts for eternity.

The Most Important Words Ever Spoken

( A commentary on John 15: 9-11)

1 John 4:16 – | KCIS 630

Daily Reflection – 5/6/2021

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to his disciples: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete.” (John 15: 9-11)

Reflection

In today’s Gospel, Jesus says the most important words in the history of the world. They’re important whenever anyone says them, but the fact that God himself said them in the way that he said them makes them life-changing: “I love you,” he tells us.

But then, Jesus puts them into a context that ought to astound us: “Just as the Father loves me, I love you.” The Father loves him perfectly. The Father loves him profoundly and intimately. And Jesus tells us that he loves us in that same way. And he doesn’t merely love us “all” in that way, but he loves each of us in that way, as St. Paul wrote in his letter to the Galatians, “He loved me and gave his life for me” (Gal 2:20).

Grasping the enormity of God’s love  is essential not only for the Christian life but for human life. We need the love of family, the love of friends, the spousal love of a husband or wife, the total self-giving love of someone who values us that much. Without it, we’re lost. We’re an enigma to ourselves.

And what is true in terms of human love is also true in terms of divine. There are many people who have never really experienced the love of the Lord. Their notion of the faith is perhaps an angry God, or a distant, negligent God, or a God who is a stern taskmaster making sure they fulfill all their duties lest they be punished. Many people are filled with a type of self-pity and self-hatred because they have never experienced God’s love and often don’t believe they are lovable by God or anyone else. Today Jesus says to them, and to all of us, “I love you … just as my Father loves me!”

Then Jesus gives us the most important command of the Christian life. “Remain in my love.”

It is crucial for us to remain in Christ’s love and in relationship with him because we thirst for him as well. Our world longs for perfection and satisfaction, but we will never be able to achieve this as the world sees it. The perfect body, the perfect job, the perfect grades, house, family, car – none of these can satisfy us like we often think it will. Christ knows this because he knows us intimately – “You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb” (Ps 139:13). He did not merely make us for this short life on earth – Christ made us to live eternally with him in heaven! Christ calls us to live this calling as citizens of heaven and to follow his commandments so that we may know him and his infinite joy.

Living in his commands can be simple if we grasp this one thought. If we love God, we’re going to love what he loves. Jesus, in loving the Father, loved the Father’s will. Likewise, if we truly love the Lord and remain in his love, we will love what he loves and seek to do what he out of love wills for us and others.

Prayer of The Day

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you have blessed us with. Lord, help us to never stray and to always remain in your loving care. Lord you choose to pour out your love and mercy on us no matter what, help us never to forget this. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Note

There is nothing that we can take more peace and comfort in than knowing that we have a God that loves us so much and only wants us to have the best. He is love Himself, the source of all love; and there is nothing greater in this world than loving and being loved. We have a chance to remain in the source of love, but we must choose to live by His rules, not our own. If we are obedient servants and choose to live by His commandments, then we can live in His love. If we choose to go it our own way, then we cut ourselves off from this life-giving love that He offers us.

Why Run?

( A commentary on John 5: 1-8)

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Daily Refection – 5/5/2021

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to his disciples: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.” (John 5: 1-8)

Reflection

We live in a time when the Holy Spirit seems to have drawn back from the world.

Our age, much like that in which Jesus lived, offers many reasons to withdraw or retreat, maybe even run from it . . . political confusion and animosity, the arrogance of power, incivility, intolerance in relationships, the flagrant disregard of politicians to listen to and value those they serve.

It sure is enough to make one step away and exist in a world which a person creates in order to survive. I get that. I understand that.

The only issue is our individual ability to persevere in the world which we have personally crafted. No matter how hard we try to avoid the harsher reality, it forces its way in.

But there is way to persevere and it is offered in today’s Gospel. It is an invitation like no other we will ever receive.

“Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit,”

Jesus invites us to remain in a relationship and to let Him remain in us. When we orient our life around him, we become true disciples. We’re not disciples if we merely know what he’s taught or simply follow him on the outside. We become disciples when we unite ourselves to him on the inside and through, with and in him with each other.

If we become disciples in this way, we begin to have a different outlook and an inner strength that can not be taken away. In yesterday’s Gospel, Jesus told his disciples of the gift of peace that he would leave them. Today, Jesus tells his disciples of the gift of strength and perseverance. The gift that enables us to push through.

Sounds good but perhaps you still wonder, still question, maybe even think this sounds like “church talk.”

But there is one important variable that you may forget, God never forgets that we are his beloved daughters and sons.  For all of our faults and all of our failings, God continues to look at us with love.

God loves us with the same love that God loves Jesus. It’s loving us with a love that never ends. It’s a love that tells us how special we are. Like the parent that he is, God tells us, every day, you are my son or daughter. While you may stray from me, how can I ever forget you? I created you and, in that creation, you became mine.

Life will bring its disappointments and adversities. Life will bring its pain. But that is mortal life. Our true inner life with him comes from a wellspring of love. We need to tune into that love every day. We need to remind ourselves every day that we are special because we were created by God. He is our strength and our love. Let each of us feed on that love and then, each day, let us share that love with another.

Then we bear fruit. Then we can nourish our world.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, may I be one with you in all that I say and do. Draw me close that I may glorify you and bear fruit for your kingdom. Inflame my heart with your love and remove from it anything that would make me ineffective or unfruitful in loving and serving you as my All.”

Daily Note

Jesus calls us to a union of love, telling us to remain in his love by keeping his commandments and remaining in his word. He’s told us our union with him should be so profound that whoever receives us receives him, because whoever receives us should be receiving us-in-communion-with-Christ-who-is-himself-in-communion-with-the-Father. Today Jesus points not just to a moral union which is the essence of the Christian life. We enter into an interpersonal communion with the Lord that flows out into deeds. How beautiful is this reality that Jesus wills! And as we attach ourselves to Christ the Vine as his branches, as God’s live flows from the Vine into us the branches, we recognize that we are connected to each other precisely in Christ the Vine.

Looking In The Wrong Places !

( A Commentary on John 14: 27-31)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the  world gives... - SermonQuotes
Daily Reflection – 5/4/2021

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to his disciples: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me tell you, ‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe. I will no longer speak much with you, for the ruler of the world is coming. He has no power over me, but the world must know that I love the Father and that I do just as the Father has commanded me.” (John 14:27-31)

Reflection

This had to be both a sad and troubling moment for the disciples of Jesus. They know that this last supper with him was placing them in unchartered waters. They would be without the person whom they had given up their life to be with.

So, Jesus gives them a gift . . . the gift of peace. At that moment, they may not have fully understood what that meant but it was Jesus Christ telling them not to be” troubled or afraid.”

In the weeks and months that followed that supper, each of them came to understand that gift of peace. Each of them would overcome worldly strife, pain and even death. Yet, each died in peace.

Why do so many of us find that peace so elusive? Why do so many of us find peace so fleeting?

Because we are looking in the wrong places.

The vast majority of people haven’t truly based their lives on God but instead place their treasure in things that won’t last. Jesus described the path of peace and happiness in the Beatitudes, but few really live by what he teaches us.

Many place their peace in money rather in God’s kingdom, and if the stock market takes a dive, if the economy goes into recession, if the gas bill skyrockets, they immediately are destabilized. Jesus says that the path of peace, his faith, is the path of spiritual poverty than finds its true wealth in what thieves can’t destroy, rust can’t corrode, or the IRS can’t tax or confiscate.

Many place our peace in other people’s affection and admiration, but this, too, is insecure. As soon as someone turns on us, rightly or wrongly, we lose our peace. Jesus, on the other hand, teaches us that if our peace is founded on him, we won’t lose it even when people revile us and utter all kinds of evil against us falsely because of him.

Many place their peace on a political figure or a political ideology. When that person ultimately disappoints or that ideology turns to be based on greed, they lose their peace and frantically seek another worldly answer.

Jesus ultimately says that our peace needs to be based on hungering and thirsting for righteousness, for holiness, for a just relationship with God. If we have this, then we can’t lose it, even under trial.

That’s the ultimate ground for the peace he gives us and leaves with us. Our peace is grounded in our living relationship with him, the Prince of Peace. It is made possible by the peace treaty he signs in his own blood with God the Father through his mercy

It’s made possible by the gift of the Holy Spirit that he and the Father send. We see both fully on display at Easter when Jesus enters the closed doors of the Upper Room, twice wishes his startled followers peace, and then says “Receive the Holy Spirit” and “those whose sins you forgive are forgiven.”

If Jesus is our way, truth and life, if we’ve built our existence on him as the cornerstone, then persecution, trouble, or even death can’t take that peace away but rather only confirms it as his gift to us.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, may your peace be always with me. May no troubling thought, trial or affliction rob me of the peace which passes all understanding. You, alone, O Lord, are my Peace. May I always reside in that peace by believing in your word and by doing your will.”

Daily Note

Jesus says to you and me, I give you peace right in the midst of trouble, right in the midst of distress and turmoil and heartache and pressure. I can impart peace to your heart right there, and not as the world gives. How? Why? Because we can return to that basic relationship we have–You in Me, and I in you.

 Out of that comes the guarantee that He is working out His purposes. He will bring us to the end of the trouble. He will still the storm and quiet the waves. We rest in the boat, content, knowing, no water can swallow the ship, where lies the Master of ocean and earth and sky. That is peace.

Teaching The Teacher

( A commentary on John 14: 21-26)

What Does John 14:20 Mean?

Daily Reflection – 5/3/2021

Sacred Scripture

He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me does not keep my words; and the word which you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. “These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (John 14: 21-26)

Reflection

Years ago, while preparing a group of teenagers for Confirmation, one of the most talkative and brightest students raised his hand and said: “You know, I am supposed to step forward and be confirmed, but I still don’t get this part about the Holy Spirit. I just don’t understand.”

After taking a gulp and realizing that somehow, I had missed a key teaching point or two, I remembered this passage from scripture and read it. I used it to discuss the magnitude of the love that God has for us and for the gift of his love manifest in the Holy Spirit.

Saint Augustine says the Lord loves each of us as if there were only one of us to love. God’s love for each of us is as real and tangible as the love of a mother for her child and the love of a lover who gives all for his beloved. God made us in love for love – to know him personally and to grow in the knowledge of his great love for us and to love him in return. God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5) and love is listed first among the fruits of God’s Spirit (Galatians 5:22).

God who gave His son for our salvation also gives us the living presence of His Spirit within us.

Because God’s Spirit is the Spirit of love. God’s Spirit can animate our hearts with the power of loving. When love seems impossible, the Spirit can infuse us with the gift of divine love, the very love of the Father and Son. Then, with the Spirit’s help and guidance, we can love one another and live as the body of Christ.

If faith looks backward to Christ’s resurrection and hope looks forward to Christ’s return, love is the very present life of Christ’s body. Love never ends (1 Cor 13:8). The promise towards which we strain is the promise to see God face to face. God’s love is both the goal and the means by which we attain it. Those who live in love abide in God (1 John 4:16).

As Christians, we look back on the victory of Christ’s resurrection and we look forward to the final triumph of God. The Spirit is our guarantee of God’s activity and promise. The Spirit is the first installment of God’s kingdom, enabling us to live in faith, hope, and love.

Years later, I knew this student as an Army officer and a proud and loving husband and father. In our conversation, he reminded me of that class and added: “To this day, when I want to grow in my love and act in His name, I remember the Holy Spirit in me. The Spirit is my constant companion. I have learned to ask for strength and guidance because my asking actualizes my relationship with the Holy Spirit and opens my heart to allow the Spirit to work within me.”

When he finished, I smiled ruefully and thanked him for the teaching he had just giving me.

Prayer of The Day

Lord Jesus, in love you created me and you drew me to yourself. May I never lose sight of you nor forget your steadfast love and faithfulness. And may I daily dwell upon your word and give you praise in the sanctuary of my heart, You who are my All..

Daily Note

God’s Spirit is given to us to keep our hope alive. It is the Spirit who points us forward to the final victory which God has promised. Reminding us of Christ’s lordship, the Spirit strengthens us to persevere even in the presence of evil and death. Even when it seems that all is lost, the Spirit prompts us to hope for what we cannot see, waiting for God’s salvation with patient endurance (Rom 8:25).

Do You Feel His Longing For You ?

( A commentary on John 6: 1-6)

I Am - The Way, The Truth, and The Life — Assurance

Daily Reflection – 4/30/2021

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where I am going you know the way.” Thomas said to him, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:1-6)

Reflection

The pandemic has turned our world upside down. There are few people who have not been touched by it. Most of us know someone who has died from it. All of us have seen its effect in our daily life.

In the midst of it, we see more turmoil as divisions grow around the world. Labels now define us. We are in or we are out depending on the label given us. Racial and gender labels, income labels, political labels, religious labels.

Is that what you accept? Will a label ever comfort you, fill you with peace, answer the longings of your heart? You and I know they won’t, all they do is segregate us more.

There is only one answer that will ever fulfill us, ever answer our fears, our loneliness or our sorrow. It is in today’s Gospel.

Jesus’ words are reassuring: “I will take you to myself”; “so that where I am you also may be.” They are words of someone who sees fear in the eyes of the one being left behind as Jesus did with his disciples. They are words that we need to hold.

Thomas eagerly asks Jesus to explain the way for them to reach this place. And Jesus pointed out, “I am the way, I am the truth, I am the life.” (John 14:16) By this self-offering, Jesus calls us to make our life here on this earth a pilgrimage so that we may reach where He is. In this declaration is also a precious revelation meant to mold our style of living. In this self-revelation, Jesus declares His identity and His relevance in our life. We need to make an honest soul searching. What does Jesus mean to me? Does He have a role in my daily living?

When Jesus becomes our way, He leads us to the Heavenly Father. His longing is for us to be with Him through eternity. Our life on earth is a pilgrimage. We are on the way – the way that leads to the Father. The sense of our existence consists in moving all the time towards the Father. What we achieve in this world finds its meaning only in so far as they propel us to the Father.

This vision completely rules out every sort of materialistic and consumerist option of life. We are pilgrims on this earth; we can build no permanent security or dwelling here. We most definitely need to work to improve the quality of life on this earth. We must fulfill our responsibilities in the situations we are placed. But this is not enough and cannot be an end in itself. For the real quality of our life would depend on how oriented we are to God. Our actions and decisions would stand the test of time and would bear real fruit only when they are built on the sure foundation of pursuing God’s way.

This must be an everyday experience – God instructing us in every minute aspect of our life. When we are sure that we want only God’s way in our lives, He will reveal it for us. The Lord confirms His faithful guidance in our lives, “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it.’ ” (Isaiah 30:21)

Life is difficult. But Jesus has gone ahead of us to show the way and to be the way for us. With Him our lives acquire a very clear direction and a sure goal. It is then that all labels fall aside. It is then that we have truly become followers of Jesus Christ. 

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, you fill us with the joy of your saving presence and you give us the hope of everlasting life with the Father in Heaven. Show me the Father that I may grow in the knowledge of your great love and truth.”

Daily Note

If you are looking for a goal, hold fast to Christ, because he himself is the truth, where we desire to be. My mouth shall reflect on the truth. If you are looking for a resting place, hold fast to Christ, because he himself is the life. Whoever finds me finds life, and receives salvation from the Lord. Therefore, hold fast to Christ if you wish to be safe. You will not be able to go astray, because he is the way. He who remains with him does not wander in trackless places; he is on the right way. Moreover, he cannot be deceived, because he is the truth, and he teaches every truth. And he says: For this I was born and for this I have come, to bear witness to the truth. Nor can he be disturbed, because he is both life and the giver of life. For he says: I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly.

(St. Thomas Aquinas)