Looking for the Signs

56*12 – learn.lif.co.id
Daily Reflection – 10/22/2021

Sacred Scripture

He also said to the multitudes, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, `A shower is coming’; and so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, `There will be scorching heat’; and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky; but why do you not know how to interpret the present time? “And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison. I tell you, you will never get out till you have paid the very last copper.” (Luke 12: 54-59)

Reflection

Today’s scripture points us to reflecting about actively looking for and then acting on the signs we are given to truly change our lives to be a true follower of Christ.

Jesus expects his disciples to accurately read the signs of the times! Seafarers and farmers know the importance of spotting weather conditions for safe travel and planting. A lot of effort is made today, with the help of science and technology, to discern potential natural dangers, such as tropical storms, hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, earth quakes, and erupting volcanoes, so that people can be warned to take shelter before disaster hits.

Our need for accurately discerning the spiritual condition and moral climate around us is vital if we want to avert spiritual crisis and moral disaster.

The issue is that we either do not see the signs or hear the clues. Why? Because we tend to think of them as supernatural But, in reality, God is speaking to us each day through the Holy Spirit residing in each of us. In fact, God doesn’t give up. He calls us again and again.

That is why we should try to identify patterns in our lives which keep repeating. They could be signs that God is trying to get our attention.

Perhaps, over the last number of weeks or months, there have been a number of times when you thought you were worried about the direction that your adult child is taking. But you did not want to intervene. Yet, the worry persists. Could it be that God is calling you to intervene?

Maybe you are a senior citizen and concerned about what could happen to you as you age. But you keep it inside. You don’t want to bother anyone. Could it be that God wants just that? To reach out and be touched by the love of God inherent in that person’s actions? Or perhaps to have you meet with someone that can help you understand what happens to a person as he/she ages.

Now these examples may seem trivial to you. They are meant to be illustrative. God speaks to us over and over again.

It’s the Holy Spirit, who helps us to lift up our hearts to the Lord, to set our minds on the things of the Lord, to discern the signs of the times and respond accordingly. Responding accordingly is the work of a lifetime but it’s possible by the Holy Spirit’s help.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, flood my heart with your love and free me from all that would keep me from doing your will. Transform my mind that I may discern what is right and choose what is good and pleasing to you.”

Daily Note

The Lord Jesus is our physician and healer and he is ready to set us free from any sinful patterns of thinking, acting, and speaking. If we give our lives over to him he will fill us with his Holy Spirit and give us a new heart and a transformed mind that is filled with his truth, love, and goodness. If you want lasting peace and joy with God, then allow the Lord Jesus to transform every area of your life, your home, your work, your relationships, and possessions so that he may truly be the Lord and Giver of abundant life and righteousness. Are you ready to surrender all to him – and to receive all from him?

The Reality Of Honoring The Prince of Peace

The Fire Jesus Started - Luke 12:49-53 — A Reason for Hope with Don  Patterson
Daily Reflection – 10/21/2021

Sacred Scripture

I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am constrained until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division; for henceforth in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against her mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.” (Luke 12:49-53)

Reflection

The image we have of Jesus is as the Prince of Peace. And that’s totally appropriate.

Then we come to today’s scripture. The words that Jesus speak seem somewhat at odds with all that he taught. The image of loving him bringing discord even within families seems harsh and equally at odds with the Jesus we follow.

It isn’t.

Why did Jesus link fire from heaven with costly division on the earth? Did he expect his followers to take his statement of “father against son and son against father” and “mother against daughter and daughter against mother” literally? Or was he intentionally using a figure of speech to emphasize the choice and cost of following him above all else?

Jesus was challenging his disciples to examine who they love first and foremost. A true disciple loves God above all else and is willing to forsake all for Jesus Christ.

It is possible that family and friends can become our enemies if the thought of them keeps us from doing what we know God wants us to do.

Doing what God wants us to do is at the heart of this message. You and I are called to be more than peace makers but rather you and I are called to be defenders of peace and defenders of the truth.

How is that?

As long as we live in a world where injustice and evil are present, opposing that evil and injustice is necessary. And opposing evil is hardly peaceful. Jesus does indeed call us to peace, but getting to peace is often disturbing and painful.

If we make keeping the peace our highest priority, we will never allow ourselves to upset or disturb anyone. We will always be inclined to not rock the boat. Such an approach runs the risk of covering over the injustice and evil that are present among us.

When it tolerates evil, keeping the peace is contrary to God’s kingdom.

Keeping the peace can lead us not to confront a member of our family about his/her addiction. Keeping the peace can lead us to turn our heads when we confront abuse. Keeping the peace can lead us to a shrug of the shoulders when a person in authority ignores the rights of another.

But standing up for the truth and what is just leads us to serve the cause of peace and all that the Prince of Peace taught. Often that leads to fire.

The fire you see in a teenager’s eyes when you say “no” because the request is either wrong or potentially harmful. The fire you see in an employee’s eyes who has been a disruptive force in the workplace and, after several admonitions, you must end the employment. The fire you see in your friends’ eyes when you point out that jokes about another’s sexual orientation, or looks, or race are pure and simply wrong.

Each of these times, and many more, are those instances that set us apart. Being set apart can feel divisive.

But in the end, we need to decide if we are serving the Prince of Peace or just keeping the peace. That is a call each of us needs to make.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, may the fire of your love consume me and transform my life that I may truly desire nothing more than life with you. Fill me with the power of your Holy Spirit that I may always seek to please you and do your will.”

Daily Note

The scripture message is good news for those who seek pardon, peace, and the abundant life which God offers us through his Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus offers true freedom to those who believe in him – freedom from slavery to sin, Satan, and the oppressive forces of hatred and evil that can destroy body, mind, and spirit. Do you listen to the voice of your Savior and trust in his word? Commit your ways to him, obey his word, and you will find true peace, joy, and happiness in the Lord your God.

What Will History Say About You?

Blog Archives - Verbum Dei Philippines
Daily Reflection – 10/20/2021

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to his disciples: “Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” Then Peter said, “Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?” And the Lord replied, “Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward whom the master will put in charge of his servants to distribute the food allowance at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so. Truly, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property. But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants, to eat and drink and get drunk, then that servant’s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish the servant severely and assign him a place with the unfaithful. That servant who knew his master’s will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely; and the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating shall be beaten only lightly. Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.” (Luke 12:39-48)

Reflection

If asked the question of how will history portray us, many would say: “ Nah, you have the wrong person. I am not important enough for history to remember me.”

If any answer could be grossly incorrect, that is it!

You know that first you are important to God. He brought you into this world and he died so that you could be freed from the sins of the world and live with him for eternity.

That’s a pretty important note in salvation history.

You can add to that the fact that you will always be part of the history of those you love, those you knew and those were affected by your actions.

That’s a second important note in history about you.

So, you may now answer me: “OK, OK, I accept that. But the last line of this scripture carries a lot of responsibility and I don’t know if I can measure up to it.”

“Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”

This scripture seems demanding because its emphasis is on our work, our service, our responsibility to build the kingdom of God. Just as soon as Jesus lowers that obligation upon us, it is easy to flee for cover.

Christ calls us to build the kingdom of God, and we have all kinds of reasons why we are too busy, too depressed, too tired, too old, or too weak to do it.

So, how do we turn this around? How do we become the servants that Christ asks us to be? How do we motivate ourselves to build God’s kingdom? We do it by taking advantage of two things this world still offers.

Beauty and love.

We begin by acknowledging and accepting that the work of Christ is both beautiful and important.

Yes, it is difficult at times to be patient and understanding with our children, with our parents, with our spouse. The fact that Christ commands us to do so doesn’t make it any easier. But, if we could see the beautiful parts of the people in our family, if we could recognize their sincerity, their innocence, their honesty, their energy, we could push through all the frustrating peculiarities and love them.

Yes, it is difficult at times to find the time and energy to help others: to give some time to the elderly neighbor who lives on our street, to work in a soup kitchen, to volunteer to teach a child to read. But, if we could remember the beauty of the people that we help and how important it is to have them fed, literate, and not alone, we could push through all the complications of our schedules and serve them.

When we’re dealing with grief or discouragement, it is difficult to remain positive. But, if we could see the beauty of the smile that we could bring to another’s face, and understand the way that our attitude can lift the attitude of others, we can push through the pain and be the presence of Christ to those around us.

When we realize that we are actually living the love that Christ commands . . . when we realize that living that love brings us to a point that we are reflecting the presence of Christ, then our life takes on even more significance.

Living the love that Christ commands us also enriches our appreciation of the people who sustain us in our life. When we express our love, we come as close as we can to knowing the true meaning of life. We also prepare ourselves to welcome the Son of Man, when he comes at an hour we do not expect.

Now THAT is important and so are you.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, you have captured my heart for you. Make me strong in faith, steadfast in hope, and generous in love that I may seek to please you in all things and bring you glory. May I always be watchful and ready to answer when you draw near.”

Daily Note

The Lord Jesus calls us to be vigilant in watching for his return and to be ready to meet him when he calls us to himself. The Lord gives us his Holy Spirit so that we may have the wisdom, strength, and help we need to turn away from own sin and to embrace God’s way of love, justice, and holiness. The Lord’s warning of judgment causes dismay for those who are unprepared, but it brings joyful hope to those who eagerly wait for his return in glory. God’s judgment is good news for those who are ready to meet him face to face when he returns. Their reward is God himself, the source of all truth, beauty, goodness, love and everlasting life. Are you ready to receive his grace and help today to walk in faithfulness and obedience, trust and hope, steadfast love and mercy?

The Messiah In You

Luke 12:35-38 | Joy of the lord, Luke 12, Lord is my strength
Daily Reflection – 10/19/2021

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to his disciples: “Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them. And should he come in the second or third watch and find them prepared in this way, blessed are those servants.” (Luke 12:35-38)

Reflection

In today’s scripture. Jesus praises those who keep an awareness of his presence. He calls us to be “like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. … And should he come in the second or third watch and find them prepared in this way, blessed are those servants.”

This is the attitude we call “presence of God,” an awareness that Jesus is with us in the world, an alertness of the various ways he comes to us.

If we are that aware, if we believe that then the actions of our lives change. So much that we are different from many. We are distinctive from the rest of the world. Not every day because our humanity gets in the way and we stumble, sometimes even fail.

It’s the very act of striving that is so meaningful. Because we are striving for God’s holiness, because acting in accord with it reveals a truth, and it is a truth that is both arresting and attractive. And meaningful to God.

God calls us to be faithful and ready to do whatever our heavenly Father commands us. How can we serve as Jesus served and be faithful to the end of our days? Only love – the love which God has poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Romans 5:5) – can transform us and fill us with joy and courage in offering our lives in humble service to God and one another. The Lord Jesus sets us free from fear and pride so we can love and serve one another as he has loved and served each one of us (Ephesians 5:2).

To do that, we need to adopt a servant heart and a willing spirit that is ready to listen and always eager to obey.

“A servant heart.”  “A willing spirit.” “Ready to listen.” “Eager to obey.”

Those very phrases seem out of touch in today’s world. In fact, the very opposite of each of those phrases seem to be operative in our society.

And that is why we are different when we live with an awareness of the very presence of God.

God is real and is calling us. He wants us to know that our lives will unfold not as we dream them but as God dreams them. We are called to trust, to open our hearts and allow Christ to make his dream for us a reality.

We believe that Christ is coming at the end of time and that we want to welcome him. But we also believe that Christ is already present in each one of us.

 So, if we want to welcome him then, we start by welcoming him now. If we began to think in this way, our lives would change. We would treat people differently. If that attitude became contagious, we could change our world. Then more and more people would be acting with greater love, justice, and respect. This is what God calls us to do, to build God’s kingdom. We could fulfill our mission and serve our God simply by welcoming each other as the Messiah.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, you loved me first and you gave your life for me. Fill me with a joyful heart and a generous spirit that is ready to serve and to do whatever you command.”

Daily Note

Jesus is the Master who is coming back soon, at a time we are not sure about. We are his servants, entrusted with the care of our own lives in the meantime. Ultimately, even our lives are simply a gift from God; they belong to him. He entrusted us with them as with a precious gift. If we squander that gift by wasting our lives in self-absorption, self-gratification, and other genres of rebellious, sinful behavior, we will lose the original gift and never enjoy its fulfillment. But if we spend our lives in a manner worthy of the master who gave them to us–generously loving God and neighbor, developing our potential, and putting it at the service of all that is true, good, and beautiful–then we will be blessed when he returns. Indeed, upon that return, we will enter into his joy, and he will rejoice in us, and all our deepest desires will be satisfied far beyond our wildest imagination.

To Love Him Is To Live Him

Luke 12:8-9 | The son of man, Scripture verses faith, Luke 12
Daily Reflection – 10/18/2021

Sacred Scripture

After this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to come. And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no purse, no bag, no sandals; and salute no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, `Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace shall rest upon him; but if not, it shall return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages; do not go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you, heal the sick in it and say to them, `The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ (Luke 10: 1-9)

Reflection

Those who know me also know that the personal motto of my ministry is: “To love Him is to live Him.”

While I fail every day, I keep persevering. I know that if I keep my life focused on living His word that I will, at least, have the right goal which should govern my thoughts, words and actions.

Today’s scripture speaks to that sentiment.

When Jesus commissioned seventy of his disciples to go on mission, he gave them a vision of a vast field that is ready to be harvested for the kingdom of God. Jesus frequently used the image of a harvest to convey the coming of God’s reign on earth. The harvest is the fruition of much labor and growth – beginning with the sowing of seeds, then growth to maturity, and finally the reaping of fruit for the harvest.

God’s word grows like a seed within us. In like manner, the word of God is sown in the hearts of receptive men and women who hear his word, accept it with trust and obedience, and then share the abundant fruit of God’s word in their lives with others.

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

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

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

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

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

Our gift to Him is to bring Him alive to another. That’s our call and our mission.

Prayer of The Day

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

Daily Note

God gives us his life-giving word that we may have abundant life in him. He wills to work in and through each of us for his glory. God shares his word with us and he commissions us to speak it boldly and plainly to others. Do you witness the truth and joy of the Gospel by word and example to those around you?

Our Worthiness To Him

Sparrow Scripture Matthew 10 Mixed Media by Brian Tada
Daily Reflection – 10/15/2021

Sacred Scripture

At that time: So many people were crowding together that they were trampling one another underfoot. Jesus began to speak, first to his disciples, “Beware of the leaven–that is, the hypocrisy–of the Pharisees. There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the darkness will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed on the housetops. I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body but after that can do no more. I shall show you whom to fear. Be afraid of the one who after killing has the power to cast into Gehenna; yes, I tell you, be afraid of that one. Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins? Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God. Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.” (Luke 12: 1-7)

Reflection

As shallow as it may sound, many people live out their life on a stage. Regardless of what they really think, or what they may do in secret, they live their lives concerned about how they appear to others. If something goes awry, they change their “appearance” so they conform more to what they think the world wants.

Jesus has revealed that after we die, we face judgment. In this passage, he reminds us of this and encourages us to live with this perspective always in mind. We are not living for this earthly life alone. In fact, our journey here is directed towards a glorious destination beyond this earth. How foolish we are when we lose sight of this! How easily manipulated by false fears and false promises alike!

Jesus wants to save us from that life of unnecessary anxiety and uncertainty. And he does so by reminding us that God is our Father, that we matter to him as much as a little child matters to its loving, doting parents. The small little sparrows Jesus uses in his comparison owe every moment of their existence to God’s providential sustenance and care. And yet, we are worth more than many sparrows… Even the hairs of your head have all been counted…

 The challenges and sufferings of life in this fallen world, riddled with injustice and violence, are real. But Jesus doesn’t want us to live in fear of them. He invites us to trust that God can handle them, and that God’s plan for our eternal happiness far surpasses anything we could possibly imagine. 

At the heart of Christianity is the belief that we know that we are daughters and sons of God. We believe that we have a personal relationship with Christ. We trust that regardless of who we are or the mistakes we have made, God will remain faithful to us and protect us. We believe that Jesus knows the pitch of our voice and knowing everything about us, still freely chooses to love us and protect us.

 Outside of that relationship, faith is simply a matter of words and religion a system of ideas. Words and ideas are not going to save us. Only love can save us. This is why we must be grounded in a relationship of love with Christ.

 We need the strength that flows from that love because we live in world where there are all kinds of threats. We face the threat of terrorism, the threat of illness, the threat of rejection or prejudice from others, the threat of addiction, of violence, of injustice. How do we expect to cope with the fears that these threats can destroy us? How do we expect to gain the strength by which we can oppose the evil in our world and work towards God’s Kingdom? How do we expect to remain optimistic and positive, believing that life is worth living?

Words and ideas can only bring us so far. It is only when we ground ourselves in God’s personal love for us, that we can find peace. It is only when we believe God has chosen us and can recognize the very sound of our voice that we can live in freedom. Jesus’ words are clear. We belong to him. He knows our voice. He will always care and protect us. We need then, to stand in that personal relationship. We need to draw the strength that comes from Christ’s commitment to us. Jesus says, “I love you.” We need to believe that He is serious!

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, may the light of your word free my heart from the deception of sin and consume me with a burning love for your truth and righteousness.”

Daily Note

Hypocrisy thrives on making a good appearance and masking what they don’t want others to see. The good news is that God’s light exposes the darkness of evil and sin in our hearts, even the sin which is unknown to us. And God’s light transforms our hearts and minds and enables us to overcome hatred with love, pride with humility, and pretense with integrity and truthfulness. God gives grace to the humble and contrite of heart to enable us to overcome the leaven of insincerity and hypocrisy in our lives.

The Pharisee In Each of Us

Allacin's Free Illustrated Summaries of Christian Classics: May 2020
Daily Reflection – 10/14/2010

Sacred Scripture

The Lord said: “Woe to you who build the memorials of the prophets whom your fathers killed. Consequently, you bear witness and give consent to the deeds of your ancestors, for they killed them and you do the building. Therefore, the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send to them prophets and Apostles; some of them they will kill and persecute’ in order that this generation might be charged with the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who died between the altar and the temple building. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be charged with their blood! Woe to you, scholars of the law! You have taken away the key of knowledge. You yourselves did not enter and you stopped those trying to enter.” When Jesus left, the scribes and Pharisees began to act with hostility toward him and to interrogate him about many things, for they were plotting to catch him at something he might say. (Luke 11:47-54)

Reflection

Today Jesus finishes his very sharp words about those Pharisees who for all their external religious practices turn out to be murderers on the inside: in imitation of the way their ancestors killed the prophets, they would conspire to have Jesus himself killed.

Their essential defect in the understanding of their relationship with God was a focus on their own external actions in fulfillment of the law of the Covenant rather than on whether they were branches attached to God the Vine, whether they were in fact loving God with all they had and loving their neighbor to the extreme or whether they were opposing God and hating or slaying their neighbor.

When challenged, they grew more and more defensive to the point that they wanted this upstart from Nazareth out of their lives.

Defensiveness.

Defensiveness leading to violence.

Sound familiar?

The history of God’s chosen people, the Jews, and indeed, the history of the entire human family, is marked by the beneficiaries of God’s generosity repeatedly rebelling against God.

This rebellious spirit is within each one of us. As children of Adam and Eve, the initiators of mankind’s rebellion against God, we have a strong tendency to want to dictate how things should be in our lives and in the world, regardless of God’s providence or sovereignty.

When we interact with our loved ones, when we have challenging encounters at work, when a neighbor differs from our political views, we often find ourselves getting defensive. Anytime a difference of opinion seems to question our intelligence or integrity, our initial reaction is usually to assert our intelligence and integrity, even violently. If we can catch ourselves when we do that, if we can become aware of when we are acting defensively, we will capture a golden opportunity for spiritual growth.

Defensiveness exposes insecurities.

 Insecurities expose areas in need of God’s grace and light. Jesus pointed out in his Sermon on the Mount that the meek and the poor of spirit are blessed. The peacemakers are blessed. Whenever we find ourselves reacting to something violently, it’s an opportunity to pause, ask ourselves where that reaction is coming from, and adjust the reaction to be more Christlike, more in harmony with virtues like humility, patience and tolerance.

How in his name can we turn on another child of God? Why do we think we have the right to bad mouth, demean, use our sarcasm to belittle another child of God?

Who put us in the seat of a judge? Haven’t we learned “Judge not, lest you be judged.”?

The truth is that we all have weak points, blind spots, areas where we need to work hard to grow in wisdom, fortitude, faith, and temperance. When someone triggers emotional defensiveness, we can rest assured that nine times out of ten they have exposed one of those weak points, giving us a golden opportunity to exercise one of those virtues.

It’s those virtues, when practiced daily, that serve to pave the way for our final union with him.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, may your word take root in my heart and transform all my thoughts and actions. Give me wisdom and understanding that I may know your will for my life and have the courage to live according to it.”

Daily Note

When we begin spiritually by putting the cart before the horse, by focusing too much on ourselves and our actions rather than God, when we “I will do” instead of “Let it be done to me,”), we begin the process of taking our eyes off of God and placing them on our actions and on ourselves. When that happens, we can start to drift away from God even in the midst of seemingly religious activity.

How Authentic Is Your Love of God?

2018 – Page 29 – Archdiocese of Malta
Daily Reflection – 10/13/2021

Sacred Scripture

The Lord said: “Woe to you Pharisees! You pay tithes of mint and of rue and of every garden herb, but you pay no attention to judgment and to love for God. These you should have done, without overlooking the others. Woe to you Pharisees! You love the seat of honor in synagogues and greetings in marketplaces. Woe to you! You are like unseen graves over which people unknowingly walk.” Then one of the scholars of the law said to him in reply, “Teacher, by saying this you are insulting us too.” And he said, “Woe also to you scholars of the law! You impose on people burdens hard to carry, but you yourselves do not lift one finger to touch them.” (Luke 11:42-46)

Reflection

Why did Jesus adopt such a harsh tone with the Pharisees in today’s scripture?

They were very attentive to minute matters of little importance, but they neglected to care for the needy and the weak. Jesus admonished them because their hearts were not right. They put unnecessary burdens on others while neglecting to show charity, especially to the weak and the poor. They meticulously went through the correct motions of conventional religion while forgetting the realities.

What was the point of Jesus’ lesson? The essence of God’s commandments is love – love of the supreme good – God himself and love of our neighbor who is made in the image and likeness of God. God is love (1 John 4:8) and everything he does flows from his love for us. God’s love is unconditional and is wholly directed towards the good of others. True love both embraces and lifts the burdens of others

The two commandments He gave us are actually two components of one great commandment.  Neither of those two commandments can function independently.  Both are necessary.  Each is one side of the same coin, together forming the one great commandment that is most important of all.

Why is it impossible to love God without loving our neighbor?  Unless we are willing to love our neighbor, unless we’re willing to give ourselves in service to those in need, unless we’re willing to reach out in generosity and sacrifice, our love of God is hypocrisy. 

 If we are unable to love those around us, our prayer to God and our love of God is empty.  If we are unwilling to give of ourselves to others, then our love of God is merely a matter of words or pious practices.  It might make us feel good, but it has no substance.  It is not based in reality.  Love of God without love of neighbor is empty. It is hypocrisy.

How about the other way around?  Why is love of neighbor without love of God deficient?  Why do we need to love God if we are truly going to love our neighbor?  This is a more difficult question, isn’t it?  But the answer is this: love of God gives us the freedom to love others even when it is difficult, even when it is not all that practical.  It is easy to love those who love us in return, but how can we love those who hurt us?  How can we love our enemies?  We cannot love them for their sake, but we can love them for God’s sake.  We can love them because we love God

The love of God gives us the ability to love others and to love the earth, even when that love is not reciprocated, even when it produces few results.  Our Jewish brother and sisters call this kind of loving a “mitzvah.”  It means “it is commanded.”  We do it because God expects it of us, and we love the God who loves us.  This kind of loving is free.  It is free from the limitations of strategies, the limitations of success.  We love because God asks us to love, and that love is without any strings attached.

Jesus gives us a great commandment, but that great commandment has two essential parts: love of God and love of neighbor.  Both are required.  Love of God without love of neighbor is empty.  Love of neighbor without love of God is limited to only love which is convenient and practical.  But these two loves together form one great commandment.  They are the most important thing.  They are our entry into the kingdom of God.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, inflame my heart with your love that I may always pursue what matters most – love of you, my Lord and my God, and love of my fellow neighbor whom you have made in your own image and likeness. Free my heart from selfish desires that I may only have room for kindness, mercy, and goodness toward every person I know and meet.”

Daily Note

Jesus continually invites us to take responsibility for our lives by choosing freely how we will relate to ourselves, to others, and to God. His Gospel continues to shine like a beacon, illuminating a path of living in which we see ourselves as called into friendship with God and called to build up God’s Kingdom–not our own personal kingdoms–in the world around us. As we look at the climate in the United States with its deep divisions and polarizations, each of us must ask ourselves whether we are maintaining our friendship with God and building up his kingdom by loving and serving our neighbor regardless of who they are and what they think.

You’re Expected to Stand Out, So Do It

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Daily Reflection – 10/12/2021

Sacred Scripture

After Jesus had spoken, a Pharisee invited him to dine at his home. He entered and reclined at table to eat. The Pharisee was amazed to see that he did not observe the prescribed washing before the meal. The Lord said to him, “Oh you Pharisees! Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil. You fools! Did not the maker of the outside also make the inside? But as to what is within, give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you.”( Luke 11:37-41)

Reflection

Modesty is extolled as a virtue in most parts of the world. It is an admirable quality except . . .

Except when it comes to living our faith.

In today’s scripture, we read of the Pharisee who wanted to hear more from this extraordinary man who spoke the word of God as no one else had done before. It was not unusual for a rabbi to give a teaching over dinner. Jesus, however, did something which offended his host. He did not perform the ceremonial washing of hands before beginning the meal. Jesus turned the table on his host by chiding him for uncleanliness of heart.

Which is more important to God – clean hands or a clean mind and heart? Jesus chided the Pharisees for harboring evil thoughts that make us unclean spiritually – such as greed, pride, bitterness, envy, arrogance, and the like.

He reminds us that love is the foundation of our faith. Love is a relational virtue, not a ritualistic virtue.

If we truly believe that Christianity is founded on the two great commands then Christ expects us to live those commands abundantly. So abundantly that we stand out.

After all, if we appear the same as everyone else in our day-to-day activities, if our faith does not somehow set us apart, it is questionable how much we really are living out our faith. So, wherever we work, whether it is in an office, whether our work now is going to school, whether our work is caring for a home or driving a truck or working on an assembly line or using our retirement years to help others, whatever job we have, we need to work in such a way that it manifests that we are followers of Jesus.

We do that with three qualities . . .  integrity, compassion and witness.

Those that follow Christ work with integrity. They do not bend the rules of the office to their own advantage. They do not put others down to make themselves look good or to prime themselves for a promotion. People know that their word can be trusted, that they will make decisions based on the common good rather than their selfish ambition.

Those who follow Christ also work with compassion. They are aware of the people around them, whether the people in their home or around them. They are willing to take time to listen to a child or to a spouse after a difficult day. They pick up clues from their co-workers of some problem or stress and let them know they are available for support.

Those who follow Christ are also willing to give witness to their faith. They are willing to let others know that they are Christians, that they believe in Christ. They are willing to find ways to let others know that they believe in God and that they value that belief. By acting in this way they witness that they are believers and testify that Christ makes a difference in their lives.

Jesus is the way the truth and the life. But faith is not sufficient in itself. It must be lived out in a way that it reflects God’s love in our lives. Those who are willing to live their lives with integrity, with compassion, and a willingness to witness identify themselves as true followers of Jesus.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, fill me with your love and increase my thirst for holiness. Cleanse my heart of every evil thought and desire and help me to act kindly and justly and to speak charitably with my neighbor.”

Daily Note

God wants to bring us to a living faith that is operative in love. St. James will tell us in his epistle that “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). True Christian faith is shown by the way it leads us to try to love like God loves, to the way it makes us patient and kind and all the other attributes St. Paul describes in his Canticle of Love (1 Cor 13), to the way it helps us to sacrifice for God and our brothers and sisters, even to the point of laying down our lives for them. We clean our insides not by rituals of egg-shells of water but by self-giving love, which when done from the heart rather is a great spiritual detergent. Today is a day on which the Lord is calling us to ponder whether our faith bears fruit in generous giving of ourselves and what we have to others.

Where Are You Truly Focused?

My Reflections...: Reflection for Wednesday, March 13; First Week of Lent;  Luke 11:29-32

Daily Reflection – 10/11/2021

Sacred Scripture

While still more people gathered in the crowd, Jesus said to them, “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah. Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. At the judgment the queen of the south will rise with the men of this generation and she will condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and there is something greater than Solomon here. At the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because at the preaching of Jonah they repented, and there is something greater than Jonah here.” (Luke 11:29-32)

Reflection

Many of the Jews who had been influenced by the Scribes and the Pharisees were seeking signs from Jesus, despite the fact that Jesus had been working many signs.

Likewise, these same critics weren’t accepting any of Jesus’ other signs, his many miracles of healing and feeding. They were essentially only looking for signs that corresponded to their preconceived prejudices, that if Jesus were the Messiah, then he would work signs that pointed to his liberating them from the Romans and establishing a political renewal of the Davidic Kingdom.

Looking for signs that they wanted.

The generation he was preaching to, and in a sense every generation of fallen humanity, is evil. We have a strong tendency to be self-centered, self-absorbed, greedy, lustful, insensitive to God’s voice and to the needs of those around us. Only a few members of that growing crowd would faithfully follow Jesus until the end. They were seeking quick fixes for their worldly problems; they weren’t seeking the best way to glorify God and advance Christ’s Kingdom.

If more than a few made Jesus Christ the center of their lives, there would be no more evil generation.

What wonders he could do in our lives if only we wouldn’t relegate him to the sidelines. Instead of focusing on him, we elect secular Gods to occupy our minds.

Too many spend their time, energy and life on everything but Jesus. Endlessly, too many debate and hate what is around them. Voices that could rise in pray instead are raised in anger against other people, people who do not match their preconception of what life should be.

Instead of carrying the cross of Christ, too many carry placards of hatred. Read the signs they carry.  Look at their posts on social media. Are the words you read the words of a follower of Christ?

Do we really think that Jesus Christ came to encourage a society where every person’s will could be imposed on another so that one is elevated against another?

Jesus came to build a kingdom where brother helped brother where EVERONE counted. Where EVERYONE was loved equally. Where EVERYONE was respected. Where EVERYONE’s dignity was affirmed.

God searches our hearts, not to condemn us, but to show us where we need his saving grace and help. He calls us to seek him with true repentance, humility, and the honesty to see our sins for what they really are – a rejection of his love and will for our lives.
Listen to God’s word of wisdom and you will find true life and everlasting joy
God will transform us if we listen to his word and allow his Holy Spirit to work in our lives.

A double-minded person cannot receive this kind of wisdom. The single of heart desire one thing alone – God’s pleasure. God wants us to delight in him and to know the freedom of his truth and love.

Living our daily lives against the true horizon of eternal life can only bring us greater wisdom, peace, and joy even now, let alone beyond the grave.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, give me a heart that loves what is good and in accord with your will and fill me with your wisdom that I may understand your ways. Give me the grace and the courage to reject whatever is evil and contrary to your will.”

Daily Note

Today it’s important for us to become a “good and holy generation” in contrast to the receptivity of those whom Jesus was calling out in today’s Gospel. We’re called not only to accept the signs of Jesus’ call to conversion, his wisdom and his death and resurrection, but to become so united to him that we become signs of Jesus’ death and resurrection, signs of his wisdom, signs of his summons to conversion in the midst of the world.