Sheeps and Wolves . . .

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Daily Reflection – 7/10/2020

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to his Apostles: “Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves. But beware of men, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues, and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to another. Amen, I say to you, you will not finish the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”( Matthew 10:16-23)

Reflection

Today’s Scripture has a very different tone. Jesus continues his instructions to his disciples. However, he warns his disciples that as they proclaim his message, they need to be careful. They will be vulnerable, like sheep in the midst of wolves. Thus, they need to be alert and shrewd in their assessment of everyone they encounter.

His advice is good for us today as well, “be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves.”  Some of us are too jaded, and some of us are too naive.  Neither extreme is good.  It is difficult to find the right balance between the two, but that is exactly what Jesus is calling us to do.

What is troubling about the gospel today is that Jesus spoke about family members turning against his disciples.  Sometimes this happens in our family too. In the United States today, the culture is deeply divided and each side believes fervently that their position is right. It has become so divisive that even family members weigh that which they have to say for fear of alienating someone they love.

Actually, most of the time when we speak up for what is right, or good, or moral, then we usually make other people upset with us.  But this is exactly what Jesus called us to do.

Following Jesus is not an easy path. Following Jesus means that every day we have to consciously choose to be and do what Jesus did. At times, this may bring consequences that we do not expect.

However, if we truly live as Jesus lived, we may rock some boats and make enemies just as he did. But we always have a choice. And every morning, we have to make a choice! If we choose to live and act as Jesus did, we will receive abundant graces! Only we can choose!

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, help me to patiently and joyfully accept the hardships, adversities, and persecution which come my way in serving you.  Strengthen my faith and give me courage that I may not shrink back from doing your will”.

Daily Note

Jesus needs us today more than any other time because today we see the world being slowly enveloped by the culture of secularization. What are we going to do about this tilting paradigm shift toward secularization? Are we just going to stand idly, do nothing and be indifferent to the mission of Jesus? Our indifference towards the mission of Jesus contributes to the degeneration of the value formation of this world. Many of us are even already afraid to take up the cudgels for Jesus, so we confine Jesus inside the walls of the church.

Preparing for the trip

My Reflections...: Reflection for Thursday July 12, Fourteenth ...
Daily Reflection – 7/9/2020

Sacred Scripture

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

Reflection

Our life is a journey from God to God.

How we travel that journey are the indices of the final destination.

As Jesus prepared his disciples for their journey, he taught them lessons which are important for each of us.

He told them to travel light so their focus would be on the work of God. He wanted them to understand that poverty of resources can sometimes allow the Lord to work more powerfully. So too with us. Where is our focus in this life? Are we thinking of what we should do be doing to further His kingdom on earth? Or are we so wrapped up in the materiality around us, or our titles, or our politics, or our own self-aggrandizement? All of those mean we are not as Christ centered as we are called to be

Jesus was also teaching them not to be over reliant on their own human resources, but to rely on the Lord to provide for them. The value of self-reliance is even stronger today than it would have been in the much more communal culture of Jesus. We have been taught to leave nothing to chance. We must plan for every eventuality. But what about our reliance on Christ. Is it truly there? How often do we step out in faith? Or are we sidelined by our determination to prepare for every contingency of life?

Jesus is the fullest revelation possible in a human life of God’s tender love. Yet, he experienced the turning away of people from this love, their refusal to respond to it in any meaningful way. When Jesus sends out his apostles, he warns them to expect the same. They are to proclaim the good news that the reign of God’s life-giving love is present, but they will encounter those who will not welcome them Jesus insists that this negative response is not to deter them from their mission of proclaiming God’s loving presence by what they say and do. So too with us. There are and will be times that our living out the Gospel will turn some away, that we will be considered a “bit much.” But how can His love manifested in the way we live out His command ever be anything but a source of hope, compassion and selflessness for each of us?

God shares His word with us and he commissions us to speak it boldly and simply to others. 

Prayer of The Day

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

Daily Note

The instruction of Jesus for the apostles is His marching order for us as well; Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, drive out demons. In other words, Jesus is telling us to make a difference in the lives of others most especially the poor. Let us not be selfish, let us rather be sensitive to their needs for in doing so we bring ourselves closer to the Lord.

Miracle on Main Street

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Daily Reflection – 7/8/2020

Sacred Scripture

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

Reflection

What an interesting group of people Jesus chose to be His first emissaries. Different walks of life, different educations, different accents.

They were non- professionals, had no wealth or position.  They were chosen from the common people who did ordinary things. Jesus wanted ordinary people who could take an assignment and do it extraordinarily well.  He chose these men, not for what they were, but for what they would be capable of becoming under his direction and power. 

That should not come as a surprise. After all, Jesus Christ lived a public ministry of doing extraordinary things. And this Lord, who loves to transform and change, also worked wonders with the Twelve!

These Twelve, with their varied personalities and characters, were handed on the Charge to continue the Gigantic Task of their Daring Master: “To be the Ambassadors of the Kingdom of God”. To be with Him and to be sent out. To have authority over unclean spirits and drive them out. To cure every disease and illness and to preach! These chosen lights were to cast their rays over the rest of humanity, in all nations.

The message for us? He is willing to transform us!  The only thing that He needs from us is Our Consent, Our Willingness, Our Openness! Let’s not allow our self-perceptions to get in the way of answering His call. If we pause long enough, and listen long enough, we will hear His call to each of us. Further My Kingdom. Right where you are now, live my Gospel and by doing so, be my light.

Yes, the Lord is calling you and me, the Lord is desiring you and me, the Lord is wanting you and me.

Are we hearing? Let this not remain a Missed Call!  Let’s pick up, and answer. and co-operate with the Our Lord who calls us to “Dare to be Different”!

Prayer of The Day

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

Daily Note

Our vocation as an apostle, is not a question of our wanting to be one. It is not a question of our talents or compelling feelings for this or that, but of our faith-driven awareness of God asking and our responding. Why are we where we are now in our vocation in life? In our particular marriage? In a particular lay movement? We can never know fully, for only God knows the depths of his own wisdom. This is the first mystery of the Kingdom that touches each one of us personally: God called, he willed it, and we said “yes.” This is the only answer we should seek. Anything else slows down the mission and interrupts the dialogue of love and service to the mission.

To See With His Eyes

My Reflections...: Reflection for Tuesday July 10, Fourteenth Week ...
Daily Reflection – 7/7/2020

Sacred Scripture

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

Reflection

“ . . . His heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd.”

I can feel the compassion of Christ as I meditate on this scripture. It’s far more than pity. It truly is deep concern mixed with compassion. He saw the physical and the mental anguish around him, He knew the need, and He responded with love.

Isn’t that where we are today? We live in a world fraught with pain, with anxiety, with needs so great that many remain unexpressed. We cannot claim to be followers of Christ unless we are willing to respond to the needs around us. But what is the nature of our response? It’s not simply the act of giving nor the act of responding; it is how we respond. We need to respond by seeing through the eyes of Christ.

We are asked to peer into the hearts of the people around us: our friends, family, co-workers, and lovers. He asks us to be present and enter into a relationship, however brief, with those around us, especially the one person whom it would just take too much to completely forgive. In truly seeing others, being present to them, and investing time in them, regardless of who they are, Christ wants to show us something absolutely incredible: his own love and commitment to us.

We are called not just to be “masters of the harvest” but to be Masters of the Heart.

Our world cries out for us and to us. Hear my pain, see my suffering, know my sadness, and show me your heart. Let me feel the warmth of your concern, the gentleness of your words as they comfort me, the knowledge that I am more than another need. They mean more to me than any material gift.

Jesus is calling on us right now to help Him heal the wounds around us. We do that by being present to the needs of another, by responding in love. When we do that, we will come to know and feel how much our God is in love with us. When we know the depth of His love, we will find it easy to see as He sees and love as He loves.

And your response is  . . ?

Prayer of The Day

“Jesus, thank you for loving me. I accept your pity—your compassion—and I open my heart today to your healing and forgiveness as I will open my heart to those around me in need.”

Daily Note

Jesus always placed the needs of others first, before his own. Reflect on that the next time you “do not feel called” to help someone in need. The task to love and serve and heal is a mandate not dependent on our feelings. If you ever wonder what God’s will is for your life, it is remarkably easy to discover. Wherever you see someone in need, physically or spiritually, that is where God is calling you. And yes, that even applies to strangers and enemies and relatives.

It Doesn’t Come From A Coke Machine

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Daily Reflection – 7/6/2020

Sacred Scripture

While Jesus was speaking, an official came forward, knelt down before him, and said, “My daughter has just died. But come, lay your hands on her, and she will live.” Jesus rose and followed him, and so did his disciples. A woman suffering hemorrhages for twelve years came up behind him and touched the tassel on his cloak. She said to herself, “If only I can touch his cloak, I shall be cured. Jesus turned around and saw her, and said, “Courage, daughter! Your faith has saved you.” And from that hour the woman was cured. When Jesus arrived at the official’s house and saw the flute players and the crowd who were making a commotion, he said, “Go away! The girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they ridiculed him. When the crowd was put out, he came and took her by the hand, and the little girl arose. And news of this spread throughout all that land.(Matthew 9:18-26)

Reflection

We all have our favorite Gospel readings. This is one of mine.

I am moved by the deep-seated faith of both individuals in today’s Gospel. I am touched by the human situation. I am humbled by the love that Jesus shows. I am reminded that my faith constantly needs more reinforcement.

Our humanity takes us up mountains and down into valleys. When we are on top of the mountain, our faith seems boundless. It’s what happens to us in the valleys that tests the strength of relationship with Him.

Jairus, the official, knew who Christ was, this is why he humbled himself before him and knelt down before his Lord. His faith in Christ was absolutely unshakable. Likewise, the mother. She had such faith in Christ that she knew if only she could touch His cloak, that she would be healed. Even though this woman had lived in pain and suffering for many years, she found hope in Christ, and did not let anything stop her from reaching Him.

But where do we start? We begin by holding on to the belief that God never overlooks us or does not take an interest in our lives, our needs, or our sufferings.  We are always present to him, and he constantly cares for us. This is the God who created us. This is the God who every day waits for the response of our love.

 Even when surrounded by large crowds, today’s scripture reminds us that Jesus is interested in each person.  No one is anonymous to him.  In a group of one hundred souls, Jesus is interested in one hundred of them. 

But how do we build that faith, that gratitude? It comes through our constantly working at it . . . with prayer, with scripture, with the sacraments, with surrounding ourselves with people who share our values and our faith. It comes from reexamination of the events in our life and looking for the presence of God. Recognizing that He was always present and giving us His strength and His comfort. It’s understanding that the tragedies of life are caused by the human condition but the ability to move through them comes from Him.

It comes from understanding that Faith – belief in Jesus as Savior, trust in his goodness and omnipotence – unleashes the transforming power of God’s grace in our lives. God is not a Coke machine – we don’t pay the price of a few rote prayers and rituals, press a button, and get divine grace in exchange. God is a person; faith is our relationship with that person. We are created to know and love him and to share in his knowledge and love, but to do that we have to trust in him. We have to take him at his word, just as we have to do with anyone else, we want to let into our lives.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, I know that no matter how bad things look, you are still at my side. I know that even when I can see only darkness with my reason, your light shines through my faith. Yet, in times of trouble, it is so hard to see your light. Lord Jesus, increase my faith. Teach me to see all things as you see them, and to see you in all things.”

Daily Note

The challenges of the two people in today’s Gospel brought them closer to God.  Although it is a challenging concept to look at our failures through God’s eyes, we are able to see some of our lives’ greatest learning experiences this way.  Next time that Christ demonstrates a different perspective in our lives such as, “the girl is not dead but sleeping” we must refrain from ridiculing him, but recognize that Christ has a better perspective than we do and we should trust him just as both people did..

Praying Not Asking

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Daily Reflection – 7/2/2020

Sacred Scripture

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

Reflection

These eight lines of scripture reveal much to us about Jesus Christ, about human friendship and, most of all, about praying in faith.

For the Jews, an illness such as paralysis was a punishment from God for sin. Notice that Jesus does not at first say, ‘pick up your mat and walk’ but He says, ‘your sins are forgiven’. Christ’s power to forgive and to heal is a focal point of this story. Jesus, after speaking to the Scribes, says to them, “But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,” then He said to the paralytic, “Get up, pick up your bed, and go home.”  And he got up and he went home. 

Here Jesus demonstrates His authority and His power.   Here He evidences His deity.  He evidences who He is.  He is explicitly making a truth claim here.  In other instances, He was doing other things when He did miracles, but in this instance, He is specifically making a claim, He says, “I am doing this that you may know that I have the power to forgive sins.”  He is pressing home a claim of truth upon these scribes, and upon all those who are present.

The friends of the paralytic teach us about the strength of faith. They journeyed with the friend to a place that Jesus was and fully expected that He would heal their friend. They did not ask, they did not plead, they did not engage in a quid pro quo. Instead they simply brought their friend and fully expected that Jesus Christ would heal their friend. They believed, they understood, they acted on their belief.

And that brings us to intercessory prayer. His friends brought  the paralyzed man to Jesus to see what Jesus could do, not to ask for what they want or hope.  Their prayer is complete trust in God’s will.  Lord do you see what we see in this suffering man?   What is Your will Lord?

Many people wonder how to pray and for what they should pray.  This Gospel lesson teaches us one aspect of prayer – just present the names of those you care about to God.  Let God decide what they need.  You don’t have to ask for anything, just care about others and offer them up to God in prayer. 

Prayer isn’t necessarily about you knowing everything you need to say and knowing how to say it perfectly.  It is you placing before God those you care about, asking God to consider them.  In as much as God is love, let God decide what to do with those for whom we pray.  Don’t tell God what to do, ask God to note those you are concerned about.  In this way we can pray for everyone whether we think they deserve mercy or judgment – place them all in God’s hands and then let God do God’s own will!

Prayer of The Day

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

Daily Note

Great men, no matter how great they are, don’t go around forgiving people’s sins.  It’s an amazing thing, isn’t it, when Christ walks up to another man, a man who He has never met before, and suddenly says, “I forgive your sins.”  If I  did that, people would think that I was  just a few bricks short of a load.  The Lord Jesus walks up to this man and says, “You’re forgiven.”  Great prophets, great moral teachers, philosophers, they don’t do things like that.  Only the sinless Son of God walks up to people and says, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’  How blessed are we by Him.

The Darkness In Our Lives

My Reflections...: Reflection for Wednesday July 4, Thirteenth ...
Daily Reflection – 7/1/2020

Sacred Scripture

When Jesus came to the territory of the Gadarenes, two demoniacs who were coming from the tombs met him. They were so savage that no one could travel by that road. They cried out, “What have you to do with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the appointed time?” Some distance away a herd of many swine was feeding. The demons pleaded with him, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of swine.” And he said to them, “Go then!” They came out and entered the swine, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea where they drowned. The swineherds ran away, and when they came to the town they reported everything, including what had happened to the demoniacs. Thereupon the whole town came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him they begged him to leave their district. (Matthew 8:28-34)

Reflection

What? The evil in my life? I know no evil. I shook my head sadly when I had that conversation. It came from a good Christian. A person who attended Church, studied scripture, took advantage of the sacraments, by all outward signs, led a good life. There was simply disbelief on his part that he contributed to evil.

The sad truth is that each of us does. Evil exists around us because we allow it to exist. When we see evil and do not confront it. When we see evil and offer a prayer while we go on our way leaving it to someone else to do battle with it. Each of these times and more, we give it freedom to dwell around us and in doing so to dwell in us.

The danger is that we give freedom for the Evil One to have an influence in our life. As it stays with us it also slowly but surely controls our thoughts and actions.

But all is not lost if we know and have faith in Jesus and if we try to live His teachings in every moment of our life, the Evil One will run away from us, evil or anything that is evil will have no place anymore in our value system and in our life.

Jesus took pity on these men who were overtaken by a legion of evil spirits. The destructive force of these demons is evident for all who can see as they flee and destroy a herd of swine. After Jesus freed the demoniacs the whole city came out to meet him. No one had demonstrated such power and authority against the forces of Satan as Jesus did.

Jesus is ready and willing to free us from anything that binds us and that keeps us from the love of God. The risen Lord’s life-giving power at work in our lives is stronger than the forces in our world which dehumanize and damage. That is why we need always to be people of hope. The Lord at work among us and through us can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, in the words of Saint Paul. We need to open ourselves to the Lord’s presence so that he can work through us. In contrast to the townspeople in the gospel reading who asked the Lord to leave the neighborhood, we invite the Lord to use us as his instruments in his healing and life-giving work.

Prayer of The Day

“Jesus, you have the power to make all things new, including the way I think and act. Come and shine your light on my life to show me where I am missing the freedom you offer me.”

Daily Note

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

Weathering Life’s Storms

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Daily Reflection – 6/30/2020

Sacred Scripture

As Jesus got into a boat, his disciples followed him. Suddenly a violent storm came up on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by waves; but he was asleep. They came and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” He said to them, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?” Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm. The men were amazed and said, “What sort of man is this, whom even the winds and the sea obey?” (Matthew 8:23-27)

Reflection

There is not one of us who has not faced major storms in our life. How we weather those storms is a test of our faith and how we live our lives.

In today’s Gospel, it wasn’t the waves that woke Jesus but rather the cries of his disciples. He wasn’t upset because they woke him. What upset Jesus was their weak faith. They had no trouble believing in Jesus when the sun was out and the lake was calm. But their poverty of faith led them to not trust in him enough to know that he would take care of them even in face of a violent, life-threatening, storm.

Fear is part of all of us. We are fragile creatures at the mercy of the elements. We think that we are in control and we do everything we can to maintain the illusion of coping and managing our circumstances. But there are times when we panic, when we can no longer cope, when we feel that we are drowning. We come to the end of ourselves and we cry out: “Lord, save us!”

You can have faith as little as a mustard seed, but it can accomplish great things if you are willing to use it in moments of danger. Consider the storm in your life, whatever it is: physical, emotional, financial, or relational; whatever the difficulty is that you face, how can you exercise the faith that you have, whether little or great? Too often, the tendency is to worry about everything that has brought us to this point. We blame ourselves for not taking better care of ourselves or those we love or we review all the poor decisions that we or our loved ones have made. We focus on ourselves and our earthly circumstances. When we do that, we are feeding our fears. This is the opposite of faith. We are not looking to the greatness of God and his provision for our life. We are acting as though it all depends on us, and that we have to take care of everything. The waves are sweeping over our boat and we fear we are going to drown. But we are not alone. Jesus is always in the boat with us.

Faith is trust in a great God and  dependence on a loving and caring God. Faith is a personal relationship with God who has revealed himself to us in Jesus. Faith is the realization that the Lord is with us always. Faith is believing that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength. Faith is believing that Jesus can calm the storm. Even the winds and the waves obey Jesus. He is the Lord of nature. There is no storm that is beyond his control. He is with us in the storm, through the storm and after the storm. He has experienced the pain of betrayal, the pain of physical suffering, the pain of bearing the sins of the world, the pain of aloneness, the despair of rejection, the terrors of hell. There is no depth he has not plunged. When we think that we are sinking we must believe that he is underneath us to hold us up .“Underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deut.33:27). When storms arise in our lives and fears chill our hearts Jesus is there to preserve us. We have to trust that he will bring us through to safety.

Whenever we encounter trouble, the Lord is there with the same reassuring message: “It is I, do not be afraid”.

Prayer of The Day

Lord, may I always recognize your abiding presence with me.  And in times of trouble or fear may I find courage and strength to respond as you would. Help me to rely upon you in all circumstances and to trust in your help both in adversity and in temptation”.

Daily Note

I am always likely to face storms as I move on in the small boat of my life. These storms test my faith. The lesser the faith, the greater the fear. This miracle of Jesus indicates that he can calm the storms in me. I cannot expect the sea to be calm always, but I can ask Jesus to calm the storms always: the storms within and the storms without. So, whenever I find myself doubting how far I can go, Jesus insists me to look back and remember how far I have come. I remember all the battles I have won and all the fears I have overcome with his constant help.

Answering The Ultimate Question

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Daily Reflection – 6/29/2020

Sacred Scripture

When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (Matthew 16:13-19)

Reflection

It is easy for the Apostles to answer for others when Christ asks “Who do people say that the son of man is?”  They give their responses freely and willingly with great zeal and eagerness to please the Lord.  However, Christ’s next question: “Who do you say that I am?” seems to silence the group.  Instead, they turn to Peter, their leader, for a response.

Peter responds: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”  Peter comes into himself by acknowledging the role that God played in his life. 

Eventually, all of us must answer this question for ourselves.  Who is Jesus for us?  We can stay surface level or we can venture deeper, as Peter did when He allowed the answer to come from within.  Peter had a lot of courage answering the way he did.  Peter’s answer was personal and that is exactly how we need to answer this question.  Only the Holy Spirit, who fills us with Grace and Divine knowledge, can reveal to the depths of our beings who Jesus is for each of us.  

How do you respond to such a personalized question?  Because God works in our lives in very personal ways, we must answer this question very personally and intimately with him.

How long have you been in your relationship with God, and do you really know him on a personal level?  Do you know how he works specifically with you in your life?  How does he communicate with you? 

What does God’s voice sound like in your life? 

We are able to recognize the speech patterns and inflections of the voices of our loved ones.  We are able to hear their voice and know who they are without seeing their face. Can we do this with God? 

If you truly want to complete the introspection, then there is one other question that deserves answering:  What do those closest to us think about us? Do they consider us true followers of Christ? Do they see us as persons of integrity, worthy of emulation? Only when those closest to us know us as persons of integrity can we begin to hope that they will in fact be willing to acquire the values that we strive to teach them and that they will allow us to lead them further along the road.

What is far more important however than what our family and friends think is what God thinks. The final question that we must ask ourselves then is what God says about us. Can God really look at us and say this is my child in whom I am well pleased?

Prayer of The Day

All powerful and ever-loving God, we thank you for letting us know that You are our Father and that Jesus your Son is our Redeemer. Help us to so live that we will be known as your children. Help us in our words and actions to reveal your compassionate and loving face to the world, so that in all countries and in all cultures. You may be known and accepted by all Our Father.

Daily Note

May we come to know Jesus, in whatever special way He has planned for us, and discover each day the answer to that big question, “But, who do you say I am?”   

The Power of His Touch

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Daily Reflection – 6/26/2020

Sacred Scripture

When Jesus came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. And then a leper approached, did him homage, and said, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” He stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I will do it. Be made clean.” His leprosy was cleansed immediately. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you tell no one, but go show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.” (Matthew 8:1-4)

Reflection

Normally a leper would be stoned or at least warded off if he tried to come near a rabbi. Jesus not only grants the man his request, but he demonstrates the personal love, compassion, and tenderness of God in his physical touch. The medical knowledge of his day would have regarded such contact as grave risk for incurring infection.  Jesus met the man’s misery with compassion and tender kindness.  He communicated the love and mercy of God in a sign that spoke more eloquently than words.  He touched the man and made him clean — not only physically but spiritually as well.

By cleansing the leper, He restored this man’s entire life to him. He was living as an outcast, separated from the community; his leprosy, in a sense, took everything from him. But he had faith in Jesus and presented himself to the care and mercy of God. The result was that he was made whole and restored to full health.

Jesus often would tell those who were healed to tell no one. One reason for this was that Jesus’ acts of love and mercy were not done for His own benefit, rather, they were done out of love. Jesus loved this leper and wanted to offer Him this precious gift of healing.

The parallel to our lives is joyfully obvious. Jesus healed the leper out of compassion and, in return, only wanted the man’s gratitude. He did not need to make this a public spectacle.

The same is true with us. We need to know that God loves us so much that He wants to lift our heavy burdens and heal our weaknesses simply because He loves us. He doesn’t do it first because it will benefit Him, rather, He does it out of love for us.

The very nature of an act of love and compassion is such that it should be done simply out of love. In fact, doing something loving and compassionate that is not noticed by anyone helps us grow in love and compassion. It purifies our intentions and enables us to love for love’s sake.

His love is simply more powerful than any person’s sin, no matter how grave. He is not afraid to be associated with sinners or to touch lepers. It was this same love that moved the Word to become “flesh and dwell among us” (John 1:14). By taking our human nature to himself he “stretched out his hand and touched us.” When we give Jesus our sins he nails them to the cross — and it is precisely at the cross that we discover two things: the true nature of our sin and the infinite love the prompts Jesus to touch us.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, may I grow in love of others and express that love in a pure way. May I never be motivated by a desire for vain praise. Jesus, I trust in You.” 

Daily Note

Sin knocks at the door of our lives, but thanks to Jesus we do not have to continue in it. When Jesus heals us, he also gives us the strength (grace) to stay healthy. He heals us so that we may freely walk with him and imitate him in our lives. But do I want to leave aside all my sin? What former leper would ever wish to return to his leprosy? Ultimately it is the heart that must be made clean by way of constant prayer, the sacraments and a genuine effort to do what we know is pleasing to God.