Goin’ Shopping for Jesus

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Daily Reflection – 1/21/2021

Sacred Scripture

Jesus departed with his disciples to the sea, and a great multitude from Galilee followed him; hearing all that he was doing, they came to him in great numbers from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, beyond the Jordan, and the region around Tyre and Sidon. He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him; for he had cured many, so that all who had diseases pressed upon him to touch him. Whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and shouted, “You are the Son of God!” But he sternly ordered them not to make him known. ( Mark 3:7-12)

Reflection

We read today how the multitudes came from far and wide to see Jesus Christ. It was a mixed group for sure. Some came because His message resonated with them. Some came out of curiosity. Some came, not because of His words but rather because they wanted something. And, then there were the demons and the Pharisees.

The majority of the crowd’s experience of Christianity is driven by its desire. It’s about them getting what they want. They want to touch Jesus and be blessed in some way so they can go on about their lives.

Even today, we see, again and again, that some relate to Jesus as we would relate to the local grocer and go to him only when we need something. For many, Jesus Christ has become a little like Abraham Lincoln, a revered figure of the past but not someone with whom one has a personal relationship.

They say they believe in him, but what they mean is that they believe he existed, but they don’t really live by faith, committing themselves to him and being drawn fundamentally not by duty but by fascination, by love, by attraction.

Many self-professed Christians, including those who externally practice the faith, are by their own admission not really disciples, not really hungry learners and followers of the Lord. They might say some prayers but they never encounter the Lord in prayer.

But the way that Jesus wants to save us is not outside of us without our participation. He wants to save us through transforming us from within to unite ourselves with Him. He wants to involve us in His own priesthood so that we can convert our entire life into a sacrifice of love for God and others.

Those who are fascinated by Jesus will hunger for his word and become men and women whose lives are drenched by the daily dew of the Gospel. Those who are attracted by Jesus will come to him in adoration and say, with Samuel, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”

Those who take Jesus seriously will, in union with him, go out as Good Samaritans to care for a wounded world. There is a lot of “hurt” in this world and there is so much that could be done to heal if we took our belief in Jesus Christ seriously. Not just on Sunday or when we get together in a Church function but every, single day.

Our world is partially populated by extremists on the left and the right. Imagine how empty their arsenals of hatred would be if we were extremists of our faith. Extremists of our faith in the sense that we were driven and had the passion to live out His words.

Jesus is as attractive today as ever. But many times, our lives, our hearts, our minds, are so weighed down by so many worldly cares and anxieties, by so many lesser hopes, by so many false gods that we place first in our lives, that the type of wonder, fascination, love and attraction we’re supposed to have toward Jesus is extinguished partially or fully.

Maybe it’s time that instead of going to the store for a can of beans, we decide to buy all that it has to offer and enjoy a repast with Him.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus Christ, you are the Son of God and the Savior of the world. Inflame my heart with a burning love for you and with an expectant faith in your saving power. Set me free from all that hinders me from drawing closer to you.”

Daily Note

It is by faith that we touch Jesus. And far better to touch him by faith than to touch or handle him with the hands only and not by faith. It was no great thing to merely touch him manually. Even his oppressors doubtless touched him when they apprehended him, bound him, and crucified him, but by their ill-motivated touch they lost precisely what they were laying hold of. O worldwide church! It is by touching him faithfully that your ‘faith has made you whole’ (Augustine of Hippo 354-430 A.D.)

Come Out of the Shadows

Mark 3:1-6 | Mary DeMuth

Sacred Scripture

Again, he entered the synagogue. There was a man there who had a withered hand. They watched him closely to see if he would cure him on the Sabbath so that they might accuse him. He said to the man with the withered hand, “Come up here before us.” Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” But they remained silent. Looking around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart, he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out and his hand was restored. The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel with the Herodians against him to put him to death. (Mark 3:1-6)

Reflection

In this brief but emotion filled passage from the Gospel, the courage of Jesus stands out. Interesting but we use a lot of adjectives to describe Christ but courage is not used frequently. Perhaps it’s because of the emotive words used in this Gospel that I am led to use the adjective I did.

Look at the emotions at play here. First and foremost, we read that Jesus looked at the Pharisees with anger at their malice and malevolence and was grieved at their hardness of heart, which prevented them not only from seeing the place of charity in the law of God but also from looking on this man with love.  Jesus had the courage to do good, even when it would cost him his life.

The Pharisees were consumed with hatred and their desire to entrap Jesus. That hatred was so consuming that they rushed out to conspire with the followers of Herod to kill Jesus.

The man that Jesus cured had a withered hand but a heart open to faith; the others had good health but closed and hard hearts.

Once again though, we see the pure love of Jesus Christ. Once again, he entered into the suffering of others, not out of pity but of love. Out of sadness and anger at the world’s hardness of heart came abundant love to heal the withered hand and to transform the man’s life with abundant courage and resilience and promise and hope, bringing him out of the shadows and into the light.

It is in this healing movement of Jesus – not just from Galilee to Jerusalem but in his turning from appeasement of the powerful towards solidarity with the suffering – that we are saved, that we are all healed. By this great and holy mystery, even the fear of illness and death, which sends us fleeing from the suffering of others, can be transformed by the cross – less a symbol of death and destruction and more one of sacrificial healing and restoration. By the power of Jesus to turn rejection, betrayal and hardness of heart into compassion, we are healed. By the courage of Jesus, we are inspired.

We read those words but a question remains. Knowing we are healed, knowing we are surrounded by his abundant love, knowing that by keeping the Great Command of love, we can join Him in eternal love, then are we courageous about our faith?

His Great Command is counter cultural. It stands in juxtaposition to those who seek the things of this word above the command of love. When those principles of materiality, of greed, of injustice, of inequality, of sinfulness are on display in front of us, are we courageous to stand up and cry out? Are we courageous enough to proclaim Jesus Christ as our savior in the public marketplace of this world? Are we courageous enough to work toward peace by demonstrating through both word and action that we are His followers and committed to the Great Command?

Or do we have a withered hand?

A withered hand is that bit of ourselves that prevents us from reaching out to proclaim His love.  It’s that bit of ourselves that keeps us quiet in moments of repudiation of His teachings. It’s that bit of yourselves that makes us find an excuse that someone else can do it.

He came to unite us to himself so that he might unite us in love to each other, so that we might become “one body, one spirit in Christ.” By his wounds we are healed. All that is needed is for us to step out of the shadows and to stretch out our hand in love to Him and to one another.

Prayer of The Day

“My Lord and my God, forgive me those times that I have hidden in the shadows of this world. Strengthen me that I may freely and openly live out your teachings.”

Daily Note

St. Paul reminds us: “If I have not love, I am nothing.” Christianity is all about love and not conformity to laws.

Jesus uttered a principle that transcends all positive law: It is always justified to do what is good, provided no greater good is denied. Similarly, no truly loving act can ever be sinful even though it may violate a law.

Come On, ” Fess Up

mark 2, lord of the sabbath
Daily Reflection – 1/19/2021

Sacred Scripture

It happened that one Sabbath day he was taking a walk through the cornfields, and his disciples began to make a path by plucking ears of corn. And the Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing something on the Sabbath day that is forbidden?” And he replied, “Have you never read what David did in his time of need when he and his followers were hungry? How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the loaves of the offering which only the priests are allowed to eat, and how he also gave some to the men with him?” And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath; so the Son of Man is master even of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:23-28)

Reflection

The Pharisees were making a very serious accusation here. Listen to Exodus 31:14 from the Old Testament: “Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death.” If Jesus was not going to obey Sabbath rules, under the law he deserved to die.

But Christ declares in no uncertain terms that his authority is equal to that of God himself, who instituted the Sabbath at the dawn of man’s creation. Christ wants from the Pharisees nothing less than an act of faith in his own divine person. His heart longs to save them. Christ yearns to bring to salvation everyone he encounters, including his enemies. But the Pharisees did not listen.

And that brings me to a car driving scenario.

Ever been in a situation where you are driving in a 55-mph lane and the car ahead is doing 53mph? Not only is the car doing 53 mph but the driver refuses to yield. Now, here is where we get to ‘fess up. Do you stay behind the car, gritting your teeth, but observing the law? Or, at the first chance, you find a way to pass the car and continue driving at 60 +? So here is my confession. I fall into the group that passes as soon as I can.

Are we like that pickup truck driver on Friday, and the Pharisees who were challenging Jesus? Are we so afraid of breaking the law that we insist on driving 53 miles per hour in a 55 mile an hour speed zone? Do we see ourselves as the guardians of not only the law, but the Christian faith itself, wanting to protect it and keep it pure, on our terms?

Do we think we are keeping the church safe by enforcing the rules, to the exclusion of healing and feeding people who are hungry for life? Are we afraid of the power Jesus might use in our midst, and what that might require of us? Are our hearts hardened to the familiar, the safe, the way we are used to doing things, even if it doesn’t seem to attract people to Christ?

Are we like those worried Pharisees? They had good reason to worry. This Jesus was anything but safe. He was dangerous. He still is.

You see, Jesus came to call us to a different way of living. But many of us still don’t get it. We prefer a dormant God . . . subject to our rules and rituals instead of an active, category busting God.

Christ clarifies that it is not the mere act of observing the sabbath that matters here, it is the intentions of the heart. This is because God wants us to do things out of love and mercy instead of just offering a sacrifice that is devoid of love and mercy. Are we fooling anybody but ourselves if our piety masks anger in our hearts? Are we fooling anybody but ourselves f our piety hides judgementalism in our thoughts? Are we fooling anybody but ourselves when we see people, different from ourselves in looks or actions, as not worthy of equality?

Tradition is useful if it helps us live with one another and to help us meet the needs of others with compassion. Tradition is useful if it helps us live our lives in a way that reflects God’s love. But tradition and laws cease to be useful when they are followed by “blind faith” that rules out living the great command of love. Let us never be prevented from serving God by a technicality created by man. The martyrs rose above the legal and civic technicalities and praised God regardless of the wishes of evil men.

If we follow the Great Command, we will always be living in the spirit that Jesus calls us to.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, may I give you fitting honor in the way I live my life and in the way I treat my neighbor. May I honor the Lord’s Day as a day holy to you. And may I always treat others with the same mercy and kindness which you have shown to me. Free me from a critical and intolerant spirit that I may always seek the good of my neighbor.”

Daily Note

The Sabbath is not one day a week on which we follow certain rules and regulations. The Sabbath is about an experience of God, the remembrance of God, which we should seek for on a daily basis, many times a day, as well as one full day per week.  Every day, every moment of every day, can be a Sabbath – if we choose it to be.  And the more we choose to Sabbath with God, the more we will know of him in our lives.

Why Bother To Change ?

All Categories - Verbum Dei Philippines
Daily Reflection – 1/18/2021

Sacred Scripture

The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were accustomed to fast. People came to Jesus and objected, “Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?”  Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day.  No one sews a piece of unshrunken cloth on an old cloak. If he does, its fullness pulls away, the new from the old, and the tear gets worse. Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the skins are ruined. Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wineskins.” (Mark 2: 18-22)

Reflection

In today’s Gospel, Jesus reminds his disciples that He came to teach a new Way – one that was radically different than the Pharisees taught. In the religion of that day, loyalty to God was expressed through strict observation of laws and external practices of commitment like fasting.

The Way of Jesus is quite different. It is primarily interior rather than just exterior. It is ultimately rooted in relationships based on love, a love that always seeks the well-being of the other. If we judge what Jesus does by the old ways, we will have difficulties. We need, as Paul says, “to have the mind of Christ”.

His message needs to be received with an open heart and an open mind. Truth is that just as it is then, it is now. All of that requires change. We don’t like change. The result? Too often, we don’t change. We cling to the “old ways.” Nothing wrong with the old ways, except . . . Except that we forget the old ways were in constant change and we fail to recognize that. We look at the “old ways “as if they were immoveable and inviolate. Because by viewing them that way, we don’t have to change. But that is our perspective, not reality.

The disciples recognized something we need to recognize. Any living relationship, father, son, husband, wife, is always changing. It’s for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and health. The one thing that we know about our relationship with God is that it’s going to be changing and hopefully deepening.

Change is one of the ways in which God reveals himself to us and, makes manifest the Divine Presence. Like marriage, faith is a relationship and like marriage, the relationship of faith may have its ups and downs, but it’s always, always developing and growing. As events around us change then we must look for how we can deepen and enrich our faith in those events.

To use labels for a moment,  would suggest that only a person who is a good “conservative” can really be a good “liberal.” It’s not a matter of one or the other. Only the person who remembers and relishes and reverences the past can be truly open to the possibilities of new things in the future. So, the spiritual life means being truly conservative, truly liberal, and then truly radical. The word “radical” quite simply means “one who seeks the roots, one who goes deep, one who finds the foundation, the rock.” A radical is the one who is seeking the root of the Gospel and in a radically changing world, the one root truth is that we are God’s and God is love. That is the one constant.

If we develop a good balance in our spiritual life, we can not only deal with change, we will find change a major way in which we come to know God and to develop a deeper relationship with God. A living relationship with God in Christ will always be growing, always be changing, always be deepening. That’s the joy of living a spiritual life.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, fill me with your Holy Spirit, that I may grow in the knowledge of your great love and truth.  Help me to seek you earnestly in prayer and fasting that I may turn away from sin and willfulness and conform my life more fully to your will. May I always find joy in knowing, loving, and serving you.”

Daily Note

Jesus understands that there are times when we can no longer put wine into old wine skins. There are times when new ideas will only be destroyed if we put them back into old categories. What we need is a new container, a new system, a new vision. When we find it, we have found a “breakthrough moment.” The challenge is that “break through moments” are meant to be a frequent part of our lives. We need to experience them on a regular basis because learning is a life-long process and learning is more than just accumulating new data. We need new wine skins by which we can see life in new ways. 

Ready To Hoist The White Flag of Surrender?

Put God first, and you'll never be last | I don't own this image
Daily Reflection – 1/15/2021

Sacred Scripture

When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it became known that he was at home. Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them, not even around the door, and he preached the word to them. They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd, they opened up the roof above him. After they had broken through, they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to him, “Child, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there asking themselves, “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming. Who but God alone can forgive sins?” Jesus immediately knew in his mind what they were thinking to themselves, so he said, “Why are you thinking such things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, pick up your mat and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth” –he said to the paralytic, “I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home.” He rose, picked up his mat at once, and went away in the sight of everyone. They were all astounded and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this .(  Mark 2:1-12)

Reflection

The four friends in the Gospel were successful in bringing their friend to Jesus because they saw the obstacle of the crowds, a small house, and the sheer impossibility of bringing their friend to Jesus. So, they climb up to the roof and begin to dig through the dirt and the hardened mud and the palm leaves.  They do the hard work of digging through the roof in order to get to Jesus.   They clear out a passage that they then can use to lower their paralyzed friend down into the house where Jesus will see him and reach out to him and heal him.

They saw the obstacle and overcame it. One of the primary reasons we sometimes fail to have a truthful relationship with Christ is that we don’t SEE the obstacle. We do the right things, use the right words, go to Church and we move through life. But there is this void. It’s not quite spiritual deadness but we don’t feel the vibrancy of our faith.

We need to start with the truth. We need to recognize that there is an obstacle in our way. Because when we start with that and reflect on that, we realize that the obstacle is that we have not given in to God. We haven’t given in by recognizing that we keep coming back to self and ego. We keep hanging on to “me” and will not yield to the fact that the “we” we need is God and me. But the primacy of God in our lives is what should be central.

We are pretty good at hiding. Just like the Scribes in today’s Gospel. They had a serious obstacle as well.  An obstacle which separated them from God — their own arrogance, their own certainty of their rightness, their holiness, their purity.  It’s another obstacle which many in our society struggle with as well: the arrogant certainty of their rightness, their own sense of personal holiness and purity. A smug attitude that that they and only they have the right position, Yet that perspective separates them from others and puts a large moat between them and God. We have to stop and ask ourselves whether we are seeing the world with blinders on – blinders that we create and not in unison with God.

But THE biggest obstacle that gets in the way of a faith filled relationship with God is our desire to be like others rather than like God. It is  one of the great tricks of the evil one.  We fall for it over and again. Jesus stressed we first need to give to God. We need to obey him above men. We need to desire that his kingdom come and his will be done. When we fail to do that, that’s when, to some degree, all Hell breaks loose (hmm, based on events, it makes you wonder).

Perhaps its time to raise the white flag and surrender your life in faith, and say, “Lord I’m giving you everything, I’m giving up the war against you, and I’m going to put my life in your hands and live under your authority from now on.” If you’ve never done that, I hope that you do. I hope that you’ll do it today.

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 offenses and transform me in the power of your Holy Spirit that I may walk confidently in your love, truth, and righteousness.”

Daily Note

What kinds of hard work do we need to do in order to get to Jesus? In what ways are we paralyzed in our lives, in what ways are we confronted by seemingly insurmountable obstacles that divide us from our loved ones, from others and from God?  This is the question posed by this text.  Before we can fully respond to God’s call and freely follow Jesus, before we can be free in our relationships with others we need forgiveness and healing.  Gifts that God, through Jesus is prepared and waiting to provide for us.  But first, perhaps, we have some dirt to dig through!

Leprosy of The Heart

Mark: 1:40-45 | Spiritual Leprosy - River Bible Church
Daily Reflection – 1/14/2021

Sacred Scripture

A leper came to him [and kneeling down] begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.” The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean. Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once. Then he said to him, “See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.” The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter. He spread the report abroad so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places, and people kept coming to him from everywhere. ( Mark 1:40-45)

Reflection

Doing small things with love was a favorite saying of Mother Theresa. It was part of her daily encouragement to the sisters in her order who ministered to the most marginalized in India.

There is no dispute that their charism was compassion.

It’s an appropriate beginning to this reflection which reminds us of the compassion of Jesus Christ. On a personal note, of all the virtues of Jesus Christ, it is compassion which drives my ministry.

In these days especially, it is compassion which each of us needs in abundance. The pandemic has not only brought death but it has also brought fear, alienation and anxiety.  When it is overlaid with the complexities of strife, anger and incivility of our society, it can also leave us with leprosy of the heart – an overall numbness that leaves us separating from the world, sometimes overlooking the suffering, and deadening our reactions and feelings to life.

I understand that some may intentionally acquire leprosy of the heart as a way of coping. But, in the end, it does not preserve. Instead, it stagnates our emotions. You and I need to constantly resist it so that its effect is not permanent.

Suffering is part of the human condition. It is a mystery somehow bound up with the invasion of God’s good creation by evil. But the God we see in the face of Jesus Christ is a God who always works to alleviate human suffering; he doesn’t send it as a punishment. It may be true that since the time of Jesus our prayers for the alleviation of human suffering have not always been answered in the way we would have liked; this again is part of the mystery. But it should not cause us to doubt the basic desire of God is to deliver us from evil, not to inflict it on us.

So where is God in the midst of this suffering. Look around. It is you and me. We are the reflections of God. To live that reflection is to heal ourselves from any kind of leprosy that separates us from ourselves, from others, and from God.

Jesus calls each one of us to destroy the walls that separate us from others and to welcome the outcasts and the untouchables of society. God’s loving hand must reach out to the poor, the sick, and lepers — through us — and Jesus wants us to touch their lives. Mother Teresa’s life was a great example for us and her motto of : “Do small things with great love,” is so directional. Her “small things” left a big impact on the lives of the poor and outcast. She also said that, “The biggest disease today is not leprosy, but rather the feeling of being lonely and unwanted.”

As we reach out to heal others, a miracle of healing will occur in us. That small voice in our lives which, at times, leaves us feeling lonelyor  marginalized or isolated will be healed. We will be filled with His love. Just as God went beyond the walls and mores of Israel to bring compassion to the suffering and reconciliation to the outcasts, He will do the same for us.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, inflame my heart with your love and make me whole in body, mind, and spirit. May I never doubt your love nor cease to tell others of your mercy and compassion.”

Daily Note

Jesus reached out and physically touched the leper. He violated every medical warning and social taboo. By touching the leper Jesus lets the leper know that He will take his place not just as a man with a contagious disease but as one who is socially contaminated as well. When we read this Gospel, we cannot help but feel how little we know of true compassion!

We can do no less. We can be the hands that touch a wounded soul. We can express the words that soothe a wounded spirit. We can be the arms that hold and hug a person who may be dying. We can be the friend who sits and listens and loves another because we see a special child of God in need.

You Tired Too ?

In the Wilderness by Ron DiCianni | Jesus christ art, Pictures of jesus  christ, Jesus pictures
Daily Reflection – 1/13/2021

Sacred Scripture

On leaving the synagogue Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John. Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They immediately told him about her. He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them. When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. The whole town was gathered at the door. He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him. Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. Simon and those who were with him pursued him and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you.” He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose, have I come.” So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee. (Mark 1: 29-39)

Reflection

Sometimes the news of the world just seems overwhelming. Sometimes it seems as if we are presented with one dilemma or another. Sometimes it just tires me out. Sometimes I just need a break.

Sometimes I forget to practice that which I preach.

Then comes along today’s Gospel and hits me smack between the eyes.

Jesus, God made man, knew what his human side needed. After curing Simon’s mother-in-law, he continues through his day and cures multitudes. He does it almost as if his human side was indefatigable.

At night, he stops. BUT before plunging into the next day, he goes off to pray. Jesus, God made man, goes off to pray to God, his father. In the early dawn. No distractions. No news of the world. Not even one of his disciples with him. Alone.

Aha. Here comes the message.

Truth is too many of us don’t take the time to truly pray. Too many of us don’t take the time to do more than offer up a laundry list of things we need to happen in our lives.

We need to remember that while we can’t stop life from coming at us, we sure can attend to the life that is given us.

That means attending to our relationship with God so that it is He who moves through our lives and it is He who guides our next step.

Simple, huh? It is. We need to remember that.

We have to start with establishing the fact that prayer is a communication between living beings. Prayer is communication with a being who lives forever, knows more and better than we do, and is in love with us.

Like any communication with a living being, we make a statement and wait for a response. We often times can be accused of talking over God, especially when it is not what we want to hear.

So, prayer requires listening.

As we read in today’s Gospel, prayer is set apart. Prayer is a safe place. This is important because prayer can be a really great thing for everyone, but especially for those who are struggling.

Prayer is our own. It should be our own. It should not be what someone tells us to say unless we have asked for their recommendation. Because it is our own, we can be brutally honest. There is no need to tell God, “Yes, I love my neighbor,” when God knows our heart and knows we cannot stand our neighbor. I recommend to clients that they tell God the truth: “Lord, I cannot stand my neighbor. Please help me understand this.”

Prayer is a source of renewal. It renews us because we pray to the one who is pure love. Knowing that we are loved, loving that we are special, knowing that He worries over every hair in our head, is more than comforting. It renews and energizes us.

I am a great believer in all of this. Yet, I fail more often at doing it right. So, don’t learn from me. Instead learn from Him.

Set aside time each day to be with Him. Listen after you have finished talking. Treasure the silence with Him. Let His love wash over you. Let Jesus Christ renew you.

Maybe not “everyone is looking for you.” But He is.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, help me to recognize that you wait for me each day. You ask only to be the Lord of my life. Help me to recognize that in the silence, you will come to me.”

Daily Note

The human side of Jesus knew what it felt like to be worn out by crowds of people. And so, He needed some quiet time to re-orient himself. To re-connect with his spiritual source. To re-energize. As with everything He did, he taught us what to do. Each of us need to find time alone in prayer, in meditation, time alone with God. There is no substitute for this. Without it, our souls wither, and our strength fades.

This IS You. This IS Me.

Blood ties aren't the onl... | Quotes & Writings by Tahseen Arif | YourQuote
Daily Reflection – 1/12/20321

Sacred Scripture

Jesus came to Capernaum with his followers, and on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught. The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes. In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit; he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” Jesus rebuked him and said, “Quiet! Come out of him!” The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him. All were amazed and asked one another, “What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.” His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee. (Mark 1:21-28)

Reflection

Authority. A word that summons different emotions. When used for the good – for example, teaching – no one has an issue with the word. But when abused – as in the exploitation of another – we all have an issue with it.

But the word itself is different than what most of us believe. The root of the word is author – to create something original from one’s own self. From the essence of who a person is.

That brings us to today’s Gospel when Jesus speaks with authority. He speaks and acts in a way that comes directly out of his essence.

And who questions that authority?  A person possessed. A person who stands for all that is troubled, confused, misunderstood. A demon hiding behind the mask of a person.

You and I know something about masks, right? We all wear then – often. We can find a myriad of reasons “why.” Often, we even develop a rationale that revolves around the mask wearing being “necessary” or “so as to not hurt somebody.”

The irony is that those masks we put up, those personas, keep us from having the very things we think they will gain us; things like intimacy, love, acceptance, healing, forgiveness, and authenticity.

You and I are called to something greater than wearing a mask. You and I are called to help build His kingdom on this earth. WOW!

You and I have been chosen to accomplish that task out of who you and I are. Not imagined. Not acted. But from the authenticity of our lives. Not what we think others wanted.

We pursue God with all of our heart and soul and mind and strength. We put the teachings of Jesus into action in our daily lives. And then we must be honest and real in sharing our experience with one another.

The more we know about Christ we grow in faith and become more open to God. The more we do these things, the more we realize that when we start living our lives, and live them for God, the context of being part of Jesus Christ changes the way we relate to the world.

When Jesus Christ is the authority in our lives, we don’t need a mask. Our lives become stronger, bolder, livelier, and more joyful. We have been given our own context. We are placed in our own story.

Within that story, Christ asked us to reflect him. To reflect Him through our lives and our experience. Not anyone’s else. Him through us!

You and me !!!

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, we often come to you as if you are an insignificant thought, a guiding principle that is nice and easy. Help us to be honest with you about who we are, what we have done and what we have failed to do. Give us the strength we need to live as your disciples, filled with the authority you bring as our Creator and Our Lord.”

Daily Note

Jesus is still teaching to us today. He teaches with authority because it is his own profound experience and it is his deepest desire to heal our distressed spirits, so we too can experience for ourselves and participate in the building of His kingdom.

How Did I Wind Up Here ??

Fisher Of Men, Are You Mending Your Net? | God TV
Daily Reflection – 1/11/2021

Sacred Scripture

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea – for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him. (Mark 1:14-20)

Reflection

You and I can’t be that much different. We’re human. Humans not only have the same traits but, more often than we realize, we have the same experiences. Of course, the situation surrounding the experience may be different but the essence of the experience is the same.

That’s also another reason why reading the Gospel touches us. It speaks to our common experience which leads us to the question of: “How did I wind up here?”

You and I are here because you and I have been given a mission. But to understand what is expected of us, today’s Gospel reminds us that Jesus said we have to repent and believe. Funny thing about those two words. They don’t mean as you might think.

Repent literally means to turn around. Jesus is telling us that to fulfill his purpose for our lives, we need to reorient the way we think. As humans, we tend to be tainted by selfishness, egocentricity, blind ambition and a host of other characteristics that prevent us from seeing the word of God come alive in our lives. We let go so that our life may be reoriented, so that we can now travel in a new direction, so that we may be open to receive the life of God anew. When we let go, everything is transformed – including our nets, boats, and fathers.

Ultimately, it’s about letting go of our own little life so that we can receive God’s life.

Then comes the second word – believe. To believe is to take Jesus at his word and to recognize that God loved us so much that he sent his only begotten Son to free us from bondage to sin and harmful desires. God made the supreme sacrifice of his Son on the cross to bring us back to a relationship of peace and friendship with Him. He is our Father and he wants us to live as his sons and daughters. God loved us first and he invites us in love to surrender our lives to him.

We surrender our lives to him so that we can be more than ourself. He calls us to be something in the world. Not a “something” measured by mercenary standards but a “someone “ who has been given a powerful responsibility by Him. He calls us to be someone for others. To be some one for others.

The writer Frederick Beuchner wrote that our vocation in our life emerges in that place where the passion of our hearts meets the hunger of the world.

That’s the intersection where you and I are placed. The world today is very hungry – hungry for kindness, empathy, concern, sensitivity, truthfulness, fidelity and a million more needs.

Our mission is to participate with God in God’s own saving grace. If that sounds too grand for you, remember that Jesus Christ chose the most ordinary of men to follow him. When he said “follow me,” they responded immediately. They did not as” How Did I get here?”

They got it! They understood that their “new work” was to move to a larger vision, to orient their life in a new direction. They got the fact that their little story of life was connected to a much larger story of life – God’s life.

How and why did you and I get here? Because God wants you and I to help carry out His kingdom. Every day. In every way.  Now more than ever in this world, you and I are here because the world needs more of us who live out His word. . . to help feed the hunger of those who don’t hear it, those who are marginalized, and those who can see Him in us.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, you have called me personally by name, just as you called your first disciples, Simon, Andrew, James, and John. Help me to believe your word and follow you faithfully. Fill me with the joy of the gospel that your light may shine through me to many others.”

Daily Note

The call of Jesus to us is not some broad, general teaching, but always a personal, unique call. Jesus calls me. He is inviting me into something. And he is leading me somewhere according to the person that I am, in respect to the story of my life, and the nature of my personality. Often enough we might not think that something is being coaxed forth from within us, or that our journey of life has a special direction about it. However, one of the great insights we can be given, spiritually, is to be able to look back over our life and see how things have, in fact, unfolded in a particular direction. The path is always there. We need to find it and follow it home.

Just Love Me

Joseph Prince on Twitter: "Everyone who encounters Jesus never leaves the  same. He can free you from the guilt of your past and the labels that have  been put on you—just one
Daily Reflection – 1/8/2021

Sacred Scripture

Now there was a man full of leprosy in one of the towns where he was; and when he saw Jesus, he fell prostrate, pleaded with him, and said, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I do will it. Be made clean.” And the leprosy left him immediately. Then he ordered him not to tell anyone, but “Go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.” The report about him spread all the more, and great crowds assembled to listen to him and to be cured of their ailments, but he would withdraw to deserted places to pray. ( Luke 5:12-16)

Reflection

Today’s Gospel is at the core of the ministry of Jesus Christ. Tender. Compassionate. Loving. Unceasing. All Encompassing.

A love as no other.

A love that He asks to be shared. By us.

But to be able to share the love of Christ with others, we must learn how to love Him.  We need to seek Him out, sit at His feet and learn from Him, follow Him around the Gospels, watching what He does, listening to what He says. He wants to teach us to become fishers of men, and the first step in that is learning to love all people, learning to even touch the untouchable.

Although Jesus loves to meet people’s physical needs, He doesn’t want people to come to Him only to have those physical needs met. He wants people to come to Him so that He can meet their greatest need – that of eternal life. He wants people to seek him for spiritual healing, not just for physical healing.

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.

One lesson we can learn from this has to do with our own acts of love and mercy towards others. When we go out of our way to show love and compassion, are we OK with no one knowing? Too often we want to be noticed and praised.

But the 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.

Then we are ready to take the next step.

Christ wants us to love with a special predilection the many other types of lepers today, all those who are modern outcasts, all those on the existential peripheries.

Those whom the world considers ugly or unattractive, those whose illnesses are too long-lasting that few want to care for them; the psychological lepers, those with mental illness or mental disabilities, the spiritual or moral lepers, those who think that their sins cannot be forgiven; the economic lepers like the homeless and the emotional lepers, those who, because of their own psyche or others’ actions, feel completely alone and abandoned. These are among the ones Jesus wants us to reach out and heal through our very act of selfless love.

Henri Nouwen once wrote: “Sometimes I see humanity as a sea of people starving for affection, tenderness, care, love, acceptance, forgiveness and gentleness. Everyone seems to cry, “Please love me.”

That was the cry of this leper. That is the cry of many people we all come into contact with every day. Let us be like Jesus, and reach out and touch the untouchable. We all need to ask Jesus to help us learn to love those we would rather not love, and to love those who maybe don’t get much love.

Prayer of The Day

Lord Jesus, inflame my heart with your love and make me clean and whole in body, mind, and spirit. May I never doubt your love nor cease to tell others of your mercy and compassion.

Daily Note

How do you approach those who seem difficult to love, or who are shunned by others because they are deformed or have some physical or mental weakness? Do you show them kindness and offer them mercy and help as Jesus did? The Lord Jesus is always ready to show us his mercy and to free us from whatever makes us unclean, unapproachable, or unloving. As He loves us, so too are we to love,