Where Are You On The Journey ?

Daily Reflection – 1/19/2023

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, of course, there were the demons and the Pharisees.

The majority came because they needed something. They want to touch Jesus and be blessed in some way so they can go on about their lives.

To be blessed and go about their lives….

It’s not much different today, many who profess their belief in Christ only come to him when they in need.

The whole history and wonder of Christianity though is far more than that. Millions have discovered and believe that they can feel the presence of Jesus in their lives and be touched by him if they but give themselves to him.

And that is not difficult. Its really quite easy. It’s simply a matter of priorities. Who and what is important in one’s life. When we review that list, is Christ there? If he is on that list and you believe, then you are almost there. The rest is simply yielding and using words and thoughts to converse with God and let Him know that you are His. You are a servant of the Lord. In that role, your life and the lives of those around you will change!

Or perhaps you come to Jesus when you need him. Perhaps He has even touched your life in one of your “visits” to him. If that’s the case, you too are almost there. The key to “getting there” is to understand that the way Jesus wants to save us is not outside of us. He expects and wants participation by us. 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.

Or perhaps you profess to be Christian, but you are not truly a disciple. You are not a hunger learner of His word or an active follower. You might even say some prayers but you never have encountered in prayer. The key here is to simply take the time and make Him a priority. Start with a few minutes each day and have a conversation with him. Make this a daily routine in your life. The more you do that, the more you will find that He answers you, often in a variety of ways but he answers you. In your daily conversation ask Him to draw you to Himself with increasing faith, fervent love, and readiness to do His will.

Now here is the added bonus.

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 different it could be if we were extremists of our faith. If 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 the store 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.)

It’s Really About Returning His Gifts

Daily Reflection – 1/18/2021

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

Our scripture today is filled with emotion. As always, it points the way for us. It reminds us that His gift of Himself means that we too are called to be givers. But let’s touch on that in a bit.

In this brief passage from scripture, the courage of Jesus stands out. We use a lot of adjectives to describe Christ, but courage is not used frequently.

Look at the emotions that are swirling in this scene. 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 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, 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 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 know no greater gift than the love that Jesus has for you and for me.

Does that gift fill you each day?

How about this simple but profound exercise? Begin each day by telling God that you are his for the day. My prayer is simple: “Lord, I am yours today”

Now if we mean that in our prayer, think of how that simple dedication of yourself to Him will govern your day.

Talk about emotion! We start the day by recognizing His great love for us and returning that love by proclaiming that we are His. We begin the day surrounded by His love. That’s enough to take away any clouds that surround us.

But there is so much more. His gift of love means that each of us is a lover. A lover of all that He created. We are filled with the tenderness of love and our thoughts and actions are blessed as we move through the day.

While our humanity might lead us to want to be served, we realize that we are to be the servers. We are called, each in our own way, to be a servant of Him.

To be compassionate where there is despair or grief.

To be courageous about our love of Him and dare to stand apart when actions and words around us are contra to His commands.

To be a beacon of light and love especially to the less fortunate, the marginalized, the cast offs of society.

Compassion, love, kindness, tenderness, courage – those and more are the gifts we give back to Him who gave all.

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.

How Would You Like A Week of Sundays?

Daily Reflection – 1/17/2023

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.”

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 60-mph lane and the car ahead is doing 55mph? Not only is the car doing 53 mph, but the driver refuses to yield. So, what do you do? Do you stay behind the car, gritting your teeth, but observing the law? Or, at the first chance, do 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 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? If 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?

Christ is calling us to a week of Sundays, Each day, we pause and dedicate that day to Him. Each day we seek to find a way to help another. Each day, we LIVE the law of Christ. Each day we become a vibrant reflection of His love. Seeking to do the right thing for others. Seeking to glorify Him with the actions of our lives. Making each day a Sunday.

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.

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 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.

He Is Right Beside You ! Now What Do You Do ?

Daily Reflection – 1/16/2023

Sacred Scripture

The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were accustomed to fast. People came to him 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 wine skins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the skins are ruined. Rather, new wine is poured into fresh wine skins.” (Mark 2:18-22)

Reflection

The two analogies in today’s Gospel have to do with the elasticity of our minds — the stretching of our intellect — the ability to see something in a new way. New concepts can only be received in an inviting and flexible mind. The concept of NOT fasting while with Jesus because of who he is — the Messiah, the Savior, the Christ, the source of all joy, is new — it was the unshrunken piece of cloth and the new wine. 

Today we may not able to experience the joy of being in the actual, physical presence of Christ — a joy which superseded the requirement to fast. However, we DO have the opportunity to feel the joy of the risen Christ; but it requires us to make connections — to look for Jesus — to come to know him. It may require us to regenerate the elasticity of our own minds. To think anew.

The excitement of knowing Jesus today in our lives should be a primary experience for us each day.

We can know Jesus in our lives. We can be in his presence every day. We can be with Jesus as we work through our day. You and I know that but do we actualize it in our lives?

For many, it is not a reality. Not because they are unworthy or not important. It’s simply a case of not seeking him, not speaking with him, not looking for him. Not pausing long enough in our day to actualize him in our lives.

The constant in our spirituality is that the God of our youth is the same God. What we fail to internalize is that the same God appears to us in our day. It’s His reflection that changes. And his reflection is made up of our life at the moment.

What do I mean by that? God’s love is forever. Within that love is His comfort of us through the day, the week or the month. There are times when He appears to us to console. Others when he appears to us to strengthen. Others when he appears to caution us from an action or a word that can be harmful. Others when he seeks to fill us with his presence in our lives.

I so wish I could be with every reader of these reflections. To sit quietly with you and talk to you about His presence. To sit with you and converse with Christ. To have both of us filled with Him as we focus on Him.

He is there. Right now. As you read this. Yes, He is. I can feel His presence as we think about this scripture and our need to let our evolving lives reflect Him each day.

Are our minds open, as we age, to explore Christ anew? Or is it easier to remember the image of Christ taught to you when you were a child? If your faith life seems shallow, or if there is an emptiness when you pray, it may because you are not encountering Jesus in your life today. Just as every child in the same family has a different parent, so too with our faith. Our lives evolve and so does our understanding of and relationship with Jesus Christ. Each day he waits for us to meet him where we are at that moment. He knows us better than we know ourselves. Go to him as you are today – with your joys, your sorrows, your beauty and your warts. He knows. He cares. He waits to hear you because He loves you more than anyone could.

Where are you today?

Prayer of The Day

Thank you, Lord, for the new life you came to bring — your own divine life of grace inside me. To truly know you is to let my life experience you and to live that experience of love and joy. Help me to see that love. Help me to live that love.

Daily Note

Let each of us take a closer look at our relationship with Christ and to ask ourselves if it can be more intimate — if it can produce more joy for us in our lives. The  risen bridegroom is in our midst and waits only for us to open our hearts and our minds to His daily presence.

Healing The Hurt In Your Heart

Daily Reflection – 1/13/2033

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Keepers Of The Tabernacle

Faith Series

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

There are two key lessons in today’s scripture.

The first is to remember that the very summit of God’s plan is the reconciliation of the human race with God.

When a paralyzed man was dangerously lifted onto a roof and lowered into his midst in a home where Jesus was teaching, the first thing Jesus did was to heal his sins. The physical healing, which was important but less important than that, came later.

Heaven rejoices more for one repentant sinner than for 99 who didn’t need to repent, as Jesus would say later. 

The second lesson of this scripture is the importance of bringing others to Jesus so that he can give them his merciful love like the friends of the paralytic brought him to Jesus. We do that by truly forgiving and by loving those who have hurt us.

Over and over throughout his life and right up to the cross. Jesus forgave. So too should we.

Yet, human nature seems to bridle against true forgiveness. Sure, we say the words of forgiveness but don’t forget the actions or words that hurt us. We use a myriad of excuses to justify it to ourselves. Phrases such as “I forgive but never forget.” Or “I did forgive but I will forever be on guard, so it doesn’t happen again.”

The problem is that as long as the hurt lies in our heart, the forgiveness is not total.

“What?” you say. “Of course, I forgave. Remembering the incident just keeps me on guard.” So, let me explain.

The goal of the Christian life is to be like Christ. Not in the heavenly sense but in the human sense of emulating Christ’s life in our deeds and words. Thus, as Christ forgave, so should we.

When we don’t forget or when we can’t, then we are disobedient. Most of the time, we don’t do it willingly. What happens is that when we allow actions or incidents of the past to color our life, we are allowing evil to enter our lives. Painful memories bring on darkness and darkness is not the dwelling place of God. The end product of darkness is not being able to see the light.

To stay in the light, we must use the power of prayer. We focus on praying for the gift of forgiveness. We pray for keeping our minds and spirits focused on the good. When we forgive, we are emulating Christ. When Christ removed the weakness of the flesh which crippled and maimed, he healed the whole person. So too should we. Our forgiveness must be total and that means expunging the hurt and the event from our very selves.

In that emulation of Christ that something else happens. It is in emulating Christ that we are in the very presence of Christ. We are opening ourselves to allow the Holy Spirit to fill us. It is in that presence that we find healing and we can accept reconciliation. Indeed, we can discover life itself.

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

Jesus claimed an authority which only God could rightfully give. Jesus not only proved that his authority came from God, he showed the great power of God’s redeeming love and mercy by healing the cripple of his physical ailment. This man had been crippled not only physically, but spiritually as well. Jesus freed him from his burden of guilt and restored his body as well. The Lord is every ready to bring us healing of body, mind, and spirit. Is there any area in your life that cripples you from walking in the freedom of Christ’s transforming love and forgiveness?

Healing Leprosy of the Heart

Daily Reflection – 1/12/2023

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 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 also leaves 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. He is in  you and me. We are the reflections of God. To live that reflection means that we must 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. Saint Mother Teresa’s life was a great example for us, and her motto is to: “Do small things with great love,” her “small things” left a big impact on the lives of the poor and outcast. Mother Teresa very often says, “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 as if we are the 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.

The “Gift” Of Suffering

Daily Reflection – 1/11/2023

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Keepers Of The Tabernacle

Faith Series

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

No matter how weary he was, Jesus always drew strength from his Father to minister to the people.

His innate compassion and love for everyone he encountered shone throughout the Gospel of Mark. Simon’s mother-in-law was changed fundamentally by her healing experience of Christ. Not only was her illness gone, but she also felt a compelling desire to wait upon Jesus.

But there is more because at nightfall, as soon as the Sabbath was over and people could move about, they brought all the sick and possessed to Jesus, so much so that Mark tells us “the whole town was gathered at the door,” and Jesus cured them all one-by-one.

It would have been exhausting work. But he healed them to give a foretaste of the resurrection when all our illnesses will be healed and all demons and temptations will have been cast out.

Each of us knows that we have a little taste of salvation every time we’re cured of a really bad fever, or severe back pain, or liberated from a serious temptation. Jesus by these healing and exorcising miracles was giving us a small down payment of the joy that awaits at the Resurrection. But he wasn’t taking all illnesses away. He didn’t take away all pain and suffering. But he committed himself to show us, through that suffering, the path to perfection with him.

Therein is a powerful lesson for each of us. Suffering and pain are part of the human condition. But we know through scripture and faith, that they were not meant to be. They are not willed to be by Him.

Whenever each of us confronts pain and suffering, we are reminded that he is there. Jesus Christ, who took on the human condition, knew suffering far beyond that which most of us will ever know.

With all the pain of the cross, Jesus forgave sin, forgave his persecutors, then   looked down at his mother and reminded her that she was part of a greater family. He then gave himself up to his heavenly father.

It’s a model of enduring through pain that should be vivid in our memories. He took on that suffering so you and I could be saved. He gave up his life so that you and I would gain our heavenly life.

His suffering was the ultimate gift of his love to us.

THAT is what we need to hold onto whenever we are undergoing the pain that life can bring. We are never alone, regardless of how much we think we are. Jesus, the constant companion is at our side.

We may be worn down by the difficulties of our life. Jesus, the constant presence is there to walk with us and uplift us by his love.

When we face the nearness of death, Jesus stands at our side and reminds us of the gift that awaits us with him.

Suffering forces proud men and women to allow others to care for us, to give others a chance to love us, to force us when we’re ill out of our supposed self-sufficiency.

Throughout it all, Jesus is there at our side.

Jesus came because he knows what we most need. He brought us the medicine of the word and of the sacraments. We need the medicine of Jesus’ truth, of his preaching, more than any medicine or treatment.

We need him throughout the journey of our life through bright days and dark days. When we internalize that, when we live that life, we are almost home. That’s when Jesus turns to us, holds our hand, smiles and reminds us that he walked every step with us.

And ultimately, he will welcome us to his father’s home.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus Christ, you have all power to heal and to deliver from harm. There is no trouble nor bondage you cannot overcome. Set me free to serve you joyfully and to love and serve others generously. May nothing hinder me from giving myself wholly to you and to your service.”

Daily Note

Do you allow Jesus to be the Lord and healer in your personal life, family, and community? Approach the Lord with expectant faith. God’s healing power restores us not only to health but to active service and care of others. There is no trouble he does not want to help us with and there is no bondage he can’t set us free from. Do you take your troubles to him with expectant faith that he will help you?

There Is Only ONE Truth

Daily Reflection – 1/10/2023

Sacred Scripture

When he had come into the temple area, the chief priests and the elders of the people approached him as he was teaching and said, “By what authority are you doing these things? And who gave you this authority?” Jesus said to them in reply, “I shall ask you one question, and if you answer it for me, then I shall tell you by what authority I do these things. Where was John’s baptism from? Was it of heavenly or of human origin?” They discussed this among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘Of heavenly origin,’ he will say to us, ‘Then why did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we fear the crowd, for they all regard John as a prophet.” So they said to Jesus in reply, “We do not know.” He himself said to them, “Neither shall I tell you by what authority I do these things. (Matthew 21:23-27)

Reflection

Now I know where politicians get their dance – you know, the dance where they don’t answer the question. Where a lot of words are spoken but no one of them makes sense! Today’s Gospel has the chief priests and elders squirming and dancing as they try to come up with an answer to Jesus’ question.

They also missed the true meaning of “authority”. They and many today  think that “authority” has to do with power–the power to do this or that. But it’s more than that: authority is also a matter of permission. To have authority is to have permission from some greater authority to speak or act in a particular area.

The exercise of genuine authority is not to control but, on the contrary, to be an agent in releasing the potential that is in people, to be an empowering agent. Jesus did not wield coercive authority. He invited people to follow him. He came to serve not be served. He came to give life, life in its fullness. He came to lead people into the full development of all they could be and were meant to be.

Our leaders exercise power but very few exercise authority. In the exercise of power, we look to our own interests but in the exercise of authority we look to the interests of others.

Think about the people who hold authority for you. They are not concerned about themselves. They do not dominate or control you. They inspire you. They call forth from you faith, hope, and trust. They expand your world, open new possibilities, and bring forth life and gifts in yourself that you never knew were there. They cause you to reevaluate your life, change your mind, and live differently. That sounds an awful lot like Jesus and it’s very different from those who exercise power.

Every day God authorizes us to enter and sends us into his vineyard, to act in this world with his authority and on his behalf through the gifts he has bestowed upon each one of us. God shares his authority with us. The authority God shares with us is nothing less than his own divine attributes. It is the expression and manifestation of God’s life in and through our own.

There is no one without authority. The difference isn’t that some have authority and others don’t. The difference is that some recognize and exercise their authority and others do not. Regardless, God knows and sees the authority he has given us and waits for us to see and know it too.

If you wonder what has happened to our world, to our society, all you need to do is look around. Too many have rejected the life fulfilling authority of Jesus to grow and be His beacon. Too many have twisted His words and the Christian faith, so it suits their beliefs, prejudices and needs. Too many have made Church a marketplace where they barter their prayers and actions for a gift from God.

So here is a simple question: What do you care about? What do I care about? Are we like the religious leaders to whom Jesus is talking, whose primary care is for social standing and personal reputation and twisted perspectives as well as the comforts that come with a lifestyle of privilege? Or is our primary concern going to be for the honor of our Father God who authorizes us to go out and work for him in the vineyard of his Kingdom? Who authorizes us to live only His words? Is your answer “I will?”

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus Christ, you are the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Let your light shine in my heart and in my mind that I may grow in understanding the truth of your word and find joy and freedom in living according to it.”

Daily Note

The coming of God’s kingdom or reign on the earth inevitably leads to conflict – a conflict of allegiance to God’s will or my will, God’s justice or the world’s way of playing fair, God’s standard of absolute moral truth or truth relative to what I want to believe is good and useful for the time being. How do you respond to Jesus’ claim to be not only the Messiah, but the source of everlasting life and truth as well? Do you submit to his word and stake your life on the coming of his kingdom? Jesus promises that those who seek to live according to God’s truth will find true joy, freedom, and happiness both now and forever.

We Will Never Know Another Love Like This

Daily Reflection – 1/9/2023

Sacred Scripture

Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him.  John would have prevented him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’  But Jesus answered him, ‘Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfil all righteousness.’ Then he consented. And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.  And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved,* with whom I am well pleased.’ (Matthew 3: 13-17)

Reflection

Why did Jesus, without sin, submit himself to be baptized by John?

In this humble submission of Jesus, we see a foreshadowing of the “baptism” of his bloody death on the cross. Jesus’ baptism is the acceptance and the beginning of his mission as God’s suffering son. He submitted himself entirely to his Father’s will.

Out of love he consented to this baptism of death for the forgiveness of our sins. He knew the path that lay ahead. He knew the torture that his body would endure. With all of that, we still see Jesus ever compliant so that his death on the cross would bring you and me the opportunity to be forever reconciled with his father.

It is a love like no other love that you may have experienced. It is unconditional. It is unmerited and undeserving. No words can describe it except this – It is a love demonstrated by the greatest act of sacrifice – a Father who gives up a Son and a Son who give up his life.

There is no word in our human language that could ever convey to the human intelligence the immensity of it.

Matthew tells us in one brief sentence that it defies definition, baffles all description, that it is inexpressible, unspeakable. “God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son.” The gift of His Son would have to be the proof and measure of God’s love. We may consider it, but never comprehend it; we may know it, but it surpasses all knowledge; we may speak of it, but it is unspeakable; we may search the breadth, length, depth and height of it, but all dimensions and magnitudes fail to supply plummet or compass by which we may tell the extent of it. His gift is unspeakable.

Not some warm fuzzy kind of emotion or sentiment. It is profoundly deep and complex. The Incarnation and the Cross; the suffering the Son had to endure; His sorrows, the suffering and shame of Gethsemane and Golgotha, the darkness, the woe, His death and shedding of his blood taken together is the answer to the question of the extent of God’s love. It was God’s utterance of an unutterable love; His love declared by His unspeakable gift.

An unspeakable gift must produce unspeakable joy. Every earthly pleasure can be spoken because it is temporary and conditional. But God’s unspeakable gift of Love carries us beyond the confines of this realm, beyond the limits of time and space, and thus thrills us with divine joy, unspeakable in human speech. It is the joy of faith, the joy of love, not natural but divine. And strange though it may seem, this unspeakable joy goes along with the heaviness of the Cross.

 On earth, trials and sorrow will be our inevitable lot, a light affliction nonetheless; but in heaven, we can only experience a far more exceeding weight of glory. All that is imperfect, and belongs to our present state of mortality, will be swept away by the power of immortality. And that which is humanly unspeakable will now be spoken because and heaven’s language will become our familiar tongue.

When it comes to love, humanity’s version is but a pale shadow compared to the truth of God’s love.  “God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son.” This is God’s love, and it is this type of love that God would have us emulate.

We are called to be the “light and salt” of his kingdom that radiate the  beauty and aroma of his mercy and goodness to those around us.

Prayer of The Day

Lord Jesus, you have been kind and forgiving towards me. May I be merciful as you are merciful. Free me from all bitterness and resentment that I may truly forgive from the heart those who have caused me injury or grief.

Daily Note

We see in this gospel that the decisive point is that whoever scorns God’s love condemns himself. God is not at all eager to condemn men. He is nothing but Love, Love that goes as far as the Father sacrificing his Son out of love for the world. There is nothing more for him to give us. The whole question now is whether we accept God’s unconditional love so that it can prove efficacious and fruitful in our lives, or whether we choose to continue to cower in our darkness in order to evade the illuminating love of his grace.

Truly Now, Are You Totally Satisfied?

Daily Reflection – 1/6/2023

Sacred Scripture

This is what John the Baptist proclaimed: “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (Mark 1: 7-11)

Reflection

John the Baptist was a man with a mission. Every aspect of his life was given to preparing the way of the Lord. Every fiber of his being yearned to see that day arrive. Be it by penance, preaching, or repentance, he did everything he could to prepare others for the Messiah’s coming. Because his heart yearned for Christ, it made his every action glow with authenticity. What joy must have filled him when, as Mark writes, “It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John.” The day he longed for had finally arrived!

Isn’t there a part of John in each of us? Aren’t we all yearning for Christ’s coming into our lives. But we need not look far off. By our baptism, Christ has already taken our hand; we already belong to him! Our response to this unmerited gift is our baptismal commitments, namely, to preach the Gospel and to strive for holiness.

But don’t we all sometimes shirk from that response. “Living out the Gospel and striving for holiness”?

How can we?

Baptism gives the certainty for which each of us yearns: Christ is here, he has come into our lives, he has seized our souls, and will remain with us unless we deliberately turn away from him by grave sin. Even then, he awaits and pursues us to restore us to his intimate friendship.

Do you wonder about this world in which we live? At times, it sure doesn’t feel as if enough of us are living that Gospel.

That’s a tragedy for us and our world.

If we did try harder to live that baptismal commitment, the world would become transformed. Equally as important, we would be transformed. Ideologies of violence, tendencies towards corruption, desires for power and possessions would steadily be removed from our hearts.

Instead, our eyes would be opened to the needs of others. They too yearn for Christ, just as those who gathered alongside the Jordan to hear Saint John preach. The greatest gift we can give them is, like the Baptist, to point them to the Lamb of God — it is Christ alone who can satisfy the thirst of every human heart!

Prayer of The Day

Lord Jesus, I want to take a moment to thank you for your wonderful gift of baptism, the moment when you opened for me the doors to heaven, the moment from which I can be called one of your followers. Through my baptism I can be truly called a Christian! Help me to be worthy of this calling. Strengthen me today with your grace and presence. Guide me along the path of life. Help me to be your light in the world.

Daily Note

God has made us God’s own.  God has chosen us as sons and daughters and God continually surrounds us with gifts that bring us life and joy God’s sons and daughters, we who claim God’s love and recognize God’s blessings, are the people who can say without hesitation that “the best things in life are free.”