The One Command That Should Mark Our Lives

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Daily Reflection – 01/09/2020

Sacred Scripture

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news of him spread throughout the whole region. He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all. He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the Sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord. Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” And all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. (Luke 4:14-22)

Reflection

“The spirit of the Lord is upon me.”

The spirit of the Lord is upon us – each and every one of us. Regardless of religious denomination, regardless of ethnicity, regardless of stature in life or lack thereof, regardless of skin color, or accent. How is that? It is contained in His command to love.

Love is first man’s calling. The Lord calls us to give ourselves to bring true happiness to others. As Saint John of the Cross says, “at the evening of our day we shall be judged by our loving””. At the evening of each day, it is appropriate that we pause to examine ourselves to determine how we expressed our love, focusing on those aspects that we need to improve to make our loving an even greater blessing to others.

He again tells us to love much and he reminds us that if we do not love the one we see then we cannot love the One who is always present though unseen. He tells us that we must love our brother but in this John is not simply referring to our blood relations but to all peoples because we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. There is a strong reminder of the connection between love and faith. In today’s gospel text from St Luke we see Jesus reading in the synagogue. He reads from the Prophet Isaiah and tells the people that he is the fulfilment of the passage. We too are called on to “bring the good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives

If we allow it, the Holy Spirit will transform us just as He changed the Apostles, so that we can act under His influence, even as He grants us His blessings, bringing them to all our hearts, as Saint Paul wrote: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Gal 5:22-23).

In spite of that mandate, in spite of the ultimate example of love manifest in the birth and death of Jesus Christ for each of us, it is difficult to see that prevalent in some of the countries of this world that claim to be “developed” or “first world.” Polemics, divisiveness, politics that appeal to the basest qualities of humankind, make us wonder where His command of love has gone.

In spite of that, the eternity of our lives demand that we embody and live that command of love. If we do not then the darkness will roll in. Let His light commander our lives, let His light flood our souls, let His light and His love be the markers of our lives.

 Prayer of The Day

Lord Jesus, you are the fulfillment of all our hopes and dreams. Through the gift of your Holy Spirit you bring us truth, freedom, and abundant life. Fill me with the joy of the Gospel and inflame my heart with love and zeal for you and for your kingdom of peace and righteousness.

Daily Note

Our answer must always be “Lord, you know all things, you know that I love you despite my weaknesses; but let me prove it to you, help me discover my brothers’ needs, to truly give myself to the needy and neglected, to accept them as they are, to value them.”

 

Nothing Should Ever Be Feared

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Daily Reflection – 1/8/2020

Sacred Scripture

After the five thousand had eaten and were satisfied, Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and precede him to the other side toward Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. And when he had taken leave of them, he went off to the mountain to pray. When it was evening, the boat was far out on the sea and he was alone on shore. Then he saw that they were tossed about while rowing, for the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them.  But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out. They had all seen him and were terrified. But at once he spoke with them, “Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!” He got into the boat with them and the wind died down. They were completely astounded. They had not understood the incident of the loaves. On the contrary, their hearts were hardened. (Mark 6:45-52)

Reflection

All of us have experienced emotional “storms” that overwhelm us.  It may have been an illness, the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, or a financial crisis. Violent storms are not easy to weather.  And even once the storm has blown over, these storms typically leave us with a residue of pain, loss, confusion, and anxiety.

What storm in your life do you remember?  Take a moment and reflect on that experience. Who supported you during this difficult time?  Who journeyed with you?  Was Jesus with you in this experience?  Did you sense His presence and care?  Or did you feel alone and perhaps abandoned? 

The Lord keeps watch over us at all times, and especially in our moments of temptation and difficulty.  Do you rely on the Lord for his strength and help?  Jesus assures us that we have no need of fear if we trust in Him and in his great love for us.  

He wishes to teach us that even when we are in very pressurized and difficult situations, he is nearby, ready to help us; but he expects us to make an effort, to strengthen our hope and temper our resolve. As an early Greek commentator puts it: “The Lord allowed his disciples to enter danger to make them suffer, and he did not immediately come to their aid; he left them in peril for the whole night, to teach them to be patient and not to be accustomed to receiving immediate succor in tribulation.”

We do know and believe that Jesus is with us!  However, we may not experience a tangible sense of His presence.  However, Jesus often comes to us in various guises.  It might be a friend who calls or a song that plays on the radio that speak to us.  Perhaps we experience Jesus in looking at the bare trees of winter or watching the snow quietly fall from the heavens. 

When God comes to us in the storms of our life – the busyness, the pain, the anxiety, the trouble, the brokenness, the insecurities – do we listen for Him beckoning to us to come to Him? And if we hear Him calling, do we have the courage to step out of the boat and walk on water? Do you have courage to do whatever Jesus asks of you, even if it means stepping out into the unknown??

Our part is to look deeply for Jesus.  He is with us!  However, we need to be awake and alert.  Today open your eyes and hearts.   Jesus will come today.  Will we see Him and recognize Him? 

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, may I never doubt your saving help and your ever-watchful presence, especially in times of adversity. Fortify my faith with courage and my hope with perseverance that I may never waver in my trust in you”.

Daily Note

God made you to walk on water. God wants to pass by us (reveal Himself to us). Even during the storms. Even during the time we struggle to move against the wind. Even in the middle of the night – God comes. Will you walk on water? Will you let Him into your boat?

 

 

But In Receiving How Much Will We Give

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Daily Reflection – 1/7/20

Sacred Scripture

When Jesus saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things. By now it was already late and his disciples approached him and said, “This is a deserted place and it is already very late. Dismiss them so that they can go to the surrounding farms and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” He said to them in reply, “Give them some food yourselves.” But they said to him, “Are we to buy two hundred days’ wages worth of food and give it to them to eat?” He asked them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” And when they had found out they said, “Five loaves and two fish.” So he gave orders to have them sit down in groups on the green grass. The people took their places in rows by hundreds and by fifties. Then, taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; he also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied. And they picked up twelve wicker baskets full of fragments and what was left of the fish. Those who ate of the loaves were five thousand men.( Mark 6:34-44)

Reflection

Today’s Gospel is one of the most familiar. Of all the miracles Jesus performed, this is the only one that appears in all four gospels. There are two dimensions that I think are worth exploring for their application in our lives.

We know that the miraculous feeding of such a great multitude pointed to God’s provision of manna in the wilderness for the people of Israel. This food foreshadowed the true heavenly bread which Jesus would offer his followers. Jesus makes a claim only God can make: He is the true bread of heaven that can satisfy the deepest hunger we experience. The feeding of the five thousand shows the remarkable generosity of God and his great kindness towards us. In the multiplication of the loaves and fishes we see a sign and a symbol of what God always does. When God gives, he gives abundantly. He gives more than we need for ourselves that we may have something to share with others, especially those who lack what they need. God takes the little we have and multiplies it for the good of others.  Reflecting on that thought, each of us needs to ask ourselves: Do we truly trust in God’s provision for us and do we share freely with others, especially those who lack?

But there is still another side to this Gospel. Today, each of us must make it our constant desire to live life to the full! To receive grace upon grace!  This is what the Lord seeks from us. To take us, break us and distribute us to others. What he did with the meager scraps he gathered together; he wishes to do with each of us.! 

We know that if we give our lives to the Lord, he can divide and multiply it. We know that the Lord can do amazing things through us. We all know that the Lord is waiting with great anticipation for that day when each of us decides to give him the gift of our lives and give it to him so that he can give it to others. We know what it takes: faith, hope and love. The Lord provides his grace; we only need to respond to it. “The Lord has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor and to proclaim liberty to captives.” Today, he demands even more. To influence the lives of all the people we meet, to be able to say: I wish, I desire, I hunger to be a gift to others. With Him, all things are possible; nothing is ever wasted.

 Prayer of The Day

Lord Jesus Christ, you satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts and you feed us with the finest of wheat. Fill me with gratitude for your blessings and give me a generous heart that I may freely share with others what you have given to me.

Daily Note

The willingness to do something, no matter how little, the readiness to give something, no matter how small, can bear rich fruit. The Lord can take our giving, no matter how small, and work powerfully through it. Imagine the effect we would have on the world if we each gave ourselves willingly to God to be used for His purpose rather than ours.

To Be A Follower of the Light . . .

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Daily Reflection – 1/6/20

Sacred Scripture

When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled: Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen. From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.” He went around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people. His fame spread to all of Syria, and they brought to him all who were sick with various diseases and racked with pain, those who were possessed, lunatics, and paralytics, and he cured them. And great crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan followed him. (Matthew 4:12-17, 23-25)

Reflection

Jesus takes up John’s message of repentance and calls disciples to believe in the good news he has come to deliver.  What is the good news which Jesus delivers? It is the good news of peace (restoration of relationship with God), of hope (the hope of resurrection and heaven), of truth (God’s word is true and reliable), of promise (he rewards those who seek him), of immortality (God gives everlasting life), and the good news of salvation (liberty from sin and freedom to live as sons and daughters of God).

But notice that it is repentance which comes first. Why? Repentance requires a life-change and a transformation of heart and mind. The Holy Spirit gives us a repentant heart, a true sorrow and hatred for sin and its consequences, and a firm resolution to avoid it in the future.  The Holy Spirit gives us grace to see our sin for what it is — rebellion and a rejection of the love of God.  God’s grace helps us to turn away from all that would keep us from his love. 

The Holy Spirit opens the eyes of the mind and makes it easy for us to accept and believe the truth. To believe is to take Jesus at his word, to believe that God loved us so much that he sent his only begotten Son to redeem us from the slavery of sin and death. God made the supreme sacrifice of his Son on the cross to bring us back to himself.

If we are to become fully Christian, it needs to become who we are in every aspect of our livesbecause we have fully abandoned sin and antipathy to follow Christ. We may stumble and transgress, but even then, we must still discern the call in order to know that we have done so, rather than rationalize our sinfulness in an attempt try to eat our cake and have it too.

Today we also can gather at Jesus’ feet. We can simply listen to what He may have to say for us. Or we might wish to tell Him what we need and hope for. Do we trust that Jesus will listen to us? Do we believe that Jesus will heal us in some fashion? Today, may we pray to place our hope and our trust in Jesus. He will not fail us!

Prayer of The Day

Lord, your ways are life and light!  Let your word penetrate my heart and transform my mind that I may see your power and glory. Help me to choose your ways and to do what is pleasing to you.

Daily Note

The person of Jesus and the message he proclaims are as powerful today as when he began his ministry. He is as much God’s gift to us today as he was two thousand years ago for the people who flocked to him. He is just as much a light in our darkness now as he was then. It is good to remind ourselves of this basic truth about our faith as we face into the year that lies ahead.

 

A New Year Could Bring A New Life

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Daily Reflection – 1/3/20

Sacred Scripture

John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. He is the one of whom I said, ‘A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.’ I did not know him, but the reason why I came baptizing with water was that he might be made known to Israel.” John testified further, saying, “I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from the sky and remain upon him. I did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God. (John 1:19-34)

Reflection

John the Baptist is alive!  He is alive whenever we think of repentance – whenever we think about that which we must do to know Christ in our life – today and for eternity.

His message is just as relevant for us today as it was some 2,000 years ago.  At the time he walked the Earth, he preached so as to prepare the immediate way for Christ.  He prepared the way for the Messiah to physically enter into our world and present us with the gift of eternal salvation.  But John continues to prepare the way for the Lord, if we are willing to listen.

John the Baptist had a very clear sense of who he is and who he is not, of his role in manifesting God’s work on earth, of God’s presence and revelation when he sees it, and of his life’s work as a testimony to that revelation. He baptizes not to cleanse people from sin but to witness to God’s presence in the world.

The John the Baptist we find in John’s Gospel shows how what we do reveals to others what we believe. Have we reflected on our individual identities enough to have a sense of the talents we have, and those we do not have, to carry on the work of God in our own particular contexts? Are we aware of the sort of God we reveal to the world by our words and actions? Do our acts witness to a God who takes away that which alienates people from God and each other, and does so not by militant violence but by sacrifice? Do they reveal a God who remains present in the world?

Every day there is a mirror held up to our soul. Every day the way we live our life testifies to how truly we believe in the presence of Christ in our lives. Every day is a reflection of whether we are Christian in name only or a true committed follower of Christ.

Think about your words today. Think about your actions today. A committed follower of Christ ends his/her day by reflection on whether he/she brought alive the words of Jesus Christ.

It is not only about attending Church. We know that. Yes, we are strengthened and confirmed by the communal presence of Christ. Yes, when we gather around the table to receive Communion, we are confirmed on the purpose of our journey.

But what happens 8 hours later? Twenty-four hours later? Two days later? What do you reflect? You? Or you plus Him?

Or do our acts witness to a different sort of God altogether? The presentation of John the Baptist in John 1:19-34 challenges us to examine how our actions testify to our beliefs and what beliefs it is that they present to the world.

Prayer of The Day

Lord, You came into this world out of perfect love for me.  You came to save me from all sin and You came to deliver me from all evil.  Help me to see that which has kept me from You this past year and to surrender it to You.  Help me also to have hope and vision for all that awaits and to all which You are calling me.  May I heed the words of the Baptist and make the road ahead straight so that I can follow Your perfect will.  Jesus, I trust in You.

 Daily Note

We learn from John that the first step to a life of holiness is to “make straight the way of the Lord.”  How do we do this?  How do we make straight the way of the Lord?  We do it by humbly admitting those sins which get in the way of Jesus coming to us and transforming our lives.

Reflect, today, upon the year that is past as well as the year to come.  What is it that you need to let go of from the past and what is it that you need to focus on for the coming year?  Make a clear resolution to identify any obstacle to the coming of Christ into your heart and let yourself discover the new life that awaits you this coming year.

  

Who Are You ? What Have You Done?

Image result for free photo of John 1:19-28Daily Reflection – 1/2/20

Sacred Scripture

And this is the testimony of John. When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites [to him] to ask him, “Who are you?” he admitted and did not deny it, but admitted, “I am not the Messiah.” So they asked him, “What are you then? Are you Elijah?” And he said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.” So they said to him, “Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us? What do you have to say for yourself?” He said: “I am ‘the voice of one crying out in the desert, “Make straight the way of the Lord,” as Isaiah the prophet said.” Some Pharisees were also sent. They asked him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah or Elijah or the Prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water, but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie.” This happened in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing. (John 1:19-28)

Reflection

“Who are you?” John the Baptist had no difficulty answering this question when the authorities came to investigate him. If someone challenged your identity — both naturally and spiritually, how would you answer? There’s an identity war going on today and many are in crisis or at least confused. We can try to manufacture identity, but it’s derived.  And its true source and maker is God who made us in his image and likeness.

John had no mistaken identity.  In all humility and sincerity, he said he was only a voice bidding people to prepare the way for the coming of the King. John the Baptist bridges the Old and New Testaments. He is the last of the Old Testament Prophets who points the way to the Messiah. He is the first of the New Testament witnesses and martyrs. John saw from a distance what the Messiah came to accomplish — our redemption from slavery to sin and our adoption as sons and daughters of God, our heavenly Father.  Do you recognize your identity as a child of God and a citizen of heaven?

John was the greatest of the prophets, yet he lived as a humble and faithful servant of God. He pointed others to Jesus, Messiah and Savior of the world. Do you point others to Christ by your witness and example?

Our mission as brothers and sisters of Christ and members of his Church is to reflect Christ’s Light to others, just as the moon reflects the light of the sun.   There are too many people who live in darkness and poverty, and who lack real freedom.  There are others who are deafened and blinded by the cheap attractions of the world.  Also, many feel lonely, unwanted, rejected, and marginalized.  All these people are waiting for us to reflect the Light of Christ and to turn their lives into experiences of joy, wholeness and integrity.  The joy of Jesus, the joy of Christmas can only be ours to the extent that we work with Jesus to bring joy into the lives of others. It means seeking out – not waiting for – daily occurrences where you can say I helped bring the joy of Christ to another today.  It’s not a weekly, monthly or annual responsibility. It’s not passive. Its active.

What will you do today? What will you do tomorrow?

Let us remember that Christmas is not complete unless we show real generosity to those who have nothing to give us in return. 

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, make me a herald of your word of truth and grace. Help me to be a faithful witness of the joy of the gospel and to point others to you as John did through his testimony.”

Daily Note

 John the Baptist reminds us that there is no bigger problem than our personal sins and so there is no bigger savior than Jesus. If you are a believer the enemy wants to block your relationship with Christ and preoccupy you with other saviors. Remember this, nothing can supersede our dependence on Christ. See every challenge that you face as an opportunity to get to know Jesus Christ more intimately than you have ever known him before. And you will overcome everything that the world will throw at you.

 

The Word That Binds

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Daily Reflection – 12/31/19

Sacred Scripture

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him. But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God. And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only-begotten Son, full of grace and truth. John testified to him and cried out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.'”From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace, because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. The only-begotten Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him. (John 1:1-18)

 Reflection

John’s Gospel is an eloquent missive to read as we end the Christmas season.  For the last seven days, we focused on the birth of Jesus Christ. In this Gospel we are reminded vividly of what that birth was about.

John describes Jesus as God’s creative, life-giving and light-giving Word that has come to earth in human form. “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Jesus is the wisdom and power of God which created the world and sustains it who assumed a human nature in order to accomplish our salvation in it. Jesus became truly man while remaining truly God. “What he was, he remained, and what he was not he assumed” (from an early church antiphon for morning prayer). Jesus Christ is truly the Son of God who, without ceasing to be God and Lord, became a man and our brother. From the time of the Apostles the Christian faith has insisted on the incarnation of God’s Son “who has come in the flesh” (1 John 4:2)

Christians never cease proclaiming anew the wonder of the Incarnation. The Son of God assumed a human nature in order to accomplish our salvation in it. The Son of God …worked with human hands; he thought with a human mind. He acted with a human will, and with a human heart he loved.  Born of the Virgin Mary, he has truly been made one of us, like to us in all things except sin .The enormity of that statement is almost overwhelming.

If we are going to behold the glory of God, we will do it through Jesus Christ. Jesus became the partaker of our humanity so we could be partakers of his divinity (2 Peter 1:4). God’s purpose for us, even from the beginning of his creation, is that we would be fully united with him. When Jesus comes God is made known as the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. By our being united in Jesus, God becomes our Father and we become his sons and daughters.

Repeat that for a moment. By our being united in Jesus, God becomes our Father and we become his sons and daughters.

Do you thank the Father for sending his only begotten Son to redeem you and to share with you his glory? Do you thank the Father for sending His Son so that we are the children of God. That is what our faith is all about. How fortunate are we to become one family with our brother Jesus Christ and God as our Father.

Prayer of The Day

Almighty God and Father of light, your eternal Word leaped down from heaven in the silent watches of the night. Open our hearts to receive his life and increase our vision with the rising of dawn, that our lives may be filled with his glory and his peace.

Daily Note

Today’s readings are not just about endings: we call God the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. The Gospel focuses on this theme of new beginnings in the Lord. He will be with us at the beginning of each day, of each week, and at the beginning of this brand new year. By spending a bit of time in prayer, we can hear God’s voice directing us towards the right path to follow for the new year

 

 

You Too Are Called To Be Prophet

Image result for free photo of Luke 2:36-40

Daily Reflection – 12/30/19

Sacred Scripture

There was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer. And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem. When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.( Luke 2:36-40)

Reflection

What’s beautiful about Anna’s response is that she did not keep her joy to herself. Rather, when she saw the Christ Child, she “spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.” There is little doubt that her prophetic words were filled with joy and were also quite authoritative. She would have spoken as one who knew the truth of this Child and as one who eagerly wanted to tell everyone about Him.

Anna is an example of the type of prophet we are all called to be. Whenever we speak, we are being prophets of something or other. Are we prophets of the Good News?
We all have opportunities to speak about Jesus to those who are awaiting their Redeemer.
When You encounter our Lord in your life of faith and prayer, do you then eagerly desire to share your faith with others? Perhaps it is by your words, but perhaps it’s more often by your witness.

Is there anyone in our family, church or community who is in anguish, longing for deliverance from their troubles? Every time we open our mouths, we have a decision to make. We can either speak good news or curses; encouragement or complaints. But we need to internalize that it is His wish that we take the path of good news. It is from our mouths that we can offer words of hope. It is our ears that can lead us to compassionately hear anguish and despair. It is our shoulders that can offer a place for a burdened head to rest. And it is our hands that offer friendship and give a sign of peace.


It is not difficult to be God’s prophet. All it takes is a desire to help. We have good news to share! We don’t have to be theologians to share it. By getting in touch with our own day-to-day need for the Savior, we can compassionately recognize the needs of others and respond with the gift of uplifting words that reveal Jesus’ saving power. And by peeking out of the shell of our own self-enclosed worlds to notice that others have an emptiness that is similar to what Jesus has healed in us, we can figure out what to say that will make a difference in their lives. In doing so, we will be pointing them toward their Redeemer so that they, too, will find his help.

The bottom line is that the true meaning of Christmas must be shared. It must be proclaimed far and wide so that all will understand the joy of the coming of the Savior of the World.

Prayer of The Day

Lord, may I always remember the reason for Christmas. May I always keep the joy of Your coming among us at the center of my celebration. You, dear Lord, are the greatest Gift ever given. I thank You for Your life and I pray that You will help me to share the Gift of Yourself with others. Jesus, I trust in You. 

Daily Note

Reflect, today, upon Anna the prophetess. Try to imagine the joy in her heart as she spoke of this newborn King. And pray that her joy and prophetic example will inspire you to continually proclaim the Lord to all whom God puts in your path.

 

 

 

 

The News That Floods Our Soul

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Daily Reflection – 12/25/19

Sacred Scripture

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child; and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. (Luke 2:15-20)

Reflection

Every Christian has heard the timeless story. It’s the story of an extraordinary event that changed the world forever, perhaps the most significant event in human history: the life and resurrection of Jesus. On Christmas Day, billions of followers throughout the world will celebrate the beginning of this story, the birth of God’s only begotten son.

We all know the account, how Mary gave birth to Jesus in the town of Bethlehem and laid him in a manger, how three Wise Men followed a star to Jesus and presented Him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, how a holy angel told a group of men about this amazing event and how word of His birth quickly spread far and wide. The birth of Jesus went viral (about two millennia before the birth of social media), thanks to the persistent effort of the first people outside of the manger to learn about it: the shepherds.

Why shepherds? Why didn’t God choose a king, any number of powerful dignitaries or people of great wealth? Why didn’t the three Wise Men, the angels sent by God Himself, or the Holy Family share the news of Jesus’ birth? How Christians live based on their understanding of the answers that follow help form the very foundation of their spiritual lives.

Shepherds were humble men with very little status. As such, they were looked down upon by almost everyone at that time. Angels appeared to these lowly people in the middle of the night to show that Jesus came into the world for everyone: the wealthy and the destitute, the educated and the ignorant, people of every race. Abraham, Moses and David were all shepherds, and God made promises to them about future deliverance. God honored this promise by announcing the coming of the Messiah to the shepherds first. Their key role was to spread the news of Christ’s birth as quickly as possible. History tells us that they did this very well.

These simple and lonely souls were very close to the Lord and could more easily see Him. The Wise Men represented those with social standing and fame – but they arrived in Bethlehem much later. Maybe sometimes being too smart or famous can get in the way of seeing the Lord. Shepherds were more likely to be the first on the scene since they were always on watch to protect their sheep.

Protection. Vigilance. Dedication. Christian clergy and other Church leaders have for centuries been called to “shepherd” their “flock”: to lead them, teach them and love them. It’s not by accident that the word “pastor” means “shepherd,” or that the 23rd Psalm begins with, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

According to the second chapter of Luke, one angel gave the shepherds the news of Jesus’ birth, and thousands, maybe even millions, of more angels appeared. What these shepherds heard, what the first angel had to say to them, was totally out of the ordinary. It changed the world, and they knew that nothing else could be more important than receiving this message.

On this day, the most beautiful of all, the whole community of heaven joins with all believers of good will on earth in a jubilant song of praise for the good news proclaimed by the angels on Christmas eve.

The joy of Christmas is not for a day or a season. It is an eternal joy, a joy that no one can take from us because it is the joy of Jesus Christ himself made present in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who dwells within us The Lord gives us a supernatural joy which no pain nor sorrow can diminish, and which neither life nor death can take away. On this day, let the joy of your salvation resonate within you and allow His peace to flood your life. May all the blessings of Christ be with you and those you love.

Prayer of The Day

Lord our God, with the birth of your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, your glory breaks on the world. As we celebrate his first coming, give us a foretaste of the joy that you will grant us when the fullness of his glory has filled the earth.

 

Daily Note

God wants to fill our hearts anew with joy and gratitude for the greatest gift he could possibly give us – his beloved Son Jesus. What can we give thanks for in this great feast of the Incarnation? We can praise and thank God our Father for the fact that the Son of God freely and joyfully assumed a human nature in order to accomplish our salvation in it. Jesus came to release the captives from slavery to sin and to open the gates of paradise once again. This day the Holy Spirit invites us to make haste – as the shepherds of Bethlehem did – to adore Jesus our King and Messiah. The Lord Jesus Christ  is our eternal good shepherd who guides and cares for us unceasingly and who gives us abundant everlasting life and union with the triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

 

Preparing Our Hearts

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Daily Reflection – 12/24/19

Sacred Scripture

And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all who hate us; to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant, the oath which he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God, when the day shall dawn upon us from on high  to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.(Luke 1:67-79)

Reflection

 Here are few thoughts to fill this moment on the eve of Christ’s birth.

What would Christmas be like without Christ? Meaningless. In fact, everything would be meaningless. A compass without a terrestrial north or south or east or west would be pointless. A watch without arms would be useless. A life without God would be hopeless.

A Christmas without Christ would be a never-ending Advent!

Advent is magical because it comes to an end. The Magi find their King. Their journey has an ending, a happy ending. An Advent without Christmas is worse than the worst imaginable joke! It is like being told that there is a surprise but no surprise ever comes. It is like a child waiting for gifts that never arrive, or a young lady who waits and waits but never hears, “Will you marry me!”

John’s very existence was dependent upon the Lord. You, my child, will be called the prophet of the Most High…You, my child, will go before the Lord to prepare his way…The Lord guides our feet. The Lord shines in our darkest hours…The Lord gives his people knowledge and forgiveness. Christ is better than a compass; He is the sun. He rises from the East, no ifs ands or buts. He rises and I wake up. He determines the day, the night, the hour and the season. I live through Him. He shines, I see. He is the sea, I navigate. He is the rock, I stand on Him. He points, I follow. He walks me through all of life’s long sequences. Advent is holy because Christ awaits us.

Is this true for only Zechariah? Not at all. His canticle is my song. Two weeks ago, I celebrated the 48th anniversary of my ordination. I cannot even begin to express in words the joy that is in my heart for this marvelous and mysterious vocation! The Lord has been kind and merciful to me.  He has blessed me beyond belief to minister in his name to those who are suffering and dying. I thank God for having called me. I thank God for the continual courage and the strength to follow Him. I thank God for sending me, like one of his apostles, to enter into the lives of His people.

Christmas is fast approaching. May the Lord continue to be in Christmas, and may He find us ready and willing for Him to enter into the inn of our heart, mind, body and soul.

 Prayer of The Day

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord we thank you for your abundant love and mercy, help us to never stray from your goodness. Lord, you alone are the good and right thing for us to follow, help us to stay focused on you. Lord, you are our God and we are your people, may we never forget this and live our life as you would have us. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Note

In giving praise to God and spreading His love to prepare for His kingdom we are giving God that which He desires of us. What more perfect way to prepare for our Lord’s coming than in telling of His goodness and preparing His way in the hearts of all those we meet? In this high season of the church, let us all take courage in the Lord and seek to draw closer to Him that we may act in complete confidence and trust of His divine plan for us. May we cast aside the tensions of this world and rest peacefully knowing that the hand of God is guiding us through this life and closer to eternity with Him.