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.

 

 

 

Humility Brings Joy

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Daily Reflection – 12/23/19

Sacred Scripture

Now the time came for Elizabeth to be delivered, and she gave birth to a son. And her neighbors and kinsfolk heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they would have named him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said, “Not so; he shall be called John.” And they said to her, “None of your kindred is called by this name.” And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he would have him called. And he asked for a writing tablet, and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all marveled. And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea; and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him. (Luke 1:57-66)

Reflection

The Church does not celebrate the birthday of the saints, except that of Jesus’ mother.  Generally, their special day in the calendar is the date of their death.But there is one notable exception.  Since we celebrate the birthday of the Word, we also celebrate the birthday of the Voice.  We’re referring to Jesus’ cousin of course, John the Baptist, the Voice crying out in the wilderness.

John plays a unique role in the history of salvation.  We call him the Baptist.  Eastern Christians call him the Forerunner.  Only Luke’s gospel tells us of the marvelous circumstances surrounding his birth.  But each of the four gospels tells us of his essential work in preparing the way for Jesus.  But they also tell us something further – that John was a model of the key virtue of humility extolled by the first Beatitude of the Sermon on the Mount – Blessed are the Poor in Spirit.

In fact, he shows us the true nature of this virtue.  Humility is not beating up on yourself, denying that you have any gifts, talents, or importance. The humble man does not sheepishly look down on himself.  Actually, he does not look at himself at all.  He looks away from himself to the Lord.

At one time or another, every human being battles a nagging sense inadequacy. Pride is sin’s approach to dealing with this.  Proud people are preoccupied with self, seeing all others as competitors. 

Humility brings freedom from this frantic bondage.  Trying at every turn to affirm, exalt, and protect oneself is an exhausting enterprise. Receiving one’s dignity and self-worth as a gift from God relieves us from this stressful burden.  Freed from the blinding compulsion to dominate, we can feel a sense of satisfaction when others recognize that God is God and honor him as such.  We can even be free to recognize God in someone else and rejoice when others notice and honor God’s goodness this person.

 Prayer of The Day

Lord Jesus, you are gracious and forgiving towards us. Renew in me the gift of faith and humility that I may believe your promises and obey your word.

 Daily Note

When God acts to save us he graciously fills us with his Holy Spirit and makes our faith come “alive” to his promises. When we respond to his word with trust the Lord fills us with the joy of the Holy Spirit and renews our hope and gratitude for the mercy and gift of new life and salvation he gives us through Jesus Christ. Do you make your life an offering of thanksgiving to God, along with your family and all that you have and hope to accomplish? God wants to fill us with the joy of his saving presence all the days of our lives, from birth through death. Renew the offering of your life to God and give him thanks for his mercy and favor towards you.

 

A Faith That Inspires

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Daily Reflection – 12/20/19

Sacred Scripture

In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.( Luke 1:26-38)

Reflection

When Mary gave her full and knowing consent to the angel of the Lord, she placed all of her trust in the Lord, willingly and without any reservation, even though she knew full well what the difficulties that assent would likely produce. An unwed teen mother in those days would have been much more than just an embarrassment; it would disgrace the family and could have led to her death.

Mary had to have a deeply personal relationship with God.  And it was this relationship that enabled her to trust and say “yes” to what God was asking her to do.  Mary from a young age must have trusted God in all things.  And thus, she would trust God even in this surreal and frightening situation.  Yet, how was she to explain her situation to Joseph?  Yet, she had to share this fantastic experience with him.  How would he react?  Would he be angry or humiliated? Would he spurn her?

Although this gospel reading of complete faith and trust is literally a part of the Advent narrative, it belongs here for another reason, too. Advent is about preparation and formation, as well as anticipation. The cultural celebration of Christmas takes us away from what should be the real preparation and formation of the Advent season. And that is to follow the example of Mary’s Fiat and make ourselves into willing and joyful disciples of Jesus, with complete trust in the Lord as to His will.

We have the gift of free will, which means we have our own ideas about how our lives are to go. That is our gift from God, and the manner in which we are made in His image. But free will leaves us with constant choices about how we live our lives, and whether we live them only for ourselves or for the Lord.

At times, Jesus (and life) also presents us with difficult or painful situations that may stir up a storm of emotion in us.  How do we respond?  Do we get angry, fearful or anxious?  Do we distance ourselves from God?  Do we gradually come to believe that God is with us?   Do we trust that God will guide and grace us?

We have a wonderful model in Mary.  Like Mary, we need to keep ourselves grounded in the God we know, trust and love.  If we do this, then we may believe and trust that we will receive the grace and strength we need.  This will bring us peace.  God will bring us peace!

Prayer of The Day

Lord, I know that you are the one guiding my life and all of history. I need to be mindful that you always intend good for me, even if it is painful and purifying. So I should never be afraid of your hand in my life.  I believe and trust in you my Lord, but increase my faith, hope and love

Daily Note

We are all, like Mary. But more often than not, we are all resisting and offering objections. We are all experiencing push back from God, as God objects to our objections. We are all being offered the reassurance that “Nothing will be impossible with God” We are all called to prepare for the birth of the baby and then, as he grows and becomes strong to follow him all the days of our lives. For that journey, we need a mother’s wisdom.

 

 

 

To Trust AND Believe

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Daily Reflection – 12/19/19

Sacred Scripture

In the days of Herod, King of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah of the priestly division of Abijah; his wife was from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Both were righteous in the eyes of God, observing all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren and both were advanced in years. Once when he was serving as priest in his division’s turn before God, according to the practice of the priestly service, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord to burn incense. Then, when the whole assembly of the people was praying outside at the hour of the incense offering, the angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right of the altar of incense. Zechariah was troubled by what he saw, and fear came upon him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He will drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb, and he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of fathers toward children and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to prepare a people fit for the Lord.” Then Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” And the angel said to him in reply, “I am Gabriel, who stand before God. I was sent to speak to you and to announce to you this good news. But now you will be speechless and unable to talk until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled at their proper time.” Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah and were amazed that he stayed so long in the sanctuary. But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. He was gesturing to them but remained mute.  Then, when his days of ministry were completed, he went home. After this time his wife Elizabeth conceived, and she went into seclusion for five months, saying, “So has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit to take away my disgrace before others.”( Luke 1:5-25)

Reflection

Today we see the salvation story unfold within the parameters of the relationships of a childless couple.

In the Gospel it is the husband to whom an angel appears with words that are just as amazing. Although he is a “righteous” man from the “priestly division of Abijah,” Zechariah finds the message hard to believe. He is “an old man,” and his wife “is advanced in years.” The angel quiets Zechariah’s fears by literally silencing him.

Astonishment and uncertainty often mark the ways in which Christ comes into our lives. In times of confusion and in periods of doubt, silence can be a welcome companion. It allows us to consider not only the mystery of God made man but also the mystery of man becoming God.

The child Elizabeth will conceive will be “great in the sight of the Lord,” because he will go before the Lord “in the spirit and power of Elijah.” Not only will Zechariah’s son bring joy to his parents, but he will “turn the hearts of fathers toward their children and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous.” He will “prepare a people fit for the Lord.” Zechariah knows that his son will be stirred by the spirit of the Lord.

Every human heart contains a prayer not yet answered and a desire yet to be fulfilled. Like the couple in today’s Scriptures, the ways in which God responds to us can be truly unsettling and his purposes difficult to comprehend. Our couple longed for a child, but the life they conceived was more than just answers to personal prayers. John entered the world in order to show the splendor and the glory of God the Father. He was set apart, “taking no wine or drinking strong drink,” because he was inebriated by the mighty works of God.

In Jesus our disgrace has been removed. God has seen fit to do this in a way far greater than any we could have fashioned for ourselves. His very Son has entered our lives, His spirit is in each of us. Our mouths should sing of God’s glory, for he has rescued us from the hand of the wicked and been our strength even from our mother’s womb.

When God draws us into his presence, he wants us to be still and quiet before him so we can listen to his voice as he speaks to our hearts and reveals his mind to us.  Do you listen attentively to the Lord and do you ponder his word in your heart with trust and confidence? When we do, all is well when one seeks only the will of Jesus.

 Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, you bring hope and restoration to your people. Restore and strengthen Christian family life today. Help me to love and serve my family. May your love rule in all my relationships and remove any barriers to peace and harmony.”

Daily Note

Sometimes we feel like God punishes the righteous. We must realize in these circumstances that God has a plan for our life. In spite of the unbelief and punishment, Zechariah and Elizabeth trusted and cooperated with God. That led them to joy and gladness as foretold by the angel.

 

 

 

 

The Faithful Witness and Model of Faith

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Daily Reflection – 12/18/19

Sacred Scripture

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus. (Matthew 1:18-25)

Reflection

Unlike Luke, Matthew doesn’t begin the story focused on Mary, but with Joseph.

Here is a man who loves the woman he is betrothed to, who, as it turns out, is pregnant. Even in today’s world this would be quite a demand, for a man to marry a woman who was pregnant with a child that is not his own. But Joseph loved her, and even when he wanted to send her away, he wanted to do so quietly in order to protect her. But this incredible story doesn’t end there because God interceded. In a dream, Joseph was told what to do. When Joseph awoke, he knew he must trust in God and take Mary as his wife.

Wow, what faith in God! There are so many opportunities in this situation for Joseph to slip away quietly, and who would blame him? But his faith in God was greater than his fear of the unknown, and as a result, he played a key part in ushering in Emmanuel. Joseph was able and willing to set aside everything he knew and risk the unknown in order to surrender more fully to God.

He was not hasty to judge or to react with hurt and anger.  God rewarded him not only with guidance and consolation, but with the divine assurance that he had indeed called Joseph to be the husband of Mary and to assume a mission that would require the utmost faith, confidence, and trust in Almighty God.  Joseph believed in the divine message to take Mary as his wife and to accept the child in her womb as the promised Messiah.

Like Mary, Joseph is a model of faith for us. He is a faithful witness and servant of God’s unfolding plan of redemption. Are you ready to believe in the promises of God, even when faced with perplexing circumstances and what seems like insurmountable problems?  God has not left us alone, but has brought us his only begotten Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Let us look forward to Christmas, the feast of the Incarnation, with joyful hearts and let us renew our faith and hope in God and in his redeeming work.

 Prayer of The Day

Lord, you wonderfully invite me to help you in your mission to save souls, Lord. You respect my freedom, and you want me to respond out of love. Let me appreciate that truth fully and let me be generous with you.

 Daily Note

This Gospel passage could be called a second Annunciation. At the first Annunciation, Mary said “yes” to the angel. Now, Joseph’s “yes” was needed in order to ensure that Jesus would have the appearance of an earthly father (and a reputable lineage). Jesus often wants to come back into the world, so to speak, to touch lives: through a work of charity, a word of kindness ― or even a new baby. He counts on our help though. What help could Jesus be asking of me so as to carry out his plans? Could I be thwarting his plans because of laziness, stubbornness, or selfishness? Is he asking me to cooperate with someone? With a loved one? A classmate? A co-worker?

 

 

 

 

All About His Family of Jesus Christ

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Sacred Scripture

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham became the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers.  Judah became the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar. Perez became the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab. Amminadab became the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab. Boaz became the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth. Obed became the father of Jesse, Jesse the father of David the king. David became the father of Solomon, whose mother had been the wife of Uriah. Solomon became the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asaph. Asaph became the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, Joram the father of Uzziah. Uzziah became the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah. Hezekiah became the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amos, Amos the father of Josiah. Josiah became the father of Jechoniah and his brothers at the time of the Babylonian exile. After the Babylonian exile, Jechoniah became the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, Zerubbabel the father of Abiud. Abiud became the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor, Azor the father of Zadok. Zadok became the father of Achim, Achim the father of Eliud, Eliud the father of Eleazar. Eleazar became the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ. Thus the total number of generations from Abraham to David is fourteen generations; from David to the Babylonian exile, fourteen generations; from the Babylonian exile to the Christ, fourteen generations.( Matthew 1:1-17)

Reflection

You can view this passage as simply a genealogy or more than that.

The lineage that Jesus came from wasn’t just of saints. But from this sinful past, by the grace of God, came Jesus. From darkness came light, from sin came truth! The point is, even if there is a dark path in our past, from it can come great things! It was once said, “God writes straight with crooked lines!” Our crooked paths can lead us to somewhere great; our crooked paths have a reason.

Today we are called to question, what have we struggled with in our lives? What have been our mistakes, our sins? Have we admitted our sins and asked for forgiveness and mercy? We are taught today that out of darkness comes light and out of sin good things come. The same is true with our lives. Even if we have a sinful path God wants us to ask for forgiveness! Jesus came from a lineage of sinners so he understands our hearts and wants to bring us mercy! During this Advent season we are called to prepare ourselves for Jesus. One of the ways we can do this is by looking within our family. What are the gifts that you received from your family? What do you consider the greatest gift that you received from your family? What did you learn in your family that was painful or disappointing? No family is perfect, just as we are not perfect. What were the challenges in your family? How did you deal with them?
Take time and reflect on your family: your birth family and also the family you belong to at this time. What are the gifts they give you? What do you appreciate about your family? What might be disappointing to you about your family? What is the greatest gift you receive/d from your family? What are the gifts that you share with them?

The greatest gift you can give them is your love and the source of the greatest love is Jesus Christ. No wonder the gift of Christmas is as meaningful as it is.

 Prayer of The Day

Lord, your birth this Christmas is the center and culmination of human history. I thank you for the gift of life, for the mission you have entrusted to me, for granting me the possibility of recovering my dignity, and for adopting me as your child.

Daily Note

We are shaped and formed by our families. Most of us don’t choose our family; we are born into a family. We begin learning from our family the moment we are born – (or perhaps even when we are in the womb). Jesus also was shaped by His family. Mary and Joseph were His first teachers. They taught Jesus about God, life, love, how to act, how to pray and so much more.

What Is Your Answer

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Daily Reflection – 12/16/19

Sacred Scripture

When Jesus 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

And in that moment, the religious leaders were unmasked for who they truly were. They claimed authority and power and privilege over the people. But their chief concern was to protect their standing in society and to protect their reputations. They didn’t give an answer because they didn’t want to lose what they had.

And, of course, in that encounter, we have a lesson for all politicians and religious leaders and all those who hold positions of authority in society today. The claims of the Gospel of Jesus Christ are intense. And all in political and spiritual leadership are called to moments of decision that will have profound impact for our future. Are we prepared to stand up for what is true and right in the eyes of God and to live out our ministries by the teachings of Jesus Christ? Or will we seek to deny the truth because we do not like the truth, or because we want to protect position and status in the eyes of society, or because dealing with the truth makes us stand out ?

The authority of Jesus was of a completely different order altogether. The authority of Jesus was worked out in his welcoming of sinners and prostitutes. The authority of Jesus was worked out in his welcoming of little children. The authority of Jesus was worked out in his welcoming of the outcasts and those on the margins.  The authority of Jesus was worked out in his forgiving rather than judging. Jesus never needed to labels because there was only one label – a son or daughter of God.

Ultimately, the authority of Jesus was worked out in a life of service, not ruling; a life hallmarked by betrayal and personal sacrifice, rejection, torture and a criminal’s death on the cross. That is where the authority of Jesus lay: not in some sort of power game that brought with it prestige and wealth and the respect of the people.

That is where the test of your faith lies. Will you stand up for the truth? Will you stand up for the teachings of Christ? Will you live those teachings? The banner of Christ needs to be carried forward. The light of Christ needs to be shone in every dark crevasse. Never before have we ever been called to stand up, to be counted and to don the armor of those who proclaim Him as the Lord of their life. What is your answer today?

 Prayer of The Day

Lord Jesus Christ, you are the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  Let your light shine in my heart and mind that I may know your truth and will for my life and find freedom and joy in living according to it.

 Daily Note

We must never forget that God the author of our lives. Every day God authorizes us to enter 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.

 

 

 

 

But What Are You Judging ?

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Daily Reflection- 12/13/19

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to the crowds: “To what shall I compare this generation? It is like children who sit in marketplaces and call to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance, we sang a dirge but you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they said, ‘He is possessed by a demon.’ 

The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they said, ‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is vindicated by her works.” (Matthew 11:16-19)

Reflection

Would we have recognized the Messiah if we had been there with him? Would we have recognized John as the “new” Elijah? All the signs point to who they were. Prophecy is being fulfilled. But the people of that generation did not recognize them

Contemporary politics has made us very familiar indeed with the game of reducing complex issues to ideals and platitudes, picking a side, and yelling at one another. We have a long history of division over ideals, doctrines, and the quest to preserve a pure tradition. And when we divide, many of us want to pat ourselves on the back for playing the game so well.

In this posturing, we forget that the game to which Jesus call us is about discerning, turning toward, and bearing witness to the work of God in the world. Jesus’ statement that “wisdom is justified by her deeds” directs us to pay closer attention to the results of our actions, even as we consider who Jesus is and what his ministry is about. Is he just a rebel, mostly interested in crossing social boundaries and breaking taboos? Is he a defender of tradition and right doctrine? Or do his actions demonstrate divine presence and power  Does Jesus, even “at play,” reveal God at work?

The empire of heaven, after all, is not an ideal, but a reality made known through real acts and experiences of judgment, repentance, and redemption. The church that banishes the marginal, the vulnerable, and the humiliated does not prevent itself from being subject to the judgment of God; to the contrary, it is precisely through their eyes and voices that we can most clearly discern God’s judgment and mercy, through which our ongoing repentance is made possible. Judgment is a tool God uses to open our eyes and ears, to draw us toward repentance — not to induce brokenness but to uncover and heal what is broken. 

Prayer of The Day

Lord, open my ears to hear the good news of your kingdom and set my heart free to love and serve you joyfully. May nothing keep me from following you wholeheartedly.

 Daily Note

Truth in all its forms is often less regarded than the lie told to meet the wishes of those who hear. We often prefer to be deceived rather than to face a difficult reality that requires us to change. So, what must we do to recognize Jesus? Follow him, live our lives for him, change our lives to obey his commandments, share his grace to all, and give him glory—not a bad start but a very challenging message,

 

 

Faith Personified and Exemplified

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Daily Reflection – 12/12/19

Sacred Scripture

Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” And Mary said: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior.” (Luke 1:39-47)

Reflection

Both Mary and Elizabeth stand out as wonderful examples for us. They believe the Lord’s words, and they receive his gifts.

There are miracles throughout the Gospel today. The way that both Elizabeth and Mary got pregnant, of course–in each case, miraculous. But also, the way that they both believed and rejoiced in the good news of their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ–that too is a miracle. Even little John got in on the believing-and-rejoicing act. Any time anyone is given the gift of faith and joy in the Lord–that is a miracle of God. It is the work of the Holy Spirit, working through the Word, working in our hearts, creating a saving faith and a blessed joy. And it is the faith of Mary and Elizabeth have that carries a message for us today.

Faith is the key that unlocks the power of God’s kingdom in our lives. We see the marvelous unfolding of God’s plan of redemption in the events leading up to the Incarnation, the birth of the Messiah. Mary’s prompt response of “yes” to the divine message was a model of faith for all believers. Mary believed God’s promises even when they seemed impossible. Elizabeth, much older than Mary, accepted with joy her gift from God. They were both willing and eager to do God’s will, even if it seemed difficult or costly.

God gives us grace and he expects us to respond with the same willingness, obedience, and heart-felt trust as Mary did. When God commands, he also gives the grace, strength, and means to respond. We can either yield to his grace or resist and go our own way. Do you believe in God’s promises and do you yield to his grace?

Prayer of The Day

Heavenly Father, you offer us abundant grace, mercy, and forgiveness through your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Help me to live a grace-filled life as Mary did by believing in your promises and by giving you my unqualified “yes” to your will and to your plan for my life.

Daily Note

Mary of Nazareth, is not only a person who has played a critical role in the story of salvation, but also one who epitomizes a life of compliance with divine purposes. Her very humanity makes her all the more accessible and commendable as a role model of one who truly wrestled with the claims of Jesus. No other person in history has experienced “the agony and the ecstasy” in relationship with Jesus as she did. No one else on earth shared the depth of intimacy she knew with Jesus in his mysterious conception, lowly birth, unpretentious childhood, turbulent ministry, gruesome death and astonishing resurrection. While being fully human, with all the frailty and pain and confusion that entails, she nonetheless remained faithful to her Son from beginning to end. 

 

 

 

 

Take The Gentle Yoke Instead

Image result for free photo of Matthew 11:28-30

Daily Reflection – 12/1119

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to the crowds: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Reflection

In today’s Gospel, we hear of an incredible invitation from Jesus. He is calling us to Him. Calling us not to just relieve us of our problems, our sicknesses but actually encouraging to lean on Him.

What a beautiful invitation from Jesus!  This passage is worth reading over and so that it can easily be reflected upon during those moments when we feel overwhelmed and burdened.  It could be we are burdened by some tragedy in life, or it could be we are burdened by the small and monotonous aspects of life.  One of the greatest daily burdens is that of our own sin. 

But whatever the case may be, Jesus wants us to hear and believe these words.  “Come to me…” He says.  Come to me no matter what is going on in your life.  Come to me without hesitation and without fear.  

Jesus also promises us that His “yoke is easy” and His “burden is light.”  What does that mean?  Does it mean that coming to Jesus will remove all hardship from our lives?  No, not really.  What it means is that coming to Jesus will enable us to endure and walk through any hardship we encounter in life.  Our concerns or worries may still be with us.  However, if we bring them to Jesus, He will grace us with the strength we need to keep going and also to keep hoping. 

Advent reminds us that God the Son came and took on our human nature and all that goes along with being human.  And though He never sinned, He allowed Himself to experience the effects of sin and the burden it imposes.  So as God, He is able to look us in the eye and tell us that He understands our hardships because He lived them.  He lived them out of love for us so that He could help us endure, joyfully, all we face in life.

Today, ask yourself: what concerns, worries or anxieties are on my mind today?  Then I invite you to sit quietly with Jesus for a few minutes.  Just simply “be” with Him.  You don’t need to say anything since Jesus already knows what you are thinking and feeling.  Place your anxieties, fears or worries in His hands.  Let Him carry the yoke that you carry and give you, instead, the gentle yoke He has prepared for you.  The cross you bear may not go away, but it will be transformed and made light in His grace.Si

Smply spending time with Him will give you rest and it also lighten your burden.  Trust Him!  Jesus is waiting for you!

Prayer of The Day

Lord, I surrender my life and all that I am to You.  I accept Your invitation to come to You.  Thank You for Your unfailing compassion and concern for me.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Daily Note

By going to Jesus, we find rest, we find comfort, we find healing, we find peace. For Jesus is gentle and humble of heart.  We need to entrust all our human conditions, our problems, weaknesses and sicknesses to Jesus.