Seeing It Through His Eyes

Quotes about Not knowing God (48 quotes)
Daily Reflection – 9/8/2021

Sacred Scripture

And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. “Blessed are you that hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. “Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh. “Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. “But woe to you that are rich, for you have received your consolation. “Woe to you that are full now, for you shall hunger. “Woe to you that laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. “Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets. (Luke 6:20-26)

Reflection

We know from experience that no one can escape all of the inevitable trials of life – pain, suffering, sickness, and death. When Jesus began to teach his disciples, he gave them a “way of happiness” that transcends every difficulty and trouble that can weigh us down with grief and despair.

Jesus began his sermon on the mount by addressing the issue of where true happiness can be found. The word beatitude literally means happiness or blessedness. Jesus’ way of happiness, however, demands a transformation from within – a conversion of heart and mind which can only come about through the gift and working of the Holy Spirit.

His teaching of the Beatitudes is so fundamental to our beliefs that diverse characters including Francis of Assisi, Mahatma Gandhi, Leo Tolstoy and Dietrich Bonhoeffer have all understood the beatitudes of Jesus as the central core of his teaching and the most important part of his message.

So, what do the Beatitudes tell us. They tell us how God sees the world.

 God sees as blessed those who are poor. God sees as valuable those who mourn, those who are lonely, those who are persecuted. The Beatitudes reveal that God is committed to those who are in need and those who suffer. It is because God is present to them, they are blessed. The Beatitudes do not say that it is a blessed or wonderful thing to be poor, or to be grieving, or to be persecuted.

They do assert that whenever any of these distressful things happen to us, God comes to us. God is attracted to us because God knows our needs. Because God is present in those distressful circumstances, those who are distressed are blessed.

So, this is the God that the Beatitudes reveal to us: a God who lifts up the lowly, who cares for the poor, who stands with the oppressed. It is this vision of who God is that stands at the center of Jesus’ ministry and forms the heart of Jesus’ teaching.   There are two distinct and immediate consequences that flow from this God of the Beatitudes, two things which those who follow Christ must adopt: hope and solidarity.

 To be a disciple of Jesus, we must be a people of hope. Because we know that when we are poor, when we are grieving, when we feel rejected or worthless or in need, God comes to us.

We believe in a God who comes to us in our struggles, a God who is with us and leads us to a place of fullness and joy. Those who follow Jesus must be people of hope because God cares for us in our need. 

We must also be people of solidarity, solidarity with the poor and oppressed. If God is close to those who struggle, if God is close to those who are persecuted or in need, we must act towards them in the same way. We cannot worship God and ignore those for whom God cares. We must as followers of Jesus be people who are committed to eliminating poverty and injustice and oppression because those are the very things that our God is also committed to eliminate.

Since our God is committed to them, do we even have to ask the question why should we?

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, increase my hunger for you and show me the way that leads to everlasting happiness and peace. May I desire you above all else and find perfect joy in doing your will.”

Daily Note

How can one possibly find happiness in poverty, hunger, mourning, and persecution? If we want to be filled with the joy and happiness of heaven, then we must empty ourselves of all that would shut God out of our hearts. Poverty of spirit finds ample room and joy in possessing God alone as the greatest treasure possible. Hunger of the spirit seeks nourishment and strength in God’s word and Spirit. Sorrow and mourning over wasted life and sin leads to joyful freedom from the burden of guilt and oppression.

You’re On Call. Ready?

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Daily Reflection – 9/7/2021

Today’s scripture asks us to consider the call of the disciples and, in so doing, to consider our call.

Our call. Yours and mine.

We can’t call ourselves followers of Christ if we don’t recognize the call that Jesus gives us. Our faith is a “way” not a classroom. Christ summons us to come and go. We’re supposed to be journeying in our pilgrimage of faith, and on that pilgrimage not just following Christ’s footsteps on the outside, but walking in him, doing everything in him, having an interior yoking with him. And that yoking goes on throughout or life whether at 17 or 77.

God makes us. God saves us. God sends us. God has a plan, a plan for the world, and we are part of that plan. That is why as sons and daughters of God we must always be ready to hear the word “Go”. “Go” is the word that God uses when there is something for us to do. The disciples hear the word in today’s gospel. “Go and make disciples of all the nations.” But this command does not only apply to the first disciples. It applies to all disciples. It applies to us. We must be ready to go.

 “Wait a minute,” you say, “Go where? Do what? Are you sure that God is sending me?” I am sure. To what God is sending you I cannot say, but the fact that God is sending you is not in doubt. Sending is what God does to God’s daughters and sons. God makes us. God saves us. God sends us.

 If you want to know to what God is sending you, all you need to do is listen. We usually do not listen; and because we do not listen, we do not hear; and because we do not hear we imagine that we are not being sent. We wake up each day and we plan our own schedule: first I’ll do this, then I’ll do that, and if there’s time, I’ll fit this in. But how often do any of us take a breath and in all honesty ask the question, “Lord, is there anything you want me to do today?”

I dare you to ask, “Lord, is there anything you want me to do today?” I promise you that if you ask, God will answer. It may be in that moment, or an hour later, or a day later; but if you ask, you will hear God say, “Go. Go to that person at work and tell her.  “Go to your friend and ask him. Go to the phone and dial this number. Go to your spouse . . . Go to your daughter . . . Go to your neighbor . . . and do this.”

God might be calling us to do an act of kindness for someone at work who annoys us or to a person who does not share our political beliefs or with someone no one else will associate. You say to God, “You’ve got to be kidding. I don’t want a new friend. I don’t want to hang around with this person. What will people think of me if I reach out?” God says, “I’m not asking you to be their friend. I’m asking you to do a simple act of kindness and to do it for me.”

If you dare to listen, you will hear where God is sending you. What you hear might surprise you. It might even seem not to fit. Or make sense.. If this is the case, feel free to object.

As sons and daughters of God, we have the right to question, when it seems that God is sending us on some fool’s errand. Just remember that the fact we can object does not mean that God will change the call. God does not act that way. What God tends to do is listen to our objections and say, “Yes, but go anyway, and I will be with you.”

God has a plan, a plan for the world. We are a part of that plan. As sons and daughters of God we must always be ready to be sent. Christians are always “on call.” I dare you to listen. I dare you to sincerely ask the question, “Lord, is there anything you want me to do today?” If you ask, God will answer, and you will soon find yourself going forth to do your Father’s will.

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. Take my life and all that I have as an offering of love for you, who are my All.”

Daily Note

When Jesus embarked on his mission, he chose twelve men to be his friends and apostles. In the choice of the twelve, we see a characteristic feature of God’s work: Jesus chose very ordinary people. They were non-professionals, who had no wealth or position. They were chosen from the common people who did ordinary things, had no special education, and no social advantages. He chose these men, not for what they were, but for what they would be capable of becoming under his direction and power.

Give yourself unreservedly to God – he will use you for greatness in his kingdom
When the Lord calls us to serve, we must not shrug back because we think that we have little or nothing to offer. The Lord takes what ordinary people, like us, can offer and uses it for greatness in his kingdom. Is there anything holding you back from giving yourself unreservedly to God?

What Causes A Withered Hand?

Rejecting Love - First Presbyterian Church of Hackensack
Daily Reflection – 9/6/2021

Sacred Scripture

On a certain Sabbath Jesus went into the synagogue and taught, and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the Pharisees watched him closely to see if he would cure on the Sabbath so that they might discover a reason to accuse him. But he realized their intentions and said to the man with the withered hand, “Come up and stand before us.” And he rose and stood there. Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” Looking around at them all, he then said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so and his hand was restored. But they became enraged and discussed together what they might do to Jesus. (Luke 6: 6-11)

Reflection

In just six lines of scripture, Luke recounts a scene in the life of Jesus that should sober us and then propel us forward in our life.

Jesus’ mission was not just to save and sanctify but to revolutionize, to turn right side up, the way his people had distorted religion, to give us new wineskins to receive new wine. This distortion was epitomized by the way the Pharisees and Scribes treated the Sabbath, making it a day of extraordinary rules about everything they couldn’t do, rather than a day of loving God with all they had and loving their neighbor.

The Scribes and the Pharisees went to the Synagogue on the Sabbath, but they really weren’t going for that reason. St. Luke tells us that their main focus was to “watch Jesus closely to see if he would cure on the Sabbath so that they might discover a reason to accuse him.”

Jesus’ mission was not just to save and sanctify but to revolutionize, to turn right side up, the way his people had distorted religion, to give us new wineskins to receive new wine.

The suffering of the man with the withered hand didn’t matter much to the Pharisees. Even though they would rescue an animal from a trap on a Sabbath, they wouldn’t care for their fellow man, as if restoring him to health would somehow be offensive to God. So Jesus, reading their hearts, asked the question: “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” It was a poignant question because he was intending to do good and to save life, and they were intending to do evil and destroy life.

Jesus worked the miracle in today’s Gospel not only on the Sabbath but in a synagogue to show that he had come as Messiah to rehabilitate the meaning of worship, indicating to us that to love God with all our mind, heart, soul and strength involves loving our neighbor as he loves them.

The new worship Christ came to inaugurate involves this union between faith and life, between what we believe and what we do. Our worship of the God of love is meant to transform us more and more into his image. That is our faith. Anything less than should tell us that the words of Jesus Christ mean little in our lie.

In fact, that’s the big question on which the meaning of our life hinges:

Does love really compel us?

Is our passion for God something that transform the way we treat everyone else?

Do we see that the way we treat the least among us is the way we treat the Lord?

 Do we grasp that whenever we receive someone in Christ’s name, even a child who was insignificant at the time of Christ, we receive the Lord himself?

 Do we behave toward each other, even in community life, with the reverence with which we would give to Jesus himself?

Dorothy Day, once said, that we love the Lord to the extent that we love the persons we like the least. And so does our relationship with the Lord drive us toward really sacrificing, praying, forgiving, caring for those people we don’t get along with, those who might treat us poorly, those who might even behave as if they despise us?

Does Christ’s mission of charity toward us change us in such a way that we, too, become missionaries of charity?

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, in your victory over sin and death on the cross and in your resurrection you give us the assurance of sharing in the eternal rest of heaven. Transform my heart with your love so that I may freely serve my neighbor for his good and find joy in moving closer to you.”

Daily Note

Ambrose of Hippo who lived three hundred years after Jesus wrote: “Then you heard the words of the Lord, saying, ‘Stretch forth your hand.’ That is the common and universal remedy. You who think that you have a healthy hand beware lest it is withered by greed or by sacrilege. Hold it out often. Hold it out to the poor person who begs you. Hold it out to help your neighbor, to give protection to a widow, to snatch from harm one whom you see subjected to unjust insult. Hold it out to God for your sins. The hand is stretched forth; then it is healed. Jeroboam’s hand withered when he sacrificed to idols; then it stretched out when he entreated God (1 Kings 13:4-6).” (Ambrose of Hippo 337-390AD)

Did I See A Spring In Your Step?

Matthew 9:17 Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles  break, and the wine runs out, and the bottles per… | Old bottles, Do men,  Words of jesus
Daily Reflection – 9/3/2021

Sacred Scripture

And they said to him, “The disciples of John fast often and offer prayers, and the disciples of the Pharisees do the same; but yours eat and drink.” Jesus answered them, “Can you make the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, and when the bridegroom is taken away from them, then they will fast in those days.” And he also told them a parable. “No one tears a piece from a new cloak to patch an old one. Otherwise, he will tear the new and the piece from it will not match the old cloak. Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins, and it will be spilled, and the skins will be ruined. Rather, new wine must be poured into fresh wineskins. And no one who has been drinking old wine desires new, for he says, ‘The old is good.’” (Luke 5:33-39)

Reflection

In today’s scripture, Jesus used an image familiar to his audience – new and old wine skins. In Jesus’ times, wine was stored in wine skins, not bottles. New wine poured into skins was still fermenting. The gases exerted gave pressure. New wine skins were elastic enough to take the pressure, but old wine skins easily burst because they became hard as they aged. What did Jesus mean by this comparison?

Jesus uses this commonly recognized truth to make a statement today about the gospel.  He says that his message and God’s daily gifts to us are like new wine.  They therefore need to be placed into new wineskins, in skins that are able to expand, skins that are flexible.  An old wineskin which is brittle and ready to break is not be able to receive the good news of the Kingdom. 

Each day, God gives us some wine to carry.  Sometimes it is old, mature wine.  Old wine is compatible with our usual habits, our old friends, our common expectations.  Those days on which we are asked to carry old wine are comfortable, easy days, days that we enjoy. 

 But not infrequently we are asked to carry new wine, wine that presents unexpected occurrences, new demands, surprising ideas.  There is plenty of new wine in our world and in our lives.  We have been challenged facing the new realities that came into place after September 11th.  We have been challenged as our country seeks to find a common dialogue. We have been challenged because our citizenry is so divided. Truth is that we have been challenged to deal with a world that is in rapid change.  There are personal examples: changes that happen in our family, poor decisions that our children make, new realities in our work, in our marriage.

All these things are examples of new wine which we are asked to carry.  New wine places new demands upon us.  How do we carry them?  Only by being new wineskins.  Only by being people who are both flexible and hopeful.  We need to be flexible people, open to new ideas, open to new ways of understanding the world.  We need to be hopeful, believing that the wine that God gives us, even if it is still fermenting and difficult to carry, is nevertheless a gift.  If we continue to be flexible and hopeful, we will eventually recognize the good things that God is offering us.

Are we to reject the old in place of the new? Just as there is a right place and a right time for fasting and for feasting, so there is a right place for the old as well as the new. Jesus says the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old (Matthew 13:52).

The Lord Jesus gives us wisdom so we can make the best use of both the old and the new. He doesn’t want us to hold rigidly to the past and to be resistant to the new action of his Holy Spirit in our lives. He wants our minds and hearts to be like the new wine skins – open and ready to receive the new wine of the Holy Spirit. When we do that, there is a spring to our step, a smile on our face and a welcoming love in our presence.

How do we do that? We do that turning ourselves over to Him. By opening ourselves to the presence of the Holy Spirit within each of us. It’s surrendering our ego to the one who gave us our ego. It’s as simple as uttering and following the words of “Into your hands I commend my spirit.”

When we have entrusted ourselves to Him, and live that, we become like a new wineskin filled with the nectar of new life in Him.

Prayer of The Day

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

Daily Note

The only way to accept the good news of the Kingdom and the daily gifts that God gives us is to be a new wineskin.  We must be people who are flexible and hopeful.  Let us today choose to be people who are open to life.  Let us be wineskins that are capable of carrying the good news, the new wine of Christ’s kingdom.

Your Faith Can’t Be A Private Matter

Are you Fishing or Following Jesus? | It's Not About A Church
Daily Reflection – 9/2/2021

Sacred Scripture

While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God, he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret. He saw two boats there alongside the lake; the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” Simon said in reply, “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.” When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come to help them. They came and filled both boats so that they were in danger of sinking. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him, and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners of Simon. Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him. (Luke 5: 1-11)

Reflection

Over four decades in ministry, one of the most common conversations I have is discussing a person’s faith. Often, a person will say that their faith is strong but its personal. Entwined in that is a statement that goes like this: “My faith is very strong but its private, I don’t feel comfortable talking about it to others.”

Today’s scripture reminds us that our faith is indeed personal but it is given to us with a purpose.

When Peter is called in today’s gospel, he immediately sees that he lacks what is necessary. He tells Jesus, “Depart from me, Lord, I am a sinful man.” Find someone else. Jesus does not find someone else. Instead, he says to Peter, “Do not be afraid, from now on you will be catching people.” Jesus equips Peter for what his calling will be. Both the call and the ability to accomplish the call are given together.

Each of us is called in the same way that Peter was called. We were given faith not just for our benefit but for the benefit of others. There is no such thing as private faith—faith just for me. To the extent that we believe, we believe not only for ourselves but to share what we believe with others. We, like Peter, are called to catch people.

If we believe, we are called to share that belief.

How we share it can vary. Sharing our faith does not mean imposing our faith on others. It does not require that we stand on a soapbox or that we stop people and ask them whether they have accepted Jesus as their personal savior. That is one way to do it.

 But you can share your faith by using less words and more example. You can share your faith by waiting for the right circumstances.

God chooses ordinary people, like you and me, as his ambassadors and he uses the ordinary circumstances of our daily lives and work situations to draw others into his kingdom. Jesus speaks the same message to us today: we will “catch people” for the kingdom of God if we allow the light of Jesus Christ to shine through us. God wants others to see the light of Christ in us in the way we live, speak, and witness the joy of the Gospel. Paul the Apostle says, “But thanks be to God, who in Christ Jesus always leads us in triumph, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 2:15).

That call and the ability to accomplish the call are given together. If you have been called to be a parent or a grandparent, you can be sure that God has equipped you to share your faith with your children.

When we find ourselves dealing with a friend or someone at work who is in need or struggling grief or loss, when we find ourselves called to reconcile with someone who has hurt us, that call is an invitation to share what we believe. We can say to the person in need, “I believe that God is with you as you deal with this loss or this problem. I will pray for you, because I know God loves you.” We can say to the person with whom we seek reconciliation, “I come and ask for forgiveness not only because I believe it is right, but because I follow the teaching of Jesus.”

We who have been called to believe are called to share that belief. So the next time you find yourself with someone and you realize that that person’s life could have more meaning and comfort if they knew of a God who loved them and cared for them. Don’t stand there and wait for God to send someone to proclaim that love. Don’t stand there and wait for someone to share that good news. God has already sent someone. That someone is you.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, fill my heart with love and compassion for those who do not know you or follow you. May I be a good witness of your truth and salvation to my family, friends, and co-workers.”

Daily Note

Our scripture tells us an important truth about how God works in and through each of us for his glory. God expects of us greater things than we can do by ourselves. When we cooperate in his works, we accomplish far beyond what we can do on our own.
When God’s word is spoken his kingdom is revealed and his power is released. When people respond to God’s word with faith and obedience they are changed and made “a new creation” in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Building A Manger In Your Heart

The Power to Make Better!" — Luke 4:40-41 (What Jesus Did!)
Daily Reflection – 9/1/2021

Sacred Scripture

After he left the synagogue, he entered the house of Simon. Simon’s mother-in-law was afflicted with a severe fever, and they interceded with him about her. He stood over her, rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up immediately and waited on them. At sunset, all who had people sick with various diseases brought them to him. He laid his hands on each of them and cured them. And demons also came out from many, shouting, “You are the Son of God.” But he rebuked them and did not allow them to speak because they knew that he was the Messiah. At daybreak, Jesus left and went to a deserted place. The crowds went looking for him, and when they came to him, they tried to prevent him from leaving them. But he said to them, “To the other towns also I must proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God, because for this purpose I have been sent.” And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea. (Luke 4: 38-44)

Reflection

I wish I had the ability to lift a burden from your heart. But I can’t. That is God’s province. I wish I could bring about your greatest happiness. But I can’t. That is God’s province. I wish I could remove your greatest fear. But I can’t. That is God’s province.

But you may retort: “If it’s God province, why aren’t my prayers being answered?”

 We need to put our lives on “pause” for a moment and understand effective prayer.

Too often, prayer is rote. Too often, prayer is a mumbled response for help. Too often, we are so overcome with the reality of a situation that taking time to pray becomes a second thought.

Today’s Gospel has no less than Jesus, the Son of God, physically exhausted from healing the sick retiring to a quiet place to both recharge and to pray. Therein lies the first secret to effective prayer.

Jesus went out “at daybreak” to a “deserted place” to pray. Those who are spiritually mature have their priorities straight. For Jesus prayer was a higher priority than most other things. For each of us, prayer must not only be a priority but an automatic response similar to how a parent gets out of bed to go to work or to care for a crying child.

Today’s scripture also gives us the second clue to effective prayer. Our prayer must spring from the actions of our hearts and our hearts must be rooted in a way of life where we truly care about another. Where we truly care about giving another time to listen. Where we truly care enough to put aside our needs and burdens and help remove a need from another.

When Jesus and the disciples sought a lonely place to regroup and rest, they found instead a crowd waiting for them! Did they resent this intrusion on their hard-earned need for privacy and refreshment? Jesus certainly didn’t but welcomed them with open-arms. Jesus put human need ahead of everything else. His compassion showed the depths of God’s love and concern for all who are truly needy.

The third piece of the formula to effective prayer is contained in two words: “trust” and “surrender.”

“Trust” . . . Our trust in God and in God’s plan for our lives begins with understanding that God is greater than us, but Jesus is one of us. He understands what it is to experience human fear. He understands what it is to worry about those we love. He knows what it means to feel helpless, because he was helpless before those who crucified him. Therefore, when we turn to God in it is important for us to understand that Jesus knows us completely. In that human understanding that he has as our brother, he knows our vulnerability. He feels our fear. He strengthens us to hand our lives into our Father’s hands.

He is ever ready to give to those who earnestly seek him out. There is no trouble he does not want to help us with and there is no bondage he can’t set us free from.

“Surrender” . . .Possibly the hardest for each of us – surrendering or turning over our life to God. If we wish to be comforted, we must surrender to the Comforter. We must realize that it is impossible to comfort ourselves. Therefore, we need to ask God to change us, to make our hearts a manger where we can receive the gifts that only God can give. If we seek relief from fear, we must give ourselves to the Prince of Peace. If we want our anger to dissipate, we must ask God to soften our hearts. If we need relief from suffering, we must open ourselves to God’s love. If we want our family to be whole, we must believe in the God who can make all thing new.

Jesus never tires of hearing and answering our pleas.

Prayer of The Day

“O Lord, make my heart a manger where the Christ Child can be born.”

Daily Note

We can never intrude upon God nor exhaust his generosity and kindness. He is ever ready to give to those who earnestly seek him out. Do you allow Jesus to be the Lord and Healer in your personal life, family, and community? Approach him 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?

Building A Barrier Against God

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Daily Reflection – 8/31/2021

Sacred Scripture

Jesus then went down to Capernaum, a town of Galilee. He taught them on the Sabbath, and they were astonished at his teaching because he spoke with authority. In the synagogue there was a man with the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out in a loud voice, “Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” Jesus rebuked him and said, “Be quiet! Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down in front of them and came out of him without doing him any harm. They were all amazed and said to one another, “What is there about his word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out.” And news of him spread everywhere in the surrounding region. (Luke 4:31-37)

Reflection

Over the years, you and I have seen our share of evil. We shake our heads in sadness when there is an outright act of evil. Mass shootings are one. Violence against a person unable to protect himself/herself is another.

But evil is not always so easy to detect. Sometimes it is subtle and insidious. Often it appears in disguise. One of those instances is when evil seeks to have us question ourselves and doubt that God is with us. When we are tortured by fear and discouragement, we struggle to even recognize the presence of God when He finally does manifest himself.

Most people journey throughout their lives between “Lord, save me!” and “Truly, you are the Son of God.”  Our entire lives are a voyage between these two invocations.

It’s in those moments of despair or grief or immense insecurity that evil seeks to build a wall between us and God.

When you and I feel that we have come to the end of our rope, that nothing new can happen, today’s gospel reminds us to believe that God can move us forward just as Jesus drove the demon away.

When we find ourselves alienated from our friends, because we said something that was wrong, did something that was cruel, or tried to slip by with a lie, we can find our relationships in shambles. Today’s gospel reminds us to believe that estrangement does not have to be final, that apologies work, and that humility has traction. God can heal what is broken.

When we are dismayed because of the bad decisions made by our children or our grandchildren, we say, “Things could have been so well if they had used money responsibly, if they married somebody else, if they avoided alcohol and drugs. But now they are finished. They have no future.” This gospel asks us to believe that God can still surprise us. God can still move the people we love beyond their mistakes.

If evil has as such access to our lives, then our strategy cannot be how can I prevent evil from coming, but rather how do I deal with evil when it arrives? If we cannot keep evil away, then we must ask, “How can I confront it?”

This is when we need to hold on to our faith. We believe in faith that we have access to the power of God, a power that is stronger than the power of evil. So, when evil touches our life, we can draw upon our faith in God and ask for God’s assistance. Faith allows us to have courage in the face of sickness, to have hope after divorce, to find strength even in failure and peace in the face of death. The same Jesus who drove the demon out of the synagogue is our Lord. We can turn to him and ask for his strength as we face the demons in our lives.

If an unclean spirit can appear in a holy synagogue, evil can touch us in any place. Therefore, when evil enters our lives, it does not make sense to ask: “What did I do to invite the demon in?” Instead, we should turn to the Lord and ask him to drive the demon out.

Gracie Allan once said, “never put a period in your life when there should be just a comma”. So too, we must remember to never put a period where God has placed a comma. Our lives may have ground to a halt. But where we find ourselves is not the end. We believe in a God who can do new things and is committed to save us. Jesus can drive the demon out. Our God can move us past the painful pause and lead our lives to a blessed conclusion.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, you have the words of everlasting life. May I never doubt your saving love and mercy, and the power of your word to bring healing, restoration, and freedom from every sin and oppression.”

Daily Note

The evil around us is not always visible. But truth flushes it out. When the evil emerges, it might well cry out to us, “What do you have to do with us? Have you come to destroy us?” The answer to that is question is “yes,” because we like Jesus are called to expel evil from its hiding place and then build the Kingdom of God.

Being Truthful About Our Faith

Bible Verse Images for: Broken hearts
Daily Reflection – 8/30/2021

Sacred Scripture

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. They also asked, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?” He said to them, “Surely you will quote me this proverb, ‘Physician, cure yourself,’ and say, ‘Do here in your native place the things that we heard were done in Capernaum.’” And he said, “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place. Indeed, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah when the sky was closed for three and a half years and a severe famine spread over the entire land. It was to none of these that Elijah was sent, but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon. Again, there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. But he passed through the midst of them and went away.( Luke 4:16-30)

Reflection

It’s a sober thought but one which is true. More than 2,021 years ago, Jesus of Nazareth returned to his home town to preach. People came to hear him because of all that they heard about the miracles he performed. But instead of miracles, Jesus delivered a sharp rebuke and his hometown people rose up against him.

They did not like his message. As a result, they turned from it. Fast forward 2,021 years and it’s the same story. The same reaction. Even the same anger.

After Jesus had read the scroll of the Prophet Isaiah, Jesus said, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

 The Word of God is not meant just to be heard but to be incarnated. Jesus, the Word of God in the flesh, was the fulfillment of all Scriptural prophecies: He was the one anointed by the Spirit who was announcing and delivering the Good News to the poor, freedom to captives, recovery of sight to the blind, release to the oppressed, and a year of Jubilee. But that enfleshment was too much for many of his listeners.

Is it that much different today? 

Many resist, because they don’t want their lives to change. Those in Nazareth recognized that Jesus was speaking with “gracious words” but they couldn’t harmonize that with the fact that he was the supposed son of Joseph the carpenter.

His enfleshment of the word of God was a scandal to them, they didn’t think that one of their own could be the Messiah, they didn’t want to get shaken out of their own habits to examine whether it was true and if so to follow him, and therefore they sought to reject the message by killing the messenger.

Today as it was then, Jesus wants his word to be fulfilled in us as we hear it. He wants us to receive that seed on good soil, be transformed by it, and bear great fruit. He wants to give us true metanoia — the renewal and transformation of our minds — so that we may think as he thinks. He wants to help us know nothing but him Crucified and love him, as we come to know him personally at the depth at which he desires through denying ourselves, picking up our Cross and following him from the inside out.

He wants to fill us with all of the power and wisdom that comes from such a communion. And he wants to make us his Nazareth, his home, where he wishes continuously to amaze us by his word and fulfill it in and thorough us.

Still too many reject the transformation that is required. Why? Lots of reasons. But, to me, the primary reason is that it does not “fit” with their lifestyles. Sure, going to Church is a good thing. But leaving Church, enflamed with His words, is something else. In truth, there are those supposed followers of Christ who go to Church but betray their time in Church by living a lie to the faith that is required.

There are too many in the United States who prefer to dwell in anger. Lashing out against those who do not agree with them. Wrapping the flag of the United States around them proclaiming individual freedom but desiring to stifle the freedom of those whose opinions or views are contra to theirs. Stifling others comes in many disguises. Angry words, disparagement and diminution of others, online rants and rages, outright belligerence.

How can we justify any of that and call ourselves Christian?

Allow me to repeat these words. “Today Jesus wants his word to be fulfilled in us as we hear it. He wants us to receive that seed on good soil, be transformed by it, and bear great fruit. He wants us to up our Cross and following him from the inside out.”

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, you are the fulfillment of all our hopes and desires. Your Holy Spirit brings us grace, truth, life, and freedom. Fill me with the joy of the Gospel and inflame my heart with love and zeal for you and for your will.”

Daily Note

Isaiah had prophesied that the Messiah would come in the power of the Holy Spirit to bring freedom to those oppressed by sin and evil (see Isaiah 61:1-2). Jesus came to set people free from the worst tyranny possible – the tyranny of slavery to sin and the fear of death, and the destruction of both body and soul. God’s power alone can save us from emptiness and poverty of spirit, from confusion and error, and from the fear of death and hopelessness. The Gospel of salvation is “good news” for us today. Do you know the joy and freedom of the Gospel?

How Often We Forget The Importance of This

John 25:13 | Gospel of john, Matthew 25, Food
Daily Reflection – 8/27/2021

Sacred Scripture

Jesus told his disciples this parable: “The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight, there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise ones replied, ‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’ While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked. Afterwards the other virgins came and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’ But he said in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” (Matthew 25:1-13)

Reflection

Today’s scripture is a stark reminder that each of us needs to “seize the day.” That becomes even more poignant as we grow older.

Truth is that many of us fall into the category of the five foolish virgins. How so? Let’s start with the meaning of the oil. It represents the joy of following Christ, the light we shine into the world.

 And what this parable tells us is that a moment will come in our lives when we will need that oil, and either we will have it or we will not. If the moment comes and we have that joy and light, we will be considered wise. But if the bridegroom comes and we have no oil, we will be considered foolish. The parable is adamant that we should not presume that we can find that oil at the last minute. That is why the bride groom comes at midnight. You see, the foolish virgins always presumed that if they ran out of oil they could go and buy some. We watch in sadness as they go off to do just that in the parable, because we know no one is going to sell them oil at midnight. So, the hard message of today’s parable is that if the moment comes that we need oil and we do not have it, we are unlikely to find it. This is why the parable encourages us to store up the joy and light of Christ today.

We all know that our children are blessings from God. We take delight watching them grow and standing in their love. Of course, there are many things in life we must accomplish. We have to be attentive to our career, to our friends, and to our own need for relaxation. But when the day comes to drive a son or daughter to college for the first time, how wise we will be if we have stored up the oil of that relationship beforehand. On that day we will be wise because we took time with our child, discussed difficult issues, and built up a relationship that will last.

We might be particularly fond of our grandmother and love to visit with her, sharing stories from her childhood and our own. Since grandfather died, she has been living alone. We have planning to spend some time with her. Then the moment comes when we hear that her mind has slipped, and she no longer recognizes people. How foolish we will be in that moment, if we have stored up no oil of light and joy, because now there is no place to buy it.

We might be looking forward with our spouse to retirement, working hard to increase our income, downsizing our house, talking together of trips we will take once work is over. And then the moment comes: an unexpected stroke. We are alone. How wise we will be in that moment, if we have stored up over the years the light and joy of that relationship, the many times we expressed our love and celebrated our blessings together. Even then in the sadness of loss, we will have oil by which we can shine our light into the world.

We never know the hour at which the bridegroom will come. That is why today’s gospel encourages us to store up joy and light today, to express our love to one another now, to celebrate our blessings while we can. Because the time will come when we will need that light and joy, and either we will have it or we will not. But how wise we will be, if when that moment comes, we realize that we have more than enough oil to light our lamps and enter the wedding feast before the door is locked.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, make me vigilant and attentive to your voice that I may heed your call at all times. May I find joy in your presence and delight in doing your will.”

Daily Note

When the Lord Jesus comes to lead you to his heavenly banquet will you be ready to hear his voice and follow? Our eternal welfare depends on our hearing, and many have trained themselves to not hear. We will not be prepared to meet the Lord, face to face, when he calls us on the day of judgment, unless we listen to him today. The Lord invites us to feast at his heavenly banquet table. Are you ready?

Your Pocket Is Being Picked Every Day

𝔹𝕖𝕟𝕛𝕒𝕞𝕚𝕟 ℝ𝕒𝕡𝕥𝕦𝕣𝕖 ℝ𝕖𝕒𝕕𝕪 on Twitter: "🕊Matthew 24:44🕊  Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour  you do not expect.… "
Daily Reflection – 8/25/2021

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to his disciples: “Stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come. Who, then, is the faithful and prudent servant, whom the master has put in charge of his household to distribute to them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master on his arrival finds doing so. Amen, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property. But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is long delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and eat and drink with drunkards, the servant’s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish him severely and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.” (Matthew 24:42-51)

Reflection

Another scripture passage that contains strong language and imagery. To underscore His words Jesus often engaged in hyperbole, such as, “And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away” (Matthew 5:30). Potent counsel demands potent language.

Today’s scripture reminds us to be faithful and prudent servants so that we are always ready to meet Him when He comes. But that is no easy task and one which is complicated by the evil one. The fact is that evil is always more successful when it approaches us in increments rather than in a dramatic event. It acts much like a pickpocket who silently and in a surreptitious manner steals our valuables. Our adversary the devil seeks to rob us of the treasure which the Lord freely offers us. What is the treasure which the Lord Jesus wants us to guard lest we lose it? It is the treasure of a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus himself – who is our greatest gift and portion in this life.

Jesus tells us that we must be constantly on guard and constantly centered on Him as we live our lives.

We live as authentic Christians when we obey God’s will. When we strive to know the heart and mind of the Master, God can enter into our lives and find his home within. That entails protecting our own mind, heart, and body from the attacks of the enemy of our soul. It requires welcoming the Lord whenever he chooses to reveal himself in the circumstances of our life. 

So, for us to understand what the Lord’s work is we need to pay attention like the first two servants. We need to recognize what our Lord is doing so that we can do the same.

Parents need to be attentive to their children, to discern what God has begun in each one of them. If a son or daughter is a compassionate person, then it is the role of the parent to see that that compassion matures and grows. If a child is insightful, then a parent should try to foster wisdom to enlarge the child’s intelligence. If a son or daughter is joyful, then the parent’s work is to teach the child how to spread that joy around. Then when Christ comes, the parent will be able to say to him, “This is what you gave me, and here is how I made it grow.”

We need to be attentive to what God is doing in our own lives, what God has planted in our hearts, what is changing, growing, maturing.

Our calling is not just to do what we think is best but to discern what God is doing so that we can make it grow. That is why we must be attentive to what God is about in our hearts, in our families, and in our world. When we recognize that God’s action is present in this or that situation, then we, like the first two servants in the parable, must begin to move that work along. Then, when Jesus comes, he will say to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into your master’s joy.”

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, you have captured my heart and it is yours. Take my life and all that I possess that I may have you alone as my treasure and joy. Make me strong in faith, steadfast in hope, and generous in love that I may seek to please you in all things and bring you glory.”

Daily Note

The Lord Jesus calls us to be vigilant in watching for his return and to be ready to meet him when he calls us to himself. The Lord gives us his Holy Spirit so that we may have the wisdom, help, and strength we need to turn away from sin to embrace God’s way of love, justice, and holiness. The Lord’s warning of judgment causes dismay for those who are unprepared, but it brings joyful hope to those who eagerly wait for his return in glory. God’s judgment is good news for those who are ready to meet him. Their reward is God himself, the source of all truth, beauty, goodness, love and everlasting life.