The Unwritten Story of Easter

( A commentary on Mark 16: 1-7)

He-is-risen - The Billy Graham Library

Daily Reflection – 4/4/2021

Sacred Scripture

And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week they went to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the door of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone was rolled back; — it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe; and they were amazed. And he said to them, “Do not be amazed; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen, he is not here; see the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you.” (Mark 16:1-7)

Reflection

It’s a somber beginning to a message of hope.

Mary Magdalene; Mary the mother of James; and Salome go to the tomb where the body of Jesus lay.  He was their dearest friend who had cared for them as no one ever had before, who had taught and shown them more about God than they had ever imagined, who had helped them to understand themselves and yet loved them unconditionally, and who had brought out the best in them and captivated them with a dream that came crashing down around their ears when he was ruthlessly put to death and buried.

Then they are told that Jesus had risen and they are given the message to tell the disciples. They are sent out to complete the story.

Isn’t that the call of Easter? Isn’t that the personal message of Easter? Having seen the empty tomb, we are called to become the living expression of the life of the risen Christ in this world.

Because “Jesus is alive again” makes all the difference in how we live our lives, overcome our fears, handle the past and face the future.

Easter makes all the difference in the world to young parents walking away from a tiny grave. Don’t tell me it doesn’t. I’ve seen it too many times in my ministry.

Easter gives people eaten up with the need for revenge the strength to forgive — not because they have the strength but because the risen Jesus lives inside them.

Easter gives people holding on to sobriety by their fingernails the hope that if God can raise Jesus from the dead, God might even be able to raise drunks when they fall.

This resurrection story helps the man who just got out of jail and keeps getting turned down for a job because of his record. Easter keeps him getting up in the morning and continuing to search for employment, because he knows this story shows that God has a pretty good track record for handling desperate situations.

Easter gives us hope that the way things have always been will not always be.

Easter is about more than a fortunate Jewish rabbi being raised from the dead. It’s about the whole world being raised from the dead when he was raised.

And that means one day God will bring to pass a world where no father will ever abuse his child and no child will ever abuse his father; a world where no mother will ever again watch her children go to bed hungry; a world where nobody will point a gun at anybody else; a world where no woman will ever be assaulted or insulted by a man, where no mother or father will die from a ravaging disease leaving orphaned children.

The message of the resurrection is that Christ still lays hold of us. The way we can stay in touch with him is by allowing ourselves to be touched by him and in bringing his touch to others.

We often imagine ourselves pursuing an elusive God, trying to find him as the treasure in the field. The message of the resurrection is that he finds us. The seekers at the tomb could not find him until he had found them. Redemption is allowing oneself to be found by God.

Prayer of The Day

Lord Jesus Christ, you have triumphed over the grave and you have won new life for us. Give me the eyes of faith to see you in your glory. Help me to draw near to you and to grow in the knowledge of your great love and power.

Daily Note

Dr. Walter Wink wrote that the “the resurrection is not a fact to be proved, but an experience to be shared.” Christians are an Easter people. Resurrection is a reality to be lived out here and now, not just in the world to come. “It is divine transformative power overcoming the power of death.” And catch this: “Resurrection is not a contract or a time-share apartment in heaven. It is the spirit of Jesus present in people who continue his struggle against domination in all its forms, here, now, on this good earth. The rest is in God’s good hands.”

Touch His Wounds, Hear His Words

( A commentary on John 19: 17-30)

Buffet of blessings: Today's Word: John 19:30
Daily Reflection – 4/2/2021

Sacred Scripture

“So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called the place of a skull, which is called in Hebrew Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. Pilate also wrote a title and put it on the cross; it read, ‘Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews’. Many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. The chief priests of the Jews then said to Pilate, ‘Do not write, The King of the Jews’, but, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews’. Pilate answered, ‘What I have written I have written’. When the soldiers had crucified Jesus they took his garments and made four parts, one for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was without seam, woven from top to bottom; so they said to one another, ‘Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be’. this was to fulfill the scripture. “They parted my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots”. So the soldiers did this. But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. After this Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the scripture), ‘I thirst’. A bowl full of vinegar stood there; so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, ‘It is finished’; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” (John 19:17-30)

Reflection

There are few, if any, who could hear or read of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and not feel emotion. The incredible ending of the mortal life of a king who ransomed us with his life.

Allow the words of this Gospel to bring you to that scene.

As a passerby, you watch this man struggle to carry the weight of the cross that was pressed down upon him. Listen to the silence of his agony.

When he stumbles and falls, you see the open wounds on his back from the leaded whips used to beat him. As he gets up, watch the blood trickle down his face from the crown of thorns that is embedded around his head. Listen to the loneliness that he felt.

When he is nailed to the cross and the weight of his body causes the pain to become even more unimaginable, listen to his silence as he accepts his father’s will.

We will never know the darkness that surrounded that day. Yet, it is important to remember that our personal darkness is bound to him.

We see it from far off, we see it up close and personal. From the tragedy at the World Trade Towers, the tragedies of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we see it in friends and family members who suffer from ailments like cancer and Alzheimer’s, we see it in young men whose lives and minds are so broken they go on senseless shooting sprees in schools, movie theaters, churches and shopping malls.

There is darkness for those who have lost their jobs, for the child born of a mother addicted to crack cocaine, for the homeless, the hungry, for the immigrant crying for asylum from persecution, the destitute and those without jobs here and around the world. For those who have died from Covid. For those who live under oppressive military dictatorships, for those mothers, fathers, sisters or brothers who sit on death row, for those whose lives feel horribly betrayed by someone they once loved.

We know about darkness.

In each of those moments, and those unspoken, we know about darkness. And that is why we need to listen to his final words. ‘It is finished.’

If there is one moment to remember, it is that final moment, when Jesus bows his head and gives up his spirit – that moment when God’s Passion becomes our Passion. From his body flowed the gift of the Holy Spirit. In his hour of glory and triumph on the cross, the fullness of God’s total self-giving to mankind is shown.

The man who healed people, helped people, fed people, gave outsiders dignity, and welcomed all to sit at his table and share a meal, gives his spirit to us. The question that resides deep within the rituals of Good Friday, however, is, will we accept his spirit? Will we use his spirit as our strength?

Will we take God’s Spirit and make it our own? Will we set our sails to capture God’s divine wind, breath and spirit and allow it to direct us and take us to places we have never been to do things we have never done?

The world needs His Spirit. The world needs your spirit. You can accept His Spirit, which he gives away, which is given for the world, not just for Christians, not just for believers, but for the whole world, and you can do something beautiful with your life and bear much fruit.

The World needs you. All of us who follow his way  need you. God needs you. We all need one another.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus Christ, by your death on the cross you have won pardon for us and freedom from the tyranny of sin and death. May I live in the joy and freedom of your victory over sin and death.”

Daily Note

Jesus was crucified for his claim to be King. The Jews had understood that the Messiah would come as their king to establish God’s reign for them. They wanted a king who would free them from tyranny and foreign domination. Little did they understand what kind of kingship Jesus claimed to have. Jesus came to conquer hearts and souls for an imperishable kingdom, rather than to conquer perishable lands and entitlements. Jesus came so that you and I would be freed from eternal darkness. Jesus came so that his gift of love, and hope, and eternal peace would be our gift to claim for our lives.

The Enormity of Love

( A commentary on John 13: 1-15)

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Daily Reflection – 4/1/2021

Sacred Scripture

Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. And during supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper, laid aside his garments, and girded himself with a towel. Then he poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which he was girded. He came to Simon Peter; and Peter said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not know now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part in me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “He who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but he is clean all over; and you are clean, but not every one of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “You are not all clean.” When he had washed their feet, and taken his garments, and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. (John 13:1-15)

Reflection

Does it astound you as it does me?

The enormity of the love that Jesus exhibits at his last supper. The enormity of the love that you and I are asked to exhibit in our lives.

Jesus knows that his “hour” has come to depart from this world and return to the Father. He knows that the Father has given all things into his hands, and that he has come from God and is going to God Knowing all this, he chooses to demonstrate his love for his disciples in a dramatic way by taking the role of a slave and washing their feet.

That’s astonishing. But even more astounding is the fact that he does so knowing full well that they will all fail him miserably in his hour of greatest need. He insists on washing the feet of Peter, knowing full well that Peter will deny him to save his own skin. What is more, Jesus stoops to wash the feet of Judas, knowing full well that Judas has already conspired to betray him to those seeking his life.

Most people will admit to feeling their love waver when they are hurt or bitterly disappointed by one who loves them. But not Jesus.

Jesus’ example suggests that loving as he has loved means taking the role of a servant, caring for the needs of others without expecting anything in return. His example suggests that it is to do this not only for those who treat us well, but even for those who disappoint and hurt and betray us. Can Jesus really expect us to do this, to love and serve even those who fail us or stab us in the back? Are we not allowed even a few exceptions to the love commandment?

Not really. The example of foot washing is a call to do what is needed, not merely expected, a call to translate love into service that might even catch someone off guard. We are called to love even when hurt, to forgive, to get up and move forward, to move on and to never stop loving because his love strengthen us.

Of course, we always fall short of God’s perfect love, but that cannot be an excuse to nurse grudges and wallow in unloving behavior. As we are washed by Jesus in God’s deep and generous love, our hearts are stretched to love more completely, fully, unwaveringly.

It’s all made possible because of the one who loves us fully and completely, the one who loves us to the end, even to the cross and grave and back.

His love has the power to set us free to love and serve others with Christ-like compassion, humility and forgiveness.

Now, that’s enormous.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, your love conquers all and never fails. Help me to love others freely, with heart-felt compassion, kindness and goodness. Where there is injury, may I sow peace rather than strife.”

Daily Note

Jesus did not say that only those with pretty feet can walk with him. He called all his followers to walk courageously as his messengers of love to those who are unloved, to announce God’s peace in the midst of conflict, to bring the good news that God’s reign breaks forth. It breaks forth wherever we wash feet, wherever we are known as disciples by our love for one another. “Do this!” How will we, the servants of the Servant, answer his command?

He Didn’t Get It. Do We?

( A commentary on Matthew 26: 14-25)

The Body is Weak
Daily Reflection – 3/31/2021

Sacred Scripture

Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him. Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?” He said, “Go into the city to a certain one, and say to him, `The Teacher says, My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.'”  And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover. When it was evening, he sat at table with the twelve disciples; and as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” And they were very sorrowful, and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me, will betray me. The Son of man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” Judas, who betrayed him, said, “Is it I, Master?” He said to him, “You have said so.” (Matthew 26:14-25)

Reflection

Much has been written about the motivation of Judas to betray Jesus Christ.

Truth is no one really knows. But it is reasonable to believe that Judas didn’t get it. He didn’t understand who Jesus was. How could anyone who had followed Jesus through these three years given up this man of love to these men of hate?

He had never really come to know him and his merciful love. He had totally missed the point of Jesus’ parables of the lost sheep, lost coin and lost son. He hadn’t grasped that when he called Peter and the others to forgive 70 times 7 times. Jesus reminded his listeners that God himself would do the same. Jesus told them and us that there was a better way.

Nothing, no person, no religion, no race, no ecosystem, no nation, no blade of grass was made without Word, Wisdom, Love.  Humanity is all one in the eye of the divine, as a river is one though made of many countless drops of water. The “way” of Christianity is to embody this love in all we do, see, think, believe – not superficially, sentimentally but in the actuality of life.

But what’s happened in these two millennia? What has to happened to us that this natural aptitude to feel the pain of the world, to “gentle its wounds” turns to hate? How do we miss the face of Christ, playing “in ten thousand places, lovely in limbs, lovely in eyes not his? What happened to our eyes that scared souls, wide-eyed children, crying mothers, desperate fathers, panicked young man, people fleeing persecution, Jewish worshipers, gay lovers appear to us as rapacious foreigners, inhuman monsters, terrorizing infidels? 

What’s happened? We too don’t get it . . . yet. We’d never lie if we thought our lie would cause Jesus’ crucifixion or someone else’s. We’d never steal if we knew that our theft would murder Jesus or murder someone else. We’d never neglect a needy person if we knew that as a direct result Jesus would die or that that Lazarus at our gates would die through our omission. But the spiritual reality is that our sins are really what led to Jesus’ death. He died to take away our betrayals, our infidelities, our iniquities.

Perhaps that is why Jesus cried out to the Father in his first words from the Cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” We really don’t think our sinful choices through, because if we knew that our sins would crucify Jesus few of us would never choose them.

Prayer of The Day

“God our Father, we are exceedingly frail and indisposed to every virtuous and gallant undertaking. Strengthen our weakness, we beseech you, that we may do valiantly in this spiritual war; help us against our own negligence and cowardice, and defend us from the treachery of our unfaithful hearts; for Jesus Christ’s sake.” (Prayer of Thomas a Kempis)

Daily Note

We stand now in the midst of Jesus’ great moment of truth. In the events we recall this week, his whole life is summed up. A noisy parade into Jerusalem, followed by a mock public trial, and then the agony of an excruciating execution. In these acts the whole meaning of Christ’s life is revealed. And the meaning of yours and mine, too. Let us walk with him through his moment of truth, and watch and listen. Because if the way of the cross is the way of life and peace, we need to learn his way.

But as we look at the cross something strange begins to happen. We begin to sense that we aren’t alone in our moments of truth. We begin to see that he has gone before us and shown us the way. He spoke the truth, and lived it, and went even into death for it, lost even his sense of God’s closeness. But by staying there he opened the way for our forgiveness and healing.

The Blessing of Betrayal

( A commentary on John 13:21-33, 36-38)

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Daily Reflection – 3/30/2021

Sacred Scripture

Reclining at table with his disciples, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified, “Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, at a loss as to whom he meant. One of his disciples, the one whom Jesus loved, was reclining at Jesus’s side. So Simon Peter nodded to him to find out whom he meant. He leaned back against Jesus’s chest and said to him, “Master, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it.” So, he dipped the morsel and took it and handed it to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot. After Judas took the morsel, Satan entered him. So, Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Now none of those reclining at table realized why he said this to him. Some thought that since Judas kept the money bag, Jesus had told him, “Buy what we need for the feast, or to give something to the poor. So, Judas took the morsel and left at once. And it was night. When he had left, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and he will glorify him at once. My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. You will look for me, and as I told the Jews, ‘Where I go you cannot come,’ so now I say it to you.” Simon Peter said to him, “Master, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now, though you will follow later.” Peter said to him, “Master, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow before you deny me three times.” (John 13:21-33, 36-38)

Reflection

The darkness of that night seemed pervasive. Jesus has his last supper with those he loved. Among them were two who would betray him. Judas would hand him over to his death, Peter would betray him as well. The two betrayals were quite different though. Judas’ was one of calculation, Peter’s one of weakness. 

In that story, lies each of us . . . perhaps at different points on the spectrum. We too have betrayed Jesus and those around us many times. It is not simply Jesus and his love that we betray. We betray ourselves. Every betrayal of Jesus betrays ourselves. We hand ourselves over to the night, betraying our life to death, our love to self-interest, and our hope to despair. We turn away from the light, the source of our life, and once again Jesus is troubled in spirit.

Yet, there is so much in the actions of Jesus that brings us hope. Even knowing that Judas would not turn back to Him and repent, Jesus still gives His life for him.  We would think that someone who is so evil and who will not repent, should be cast off and destroyed, but even for such a person, God still loves him.  That is because God does not compartmentalize His love.  Even for those who reject Him, God’s love remains.

Just think, if you knew ahead of time that someone was going to betray you, would you invite them in for an intimate gathering—as your friends, no less?  And this is not even just an intimate gathering, but it is the last supper!  Jesus is giving His life to His Apostles in this first Eucharistic meal. 

That should bring us a lot of hope, if we ever think that we are so marred by our sins, that we might wonder if God could ever love us.  Even if we do not repent like Judas, God still loves us with all of His heart.  We can have the confidence to know that, no matter what, God will always receive us back into His loving arms, because even if we are not willing to lay down our lives for Jesus, He has already laid down His life for us.

Jesus is calling us out of the dark and into the light. Even though there is darkness all around, God’s light still abides. Come out of your dark tomb. Whatever shame is in your heart, whatever guilt you carry, however dead you feel, nothing you have done or ever could do can separate you from the love of God. Come into the light, even if it hurts your eyes. Come into the light, even if it blinds you at first. Come into the truth. Walk in the light of God’s love. Take a deep breath and live the new life, the resurrection life that God is giving you today.

Prayer of The Day

“Give me, O Lord, a steadfast heart which no unworthy thought can drag downwards; an unconquered heart which no tribulation can wear out; an upright heart which no unworthy purpose may tempt aside. Bestow upon me also, O Lord my God, understanding to know you, diligence to seek you, wisdom to find you, and a faithfulness that may finally embrace you; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. “(Prayer of Thomas Aquinas)

Daily Note

When you and I look at our lives, we see many things we would like to change. We would like to believe more deeply, forgive more easily, love with fewer conditions. But when we try to move in that positive direction, we often fall short. This is why it is crucial for us to believe that God can change us, that God is able to alter the terms of our relationship, that God can make us new.

God is calling us to a new relationship. We enter into that new relationship when we entrust ourselves to God, when we admit our weakness and inability to change, and ask God to transform us. When we say Lord, “I have been so hurt by that person that I cannot bend to forgive. I need you to bend me, so that I can let go of this hate. Lord, I am so quick to judge others because of their race, sexual orientation, or political viewpoint, and that fills me with anger. Lord, I need you to quiet those prejudices, so that I can live in peace again.” He lives for us and beckons us to a new life with him.

How Do You Price Love?

( A Commentary on John 12: 1-11)

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Daily Reflection – 3/29/2021

Sacred Scripture

Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. There they made him a supper; Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at table with him. Mary took a pound of costly ointment of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” This he said, not that he cared for the poor but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to take what was put into it. Jesus said, “Let her alone, let her keep it for the day of my burial. The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.” When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came, not only on account of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So, the chief priests planned to put Lazarus also to death, because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus. The next day a great crowd who had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. (John 12:1-11)

Reflection

Gathered around the dinner table, Lazarus’ family seems to know what is coming. They are about to lose their dear friend. They may even know that Lazarus’ new life is at stake. The time is short and the grief is plentiful as they break bread together in Bethany.

In gratitude for her brother’s life, in grief for her friend’s life, in total fear for the future, words fail Mary. So, instead of speaking, she lavishes her Lord with an absurdly abundant gift: perfume that would cost as much as a year’s total wages. To many, it is an act of extravagant giving. For those who measure their lives by accounting terms, there is absolutely no cost benefit analysis in her actions.

But Mary’s action was motivated by one thing, and one thing only, namely, her love for Jesus and her gratitude for God’s mercy. She gets it. She understands the enormity of the love that has been poured out by God.

God, the source of all love gave us Jesus Christ. Jesus is the overflow of love into the world. It’s a divine moment when Jesus comes to earth. It is God beyond God. It is an overflowing of God’s divine love. That is profound in itself. But think of this. Jesus then lived out another love. He gave his body, his very self to and for others.

As humans, we have been confronted with two loves of a magnitude that we almost can’t comprehend. The overflowing of the most complete love, the most profound love which takes place in the flesh of Jesus Christ who then magnifies that love by giving his very self for all.

How do you price that?

Someone once said, “Love expressed is not sufficient; it needs to be heard to have any meaning.” In other words, it is not adequate for you to say you love your wife or your husband or your partner or your children; though that’s a good start. You must get into the mind of the beloved and find out what is most meaningful to him or her in receiving love and then give love in that way. How do you do that for God?

God doesn’t need your most valuable possession, but you need to give it, or at least make it serve a greater purpose. How extravagant is your love? Is it extravagant at all, or do you simply go through the motions? You sing the hymns. You utter the prayers. You listen to the preacher. But then do you love others in the way that Jesus loved–as much as you love yourself? Do you make a place for the outcast, the rejected, the oppressed, the homeless, the victimized and marginalized souls whom Jesus loves? Remember, love expressed is not sufficient. It isn’t good enough to say “I love you” by singing hymns and attending church. As good as those things are, love expressed is not sufficient. It has to be heard to have any meaning. “They’ll know we are Christians by our love.”

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus help me to be more aware of all the good you have worked in my life. Help me to look with the eyes of faith that will bring me to an unshakeable belief in you, a faith like that of those who witnessed your raising of Lazarus.?

Daily Note

The Lord Jesus showed us the extravagance of his love in giving the best he had by pouring out his own blood for our sake and by anointing us with his Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul says that nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:39). Do you allow the love of Christ to rule in all your thoughts and intentions, and in all your words and deeds?

Time For A Hearing Check?

( A Commentary on John 10: 31:42)

Job 23:11-12 | Job, Words, Affirmations

Daily Reflection – 3/26/2021)

Sacred Scripture

The Jews picked up rocks to stone Jesus. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from my Father. For which of these are you trying to stone me?” The Jews answered him, “We are not stoning you for a good work but for blasphemy. You, a man, are making yourself God.” Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods”’? If it calls them gods to whom the word of God came, and Scripture cannot be set aside, can you say that the one whom the Father has consecrated and sent into the world blasphemes because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?  If I do not perform my Father’s works, do not believe me; but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may realize and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” Then they tried again to arrest him; but he escaped from their power. He went back across the Jordan to the place where John first baptized, and there he remained. Many came to him and said, “John performed no sign, but everything John said about this man was true.” And many there began to believe in him. (John 10:31-42)

Reflection

Once again, the scribes pick up rocks to stone Jesus. Once again, Jesus confronts them with words of truth. Words of truth that fall on deaf ears.

How many of us have our ears deafened to the words of Jesus and to the very presence of Jesus in each of us.?

 We do that when we ignore and refuse to speak out on the evils around us. We do that when we emerge from Lent and still don’t acknowledge the gift around us – the power to change.

When you and I look at our lives, we see many things we would like to change. We would like to believe more deeply, forgive more easily, love with fewer conditions. But when we try to move in that positive direction, we often fall short. Despite our best intentions and honest efforts, we remain stuck in our flaws. Like the house of Israel, we are helpless and hopeless. This is why it is crucial for us to believe that God can change us, that God is able to alter the terms of our relationship, that God can make us new.

We believe in God, but when it comes to changing ourselves, we try to do it ourselves. We think that our strategy and efforts can break a habit of sin or make us more generous people. But that is seldom the case. What we need is not different plans or more willpower. What we need is a new relationship. The good news is that that is exactly what God wants to give us.

We enter into that new relationship when we entrust ourselves to God, when we admit our weakness and inability to change, and ask God to transform us. When we say Lord, “I have been so hurt by that person that I cannot bend to forgive. I need you to bend me, so that I can let go of this hate. Lord, I have put such high expectations on my spouse and my children, that they are harming my relationships. I need you to loosen my expectations, so I can love the people in my life as they are, rather than how I want them to be. Lord, I am so quick to judge others because of their race, sexual orientation, or political viewpoint, and that fills me with anger. Lord, I need you to quiet those prejudices, so that I can live in peace again.”

When we are helpless and hopeless, God promises to change us. God promises to write, in a new way, on our hearts. Now, then, is the time to open our hearts, and let God in, so that we can become the people we are called to be.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, as we draw near to the commemoration of Your own suffering and death, help me to unite my crosses to Yours. Help me to see in my daily struggle Your presence and strength. Help me to see the purpose you have for me in the midst of these challenges. Jesus, I trust in You.”

Daily Note

The gift of God’s love has a specific purpose. God is a personal God who desires relationship with each one of us and has proven his love to us by sending his Son to save us. Because of our brokenness we are often reluctant to receive this gift of love. We desire to remain independent and to try to solve our problems on our own. Perhaps we even think we can save ourselves by being good. But the truth is that we can only be saved by exercising living faith and receiving God’s unmerited gift. We must turn to him and allow him to be the center of our life. We must surrender to him. This is the living faith that saves.

When the Impossible Becomes Possible

( A commentary on Luke 1: 26-38)

Luke 1:37 - For With God Nothing Shall Be Impossible - Bible Quote

Daily Reflection – 3/25/2021

Sacred Scripture

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

Here we are approaching the end of Lent and today’s Gospel recounts the story of the angel Gabriel announcing to Mary that she will be the mother of God. To many, that Gospel may seem a juxtaposition to the Lenten journey.

But is it?

Isn’t Lent supposed to be a time when we examine whether we are truly saying “yes” to God’s invitation to be part of our life? And isn’t this the time when we decide whether we are going to say “May it be done”?

If you agree, then you can appreciate why Mary’s story moves us all from who we think we are to what God has called us to be, from observant believer to confessing apostle. Moreover, remarkably, impossibly, Mary’s story demands that we acknowledge the very transformation of God. It is no small journey to go from our comfortable perceptions of God in heaven to God in the manger, vulnerable, helpless, dependent.

The Reverend Michael Marsh wrote: This Feast of Interruption, the Annunciation, is the content of, gives meaning to, and fulfills everything that happens in Jesus’ life, everything he does, and everything that he is. With the Annunciation the divine thread is woven through every womb and every tomb. The fabric of human life has forever been changed. That’s why we can and do take this Lenten journey. It’s what enables us to walk through the sufferings of Holy Week.”

Mary’s faith and purity sensitized her to God’s truth. She accepted the angel’s message and all of its implications for her own life – a radical, unforeseen change in her plans. She was able to do so because she had long ago assimilated a doctrine we too often ignore, one that Gabriel reminded her of: “Nothing is impossible for God.”

We can learn no greater lesson than how to say yes to God. Mary’s “yes” reversed Eve’s “no,” and paved the way for Christ’s undoing of Adam’s fall. Likewise, when God disrupts our lives – through the voice of conscience, the normal responsibilities and demands of our state in life, or the indications of Christian teaching – our “yes” can echo Mary’s and make more room for Christ in this fallen world. But our “no” – or even our “maybe” – can just as easily shut him out.

And so that is our Lenten crisis of conscience. God is calling you and me. His invitation to be one with Him is waiting patiently for our heart to answer. Do we choose Him as an active part of our life – every day? Do we trust and love Him? Do we give Him to others as He gave His Son to us?

For you and me, I pray that our Lenten journey ends with: “May it be done to me according to your word.”

Prayer of The Day

“Heavenly Father, 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 plan for my life.”

Daily Note

With the Annunciation God promises to interrupt our lives. Hidden within every womb and every tomb is Gabriel’s announcement, “Greetings favored one! The Lord is with you” (Lk. 1:28). Gabriel’s words echo in our wombs and in our tombs interrupting our lives with Life. That’s the necessary interruption. That’s the interruption we yearn for. That’s the interruption we seek and for which we are desperate. That’s the interruption we so need in our daily lives. He is with us. He asks only that we share His love in the conduct of our lives. He asks only that we become Followers of His Way.

Let’s Call as It Is . . .

(A Commentary on John 8: 31-42)

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Daily Reflection – 3/24/2021

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to those Jews who believed in him, “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone.  How can you say, ‘You will become free’?” Jesus answered them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. A slave does not remain in a household forever, but a son always remains. So if the Son frees you, then you will truly be free. I know that you are descendants of Abraham. But you are trying to kill me, because my word has no room among you. I tell you what I have seen in the Father’s presence; then do what you have heard from the Father.” They answered and said to him, “Our father is Abraham.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works of Abraham. But now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God; Abraham did not do this. You are doing the works of your father!” So they said to him, “We were not born of fornication. We have one Father, God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and am here; I did not come on my own, but he sent me.” (John 8:31-42)

Reflection

One of the oft quoted sentences in modern day life comes from today’s Gospel: . . .“and the truth will set you free.”

The problem is that it has been taken out of context from Jesus’ teaching. Making it even more twisted is that politics has co-opted it.

The truth is that Jesus offers us true freedom — freedom from the slavery of fear, the slavery of selfishness, freedom from the fear of what others might think or say about us, and freedom from hurtful desires and the power of sin.

Let’s call it as it is. Following Jesus Christ is a way of life. If it isn’t then we are playing games with ourselves. Faith isn’t real until it touches our attitudes and, above all, our concrete choices. To “remain” in the word of Christ means to conform our lives to his life and his virtues, especially the virtue of charity, which is the very essence of Christian doctrine and morality. To “remain” in his word is, as some would say, “to walk the walk.”

We can’t remain in the word of God unless we’re seeking to immerse ourselves in it. If we do this, Jesus says, we will really be his disciples, because we’re only his disciples if we’re putting what he teaches us into practice.

If we are not, then we are inventing some form of a therapeutic Christianity to make us feel good because we are not willing to make the choice to set ourselves free. The temptation to separate faith and practice is never far from us.

The freedom promised by Christ to those who remain in his word is much deeper than the freedom offered by the world. Christ’s freedom is not simply political freedom. Neither is it the ability to choose whatever I want when I want, and how I want. The freedom of Christ’s disciple is spiritual, moral, and interior; it is the freedom for which every person longs for in the depths of his/her heart.

God wants more than a relationship of mere trust. He wants a particular type of trust, the confidence of a child in a loving parent. He wants to us to live our divine filiation, to remember we are the beloved sons and daughters of the Father described in the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

To know Jesus, to love Jesus, to follow Jesus is the way to God and it is in God and only in God that we will find true happiness, freedom, and peace. But the only way to know the truth of that statement is to experience it personally.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, write your words of love and truth upon my heart and make me a worthy disciple of your word.”

Daily Note

How many people do you know today that have no room in their lives for the Word?  How many people do you know who if they allowed the word in their hearts, that word would threaten their lifestyles?  I know too many, too many good people who are so busy with the details of life that the word of God literally has no room to take root in their souls.  No room to exert its transformative power and as a result they remain enslaved by their lives and the all-unimportant details that consume them.

One thing in this life is important:  To live the word.  Everything else is secondary and once you begin to live the word everything else falls into place.  The word truly frees.

What Do You Really Want?

( A commentary on John 8: 21-30)

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Daily Reflection – 3/23/2021

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to the Pharisees: “I am going away and you will look for me, but you will die in your sin. Where I am going you cannot come.” So the Jews said, “He is not going to kill himself, is he, because he said, ‘Where I am going you cannot come’?” He said to them, “You belong to what is below, I belong to what is above. You belong to this world, but I do not belong to this world. That is why I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins.” So they said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “What I told you from the beginning. I have much to say about you in condemnation. But the one who sent me is true, and what I heard from him I tell the world.” They did not realize that he was speaking to them of the Father. So Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM, and that I do nothing on my own, but I say only what the Father taught me. The one who sent me is with me.  He has not left me alone, because I always do what is pleasing to him.” Because he spoke this way, many came to believe in him. (John 8:21-30)

Reflection

There is both an invitation and a challenge in today’s Gospel. How we answer both will tell us what we are truly seeking.

While many believed in Jesus and his message, many others, including the religious leaders, opposed him. Some openly mocked him when he warned them about their sin of unbelief.  Some of his listeners walked away.

But the truth is that it’s impossible to be indifferent to Jesus’ word and his judgments.  There is no middle ground or neutral parties. That’s the challenge that we face. Do we believe enough to amend our lives so they conform more closely to His? Or do we live our lives “sort of, kind of” but not truly like His?

The cross is the ultimate proof of God’s love for us. God so loved the world that he gave us his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).   To fail to recognize Jesus and where he came from is to remain in spiritual darkness; to believe Jesus and his words is to walk in the joy and light of God’s truth.  There are certain opportunities in life that come and do not return. Each of us is given the opportunity to know and to accept Jesus Christ, as Lord and Savior.  But that opportunity can be rejected and lost.

Believing in Jesus involves not just glancing at Christ on the Cross with our eyes but really becoming one with this mystery, allowing it to penetrate our hearts and all parts of our being so that we may never cease inwardly contemplating Christ on the Cross.

To belong to Jesus and to what is above, we must strive to open our hearts and minds to his truth, especially in those areas of our lives where he is asking for change and conversion.  

When we allow that change to happen, our lives become different. We become different people. How? If I love Christ, then I necessarily wish to do what is pleasing to him. And what pleases Christ? My faith, hope, and love; my obedience and my humility; so also, my selfless service to him in those who are materially, morally or spiritually needful of my attention and support. 

The goal, the destination, is beyond. Jesus wants to guide us into a deeper relationship with Him. He wants to help us believe in Him and to recognize that there is no one else that can satisfy our longings. Everything else is temporary and partial.  

Even if we don’t know it yet, even if we haven’t realized it, deep down what we seek is Jesus.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, grant this day, to direct and sanctify, to rule and govern our hearts and bodies, so that all our thoughts, words and deeds may be according to your Father’s law and thus may we be saved and protected through your mighty help.”

Daily Note

Today, Jesus wants to lead us to a great spiritual healing — even more important than any physical healing — by helping us to look upon him on the Cross not just with our physical eyes but more deeply. He wants us to join him on the Cross and help us look at God, ourselves and the world with his divine lenses. He wants to feed us with the fruit of the new Tree of Life. How can any one of us turn from that invitation?