Faith Is A Verb

Matthew 13:3-9 – karinforeman.com
Daily Reflection – 7/24/2020

Sacred Scripture

“Hear then the parable of the sower. The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the Word of the Kingdom without understanding it, and the evil one comes and steals away what was sown in his heart. The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the Word and receives it at once with joy. But he has no root and lasts only for a time. When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the Word, he immediately falls away. The seed sown among thorns is the one who hears the Word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the Word and it bears no fruit. But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the Word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.” (Matthew 13:18-23)

Reflection

Today’s Gospel is well known and oft repeated. Biblical scholars have written volumes about the various seeds and some have written about the soil.

As an avid gardener, I read this passage and focus on the soil. I have tilled enough earth to know that it can always be improved.

The parable of the sower depicts our individual response to Jesus’ call for us to follow Him.  We can be like the rocky soil, rejoicing over God’s truth for a time, but not allowing it to change us much, leaving our shallow roots to wither from the persecutions we endure and the troubles that come our way. Troubles will always come. There will always be illness, family strife, shattered relationships, financial worries, and unmet expectations. And persecutions are promised for those who genuinely try to follow after Jesus’ example.

The difference lies, Jesus says, in the way that we choose to respond. If our faith is shallow, untended, and not watered, we will not have the strength to withstand those difficulties. The harshness of the world is quick to burn up the life of Christ if we do not work to protect and care for it.

But the follower of Christ recognizes that each of us  has been called. And over two millennia, many have embraced this call; they have let it grow in their hearts by means of sharing their faith through their words and actions.

To be that rich soil, we have to continually remind ourselves that faith is a verb. It must be exercised to bear fruit. The seed of the kingdom, the living Word, has been planted within us. We are asked to live the word of God so that each of us, in our own way can bring our part of the world back to God.

 Does that sound too grand? Too ambitious? Something beyond us?

It is not if we remember that the Lord spreads us in the field of the world to bear a harvest for the Kingdom to come. However, it begins with one person, one grain, one seed, at a time.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, help me to guard the word you have planted in my heart that no doubt or temptation may keep me from believing and obeying you. May I be fruitful in your service and may I never fear to speak of you to others and to share with them the good news of the gospel.”

Daily Note

The power to effect redemptive change in the world comes from the life of God within us. It is amazing how little leaven it takes to raise a loaf of bread. Those little particles of yeast have the power to ferment, to change the lump of wet dough into a loaf of aromatic, tasty, nourishing bread.

Look To See, Listen To Hear

Daily Reflection – 7/23/2020

Sacred Scripture

The disciples approached him and said, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” He said to them in reply, “Because knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted. To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand. Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says: You shall indeed hear but not understand, you shall indeed look but never see. Gross is the heart of this people, they will hardly hear with their ears, they have closed their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and be converted, and I heal them. But blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear. Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.” (Matthew 13:10-17)

Reflection

An interesting reading for today . . . of course, it is not a Gospel about the Gospel. BUT in explaining to his disciples why he used parables, Jesus opens the door as to the posture and the perspective that is needed to truly hear His words. More importantly, to internalize those words.

Over the years, I found that it was a common occurrence to hear and observe the “ Yes, but not yet” aspiring Christians. They want Jesus in their lives but just not yet. They are afraid that when Jesus comes into our lives, he will turn things around. So they go through the motions but don’t fully open their hearts and minds to Him.

God can only reveal the secrets of his kingdom to the humble and trusting person who acknowledges their need for God and for his truth. The parables of Jesus will enlighten us if we approach them with an open mind and heart, ready to let them challenge us. If we approach God’s word with indifference, skepticism, and disbelief, then we, too, may “hear but not understand” and “see but not perceive.” God’s word can only take root in a receptive heart that is ready to believe and willing to submit. If we want to hear and to understand God’s word, we must listen with reverence and faith.

Knowing Jesus personally, understanding the things of God, is not reserved for a privileged few. It’s for everyone who desires it; everyone who looks with eyes open, hoping to see; everyone who listens with ears tuned, longing to know more of God, not just to hear the sound of his words. God delights in satisfying hearts that hunger and thirst for more of him. It is possible to hear from Him personally, to experience His presence, to learn from Hm, and to gain understanding.

When it comes to Jesus there is a lot to be seen and a lot to be heard. Jesus is worth more than a cursory look and a half-engaged listen. The more carefully we look at Jesus the more we will see, and the more attentively we listen to him, the more we will hear. That is what Jesus means in the gospel reading when he says, ‘for anyone who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough’. The more we attend to the Lord, the more we will receive and the more blessed we will be.

As Jesus declares at the end of the reading, ‘Happy are your eyes because they see, your ears because they hear’. Jesus is alive among us as risen Lord; he is there to be seen and to be heard by us all. He is visible and audible to us in and through each other, especially in and through those who are most vulnerable. We pray for eyes to see and ears to hear his presence among us.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, I do want to know You. I do want to seek You and to discover all that You have to say. Help me to turn to You in all things and to grow continually deeper in the life of faith. Jesus, I trust in You. Amen.”

Daily Note

One goal of a parable is to get someone thinking. It’s a way of drawing them in so that they can engage their minds with the Word that was spoken. When someone is open to the Truth, such as the disciples, Jesus is able to lift the veil and speak clearly, deeply and beautifully about the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven. This must be our goal. We must seek to understand all Jesus speaks and believe it wholeheartedly. In fact, once we do begin to believe and, subsequently, live what we come to believe, we will begin a wonderful journey of faith and understanding that we never knew existed before.

Do You See Him?

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Daily Reflection – 7/22/2020

Sacred Scripture

On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.” But Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had been. And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” She thought it was the gardener and said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabboni,” which means Teacher. Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary of Magdala went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and what he told her. (John 20:1-2, 11-18)

Reflection

Mary Magdalene knew Jesus as a man and was witness to His numerous miracles and very powerful teachings yet they were not enough for her to recognize Him. She was caught up in her emotions about Jesus and could not recognize him in her grief.

There is an interesting parallel here to our lives. We tend to view Jesus through our eye glasses. His presence is often defined by the experience of our lives and often that prevents us from truly knowing Him.

We may say we know Jesus yet we may not recognize Him especially when life becomes difficult and hard, and not easy to accept and understand. The Savior of the world and Master may be so near us yet we do not recognize Him. He comes in all sorts of ways, in lowly guise and not as one of the world’s powerful and great ones. He comes to us through the most painful situations and at times even from the brokenness and woundedness of those around us.

Our understanding of what the world should be and our vulnerability to the values of our material world provide a barrier towards our recognition of God and the acceptance of His will. We cannot see Him in our adversities, troubles and afflictions. We are so preoccupied in looking for Him that we get lost along the way. We are like the Jews of His time who expected the Messiah to be in a bright shining armor who will place them on top of the world.

Today, God is asking us how well we know Him. He wants to know if we will ever recognize Him should we encounter Him on the boulevard of broken dreams.

The person who knows God follows His will out of His love for Him just like Mary Magdalene. Knowing God is not cerebral but personal and experiential. Knowing Him is not simply trusting Him but living in daily fellowship with Him even amidst adversity and persecution.  It is obedience founded on love. That is why, one who claims to know God yet chooses who to obey and which precepts to obey within His church cannot truly be His follower. One who is hostile to his/her fellow does not really know God. One who is wrapped up within themselves and engages in self-aggrandizement betrays the words of Jesus to follow Him in our lives.

Today, let us look deep into our hearts and ask ourselves how well we know our God. Has God’s love for us been perfected? Has it accomplished its very purpose and has it reached its end in producing obedience to His request that we love Him above all and our neighbor as ourselves?

Prayer of The Day

“Jesus, I want to follow you wherever you go. Help me to live for you.”

Daily Note

You see, Mary, like all of Jesus’ followers only knew Him as God on earth; theydid not know Him as God in heaven. They only knew Him from a limited perspective, they did not know Him in all His glory. They did not know His power over sin and death, and how there were still so many things that He came to do. They did not have the understanding of how He came to suffer and die for all of us, and to be risen in victory over sin and death. They were holding on to what they knew, and by doing this they were placing limits on God. They were bringing God down to their level and fitting Him into something that they could grasp. What they needed to do, and what we need to do in our lives, is let God be God.

But It IS About Family

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Daily Reflection – 7/21/2020

Sacred Scripture

While he was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers appeared outside, wishing to speak with him. [Someone told him, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, asking to speak with you.”] But he said in reply to the one who told him, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.” (Matthew 12:46-50)

Reflection

Most of us have enjoyed family life and benefitted from it. Our siblings, our parents, our children and all the extended members of a family. It is often the glue that holds together the tapestry of our life.

Along comes this teaching of Jesus. He almost sounds as if he is dismissing his earthly family and pointing his apostles to something else, something bigger, something that would take them in a new direction.

Well, we know that he is was not dismissing his earthly family but he sure was pointing his followers and us to something much bigger. He IS pointing us to another higher reality of relationships, namely our relationship with God and with the people he redeemed and whom He brought together into a covenant relationship of mutual love, care, and service. We are in fact family – His family.

We did not earn our way into God’s family. We become Christ’s brothers and sisters through the sanctifying grace we received at baptism.  When we were baptized God came to live in our soul.  He claimed us as His adopted children.  We (or our parents and godparents) committed ourselves to Him.  From that moment on we became brothers and sisters to Christ and through Christ with each other.

Like any family there are guidelines by which we are expected to live.

In His family, we are loved unconditionally. Big word – unconditionally. He doesn’t care what we have done or where we came from. He cares only that we live our lives reflecting what He has done for you and me. We have been brought together by His love and asked that we treat each member of our family with care, respect and dignity. No one person deserves less than that. That is what we have been called to do.

Pray God that each day we stay true to the mission of our family and forgive us for those times that we forget your call to us and put ourselves first.

Prayer of The Day

“Father, help me to remember all day that I may be the only face of You some people see today.  Let my face be smiling and warm, my voice be tender and patient, and my actions be reflective of our family standards.  I ask this in the name of Jesus, my brother, Amen.”

Daily Note

What is the essence of being a Christian? It is certainly more than doctrine, precepts, and commandments. It is first and foremost a relationship – a relationship of trust, affection, commitment, loyalty, faithfulness, kindness, thoughtfulness, compassion, mercy, helpfulness, encouragement, support, strength, protection, and so many other qualities that bind people together in mutual love and unity. Jesus offered up his life on the cross for our sake, so that we could be forgiven and restored to unity and friendship with God. It is through Jesus that we become the adopted children of God – his own sons and daughters. Whoever does the will of God is a friend of God and a member of his family – his sons and daughters who have been ransomed by His death on the cross.

“Love Me or Love Me Not”

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Daily Reflection – 7/20/2020

Sacred Scripture

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” He said to them in reply, “An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet. Just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights. At the judgment, the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and there is something greater than Jonah here. At the judgment the queen of the south will arise with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and there is something greater than Solomon here.” (Matthew 12:38-42)

Reflection

It’s all about signs in today’s Gospel.

The Ninevites recognized God’s warning when Jonah spoke to them, and they repented. And the Queen of Sheba recognized God’s wisdom in Solomon. Jonah was God’s sign and his message was the message of God for the people of Nineveh. In each case, the “signs” were received. Within that lies a message for us.

When I was a young, pre-teen boy, I remember picking daisies and each time I picked a petal, I would repeat the formula “ she loves me, she loves me not.” Whichever petal was the last would tell me that my pre-teen crush loved me or loved me not.

As we grow older, we still play the daisy game – in a far more sophisticated way of course. Often, we pray for a sign or ask that we receive a sign as to a decision that we need to make. Nothing wrong with that. Asking for God’s guidance is something that every Christian does naturally and often,

But our Gospel today reminds us too often we want a sign other than the signs Jesus Christ gave us. We want some other proof from God of His will.  We want Him to speak loudly and clearly.  But that doesn’t always happen.  More often what we experience is what appears to be silence from God.  We may wonder, “Lord, where are You?  Why don’t You speak to me?” 

As followers of Christ, it is important to internalize that Jesus does speak to us all the time. He does so by gently reminding us of His life, death and Resurrection.  He reminds us that we must believe in all that He has spoken, and even if we feel like we are in the belly of a whale or dead in a tomb, hope is not lost. He wants us to seek Him through the gift of faith. God is present in all things and He is active and present to us even when He seems to be silent.

Where that should lead us is to recognize that rather than make demands on Christ, we need to make demands on ourselves. We need to make demands that we grow in humility, selflessness and authentic love in imitation of the Lord. The more that we do, then the more we grow closer to Christ. The closer we grow to Him, the more our lives will be in unison with His teachings. The more our lives are in unison with His teachings the more we see where He is leading us and where he wants us to be.

I invite you to join with me by simply asking yourself: Who is Jesus to me?  How deep is my belief and trust in Jesus?  Do I wish to strengthen my relationship with Jesus? 

How do I let Jesus know that I desire a deeper and more personal relationship with him?  Jesus is waiting for us!   Will we be open and notice His presence?

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, help me to believe in You even though I do not see miracles or signs from Heaven.  Help me to believe in You despite any doubts or weaknesses I have in life.  Give me a firm faith to answer Your call in my life.  Jesus, I trust in You.”

Daily Note

On this day the Word is an invitation for each one of us to humbly understand that only a converted heart turned towards God, can receive, interpret, and see this sign which IS Jesus Christ. Humility is the reality that not only brings us closer to God, but also to humanity. Through humility we acknowledge our limitations and virtues, but mostly we see our neighbors as brothers and God as our Father. All of which brings us to the essence  of the Christian life which is to be recognized by the love that is seen in our life, love that springs from Jesus.

It’s His Mercy That Saves Us

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Daily Reflection – 7/17/2020

Sacred Scripture

Jesus was going through a field of grain on the sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, “See, your disciples are doing what is unlawful to do on the sabbath.” He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry, how he went into the house of God and ate the bread of offering, which neither he nor his companions but only the priests could lawfully eat? Or have you not read in the law that on the sabbath the priests serving in the temple violate the sabbath and are innocent? I say to you, something greater than the temple is here. If you knew what this meant, I desire mercy, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned these innocent men. For the Son of Man is Lord of the sabbath.” (Matthew 12:1-8)

Reflection

If you knew what this meant, I desire mercy, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned these innocent men.”

The Pharisees allowed evil into their hearts when they accused Jesus and his disciples of breaking the sabbath.  Love did not rule in their hearts, because they were too busy finding fault with others.

Jesus showed both compassion and mercy toward his disciples who were hungry and walking through a field of grain on the sabbath.  Who wouldn’t have compassion for them?  It would have been terribly hard walking through acres and acres of food when you are famished, and not be allowed to eat any of it.  Rules do not make any sense if they do not serve the ultimate good of human beings.

Like the Pharisees, it’s so easy for us to judge based only on what we see but what we see is often a false representation of a person’s identity. Unlike us who easily judge, He doesn’t, what is important for Jesus is mercy, what is important for Jesus is the goodness of a person’s heart.

How are we going to spread the goodness of Jesus if we are overly strict and judgmental and if we are not gentle and understanding? The Pharisees in our gospel were judgmental they want their laws to be strictly followed. But the irony of it all is they were also the silent violators of the laws that they have self-servingly created. 

The lack of true heartfelt empathy is a clear sign of a certain psychological, emotional and even spiritual disorder.  This is mentioned because the opposite is true also.  The presence of true heartfelt empathy is a sign that one is psychologically, emotionally and spiritually healthy.  Empathy means that you are aware of the other.  You sense when someone is hurting or when they are joyful.

It is the countless mercy of God our Father and the Son that makes Christianity so unique. It is “The Way” because Christ is the bridge. God and Jesus both love us in the same way.  Jesus goes to where we are at in life, to bring his love to us personally as He did in today’s Gospel. Our faith calls us to go throughout the world and to baptize our brothers and sisters with living water. We are not called to just feed the poor, but to go out and give the Bread of Life. We are not called to strike the sinner, but to raise our hand in prayer and lift them up with God’s grace and mercy.

Prayer of The Day

Lord, I pray that my heart will become an instrument of Your own merciful Heart.  In any way that I lack the empathy and compassion flowing from Your Heart, bring me healing.  And in every way that I have been blessed to experience the struggles and joys of others on account of sharing in Your Mercy, I thank You.  Lord, my deep desire is to share in Your life and love so that my heart may become like unto Yours.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Daily Note

Reflect, today, upon your empathy or lack thereof.  What takes place within your mind, heart and emotions when you encounter either the joys or the sufferings of another.  Do you walk right past them, not caring and not engaging them?  Or do you see their humanity, recognize their dignity, and treat them with care, compassion and respect?  Empathy is ultimately all about the dignity of each and every person and our ability to acknowledge that dignity through our thoughts, feelings, words and actions.  Try to honestly look at your own empathy today and if you are surprised at a lacking in this area, look deeper at the reason why. But if you see yourself blessed with a heart of compassion, filled with an awareness of the other, then rejoice because your heart is sharing in and dispensing the Mercy of God.

The One Invitation Like No Other

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Daily Reflection – 7/16/2020

Sacred Scripture

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

Reflection

This invitation is one that has sustained me through the years. My eyes mist when I think of all the times in my life that I simply turned to Him and He shared my burden so that I could find rest.

This beautiful invitation from Jesus can sustain us for a myriad of reasons.

We start with its simplicity. God doesn’t offer a complicated formula for helping us carry our burdens. He offers only one “Come to me . . .  and I will give you rest.” Come to me no matter what is going on in your life.

 “Come to me,” he says, “cast your anxieties on me for I care for you” (1 Peter 5:7) “Trust in me with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding (Proverbs 3: 5) he says, “and you will find rest for your souls.”

The simplicity of that promise is both striking and refreshing. Come to me no matter what is going on in your life.  Come to me without hesitation and without fear.  

Jesus then adds the ultimate promise. He promises us that His “yoke is easy” and His “burden is light.”  What does that mean?  Does it mean that coming to Jesus will remove all hardship from our lives?  No, not really.  What it means is that coming to Jesus will enable us to endure and walk through any hardship we encounter in life.  

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

What is happening here is a yoke-exchange. In the cross, Jesus takes our inconceivably and unbearably heavy yoke of sin’s condemnation and penalty, and offers us in exchange the easy yoke and light burden of simply trusting him. He does all the work and gives us all the rest. And his work not only fully addresses our sin problem, but also provides the supply of every other need we will ever have (Philippians 4:19) All we are required to do is trust him.

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

Today, promise yourself that you will forever hold on to this gentle and glorious invitation from Jesus.  Let Him enter into whatever it is that burdens you.  Let Him carry the yoke that you carry and give you, instead, the gentle yoke He has prepared for you.  The cross you bear may not go away, but it will be transformed and made light in His grace.

Prayer of The Day

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

Daily Note

Because our burdens are not simple, they are not relieved by simplistic platitudes (“Cheer up! Things are bound to turn around!”). But a simple promise can relieve a complex burden, provided we believe that the power behind the promise is complex and strong enough to relieve our heaviness.

And into our weariness steps the most complex power in existence speaking a promise as simple, hopeful, and refreshing as we could possibly want:

The Relationship That Counts

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Daily Reflection – 7/15/2020

Sacred Scripture

At that time Jesus exclaimed: “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.” (Matthew 11:25-27)

Reflection

It never ceases to amaze me that often the briefest of scriptures reveals the broadest knowledge. Today’s scripture is no different.

In just three sentences, Jesus reveals to each of us not only how we can know God but the attitude and perspective we need to acquire that knowledge.

If we were to list what we consider to be of value in our lives, we would probably discover that relationships would come toward the top of our list. We value relationships. We could not get through life without the people who are important to us. In this morning’s gospel reading, Jesus speaks about the relationship which is most important to him, his relationship with his heavenly Father. He speaks of this relationship in terms of a mutual knowing, ‘no one knows the Son except the Father, just as no one knows the Father except the Son’. There is a very profound and unique intimacy to this relationship. Yet, there is nothing closed about this special relationship; it is open to us as well.

Jesus speaks of himself as choosing to reveal the Father to others and he speaks of the Father as revealing these things to children. As God drew Moses to himself through the burning bush, the Father and the Son seek to draw us into their mutual love, so that we can reflect that love to others. For this to happen, we need the openness and receptivity of the child, rather than the self-assurance of the learned. Too often maturity and the ways of the world harden people’s hearts. Some become  so full of their own intelligence and understanding that they are closed to the great wisdom from God that Jesus has come to reveal.

It’s openness that allows us to know our dependence on God, our need of God, our   poverty before God. Insofar as we imbibe this fundamental attitude, Jesus will be able to reveal to us everything that has been entrusted to him by God the Father.

We have to ‘open our hearts” to be willing to ask the Lord to teach us. We need to “open our hearts” so that God can teach us to love. We need to “open our hearts” so that our love is shown through the way we live out the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, give me the child-like simplicity and purity of faith to gaze upon your face with joy and confidence in your all-merciful love.   Remove every doubt, fear, and proud thought which would hinder me from receiving your word with trust and humble submission.”

Daily Note

Knowing Jesus Christ as the Son, is also knowing the Father, because he is the one who reveals the Father.The Son has so much power – power over sin and death. As it said in today’s gospel, all things have been handed over to him by the Father. Knowing him, we can be rest assured that we are in good hands and he will take full and good control of our lives.

How Impaired Is Your Hearing ?

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Daily Reflection – 7/14/2020

Sacred Scripture

Jesus began to reproach the towns where most of his mighty deeds had been done, since they had not repented. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. And as for you, Capernaum: Will you be exalted to heaven? You will go down to the nether world. For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.” (Matthew 11:20-24)

Reflection

At an initial reading, today’s scripture is startling and to some people lacking in relevance to our lives today.

It is exactly the opposite.

Jesus was expressing his sadness and grief over three cities in which he preached and which had also experienced his miracles. But the people who heard Him responded with indifference. Jesus upbraids them for doing nothing!

He recognizes that we are a people mangled by sin, and due to sin, we sometimes are unable to see God’s presence in our lives (similar to the inhabitants of the three cities). He is calling us to recognize this reality so we might be able to turn away from sin and direct our whole selves to God. He is calling us to repentance, and is emphasizing that the first part of true repentance is identifying our faults and failures. In this way, we might better know where we need to ask God for guidance and strength.

Repentance demands change – a change of heart and way of life. God’s word is life-giving and it saves us from destruction – the destruction of heart, mind, and soul as well as body. Jesus’ anger is directed toward sin and everything which hinders us from doing the will of God. In love he calls us to walk in his way of truth and freedom, grace and mercy, justice and holiness. Love produces an abundance of gratitude and understanding. Love is paid in full only with love. Our true quality of life does not depend upon income, but rather on our expenses, how much we gave; that is, how we loved. 

We should always strive to be loved. We should examine our lives against our fealty to Him?  Are we faithful to our personal commitments with the Lord? Do I know what the Lord demands from me today? Have I put myself in my neighbor’s place and am I willing to give until it hurts? Life is all about grace, and what I do with what the Lord generously gives to me. How do I respond to the Lord’s voice? Listen carefully because “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”

For our part, we should pray for the insight to see where we need God’s guidance and grace and for the courage to allow God to fully enter into our lives.

Prayer of The Day

Lord, enlighten the darkness of our hearts and give us a true faith, a certain hope and a perfect love. Give us a sense of the divine and knowledge of yourself, so that we may do everything in fulfillment of your holy will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Prayer of Francis of Assisi, 1182-1226)

Daily Note

A hard heart is like a prison cell. The one who suffers the most is the one who cannot forgive or ask for forgiveness! “Repentance does not come from God – it is not forced upon anyone. Repentance comes from the heart, the center of all my decisions. Jesus invites us to his banquet, we need only to attend. God knows miracles will never be enough. Not even the resurrection was enough. Not even coming down from the cross would have been enough. We are stubborn. We talk about donkeys being stubborn, but nothing compares to a prideful man (or woman!)

The Path of Discipleship

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Daily Reflection – 7/13/2020

Sacred Scripture

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s foes will be those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it. “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me. He who receives a prophet because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward, and he who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. 42 And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.” And when Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities. (Matthew 10:34 – 11:1)

Reflection

Today’s Gospel can be startling on its face. It’s important to understand the narrative. Jesus begins by telling the disciples that the struggles of discipleship may even start within the family and friends that they love.

In a number of ways, the picture Jesus paints of discipleship is one that seems impossible to embrace let alone live. The thought of being at odds with mother, father, sister and brother would make one wonder why they would want to journey down that road.

In reality, disagreements about religion can stir trouble in families. What the Lord gives is not “peace at any price”, but a special kind of peace that comes from staying close to Jesus. If there is discord within our family, let it be for the sake of personal conscience, and not from any dominating or judgmental spirit. We are called to be sincere, not authoritarian. Basically, Jesus wants us to be welcoming people, thankful for what others may offer us. Even such a simple gift as a cup of cold water will be noted to one’s credit, in the book of life.

The two thoughts of loving God with all of our heart and taking care of those in need reinforce His teaching that no creature, not even our parents, can bring us to the fullness of life and happiness that comes only from God. God wants us to love Him, not because He needs our love but because we need Him. He is objective reality, and we must always move from the subjective to the objective if we are to possess the truth. He invites us to move our focus from the merely natural and passing to the supernatural and everlasting.

The heart of today’s readings is to keep God always at the center of our lives and not crowd him out with concerns about all the things going on in the world that bother us. When God is the center, everything else will follow, including our relationships with our families and friends, and our prayer life will continue to grow. If we can keep our focus on Jesus each day, then we are living out His love.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, following you demands my all, and at times it seems that I do not have the strength to give what you ask. Help me to stay close to you in prayer and in the sacraments so as to have the grace to live the standard of love and generosity that you ask.”

Daily Note

By focusing on our relationship with God, there is a reward that flows to all of those we love. In this way, Jesus shows that he is not calling us to a love of God that excludes others. The standard of placing God first does not exclude love for mother or father, sister or brother. Once we love God as he deserves, we will learn to love others as they truly deserve. In fact, we merit the vision of the God we cannot see by loving the neighbor we do see.