Truly Now, Don’t You Want To Rid Yourself of Baggage?

Daily Reflection – 9/13/2022

Faith Series

Sacred Scripture

A certain Pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him, and he entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. Now there was a sinful woman in the city who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee. Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment, she stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to bathe his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said. “Two people were in debt to a certain creditor; one owed five hundred days’ wages and the other owed fifty. Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both. Which of them will love him more?” Simon said in reply, “The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven.” He said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet, but she has bathed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she anointed my feet with ointment. So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” The others at table said to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” But he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (Luke 7:36-50)

Reflection

Today’s scripture is replete with several messages. For me, this a beautiful story of a hand extended in love met by a heart filled with love.

The “back story” of course begins with how rude Simon had been to Jesus from the time he entered his home. Notice the signs of respect that were not given to Jesus, as a respected guest in his host’s home. He was here judging Jesus.

But the sinful woman has heard of Jesus. She has probably heard his teaching. She has heard his gracious words of God’s love and forgiveness and healing and restoration.Her self-image is tattered and ragged. She is shunned by the best people and used and abused by the worst. Yes, she is still broken, but now she can see light and hope beyond.

Jesus, the ultimate source of love, sees her heart and recognizes her need for forgiveness. He doesn’t judge. He doesn’t put her in a category or attach a label. He recognizes a person who needs forgiveness so that she can move on with her life.

Our Lord’s loving treatment of both the woman and of Simon displays a remarkable balance of kindness. He carefully avoids the opposite extremes of condemnation and indifference to others’ sins. The reason Our Lord is able to offer hope and consolation to the repentant sinner as well as to invite the proud with a gentle call to repentance is that Christ will die for both. In this we see Christ’s goodness. He comes to save us all, but we must choose to accept his goodness.

Christ stands before each of us, and offers us his friendship. The more we accept His offer, the more we are transformed to become what we are meant to be. His offer of friendship is accepted by opening our hearts to allow Jesus in without fear or obstacles.

 Accepting Jesus’ friendship empowers us to do what others would never dream possible for us. We are asked to put aside our judgement and labels. We are called to be God’s hands now, hands to comfort and welcome the sinner or someone who may have offended us; we are God’s heart now—hearts to love and forgive and refuse to hang on to bitterness. The divine within us calls us to understand one another so we can forgive and then be free to love. A contemporary poet puts the question to us with these words: “Is there anyone we wouldn’t love if only we knew their story?” “Is there anyone we wouldn’t forgive if only we knew their story?” Accepting Jesus as our friend, frees us from baggage of the past, so that we can live the life of Jesus fully now.

Prayer of The Day

Lord Jesus, your grace is sufficient for me. Fill my heart with love and gratitude for the mercy you have shown to me and give me joy and freedom to love and serve others with kindness and respect.”

Daily Note

“Your sins are forgiven. Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” Those last three words are just as important as the others. Go in peace. They express the great gift of forgiveness – freedom, the freedom to be whole, to be at peace with oneself and one’s community. We’re no longer bound by guilt or shame; we’re no longer bound by holding on to the righteousness of someone else having hurt us. Henri Nouwen calls it “the freedom to move on.”

Praying With Our Fingers Crossed

Daily Reflection – 9/12/2022

Sacred Scripture

When Jesus had finished all his words to the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave who was ill and about to die, and he was valuable to him. When he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and save the life of his slave. They approached Jesus and strongly urged him to come, saying, “He deserves to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation and he built the synagogue for us.”  And Jesus went with them, but when he was only a short distance from the house, the centurion sent friends to tell him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof. Therefore, I did not consider myself worthy to come to you; but say the word and let my servant be healed. For I too am a person subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, Go, and he goes; and to another, Come here, and he comes; and to my slave, Do this, and he does it.” When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him and, turning, said to the crowd following him, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” When the messengers returned to the house, they found the slave in good health. (Luke 7: 1-10)

Reflection

The centurion in today’s scripture gives faith a whole new meaning.

There were two components of the centurion’s words . . . faith and humility. He loved his slave and was desperate for help. There was no doctor who could heal him. But he heard of Jesus the miracle worker and knew he needed his help. He had faith that Jesus would.

Even though he was a powerful centurion, he didn’t think he was worthy to approach Jesus himself, and so he sent the powerful local Jewish leaders. The centurion came to Jesus with humility and acknowledging His authority by faith. 

What even is faith? How does it affect our relationship with Jesus? Do we have that total faith in God’s presence within us? The answer is “yes.” Do we live that faith? By most standards, we don’t.

In fact, while faith is a gift from God, most often it is not alive in us. It does not permeate our thoughts, our words and our actions.

Most people pray but often it’s not with expectant faith. Many pray with their fingers crossed, hoping but not fully accepting the fact that the Lord will answer.

The reality is that the Lord, through the Holy Spirit, does answer but we get in the way. We forget that we truly have to” let go and let God.”

Then what do we need to do to ignite that faith?

We need to make the first move. If we can allow Jesus to touch our hearts, then we can build a legacy of hope, not just for ourselves but for others as well. Like the centurion we create our own house of faith for Jesus to enter if we humble ourselves and invite Him in. It’s then the hope begins to grow and multiply.

The centurion had enough faith in Jesus that he said Jesus only needed to say a word and his servant would be healed. Jesus then turned to the crowd following Him and said, “Never have I found such faith in all of Israel”

Whatever you’re going through today, this week, this month, trust and believe that God sees you. He knows what you’re going through, and He longs to help you.

Open your heart and, with centurion-like faith, allow God inside. You don’t need any messengers to do it for you. Call out directly to Him and believe by faith He can do far more than you can ever think or imagine. I assure you; He can meet your need.

Prayer of The Day

“Take my heart captive to your merciful love and truth and set me free to love and serve you always with joy and trust in the power of your saving word. May your love grow in me that I may always seek to love and serve others generously for their sake just as you have generously laid down your life for my sake.”

Daily Note

Faith cannot be proven. It is a gift only God can give. But we can be confident that God wants to give it. Often when we think about people we love who do not believe, we say, “It is my hope and prayer that someday they will find God”. The good news is that this is not necessary. The people we love do not need to find God, because we have a God who can find them.

Do You Speak The Language That The Deaf Hear and The Blind See?

Daily reflection – 9/9/2022

Sacred Scripture

Jesus told his disciples a parable: “Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? No disciple is superior to the teacher; but when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,’ when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own eye? You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye.”( Luke 6:39-42)

Reflection

Christ has a way of asking questions that tap gently (or sometimes knock heavily) upon our heart’s door and open it to deep ponderings. “Can the blind person guide a blind person?” he asked his disciples. Of course, both will fall into a pit. But what does the deeper “knocking” of that question suggest to us? Perhaps it is an invitation to ask ourselves: “Who is leading me?”

 Are we being led by our own blindness or that of others? Christ wants to be our eyes. He wants us to learn to see what he sees in others, in circumstances, in our own selves, in God’s action in life, and in the world.

To do that, to be that, we must recognize that our tendency to criticize others is a deflection of not looking in the spiritual mirror of conscience. We see others’ faults much more clearly, sometimes, than we see our own. He wants us to take out the forest of redwoods from our own eyes so that we can see clearly and afterward help our neighbor to address their own problems.

In all of this, he is trying to help us see things as he does, to see things as they really are. That’s why there’s a sentence that seems out of place. After talking about the blind leading the blind and before speaking about planks and specks, he says, “No disciple is superior to the teacher; but when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher.”

Jesus wants us to be fully trained so that we might become like him. To do that, we need to see everything as he does. We need to view everything with the eyes of faith. And for that, we need to remove all of the obstacles that impair our vision.

It is only then that we can live a life of kindness. For kindness guided every step of Jesus.

Mark Twain called kindness a language that the deaf can hear, and the blind can read. What is kindness? It is the ability to understand another person, sensing the burdens which that person must carry, and using our own resources and power to ease those burdens. Kindness is in reality a forceful power than can save and heal.

We are talented responsible people. From day to day we live, doing the things which our lives require of us. How important is it for us not to undervalue the importance of kindness? When was the last time you were kind? You make decisions with your spouse, give advice to your spouse. But when was the last time you tried to understand what was going on inside of your spouse? When did you see what he or she needed from you and tried to meet that need? To do so would be an act of kindness.

You provide for your children and give them guidance. When was the last time you tried to recognize their insecurities and take steps to assure them of their goodness, their value and their ability to succeed? To do so would be an act of kindness.

We should not forget the power that comes from kindness. Kindness is indeed the language that the deaf can hear and the blind can read. Kindness can cut through hypocrisy and posturing. It can eliminate indifference and selfishness.

This week, then, as we work and play, as we organize and create, as we advise and guide others, let us not forget to follow the example of Jesus. Let us recognize the importance of understanding others, of sensing what they need, of hearing their cries for help. Let us not forget to do the kind thing.

Prayer of The Day

“O Father, give us the humility which realizes its ignorance, admits its mistakes, recognizes its need, welcomes advice, accepts rebuke. Help us always to praise rather than to criticize, to sympathize rather than to discourage, to build rather than to destroy, and to think of people at their best rather than at their worst. This we ask for thy name’s sake.” (Prayer of William Barclay, 20th century)

Daily Note

Jesus states a heavenly principle we can stake our lives on: what you give to others (and how you treat others) will return to you (Mark 4:24). The Lord knows our faults and he sees all, even the imperfections and sins of the heart which we cannot recognize in ourselves. Like a gentle father and a skillful doctor he patiently draws us to his seat of mercy and removes the cancer of sin which inhabits our hearts. Do you trust in God’s mercy and grace? Ask the Lord to flood your heart with his loving-kindness and mercy that you may only have room for charity, forbearance, and kindness towards your neighbor.

How Hatred Betrays The Words of Christ

Daily Reflection – 9/8/2022

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to his disciples: “To you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. To the person who strikes you on one cheek, offer the other one as well, and from the person who takes your cloak, do not withhold even your tunic. Give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same. If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, and get back the same amount. But rather, love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as also your Father is merciful. Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.”( Luke 6:27-38)

Reflection

Jesus’ words in today’s scripture about loving our enemies, doing good to those who hate us, blessing those who curse us, praying for those who mistreat us, turning the other cheek, are, for many people, difficult to inculcate and follow.

When someone hates you, you have two choices: to hate back or to refuse to hate. Jesus clearly asks us to refuse to hate, to love our enemies, to do to others as we would have them do to us. That’s his teaching. But it is clear that many people do not follow his teaching. They may feel that the golden rule is foolish or impractical. Therefore, they decide to return hate with hate, to return hurt with hurt. Their golden rule is: “Do to others as they have done to you.”

The results of this approach are easy to find. Look at the newspapers. Watch the media. Look at the situation in the Middle East, in Eastern Europe, in India and Pakistan: “You hurt us, we’ll hurt you.” Look at the retribution that characterizes the gang violence in our cities. Recognize the number of families in our society who are addressing their disputes with handguns. “We’re just getting even,” they say. But of course, it never amounts to getting even. Violence grows into an escalating cycle of destruction and hatred.

Look at politics around the world including the United States. Civil discourse is absent. Neighbor is set against neighbor. Words of rancor, of meanness, of retribution are splattered across the internet, social media and the world of twitter. And very often, they come from people who claim to be followers of Christ!!!

So, I must ask these questions. How is “getting even” affecting your relationships? Are you satisfied with the way hurting and hating back is shaping your life? Do you find that holding on to resentments with your family or friends is working for you? Are you satisfied with waiting for others to suffer as you have suffered? In short, are you satisfied with the kind of world that emerges when we respond with hate and hurt, when we do to others as they have done to us? Most of us would admit that such a world is a disaster.

Hatred is a moral cancer. Just as cancer spreads and ultimately destroys its host, so too does hatred. It slowly affects every thought and every action. Make no mistake about it. It is evil and a blaspheme against God. It destroys a person and a person’s relationship with God.

Now let’s be clear: when we talk about loving our enemy, when we talk about forgiving those who hurt us, we are not denying our right to defend ourselves. We are not advising that we accept abuse and manipulation. We are saying that when we respond to our enemy, we choose to do so in a way that breaks the cycle of violence rather than feeding it. We choose not to hate because we know that hating will only lessen our life and endanger our world.

We need to understand that hatred is a product of hurt. Whether from injustice, discrimination, abuse, offense, control or all the “isms” that are causing personal pain today, they are hurts. The bystanders condescendingly state that it is perceived and not real. However, whether the injustice is real or perceived, the hurt it causes is genuine. Rather than formulating a convincing argument to crush hatred, we need to discern hatred from its source, suffering and hurtfulness. We can only find the source of hatred and bring healing when we heal the brokenness and hurt from continued pain in this broken world. “We are Christ’s ambassadors to a hateful world, as we are lovingly reconciling people to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20).

If a world of increasing violence and hatred sickens you, then maybe it is time to follow what the Lord commands. Maybe it is time to love our enemy, to forgive the one who hurts us, to do to others as we would have them do to us.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, your love brings freedom and pardon. Fill me with your Holy Spirit and set my heart free with your merciful love that nothing may make me lose my temper, ruffle my peace, take away my joy, nor make me bitter towards anyone.”

Daily Note

What makes Christians different and what makes Christianity distinct from any other religion? It is grace – treating others, not as they deserve, but as God wishes them to be treated – with loving-kindness and mercy. God is good to the unjust as well as the just. His love embraces saint and sinner alike. God seeks our highest good and teaches us to seek the greatest good of others, even those who hate and abuse us. Our love for others, even those who are ungrateful and selfish towards us, must be marked by the same kindness and mercy which God has shown to us. It is easier to show kindness and mercy when we can expect to benefit from doing so. How much harder when we can expect nothing in return.

This Is The Character of His Followers. Are you ?

Daily Reflection – 9/7/2022

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.

Your Part In Salvation History. Yes, You!

Daily Reflection – 9/6/2022

Sacred Scripture

Jesus departed to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God. When day came, he called his disciples to himself, and from them he chose Twelve, whom he also named Apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called a Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. And he came down with them and stood on a stretch of level ground. A great crowd of his disciples and a large number of the people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and even those who were tormented by unclean spirits were cured. Everyone in the crowd sought to touch him because power came forth from him and healed them all. (Luke 6:12-19)

Reflection

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

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. A way is to be journeyed and experienced.

 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 with him, doing everything with  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?

Start By Admitting You Need Healing Then Be Opened By His Love

Daily Reflection – 9/5/2022

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

The scribes and Pharisees wanted to catch Jesus in the act of breaking the Sabbath ritual so they might accuse him of breaking God’s law. But Jesus shows the Pharisees that by wrapping themselves up in the letter of the law they were blinded as to why the law was written.

He wanted them to see the person. He was saying, “Look, while you come up with your three steps to deciding whether you can heal on the Sabbath or not, here is a real, live human being who is hurting and in need of your help, and all you can do is sit there and debate about him like he was a log blocking the road. He’s a person!” He cares about the pregnant teenager. He cares about the prisoner. He cares about the homeless. He cares about the drug addict. He cares about the person.

He cares about you and me, our hurts, our worries, our struggles. And He wants to see each and every one of us healed and delivered from whatever has us in bondage. Whether it is a struggle with pride, with pornography, or materialism and greed, or tirades of anger, or lying, or stealing, or overeating.

When someone else struggles with their marriage, or their job, or their kids, we tend to sit back and say, “Well, if they had just done this or that, they would not have had the issue.” Oh, how we love the blinders of being judgmental.

You know what? Those are the questions and comments of Pharisees. They had all the answers, but none of the love. And sometimes we get caught in that trap. We measure our Christianity by how many times we go to Church, or how many Church projects we accomplish, or how well we can quote scripture. Nothing wrong with any of those but they are not what Jesus meant by doing good.

We are not doing good when we think we are doing good. When we start focusing on the law, we miss the people that the law was supposed to help. Jesus says later that the entire law can be summarized with one word: love. Love God, and love others. If we do that, we are fulfilling the entire law. Look at people through the loving eyes of Christ.

We don’t progress through life on a gentle slope that will end with us somehow adding Jesus to our lives. The gentle slope we begin life on is most often tilted in the other direction –we show that our hostility is growing with each and every wrong thought we entertain and each and every wrong deed we perform.

Are we like Jesus who always seek to do good even to those who persecuted Him? That is the challenge that confronts us, we who profess to follow the greatest man who ever walked this earth.

Prayer of The Day

Lord, you can see my heart, as you read the hearts of the Pharisees. I also have a tendency to be critical and not always constructive. Make my heart be more like yours, desiring good, being generous despite the criticisms that might come my way.

Daily Note

(In preparing this commentary, I came across the following reflection, written by Amy Carmichael and titled “Calvary Love.”)

“IF I belittle those who I am called to serve, talk of their weak points in contrast perhaps with what I think of as my strong points; if I adopt a superior attitude, forgetting [that God made us different and He has given me all that I have], then I know nothing of Calvary love.

IF I take offense easily, if I am content to continue in cool unfriendliness, though friendship be possible, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

IF I feel bitterly towards those who condemn me, as it seems to me, unjustly, forgetting that if they knew me as I know myself, they would condemn me much more, then I know nothing of Calvary love.

Will You Step Up And Play Your Part?

Daily Reflection – 9/2/2022

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

Today’s Gospel details the call of Jesus to Peter and some of the disciples. They were struck by His teaching and they were struck by the miracle he performed.

But this Gospel is not simply about a famous moment 2000 years ago by the Sea of Galilee. It’s about right now, in the defining moments of our daily lives. God is always touching us and calling us—warts, weakness and all—through Jesus, with his words, “Follow me.”

God comes not only in washing our nets but in washing our dishes and waiting to pick up the kids from soccer practice; He calls us in the people we love and in people who drive us crazy, even those we call our enemies. He calls us to hear his voice, to bring the compassion and justice of God to a world that needs it desperately.

God’s calling to us continues to this very minute as you read this reflection. It is not an invitation! It is not “hey, y’all wanna come over here?” God’s call throughout history is one of command; sometimes subtle and gentle and sometimes violent.

Sometimes that call is to radical vocation and sometimes it is a call to feed God’s sheep right where we are, in our families, at our work, in our church and in our communities.

God’s call is not a single event, it is a lifelong process filled with much failure punctuated with occasional bright points of success.

Look around on this tired, beat-up world. Beset by the pandemic, rattled by inflation, its future clouded by the unknown. But always there is hope. Hope that it can and will be made better. But that will not happen if each of us do not recognize that it is time that Christ take priority in our lives.

Not a political party. Not one issue about which we are passionate. Rather it is about the issue of humankind and its relation to Christ. That is not something decided by an election. Rather it is defined by our self- election to a group of people whose lives are defined by Jesus Christ and ALL that he teaches. It’s defined by Jesus Christ talking primacy in our life – not a person or a party. It’s defined by our obedience to His word and our willingness to recognize that our voice, our touch and our presence can be a drop of love which fills the heart of another to overflow in hope.

He calls us to recognize that each of us has a part to play in the drama of life. It is a part that we can take on easily. In the midst of uncertainty, each of is called to bring hope. There will be a better day, there will be a place in His kingdom. Stop now. Reflect on one thing. How can I be a person who radiates my love of God to others? How can I be a person who shares His love for me to others? How can I, in my small area, help others to walk in peace, with dignity, in His light.

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

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

Fishing With Jesus

Daily Reflection – 9/1/2022

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

Today’s Gospel details the call of Jesus to Peter and some of the disciples. They were struck by His teaching and they were struck by the miracle he performed.

But this Gospel is not simply about a famous moment 2000 years ago by the Sea of Galilee. It’s about right now, in the defining moments of our daily lives. God is always touching us and calling us—warts, weakness and all—through Jesus, with his words, “Follow me.”

He comes not only in worship, but in the frustration of hard work where we catch nothing, in the times where it seems we are sinking; God comes not only in washing our nets but in washing our dishes and waiting to pick up the kids from soccer practice; He calls us in the people we love and in people who drive us crazy, even those we call our enemies. He calls us to hear his voice, to bring the compassion and justice of God to a world that needs it desperately.

God’s calling to us continues to this very minute as you read this reflection. It is not an invitation! It is not “hey, y’all wanna come over here?” God’s call throughout history is one of command; sometimes subtle and gentle and sometimes violent.

Sometimes that call is to radical vocation and sometimes it is a call to feed God’s sheep right where we are, in our families, at our work, in our church and in our communities.

God’s call is not a single event, it is a lifelong process filled with much failure punctuated with occasional bright points of success.

Stop and reflect on this tired, beat up world. Beset by the pandemic, rattled by inflation, its future clouded by the unknown. But always there is hope. Hope that it can and will be made better. But that will not happen if each of us do not recognize that it is time that Christ take priority in our lives.

Not a political party. Not one issue about which we are passionate. Rather it is about the issue of humankind and its relation to Christ. That is not something decided by an election. Rather it is defined by our self- election to a group of people whose lives are defined by Jesus Christ and ALL that he teaches. It’s defined by Jesus Christ talking primacy in our life – not a person or a party. Its defined by our obedience to His word and our willingness to recognize that our voice, our touch and our presence can be a drop of love which fills the heart of another to overflow in hope.

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

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

But Are You Bringing Alive His Love for You ?

Daily Reflection – 8/31/2022

Sacred Scripture

After Jesus 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 Christ. 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

Today’s Gospel is one of the most tender passages in scripture. It always causes me to gulp.

Here was Jesus using His love to heal. He knew that His mission was to save them and us. He saved them through the power of His touch which healed their bodies and their minds. If you close your eyes, you can almost feel his gentleness, care and concern for those who were ill or suffering in any way.”  His hands were gentle, loving, and healing.

That is the beautiful thing about Jesus’s healing in today’s gospel.  He touched people.  He physically touched them.  This is such a basic human need.  Human beings need to be touched.  There is no human being who is excluded from this need. 

Too often, in our world, gentleness is often replaced by stridency. Voices are raised in anger. Divisions abound. Families are weakened because of political beliefs. Emotional barriers are raised separating friend from friend.

That’s not the way of Jesus Christ.

Jesus is love. No greater love is there than to give one’s life. He did that for you and me.

He did that to save you and me. He did that to show the sheer power of his love.

Now more than ever, we must hold on the meaning of that love. We were created by God and each one of us was given special talents so that we can serve His creation in that special way. These talents that we were given are meant to serve all people regardless of their faith, creed, political belief, race, tribe, social status or gender.

Each of us has been called to be His light to others. Many people have come to know that God exists, because of simple, personal acts of love, especially the human touch.  A smile, a hug, a handshake, some unexpected help, or a visit when they are sick can really make a difference in their lives.   Just someone that cares that they are sick, like Simon’s mother-in-law in today’s gospel, can mean all the difference in a person’s day and it can affect their life for a long time afterwards. 

Sometimes you have to look through the negativity, the bitterness, a person’s lifestyle, or major character flaws, and just love the person. 

That act of love causes more love. His love for us. His blessing of us for for acting in his name.

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?

Prayer of The Day

Lord Jesus Christ, you have all power to heal and to deliver. Set me free to serve you joyfully and to love and serve others generously. May nothing hinder me from giving myself wholly to you and to your service.

Daily Note

Disease literally means “not at ease.” Disease is disharmony, disturbances, dysfunction, derangement, delusions or disunity of the parts of the whole.

Demons in Judaism were supernatural beings with the power to cause harm to humans. We don’t know what demons are today; but we do that that they are and how some of they work. Demons always try to divide what God has put together. They divide the health of the body from the body. They divide the health of the spirit from the spirit. They divide love and incubate hate and bitterness.

Healing means restoration of the unity of the body, the mind, and the spirit. You and I have the power to heal through the gift of our love which supersedes everything.