Faith + Trust + Obedience

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Daily Reflection – 11/11/19

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to his disciples, “Things that cause sin will inevitably occur, but woe to the person through whom they occur. It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he wrongs you seven times in one day and returns to you seven times saying, ‘I am sorry,’ you should forgive him.” And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” The Lord replied, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to (this) mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. ( Luke 17: 1-6)

Reflection

What’s the driving force in your life?  Jesus speaks of two forces at work in our lives — the power of temptation to sin and the power of faith to overcome obstacles.  The scriptures warn us about the snare or enticement to go astray and to do what is evil.  “Keep me from the trap which they have laid for me, and from the snares of evildoers! “(Psalm 141:9)  The Jews held that it was an unforgivable sin to teach another to sin. If we teach another to sin, he in turn may teach still another, until a train of sin is set in motion with no foreseeable end. Jesus warns his disciples of the terrible responsibility that they must set no stumbling block in the way of another, that is, not give offense or bad example that might lead another to sin. The young in faith are especially vulnerable to the bad example of those who should be passing on the faith.

While Jesus warns against the sin of bad example and scandal, he also demonstrates the power of faith for overcoming temptation and obstacles. What did Jesus mean when he said that our faith can move trees and mountains as well (see Matt.17:20; Mark 11:23)? The term “mountain remover” was used for someone who could solve great problems and difficulties. Don’t we often encounter challenges and difficulties which seem beyond our power to handle? What appears impossible to human power is possible to those who believe in God’s power. Faith is a gift freely given by God to help us know God personally, to understand his truth, and to live in the power of his love. God expects more from us than we can do by ourselves.  Faith in God is the key for removing obstacles and difficulties which keep us from doing his will. We are his servants, and he is ever ready to work through us and in us for his glory. For faith to be effective it must be linked with trust and obedience — an active submission to God and a willingness to do whatever he commands. Do you trust in God’s grace and power to resist temptation and to overcome obstacles in doing his will?

Prayer of The Day

“Lord, help me in my weakness and increase my trust in you and in your power to resist temptation.   Give me the grace and strength to choose what is right and to set a good example for others, especially to those who are young in the faith.”

Daily Note

How is it going for you with your life of community, with your life of forgiveness? Have other people hurt you? Have you hurt other people? Do you find it hard to forgive and seek reconciliation? Do you take the initiative to restore a good relationship, or do you just sit back and stew in your juices? When you see a brother or sister in Christ going off track, do you just ignore it and block it out of your mind? Or do you do the risky thing and try to help that brother to come to repentance? You see, our failure to pursue forgiveness and reconciliation and repentance and restoration–this leads to bitterness, broken relationships, and conflicts in our family and in the church. And if you just stay within yourself and your own resources that you can muster up on your own, that will always be the case.

 

 

 

How Much Is He Worth ?

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Daily Reflection – 11/8/19

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to his disciples, “A rich man had a steward who was reported to him for squandering his property. He summoned him and said, ‘What is this I hear about you? Prepare a full account of your stewardship, because you can no longer be my steward.’ The steward said to himself, ‘What shall I do, now that my master is taking the position of steward away from me? I am not strong enough to dig and I am ashamed to beg. I know what I shall do so that, when I am removed from the stewardship, they may welcome me into their homes.’ He called in his master’s debtors one by one. To the first he said, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ He replied, ‘One hundred measures of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note. Sit down and quickly write one for fifty.’ Then to another he said, ‘And you, how much do you owe?’ He replied, ‘One hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Here is your promissory note; write one for eighty.’ And the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently. For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.”( Luke 16:1-8)

Reflection

The teachers I remember most have always been those who have taught me that we can be serious about what we’re learning while keeping a sense of humor at the same time. A great deal of Jesus’ effectiveness as a preacher comes from his being able to teach very serious things, and perhaps keep a serious face while telling people something rather funny.

Now why would Jesus be telling a parable like this unless he wanted to draw out something serious from something totally ridiculous? And the Jewish rabbis, from time to time, did in fact use humor whenever they wanted to make a very serious point. That perhaps is what Jesus is doing in the gospel.

They were, after all, typical men of the world, who have given all their energy to achieving money and the good life. They were what Jesus calls the “children of this world”. And we are told that if we, his followers, would only show the same dedication and resolve in pursuing goodness, we could achieve so much more! And neither is he telling us that wealth is bad or that we should neglect our worldly affairs. He is, however, telling us to regard things in the proper perspective; and that while some of us find ourselves having to actively pursue the treasures of this world, we should just as eagerly pursue the treasures of heaven.

Behind the humor of our gospel today then, are lessons Jesus would want us to seriously think about: If only we were as eager and ingenious in our attempts to attain goodness as the rascals in the gospel are in attaining money and comfort, we would all be better persons. If only we would give as much attention to things which concern our souls as we do the things which concern our business, we would be much better men and women. And If only we would desire God as eagerly as we sometimes desire material wealth, we wouldn’t only be wealthy, we would be truly wealthy. For we will possess wealth that “no moth can destroy, no rust can corrode, and no thief can ever steal”.

Prayer of The Day

God of power and mercy,
May we live the faith we profess
and trust your promise of eternal life.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Daily Note

You cannot serve God and money. Jesus is very clear in his affirmation: No servant can be the slave of two masters; he will either hate the first and love the second, or be attached to the first and despise the second. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money”. Each one of us should make a choice, and ask himself/herself: “Whom do I put in the first place in my life: God or money? It is not a question of a choice made only with the head, but of a very concrete choice of life which includes attitudes.

 

Actions Are Never Neutral

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Daily Reflection – 11/7/19

Sacred Scripture

Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So he told them this parable: “Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders and rejoices. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. “Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”( Luke 15: 1-10)

Reflection

The reason that the shepherd rejoiced when he found his lost sheep, and the woman rejoiced when she found her lost coin, is because they regained something that was valuable to them.  We are like that to God.  Our souls are the most precious thing in the universe to Him.  He loves us much more than we love our own family members and friends.  It hurts Him when we stray from love.  On the surface it may seem like everything is humming along smoothly in our life.  We’ve got everything under control.  But deep inside our hearts are a different matter.  If we do not love first and foremost, then we have strayed from God and strayed from the essence of Christianity.

One other point worth noting about today’s gospel, is that the shepherd and the woman in the parables both called their friends and neighbors to come celebrate with them, on finding what they had lost.  Love is a communal thing.  Our actions affect the entire Body of Christ.  When one of us gravely sins, it affects the entire church, as was the case with the priests convicted of the sexual abuse of minors.  It affected the whole church.  The opposite is also true though.  When one of us grows in holiness, this also affects the entire church.  Remember Mother Theresa?  Saint Paul II?  Their holiness affected the church throughout the world, but also many others outside of our church as well.

A thought for the day might be to remember this.  That our actions are not neutral.  We either build up one another, and the entire church in the process, or we tear others down like Paul before he came to know Christ.  In the long run, these small everyday actions build up into something beautiful for the Lord Jesus, or not.

Prayer of The Day

Father above we thank you for the gift of this day. Guide us in all that we do, and glory be to you for all that we have and all that we are. Lord we pray for all those who are lost in this world and who do not know your love. May they be brought to the joy and peace that can only be found in you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 Daily Note

Many times we view helping others and helping to find others as an inconvenience. Thank goodness that God does not think or act this way. When we are lost, He help us along and is continuously allowing grace to flow in our lives so that we can be found. Of course, we do have to cooperate with that grace. And when those who are lost are found, we know that there will be great rejoicing in heaven!

 

 

His Banquet Is The True Feast

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Daily Reflection – 11/5/19

Sacred Scripture

One of those at table with Jesus said to him, “Blessed is the one who will dine in the Kingdom of God.” He replied to him, “A man gave a great dinner to which he invited many. When the time for the dinner came, he dispatched his servant to say to those invited, ‘Come, everything is now ready.’ But one by one, they all began to excuse themselves. The first said to him, ‘I have purchased a field and must go to examine it; I ask you, consider me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have purchased five yoke of oxen and am on my way to evaluate them; I ask you, consider me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have just married a woman, and therefore I cannot come.’ The servant went and reported this to his master. Then the master of the house in a rage commanded his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in here the poor and the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ The servant reported, ‘Sir, your orders have been carried out and still there is room.’ The master then ordered the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedgerows and make people come in that my home may be filled. For, I tell you, none of those men who were invited will taste my dinner.'” Luke 14: 15-24)

Reflection

The invitation to our feast is now. The feast is Heaven. The invitation has already been delivered, and now, Christ is only waiting to see if we will come. There is room for everyone in Heaven, and we must make the journey here on earth to get there. It is not a physical journey but a spiritual one.

We do it through repentance and acceptance of what Christ has told us. The people that were originally invited are those who hear Christ’s invitation but are too busy with their worldly affairs to bother coming. So many people today are so caught up in their worldly tasks that they do not bother to live a Christian life or even to care. Their life is about material things. Unfortunately, those things do not last very long, and they only leave emptiness.

When we follow Christ we will have that peace that this world does not understand. Yes, we will suffer hardships, but we will be truly at peace, because we know who we are and where were going. The master in the house invited all people, even the crippled and blind and lame, because Christ loves us all. He has enabled each and every one of us to be able to eat at the Heavenly feast one day. But we must strive to live as Christians in a very un-Christian world. Are we up to the invitation, the calling, the mission?

Today Jesus is inviting us to his house.  Jesus wants to sit at table with us and talk with us.  Jesus wants to break bread and share wine with each of us.  God lavishes his grace upon each one of us to draw us closer to himself and he invites each of us to his banquet that we may share more deeply in his joy. How will you (and I) respond to his invitation?  Will we also make excuses for not being able to take time to dine with him?  Or will we joyfully accept his invitation and enjoy a long, leisurely meal with Jesus?  What a wonderful opportunity we have been gifted with today.  However, the question remains: Will we accept Jesus’ invitation?  What will be your response?

Are you ready to feast at the Lord’s banquet table?

Prayer of The Day

Lord Jesus, you withhold no good thing from us and you lavish us with the treasures of heaven. Help me to seek your kingdom first and to lay aside anything that might hinder me from doing your will.

Daily Note

This is certainly an invitation of grace – undeserved, unmerited favor and kindness. But this invitation also contains a warning for those who refuse it or who approach the wedding feast unworthily. Grace is a free gift, but it is also an awesome responsibility

 

Climbing Down From The Tree

Image result for free photo of Luke 19: 1-10

Daily Reflection – 11/4/19

Sacred Scripture

He entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.” Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.” (Luke 19: 1-10)

Reflection

Zacchaeus had heard about this great man who was coming his way. Interest had been sparked, but he was still a by-stander like many today who have heard the word and not lived it. He could have easily stayed among the crowd and have not got the chance to even see him – but he chose to go, quite literally, above and beyond. He got out of his comfort zone for Christ and was rewarded with the gift of purity of heart

Just as Zacchaeus searched Jesus out, so must we. Why? Because of the gift that awaits us. As far as Jesus is concerned – as the Gospel shows – no one is unworthy of, or far from, his thoughts. No one is insignificant. He loves all of us with a special love; for him all of us are important: you are important! God counts on you for what you are, not for what you possess. He doesn’t care whether you are stylish or not; wealthy or not; he cares about you! In his eyes, you are precious, and your value is inestimable.

And the other side of that gift is that God remains faithful, even obstinate, in his love for us. The fact is, he loves us even more than we love ourselves. He believes in us even more than we believe in ourselves. He is always “cheering us on”; he is our biggest fan. He is there for us, waiting with patience and hope, even when we turn in on ourselves and brood over our troubles and past injuries. But negativity or being down on ourselves closes doors and prevents us from getting up and starting over. God, on the other hand, is hopelessly hopeful! He believes that we can always get up, and he hates to see us glum and gloomy. Because we are always his beloved sons and daughters.

Jesus is saying to come down quickly because he wants to stay at your house today, Jesus wants to stay with you. Is your heart ready to receive Jesus? We see from Zacchaeus that just the slightest turning toward Jesus is rewarded many times more by Jesus. We may sometimes put limits on God’s goodness and love and mercy like the people of Jericho but God’s goodness and love and mercy toward us is infinite if we just come down off our tree and invite Jesus to our heart.

Prayer of The Day

Lord, I thank you for loving me; help me to be in love with my own life!” Not with my faults, that need to be corrected, but with life itself, which is a great gift, for it is a time to love and to be loved.

Daily Note

Will you come down from your tree, abandon sin, and invite Jesus to your heart? Jesus knows you are seeking him today, like Zacchaeus, and Jesus is looking at you, saying to you he wants to stay with you. Will you, like Zacchaeus, abandon anything that may be keeping you apart from Jesus, and then enjoy even more of Jesus in your life? Jesus wants to meet you today. Jesus doesn’t want you to come here just to fulfill a Sunday obligation or simply because you know Jesus wants you here, but Jesus wants to meet you here and stay with you for the rest of this week. Will you come down from your tree, abandon sin, and invite Jesus to your heart and allow him stay with you for the rest of this week?

 

 

The Manifesto of Jesus Christ

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Daily  Refection – 11/1/19

Sacred Scripture

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. He began to teach them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.( Matthew 5:1-12a)

Reflection

Jesus boldly proclaimed in the Sermon on the Mount a fresh, new roadmap to true happiness and blessedness. All of us have a deep desire to be happy and live in peace, and we may have thought that we had it all figured out. But Jesus’ ways are the very opposite of the ways of the world.

This is Christ’s manifesto, telling us what members of the Kingdom of heaven should be like. Above all, it tells us what Jesus Himself was like.

The Beatitudes express the meaning of discipleship. What the Beatitudes mean cannot be expressed in purely theoretical terms; it is proclaimed in the life and suffering, and in the mysterious joy, of the disciple who gives himself over completely to follow the Lord.

The first four beatitudes concern those who are in different ways poor. Not that poverty is in itself a blessing. But there is a danger with wealth, in that the rich can become self-satisfied and self- sufficient. They can feel that material success can satisfy all their needs. They can think they can manage very well without God. 

Whatever hardships the poor may suffer they don’t have that problem. Instead, in their need they are more likely to turn to God, knowing that He has a special concern for them. In that they are really blessed. So too were those who mourned. This applies both to us as we repent for our sins and confidently seek God’s forgiveness, and also to us as we mourn the death of our loved ones. We are blessed in the comforting hope of the resurrection.

The last four beatitudes are about those who defend the rights of the needy and poor. Again, these first describe Christ’s work and mission, which He expects us, His followers, to imitate. Like Him, we must show mercy and compassion to those in need of forgiveness. That’s a condition of our being forgiven. Like Jesus, we must work to bring about God’s justice or righteousness. To achieve this we will need to be single-minded or pure in heart. In all this we will be God’s true sons and daughters, sharing in the work of the Son of God, Who lived and died to bring His peace to a world, torn apart by sin. With Jesus we are to be ministers of reconciliation, making peace between God and man, through our repentance and His forgiveness.

Jesus warns us of opposition if we follow His way of life. But if we stand by Him, He will welcome us into His Kingdom. THAT is the greatest of all blessings.

Prayer of The Day

Dear Lord Jesus, You have called me to be holy. Enlighten my mind today to know where true happiness lies. Grant that I may desire only this true happiness and reject all deceiving imitations that the world throws my way.

 Daily Note

The Church, in declaring a preferential option for the poor, stands with God in declaring its special concern for the vulnerable and the weak. And so, we are faced with a double challenge: to relieve the plight of the poor and to be poor with them – to give up our quest for power and material possessions and rely on God ourselves. No wonder St. Paul tells us that we are those whom the world sometimes considers absurd.

 

 

Choosing The Light

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Daily Reflection – 10/31/19

Sacred Scripture

At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me, ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’ Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.'”( Luke 13:31-35)

Reflection

We see in this passage two forms of power out work. Herod leans on political force and military might. As is often the case, violence is the first resource of the powerful. Jesus on the other hand chooses a different path.

Jesus’ response is not one of hatred or animosity. It is not one of fear or polarization, an entrenchment back into the security of our own social grouping. Jesus doesn’t react by arming himself or rallying the troops. No, instead Jesus enters into a moment of lament driven by compassion. Jesus’ love for Jerusalem and all her inhabitants meets the grief of what it means to reject the one whom God has sent.

In the United States today, fear is the fuel of the day: fear of those who are different, fear of death, fear of our own shortcomings, fear that our way is threatened and fear that the things we value will be taken away from us. How are we — in the face of religious differences, cultural upheaval, mass migration, communal crises over affordable housing, and violent conflicts — to live? Do we turn our faces back toward Galilee? Do we “stand our ground” and fight? Or do we embody the likeness of Christ, who lamented over the world’s brokenness and was moved to compassion.

Today Jesus is saying these loving words to us.  He also longs to gather us to himself, close to his heart.  However, we need to ask ourselves: Am I willing to allow Jesus to gather me to himself?  Or do I stay at a distance from Jesus?  The good news is that even if we keep our distance from Jesus, he still walks with us every day and every moment!  Is there any love?  What a wondrous gift is ours!  The question is: Will we reciprocate by loving Jesus and daily walking by his side? Or will we follow the darker side of life – the road that leads not to eternal peace but rather to perpetual discord of soul and spirit? Listen to your heart, feel its peace and you will walk with Him.

Prayer of The Day

Lord Jesus, in you I place all my trust and hope.  May I wholly desire you and your will above all else and long for the heavenly city Jerusalem as my true home and refuge.  Fill my heart with love and mercy for others that I may boldly witness to the truth and joy of the gospel through word and example, both to those who accept it and to those who oppose it.”

Daily Note

What does it mean in a time of violence, pain, and loss, that Jesus’ response is not to rush to “solve and answer” the problems that plague us, but that he takes the time to lament, to cry, and to feel compassion? What does it mean for us today that Jesus’ compassion extends to even his enemies?