Reflecting Him

A series of spiritual contemplations on the role of the Lord in our daily life

Do You Really Want The Answer?

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In Matthew 4: 18-22, we hear of how for Simon Peter, the humble fisherman from Galilee, this was the first day of the rest of his life. From this day on life became meaningful, purposeful, and fulfilling. On this day there was a revolution in his life.

This revolution had two ingredients: First, Christ had to knock Simon Peter out of his comfort zone. Second, Peter had to step into Christ’s comfort zone.

Jesus does his part masterfully. Jesus tells Simon Peter to “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” Now, Peter knew that you don’t catch fish in broad daylight, especially after a night without any catch at all. But Jesus just looks right at him, inviting him, challenging him: he is pushing Peter out of his comfort zone, into the deep water of the lake, and into the deep spiritual water of faith.

That’s the first ingredient in the revolution. Now comes the second ingredient. Peter actually obeys. He doesn’t obey because he understands. He doesn’t obey because he can figure it out. No. He obeys only for one reason: because Christ is the one issuing the command: “Master… at your command I will lower the nets.” Peter lets Jesus push him out of his own comfort zone.  That’s the formula for inner Christian revolution, the revolution that brings meaning to life.

It’s one thing to profess a belief  in Jesus Christ –  but the true question is how much do we put that faith into practice? Often we are content to have Jesus sit in our boat, to hear his teaching and feel the comfort of his presence. But when he asks something of us, when he pushes us out of our comfort zone, we resist. That’s why we get stuck in our Christian lives: stuck on this side of holiness, stuck with a mediocre happiness, stuck with empty nets.

The deepest and most serious drama in the life of every one of us is the decision we make on whether to say “Yes” or “No” to God. At a certain level we do say “Yes,” most of us. But then the question is, what difference does it make? You’ve got to get up tomorrow morning and it is another day. How will you face the day and how will you relate to people and what kind of life are you going to live in the midst of tomorrow’s events?  Do you really believe that you can come into Church on Sunday, profess to be in union with Christ, then on Monday become a racist, or not care that the marginalized in our society are growing, or even elect people to govern us whose values do not follow those of our faith? When you do that, there is only one person that doesn’t see the pretense. It’s the one staring back at you in the mirror.

But, the question remains: What kind of life style do we aim to develop in the midst of this world that seems to have gone amok? What good does it do to talk about being created for God if it doesn’t make a difference at breakfast tomorrow morning? You may have many demands and personal issues on your mind at the moment. But none of them is as important as the need to look at the specific, relevant direction that comes to us from Jesus Christ, and to reflect on it, seriously.

I want to suggest some specific examples of how to do this. One is very relevant and very down-to-earth. It also turns people off. I’m talking about the absolute need of prayer and meditation. Regularly, Jesus responded in this way to the need for spiritual refreshment, for focusing on God, for putting His life into perspective, for reviewing priorities and values. We all know this. But, we have a problem because we don’t do it. I think we would all be shocked at how few people set aside even minimal time for prayer and meditation. Yet, it is absolutely necessary for developing a style of life that is open toward God and open toward God’s creation, and yet, we don’t pray, we don’t meditate, we don’t seriously reflect on what’s right and what’s wrong with our values and our way of looking at life. But when a serious crisis comes, then we try to pray and we discover, sadly, that there’s nothing there. We wonder where did God go? Until we are willing to work at this seriously, we haven’t taken the necessary first step toward the God-centered/other-centered Christian life style.

The second step is to realize that Christ calls people together in groups. We have not been created to go it alone. We find life in relationship with others. That is why God has given us this Community of Love we call the Church. It is through our participation in the life of the Community of Faith that we learn, at the deepest levels of our being, how to grow and how to develop the life style that moves us toward God. This is difficult to talk about because it’s open season on the Church these days, and we all know it. We’re being told that the Church is obsolete, irrelevant, meaningless.

We’re also told that sermons on prayer and meditation are out of date, out of style. This reminds us of the young preacher in Scotland who looked down at the front row and saw a man who’d brought his dog. (In Scotland, this is not uncommon, I understand. They bring their shepherd dogs to Church because when they worship they like to be near that which they love.) According to this story, however, the preacher looked down and said, “You’ll have to get that dog out of here. I can’t preach to a dog.” Obediently, the man took the dog out and then returned to his seat. After the service, some members of the congregation went to the minister and said, “You’ve made a serious mistake. The man with the dog is a very influential member of this Church and you’ve upset him very much.” Hearing this, the minister went to the man and began to apologize. “Oh, that’s alright,” the man answered, “I wouldn’t have had my dog listen to that sermon for anything.” Unfortunately, that’s the attitude of many people these days, not only toward the sermons being preached but also toward everything else going on in the Church, especially the changes. There always is the need to do better, in the Church and everywhere else. And we must be realistic about it.

Christian realism means being open to the possibilities of whatever it is that God is doing in our midst. And being open implies the need for serious reflection, serious  meditation, serious prayer. Do this in imitation of Christ and you will discover that it will lead you to greater involvement in the Community of Faith, not less. You will discover that the Church is the context through which we move toward God Himself. It is in this life of sharing and worshipping and studying and listening that our sense of mission and purpose grows and develops. Of course, this means more than just “coming to Church.”  We must look at this second stage of our Christian development-our involvement in community-and ask ourselves whether we are involved in a way that really makes a difference in our life style. Is our Church activity such that it makes us increasingly God-centered, increasingly open to His will for us to become men and women for others?

Down deep inside all of us, we know that Jesus Christ has the answer to our life.” In the end, that is really what it comes down to for us all.. The question is, “Do we want it?” Reflect on that and see what your answer is.

 

 

Remove The Speck

Daily Reflection – 2/12/19

Sacred Scripture

Now when the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him, they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands. [For the Pharisees and, in fact, all Jews, do not eat without carefully washing their hands, keeping the tradition of the elders. And on coming from the marketplace they do not eat without purifying themselves. And there are many other things that they have traditionally observed, the purification of cups and jugs and kettles (and beds).] So the Pharisees and scribes questioned him, “Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?” He responded, “Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts.’ You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.” He went on to say, “How well you have set aside the commandment of God in order to uphold your tradition! For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and ‘Whoever curses father or mother shall die.’ Yet you say, ‘If a person says to father or mother, “Any support you might have had from me is qorban”‘ (meaning, dedicated to God), you allow him to do nothing more for his father or mother. You nullify the word of God in favor of your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many such things.”( Mark 7:1-13)

 Reflection

I believe that every faith has a problem with the tradition of “going to church.” Many people, regardless of how the worship is conducted, are just “going” to church. Maybe they go to be seen, maybe they go because their friends are there and it’s an important social interaction or maybe church itself has become more of a social event rather than a time to worship God with like-minded people. Next time you enter Church, notice whether it is a quiet place of reverence or a meeting hall for chatter.

But the most seductive and devastating tradition that trumps even this is the non-church tradition. “I can worship God wherever I want. No one time or place is holier than any other. As long as I say I have Jesus in my heart, I don’t have to go to church – and you can’t make me feel guilty about it. If I do go, I reserve the right to leave whenever I want to. I’m under no obligation to give a certain amount of my income to God. We’re all priests, so no one at any church can tell me what to do.”

What we are seeing is a new tradition of Christians who see no need for the local church, its ordained ministers, its historical connection with the Church for 2000 years, or its accountability. Make no mistake, though: it’s a tradition of humanity all on its own, and one Jesus would have been the first to denounce.

Gathering together to worship God communally strengthens our beliefs. Gathering together to worship God reinforces our resolve to live a better life and to walk a better path. Gathering together to worship God publicly calls out the strength of our beliefs and our willingness to stand apart from the crowd. It is in our public worship that we face our own moment of truth. Is the Church here for me and my ego or am I here to profess my willingness to live a life where I am His servant?

 Prayer of The Day

Forgive me, Lord, if I have been a Pharisee. Forgive me, if I have presumed to take the speck out of my brother’s eye before taking out the log from my own. Help me to see You again and to hear Your Word. Remove from my life any obstacle that I have that prevents my knowing You better and prohibits me from publicly proclaiming my faith in you.

 

 

I Love You THIS Much

Daily Reflection – 2/11/19

Sacred Scripture

 After making the crossing, they came to land at Gennesaret and tied up there. As they were leaving the boat, people immediately recognized him. They scurried about the surrounding country and began to bring in the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. Whatever villages or towns or countryside he entered, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak; and as many as touched it were healed.( Mark 6:53-56)

Reflection

When I first read today’s Gospel, this was the verse that grabbed my attention because of one word: “immediately.”  People immediately recognized Jesus.  There was no hesitation.  But why?  Jesus didn’t look any different.  He was called a great teacher, and maybe even a wise prophet, but why did they immediately recognize him?  I think it is because they were looking with the eyes of faith.  The people heard stories of this man named Jesus, who cured lepers and gave sight to the blind.  They believed he could cure their sick and because of their faith, many were cured.

So many times, we miss seeing God because we focus on worldly things, or we have to search in order to find him in a certain situation.    We probably all have those times when we feel as if God is hiding from us, but if we only open the eyes of our heart, we would see him at work in every aspect of our lives.  God gives us the opportunity to see him in our lives multiple times each day.  Some people call them coincidences, but I firmly believe that those times are the hand of God guiding us along the right path.  It comes when a stranger smile at us as we are walking along the street, or when someone holds the door open as we walk through. 

There is a story of a man who was supposed to fly home to southern California from a business trip in Boston, but his alarm clock did not wake him up and, as a result, he missed the bus to the airport.  He missed his ride on United Airlines flight 175 and was frustrated with himself for not getting up on time.  Shortly thereafter, he watched in horror as United Airlines Flight 175 crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center, for it was the morning of September 11, 2001. 

Perhaps it was just a coincidence that the man’s alarm clock failed to awaken him, but I think that is how God works.  God does not walk around, working incredible miracles that cause dozens to believe him.  Instead, I think he works through the roundabout ways.  He shows us his care when an anonymous person picks up our bill at the restaurant.  He reveals his beauty and majesty when we pause for a moment and watch the sunrise early one morning.  And whenever we behold an image of Christ hanging upon the cross, he whispers softly into our hearts.  “I love you THIS much.”

Prayer of The Day

Lord God Almighty, thank you for giving Jesus all power and authority. I believe he is glorious, almighty, and powerful! May Jesus’ power be displayed in my heart, my words, and my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Daily Note

Many more people than just the disciples realized Jesus had great power to heal, bless, and deliver from Satan. The crowds knew. They swarmed him. They anticipated his next move. They dogged his steps. They brought their sick to him. Jesus was the one who had the power and they knew it. The real question is whether we know it. Do we trust he has the power to help us in our time of need? Do we believe that his power is real or is it just a figment of an overactive religious imagination? Believe for it is so

Do You Choose Grace?

Daily Reflection – 2/8/19

Sacred Scripture

 King Herod heard about it, for his fame had become widespread, and people were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead; that is why mighty powers are at work in him.” Others were saying, “He is Elijah”; still others, “He is a prophet like any of the prophets.” But when Herod learned of it, he said, “It is John whom I beheaded. He has been raised up.” Herod was the one who had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married. John had said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” Herodias harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so. Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man, and kept him in custody. When he heard him speak, he was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him. She had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday, gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee. Herodias’s own daughter came in and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask of me whatever you wish, and I will grant it to you.” He even swore (many things) to her, “I will grant you whatever you ask of me, even to half of my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” She replied, “The head of John the Baptist.” The girl hurried back to the king’s presence and made her request, “I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her. So, he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head. He went off and beheaded him in the prison. He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl. The girl in turn gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.( Mark 6:14-29)

Reflection

This is a gruesome story but, as always, it is instructional. Herod is caught in a web of complex personal and social relationships. He wants to please his spouse but if he pleases his spouse, he will kill a righteous and holy man. He wants to seem like a generous ruler to Galilean society but still seem powerful to the rest of his kingdom. Basically. he is trying to please many different groups of people and still find a way to keep his own integrity.

This is a position many of us can relate to. How many of us have to make decisions every day that affect different people? And how often do we feel as if no one is happy with a decision? How often do we make decisions that only satisfy our ego ?

This is why the line “But then an opportunity came” helps me find the grace in this passage. It also presents an “opportunity” for Herod to choose grace and stand up against a decision he knows is wrong. In this case he chose to follow a baser motivation.

Every decision we make is an opportunity for grace. We can choose to let grace in or to reject it.. Have you ever made a decision where you felt like you caved to the social norm and didn’t follow what you knew to be right?

This is the gift of this Gospel reading! It calls on us to think about our decisions. If we frame every decision we make as a chance to let grace into our lives, then we might make different decisions. It is easy to make choices to please those around us, but as we learn from Herod’s choice, this is not always the right thing to do. Herod had an opportunity for grace, but he decided against it. So let’s learn from Herod’s mistake. Before we make a decision, let’s ask if we are making our decision to protect ourselves or to build up the kingdom of God? Because personally I would rather build up the kingdom even if it means missing out on things/events that, on the surface, might be more tempting.

Prayer of The Day

Lord God, as I face this day, let me remember the reason why I live it. I live it for you. I live it for your glory. I live it to bring your light to others. Allow those thoughts to guide my words and my actions today.

Daily Note

Today the faces have changed but the need for truth has not gone away. As we engage in our own tentative steps towards the truth it may be that sooner or later, we too have to make our own choices whether or not to act. Have we ever encountered immorality which is a direct contradiction of what you believe your faith encourages you to stand for? Yet, we choose not to comment? Have you listened while a good person was maligned but you did not object? Have you ever sacrificed core beliefs because, now, it was unpopular to rise against them? The choice is always yours.

Step Out With Courage

Daily Reflection – 2/7/19

Sacred Scripture

Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick — no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic. He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave from there. Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.” So they went off and preached repentance. They drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them. (Mark 6:7-13)

Reflection

Getting absorbed in this journey of the Twelve to go and heal really reminds me of the mission we all share as disciples of Jesus. Just imagine what each of us could do, even today, if we were to see ourselves as “sent” to the people closest to us – our spouse, our children, our parents, our friends, our co-workers, the people in our parish or congregation. Just imagine if each of us could see ourselves as missioned by Jesus to bring peace and healing to others! It’s not impossible to imagine at all, if we reflect on what brings liberation and peace – Jesus’ own healing love. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if each of us were empowered with Jesus’ own “calming effect” on those around us who are “disturbed” by something that seems to have “possessed” them? It will take an inner peace in us, first. It will take an approach and acceptance that is just the way Jesus would approach and accept the person, so we’ll have to decide to forgive and re-connect with our own love for that person, so that Jesus’ love can flow through us. And, it will take deep faith that is rooted in our own experience — that “un-clean spirits” flee from pure love.

How do we come by this “ability” to be instruments of Jesus’ own healing love? Where do we turn to find the inner peace and freedom from the “disturbances” in our own hearts? We turn to the One who loves us before sending us. We turn to the Healer and ask for forgiveness and for his power full love to drive out the demons that can distract us from our mission. Then we just go and bring acceptance, reconciliation, peace and healing, in his name.

 Prayer of The Day

Dear Heavenly Father help me to stay focused upon the fact that you are always with me and that I have always been a part of your Holy plan – from the beginning of time.  While that fact is overwhelming, I know that it is true and that You alone will provide all that is needed to overcome my inadequacies and failures.  Thank you, Jesus, please take my heart and empower me with the courage to use my life however You wish.

 Daily Note

What does the personal call of Christ demand of you? What experiences or people in your life have been instrumental in deepening your faith? In what ways can you, as a disciple of Jesus, share in his mission of teaching and healing today? To whom are you being sent, to teach and to heal?

 

To Reject or To Love


Daily Reflection – 2/6/19

Sacred Scripture

He departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples.  When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.  Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith. He went around to the villages in the vicinity teaching.( Mark 6:1-6)

 Reflection

 How does this passage relate to our lives? Well, in several ways.

When we reject strangers—we reject Jesus. It doesn’t matter what our rejection is based on. When we reject others we do not love them as we were commanded to…and we limit God’s  hand in their lives and in ours. When we reject those closest to us—we reject Jesus as well just as in today’s Gospel.

Jesus built a new community and called it to a new mission. He and his disciples built together a shalom community in the midst of a society that was far from peace.

We are members of that new community. We are participants in God’s plan. If we as Christians truly respect and follow our Lord, we will exercise our discipleship in the same way. We will appeal to people by finding creative ways to show them how much Christ loves them and how satisfying and fulfilling it is to follow him, both now and forever. The most eloquent and effective testimony is our own example of Christian love. The more we love others as Christ has loved us – serving ingeniously and without looking for recompense, being equally kind with everyone no matter how costly it is to our natural feelings, forgiving quickly and without conditions, always speaking positively and never gossiping, detracting, or destructively criticizing – the more his grace flourishes in our souls. Then virtue takes root and grows. Then we begin to experience in our own lives the happiness and the peace, that Christ wants for us. That, in turn, attracts others to the Lord.

Prayer of The Day

Lord, teach me to receive you with a heart that rises above those actions that are not in keeping with your teachings and your gift of selflessness. Help me to follow your teachings and your commands in true obedience, where true love proves itself.

 Daily Note

When Christ comes to us to fulfill the law and the prophets, will we open our hearts to Him and offer up our weaknesses and shortcomings? Or will we turn our back on our friend and brother as the people of Nazareth did? As Christ did with both, the choice is ours to make.

  

It Begins With A Touch

Daily Reflection – 2/5/19

Sacred Scripture

When Jesus had crossed again (in the boat) to the other side, a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea. One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward. Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying, “My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live.” He went off with him, and a large crowd followed him and pressed upon him. There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years. She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors and had spent all that she had. Yet she was not helped but only grew worse. She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak.  She said, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.” Immediately her flow of blood dried up. She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who has touched my clothes?” But his disciples said to him, “You see how the crowd is pressing upon you, and yet you ask, ‘Who touched me?'” And he looked around to see who had done it. The woman, realizing what had happened to her, approached in fear and trembling. She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.”  While he was still speaking, people from the synagogue official’s house arrived and said, “Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?” Disregarding the message that was reported, Jesus said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” He did not allow anyone to accompany him inside except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official, he caught sight of a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly.  So he went in and said to them, “Why this commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep.” And they ridiculed him. Then he put them all out. He took along the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and entered the room where the child was.  He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!” The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around. (At that) they were utterly astounded. He gave strict orders that no one should know this and said that she should be given something to eat.( Mark 5:21-43)

Reflection

I believe this text from the Gospel of Mark says something very important and very profound that goes far beyond the miracles.

The little twelve-year-old daughter of Jairus who died—is us. And the woman who had the very life draining out of her for twelve years, and who was, in a biblical manner of speaking, dying—is us.

All of us are dying. All of us are dead in spirit waiting for something to happen. Until…

Until we encounter Jesus. Until we are either touched by Jesus, or reach out and touch Jesus ourselves, then—and only then—are we given the sacred gift of life, We too can walk the path of peace fully alive. If we but touch his clothes we too will be healed.

Every moment holds before us the opportunity to touch. That means we must reach beyond the circumstances of our lives. We can no longer live “as soon as” lives. It means we must take matters into our own hands. I’m not suggesting that we are in control but that we have a choice and a responsibility. Our faith must be active and tangible. How do we do that? We begin by looking at the clothes Jesus wears.

Sometime he drapes himself in silence, solitude, and prayer. Sometimes it’s mercy and forgiveness. Sometimes it’s thanksgiving and gratitude. Other times it’s compassion and generosity. Always it is self-giving love. The very attributes and characteristics of his life are the clothes he wears and the clothes we are to touch.

Touch the clothes of Christ. Connect to them in your own life. Let them transfuse you with his life, his love, and his power. Touch and be healed. Touch and be named. Touch and go in peace.

Prayer of The Day

Lord, help me understand that none are closer than those who trust you, who humbly depend on you, and who wish to live from you. Help grow my faith so that I can experience a new level of union with you.

 

 

 

A Servant of Love

Daily Reflection – 2/4/19

Sacred Scripture

Jesus and his disciples came to the other side of the sea, to the territory of the Gerasenes. When he got out of the boat, at once a man from the tombs who had an unclean spirit met him. The man had been dwelling among the tombs, and no one could restrain him any longer, even with a chain. In fact, he had frequently been bound with shackles and chains, but the chains had been pulled apart by him and the shackles smashed, and no one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the hillsides he was always crying out and bruising himself with stones. Catching sight of Jesus from a distance, he ran up and prostrated himself before him, crying out in a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me!” (He had been saying to him, “Unclean spirit, come out of the man!”) He asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “Legion is my name. There are many of us.” And he pleaded earnestly with him not to drive them away from that territory. Now a large herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside. And they pleaded with him, “Send us into the swine. Let us enter them.” And he let them, and the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine. The herd of about two thousand rushed down a steep bank into the sea, where they were drowned. The swineherds ran away and reported the incident in the town and throughout the countryside. And people came out to see what had happened. As they approached Jesus, they caught sight of the man who had been possessed by Legion, sitting there clothed and in his right mind. And they were seized with fear. Those who witnessed the incident explained to them what had happened to the possessed man and to the swine. Then they began to beg him to leave their district. As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed pleaded to remain with him. But he would not permit him but told him instead, “Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you.” Then the man went off and began to proclaim in the Decapolis what Jesus had done for him; and all were amazed. ( Mark 5:1-20)

Reflection

Can you imagine a more unlovable human being than the man described in today’s Gospel reading? Here was a person, full of sin, full of Satan, homeless, scurrying through the mountains, streets and graveyards. How would we respond to this man?

Mark describes a list of responses to this unattractive figure. Some tried to tame him, others tried to change his habits and reform him. Failing that, he was chained and ultimately shunned, ignored and marginalized.

What is God calling us to do? How should we respond to those who are unlovable? Jesus saw beyond what this man was –to what he could be. After this man experienced the love of Christ, he wanted to be close to Jesus. He was drawn to serve the Kingdom of God.  We the ambassadors of Christ are called to allow Christ’s Spirit of love, hope and compassion to work through us – with the power of the Holy Spirit – to love the unlovable. This doesn’t come easily or naturally. It is natural to love people who are lovable- who are like us. It is a work of God in us to love the unlovable-those who are different for any number of reasons.

Christ can change anybody. Christ’s love can revolutionize anybody’s life, but His love must first be shared and then received. And so, the obvious lesson for us is to in faith, “become comfortable being uncomfortable” and seek to manifest the love of Christ through us to those who the world says are unworthy.

There is however, another lesson for us in this Gospel, one that is much subtler. How do we view God in our own lives as sinners? Do we see God as the chief judge – harsh and strict in response to our sin – or as our Father who loves us unconditionally? Do we accept and embrace that Christ can change not only the unlovable man of the Gospel –but even us? When we sin, do we see ourselves as unlovable and thus cause a rift between God’s unconditional love for us?

Let’s remind ourselves that God is always there waiting for us – and even in our sin we only should knock, and the door shall be opened.

 Prayer of The Day

Lord God, help me to be uncomfortable. Bring me to those situations in life where I can be an instrument of your love. No matter where I am, there are those who could use kindness and caring. Keep me focused on bring your servant of love wherever it is needed.

 Daily Note

“Undertake courageously great tasks for God’s glory, to the extent that he’ll give you power and grace for this purpose. Even though you can do nothing on your own, you can do all things in him. His help will never fail you if you have confidence in his goodness. Place your entire physical and spiritual welfare in his hands. Abandon to the fatherly concern of his divine providence every care for your health, reputation, property, and business; for those near to you; for your past sins; for your soul’s progress in virtue and love of him; for your life, death, and especially your salvation and eternity—in a word, all your cares. Rest in the assurance that in his pure goodness, he’ll watch with particular tenderness over all your responsibilities and cares, arranging all things for the greatest good.”— St. John Eudes,

 

 

 

The Seeds of Love

Daily Reflection – 2/1/19

Sacred Scripture

 He said, “This is how it is with the kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how. Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come.” He said, “To what shall we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.” With many such parables he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it. Without parables he did not speak to them, but to his own disciples he explained everything in private. ( Mark 4:26-34)

 Reflection

Sometimes I think that our work is a bit like that of the farmer in the parable.  We are called to plant seeds.  We try and be signposts to God, pointing them in the right direction and then God does everything else.  By ourselves we are very limited in what we can do, but the thing is that  e do have a part to play.  God invites us to be part of his work, helping others along the road to heaven, perhaps by prayer, by example and for a few of us by preaching.  But all of us are invited to play a part.  For most of us it is a hidden part.  I think we often underestimate the importance of praying for others.  We speak to them about God mostly by the way we live.

Jesus uses the parable of the mustard seed.  It is a tiny seed, but it can grow into something many thousands of times its size.  In other words, although we think we are small, we can have a lasting influence on the world around us, even though we may not realize it in our own lifetime.  The Church is meant to be small.  We are not meant to be big and powerful and we have seen what happens when we get too big and powerful; we forget what we are about and we caught up in prestige and status and our own importance.  But when we are small we remain dependent on God and focused on God.  That is when God can work through us most effectively because we don’t get in the way. When we are not full of ourselves there is room for God.

 Prayer of The Day

Lord, thank you for reminding me that I am an integral part of building your kingdom on earth. Sometimes I think that it should fall to someone else – someone holier, or more learned, or wiser. But you remind me that I am as important to you as each person is. I want to be united with your grace throughout this day and my life. Help me to use this day in such a way that I will be planting your love around me.

Daily Note

Where are you spending your energy? Are you too focused on the big moments, or are you attentive to the small ways that Christ is calling you to serve? Are you planting mustard seeds that will grow into something amazing, or trying to replant cedar trees on a hilltop? This week be attentive to the small parts of your ministry – and get ready to see some Kingdom size results.

 

His Light Is Our Gift

Daily Reflection – 1/31/19

Sacred Scripture

He said to them, “Is a lamp brought in to be placed under a bushel basket or under a bed, and not to be placed on a lampstand? For there is nothing hidden except to be made visible; nothing is secret except to come to light. Anyone who has ears to hear ought to hear.” He also told them, “Take care what you hear. The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you, and still more will be given to you. To the one who has, more will be given; from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”( Mark 4:21-25)

 Reflection

 We all have a light within us and this light is a gift from God. The lights within us are wonderful and unique, and it is our job to let these lights within us shine for others to see. Our lights can be anything from having compassion or the gift of humor or even just having the ability to be a good friend and listener to others in need. The lights within us should not be covered or placed “under a bushel basket”; instead we should let these gifts that God gave us shine so brightly that all those we come in contact with feel the worth of our love and the love of God.

  Our life is not just for ourselves. We are called to be a gift for others, a gift that leads them to God. This is the greatest thing about our life: We are called to give life. We are called to participate in the fruitfulness of God. We give life by enlightening others. We help other people come to the light by trying sincerely to go clearly towards the light and by not fearing to show people the truth. The light shed by our lives produces a real effect in souls.
I also think that Jesus was referring to the light as the Word of God: just by hearing God’s Word we have a light within us. We have all heard that we are loved and saved by Jesus and we are called to spread this message to everyone we meet, especially those who are stuck in a dark time. We need to be the light in their lives giving them the courage and strength to let their own lights shine bright. Even though we are all faced with dark times and obstacles we need to make sure that our lights are still shining brightly. Jesus’ words turn the darkness to light and fill our lives and the world with light and hope. We cannot just take God’s love and mercy for granted; we need to make sure that we are spreading his love to everyone. Today, let us be challenged to let our lights shine and help all those we encounter find their light. 

 Prayer of The Day

Lord, You have given light to my soul so that I can be a light for others. Lord, help me to have confidence in the power of your light: the power of your truth and grace. Let me be brave enough to allow this light to penetrate my soul even more today. Let me be brave enough to not hide from your light; let me be brave enough to give it to others.

Daily Note

Take a moment and ask yourself, “How do I shed light in the world?”  Most likely many of the ways we strive to do this may seem insignificant to us.  However, small rays of sunshine still light up the world.  Our world is in need of sunshine and hope. Today I invite you to share some sunshine with the people you encounter and to notice the ways in which others share sunshine with you.