Speak But The Words

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Daily Reflection – 10/9/19

Sacred Scripture

Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test.” (Luke 11:1-4)

 Reflection

What is the one moment of my day that brings me the greatest amount of peace?  The most consistent peace I receive is found early in the morning, alone, in silence, in the simplicity of my office, in my daily reflection. How he speaks to me, listens to me, opens my heart to be with him. It is a battle, that’s for sure.  But time and time again, I am reminded that He is the one who places the words in my thoughts and upon my lips. He is the one who feeds my soul and lifts my heart .

I don’t understand how prayer works but I know this. It is not about coins. It is not a mechanical process. It is not a transaction. It is not the transmission of information to God and waiting for God to exchange that information with an answer.

Prayer is about relationship, about opening the door to the God who dearly loves us and who wants the best for us, and wants us to be the best we can be.

Prayer is about relationship AND presence. There is only one answer to every prayer . . . God. Not as in God answers our prayer but that God is the answer; God’s presence, life, love, beauty, generosity, compassion.

We cannot bend the will of the Lord, but we can form ourselves to it through prayer to prepare for the love of Christ. Through prayer, we learn what to value, and to orient ourselves to the Word and to live everlasting than the travails of this world.

While God can and sometimes does change circumstances, I am increasingly convinced that God, more often than not, changes us. God’s self-giving sustains, nourishes, strengthens, empowers, emboldens, and enables us to face the circumstances of life. We do so, sometimes with joy and gratitude, other times with pain and loss, but always with God. On my better days I know this and that’s enough. On those other days? It’s “Lord, teach me to pray.”

Perhaps the greatest difficulty of prayer is that sometimes we just want to offer our coins and push the button. We don’t want God. We want something from God. We want God to change our circumstances

 I truly believe with every fiber of my intellect and every muscle of my heart that God is waiting on the other side of the door. Knock. He is waiting for you, with grace and generosity and joy. Ask. God will respond. We may not get exactly what we are asking for, but God WILL respond. Search. God will find you, and let you find him. If you keep your eyes and ears open, you may find him in the place and in the way you least expect.

God understands whatever the words, whatever the form, whatever the language, Spoken aloud, or in the silence of our hearts. God knows.

Prayer of The Day

“Father in heaven, you have given me a mind to know you, a will to serve you, and a heart to love you.  Give me today the grace and strength to embrace your holy will and fill my heart that all my intentions and actions may be pleasing to you.  Help me to be kind and forgiving towards my neighbor as you have been towards me”.

Daily Note

Jesus, in the first part of the reading, reminds us that we truly only need three things each day: our daily bread, forgiveness of sin and debt, and the hope of avoiding being put to the ultimate test so as to remain true to the Father. All else, in the long run, are Porsches and Powerballs, which mean nothing in eternity.

 

 

We Are What We Do

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Daily Reflection – 10/08/19

Sacred Scripture

Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary, who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, and it will not be taken from her.”(Luke 10:38-42)

 Reflection

Once again, a passage from the Gospel reminds us of an amazing truth about Christ’s Kingship: he offers the benefits of his love to all people, but he leaves each person supremely free to accept or reject them.

And the offer is not a one-time affair. Martha had chosen to busy herself with her own plans on this occasion, but you can bet she adjusted her behavior the next time the Lord came around. Mary had chosen to adore the Lord this time, but she would still be free to make the same or a different choice the next time. Each and every time we choose to give Christ and his will priority in our lives, we are pleasing him and extending the borders of his Kingdom in our lives. And every time we bring his message to others, we give them a chance to do the same.

We shouldn’t berate Martha too much – she also is a saint, and she was also much loved by the Lord. But she needed to learn a lesson. She needed to learn that what we do for Christ has to flow out of what we are for him – his true and devoted friends. It is easy to overload our agenda with so many activities and commitments – good and beneficial as they may be – that we lose sight of our goal: to know, love, and imitate Christ more each day. Only that will give meaning to our lives; only that will equip us to help others find meaning; only that will fill us with the joy we long for. If we are separated from the vine, we cannot bear fruit, but if we seek first His Kingdom, everything else will fall into place

The crucial sign that we may be following Martha’s footsteps a little too closely is a waning life of prayer. When we skimp on our prayer life, on that precious time that we spend, as Mary did, “at the Lord’s feet listening to him speaking,” we need to stop and check our spiritual vital signs. Maybe we have allowed ourselves to become so “distracted with all the serving” that we have forgotten why we should be serving in the first place. Or maybe all that serving leaves becomes a total distraction to truly loving Him.

Prayer of The Day

Lord, I want to build your Kingdom, fulfill my apostolate, and win souls over to your friendship. I want to do so much for you! But I know that my heart is not yet completely pure. The infection of egoism is still there, albeit on the wane because of your grace. So keep me humble, Lord. Keep me focused on you and your Kingdom – not on myself and my achievements.

Daily Note

Years ago, one of my dearest friends introduced me to her brother, Father Eddie. Father Eddie was a Trappist monk who was also a hermit. When he came from his “house,” in the woods to the main community of Trappist monks, those of us who knew him were privileged to be at his side and learn from him. He once told me that the greatest sin of the modern world is its busyness.  We live in the most distracted, frenetic society of all time.  It is tempting in such a society to think we are good Christians and deserve applause because we look to God from time to time out of the corner of our eye. Or we get busy with Christian projects. But the fullness of truth, the fullness of life, the fullness of grace deserves our full attention. Jesus really cannot be merely a part of one’s life, but must be the center of one’s life.  It does not mean that our life can’t be full of activities.  But unless we preserve some quiet time each day to sit at his feet as did Mary, our action will become distraction and we’ll be as snappy and unhappy as Martha.

 

A Self Portrait of Jesus Christ

Image result for free photo of Luke 10:25-37

Daily Reflection – 10/7/19

Sacred Scripture

There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test Jesus and said, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?” He said in reply, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” He replied to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. Likewise a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn and cared for him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, ‘Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.’ Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?” He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:25-37)

Reflection

This parable is so familiar to us that we often see only one of its dimensions. Certainly it presents a model for us to follow – “Go and do the same yourself” – but it also presents us with a self-portrait of Christ; it reveals what kind of a Lord he is. Each of us has been robbed of our original holiness by original sin. Our own selfishness and sins (and the sins of others) have deeply wounded our souls. We lay on the side of life’s path in need of a Savior. We have been bruised and broken and wounded; the Lord kneels down and lifts us up with his healing touch.

Christ is the Good Samaritan, the merciful Lord who heals and restores us with the balm of his sacraments, who pays for our salvation with the boundless riches of his grace, poured out generously on Calvary’s cross and entrusted to the innkeeper of the Church, who watches over our convalescence until he comes again. He is the Lord, yes, but the truly noble Lord, who cares enough to come meet us in our need and carry us safely to his Father’s inn.

Jesus, thank you for coming to earth, paying the price of my sins, and inviting me to your heavenly banquet. I don’t thank you enough for all you have done for me. You didn’t pass me by when you saw me in need. You never do. You are always with me, no matter how hard life may get. Keep me faithful to you, Lord, just as you are always faithful to me.

How I yearn for clarity of mind! Life seems so complicated sometimes, Lord. I know it’s because I’m too self-absorbed. Help me, teach me, send me the wisdom of your Spirit, clean out the junk drawer of my soul. I want to be completely free to live life as you created me to live it.

I love you, Lord; teach me to do your will. Being a Good Samaritan at times seems too hard, too demanding. But I know, even from my own experience, that it’s really not so hard at all – once I decide to do it. Help me to be courageous in those critical moments of decision. If I can resist the temptation to self-centeredness right when a chance to love presents itself, the rest will be smooth sailing…

 Daily Note

The message is clear: there are no limits as to whom the law of love must be applied. A neighbor is not simply one who lives next door or in our town or country. A neighbor is not of geography but of the heart — one whom we come across on the road when we travel, who is need of money, food and clothing is also our neighbor in this modern time.

 

 

 

 

How Can I Forgive If I Can Not Repent

Image result for free photo of Luke 10: 13-16

Daily Reflection – 10/4/19

Sacred Scripture

Jesus said to them, “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty deeds done in your midst had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would long ago have repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. And as for you, Capernaum, ‘Will you be exalted to heaven? You will go down to the netherworld.'” Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”( Luke 10: 13-16)

 Reflection

 Today we see another side of Jesus in the Gospel. Often we see him as the miracle worker, curing the sick, raising the dead. But now we see the flipside of these miracles: Christ demands a response from the people who have witnessed them. It´s not enough that people stare in wonderment at Our Lord´s mighty deeds. Those deeds, among other things, prove his divine origin and the truthfulness of his message.

How many of those people actually changed their lives after the encounter? How have I responded to God´s grace and favor in my life? Have I taken God´s graces for granted?

How often have you thought: I would really have liked to hear Jesus preach in person?  Do you think it would make a difference in your spirituality, in your holiness, if you could actually have heard Jesus preach or see Him perform His miracles?  Do you wonder how these towns could have rejected Him?

When we think of the people that rejected Jesus, we have to remember that we have something they didn’t have.  We have the gift of the Holy Spirit.  They might say “can you imagine what it would be like to have the indwelling of God?  Can you imagine what it would be like to share in the divine nature?  Is there anything you couldn’t believe?  Is there any way your life could ever be the same?”

So we have to wonder.  The unrepentant towns saw mighty deeds and they didn’t repent.   But don’t mighty deeds pale in comparison to having the gift of the Holy Spirit.  If Christ pronounced woes against them for their unrepentance, then what would he pronounce against us if we aren’t moved to conversion?

Repentance is the goal of miracles. Repentance means turning away from what separates us from God and clinging to Him with all our heart. Every day is an opportunity to catch so many miracles happening within and all around us: the miracles of breathing and the continuous beating of our heart, the miracle of friendship, forgiveness and all the beauty of creation. all these and many more invite us to become closer to God. 

May we all become more sensitive and become more grateful to God’s reaching out to us. May we always be appreciative of what we already have rather than what we wish.

 Prayer of The Day

Jesus help me see that your obedience to Pilate on Good Friday was part of your obedience to your loving Father in heaven. Let me understand that obedience to legitimate authority is a means of growth in humility and holiness.

 

Be That Peace

Image result for free photo of Luke 10: 1-12

Daily Reflection – 10/3/19

Sacred Scripture

Jesus appointed seventy-two other disciples whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. He said to them, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way. Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this household.’ If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you, for the laborer deserves his payment. Do not move about from one house to another. Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, cure the sick in it and say to them, ‘The Kingdom of God is at hand for you.’ Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you, go out into the streets and say, ‘The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you.’ Yet know this: the Kingdom of God is at hand. I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day than for that town.”( Luke 10: 1-12)

Reflection

Peace be with you, and with your spirit. From the very beginning of Christian worship, peace has been the core of our faith — the peace and love of Christ as the salvation of the world. 

First, though, Jesus teaches the disciples about the way to bring the peace of the Lord to others. Peace is not imposed, but chosen; the disciples do not stay where peace is not valued. Rather than fight and argue for people to accept this, the disciples instead are told to leave the community and warn them of their fate. Separation becomes a practical necessity for the moment. “Behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves,” Jesus says, with the clear instruction that they are to remain lambs. Still, the disciples leave with a final plea for these communities to repent, an act of caritas that holds the promise of eventual redemption.

Peace, as we see, is that caritas love expressed by the Lord for all of us, and to which we are each called to have for one another as children of God. It’s not just the absence of open conflict, whether that be war or flinging a piece of Christmas turkey at Uncle Jack’s head. Peace means putting anxiety and conflict aside and trusting in the Lord for justice and mercy, and sharing that peace with all of those in your life.

This welcoming with joy and solidarity keeps us human and humble. We need each other to find joy in God, we don’t go to God on our own. We have one God who is like father and mother to us, and we are brothers and sisters.

God is the mother welcoming and merciful, no matter where we have been or what we have done. God the mother invites us to follow the Lord Jesus. The things of Jesus are to be first in life –mercy, forgiveness, the common good of all, faith and prayer.

We recognize people by their step or their knock on the door. It’s a knowledge of the heart. This is like the intimacy of our relationship with God. It’s an intimate knowing.

This is the reason of the Church – to be the community in love and for love. The church calls us not to Jerusalem but to the living God in our church, school, family, and neighborhood. In our loves of friendship, of marriage and for the poor. Calling us to find this reign of God in love and spread it in works of justice, compassion and mercy.

 Prayer of The Day

“Lord, may the joy and truth of the gospel transform my life that I may witness it to those around me. Grant that I may spread your truth and your light wherever I go.”

 Daily Note

What is the reality to which the biblical expression “kingdom of God” points. The kingdom of God comes into being wherever God reigns, and wherever God’s will is done. The kingdom of God is present in persons through whom God acts. It is no surprise that in the early church the kingdom of God soon came to be identified with Christ himself. God reigns in Christ. God’s will is done in Christ. God acts through Christ. To proclaim the kingdom of God is the same as to proclaim Christ. In fact, the church from its beginning, by proclaiming the good news of Christ, was being faithful to his mandate to proclaim the kingdom of God.

 

 

 

 

The Wisdom of A Child

 

Image result for free photo of Matthew 18: 1-5, 10Daily Reflection – 10/2/19

Sacred Scripture

The disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?” He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me. See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.”( Matthew 18: 1-5, 10)

Reflection

 There’s something irresistible about children. Of course there is their sense of innocence. But there is something else God wants us to see.

It is something that was as true of children 2000 years ago as it is today. Little ones do not come into the world with an innate desire for status and power. The idea of a two- year old wondering how to achieve greatness is absurd. Children come into the world with one job and one job only: they are wonderfully made to absorb, to take in, to learn, to acquire understanding. The future is wide open for them, and they seem to know it. Wide-eyed with wonder, filled with potential, they are ready to try new things and build new possibili­ties. Unhindered by the past, they are free to chase after whatever the future holds.

This is the childlike spirit that Jesus wants to give all of us. No matter how old we are, no mat­ter what life choices appear to have limited us, we have a bright and promising future ahead of us—and not just in heaven!

How is this possible? Because Jesus can restore our hearts and lift up our spirits. The closer we get to him, the more energized we become because we are receiving life from One with limitless resources. The more closely we listen to his Spirit, the more convinced we become that God can do so much more than we can ask or imagine, both in us and through us.

Jesus doesn’t want any of us to think that we are too old, too wounded, too limited, too whatever. None of us is so bound by our past that God can’t open new doors for us in the future. Our Father has great plans for us. He has a future full of hope laid out for us. Now it’s up to us to run into that future with all the confidence of a little child!

 Prayer of The Day

I believe in you and trust you, Lord. Help me to translate that trust into serenity and simplicity. Let me accept the crosses of daily life with calmness, seeing your loving designs behind them.

Daily Note

How do we achieve greatness? Not the kind of greatness that gets you elected to office, or earns you millions of dollars, but the kind of greatness that finds you a place in God’s reign. We become like children… completely oblivious to position and rank, and completely open to a volatile mix of astonishment and terror, awe and risk, amazement and fear, adventure and exhilaration, tears and laughter, passion and anticipation, daring and enchantment.

Word + Spirit = His Way

Image result for free photo of Luke 9: 51-56

Daily Reflection – 10/1/19

Sacred Scripture

When the days for Jesus to be taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem, and he sent messengers ahead of him. On the way they entered a Samaritan village to prepare for his reception there, but they would not welcome him because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village. (Luke 9: 51-56)

Reflection

When James and John saw the way that Jesus was treated, they became incensed and enraged. These two sons of thunder wanted to strike  They looked at Jesus, expecting Jesus to give the nod to their sanctimonious assessment and let the judgment of God upon the unjust begin. But instead of rebuking those whom the disciples thought were the enemies of Jesus, Jesus turned around and rebuked his own disciples. Jesus said to them; and Jesus is saying to us, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of.”

The disciples had the right religion, but they were operating with the wrong spirit, and it is always a dangerous thing to try to read and interpret and apply the Word of God with the wrong spirit. James and John attempted to justify their intent to destroy the Samaritans by appealing to what they had found in the Bible

Jesus had to correct and to rebuke them. They attempted to make an uncritical, superficial, literal application of the Word of God without carefully and prayerfully discerning the Spirit of God. Jesus said to them, “You do not know what spirit you are of.”

Because the Word of God without the Spirit of God is dangerous and deadly.

  • That is what gave religious sanction to slavery in America for almost one hundred years.
  • That is what has caused women down through the decades to be regarded as mere appendages and properties of men.
  • That is what has provided moral justification for those who want to slash spending for vital social services in order to provide unlimited funding for military buildup and righteous retaliation against the supposed enemies of our nation.
  • That has enlisted many Christians in a crusade against Muslims.
  • That gave religious sanction to the denial of civil rights of many people based upon their sexual orientation.

We do have, as the children of God, the right Word, but many times we read and interpret the right word with the wrong spirit. We have forgotten that the Bible is not our God; the Bible is our guide to God. The ultimate aim of the Bible is to guide each of us into a loving relationship with God and into loving relationships with one another.

Jesus said, “I did not come to destroy lives. I came to save lives. I did not come to destroy. I came to deliver. I did not come to take life. I came that you might have life and have it more abundantly.”

And then Jesus did an amazing thing in regard to those who had rejected him. Jesus did nothing. Jesus did nothing. But in the nothing of Jesus, there’s a whole lot of something. Because when we’re being rejected in life, it takes more strength to hold our peace than it takes to strike back in anger and in vengeance. Jesus did nothing in retaliation to those who had rejected him.

Jesus did nothing because Jesus was able to move beyond his own hurt in being rejected to deal with the hurt of those who had rejected him. People who live their lives rejecting other people are people who are deeply damaged themselves. The Samaritans rejected Jesus out of their own ignorance and fear. Ignorance and fear continue to provide the fuel that feeds prejudice and bigotry today.

You and I have rejected others and have been rejected by others for the same reasons, but before we reject anyone because of the group to which he or she may belong, why not give every person a chance to demonstrate the content of his or her character apart from the assumed identity of his or her group?

 Prayer of The Day

Gracious God, as all of us face rejection in our walks with you, helps us to see in our rejection the opportunity to find creative ways to love, to serve, and to give ourselves in humility and in faithfulness, even to those who despitefully use us. This is your servant’s prayer. In the name of the Christ we pray. Amen.

 Daily Note

James and John, wanted to curse the Samaritan village for not having being welcoming, for they were hurt by the rejection. Rejection and other forms of hurt caused by others can be difficult to let go of. It can easily sit within our hearts, acting like a mold that slowly grows and takes over. When this happens, we have a very hard time forgiving and letting go of the hurt. The best way to approach the hurt caused by another is to immediately act as our Lord did. It must be to let go of it right away and we must move on. God is the only one to issue vengeance, not us. When we fail to do this and harbor the hurt feelings, they ultimately do us more harm than anyone else.