It’s All About Me ! or Is It All About You ?

( A commentary on Mark 12: 1-12)

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Daily Reflection – 5/31/2021

Sacred Scripture

And he began to speak to them in parables. “A man planted a vineyard, and set a hedge around it, and dug a pit for the wine press, and built a tower, and let it out to tenants, and went into another country. When the time came, he sent a servant to the tenants, to get from them some of the fruit of the vineyard. And they took him and beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. Again he sent to them another servant, and they wounded him in the head, and treated him shamefully. And he sent another, and him they killed; and so with many others, some they beat and some they killed. He had still one other, a beloved son; finally he sent him to them, saying, `They will respect my son.’  But those tenants said to one another, `This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’  And they took him and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard. What will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants, and give the vineyard to others. Have you not read this scripture: `The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?” And they tried to arrest him, but feared the multitude, for they perceived that he had told the parable against them; so they left him and went away. (Mark 12: 1-12)

Reflection

Why does Jesus tell such a grim parable? He is warning us about making crucial decisions which can lead to a downward spiral. In the parable it was the decision by the tenants to cut the owner out. It was the decision by some that the goods of the vineyard did not need to be shared with everyone. Now we might call this decision greed, but we might even more appropriately call it pride. It was pride that led some in the vineyard to conclude that their life and needs were more valuable than the life and needs of others. It was pride to decide that the rights of others could be negated.

Envy, greed and pride are the three foundational attributes of evil. Think about it. Think of every conflict – be it personal, or familial, or nation.  The three evils are there.

We have all been there in one shade or another. We have all had brushes with them. For some, only occasionally, for others, they have become consumptive.

To be truly healthy and to be at peace, we need to extrapolate their dangers and recognize how harmful they are.

Our families could be the vineyard. Families, when they work together, produce life and joy and a bright future. But if some members of the family decide that their needs, wants, and dreams are more important than those of other members of the family, then jealously and resentment emerge. The life of the family is undermined. 

The vineyard could be our country. Our country is blessed with bounty and resources for all of its citizens. But when some politicians decide that it is more important to be elected than to serve the common good, when economic and social structures are set up in a way that they benefit some of the people and not the others, then the bounty of our country is dissipated. The downward spiral begins. 

The vineyard could be our planet, a planet graced with so many resources from the hand of God. But when some people make the decision to exploit those resources rather than preserve them or when the desire for profit becomes more important than sustaining the resources that God has given us, then common resources are wasted. The promise of the earth is lost.

This parable reminds us that we should never take that first prideful step. We should never accept the thought that our life, ideas, or agenda are more important than those of others. The parable reminds us that we all share the same vineyard. Therefore, either we will thrive together, or we will go down together. This is why we must remember our connectedness to one another and avoid the temptation of trying to cut someone out. For when we make that prideful choice, the spiral of recrimination and violence begins. The history of humankind reminds us when that happens, it’s a long way down.

The only way up for you, for me, for us is to recognize that the mercy and love of God prevails. That is experienced when we build our life around him. When we make him the cornerstone of our lives. When we rejoice and thank him for what we have.

Jesus Christ came to give us grace and peace in abundance. He came so that we might know those things that make for a balanced and focused life: faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, endurance, devotion, mutual affection, brotherly love, and ultimately a share in divine nature. Let’s choose him who has chosen us in this way.

Prayer of The Day

“Heavenly Father, you knew full well what would happen to your Son, but chose to send him, nevertheless. So great was your love for the world. So great is your love for me! Remind me always of his presence in my life.”

Daily Note

By giving ourselves over to Jesus’ kingly rule in our lives, Jesus promises that we will bear much fruit (certainly the fruit of peace, righteousness, and joy, and much more besides) if we abide in him (see John 15:1-11). The Lord also entrusts his gifts to each of us and he gives us work to do in his vineyard – the body of Christ. He promises that our labor will not be in vain if we persevere with faith to the end (see 1 Corinthians 15:58). We can expect trials and even persecution. But in the end, we will see triumph. Do you labor for the Lord with joyful hope and with confidence in his triumph?

So, Is This How You Define Faith?

( A commentary on Mark 11: 11-26)

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Daily Reflection – 5/28/2021

Sacred Scripture

Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple area. He looked around at everything and, since it was already late, went out to Bethany with the Twelve. The next day as they were leaving Bethany, he was hungry. Seeing from a distance a fig tree in leaf, he went over to see if he could find anything on it. When he reached it he found nothing but leaves; it was not the time for figs. And he said to it in reply, “May no one ever eat of your fruit again!” And his disciples heard it. They came to Jerusalem, and on entering the temple area he began to drive out those selling and buying there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. He did not permit anyone to carry anything through the temple area. Then he taught them saying, “Is it not written: My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples? But you have made it a den of thieves.” The chief priests and the scribes came to hear of it and were seeking a way to put him to death, yet they feared him because the whole crowd was astonished at his teaching. When evening came, they went out of the city. Early in the morning, as they were walking along, they saw the fig tree withered to its roots. Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” Jesus said to them in reply, “Have faith in God. Amen, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it shall be done for him. Therefore, I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours. When you stand to pray, forgive anyone against whom you have a grievance, so that your heavenly Father may in turn forgive you your transgressions.” (Mark 11:11-26)

Reflection

Our answer to the question of “having faith” is totally dependent upon our perspective. A perspective for some that has no bearing in reality.

When you and I look at our lives, we see many things we would like to change. We would like to believe more deeply, forgive more easily, love with fewer conditions. But when we try to move in that positive direction, we often fall short. Despite our best intentions and honest efforts, we remain stuck in our flaws.

We believe in God, but when it comes to changing ourselves, we try to do it ourselves. We think that our strategy and efforts can break a habit of sin or make us more generous people. But that is seldom the case. What we need is not different plans or more willpower. What we need is a new relationship.

We enter into that new relationship when we entrust ourselves to God, when we admit our weakness and inability to change, and ask God to transform us. When we say Lord, “I have been so hurt by that person that I cannot bend to forgive. I need you to bend me, so that I can let go of this hate. Lord, I am so quick to judge others because of their race, sexual orientation, or political viewpoint, and that fills me with anger. Lord, I need you to quiet those prejudices, so that I can live in peace again.”

If we are to have faith, we need to believe in that love that God has for us. We need to believe that God so loves the world and so loves us that the power of God is available to us in Jesus Christ. We need to believe that we’re in a relationship with a God who cares for us, a God who will be with us in our time of need. Faith has to be personal, believing in a God who cares for us and will act on our behalf.

It is clear that faith is so much more than knowing the Ten Commandments or going to church. Faith is believing in God’s love for us, a love that is deep enough and real enough to be present in our lives.

So, what do you do then, if the love that God has for you seems to be absent in your life? What if you’ve been hurt and it’s difficult for you to believe that God cares? What if you’ve been busy or preoccupied and God’s presence in your life seems far away or even an illusion? What if you have doubts, doubts about God’s real presence in your life and you can’t remember the last time when your faith was personal, when your prayer was real?

The great thing about faith is that we can ask for it whenever we are ready. There are no preconditions because faith does not depend on our love for God but on God’s love for us. We can ask for that love whenever we need it. But it’s important to know what we’re asking for. We’re asking for the awareness of God’s overwhelming love in our life. We’re asking that we might know that God so loves the world and so loves us that faith can be real. And if we have that love, then everything else follows. But if we don’t have that love, then faith is useless. It has no power.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, increase my faith and make my fruitful and effective in serving you and bringing you honor and glory in all that I do. Help me to be merciful and forgiving towards others just as you have been merciful and forgiving towards me.”

Daily Note

If we pray with expectant faith God will give us the means to overcome difficulties and obstacles that stand in the way of accomplishing his will for our lives. If we want God to hear our prayers, we must forgive those who wrong us as God has forgiven us. Do you pray with expectant faith?

Your Innermost Cry (And Mine As Well)

( A Commentary on Mark 10: 46-52)

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Daily Reflection – 5/27/2021

Sacred Scripture

As Jesus was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus, sat by the roadside begging. On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he kept calling out all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me.” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.” He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus. Jesus said to him in reply, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man replied to him, “Master, I want to see.” Jesus told him, ‘Go your way; your faith has saved you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way .( Mark 10:46-52)

Reflection

What a beautiful and tender Gospel. It shows all of the love that Jesus has for us.

But there is also a call to you and me. Bartimaeus responded to Jesus and said that he wanted to see.

Do you want to see? To understand more? To sort out the complexities of life? You can. You and I both know that it lies in Jesus and yielding to his presence in our lives.

You and I don’t may know each other but I think we have a lot in common. I think if we could truly see then this is what we would see.

We would see that relationships are the most important part of life.  This leads us to ask ourselves why we allowed the madness of individualism and consumerism to get ahead of our relationships?  Why did we allow our careers and our schedules, our entertainment and our desire to accumulate things push the people in our lives to the side? When we look at our lives, all too often our most important relationships—the relationships between husband and wife, children and parents, and friends—are not as treasured as we know they should be.  Yet, in our most sober moment we know that nothing is more important than our relationships.  Then why don’t we see it?

I believe that we would see the overlooked in our livres.  You know who the overlooked are: the poor, the needy, the troubled, the non-persons who suffer because they have value in the eyes of so few.  The overlooked are the people who tried to love us and we did not love in return, the people who cried out to us and we did not hear, and every person we did not treat with the value that they deserved.

Those are the overlooked and we should remember to include ourselves in their number.  Because everyone of us here has some part of our lives that we have overlooked.  There is some flaw that we were not willing to face, some fear that we will not deal with. Not dealing with those parts of ourselves is disastrous because none of us can become the person that God wants us to be unless we are willing to admit that there are flaws and faults in our life that we have overlooked. 

Finally, I think you and I would want to see the presence of God in our lives, the hints of God’s presence that surround us.  God is always present in our lives, living in every moment and every breath.  The beauty of God pulses through our daily routine.  Yet how infrequently do we see that presence and take comfort and strength from it. How much deeper, how much more rewarding our life would be if we could have increased sensitivity to the ways in which God is present in our lives.

And if Christ were to ask you, what do you want to see, answer: I want to see the primacy of relationships in my life.  I want to see the people I overlooked and the flaws in my own life I cannot face.  I want to see the hints of your presence in my daily routine. 

If you make that request, do not be surprised if Christ will hear you.  Do not be surprised if Jesus grants your prayer.  For that is the good news.  The promise of the gospel is that the second time around can begin today.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, may I never fail to recognize my need for your grace and mercy. Strengthen my faith and trust in you that I may seek your presence daily and listen to your word with a readiness to follow you who are my All.”

Daily Note

To say to Jesus, “I want to see!” is not just to turn to a healer and ask him to restore his vision. It’s to say at a deeper level I want to live in your vision. St. John would write in his Gospel, which we have for today’s Gospel verse, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will have the light of life.” That’s the gift for which Bartimaeus was begging. Likewise, with us, when the Lord asks what we want, we similarly want to see. We want to see Jesus in prayer. We want to see Jesus in others, in the faces of those we love, in the faces of those we find so difficult to love. We want to see Jesus behind the distressing masks of the poor, the sick, the lonely, the homeless, the abandoned, the blind. We want to behold Christ’s face in the beauties of creation. We want to see him behind each of the commandments, teaching us how to love. We want the eyes to see his will in our daily life, in the present and for the future. Ultimately, we want to see him forever face-to-face in heaven, smiling on us with love.

So What Are We Doing With The Gift of One Another?

(A commentary on Mark 10: 32-45)

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Daily Reflection – 5/26/2021

Sacred Scripture

The disciples were on the way, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus went ahead of them. They were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. Taking the Twelve aside again, he began to tell them what was going to happen to him. “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and hand him over to the Gentiles who will mock him, spit upon him, scourge him, and put him to death, but after three days he will rise.” Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” He replied, “What do you wish me to do for you?” They answered him, “Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.” Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the chalice that I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” They said to him, “We can.” Jesus said to them, “The chalice that I drink, you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared.” When the ten heard this, they became indignant at James and John. Jesus summoned them and said to them,“You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:32-45)

Reflection

What a disappointing scene in today’s Gospel.

Jesus describes for the third time what is going to happen to him in Jerusalem. And what was the response of the disciples?

Was it to commiserate with him? Was it to console him? Quite far from it. Instead, James and John came to Jesus and said, “We want you to do for us whatever we ask of you!” After Jesus asked, “What do you wish me to do for you?” they replied, “Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.” Jesus had told them that he was going to die and they were asking for favors!!

We might believe that we would never treat a friend like that, but the reality is that no matter how often we hear about Jesus’ sufferings, crucifixion and death, no matter how frequently we stare at Cross, rather than seek to console the Lord out of love, we, like the apostles, are likewise prone just to divert our attention to what we really love, our own plans, careers, worldly hopes and hungers.

Jesus didn’t die on the cross so that we could concern ourselves with such trivialities. He didn’t pour out his love so that we could be selfish. “It shall not be this way among you,” he tells us today, before describing for us that to be great in his kingdom, we need to drink his chalice of suffering, to be baptized, to be immersed, in his self-giving love, to serve rather than be served, and to give our own life with him as a ransom to liberate others. Jesus doesn’t seek to take away our desire for greatness but to have us choose the path that will lead to eternal greatness, which is precise the humble way of self-giving love that will lead to eternal exaltation.

The very first gift that Jesus gave to us, is the gift of one another.  He did this because he knew that if his teaching was to be understood, if his miracles were to have an effect, if his mission was to impact the world, he would need a band of men and women who shared a common identity.  He would need disciples who would discover his presence  in their relationships with each other.

How unfortunate it is that are many who still associate their faith with a church building, as if bricks and mortar could on their own, lead us to God. How misleading it is for us to think that studying the bible or memorizing the catechism, or devoutly receiving communion or praying a memorized prayer would on their own adequately form our faith. 

 They can’t. 

We need community!  Because it is only when our lives touch, when stories are shared, when love is exchanged, that our faith can come alive and the power of Jesus’ presence emerge in our lives.

To live life as he asked means that we must heed the imperishable word of God announced to us today, drink of the chalice and be immersed in Christ, so that we may become the true, sincere, pure and intense servants of each other, giving our life to rescue people from slavery and loving them into eternity.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, your death brought life and freedom. Make me a servant of your love, that I may seek to serve rather than be served, and share in your victory over sin, suffering, and death.”

Daily Note

A follower of Jesus must be ready to lay down his or her life in martyrdom and be ready to lay it down each and every day in the little and big sacrifices required. An early church father summed up Jesus’ teaching with the expression: to serve is to reign with Christ. We share in God’s reign by laying down our lives in humble service as Jesus did for our sake. Are you willing to lay down your life and to serve others as Jesus did?

The Upside Down Kingdom

( A commentary on Mark 10: 28-31)

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Daily Reflection – 5/25/2021

Sacred Scripture

Peter began to say to Jesus, “We have given up everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come. But many that are first will be last, and the last will be first.” (Mark 10: 28-31)

Reflection

I smile at the Peter who followed Jesus but had yet to fully comprehend the message. Here he is again. He is incredulous at Jesus’ latest statement. After all, Peter and the other disciples had already given up everything to follow Jesus.

He doesn’t understand that when Jesus asks us to give up something, he doesn’t intend to strip us from it but to detach us from it so that we may relate to it in a way far more united to him. When, for example, a wife begins to love Jesus more and serve him above all other goods, it doesn’t mean that she will love her husband less, but more and better. When a young man or woman decides to leave a career and enter into a consecrated life to serve God, it’s not that they’ll have less love in their life, fewer friendships, fewer family members, but they will gain a much greater family through spiritual paternity or maternity and in general many more friends that he would have had otherwise.

Jesus is making the point that that it is far too common for us to forget our purpose on earth and by hook and crook, start amassing more and more wealth above what God has given us. When we do this, we forget to love, serve, praise and glorify God and start worshipping and serving our wealth, earthly powers and influence. We tend to start owing so much allegiance to human beings like our rich family members, rich politicians or our businesses at the expense of the least of our brothers and sisters who we have been sent to serve.

Wealth is good if you know how to use it to serve God, but excess money and wealth without a defined way of how to utilize it in doing God’s work, is bad. It is the reason why Jesus Christ says that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God. This is because many wealthy people think that because they have money, they do not need God anymore.

The destiny that God wishes for us is that, since we came from Him during creation, we should return to Him on the last day where we will receive our reward for the good work, we did for Him here on earth. When we detach ourselves from possessions and persons, he makes it possible for us to do the impossible with God’s help, to have God thread us through the eye of the needle into eternity. That’s the great desire of us all, to live forever in happiness with God, and Jesus today promises that that will occur when we are willing to pay the price.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus Christ, I love You and wish to serve You will all of my heart. Let not the things of this world drive me away from You and let me stay focused on the final reward – eternal life with You.”

Daily Note

In place of material wealth, Jesus promised his disciples the blessing and joy of rich fellowship with the community of believers. No earthly good or possession can rival the joy and bliss of knowing God and the peace and unity he grants to his disciples. The Lord wants to fill our hearts with the vision of heaven and with his joy and peace.

This Camel Is Talking To You and Me !

( A commentary on Mark 10: 17-27)

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Daily reflection – 5/24/2021

Sacred Scripture

And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: `Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.'”  And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have observed from my youth.” And Jesus looking upon him loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” At that saying his countenance fell, and he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions.
 And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”(Mark 10: 17-27)

Reflection

Today’s gospel offers us a profound look at the true meaning of life. It’s a lesson that we can’t afford to overlook.

It’s not a rant about being wealthy. It’s an honest dialogue which should cause us to look within – but only if we are willing to accept the consequences.

It’s easy to sum up the incident in today’s gospel. Misplaced hope and treasure.

Why did the young man go away from Jesus with great sorrow and sadness rather than with joy? His treasure and his hope for happiness were misplaced. Jesus challenged the young man because his heart was possessive. He was afraid to give to others for fear that he would lose what he had gained. He sought happiness and security in what he possessed rather than in who he could love and serve and give himself in undivided devotion.

If we read that summary and move on, we are missing what our faith is all about.

Rabbi Abraham Heschel, one of the great religious thinkers of the last century, has said that only three things are necessary for us to connect with God: God’s willingness to love us, the capacity of the human soul to receive that love, and a moment in which those two realities can meet

Those three absolutes are with us throughout our life.

God is always loving us, we are always capable of receiving that love, and there is always a moment in which we and God can connect. Therefore, in this sense, finding joy and connecting with God is easy. It is simple, immediately accessible, like breathing in and breathing out, as present to us as our own consciousness.

We do not know what possessions the young man had, but whatever they were, the man put them before what Jesus was offering. Whatever they were, they distracted him from the life and the joy that Jesus was offering and that he so deeply desired. That is the tragedy of today’s gospel. It is a tragedy in which you and I can share.

We are not that different than the young man. We can be so involved in our work, in our responsibilities, in our problems, in our aches and pains, that we miss the beauty that surrounds us. In missing that beauty, we miss the joy that it can give us and the God who offers it to us.

Think of the people in your life who love you, who belong to you, who give you joy. Could you imagine greater blessings? Yet we can become so preoccupied by all we need to do before we go to bed tonight, by the things which make us angry, by the way we want our lives to be different, that we miss the love that surrounds us. In missing that love, we miss the joy that it can give us and the God who offers it to us. Look at the real opportunities that are present to you in your life right now: the opportunity to grow, the opportunity to understand, to serve, to laugh, to enjoy what you have been given.

We need to rely less upon the distractions of life and to learn about and accept spiritual poverty. That means entrusting ourselves to the God who cares for the lilies and the sparrows, who knows what we need, and who will always provide. We likewise need to be willing to use all that God has given us — not just our money, but our time and personal gifts — for others if we’re really going to be able to follow Christ fully and freely.

So, camels are about us, about what we cannot do. We are unable on our own to enter the kingdom of God. Only God can bring us in. Only God can allow a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. We cannot on our own bring about the kingdom of God. Our relationship to God is all God’s work, all grace.

We cannot make Christ come; he is already there waiting for us to open the door for him when he knocks.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, you have captured our hearts and opened to us the treasures of heaven. May you always be my treasure and delight and may nothing else keep me from giving you my all.”

Daily Note

Jesus is disappointing because he evades our human logic. The world convinces us to interpret our existence as a grand business in which we ought to reach the highest position, maybe to the detriment of others. The world persuades us to present ourselves as independent and self-sufficient adults. Jesus invites us not only to let go of what we think we have achieved, but even to be self-sufficient no longer: to get behind Him, to follow Him, putting our feet where He has placed His like a child behind his father.

But How Much Do You Love?

(A commentary on John 21: 15-19)

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Daily Reflection – 5/21/2021

Sacred Scripture

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He then said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”(John 21:15-19)

Reflection

To understand the exchange that occurs in today’s Gospel between Jesus and Peter, we need to understand the Greek word “ to love” has different meanings. “Agape” love is a total, self-sacrificial type of love – the type of love showed by Jesus. Then there is “Phileo” love – the type of love humans show to one another. Twice Jesus asks Peter if he loves him with Agape love and Peter answers, he does with Phileo love. So, on the third time, Jesus asks him if he loves him with Phileo love and Peter responds in the affirmative.

Even though Peter falls short of Jesus’ expectation, Jesus accepts Peter anyway and makes him the shepherd of the sheep.  Jesus wanted the highest form of love from Peter, but Peter could only offer a lesser kind of love.  But Jesus settles for second best. He still commissions Peter to be the leader of the early church. 

 Of course, Jesus is showing us the way that God loves us. God always calls us to more, always calls us to a higher level. But when we fall short, when we cannot reach that highest level, God accepts us anyway. God still commissions us to be disciples. 

This is a very comforting message to us as we look at our own inadequacies.  But from another perspective it is a challenging message, because the greatest commandment of the fourth Gospel is that we are to love one another as Christ has loved us.  And if Christ has loved us even when we don’t rise to the highest level of his expectation, then Jesus is asking us to love one another in that same way. 

How much frustration do we have in our life because the people in our life are not the people we want them to be?  We want our leaders in the church and in government to be wise and to anticipate problems and to solve them before those problems hurt us.  But very frequently those leaders fall short.  

 We want our spouse to be understanding and attentive. But many times, we experience him or her as harsh or preoccupied.

 We want our boss to be creative and flexible. But many times, all that is asked of us is attention to routine detail.

If only our children would be more motivated; if only our parents could be less stubborn; if only our friends would be on time. 

In matters large and small the people in our life often fall short of who we want them to be.  And the message that comes to us from Jesus’ action with Peter is that we are still to accept them as the people that they are.  We are to love them for the goodness that they offer us rather than criticize them for the goodness that they lack. 

Criticism comes far too easily to too many people. Love does not come as frequently.  Yet if we are to call ourselves followers of Christ, love is his greatest command.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, inflame my heart with your love and burn away everything within it that is unloving, unkind, ungrateful ad not in keeping with your will. May I always love what you love and reject all that is contrary to your love and will for my life.”

Daily Note

Each of us, too, has had times when we haven’t been faithful to God, but no matter what our faults, Jesus wants to restore us to be capable of a love like his, of a total self-giving love in response to Jesus’ love for us. And he indicates to Peter and to us how to show it, by feeding his lambs and sheep, and tending his flock. In other words, the way we would demonstrate our love for him would be by sacrificing ourselves, by giving of ourselves, out of love for those he loved so much to die for. Jesus didn’t say, “Love me as I have loved you,” but “Love one another as I have loved you,” because our love for him would be shown in our love for his flock.

Loving As One

( A commentary on John 17: 20-26)

He Prayed for Me . . . – Reflecting Him
Daily Reflection – 5/20/2021

Sacred Scripture

“I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me. Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world. Righteous Father, the world also does not know you, but I know you, and they know that you sent me. I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.” (John 17: 20-26)

Reflection

Today, the Gospel continues the Great Prayer of Jesus Christ on the night before his crucifixion. It gives us profound revelations into the will of Jesus Christ.

His prayer for unity jumps out from his words. In fact, four times in six verses, he prays that we be one as he and the Father are one.

Yet, through two millennia, the church has been divided. The very institution – the Christian Church – has been divided because we, the body of Jesus Christ, are divided. Yet, we study the word, we assemble in our churches as followers of Christ, we pray for the grace of the sacraments, but we remain divided.

The message of Christ is clear and dramatic. Only if the disciples, and all of us, remain in God’s love, will we be able to see Jesus’ glory, the glory that he has with the Father. 

Jesus Christ saw as one. He does not see us as isolated individuals.  He recognizes us as persons, certainly, but as persons in community with one another.  He does not see us as apart from each other.  His vision is that we are one.  If Jesus sees us that way, the implication here is that we should see ourselves the same way.  

But we don’t. We use labels. We use labels within our Churches, we use labels to describe other Christians, we use labels as boundaries, to stake out the vanity of our positions.

How can any one of us dare describe as followers of Christ when we use labels and actions to divide? The polarization of society has never been greater. And that polarization has seeped into our lives, our families, our words, our actions.

I guess that is not a surprise. Since the days of Adam and Eve, the very spirit of evil has sought to divide as he did with them. The divisions that led in the next generation to Cain’s killing Abel and so many other consequences.,

The devil, is always at work seeking to separate. And we use our freedom to consent to these temptations. We give into pride, and envy, anger and greed, all of which clearly not only separate us from God but divide us from others. All of this totally contrary to the communion based on the loving communion among Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the Blessed Trinity.

Since the world is polarized, we become accepting and comfortable with divisions. “I’m not going to talk to him because he hurt my sister.” “I don’t want that person around me because our views are not the same.” “I cannot socialize with that person because he/she does not accept my political perspective.” “That person is too liberal (or conservative) for me” “He doesn’t think like me . . . she doesn’t look the way she should “and on and on and on.

 Every divisive word and action ruptures communion. But every genuine act of Christian love begins to repair it.

If this communion with God and with each other meant so much to the Lord that, on the night he was betrayed, he poured out his very soul praying for it to the Father, then each of us who loves him must make it our life’s mission to try to bring about that union of love.

We need to look within, search our heart, and pray for the grace to be loving, to find those actions that speak even louder than our words, to act in love to all as he loves us.

Prayer of The Day

“Heavenly Father, have mercy on all your people who have been redeemed by the precious blood of your Son who offered up his life for us on the cross. Pardon our sins and heal our divisions that we may grow in love, unity, and holiness together as your sons and daughters. Renew in us the power of the Holy Spirit that we may be a sign of that unity and a means of its growth. Increase in us a fervent love, respect, and care for all of our brothers and sisters who believe in Jesus Christ.”

Daily Note

The world will be convinced of Jesus’ presence and mission by the way we’re united with each other. The world will be convinced of God’s personal love for each of us by the way we love each other. Our union, our Christian communion brought about by the Holy Spirit, is the most important element of the new evangelization.

THIS Is Your Worth

(A commentary on John 17: 11-19)

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Daily Refection – 5/19/2021

Sacred Scripture

And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are. When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me, and I guarded them, and none of them was lost except the son of destruction, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you. I speak this in the world so that they may share my joy completely. I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one. They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world. And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth.” (John 17: 11-19)

Reflection

On the same night that he was to be beaten and ridiculed, Jesus Christ was focused on those who believed in him.

He knew the next 24 hours would be incredibly hard. He knew the cross lay ahead. But he did not pause to think about himself. He thought of his disciples. He sought to reassure them in his prayer to his father.

Jesus Christ, as God, did not exist within the constraints of earthly time. As he prayed for his immediate followers, he prayed for all those who would come to believe in him. You and I are in that group.

The words that we read today speak to us in our time.

Jesus stresses not once but twice that he doesn’t belong to the world and we shouldn’t belong to the world, emphasizing that we do not belong to the world “any more” than he does. Those are extraordinary words. He says that we’re supposed to have the same relationship to the world that he does and that we shouldn’t belong to the world any more than he.

What does that mean for us?

There are many times that when I look about this world, I feel like looking for the nearest door. But I know that I can’t and neither should you.

When he says that his kingdom does not belong to this world, he is indicating that his rule will not tolerate the sin and evil which characterize much of our present experience. Jesus’ purpose, however, is not to abandon this world but to save it.

When we understand Christ’s kingdom in this sense, our mission is not to escape from the present world but to change it. This transformation can only come about through God’s action. It will not be complete until Christ returns in glory. But we are able to hasten its arrival by acting in accordance with God’s grace and working against every evil as we await Christ’s final victory. Far from abandoning the present world, we are to infuse it with the love and presence of Christ.

That means that we must find the courage to face the moral issues in our world. Political and corporate institutions have a power which is overwhelming. When we recognize injustice in their policies and directives, it can be easy to go along without voicing our objections or risking our well-being. But St. Paul tells us that God uses the foolish in the world to shame the wise and the weak to shame the strong (1 Cor 3:16-23). Therefore, despite our lack of influence and power, we must not be afraid to act and speak for what we know is just.

When we understand that God is asking us to stand up for the dignity of children, the poor, the elderly, or those who wish to immigrate to our country, we cannot ignore the call. When we have an opportunity to oppose the spread of violence, prejudice, or greed, we must not hold back because of the forces which may be arrayed against us.

As followers of Jesus, we begin to promote Christ’s Kingdom when we identify the ways in which power and privilege oppress the most vulnerable among us.

Christ is our King. His kingdom, then, becomes our enterprise. We are called to foster his kingdom by opposing every injustice and protecting every widow. His kingdom does not belong to this world, but to the new world which we can share in building.

That’s you and I. That’s our call and our mission.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, take my life and make it wholly pleasing to you. Sanctify me in your truth and guide me by your Holy Spirit that I may follow you faithfully wherever you lead.”

Daily Note

John Henry Newman (1801-1890) wrote: “God has created me to do him some definite service; he has committed some work to me which he has not committed to another. I have my mission – I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for nothing. Therefore, I will trust him. Whatever, wherever I am. I cannot be thrown away.”

Your Turn To Respond to His Love

( A commentary on John 17: 1-11)

John 17:15 | Faith hope love, Jesus is life, Read bible
Daily Reflection : 5/18/2021

Sacred Scripture

When Jesus had said this, he raised his eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you, just as you gave him authority over all people, so that he may give eternal life to all you gave him. Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ. I glorified you on earth by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do. Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began. “I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you gave me is from you, because the words you gave to me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours, and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine, and I have been glorified in them. And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are. (John 17:1-11)

Reflection

It is the night before His crucifixion. Knowing all that he does, Jesus Christ turns to his father in heaven and prays these words. What are they about?

You and me!

Jesus’ language for this is ‘eternal life’ and points to a life-beyond-life found in relationship with God. Jesus believes his relationship-establishing journey from heaven to earth is finding fulfilment in these nervous, uncomprehending, disciples. 

He can see that the Father’s name is ‘known’ by them; that they have ‘kept’ God’s word, and; that ‘they have received’ and ‘known’ that Jesus is from heaven.

He prays to God for the protection of this fledgling faith. Jesus will soon be taken from them. Soldiers and nails will cause them to scatter.

But Jesus has boldly asked for the preservation of their oneness. He has kept them together this far. It is now the turn of the Father.

And if this divine parent is anything like the Son this prayer is entrusting them to the best, most gracious, and gentle hands in the universe. 

You and I, as followers of Christ, have been entrusted to the very hands of God.

Entrusted to the hands of God as one. A community of believers and a community of followers who seek to live his gospel of love.

But do we?

As followers, we are called to the great command pf loving God and loving our neighbor.

Is that what we find today?

Our differences with others are no longer boundaries of opinion, they are walls of shame. Walls of shame to those who bear his name as Christians.

Followers of Christ.

As Christians, we betray Him every time we use labels, evert time we draw a distinction with another that separates us, either verbally or in reality. Sometimes it is very open and we take our stand. Often, it is subtle and we use a label to justify our distinction.

Our distinction?

There is only one distinction and it trumps everything else. It is oneness. Oneness in love of Him. And love is the only thing that binds us to him. And its love that can overcome division.

We are entrusted to God himself. Everything we do, say, or think reveals how we return his love.

We are commanded to abandon our pride and the presumption of always having the last word, and to try to listen to the Word of Another.

The words of Jesus Christ. The words of love for us by the one who gave his life for us that we may be one.

Prayer of The Day

“Lord Jesus, unite me forever to your sacred heart. You have made me one with you. Absorb this tiny drop of life into the ocean of goodness from whence it came”( Prayer of Francis de Sales)

Daily Note

When we look at these words of love of Jesus from this perspective, he is asking us to love and to forgive others and then to hold them fast. He is asking us to do this communally, as a Church. The primary sacrament of forgiveness for the early Church and for us is the sacrament of baptism. When we are baptized into Christ Jesus, the bond of sin that can enslave us is broken. After baptism it is the responsibility of the Church to “hold fast” those who are baptized. Jesus commands us to hold on to one another, and this is both a privilege and a challenge.