Daily Reflection – 4/9/19
Jesus said to the Pharisees: “I am going away and you will look for me, but you will die in your sin. Where I am going you cannot come.” So the Jews said, “He is not going to kill himself, is he, because he said, ‘Where I am going you cannot come’?” He said to them, “You belong to what is below, I belong to what is above. You belong to this world, but I do not belong to this world. That is why I told you that you will die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins.” So they said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “What I told you from the beginning. I have much to say about you in condemnation. But the one who sent me is true, and what I heard from him I tell the world.” They did not realize that he was speaking to them of the Father. So Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM, and that I do nothing on my own, but I say only what the Father taught me. The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do what is pleasing to him.” Because he spoke this way, many came to believe in him.( John 8:21-30)
Those two words, “I AM” are so powerful, they are almost incapable of the depth of understanding that they require! Our Lord has just revealed himself to the world. He is my Lord and Savior, my God, my all, my purpose and being, the beginning and end of my life and faith journey. He is who I am called to be.
Jesus is God, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. He is the God of fulfilled promises, of everlasting love, of undivided unity. There is no division, no conflict, no hesitation or doubts. There are no mountains he cannot overcome; no seas too deep to walk across, no tombs too secure to open up. He lives the way he breathes – peacefully, easily, comfortably. He is present and alive in the richest, deepest, and most profound way. And we have been created in his image and likeness. You and I have been called to be in him, with him and through him in heart, mind, body and soul as he shares his body, blood, soul and divinity with you and me. This goes beyond all explanations. It is love beyond all imagining. It is love divine, a love that endures all things.
I am because He IS. I am a gift from God, a love gift, a present , a flower in God’s amazing garden. Though I am fragile and small, I survive the winds and rains, the raging storms, the solar winds, the gigantic black holes of loss and loneliness. I can because I am His, I belong to him and I shall return to Him.
The Lord reveals who He is: The great I AM. He reveals to you and me who we are: his beloved children. I can never know who we are unless we know who He is. No wonder the first and greatest commandment is, “Love God above all things.” Can this love be commanded? Does God need my little love? Is he so full of himself that he needs my love? No, but I do need his love. For this reason, if we do not acquiesce to the first commandment, then we will never be able to follow the second great commandment: Love our neighbor as our self. The first commandment reminds us of who God is. If we know and love him, then will be forced to love ourselves, and if we love ourselves then we can love our neighbor. The Lord knows how to bind, fuse and bring together, like Father and child, like family.
Prayer of The Day
Lord, here I am. Take me; love me; embrace me; support me; encourage me; heal me; strengthen me; believe in me, and love me till we are one again. AMEN.
As we approach Holy Week, we must remember to lift up Jesus in our life. When the Son of Man is lifted up, Jesus will draw all people to Himself so that they may realize that He is God. Therefore we must lift up Jesus in our life. Lifting up Jesus unleashes a life- changing, parish –changing and world –changing sequence of events.
Daily Reflection – 4/8/19
Jesus spoke to the scribes and Pharisees saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” So the Pharisees said to him, “You testify on your own behalf, so your testimony cannot be verified.” Jesus answered and said to them, “Even if I do testify on my own behalf, my testimony can be verified, because I know where I came from and where I am going. But you do not know where I come from or where I am going. You judge by appearances, but I do not judge anyone. And even if I should judge, my judgment is valid, because I am not alone, but it is I and the Father who sent me. Even in your law it is written that the testimony of two men can be verified. I testify on my behalf and so does the Father who sent me.” So they said to him, “Where is your father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” He spoke these words while teaching in the treasury in the Temple area. But no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come. ( John 8: 12-20)
The theme that runs through the readings today is the war between the good and evil. We all have a war of good and evil within ourselves as well, but Jesus tells us that he is the light of the world, and we would not be in darkness if we follow him. In all of our lives, light is the grace given to us by Him. The choice to accept it is one we make every day. It is incredulous that offered the reward of living in His light every day, so many still choose to walk on a path that does not lead to Him.
The forces of darkness become prominent as we enter this period of Passiontide. From a worldly perspective we know that His hour of arrest, persecution and Crucifixion takes on the public appearance of horror and disgrace for Jesus. It appears as if He lost and the Pharisees won. But from the perspective of God, which is the only true perspective, Jesus triumphs gloriously. In fact, the Father ultimately permits the malice of the Pharisees to be the instrument of Jesus’ glorification through the sufferings He endured in this hour. From the divine perspective, His hour does not become one of defeat; rather, it becomes one of ultimate victory.
The vivid reminder of Holy Week brings us to ponder, once again, that the Father did permit Jesus to enter into the cruelest suffering and death imaginable. We will be confronted with the apparent scandal of His arrest and the illusion of the victory of the malicious leaders of the day. We need to begin preparing for this annual celebration of the hour of Jesus and enter into it with the utmost confidence and faith. The best preparation always is to focus more on the light within us. Let us be concerned with internal dispositions, rather than external exercises. Let us not concern with how vividly we will conduct the way of the Cross, but how much we empty ourselves so that we will be filled by God himself.
Prayer of The Day
Lord, the Father sent You on a mission of redemption and salvation and permitted You to ultimately suffer and die. But through this suffering He brought final victory over death and all evil. Give me faith to know and believe this truth with my whole heart. Jesus, I trust in You. Amen.
I am the Truth about God and man. Look to Me, meditate on My life, and you will discover the meaning, the purpose and the infinite value of your own life. From Me, you will learn how to properly conduct yourself in relation to the Father and your neighbor. My truth gives light to your conscience especially in those moments of morally difficult decisions. I am Life itself, the source of your natural and supernatural life. “And this life became the light of men” (John 1:4).
Daily Bulletin – 4/5/19
Jesus moved about within Galilee; but he did not wish to travel in Judea, because the Jews were trying to kill him. But the Jewish feast of Tabernacles was near. But when his brothers had gone up to the feast, he himself also went up, not openly but as it were in secret. So some of the inhabitants of Jerusalem said, “Is he not the one they are trying to kill? And look, he is speaking openly and they say nothing to him. Could the authorities have realized that he is the Christ? But we know where he is from. When the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from.” So Jesus cried out in the Temple area as he was teaching and said, “You know me and also know where I am from. Yet I did not come on my own, but the one who sent me, whom you do not know, is true. I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.” So they tried to arrest him, but no one laid a hand upon him, because his hour had not yet come. (John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30)
Take a moment and put yourself in Jesus’ shoes. Imagine what it would be like knowing that people hate or fear you so intensely, that they are plotting to kill you. Jesus truly was a good man. He was a man of deep love and compassion for all peoples. He had never hurt or scorned anyone. Yet, he challenged the Jewish officials and now, they were beginning to plot against him. Did these men truly disagree with Jesus’ teaching? Or were they simply afraid of his popularity and influence with the people?
When Jesus arrived in Jerusalem, he continued to preach and teach in the temple area. Naturally, not everyone believed in Jesus, especially some of the temple officials. They doubted because they knew where Jesus was from. He was from Cana, a very small town in Galilee. Yet they also had been taught that when the Christ did come, no one would know from whence he came. How could this man be the Christ if the prophecy was correct? And they continued to argue about this.
Finally Jesus had had it! He spoke loudly to the people and told them: “True, you know who I am, and you know where I was born and grew up. Yet, I was sent here by another, someone you do not know. However, I know him well and he sent me to you.” Many of the people were confused by Jesus’ words. The officials were frightened by his power, they wanted to convince someone to arrest Jesus. However, no one had the courage to lay a hand on Jesus!
Today might be a good day to ask ourselves: “Why do I believe Jesus became one of us?” Seriously, take a moment to explore your belief. And then ask yourself: how does my belief in Jesus, shape my understanding and relationship with him? Do I truly believe that Jesus came to this earth for me as well as every person on earth? Or is this unfolding drama too familiar to us and thus we might allow this familiarity to inhibit us from entering deeply into this mystery?
Prayer of The Day
Lord Jesus, This mortal existence on earth is but a moment compared to the eternity that I face. Help me to do all for your greater glory.
Jesus is not merely an innocent victim, he is the holy victim: he is goodness itself reviled, tortured, and crucified. Yet, Jesus offers in return an even greater flow of love, as if the quantity of love offered grows in proportion to the quantity of hate heaped on him. How can I do the same? Is my wickedness blinding me? What obstructs my vision so that I can’t see beyond my desire to be admired? What impedes my love? Identify it; name it; pretend to hold it in my hand. Will I allow this little thing to stand between God and me?
Daily Bulletin – 4/4/19
Jesus said to the Jews: “If I testify on my own behalf, my testimony cannot be verified. But there is another who testifies on my behalf, and I know that the testimony he gives on my behalf is true. You sent emissaries to John, and he testified to the truth. I do not accept testimony from a human being, but I say this so that you may be saved. He was a burning and shining lamp, and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light. But I have testimony greater than John’s. The works that the Father gave me to accomplish, these works that I perform testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me. Moreover, the Father who sent me has testified on my behalf. But you have never heard his voice nor seen his form, and you do not have his word remaining in you, because you do not believe in the one whom he has sent. You search the Scriptures, because you think you have eternal life through them; even they testify on my behalf. But you do not want to come to me to have life. I do not accept human praise; moreover, I know that you do not have the love of God in you. I came in the name of my Father, but you do not accept me; yet if another comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe, when you accept praise from one another and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God? Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father: the one who will accuse you is Moses, in whom you have placed your hope. For if you had believed Moses, you would have believed me, because he wrote about me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?” (John 5:31-47)
Most of us are aware of our need for human approval. If people approve of us we sense that we are worthwhile. If people do not approve of us we can easily begin to doubt our self-worth. The saying of Jesus in today’s gospel is, to that extent, true to human experience, ‘you look to one another for approval’. Very few of us could make our own the sentiment of Jesus in today’s gospel reading, ‘As for human approval, this means nothing to me’. Human approval means something to all of us and, sometimes, it can come to mean a great deal. In speaking in this way, Jesus is trying to highlight a more fundamental approval than human approval, and that is the approval that comes from God. When Jesus says to his opponents, who were already intent on killing him, that ‘you look to one another for approval’, he immediately goes on to say, ‘You are not concerned with the approval that comes from the one God’. If they were concerned with God’s approval, they would not be intent on killing Jesus who reveals God to us. Jesus suggests in today’s gospel reading that a more important question than, ‘Do people approve?’ is ‘Does God approve?’ At the end of the day, it is God we are seeking to please rather than other people. Like Jesus, we are to put God’s will before the will of others. The life, and. especially, the death of Jesus clearly shows that the lack of human approval can go hand in hand with God’s unreserved approval.
Prayer of The Day
Lord Jesus, you teach me in the Gospel to add a supernatural dimension to all my enterprises and efforts. This mortal existence on earth is a mere drop in the ocean compared to the eternity that will quickly engulf me. Help me to do all for your greater glory.
Each of us is to be the moon to the sun that is Jesus, the light of the world. We are all called to reflect something of the light of Jesus to others. When people look upon us they are to see something of the light of the Lord reflected in us. When Jesus speaks of himself as the light of the world he is declaring himself to be the perfect revelation in human form of God’s love and God’s truth.
Daily Reflection – 4/34/19
Jesus answered the Jews, “My Father is at work until now, so I am at work.” For this reason the Jews tried all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the Sabbath but he also called God his own father, making himself equal to God. Jesus answered and said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, a son cannot do anything on his own, but only what he sees his father doing; for what he does, his son will do also. For the Father loves his Son and shows him everything that he himself does, and he will show him greater works than these, so that you may be amazed. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives life, so also does the Son give life to whomever he wishes. Nor does the Father judge anyone, but he has given all judgment to his Son, so that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life and will not come to condemnation but has passed from death to life. Amen, amen, I say to you, the hour is coming and is now here when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, so also he gave to his Son the possession of life in himself. And he gave him power to exercise judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not be amazed at this, because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and will come out, those who have done good deeds to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked deeds to the resurrection of condemnation. “I cannot do anything on my own; I judge as I hear, and my judgment is just, because I do not seek my own will but the will of the one who sent me.” (John 5:17-30)
If we ever wonder if God loves us, we only need to read these words! But if we question God’s love, maybe it’s because they are only words to us… We need to go beyond the words to an experience of God’s love. We need to believe these words are true and ask God to show us they are real. When our kids were growing up, I remember encouraging them to question all that we told them about God. I told them they could ask God to reveal Himself to them so that they would know He was real. I told them they couldn’t’ get to heaven on my faith, that they needed to make it their own. So, how can we open ourselves up to His Presence?
There are many ways to do this. We can experience God in the sacraments. Since they are “outward signs instituted by Christ to give grace,” we can receive a touch from God. We can look for God in scripture. As we read, we can invite the Holy Spirit to speak to our hearts and help us grow in our understanding of who God is for us. We can surrender our lives to the working of the Holy Spirit and let Him take over. He will correct us and remind us of all Jesus said when he was on earth. He will comfort us and guide us and teach us. We all need the Holy Spirit!
There is a set of YouTube videos called “The Wild Goose” that discuss this very topic and are well worth the time to watch them. (Come Holy Spirit! May we all ask for more of the Holy Spirit every day so that we will know for sure the depth and height and breadth of God’s incredible love for each of us. “Can a woman forget her baby at the breast, feel no pity for the child she has borne? Even if these were to forget, I shall not forget you.” Is 49:15
God is for us, He is behind us and before us. He loves us with an everlasting love and will never leave us or forsake us. May we throw ourselves every day into the arms of the God who loves more than we can ever ask or imagine! His promises are amazing for all who believe in Him: “In all truth I tell you, whoever listens to my words, and believes in the one who sent me, has eternal life; without being brought to judgment such a person has passed from death to life.” Jn 5:24. May we walk each day in His love knowing our future is secure in His Hands.
Prayer of The Day
Change my heart O God. Break my heart of stone and make my heart for love alone. Amen.
How hard is your heart? What do you need Jesus to soften and change within you so that you can experience genuine renewal at the end of this Lenten Journey?
Daily Reflection – 4/2/19
There was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem at the Sheep Gate a pool called in Hebrew Bethesda, with five porticoes. In these lay a large number of ill, blind, lame, and crippled. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been ill for a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be well?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; while I am on my way, someone else gets down there before me.” Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your mat, and walk.” Immediately the man became well, took up his mat, and walked. Now that day was a sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who was cured, “It is the sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.” He answered them, “The man who made me well told me, ‘Take up your mat and walk.'” They asked him, “Who is the man who told you, ‘Take it up and walk’?” The man who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had slipped away, since there was a crowd there. After this Jesus found him in the Temple area and said to him, “Look, you are well; do not sin any more, so that nothing worse may happen to you.” The man went and told the Jews that Jesus was the one who had made him well. Therefore, the Jews began to persecute Jesus because he did this on a Sabbath.( John 5:1-16)
It is important to remember that healing in the Gospels is not just about getting up and walking. Jesus command to be healed has everything to do with forgiveness of sins, and the audacity of Jesus to be doing such a thing. On the Sabbath no less! In the prevailing view at that time, only God could forgive sins. And this Jesus character, no matter what he did, could not be God, right?A
And when Jesus “healed” it was generally among and around all the most unlikely candidates, wasn’t it? This was also a challenge to the people of his time. Just as it remains one for our world today.
Yet, Jesus was there to heal – Jesus was there to forgive sins. Just like Jesus is still here to heal and still here to forgive sins.
I don’t know about you, but I can think of about 10,000 times in my life, maybe more, when I said that I wanted to be well, but was not really willing to be well at all!
And of course – even in this moment, I am not completely well. Who is? Jesus is still asking me – asking all of us – that question. Until we can answer the question “Do you want to be well?” honestly, we are stuck on the mat.
Jesus is speaking to all of us. We are all the man on the mat, we are all at various times, left behind – or at least it feels that way. We are all pretty used to our mat, even if we hate our mat.
As hard as it is to fathom, we are all sitting on those mats for a long periods of time in life, and we frequently return to them. Then Jesus, who invites us to vacate these mats, repeatedly visits us. There is a big risk in having the conversation with Jesus, there is a big risk in getting up, but there is also great reward.
I’m not at all sure why there are so many mats still at the side of the pool, but I am pretty sure that we are all called to go forth as Jesus did – not only to ask if people want to be well, but to help them to do so. Of course, if we are going to help others off of their mat, we have to be willing to vacate our own. And that is not so easy, is it?
Prayer of The Day
Lord Jesus, I look to you with faith, knowing that you are the Lord of all. I hope in your boundless mercy since without you I can do nothing. I want to love as you deserve, so I come to you in this prayer to console you and bring you the joy of this moment together. Help me to be humble of heart so you will heal me.
That is a good question to ask ourselves as we travel through Lent. Do we have any idea what God’s will is for our lives? Are we learning to listen to Him a little more each day, through an active prayer and sacramental life? If we have not grown very much closer to God during this Lenten season, then perhaps today’s readings could be taken as a reminder to seek the Lord in prayer and listen for Him in periods of silence throughout our day. Self-will is a good thing, but God’s will is even better.
Daily Bulletin – 4/1/19
At that time Jesus left Samaria for Galilee. For Jesus himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his native place. When he came into Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, since they had seen all he had done in Jerusalem at the feast; for they themselves had gone to the feast. Then he returned to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. Now there was a royal official whose son was ill in Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, who was near death. Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.” The royal official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” Jesus said to him, “You may go; your son will live.” The man believed what Jesus said to him and left. While he was on his way back, his slaves met him and told him that his boy would live. He asked them when he began to recover. They told him, “The fever left him yesterday, about one in the afternoon.” The father realized that just at that time Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live,” and he and his whole household came to believe. Now this was the second sign Jesus did when he came to Galilee from Judea.( John 4:43-54)
What is the healing that we wish to ask Jesus for? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we immediately received the healing we desire? How would our lives be different if we always received the healing, the wish, the gift or grace we ask Jesus for? In one way, this would be wonderful! However, would we begin to see Jesus in a different light? Would Jesus become more like a “vending machine” to us? We come, place our prayer/request before Jesus, make an “offering” and then wait for my prayer to be answered, preferably exactly as I want it answered?
We all pray for what we desire! However, in my experience, it often seems that I receive very little of what I have asked for, at least in the way I wanted it to be answered. Does that mean that Jesus did not hear my prayer? Do I only believe in Jesus if He answers my prayers exactly as I specify? Perhaps the more fundamental question is: do we truly love, believe and trust Jesus? Do we trust that Jesus loves us and he is always with us? Do we truly believe that Jesus does gift and grace us? Those are the questions that define our faith.
Yes, we need to ask and pray to Jesus for what we need and desire. However, we also need to have a broad perspective. Instead of impatiently waiting for the answer to my specific prayer, we need to be open and listen deeply. Jesus will answer our prayer. However, our answer may have a different “take” or direction that we may not have anticipated. We need to be open and trust Jesus to bless us and grace us, as we truly need. We need to understand a fundamental truth about prayer. When we seem not to get the answer we want or need, it is often another direction in which Jesus is guiding our life. We may not see it at the moment, but our faith teaches us that His answer is ultimately leading us to His will for us. The issue for all of us is that we must continue to have open, hopeful and trusting hearts. Can you do that?
Prayer of The Day
Father, please help my heart to be open to your will, increasing my faith, knowing that you will guide my life on the path that you choose for me.
Having faith doesn’t mean we will get everything we ask for. Having faith means trusting that God will guide us and do for us what is best for us. God has an amazing plan for each and every person he creates. We may not know what that plan is, and sometimes we may get lost, but God is steady. He loves us and guides us back to the path that leads us to Him.
Daily Reflection – 3/29/19
One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?” Jesus replied, “the first is this: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, He is one and there is no other than he. And to love him with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding, he said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” And no one dared to ask him any more questions.( Mark 12:28-34)
As I read these passages, I think we can all identify with the scribe in today’s Gospel. With all the different and challenging teachings Jesus provides, the scribe wants to simplify things and discover the main guideline from which he should base his life. In a way, he is saying, “Jesus, I know all your teachings are important. But to which one should I most fully give my attention?” The scribe’s question relates quite well to our own experiences. We often want to identify the main idea of a message given to us, whether it is in a book or a presentation. We strive to discover the ideas that should not be missed or forgotten, and the scribe’s question applies this same process to our faith lives.
Instead of just saying all of his commandments are equally important, Jesus answers the scribe by first emphasizing that God is God alone and without equal. Therefore, we should love and serve God with all of our being. Jesus shows that we are called to direct our whole lives to God, which includes our actions and choices. As a result, we should view the rest of Jesus’ teachings as helping us to love and come closer to God. Jesus then points out that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. We are called to show God’s unceasing love for all people, which enables us to more fully see God’s presence in the world.
While it may seem these commandments are too basic or simple, think about the numerous times where we have found it difficult to follow these teachings. So many things in our lives try to pull our focus away from serving God and others: greed, wealth, pride, grades, and even fear. We must continually remind ourselves of the importance of these commandments, and I think this Lenten season has the ability to bring our minds back to God. Through our Lenten fasts, we are able to tell God, “I may have earthly desires, God, but nothing comes even close to my desire to love and serve you.”
When we struggle with keeping our Lenten promises, let us look to today’s Gospel and remember we are showing God that he comes first in our lives.
Prayer of The Day
Lord, help me to keep in mind your commandment of love and to live it with all my strength. I do not want to live my faith with mere intellectual knowledge of your commandments; I want to live it with a deep intimate knowledge that bears fruits of true holiness.
Yes, to love God means I must know Him. I must set aside my fears and place my life in Him. How? By following His commandments! It takes a leap of faith to follow the Lord’s commandments, especially the two great commandments. But only then will I experience Him as He truly is: my Lord and my God, and as an image and likeness of me and my neighbor. Then, and only then, will I not be far from Him.
Daily Reflection – 3/28/19
Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute, and when the demon had gone out, the mute person spoke and the crowds were amazed. Some of them said, “By the power of Beelzebub, the prince of demons, he drives out demons.” Others, to test him, asked him for a sign from heaven. But he knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste and house will fall against house. And if Satan is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that it is by Beelzebub that I drive out demons. If I, then, drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your own people drive them out? Therefore, they will be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that I drive out demons, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you. When a strong man fully armed guards his palace, his possessions are safe. But when one stronger than he attacks and overcomes him, he takes away the armor on which he relied and distributes the spoils. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” (Luke 11:14-23)
The Gospel speaks of a man who was mute as a result of a demon. When this demon was driven out by Jesus, the mute man spoke, and many were amazed. Most likely this man was fully possessed by this demon and the oppression he experienced disabled his ability to even speak. Upon his release from this demonic influence, he spoke freely. Some were amazed with the miracle, others were dubious and accused Jesus of casting out devils by the power and name of Beelzebub, the prince of devils. Still others ignored what was happening and demand a sign from heaven. We can find ourselves in any of these categories, sometimes in more than one at the same time.
Though we may not experience demonic influence to the same degree, we are often hindered and oppressed by similar mute spirits. The evil one often tries to influence us in such a way that we are fearful of proclaiming the Gospel freely, sincerely and immediately to those who are in most need of the message God wants communicated to them. I have lost count of the times that I have heard Christians say: “My faith is strong but I am not comfortable with speaking out about my faith.” So the chance to bring the message of Christ to someone in need may be lost.
Or we are silenced when the words from our mouth are not matched by the actions of our life. Our relationship with God is defined by our love for Him. That love is expressed in doing what He commanded us to do. Obedience strengthens us against evil. The observation of St. Paul again comes to mind. “For I do not do the good I want to do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.” (Rom. 7:19)
During Lent, we can listen to a lot of sermons, attend recollections, go on a retreat, and read about fasting, etc., but most of our battles can only be won by our desire and active resistance to evil. We should never relinquish our control of our selves. And we must recognize God’s presence and inspiration in His Spirit. Temptations abound and come in different ways and different strengths. God gave us all the gifts to withstand them. Only when we give in will they become sins and defeat us.
Prayer of The Day
Lord, at times I am given over to fear when You call me to speak Your words of love to those in need. Please free me, dear Lord, to be a holy instrument of Your Word. Let that love be manifest in my pride of speaking out about you and in the loving way I lead my life. Amen.
If we claim that we are for Jesus, we must recognize that it is not just something we say but rather it is a complete way of life. It is an obligation from which we cannot shy away from because when we refuse to make the commitment to live this way of life then, at that moment, we put up a barrier to a closer union with God. The longer that barrier stays up, the more likely it will be that it will become a wall between us and eternal life with Him.
Daily Bulletin – 3/27/19
Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-19)
Today’s readings strongly emphasize the importance of God’s laws. In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus makes it clear to his disciples that the law of the Old Testament still stands. Although people of Jesus’ time may have thought that Jesus came to replace the rules of the Old Testament, Jesus states that he did not come to erase God’s commandments or to open a “back door” into heaven for his followers. Rather, Jesus came to challenge us all not only to follow God’s commandments, but to lead others to follow them as well.
How often in life do we simply go through the motions of being Christian? Sitting in Church on Sundays, saying a quick prayer at night before falling asleep, giving up sweets or Facebook for Lent without really thinking about what Lent is all about. Jesus challenges us all to enter more fully into God’s laws. What is it that God is actually calling us to in life? What does following God’s laws, God’s commandments really mean, and how does it change our lives? We should not simply go through the motions of Christianity. Rather, as Jesus calls us to do, we must follow and enter fully into God’s commandments.
In life, we all meet hypocrites: people who promote something while not even following it themselves. The typical response to a hypocrite is as follows: “Well, I’m definitely not going to do what you’re telling me to do!” The same goes for Christianity. If we want to truly lead others towards Jesus by following God’s commandments, we cannot simply follow the rules, because people will recognize that we are not being sincere. Instead, we must enter into God’s commandments so that faith is not only going through the actions, but an easily recognized part of our lives.
Jesus is the personification of love and the fulfillment of the law. Jesus is both the fullest expression of the love of God for us, and the fullest expression of the human response to that love. In Jesus, the medium is the message. The entire content of Christianity has been abstracted from the person and life of Jesus. The whole content of Christianity can be expressed in one word, Jesus. When you’ve said Jesus you’ve said it all.
Our moral life is influenced more by significant persons in our lives, and how closely we identify with them, than it is influenced by explicit moral laws and instructions. Therefore, we should strive to know Jesus more intimately, love him more ardently and follow him more closely. To be a Christian is to be committed to Jesus. And since Jesus is God, it means with the totality of the First Commandment. You shall love Jesus with your whole heart, your whole soul and your whole mind.” The essence of being a Christian is to have an intimate personal relationship with Jesus.
Prayer of The Day
Jesus, Do not let me be content simply to do the minimum that my faith asks of me. Do not let me be content simply with avoiding grave sin. Help me to live the fullness of the law of love and charity. I want this Lent to be a time of growth in love.
Let us each take a few moments to think about ways that we can enter more fully into God’s kingdom. Are we following God’s commandments because we have to? Or have we allowed God’s commandments to enter into our lives? God wants us all to obey his commandments and lead others to follow him; he wants us to be called greatest in his Kingdom!