Menu
Home Page

Collective Worship

Friday 27th November 2020

The Lord is King

 

“…know that the Kingdom of God is near.”  Luke 21:31b

 

We pray for this every time we pray the “Our Father” prayer.  We pray that “Thy Kingdom come.”  Do you mean it when you pray that?

 

In this Gospel passage Jesus states that the Kingdom of God is near.  It is near, yet so often it is also very far away.  It is near in a twofold sense.  First, it is near in that Jesus will be returning in all His splendor and glory and make all things new.  Thus, His permanent Kingdom will come to be established.

Second, His Kingdom is near in that it is only a prayer away.  Jesus longs to come to establish His Kingdom within our hearts, if we only let Him in.  Unfortunately, we often do not let Him in.  We often keep Him at a distance and go back and forth in our minds and hearts as to whether or not we will fully enter into His holy and perfect will.  We are so often hesitant to fully embrace Him and to allow His Kingdom to be established within us.  

 

Do you realize how near His Kingdom is?  Do you realize it is only a prayer and an act of your will away?  Jesus is able to come to us and take over our lives if we but let Him.  He is the all-powerful King who is able to transform us into a new creation.  He is able to bring perfect peace and harmony to our soul.  He is able to do great and beautiful things within our hearts.  We only have to say the word, and mean it, and He will come.

 

Reflect, today, upon the desire of the heart of Jesus to come to you and establish His Kingdom in your life.  He longs to be your Ruler and King and to govern your soul in perfect harmony and love.  Let Him come and establish His Kingdom within you.  

 

Lord, I invite You to come and take possession of my soul.  I choose You as my Lord and my God.  I give up control of my life and freely choose You as my God and divine King.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Thursday 26th November 2020

The Return of Christ

 

“And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.”  Luke 21:27-28

 

Only three days left in this current liturgical year.  Sunday begins Advent and a new liturgical year!  Therefore, as we move closer to the end of this current liturgical year, we continue to turn our eyes to the last and glorious things to come.  Specifically, today we are presented with the glorious return of Jesus “coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”  What’s most interesting and helpful in this particular passage above is the call we are given to enter into His glorious return with our heads raised with much hope and confidence.  

 

This is an important image to ponder.  Try to imagine Jesus returning in all His splendor and glory.  Try to imagine Him coming in the most awe-inspiring and magnificent of ways.  The entire sky would be transformed as the angels of Heaven surround our Lord.  All earthly powers would suddenly be taken over by Jesus.  Every eye would be turned to Christ and everyone, whether they want to or not, would bow down before the glorious presence of the King of all Kings!

 

This reality will take place.  It’s just a matter of time.  Jesus will, indeed, return and all will be made new.  The question is this:  Will you be ready?  Will this day take you by surprise?  If it were to happen today, what would your reaction be?  Would you be fearful and suddenly realize you should have repented of certain sins?  Would you immediately have certain regrets as you realize it is now too late to change your life in the way our Lord desires?  Or will you be one of those who stands erect with your head raised as you joyfully and confidently rejoice in the glorious return of our Lord?

 

Reflect, today, upon how prepared you are for Jesus’ glorious return.  We are called to be ready at every moment.  Being prepared means we are living fully in His grace and mercy and are living in accord with His perfect will.  If His return were at this moment, how prepared would you be?

 

Lord, may Your Kingdom come and Your will be done.  Please do come, Jesus, and establish Your glorious Kingdom in my life here and now.  And as Your Kingdom is established in my life, help me to be prepared for Your glorious and total return at the end of the ages.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Wednesday 25th November 2020

The Coming Persecution

 

Jesus said to the crowd: “They will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name. It will lead to your giving testimony.”  Luke 21:12-13

 

This is a sobering thought.  And as this passage continues, it becomes even more challenging.  It goes on to say, “You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”

 

There are two key points we should take from this passage.  First, like yesterday’s Gospel, Jesus is offering a prophecy to us that prepares us for the persecution to come.  By telling us what is to come, we will be better prepared when it does come.  Yes, to be treated with harshness and cruelty, especially by family and those close to us, is a heavy cross.  It can rattle us to the point of discouragement, anger and despair.  But do not give in!  The Lord foresaw this and is preparing us for it.

 

Second, Jesus gives us the answer to how we deal with being treated harshly and maliciously.  He says, “By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”  By remaining strong through the trials of life and by retaining hope, mercy and confidence in God, we will become victorious. This is such an important message.  And it’s a message that is certainly easier said than done.  

 

Reflect, today, upon the invitation Jesus gives to us to live in perseverance.  Often times, when perseverance is needed the most, we do not feel like persevering.  We may, instead, feel like lashing out, fighting back and being angry.  But when difficult opportunities present themselves to us, we are able to live this Gospel in a way we could have never lived it if all things in our lives were easy and comfortable.  Sometimes the greatest gift we can be given is that which is most difficult, because it fosters this virtue of perseverance.  If you find yourself in such a situation today, turn your eyes to hope and see any persecution as a call to greater virtue.

 

Lord, I offer You my crosses, hurts and persecution.  I offer to You every way that I have been mistreated.  For those small injustices, I beg for mercy.  And when the hatred of others causes me much distress, I pray that I will be able to persevere in Your grace.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Tuesday 24th November 2020

The Chaos to Come

 

“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.”  Luke 21:10-11

 

This prophecy of Jesus will most certainly unfold.  How will it unfold, practically speaking?  That’s still to be seen.    

 

True, some people may say that this prophecy is already being fulfilled in our world.  Some will try to associate this and other prophetic passages of Scripture with a certain time or event.  But this would be a mistake.  It would be a mistake because the very nature of a prophecy is that it’s veiled.  All prophecy is true and will be fulfilled, but not all prophecy will be understood with perfect clarity until Heaven.  

 

So what do we take from this prophetic word from our Lord?  Though this passage may, in fact, refer to more grand and universal events to come, it may also speak to our own particular situations present in our life today.  Therefore, we should allow His words to speak to us within those situations.  One specific message this passage tells us is that we should not be surprised if, at times, it appears as if our world is rattled to the core.  In other words, when we see chaos, evil, sin and malice all around us, we should not be surprised and we should not get discouraged.  This is an important message for us as we press on through life.

 

For each one of us, there may be many “earthquakes, famines, and plagues” that we encounter in life.  They will take on various forms and will be the cause of much distress at times.  But they do not need to be.  If we understand that Jesus is aware of the chaos we may encounter and if we understand that He actually prepared us for it, we will be more at peace when the troubles come.  In a sense, we will be able to simply say, “Oh, this is one of those things, or one of those moments, Jesus said would come.”  This understanding of the challenges to come should help prepare us for them and endure them with hope and trust.

 

Reflect, today, on any particular ways that this prophetic word of Christ has taken place in your own life.  Know that Jesus is there in the midst of all apparent chaos, leading you through to the glorious conclusion He has in mind for you!

 

Lord, when my world seems to cave in around me, help me to turn my eyes to You and to trust in Your mercy and grace.  Help me to know that You will never abandon me and that You have a perfect plan for all things.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Monday 23rd November 2020

Doing 'Great' Things!

 

When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins. He said, “I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.”  Luke 21:1-4

 

Did she really give more than all the rest?  According to Jesus, she did!  So how can that be?  This Gospel passage reveals to us how God sees our giving compared to the worldly view.

 

What is giving and generosity all about?  Is it about how much money we have?  Or is it something deeper, something more interior?  Certainly it is the latter.

 

Giving, in this case, is in reference to money.  But this is simply an illustration of all forms of giving we are called to offer.  For example, we are also called to give of our time and talents to God for the love of others, the upbuilding of the Church and the spreading of the Gospel.  

 

Look at giving from this perspective.  Consider the giving of some of the great saints who lived hidden lives.  St. Thérèse of Lisieux, for example, gave her life to Christ in countless small ways.  She lived within the walls of her convent and had little interaction with the world. Therefore, from a worldly perspective, she gave very little and made little difference.  However, today she is considered one of the greatest doctors of the Church thanks to the small gift of her spiritual autobiography and the witness of her life.

 

The same may be able to be said of you.  Perhaps you are one who is busy with what seems to be small and insignificant daily tasks.  Perhaps cooking, cleaning, caring for the family and the like occupy your day.  Or perhaps your employment takes up most of what you do each day and you find you have little time left for “great” things offered to Christ.  The question is really this: How does God see your daily service?  

 

Reflect, today, on your calling in life.  Perhaps you are not called to go forth and do “great things” from a public and worldly perspective.  Or perhaps you do not even do “great things” that are visible within the Church.  But what God sees are the daily acts of love you do in the smallest of ways. 

 

Embracing your daily duty, loving your family, offering daily prayers, etc., are treasures that you can offer God every day.  He sees these and, most importantly, He sees the love and devotion with which you do them.  So do not give in to a false and worldly notion of greatness.  Do small things with great love and you will be giving an abundance to God in service of His holy will.

 

Lord, I give myself to You and to Your service this day and every day.  May I do all I am called to do with great love.  Please continue to show me my daily duty and help me to embrace that duty in accord with Your holy will.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Friday 20th November 2020

Purification

 

Jesus entered the temple area and proceeded to drive out those who were selling things, saying to them, “It is written, My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.”  Luke 19:45-46

 

This passage reveals not only something that Jesus did long ago, it also reveals something that He desires to do today.  Additionally, He desires to do this in two ways: He desires to root out all evil within the temple of our world, and He desires to root out all evil in the temple of our hearts.

In regard to the first point, it is clear that the evil and ambition of many throughout history have seeped into our Church and world.  This is nothing new.  Everyone has most likely encountered some sort of hurt from those within the Church itself, from society and even from family.  Jesus does not promise perfection from those we encounter every day, but He does promise to vigorously go after evil and root it out.  

 

As for the second and most important point, we should see this passage as a lesson for our own soul.  Each soul is a temple that should be set aside solely for the glory of God and the fulfillment of His holy will.  Therefore, this passage is fulfilled today if we allow our Lord to enter in and to see the evil and filth within our own souls.  This may not be easy to do and will require a true humility and surrender, but the end result will be cleansing and purification by our Lord.

 

Reflect, today, upon the fact that Jesus desires to bring about purification in many ways.  He desires to purify the Church as a whole, each society and community, your own family and especially your own soul.  Do not be afraid to let Jesus’ holy wrath work its power.  Pray for purification on all levels and let Jesus accomplish His mission.

 

Lord, I do pray for the purification of our world, our Church, our families and most especially my own soul.  I invite You to come to me this day to reveal to me what it is that grieves You the most.  I invite You to root out, in my heart, all that is displeasing to You.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Thursday 17th November 2020

Jesus Wept

 

As Jesus drew near Jerusalem, he saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If this day you only knew what makes for peace–but now it is hidden from your eyes.”  Luke 19:41-42

 

It’s hard to know exactly what Jesus knew about the future of the people of Jerusalem.  But we do know, from this passage, that His knowledge made Him weep in sorrow.  Here are a few points on which to meditate.

 

First, it’s important to see the image of Jesus weeping.  To say that Jesus wept implies that this was not simply some small sadness or disappointment.  Rather, it implies a very deep sorrow that moved Him to very real tears.  So start with that image and let it sink in.

 

Second, Jesus was weeping over Jerusalem because, as He approached and had a good view of the city, He immediately became aware of the fact that so many people would reject Him and His visit.  He came to bring them the gift of eternal salvation. Sadly, some ignored Jesus out of indifference while others were infuriated at Him and sought His death.

 

Third, Jesus was not only weeping over Jerusalem.  He was also weeping over all people, especially those of His future family of faith.  He wept, in particular, at the lack of faith that He could see so many would have.  Jesus was keenly aware of this fact and it grieved Him deeply.  

 

Reflect, today, upon the serious temptation we all face of being indifferent to Christ.  It’s easy for us to have a little faith and to turn to God when it is to our advantage.  But it is also very easy to remain indifferent to Christ when things in life seem to be going well.  We easily fall into the trap of thinking we do not need to daily surrender to Him in the most complete way possible.  Root out any indifference to Christ today and tell Him you want to serve Him and His holy will with your whole heart.

 

Lord, I beg of You to weed out every bit of indifference in my heart.  As You weep over my sin, may those tears wash me and cleanse me so that I may make a total commitment to You as my Divine Lord and King.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Wednesday 18th November 2020

Building the Kingdom

 

“I tell you, to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. Now as for those enemies of mine who did not want me as their king, bring them here and slay them before me.”  Luke 19:26-27

 

Whoa, Jesus was not a pushover!  He was not timid in His words in this parable.  We see  here the seriousness of our Lord regarding those who act contrary to His divine will.

 

First, this line comes as the conclusion to the parable of the talents.  Three servants were each given a gold coin.  The first used the coin to earn ten more, the second earned five more and the third did nothing but give back the coin upon the king’s return.  It is this servant who is chastised for doing nothing with the gold coin he was given.

 

Second, when this king went off to receive his kingship, there were some who did not want him as king and tried to stop his coronation.  Upon his return as the newly crowned king, he called in those people and had them slain before him.  

 

We often like to speak of the mercy and kindness of Jesus, and we are right in doing so.  He is kind and merciful beyond measure.  But He is also a God of true justice.  In this parable we have the image of two groupings of people receiving divine justice.  

 

First, we have those Christians who fail to spread the Gospel and fail to give what they have been given.  They remain idle with the faith and, as a result, lose the little faith they have.

Second, we have those who directly oppose the kingship of Christ and the building up of His Kingdom on Earth.  These are those who work for the upbuilding of the kingdom of darkness in numerous ways.  The ultimate result of this malice is their utter destruction.

 

Reflect, today, upon the seriousness of the Gospel.  Following Jesus and building up His Kingdom is not only a great honor and joy, it’s also a requirement.  It’s a command of love from our Lord and one He takes seriously.  So, if it’s hard for you to serve Him wholeheartedly and to commit to building up the Kingdom out of love alone, do it at least because it is a duty.  And it’s a duty for which our Lord will ultimately hold each of us accountable.

 

Lord, may I never squander the grace You have given me.  Help me to always work diligently for the upbuilding of Your divine Kingdom.  And help me to see it as a joy and honor to do so.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Tuesday 17th November 2020

Love for the Sinner

 

“Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.”  Luke 19:5b

 

What joy Zacchaeus had at receiving this invitation from our Lord.  There are three things to note in this encounter.

 

First, Zacchaeus was seen by many as a sinner.  He was a tax collector and, therefore, was not respected by the people.  There is little doubt that this would have affected Zacchaeus and been a temptation for him to see himself as unworthy of Jesus’ compassion.  But Jesus came precisely for the sinner.  Therefore, truth be told, Zacchaeus was the perfect “candidate” for the mercy and compassion of Jesus.

 

Second, when Zacchaeus witnessed that Jesus came to him and selected him out of everyone present to be the one to spend time with, he was overjoyed!  The same must be true with us.  Jesus does pick us and He does want to be with us.  If we allow ourselves to see this, the natural result will be joy.  Do you have joy at this knowledge?

 

Third, as a result of Jesus’ compassion, Zacchaeus changed his life.  He committed to giving half his possessions to the poor and to repay four times over anyone he had previously cheated.  This is a sign that Zacchaeus began to discover true riches.  He began to immediately repay to others the kindness and compassion shown to him by Jesus.

 

Reflect, today, upon Zacchaeus and see yourself in his person.  You, too, are a sinner.  But God’s compassion is far more powerful than any sin.  Let His loving forgiveness and acceptance of you overshadow any guilt you may feel.  And allow the gift of His mercy to produce mercy and compassion in your own life for others.

 

Lord, I turn to You in my sin and beg for Your mercy and compassion.  Thank You in advance for showering Your mercy upon me.  May I receive that mercy with great joy and, in turn, may I shower Your mercy upon others.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Monday 16th November 2020

Calling Out For Mercy

 

He kept calling out all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me!”  Luke 18:39c

 

Good for him!  Here was a blind beggar who was treated poorly by many.  He was treated as if he were no good and a sinner.  When he began to call out for mercy from Jesus, he was told to be silent by those around him.  But what did the blind man do?  Did he give in to their oppression and ridicule?  Certainly not.  Instead, “He kept calling out all the more!”  And Jesus took notice of his faith and healed him.

 

There is a great lesson from this man’s life for us all.  There are many things we will encounter in life that get us down, discourage us and tempt us to despair.  There are many things that are oppressive to us and difficult for us to deal with.  So what should we do?  Should we give in to the struggle and then retreat into a hole of self-pity?  

 

This blind man gives us the perfect witness of what we should do.  When we feel oppressed, discouraged, frustrated, misunderstood, or the like, we need to use this as an opportunity to turn to Jesus with even greater passion and courage calling upon His mercy.

 

Difficulties in life can have one of two effects on us.  Either they beat us down or they make us stronger.  The way they make us stronger is by fostering within our souls an even greater trust in and dependence upon the mercy of God.

 

Reflect, today, upon that which tempts you the most toward discouragement.  What is it that feels oppressive to you and difficult to deal with.  Use that struggle as an opportunity to cry out with even more passion and zeal for the mercy and grace of God.

 

Lord, in my weakness and struggle, help me to turn to You with even more passion.  Help me to rely upon You all the more in times of distress and frustration in life.  May the wickedness and harshness of this world only strengthen my resolve to turn to You in all things.  Jesus, I trust in You.

 

 

Friday 13th November 2020

Abandonment to God

 

“Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses it will save it.”  Luke 17:33

 

Jesus never fails to say things that cause us to stop and think.  This phrase from today’s Gospel is one of those things.  He presents us with an apparent paradox.  Trying to save your life will be the cause of you losing it, but losing your life will be the way you save it.  What does this mean?

 

This statement especially goes to the heart of trust and surrender.  Basically, if we try to direct our lives and our future by our own effort, things will not work out.  By calling us to “lose” our life, Jesus is telling us that we must abandon ourselves to Him.  We must allow Him to be the one who directs all things and guides us into His most holy will.  This is the only way to save our life.  We save it by letting go of our own will and letting God take over.

 

This level of trust and surrender is very difficult at first.  It’s difficult to come to the level of complete trust in God.  But if we can do just that, we will be amazed at the fact that God’s ways and plan for our life is far better than we could ever come up with on our own.  His wisdom is beyond compare and His solution to all our concerns and problems is perfect.

 

Reflect, today, upon how ready and willing you are to give complete control of your life to our merciful God.  Do you trust Him enough to let Him take complete control?  Make this act of faith in the most sincere way that you can and watch as He begins to preserve you and help you flourish in a way that only God can do.

 

Lord, I give You my life, my cares, my concerns and my future.  I trust You in all things.  I surrender all.  Help me to trust You more each day and to turn to You in complete abandonment.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Thursday 12th November 2020

Jesus is King

 

Asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come, Jesus said in reply, “The coming of the Kingdom of God cannot be observed, and no one will announce, ‘Look, here it is,’ or, ‘There it is.’ For behold, the Kingdom of God is among you.”  Luke 17:20-21

 

The Kingdom of God is among you!  What does that mean?  Where is the Kingdom of God and how is it that it’s among us?

 

The Kingdom of God can be spoken of in two ways.  At the final coming of Christ, at the end of time, His Kingdom will be permanent and visible to all.  He will destroy all sin and evil and all will be made new.  He will reign eternally and charity will govern every mind and heart.  What a joyful gift to anticipate with much hope!

 

But this passage especially refers to the Kingdom of God that is already in our midst.  What is that Kingdom?  It’s the Kingdom present by grace living in our hearts and present to us in countless ways every day.

 

First, Jesus longs to reign in our hearts and rule our lives.  The key question is this: Do I let Him take control?  He is not the sort of King who imposes Himself in a dictatorial way.  He does not exercise His authority and demand we obey.  Of course this will happen in the end, when Jesus returns, but for now His invitation is just that, an invitation.  He invites us to give Him Kingship of our lives.  He invites us to let Him take full control.  If we do that, He will issue commands to us which are commands of love.  They are decrees that draw us into truth and beauty.  They refresh us and renew us.  

 

Second, Jesus’ presence is all around us.  His Kingdom is present every time charity is present.  His Kingdom is present every time grace is at work.  It’s so easy for us to be overwhelmed by the evils of this world and to miss the presence of God.  God is alive in countless ways all around us.  We must always strive to see this presence, be inspired by it and love it.

 

Reflect, today, upon the presence of the Kingdom of God present among you.  Do you see it in your heart?  Do you daily invite Jesus to rule your life?  Do you acknowledge Him as your Lord?  And do you see the ways He comes to you through your daily circumstances or in others and in your daily situations?  Seek Him out constantly and this will bring joy to your heart.

 

Lord, I invite You, today, to come reign in my heart.  I give You complete control of my life.  You are my Lord and my King.  I love You and want to live in accord with Your perfect and holy will.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Wednesday 11th November 2020 

Passionate and Humble Gratitude

 

And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan.  Luke 17:15-16

 

This leper is one of ten that Jesus healed as He traveled through Samaria and Galilee.  He was a foreigner, not a Jew, and was the only one to return to Jesus to offer thanks for his healing.

 

Note that there are two things this Samaritan did once he was healed.  First, he “returned, glorifying God in a loud voice.”  This is a significant description of what happened.  He did not just return to say thank you, rather, his gratitude was expressed in a very passionate way.  Try to imagine this leper shouting and praising God out of a sincere and deep gratitude.

 

Second, this man “fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked Him.”  Again, this is no small act on the part of this Samaritan.  The act of falling at Jesus’ feet is another sign of his intense gratitude.  It’s not only that he was excited, he was also deeply humbled by this healing.  This is seen in the act of humbly falling down at the feet of Jesus.  It shows that this leper humbly recognized his unworthiness before God for this act of healing.  It’s a beautiful gesture which acknowledges that gratitude is not enough.  Instead, profound gratitude is necessary.  Profound and humble gratitude must always be our response to the goodness of God.

 

Reflect, today, upon your approach to the goodness of God.  Of the ten who were healed, only this one leper manifested the right attitude.  The others may have been grateful, but not to the extent that they should have been.  How about you?  How deep is your gratitude toward God?  Are you fully aware of all that God does for you every day?  If not, seek to imitate this leper and you will discover the same joy that he discovered.

 

Lord, I pray that I may daily turn to You in deep and total gratitude.  May I see all that You do for me every day and may I respond with wholehearted thanksgiving.  Jesus, I trust in You.

 

 

Tuesday 10th November 2020

Christian Service

 

“When you have done all you have been commanded, say, “We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.”  Luke 17:10b

 

This is a hard phrase to say and it is even harder to truly mean when said.  

 

Imagine the context in which this attitude toward Christian service must be spoken and lived.  For example, imagine a mother who spends the day cleaning and then preparing the family meal.  At the end of the day, it is certainly nice to be recognized for her hard work and to be thanked for it.  Of course, when the family is grateful and acknowledges this loving service, this gratitude is healthy and is nothing other than an act of love.  It is good to be grateful and to express it.  But this passage is not so much about the fact that we must strive to be grateful for the love and service of others, rather, it’s about our own motivation for service.  Do you serve so as to be thanked?  Or do you provide service because it is good and right to serve?

 

Jesus makes it clear that our Christian service to others, be it in the family or in some other context, must be primarily motivated by a certain duty of service.  We must serve out of love regardless of the receptivity or acknowledgment of others.

 

Imagine, then, if you spent your day in some service and that service was done out of your love of others.  Then imagine that no one expressed gratitude for your work.  Should that change your commitment to service?  Should the reaction, or lack of reaction, of others deter you from serving as God wants you to serve?  Certainly not.  We must serve and fulfill our Christian duty simply because it is the right thing to do and because it is what God wants of us.

 

Reflect, today, upon your motivation for loving service to others.  Try to speak these words of the Gospel within the context of your life.  It may be hard at first, but if you can serve with the mind that you are an “unprofitable servant” and that you have done nothing more than what you were “obliged to do,” then you will find that your charity takes on a whole new depth.

 

Lord, help me to serve freely and wholeheartedly out of love for You and others.  Help me to give of myself regardless of the reaction of others and to find satisfaction in this act of love alone.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Monday 9th November 2020

Righteous Anger

 

Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money-changers seated there. He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.”  John 2:13b-16

 

Wow, Jesus was angry.  He drove the moneychangers from the temple with a whip and overturned their tables as He rebuked them.  That must have been quite a scene.  

 

What’s key, here, is that we must understand what sort of “anger” Jesus had.  Normally when we speak of anger we mean a passion that is out of control and, in fact, controls us.  It’s the loss of control and is a sin.  But this is not the anger Jesus had.

 

Obviously, Jesus was perfect in every way, so we must be very careful not to equate His anger with our normal experience of anger.  Yes, it was a passion for Him, but it was different from what we normally experience.  His anger was an anger that resulted from His perfect love.

 

In Jesus’ case, it was love for the sinner and His desire for their repentance that drove His passion.  His anger was directed at the sin they were engrossed in and He willfully and intentionally attacked the evil He saw.  Yes, this may have been shocking to those who witnessed it, but it was, in that situation, the most effective way for Him to call them to repentance.  

 

At times we will find that we also must be angered by sin.  But be careful!  It’s very easy for us to use this example of Jesus to justify losing control of ourselves and entering into the sin of anger.  Righteous anger, as Jesus manifested, will always leave one with a sense of peace and love for those who are rebuked.  There will also be an immediate willingness to forgive when true contrition is perceived.

 

Reflect, today, upon the righteous anger God may want to put into your heart at times.  Again, be careful to discern it correctly.  Do not allow yourself to be deceived by this passion.  Rather, allow the love of God for others to be the driving force and allow a holy hatred for sin to direct you to act in a holy and just way.

 

Lord, help me to cultivate in my heart the holy and righteous anger that You desire I have.  Help me to discern between what is sinful and what is righteous.  May this passion and all my passion always be directed at achieving Your holy will.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Friday 6th November 2020

Worldly or Heavenly Success?

 

“For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than the children of light.”  Luke 16:8b

 

This line comes at the conclusion of the parable of the Dishonest Steward.  Jesus told this parable as a way of highlighting the fact that the “children of the world” are indeed successful in their manipulation of worldly things, whereas the “children of light” are not as shrewd when it comes to worldly things.  So what does this tell us?

 

It certainly does not tell us that we should enter into a worldly life striving to live by worldly standards and working toward worldly goals.  In fact, by acknowledging this fact about the worldly, Jesus is presenting us with a strong contrast as to how we should think and act.  We are called to be the children of light.  Therefore, we should not be surprised at all if we are not as successful in worldly things as others are who are immersed in the secular culture.  

 

This is especially true when we look at the numerous “successes” of those who are fully immersed in the world and the values of the world.  Some are successful in obtaining great wealth, power or prestige by being shrewd in things of this age.  We see this in pop culture especially.  Take, for example, the entertainment industry.  There are many who are quite successful and popular in the eyes of the world and we can tend to have a certain envy of them.  Compare that to those who are filled with virtue, humility and goodness.  We often find that they go unnoticed.  

 

So what should we do?  We should use this parable to remind ourselves that all that matters, in the end, is what God thinks.  How does God see us and the effort we give in living a holy life?  As children of the light, we must work only for that which is eternal, not for that which is worldly and passing.  God will provide for our worldly needs if we put our trust in Him.  We may not become huge successes in accord with worldly standards, but we will obtain greatness in regard to all that truly matters and all that is eternal.

 

Reflect, today, upon your priorities in life.  Are you focused on building up riches that are eternal?  Or do you continually find yourself caught up in the manipulations and shrewdness that has as a goal only worldly success?  Strive for that which is eternal and you will be eternally grateful.

 

Lord, help me to keep my eyes on Heaven.  Help me to be one who is wise in the ways of grace, mercy and goodness.  When I am tempted to live only for this world, help me to see what is of true value and stay focused on that alone.  Jesus, I trust in You.

 

 

Thursday 5th November 2020

Welcoming Sinners

 

The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”  

Luke 15:1-2

 

How do you treat the sinners you encounter?  Do you shun them, talk about them, ridicule them, pity them, or ignore them?  Hopefully not!  How should you treat the sinner?  Jesus allowed them to draw near to Him and He was attentive to them.  In fact, He was so merciful and kind to the sinner that He was harshly criticized by the Pharisees and scribes.  How about you?  Are you willing to associate with the sinner to the point that you open yourself up to criticism?

 

It’s quite easy to be harsh and critical toward those who “deserve it.”  When we see someone clearly going astray, we can almost feel justified in pointing the finger and putting them down as if we were better than they or as if they were dirt.  What an easy thing to do and what a mistake!

 

If we want to be like Jesus we must have a very different attitude toward them.  We must act differently toward them than how we may feel like acting.  Sin is ugly and dirty.  It’s easy to be critical toward one who is caught in a cycle of sin.  Yet if we do so, we are no different than the Pharisees and scribes of Jesus’ time.  And we will most likely receive the same harsh treatment right back from Jesus for our lack of mercy.  

 

It’s interesting that one of the only sins that Jesus consistently rebukes is that of judgmentalness and criticalness.  It’s almost as if this sin shuts the door on God’s mercy in our lives.

 

Reflect, today, upon how you look at and treat those whose sins are somewhat manifest.  Do you treat them with mercy?  Or do you react with disdain and act with a judgmental heart?  Recommit yourself to mercy and a complete lack of judgment.  Judgment is Christ’s to give, not yours.  You are called to mercy and compassion.  If you can offer just that, you will be much more like our merciful Lord.

 

Lord, help me when I feel like being harsh and judgmental.  Help me to turn an eye of compassion toward the sinner, seeing the goodness You put in their souls before seeing their sinful actions.  Help me to leave judgment to You and embrace mercy instead.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Wednesday 3rd November 2020

Choosing God Above All

 

“If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”  Luke 14:26

 

No, this is not an error.  Jesus really said this.  It’s a strong statement and the word “hating” in this sentence is quite definitive.  So what does this actually mean?

 

Like everything Jesus said, it must be read in the context of the entire Gospel.  Remember, Jesus said that the greatest and first commandment was to “Love the Lord your God with your whole heart…”  He also said to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” This most certainly includes family.  However, in the passage above, we hear Jesus telling us that if anything whatsoever gets in the way of our love of God, we must eliminate it from our life.  We must “hate” it.

 

Hate, in this context, is not the sin of hate.  It’s not an anger welling up within us that causes us to lose control and say mean things.  Rather, hate in this context means we must be ready and willing to distance ourselves from that which gets in the way of our relationship with God.  If it is money, prestige, power, the flesh, alcohol, etc., then we must eliminate it from our lives.  Shockingly, some will even find that they must distance themselves from their own family in order to keep their relationship with God alive.  But even in this case, we are still loving our family.  Love simply takes on different forms at times.

 

The family was designed to be a place of peace, harmony and love.  But the sad reality that many have experienced in life is that sometimes our family relationships directly interfere with our love of God and others.  And if this is the case in our lives, we must hear Jesus telling us to approach those relationships in a different way out of love for God.

 

Perhaps this Scripture could be misunderstood and misused at times.  It is not an excuse to treat those in the family, nor anyone else, with spite, harshness, malice or the like.  It is not an excuse to let the passion of anger well up in us.  But it is a call from God to act in justice and truth and to refuse to allow anything to separate us from the love of God.

 

Reflect, today, upon that which is the greatest obstacle to your relationship with God.  Who or what tears you away from loving God with your whole heart.  Hopefully there is nothing or no one who fits this category.  But if there is, hear the words of Jesus today encouraging you to be strong and calling you to put Him first before anything else in life.

 

Lord, help me to constantly see those things in my life that keep me from loving You.  As I identify that which deters me in faith, give me the courage to choose You above all things.  Give me the wisdom to know how to choose You above all things.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Tuesday 3rd November 2020

Priorities

 

“A man gave a great dinner to which he invited many. When the time for the dinner came, he dispatched his servant to say to those invited, ‘Come, everything is now ready.’ But one by one, they all began to excuse themselves.”  Luke 14:16-18a

 

This happens far more often than we may at first think!  How does it happen?  It happens any and every time Jesus invites us to share in His grace and we find ourselves too busy or occupied with other more “important” things.

 

Take, for example, how easy it is for many to intentionally miss Sunday Mass.  There are countless excuses and rationalizations that people use to justify missing Mass on occasion.  In this parable above, the Scripture goes on to speak of three people who excused themselves from the feast for “good” reasons.  One just bought a field and had to go examine it, one just bought some oxen and had to go care for them, and another just got married and had to be with his wife.  All three had what they thought were good excuses and thus failed to come to the feast.

 

The feast is the Kingdom of Heaven.  But it is also any way that you are invited to participate in God’s grace: Sunday Mass, moments of daily prayer, the Bible study you should join, the mission talk you should attend, the book you should read or the act of charity that God wants you to perform.  Every way that grace is offered to you is a way in which you are invited to the feast of God.  Sadly, it is very easy for some to come up with an excuse for denying the invitation of Christ to share in His grace.

 

Reflect, today, upon God coming to you and inviting you to share more fully in His life of grace.  How is He inviting you?  In what way are you being invited to this fuller participation?  Do not make excuses.  Answer the invitation and enter into the feast.

 

Lord, help me to see the numerous ways in which You call me to share more fully in Your life of grace and mercy.  Help me to recognize the feast that is prepared for me and help me to always make You the priority in my life.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Monday 2nd November 2020

The Holy Souls in Purgatory

 

The following excerpt is from Chapter 8 of My Catholic Faith!:  

 

As we celebrate the Commemoration of All Souls, let’s reflect upon our Church teaching on Purgatory:

The Church Suffering:  Purgatory is an often misunderstood doctrine of our Church.  What is Purgatory?  Is it the place we have to go to be punished for our sins?  Is it God’s way of getting us back for the wrong we’ve done?  Is it the result of God’s anger?  None of these questions really answer the question of Purgatory.  Purgatory is nothing other than the burning and purifying love of our God in our lives!

 

When someone dies in God’s grace they are most likely not 100% converted and perfect in every way.  Even the greatest of saints most often would have some imperfection left in their lives.  Purgatory is nothing other than that final purification of all remaining attachment to sin in our lives.  By analogy, imagine that you had a cup of 100% pure water, pure H2O.  This cup will represent Heaven.  Now imagine that you want to add to that cup of water but all you have is water that is 99% pure.  This will represent the holy person who dies with just some slight attachments to sin.  If you add that water to your cup then the cup will now have at least some impurities in the water as it mixes together.  The problem is that Heaven (the original cup of 100% H2O) cannot contain any impurities.  Heaven, in this case, cannot have even the slightest attachment to sin in it.  Therefore, if this new water (the 99% pure water) is to be added to the cup it must first be purified even of that last 1% of impurities (attachments to sin).  This is ideally done while we are on Earth.  This is the process of getting holy.  But if we die with any attachment, then we simply say that the process of entering into the final and full vision of God in Heaven will purify us of any remaining attachment to sin.  All may already be forgiven, but we may not have detached from those things forgiven.  Purgatory is the process, after death, of burning out the last of our attachments so that we can enter Heaven 100% freed of everything to do with sin.  If, for example, we still have a bad habit of being rude, or sarcastic, even those tendencies and habits must be purged.  

 

How does this happen?  We do not know.  We only know it does.  But we also know it’s the result of God’s infinite love that frees us of these attachments.  Is it painful?  Most likely.  But it’s painful in the sense that letting go of any disordered attachment is painful.  It’s hard to break a bad habit.  It’s even painful in the process.  But the end result of true freedom is worth any pain we may have experienced.  So, yes, Purgatory is painful.  But it’s a sort of sweet pain that we need and it produces the end result of a person 100% in union with God.

 

Now since we are talking about the Communion of Saints, we also want to make sure to understand that those going through this final purification are still in communion with God, with those members of the Church on Earth, and with those in Heaven.  For example, we are called to pray for those in Purgatory.  Our prayers are effective.  God uses those prayers, which are acts of our love, as instruments of His grace of purification.  He allows us and invites us to participate in their final purification by our prayers and sacrifices.  This forges a bond of union with them.  And no doubt the saints in Heaven especially offer prayers for those in this final purification as they await full communion with them in Heaven.  It’s a glorious thought and a joy to see how God has orchestrated this entire process for the ultimate purpose of the holy communion to which we are called!

 

Lord, I pray for those souls going through their final purification in Purgatory.  Please pour forth Your mercy upon them so that they may be freed of all attachment to sin and, thus, be prepared to see You face to face.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Friday 23rd October 2020

Interpreting Our Present Time

 

Jesus said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west you say immediately that it is going to rain–and so it does; and when you notice that the wind is blowing from the south you say that it is going to be hot–and so it is. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky; why do you not know how to interpret the present time?”  Luke 12:54-56

 

Do you know how to interpret the present time?  It is important for us, as followers of Christ, to be able to look honestly at our cultures, societies and world as a whole and interpret it honestly and accurately.  We need to be able to discern the goodness and the presence of God in our world and we need to also be able to identify and interpret the workings of the evil one in our present time.  How well do you do that?

 

One of the tactics of the evil one is the use of manipulation and lies.  The evil one seeks to confuse us in countless ways.  These lies may come through the media, through our political leaders and, at times, even through some religious leaders.  The evil one loves it when there is division and disorder of every kind.

 

So what do we do if we want to be able to “interpret the present time?”  We must wholeheartedly commit ourselves to the Truth.  We must seek Jesus above all things through prayer and allow His presence in our lives to help us sort out what is from Him and what is not.

 

Our societies present us with countless moral choices, so we may find ourselves being drawn here and there.  We can find that our minds are challenged and, at times, find that even the most basic truths of humanity are attacked and distorted.  Take, for example, abortion, euthanasia and traditional marriage.  These moral teachings of our faith are continually under attack within the various cultures of our world.  The very dignity of the human person and the dignity of the family as God designed it are called into question and directly challenged.  Another example of confusion within our world today is the love of money.  So many people are caught up in the desire for material wealth and have been drawn into the lie that this is the way to happiness.  Interpreting the present time means we see through any and every confusion of our day and age.  It means we see the cultural and moral errors for what they are.  

 

Reflect, today, upon whether or not you are willing and able to let the Holy Spirit cut through the confusion so manifestly present all around us.  Are you ready to allow the Holy Spirit of Truth to penetrate your mind and lead you into all truth?  Seeking the truth in our present time is the only way to survive the many errors and confusions thrown at us each day.

 

Lord, help me to interpret the present time and to see the errors fostered all around us, as well as Your goodness manifest in so many ways.  Give me courage and wisdom so that I may reject what is evil and seek that which is from You.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Thursday 22nd October 2020

Peace on Earth?

 

Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”  Luke 12:51-53

 

Yes, this is a shocking Scripture at first.  Why would Jesus say that He came to establish not peace but division?  This does not at all sound like something He would say.  And then to go on saying that family members will be divided against each other is even more confusing.  So what is this about?

This passage reveals one of the unintended but permitted effects of the Gospel.  Sometimes the Gospel brings about a certain disunity.  Throughout history, for example, Christians have been severely persecuted for their faith.  The example of many martyrs reveals that those who live the faith and preach it may become the target of another.

 

In our world today, there are Christians who are persecuted simply for being Christian.  And in some cultures, Christians are severely mistreated for speaking out regarding certain moral truths of the faith.  As a result, the proclamation of the Gospel can at times bring about a certain disunity.  

 

But the real cause of any disunity is the refusal on the part of some to accept the truth.  Do not be afraid of holding fast to the truths of our faith regardless of the reactions of others.  If you are hated or mistreated as a result, do not let yourself give in to compromise for the sake of “peace at all costs.”  That form of peace is not from God and will never bring about true unity in Christ. 

 

Reflect, today, upon whether or not you struggle with compromising your faith when it is challenged by others.  Know that God wants you to choose Him and His holy will above every other relationship in life.  

 

Lord, give me grace to keep my eyes on You and Your will and to choose You above everything else in life.  When my faith is challenged give me courage and strength to stay strong in Your love.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Wednesday 21st October 2020

A Habit of Prayer

 

Jesus said to his disciples: “Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”  Luke 12:39-40

 

This Scripture offers us an invitation.  It can be said that Jesus comes to us at an unexpected hour in two ways.

 

First, we know that He will return one day in glory to judge the living and the dead.  His Second Coming is real and we should be aware of the fact that it could happen at any time.  Sure, it may not happen for many years, or even for many hundreds of years, but it will happen.  There will be one moment when the world as it is will end and the new order will be established.  Ideally, we live each and every day in anticipation of that day and that moment.  We must live in such a way that we are always ready for that end.  

 

Second, we must realize that Jesus does come to us, continually, by grace.  Traditionally, we speak of His two comings: 1) His Incarnation, and 2) His return in glory.  But there is a third coming we can speak of which is His coming by grace into our lives.  And this coming is quite real and should be something to which we are continually attentive.  His coming by grace requires that we be continually “prepared” to meet Him.  If we are not prepared, we can be certain we will miss Him.  How do we prepare for this coming by grace?  We prepare first and foremost by fostering a daily habit of interior prayer.  An interior habit of prayer means we are, in a sense, always praying.  It means that no matter what we do each and every day, our minds and hearts are always turned toward God.  It’s like breathing.  We always do it and do it without even thinking about it.  Prayer must become just as much of a habit as breathing.  It must be central to who we are and how we live.

 

Reflect, today, upon your life of prayer.  Know that the moments you dedicate exclusively to prayer each day are essential to your holiness and relationship with God.  And know that those moments must help to build a habit of always being attentive to God.  Being prepared this way will allow you to meet Christ at every moment that He comes to you by grace.

 

Lord, help me to foster in my heart a life of prayer.  Help me to seek You always and to always be prepared for You when You come.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Tuesday 20th October 2020

Open Immediately

 

Jesus said to his disciples: “Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks.”  Luke 12:35-36

 

The key here is that we are to “open immediately” when Jesus comes and knocks on the door of our heart.  This passage reveals the disposition that we are to have in our hearts regarding the way Christ comes to us, by grace, and “knocks.”

 

Jesus is knocking on your heart.  He is continually coming to you seeking to come in and recline with you so as to converse, strengthen, heal and help.  The question to honestly ponder is whether or not you are ready to let Him in immediately.  Too often we hesitate in our encounter with Christ.  Too often we want to know the full plan for our lives before we are willing to submit and surrender.  

 

What we must come to know is that Jesus is trustworthy in every way.  He has the perfect answer to every question we have and He has the perfect plan for every aspect of our lives.  Do you believe this?  Do you accept this as true?  Once we accept this truth we will be better prepared to open the door of our heart at the first prompting of grace.  We will be prepared to be immediately attentive to all that Jesus wants to say to us and to the grace He wants to give us.

 

Reflect, today, upon how ready you are to open immediately every part of your life to the grace and will of God.  Let Him in with great joy and enthusiasm and let His plan continue to unfold in your life.

 

Lord, I do wish to let You into my life more deeply each and every day.  I desire to hear Your voice and respond generously.  Give me the grace to respond to You as I ought.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Monday 19th October 2020

True Riches

 

“‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’ Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.”  Luke 12:20-21

 

This passage is the response from God to one who decides to make worldly wealth his goal.  In this parable, the rich man had such a bountiful harvest that he decided to tear down his old barns and build bigger ones so as to store the harvest.  Little did this man realize that his life would soon come to an end and that all he stored up would never be used by him.

 

The contrast in this parable is between an abundance of earthly wealth and wealth in what matters to God.  Sure, it may be possible to be rich in both, but accomplishing this would be quite difficult.

One straightforward challenge of this Gospel is to eliminate the desire for material wealth.  This is hard to do.  It’s not that material wealth is evil, it’s just that it is a serious temptation.  The temptation is to trust in material things for satisfaction rather than trusting only in God.  Material wealth should be understood to be a true temptation that must be kept in check.

 

Reflect, today, upon your desire for wealth.  Let this Gospel offer you a straightforward challenge regarding your desire for riches.  Be honest and look into your heart.  Do you spend much time thinking about money and material possessions?  Seek God above all things and let Him alone be your satisfaction.

 

Lord, I desire to be truly rich in grace and mercy rather than in material things.  Help me to always keep the proper priorities in life and to be purified in all of my desires.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Friday 15th October 2020

God's Attentiveness

 

 

“Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins? Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God. Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. Do not be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows.”  Luke 12:6-7

 

 

“Do not be afraid.”  These words are often repeated in the holy Scriptures.  In this passage, Jesus says we should not be afraid because of the fact that the Father in Heaven is attentive to every last detail of our lives.  Nothing has escaped the notice of God.  If God is attentive to the sparrows, He is even more attentive to us.  That should give us a certain sense of peace and confidence.

 

Of course, one reason that this can still be difficult to believe is that there are many times when it feels like God is quite distant and inattentive to our lives.  It’s important to remember that whenever we have this feeling, it’s only a feeling and not reality.  Reality is that God is infinitely more attentive to the details of our lives than we could ever realize.  In fact, He’s far more attentive to us than we are attentive to ourselves!  And not only is He attentive to every detail, He is deeply concerned about every detail.

 

So why might it feel like God is distant at times?  There could be many reasons for this but we should be certain that there is always a reason.  Perhaps we are not listening to Him and not praying as we should and thus we are missing His attentiveness and guidance.  Perhaps He has chosen to remain silent in a matter as a way of drawing us closer to Himself.  Perhaps His silence is actually a very clear sign of His presence and His will.  

 

Reflect, today, upon the fact that regardless of how we may feel at times we must be certain of the truth of this passage above.  “You are worth more than many sparrows.”  God has even counted the hairs on your head.  And every part of your life is fully present to Him.  Allow these truths to give you consolation and hope knowing that this attentive God is also a God of perfect love and mercy and will provide for you all that you need in life.

 

Lord, I know You love me and are aware of every feeling, thought and experience I have in life.  You are aware of every problem and concern I have.  Help me to continually turn to You in all things knowing of Your perfect love and guidance.  Jesus, I trust in You.

 

Thursday 15th October 2020

The Key to Knowledge

 

“Woe to you, scholars of the law! You have taken away the key of knowledge. You yourselves did not enter and you stopped those trying to enter.”  Luke 11:52

 

In today’s Gospel, Jesus continues to chastise the Pharisees and the scholars of the law.  In this passage above, He chastises them because they “have taken away the key of knowledge” and have actively tried to keep others from the knowledge God wants them to have.  This is a strong accusation and reveals that the Pharisees and scholars of the law were actively hurting the faith of God’s people.

As we’ve seen over the past few days in the Scriptures, Jesus rebuked the scholars of the law and the Pharisees severely for this.  And His rebuke was not only for their sake, it is also for our sake so that we know not to follow false prophets such as these and all who are interested only in themselves and their reputation rather than the truth.

 

This Gospel passage is not only a condemnation of this sin, more importantly it raises a deep and beautiful concept.  It’s the concept of “the key of knowledge.”  What is the key of knowledge?  The key of knowledge is faith, and faith can come only by listening to the voice of God.  The key to knowledge is to let God speak to you and to reveal to you His deepest and most beautiful truths.  These truths can only be received and believed through prayer and through direct communication with God.  

 

The saints are the best examples of those who have penetrated the deep mysteries of God’s life.  Through their life of prayer and faith they came to know God on a profound level.  Many of these great saints have left us beautiful writings and a powerful witness of the hidden but revealed mysteries of the inner life of God.

 

Reflect, today, upon whether or not you have taken the “key of knowledge” and opened the mysteries of God through your life of faith and prayer.  Recommit yourself to seeking God in your daily personal prayer and to seek all that He desires to reveal to you.

 

Lord, help me to seek You through a life of daily prayer.  In that life of prayer, draw me into a deep relationship with You, revealing to me all that You are and all that life is about.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Wednesday 14th October 2020

Woe to You

 

“Woe to you! You are like unseen graves over which people unknowingly walk.” Then one of the scholars of the law said to him in reply, “Teacher, by saying this you are insulting us too.” And he said, “Woe also to you scholars of the law! You impose on people burdens hard to carry, but you yourselves do not lift one finger to touch them.”  Luke 11:44-46

 

What an interesting and somewhat surprising exchange between Jesus and this scholar of the law.  Here, Jesus is severely chastising the Pharisees and one of the scholars of the law tries to correct Jesus for being offensive.  And what does Jesus do?  He doesn’t back down or apologize for offending him; rather, He turns His severe rebuke to the scholar of the law.  That must have surprised him!

What’s interesting is that the scholar of the law points out that Jesus is “insulting” them.  And he points it out as if Jesus were committing a sin and in need of a rebuke.  So was Jesus insulting the Pharisees and scholar of the law?  Yes, He probably was.  Was that a sin on Jesus’ part?  Obviously not.  Jesus does not sin.

 

The mystery we face here is that sometimes the truth is “insulting,” so to speak.  It’s insulting to a person’s pride.  What’s most interesting is that when someone is insulted, they need to first realize that they are insulted because of their pride, not because of what the other person said or did.  Even if someone was overly harsh, feeling insulted is a result of pride.  If one were truly humble, then a rebuke would actually be welcomed as a helpful form of correction.  Sadly, the scholar of the law appears to lack the necessary humility to let Jesus’ rebuke sink in and free him from his sin.

 

Reflect, today, upon whether or not you are humble enough to receive correction from another.  If someone points out your sin do you get offended?  Or do you take it as a useful correction and allow it to help you grow in holiness?

 

Lord, please give me true humility.  Help me to never be offended when corrected by others.  May I receive others’ corrections as graces to help me on my way to holiness.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Tuesday 13th October 2020

Cleansing Your Heart

 

The Lord said to him, “Oh you Pharisees! Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil. You fools!”  Luke 11:39-40a

 

Jesus was continually critical of the Pharisees for being caught up with their external appearance and ignoring the sacredness of their souls.  It appears that Pharisee after Pharisee fell into this same trap.  Their pride led them to become obsessed with their external appearance of righteousness.  Sadly, their external appearance was only a mask over the “plunder and evil” that consumed them from within.  For that reason Jesus calls them “fools.”

 

This head on challenge from our Lord was clearly an act of love in that He deeply desired that they looked at that which was within so as to cleanse their hearts and souls of all evil.  It appears that, in the case of the Pharisees, they needed to be called out directly for their evil.  This was the only way they would have a chance of repenting.

 

The same can be true for all of us at times.  Each one of us can struggle with being far more concerned about our public image than about the sanctity of our souls.  But what is more important?  What’s important is that which God sees within.  God sees our intentions and all that is deep within our consciences.  He sees our motivations, our virtues, our sins, our attachments, and everything hidden from the eyes of others.  We, too, are invited to see that which Jesus sees.  We are invited to look at our souls in the light of truth.  

 

Do you see your soul?  Do you examine your conscience each and every day?  You should examine your conscience by looking within and seeing what God sees through times of prayer and honest introspection.  Perhaps the Pharisees regularly fooled themselves into thinking all was well in their souls.  If you do the same at times, you also may need to learn from the strong words of Jesus.

Reflect, today, upon your soul.  Do not be afraid to look at it in the light of truth and to see your life as God sees it.  This is the first and most important step in becoming truly holy.  And it’s not only the way to cleanse our souls, it’s also the necessary step in allowing our external life to shine brightly with the light of God’s grace.

 

Lord, I want to become holy.  I want to be cleansed through and through.  Help me to see my soul as You see it and to allow Your grace and mercy to cleanse me in the ways that I need to be cleansed.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Monday 12th October 2020

Seeking Signs

 

While still more people gathered in the crowd, Jesus said to them, “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah.”  Luke 11:29

 

Do you ever wish that God would give you a sign from Heaven as a way of giving you some definitive guidance or direction in life?  Do you look for signs from God and rely upon them?  

 

If God were to give us some clear sign in life revealing His will, we should take it as a gift and be grateful for it.  But receiving a sign from God is different than seeking a sign from God.  In the passage above, Jesus strongly condemns those coming and seeking signs.  Why is this the case?  Why does Jesus speak strongly against seeking signs?  In large part because He wants us to seek Him through the gift of faith.

 

Jesus states that no sign will be given except the sign of Jonah.  The “sign of Jonah” refers to Jesus’ Crucifixion, death, three days in the tomb and Resurrection.  Jonah was three days in the belly of the whale.  Jesus was telling them that He would be three days in the tomb.  

 

But the key is that Jesus’ death and Resurrection IS the sign that will be given.  We should seek nothing other than this central mystery of our faith.  Every question, problem, concern, confusion, etc., can be answered and dealt with if we simply enter into the great mystery of our redemption by entering into the life, death and Resurrection of Christ.  Seeking a sign other than this would be wrong in that it would be a way of saying that the death and Resurrection of Jesus is not enough.

 

Reflect, today, upon the greatest “sign” God has ever given.  And if you find yourself struggling with questions in life, turn your eyes to this one definitive sign.  Turn your eyes to the central mystery of our faith: the life, death and Resurrection of Christ.  It is there that every question can be answered and every grace is given.  We need nothing more than this.

 

Lord, Your life, death and Resurrection is all I need to know in life.  Your perfect sacrifice gives me every answer and pours forth every grace.  May I always turn to You as the sign I need every day.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Friday 9th October 2020

Overcoming Sin

 

“When an unclean spirit goes out of someone, it roams through arid regions searching for rest but, finding none, it says, ‘I shall return to my home from which I came.’ But upon returning, it finds it swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and brings back seven other spirits more wicked than itself who move in and dwell there, and the last condition of that man is worse than the first.”  Luke 11:24-26

 

This passage reveals the danger of habitual sin.  Perhaps you’ve found that you have struggled with a particular sin in your life.  This sin has been committed over and over again.  Eventually you resolve to confess it and overcome it.  After confessing it you are overjoyed, but find that within a day you are right back to that same sin.  

 

This common struggle people go through can be a cause of much frustration.  The Scripture above speaks about this struggle from a spiritual point of view, the point of view of demonic temptation.  When we target a sin to overcome and turn away from the temptation of the evil one, the demons come at us with even greater force and do not give up the battle for our souls that easily.  As a result, some eventually give in to sin and choose not to try any longer to overcome it.  That would be a mistake.

 

One key spiritual principle to understand from this passage is that the more attached we are to a particular sin, the deeper our resolve must be to overcome it.  And overcoming sin can be quite painful and difficult.  Overcoming sin requires deep spiritual purification and a complete submission of our mind and will to God.  Without this resolve and purifying surrender, the temptations we face from the evil one will be very difficult to overcome.

 

Reflect, today, upon how deep your resolve is to overcome sin.  When temptations come your way, are you wholeheartedly committed to overcoming them?  Seek to deepen your resolve so that the temptations of the evil one do not take hold of you.

 

Lord, I surrender my life into Your hands without reserve.  I beg You to strengthen me in time of temptation and to keep me free from sin.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Thursday 8th October 2020

Ask, Seek, Knock

 

“And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”  Luke 11:9-10

 

Sometimes this Scripture passage can be misunderstood.  Some may think it means that we should pray, pray more and pray harder and eventually God will answer our prayers.  Some may think that this means that God does not answer prayer if we fail to pray hard enough.  And some may think that whatever we pray for will be given to us if we just keep asking.  We need some important clarifications on these points.

 

We certainly should pray hard and often.  But one key question to understand is this:  What should I pray for?  This is key because God will not give us what we pray for, no matter how long and hard we pray for it, if it is not part of His glorious and perfect will.  For example, if someone is sick and dying and it is part of the permissive will of God to allow that person to die, then all the prayer in the world will not change things.  Instead, prayer in this case should be offered so as to invite God into this difficult situation so as to make it a beautiful and holy death.  So it’s not a matter of begging God until we convince Him to do what we want, as a child may do to a parent.  Rather, we must pray for one thing and one thing only…we must pray for the will of God to be done.  Prayer is not offered to change God’s mind, it’s to transform us, strengthen us and enable us to embrace all that God calls us to do.  

Reflect, today, upon how you pray.  Do you seek only the will of God in all things and pray deeply for that?  Do you knock at the heart of Christ seeking His holy and perfect plan?  Do you ask for His grace to enable you and others to fully embrace all that He has in mind for you.  Pray hard and expect that prayer to change your life.

 

Lord, help me to daily seek You and to increase my life of faith through prayer.  May my prayer help me to receive Your holy and perfect will into my life.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Wednesday 7th October 2020

Praying the Lords Prayer

 

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.”  Luke 11:1

 

The disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray.  In response, He taught them the “Our Father” prayer.  There is much that can be said about this prayer.  This prayer contains all we need to know about prayer.  It is a catechetical lesson about prayer itself and contains seven petitions to the Father.  Let’s look at the first three of these as found in Chapter 11 of My Catholic Worship!

 

Hallowed be Thy Name:  “Hallowed” means to be holy.  As we pray this part of the prayer we are not praying that God’s name will become holy, for His name already is holy.  Rather, we pray that this holiness of God will be recognized by us and all people.  We pray that there will be a deep reverence of God’s name and that we will always treat God with the proper honor, devotion, love and awe to which we are called.

 

It’s especially important to point out how often God’s name is used in vain.  That is a strange phenomenon.  Have you ever wondered why, when people get angry, they would curse God’s name?  It’s strange.  And, in fact, it’s demonic.  Anger, in those moments, invites us to act in a contrary way to this prayer and to the proper use of God’s name.

 

God Himself is holy, holy, holy.  He is thrice holy!  In other words, He is the Holiest!  Living with this fundamental disposition of heart is key to a good Christian life and to a good life of prayer. 

Perhaps a good practice would be to regularly honor God’s name.  For example, what a wonderful habit it would be to regularly say, “Sweet and precious Jesus, I love You.”  Or, “Glorious and merciful God, I adore You.”  Adding adjectives like these before we mention God is a good habit to get into as a way of fulfilling this first petition of the Lord’s Prayer.

 

Another good practice would be to always refer to the “Blood of Christ” we consume at Mass as the “Precious Blood.”  Or the Host as the “Sacred Host.”  There are many who fall into the trap of just referring to it as the “wine” or the “bread.”  This is most likely not malicious or even sinful, but it’s much better to enter into the practice and habit of honoring and revering anything that is associated with God, especially the Most Holy Eucharist!

 

Thy Kingdom Come: This petition of the Lord’s Prayer is a way of acknowledging two things.  First, we acknowledge the fact that Jesus will, one day, return in all His glory and establish His permanent and visible Kingdom.  This will be the time of the Final Judgment when the current Heaven and Earth will pass away and the new order will be established.  So, praying this petition is a faith-filled acknowledgment of this fact.  It’s our way of saying we not only believe this will happen, we also look forward to it and pray for it. 

 

Secondly, we must realize that the Kingdom of God is already here among us.  For now, it’s an invisible Kingdom.  It’s a spiritual reality that must become an all-consuming and present reality in our world. 

To pray that God’s “Kingdom come” means we desire that He first take greater possession of our souls.  The Kingdom of God must be within us.  He must reign on the throne of our hearts and we must allow Him.  Therefore, this must be our constant prayer. 

 

We also pray that the Kingdom of God become present in our world.  God wants to transform the social, political and cultural order right now.  So we must pray and work for that.  Our prayer for the Kingdom to come is also a way for us to commit ourselves to God to allow Him to use us for this very purpose.  It’s a prayer of faith and courage.  Faith because we believe He can use us, and courage because the evil one and world will not like it.  As the Kingdom of God is established in this world through us, we will meet with opposition.  But that’s ok and should be expected.  And this petition is, in part, to help us with this mission.

 

Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven: Praying for the Kingdom of God to come means, also, that we seek to live the will of the Father.  This is done as we enter into union with Christ Jesus.  He fulfilled the will of His Father with perfection.  His human life is the perfect model of the will of God and it is also the means by which we live the will of God.

 

This petition is a way of committing ourselves to live in union with Christ Jesus.  We take our will and entrust it to Christ so that His will lives in us. 

 

By doing this we begin to be filled with all virtue.  We will also be filled with the Gifts of the Holy Spirit which are necessary for living the will of the Father.  For example, the Gift of Knowledge is a gift by which we come to know what God wants of us in particular situations in life.  So praying this petition is a way of asking God to fill us with knowledge of His will.  But we also need the courage and strength necessary to then live out that will.  So this petition also prays for those Gifts of the Holy Spirit that enable us to live out what God reveals as His divine plan for our lives. 

 

It is, of course, also an intercession for all people.  In this petition we pray that all will come to live in unity and harmony with God’s perfect plan.

 

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Tuesday 6th October 2020

Resting at the Feet of Jesus

 

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 10:40-42

 

At first this seems unfair.  Martha is working hard at preparing the meal, while Mary is just sitting there at the feet of Jesus.  So, Martha complains to Jesus. But interestingly, Jesus somewhat humbles Martha instead of Mary.  Of course, He does it in a kind and gentle way.

 

The truth is that both Martha and Mary were fulfilling their unique roles at that moment.  Martha was doing Jesus a great service by serving Him through the preparation of their meal.  This is what she was called to do and the service would have been an act of love.  Mary, on the other hand, was fulfilling her role.  She was called, at that moment, to simply sit at the feet of Jesus and be present to Him. 

 

These two women have traditionally represented two vocations in the Church, as well as two callings we are all called to have.  Martha represents the active life and Mary represents the contemplative life.  The active life is that life most live on a daily basis, be it through the service of family or others in the world.  The contemplative life is a vocation to which some are called through the cloistered life, in that they leave the busy world and dedicate most of their day to prayer and solitude.

 

Truthfully, you are called to both of these vocations.  Even if your life is one filled with work, you are still called regularly to choose “the better part.”  At times, Jesus calls you to imitate Mary in that He wants you to daily stop your work and dedicate some time to Him and Him alone.  Not everyone is able to go spend time before the Blessed Sacrament each day in silent prayer, but some are.  However, you should seek to find at least some time of silence and solitude every day so as to sit at the feet of Jesus in prayer.

 

Reflect, today, upon your own call to prayer.  Do you pray?  Do you pray every day?  If this is lacking, then reflect upon the image of Mary being there at the feet of Jesus and know that Jesus wants the same from you.

 

Lord, help me to hear You calling me to stop what I’m doing and to simply rest in Your divine presence.  May I find those moments every day in which I can be refreshed in Your presence.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Monday 5th October 2020

Bringing Mercy

 

“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 10:36-37

 

Here we have the conclusion to the familiar story of the Good Samaritan.  First, robbers beat him and left him for dead.  Then a priest walked by and ignored him.  And then a Levite walked by also ignoring him.  Finally, the Samaritan walked by and took care of him with great generosity.

 

Interestingly, when Jesus asked the disciples which of these three acted as a neighbor, they didn’t respond “the Samaritan.”  Rather, they responded, “The one who treated him with mercy.”  Mercy was the key focus.

 

It is so easy to be judgmental and harsh with one another.  If you read the newspapers or listen to the news commentators you can’t help but hear continual judgment and condemnation.  Our fallen human nature seems to thrive on being critical of others.  And when we are not critical, we are often tempted to act like the priest and Levite in this story.  We are tempted to turn a blind eye to those in need.  The key must be to always show mercy and show it in superabundance. 

 

Reflect, today, upon the call God gives you to show mercy.  Mercy, in order to be true mercy, must hurt.  It must “hurt” in the sense that it requires you to let go of your pride, selfishness and anger and choose to show love instead.  You choose to show love to the point that it hurts.  But that hurt is a true source of healing in that it cleanses you of your sin.  Saint Mother Teresa is quoted as saying, “I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”  Mercy is the kind of love that may hurt at first, but in the end leaves only love.

 

Lord, do make me an instrument of Your love and mercy.  Help me to especially show mercy when it is hard in life and when I do not feel like it.  May those moments be graced moments when You transform me into Your gift of love.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Friday 2nd October 2020

Guardian Angels

“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 18:10

 

We honor, today, our glorious Guardian Angels!  They are treasures and helpers beyond what we could imagine.  

 

A few days ago we honored the Archangels, Michael, Gabriel and Raphael.  In that reflection we looked at the hierarchy of celestial beings created by God.  Though the Guardian Angels are on the bottom of that list, they are no less glorious and magnificent than the host of other celestial beings.  

 

Guardian Angels are traditionally said to have been created for the sole purpose of serving us in our needs.  Yes, God could have chosen to care for us directly without the use of angels, but He didn’t.  He chose to create angels as mediators of His grace and care.  

 

It’s fair to say that our Guardian Angels love us with a perfect love.  They know us, care for us and desire deeply that we become holy.  Their primary purpose is to get us to Heaven and to draw us into the heights of sanctity.  How do they do this?

 

They do it by mediating God’s grace to us.  The word “angel” means messenger.  Thus, our angels play a central role in communicating to us the will and mind of God.  They can speak all that God wants to say to us.  They are also protectors in that they bring grace from God to particular situations in life to fight against evil and to help us do good.  

 

Reflect, today, upon the gift of your own guardian angel.  This celestial being was created for the sole purpose of caring for you and getting you to Heaven.  Speak to your angel, today.  Rely upon your angel’s intercession and allow this holy angel to communicate to you God’s abundant grace.  

 

Angel of God, my Guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here, ever this day be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.  Angels of God, pray for me.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Thursday 1st October 2020

Send Forth

 

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.”  Luke 10:1-2

 

The world is in great need of the love and mercy of Christ.  It’s like a dry and barren land waiting to soak up the gentle rain.  You are that rain and our Lord wants to send you forth to bring His grace to the world.

 

It’s important that all Christians understand that they are indeed being sent forth by the Lord to others.  This Scripture above reveals that the world is like a field of abundant fruit waiting to be picked.  Too often it sits there, withering on the vines, with no one to harvest it.  That’s where you come in.

 

How ready and willing are you to be used by God for His mission and purpose?  You may often feel as though the work of evangelizing and harvesting good fruit for the Kingdom of God is the job for someone else.  It’s so easy to think, “What can I do?”

 

The answer is quite easy.  You can turn your attention to the Lord and let Him send you.  Only He knows the mission He has picked for you and only He knows what He wants you to harvest.  Your responsibility is to be attentive.  Listen, be open, be ready and be willing.  When you sense Him calling you and sending you, do not hesitate.  Say “Yes” to His gentle promptings.

 

This is accomplished first and foremost through prayer.  This passage says, “Ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.”  In other words, pray that the Lord sends many zealous souls, including yourself, into the world to attend to the many hearts that are in need.  

 

Reflect, today, upon your willingness to be sent by Christ.  Give yourself to His service and wait to be sent.  When He does speak to you and send you on your way, go without haste and allow yourself to be amazed at all that God wants to do through you.

 

Lord, I give myself to Your service.  I lay my life down at Your feet and commit to the mission You have in store for me.  I thank You, Lord, for loving me enough that I may be used by You.  Use me as You will, dear Lord.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Wednesday 30th September 2020

Hesitation

 

And another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home.” Jesus answered him, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God.”  Luke 9:61-62

 

Jesus’ call is absolute.  When He calls us we ought to respond with complete submission of our will and with an abundance of generosity. 

 

In the Scripture above, God willed that this person immediately and completely follow Jesus.  But the person hesitates saying he wants to go and first say goodbye to his family.  That sounds like a reasonable request.  But Jesus makes it clear that he is called to follow Him immediately and without hesitation.

 

It’s certainly not that there is anything wrong with wanting to say goodbye to his family.  The family would most likely expect such a thing.  But Jesus uses this opportunity to show us that our number one priority must be to answer His call, when He calls, how He calls, and because He calls.  In the wonderful and even mysterious call to follow Christ, we must be ready to respond without hesitation.

Imagine if one of the persons in this story were different.  Imagine if one of them came to Jesus and said, “Lord, I will follow You and am ready and willing to follow You right now without qualification.”  That’s the ideal.  And, yes, the idea is quite radical.

 

In our own lives, we most likely will not receive the radical call to literally leave everything behind immediately and go serve Christ in some new form of life.  But the key is our willingness!  Are you willing?

 

If you are willing, you will start to discover that Jesus is daily calling you to fulfill His mission.  And if you are willing, you will daily see that His mission is glorious and fruitful beyond measure.  It simply comes down to you saying “Yes” without hesitation and without delay.

 

Reflect, today, upon your willingness to follow Jesus.  Put yourself into this Scripture and reflect upon how you would respond to Jesus.  Most likely you will see hesitation.  And if you see hesitation in your heart, try to surrender that over so that you will be ready for all our Lord has in mind for you.

 

Lord, I do love You and I do want to follow You.  Help me to overcome any and every hesitation in my life in saying “Yes” to Your holy will.  Help me to discern Your voice and embrace all You say every day.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Tuesday 29th September 2020

Archangels

 

“Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”  John 1:51

 

Yes, angels are for real.  And they are mighty, glorious, beautiful and magnificent in every way.  Today we honor three of the multitude of angels in Heaven: Michael, Gabriel and Raphael.

 

These angels are “archangels.”  An archangel is the second order of angels just above the guardian angels.  In all, there are nine orders of celestial beings that we commonly refer to as angels and all nine of these orders are traditionally organized into three spheres.  The entire hierarchy is traditionally organized this way:

 

Highest Sphere: Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones.
Middle Sphere: Dominions, Virtues and Powers.
Lower Sphere: Principalities, Archangels and Angels (Guardian Angels).

 

The hierarchy of these celestial beings is ordered in accord with their function and purpose.  The highest of the beings, the Seraphim, were created solely for the purpose of surrounding the Throne of God in perpetual worship and adoration.  The lowest of the beings, the Guardian Angels, were created for the purpose of caring for humans and communicating God’s messages.  The Archangels, whom we honor today, were created for the purpose of bringing messages of great importance to us and to accomplish tasks of the highest importance in our lives.

 

Michael is well known as the archangel who was empowered by God to cast Lucifer out of Heaven.  Lucifer is traditionally thought to be of the highest sphere of celestial beings and, thus, being cast out by a lowly archangel was quite a humiliation.

 

Gabriel is well known for being the archangel who brought the message of the Incarnation to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  

 

And Raphael, whose name means “God heals” is referred to in the Old Testament Book of Tobit and is said to have been sent to bring healing to Tobit’s eyes.

 

Though not much is known of these archangels, it’s important to believe in them, honor them and to pray to them.  We pray to them because we believe God has entrusted them with a mission to help us bring healing, fight evil and proclaim the Word of God.  Their power comes from God, but God has chosen to use the archangels, and all celestial beings, to accomplish His plan and purpose.

 

Reflect, today, upon your knowledge of the angels.  Do you believe in them?  Do you honor them?  Do you rely upon their powerful intercession and mediation in your life?  God wants to use them, so you should truly seek their help in your life.

 

Lord, thank You for the gift of the Archangels whom we honor today.  Thank You for their powerful working in our lives.  Help us to rely upon them and to love them for their service.  Archangels, pray for us, heal us, teach us and protect us.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Monday 28th September 2020

Supporting One Another

 

Then John said in reply, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow in our company.” Jesus said to him, “Do not prevent him, for whoever is not against you is for you.”  Luke 9:49-50

 

Why would the Apostles try to prevent someone from casting a demon out in Jesus’ name?  Jesus was not concerned about it and, in fact, tells them not to prevent him.  So why were the Apostles concerned?  Most likely because of jealousy.

 

The jealousy we see in this case among the Apostles is one that can creep into the Church at times.  It has to do with a desire for power and control.  The Apostles were upset because the person casting out demons did not follow in their company.  In other words, the Apostles were not able to be in charge of this person.

 

Though this may be hard to understand it may be helpful to see it in a modern context.  Say someone is in charge of a ministry at church and another person or persons start up a new ministry.  The new ministry is quite successful and, as a result, those who have been working in the older more established ministries may get upset and a bit jealous.

 

This is silly but it’s also reality.  It happens all the time, not only within a church setting but also in our daily lives.  When we see someone else doing something that is successful or bearing good fruit, we may get envious or jealous.  

 

In this case, with the Apostles, Jesus is quite understanding and compassionate about the whole thing.  But He is also quite clear.  “Do not prevent him, for whoever is not against you is for you.”  Do you see things in life this way?  When someone does well do you rejoice or are you negative?  When another does good things in Jesus’ name, does that fill your heart with gratitude that God is using that person for good or do you get envious?

 

Reflect, today, upon the many good things going on all around you.  Reflect, especially, upon those who are furthering the Kingdom of God.  And reflect upon how you feel about them.  Pray that you will see them as your coworker in the vineyard of Christ rather than as your competitor.  

 

Lord, I thank You for the many good things taking place within Your Church and within society.  Help me to rejoice in all that You do through others.  Help me to let go of any struggle I have with envy.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Friday 25th September 2020

Who Do You Say I Am?

 

“Who do the crowds say that I am?” They said in reply, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, ‘One of the ancient prophets has arisen.’” Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said in reply, “The Christ of God.”  Luke 9:18c-20

 

Peter got it right.  Jesus was “the Christ of God.”  Many others spoke of Him as one who was only a great prophet, but Peter saw deeper.  He saw that Jesus was uniquely the Anointed One who is of God.  In other words, Jesus was God.

 

Though we know this to be true, we can sometimes fail to fully comprehend the depth of this “Mystery of Faith.”  Jesus is human, and He is God.  This is hard to comprehend.  It would have been hard for those of Jesus’ time to comprehend this great mystery, also.  Imagine sitting before Jesus listening to Him speak.  If you were there before Him, would you have concluded that He is also the second Person of the Most Holy Trinity?  Would you have concluded that He existed from all eternity and was the great I AM WHO AM?  Would you have concluded that He was perfect in every way and that He was also the Creator of all things and the one who keeps all things in being?

 

Most likely none of us fully would have comprehended the true depth of the meaning that Jesus was “the Christ of God.”  We most likely would have recognized something special about Him, but would have failed to see Him for who He is in His full essence.

 

The same is true today.  When we look at the Most Holy Eucharist, do we see God?  Do we see the Almighty, Omnipotent, All-loving God who existed for eternity is the source of all good and is the Creator of all things?  Perhaps the answer is both “Yes”  and “No.”  “Yes” in that we believe and “no” in that we do not fully understand.

 

Reflect, today, upon the divinity of Christ.  Reflect upon Him present in the Most Holy Eucharist as well as His presence all around us.  Do you see Him?  Do you believe?  How deep and complete is your faith in Him.  Recommit yourself to a deeper understanding of who Jesus is in His Godhead.  Try and take a step deeper in your faith.

 

Lord, I do believe.  I believe You are the Christ of God.  Help me to comprehend even more what that means.  Help me to see Your divinity more clearly and to believe in You more fully.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Thursday 24th September 2020

Holy Curiosity

But Herod said, “John I beheaded. Who then is this about whom I hear such things?” And he kept trying to see him. Luke 9:9

 

Herod teaches us both some bad qualities as well as some good ones.  The bad ones are quite obvious.  Herod was living a very sinful life and, ultimately, his disordered life led him to have St. John the Baptist beheaded.  But the Scripture above does reveal one interesting quality which we should try to imitate.

 

Herod was interested in Jesus.  “He kept trying to see him” the Scripture says.  Though this did not ultimately lead to Herod accepting John the Baptist’s original message and repenting, it was at least a first step.

 

For lack of better terminology, perhaps we can call this desire of Herod a “holy curiosity.”  He knew there was something unique about Jesus and he wanted to understand it.  He wanted to know who Jesus was and was intrigued by His message.

 

Though we are all called to go much further than Herod did in the pursuit of the truth, we can still recognize that Herod is a good representation of many within our society.  So many are intrigued by the Gospel and all that our faith presents. They listen with curiosity to what the pope says and how the Church reacts to injustices in the world.  Additionally, society as a whole often condemns and criticizes us and our faith.  But this still reveals a sign of its interest and desire to listen to what God has to say, especially through our Church.

 

Reflect, today, upon two things.  First, reflect upon your own desire to know more.  And when you discover this desire don’t stop there.  Allow it to draw you close to the message of our Lord. 

 

Secondly, be attentive to the “holy curiosity” of those around you.  Perhaps a neighbor, family member or coworker has shown interest in what your faith and what our Church has to say.  When you see that, pray for them and ask God to use you as He did the Baptist to bring His message to all who seek it.

 

Lord, help me to seek You in all things and at all times.  When darkness closes in, help me to discover the light You have revealed.  Then help me to bring that light to a world in great need.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Wednesday 27th September 2020

Dealing with Rejection

“And as for those who do not welcome you, when you leave that town, shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them.”  Luke 9:5

 

This is a bold statement from Jesus.  It’s also a statement that should bolden us in the face of opposition.

 

Jesus had just finished telling His disciples to go from town to town preaching the Gospel.  He instructed them not to bring extra food or clothing on the journey but, rather, to rely upon the generosity of those to whom they preach.  And He acknowledged that some will not accept them.  As for those who do in fact reject them and their message, they are to “shake the dust “ from their feet as they leave the town.

 

What does this mean?  It especially tells us two things.  First, when we are rejected it can hurt.  As a result, it’s easy for us to sulk and stew over the rejection and hurt.  It’s easy to sit and be angry and, as a result, to allow the rejection to do us even more damage.

 

Shaking the dust from our feet is a way of saying that we ought not allow the hurt we receive to affect us.  It’s a way of making a clear statement that we will not be controlled by the opinions and malice of others.  This is an important choice to make in life when facing rejection.

 

Secondly, it’s a way of saying that we must keep moving on.  Not only do we have to get over any hurt we have, but we need to then move on to seek out those who will receive our love and our message of the Gospel.  So, in a sense, this exhortation from Jesus is not first about dealing with the rejection of others; rather, it’s primarily about seeking out those who will receive us and will receive the message of the Gospel we are called to give. 

 

Reflect, today, upon any hurt you still carry in your heart because of the rejection of others.  Try to let go of it and know that God is calling you to seek out others in love so that you can share the love of Christ with them.

 

Lord, when I experience rejection and hurt, help me to let go of any anger I have.  Help me to continue with my mission of love and to keep sharing Your Gospel with those who will receive it.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Tuesday 22nd September 2020

Jesus' Family

“My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.”  Luke 8:21

 

Perhaps you’ve wondered what it would be like to have a powerful and famous family member.  What would it be like if your sibling or a parent were the President of the United States?  Or a famous athlete?  Or some other famous person?  It probably would be the source of a certain joy and pride in a good way.

 

At the time Jesus walked on the Earth, He was becoming quite “famous,” so to speak.  He was admired and loved and followed by many.  And as He was speaking, His mother and brothers (which would have most likely been cousins) showed up outside.  No doubt people looked at them with a certain respect and admiration and perhaps even a bit of jealousy.  How nice it would be to be Jesus’ actual relative.

Jesus is quite aware of the blessing of being His own kin, part of His own family.  For that reason He makes this statement as a way of inviting everyone present to see themselves as an intimate member of His family.  Sure, our Blessed Mother will always retain her unique relationship with Jesus, but Jesus wants to invite all people to share His familial bond.  

 

How does this happen?  It happens when we “hear the Word of God and act on it.”  It’s that simple.  You are invited to enter the family of Jesus in a deep, personal and profound way if you but listen to all God says and then act on it.  

 

Though this is simple on one level, it’s also true that it’s a very radical move.  It’s radical in the sense that it requires a total commitment to the will of God.  That’s because when God speaks, His words are powerful and transforming.  And acting on His words will change our lives.

 

Reflect, today, upon the invitation of Jesus to be a member of His intimate family.  Hear that invitation and say “Yes” to it.  And as you say “Yes” to this invitation, be ready and willing to let His voice and His divine will change your life.

 

Lord, I accept Your invitation to become a member of Your intimate family.  May I hear Your voice speak and act upon all that You say.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Monday 21st September 2020

Responding to the Call

As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.  Matthew 9:9

 

St. Matthew was a wealthy and “important” man in his day and age.  As a tax collector, he was also disliked by many of the Jews.  But he showed himself to be a good man by His immediate response to Jesus’ call.

 

We do not have many details to this story, but we have the details that matter.  We see that Matthew is at work collecting taxes.  We see that Jesus simply walks by him and calls him.  And we see that Matthew immediately gets up, abandons everything, and follows Jesus.  This is quite a conversion.

 

For most people, this sort of immediate response would not happen.  Most people would have to first get to know Jesus, be convinced by Him, talk to their family and friends, think, ponder and then decide if following Jesus was a good idea.  Most people go through a long rationalizing of God’s will before responding to it.  Is that you?

 

Every day God is calling us.  Every day He calls us to serve Him radically and completely in one way or another.  And every day we have an opportunity to respond just as Matthew did.  The key is to have two essential qualities.  First, we must recognize the voice of Jesus clearly and unmistakably.  We must, in faith, know what He says to us when He says it.  Secondly, we must be certain that whatever Jesus calls or inspires us to do is worth it.  If we can perfect these two qualities we will be in a position to imitate the quick and total response of St. Matthew.

 

Reflect, today, upon your willingness to imitate this Apostle.  What do you say and do when God calls each day?  Where you see a lacking, recommit yourself to a more radical following of Christ.  You will not regret it.

 

Lord, may I hear You speak and respond to You wholeheartedly every time.  May I follow You wherever You lead.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Friday 18th September 2020

Following Jesus

Jesus journeyed from one town and village to another, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God. Accompanying him were the Twelve and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities… Luke 8:1-2

 

Jesus was on a mission.  His mission was to preach to town after town tirelessly.  But He did not do this alone.  This passage points out that He was accompanied by the Apostles and several women who had been healed and forgiven by Him.

 

There is much this passage tells us.  One thing it tells us is that when we allow Jesus to touch our lives, heal us, forgive us and transform us, we want to follow Him wherever He goes.

 

The desire to follow Jesus was not only an emotional one.  Certainly there were emotions involved.  There was incredible gratitude and, as a result, a deep emotional bond.  But the bond went so much deeper.  It was a bond created by the gift of grace and salvation.  These followers of Jesus experienced a greater level of freedom from sin than they had ever experienced before.  Grace changed their lives and, as a result, they were ready and willing to make Jesus the center of their lives following Him wherever He went.

 

Reflect, today, upon two things.  First, have you allowed Jesus to pour forth an abundance of grace into your life?  Have you allowed Him to touch you, change you, forgive you and heal you?  If so, have you then repaid this grace by making the absolute choice to follow Him?  Following Jesus, wherever He goes, is not just something these Apostles and holy women did long ago.  It’s something that we are all called to do daily.  Reflect upon these two questions and recommit yourself where you see a lacking.

 

Lord, please do come and forgive me, heal me and transform me.  Help me to know Your saving power in my life.  When I receive this grace, help me to return to You in gratitude everything that I am and to follow You wherever You lead.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Thursday 17th September 2020

Begging for Mercy

 

A certain Pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him, and he entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. Now there was a sinful woman in the city who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee. Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment, she stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to bathe his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment.  Luke 7:36-38

 

In part, this Gospel is about the Pharisee.  If we read on in this passage we see the Pharisee becoming quite judgmental and condemning of this woman and Jesus.  Jesus rebuked Him just as He has done so many times before with the Pharisees.  But this passage is much more than a rebuke of the Pharisees.  At its heart, it’s a story of love.

 

The love is that love in the heart of this sinful woman.  It’s a love manifested in sorrow for sin and deep humility.  Her sin was great and, as a result, so was her humility and love.  Let’s look at that humility first.  It is seen in her actions as she came to Jesus.

 

First, “she stood behind Him…”
Second, she fell down “at His feet…”
Third, she was “weeping…”
Fourth, she washed His feet “with her tears…”
Fifth, she dried His feet “with her hair…”
Sixth, she “kissed” His feet.
Seventh, she “anointed” His feet with her costly perfume.

 

Stop for a moment and try to imagine this scene.  Try to see this sinful woman humbling herself in love before Jesus.  If this full action is not an act of deep sorrow, repentance and humility then it’s hard to know what else it is.  It’s an action that is not planned out, not calculated, not manipulative.  Rather, it’s deeply humble, sincere and total.  In this act, she cries out for mercy and compassion from Jesus and she doesn’t even have to say a word.  

 

Reflect, today, upon your own sin.  Unless you know your sin, you cannot manifest this type of humble sorrow.  Do you know your sin?  From there, consider getting down on the ground, on your knees, bowing your head to the ground before Jesus and sincerely begging for His compassion and mercy.  Try literally doing that.  Make it real and total.  The result is that Jesus will treat you in the same merciful way He did this sinful woman.

 

Lord, I beg for Your mercy.  I am a sinner and I deserve damnation.  I acknowledge my sin.  I beg, in Your mercy, to forgive my sin and pour forth Your infinite compassion upon me.  Jesus, I trust in You.

 

 

Wednesday 16th September 2020

The Music for Life

 

Jesus said to the crowds: “To what shall I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children who sit in the marketplace and call to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance. We sang a dirge, but you did not weep.’”  

Luke 7:31-32

 

So what does this story tell us?  First of all, the story means that children are ignoring the “songs” of each other.  Some children sing a song of sorrow and that song is rejected by others.  Some sang joyful songs for dancing, and others did not enter into the dance.  In other words, the appropriate response was not given to the offer of their music.

 

This is a clear reference to the fact that so many of the prophets who came before Jesus “sang songs” (meaning preached) inviting people to have sorrow for sin as well as to rejoice in the truth.  But despite the fact that the prophets poured out their hearts, so many people ignored them.

Jesus gives a strong condemnation of the people of that time for their refusal to listen to the words of the prophets.  He goes on to point out that many called John the Baptist one who was “possessed” and they called Jesus a “glutton and drunkard.”  The condemnation of the people by Jesus especially focuses upon one particular sin: Obstinacy.  This stubborn refusal to listen to the voice of God and change is a grave sin.  In fact, it is traditionally referred to as one of the sins against the Holy Spirit.  Do not let yourself become guilty of this sin.  Do not be obstinate and refuse to listen to the voice of God.

 

The positive message of this Gospel is that when God speaks to us we must listen!  Do you?  Do you listen attentively and respond wholeheartedly?  You should read it as an invitation to turn your full attention to God and listen to the beautiful “music” He sends forth.

 

Reflect, today, upon your willingness to listen.  Jesus strongly condemned those who did not listen and refused to hear Him.  Do not be counted among their number.

 

Lord, may I listen, hear, understand and respond to Your sacred voice.  May it be the refreshment and nourishment of my soul.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Tuesday 15th September 2020

The Sorrowful Heart of our Blessed Mother

“Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted and you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”  Luke 2:34-35

 

What a profound, meaningful and very real feast we celebrate today.  Today we try to enter into the profound sorrow of the heart of our Blessed Mother as she endured the sufferings of her Son.

Mother Mary loved her Son Jesus with the perfect love of a mother.  Interestingly, it was that perfect love she had in her heart for Jesus that was the source of her deep spiritual suffering.  Her love drew her to be present to Jesus in His own Cross and sufferings.  And for that reason, as Jesus suffered, so did His mother.

 

But her suffering was not one of despair, it was a suffering of love.  Therefore, her sorrow was not a sadness; rather, it was a profound sharing in all that Jesus endured.  Her heart was perfectly united with her Son’s and, therefore, she endured all that He endured.  This is true love on the deepest and most beautiful level.

 

Today, on this memorial of her Sorrowful Heart, we are called to live in union with the Blessed Mother’s sorrow.  As we love her, we find ourselves feeling the same pain and suffering her heart still experiences as a result of the sins of the world.  Those sins, including our own sins, are what nailed her Son to the Cross.  

 

When we love our Blessed Mother and her Son Jesus, we will also grieve over sin; first our own and then the sins of others.  But it’s important to know that the sorrow we experience over sin is also a sorrow of love.  It’s a holy sorrow that ultimately motivates us to a deeper compassion and deeper unity with those around us, especially those who are wounded and those caught in sin.  It also motivates us to turn from sin in our own lives.

 

Reflect, today, upon the perfect love of the heart of our Blessed Mother.  That love is capable of rising above all suffering and pain and is the same love God wants to place in your heart.

 

Lord, help me to love with the love of Your dear Mother.  Help me to feel the same holy sorrow she felt and to allow that holy sorrow to deepen my concern and compassion for all those who suffer.  Jesus, I trust in You.  Mother Mary, pray for us.

Monday 14th September 2020

The Glorious Cross of Our Lord!

 

“And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”  John 3:14-15

 

What a glorious feast we celebrate today!  It’s the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross!

Does the Cross truly make sense?  If we could separate ourselves from all we have learned about the Cross of Christ and just look at it from a secular and historical perspective, the Cross is a sign of great tragedy.  It’s connected to the story of a man who became quite popular with many, yet was vehemently hated by others.  In the end, those who hated this man arranged for His brutal crucifixion.  So, from a purely secular point of view, the Cross is an awful thing.

 

But Christians do not see the Cross from a secular point of view.  We see it from the divine perspective.  We see Jesus lifted up on the Cross for all to see.  We see Him using horrible suffering to eliminate suffering forever.  We see Him using death to destroy death itself.  Ultimately, we see Jesus become victorious on that Cross and, therefore, forever we see the Cross as an exalted and glorious throne!    

 

Moses’ actions in the desert prefigured the Cross.  Many people were dying from snake bites. Therefore, God told Moses to lift up the image of a snake on a pole so that all who looked upon it would be healed.  And that’s exactly what happened.  Ironically, the snake brought life instead of death!

 

Suffering occurs throughout our lives in various ways.  Perhaps for some it’s daily aches and pains from ill health, and for others it may be on a much deeper level, such as an emotional, personal, relational or spiritual one.  Sin, in fact, is the cause of the greatest suffering, so those who struggle deeply with sin in their lives suffer deeply from that sin.

 

So what is Jesus’ answer?  His answer is to turn our gaze to His Cross.  We are to look at Him in His misery and suffering and, in that gaze, we are called to see victory with faith.  We are called to know that God brings good out of all things, even our suffering.  The Father transformed the world eternally through the suffering and death of His only Son.  He also wants to transform us in our crosses.

 

Reflect, today, upon the Cross of Christ.  Spend some time gazing upon the crucifix.  See in that crucifix the answer to your own daily struggles.  Jesus is close to those who suffer, and His strength is available to all those who believe in Him.

 

Lord, help me to gaze upon the Cross.  Help me to experience in Your own sufferings a taste of Your final victory.  May I be strengthened and healed as I look upon You.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Friday 11th September 2020

Noticing the sins of others

 

“Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?”  Luke 6:41

 

How true this is!  How easy it is to see the minor faults of others and, at the same time, fail to see our own more obvious and serious faults.  Why is this the case?  

 

First of all, it’s hard to see our own faults because our sin of pride blinds us.  Pride keeps us from any honest self-reflection.  Pride becomes a mask we wear which presents a false persona.  Pride is an ugly sin because it keeps us from the truth.  It keeps us from seeing ourselves in the light of truth and, as a result, it keeps us from seeing the log in our own eye.    

 

When we are full of pride, another thing happens.  We start to focus in on every small fault of those around us.  Interestingly, this Gospel speaks of the tendency to see the “splinter” in your brother’s eye.  What does that tell us?  It tells us that those who are full of pride are not so much interested in putting down the serious sinner.  Rather, they tend to seek out those who have only small sins, “splinters” as sins, and they tend to try and make them seem more serious than they are.  Sadly, those steeped in pride feel far more threatened by the saint than by the serious sinner.  

 

Reflect, today, upon whether or not you struggle with being judgmental toward those around you.  Especially reflect upon whether or not you tend to be more critical of those striving for holiness.  If you do tend to do this, it may reveal that you struggle with pride more than you realize.

 

Lord, humble me and help me to be free of all pride.  May I also let go of judgmentalness and see others only in the way You want me to see them.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Thursday 10th September 2020

Love your enemies.

 

Jesus said to his disciples: “To you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”  Luke 6:27-28

 

These words are clearly easier said than done.  When it comes right down to it, when someone acts in hate toward you and mistreats you, the last thing you want to do is love them, bless them and pray for them.  But Jesus is very clear on the fact that this is what we are called to do.

 

In the midst of some direct persecution or malice done to us, we can easily be hurt.  This hurt can lead us to anger, desires for revenge, and even hatred.  If we give in to these temptations, then we suddenly become the very thing that hurt us.  Sadly, hating those who have hurt us only makes things worse.

 

But it would be naive to deny a certain interior tension we all face when we are confronted with harm from another and the command from Jesus to love them in return.  If we are honest we must admit to this interior tension.  The tension comes as we try to embrace the command of total love despite the hurt and angry feelings we have.  

 

One thing this interior tension reveals is that God wants so much more for us than to simply live a life based on our feelings.  Being angry or hurt is not all that enjoyable.  In fact, it can be the cause of much misery.  But it doesn’t have to be.  If we understand this command of Jesus to love our enemies, we will start to understand that this is the path out of the misery.  We will start to realize that giving in to hurt feelings and returning anger for anger or hate for hate only makes the wound deeper.  On the other hand, if we can love when we are mistreated, we suddenly discover that love in this case is quite powerful.  It’s love that goes way beyond any feeling.  It’s true love purified and given freely as a gift from God.  It’s charity at the highest level and it is a charity that fills us with an abundance of authentic joy.

 

Reflect, today, upon any wounds you carry within.  Know that these wounds can become the source of your own holiness and happiness if you let God transform them and if you allow God to fill your heart with love for everyone who has mistreated you.

 

Lord, I know that I am called to love my enemies.  I know that I am called to love all those who have mistreated me.  Help me to surrender to You any feelings of anger or hate and replace those feelings with true charity.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Wednesday 9th September 2020

The True Blessings

 

“Blessed are you who are poor…
Blessed are you who are now hungry…
Blessed are you who are now weeping…
Blessed are you when people hate you…
Rejoice and leap for joy on that day!”  (See Luke 6:20-23)

 

Are the above statements typos?  Did Jesus really say these things?  

 

At first, the Beatitudes can seem quite confusing.  And when we strive to live them, they can be very challenging.  Why is it blessed to be poor and hungry?  Why is one blessed who is weeping and hated?  These are difficult questions with perfect answers.

 

The truth is that each Beatitude ends with a glorious outcome when fully embraced in accord with the will of God.  Poverty, hunger, sorrow and persecution are not, by themselves, blessings.  But when they befall us they do offer an opportunity for a blessing from God that far surpasses any difficulty the initial challenge presents.

 

Poverty affords one the opportunity to seek out the riches of Heaven above all else.  Hunger drives a person to seek the food of God that sustains beyond what the world can offer.  Weeping, when caused by one’s own sin or the sins of others, helps us seek justice, repentance, truth and mercy.  And persecution on account of Christ enables us to be purified in our faith and to trust in God in a way that leaves us abundantly blessed and filled with joy.

 

At first, the Beatitudes may not make sense to us.  It’s not that they are contrary to our human reason.  Rather, the Beatitudes go beyond what immediately makes sense and they enable us to live on a whole new level of faith, hope and love.  They teach us that the wisdom of God is far beyond our own limited human understanding.

 

Reflect, today, upon the incredible wisdom of God as He reveals these, the deepest teachings of the spiritual life.  At very least, try to reflect upon the fact that God’s wisdom is far above your wisdom.  If you struggle to make sense of something painful and difficult in your life, know that God has an answer if you but seek out His wisdom.

 

Lord, help me to find blessings in the many challenges and hardships of life.  Rather than seeing my crosses as evil, help me to see Your hand at work in transforming them and to experience a greater outpouring of Your grace in all things.  Jesus, I trust in You.

 

Tuesday 8th September 2020

Happy Birthday Blessed Mother!

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel.”  Matthew 1:23

 

We all love to celebrate birthdays.  Today is the birthday celebration of our dear mother.  In December we honor her Immaculate Conception.  In January we celebrate her as the Mother of God.  In August we celebrate her Assumption into Heaven and there are many other days throughout the year where we honor a unique aspect of her life.  But today is simply her birthday celebration!

 

Celebrating her birthday is a way of celebrating her personhood.  We celebrate her simply for being herself.  We do not necessarily focus in on any of the unique, beautiful and profound aspects of her life today.  We do not necessarily look at all she accomplished, her perfect yes to God, her coronation in Heaven, her assumption or any other specifics.  All parts of her life are glorious, beautiful, awe-inspiring and worthy of their own unique feasts and celebration.

 

Today, however, we simply celebrate our Blessed Mother because she was created and brought into this world by God and that alone is worth celebrating.  We honor her simply because we love her and we celebrate her birthday as we would celebrate the birthday of anyone we love and care for.

 

Reflect, today, upon the fact that Mother Mary is your mother.  She truly is your mother and it’s worth celebrating her birthday in the same way that you would celebrate anyone’s birthday who was a member of your family.  Your honoring of Mary, today, is a way of solidifying your bond with her and assuring her that you desire her to be an important part of your life.  

 

Happy birthday, Blessed Mother!  We love you dearly!

 

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you.  Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.  Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.  Amen.  Precious Jesus, through the heart of the Immaculate Virgin Mary, our Mother, we trust in You!

Monday 7th September 2020

A Disturbing Sin

 

“Stretch out your hand.” He did so and his hand was restored. But they became enraged and discussed together what they might do to Jesus.  Luke 6:10-11

 

This is a very disturbing passage.  Over and over again we find that the scribes and Pharisees acted with much intentional and calculated malice.  Here they were looking for anything they could try to accuse Jesus of doing.  And what do they find they can accuse Him of?  They witness Him doing a miracle on the Sabbath day.  And they act as if this is a sin on the part of Jesus.  Seriously?  

The reason this passage is so disturbing is because those who were the religious leaders of the time were clearly only interested in themselves, and Jesus was getting in the way of their self-importance.  He was becoming more popular and respected than the scribes and Pharisees and they were filled with envy.  

 

One important point to learn from this passage is that the sin of envy lead us to irrationality and foolishness.  This sin blinds us and leads us to think and say foolish things.  This is what the scribes and Pharisees did.  Who in their right mind would “accuse” Jesus of doing something as good as healing on the Sabbath?  Only those who have become blind by envy.

 

Though this passage is disturbing, it should hopefully become disturbing in a helpful way.  It should be an opportunity for each of us to look at our own lives and to examine the relationships we have.  Do you see envy present in any of those relationships?  Do you see yourself acting and thinking in an irrational way at times towards this person or that?

 

Reflect, today, upon any tendency you may have to be like the scribes and Pharisees.  Know that their actions were included in the Scripture to teach us about this ugly sin we sometimes struggle with.  Let the disturbing part of it motivate you to work toward freedom from envy in your life.

 

Lord, I do want to be free of the sins of pride, envy and jealousy.  Help me to see these in my life, to repent of them and to replace them with Your mercy and love.  Jesus, I trust in You.

 

 

Top