Reading: What occasion is there then for boasting? It is ruled out. On what principle, that of works? No, rather on the principle of faith. (Romans 3:27)
Observation: I am hearing this morning that I should guard myself against boasting. The only reason that I, or anyone, has the ability to have faith in God is not due to anything that we have done. Rather it is the free gift of God that was given to us in the form of faith in him to do good works through us.
Personification: Gentleness (Latin: mansuetudo) As I started to journal on this verse from the first reading from the book of Romans this morning, I was sure that I would talk about the fruit of faithfulness. However, I was given the fruit of gentleness to work on today, because it is a gentle spirit that will allow me to be a better disciple. It is in the fruit of gentleness that others will be able to see the faith that God has given me.
Prayer: Lord, help me to show the gentleness that comes from you and to be involved in the lives of those people that have invited me in through your free gift of grace for them. I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Painting by Jusepe de Ribera – Saint Francis of Assisi
Reading: Yes, affliction and distress will come upon every human being who does evil, Jew first and then Greek. But there will be glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does good, Jew first and then Greek. (Romans 2:9-10)
Observation: I am reading this morning that we are all treated the same by God. Whether Jew or Gentile, we are receiving grace according to our actions. When I sin, it is obvious to me that even in this life I receive affliction and distress and it is hard for me to be at peace with anything that I do. However, the reverse is also true. I notice that when I reject sin, I have an extreme amount of peace that comes from grace of God. I don’t know if this was the point of Paul letter here, but it was what I was getting from it this morning.
Personification: Peace (Latin: pax) I will try to show the fruit of peace to everyone I meet today. Because the grace of God has saved me from my sinfulness today, I will make every effort to display my gratitude to God by displaying the fruit of peace that He is giving me as a reward for my decision to partner with him to reject sin. With God, there is an immense peace that I truly feel in my heart, and all glory and honor goes to God who brings me peace.
- Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
- where there is hatred, let me sow love;
- where there is injury, pardon;
- where there is doubt, faith;
- where there is despair, hope;
- where there is darkness, light;
- and where there is sadness, joy.
- O Divine Master,
- grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
- to be understood, as to understand;
- to be loved, as to love;
- for it is in giving that we receive,
- it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
- and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
- I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Look at the video above if you are still looking for a sign, otherwise just read below…
Reading: “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah. Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. (Luke 29b-30)
Observation: When I read this Gospel reading for today for the first time this morning, I was putting myself in the place of Jesus when he says that this generation is an evil generation. However, even though it may be true that this generation is an evil generation, just like the generation in Jesus’ time, it is more important that the Son of Man is taking the place of Jonah to bring the Good News to his generation. Whereas, we are called to be like Jesus, we should be bringing the Good News to our generation. Repentance does not need to be seen in the light of the sacrifice, but why not rather the grace of God that comes from Him in response to the repentance. The Good News is that the Kingdom of God is here, now, and all we need to do is plug in to it by giving ourselves to our Saviour.
Personification: Faithfulness (Latin: fides) This morning I am hearing the call to display the fruit of faithfulness by walking in the light of truth. In order to display the fruit of faithfulness, I know that I am receiving the grace of God to be able to be faithful to the Word of God and to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, and I am thankful to God for the gift of his grace.
Prayer: Lord, help me to show your gift of faithfulness to everyone I come in contact with today and for the rest of my life. By setting an example of giving my life to you, let others be able to see your Son through me and listen more intently to what God is calling them to do with their lives. I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Reading: Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart. No creature is concealed from him, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account. (Hebrews 4:12-13)
Observation: This morning, I am hearing in the second reading from the book of Hebrews that the word of God is able to penetrate through my own ridiculous thought patterns and see what I need to understand in order to keep me directed towards the eternal rather than the temporal. Since no creature is concealed from him, I would assume that means me as well and I would hope that I could be sure that the account that I must render would be covered by the blood of the one that died for me, Jesus Christ. He knows that I have fallen short in many ways in my life.
Personification: Love (Latin: caritas) Once again, I am feeling that the fruit of love is what I must be focusing on today. Not only must I love those who are obviously my responsibility to love, but also those that fall outside of my responsibility as a husband, father and coordinator of youth ministry. I will try and focus on the others that may not be so willing to be loved by a worthless sinner, such as myself. It is 8:46am and you are loved…
Prayer: Lord, help me to stay focused on what you are doing in my life and not lose sight of the example that you gave us on how we should love our neighbor. I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Scripture: “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32) NIV
Observation: Knowing that Peter would turn his back on him, I find it important to note that Jesus does not tell him to “man up” and take one for the team. He actually tells him to strengthen his brothers once he has turned back. Jesus knows that Peter’s human flesh will fail, (just like he knows that ours will fail) but he prays that his faith does not fail. I believe, we can see by the amazing spread of Christianity over the almost 2000 years since Jesus death and resurrection that Peter’s faith did not fail. He listened well to the admonition of Jesus to strengthen his brothers and that is why the Christian faith has endured many trials set before it by the things of this world.
Application: I am hearing today a call to follow in Peter’s footsteps and once I turn back from my own sinfulness, I should take that exact moment to strengthen my brothers. I feel like I should always be encouraging others, but how often do I look for opportunities to really strengthen my brothers and sisters?
Prayer: Lord, help me to find new and different ways to build up the body of Christ by strengthening my brothers and sisters in Christ. I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Our Father, from the painting on the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel…
Reading: He said to them, “When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test.” (Luke 11:2-4)
Observation: I chose these verses from the Gospel reading for today, because it explains the Lucan account of the “Our Father” prayer that Jesus taught his disciples. The first reading talks about how God had to explain his mercy to Jonah, and this prayer that Jesus taught his disciples assumes his mercy, as long as we are willing to forgive everyone in debt to us. The verse that spoke to me directly this morning was, “Give us each day our daily bread”. I believe God is speaking to me this morning to say that the way to pray is to assume that He will do what you are asking, because you would only ask what is in his will. The objective for me is to see this not as a command, but rather an act of recognition that I am asking to be in concert with his will.
Personification: Joy (Latin: gaudium) It is my desire today and for the rest of my life to display the fruit of Joy to everyone that I meet. This morning I am hearing the call to not only be faithful to the Word, but act as if I am already receiving the life that is promised by the life, death and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. The meaning of the verse from the Gospel reading today that I found most impactful and also from the Gospel’s of Mark and Matthew is to “Give us each day our daily bread”, or “Give us today our daily bread”, and it is probably better explained in the explanation that is found in the New American Bible, specifically in the book of Matthew(6:11). Once again, I believe it is telling me that today I should be reacting to the fact that the kingdom of God is here with the fruit of His joy eminating from every part of my being.
Prayer: 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. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Ninevah truck bombing. I don’t think it is related, but I think it makes the point…
Reading: Jonah began his journey through the city, and had gone but a single day’s walk announcing, “Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed,” (Jonah 3:4)
Observation: The first question that came to my mind this morning was, “Who will be our Jonah?” After that, I am asking myself if I am going to be our Jonah, because it is a foregone conclusion that we are living in a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah or Ninevah as it was in this reading. The next question is even if we start screaming from the housetops that we are going to be destroyed, would anyone listen? Would it be better just to start wearing our own sackcloth for the sins in our own past life and hope that others will follow?
Personification: Self-Control (Latin: continentia) I don’t know that denying myself certain comfort in life will have any effect on others around me. It will take self control to not be like Jonah and walk through the nation and foretell impending doom for the people that do not repent, but I am hearing that God will call forward someone when the time is right to let us know that it is time to completely abandon our possessions and repent from our wickedness that is so prevelent in our society today. For now, it will be my objective to receive the grace necessary to display the fruit of self control to others around me and not pursue things of this world beyond the needs of my family.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for all that you have given me and my family, and I’m sorry for not always showing my gratitude with complete obedience. Please grant me the grace necessary to fight off the temptation toward things of this world and only reach for those things that you are telling me that I need to take care of my family. I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.