Are there people given in return for you?

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Isaiah 43 4From Isaiah 43:4, we hear God say, “Because you are precious in my eyes and honored, and I love you, I give people in return for you and nations in exchange for your life.”  Verse 5 continues, “Fear not, for I am with you;  from the east I will bring back your offspring, from the west I will gather you.”  I heard the beginning of verse 4 read on the radio this morning, by a priest who was leading some type of retreat somewhere in the Tampa, Florida area today.  Anyway, as I heard it read, I was motivated to spend some time in the chapel reading the rest of it, after our normal morning prayer with a few fellow parishioners.  So, I read it and started to realize that God really loves me, which is awesome, but that God has given people in return for me sounded pretty amazing.  As I sat there and finished the Office of Readings that I wasn’t able to get to at home this morning, this was really all I got.  However, as I drove home I realized that there are people who have come before me that have been offered by God in exchange for my life.  I don’t think that my being here on earth has more value than those that were offered for me.  Rather that I am so precious to God that he would do this for me, made me stop the car for a moment and contemplate the awesome responsibility this puts on my shoulders to live out my faith more fully.

As I read the fifth verse of the 43rd chapter of Isaiah, before I copied it on to this post, I realized that God reminds me not to fear this awesome responsibility.  I should know that he feels the same way about all of his children and anyone who realizes the truth of God’s love for them.  He will be faithful to bring them back from wherever they may have wandered.  My hope, as always, is for everyone who reads this today will be brought to a greater understanding of God’s love for them and thereby want to join me in the daily battle against sin in our own lives and in the whole world.  We can partner with God in dispelling evil with the good works we do in spreading His good news and … Prayer-Fasting-Almsgiving, not just a Lenten observance…Keep the faith!

Listen to this…

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Gospel       MK 1:40-45

A leper came to him and kneeling down begged him and said,
“If you wish, you can make me clean.”
Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand,
touched the leper, and said to him,
“I do will it. Be made clean.”
The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.
Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once.
Then he said to him, “See that you tell no one anything,
but go, show yourself to the priest
and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed;
that will be proof for them.”
The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter.
He spread the report abroad
so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly.
He remained outside in deserted places,
and people kept coming to him from everywhere.

Great reflection on today’s Gospel…Glad to share!

Thankful to God for the healing in my life…Hopeful for healing for my immediate and extended family…Hoping to stay focused on God’s intention for my life today…Amen!

 

How do I reject God as my king in favor of the world’s authority?

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Hannah Giving Her Son Samuel to the Priest

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Gift:  Counsel (Right Judgment) – With the gift of right judgment, we know the difference between right and wrong, and we choose to do what is right. A person with right judgment avoids sin and lives out the values taught by Jesus.

Reading:  The LORD said: Listen to whatever the people say. You are not the one they are rejecting. They are rejecting me as their king.  (1 Samuel 8:7)

Observation:  I am thinking about God’s intention to allow us to make decisions of our own free will, even when it is in direct contrast to his will for us.  Today, for me, it is not about wanting to have an earthly king, and not an eternal king, who is God in heaven, it is more about an agreement with the things of this world to get something that I want.  Truth is, any of the things of this world I need to be fulfilled in this life or the next, God has brought or will be bringing them to me,  yet I still search for the things of this world as if I need them.

Personification:  Faithfulness  In order to be sure that I am following God’s will in my life, I must be searching for eternal things and not temporal things.  It is not easy because I am by nature a sinner, however if I can keep my eyes focused on the grace that God provides for me to be saved from that sinful nature, I will be more likely to keep away from the temptations of this world.

Prayer:  Lord, I know that I don’t deserve it, but I am asking for the grace that I need to become a better disciple of your Son.  Please help me to see the things of this world as temporal and the things of heaven as everlasting.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.

Stand in the way of sinners…?

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Jesus H. ChristGift:  Knowledge – With the gift of knowledge, we understand the meaning of God’s Revelation, especially as expressed in the life and words of Jesus Christ. A person with knowledge is always learning more about the scriptures and Tradition.

Reading:  Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the way* of sinners, nor sit in company with scoffers.  Rather, the law of the LORD* is his joy; and on his law he meditates day and night.  (Psalms 1:1-2)

Observation:  As I read the readings this morning, I was looking for something to journal on the in the first reading or the gospel, after I had already heard the responsorial psalm screaming at me that it was just what I needed to hear.  It is funny how even when we have the Word of God speaking to us, we can still be looking for something that we want to hear, versus what God is actually revealing.  The explanation of “the way”, as it is used in the 1st verse of the 1st Psalm, is just what I needed to hear.  I can only count on being blessed, if I remember that the things that I take pleasure in, should not be the same things that sinners do.  In other words, even though other people are involved in sinful behavior, it does not give me the right to take part in it.

Personification:  Love  On other occasions when I have read these verses, I have heard the admonition to not keep company with sinners, and then saw Jesus do exactly that, and this was an obstacle to my faith.  Today, I will try to hear more exactly the words of these verses and love the sinners, but do not love the sinful way they behave.  In order to be an example of God’s love to others, I should not shy away from the places that sinners hang out, but remember the disciple that I am, and keep away from the sinful nature that those places may bring out in me.

Prayer:  Lord, help me learn your way more completely, so I can keep away from my old sinful ways.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.

The wicked turn from wickedness…

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Prophet Ezekiel, Russian icon from first quart...

Prophet Ezekiel

Gift:Wisdom- With the gift of wisdom, we see God at work in our lives and in the world. For the wise person, the wonders of nature, historical events, and the ups and downs of our lives take on deeper meaning. The matters of judgment about the truth, and being able to see the image of God.

Reading:  But if the wicked turn from the wickedness they did and do what is right and just, they save their lives; since they turned away from all the sins they committed, they shall live; they shall not die.  (Ezekiel 18:27-28)

Observation:  Today’s first reading is a good reminder to me that in order to gain eternal life, I must be turning away from the wickedness I did and do what is right and just.  It is not just for the promise of eternal life, but because the wickedness leads to more wickedness.  I am hearing that we must be in a constant state of turning away from all of our sins, and the grace of God will help us to do that.  However, I must be willing to plug into it at all times, even when it seems impossible.

Personification:  Love  I will display love today that comes as a direct result of being plugged into the source of it, God.  My wife is a great example of selfless love and I will try and follow her example today and be willing to love those who may not love me back.

Prayer:  Our Father, who is in heaven.  Holy is your name.  Your kingdom come.  Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread.  Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.  Lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.

Where is your ministry?

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Gift:  Understanding – With the gift of understanding, we comprehend how we need to live as a follower of Jesus Christ. A person with understanding is not confused by all the conflicting messages in our culture about the right way to live.

Reading:  I am grateful to him who has strengthened me, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he considered me trustworthy in appointing me to the ministry.j I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and an arrogant man, but I have been mercifully treated because I acted out of ignorance in my unbelief.k Indeed, the grace of our Lord has been abundant, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.  (1 Timothy 1:12-14)

Observation:  After I read all the readings this morning, I asked my son where his ministry is?  He initially answered “Basketball”, which is his answer for everything lately.  However, then I told him to think of the sphere of influence that surrounds you with all the people who are influenced by your actions.  This is a good reminder for me too, even though I am responsible for an actual ministry that the church has assigned to me, I can’t forget the sphere of influence in my life, both inside and outside of that ministry.

Personification:  Faithfulness  It is only when I can think of others first, before myself, do I believe that I can be really faithful to the gospel.  The gospel message today says to get the wooden beam out of your own eye before you try to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.  I relate this, on a personal level, to my ability to effect change in others only when I am being faithful to where God is calling me.

Prayer:  Lord, help me to be faithful to your calling for me and hear the whisper of the holy Spirit when you are sending me to fulfill your mission for my life.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.

Paul doesn’t say ask for forgiveness today, he says put your sin to death!

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Gift:  Counsel (Right Judgment) – With the gift of right judgment, we know the difference between right and wrong, and we choose to do what is right. A person with right judgment avoids sin and lives out the values taught by Jesus.

Reading;  Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly:c immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry.* Because of these the wrath of God* is coming [upon the disobedient].d By these you too once conducted yourselves, when you lived in that way. But now you must put them all away:* anger, fury, malice, slander, and obscene language out of your mouths.eStop lying to one another, since you have taken off the old self with its practicesf *and have put on the new self, which is being renewed, for knowledge, in the image of its creator.g  (Colossians 3:5-10)

Observation:  It was ironic how when I read this first reading this morning, I immediately knew it was about me but then thought about how many others should really hear this message.  It’s true that I would rather be fully convinced of the rest of the world’s need for a savior, while I am not hearing the message myself.  Paul does not say, we are forgiven for our sins here, because he already said it earlier in this letter.  However, he does say that we must put all of these sins to death.  I know it will take the grace of God to help me put away my sinfulness, even right in this present moment, but I know that Jesus already conquered my sin and paid for it on the cross, so I don’t want to add to his pain at the sight of my unrepentant heart. 

Personification:  Joy  The opposite of an unrepentant heart is joy.  That is probably not theologically or even by the dictionary definition correct.  I feel that if I continue to live with an unrepentant heart, it will lead to sadness. which is the opposite of joy.  Therefore, I will display the fruit of joy today for all to see, so that the grace of God will flow through me to keep me from relying on my own understanding.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.