The New Jerusalem…by Jason Roebuck

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Of course, I mean no disrespect to GK Chesterton‘s work entitled “The New Jerusalem” by giving that title to my post today.  I know that his book deals with a time in history when the Jewish people had not yet been given a state to call home in Israel, but I think the title fits, if you read further into my reflection on today’s Mass readings.  Of course, it could help if you read Today’s readings, as well as the Office of Readings that I prayed before beginning this reflection.

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:  

For Zion’s sake I will not be silent,

for Jerusalem’s sake I will not keep still,

Until her vindication shines forth like the dawn

and her salvation like a burning torch.a

Nations shall behold your vindication,

and all kings your glory;

You shall be called by a new name

bestowed by the mouth of the LORD.  (Isaiah 62:1-2)

Observation:  I was reminded by my ten-year old son last night as I finished up with faith formation classes with the Hispanic community at our parish and he was heading out of the 5 o’clock Mass, that this first reading can be a powerful reminder of our calling as Christians.  He had committed to memory that first verse and repeated it back to me.  As I read it again this morning, along with the second verse and the rest of the readings, I realized that the prophet was talking about us too.  It is not just the rebuilding of Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity, but the rebuilding of our souls through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Especially for me, having allowed myself to be held in the Babylonian captivity of

English: Roebuck Surgery, Roebuck House, Roebu...

English: Roebuck Surgery, Roebuck House, Roebuck St (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

this world, before waking up to the original call that God laid on my heart.

Personification:  Joy.  If I am going to be able to display the fruit of joy, I must remember that God has called me to be a new creation.  I don’t know about the part about being called by another name, because I believe I would have to become a member of a religious community to do that, but maybe there is something to that.

Prayer:  Lord, help me remember to display the fruit of joy in my life today and thank you for all you do to keep me faithful to your word.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.  Amen!

Dear God, am I to be a fisherman or a hunter?

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Rembrandt - Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction...

Rembrandt – Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem – WGA19091 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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:   Therefore, the days are coming—oracle of the LORD—when they shall no longer say, “As the LORD lives, who brought the Israelites out of the land of Egypt”; but rather, “As the LORD lives, who brought the descendants of the house of Israel up from the land of the north”—and from all the lands to which I banished them; they shall again live on their own soil.  (Jeremiah 23:7-8)

Observation:  The title for my post today comes from the scripture that is referenced at the bottom of the page where this scripture is found.  It referenced Jeremiah 16:14-15, which said essentially the same thing as we find in today’s first reading, but it added in the next few verses an explanation of what it called the double punishment.  I was left wondering if God was calling me to be a fisherman, or was he asking me to hunt down the offenders of his will.

Personification:  Faithfulness  I am focusing on the fruit of faithfulness today, and I prayed to hear the way I should carry out the message that I heard this morning.  I heard the message at Communion Service that I need to be willing to say, “Yes”, like Joseph did when the angel told him to bring Mary into his home, even though she was pregnant with something that was not his fruit.  He was asked to name him, and thereby become his earthly father, even though he did not have a part in his conception.  There is no Canticle of Joseph that I know of, but you see that he just followed the will of God by doing exactly what the angel told him.

Prayer:  Lord, may my family and I fulfill your calling by doing exactly what we are told by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  If it seems that we are not being inspired by the Holy Spirit, may you send us an angel in our dreams.   I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.

I asked the boys two day ago…What is the first and greatest Commandment?

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3rd quarter of 16th century

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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:  Jesus replied, “The first is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”  (Mark 12:29-31)

Observation:  It was yesterday morning that my 13 year old son woke up saying that he was pretty sure he had figured out how he could wear Nike clothes every day of the week.  Keep in mind, it is truly by the grace of God and my Mother’s generosity that he has any Nike clothes at all.  So, I was prompted to ask both my 13-year-old, Chad, and my almost 10-year-old son, Kobe, “What is the first and greatest Commandment?”  The answer from Chad was, “Uh, I don’t know.”  The answer from my 10-year-old was, “Isn’t it, thou shall not kill?”  Answer, no.  He followed up with, “Isn’t it, you should love God alone, and have no other gods besides him?”  Answer, yes.  They didn’t answer the question like Jesus, but I guess at least they got to it eventually.

Personification:  Faithfulness  In reflecting on the events of the other morning, and remember the words of Father Daniel’s homily on Wednesday night at Mass, I realize that to display the fruit of faithfulness, I must do a better job passing the faith on to my children.  I have been blessed with four beautiful children, and I need to remember that the best way to give glory to God and to thank Him for entrusting me with them, is to make sure that they are directed to follow His will for them.

Prayer:  Lord, I know that I cannot remember to follow Your will for me without being constantly reminded by Your grace that I receive from the Sacrament of the Eucharist and Reconciliation, so I hope that I will remember to constantly remind my children of the grace that can save us all.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.

Why don’t we accept the simple truth of God’s love?

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Repent and Believe in the Gospel

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:  So Naaman went down and plunged into the Jordan seven times, according to the word of the man of God. His flesh became again like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.  (2 Kings 5:14)

&

And he said, “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place. Indeed, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah when the sky was closed for three and a half years and a severe famine spread over the entire land.* It was to none of these that Elijah was sent, but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon. Again, there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”  (Luke 4:24-27)

Observation:  I was blessed to be able to attend our Communion Service at the small chapel in the education center of our church this morning.  The service was in Spanish, so I made sure and read the readings to make sure I had an idea of the context of the reading before I heard it read.  Usually, I get joy from hearing the readings read and understanding a few words and getting the gist of the context, because I have read it beforehand.  This morning, I could hear God speaking through a word that I actually realized during the service that I had mis-translated.  The word was “cuando”, and I translated it is “where”, instead of when in my head.  However, it caused me to think about the context of the Gospel reading as it related to me, and I realized that God was saying to me that it may be difficult for me to accept the prophecy that comes from myself, rather than the people around me accepting any prophecy that may be given to me for them.  As I said to my wife when I returned from the service, it is simple for someone to come to God from the outside of the church, but sometimes we make it very difficult for ourselves to go deeper in our faith from inside the church.  I think Jesus is saying here that we should stop acting like the path is difficult and accept that it is very simple.  Pray, read scripture & spiritual reading, attend Mass and go to confession…Pretty simple!

Personification:  Gentleness  I discussed with my wife this morning, how difficult it is for me to see myself displaying the fruit of gentleness, but I will focus on it more often because I am probably making it more difficult than it really is.  The truth is, gentleness and compassion flow freely from God to me, so they should flow freely from me to others as well, if I living in God’s grace.

Prayer:  Lord, help me to stay in your grace and follow your will by simply living the way that you did, and don’t let me make difficult what you have already made simple.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.

We receive the Holy Spirit, to lead us, like David, to be kings…

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English: David anointed by Samuel

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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:  Then Samuel, with the horn of oil in hand, anointed him in the midst of his brothers, and from that day on, the spirit of the LORD rushed upon David. Then Samuel set out for Ramah.  (1 Samuel 16:13)

Observation:  As I read this first reading from the readings for Mass today, I was reminded of how our Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation are similar to what Samuel did to David when he anointed him to be King of Israel.  If you read on in the story, he does not immediately take the throne from Saul, but he begins a journey of faith that eventually leads to him becoming King after many hardships and trials that he must face.  It reminds me of the hardships and trials that I face on a daily basis, as a followers of Christ.  However, if I continue to face them with patience and endurance, God has promised to provide everything I need to be a king, like Christ.  I don’t begin to understand what that looks like, or even what that means exactly, but I know that I am called to follow Christ in everything that I do.

Personification:    Self-Control  It is only by the grace of God that I will be able to show the fruit of self-control in my life.  I know that God wants me to follow His Son more closely in my life, and will supply the grace necessary to be able to accomplish it.

Prayer: Lord, help me to be a better disciple today and everyday for the rest of my life.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.

May all the peoples praise you! (Psalm 67:4b)

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Our Lord Jesus Christ

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Gift:  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:  The foreigner joined to the LORD should not say,

“The LORD will surely exclude me from his people”;

And foreigners who join themselves to the LORD,

to minister to him,

To love the name of the LORD,

to become his servants—

All who keep the sabbath without profaning it

and hold fast to my covenant,

* Them I will bring to my holy mountain

and make them joyful in my house of prayer;

Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices

will be acceptable on my altar,

For my house shall be called

a house of prayer for all peoples.e

* Oracle of the Lord GOD,

who gathers the dispersed of Israel—

Others will I gather to them

besides those already gathered.  (Isaiah 56:3a, 6-8)

Observation:  As I read the readings this morning and listened to the reflection from the USCCB video, I realized that God is calling us to be more inclusive in our church.  As I sit here now and try to explain what needs to happen in our church in order to live out the Good News that we hear today at Mass and every time we read the Word, I realize that the word “inclusive” , says it all.  There should never be anyone that is excluded from the experience of our church.  I understand that there may be times when people will try to lead others astray, and they should be excommunicated, but the message I am receiving today is that no matter how you come to Jesus, it is our mission as church to meet you there and hopefully your encounter with us will take you deeper into your faith experience.  We are called to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic, as you can hear in the video reflection from the USCCB website today, but it seems that we are more like the many, unholy, personal and counting on our local bishop or pastor to save us.

Prayer:  We adore you, Lord Jesus Christ, here and in all your churches in the whole world, and we bless you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world.  In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.

Jesus says, “And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”

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English: Statue of St. John of the Cross at Ca...

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In honor of the fact that we remember the life of Saint John of the Cross today, I plan on buying his book called, “Dark Night of the Soul” from the Carmelite Monastery today, and putting it on my list of books to read.  I am throwing out my normal format for journaling for today.  The quote in my title was taking from today’s Gospel reading, which comes from chapter 7 of Luke’s Gospel, the 23rd verse.  I don’t think I have ever understood this quote the same way as I did this morning.  Normally, I look to the historical context and realize that Jesus was telling the people of his time in Israel that they would be blessed if they would forget about what they wanted the Savior to be, and follow him.  However, this morning, I hear him talking directly to me, I need to forget about what I expect Jesus to save me from, and follow him.  It is hard for me, because I am constantly trying to figure everything out, not that I am capable of ever actually figuring anything out, but I seem to be constantly trying.  So, the message for me today is to let go of trying to figure it out and look to Jesus for the way to live my life.  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.