What does the fox say?

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You knew it was just a matter of time before it had to be done, especially by me.  I spend a lot of time around young adults and youth, so there was bound to be a reference to foxes in scripture or somewhere in my prayer life that was going to lead me to share this video and take the opportunity to point out the good news in the lyrics.  So, without further ado, here is the video…

If we follow the gospel reading for today, we see that it is Jesus who calls out the fox.  Here he says…He replied, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and I perform healings today and tomorrow, and on the third day I accomplish my purpose.  (Luke 13:32)  The fox that he is referring to is Herod, who the Pharisee was telling Jesus, wanted to kill him.  Here is a good question, “Did Herod really want to kill Jesus?”  After what had happened to John the Baptist and that whole terrible scene, you might think Herod wanted to steer clear of Jesus.  However, the point of this post is to ask the question…”What does the fox say?”

It has been over 2000 years since Jesus said, “Go and tell that fox”, and we are left to figure out what Herod’s response would have been to this telling statement of Jesus about casting out demons and performing healings, and the third day accomplishing his purpose.  In the song, we hear a reference to the red fur and an angel in disguise, but also a reference to a guardian angel in the woods.  Rather than try to discern the intentions of the artist in choosing these lyrics, I would rather point out that God can use whatever means necessary to bring people to know him and I will use this song as a reminder of the power of angels in our lives to overcome evil.

Here is a prayer that I will say and share with you now…

Angel of God, our guardian dear to whom God’s love commits me here.  Ever this day be at our side, to light and guard, to rule and guide…Amen!

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!

Who is questioning our authority to preach?

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English: Resurrection of Christ

English: Resurrection of Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gift:  Fortitude (Courage) – With the gift of courage, we overcome our fear and are willing to take risk as a follower of Jesus. A person with courage is willing to stand up for what is right in the sight of God, even if it means accepting rejection, verbal abuse, or even physical harm and death.

Reading:  They returned once more to Jerusalem. As he was walking in the temple area, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders approached him and said to him, “By what authority are you doing these things? Or who gave you this authority to do them?”  (Mark 11:27-28)

Observation:  As I began to ponder what verse or verse I would focus on today in my journal, I actually picked out a verse from the first reading first, but the link wasn’t working to open it to the page that could remind me of the context.  Anyway, I had thought about the fact that the scribes and temple authorities had questioned Jesus’ authority when I read the Gospel too.  When I thought about it, in relation to who questions my authority to do the things That I do to share the Good News of Jesus Christ, I realized that this is a more worthy reflection on today’s readings for my blog.  It is not any authority, per se, that I think about when I am deciding whether or not to post my reflection, it is the doubts that enter my head about whether I am really called to do this or if I am just putting myself out there, so someone will tell me how great I am.  Jesus said that he has defeated the powers that create those negative thoughts in my head, and thanks be to God the authorities of our faith are not telling me to stop, because I would really need God’s help and grace to continue preaching then.

Personification:  Love  As my daughter asked me to pick her up, I couldn’t help but want to focus on the fruit of love this morning.  As she squirms to get down on the floor and I have to put her back in her walker, I realize that self-control is the fruit that I should be focusing on.  It is a fruit that I was not asked to focus on much when I was growing up, and even at age 40, I struggle with displaying this fruit in my life.  Maybe, I will struggle with it my whole life, but I know that it is only by grace and through the power of the Holy Spirit that I will ever be able to e to conquer the desires of the flesh and things that lead me to despair in this life.

Prayer:  Lord, help me to rely more fully on the holy Spirit and allow the fruit of self-control to be displayed in my life.  Please keep me from displaying anger at things that are not evil, and only focus my attention on holy things.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.  Amen

Where are we being called to preach?

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View of Jerusalem from southeast, showing city...

View of Jerusalem from southeast, showing city walls, the Dome of the Rock, and al-Aqsa mosque. 1 photographic print : gelatin silver ; 21 x 56 cm. (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:   The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage. For just as you have borne witness to my cause in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness in Rome.”  (Acts 23:11)

Observation:  I don’t know why, but this verse was especially meaningful to me today as I read it.  I almost journaled on a continuation of my pastor’s homily from yesterday’s Mass and the Gospel reading for today, but I remembered reading this verse and feeling drawn to write about it.  The truth is for me, I should be able to see the Lord standing by my side now, saying that I should take courage…I have borne witness to His cause in Springfield, so I must take it to the world.

Personification:  Faithfulness  In order to display the fruit of faithfulness, I must listen to the message that I am receiving from the Word of God today and begin to act on it.  My wife is telling me to do something about furthering my education, and I believe she is right to admonish me to take that first step and God knows what will come next.

Prayer:  Lord, show me the way to become everything that you have created me to be and continue to give me the grace necessary to avoid the evils of this world.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit…Amen!

Does this apply to you?

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Gift:  Fear of the Lord (Wonder and Awe) – With the gift of wonder and awe (fear of the lord), we are aware of the glory and majesty of God. A person with wonder and awe knows that God is the perfection of all we desire: perfect knowledge, perfect goodness, perfect power, and perfect love.

Reading:  Say to them: This is the nation which does not listen to the voice of the LORD, its God, or take correction. Faithfulness has disappeared; the word itself is banished from their speech.  (Jer 7:28)

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“Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.”  (Luke 11:23)

Observation:  As I pondered the readings this morning, I was moved by the first reading where Jeremiah was hearing from the Lord that the people of Jerusalem were no longer listening to Him and would not accept correction.  How much are we like this too?  Finally, the Gospel was saying to me that those people who stand in opposition to the Word of God  and are not bringing more people to the church, are actually working against Jesus to scatter people away from the church.

Personification:  Gentleness  My wife likes to remind me that the display of the fruit of gentleness is a necessary trait to show to bring more people to God.  I will accept correction here, and remember to display gentleness to those that are trying to follow Jesus, and act out of anger only towards those that are working against Him.

Prayer:  Lord, allow me to more perfectly follow your will.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.

Jesus, come in to my heart and suppress the evil that would defile me…

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No Evils-01061

No Evils-01061 (Photo credit: subsetsum)

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 what comes out of a person, that is what defiles. From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile.”  (Mark 7:20-23)

Observation:  In the first reading, we hear how King Solomon was envied for his great riches and his incredible wisdom by Queen Sheba.  As I think about all the amazing riches and honor that he paid to God in the temple that was built in Jerusalem, I can’t help thinking about even with all of his wisdom and praise he gave to God, he could not get away from the evil that was within him.  We hear about all of his wives later, and the some of the same evils that overcame his father, King David, that would fall upon him too.  However, Jesus is listing for us those evils that can well up inside of us, to remind us that it is our heart that we must ask him to guard for us.  In my opinion, if we waste time asking God to guard our wealth or even our physical being from harm, we could very well be open to allowing one of these evils to well up inside of us and rear its ugly head.  Of all the evils listed, I had to look up licentiousness, because it didn’t immediately come to mind when I read it.

Personification:  Peace  It is my hope that after reading the list of things that could well up in my heart, I won’t forget to ask Jesus to guard it for me and if I lack the fortitude necessary to make it to the sacrifice of the Mass and receive him into the temple that is my body, as a means of agreeing that I need Jesus to save me from myself, this list could come back to haunt me.

Prayer:  Lord, help me to always keep in mind my need for you to be my Savior, especially from my evil thoughts.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.

If our hope was in the Lord, there would be no war…

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Photo of the Book of Isaiah page of the Bible

Image via Wikipedia

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:  One nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.  (Isaiah 2:4c)

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I say to you,* many will come from the east and the west, and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the kingdom of heaven.  (Matthew 8:11)

Observation:  In the words of the book of Isaiah, we see that God’s eternal plan for the world is that we have a place to decide our differences, and that place is Jerusalem.  If the world could only see what the prophets predicted even before God came down from heaven in the form of Jesus Christ and showed us the way to love each other.  In the gospel reading for today’s Mass, Jesus says that many will come from the east and the west to share in the kingdom with the ancient fathers of the Jewish people, not for anything that they have done but for the  fact that they believe in the fact that Jesus Christ came down from heaven to save them.  Since the gospel reading ends there today, I won’t comment on what happens to those who don’t believe.

Personification:  Faithfulness  It is my hope that in light of today’s readings and the grace that comes from the past few years of faith in our Redeemer, I can be faithful to the will of the Father by following the example of the Son, and thereby be counted as one of the many who will share in the inheritance of the kingdom with our ancient fathers.

Prayer:  Lord, help me to stay faithful to you and ignore the world when it calls me to stray from the path that you have laid before me.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.