So, you say you know it all…Really?

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Saint Teresa of Avila, pray for us!

I am sorry for not posting this yesterday.  I felt an overwhelming urge to post this, as we celebrated the life of this great Saint yesterday.  I am posting it today, but first, I am feeling called to share the first reading from the Mass readings yesterday.

Brothers and sisters:
I am not ashamed of the Gospel.
It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes:
for Jew first, and then Greek.
For in it is revealed the righteousness of God from faith to faith;
as it is written, “The one who is righteous by faith will live.”

The wrath of God is indeed being revealed from heaven
against every impiety and wickedness
of those who suppress the truth by their wickedness.
For what can be known about God is evident to them,
because God made it evident to them.
Ever since the creation of the world,
his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity
have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made.
As a result, they have no excuse;
for although they knew God
they did not accord him glory as God or give him thanks.
Instead, they became vain in their reasoning,
and their senseless minds were darkened.
While claiming to be wise, they became fools
and exchanged the glory of the immortal God
for the likeness of an image of mortal man
or of birds or of four-legged animals or of snakes.

Therefore, God handed them over to impurity
through the lusts of their hearts
for the mutual degradation of their bodies.
They exchanged the truth of God for a lie
and revered and worshiped the creature rather than the creator,
who is blessed forever. Amen.   (Romans 1:16-25)

Now, with the added perspective of today’s first reading from the Mass readings, I am left with an even more powerful urge to share this reflection that I received, as I read this reading yesterday.  It was the sincere act of loving God with our whole heart that will allow us to be filled with exactly what we need to understand in order to live our lives in accordance with His will.  It is not the amount of book knowledge we have learned or are learning that allows us to understand God, it is His grace that has allowed us to open up to the knowledge and we should receive it as a gift and not a kind of exclusive right that only comes to the intelligent or one who is able to comprehend complex thoughts or ideas.  Here is the reading from today that God provided for my perspective…

You, O man, are without excuse, every one of you who passes judgment.
For by the standard by which you judge another you condemn yourself,
since you, the judge, do the very same things.
We know that the judgment of God on those who do such things is true.
Do you suppose, then, you who judge those who engage in such things
and yet do them yourself,
that you will escape the judgment of God?
Or do you hold his priceless kindness, forbearance, and patience
in low esteem, unaware that the kindness of God
would lead you to repentance?
By your stubbornness and impenitent heart,
you are storing up wrath for yourself
for the day of wrath and revelation
of the just judgment of God,
who will repay everyone according to his works,
eternal life to those who seek glory, honor, and immortality
through perseverance in good works,
but wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth
and obey wickedness.
Yes, affliction and distress will come upon everyone
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.
There is no partiality with God.  (Romans 2:1-11)

It is important for me to hear that I cannot be proud of the things that God has revealed to me through scripture or through a spiritual book I read, I should look for ways to impart the knowledge I have been given to the child of God that is sitting in front of me right now.  The ability to be a messenger of God comes from grace as well, so it is important for me to not take that for granted either.  OK, what is the point of this post…Please go back and read the quote from Saint Teresa of Avila on the picture above…Enough said, for now…God bless you!

Pray in secret…Your Father in heaven will repay you…

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Googled, "Pray in secret"

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: But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.  (Matthew 6:6)

Observation: I was thinking this morning at Mass about how most of my prayer life is in secret and how just a few years ago I would have been thinking of how it was a useless waste of time, if no one sees it.  This Gospel reading today is a reminder of how the praying that we do that no one sees is the most valuable in God’s eyes.

Personification:  Modesty – No longer needing to impress other people with our power or degrees or connections or wealth. It is not that there is no value in community prayer, but I think it is the prayer in secret that gives us the grace to display the fruit of modesty when we pray in public.

Prayer: Lord, help me to stay vigilant in my prayer to you at all times, especially in times that I am alone with you in secret.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.

Am I the one sheep, or one of the 99?

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Googled, "Lost sheep"

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 tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.  (Luke 15:7)

Observation:  Today, like always, I was struggling with the question of whether or not I should see myself as a sinner in need of repentance or a repentant sinner.  It may sound like the same thing, but I believe the difference is very important.  If I know that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior, shouldn’t I be righteous?  However, if I am righteous, shouldn’t I follow the will of the Father at all times.  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  Yet, I still fall prey to my sinful nature and therefore end up a repentant sinner once again.  I guess the truth is that without sin, we are righteous.  Since, we will all sin again and be in need of repentance, we will be cause for joy in heaven again when we embrace this repentant spirit. 

Personification:  Long-suffering (Positive Attitude) – Because we know we are love by God, we are able to put up with the injuries, slights, and outrages of life.  It is good to know that God has sent his holy Spirit to give us the fruit of long-suffering.  If I could only recognize this fruit in my life at all times, I would understand that God did give me the ability to work through any sinful tendencies that I may have with the power and grace that he gives me freely.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.  Amen.

 

His true disciples recognize him with their eyes closed…

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Gift:  Understanding

Reading:  3 When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice.  (John 10:4)

Observation:  10 – 4 in ten code means that the transmission was received and understood clearly.  I am hearing this morning that I don’t necessarily need to have all of my senses to be receiving the Word clearly to still be getting the message.  Jesus is referring here to the fact that although I may be like the blind man, who Jesus used more than just simple words to heal in the previous chapter by putting clay on his eyes and having him wash it off, it is not necessary for me to feel, taste and see the presence of God at all times to know that I am following his will for me.  However, there may be times when God will use other ways to show me how to follow him, like suffering and pain.

Personification:  Modesty – No longer needing to impress other people with our power or degrees or connections or wealth.  It seems ridiculous for me to want to be writing about displaying the fruit of modesty.  Since, for some time now, it is pretty apparent that I do not have connections or wealth to use to impress others.  However, I am needing the grace that comes from above to be able to not make a display of the grace that he is bestowing on me to accomplish his will for me.  This is a tough one, since I am finding it difficult to get through to the young people in our church community and how else do I show them that God loves them, except by having my life be an example of that love. 

Prayer:  Lord, create in me a new spirit of modesty, so that I can be aware of my worthlessness at all times and always give all of the glory to you in every thing that you accomplish through me.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.

 

Peace be with you…

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Gift:  Understanding

Reading:  While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”  But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost.  Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts?  Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.”  And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.  While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?”  They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them.  (Luke 24:35-43)

Observation:  I am hearing an admonition from our Lord this morning to not see our Lord as rising from the dead into the spiritual world only, but also into the physical world as well.  He is saying to his disciples here that it is not enough that He rose from the dead to ascend to the Father, but we need to see the fact that He intended to be truly present in the flesh for eternity.  Where others are not predisposed to receive the flesh in the Eucharist, we must be his body for him, and not just in words but in physical action.  We must be prepared to do something to show the world that Jesus Christ is not only alive in Heaven, but also in the physical world that we live in.  If we can go about making him present in real flesh to others, we will be building the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.  Then we will understand the words that Jesus says to his disciples here…”Peace be with you.”

Personification:  Peace – Quiet, inner confidence that keeps us from feeling uptight and anxious.  Focusing on the fruit of peace makes sense for today, since it is the fruit that Jesus is offering to his disciples in the Gospel reading for today.  However, it is not easy to display this fruit amidst the turmoil and chaos of this world.  What I am hearing Jesus say today in the Gospel reading is that if we can truly focus on His real presence in the Eucharist and making him come to life for others who are not receiving Communion, we can have this peace in our hearts.

Prayer:  Lord, create in me a new zeal for your sacred body and blood that you gave me to nourish me.  Remind me that you are still truly present on this earth in the form of consecrated bread and wine and you will be with me in that form and in the form of everyone who receives it, until you come again in glory.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Jesus gives us the power, but does not take our free will…

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Gift:  Understanding

Reading:  Judas his betrayer also knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples.  (John 18:2)

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(Lk 23:46) Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.

Into your hands I commend my spirit;

you will redeem me, O LORD, O faithful God.  (Psalm 31:6)

Observation:  The first verse from the Gospel reading for today is completing the diatribe that I have been on for the past five days about Judas and his role in the salvation story and how his story relates to our story.  I believe the response in the Responsorial Psalm and the sixth verse in the 31st Psalm from today’s Mass readings is the perfect answer that Jesus gave to his passion and is also calling us to give to our own temptation to sin.  Unlike Judas who followed through with His plan to force Jesus into his plan of the salvation that he was hoping he would bring to Jerusalem, we are called to commend our spirit into the hands of the Father and trust that His will for our salvation is much better than ours could ever be.

Personification:  Faith/Fidelity  It is my intention today and for the rest of my life to display the fruit of faith and fidelity to the Word of God at all times by sticking to my work and staying committed to God and God’s people to whom I am connected.  After the readings today, I am keenly aware of the fact that God expects me to give myself fully to His will and the faith that He has built in me will allow me to do that for the rest of the time that I am left in this world, if I keep my will out of the way.

Prayer:  Lord, help me to live in the moment but always be mindful of the glorious reward that awaits us in the next world.  I do not want to wait to enjoy your glory and hope that you reveal your glory to me on earth while the world waits for you to bring your redemption and judgment at your second coming.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Rejoice in the great light…

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Gift: Understanding

Scripture: He was a burning and shining lamp, 13 and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light.  (John 5:35)

Observation: Today, I am hearing Jesus say that John the Baptist was the lamp that was telling of the coming of the great one.  Although, the Jews were content to rejoice in his light, Jesus is calling me to even greater rejoicing because the one that John was talking about has come and is still here today.  God has brought down his kingdom to all of those who willingly participate in his celebration by the power of his grace as a free gift to us all.

Application:  Joy This fruit is explained as the ability to celebrate life in the midst of pain and confusion.  The truth is that the pain and confusion are temporary, but the kingdom of heaven is eternal.  It is time to party and I am not going to wait another day to start showing my willingness to participate in the celebration that God has given us in the sacrifice of his son to redeem us for our sins and bring about the kingdom right now.

Prayer: Lord, help me to celebrate that you have redeemed me for my sins and allow me the grace to display the joy that comes from that mystery.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.