We, too, are called to be shepherds…If we enter through the gate!

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A sheep standing outside a dry stone sheepfold

A sheep standing outside a dry stone sheepfold (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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: * “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold* through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. * So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep. * All who came [before me] are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. (John 10:1-2,7-9)

Observation:  A good friend of mine told me that he was hearing yesterday that he was supposed to see himself as the shepherd in the Gospel yesterday and he thought he was being a little presumptuous once we heard the homily about how we have a tendency to follow bad shepherds.  However, today we hear in the Gospel reading that precedes yesterday’s Gospel reading that we are called to be shepherds, but only if we enter through the gate, which is Jesus.  The Gospel today tells us that John, who doesn’t use parables, like the synoptic Gospels do, is using a figure of speech to make a point.  People in Israel during that time would have understood the reference to the Gate and knew immediately what that meant.  It is my hope that I see the sacrifice that Jesus made as his example of how to be a good Shepherd to his people.

Personification:. Joy  I think there should be a certain amount of joy that accompanies the following of will of God in your life, and I hope I can make my life into a display of that joy.

Prayer:  Lord, help me to focus on Jesus and the things that he has done and will do in my life and the lives of those around me, so I can follow his example and those other shepherds that are entering through him to lead me.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.

Today, we focus on the other sheep…

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Gift: Piety (Reverence) – With the gift of reverence, sometimes called piety, we have a deep sense of respect for God and the Church. A person with reverence recognizes our total reliance on God and comes before God with humility, trust, and love.
Reading: I have other sheep* that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd.
Observation: It is my hope that I can hear in the Gospel reading today that Jesus wants to call all the people of the world to His truth that is revealed through the church. There could be a couple of different meanings to the phrase “other sheep”, but I think we should hear, “all people of faith”…If you believe in God, Jesus is saying that you belong in the one flock that is guided by the one shepherd.
Personification: Peace It is my hope that the word, “Shalom”, which means peace, that Jesus said to his Apostles, when he was resurrected from the dead will flow through me to everyone that does not know the fullness of truth that is revealed through the church.
Prayer: Lord, help me to fully realize the words attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi in my life today…”Preach the Gospel to every creature, if necessary, use words”…I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit…Amen!

Whoever “eats” His flesh…

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Kindness is More than Deeds...

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:  Whoever eats* my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.  (John 6:54)

Observation:  It is intended to be shocking, but I don’t understand completely yet how shocking I am supposed to be with my journaling to deliver the Good News to the most people.  If I take my cues from Jesus, I will be unashamed of whatever God reveals to me and whatever way he gives me to share it with others.  I hope that everyone that reads this 6th chapter of John’s Gospel will come to the conclusion that they should seek out conversion and repentance, along with me, to accept the truth that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharistic bread and wine at Mass.

Personification:  Kindness  The fruit of kindness is hard to display without gentleness, I will try to display them both today.  I know that God will supply the grace necessary to do this, and those that know my personality know that it is only possible for me to display kindness and gentleness because of God’s grace.

Prayer:  Lord, help me to display the kindness and gentleness that comes from You.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.

I found my temporary place in the temple…I hope you find yours…Let’s pray…

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St Philip Neri's Crucifix

St Philip Neri's Crucifix (Photo credit: Lawrence OP)

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:  Then the eunuch said to Philip in reply, “I beg you, about whom is the prophet saying this? About himself, or about someone else?” Then Philip opened his mouth and, beginning with this scripture passage, he proclaimed Jesus to him.  (Acts 8:34-35)

Observation:  My Dad has stayed with us in our home for the last two months, I am thankful to God for giving me the opportunity to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with him.  It has been hard at times, but I really hope that God continues to give me the chance to share this Good News with him.

Personification:  Patience  I am hopeful that I can display the fruit of patience in my life today and everyday that God would have me wait to see my Dad except the truth of the Gospel in his own time.  Patience is a virtue that I don’t focus on enough, but I know that God is still building it up in me and I can display it with the grace that comes from Him.

Prayer:  Lord, help me be patient with all of your people and know when it is time to be quiet and wait for You to save them, as only You can do.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.

If I am released from prison, where is my place in the temple?

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Jesus Christ - detail from Deesis mosaic, Hagi...

Jesus Christ - detail from Deesis mosaic, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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:  But during the night, the angel of the Lord opened the doors of the prison, led them out, and said,“Go and take your place in the temple area, and tell the people everything about this life.”  (Acts 5:19-20)

Observation:  Since we believe that angels are sent to free us from the prison of our sinful behavior, shouldn’t we hear this scripture passage about taking our position in the temple?  Specifically, if I have been liberated from my sin, shouldn’t I be taking my position in the church that I am called to take to follow the direction that is given to me from these verses.

Personification:  Joy  It is with great joy that I have announced in the past that I feel called to be a deacon, and I think that is the proper response to that call.  However, I hope that the joy that I have expressed before, is accompanied by a resolve to take the steps necessary to make this happen.  Of course, it is also necessary for me to remember that it will only happen, if it is God’s will and not just what I perceive God’s will to be.

Prayer:  Lord, it is my hope that you will supply me with the grace necessary to follow through with the call that brings me great joy in my heart and rest in the knowledge that you will show me the way to follow your will in this and every decision I make in my life.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.

For everyone who says to tone it down…”Cállate vos”

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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:  But Peter and the apostles said in reply, “We must obey God rather than men.* The God of our ancestors raised Jesus,though you had him killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand* as leader and savior to grant Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins.We are witnesses of these things, as is the holy Spirit that God has given to those who obey him.”  (Acts 5:29-32)

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For the one whom God sent speaks the words of God. He does not ration his gift* of the Spirit.  (John 3:34)

Observation:  I am hearing this morning in both the Gospel reading and the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, that I should not only not be afraid to preach the Gospel, but I should also block out all the voices that are telling me to be quiet.  As Father Jaspers said in his homily this morning, we need to raise our voices and tell the truth about what we believe about the fact that our freedom of religion is under attack and the abortion industry is controlling the executive branch of our government.

Personification:  Faithfulness  It is my hope that I can be faithful to the Word of God in everything that I do today.  It is not just the fact that I need to raise my voice on this blog, but also to everyone that I meet today and get the opportunity to minister to with the Word that comes from the holy Spirit to us when we focus on it.

Prayer:  Lord, help me to use your Words and not mine to defend our religious freedom and all life from conception to natural death.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.

How’s your tithing?

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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:  Thus Joseph, also named by the apostles Barnabas (which is translated “son of encouragement”), a Levite, a Cypriot by birth, sold a piece of property that he owned, then brought the money and put it at the feet of the apostles.  (Acts 4:36-37)

Observation:  When we look at the early church community, it is easy to get lost in the altruism of the apostles and their ability to share all of their wealth.  However, I think if we forget about the prosperity preaching that is all too prevalent in today’s world, we could preach about the fact that we need to get back to giving of our first fruits to God.  This does not just include our paychecks, but if we started to get back to giving the first tenth of our paychecks to the church, maybe the other first fruits would start to be given as well.  I know I am using the literal interpretation of the word “tithe” here, but I hope someone will correct me if I have incorrectly interpreted the scripture in any way here.

Personification:  Love  In order to love like God loves, I must be focused on what he wills for me and not what other people will for me.  I think that God loves me even though I spent so many years not remembering that His call for my life should lead my every decision, especially as it pertains to tithing or giving of my first fruits.

Prayer:  Lord, help me to put all my faith in you and no faith in money.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit…Amen!

Expect the unexpected…Does this sound like you?

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The Holy Spirit depicted as a dove, surrounded...

The Holy Spirit depicted as a dove, surrounded by angels, by Giaquinto, 1750s. (Photo credit: 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:  Jesus answered, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit.Do not be amazed that I told you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind* blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”  (John 3:5-8)

Observation:  I guess as I think about what being born of the Spirit looks like in my life, it is important for me to remember that Jesus is not saying that I am excused from following through with the inclinations that I have received before.  Rather, it is an understanding of the fact that I am not required to follow through with what the world would expect from me.  If I left my job tomorrow, because I felt called by the Spirit to follow through with what God has called me to for some time, it should not bother me that I would not be living up to the expectations that others have of me.

Personification:  Faithfulness  For all I know, people’s expectations of me may be that I not stay working at my job, so the mere act of staying with my current job would be unexpected.  I will focus on being attentive to what the holy Spirit is calling me to, and acting in whatever way that is in keeping with God’s will for me that I am receiving from the Spirit.

Prayer:  Lord, help me to stay focused on being attentive to your Word and every inclination that I get to follow what the Holy Spirit is leading me to do.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.

Divine Mercy Sunday…His mercy endures forever…Alleluia!!!

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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:  This is the one who came through water and blood,* Jesus Christ, not by water alone, but by water and blood. The Spirit is the one that testifies, and the Spirit is truth.  (1 John 5:6)

Observation:  I was struck by the fact that when I went to the USCCB website this morning to read the readings to prepare for my journaling and later for Mass, I did not see any reference to the fact that today is Divine Mercy Sunday.  Also, when I watched the video that was prepared as a reflection on today’s readings there, it did not make any reference to the fact that today is Divine Mercy Sunday.  I hope that I am just making something out of nothing, but I also hope that there are many people who are plugged into the internet this morning that are not going to miss this opportunity to share the good news of God’s mercy that were delivered to Saint Faustina in 1931, and were approved by Blessed Pope John Paul II in 2000 when Saint Faustina was canonized.

Personification:  Peace and Joy  On this Second Sunday of Easter, I feel like I am being called to display two fruits of the holy Spirit.  I believe both peace and joy fully represent the proper response to the mercy of God that was revealed to us through Saint Faustina.  Of course, this is my opinion, but I think it is one that is shared by Blessed Pope John Paul II, and many other of his contemporaries that are still toiling down here with us to spread the Good News to every creature on earth.

Prayer:  Lord, I hope that through your Divine Mercy many people will begin to understand the grace that flows from your church.  Please allow me and my brothers and sisters in Christ to allow your grace and mercy to flow through us to everyone we meet today, both in life and in spirit through the internet and our physical interactions with people in this world.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.

Countdown to resurrection…

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Icon showing the Resurrection of Jesus, at the...

Icon showing the Resurrection of Jesus, at the inner side of the Resurrection Gate to the Red Square, Moscow (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gift:  Piety (Reverence) – With the gift of reverence, sometimes called piety, we have a deep sense of respect for God and the Church. A person with reverence recognizes our total reliance on God and comes before God with humility, trust, and love.

Reading:  When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go and anoint him.Very early when the sun had risen, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb.  (Mark 6:1-2)

Observation:  As our family awaits the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus tonight and tomorrow, we also are looking forward to the birthday celebration of our one year old daughter tomorrow.  As if the Resurrection of Jesus was not enough, God has graced our family with the extra grace of being able to celebrate the miracle of the birth of our daughter, who has graced our family with her smiles, laughs, cries and love for the past amazing year.  I chose to journal on the Gospel reading that talks about the women who went to the tomb to anoint the body of our Savior, because it is this focus that I hope my daughter will have later in life.  Not necessarily the anoint of Jesus, but the focus of his life, death and resurrection, for sure.

Personification:  Patience  It is my hope that the patience that I can display comes as a direct result of the discipline that I showed during this past Lenten season.  I understand that my ability to display patience is only possible because of the grace of God that is given freely to me, as a result of my attempt to be obedient to his Word.

Prayer:  Lord, help me to be patient with my family and with myself.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.