Happy St Andrew’s Day…
Reading: At once they left their nets and followed him. (Matthew 4:20)
Observation: It is the intention of the author of the Gospel of Matthew to illustrate the mysterious power behind the call of Jesus to his followers. Although, in Luke’s Gospel he makes it very clear that there was a great miracle that happened to them which drew them to Jesus. Personally, like most people that have been called into ministry, I feel like I can map out the path that eventually drew me to be a follower of Jesus, but I think it is important to note that, like the account of the call in the Gospel of Matthew, it is still quite a mystery how I was able to respond to the call that originally set me on my current path. The fishermen had lives that they had to leave behind to follow Jesus, and I had no formal training in the faith to accept any of what I was hearing. It is still a mystery, but also quite clear that God has a purpose for everyone.
Personification: Chastity I always find it strange when God is calling me to focus on the fruit of chastity. I guess I find it hard to believe that He would want me to share with the world how the fruit of chastity looks in my life. However, just like all of the rest of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, I am being asked to put them on display in order that Jesus can be visible through me. I do not feel as inclined to implore God for the grace necessary to display this fruit today and for the rest of my life, because I know that He is already giving me the grace necessary. I guess more that any other fruit of the Holy Spirit for me and for a few of my friends from my scripture lunch on Fridays, chastity is one that is hard to display completely in our mind. It is only by the grace of God that I am not allowed to let my mind wander in places that I know that it should not go.
Prayer: Lord, continue to supply me with the grace necessary to keep my mind and body under your control and allow my thoughts to stay pure today. I know that it is only by your grace that I am healed from all of my past offenses and would ask that you continue to guide me in your ways to keep me pure in regards to chastity. I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Reading: May the Lord make you increase and abound in love
for one another and for all,
just as we have for you,
so as to strengthen your hearts,
to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father
at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones. Amen. (1 Thessalonians 3:12)
Observation: I did a search for abounding in love this morning because my son was sitting on my lap while the in laws were leaving. He loves to watch the videos that I find for opening prayers at Religious Education and Youth Ministry meetings with the kids. We also just look at random videos of kitties or dogs that he loves as well. I guess the message that I am receiving this morning is the way to be abounding in love is to give the people around me what God is calling me to give them. The increase that I believe Paul is talking about in his letter to the Thessalonians is the joy that comes from following the Lord.
Personification: Joy Now that the extended family is out of my house, I feel like I am being called to share the fruit of joy with my family in a real way this morning and for the rest of my life. I guess I realize how good I have it to be surrounded by a family that shares my faith that we serve an awesome God. Don’t get me wrong, I know that we give each other reasons to have our doubts sometimes, but I believe that is not only a part of our humanity, it is also essential for faith to have those doubts.
Reading: “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:34-36)
Observation: I am very happy that I found this video reflection today from Father David at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. (Here is the video…) He does a great job explaining the fact that we should be looking at today like it is New Year’s Eve, because on the liturgical calendar today marks the end of the year. Since Jesus is talking about in this Gospel reading what we should not be doing in order that we would not be prepared for the end day, I am going to focus my attention today on where God would expect his Son’s disciple to be on the last day.
Personification: Love (Charity) In order to display the fruit of love and charity to everyone today, I would need God’s grace in a very real way. Since I have the in-laws over today and it never seems to go according to plan, what I am feeling called to today is to love them all regardless of their circumstance and maybe God will reward me by allowing to have some quiet time with Him tonight. We have already opened up our home to them, my challenge now is to continue to make them feel welcome and loved, even their dog.
Prayer: Lord, help me to show your love and charity to everyone that I come in contact with today. Please allow me to show the fruit of love in a real way to my wife’s family. I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Reading: As the visions during the night continued, I saw One like a son of man coming, on the clouds of heaven; When he reached the Ancient One and was presented before him, He received dominion, glory, and kingship; nations and peoples of every language serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away, his kingship shall not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13-14)
Observation: After reading this first reading to my boys this morning, my son started singing, “You are the everlasting God”. I find that interesting since the visions preceeding these verses were quite an ominous vision of the world controlled by different forms of beasts. I find it important to note that after these verses that I chose for my journal today, the author of Daniel does not stop talking about the four beasts and even talks about the fear that he still possesses even after seeing the vision of the son of man receiving his dominion that would be an everlasting dominion that would not be taken away.
Personification: Humility (Gentleness) I will try and display the fruit of humility to everyone that I meet today and for the rest of my life. My only act of confidence will be in the fact that the will of God will be done in our lives. I will try and not act as if the knowledge of when the king will return is within my understanding and true wisdom exists only in the knowledge of what God is doing in my life.
Prayer: Lord, help me to understand your will for me in my life and what you are calling me to at this present moment of my life. Please direct my will to be in communion with yours at all times. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Healed ten lepers going to show themselves to the priest…one gives thanks?
Reading: Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?” Then he said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.” (Luke 17:17-19)
Observation: I am reading this Gospel story this morning like a parable. I don’t know if it is meant to be read because of the actual events, but I am reading another message this morning, a subtext if you will. I wonder if they all knew that Jesus had already healed them, or for what else would they be going to show themselves to the priest. This foreigner does not continue to the priests because he is not one of them, but also because he realizes that he must give thanks to the one who saved him from this awful affliction. Why did the others not return to give him thanks or at least give him thanks before they left?
Personification: Joy Today is Thanksgiving Day, so it seems only appropriate that I act with the fruit of Joy in my heart towards all things. My family will start off this morning with giving thanks to God at Mass at Saint Alice Catholic Church. It seems a little self serving that we will be able to receive his body and blood in Communion, but I would hope that I could do so with Joy in my heart and show everyone this morning and for the rest of my life, what it looks like to be thankful that God saved me from my sins by sending his only begotten Son to die for me and offer himself to me in Communion every day.
Prayer: Lord, I pray that this Eucharistic celebration at our church be one that truly shows that we are thankful to you for bringing us this far and your grace fills my heart with the joy that comes from you. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Rembrandt‘s ‘Belshazzar’s Feast’ (1635) captures the scene of fear. (National Gallery, London)
Reading: MENE, God has numbered your kingdom and put an end to it;
TEKEL, you have been weighed on the scales and found wanting;
PERES, your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”
Then by order of Belshazzar they clothed Daniel in purple, with a gold collar about his neck, and proclaimed him third in the government of the kingdom. The same night Belshazzar, the Chaldean king, was slain: (Daniel 5:26-30)
Observation: I was struck this morning by how it would feel to have Daniel reading these words to me. Since I am not a king like Belshazzar, I hope my judgment is not so quick but I know that God could very easily be saying, “Mene, Tekel and Peres” to me. The truth is that I know that God has numbered my days, as he has numbered all of our days and if I was measured up right now, I would be found wanting. Also, Jesus promised that as long as we are his followers, our families will be divided up against us. So, as much as it was a prophecy for King Belshazzar, the Chaldean king, it could just as easily be written of me today.
Personification: Goodness In order to display the fruit of goodness in my life, I must work in conjunction with the will of God. The only good that exists in this world is from the good that comes from the one who is all good and deserving of all my love. I will, with the help of his grace, sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin. This part of my reflection today comes from a prayer I have said a few times before, the Act of Contrition. (see prayer below)
Prayer: O, my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you. I detest all my sins because of your just punishment, but most of all because they offend you, my God, who are all-good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The foundation stone – upon which the temple did stand…
Reading: “All that you see here–the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.” (Luke 21:6)
Observation: The prophecy must have been hard to hear for those people that centered their lives around worshipping God in the temple of Jerusalem. As much as hearing it was hard for them, I should react in great amazement at the fact that it has turned out exactly as Jesus predicted. More than the Old Testament Bible prophecy that many scholars say could be related to many different things throughout history, this prophecy was exactly related to what will happen to the building that they were standing in front of.
Personification: Peace I will work today and for the rest of my life to display the fruit of peace that comes from knowing that God is in control of everything, including me. If I am truly a disciple of Jesus Christ, then my actions are not under my own control, they are under the control of the Father. I pray the Our Father prayer, as Jesus taught us, to show my sincere hope that His will is done in my life and not my own.
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,
and forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Amen.
I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
(note from website that I copied the prayer from this morning)
The Our Father is based on these passages from the Bible:
Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4