With God and his angels on our side, how can we not have courage?

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St Michael the archangel, dressed somewhat lik...

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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:  Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have salvation and power come, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Anointed. For the accuser* of our brothers is cast out, who accuses them before our God day and night.  (Revelation 12:10)

Observation:  I am hearing today that God’s angels in heaven have already won the victory against the evil one.  Unfortunately, they have cast down the evil one and his angels on us here on earth.  I must remember that my faith tells me that I have recourse to the same angels that cast the devil out of heaven, to ask them to keep him away from me and those that I love.  It doesn’t mean that I won’t suffer persecution and pain for being a follower of Christ, but it does mean that his blood has assured victory once in heaven and has assured the final victory for us on earth as well.

Personification:  Self-Control  It is only by the power of the grace of God that I can display the fruit of self-control in my life.  I believe that it is only when I remind myself of my humanity and the tendency that I have towards sin, that I can rely on the grace of God, and the protection of his angels, to save me.

Prayer:  Saint Michael, the Archangel, defend us in battle.  Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil.  May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do you, O Prince of the Heavenly Host by the power of God cast into hell, satan and the evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.

Why does the church say young man today instead of official?

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Santa Maria della Concezione

Saint Michael, the Archangel

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:  Then the angel who spoke with me advanced as another angel came out to meet him and he said to the latter, “Run, speak to that official:* Jerusalem will be unwalled, because of the abundance of people and beasts in its midst.  (Zechariah 2:7-8)

Observation:  This is the latest translation from the New American Bible, revised edition.  It says official, and not young man, as it does in the earlier edition.  Same verses in today’s readings read;

Then the angel who spoke with me advanced,
and another angel came out to meet him and said to him,
“Run, tell this to that young man:
People will live in Jerusalem as though in open country,
because of the multitude of men and beasts in her midst.

So after a little research, a well-timed question from my son about why does the Bible online say “official”, and a quick look at my earlier edition Bible that I still have, I realized that the question should be why does the new edition say “official” when the previous one said “young man”.  The message that I shared with my son is that the unwalled Jerusalem that I see in the world today is the church.  The message for me is that I need to consider the return of the Lord to be imminent, to be able to continue repenting of my sinful nature.

Personification: Self-Control  Today, I am going to be able to display the fruit of self-control because I know that I must rely on the grace that comes from God through his angels who protect us, even from ourselves.  I had not prayed the prayer I am about to pray, because I felt like I was protected this morning from evil.  The truth is that I may have been protected from evil outside, but I must remember that there is an evil that can be just as harmful inside that I have to fight against as well.

Prayer:  Saint Michael, the Archangel.  Defend us in battle.  Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil.  May God rebuke him, we humbly pray.  And do you, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, cast into hell satan and the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.

Am I prepared for when he comes for me? Is he coming for me? Better be prepared anyway?

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Ary Scheffer: The Temptation of Christ, 1854

Ary Scheffer: The Temptation of Christ, 1854

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:  The devil had already induced 4Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over. So, during supper, fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God,  (John 13:2-3)

Observation:  John’s gospel is similar to Matthew’s gospel from yesterday, in that Judas is already seen as going to betray Jesus.  Even though, he had not yet committed the act of betrayal.  In John’s gospel, however, the devil is seen as inducing Judas’ betrayal.  I submit that, much like yesterday’s reflection, today I should ask myself if I am ready to withstand the devil if he wanted to induce me to do something.  Jesus was ready…The act that he chooses to do when he comes to the realization that he is full of power, is to humble himself by washing his disciples feet.

Personification: Faithfulness  If I am going to be prepared for whatever the devil could throw at me, I must take the example of Jesus and not look for ways to act on my own as Judas did.  Rather, I should look for ways to get others involved in ministry and wash their feet in whatever way that I can to show them that they are an important part of God’s plan.  When I can truly display the fruit of faithfulness in God, I can be sure of my ability to withstand whatever the devil may throw at me.

Prayer:  Saint Michael, the Archangel, defend us in battle.  Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil.  May God rebuke him, I humbly pray.  And do you, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.

 

Who called you and what are they calling you to be?

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Arugot Stream, the Judean Desert, Israel.

Arugot Stream, the Judean Desert, Israel.

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:  1 “Now then, speak thus to my servant David, ‘The LORD of hosts has this to say: It was I who took you from the pasture and from the care of the flock to be commander of my people Israel.  (2 Samuel 7:8)

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And you, child, will be called prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord 21 to prepare his ways  (Luke 1:76)

Observation:  Two things jumped out at me from the readings today, and again my title may give you a hint of what those two things were.  In the first reading, it is God saying to David that he was the one who called him to be a commander of Israel.  I believe that we can see in this reading that it was not just David that he called but also us, maybe not to be a commander of Israel, but we can be sure that it is God who called us.  As for the Canticle of Zechariah, which makes up the gospel reading for today, I found that he is telling his baby, John the Baptist, who was just born that he is to be a prophet of the Most High, to be very important.  Maybe it is just me, but I see this also related to us and our calling to be a prophet of the Most High.  Since I know that I will never be without sin, it is the similarities to my preaching style to that of John the Baptist that I can see that this is what God has called me to.  I try to be gentle and easy in my delivery, but this world is so loud, I am left with a feeling that I am being drowned out by all the other noise.  I know that Jesus was not always gentle and easy either, but I see a loving John the Baptist, as the kind of preacher, God is calling me to be.

Personification:  Joy  Since I feel like I am being called to get in some people’s face about repentance and conversion, I will make sure that I do so with the fruit of joy plainly displayed before me.  We live in a world that wants and approves of instant gratification, and I live in it too and fall prey to it as well, but it is about time that every one of us takes a hard look at what actions we are taking to change it or we can not expect any different results than what we have seen in the past 2000 years.

Prayer:  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!

The feeding of the four thousand, just a glimpse of what is to come…

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The New Jerusalem

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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:  2 On this mountain the LORD of hosts will provide for all peoples A feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.  3 For the hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain.  (Isaiah 25:6,10a)

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Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, gave thanks, 14 broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds.  They all ate and were satisfied. They picked up the fragments left over–seven baskets full.  (Matthew 15:36-37)

Observation:  So, after reading the footnotes from the reading from the book of Isaiah I see that the mountain that the prophet was speaking about was the mountain of Zion, or the heavenly Jerusalem.  In me, this reading evoked a sensory response to the idea of the rich foods and the choice wines.  The imagery that the writer of this book uses gives us a glimpse of how awesome it would be to be in the presence of God in the heavenly Jerusalem.  Furthermore, in the gospel reading for today, we see that with God it is not about what you have, it is about what the needy people need.  By that, I mean that Jesus was not moved by the fact that he had seven loaves and three fish to perform a miracle that would make the people aware of who he was.  He was moved by the fact that there were many people present who were in need and  he performed a miracle to provide for them.  In doing this, I think Jesus was giving us an idea about the Eucharist, of course, but maybe just as important was the fact that he was giving us an idea that with God the needy will always be provided for.  This should be our calling now, and it should be a reminder of what is to come in the next world that no one will be left without.

Personification:  Love  If I am going to be able to display the fruit of love to others, I will have to seek out ways in which I can be of service to them, not only in my church but also outside of the church.  I will rely on the grace of God to move me to help in the ways that will be in line with his will for me to love others in the same way that he loves me.

Prayer:  Lord, help me to see the people in need in my community and help me to find ways that I can help them.  I ask this, as always, in the name of Father and of the Son and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.