Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand…Jesus!

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3rd quarter of 16th century

3rd quarter of 16th century (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I was set on fire by the reading today, and I hope that by the grace of God I am used to stoke this fire in the hearts of everyone who reads this today.  For some it will be hard to hear.  I’m sorry for your feelings and I hope that you forgive me.

 

In the gospel for today’s Mass readings, Jesus says the words that are included in my title for today’s post.  This is his reaction to hearing that John the Baptist had been arrested.  (Matthew 4:17). From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say,k “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

 

Also, in the first reading for today’s Mass readings, we hear about the testing of spirits.  In John’s letter he goes so far to say that those that do not believe are the antichrist…Is that you?  You be the judge:

 

Beloved, do not trust every spirit but test the spirits to see whether they belong to God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.a2This is how you can know the Spirit of God: every spirit that acknowledges Jesus Christ come in the flesh belongs to God,b3and every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus* does not belong to God. This is the spirit of the antichrist that, as you heard, is to come, but in fact is already in the world.  (1 John 4:1-3)

 

I am left with one question for anyone who may come across this post…Do you question the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist?  Do you preach against it, like Catholics are a cannabolistic cult society that believes that eating people’s flesh is somehow sacred?  Do you not understand and thereby plead ignorance and say it must not matter and it must not be necessary to my faith in Jesus?

 

Read John 6:66, and then read the above letter from the same Saint John the evangelist that wrote it…I did, and I am left with the distinct impression that anyone who stands against this teaching is the antichrist!

 

Lord, I pray for all those lost souls that have been led astray by false prophets, I pray that in the spirit of repentance that you will send the holy Spirit down upon us all and keep us faithful to your teaching and your truth.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit…Amen!

 

 

 

 

 

Should we walk like him or live like him?

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English: Holy Spirit descending upon Jesus

English: Holy Spirit descending upon Jesus (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:  This is the way we may know that we are in union with him:e whoever claims to abide in him ought to live [just] as he lived. (1 John 2:5b-6)

Observation:  What would Jesus do?  As I am sure I have said before, I think the question should be, what would I do, in light of all the Jesus has done for me?  The first translation that I read in the readings today, said that if we claim to abide in him, we should walk as he walked.  It reminded me of all the times that I wore my sandals and felt like somehow I was walking like Jesus.  I think John is speaking more about walking in the light of truth and not letting sin lead your life.  If I am going to follow a life, I feel like I might have more chance of following Mary, since she was not begotten by God.  I am called by my Sacrament of Confirmation to be led by the Holy Spirit, and that same Holy Spirit makes a dwelling for the Lord in my heart, it is still a whole lot different than what Mary was called to do.  I go back to what I said earlier, I think it is less about me following their example literally and more about living my life in a way that pours out for others, like Jesus and Mary did.

Personification:  Generosity. If I am going to display the fruit of generosity in my life, I must continue to ask for others to help in our ministry to the youth in our parish, and be willing to do whatever is necessary to help them feel comfortable with leading the next generation to a better understanding of our faith.  This generosity is not allowed to hold back because of embarrassment from past sins or even present sins for that matter, if we are going to take part in mentoring young people to be the next leaders in our church.

Prayer:  Lord, let me be an example that leads people to an authentic relationship with you that is based on truth and not the illusion of faith that too often exist in our church today.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit…Amen!

 

Guard your eyes…Close them, if necessary!

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Fear of the Lord

Fear of the Lord (Photo credit: Lawrence OP)

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:  He who practices virtue and speaks honestly,
who spurns what is gained by oppression,
brushing his hands
free of contact with a bribe,
stopping his ears lest he hear of bloodshed,
closing his eyes lest he look on evil.  (Isaiah 33:15)

Observation:  As we were praying the morning prayer this morning, I was reminded of the fact that when a Victoria’s Secret commercial comes on, I avert my eyes from the screen or even close them until it’s over.  The reason isn’t that I believe the women to be evil, but the message that Victoria’s Secret is selling is evil.  Somehow, the devil has the world convinced that if a woman can allure a man with their body, it will lead to love.  Now, I know that God can work all things together for good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose.  (See Romans 8:28)  However, earlier in the 8th chapter of Romans, the Word says, “For those who live according to the flesh are concerned with the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the spirit with the things of the spirit. The concern of the flesh is death, but the concern of the spirit is life and peace. For the concern of the flesh is hostility toward God; it does not submit to the law of God, nor can it; and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh; on the contrary, you are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you. Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. (Romans 8:5-9)  The second part about stopping his ears lest he hear of bloodshed was meant for my wife, but the last part was meant for me, for sure.

Personification:  Love.  Real love is concerned with the things that are revealed to us through the spirit.  If I am going to display the fruit of love in my life, I must be concerned only with those things that are revealed to me through the Word of God and the tradition of the church.  However, I must remember to discern by going back to the Catechism, if necessary, the real meaning of our sexuality and how I need to guard myself against the salaciousness, that is all too prevalent in this world today.

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

“Repent and believe in the Gospel, for the end is near…Alleluia!!!”

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English: Repent window, Mathon church, near to...

English: Repent window, Mathon church, near to Mathon, Herefordshire, Great Britain. Beneath the left side: Repent ye for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” and the right: “Thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness”. (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, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.* From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven suffers violence,* and the violent are taking it by force.  (Matthew 11:11-12)

 

Observation:  As I sat in our small chapel this morning waiting for the good news to be proclaimed by the leader of our communion service, he says that he is still waiting on the holy Spirit to inspire him to tell him what to say about the gospel for today.  The kingdom of heaven is at hand.  It was an admonition from Jesus to his apostles, and to us today.  If we believe that the kingdom of heaven is at hand, and we are in it, then we are greater than John the Baptist.  Our job is more important than his job, because he was telling of the coming kingdom and we must convince people who it is already here.

 

Personification:  Joy.  I am choosing to display the fruit of joy today,  in anticipation of the 3rd Sunday of Advent, where we are called to rejoice in the coming of our celebration of Jesus’ birth.  Since, tomorrow is not promised, we should show joy to the people who don’t know Jesus now, so they can see the love he has for them through us and the joy that comes from our relationship with God.

 

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

 

Are we looking for temporary joy or the joy that surpasses all understanding?

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Christ icon in Taizé

Christ icon in Taizé (Photo credit: lgambett)

 

Gift: Counsel (Right Judgment) – With the gift of right judgment, we know the difference between right and wrong, and we choose to do what is right. A person with right judgment avoids sin and lives out the values taught by Jesus.

 

Reading:  Brothers and sisters:
If there is any encouragement in Christ,
any solace in love,
any participation in the Spirit,
any compassion and mercy,
complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love,
united in heart, thinking one thing.
Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory;
rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves,
each looking out not for his own interests,
but also everyone for those of others.  (Phil 2:1-4)

 

Observation:. Yesterday, I talked to the middle school and high school youth groups about how the joy that we get from being with Jesus is so much greater than the temporary happiness from the enjoyment of the things of this world.  It is awesome that the first reading for today’s Mass tells us today that .we can expect our joy to be complete when we are of the same mind, not just with Christ but also with his other children that are in this world with us.

 

Personification:  Joy  I guess it makes sense that I would choose to focus on joy today.  I don’t believe that I am quite ready to be completely of the same mind as Christ, but I can be joyful in those times that I am of the same mind as his other children.

 

Prayer:. Lord, help me to share your truth with others today in the same loving way that you would, always mindful that other people are worthy of being heard as well, so that I can better understand their point of view and we can be of the same mind.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit…Amen!

 

Why do you not attend Mass daily?

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Jesus drives out a demon or unclean spirit, fr...

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:   In the same way, the doctrine of the Christian religion should properly follow these laws of development, that is, by becoming firmer over the years, more ample in the course of time, more exalted as it advances in age.  (from the Second reading of the Office of Readings, From the first instruction by Saint Vincent of Lerins, priest)

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“When an unclean spirit goes out of someone, it roams through arid regions searching for rest but, finding none, it says, ‘I shall return to my home from which I came. ’But upon returning, it finds it swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and brings back seven other spirits more wicked than itself who move in and dwell there, and the last condition of that person is worse than the first.”  ( Luke 11:24-26)

Observation:  As I prepared for leading our communion service this morning, I wondered about the end of the Gospel that had left me once again with a false impression of how grace was given to us through the exorcism of evil from our lives.  I had decided to avoid the subject, except to say that we must choose to not fall into temptation when it is presented to us, by making a conscious decision to place ourselves at the foot of the cross with Jesus in Spirit and kiss his feet in submission to the will of God, and not follow our temptations to their logical conclusion of falling into sin.  Thereby, as Saint Frances de Sales says in his Introduction to the Devout life, causing the Devil to forfeit his bringing the same temptation to us, for fear that it is leading us to be more devoted to God.  Anyway, I didn’t have to lead the communion service because Father Jaspers showed up…Thanks be to God…He shared the story that I was trying to think of from the book that I shared with him about the story of an American Exorcist trained in Rome, called the Rite.  The story was of a man who was exorcised of his demon, only to be possessed by seven more, because he did not fill his life with the visible signs of God’s grace on earth, the Sacraments.  Anyway, good news from our representative of Jesus, here at Saint Alice Church, Father Jaspers and again, all thanks be to God the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Personification:  Faithfulness  It is only by faithfully attending the Mass and receiving the Sacraments that we can be sure of being filled with the God who can keep us from sin.  I don’t mean just our little venial sins, but the evil that we know has taken hold in our lives before, because we have consented to it.  I hope I can align my will with the grace that has been poured out on me from the Sacrament I received today and continue to be made free from all evil tendencies in my life, by continuing to be led to receive the Sacraments that are offered to me in the future.

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

Why not celebrate the Holy Name of Mary?

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Holy Name of Mary

Holy Name of Mary (Photo credit: Lawrence OP)

 

Gift:  The spirit of understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of divine truth.

 

Reading:  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:3-6)

 

Observation:  At Mass this morning we read the ordinary readings, but I felt like we were missing out on something.  I knew I was, but the homily and Mass were amazing, so I knew I was supposed to be there, but I knew that this celebration of the Holy Name of Mary had a special meaning still for me today.  This optional second reading says it all, but the collect prayer for the special feast today will further show why I feel called to share this celebration on my journal today.

 

Personification:  Joy.  It is only through the remembrance of the name of Mary that I see a great cause for joy.  We hear in Luke’s Gospel for today’s Feast Mass that John leapt in Elizabeth’s womb, may I leap. for joy,  when I meet Jesus today.

 

Prayer:  Grant, we pray, almighty God,
that, for all who celebrate the glorious Name
of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
she may obtain your merciful favor.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. +Amen.