We are called by name…to do what?

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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:  You descendants of Abraham his servant, offspring of Jacob the chosen one!  (Psalm 105:6)

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As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’  (Matthew 10:7)

Observation:  The above verses are taken from the Responsorial Psalm and Gospel respectively from the Mass readings for today.  In the Gospel today, Matthew writes about Jesus calling the Apostles by name and the feeling that I got immediately is that He is calling us just like He called them to proclaim: “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”  As we hear in the 105th Psalm today as well, if we consider ourselves as descendents of Abraham, we should see our call just the same way that the Apostles did.  Although not with the same sense of imminent doom of martyrdom, we do know that we are not on this earth for eternity, so we need to get to work right now proclaiming the kingdom of heaven is at hand and sharing the rest of the good news with anyone who will listen.

Personification:  Modesty – No longer needing to impress other people with our power or degrees or connections or wealth.  I am hearing this morning a call to spread the good news of the arrival of the kingdom of heaven to this world, and I recognize that it is not necessary to be someone who is respected or honored in this world to share this message.  I hope that I can display the fruit of modesty in everything that I do today and for the rest of my life, so that more people can see the message as clearly coming from the Word and not from me.

Prayer:  Lord, help me to remember that first and foremost, I am called to share the good news of the arrival of the kingdom of heaven.  Please keep me from focusing on my own intentions and allow me to focus on your will being done in my life today and for the rest of my life.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy Spirit.  Amen.

 

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.

Sin is not a part of Christ, it is wholly mine…

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Googled, "Sin"

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:  For through the law I died to the law, 19 that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.  (Galatians 2:19-21)

Observation:  The Gospel reading this morning tells about a sinful woman who comes to annoint Jesus feet and the Pharisee who judges her not by her actions, but by her past.  In the verses that I chose from the second reading today, I see that it is by the grace of God that we turn from our sinfulness and not by some observance of the law.  The law is what brought about Christ, and Jesus said that he didn’t come to abolish the law, but as followers of him, we can more easily follow the will of the Father in our lives.

Personification:  Modesty – No longer needing to impress other people with our power or degrees or connections or wealth.  I am looking forward to today with the anticipation of grace that comes from God to allow me to display the fruit of modesty in all things that I try to do today.

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.

 

Are we waiting for the stone?

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Gift:  Wisdom

Reading: David put his hand into the bag and took out a stone, hurled it with the sling, and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone embedded itself in his brow, and he fell prostrate on the ground.  (1 Samuel 17:49)

Observation: The first reading struck me when I went back and read the story of David and Goliath again, as an allegory to our own salvation story.  Maybe my sins are not as big as the giant Goliath, but the real question is, if I am going to wait for the Lord to take my life before I truly develop a repentant heart?  I know the moral of the story is that David was small and Goliath great, but the power of the Lord overcame the difference in size by his power which can overcome any obstacle.  However, I am hearing after reading about another miracle in the Gospel that we should be able to look at the power of God and know that he can overcome any obstacle in our life if we give ourselves to him completely, without reservation.  In other words, lay ourselves prostrate before our Lord before we are laid prostrate before him, just like Goliath.

Personification:  Modesty This fruit of the spirit is difficult to display for me because the world revolves around wealth, power, connections and degrees.  However, I am feeling today the call to do what God is asking of me and not look to show the world how smart I am in the process.  Modesty is a difficult fruit for me and it will take the grace of God to help me display it today and for the rest of my life.

Prayer: Lord, help me to be humble in your presence and remember to give all the glory to you in all things that I do today.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

The Baptism of our Lord…

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http://vimeo.com/5903511

This video was done from the Gospel of Matthew’s account of Jesus’ Baptism…

Gift:  Wisdom

Reading:  After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened and the holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”  (Luke 3:21-22)

Observation:  I read all of the readings this morning and if you look at the USCCB website for the daily readings there were two options for both the first and second readings for Mass today, but when I read the Gospel, these two verses above really spoke to me.  It wasn’t because of the fact that God spoke the amazing words that I put in bold letters above, but because the voice that came from Heaven, God, spoke these words after Jesus did something that seemed very beneath him to do.  Why should the Messiah have been baptized by John, and why did Luke explain it as if it was just something he did along with everyone else as well as the fact that he had joined everyone in prayer?

Personification:  Humility (Gentleness) & Modesty  I think this morning, God is calling me to look at the example of Jesus’ Baptism and realize that in order to truly follow the will of God, I must join the others in their prayer and not try to set myself apart from them in any way.  I must look for ways to make myself smaller and let God do the work in proclaiming what I am trying to do.  I think that is Luke’s message for me today, that I should remember that if the Savior of the world found a way to join the others in ordinary prayer, I should too.

Prayer:  Lord, I know that you did not need to be cleansed from any sin when you allowed John to Baptize you, but I thank you for giving me the example of service to others by allowing yourself to be used in a way that shows me the example for how to be in communion with others.  Please help me to find ways, with the help of your grace, to be more like you in my everyday life and join our brothers and sisters in ordinary prayer.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Gift: Fear of the Lord (Wonder and Awe)

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File:Zephaniah.jpg

An 18th century Russian icon of the prophet Zephaniah

Reading: On that day You need not be ashamed of all your deeds, your rebellious actions against me;   (Zephaniah 3:11a)

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The LORD has eyes for the just and ears for their cry.

When the just cry out, the LORD hears and rescues them from all distress.

The LORD redeems loyal servants; no one is condemned whose refuge is God.  (Psalm 34:16,18 and 23)

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He said in reply, ‘I will not,’ but afterwards he changed his mind and went.  (Matthew 21:29)

Observation: I am reading this morning that we are called to turn away from our sinfulness and repent of those sins joyfully.  God was calling everyone in the first reading in Zephaniah, even those that had been rebellious…I qualify…In the Responsorial Psalm today, God says that he will rescue those that cry out…In the Gospel reading today, Jesus is telling us that even though we had initially said no to the will of the Father, it is the act of changing our mind to accept the will now that is the act of repentance that he is looking for.

Personification: Modesty  It is my focus today to act with the fruit of modesty in everything that I do.  Since it is not my will that I want to be done in my life, I will need the grace of God to keep focused on what his will is for me, rather than following my own will.

Prayer: Lord, help me to stay focused on you today and for the rest of my life.  Please allow me to see your will and help me to follow it.  I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Piety (Reverence)

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(A reenactor dressed and equipped as a centurion)

Scripture: The centurion said in reply,  “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.  (Matthew 8:8)

Observation: The Gospel reading from today, I have heard explained in a homily a few times.  I would say that the main point of focus is usually on the fact that the faith of the centurion was so great that he understood that to have Jesus go to his house was absolutely unnecessary because Jesus could heal his servant just by ordering it done.  This morning I am hearing that the centurion not only believed in his power, but also understood his position in reference to the Son of God.  We say a prayer like this when the Reverend says, “Behold, the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the World.  Happy are those who are called to His supper.”  We say, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.”

Modesty

The fruit that I feel like I am being asked to show in a very real way today is one of modesty.  This centurion was not so proud of his position when confronted with the real Saviour of the world, he humbled himself  and said that he was not worthy that this man should not come to his house, because he is not worthy to have him under his roof.  My call today is to remember that no matter how close to God I feel because of my faith, I must keep in mind that nothing I do makes me worthy of His presence in my life.  Our prayer after the presentation of the Lamb of God takes on a whole new perspective when seen in the light of the centurion’s words.

Prayer: Lord, help me remember that you being in my life is a gift and not anything that I have earned through any act or acts of faith.  Keep me humble and in your Word constantly, so I can be reminded of my total reliance on you to lead my life.  In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Fortitude (Courage)

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Modern version of the traditional Eastern Orthodox iconography of the Baptism of Jesus by John in the Jordan River.

Scripture: and as John was completing his course, he would say, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. Behold, one is coming after me; I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.’  (Acts 13:25)

Observation: Since today we celebrate the Nativity of John the Baptist, it is fitting that this verse comes back to visit me again.  On May 7th, I led my first communion service and this verse was at the end of the first reading.  I don’t remember if I actually journaled on this verse that day, since I was journaling on my other blog then, but I definitely remember talking about it during our shared reflections at our communion service.

Modesty:  I guess I am hearing that it is important for me to hear that I am not he.  Behold one is coming after me; I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.  It is my goal to raise up one of God’s children to be of far greater faith than I could ever be.  As this happens, I hope that I remember that it is by the grace of God that it happens because without grace, I am nothing.

Prayer: Lord, continue to build in me a spirit that is humble in all things.  I know that I must undergo the trials of my life to prepare me for what is to come, but guide me to be strong and not try and fix things without you.  In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Blog from May 7th, 2009

Fear of the Lord (Wonder and Awe)

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Our ship was off the coast of Alaska and it was a little longer than this one, but it gives you the idea…

Scripture:

Some went off to sea in ships, plied their trade on the deep waters.

They saw the works of the LORD, the wonders of God in the deep.

(Psalm 107:23-24)

Observation: I was reminded of my time out at sea while I was working as a student at the Merchant Marine Academy.  I remember the time being one of deep reflection.  I remember having all of the same sinfulness in my own life, but I remember being acutely aware of the awesome power of God.  I don’t think I ever really pondered the concepts of wonder and awe when looking at the sea, but I definitely can think back to the awesome power that I experienced when our over 1000 foot ship was tossed around like a bath toy in a bath tub.

Modesty

I am hearing God saying to me this morning to remember to not lose sight of the power of God, and no matter what gifts he has given me, I need to remember where they came from.  Although modesty is more often seen as an outward sign of the personality inside, I am hearing today that with the power of the Holy Spirit, I should make modesty a part of who I am inside, so the outward sign is obvious.

Prayer: Lord, help me keep in mind your awesome power always and let it ever remind me of the gift of life that you have given me to enjoy with my family.  In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.