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: Jesus said to them, “The children of this age marry and remarry; but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise. That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush, when he called ‘Lord’ the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” (Luke 20: 34-38)
Observation: This was Jesus’ response to a question from the Sadducees about marriage in the next life. I am hearing this morning that the Word of God is telling me to not be so sensitive about what others tell me about their faith. Someone had noted in a picture that my wife did of an incredible young man that passed on to the next life at the end of last summer, that the wings she put on him are not accurate, since we don’t literally get wings we go to heaven. It made me feel wierd every time I showed the picture to anyone, as if I was teaching something about our faith incorrectly. However, this Gospel reading today shows that Jesus used this reference of being like angels, to explain those that are deemed worthy of the coming age.
Personification: Long-suffering (Positive Attitude) I will work on my ability to deal with other people today while displaying the fruit of long-suffering or positive attitude. As always, it will take the grace of God to be able to deal with some people that come at me as if nothing I ever do is right. I know that I must be willing to listen to everyone, but I need God’s grace to understand that it is not the will of God for me to be constantly second guessing the decisions that I make in order to be overly sensitive to opinions that aren’t even rooted in the Word of God.
Prayer: Lord, please give me the strength to stay positive about the decisions that I make in direct response to the will of God, and help me to not second guess your directions. I ask this in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
What an awesome way to pass on the Word of God…Thank you…God bless you…
Reading: They said to him in reply, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the body is, there also the vultures will gather.” (Luke 17:37)
Observation: Today, I am feeling the call to remind all of my friends that Jesus is returning to get his believers. I am reading this morning that where the body is, the vultures will gather to mean, even though it sounds like something terrible, that Jesus is telling his disciples in response to their question that He will be returning to get his believers where his body is. Since his body was resurrected and returned to Heaven with the Father, where would we find his body? I think we should remember that this is a response to a question about where the rapture is going to take place…
Personification: Long-suffering (Positive Attitude) In order to be able to display the fruit of a positive attitude in response to today’s observation, I must go to work to get as many people as close to the body of Christ as possible. Take heart that whoever I bring the Word to today and for the rest of my life will be taken up to Heaven when he returns if only they stay close to the body until he returns.
Prayer: Lord, please help me to bring the Word to as many people as possible and to specifically remind everyone that Jesus said that he would return to where the body is. If I have misinterpreted this verse, please send me a messenger with a better understanding of this scripture to fix my error, but allow me the grace necessary to get your message to as many people as possible. I ask this, as always, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Reading: Arise, O God, judge the earth, for yours are all the nations. (Psalm 82:8)
Observation: The fact that I have always been aware of my sinfulness is probably the reason that I have always had my reservations about praying for the second coming of Jesus Christ. However, this morning the readings and specifically the responsorial psalm reminds me that God has the power to rescue all of the afflicted. However limited our resources may be to help feed the hungry and however difficult it may be logistically to give shelter to the homeless all over the world, God could return and restore everyone to the justice that they deserve. It seems rather selfish of me to want to stop his return until I am ready because of my sinfulness. I guess a more methodical reciept of the Sacrament of Reconciliation would help that feeling.
Personification: Peace In order for me to personify the fruit of peace, I must have peace in my heart about the plans that I know our God has told us he has in store for us. This peace only comes through a truly repentant heart. I believe this peace will come to me not only when I am truly sorry for my sins, but when I keep my promise to the Lord to avoid the near occasion of sin. Only after I have a truly repentant heart can I plan on displaying the fruit of peace to others that I meet and, of course, this will only happen with the grace of God because I cannot do anything without his grace.
Prayer: Oh my God I am heartily sorry for having offended you, and I detest all my sins because of your just punishments, but most of all because you 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 grace of our Lord Jesus be with you…
Flooding – burst river banks in Lewes, England 2000
Reading: I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, listens to my words, and acts on them. That one is like a person building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when the flood came, the river burst against that house but could not shake it because it had been well built. But the one who listens and does not act is like a person who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, it collapsed at once and was completely destroyed. (Luke 6:47-49)
Observation: For the first time I understand this parable to mean not that I need to be a strong foundation. Rather, I need only to act in faith, responding to the call of the Lord and I will have built the foundation that can withstand the flood.
Personification: Love (Latin: caritas) I am hearing today that the fruit of love should be forever what I am, not just love the neighbor, but I am hearing that I must be the personfication of love to everyone that I come in contact with. This includes all parts of my family, whenever I get a chance to show them love, I should be ready to bring God’s love to them by my actions.
Prayer: Lord, in the times that I try and be the strong foundation of the faith to my family, help me to remember to act in a way that responds to what you are revealing to me in the Word of God. Please give me the grace necessary to be your loving disciple and be a better example of your love to your other disciples. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Scripture: The second reading from a letter from Saint Paul to the Romans:
Brothers and sisters:
I, a prisoner for the Lord,
urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received,
with all humility and gentleness, with patience,
bearing with one another through love,
striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace:
one body and one Spirit,
as you were also called to the one hope of your call;
one Lord, one faith, one baptism;
one God and Father of all,
who is over all and through all and in all.
Observation: What a great reading to end our youth conference in San Diego. A call to unity within the church that goes back 2000 years. In the beginning of the church they struggled with different people wanting to take the church in opposite directions. Is it any wonder that 2000 years later we still struggle with the same things. In my mind, this points me to the necessity of the one true church and the need for a successor of Saint Peter to make sure that the church is moving with the will of God.
Gentleness (Latin: mansuetudo): It is my hope for today that I can display the fruit of gentleness. I am sure that our youth need someone to be there in a real and special way today. As for me, I will focus on the graces that I have been receiving this weekend to power me to minister to the youth in a way that will help direct them to the will of God for their lives.
Prayer: Lord, help me to accept the will of God today and for the rest of my life. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Jesus Heals the Leper <<<- this link is attached to some great sermon notes, or you could read my notes below to see how the Word was coming alive for me today…
Scripture: When Jesus came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. And then a leper approached, did him homage, and said, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” He stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I will do it. Be made clean.” His leprosy was cleansed immediately. (Matthew 8:1-3)
Observation: After reading the notes from the USCCB scripture page from the New American Bible, I see that the purpose of selecting this particular part of the readings this morning is because God is showing me that the leper came to Jesus to pay him homage and knew that Jesus could make him clean. By this act of faith, Jesus performed this miracle cleansing of the leper, and then made sure that the leper went on to present himself in the temple, so that he could be reactivated into an active religious life at the time.
Faith: If you click on this link you will see, the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen. It is my hope that today I will be able to receive the assurance of things hoped for and be convicted to recognize the things that I may not necessarily see right now in the church.
Prayer: Lord, as I take the next step forward in my faith walk, let me not lose sight of the things that are important to You, and be humble enough to recognize the wisdom of those around me. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
17th century Russian icon of Abraham
I will make your descendants like the dust of the earth; if anyone could count the dust of the earth, your descendants too might be counted. (Genesis 13:16)
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few. (Matthew 7:13-14)
Observation: I find the contradiction between the reading from Genesis today and the Gospel reading from Matthew very impactful. I hope that was the point of putting these two readings together, but maybe Father Roy will shed some light on that at Mass a little later this morning. The fact that Abraham was told that his descendants would be a numerous as the dust, and the Jesus explains that the those that find the road that leads to life are few is showing me that even though we may be counted as one of the many descendants of Abraham, we still need to follow the narrow gate to the road that leads to life.
Faith: I feel like I am being called in a very special way to understand that although it seems like to me there are not many people that are following the narrow gate to the road that leads to life, I need to have faith that it being done exactly the way Jesus expected it to be done. If it feels like in following Christ I am going against what everyone else would do, than I am most likely on the right track.
Prayer: Lord, help me to discern the path that leads to an eternal life and throw away all those things that keep me attached to the life that ends in destruction. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Scripture: Did I make a mistake when I humbled myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you without charge? (2 Corinthians 11:7)
Observation: It is interesting to see in the first reading this morning that Paul is writing about a question, whether it is rhetorical or not, it points out that he is struggling with how the people of Corinth are perceiving the work that he is doing, in building them up, as a discharge to support these other preachers in a way that they have not supported him. I do not believe that he is bitter at not receiving the support, rather he is trying to show them that a true disciple of Christ would be evident in their suffering.
In my own life, I have found occasion to wonder if God is going to save me from myself and have prayed that I receive the help that my family needs to keep our financial heads above water. However, if I am to receive the fruit of the Holy Spirit that I am hearing this morning, I must understand as Paul did, that we must not just be a little while suffering, but long suffering. (Longanimity)
Prayer: Lord, give me the strength necessary to put up with the trials of this world in order to provide for my family in a way that they feel supported from their Father. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.