We are glad that you found us, the DEACON-5! Here, we will be posting daily Gospel reflections, Mondays through Fridays, each day written by a different permanent deacon in our group. We pray that you find inspiration and a touch of God’s love for sharing some time with us. Please feel free to leave a comment or a prayer request for us!
Blessings to you all! Deacon Ray Gallego, Deacon Steve Hillmann, Deacon Paul Machuca, Deacon George Mora and Deacon Chuck McDaniels
One day as Jesus was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there, and the power of the Lord was with him for healing. And some men brought on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed; they were trying to bring him in and set him in his presence. But not finding a way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on the stretcher through the tiles into the middle in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “As for you, your sins are forgiven.” Then the scribes and Pharisees began to ask themselves, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who but God alone can forgive sins?” Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them in reply, “What are you thinking in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”– he said to the one who was paralyzed, “I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.” He stood up immediately before them, picked up what he had been lying on, and went home, glorifying God. Then astonishment seized them all and they glorified God, and, struck with awe, they said, “We have seen incredible things today.”
Reflection: There are several lessons in this story. The obvious lesson is that the faith of the paralytic saved him but let’s look a little deeper. For example, the Pharisees and Scribes who doubted Jesus and His teachings were present and attended this gathering. So, if they didn’t believe in Him then why were they there? Were they too paralyzed with their power and greed?
In this miracle, Jesus performs both a spiritual and a physical healing. The Spiritual is the faith of this man. The physical is the assistance from his friends. But the real truth to this story is that the paralyzed man would not have been able to get to Jesus without the spiritual and physical help from his friends. So, the faith that is taught in this story is the “Faith of the friends”. Can you think of anyone who needs a helping hand from you? How about yourself, do you need spiritual or physical help from friends? I know I do.
There are times when we need to be assisted and we must ask for healing, or to help others to do so. It was the faith of his friends and not the paralyzed man’s own faith to which Jesus responded, “And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “My friend, your sins are forgiven.” When we forgive, and when we are forgiven, a crippling burden is lifted from our shoulders. We can then, like the man in this episode, rise and walk with the rest of our friends.
The man’s friends were not easily put off because of the large crowd. They used a team effort, their creativity, and the willingness to succeed to ensure that their paralyzed friend meets Jesus. Isn’t that what our church needs? Isn’t that what our life is really about? We are all in this together so shouldn’t it be a reasonable concept to succeed together as one group, one entity through unity?
This story always reminds me about something beautiful, responsive, and fun. Think about this story and its success. Now through your “Imaginative” power, what do you think this man and his friends did after all this happened? My guess would be that they probably laughed and cried with joy! They probably went to one of their homes and had a great feast. Imagine the joy, the love, the satisfaction that lived in their hearts. They not only cured a friend’s illness, but they witnessed Jesus Christ and was part of one of His miracles.
Isn’t that what this world around us needs during this Advent season? We are remembering the first coming of a Savior, and we are also preparing a welcome for Our Lord in our own hearts, and in the world of today. We need to prepare our community and bring “Joy to the World”.
Action of the Day: Think about those that you can assist. How could you bring joy to their world?
As Jesus passed by, two blind men followed him, crying out, “Son of David, have pity on us!” When he entered the house, the blind men approached him and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I can do this?” “Yes, Lord,” they said to him. Then he touched their eyes and said, “Let it be done for you according to your faith.” And their eyes were opened. Jesus warned them sternly, “See that no one knows about this.” But they went out and spread word of him through all that land.
Reflection: Who is Jesus? This question is much more easily answered today than it was at the time Jesus walked the Earth. Today we are blessed with countless saints who have gone before us who have prayerfully and intelligently taught much about the person of Jesus. We know Him to be God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, and the Savior of the World, the promised Messiah, the Sacrificial Lamb and so much more.
Todays Gospel comes from the conclusion of the miracle in which Jesus healed two blind men. These men were overwhelmed with their cure, and their emotion overtook them. Jesus instructed them to “See that no one knows about this” miraculous healing. But their excitement could not be contained. It’s not that they were intentionally disobedient to Jesus; rather, they did not know how else to express their sincere gratitude other than to tell others about what Jesus had done.
One reason Jesus told them not to tell others about Him is because Jesus knew they did not fully understand Who He was. He knew that their testimony about Him would fail to present Him in the way that was most truthful. He was the Lamb of God. The Savior. The Messiah. The Sacrificial Lamb. He was the One Who came into this world to redeem us by the shedding of His blood. Many of the people, however, wanted a nationalistic “messiah” or a miracle worker alone. They wanted one who would save them from political oppression and make them a great earthly nation. But this was not Jesus’ mission.
Oftentimes we can also fall into the trap of misunderstanding Who Jesus is and Who He wants to be in our lives. We can want a “god” who will save us only from our daily struggles, injustices and temporal difficulties. We can want a “god” who acts in accord with our will and not vice versa. We want a “god” who will heal us and free us of every earthly burden. But Jesus taught clearly throughout His life that He would suffer and die. He taught us that we must take up our own crosses and follow Him. And He taught us that we are to die, embrace suffering, offer mercy, turn the other cheek, and find our glory in that which the world will never understand.
Action of the Day: Reflect, today, upon whether Jesus would caution you about speaking too loudly about your vision of Who He is. Do you struggle with presenting a “god” who is not actually God? Or have you come to know the very Person of Christ our Lord to such an extent that you are able to give witness to Him Who died. Do you boast only in the Cross? Do you proclaim Christ crucified and preach only the deepest wisdom of humility, mercy and sacrifice? Recommit yourself to a true proclamation of Christ, setting aside any and all confused images of our saving God.
Jesus said to his disciples: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.”
Reflection: I’ve never been much of a handy man, just ask Ana, my wife. However, I have tackled a few projects in my time. From furniture that comes in a box to be assembled, patching drywall, and some amateur gardening. After many trials and more errors, I have learned to follow directions and use the appropriate tools. It seems that this is what we are encouraged to consider in today’s gospel. Maybe the saying “proper preparation prevents poor performance” applies here.
In this first week of Advent, we are preparing for two things, the celebration of when the Word was made flesh and for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. It would be true to say that we should prepare every day, all year long for when we are called home. But we are truly blessed that our Church, in her wisdom, guides us through special seasons throughout our liturgical year. This is a time to recall the most significant revelation of God’s relationship with all of us. He humbled himself to become like us so he could share in His divinity.
So how are we preparing, or as today’s gospel clearly says, on what kind of foundation are we building our spiritual dwelling. It would be safe to say that we have all deceived ourselves into thinking we can build anywhere and succeed only to face the misery of countless failures. At some point we realize that our plan will never work unless we align ourselves with the will of God and build upon the cornerstone of the church, Jesus Christ.
As we have witnessed, those who build on and around the only foundation that weathers any storm overcome life’s greatest challenges. But remember, the storms will come. And in the midst of these storms, we are to hold on and trust that our foundation will keep us anchored to the love, mercy, and compassion of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Action of the Day: Let’s all focus on the condition of our spiritual foundation. If it is on solid ground, then help someone fortify theirs. If it needs maintenance get to work. Ongoing concern and care for who our anchor is will enable us not just to survive but to thrive!
As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him.
Reflection: Saint Andrew was the brother of Saint Peter and a disciple of John the Baptist. He was known to have preached north of the Black Sea and in Greece and died bound to an X-shaped cross, at Papas, Greece. He is also the patron of not only of Russia but also of Scotland as “Protoclete” or First Called” patron of the Greek Church and patron of the fishing industry. Which only makes sense, as that was ‘who’ he was when Jesus called him to “Follow me”.
I have always been amazed at how quickly each Apostle responded to Jesus when he said those words, ‘Follow me”. Was it His mere presence that convinced them to leave everything behind or was that the Holy Spirit that made it so easy to say “Yes”? it was decades for me to give Jesus an answer to His calling. Can you hear His voice calling you to help gather His sheep?
In today’s world that is so full of hate, it is up to each of us to turn this world around. To love and accept each other as ‘we are’ rather than to fight and hurt another living being, who is unique and that was created ‘from love’ by a ‘loving’ God. Don’t you agree? Have you heard Jesus’ voice calling you? Haven’t we all had enough of the death of innocent lives, and destruction? I have!
Action of the Day: As we begin our preparation for the Solemnities of Christmas, in which the First Coming of the Son of God is remembered, we are led to look forward to Christ’s Second Coming at the end of time. Advent is a period of devout and expectant delight. How will you celebrate?
Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”
Turning to the disciples in private he said, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”
I wanted to focus on the one phrase in today’s Gospel, where Jesus tells His disciples that His Father has revealed to “the childlike” the mysteries of the kingdom. What does it mean to be “childlike”, anyway?
I think of it this way – one who is “childlike” is one who has no ability to act in a way other than how that person feels. There is no deception, no hiding of one’s feelings, no putting on a mask to make someone think something else. No. One who is “childlike” is one for whom the phrase “what you see is what you get” is absolutely spot on. I’ve seen these qualities in my own children, my nieces and nephews, and more recently in my granddaughter as well. It’s a wonderful innocence that I wish would last forever.
Why do children lose that innocence? It’s because they gradually trust less and rely on themselves more. They learn more about the world and develop opinions about it, and those whom they interact with. Sad to say, they learn cynicism, jealousy, and envy as they grow. It’s those qualities in particular, that Jesus is talking about in today’s Gospel. Who were the cynical, jealous, envious people of His time? The scholars of the law, the scribes and the Pharisees, that’s who. They were the ones who viewed themselves as important, and they loved to lord that importance over everyone.
Jesus counsels us not to be like that. We are told to be more childlike. We are told to trust in the God who made us, that we may learn more about His heart, and be better able to share that heart of love with all whom we meet. It totally goes against how we change as we get older. But, what a wonderful process to try to emulate! How can each of us be more “childlike”? How can we be genuine in our love for others as Jesus was, and what better time is there to work on that, than this blessed season of Advent?
Action for the Day:
Pause today and consider how you can be more childlike in your faith. Ask our Lord to show you how to trust Him better, and then share what you have learned with someone special in your life!
If you would like to hear this reflection, click the link below!