September 16th, 2022

The Gospel according to Luke (8:1-3)

Jesus journeyed from one town and village to another, preaching and proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom of God. Accompanying him were the Twelve and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their resources.

Reflection:

Jesus was on a mission.  His mission was to preach to town after town tirelessly.  But He did not do this alone.  This passage points out that He was accompanied by the Apostles and several women who had been healed and forgiven by Him.

There is much this passage tells us.  One thing it tells us is that when we allow Jesus to touch our lives, heal us, forgive us and transform us, we want to follow Him wherever He goes.

The desire to follow Jesus is not only an emotional one.  Certainly emotions were involved.  There was incredible gratitude and, as a result, a deep emotional bond.  But the bond went so much deeper.  It was a bond created by the gift of grace and salvation.  These followers of Jesus experienced a greater level of freedom from sin than they had ever experienced before.  Grace changed their lives and, as a result, they were ready and willing to make Jesus the center of their lives following Him wherever He went.

Action:

Reflect, today, upon two things.  First, have you allowed Jesus to pour forth an abundance of grace into your life?  Have you allowed Him to touch you, change you, forgive you and heal you?  If so, have you then repaid this grace by making the absolute choice to follow Him?  Following Jesus, wherever He goes, is not just something these Apostles and holy women did long ago.  It’s something that we are all called to do daily.  Reflect upon these two questions and recommit yourself where you see yourself lacking.

September 15th, 2022

The Gospel according to John (19:25-27)

Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.

Reflection:

Anyone who has been in the presence of someone who has taken their last breath shares a unique experience that can be both deeply painful yet full of hope. When my mother was near death, I had time to think, remember, pray, and mourn. Her 85 years of life had been filled with many sorrows. I thought about how she endured and overcame so much. She was fierce, strong, loyal, and self-sacrificing. She was my mother.

Imagine Mary on any given day while she raised Jesus, her son. There where chores to do, meals to prepare, lessons to be taught, and more. She was a mother, like most, that wanted to protect her child from any and all harm.  She knew she was destined to suffer and to that point had already experienced three of the “Seven Sorrows”. Although she may not have known how her precious child’s life would end she had to have understood how Jesus and His teachings put Him in danger. And although she is considered to be the first and foremost disciple she was and always will be the mother of Jesus.

She followed and watched her son suffer agonizing torture and a dehumanizing death. As the life of Jesus slipped from his body and He knew the end was near He made sure of two things. His mother’s care would be in the capable hands of someone he trusted, and He shared her with all of us to be our mother as well. And like with her son Jesus, she endures countless sorrows on our behalf. Yet, she will never tire of interceding for us as she brings our needs and concerns to the feet of her son Jesus.

When the day comes for our earthly journey to conclude, I hope and pray our mother Mary is present and helps intercede for us a happy death on our way home.

Action of the Day:

Let us pray for all mothers and the sorrows they endure on behalf of everyone they love and intercede for. May our mother Mary, the great intercessor and queen of heaven continue to take us by the hand straight to her Son for the grace we need to endure the sorrows and challenges in our lives.

September 14th, 2022

The Gospel According to John 3:13-17

Jesus said to Nicodemus: “No one has gone up to Heaven except the one who has come down from Heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. 

Reflection: This language may seem strange to our ears, but Nicodemus, a learned Pharisee, clearly understood Jesus. To scholars like Nicodemus, “Son of Man” had two meanings. The first is human, mortal. The second is a prophetic king as described in the Book of Daniel (7:13-14): “As the visions during the night continued, I saw coming with the clouds of Heaven one like a son of man. 

The Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross commemorates the Holy Cross on which our Lord, Savior, and King, Jesus Christ, was crucified. I have, on many occasions, sat in church for hours and just looked up at the cross. My thoughts are always of the excruciating pain that our Lord went through not only suffering on the cross but also on the pain and humiliation on that road at this point in God’s grand plan. It’s important, for us, that we too at times feel that pain and suffering to a smaller extent in our own lives.

At a Good Friday celebration in Jerusalem toward the end of the fourth century, according to an eyewitness, the wood was taken out of its silver container and placed on a table together with the inscription Pilate ordered placed above Jesus’ head: INRI “Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews.” Then “all the people pass through one by one; all of them bow down, touching the cross and the inscription, first with their foreheads, then with their eyes; and, after kissing the cross, they move on.” To this day, the Eastern Churches, Catholic and Orthodox alike, celebrate the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on the September anniversary of the basilica’s dedication.

Action of the Day: Lord, by your grace, help me to, like Nicodemus, come to you, to ask you questions, and follow you even in my confusion and pain. 

September 13th, 2022

The Gospel according to Luke (7:11-17) 

Jesus journeyed to a city called Nain,
and his disciples and a large crowd accompanied him.
As he drew near to the gate of the city,
a man who had died was being carried out,
the only son of his mother, and she was a widow.
A large crowd from the city was with her.
When the Lord saw her,
he was moved with pity for her and said to her,
“Do not weep.”
He stepped forward and touched the coffin;
at this the bearers halted,
and he said, “Young man, I tell you, arise!”
The dead man sat up and began to speak,
and Jesus gave him to his mother.
Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, exclaiming,
“A great prophet has arisen in our midst,”
and “God has visited his people.”
This report about him spread through the whole of Judea
and in all the surrounding region.

Reflection:

In today’s Gospel, we have the story of Jesus raising a young man from the dead.  That in itself is certainly miraculous, but truly, it’s more than that.  It’s a story of how the Lord saw someone in their greatest need, and He used His power to help to meet that need.  It’s a wonderful lesson about how the Lord’s pity can truly change everything.

We may not understand why this is significant – the young man was the only son of a widow.  In first-century Israel, widows were utterly dependent on their children to care for them.  So, this widow losing her only son meant that she had no family to depend upon.  She would be utterly helpless to take care of her own needs.  Jesus saw that and restored her son to her.  He saw her need, felt pity and compassion for her, and met that need, ensuring that she would not be left destitute.

In my own life, I’ve been at that place where I wondered how things would go for me.  I was laid off from my job and for the first time in my working career, I was unemployed.  I had a family depending upon me, and I had to find something.  Jesus, in His pity and compassion for me, was there, and helped me.  My church community supported Linda, our boys and me, and ultimately, one of my fellow parishioners was the catalyst for me to find a job to end that period.  I was praying the whole time, and while not at the point of being destitute like the widow, I knew that it was all up to God.  It’s a lesson that I don’t think I will ever forget and I will do my best to always remember it with thankfulness.

All of us go through times like this.  I heard a saying that says something like this: “It’s not about what happens to us in our lives.  It’s about how we respond to what happens to us in our lives.”  To me, looking to God to sustain us in our need is the most basic behavior we have as followers of Jesus.  And, we should look for where we can be a blessing to someone in a difficult place.  Perhaps we have been blessed somehow and can share from our excess of blessing.  What better way can we say thank you to the one who truly has given us everything?

Action for the Day:

Say a prayer of thanksgiving for the blessings in your life and ask God to show you where you can share that blessing with someone in need today!

If you would like to hear this reflection, click the link below! 

The Young Man of Nain

September 12th, 2022

The Holy Gospel according to Luke (7:1-10)

When Jesus had finished all his words to the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave who was ill and about to die, and he was valuable to him. When he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and save the life of his slave. They approached Jesus and strongly urged him to come, saying, “He deserves to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation and he built the synagogue for us.” And Jesus went with them, but when he was only a short distance from the house, the centurion sent friends to tell him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof. Therefore, I did not consider myself worthy to come to you;

but say the word and let my servant be healed. For I too am a person subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him and, turning, said to the crowd following him, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” When the messengers returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.

The Gospel of the Lord.

Encountering Christ

The only other time the word “amazed” or  “marveled” is used concerning Jesus is when he tried teaching in the synagogue of his hometown (Mark 6:1) when “he marveled because of their unbelief” (v6). You would think, based on their Jewish background, they would be the ones who had faith. Instead, it was a Gentile, a Roman centurion.

The centurion told Jesus, “I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” (v8).

By this, he showed his understanding of who Jesus was. He understood that Jesus’ power to heal was given him by God, just as the centurion’s authority came from the emperor. And just as he gave commands to his soldiers, he understood that Jesus could command the illness to leave his servant.

The faith of the centurion was in the power of Jesus’ word, a word founded on the authority given him by God. He asked Jesus, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but say the word, and let my servant [soul willl] be healed” and we recite these very words in the celebration of the Holy Mass, before we receive our Lord in the Eucharist (body, blood, soul and Divinity). How powerfrul and such humility.

The centurion was a man who himself had enormous power at his disposal. As a representative of Rome and in charge of Roman soldiers, his power and authority were immense. But he recognized that power was nothing in comparison to the Word of the living God invested in the rabbi from Nazareth. Perhaps he understood the principle in the same psalm that, “The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing” (v10). Rome, for all its power, could not heal his servant.

For all Rome’s prestige, the centurion put his faith in the God of the otherwise insignificant Jewish nation.

Despite being in charge of a great army, the centurion put his hope and trust in the saving power of the God of Israel. When the centurion’s servant “was sick and at the point of death.”

What an example for us. Faith is not a passive thing whereby we simply affirm our belief in a set of doctrines. What the centurion demonstrated is the power of faith working through a deep understanding of the power of God and His Word, invested in His Son. It was a faith coupled with a character of humility, love, and embracing of the Hope of Israel.

Action of the Day

The Lord is looking for servants like this centurion: *Who have an exalted view of Christ—He is the sovereign Lord of authority, and thus they trust Him for the impossible.

The Lord is looking for servants, *Who have a lowly view of themselves—they are unworthy and insufficient, but they know Christ as gracious and all-sufficient.

The Lord is looking for servants, *Who have a caring view of others—they are helpless, and thus need compassion. Christ’s authority and grace extend to those whom society may despise.

Hudson Taylor, a missionary to China, used to say, “All God’s giants have been weak men who did great things for God because they reckoned on God being with them.” May that same powerful God do great things through us as we trust Him in our weakness!