The Word of God

Daily Reflections


  • I Saw The Spirit

    Reflection on Mass Reading for January 19, 2020

    Last Friday morning, I stopped on my way to work at a local gas station that had a convenience store, a vegetable market, a breakfast and lunch counter, and a stage of on-going human drama. Of course, I arrived when there was a long line already formed for everything from unleaded gas to lottery tickets. I poured myself a cup of coffee and picked up some other items and placed them on a small table toward the back of the convenience store because I realized that I had left my wallet in the car. And as I returned, I witnessed a man of about twenty-five years of age stumble by the table, sit down and literally spill over the coffee onto the fruit and the newspaper which I was about to purchase.

    “Breathe, breathe…” I continued to think to myself. I began to walk over to the table and once again, “breathe again, it’s the beginning of your day, please God help me right now…” Slowing down, I was glad the hot coffee had not spilled over his clothes and with no one else was around, I guess I could’ve just left everything as it was, but that’s really not my way of doing things. I saw a mop in the nearby closet and just accepted the fact that this nice, freshly ironed and dry cleaned yellow shirt of mine would be less than crisp and ready for my desk work. When I turned around, I was so thankful for God’s grace and mercy. That young man was blind.

    As I neared the table with the mop, I began to say as gently and as slowly as I could, “I’m sorry about all this. It’s my coffee. Don’t worry, I’ll clean it up. No worries.” He tried to apologize as well and before you know it, it was all better and all cleaned. I suggested that we thank God that no one was burned or hurt and that we were both able to walk and still make this day good no matter what. “Jesus defeated death,” I said, “and he can surely take care of little spilled coffee.” One of the attendants, who apparently had been up all night on the graveyard shift, suddenly appeared and barked at both of us, “who’s going to pay for the coffee and all this other stuff?” I looked up and surveyed the man who was easily half a foot taller than me and who obviously played football in high school, and I said “I guess I will, sir.”

    “No you won’t!” came a fierce response from the refrigerated coolers around the corner. It came from an older woman, dressed for work, and apparently for action, who continued, “I saw the whole thing. Get away from there! I’ll take care of it!” And with that, she not only paid for my items but yet another set for me and for my blind friend and a coffee for herself and all three of sat for about 10 minutes just talking about nothing. It was later that I realized the deep meaning of two powerful passages from today’s Scriptures. “I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth,” and “Here am I, Lord, I come to do your will.”

    By now, most veritable accounts, 99% of the Christmas decorations have been removed or at least unplugged and loyally still in place for the day after Thanksgiving. We can safely say that we are ready to face the open waters of ordinary time and put in place everything we have learned through Advent, Christmas, Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord. Our message is simple and beautiful: Amen, amen. Let God teach you today. Your next lesson begins before you know it. “The Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us. To those who accepted him, he gave power to become children of God.”

  • A Two-Edged Life

    Reflection on Mass Reading for January 18, 2020

    “The word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.” Several dictionary entries describe the condition of a two or double edge sword as something that has or can have both favorable and unfavorable consequences. Since the Letter to the Hebrews describes the Word of God as sharper than a two-edged sword, we must conclude and accept the awesome fact that every time we hear them or read the Scriptures, especially the account of King Saul’s humble beginnings, there is the not-so-remote possibility that something good, as well as something tragic, could happen. The first concern perhaps held by many of our Readers would be surrounding the strategy or ways we can know how to keep the optimum consequences flowing over and above the negative ones. This would certainly become the proverbial case with Saul who could not find a healthy way to deal with his insane jealousy over his own son, the iconic King David.

    The Gospel of this same day provides us all with such a methodology and comforting resolution to handling the two-edged sword of the most powerful words we should ever want to hear on the planet: “Jesus said to him, ‘Follow me.’” The only sure-fire way to approach the daily call to holiness and avoiding the dangerous but likewise appealing calls to be selfish leading us all the way to our final destination in Heaven is simple and beautiful. We follow Jesus. We listen to Him, immerse ourselves in fruitful and comforting prayer and then repeat this life-giving cycle every single morning of our lives.

    “The sharp two-edged sword of the Word of God is without a dull book, a blunt chapter, or a flat verse.” Steven Lawson

  • With Friends Like These

    Reflection on Mass Reading for January 17, 2020

    Someone once wrote that true friendship multiplies the good in life and divides its evils. The advice is quite simple: Strive to have friends, for life without friends is like life on a desert island and thereby to find one real friend in a lifetime is good fortune and to maintain that friend, a blessing. If this is true, then we can learn much about the two different kinds of relationships we have placed before us in the Readings today. First, take a look at the people who are approaching Samuel demanding a king. On the surface, it seems like a reasonable request but below the veneer, there is something almost criminal. God let us know exactly what was going on: “Grant the people’s every request. It is not you they reject, they are rejecting me as their king.” This breach of friendship would not end well for the elders. They may have learned too late that an honest enemy is always better than a friend who lies.

    Then, paradoxically in the Gospel of today, we see another form of acting in a different kind of trusting, life-giving friendship: “They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd, they opened up the roof above him. After they had broken through, they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying.” This has to rank in the top 10 most dramatic scenes of the New Testament. Visualize the moment, if you can. Four friends who are convinced that if Jesus can just touch their friend, he would be saved. And he was. Note well that Jesus was also moved by this act of friendship because he clearly noticed the faith of ALL the group of friends: “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to him, ‘Child, your sins are forgiven.’”

    This has ramifications for all of us. We are here to help each other, but more critically in the milieu that is created when we call someone a friend. With that comes true responsibility and care yielding magnificent consequences. Pray for your friends today and ask God to shine His face upon all of them. With friends like these, we may just in fact see God.

    “To love another person is to see the face of God.” Victor Hugo

  • Arrogant Diseases

    Reflection on Mass Reading for January 16, 2020

    It is a very sad day for Israel today as we read in our First Reading: “The Philistines fought and Israel was defeated; every man fled to his own tent. It was a disastrous defeat, in which Israel lost thirty thousand foot soldiers. The ark of God was captured.” However, it isn’t the defeat that makes the account miserable, it is precisely why the Chosen People were crushed in a battle that should have been won. Arrogance, plain and simple. The Lord permitted them to be defeated today because of the swollen egotistical and misguided, misinformed confidence which insanely believed that God’s will must surely reflect their own, as they carry the ark of the Lord onto the battlefield against the Philistines. Their silliness is compounded and confirmed by their reaction after this stunning outcome; instead of humility and crying out to God for help, they lament in confusion. This is similar to those who attempt to put words in God’s mouth to justify their own positions and biases and then don’t “get it” when everything backfires. Arrogance, as the proverb says, is a kingdom without a crown.

    Then the Gospel places the capstone upon our reflection. The Law strictly forbade anyone from touching the leper. When Jesus touched and healed the one with this horrible, disfiguring disease, the humble, sorrowful but believing leper gave us the very opposite of arrogance and reminded us that no one should be deemed untouchable, nor are we ever capable of judging who is worthy of receiving God’s love and mercy: “‘If you wish, you can make me clean.’ Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched the leper, and said to him, ‘I do will it. Be made clean.'” While it is very easy to sit on our self-made perches and self-taught premises and comment on the plight and weaknesses of everybody else except the one in the mirror, it is never sustainable. Defeat is inevitable. There is indeed a thin line between confidence and arrogance. It is called humility. Confidence smiles. Arrogance smirks.

     

    “The only thing more dangerous than ignorance is arrogance.” Albert Einstein

  • Here I Am

    Reflection on Mass Reading for January 15, 2020

    There was a very interesting article published recently suggesting five positive ways to stay close to someone whom you love and whose friendship you enjoy and want to maintain.
    Here they are in a nutshell:
    1. Practice mindfulness
    2. Be open to forgive and ask forgiveness
    3. Know your own weaknesses
    4. Listen actively
    5. Stay calm and always communicate your feelings and thoughts.

    While these things can certainly (and should be) debated, they do carry some merit. They also shed some interesting light on a particular motif and thread weaving in and out of all our beautiful Scriptural Readings today. They are all about staying very close to the Lord so as to be safe and warm with a truly fulfilling and happy life.

    (Practice mindfulness) “Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the LORD where the ark of God was.” Whether in Church or alone in solitude, resting with God is truly a blessing.

    (Know your own weaknesses) “I have waited, waited for the LORD, and he stooped toward me and heard my cry. And he put a new song into my mouth, a hymn to our God.” Being humble and not judging anyone else helps us hear the kind words God always has for us.

    (Practice forgiveness) “Sacrifice or oblation you wished not, but ears open to obedience you gave me.” We all need God to forgive us. Forgiving others helps us realize that He hears our own requests for peace and absolution.

    (Stay calm and communicate) “My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord. I know them, and they follow me.” Worry does not serve at all. Trust in the One who is already looking for us to give us hope. Share your faith with others.

    (Listen actively) “Everyone is looking for you.” Jesus is always reaching out to us in situations that may even surprise the heftiest of skeptics. Listen with the determined intent to learn something every day. Then ask God for guidance to move forward. “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.” Wherever you live, make sure you are staying close to the Lord.

  • Astonished

    Reflection on Mass Reading for January 14, 2020

    “The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.” To be astonished is no laughing matter, literally. It means that something very urgent and dramatic has occurred that has caused you to stop and wonder, “what just happened here?” This is what we have encountered today in the Gospel:
    “What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.” This passage is specially interesting because it is the first time in St. Mark’s Gospel where we encounter demonic possession. The ancient world believed that the air was thickly populated with evil spirits which sought entry into everyone and furthermore taught that they did enter through food or drink. All illness was caused by them. The Egyptians believed there were thirty-six different parts of the human body and any of them could be entered and controlled by one of these evil spirits. There were spirits of deafness, of dumbness, of fever; spirits which took a man’s sanity and wits away; spirits of lying and of deceit and of uncleanness. It was such a spirit that Jesus exorcised here. “Jesus rebuked him and said, ‘Be quiet! Come out of him!’”

    However dramatic or dark, this topic of confronting evil and evil spirits is good for each and every one of us: every day is a challenge and a struggle to live this life and walk this walk. We live in a world of darkness and terror and unless we hold the Light of Christ within us, we will indeed be swallowed up in despair. Thus, the battle of light and darkness is not just outside of us, it is also within us. And we have Jesus especially in the Eucharist to help us move forward in faith. Evil is not sustainable because it has already been defeated. It is now up to us to join the winning, victorious team: “My heart exults in the LORD, my horn is exalted in my God. I have swallowed up my enemies; I rejoice in my victory.”

     

    “Words – so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.” Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • Give Me What Is Real

    Reflection on Mass Reading for January 13, 2020

    The Gallup News Service has issued their finding about Faith and the impact on the life of Americans. They discovered that when people do finally show up at church, the clergy often has its work cut out for it, because some in attendance may not fully appreciate why they are there. An earlier Gallup survey found that just eight in ten Protestant and Catholic adults understand the religious significance of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, while two in ten either misunderstood it or readily admitted they could not even hazard a guess. If we were approached by anyone who really did not have a clue and wanted sincerely to know more about Christ, the simple answer is most likely the best one. Let’s look at three overwhelmingly beautiful significantly bold statements we can make to the world about the meaning of our faith in the Lord:

    Jesus is Real: Someone responded beautifully and sincerely to a person who claimed that God is dead, or at least, dead to that person. He just turned to him and said, “Oh, I know He is alive and real…I just spoke with Him this morning!” Jesus Loves us and wants us to be close to Him: “This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” “I asked Jesus, ‘How much do you love me?’ Jesus replied, ‘This much.” And he stretched his arms on the cross and died. Jesus has a mission for all of us: “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

    “Only Jesus can turn a mess to a message, a test into a testimony, a trial into a triumph, and a victim into a victory.” Poster hanging in a classroom

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