The Word of God

Daily Reflections


  • A Kingdom Of Food

    Reflection on Mass Reading for October 27, 2020

    “For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the Church, because we are members of His Body.” Have you ever noticed how many references to the food we have in the Holy Scriptures? They frequently mention eating and intaking nourishment in various contexts while encouraging us to nourish our bodies and souls with a nutritional and spiritual fare. Today is no exception.

    “It is like a mustard seed that a man took and planted in the garden.” And today, once again, our favorite condiment (at least in the top 5) makes yet another splendid appearance. Apart from being uniquely tasty and earthy, the very fact that the mustard seed is so small yet produces so much is yet another insightful metaphor and comparison about the Kingdom of God in which we long so desperately to live. Great things come in small and unassuming packages.

    “It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of wheat flour until the whole batch of dough was leavened.” Anyone who has ever baked bread or loaves knows all too well what happens to the mixture once yeast is added. We can safely assume that a very little goes a very long way!

    “It is not what we do that matters, but what a sovereign God chooses to do through us. God doesn’t want our success; He wants us. He doesn’t demand our achievements; He demands our obedience. The Kingdom of God is a kingdom of paradox, where through the ugly defeat of a cross, a holy God is utterly glorified. Victory comes through defeat; healing through brokenness; finding self through losing self.” Charles Colson

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  • Like Very Dear Children

    Reflection on Mass Reading for October 26, 2020

    Every so often, we are blessed to have the words of the very first Psalm offered to us at the celebration of the Mass in which we repeat either in words and/or in song, the mighty and comforting promises made there to all of us. The refrain for us today is equally inspiring: “Behave like God as his very dear children.” What does that mean, and what are we to learn from these powerful messages from the Bible today? Here are a few clear and accessible clues:

    – Show the type of kindness that always forgives and understands: “Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.”

    – Avoid evil in all its forms, especially when it comes to offensive or avaricious behavior: “Immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be mentioned among you.”

    – Make sure our speech is not embarrassing or obscene: “No obscenity or silly or suggestive talk, which is out of place, but instead, thanksgiving.”

    – And perhaps the most telling of all, live a life of integrity and avoid hypocrisy at every juncture: The Lord said to him in reply, “Hypocrites! Does not each one of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his ass from the manger and lead it out for watering?'”

    Can you imagine the day when all these are in place in your life? How about one week? One year? One life?

     

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  • The Liberating Power Of Humility

    Reflection on Mass Reading for October 25, 2020

    “You shall not wrong any widow or orphan. If ever you wrong them and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry.” People who are in the greatest need of mercy and forgiveness, and truly acknowledge it, are the ones who recognize God’s love and presence when they see it. The “professional-religious class” in both the Old and New Testaments were certainly too jaded and overwhelmed with their own sanctimonious perceptions to recognize wisdom, God’s presence, His love, and mercy. It was this group of folks who were always judging, criticizing, condemning, and even acting superior to others that stirred the words of today’s Psalm into action: “My God, my rock of refuge, my shield, the horn of my salvation, my stronghold! Praised be the LORD, I exclaim, and I am safe from my enemies.”

    Here is the remedy to haughty, senseless pride – pure and simple: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Every day we are alive on this planet, we are given plenty of opportunities to forgive, be merciful, practice patience, and beg for God’s mercy. Instead, at times, we take the easy path and turn that humility into a raw grab for power over another, a quick salve to feel better about ourselves, and an underhanded way to escape responsibility for our behavior and actions. Today is yet another opportunity to be humble before God.

    Here are some practical ideas:
    1. Strive to do your best without complaining
    2. Recognize and accept your own flaws
    3. Be grateful for everything, even on the hard days
    4. Give credit and praise where it is due especially to others around you
    5. Admit when you are wrong and ask forgiveness
    6. Forgive and move on

    “It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes us as angels.” St. Augustine

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  • Faith And Fig Trees

    Reflection on Mass Reading for October 24, 2020

    “Rather, living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ.” You can always tell a whole lot about a person or, for that matter, a group of people by listening to their conversation. In some cases, the high price of gossip seems to take center stage at any given time, and if we are not careful, there we are, too, enveloped in a miasma of treacherous talk that does no good for any of us. We are then painfully reminded that the people who gossip with you will indeed gossip about you at a much later and convenient time. This is because, as the Scriptures of the day clearly remind us that we encounter two diversely different kinds of people every day. Those who live in the flesh and those who live in the spirit. What are we to do?

    “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked man, says the Lord, but rather in his conversion that he may live.” The solution is simple but not simplistic: it is simple in its formation but high on the charts in terms of operation and achievement. We must die to ourselves daily throughout the day, really finding every opportunity to dig deeper and find the ways to true holiness and sacrifice so that we might Jesus in every situation, especially the difficult ones. In this way, we may find the joy of living the Christan faith in good times and in bad, in and out of season. “Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.”

    Whether it is the parking space that someone “stole” from you or the lack of recognition for a job well done, at least to your humble standard but unseen or appreciated by those in authority over you, we have found that time and space to grow our faith and bear fruit. It is truly amazing! Open the possibilities for yourself this weekend and the new week not-so-far-away. You will be delighted you did.

    “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” C. S. Lewis

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  • Prisoner Of Love

    Reflection on Mass Reading for October 23, 2020

    “I, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received.” How can we say that someone who is a prisoner is actually in a good place? This would have to be determined by several factors such as the prison itself, the prisoner, and of course, the jailer. On this beautiful Friday, we have encountered such a mission of understanding and belief that will hopefully expand our notions of faith and to the awesome extent that Jesus loves us. “…with all humility and gentleness, with patience.” The word “prison” has been defined in some circles as a state of confinement while awaiting trial. In many ways, we could stretch that meaning just a bit and see how life itself can be a sort of prison because we are confined in space and time awaiting the final judgment of all that we have said and done while here on this earth. Thus, while we are “confined,” we have been given instructions while we are here. We are humble and gentle, and as much can be grasped, patient with as many as possible. “…bearing with one another through love.” If we see everyone in our lives as fellow-prisoners, then we could find the strength
    and the power to love because we are all awaiting the same trial. That in and of itself will bring us to unity and peace: “…striving to preserve the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

    “Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” This particular phrase from the Gospel describes and determines the “jailer” attitude in our little analogy of this Reflection. God has placed us here on earth “in confinement” and Jesus will come one day to lead us out of this existence to another, which is complete and eternal freedom. In the meantime, then, we are to concentrate on living, acting with, and living in mercy. Showing mercy to each other is indeed a pledge and promise that mercy will be shown to us.

    “Teach me to feel another’s woe, To hide the fault I see;
    That mercy I to others show, That mercy show to me.”

    Alexander Pope (from The Universal Prayer)

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  • Fire!

    Reflection on Mass Reading for October 22, 2020

    “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!” What is behind the use of setting the world aflame by Jesus in the Gospel today? Keep in mind that the Bible is to be seen as a complete unity, the Old preparing for the New, the New ratifying the Old. When the Lord uses the image of fire, it is advantageous for us to go deeper into the meaning and purpose and background of certain words and phrases to truly grasp all the spiritual wealth waiting for us, ripe for the picking. Here are but a few:

    Exodus 3 – The Burning Bush:
    God is truly present, “you are standing on Holy Ground.”

    Ezekiel 1 – A cloud of fire:
    God’s glory is magnificent.

    II Kings 1 – Fire from Heaven wiped out 50 soldiers:
    Power over life & death.

    Matthew 25 – Eternal fire is the destination for
    devil and demons: Hell is real & horrible.

    Acts 2 – Tongues of fire descend on the 12:
    The Holy Spirit “enflames” the Church.

    Revelation 21 – A lake of fire and sulfur awaits
    the faithless: A second death.

    From this small sampling of fire images from the Scriptures, we can safely determine that Jesus clearly wants to purify and cleanse all of humanity, instill a reverent and holy fear in us (awesome approach to God) and establish His Kingdom where there will be both judgment and serious consequences to our responses, both here and now and much later.

    “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Because of His Reign over us and remembering the dire consequences of the refusal to love, there will be division starting in one’s own family, household, and beyond: when the word ‘family’ is used in the Bible, it usually means either the clan or the extended family group, and could very easily include as many as two hundred people or as few as fifteen. Thus, Jesus is describing the essence of a true disciple as one who loves God above all else and is willing to forsake all for Him. He insists that His disciples give him loyalty, which is only due to God, a higher loyalty than spouse or relatives or circle of friends.

    “Aim at Heaven and you will get Earth thrown in. Aim at Earth and you get neither.” C.S. Lewis

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  • What Is Expected

    Reflection on Mass Reading for October 21, 2020

    “My strength and my courage is the LORD, and he has been my savior.” There comes a point in every believer’s life where all the prayers and worship and thoughts about who God is and what is truly expected of us come into remarkable, and at times, troubling disguise. For many, it is an earth-shattering crisis, while for others, it is the death of someone close and beloved. No matter the circumstance, these “moments of truth” become focal points when our faith is tested, made stronger, and clarity becomes ours.

    “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.” These specific references can help us realize several things about living the Christian Life, being a disciple, and a follower of Jesus Christ: We have been marked in this life and claimed for someone or something. Our choice now is to determine for whom by how we live. As Christians today, we can expect to be punished as was Our Savior in the court of popularity, greed, hatred, and the godless. Remaining faithful to the end, which comes secretly or unexpectedly and without being seen, “like a thief in the night,” we are promised to take our place with the Lamb who has been slain and led to the “springs of life-giving water.” (Rev 7:17) Because the Victory is so great and the reward eternal, to those whom much is given, much is expected.

    You have never really lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.

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