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Category Archives: 60 Reflections

God Wins

Ever ask God for a sign? Jesus has something to say about that in today’s Gospel reading from Matthew 12. We’re back in Exodus, following the story of Moses for our first reading.

After the Passover, Pharaoh agreed to let the children of Israel go. Shortly after they left, though, he changed his mind and sent his army after them. The Israelites were terrified upon seeing Pharaoh’s army coming toward them. But God tells them that He will part the Red Sea and dispatch Pharaoh’s men. Moses says, “Fear not! Stand your ground, and you will see the victory the LORD will win for you today.”

Stand your ground. Wise advice for us today, no? It seems that, as Christians, we have conceded so much ground to the world. It may be easy to think that we’re losing the battle – the battle for people’s souls. And for the time being, we may be losing. But fear not!  Stand your ground! Because in the end, the battle belongs to the Lord. And we know that in the end, God wins.

Father, give the strength and courage to stand our ground, fully clad with the armor of God. We stand and fight, for the victory is yours. Amen.

Today’s Readings

 

The Weeds and the Wheat

Today’s Gospel reading from Matthew 13 is the parable of the weeds and the wheat. A bad guy comes and sows weed seeds into a man’s wheat field. When the servants find out, they ask the master if they should pull the weeds. The master says that they will be separated at harvest time.

Jesus goes on to explain the parable. The weeds are the children of the evil one and the wheat the children of the kingdom. They will co-exist until the end. And so it is with the Church. Not everyone in the pews has pure motives. There are weeds within our midst. They may look as normal as can be. They may even wear Roman collars. Most of the time, only God knows for sure into which category they fall.

I’m sorry…did I say “they.” Perhaps I should have said “we.” You see, we have a choice as to what category we want to be in. We can choose to be wheat. Or we can choose to be weed. My spirit cries, “Wheat!” But my flesh says, “Ah, just a little weed. What’s it going to hurt?” The choice is ours…weed or wheat?

Father, forgive us for those times that we choose to be weeds. Help us to be wheat today. Amen.

Today’s Readings

 

Saint Mary Magdalene

Today is the feast of St. Mary Magdalene. There are different options for the first reading, so I’ll let you read them and mull them over yourself. You can choose from Song of Songs 3:1-4 or 2 Corinthians 5:14-17. The Gospel is from John 20. It is the story of Mary’s meeting with Jesus after the resurrection. She was the first person to actually see the risen Lord, though she didn’t recognize Him at first.

There has been much conjecture about Mary Magdalene down through the ages. Many say that she was the woman caught in adultery, the story where Jesus said, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” We don’t really know her identity. In The DaVinci Code, she was supposedly married to Jesus and had a child with him. We can safely do away with that one. Was she a prostitute? An adulterer? A harlot? All we really know is that she had seven demons expelled from her (Luke 8:2) and that she was a sinner. She was also a woman filled with love for Christ.

Mary Magdalene’s love was borne of gratefulness. Jesus said, “The one whom much is forgiven loves much.” She found in Jesus someone who did not judge her for her past. Someone who saw through all the baggage of sin and loved the person. Jesus was all she was ever looking for. Is He also that to us?

Father, Mary was forgiven much, and so she loved much. We know that we, too, have been forgiven much. Help us to love much. Amen.

Today’s Readings

 

Passover and Holy Mass

Each year on Holy Thursday, the first reading for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper is taken from Exodus 11-12. That same reading is today’s first reading. In the Gospel reading from Matthew 12, the Pharisees call Jesus out because His disciples were “working” on the sabbath.

Today’s first reading contains God’s instructions for the children of Israel for the Passover. At the end of the passage, God says, “This day shall be a memorial feast for you, which all your generations shall celebrate with pilgrimage to the LORD, as a perpetual institution.” Even today, the Jews celebrate the Passover, not as a past event, but they believe they are participating in that “perpetual institution.”

Catholics believe the same thing about the Mass. The Mass is a participation in the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ on Calvary. We don’t believe that we are simply commemorating a past event. For us, the Mass – the new Passover – is also a perpetual institution. And just as at Passover the Jews must eat the flesh of the lamb, so do we eat the Flesh of the Lamb of God.

Father, we thank you for Christ, our Paschal Lamb. May we come to a greater knowledge of and love for the perpetual institution we celebrate in the Mass. Amen.

Today’s Readings

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I AM

In the first reading today from Exodus 3, we read more of the interaction between God and Moses when God reveals Himself in the burning bush. Our Gospel reading is a familiar one from Matthew 11. Take it to heart and you will find rest in Jesus.

When God told Moses to go and speak to the children of Israel, Moses figured that the people would want to know what name God went by. So Moses asks the question. God replied, “I am who am.” Then he added, “This is what you shall tell the children of Israel: I AM sent me to you.” And so it was.

Think about that name for a moment. Notice God didn’t call Himself I WAS. Or I WILL BE. Or I HAVE BEEN. Or I DO. Or anything else. I AM. Present tense. It encompasses everything. I AM. I am here in this moment. It would do us well to meditate on this name of God. Stop searching for Him in the past. Don’t worry about where He’ll be in the future. Experience Him in the here and now. I AM.

Father, help us to know you in the here and now. To experience you as I AM. Amen.

Today’s Readings

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Holy Ground

In today’s first reading from Exodus 3, Moses has an encounter with God. Moses spies a bush that is on fire, yet is not being consumed by the flames. Curious at the sight, he goes in for a closer look. And God calls out to him.

“Moses! Moses!” He answered, “Here I am.” God said, “Come no nearer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” It was holy because God was present there. Of course we know that God’s presence can be felt everywhere. But there are certain places where this presence is even more pronounced, even more special. I’m talking about inside every Catholic church. It is truly Holy Ground.

I’m afraid too many people just don’t get that any more. So many people treat church as though it is some kind of social club – incessant talking, chewing gum, dressing like they’re on the way to a ball game or the beach…on and on it goes. This begs some questions for us. Are we treating church as holy ground? Are we properly dressed? Are we arriving early enough to spend a few moments in quiet prayer? After all, if you were going to a meal at the home of someone very important, wouldn’t you comport yourself accordingly? Let’s always remember that JESUS is truly present – Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity – and we are truly on holy ground.

Father, give us an ever greater sense of reverence when we gather at Mass. Help us to remember that we are on holy ground. Amen.

Today’s Readings

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Lessons Not Learned

In the first reading today from Exodus 2, we see the beginning of the story of Moses. In the Gospel reading from Matthew 11, Jesus pronounces woes on some towns – Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum – because He performed mighty deeds there, but they did not repent.

Jesus has some pretty harsh words for these places that failed to repent. In fact, He says, things will go better for Sodom on the day of judgement. And Sodom was pretty much vaporized. Not good!

We’ve all heard the saying, “Those that fail to learn from history are destined to repeat it.” I believe this is exactly what Jesus was trying to communicate to the places where He pronounced woes. The people knew their history. They knew the bad stuff that happened when people failed to repent. Yet even with this knowledge, they would not get the message and repent. Seems true that history repeats itself – when people fail to learn lessons from the past. Have we learned our lesson?

Father, help us to learn from the past. Help us to remain close to you, and to repent when we have turned away, that we may not face destruction. Amen.

Today’s Readings

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Jesus the Divider

One of the titles of Jesus is Prince of Peace. Yet in today’s Gospel reading from Matthew 10, Jesus says just the opposite. “Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword.” He then goes on to tell how He will become a source of division, even within families and households.

Have you ever experienced this? I can tell you that I have. Jesus has been a source of division even in my own marriage. Many years ago, my wife “got saved.” She gave her life to Christ. And I thought that she lost her mind. Here I was Mr. Pagan-guy, and now I was married to a holy roller. Now, that didn’t last too long. Within a few months, my wife prayed and loved me into a relationship with Christ. But for that short time, Jesus was definitely a cause of division in my house. That isn’t the only example by a long shot.

Perhaps Jesus is a source of division in your family. Your spouse, your kids, your parents, your siblings; maybe they just don’t understand this new (or not so new) relationship with Jesus. This can sometimes cause people to fall away. They can’t take the heat, so they go back to their old ways. Don’t let that happen! Stand strong, grow in your relationship with Christ. Who knows…maybe like Mrs. Lloyd for me, you can bring them to Jesus. Neither one of you will ever be the same.

Father, help us to hold on strongly to our faith, especially when Jesus is a cause of division in our families. Give us the grace to introduce our loved ones to Him. Amen.

Today’s Readings

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Of Seeds and Sowers

In the Gospel reading today from Matthew 13, Jesus tells the parable of the sower of the seeds.

After telling his parable, the disciples didn’t understand. Jesus seems a bit perturbed. But He explains the parable to them. He explains that the seed is the “word of the kingdom.” Then He goes on to explain about the different places where the word fell. If you’re not familiar, you can read Jesus’ explanation for yourself. I have always felt that, at some point in our lives, we may each have experienced the different conditions that Jesus describes. It is my greatest hope that today you and I fall into the category of the rich soil, where the seed takes root and bears fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.

What also strikes me is our dual role in this parable. As Christians, as evangelists, I hope that we are not just receivers of the seed (word), but sowers also. As we receive the word and it bears fruit in us, we must then take on the role of sower. We are tasked with sowing the seed to other lives and places. The one thing we must be cautious of is not taking it personally when the seed does not take root and bear fruit. Yes, we must sow the seed of the word. But it is ultimately God who waters and makes it grow. Our job is simply to sow and pray, sow and pray.

Father, we thank you that your Word has taken root in us. Help us to bear fruit for the Kingdom. Give us the grace to sow the seed of your Word, and rejoice as it bears fruit in others. Amen.

Today’s Readings

Acknowledging Jesus

In today’s first reading, we see the end of the story of Joseph in Genesis 49 and 50. After Jacob had died, Joseph’s brothers were still afraid that Joseph might exact revenge on them for what they had done to him. But Joseph had no such plans. And he reassures them that he forgives them, and will take care of them for the rest of his life. An awesome example of love and forgiveness.

In the Gospel reading today from Matthew 10, Jesus finishes giving His marching orders to the Apostles as He sends them out. And his final words are ones that we must be sure we heed. “Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father.”

Have you ever had a situation where you could readily share the fact that you are a Christian, but didn’t? Maybe because it would have been embarrassing, inconvenient or whatever. Kind of like the teenager that doesn’t want to be seen with Mom or Dad at the mall or the fair. That is something that we must get over. Why? Read Jesus’ words again! And remember, we have nothing to be ashamed of. We should proclaim it loud and proud. Jesus is Lord!!

Father, forgive us for the times that we have not acknowledged Jesus. May we always let others know that He is our king! Amen.

Today’s Readings