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Category Archives: :60 Reflections

Seeking Praise

In today’s first reading from Exodus 32, Moses has a little heart-to-heart with God, asking Him to relent from destroying His people. And God relented. A wonderful statement on the power of prayer. And in the Gospel reading from John 5, Jesus talks about accepting praise. He says, “I do not accept human praise.” And to the Jews, He says, “How can you believe, when you accept praise from one another and do not seek the praise that comes from the only God?”

Jesus didn’t need praise or approval from other people. In fact, quite the contrary. He said an awful lot of things that ticked off an awful lot of people. But it didn’t matter to Him. He knew He was doing the Father’s will. And that was His ultimate motivation.

So, what’s your motivation? I can honestly say that I struggle with this a lot. I want to be liked. I don’t like upsetting the old apple cart. Too often I seek the approval of people, even if God has a different idea of what I should be doing or saying. While I have been making progress with this in my life, it is something that constantly requires work. To be more like Christ, we need to seek the praise that comes from the only God.

Father, forgive us for those times when we turn our backs on you, just to win the approval of people. Show us today Your will, and give us the grace to accomplish it, regardless of what others think. Amen.

Today’s Readings

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Seeking the Father’s Will

“Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb?” This is a question we see in our first reading today from Isaiah 49. It would seem a ridiculous question. The bond between mother and child is strong. But not nearly as strong as the bond between you and God. After this question, the LORD says, “Even should she forget, I will never forget you.”

In the Gospel reading today from John 5, Jesus begins to reveal the mystery of the Trinity. He refers to God as his Father. This was scandalous to the Jews. They grumbled that “he also called God his own Father, making himself equal to God.” But Jesus does not seek honor or glory from the people. At the end of today’s reading, He says, “I do not seek my own will but the will of the one who sent me.” Jesus was all about doing the Father’s will.

As Christians, we are to imitate Christ. And as we see today, Jesus never sought to do anything but the Father’s will. I wonder…can we say the same? Take a look at your life and ask yourself if you were seeking God’s will, or your own will. I daresay that far too often, I seek out my own will. In fact, I often don’t even ask the Father what his will may be in any given situation. Perhaps now would be a good day to turn that around. Instead of blindly going our own way, how different would things be if we sought God’s will first and foremost in our lives?

Father, forgive us for the many times where we seek to do only our own will. Help us to remember to ask you what your will is in every circumstance. Amen.

Today’s Readings

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Sickness or Health?

Water is a theme that runs through our two readings today. In the first reading from Ezekiel 47, the Angel of the Lord shows Ezekiel a trickle of water flowing out from the temple. The farther they get from the temple, the greater the flow, until the water becomes a large river, teeming with abundant life. This can be an analogy of the Church. It all started with just the Twelve ( a trickle) and now stretches across the earth, flowing and bringing life (Christ) to all the earth. In the Gospel reading from John 5, we see another healing.

Jesus sees a man at the pool of Bethesda. The people believed that these were healing waters. When the water was stirred up, people would be healed. This man, who had been ill for 38 years, could never make it into the water on time. So Jesus asks him, “Do you want to be well?” He then heals him, on a sabbath, no less. This is when the Jews began to persecute Him, because He had done this on a sabbath.

“Do you want to be well?” It’s a simple question, and one that seems a no-brainer. I mean, what is the guy going to say? “No, I like being sick. I’ll just stay like this. But thanks for asking!” As ridiculous as that may sound, I’m afraid that’s just what so many people reply to Jesus. Because when it comes to the sickness of sin, being made well would require a change of life, a change of heart. And, too often, we don’t want that. We fool ourselves into thinking that a life of sin really isn’t so bad. Besides, it’s much easier this way. So, thanks anyway, Jesus! I’ll just continue on with the way I’m going. What will you choose today: sickness or health?

Father, give us the grace to recognize the fact that we are sick. Help us to break out of our complacency of sin. Through your Son, Jesus Christ, make us well. Amen.

Today’s Readings

 

Healing of Our Sons and Daughters

I hear so often from people whose children no longer go to church or practice the faith. I know it is heartbreaking. More in a moment. In today’s first reading from Isaiah 65, we get a beautiful vision of the future. Check it out!

A royal official comes to Jesus asking Jesus to heal his son, who is ill miles away. At first, Jesus tries to dissuade the man, but he will not be dissuaded. He continues to beg Jesus to come and heal his son. Jesus does so with just a word. He doesn’t have to travel miles to see the boy personally. He speaks, and the son is healed.

So many folks I know and have met desire a healing for their children. Not necessarily a physical healing, but that spiritual healing that keeps them apart from Christ and His Church. We must take a lesson from the royal official and continue in prayer for our children. I believe Jesus desires their healing just as much as we do, and that, in time, that healing will occur. Keep on praying, my friend!

Father, heal our sons and daughters, in every way that they need healing. Draw them back to you, through your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Today’s Readings

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Blindness and Sight

Today’s Gospel reading from John 9 is the story of the healing of the man born blind. It is a story of darkness and light. (St. John was big on the theme of darkness and light.)

Jesus and His disciples come upon a man who was born blind. Jesus says, “I am the light of the world.” He then heals the man of his blindness. After a lengthy discourse with the Jews and the healed man, Jesus says, “I came into this world for judgment, so that those who do not see might see, and those who do see might become blind.”

Our blindness has nothing to do with our eyes. It is spiritual blindness – a failure to recognize our own sinfulness. Oddly enough, that blindness comes with great vision – we so easily see fault in others. Let us pray that we may become blind, so that we may truly see the Light.

Father, we pray that you will give us true vision, that we may see through the eyes of Christ, who is the Light of the World. Amen.

Today’s readings

Merry Christmas…Nine Months Early!

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. It is exactly nine months before Christmas. Let me be the first to wish you a Merry Christmas this year! 😉 In the first reading, we see the prophesy from Isaiah: “The virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel, which means ‘God is with us!’ ”

The readings today all point toward Mary’s fiat, which we see in Luke 1, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Perhaps our Responsorial Psalm for today, taken from Psalm 40, sums it up best. “Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.”

Mary has many titles in Catholic tradition. I think that one of my favorite ones, though not an official “title,” is “the first Christian.” Mary was the first one to truly accept Christ. She experienced a closeness with Christ that no one else ever would or could. Many non-Catholic Christian traditions have tried to diminish the role of Mary. Some see her as just an interchangeable cog in God’s big wheel. But Mary’s role can never be diminished. She had every opportunity to say no to God. Yet she chose to say yes. Not just at the Annunciation, but at every moment of her life. Do we?

Father, we thank you for the example of Mary, always saying yes to Your will. May we imitate her today and always. Amen.

Today’s Readings

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Do You Get It?

I know a lot of people who have workaholic tendencies. While the reasons are many, I think for some, the “work of their hands” can become their god. In other words, they put work above everything else in their lives, including family and God. See what God has to say about this in today’s first reading from Hosea 14.

In the Gospel reading from Mark 12, a scribe asks Jesus which is the first (in importance, not number) of all the commandments. Jesus answered to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself. The scribe affirms this. “And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding, he said to him, ‘You are not far from the Kingdom of God.'”

The scribe got it. We must love God, but that, in and of itself, is not enough. We must love our neighbor as well. And you know your neighbor is not just the person who lives near you. (Heck, they can be hard enough to love as it is!) All of God’s children are our neighbors. So that means we need to love everyone. While in my brain I understand the concept, too often with my heart I just don’t get it. Do you? It’s easier said than done, for sure.

Father, we know these two great commandments with our heads. Help us to get it with our hearts as well. Amen.

Today’s Readings

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Being Fully Armed

In today’s Gospel reading from Luke 11, Jesus is accused of driving out demons by the power of Beelzebul. He then talks about a house divided. I want to concentrate today on something else Jesus says in this passage.

“When a strong man fully armed guards his palace, his possessions are safe. But when one stronger than he attacks and overcomes him, he takes away the armor on which he relied and distributes the spoils.” What do we make of this saying?

Spiritually, we must be that strong man fully armed. Satan is strong – very strong. If we do not use every weapon at our disposal and rely fully on the strength that God supplies, we are destined to lose the battle. What are those weapons? Prayer, Scripture, the Rosary, the Sacraments. These are what will see us through to victory. Are you fully armed today?

Father, give us your grace and your strength. Help us to be fully armed for the battles we will be engaged in today. Victory is ours, only through your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Today’s Readings

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Our Christian Duties

The family is the first school for children. Even if we send them off to a school at some age, we as parents are called to be the primary teachers of our children, especially when it comes to the faith. This is job that never ends. How important do you think this is? See what God has to say about it in today’s first reading from Deuteronomy 4.

In the Gospel reading from Matthew 5, Jesus says that he did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. The commandments of God were not negated by Jesus. He came to show us how to live out the commandments perfectly. But our obligation to imitate Him does not end at living out God’s commands. It is not enough just to obey. Listen to Jesus’ words. “But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.” We must obey and TEACH.

I hear so often these days (to the point of making me nauseous) that we Catholics and Christians need to just worry about our own sinfulness and stop trying to “force” our religion on others. True, we must tend to ourselves; clean up our own backyard and obey God’s commandments. But if we only do this, we miss the second part of the equation. We must also TEACH others about God’s laws. Why? Because that is what Jesus tells us to do. Anything less is being remiss in our duty as Christians.

Father, give us the grace to obey your commandments, to live them out as Jesus taught us. And give us the courage to teach your laws to all who have ears to hear. Amen.

Today’s Readings

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The Importance of the “Unless”

In the first reading today from Daniel 3, we hear the heartfelt and beautiful prayer of Azariah. He, along with his two companions, is in a fiery furnace offering a prayer to God. Spoiler alert: he walks out of that furnace.

The Gospel reading from Matthew 18 is a familiar story about Jesus telling Peter a story after saying he must forgive “not seven times but seventy-seven times.” A man, after being forgiven a large debt, refuses to forgive a small debt. Jesus ends the story with this: “Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt. So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.”

So let’s get this straight. God will punish you UNLESS your forgive others from your heart. Let me ask you something. Do you want God to punish you? I hope the answer is of course not. If there were something you could do to prevent that, would you do it? The good news is, there is! It comes right after the “unless.” Forgive. Not once, not twice, but as many times as you’re wronged. Pretty simple, no?

Father, give us a forgiving heart. Help us to forgive others their wrongs, that you may forgive us and relent of your just punishment. Amen.

Today’s Readings

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