January 29, 2017

Reading 1 Zep 2:3; 3:12-13

Seek the LORD, all you humble of the earth,
who have observed his law;
seek justice, seek humility;
perhaps you may be sheltered
on the day of the LORD’s anger.

But I will leave as a remnant in your midst
a people humble and lowly,
who shall take refuge in the name of the LORD:
the remnant of Israel.
They shall do no wrong
and speak no lies;
nor shall there be found in their mouths
a deceitful tongue;
they shall pasture and couch their flocks
with none to disturb them.

I want to be like the people described above.  Doing no wrong, no lies, and nothing disturbing them.  They enjoy peace and serenity and take refuge in the Lord.  How many other places do we seek refuge? These places are more so hiding spots than anything else.  They are places where we run from the Lord either on purpose or subconsciously.  The Name of the Lord is their Safe Haven.  Just His Name alone has power.  I want the Lord to be my Refuge rather than withering into my hiding spots to avoid issues and block out problems.  Thinking about how these people do no wrong is a model to follow to rid my life of all the wrong and sin that takes me from God.

I want my heart to be pure and my soul to be clean by following the command to seek the Lord. We often tend to complicate this command by listening to the noise and making our own vision blurry, but God is all around and places little signs of His Presence as Treasures to be found each day. We must remember, too, that this is a command, not a suggestion.  Every day of our lives should be dedicated to looking for and paying attention to God.

Reading 2 1 Cor 1:26-31

Consider your own calling, brothers and sisters.
Not many of you were wise by human standards,
not many were powerful,
not many were of noble birth.
Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise,
and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong,
and God chose the lowly and despised of the world,
those who count for nothing,
to reduce to nothing those who are something,
so that no human being might boast before God.
It is due to him that you are in Christ Jesus,
who became for us wisdom from God,
as well as righteousness, sanctification, and redemption,
so that, as it is written,
“Whoever boasts, should boast in the Lord.”

The last shall be first.  We’re of ash and will return to ash.  These are humbling statements as well as the passage above.  Without God, we are nothing.  How many times do we get cocky and our heads get big because of some accomplishment or achievement, whether it comes from jobs, school, sports, or beauty? None of those things happen because we are great; it is because He is great.  He is the One that deserves the glory, praise, and honor.  Do we take the credit or give it right back to God? Our lives are not our own; they are God’s.  That is not to say we should not be proud of ourselves if we reach a goal and work hard to attain something, but remember life is God’s gift to us and what we do with it is our gift to Him.  As praises go up, blessings come down.

Gospel Mt 5:1-12a

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain,
and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.
He began to teach them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you
and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward will be great in heaven.”

Am I any of these?  That’s the thought that goes through my head as I read the Beatitudes.  Which matches and resonates with me best?  Poor in spirit.  Am I humble? I want my spirit to be so focused on the Lord and be lifted through that.  I want to crave righteousness and forgive those that hurt me.  I want the evil that decays my heart to be gone and to be pure as snow.  Instead of fighting, I want to create harmony.  The hope of the rewards, especially when being persecuted for His sake, are motivation to keep on the straight and narrow.  It will all be worth it, and how great is God that He not only gives us the Commandments but the Beatitudes as well.  Not only does He tell us what not to do but gives examples and ways to live and say yes to Him.  There is hope, and this is a model of how to get closer and closer to our Savior.

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January 22, 2016

Reading 1 Is 8:23—9:3

First the Lord degraded the land of Zebulun
and the land of Naphtali;
but in the end he has glorified the seaward road,
the land west of the Jordan,
the District of the Gentiles.

Anguish has taken wing, dispelled is darkness:
for there is no gloom where but now there was distress.
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom
a light has shone.
You have brought them abundant joy
and great rejoicing,
as they rejoice before you as at the harvest,
as people make merry when dividing spoils.
For the yoke that burdened them,
the pole on their shoulder,
and the rod of their taskmaster
you have smashed, as on the day of Midian.

Light has come for those in darkness and gloom.  How many times a day do I feel as if I’m walking through the desert of darkness and feely gloomy.  Life is hard, and there will be many issues, but we do not have a choice any longer.  We have to choose happiness and the light.  Shying away from it is a sin because staying in the dark would be rejecting God. The Light can help give us direction and fuel the hope that may have been lost.  I feel as though I am wandering and cannot find a way, but our path is lit now.

Joy and rejoicing as at harvest.  I have the image in my head.  I think of the people that finally get to harvest what they have been working so hard to produce.  This is because their burdens were smashed.  Imagine that.  Everything that weighed you down was just lifted.  The feeling of relief, the gratitude.  Set free and lifted.  We just need to allow Him to break the chains and not hold back once He takes our burdens away.

Reading 2 1 Cor 1:10-13, 17

I urge you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that all of you agree in what you say,
and that there be no divisions among you,
but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose.
For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers and sisters,
by Chloe’s people, that there are rivalries among you.
I mean that each of you is saying,
“I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,”
or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.”
Is Christ divided?
Was Paul crucified for you?
Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel,
and not with the wisdom of human eloquence,
so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its meaning.

How many things divide the human race? Religion, politics, sports teams, nationalities, etc.  We could be so much more advanced and could have helped so many people on this earth if there was unity.  So much time is wasted on proving yourself right and arguing rather than agreeing and moving forward.  Brothers won’t talk to sisters due to voting for a different candidate or various differing opinions.  If everyone focused on following Christ in his own area, the world would be a better place.  This is the mindset and purpose we all could have.  Picture a world where each person was trying to live like Christ and trying to bring Christ out in everyone she met.  The world would be filled with people that wanted to help and love rather than being divided and hostile.  This does not mean people lose their originality and individuality; God want us to be unique and keep our own qualities.  He uses each of us in our way on our own path.

The cross of Christ should never be emptied of its meaning.  I wondered why and how could it ever be emptied.  It is such a bad thought.  The cross is so big and so meaningful.  It has saved an infinite number of souls and represents freedom.  The cross, although used to murder our Savior, is now a symbol of life. The cross is the reason I am alive, the reason any of us are breathing.  The cross has my sins, burdens, failures, and flaws nailed to it, yet I have emptied the cross of Christ of its meaning.  Not only have I emptied it, but I have ignored it.  The meaning of the cross is emptied when we do not accept God’s saving power and grace.  We say His sacrifice was not good enough and reject His hand reaching out to us.  We say we want more than the cross, and how dare we because that was the most selfless sacrifice.  We should look at the cross and feel changed, brand new, and refreshed.  There is nothing else we should want.

Gospel MT 4:12-23

When Jesus heard that John had been arrested,
he withdrew to Galilee.
He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea,
in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali,
that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet
might be fulfilled:
Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles,
the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light,
on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death
light has arisen.

From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say,
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers,
Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew,
casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen.
He said to them,
“Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
At once they left their nets and followed him.
He walked along from there and saw two other brothers,
James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.
They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets.
He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father
and followed him.
He went around all of Galilee,
teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom,
and curing every disease and illness among the people.

I am always amazed when I hear this how fast they followed Jesus.  They left their father, life, and everything at home to follow Him.  There was no hesitation, no doubt, no questioning.  I envy how trusting they are of Jesus when I cannot even follow simple calls without running them through my head several times and deciding.  I want to live a life that is fearless and directly following the Lord.  This shows how much of a priority Jesus was to them by giving everything up.  Can I say I give up everything to answer His call…family? friends? social life? work? school? The yes to Jesus has to be immediate.  It’s similar to when you ask someone to hang out but they have to wait and see if anything better comes along first.  Jesus wants to be #1 in our lives, and there are many things people place ahead of Him.  If Jesus asked you to drop everything right now to follow Him, would you? If you can’t answer that yet, is what you’re living for worth dying for?

 

 

January 15, 2017

Reading 1  Is 49:3, 5-6

The LORD said to me: You are my servant,
Israel, through whom I show my glory.
Now the LORD has spoken
who formed me as his servant from the womb,
that Jacob may be brought back to him
and Israel gathered to him;
and I am made glorious in the sight of the LORD,
and my God is now my strength!
It is too little, the LORD says, for you to be my servant,
to raise up the tribes of Jacob,
and restore the survivors of Israel;
I will make you a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.

Servant. A term with such a negative connotation.  People would think that is derogatory and demeaning to be called a servant, but in this case, it is quite the contrary.  The last shall be first, and Jesus showed us that in order to lead, you need to serve.  Actually being called a servant is an honor to us because it means we can follow Jesus’ example, and how humbling that thought is.  God’s glory is shown through us.  Another humbling yet uplifting thought.  How many of us have insecurities and flaws that hold us back or cause us to think poorly of ourselves.  Since God’s glory is shown through us, we should think of ourselves in a more positive light.  Take down the walls that block God’s glory from coming through.

God is my Strength. This statement gives me hope.  I rely too much on my own strength, and that’s why I continue to fail.  The mountains I am carrying were only meant for me to climb.  What areas are you thinking are the source of your strength? Is it your beauty? muscles? economic class? status? power? These are facades that will only get us so far because one day the strength of those will run out.  We are nothing without God, and we must rely on Him.

We are a light to the nations.  We need to illuminate the hearts, souls, and minds that have never heard of God or that do not fully know His Love.  Salvation will reach all the ends of the earth.  This means every corner, crevice, and person can have salvation.  Pondering the idea of how big God is amazes me.  I like to think each person can be represented by the imagery of “all the ends of the earth.” If we are “earths,” what part of us is not being reached? Are we giving God our bodies, minds, hearts, and souls? There might be that bad habit or sin we are defensive of, but just how salvation must reach all the continents, it must be in every part of our beings.

Reading 2 1 Cor 1:1-3

Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
and Sosthenes our brother,
to the church of God that is in Corinth,
to you who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be holy,
with all those everywhere who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ.

We are made sacred and called to be holy.  Sometimes people believe the lie that only priests, nuns, an those with leadership positions in the Church are called to be holy.  In reality, we are all called to be holy.  This is eye opening and humbling.  Are we ignoring this call or not living up to this call fully enough? Certain parts of our lives may be holy, yet others may not.  We need to take responsibility to answer the call, wherever it may lead.  Holy means dedicated to God and what more purpose do we need to do things than to glorify God.  This should be our main goal.  We are sacred, set apart.  You cannot change the world by being just like it.

Gospel Jn 1:29-34

John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said,
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.
He is the one of whom I said,
‘A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me
because he existed before me.’
I did not know him,
but the reason why I came baptizing with water
was that he might be made known to Israel.”
John testified further, saying,
“I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven
and remain upon him.
I did not know him,
but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me,
‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain,
he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’
Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.” 

What would your reaction be to Jesus coming toward you? Shocked. Surprised. Overwhelmed. Emotional. Flustered. Joyful. To name a few.  John was doing what he was doing (baptizing) in order that Jesus would be made known.  I want to do the things in my life with the sole purpose of making Jesus known.  John didn’t really know much about what was going on except for the fact that he was readying people for Christ.  How many answers I seek and details I want before I commit to something.  John, on the other hand, gave his life to God and the plan God had for him.  John even listened to God’s message about Jesus being the One because the Spirit came upon Him.  How many times does God tell us something and we question it? I am inspired by John’s trust in the Lord and willingness to give himself to Him.  Faith should override feelings, and we should know that whatever God is doing is for our good.  We must trust in His promises and truly believe He is going to do what He says.  He created us and knows us better than anyone else, including our needs.  Sometimes the path will be light, and sometimes the path will be dark.  One thing for certain is that our Savior’s Hand will always be holding ours and we need to just surrender.

 

 

 

 

 

January 8, 2017

Reading 1 Is 60:1-6

Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come,
the glory of the Lord shines upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth,
and thick clouds cover the peoples;
but upon you the LORD shines,
and over you appears his glory.
Nations shall walk by your light,
and kings by your shining radiance.
Raise your eyes and look about;
they all gather and come to you:
your sons come from afar,
and your daughters in the arms of their nurses.

Then you shall be radiant at what you see,
your heart shall throb and overflow,
for the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you,
the wealth of nations shall be brought to you.
Caravans of camels shall fill you,
dromedaries from Midian and Ephah;
all from Sheba shall come
bearing gold and frankincense,
and proclaiming the praises of the LORD.

Our Light has come.  The Lord is our Light.  Light is used in so many references and instances to represent an awakening, an epiphany.  The earth is covered with darkness. Isn’t that so true especially of today’s world? When I think of darkness, I think of fear, hiding, the unknown, and sin. How often little children are scared of the dark because they think there is a “monster” hiding out under their bed or in the closet.  We too are like these children.  Scared.  We can’t and won’t face many people, places, and opportunities in life due to fear of the unknown.  The risks that aren’t taken are all the missed adventures we could have had.  There is a sadness that comes with darkness.  I can relate with the feeling I get when the sun sets super early in the winter compared to the life of people out in the streets until 9 pm in the summer.  Darkness is gloomy, and depressing thoughts haunt us and loom in our heads. 

The darkness of today’s society is not knowing this Light that is our Lord.  It is the ignorance one experiences when she does not have a relationship with the Lord.  This is ignorance to true unconditional love, peace, and joy that surpasses all understanding.  But for those that know the Lord, we will be radiant.  People will be walking by our light as God shines His glory on us.  Each time we choose God, we choose light.  The light will get brighter and brighter as more of us follow Him, and soon the earth will not be covered in darkness.  Satan tries to use the darkness to shut out Jesus from our lives because without light, we cannot see.  This causes us to stumble, sin, and lose direction.  Like how one flame can start a chain reaction of lighting other flames, we need to ignite in each other that light that will keep others and ourselves out of darkness.  There are those parts that recently became dark that never were or have been dark for years.  We are scared to have them lit (lol lit) but it has to be all or nothing.  We cannot act like Adam and Eve, naked and ashamed.  Rather, we have to allow Christ to push through those dark parts and illuminate them to elevate us to shine on.

Reading 2 Eph 3:2-3a, 5-6

Brothers and sisters:
You have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace
that was given to me for your benefit,
namely, that the mystery was made known to me by revelation.
It was not made known to people in other generations
as it has now been revealed
to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit:
that the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body,
and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

Revelation.  How grateful that the Mystery that is God was made known to us.  He is still so mysterious to us with our finite minds, but that makes me want to know Him all the more.  I yearn to understand God more and more each day to get closer to the Source of love.  The Holy Spirit sometimes doesn’t get enough credit, yet it is through the Spirit that God comes to us.  The Holy Spirit shows us God in ways that people before us never got to experience.  We are all of the same Spirit, linking us together as God’s people.  How much tension and division there is in this world and to think we could all be united.  The promises of Jesus is the glue that holds us and keeps us together.  How kind that God comes through His Spirit just to have a relationship with us and tell us He loves us.  He wants us so badly to know His love, and I cannot think of anything more selfless.  He gives, gives, and gives more.  I am thinking of all the times people love for selfish reasons:  for attention, for power, for control, to distract themselves from their unhappiness, and fear of loneliness. God does everything in His power to share love.  We should use this Model as a way to give love, not take it.

Gospel Mt 2:1-12

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,
in the days of King Herod,
behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star at its rising
and have come to do him homage.”
When King Herod heard this,
he was greatly troubled,
and all Jerusalem with him.
Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people,
He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea,
for thus it has been written through the prophet:
And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
since from you shall come a ruler,
who is to shepherd my people Israel.”

Then Herod called the magi secretly
and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance.
He sent them to Bethlehem and said,
“Go and search diligently for the child.
When you have found him, bring me word,
that I too may go and do him homage.”
After their audience with the king they set out.
And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them,
until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star,
and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother.
They prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Then they opened their treasures
and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
they departed for their country by another way.

There are some great points we can get from this story.  First of all, I think we can all relate to Herod’s pride.  How selfish and envious of Jesus that he had to lie to the magi about going to see Jesus.  Herod was so scared that he would lose his followers and their attention that he was going to harm a Baby.  I am thinking of all the times I put myself before God, when I am too selfish to let Him in, trust Him, and believe His will is best- basically when I want to be numnero uno.  I can’t step down from my high horse or out of my comfort zone in order to give God the reverence He deserves.  Maybe it is just some more prayer time or helping a friend out when you’re extremely busy or talking to your mom on the phone instead of just texting her.  It could be big or small depending on the circumstances, but I know like Herod, I do not want my world shaken up at times and have to change my ways and lifestyle.  Once Jesus came, Herod knew his life would never be the same, and that should be true for us.  We are not our own kings; Jesus should reign in our hearts and souls as the supreme Leader. 

                How crazy do the magi seem? Following a star…I don’t know, but what if there were clouds or fog? What if the star looked like another star and they got lost? That’s just the thing; our faith should seem crazy.  Nothing mediocre is worth fighting for.  Faith is our star as it guides us through life.  No matter the fog, clouds, or darkness – meaning the trials, sickness, disease, breakups, fights, and disasters – that occur in life, faith should be a constant.  Faith is where we draw our strength, and like the magi, we cannot give up no matter how lost or tired we feel and want to give up.  We, too, need to be a star for all those that do not know the faith.  We need to let our little lights shine.  How much of a blessing it is to have a star to follow but to be a star to others that need that push in the right direction.  Just think: your words and actions can either draw people to Jesus or push them away from Him.  Which do you want to be? You may be the only time people hear of God all week so as Eve (Tyra Banks) sang in Life Size, “Shine bright. Shine far.  Be a star.”

                Not only did the magi follow the star, but they came bearing gifts.  How much do we give to Jesus? Our lives can be prayers if everything we do is a gift for Him.  We may offer up our schoolwork for the semester, our wins in our football season, or our praises from work to God.  Time, talent, and treasure are ways to give to God.  Life is God’s gift to us but what we do with our lives is our gift to Him.  I am reflecting on all the time I’m asking God to give gifts and blessings to me, but when do I give to Him? Gold, frankincense, and myrrh were good gifts also not just the regifted things they did not want.  For me, this makes me wonder what gifts I am giving God, and if it is just spare time or “when I can,” instead of taking time away from something else to offer to God. Lastly, I just want to mention the trust the magi had in God that the star would get them to Jesus and that the message in the dream was for the best.  I am always searching for control and wanting to know exactly what and why things are happening, but I need to be more like the magi and trust Him by giving up my constant want for control.  When we do not trust Him, we are saying we are better and know more than God, and we can all just laugh at how vain that is. So let go, give gifts, and humbly walk with our Lord.

 

 

 

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Jan 1, 2017

Reading 1 Nm 6:22-27

The LORD said to Moses:
“Speak to Aaron and his sons and tell them:
This is how you shall bless the Israelites.
Say to them:
The LORD bless you and keep you!
The LORD let his face shine upon
you, and be gracious to you!
The LORD look upon you kindly and
give you peace!
So shall they invoke my name upon the Israelites,
and I will bless them.”
Sometimes I think we forget how amazing this truly is; our God cares so much for us that He goes out of His way to speak to us.  He wants to make sure we know His love and deep concern.  The Lord blesses us and keeps us.  How many times have we felt rejected or denied by…maybe by a teacher, a coach, that cute boy, or the popular girls? This is not the case for God.  He keeps us and is gracious to us.  Again, gracious.  What a concept.  The amount of rude people, especially (and sadly) during Christmas time at malls and parking lots makes me think humans are self-centered and abrasive.  He lets His face shine upon us.  That means that other people looking at us can see our Savior’s light by merely looking at us.  We should be Christ’s mirror, a reflector.  That sound like pressure, but God Himself sets us up for success by shining it right on us.  Last but not least, He gives us peace.  I’ve heard that true peace is not the absence of problems but the Presence of Christ.  This speaks volumes to me because in this reading, it says He gives it to us.  That means the search can be done. Looking into self-helps books, more and more yoga, exercising until we can no longer look at treadmills, calling various friends and telling them the same stories over and over.  Don’t get me wrong, those can definitely and have definitely helped me, but here it is given to us freely.

Reading 2 Gal 4:4-7

Brothers and sisters:
When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son,
born of a woman, born under the law,
to ransom those under the law,
so that we might receive adoption as sons.
As proof that you are sons,
God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts,
crying out, “Abba, Father!”
So you are no longer a slave but a son,
and if a son then also an heir, through God.
Being a child of the Creator of the universe. Wow.  All because He sent His Son when we did not deserve Him.  We were brought in, and as if that was not enough, we get proof. The Holy Spirit was put into our hearts.  That statement makes me feel invincible.  I have the Living, Breathing God in my little heart.  I just want to love and love and love more until I can’t any longer.  The word “crying” provides a lot if imagery for me in the sense that we need God.  We’re crying out to Him.  It is not a text, a facetime, an e-mail; it’s a desperate plea because we are needy for the One whom our souls desire. We yearn and crave Him and that is why we cry, to satisfy the thirst that only He can quench.  No longer slaves…What holds you bondage to sin? What causes you to stumble? Forget it.  Let it go.  You are no longer that slave to the devil but an heir to the glorious Kingdom of God.  How we should celebrate that and live into that.  Rejoice, for we are saved.

Gospel Lk 2:16-21

The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph,
and the infant lying in the manger.
When they saw this,
they made known the message
that had been told them about this child.
All who heard it were amazed
by what had been told them by the shepherds.
And Mary kept all these things,
reflecting on them in her heart.
Then the shepherds returned,
glorifying and praising God
for all they had heard and seen,
just as it had been told to them.

When eight days were completed for his circumcision,
he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel
before he was conceived in the womb.

We should learn from the example of the shepherds. They told and made known the message about Jesus.  How often do we shy away from telling people about Jesus due to fear of rejection or people thinking we are weird Jesus freaks.  I know in this day and age, you can even get mocked because you said grace before a meal, but how sad we let these things stop us.  What an example Mary is, too.  Keeping these things in her heart and reflecting on them.  Personally, I get distracted easily, and this happens during prayer, too.  Looking to Mary inspires my prayer life by giving me that hope that I do not need to have some eloquent speech planned out.  I just need to reflect what is in my heart of hearts and talk to God in that intimate place.
Hope y’all are starting out the year right!