February 26, 2017

Reading 1 Is 49:14-15

Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me;
my LORD has forgotten me.”
Can a mother forget her infant,
be without tenderness for the child of her womb?
Even should she forget,
I will never forget you.

Think of a mother’s love for her child.  Maybe even think of a mother animal protecting her young.  A mother’s love is like no other- nurturing, caring, and sweet.  How often do we think that God has forgotten us or has not heard/answered our prayers? We think we are alone and have to do everything on our own.  Here, God says he will never forget us.  The imagery of the mother and infant makes the perfect point because a mother’s love is so deep and unconditional, yet God’s love is better.  We have to let go of the lie that God is not near to us because God is constantly taking care of us and watching over us to make sure everything works for our good.  Instead of believing the idea that God is not with us, we should draw in close to Him and feel His Presence.  If you feel distant from God, it is you that has moved.

Reading 2 1 Cor 4:1-5

Brothers and sisters:
Thus should one regard us: as servants of Christ
and stewards of the mysteries of God.
Now it is of course required of stewards
that they be found trustworthy.
It does not concern me in the least
that I be judged by you or any human tribunal;
I do not even pass judgment on myself;
I am not conscious of anything against me,
but I do not thereby stand acquitted;
the one who judges me is the Lord.
Therefore do not make any judgment before the appointed time,
until the Lord comes,
for he will bring to light what is hidden in darkness
and will manifest the motives of our hearts,
and then everyone will receive praise from God.

“Only God can judge”. I’ve herd that quote said by people and in songs, but do we really follow that? We need to be strong enough to not let others’ opinions or judgments affect us.  We can get so caught up in what people think or say that it becomes crippling because we lose ourselves.  We don’t want to go certain places or do particular things because of what people will think.  It is not good to let others control our actions so much, but the only One that truly matters is God.  His thoughts and concerns should be held to the highest standard, and our confidence should come from Him alone.  If happiness comes from other people’s opinions, you will realize you will never be happy.  You cannot please people no matter what so why not please God?

What about us? Do we judge ourselves and others? I constantly see girls pick themselves apart and hate features about themselves.  This is sad.  The self-loathing is the opposite side of pride that still has us playing God.  The negativity controls us to the point that we cannot even listen to what God is saying, and it makes lies the main things heard in our ears.  It says that God did not make us right; that somehow He messed up.  Obvi this is false.   Again, what God sees is what we should see.  The beauty that He is transferred to us when He breathed His Life on us to create us.  This in turn is how we should see other people.  It is wrong to judge others because they sin differently than you.  No one is perfect except God so what makes us think we have the right to pick each other apart.  The real reason is fear and jealousy.  The hate we partake in comes from the idea that someone else could be better at a sport, smarter, prettier, richer, or more creative.  It blocks us from seeing God in others and makes us focus on ourselves.  Judging is basically wasting energy on tearing people down when we could have lifted them up or learned how to be better ourselves.  Judging is God’ job; therefore, no one has the power to declare what another should have or could have done because we do not have His perspective.  Take a step back and remember you never know where the other person’s shoe hurts.

Gospel Mt 6:24-34

Jesus said to his disciples:
“No one can serve two masters.
He will either hate one and love the other,
or be devoted to one and despise the other.
You cannot serve God and mammon.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life,
what you will eat or drink,
or about your body, what you will wear.
Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
Look at the birds in the sky;
they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns,
yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are not you more important than they?
Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?
Why are you anxious about clothes?
Learn from the way the wild flowers grow.
They do not work or spin.
But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor
was clothed like one of them.
If God so clothes the grass of the field,
which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow,
will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?
So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’
or ‘What are we to drink? ‘or ‘What are we to wear?’
All these things the pagans seek.
Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given you besides.
Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.
Sufficient for a day is its own evil.”

Worry.  I feel like it consumes my life, especially right now with college graduation quickly approaching.  The unknown is definitely freaking me out, and I have no idea what I’m doing after graduation.  The thing is that worry does not really stop there because there will always be the okay what’s next question.  Where do you go from here? Worry enslaves if we do not harness it and take it under control.  We need to switch our focus to God.  God takes care of the birds, grass, and flowers so He is most definitely going to take care of us.  We do not have control of our futures so why don’t we just enjoy the present? There is enough to worry about each day that there is no need to look too far ahead.  God knows what we need, and He will provide.

I think it is a beautiful and relieving thing to know how important we are to God, and that is why we must be different from those that do not believe.  We should stand out and have an overwhelming sense of peace and grace that would make all want to come to know the Lord.  It seems so petty to be worrying about such menial tasks, and this Gospel is not trying to disregard our worries.  Rather, it is trying to teach that above all else, God should be number One in our minds, souls, and hearts.  I don’t know about you, but worries and fears can really take over my thoughts and nothing else seems to be heard.  I pay so much attention to them that it hinders me from listening to what God is saying or even talk to Him at certain points.  I get caught up and become preoccupied and lose my serenity and balance.  Like the reading suggests, nothing good comes from worrying.  The cure is to trust and believe in God’s promises.  They all come true in due time, and for us control freaks that want to know how, where, and when, we need to sit back and let God sit in the driver’s seat while we ride shotgun.

 

 

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February 19, 2017

Reading 1 Lv 19:1-2, 17-18

The LORD said to Moses,
“Speak to the whole Israelite community and tell them:
Be holy, for I, the LORD, your God, am holy.

“You shall not bear hatred for your brother or sister in your heart.
Though you may have to reprove your fellow citizen,
do not incur sin because of him.
Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against any of your people.
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
I am the LORD.”

This command to be holy is one that we come across often.  God says to be holy just like He is.  That’s the thing; we are meant to be like Him.  We are made in God’s Image and Likeness, and there is a seed planted in all of us about how we should be.  Because God is at our core, there is a desire to let that show, to set it free.  When we have this perfect Model, we do everything in our power to strive to become just That.

Don’t we sin because other people are involved constantly? Sin is stirred up because we get angry which can lead to violence; we become lustful and take advantage of others; we are greedy so we use people; we are envious so we put people down.  Loving neighbor as we love ourselves.  That is to say that we have the correct definition of neighbor; a neighbor is anyone around us whether she is a friend or stranger.  There are no boundaries on this love, and it may be uncomfortable or uneasy at times.

Another thought that comes to mind to make sure things aren’t skewed is that our love for ourselves must be true, real love.  How could we ever love neighbors as ourselves if we do not love ourselves well? That is a serious problem of today’s generation because self love is lost is the feeling of not being good enough and the culture of comparison.  This occurs when people hate themselves for their sins or something physical or their circumstances.  Guess what.  You are enough, and to prove it, God sent His only Son to show that love.  I’m not going to say look within and that’s how you find love.  Look out and find the foot of the cross.  That’s love.  Only then can you truly love another.

Reading 2 1 Cor 3:16-23

Brothers and sisters:
Do you not know that you are the temple of God,
and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person;
for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.

Let no one deceive himself.
If any one among you considers himself wise in this age,
let him become a fool, so as to become wise.
For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God,
for it is written:
God catches the wise in their own ruses,
and again:
The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise,
that they are vain.

So let no one boast about human beings, for everything belongs to you,
Paul or Apollos or Cephas,
or the world or life or death,
or the present or the future:
all belong to you, and you to Christ, and Christ to God.

How many times have you heard that your body is a temple? ….But how many times has it just slipped away from our consciousness soon after?  The thing is this applies to all areas of our lives.  Our bodies our houses for the Holy Spirit.  Wouldn’t you want that to be the best place possible?  Portrayal of body is very important when it comes to this.  How we dress, how we dance, how we carry ourselves is important.  Are we trying to attract the attention of others with our bodies? Because this is selfish.  Our bodies, just like everything else, were made to glorify God.  Modest fashion is not to say that you have to be covered head to toe in neutral colors or be uncomfortable; it is merely a reminder that our bodies are not our own or meant for self-serving purposes.  We should also love our bodies well by eating healthy food, exercising, not drinking too much, or getting involved with drugs.  It needs to be taken care of and appreciated it.  Body image issues is a big problem that people face, and don’t we just want to adore the place where the Spirit resides in us.  If we have guests in our house, aren’t we hospitable, don’t we clean, don’t we bring out the best china, don’t we clean the sheets in the bed they’re sleeping in.  We give so much attention to our homes when people comes over, and the fact is that we have Someone over every single second of every single day.  We must clean it up and maintain that cleanliness.

Let us not let pride win.  If we think we are wise, we will be humbled and reminded exactly how foolish we really are.  Do not think too highly our yourself.  Have confidence and do not think too lowly, but remember that you are never too good for the wisdom of the Lord.  Another thing we must never forget is that all things belong to God ultimately.  How annoyed do we get when we do not receive the things we feel entitled to?  We want that money back that we lent; we want that raise we worked so hard for; we want that A for all the work put in; we want to be blessed for how much we prayed; we want our health back.  We need to remember that everything is a gift and a blessing from God that we do not deserve and do not get because of what we’ve done, rather it is because of Who God is.  Become detached from any possessions or emotions or anything that holds you back from being fully aware that nothing is yours.  Not one single thing.  Simplicity.  Knowing God and loving Him can be the only things we have to call mine, and that is enough to still give Him praise.

Gospel Mt 5:38-48

Jesus said to his disciples:
“You have heard that it was said,
An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.
When someone strikes you on your right cheek,
turn the other one as well.
If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic,
hand over your cloak as well.
Should anyone press you into service for one mile,
go for two miles.
Give to the one who asks of you,
and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.

“You have heard that it was said,
You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father,
for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good,
and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?
Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brothers only,
what is unusual about that?
Do not the pagans do the same?
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Turn the other cheek.  We may think, “How nice. What a cliché.”  Guess what, this is a command.  We are called to love, a radical kind of love.  If people hurt us, we are not to look for revenge and seek out ways to cause them more pain than they caused us.  We are not supposed to feed into people’s sins or negative energy.  We are to be an example to the world on how to break the chains of that back and forth resentment/grudge/get back at mentality.  The attitude that people deserve payback, and that we are the ones that ought to teach them the lesson is completely false.  This is playing God.  Who are we to decide people’s fate is and what should happen to them.  This is not our job.  Our job is to love.  And what good is it to love those that love us.  That is easy.  There is no struggle in that.  The real test is when we are asked to love the girl that got with your boyfriend, the kid that called you fat in 5th grade and caused insecurities, or even the people that planned the 9/11 attacks.   This call is hard, gruesome, and challenging, but we are chosen to work to be perfect like our Heavenly Father.  Each day there are many choices, and that is where this idea comes to life.  It is not going to be easy and come naturally; it takes time and practice.  Start with the small decisions, and things will start to fall into place.  One day you will realize those shaped you for the big things.

 

 

 

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February 12, 2016

Reading 1 Sir 15:15-20

If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you;
if you trust in God, you too shall live;
he has set before you fire and water
to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand.
Before man are life and death, good and evil,
whichever he chooses shall be given him.
Immense is the wisdom of the Lord;
he is mighty in power, and all-seeing.
The eyes of God are on those who fear him;
he understands man’s every deed.
No one does he command to act unjustly,
to none does he give license to sin.

     The Commandments will save you.  Imagine that. Listening to what God says to do. 
May people think the Commandments are too difficult, they’re God’s way of being in control of us and stopping us from having fun.  They are there not as a fence to keep us in the field but as a guardrail to keep us falling off the edge.  I like that it says “if you choose” because free will is a gift.  God never forces us to follow Him; it is a decision we make willingly or not at all.  This also means that if we choose the bad and evil, it is us to blame, not Him.  This is not to say God is okay with us choosing evil. He demands good, but He leaves it up to us.  God loves when we follow Him, and He provides for our good.  He’s watching out for us and knows everything we do.  He comprehends our intentions and our heart and takes the time specifically to understand our deeds.  We often tend to think He is too big or too distant to understand our smallness and the details of our lives.  That is just not the case.  He knows every hair on our heads and every lash on our eyes.  He pays attention to us and what we must do is trust.  Only then shall we live, feel fully alive.  Many people just go through the motions and make it through each day, pushing fears behind and getting things done to just get them over with, no purpose.  We all strive for that meaning and pure bliss that comes from knowing the Lord intimately.   The key is trust, trusting His promises and recognizing how real His power is.    

Reading 2 1 Cor 2:6-10

Brothers and sisters:
We speak a wisdom to those who are mature,
not a wisdom of this age,
nor of the rulers of this age who are passing away.
Rather, we speak God’s wisdom, mysterious, hidden,
which God predetermined before the ages for our glory,
and which none of the rulers of this age knew;
for, if they had known it,
they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
But as it is written:
What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard,
and what has not entered the human heart,
what God has prepared for those who love him,

this God has revealed to us through the Spirit.

For the Spirit scrutinizes everything, even the depths of God.

           No matter how smart and intelligent people think they are with degrees and letters behind their names, none of it compares to the wisdom of God.  The wisdom that came before us and before humanity is not of any of the rulers of this day.  We tend to idolize those who are smart and put them on a pedestal just because we think they have the answers.  Why would I want a “wisdom” that comes from humans; this wisdom is finite and incomplete.  There is something attractive about mysterious, and to this I am drawn in.  The reinstates the fact that the leaders of today still need to be humbled as the King stands His ground.  We should all want something beyond hearing and sight because this means it is sublime and powerful. This wisdom is for our glory. Again God being so selfless and thinking of us before all ages and then again to reveal through the Spirit.  It is amazing to know that the same Spirit that scrutinizes the depths of God lives inside of us.  If that does not make you shout for joy, I do not know what does.  The Spirit carries this wisdom, and we must use it, not tuck it away.  How awful it would be to do the things we never should do, like those that crucified Jesus, due to lack of attention to the infinite wisdom so freely given and worked for.

Gospel Mt 5:17-37

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.
I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.
Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away,
not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter
will pass from the law,
until all things have taken place.
Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments
and teaches others to do so
will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.
But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments
will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses
that of the scribes and Pharisees,
you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.
But I say to you,
whoever is angry with his brother
will be liable to judgment;
and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raqa,’
will be answerable to the Sanhedrin;
and whoever says, ‘You fool,’
will be liable to fiery Gehenna.
Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar,
and there recall that your brother
has anything against you,
leave your gift there at the altar,
go first and be reconciled with your brother,
and then come and offer your gift.
Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court.
Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge,
and the judge will hand you over to the guard,
and you will be thrown into prison.
Amen, I say to you,
you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.

“You have heard that it was said,
You shall not commit adultery.
But I say to you,
everyone who looks at a woman with lust
has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
If your right eye causes you to sin,
tear it out and throw it away.
It is better for you to lose one of your members
than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna.
And if your right hand causes you to sin,
cut it off and throw it away.
It is better for you to lose one of your members
than to have your whole body go into Gehenna.

“It was also said,
Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce.
But I say to you,
whoever divorces his wife –  unless the marriage is unlawful –
causes her to commit adultery,
and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

“Again you have heard that it was said to your ancestors,
Do not take a false oath,
but make good to the Lord all that you vow.

But I say to you, do not swear at all;
not by heaven, for it is God’s throne;
nor by the earth, for it is his footstool;
nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.
Do not swear by your head,
for you cannot make a single hair white or black.
Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’
Anything more is from the evil one.”

            I would never want to be called the least in the Kingdom.  We must obey God’s commands and encourage others to do the same.  I am thinking now of the times I may have led people away from instead of closer to God, and it is not a good feeling.  Sometimes we can just be in the moment but do not realize the effects it has on the people after, whether that is in lust, anger, greed, or jealousy.  In every moment, we should be choosing what God wants because it shows how much we love Him.  Obeying is also rewarding because God’s promises will be fulfilled when we follow His path for us, and He is constantly working for our good.  All we have to do is accept it.  When people meet us, they should be meeting Christ. 

                We may have sins that we commit randomly, but many people have that sin that they cannot get away from:  getting drunk all the time, gossiping, stealing, being risqué….The list goes on, but this reading tells us that whatever causes us to sin, cut off.  Now I understand the language is intense, but it must be looked at figuratively.  If you know what the trigger is to cause you to fall, be done with it.  Take preventative measures to take you far away from that sin.  Maybe too much alcohol causes you to sleep around; limit your intake.  Possibly working too much causes you to become bitter and mistreat your family; cut out some hours.  Whatever the source of temptation may be needs to be destroyed because nothing is so great that it should make you hurt your relationship with God.  Nothing is worth that. 

                God is calling us to go above and beyond in our service to Him.  It is not enough to be able to say we did not kill.  We must be aware and not even let our anger overcome us.  Likewise He says that even if a man looks at another woman with lust, it is adultery.  Commitment to God needs to be radical, extreme, and dynamic.  We can always do more, be more.  We cannot just follow some rules and think that is where we can stop because then we will plateau.  Sin should also not be about getting as close to the line as we can and then stopping; it should be about moving and running as far away from the line as possible.  For the do not kill example, it seems easy not to kill, but do we kill others’ reputations with gossip or slander?  Do we hurt others with words we say to them?  Do not stop at the bare minimum or even at a good place.  Go to the max and try to be perfect as God is perfect.   

   

February 5, 2017

Reading 1 Is 58:7-10

Thus says the LORD:
Share your bread with the hungry,
shelter the oppressed and the homeless;
clothe the naked when you see them,
and do not turn your back on your own.
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your wound shall quickly be healed;
your vindication shall go before you,
and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer,
you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am!
If you remove from your midst
oppression, false accusation and malicious speech;
if you bestow your bread on the hungry
and satisfy the afflicted;
then light shall rise for you in the darkness,
and the gloom shall become for you like midday.

The corporal works of mercy.  How nice they sound and how much we talk about them, but do we execute?  These may seem difficult to execute, but maybe they look different in your life.  “Share your bread with the hungry” could mean literally sharing food with people you may see on the streets, but it could have other meanings as well.  It could mean those that are hungry for the Lord and do not know Him.  Maybe you have to share your knowledge of the Word, Jesus’ Life, and what it means to be truly Christian to those that aren’t exposed to anything like it.  It could also translate into more donating in general, not just food.  Another example is for clothing the naked.  It may actually be giving clothes from your back to those who do not have enough, or it may mean naked as in violated, exploited, or exposed.  We could help them by speaking to them about their worth and how loved they are by the Lord.  Even if they were the only people on the earth, Jesus would have still come down to die and resurrect just for them.

They look different in everyone’s life, but the following message is the same:  giving and being selfless.  The Scripture even says that your wounds will be healed, and your light will break forth.  Therefore, we do not have to have it all together and everything figured out in order to help others.  In fact, the Lord will aid us in giving of ourselves.  Gloom will become like midday. That is powerful because many of us walk around with a dark cloud over our heads that never seems to go away.  If all the negativity, worry, fear, anxiety, sadness, dark thoughts, and toxicity would leave us and become all positive, happy, and light, the world would be a different place.  We can start by looking out and seeing who/what needs help where we can give.

Reading 2 1 Cor 2:1-5

When I came to you, brothers and sisters,
proclaiming the mystery of God,
I did not come with sublimity of words or of wisdom.
For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you
except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
I came to you in weakness and fear and much trembling,
and my message and my proclamation
were not with persuasive words of wisdom,
but with a demonstration of Spirit and power,
so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom
but on the power of God.       

This reading really struck me on a personal level because all too often, I am way too focused on making my prayers super fancy and eloquent.  I feel as though I have to know exactly what I want to say in a well-thought out manner, and I tend to lose my Center/Focus aka Jesus Christ.  It talks about knowing nothing except Jesus Christ, and that was humbling and convicting.  I have this lie in my head that I have to be extremely knowledgeable and have deep ideas that just flow out.  I realize now that that’s vain, and the concentration is not even on Christ, but it’s on me when I listen to those thoughts.  God just wants us to know Him, and it’s that simple.  Everything else, He will help us with.  It reminds me of, “The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want.” He is more than enough.

When we are sharing God’s Word and demonstrating our faith, it may be scary, especially in the world we live in.  There will be weakness and fear, but God will provide.  That is inspiring to me because I do not have all the knowledge and wisdom, but I do have the love and passion.  Faith needs the Spirit and power of God, not necessarily a great speech and intelligence.  People need to see Him in us, not to think we are amazing.  This means anyone can be sent out and share the Gospel as long as we have more of Him, less of us.

Gospel Mt 5:13-16

Jesus said to his disciples:
“You are the salt of the earth.
But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?
It is no longer good for anything
but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
You are the light of the world.
A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.
Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket;
it is set on a lampstand,
where it gives light to all in the house.
Just so, your light must shine before others,
that they may see your good deeds
and glorify your heavenly Father.”

Salt. In so many foods, necessary to preserve.  The world needs us.  We are seasoning the world with God, and without us, there would not be flavor.  We cannot lose taste and must keep pushing on.

How about light.  Do we let our light shine or is it under the bushel basket? Are we embarrassed or proud and excited about our faith?  When it gets uneasy or uncomfortable, do we still stand with God or just cave in with the crowd? I know these are some areas I struggle with, but I know I want to be a light for others.  I want to be on a mountain/lampstand, glorifying God, not worrying what anyone thinks or says.  They may say we’re weird, strange, odd, or losers.  Whatever it may be is merely darkness trying to dim the light, but never let that light get any less bright.

 

 

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