March 26, 2017

Reading 1 1 Sm 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a

The LORD said to Samuel:
“Fill your horn with oil, and be on your way.
I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem,
for I have chosen my king from among his sons.”

As Jesse and his sons came to the sacrifice,
Samuel looked at Eliab and thought,
“Surely the LORD’s anointed is here before him.”
But the LORD said to Samuel:
“Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature,
because I have rejected him.
Not as man sees does God see,
because man sees the appearance
but the LORD looks into the heart.”
In the same way Jesse presented seven sons before Samuel,
but Samuel said to Jesse,
“The LORD has not chosen any one of these.”
Then Samuel asked Jesse,
“Are these all the sons you have?”
Jesse replied,
“There is still the youngest, who is tending the sheep.”
Samuel said to Jesse,
“Send for him;
we will not begin the sacrificial banquet until he arrives here.”
Jesse sent and had the young man brought to them.
He was ruddy, a youth handsome to behold
and making a splendid appearance.
The LORD said,
“There—anoint him, for this is the one!”
Then Samuel, with the horn of oil in hand,
anointed David in the presence of his brothers;
and from that day on, the spirit of the LORD rushed upon David.

God does not see as we see.  We see physical traits and appearance, but God sees the heart.  The world would be such a different place if inner beauty was shown on the exterior.  I want to see how God sees.  I want to treat people with the utmost respect and go out of my way to get to know them.  I want to look beyond everything else and really be in touch with people’s hearts as my means of identifying them instead of judging them by some outward characteristic or something they did.

Since God sees the heart, I have been wondering what my heart looks like.  I know I have dirt and dark places on my heart that need to be cleaned and purified.  I want my heart to be a beautiful garden where virtue and light grow and flourish.  I want my heart to burst because it is too small for my big God.  I want to overflow with love because there is so much that keeps coming and coming and cannot stop.  I want my heart to be a mirror of Christ and a place to look for comfort, joy, and serenity.

Reading 2 Eph 5:8-14

Brothers and sisters:
You were once darkness,
but now you are light in the Lord.
Live as children of light,
for light produces every kind of goodness
and righteousness and truth.
Try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.
Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness;
rather expose them, for it is shameful even to mention
the things done by them in secret;
but everything exposed by the light becomes visible,
for everything that becomes visible is light.
Therefore, it says:
“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will give you light.” 

There is no excuse for us to stay in the dark; we are saved.  Many people in this world are in the dark, but that is because they do not have the Lord.  We need to go as far from the dark as possible and bring those people to the light.  Light heals, and we are attracted to it.  It is beautiful and hopeful.  We all know what sins keep us in the dark and the certain parts that we are scared to let see light, but Christ is the Light that gives life.  We should be afraid of the darkness of ignoring God just as children are terrified of their dark bedrooms.  Light saves us, and we should allow it to pierce through anything that is not already shining in order for us to light up for Christ.  We must pass this light along to those that are dreary, cloudy, rainy, or foggy in any parts of their souls.  Light leads straight to the Lord without any sudden stops, crashes, or slips.

Gospel Jn 9:1-41

As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth.
His disciples asked him,
“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents,
that he was born blind?”
Jesus answered,
“Neither he nor his parents sinned;
it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.
We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day.
Night is coming when no one can work.
While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
When he had said this, he spat on the ground
and made clay with the saliva,
and smeared the clay on his eyes,
and said to him,
“Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” —which means Sent—.
So he went and washed, and came back able to see.

His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said,
“Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?”
Some said, “It is, ”
but others said, “No, he just looks like him.”
He said, “I am.”
So they said to him, “How were your eyes opened?”
He replied,
“The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes
and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’
So I went there and washed and was able to see.”
And they said to him, “Where is he?”
He said, “I don’t know.”

They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees.
Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath.
So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see.
He said to them,
“He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.”
So some of the Pharisees said,
“This man is not from God,
because he does not keep the sabbath.”
But others said,
“How can a sinful man do such signs?”
And there was a division among them.
So they said to the blind man again,
“What do you have to say about him,
since he opened your eyes?”
He said, “He is a prophet.”

Now the Jews did not believe
that he had been blind and gained his sight
until they summoned the parents of the one who had gained his sight.
They asked them,
“Is this your son, who you say was born blind?
How does he now see?”
His parents answered and said,
“We know that this is our son and that he was born blind.
We do not know how he sees now,
nor do we know who opened his eyes.
Ask him, he is of age;
he can speak for himself.”
His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews,
for the Jews had already agreed
that if anyone acknowledged him as the Christ,
he would be expelled from the synagogue.
For this reason his parents said,
“He is of age; question him.”

So a second time they called the man who had been blind
and said to him, “Give God the praise!
We know that this man is a sinner.”
He replied,
“If he is a sinner, I do not know.
One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see.”
So they said to him,
“What did he do to you?
How did he open your eyes?”
He answered them,
“I told you already and you did not listen.
Why do you want to hear it again?
Do you want to become his disciples, too?”
They ridiculed him and said,
“You are that man’s disciple;
we are disciples of Moses!
We know that God spoke to Moses,
but we do not know where this one is from.”
The man answered and said to them,
“This is what is so amazing,
that you do not know where he is from, yet he opened my eyes.
We know that God does not listen to sinners,
but if one is devout and does his will, he listens to him.
It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind.
If this man were not from God,
he would not be able to do anything.”
They answered and said to him,
“You were born totally in sin,
and are you trying to teach us?”
Then they threw him out.

When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out,
he found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
He answered and said,
“Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”
Jesus said to him,
“You have seen him,
the one speaking with you is he.”
He said,
“I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him.
Then Jesus said,
“I came into this world for judgment,
so that those who do not see might see,
and those who do see might become blind.”

Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this
and said to him, “Surely we are not also blind, are we?”
Jesus said to them,
“If you were blind, you would have no sin;
but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains.

Gospel JN 9:1, 6-9, 13-17, 34-38

As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth.
He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva,
and smeared the clay on his eyes, and said to him,
“Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” — which means Sent —.
So he went and washed, and came back able to see.

His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said,
“Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?”
Some said, “It is, “
but others said, “No, he just looks like him.”
He said, “I am.”

They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees.
Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a Sabbath.
So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see.
He said to them,
“He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.”
So some of the Pharisees said,
“This man is not from God,
because he does not keep the Sabbath.”
But others said,
“How can a sinful man do such signs?”
And there was a division among them.
So they said to the blind man again,
“What do you have to say about him,
since he opened your eyes?”
He said, “He is a prophet.”

They answered and said to him,
“You were born totally in sin,
and are you trying to teach us?”
Then they threw him out.

When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out,
he found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
He answered and said,
“Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”
Jesus said to him,
“You have seen him, and
the one speaking with you is he.”
He said,
“I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him.

I think since we have heard this Gospel all our lives that it loses its effect.  A man was blind, and now he sees.  That is mind blowing.  Jesus’ power is incredible.  Did you ever have something stuck in or dropped into you eye and you could not see? That is one of the worst feelings because you do not even know what is in front of you.  This is how the man felt his whole life, but Jesus gave him the power to see.

We are all blind really.  We do not see what is front of us or do not let Jesus remove the blinders from our eyes.  Everything would be clearer if we humbled ourselves and asked Jesus to help us see.  It is life changing to get a new prescription, and here we have sin destroying and obstructing us from furthering our vision of God and all that is good.  Being spiritually blind is blocking so many good things that could be happening and you shut down as you cannot move along the path God wants for you.  It is crippling to not be able to move forward, and that’s all God wants – for us to develop and grow in our relationship with Him and be obedient to Him.

Once we see Jesus, and really see Jesus, there is no going back.  You will do everything you can to not be blind again and to be able to take part in the sweetness and goodness of knowing the Lord and watching what He does to show His Love and enhance our lives through that.  I am challenging you to go the step further and begin to have the faith like the once-blind man.  He accepts what Jesus told him, and wow talk about believing without necessarily needing to see.  Faith knows there is a lot more than meets the eye.

 

 

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March 19, 2017

Reading 1 Ex 17:3-7

In those days, in their thirst for water,
the people grumbled against Moses,
saying, “Why did you ever make us leave Egypt?
Was it just to have us die here of thirst
with our children and our livestock?”
So Moses cried out to the LORD,
“What shall I do with this people?
a little more and they will stone me!”
The LORD answered Moses,
“Go over there in front of the people,
along with some of the elders of Israel,
holding in your hand, as you go,
the staff with which you struck the river.
I will be standing there in front of you on the rock in Horeb.
Strike the rock, and the water will flow from it
for the people to drink.”
This Moses did, in the presence of the elders of Israel.
The place was called Massah and Meribah,
because the Israelites quarreled there
and tested the LORD, saying,
“Is the LORD in our midst or not?”

Reading about the Israelites complain makes me cringe because I can’t imagine how rude they sound dissatisfied with what God has blessed them with – an escape from slavery.  I cringe more when I realize this is me.  I complain all the time about the hand with which I am dealt.  I winder why I am placed in this position or why I can’t have it a different way.  Knowing what we know about the Israelites’ future makes it seem silly for them to grumble, but I’m sure when we see our future, we will think our frustrations were silly.  We have to understand that God is always up to something, and it is for our good.  We have to trust that if it is bad, it is not the end.  We should not doubt God but place our hope knowing that our needs will be met. God allowed water to flow from a rock for Moses and the people.  That is impossible yet God did it to show His faithfulness and dedication to His people.  The bottom line is that God provides, and complaining is ignorant and basically telling God we do not believe in His promises.   We have to keep walking through the desert and know that only He will satisfy the thirst.

Reading 2 Rom 5:1-2, 5-8

Brothers and sisters:
Since we have been justified by faith,
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
through whom we have gained access by faith
to this grace in which we stand,
and we boast in hope of the glory of God.

And hope does not disappoint,
because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts
through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
For Christ, while we were still helpless,
died at the appointed time for the ungodly.
Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person,
though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die.
But God proves his love for us
in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.

Hope does not disappoint.  So many things disappoint me, and I hate when I get my hopes up just to be let down.  Hope in Christ is never going to disappoint.  Christ fulfills all hope and died for us at a time when we were sinful.  This statement is always remarkable to me because I think of the things I do for others and know how difficult they can be.  I drag my feet and sometimes regret even saying yes to do it, but I remember they are for people I love and cherish to motivate me to get through.  Don’t we all do favors and tasks for people that are great and help us out just because we are motivated by how awesome they are.  How about those that hurt and wrong us? Are we willing to jump right onto our feet to aid them in situations, or do we ignore them? Maybe we even push them back down.  We want to only help those that help us or that are good to us.  Well Jesus is different.  He helped us not because of what we’ve done but because He is Love.  The love that never fails, never gives up, and never runs out.  We deserved nothing, but
He gave us everything.  We are the reason for His death and put Him on that cross, yet He died in order that we could be close again.  What a different world it would be if we gave out of love instead of because the person earned it.

Gospel Jn 4:5-42

Jesus came to a town of Samaria called Sychar,
near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph.
Jacob’s well was there.
Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well.
It was about noon.

A woman of Samaria came to draw water.
Jesus said to her,
“Give me a drink.”
His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.
The Samaritan woman said to him,
“How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?”
—For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans.—
Jesus answered and said to her,
“If you knew the gift of God
and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink, ‘
you would have asked him
and he would have given you living water.”
The woman said to him,
“Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep;
where then can you get this living water?
Are you greater than our father Jacob,
who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself
with his children and his flocks?”
Jesus answered and said to her,
“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again;
but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst;
the water I shall give will become in him
a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The woman said to him,
“Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty
or have to keep coming here to draw water.”

Jesus said to her,
“Go call your husband and come back.”
The woman answered and said to him,
“I do not have a husband.”
Jesus answered her,
“You are right in saying, ‘I do not have a husband.’
For you have had five husbands,
and the one you have now is not your husband.
What you have said is true.”
The woman said to him,
“Sir, I can see that you are a prophet.
Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain;
but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.”
Jesus said to her,
“Believe me, woman, the hour is coming
when you will worship the Father
neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
You people worship what you do not understand;
we worship what we understand,
because salvation is from the Jews.
But the hour is coming, and is now here,
when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth;
and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him.
God is Spirit, and those who worship him
must worship in Spirit and truth.”
The woman said to him,
“I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Christ;
when he comes, he will tell us everything.”
Jesus said to her,
“I am he, the one speaking with you.”

At that moment his disciples returned,
and were amazed that he was talking with a woman,
but still no one said, “What are you looking for?”
or “Why are you talking with her?”
The woman left her water jar
and went into the town and said to the people,
“Come see a man who told me everything I have done.
Could he possibly be the Christ?”
They went out of the town and came to him.
Meanwhile, the disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat.”
But he said to them,
“I have food to eat of which you do not know.”
So the disciples said to one another,
“Could someone have brought him something to eat?”
Jesus said to them,
“My food is to do the will of the one who sent me
and to finish his work.
Do you not say, ‘In four months the harvest will be here’?
I tell you, look up and see the fields ripe for the harvest.
The reaper is already receiving payment
and gathering crops for eternal life,
so that the sower and reaper can rejoice together.
For here the saying is verified that ‘One sows and another reaps.’
I sent you to reap what you have not worked for;
others have done the work,
and you are sharing the fruits of their work.”

Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him
because of the word of the woman who testified,
“He told me everything I have done.”
When the Samaritans came to him,
they invited him to stay with them;
and he stayed there two days.
Many more began to believe in him because of his word,
and they said to the woman,
“We no longer believe because of your word;
for we have heard for ourselves,
and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.”

Jesus was breaking so any barriers by talking to a Samaritan woman.  This was unheard of.  How many times do we break down walls merely to share the good news of Christ?  We must take this example to heart and not care what the barriers are between us and others.  The Gospel is stronger than anything holding us back.  They may be cultural, ethnic, geographic, social, or economic boundaries, but these things are minute compared to the amazing wonders sharing God’s message has to offer.  Who are we avoiding, ignoring, or leaving out? We need to go to those people that are hiding or are just in the dark and bring them out to the light.  Part of our lives should be saving souls and bringing people to Jesus, no matter how different they seem on the surface.  Jesus came for all, and if we are blessed enough to know Him, we must share Him.

 

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March 12, 2017

Reading 1 Gn 12:1-4a

The LORD said to Abram:
“Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk
and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you.

“I will make of you a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
so that you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you
and curse those who curse you.
All the communities of the earth
shall find blessing in you.”

Abram went as the LORD directed him.

How many of us are willing to go to an unknown land or take an unknown path because God said so?  It should be easy to just follow God well because He’s God, but it is a lot easier said than done.  I know for myself, I am scared of the unknown and have a difficult time letting go of control.  Abram just went as God directed him, and God promised to bless him and make his name great.  I wonder how many times have I not done as God directed and missed blessings merely because I could not let go of my own plans.  I want my relationship with the Lord to be more fearless. I need to submit to His Will and understand that God will show me the way to the land He has for me.  Trust and love need to be more fully present in my relationship as well because love contains truth, and who would not trust truth.

Reading 2 2 Tm 1:8b-10

Beloved:
Bear your share of hardship for the gospel
with the strength that comes from God.

He saved us and called us to a holy life,
not according to our works
but according to his own design
and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began,
but now made manifest
through the appearance of our savior Christ Jesus,
who destroyed death and brought life and immortality
to light through the gospel.

Wow isn’t that some insight.  We too often rely on our own strength instead of God’s even though it is so readily available.  It is not saying following the Gospel is easy, but it is saying that God is providing strength to get through it.  We all have different crosses to bear, but God’s strength is the universal remedy.  Think about what your share of hardship might be – maybe lust is your weakness; possibly alcohol is your downfall; perhaps pride is what chains you.  Our strength runs out and at a fast rate.  God’s strength is endless and powerful. 

God saved us and called us to a holy life.  All these sins, shame, and shackles can go away because we are saved.  Christ saved us and destroyed death.  He also calls us to a holy life.  What does that look like for us?  It may be different for every person but the main purpose of your life should be to love Jesus and to be loved by Him.  To be holy is to put God before all other things and to strive to live a life that mirrors Christ’s.  This may mean us giving certain things up, things that take precedent over God currently.  It may mean a reordering of priorities in order to get God where He belongs in your life.  Once He is Number One, everything else will fall into place, and life begins to make sense.

Gospel Mt 17:1-9

Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother,
and led them up a high mountain by themselves.
And he was transfigured before them;
his face shone like the sun
and his clothes became white as light.
And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them,
conversing with him.
Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,
“Lord, it is good that we are here.
If you wish, I will make three tents here,
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
While he was still speaking, behold,
a bright cloud cast a shadow over them,
then from the cloud came a voice that said,
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased;
listen to him.”
When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate
and were very much afraid.
But Jesus came and touched them, saying,
“Rise, and do not be afraid.”
And when the disciples raised their eyes,
they saw no one else but Jesus alone.

As they were coming down from the mountain,
Jesus charged them,
“Do not tell the vision to anyone
until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

The disciples are very attentive and giving while asking Jesus if they should make 3 tents.  They are serving Him, and it is inspiring to read because we should do likewise.  We should ask Jesus what He wants of us and make sure we are taking time out of our day to speak with Him.  As the disciples did, we should listen to Him, too.  So much of the time, I am talking and talking, creating noise, and it does not allow me to listen.  God wants to speak to us, too, and if we constantly fill in the space, there is no time for us to hear what He has to say.  We need to stop and let Him in rather than be scared of the silence because in the silence, God whispers.

The Transfiguration is yet another example of God’s majesty and mystery.  Elijah and Moses appeared with Jesus, and this is amazing that these men were seen way after their times.  We need to be transformed and molded more and more into the Body of Christ.  Our lives must be intertwined with Jesus and made new.  Imagine being transfigured with Jesus.  First thing that comes to mind is that I am not worthy, but the truth is that Jesus is calling all of us to be those saints that we were made to be, transformed into an Image of Christ.  We must believe first this can happen, and secondly make it happen. 

 

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March 5, 2017

Reading 1 Gn 2:7-9; 3:1-7

The LORD God formed man out of the clay of the ground
and blew into his nostrils the breath of life,
and so man became a living being.

Then the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east,
and placed there the man whom he had formed.
Out of the ground the LORD God made various trees grow
that were delightful to look at and good for food,
with the tree of life in the middle of the garden
and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the animals
that the LORD God had made.
The serpent asked the woman,
“Did God really tell you not to eat
from any of the trees in the garden?”
The woman answered the serpent:
“We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden;
it is only about the fruit of the tree
in the middle of the garden that God said,
‘You shall not eat it or even touch it, lest you die.'”
But the serpent said to the woman:
“You certainly will not die!
No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it
your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods
who know what is good and what is evil.”
The woman saw that the tree was good for food,
pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom.
So she took some of its fruit and ate it;
and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her,
and he ate it.
Then the eyes of both of them were opened,
and they realized that they were naked;
so they sewed fig leaves together
and made loincloths for themselves.

We are alive because God breathed into us.  Isn’t that something.  Without God’s breath, we would still be dust. We are dead without Him.

The famous Adam and Eve.  How many years have gone by, and we are still like the first humans.  We often listen to the devil’s lies instead of God’s promises.  God specifically told them not to eat fruit fro that tree, and they do it.  The serpent tried to tell Eve that God just doesn’t want them to be like Him, basically that God is being selfish and holding them back.  How could that ever make sense?  That is why we stray from God because we do not think His plan is best and we ty to do better on our own.  We put Him on the back burner and try to get through life by not listening to what He said.  This will fail every single time.  It is also pride to think that we know better than God.  That somehow, even though He breathed life into us, that we have more knowledge.  Why would a good God hide and scheme Adam and Eve for selfish reasons????? Everything He did was for their benefit.  We, too, have blinders over our eyes and choose to not see God’s blessings in our lives and are prone to see only the ways we think we are being “sold short”.  We try out what could be the “better” option and listen to the devil.  Not only do we choose what’s wrong, but like Eve we bring others down with us.

Decisions everyone makes affects all people whether you realize it or not, whether it is people you love or not.  Eve’s decision affected Adam and in turn the whole human race.  We do not want to be causing other people to sin.  Sometimes we are unaware, but it is good to be more conscious of it before it becomes a habit.

Rom 5:12, 17-19

Brothers and sisters:
Through one man sin entered the world,
and through sin, death,
and thus death came to all men, inasmuch as all sinned.

For if, by the transgression of the one,
death came to reign through that one,
how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace
and of the gift of justification
come to reign in life through the one Jesus Christ.
In conclusion, just as through one transgression
condemnation came upon all,
so, through one righteous act,
acquittal and life came to all.
For just as through the disobedience of the one man
the many were made sinners,
so, through the obedience of the one,
the many will be made righteous. 

Jesus is often referred to as the New Adam.  If all humans were condemned because of Adam’s one act, think of how much grace everyone has because of Jesus’ one act.  If one human could cause all of that for all people generations to generations, imagine the impact that Jesus’ saving power has.  It is a zillion times more powerful that anything Adam could have done.  The contrast diminishes the effect of Adam and makes my focus go to Jesus and really ponder how much His death and Resurrection really did mean and change the course of humanity.

Gospel Mt 4:1-11

At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert
to be tempted by the devil.
He fasted for forty days and forty nights,
and afterwards he was hungry.
The tempter approached and said to him,
“If you are the Son of God,
command that these stones become loaves of bread.”
He said in reply,
“It is written:
One does not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes forth
from the mouth of God.”

Then the devil took him to the holy city,
and made him stand on the parapet of the temple,
and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down.
For it is written:
He will command his angels concerning you
and with their hands they will support you,
lest you dash your foot against a stone.”

Jesus answered him,
“Again it is written,
You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”
Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain,
and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence,
and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you,
if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.”
At this, Jesus said to him,
“Get away, Satan!
It is written:
The Lord, your God, shall you worship
and him alone shall you serve.”

Then the devil left him and, behold,
angels came and ministered to him.

How many times do we say that God doesn’t understand us or doesn’t get us just because…well the joke is on us.  Jesus did not have some easy life.  He went through hardships, too.  Just because He never sinned, does not mean He wasn’t tempted.  Jesus understands every aspect of humanity, and that is exactly why we can and must be honest and open with Him.  We should not hold back because He has been through everything that we could possibly experience, and this means He is the perfect One to help.  No reason to only go to friends and family or to avoid God because you think He is too big and wouldn’t get it.  He cares more than anyone and wants us to come to Him.

Each time Jesus has a comeback to the devil, He seems more and more like a Boss.  He always knows what to say, and each comeback is a lesson in and of itself.  We do not live on bread alone.  We need to live more from spiritual blessings and concentrate more on those disciplines rather than just focusing on materialistic possessions.  Self-control and discipline also come from not giving into the flesh.  This does not only have to do with food, but it could apply to sexual desires, want for alcohol, drugs, gambling, etc.  We need to know that God is all we truly need.  Everything else is extra.

We should never put God to the test.  Making deals with Him is not how it works.  God is taking care of us without the need for us to intervene and check up on how He’s doing.  He’s got it covered, and we need to trust that it is all for our good no matter what.  It is more humble to simply believe God and not question His ways.

The devil will put your pride to the test.  How many distractions can he throw your way so you turn from God?   Which will you start to worship instead?  We can serve only God and that means nothing else is to come before or take precedence over Him.  There are too many idols, but we have to remember that God deserves special treatment and nothing is too compare remotely at all.

 

 

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Ash Wednesday March 1, 2017

Reading 1 Jl 2:12-18

Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God.
For gracious and merciful is he,
slow to anger, rich in kindness,
and relenting in punishment.
Perhaps he will again relent
and leave behind him a blessing,
Offerings and libations
for the LORD, your God.

Blow the trumpet in Zion!
proclaim a fast,
call an assembly;
Gather the people,
notify the congregation;
Assemble the elders,
gather the children
and the infants at the breast;
Let the bridegroom quit his room
and the bride her chamber.
Between the porch and the altar
let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep,
And say, “Spare, O LORD, your people,
and make not your heritage a reproach,
with the nations ruling over them!
Why should they say among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?'”

Then the LORD was stirred to concern for his land
and took pity on his people.

Lent is a time to come back to God with your whole heart.  It may be difficult with tears shed and sadness, but it is the time to offer up yourself to the Lord.  Lent is meant for sacrifice and fixing the heart.  We can leave the sin behind, and it is time for renewal and turning to the Gospel.  He is gracious and does not punish.  We should notify all people and gather them so they can hear this news to deepen their relationship with God or start one that they may have been to fearful to begin.

Reading 2 2 Cor 5:20—6:2

Brothers and sisters:
We are ambassadors for Christ,
as if God were appealing through us.
We implore you on behalf of Christ,
be reconciled to God.
For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin,
so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.

Working together, then,
we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.
For he says:

In an acceptable time I heard you,
and on the day of salvation I helped you.

Behold, now is a very acceptable time;
behold, now is the day of salvation.

We are ambassadors of Christ.  What an honor, but what a responsibility.  An ambassador is a representative, and we represent Christ.  God uses us as tools to bring Himself into this world.  We must remember that as Christians, the world is looking at our lives.  When people meet us, they should meet Christ.  Our lives should make non-believers question why they do not believe in God.  I can think of many examples when I did not act as if I was representing God.  Just like a cop in a uniform, or a Catholic school girl in her uniform, or an army officer in his uniform, we are always in that Christian “uniform” to be the best we can be.  I remember when wearing my high school academy uniform, our dean always talked about how we had to still uphold school rules even if we were not at school.  People though that was stupid and controlling, but it was the way for my school to have representatives no matter where we travelled.  Likewise, we cannot just be Christians at church or when it is easy, but we are ambassadors of Christ on the beach, at school, at church, in NYC, in Florida…..the time of salvation is now.

Gospel Mt 6:1-6, 16-18

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Take care not to perform righteous deeds
in order that people may see them;
otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.
When you give alms,
do not blow a trumpet before you,
as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets
to win the praise of others.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you give alms,
do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,
so that your almsgiving may be secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you pray,
do not be like the hypocrites,
who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners
so that others may see them.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you pray, go to your inner room,
close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you fast,
do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.
They neglect their appearance,
so that they may appear to others to be fasting.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you fast,
anoint your head and wash your face,
so that you may not appear to be fasting,
except to your Father who is hidden.
And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”

How many of us want credit for the good we do?  We want to be the hero- the one that saves the day- and we want everyone to know.  The thing is that we should not act with that intention.  When we help others, it should be genuine and to actually help them and to serve the Lord.  Nothing should be for praise.  God will reward us and already knows when we are doing good deeds without us having to announce it.  It is very prideful to volunteer just for recognition and for other people to say you’re a good person because then it was really done for the self.  We should do good because it is what Jesus wants.

When the passage says to pray to God in secret and do not make it look like you are fasting, is not a cop out or excuse to hide your faith.  Some people may take this the wrong way and act as though this means that you should never bring your religion to the public scene and it should stay in a box in a corner of your room.  That is not true either.  Our relationship with God should always be something we are proud of, but it should not be on display for people to look at us like we are amazing, awesome people because that is God alone.

 

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