October 22, 2017

Reading 1 Is 45:1, 4-6

Thus says the LORD to His anointed, Cyrus,
whose right hand I grasp,
subduing nations before him,
and making kings run in his service,
opening doors before him
and leaving the gates unbarred:
For the sake of Jacob, My servant,
of Israel, My chosen one,
I have called you by your name,
giving you a title, though you knew Me not.
I am the LORD and there is no other,
there is no God besides Me.
It is I Who arm You, though you know Me not,
so that toward the rising and the setting of the sun
people may know that there is none besides Me.
I am the LORD, there is no other.
         God makes it very clear that there is none besides Him.  He alone is King, Ruler, and Lord.  He blesses us always, but we do not always treat Him how we should.  We make false gods and put them before Him.  They might be popularity, money, sex, drugs, alcohol, social scenes, work, sports, working out, food, vanity, etc…The list can go on and on.  This has to stop.  Only He deserves worship, and you can’t serve God and the world so you must choose.  We have to spread this Message to help others prioritize their lives as well.  God should be our main Focus, and everything else takes a back seat when putting Him first.  God is our Friend, but we still need to revere Him and respect His sovereignty.

Reading 2 1 Thes 1:1-5b

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy to the church of the Thessalonians
in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
grace to you and peace.
We give thanks to God always for all of you,
remembering you in our prayers,
unceasingly calling to mind your work of faith and labor of love
and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ,
before our God and Father,
knowing, brothers and sisters loved by God,
how you were chosen.
For our Gospel did not come to you in Word alone,
but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction. 

        We need to be grateful for our brothers and sisters in Christ.  As Christians we need to lift each other up and encourage each other in our walks with Christ.  This helps us stay on the straight and narrow and helps us know we are not alone.  Faith takes endurance and persistence because the enemy is always attacking.  The Word is a Gift and wonderfully beautiful, but we must know how powerful It truly is.  God’s Word moves and changes lives; not to mention it is living and breathing in effect for all people of all times.  The Holy Spirit brings us the Gospel and gives us the strength to believe It and hope for It.  We must have the same conviction in the Gospel as when It was brought to us.  True belief and hope in the Gospel radiates and attracts more people to It.

Gospel Mt 22:15-21

The Pharisees went off
and plotted how they might entrap Jesus in speech.
They sent their disciples to Him, with the Herodians, saying,
“Teacher, we know that You are a truthful Man
and that You teach the way of God in accordance with the Truth.
And You are not concerned with anyone’s opinion,
for You do not regard a person’s status.
Tell us, then, what is Your opinion:
Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?”
Knowing their malice, Jesus said,
“Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites?
Show Me the coin that pays the census tax.”
Then they handed Him the Roman coin.
He said to them, “Whose image is this and whose inscription?”
They replied, “Caesar’s.”
At that He said to them,
“Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar
and to God what belongs to God.”
        The Pharisees wanted to trip up Jesus and test Him.  Often times, we want to test God, too.  We push the limit and try to make deals with Him.  I guess it’s to see if He’s real or to see how much He listens/cares/loves us??  Testing God is not right.  We know how much He loves and cares just by looking at a Crucifix.
      God gave and gives so much to us that we need to give Him what is His.  Everything we have is actually His, but He gives it to us as a gift.  We need to realize that we own nothing and should be willing to give it back to God.  God gives and takes away.  He blesses us and teaches us.  We must detach ourselves from our possessions, people, and experiences and be focused on Him and what He wants.  We will experience resistance and try to hold back what we know He wants from us, but we have to surrender and give it all to Him.  Only then can we understand what true happiness is.
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October 15, 2017

Reading 1 Is 25:6-10a

On this mountain the LORD of hosts
will provide for all peoples
a feast of rich food and choice wines,
juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.
On this mountain He will destroy
the veil that veils all peoples,
the web that is woven over all nations;
He will destroy death forever.
The Lord GOD will wipe away
the tears from every face;
the reproach of His people He will remove
from the whole earth; for the LORD has spoken.
On that day it will be said:
“Behold our God, to Whom we looked to save us!
This is the LORD for Whom we looked;
let us rejoice and be glad that He has saved us!”
For the Hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain.

God is always keeping watch over us and keeping us safe.  His Hand is over us protecting us.  He saves us.  He destroyed death and wipes our tears away.  This is beautiful, especially because we do not deserve this kind of love.  He works to make sure we are okay, and He goes out of His way to keep us close.

Reading 2 Phil 4:12-14, 19-20

Brothers and sisters:
I know how to live in humble circumstances;
I know also how to live with abundance.
In every circumstance and in all things
I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry,
of living in abundance and of being in need.
I can do all things in Him who strengthens me.
Still, it was kind of you to share in my distress.

My God will fully supply whatever you need,
in accord with His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
To our God and Father, glory forever and ever. Amen.

I think we can all relate to the first few lines of this Reading.  We have all had a lot of something and all have had little of something.  Maybe it was food, love, shelter, family, money, friends…whatever it was, we had to either be humble or stay fighting.  I think it is truly good to have experience in both areas because you will know how to treat those with less when you have more and what mindset to have when you have less.

Many people know Philippians 4:13 and recite or have signs of it.  But do we all truly believe it.  Do we act as if we do have the strength through Him to do all things.  I know many times each day I fail to truly act on that belief because of fears or doubts in myself.  But this truly is doubt in Him because He promises us He will be with us.  He will give us whatever we need, and if we don’t have something we needed, then we really didn’t need it; we just thought we did.  Any trial or hardship can be overcome because of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  I want to know and fully believe with my actions that if I can’t do something, the Holy Spirit will accomplish it through me.  His will always gets done no matter what.  We must push through knowing it is He not us that is going to get it done.

Gospel Mt 22:1-14

Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and elders of the people
in parables, saying,
“The Kingdom of Heaven may be likened to a king
who gave a wedding feast for his son.
He dispatched his servants
to summon the invited guests to the feast,
but they refused to come.
A second time he sent other servants, saying,
‘Tell those invited: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet,
my calves and fattened cattle are killed,
and everything is ready; come to the feast.”‘
Some ignored the invitation and went away,
one to his farm, another to his business.
The rest laid hold of his servants,
mistreated them, and killed them.
The king was enraged and sent his troops,
destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.
Then he said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready,
but those who were invited were not worthy to come.
Go out, therefore, into the main roads
and invite to the feast whomever you find.’
The servants went out into the streets
and gathered all they found, bad and good alike,
and the hall was filled with guests.
But when the king came in to meet the guests,
he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment.
The king said to him, ‘My friend, how is it
that you came in here without a wedding garment?’
But he was reduced to silence.
Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet,
and cast him into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’
Many are invited, but few are chosen.”

This is a parable that relates to the fact that all are called to God’s Kingdom, but many reject It.  Some people will mistreat God’s messengers or even kill them.  Some will just choose other things, idols, over God.  This is sad because they will waste their whole lives on things that don’t really matter, especially in terms of eternity.  They choose to sell their souls to gain the world.  This life is short and fleeting, but Heaven is eternal.  How are we choosing to spend our time? Are we giving God the worship and dedication He deserves?

 

 

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October 8, 2017

Reading 1 IS 5:1-7

Let me now sing of my friend,
my friend’s song concerning his vineyard.
My friend had a vineyard
on a fertile hillside;
he spaded it, cleared it of stones,
and planted the choicest vines;
within it he built a watchtower,
and hewed out a wine press.
Then he looked for the crop of grapes,
but what it yielded was wild grapes.

Now, inhabitants of Jerusalem and people of Judah,
judge between me and my vineyard:
What more was there to do for my vineyard
that I had not done?
Why, when I looked for the crop of grapes,
did it bring forth wild grapes?
Now, I will let you know
what I mean to do with my vineyard:
take away its hedge, give it to grazing,
break through its wall, let it be trampled!
Yes, I will make it a ruin:
it shall not be pruned or hoed,
but overgrown with thorns and briers;
I will command the clouds
not to send rain upon it.
The vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel,
and the people of Judah are His cherished plant;
He looked for judgment, but see, bloodshed!
for justice, but hark, the outcry!

Why did the vineyard produce wild grapes, not the crop of grapes? The vineyard owner did all he had to do, yet the outcome was not the right one.  This sounds similar to how God does everything to make us the best people we can be, but we still continue to sin.  He even sent His Son as a perfect Example for us to follow in our own lives, but we do not follow many times.  The vineyard owner let it go to ruin, and if we do not fix ourselves and live holy lives, He will let us go.  There is only so much God will do before He allows us to completely walk away from Him.  He wants us so much, but love is a choice.  He gives us free will so if we do not follow Him, we will suffer the consequences.

Reading 2 PHIL 4:6-9

Brothers and sisters:
Have no anxiety at all, but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
make your requests known to God.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters,
whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
whatever is just, whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious,
if there is any excellence
and if there is anything worthy of praise,
think about these things.
Keep on doing what you have learned and received
and heard and seen in me.
Then the God of peace will be with you.

I am one to have a ton of anxiety about anything and everything.  From what am I eating for dinner to how am I paying that bill to where am I going to be in 5 years and will my dreams ever come true?  It is no way to live.  I need to be more focused on what I do have and how much I have been blessed.  Prayer must be surrounding everything we do.  Don’t you always want to talk to your best friend?  When you went on a date with a cute boy, when you lost 5 pounds, when you fight with your sister?  Well, Jesus needs to be our Best Friend.  We need to constantly be talking to Him.  This will give us the ultimate peace of Jesus Christ.

Our thoughts are flooded and clouded by so many things that are not pure, honorable, lovely, gracious, true, and just.  We are thinking of things that are lustful, pleasurable, selfish, negative, deceiving, and so on.  We have to change that because thoughts affect words and actions.  Thoughts can change lives.  Even just think of how perception of a situation changes how you react to it.  True peace is not the absence of problems, rather it is the Presence of Christ.

Gospel MT 21:33-43

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people:
“Hear another parable.
There was a landowner who planted a vineyard,
put a hedge around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a tower. 
Then he leased it to tenants and went on a journey.
When vintage time drew near,
he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce. 
But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat,
another they killed, and a third they stoned. 
Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones,
but they treated them in the same way. 
Finally, he sent his son to them, thinking,
‘They will respect my son.’
But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another,
‘This is the heir.
Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.’
They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. 
What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?”
They answered him,
“He will put those wretched men to a wretched death
and lease his vineyard to other tenants
who will give him the produce at the proper times.” 
Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures:
The Stone that the builders rejected
has become the Cornerstone;
by the Lord has this been done,
and it is wonderful in our eyes?

Therefore, I say to you,
the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you
and given to a people that will produce its fruit.”

This parable is very symbolic.  The servants that were killed can represent all the people and prophets that God sent to the people.  After so many great people were sent, God sent His Son to save us, just like the man sent his son to the tenants.  The vineyard owner surely would expect the tenants to treat his son differently, but instead they treated him the same and even wanted to kill him more because of his inheritance.  Like the owner’s son was, Jesus, God’s Son, was mistreated, abused, and killed. Innocent blood was shed, and He was here to save the world.  In these terms, it is disgusting to think about and not understand how those people could do that.  However, think about how many times we hurt Jesus and kill Him a little more with each sin.  We add thorns to His crown of thorns every day with our failures and shortcomings.  We do not treat Him like the King of Kings that He is.  This needs to change with respect and reverence and prayer.

 

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October 1, 2017

Reading 1 EZ 18:25-28

Thus says the LORD:
You say, “The LORD’s way is not fair!”
Hear now, house of Israel:
Is it My way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair?
When someone virtuous turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies,
it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die.
But if he turns from the wickedness he has committed,
and does what is right and just,
he shall preserve his life;
since he has turned away from all the sins that he has committed,
he shall surely live, he shall not die.

We constantly think that because God’s way might not be our way that it means it’s unfair.  Instead of fixing our lives to please God, we may turn away from Him.  We are like the rich young man that does not want to give up his luxuries to follow Jesus.  When we sin, part of us dies because we are moving away from God.  We become spiritually dead, but if we do follow Him, we grow and become so alive.  We bloom and develop into what God wants.  This is the true way of life – stay with God, and joy will ensue.  Christ awakens our soul and something inside of us sparks.

Reading 2 PHIL 2:1-11

Brothers and sisters:
If there is any encouragement in Christ,
any solace in love,
any participation in the Spirit,
any compassion and mercy,
complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love,
united in heart, thinking one thing.
Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory;
rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves,
each looking out not for his own interests,
but also for those of others.

Have in you the same attitude
that is also in Christ Jesus,
Who, though He was in the Form of God,
did not regard equality with God
something to be grasped.
Rather, He emptied Himself,
taking the Form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
He humbled Himself,
becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted Him
and bestowed on Him the Name
which is above every name,
that at the Name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in Heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Being a believer is a community affair.  We all come together under one Name and are united in His Love.  We should have the same goals and think the same to achieve these goals.  We should think of others before ourselves and work to achieve the mission of spreading God’s Message.

Jesus is God but came down to earth to serve.  He became human to be one of us and humbled Himself even to death.  How crazy is that?!  The King of Kings stepped down from His throne.  How often are we full of pride, thinking we are equal to God in how we sin or disobey Him?  We continue to try to please ourselves, and our motives can often be very selfish.  We think we have enough money, status, power, etc that we don’t need God.  We need to confess that Jesus is our Lord and be humbled by this fact.  We cannot live this life on our own.

We always must revere the Name of Jesus.  It is so often taken in vain, which is so sad.  His Name is the Name that saves and keeps us safe.  We pray to His Name and should take it so seriously.  We should bow when It is spoken of.  When we hear a name, we automatically think of the person we know with that name, and all our emotions for them come flooding.  It should be the same with Jesus because His Name represents everything we live for and hope for.

Gospel MT 21:28-32

Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people:
“What is your opinion?
A man had two sons.
He came to the first and said,
‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’
He said in reply, ‘I will not,’
but afterwards changed his mind and went.
The man came to the other son and gave the same order.
He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir, ‘but did not go.
Which of the two did his father’s will?”
They answered, “The first.”
Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you,
tax collectors and prostitutes
are entering the Kingdom of God before you.
When John came to you in the way of righteousness,
you did not believe him;
but tax collectors and prostitutes did.
Yet even when you saw that,
you did not later change your minds and believe him.”

Our actions are more important than our words.  The son that followed the father’s will was the one who originally said no but changed his mind and did the work.  It is better to do what we are asked than act like or say we will and then not follow through. That seems hypocritical and fake.  We cannot just do God’s will on the outside or seemingly do God’s will, but we must say yes with our words and actions.  Seek His will in all things and repeatedly say, “Thy will be done….Thy will be done.”  Spend time with Him to see where He wants you and what He wants you to be doing. Prayer is the key.

 

 

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