The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe November 26, 2017

Reading 1 Ez 34:11-12, 15-17

Thus says the Lord GOD:
I myself will look after and tend My sheep.
As a shepherd tends his flock
when he finds himself among his scattered sheep,
so will I tend My sheep.
I will rescue them from every place where they were scattered
when it was cloudy and dark.
I myself will pasture my sheep;
I myself will give them rest, says the Lord GOD.
The lost I will seek out,
the strayed I will bring back,
the injured I will bind up,
the sick I will heal,
but the sleek and the strong I will destroy,
shepherding them rightly.
As for you, My sheep, says the Lord GOD,
I will judge between one sheep and another,
between rams and goats.
     Have you ever felt that you were in a place that was dark and cloudy?  I often do.  But we are His sheep, and He is tending after us.  We need to be less afraid and more sure that we are in the right place.  We are being taken care of, and not just by anyone but by the King of the universe.  So many times in our lives we will be scattered and roaming, feeling as if there is no direction/guidance/purpose, but we need to rest and feel peace in the fact that God is leading us where we need to be.  He is bringing us home and back to Him, where we need to be.  We don’t need to feel like we have to do it all on our own.  We can find serenity in knowing that Jesus is moving with us.  Some people think faith is a set of rules to stop us from living how we want.  Really it is not to be thought of as a fence to block us in but rather a guardrail to stop us from falling.  The Lord is my Shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.   Psalm 23 reference

Reading 2 1 Cor 15:20-26, 28

Brothers and sisters:
Christ has been raised from the dead,
the Firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
For since death came through man,
the resurrection of the dead came also through Man.
For just as in Adam all die,
so too in Christ shall all be brought to life,
but each one in proper order:
Christ the Firstfruits;
then, at His coming, those who belong to Christ;
then comes the end,
when He hands over the Kingdom to His God and Father,
when He has destroyed every sovereignty
and every authority and power.
For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His Feet.
The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
When everything is subjected to Him,
then the Son Himself will also be subjected
to the One who subjected everything to Him,
so that God may be all in all.

      We are alive because of Him.  He gives us life.  We must act alive though.  We may be living and breathing but not acting alive.  We mope and gripe as we go through the day, meanwhile people are desperately gasping for air in hospitals.  If only they had our lives.  We must have that joy that comes from having life in Christ.  This is deep and different from happiness.  This joy comes from within and only from experiencing what it feels to be in love with Christ.
    Another example where Jesus is not letting us be alone in the fight.  He is destroying the enemies, the ones that take us away from Him.  He wants us and desires us so much that He is ending anything that opposes Him.  This way He can be in everything.

Gospel Mt 25:31-46

Jesus said to His disciples:
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory,
and all the angels with Him,
He will sit upon His glorious throne,
and all the nations will be assembled before Him.
And He will separate them one from another,
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
He will place the sheep on His right and the goats on His left.
Then the King will say to those on His right,
‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father.
Inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave Me food,
I was thirsty and you gave Me drink,
a Stranger and you welcomed Me,
naked and you clothed Me,
ill and you cared for Me,
in prison and you visited Me.’
Then the righteous will answer Him and say,
‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You,
or thirsty and give You drink?
When did we see You a stranger and welcome You,
or naked and clothe You?
When did we see You ill or in prison, and visit You?’
And the King will say to them in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of the least brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’
Then He will say to those on His left,
‘Depart from Me, you accursed,
into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
For I was hungry and you gave Me no food,
I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink,
a Stranger and you gave Me no welcome,
naked and you gave Me no clothing,
ill and in prison, and you did not care for Me.’
Then they will answer and say,
‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty
or a Stranger or naked or ill or in prison,
and not minister to Your needs?’
He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you,
what you did not do for one of these least ones,
you did not do for Me.’
And these will go off to eternal punishment,
but the righteous to eternal life.”
   How do we treat our brothers and sisters in Christ?  When we see others, we do see Jesus?  How much of a better place the world would be if we all looked at each other as if the other Person was Jesus.  This would especially help when there is someone who gets under our skin or is ignorant or is rude.  If we treated them as if they were Jesus, there would be less arguing in the world.  What about when we see the needy or hear about the poor…Wouldn’t we jump to help Jesus if we saw Him in the street begging for food? Each person is a Temple of the Holy Spirit and when we look at others, we should try to find Christ.  It may be easier to see in some than others, but we must remember everyone is a creation and child of God.  How would we want someone to treat something we made ?

November 19, 2017

Reading 1 Prv 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31

When one finds a worthy wife,
her value is far beyond pearls.
Her husband, entrusting his heart to her,
has an unfailing prize.
She brings him good, and not evil,
all the days of her life.
She obtains wool and flax
and works with loving hands.
She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her fingers ply the spindle.
She reaches out her hands to the poor,
and extends her arms to the needy.
Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting;
the woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
Give her a reward for her labors,
and let her works praise her at the city gates.
   I love this reading because it contradicts society so much.  Women should be treated like the unfailing prizes they are rather than an object of pleasure.  We are beautifully hand-crafted by the Lord, but so many women do not carry themselves as if they are.  They look rejected, hurt, torn, and bothered.  I do have to say it is disheartening to see guys always going for girls that are easy and makes us girls wonder if we should just join them (even though we know we shouldn’t).  There is so much pressure on girls to have amazing bodies, hair, faces, teeth, etc.  But physical beauty is fleeting.  There is nothing like a woman with the Spirit inside her.  Boys may not realize this, but men do.  Some people say that if women would raise their standards, more guys would be gentlemen.  Then  the would have to treat us like the pearls we are because we would not settle for less.

Reading 2 1 Thes 5:1-6

Concerning times and seasons, brothers and sisters,
you have no need for anything to be written to you.
For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come
like a thief at night.
When people are saying, “Peace and security, “
then sudden disaster comes upon them,
like labor pains upon a pregnant woman,
and they will not escape.

But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness,
for that day to overtake you like a thief.
For all of you are children of the light
and children of the day.
We are not of the night or of darkness.
Therefore, let us not sleep as the rest do,
but let us stay alert and sober.

        I don’t think people really think about the fact that Jesus can come back at any day, any time.  It is real, but people act like it is always so far in the future.  The thing is, would you be ready if He came tomorrow? What about today? We are different though.  We know Jesus so there is no need to be scared.  We just need to use this as a reminder to follow His Commandments and love as He loves.  This is also an invitation to help others and guide them to the cross.  There are so many out there wandering lost and confused.  They need light in this dark world.  Stay on watch, and find those souls that are in need of saving.

Gospel Mt 25:14-30

Jesus told His disciples this parable:
“A man going on a journey
called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them.
To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one–
to each according to his ability.
Then he went away.
Immediately the one who received five talents went and traded with them,
and made another five.
Likewise, the one who received two made another two.
But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground
and buried his master’s money.

After a long time
the master of those servants came back
and settled accounts with them.
The one who had received five talents came forward
bringing the additional five.
He said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents.
See, I have made five more.’
His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.
Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities.
Come, share your master’s joy.’
Then the one who had received two talents also came forward and said,
‘Master, you gave me two talents.
See, I have made two more.’
His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.
Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities.
Come, share your master’s joy.’
Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said,
‘Master, I knew you were a demanding person,
harvesting where you did not plant
and gathering where you did not scatter;
so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground.
Here it is back.’
His master said to him in reply, ‘You wicked, lazy servant!
So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant
and gather where I did not scatter?
Should you not then have put my money in the bank
so that I could have got it back with interest on my return?
Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten.
For to everyone who has,
more will be given and he will grow rich;
but from the one who has not,
even what he has will be taken away.
And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.'”

     God gives all of us talents.  Think about what yours are.  Do we use them?  They are given to us to enjoy life and ultimately should bring Him glory.  We should not hide them like the man that buried his.  We should be working on our talents daily and bettering ourselves.  Our talents give us platforms.  Think about it.  The all-star football player that rushes 200 yards a game and says he was able to do that because he dedicated his season to God.  Or the gorgeous girl that wins beauty pageants who brings up her faith in the questionnaire part of the contest…Don’t you think that stands out to people? Our talents give us an avenue to promote Him.  We can touch so many lives all because we can sing, dance, play soccer, dj, write, speak well.  Much is expected of those whom much is given.  Bear fruit.

November 12, 2017

Reading 1 Wis 6:12-16

Resplendent and unfading is wisdom,
and she is readily perceived by those who love her,
and found by those who seek her.
She hastens to make herself known in anticipation of their desire;
Whoever watches for her at dawn shall not be disappointed,
for he shall find her sitting by his gate.
For taking thought of wisdom is the perfection of prudence,
and whoever for her sake keeps vigil
shall quickly be free from care;
because she makes her own rounds, seeking those worthy of her,
and graciously appears to them in the ways,
and meets them with all solicitude.
      Everyone wants to be smart, but really we should want to be wise.  Wisdom comes in time and with experience for many people, but to be naturally wise is a blessing.  With wisdom, one can make the best decisions and know the peace of Christ.  Wisdom allows us to take that step back and not fret about the world and what everyone else is worrying about.  It makes us pure, intelligent, and seeking Him.

Reading 2 1 Thes 4:13-18

We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters,
about those who have fallen asleep,
so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose,
so too will God, through Jesus,
bring with Him those who have fallen asleep.
Indeed, we tell you this, on the Word of the Lord,
that we who are alive,
who are left until the coming of the Lord,
will surely not precede those who have fallen asleep.
For the Lord Himself, with a Word of command,
with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God,
will come down from Heaven,
and the dead in Christ will rise first.
Then we who are alive, who are left,
will be caught up together with them in the clouds
to meet the Lord in the air.
Thus we shall always be with the Lord.
Therefore, console one another with these words.

   We should not be ignorant of the reality of the people that are comfortable in this world and do not make it to Heaven.  We need to fully accept Christ into our hearts and have strong faith.  Do our actions align with our words?  Or do we just say we love God and do nothing about it?   I know for sure I want to be with Jesus forever, and as scary as it sounds, we must be aware of reality.  We must be alert and awake at any moment for Jesus to come again.

Gospel Mt 25:1-13

Jesus told His disciples this parable:
“The Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten virgins
who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
Five of them were foolish and five were wise.
The foolish ones, when taking their lamps,
brought no oil with them,
but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps.
Since the bridegroom was long delayed,
they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
At midnight, there was a cry,
‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps.
The foolish ones said to the wise,
‘Give us some of your oil,
for our lamps are going out.’
But the wise ones replied,
‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you.
Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’
While they went off to buy it,
the bridegroom came
and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him.
Then the door was locked.
Afterwards the other virgins came and said,
‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’
But he said in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’
Therefore, stay awake,
for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
     See it pays to be wise !!! But on the real, are you ready ? If Jesus came down from Heaven, would you feel ashamed or excited to go meet Him?  It is so hard to think like that in every day life because we carry on in the world in our routine not really thinking this could be the day Jesus comes.  In reality, we should because we need to be ready at any time.  We do not want to feel like we have things to fix or need to run off to Confession first.  We need to prepare.  And none of this is to scare us, but God wants us to be serious about following Him.  Those most persevering are those that are good even when no one is watching and there is no reward.  We need to push through those hard situations and difficult days because that day might just be the day.

November 5, 2017

Reading 1 Mal 1:14b-2:2b, 8-10

A great King am I, says the LORD of hosts,
and My Name will be feared among the nations.
And now, O priests, this commandment is for you:
If you do not listen,
if you do not lay it to heart,
to give glory to My Name, says the LORD of hosts,
I will send a curse upon you
and of your blessing I will make a curse.
You have turned aside from the way,
and have caused many to falter by your instruction;
you have made void the covenant of Levi,
says the LORD of hosts.
I, therefore, have made you contemptible
and base before all the people,
since you do not keep My ways,
but show partiality in your decisions.
Have we not all the One Father?
Has not the One God created us?
Why then do we break faith with one another,
violating the covenant of our fathers?
      We need to give glory to Jesus’ Name.  Greater is He living in me than he who is in the world.  We need to live more for Him than ourselves.  We are nothing without Him, and our lives should be a prayer, living and sacrificing not for our own benefit but for the betterment of Him.  We must represent Him well because we will cause people to sin if we do not stay faithful to His Word and Commandments.  It is selfish to lead people away from God because of our own sins.  We must put our desires, pleasures, and wants to the side if it does not praise Him Name.

Reading 2 1 Thes 2:7b-9, 13

Brothers and sisters:
We were gentle among you, as a nursing mother cares for her children.
With such affection for you, we were determined to share with you
not only the Gospel of God, but our very selves as well,
so dearly beloved had you become to us.
You recall, brothers and sisters, our toil and drudgery.
Working night and day in order not to burden any of you,
we proclaimed to you the Gospel of God.

And for this reason we too give thanks to God unceasingly,
that, in receiving the Word of God from hearing us,
you received not a human word but, as it truly is, the Word of God,
which is now at work in you who believe.

  As sharers of the Gospel, we must truly care for our brothers and sisters.  We are working to save souls.  Building relationships is a catalyst to trust and will help others become closer to God through you.  We become God’s tools/instruments for the Gospel.  His Word is truly from Him, and He is working in us and through us.

Gospel Mt 23:1-12

Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying,
“The scribes and the Pharisees
have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.
Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you,
but do not follow their example.
For they preach but they do not practice.
They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry
and lay them on people’s shoulders,
but they will not lift a finger to move them.
All their works are performed to be seen.
They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels.
They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues,
greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’
As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’
You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers.
Call no one on earth your father;
you have but one Father in Heaven.
Do not be called ‘Master’;
you have but one Master, the Christ.
The greatest among you must be your servant.
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled;
but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

   Do not be a hypocrite.  Follow the Lord but do not make it seem like a hardship or burden.  Happy Christians are the best Christians.  Everything we do for God must be genuine and true.  We are not to look pompous or try to look better than others but be humble and walk with our Lord.  Jesus is humble and did all for others.  We need to follow His example and take ourselves off the #1 priority spot in our lives.  Then there will be room to love others.  It will take the dirt out of our eyes to see where others need to love, too.

All Saints’ Day November 1, 2017

Reading 1 Rv 7:2-4, 9-14
I, John, saw another angel come up from the East,
holding the seal of the living God.
He cried out in a loud voice to the four angels
who were given power to damage the land and the sea,
“Do not damage the land or the sea or the trees
until we put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.”
I heard the number of those who had been marked with the seal,
one hundred and forty-four thousand marked
from every tribe of the children of Israel.

After this I had a vision of a great multitude,
which no one could count,
from every nation, race, people, and tongue.
They stood before the throne and before the Lamb,
wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.
They cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation comes from our God, Who is seated on the throne,
and from the Lamb.”

All the angels stood around the throne
and around the elders and the four living creatures.
They prostrated themselves before the throne,
worshiped God, and exclaimed:

“Amen. Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving,
honor, power, and might
be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”

Then one of the elders spoke up and said to me,
“Who are these wearing white robes, and where did they come from?”
I said to him, “My lord, you are the one who knows.”
He said to me,
“These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress;
they have washed their robes
and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.”

We are washed clean by our Lord’s Blood.  Our sins run read, but we are washed white because of His sacrifice.  All the praise belongs to Him.  How often do we start to complain or think we deserve more, yet Jesus came down to give His own Life.  We act like that was not enough.  This is how we are saved, and we are set apart because of this salvation.  We are His; we should act like it.

Reading 2 1 Jn 3:1-3

See what love the Father has bestowed on us
that we may be called the children of God.
Yet so we are.
The reason the world does not know us
is that it did not know Him.
Beloved, we are God’s children now;
what we shall be has not yet been revealed.
We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like Him,
for we shall see Him as He is.
Everyone who has this hope based on Him makes himself pure,
as He is pure.

I often have a hard time why so many people reject Christianity or mock it.  Well, it is simply not going to be answered, but if people did not accept Jesus Christ, God Himself, they sure are not going to accept us, His followers.  I can’t comprehend how people turn something so good into something so bad, but it is part of the fight.  The daily struggle to not let the world take your soul.  We have to put all the hate behind us and into the background because our Focus should be Him.  There is a spiritual war against Christianity, and we must accept that and continue to beat the crosses.  He bore His, and now it is time for us to bear ours.  We just need to remember that He gets us and is here to help.  We are not alone and need to let our pride go because we have so much to give to the God Who gives us everything.  We must make our thoughts, words, and deeds pure.  The secular world wants to taint the beauty of innocence by making it seem that the bad is good and the good is bad.  This is so warped and takes souls away from God, the purest Being.  Pure Love.  To be like Him is to be pure.

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.”

     Those that live a virtuous life shall be rewarded.  The Commandments told us what not to do, but the Beatitudes tell us what to do.  This is hard but everything should be filtered through these Statements.  We have to understand that Jesus Himself said these things.  Don’t we want to listen?  We need to WWJD on every decision we make, and through that we should see these Beatitudes come to life.  This is the ticket to life, love, and true happiness.

October 29, 2017

Reading 1 Ex 22:20-26

Thus says the LORD:
“You shall not molest or oppress an alien,
for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt.
You shall not wrong any widow or orphan.
If ever you wrong them and they cry out to me,
I will surely hear their cry.
My wrath will flare up, and I will kill you with the sword;
then your own wives will be widows, and your children orphans.

“If you lend money to one of your poor neighbors among my people,
you shall not act like an extortioner toward him
by demanding interest from him.
If you take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge,
you shall return it to him before sunset;
for this cloak of his is the only covering he has for his body.
What else has he to sleep in?
If he cries out to me, I will hear him; for I am compassionate.”

    We must treat others with respect.  We cannot go around forgetting when we were at the bottom.  We have to realize that everything we have and are is because of God.  None of this happened because of our own doing.  The Lord hears those that are struggling, and we do not have any right to act better than anyone else.  We have to be humble and love others just like Jesus loves them.

Reading 2 1 Thes 1:5c-10

Brothers and sisters:
You know what sort of people we were among you for your sake.
And you became imitators of us and of the Lord,
receiving the Word in great affliction, with joy from the Holy Spirit,
so that you became a model for all the believers
in Macedonia and in Achaia.
For from you the Word of the Lord has sounded forth
not only in Macedonia and in Achaia,
but in every place your faith in God has gone forth,
so that we have no need to say anything.
For they themselves openly declare about us
what sort of reception we had among you,
and how you turned to God from idols
to serve the living and true God
and to await His Son from Heaven,
Whom He raised from the dead,
Jesus, Who delivers us from the coming wrath.

       I want to be a model for all believers.  I want others to know Him because of me, with the Holy Spirit radiating off of me.  I do not want to hide my faith or keep it private.  That is for the weak.  That’s for those that live for themselves, not Him.  We all do it.  Some situations are uncomfortable to share faith, but that is when we have to do it more.  It is selfish to hold it in because we could save so many more souls if we are unapologetic.  It should not take long for people to see God in us.  It should be noticed right away.
         We need to turn from our idols as well to serve God.  The living and true God.  Everything else is dead and also kills us.  If it is not of God, we should run.  Those things/sins are our enemies.  We need to keep our focus on Jesus.  The Word of the Lord should sound forth, confidently and courageously.

Gospel Mt 22:34-40

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees,
they gathered together, and one of them,
a scholar of the law tested Him by asking,
“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”
He said to him,
“You shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your heart,
with all your soul,
and with all your mind.
This is the greatest and the first commandment.
The second is like it:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
The whole Law and the prophets depend on these two Commandments.”
        These Commandments are so simple yet we have such a hard time with them.  The greatest is loving God with everything in us because only then will life be right.  Everything stems from our relationship with God and can become so much better if He is put first.  All our heart, all our soul, and all our mind.  That is so key.  All of our energy, effort, and enthusiasm is supposed to be put into loving God.  He will take care of us.  It is an easy solution.  Because He loves us, we will love others.  We will see Him in them.  It is only natural.   Love will overflow.

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.

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?

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.



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.