Holy Thursday, April 13, 2017

Reading 1 Ex 12:1-8, 11-14

The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt,
“This month shall stand at the head of your calendar;
you shall reckon it the first month of the year.
Tell the whole community of Israel:
On the tenth of this month every one of your families
must procure for itself a lamb, one apiece for each household.
If a family is too small for a whole lamb,
it shall join the nearest household in procuring one
and shall share in the lamb
in proportion to the number of persons who partake of it.
The lamb must be a year-old male and without blemish.
You may take it from either the sheep or the goats.
You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month,
and then, with the whole assembly of Israel present,
it shall be slaughtered during the evening twilight.
They shall take some of its blood
and apply it to the two doorposts and the lintel
of every house in which they partake of the lamb.
That same night they shall eat its roasted flesh
with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.

This is how you are to eat it:
with your loins girt, sandals on your feet and your staff in hand,
you shall eat like those who are in flight.
It is the Passover of the LORD.
For on this same night I will go through Egypt,
striking down every firstborn of the land, both man and beast,
and executing judgment on all the gods of Egypt—I, the LORD!
But the blood will mark the houses where you are.
Seeing the blood, I will pass over you;
thus, when I strike the land of Egypt,
no destructive blow will come upon you.

“This day shall be a memorial feast for you,
which all your generations shall celebrate
with pilgrimage to the LORD, as a perpetual institution.”

Isn’t it crazy that they are just talking about an animal here yet Jesus is the Lamb that was slain.  It is so barbaric how He died, and it can be related to the killing of the lamb for Passover.  Jesus was the Scapegoat/the Sacrifice for our sins, and it is His Blood that saves us just like the lamb’s blood saved the Israelites years ago.  It makes me sad that Jesus was slaughtered in such a barbaric way, and it should only be carried out for animals let alone the Savior of the universe.  We are set aside, special, because of Jesus’ Blood, and for this, we should sacrifice everything in our lives to make sure this is remembered and celebrated.

Reading 2 1 Cor 11:23-26

Brothers and sisters:
I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you,
that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over,
took bread, and, after he had given thanks,
broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying,
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup,
you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.

This reading reminds me of the Consecration at Mass.  It is such a holy moment that I think too often many of us take for granted.  It is the time when the bread and wine become Jesus’ actual Body and Blood.  We are entering the table of the Lord and are commanded to take part in the scene that He instituted the night before He was killed.  We should come to Mass with true joy knowing we are with God through the Eucharist.  The Eucharist is the Medicine and Healer of the world, and I was once told It is like radiation because It saves people from the illness/disease of sin and anything else.  The Mass should be a holy, pure, and inspiring time to rejuvenate and re-energize for the week ahead.  It is also the most important Prayer and closest time with God while still on this earth.  The Eucharist should be a Center in our lives and revered as Jesus would be if He was walking in the streets.

Gospel Jn 13:1-15

Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come
to pass from this world to the Father.
He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.
The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over.
So, during supper,
fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power
and that he had come from God and was returning to God,
he rose from supper and took off his outer garments.
He took a towel and tied it around his waist.
Then he poured water into a basin
and began to wash the disciples’ feet
and dry them with the towel around his waist.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him,
“Master, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“What I am doing, you do not understand now,
but you will understand later.”
Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered him,
“Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.”
Simon Peter said to him,
“Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.”
Jesus said to him,
“Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed,
for he is clean all over;
so you are clean, but not all.”
For he knew who would betray him;
for this reason, he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

So when he had washed their feet
and put his garments back on and reclined at table again,
he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you?
You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am.
If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet,
you ought to wash one another’s feet.
I have given you a model to follow,
so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”

I need to be cleaned and purified by God.  I love the washing of the feet because it is so humbling.  There is so much dirt and garbage in all of our lives that need to be cleaned out, maybe even scrubbed.  There’s that sin we keep committing, the pain from regret, the anger in our hearts…So much that can and will be wiped away by God only if we allow Him.  Much of the reason we continue to sin is due to fear or pride.  The fear comes from the fact that once you are clean, you have to stay clean and that is a lot of work.  Pride gets in the way of everything because we assume we know more than God.  Just like how Peter said he wanted more of him washed, not just his feet.  We think we know what we are doing or have a better plan, but God needs to be trusted with simplicity.

Jesus is the Model to follow.  He is a King yet acts like a Servant.  This is a lesson for us.  We need to serve in order to love like Christ.  We need to give ourselves and listen when He says to do as He does.  We wander all over life and question what we should be doing, but the answer is right in front of us.  It’s so nice that we do not have to figure it out all on our own; Jesus is the Example.  Each day every decision should legit ask WWJD because He is perfect, and that should be the Goal.
 

 

 

 

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Palm Sunday, April 9, 2017

At the Mass — Reading 1 Is 50:4-7

The Lord GOD has given me
a well-trained tongue,
that I might know how to speak to the weary
a word that will rouse them.
Morning after morning
he opens my ear that I may hear;
and I have not rebelled,
have not turned back.
I gave my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who plucked my beard;
my face I did not shield
from buffets and spitting.

The Lord GOD is my help,
therefore I am not disgraced;
I have set my face like flint,
knowing that I shall not be put to shame.

I want to be able to speak to the weary, to bring those fallen away to the Lord.  I want Him to use my words to glorify Himself.  I never want to turn back on God.  Unfortunately we all do in sin.  We reject God’s commands, and instead of obeying Him, we do what we want.  We should be walking with Jesus and not caring about the ones that mock or insult us because of that.  We will not be put to shame.  Our God is powerful and does not break promises.  With Him, there is nothing I shall want.  We should remember Jesus is our Savior, to help and heal.

Reading 2 Phil 2:6-11

Christ Jesus, 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.

Isn’t that something…We all think we are gods, with our pride and egos, yet Jesus came to be like us so we could become like Him.  He was a slave because of our sin even though He never sinned.  He was so obedient to God that He gave up His own Life.  Shouldn’t we follow that example?  We should give our lives up to God and make daily sacrifices since He made the ultimate sacrifice for us.  I want to learn to be more humble and recognize that I have to serve my King.  Every knee should bow…Am I that reverent? Do I take Jesus for granted and think about Him too lightly? I need way more focus, respect, and awe when I pray or even think of God.  This Name saves, and too often in society it is said in vain.  Just repeating “Jesus” can do wonders, and that Name should be the reason behind all we do and all we live for.

Gospel Mt 27:11-54

Jesus stood before the governor, Pontius Pilate, who questioned him,
“Are you the king of the Jews?”
Jesus said, “You say so.”
And when he was accused by the chief priests and elders,
he made no answer.
Then Pilate said to him,
“Do you not hear how many things they are testifying against you?”
But he did not answer him one word,
so that the governor was greatly amazed.

Now on the occasion of the feast
the governor was accustomed to release to the crowd
one prisoner whom they wished.
And at that time they had a notorious prisoner called Barabbas.
So when they had assembled, Pilate said to them,
“Which one do you want me to release to you,
Barabbas, or Jesus called Christ?”
For he knew that it was out of envy
that they had handed him over.
While he was still seated on the bench,
his wife sent him a message,
“Have nothing to do with that righteous man.
I suffered much in a dream today because of him.”
The chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds
to ask for Barabbas but to destroy Jesus.
The governor said to them in reply,
“Which of the two do you want me to release to you?”
They answered, “Barabbas!”
Pilate said to them,
“Then what shall I do with Jesus called Christ?”
They all said,
“Let him be crucified!”
But he said,
“Why? What evil has he done?”
They only shouted the louder,
“Let him be crucified!”
When Pilate saw that he was not succeeding at all,
but that a riot was breaking out instead,
he took water and washed his hands in the sight of the crowd,
saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood.
Look to it yourselves.”
And the whole people said in reply,
“His blood be upon us and upon our children.”
Then he released Barabbas to them,
but after he had Jesus scourged,
he handed him over to be crucified.

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus inside the praetorium
and gathered the whole cohort around him.
They stripped off his clothes
and threw a scarlet military cloak about him.
Weaving a crown out of thorns, they placed it on his head,
and a reed in his right hand.
And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying,
“Hail, King of the Jews!”
They spat upon him and took the reed
and kept striking him on the head.
And when they had mocked him,
they stripped him of the cloak,
dressed him in his own clothes,
and led him off to crucify him.

As they were going out, they met a Cyrenian named Simon;
this man they pressed into service
to carry his cross.

And when they came to a place called Golgotha
— which means Place of the Skull —,
they gave Jesus wine to drink mixed with gall.
But when he had tasted it, he refused to drink.
After they had crucified him,
they divided his garments by casting lots;
then they sat down and kept watch over him there.
And they placed over his head the written charge against him:
This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.
Two revolutionaries were crucified with him,
one on his right and the other on his left.
Those passing by reviled him, shaking their heads and saying,
“You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days,
save yourself, if you are the Son of God,
and come down from the cross!”
Likewise the chief priests with the scribes and elders mocked him and said,
“He saved others; he cannot save himself.
So he is the king of Israel!
Let him come down from the cross now,
and we will believe in him.
He trusted in God;
let him deliver him now if he wants him.
For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.'”
The revolutionaries who were crucified with him
also kept abusing him in the same way.

From noon onward, darkness came over the whole land
until three in the afternoon.
And about three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
“Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”
which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Some of the bystanders who heard it said,
“This one is calling for Elijah.”
Immediately one of them ran to get a sponge;
he soaked it in wine, and putting it on a reed,
gave it to him to drink.
But the rest said,
‘Wait, let us see if Elijah comes to save him.”
But Jesus cried out again in a loud voice,
and gave up his spirit.

Here all kneel and pause for a short time.

And behold, the veil of the sanctuary
was torn in two from top to bottom.
The earth quaked, rocks were split, tombs were opened,
and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised.
And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection,
they entered the holy city and appeared to many.
The centurion and the men with him who were keeping watch over Jesus
feared greatly when they saw the earthquake
and all that was happening, and they said,
“Truly, this was the Son of God!”  

How many of us are like Pilate?  We don’t want the blame and didn’t do the “worst” thing but definitely did not make the right choice.  We often know the right decision but fail to make it because of what others may think or say.  Pilate had several opportunities to stop Jesus’ death and to release Him, but he was being swayed by the crowd…..wow peer pressure still to blame?  I can think of many occasions where I held back or made the wrong choice just because of what others were going to say.  The fear of rejection causes us to reject God.  For example, how many times do people drink, smoke, do drugs, have sex, steal, cheat, etc all because it makes you look cooler to the crowd?  Guess what when the crowd, who do they have then?  Just like Pilate, you’re left with regrets.  But the worst regrets are the things you didn’t do rather than the things you did do.  The what ifs and the replaying events just to think you could’ve done more.  The cure is to want to please God more than pleasing people.  Who wants to gain the world if you’re going to lose your soul?

 

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April 2, 2017

Reading 1 Ez 37:12-14

Thus says the Lord GOD:
O my people, I will open your graves
and have you rise from them,
and bring you back to the land of Israel.
Then you shall know that I am the LORD,
when I open your graves and have you rise from them,
O my people!
I will put my spirit in you that you may live,
and I will settle you upon your land;
thus you shall know that I am the LORD.
I have promised, and I will do it, says the LORD.

Open our graves.  Literally we will be given life.  We will rise like Jesus because we are God’s people.  He is defeating death for us.  His own Spirit will be in us, and that gives us so much more of a reason to live and have hope.  To know that God loves me so much that He is bringing me back to life is unfathomable.  It makes me want to shout for joy and jump up and down.  It really encourages me to want to live a better life since God is so heavily involved and so close to me.  I value my own life and others’ more knowing God is dwelling in me/them.

I do also think of the times when I do not feel alive.  All those moments where we feel defeated, let down, and did not have the strength to keep going.  The thing is that if God wants us so badly to be alive then we must push through.  We have to believe in the promises because God says He will do it.  I want to be more fully alive and want others to experience that, too.  Life is precious, and every moment is a gift to enjoy.

Reading 2 Rom 8:8-11

Brothers and sisters:
Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
But you are not in the flesh;
on the contrary, you are in the spirit,
if only the Spirit of God dwells in you.
Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
But if Christ is in you,
although the body is dead because of sin,
the spirit is alive because of righteousness.
If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you,
the one who raised Christ from the dead
will give life to your mortal bodies also,
through his Spirit dwelling in you.

Sometimes I am in the flesh, and other times I am in the Spirit, but I always want to be in the Spirit.  The flesh is the drunkenness, lust, greed, pride, and every ugly thing that keeps us in chains.  These are the sins when we choose selfishness over what right and of God.  Being of the flesh is taking part in the vicious cycle of being a slave to the body instead of God, but the body is dead.  Only when we are of the Spirit will we be living and free, free from the traps and snares the devil sets up for us to take us away from our Savior.  When we choose to get out of the rut of sinning and being unhappy, it will feel as if a weight was lifted from our shoulders.  With that, nothing can stop us.

Gospel Jn 11:1-45

Now a man was ill, Lazarus from Bethany,
the village of Mary and her sister Martha.
Mary was the one who had anointed the Lord with perfumed oil
and dried his feet with her hair;
it was her brother Lazarus who was ill.
So the sisters sent word to him saying,
“Master, the one you love is ill.”
when Jesus heard this he said,
“This illness is not to end in death,
but is for the glory of God,
that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.
So when he heard that he was ill,
he remained for two days in the place where he was.
Then after this he said to his disciples,
“Let us go back to Judea.”
The disciples said to him,
“Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you,
and you want to go back there?”
Jesus answered,
“Are there not twelve hours in a day?
If one walks during the day, he does not stumble,
because he sees the light of this world.
But if one walks at night, he stumbles,
because the light is not in him.”
He said this, and then told them,
“Our friend Lazarus is asleep,
but I am going to awaken him.”
So the disciples said to him,
“Master, if he is asleep, he will be saved.”
But Jesus was talking about his death,
while they thought that he meant ordinary sleep.
So then Jesus said to them clearly,
“Lazarus has died.
And I am glad for you that I was not there,
that you may believe.
Let us go to him.”
So Thomas, called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples,
“Let us also go to die with him.”

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus
had already been in the tomb for four days.
Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, only about two miles away.
And many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary
to comfort them about their brother.
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming,
she went to meet him;
but Mary sat at home.
Martha said to Jesus,
“Lord, if you had been here,
my brother would not have died.
But even now I know that whatever you ask of God,
God will give you.”
Jesus said to her,
“Your brother will rise.”
Martha said to him,
“I know he will rise,
in the resurrection on the last day.”
Jesus told her,
“I am the resurrection and the life;
whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live,
and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.
Do you believe this?”
She said to him, “Yes, Lord.
I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God,
the one who is coming into the world.”

When she had said this,
she went and called her sister Mary secretly, saying,
“The teacher is here and is asking for you.”
As soon as she heard this,
she rose quickly and went to him.
For Jesus had not yet come into the village,
but was still where Martha had met him.
So when the Jews who were with her in the house comforting her
saw Mary get up quickly and go out,
they followed her,
presuming that she was going to the tomb to weep there.
When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him,
she fell at his feet and said to him,
“Lord, if you had been here,
my brother would not have died.”
When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping,
he became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said,
“Where have you laid him?”
They said to him, “Sir, come and see.”
And Jesus wept.
So the Jews said, “See how he loved him.”
But some of them said,
“Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man
have done something so that this man would not have died?”

So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb.
It was a cave, and a stone lay across it.
Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”
Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him,
“Lord, by now there will be a stench;
he has been dead for four days.”
Jesus said to her,
“Did I not tell you that if you believe
you will see the glory of God?”
So they took away the stone.
And Jesus raised his eyes and said,
“Father, I thank you for hearing me.
I know that you always hear me;
but because of the crowd here I have said this,
that they may believe that you sent me.”
And when he had said this,
He cried out in a loud voice,
“Lazarus, come out!”
The dead man came out,
tied hand and foot with burial bands,
and his face was wrapped in a cloth.
So Jesus said to them,
“Untie him and let him go.”

Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary
and seen what he had done began to believe in him.

I could not honestly tell you what I would do if I saw a dead man come out and start walking after being in a tomb for 4 days.  This story has been told a lot, but think about it…..It should be!  Jesus has this healing and life-giving power that is overwhelming.  I am sitting here questioning why I do not trust Him as much as I should.  If He is raising people from the dead, I’m pretty sure I can leave my daily life problems up to Him to solve.  I am also just in such awe and need to worship more for the pure sense of worship since His might should be revered.  It is humbling to hear Jesus’ power and makes me want to die to self.  I truly believe that He can take every dead part of me and infuse life.  I need spiritual resurrection and to just surrender myself to Christ knowing that I can be remolded, renewed, and remade.  Jesus transforms, and I want to give in to the change so I can more fully glorify Him and make His Kingdom known.

 

 

 

 

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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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February 26, 2017

Reading 1 Is 49:14-15

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

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

Reading 2 1 Cor 4:1-5

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

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

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

Gospel Mt 6:24-34

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

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

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

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

 

 

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February 19, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reading 2 1 Cor 3:16-23

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

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

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

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

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

Gospel Mt 5:38-48

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

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

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

 

 

 

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