JESUS IN SCRIPTURE HAVE FAITH IN ME; WITH ME NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE!

MATTHEW 14:25-36 JESUS WALKS ON THE SEA

During the fourth watch of the night, Jesus came toward them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. “It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear.

At once (Jesus) spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus.

But when he saw how (strong) the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” After they got into the boat, the wind died down. Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying, “Truly, you are the Son of God.”

REFLECTION:
It was early morning before daybreak…before the light….on top of that a figure appeared like a ghost….unexpected….their boat rocked in the storm of nature….and their spirits rocked with lack of faith….at once to calm them Jesus cautions them Do not be afraid It is I….nothing to be afraid of with Jesus… Jesus is the light…the light of the world

Peter, the bold and audacious one, is willing to take a chance…”if it is really you, Jesus tell me to command me to come on the water”….for a brief instance Peter remembers nothing is impossible with God…but Peter became frightened by the wind and lost his footing….Save me Lord (because my faith has failed me)…immediately Jesus stretches out his hand to save Peter…

How many fears I have…how little trust in Jesus…how far do I have to sink before I cry out, Lord, save me…I hear in the silence of my soul…Oh you of little faith…”Come to me you who are labored and burdened”…with Jesus anything is possible…no real harm will come to me…unless I separate myself from Jesus…

SILENT PRAYER


MARK 10:46-52 LORD, THAT I MAY SEE!

As he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus, sat by the roadside begging. On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.”

And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he kept calling out all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me.” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take courage; get up, he is calling you.”

He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus. Jesus said to him in reply, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man replied to him, “Master, I want to see.” Jesus told him, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.

REFLECTION:
Blind Bartimaeus calls out to Jesus to have pity on him….have mercy on him…show compassion to him…help him…how much we are like Bartimaeus crying out in our needs…why, because Jesus is the only true healer whether he solves our problem right then or not…we are no longer alone in our suffering and we know in God’s time, all will be resolved for the better…

many following Jesus rebuked Bartimaeus…don’t bother the Master…how many times are we rebuked by friends about our faith in prayer…or told by a non believer there is no God because if there was a God He wouldn’t let you suffer…nonsense God allows suffering for many reasons…sometimes it is to get our attention…sometimes He has something better and greater in store

immediately at Jesus’ summons, “Call him,” Bartimaeus threw off his cloak and went to Him. Jesus asks “What do you want me to do for you “…not because Jesus didn’t know…but Jesus wanted Bartimaeus to name it….because of his faith, “Your faith has saved you”…

Bartimaeus sees clearly and immediately follows Jesus on the way…Jesus knows what I need before I ask…but He waits to hear it from my own lips…Lord, that I might see clearly to follow you on the way…

SILENT PRAYER

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PREPARING FOR LENT 2018

LENTEN  REFLECTIONS

 

After Jesus’ Baptism in the Jordan, He was led by the Spirit into the desert to prepare for his public ministry. There He fasted and prayed for 40 days. During this time, his faith was tested by the Evil One. Jesus was tempted by Satan with the usual temptations that we all face, to choose riches, power, self over God and others. The Liturgical season of Lent is our 40 day retreat into greater intimacy with God and deeper self-awareness of our need for His mercy and an unique time to answer Jesus’ call to conversion.

When Jesus began his public ministry, He began to proclaim in the words of the prophet Isaiah, “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali… beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light…on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen….Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:15-17)

Lent is the perfect time to clean the slate, wash the soul through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The sacramental sign of the Sacrament of Reconciliation are the words of absolution through which forgiveness of our sins and distinctive graces of sanctification are conferred.

This Sacrament was instituted by Jesus Christ, the Word Incarnate, on the evening of his resurrection. “In the evening of the same day…Jesus came and stood among them…Peace be with you…. As the Father sent me…so I am sending you…Jesus breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit for those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven. For those whose sins you retain, they are retained.'” (John 20:19-35)

Today God the Father of mercy awaits our return home as illustrated in the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11) Today, the Church Jesus founded is the custodian of conversion, forgiveness of sins, absolution and reconciliation. This is God’s will that none be lost.

In our modern self-centered, self-indulgent, all-about-me world, the concept of fasting is very foreign and many Christians resist it. But according to Scripture and many historic Christian writings, fasting is supposed to be a normal part of our spiritual life here on earth.

We need, after all, every reminder we can get that God is the one in charge. We are in need of his mercy. We must deny ourselves if we are to choose God on a regular basis! Fasting is an important element of the cleansing process. It humbles us. It causes us to acknowledge our needs, go way beyond the needs of the flesh, and reminds us who we are and our dependence on God. Fasting brings the appetites of our flesh under control.

Indeed, if we find it easy to indulge ourselves in food, then it is much easier for us to indulge ourselves in other “appetites” of the flesh as well. By denying ourselves food, we help strengthen our wills — which is so important in conquering sinful addictions. Saint Paul warns us in Romans chapter 8, to live according to the spirit,”if you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if by the spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live….”

Prayer, spiritual reading, reading the Bible can all assist in the practice of fasting. Pray for the grace to fast. Pray that your fast will be effective. Pray that your fast will move mountains in your life and the lives of others. Perhaps praying the Rosary and mediating on the Sorrowful Mysteries would be helpful to you. “Work as if everything depends on you, and pray as if everything depends on God.” (St. Ignatius of Loyola)

When a Christian practices the sacrifice of self-denial and joins his sacrifice to the sacrifice of Jesus, the power for good is unleashed in miraculous ways. Fasting or self denial is not just about abstaining from food. There are many other ways to deny yourself.

What will your Lenten resolutions be? There are things you might do (commission) and things you may refrain from doing (omission) Beyond food and drink there are acts of charity such as donations to food banks, clothing drives, visiting the sick, work on reconciling family disputes, praying for the Souls in Purgatory, or attending Mass one day during the week. There are things you may refrain from such as: talking bad about someone, not watching your favorite TV shows, refrain from seeking attention or praise, refrain from dwelling on your real or perceived wounds.

Lent is the favorable season for renewing our encounter with Christ, living in his word, in the sacraments and in our neighbor. May the Holy Spirit lead us on a true journey of conversion, so that we can rediscover the gift of God’s word, be purified of the sin that blinds us, and serve Christ present in our brothers and sisters in need. Let us pray for one another so that, by sharing in the victory of Christ, we may open our doors to the weak and poor. Then we will be able to experience and share in the full joy of Easter.

 

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THE STATE OF SOCIAL JUSTICE IN THE ERA OF TRUMP

Last night, President Trump gave his State of the Union address. I thought it only appropriate to follow up with a blog on the State of Catholic Social Justice issues that the Church of Jesus teaches and people of God care about and bear witness to. Social Justice teaching calls on us the “people of God” to minister to our neighbor’s needs, to speak out against injustice, and to work for peace.

If a brother or sister is in need of food or shelter and you say to them I wish you well, good luck, keep yourself warm and eat plenty without giving them the necessities of life, how is your faith going to save you or your hungry neighbor. Faith without works is dead” James 2:14-17

THE RIGHT TO LIFE IS THE FUNDAMENTAL SOCIAL JUSTICE ISSUE

The fundamental human right is right to life—from the moment of conception until death. It is the source of all other rights…Those who defend the right to life of the weakest among us must be equally visible in support of the quality of life of the powerless among us: the old and the young, the hungry and the homeless, the undocumented immigrant and the unemployed worker…When human life is considered easily expendable or dismissed in one area, eventually no human life is held sacred and all lives are in jeopardy.

I grant you that President Trump has done more than most politicians who claim to be pro life. I know, like me, you have been disappointed in supporting a candidate in the past who says he/she is pro life and has done nothing to further the cause and in fact cooperates in the culture of death with their support of Planned Parenthood the greatest supporter of abortion on demand.

President Trump has supported the cause of those who are anti abortion in so far as he has appointed a conservative Supreme Court Judge, supports overturning Roe V Wade, supports the defunding of Planned parenthood, and supports limits to late term abortions.

I had my concerns about President Trump who claimed to be Pro Life in his campaign because of past statements of President Trump. In October 1999 he told Tim Russert, Meet the Press, I’m very pro-choice. I hate the concept of abortion… I am strongly for choice and, yet, I hate the concept of abortion. Then in 2011 when considering a run for President, Trump told the Des Moines Register, “abortion should only be legal in the very rare cases when a woman is pregnant by rape or incest or when the life of the mother is jeopardized by the pregnancy.”

For Mr. Trump, it was a late term “conversion;” but of course conversion is welcome any time. Still, President Trump continues to demean and dismiss people who are not like him. He seems to think he decides on which human life is worthy or not.

Trump spent his whole life prior to presidency creating a culture that encourages irresponsible and recreational sex which supports the culture of abortion He has profited off the exploitation of women and brags about his own sexual assault in the Access Hollywood tape. Trump is accused by at least 19 women of sexual assault.

The reason I bring this to your attention is to caution the Pro Life movement not to wrap their arms too closely around President Trump. President Trump should be given credit where credit is due but do not elevate him to Pro Life spokesperson or Pro Life advocate in chief…..a bridge too far
The late Cardinal Bernardin of Chicago said Pro Life was a “seamless garment” and includes more than abortion and should also cover the already born.
HOW IS PRESIDENT TRUMP DOING IN REGARDS SOCIAL JUSTIC FOR THE ALREADY BORN

A few of the Social Justice issues prioritized by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops are: Immigration Refugees; Civil Rights; Racism; ; Affordable Health Care; Affordable Housing; Living Wage for Work, Criminal Reform; Death Penalty; Stewardship of Creation; Promotion of Peace….

You can look up President Trump positions but many are already well known. I will comment on a few. Trump favors deportation, separating families, and limiting immigration; Trump makes racist statements and was sued in the 70’s for racial discrimination in Trump housing, renting to whites not blacks; Trump led the fight to repeal Affordable Health Care Act and has replaced it with nothing; Trump supports states setting minimum wage without any Federal Minimum wage change as bottom line.

In Central Park 5 when 5 black teenagers were exhonerated by DNA evidence Trump called for restoration of Death Penalty in New York and to execute the Central Park 5; (Stewardship)Trump has withdrawn from Paris accords on global warming and opened Federal Lands to more mineral exploration and exploitation. Trump has repealed regulations that protect our health and safety Trump supports “clean coal”, an oxymoron.  Promotion of Peace Trump renewed the continued use of Guantanomo, a symbol of torture and indefinite detentions throughout the world; Trump likes to rattle sabres, has threatened preemptive strikes on our adversaries and even nuclear annihilation of total country. Trump in violation of Nuclear Treaty signed by President Reagan and Russia wants to up our nuclear missile capability. (some peacemaker)

Social Justice always has the common good at its core as found in Scriptures and in the teachings of the Catholic Church. Common Good is understood as the sum total of social conditions which allow people as groups or individuals to reach their ultimate fulfillment more fully and more easily.

What is a human being? What is his role in the world? Where is he headed? How does he get there? If a human being is not yet perfected, what will perfect him? How does he become whole without division or estrangement?

The fundamental principles of Catholic Social Teaching focus on the dignity and sacredness of each human life, the promotion of the common good and the proper use and distribution of the goods of this world. (CCC 1928-1942, 2419-2449)

Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC #1907) states that the Common Good requires the social well being and development of everyone, including food, clothing, shelter, health care, work, education etc. It requires peace and justice for security of a just order.

CCC #1936 On coming into this world, a person is not equipped with everything he/she needs for developing their bodily and spiritual life. They need others. Talents and gifts are not distributed equally.

CCC #1937 These differences belong to God’s divine plan which wills that each receives what he needs from others and those endowed with particular talents share them with those who need them. These differences encourage and sometimes oblige persons to practice generosity, kindness, and sharing of goods.

As a practicing Catholic, we must not be assimilated into a society that promotes the “culture of death” and worship pagan idols of sex, wealth, and power. But rather be “leaven” for the world.

We must minister to others especially those in need. Our blessings are not just for ourselves but to share with the Body of Christ. There is one Body but many members. All our talents and treasure must be compassionately shared with our neighbors just as Jesus did moving from village to village to teach and heal. We must pick up where Jesus left off in building the kingdom of God.

“WHATEVER YOU DO TO THE LEAST OF MY BRETHREN,
YOU DO TO ME”
JESUS
Matthew 25:31 Last Judgment Discourse

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JESUS IN SCRIPTURE THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND

COMMENTARY
In my last post in the series, JESUS IN SCRIPTURE, I included Jesus rebuking the sea. Some will say that Jesus never says, I am God, literally in the New Testament and it would be true. But we Christians are smarter than that and know what Jewish people knew back then. God alone in Old Testament (Hebrew Scriptures) was master of the wind and sea. God’s manifestation of Himself, whether it be at the Red Sea, the flood in the time of Noah or saving Jonah in the belly of a whale it was clear to the Jewish people, only God controlled the wind and sea. In rebuking the sea, Jesus reveals He is Divine as well as human.

Today’s readings and reflections deal with another aspect of Jewish belief found in Hebrew Scriptures. That belief is, only God can forgive sins. When Jesus says, “Your sins are forgiven,” Jesus is either a liar, a lunatic, or Divine. When the Luminous mysteries of the rosary were added to the rosary by Saint John Paul II, I was always bothered by audio rosaries using Jesus curing of the paralytic as the reflection for the third mystery, Jesus proclaims the kingdom of heaven.

I have been pondering for some time “the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Does it mean God is literally present in the midst of his people? Does it mean we are restored to original state of union with God in the Garden of Eden? Does it mean we are saved from sins and death?

My working belief is when Jesus proclaims the kingdom of heaven is at hand is that the long awaited Savior and Messiah has arrived in the person of Jesus. He is in control of our destiny which is union with God in heaven forever and ever. Jesus is our gateway. He has the key and will unlock the gate on Easter Sunday.

JESUS IN SCRIPTURE

MARK 2:1-12 JESUS HEALS THE PARALYTIC
“When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days, it became known that he was at home. Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them, not even around the door, and he preached the word to them. They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men.

Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd, they opened up the roof above him. After they had broken through, they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Child, your sins are forgiven.” Now some of the scribes were sitting there asking themselves, Why does this man speak that way?* He is blaspheming.

Who but God alone can forgive sins?” Jesus immediately knew in his mind what they were thinking to themselves, so he said, “Why are you thinking such things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, pick up your mat and walk’?

But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth”— he said to the paralytic, “I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home.”

He rose, picked up his mat at once, and went away in the sight of everyone. They were all astounded and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.”

REFLECTION:
When Jesus returned to his home in Capernaum a great crowd assembled outside…Jesus’ renown words and deeds attracted so many no more could fit inside…what was it that attracted them to Jesus…what attracts me to Jesus…If CNN announced that Jesus will be at my parish church at 8:30 on Sunday would I come…Jesus is truly present at every church at every Mass in the Real Presence of the Eucharist and all are invited…do I come follow him as the disciples did…

The paralytic would never have reached Jesus without the help of friends…do I support others by my faith and witness…do I assist others in need of healing by my prayers and actions…so many needs…one messiah and healer…when Jesus saw their faith He said, “Child your sins are forgiven.”…whose faith did he see…Jesus might assume the paralytic was seeking healing but we know for sure he saw the faith and effort of his friends to bring him to Jesus…

According to Hebrew Scriptures only God can forgive sins so Jesus was accused of blasphemy by the Scribes…Jesus healed this paralytic despite what others would say…do I bear witness to the faith even in the face of persecution…Jesus answered the Scribes, But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth”— he said to the paralytic, “I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home.” He rose, picked up his mat at once, and went away in the sight of everyone…in Jesus’ own words referring to himself as Son of Man of the prophet Daniel, “I saw the Son of Man come and take his place on the throne” (Daniel 7:13) …He,Jesus, had the power to forgive sins a power reserved only to God..Jesus left the crowd astounded and in awe of His authority from the Father…are we still in awe by the Gospel story…Why not???

SILENT PRAYER


LUKE 8:43-48 DAUGHTER, YOUR FAITH HAS SAVED YOU; GO IN PEACE

A woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years, who had spent her whole livelihood on doctors and was unable to be cured by anyone, came up behind him and touched the tassel on his cloak.

Immediately her bleeding stopped. Jesus asked, “Who touched me?” Peter said, “Master, the crowds are pushing and pressing in upon you.” But Jesus said, “Someone has touched me; for I know that power has gone out from me.”

The woman came forward, trembling. Falling down before him, she explained in the presence of all the people why she had touched him and how He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

REFLECTION:
A woman with a blood disorder approaches Jesus…was the healing of disease the only reason?..I think no,t as long as she had this disorder she was considered ‘unclean” isolated from her community and denied access to worship God in the temple…she was certainly suffering physically and spiritually…she is in need of healing…

The promised Messiah would be a Healer, “Behold, your God will come and save you.” Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.” (Isaiah 35:4-6)

Who touched me?, ..Jesus asks…there was a great crowd pushing and shoving to reach Jesus..but something special occurred…someone in faith specifically touched Him in need… Someone has touched me; for I know that power has gone out from me…when the woman confessed in faith it was she, Jesus said, “Daughter your faith has saved you, go in peace…similar words of absolution from the priest in sacrament of reconciliation….how I desire to hear those words of healing…

Do I reach out to Jesus in need…often???. Jesus is a healer…he can’t help himself…Jesus calls out to me…Child, when you give me your wounds you give me the joy of being your Savior…Come without delay…there is nothing I cannot forgive and heal…Come forth…touch me…and see…

SILENT PRAYER
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DAY OF PRAYER FOR PROTECTION OF UNBORN CHILDREN

 

OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE PATRONESS OF THE UNBORN

O Mary, bright dawn of the new world, Mother of the living, to you do we entrust the cause of life

Look down, O Mother, upon the vast numbers of babies not allowed to be born, of the poor whose lives are made difficult,

of men and women who are victims of brutal violence, of the elderly and the sick killedby indifference or out of misguided mercy.

Grant that all who believe in your Son may proclaim the Gospel of life to the praise and glory of God, the Creator and lover of life.

The miraculous image produced on the apron or tilma of Saint Juan Diego is rich in symbolism. The luminous light surrounding the Lady is reminiscent of the “woman clothed with the sun” of Rev. 12:1. The light is also a sign of the power of God, who has sanctified and blessed the one who appears…. more powerful than the sun god of the natives.

The girdle or bow around her waist is a sign of her virginity, but it also has several other meanings. The bow also demonstrates plenitude and fecundity to the native Indians. The high position of the bow and the slight swelling of the abdomen show that the Lady is “with child”.

At the time of Mary’s appearance 1531, Mexico was in the throes of human sacrifice where blood of infants were offered up to appease the pagan gods. When Mary appeared, she brought a message of compassion, “I am the merciful Mother, the Mother of all of you who live united in this land, and of all mankind, of all those who love me, of those who cry to me, of those who seek me, of those who have confidence in me. Here I will hear their weeping, their sorrow, and will remedy and alleviate their suffering, necessities, and misfortunes.”

Mary holds within her the unborn Christ proclaiming the sanctity and blessedness of life within the womb. In her appearance to Juan Diego there is such simplicity and reverence expressing calm in a turbulent world. She patiently bears our Savior and soon humanity will be reunited in relationship with divinity. Within just a few years, 11 million native Americans were converted, and the practice of human sacrifice stopped, along with the promotion and practices of Cultures of Death.

No more did the people need to cower in abject terror before the bloodthirsty gods who demanded the death of their children. They found refuge beneath the gracious protection of a gentle Mother. How much we need her intercession today. Since 1973 Roe V Wade there have been over 60 million abortions in the United States, alone and over a billion worldwide.

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal designates January 22 as a particular day of prayer and penance, called the “Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children”: “In all the Dioceses of the United States of America, January 22 shall be observed as a particular day of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life and of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion.”

As individuals, we are called to observe this day through the penitential practices of prayer, fasting and/or giving alms. Another way to take part is through participating in special events to observe the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Call your local diocese or parish to find out what events might be taking place in your area.

Contact your representatives state and federal. While our efforts to change hearts, minds and laws through courageous public witness are essential to ending abortion, our most powerful weapon is prayer.

Pope Benedict XVI, Emeritus addressed lawmakers about this issue, “Children truly are the family’s greatest treasure and most precious good. Consequently, everyone must be helped to become aware of the intrinsic evil of the crime of abortion. In attacking human life in its very first stages, it is also an aggression against society itself. Politicians and legislators, therefore, as servants of the common good, are duty bound to defend the fundamental right to life, the fruit of God’s love.”

We must shout it from the rooftop “that all life is sacred.”We are all evangelizers by virtue of our Baptism. All of us are commissioned through our baptism to be other Christs in the world. Baptism means for us exactly what it meant for Jesus when He was baptized by John before entering His public ministry. His baptism was his initiation. He emerged from the water commissioned by the Father to do His work. Similarly – In our own waters of baptism – we have been initiated, called, and commissioned. Trusting in God we must fearlessly go forward in our quest to support a culture of Life.

Abortion is often a temptation when expectant mothers face the challenges of loneliness, of spiritual emptiness, of unstable relationships and absent families. Poverty is often a factor in choosing abortion, but spiritual poverty, isolation, and hopelessness are far more powerful factors. The Lord calls on all of us to be present in support in the lives of women and families who might be tempted to consider abortion.

The earliest Christians used as their “moral guide of behavior” the admonition God made to his chosen people, through Moses, His Prophet, Deuteronomy 30:19. I” am offering you life or death, blessing or curse. Choose life, then, so that you and your descendants may live

CHOOSE LIFE!

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FEAST OF THE MOST HOLY FAMILY

FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY SUNDAY DECEMBER 31, 2017

Today’s Catholic Blog honors the Holy Family and in so doing I hope gives support to all parents and children who are making their way home to their heavenly home and the “wedding feast of the Lamb” (Rev. 19:9)

REFLECTION
WHERE DOES THE HOLY FAMILY BEGIN
As I look at the picture of the Holy Family, many themes come to mind for this Catholic Blog. Love and faithfulness stand out… Mary’s words of obedience to God’s messenger, the angel, Gabriel, “Be it done to me according to thy word,” at the Annunciation comes as a strong flashback of where it began. Before there was a Holy Family there was Mary, God’s choice to become the Mother of His Son.

This young teenage maiden submitted to God’s will without fully understanding the consequences of her “yes.” This says so much about trust in a benevolent God who only wishes us well! Do we have that kind of trust??? Well, do we? When in situation with choices, do we run it by God with a quick prayer, Do we listen!

HOW WILL THE WORD OF GOD BECOME INCARNATE (TAKE ON HUMAN NATURE)
The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.” Luke 1:35 Just as in the Testament of Old where God’s presence was noted in a cloud, “the glory of God appeared in a cloud.” Exodus 16:10, now a cloud overshadows Mary, the New Ark of the Covenant.

Mary conceives a Son by the Power of the Holy Spirit….the Son Mary conceived was no ordinary Son but the Son of God…Mary will bring God to the world… the Word Incarnate…God will dwell once again among His people…What was lost by Eve’s disobedience is now gained by Mary’s obedience…The Garden is refreshed….Do not be afraid…

THE HOLY FAMILY NEEDS AN EARTHLY FATHER
Joseph, Jesus’ foster father had his own qualms to deal with when his wife to be became pregnant and not by him. Joseph was already a righteous man in relationship with God and did not want to do anything to embarrass or jeopardize Mary so he planned to separate quietly… “Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,* yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.” Matthew 1:19

Then God intervened, “behold, the angel of the Lord* appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.” Matthew 1:20

THE HOLY FAMILY EMBRACES THE WORLD 

Because of the love of Mary and Joseph, the Christ child in the picture is able to hold out his arms and embrace the whole world in blessing. A child lives what he experiences. Be careful your children are listening and watching!

A loving family that images the relationships in the Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is the core of God’s plan for salvation. Attached to God our Creator, we spread that love and embrace of God the Father to others. Embrace your family! Spread that love! There is always one special pray-er in the family, praying for all the members. Maybe it is you!

At one point, Jesus got separated from Mary and Joseph. When found teaching in the temple, he willingly left His Father’s house and went back to his earthly home in Nazareth. “He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus advanced [in] wisdom and age and favor before God and man” (Luke 2:49-51) Jesus honored His Father’s will in obeying his earthly parents….how am I honoring God in my daily duties….

Do we ponder, like Mary, God’s activity in our family, maybe catch in hindsight that some past event had more meaning than you thought at the time or some good really did come out of that stressful situation…

Mary and Joseph would have provided for their family in traditional roles of feeding and caring for their child. In his human nature Jesus would be learning and not taking any “divine” short cuts as he assisted his earthly foster father, Joseph, in his carpentry trade.

We do know the Holy Family were all devout practicing Jews honoring and worshiping God according to Jewish practices, especially holy days like Passover, Feast of Tabernacles, Pentecost and the like.

Is this something we do as a family, pray together, worship together, teach the little ones the stories of Jesus like our parents did…certainly our children’s eternal home is more important than this temporary one and we don’t want them to be strangers when they meet God..

PRAYER FOR OUR FAMILIES
We bless your name, O Lord
for sending us your own Incarnate Son to become part of a family
so that as He lived its life, He would experience its worries and its joys.

Lord, protect our family so that in the strength of Your grace,
we may possess the priceless gift of Your peace

and as the Church alive in this home,
may we bear witness in this world to Your glory.

We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen

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ADVENT REFLECTION PRAYING WITH JESUS IN THE WOMB

“Do not be afraid Mary for you have found favor with God
Behold you will conceive in your womb and bear a son
And you shall name him Jesus” Luke 1:30

FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT DECEMBER 3, 2017
Advent is a time of waiting on the Lord, his time, his place when God enters human history. Waiting is hard just ask the children waiting for Christmas gifts or adults waiting for a raise or promotion or healing. God’s time is not our time nor should it be since He knows so much better when to interact, when to answer our prayers and how best to answer them for best results.

The Advent season in its liturgical observance is not only a remembrance of the Incarnation, God becoming flesh, but also anticipatory of God coming at the end of history in the Person of Christ the King who rules over everything forever and ever. The season of Advent reminds us that history is not complete until the second coming of Jesus. All will end well and if it isn’t then it is not the end. Howm we deal with time was addressed by Jesus telling us to remain awake and always be prepared.

Are we awake? Are we prepared? Or are we like the people of Noah’s time who ignored any calls to repentance even to the time Noah entered the Ark? Or are we prepared like our Blessed Mother who said to the Angel Gabriel, “Be it done according to your word.”
We know Jesus’ life on this earth began in the womb, at the moment of his conception. And, so we know that the first part of his journey among us – the first part of the Word of God taking flesh and dwelling among us – was nine months in his mother’s womb. Oh, how Mary and Joseph must have waited in anticipation!

 

From the moment the life of Jesus began in Mary’s womb by the power of the Holy Sprit, Jesus became one with us. He didn’t magically appear as an adult. He began his life journey as a tiny, bundle of cells. We can imagine those cells multiplying so quickly, day by day and week by week – silently, imperceptibly. We can feel the gratitude welling up within us as we contemplate the unseen journey of Jesus being “knit” in his mother’s womb.

 

Though Son of God, he is becoming Son of Mary. We can imagine in this very fine development, Jesus is taking on her flesh, her cells, her shape, her looks, her heart. It is so slow, and yet, so planned. It is a journey which none of us can remember, but which every one of us took.

 

PRAYERFUL REFLECTION PONDER WELL!
Let us contemplate that profound solidarity with us which our Savior began even in the womb for us. This transition to a life born into this world. And, in these moments, we grow in gratitude; we grow in our longing for our relationship with Jesus to develop in intimacy and love.

Our praying is helped by our imagination. In this case, we are imagining something we know happened, but for which we have not usually had a visual image. Today we know so much more about the development in the womb through ultrasound images. Let this profound reality touch our hearts and celebrate Jesus’ entry into our world and to welcome Jesus into our hearts now. Come, Lord Jesus. We await your coming!”

in this contemplation, we want to slow down our reflection and enter into the details and to acknowledge the silence, the slow growth, the precious reality of our Lord and Savior’s taking on life as a human being.

 

If we begin by imagining Jesus’ foot in the womb, we can begin to savor, with wonder and awe the reality of this gift. We can picture Mary washing this little foot, right after giving birth to Jesus and laying him in the manger. We can imagine that this tiny foot became the foot which walked our earth. With this foot, he learned to walk. Perhaps this foot was sandaled most of his life. Perhaps this foot was stubbed on the carpenter’s bench in Joseph’s workshop. This is the foot which left home and headed to the Jordan to be baptized by John. This foot stumbled along the way to his Crucifixion, where this foot was nailed to a cross – all for us.

We can imagine his hands growing in the womb, slowly becoming the hands which first touched Mary’s face and Joseph’s beard. This little hand developed into the hand that learned to be a carpenter, With this hand, he embraced children and offered his tender touch to the sick and sinners , the hands that washed his disciples feet We know one day that he took the bread and the wine in this same hand and, giving thanks to God, gave it to his disciples, saying “This is my body. This is my blood.” And, the next day, His outstretched hands were nailed to a cross – all for us.


As we contemplate Jesus, growing in the womb, becoming our servant Savior, it is touching to imagine his developing face. This profile of a face in the womb is the merest suggestion of the growth of the human face of our God with us. He would already be taking on his mother’s features and developing her eyes. He’d have her nose, her chin, her ears too.

When he was a baby, he must have cried and felt hunger and he must laughed and smiled a lot. We can give thanks for the loving face of Jesus, which tenderly interacted with many who had the privilege of seeing it in his lifetime. This is the same face which was spat upon and was covered with blood from the mocking crown of thorns, all for us.

 

As we conclude this contemplation of Jesus in the womb, we pause for a moment to reflect upon his heart, which developed, just like our hearts did, but which became not only the organ which pumped blood to invigorate the rest of his body, but which became the very image of his self-sacrificing love.

 

This little heart became a heart big enough to love sinners, the sick, the marginal. and pierced for love of us. To Thomas, putting his hand in that pierced side, Jesus said, “blessed are those who have not seen yet believed!”


Lord, Jesus, we thank you for these moments of grace in which you have opened our eyes to await your coming to us with expectant hope. Just as Mary was expecting to deliver you into this world, we hope to receive you into our hearts. We give you thanks for the love you showed us on earth and in the Eucharist and the Sacraments which continue to nourish us and sustain us. Help us to open our hearts to your healing mercy and love. Come to us, Lord.Jesus!

 

(I would like to thank Creighton University’s Online Ministries for their format for today’s Advent reflecton.)

 

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DOES GOD EXIST IN THE 21ST CENTURY

 

GOD THE CREATOR OF ALL
I BELIEVE IN GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY
MAKER OF HEAVEN AND EARTH

As we prepare for Advent, a season of waiting on the Lord, I humbly ask us to reflect on the need for God in this world more than ever. We remember the birth of Christ over 2000 years ago but we must invite Him today and everyday into our hearts. We must assist in this birthing in our hearts by preparing a suitable place for him to reside. In that first Christmas the Christ child was placed in a manger because there was no room in the Inn. Is there room in your heart for the Christ child today? Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior of the world Alleluia!

Throughout history and culture, dependant mankind, noting his limits, attempts to create gods to meet his needs, like harvest god for crops and fertility god for children. The Christian God is fully perfect and complete in Himself, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God is that Supreme Being that is being itself had no beginning and has no end. Yes God exists in the 21st Century! He needs nothing. Everything but God is dependent on something else, the baby on Mom and Dad, the chair, the carpenter, the cook on the ingredients from her garden…you get the idea.

Man continues today to fill up that lack of wholeness with substitute gods such as money, pleasure, and power. It is in our very nature to seek completion. These fake gods will fail us like always. St. Augustine says it best, “our hearts are restless until they rest in God.”

Back in the New Testament era in Acts 17 when travelling through Athens St. Paul remarked that the people were very much into worshipping gods (temples to Appolo, Poseidon, and Aphrodite) and even had placed an altar to an unknown god who Paul explicitly told them is the Christian God he represents.

Men of Athens I perceive that you are in every way religious. For as I passed along, and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you” The unknown God of the Greeks is he in whom “we live and move and have our being,…the God who made the world and everything in it.”

Some people will argue against God because of all the evil in the world. They argue, if a God exists He would never allow it to happen. That is a pretty simplistic dismissal of God who we live and move and have our being. It shows a lack of understanding of the effects of sin in this world. There are consequences to sin, sometimes heinous ones. God never wills sin but He also respects our free will. Sometimes, the evil, God allows brings a greater good, like conversion, reconciliation and forgiveness. What some perceived as the humiliating, shameful death of Jesus became our lifeline to eternity.

Some reject Jesus as divine. They get hung up on the transcendence of God and can’t believe a God so above and superior to man could ever stoop so low to become man. I suggest they read the passage from Phillipians Chapter 2 to see God’s great love for us that he would humble us to save us.
PHILLIPIANS 2:6
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 death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that 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.

God’s transcendence is consistent with God being immanently present in all things as creator. He can reveal who he truly is to us in a singular human life (Jesus Christ) without diminishing himself in any way. Why should God be excluded from His creation? He certainly wasn’t excluded in the Garden of Eden in walks in the cool of the evening accompanied by Adam and Eve. (Genesis 3)

God was certainly present in the Old Testament Book of Exodus as he delivered his people from slavery in Egypt. . In the book of Exodus, God overawes Egypt’s Pharaoh, who is representative of the paganism of the nations. God destroys the Egyptian army in the Red Sea, sustains Israel in the wilderness, and eventually delivers them into the Promised Land.

God incarnate in Christ Jesus, the second person of the Holy Trinity, employs his omnipotence in a different way. His triumph comes about through suffering and death of His only begotten Son. God is intimately involved in His creation. He has a lot invested in us in a very complex, salvation plan evolving over centuries. God takes upon himself and overcomes the consequences of human evil, suffering, and death. In return he gives all human beings offers of grace, the forgiveness of sins, and participation in eternal life.

Some say faith is less reliable than science. I say what about the daily leaps of faith each day such as that when you flush the toilet it won’t overflow.. that you won’t fall and break your leg on the way to your car…that there is a road to take you to your destination…that your destination exists…that the bridge you cross will not collapse under you…that your family will still be there when you return…and so forth How is faith in God any less reasonable than the daily leaps of faith we make?.

When people dismiss or ignore God’s existence and involvement in this world they ignore His graces and dismiss His support for times of stress, grief, despair, and reject the inspiration to pray for others in need, especially loved ones who may have taken a wrong turn on their journey “home.”
CLOSING PRAYER FROM PSALM 145
I will extol you, my God and king;
I will bless your name forever and ever.

Great is the LORD and worthy of much praise,
whose grandeur is beyond understanding.

The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in mercy.

The LORD is trustworthy in all his words,
and loving in all his works.

LORD is just in all his ways,
merciful in all his works.
My mouth will speak the praises of the LORD

and will bless his holy name forever and ever.

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JESUS IN SCRIPTURE IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE WORD

As we approach the birth of Our Lord, I am beginning a series of posts entitled JESUS IN SCRIPTURE that will continue throughout 2018. “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Jesus,” according to St. Jerome, Biblical Scholar in 4th century who translated Bible into Latin. (Latin Vulgate)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,

and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.

All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.

What came to be through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race;

the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it… JOHN 1:1-12

He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him. But to those who did accept him, he gave power to become children of God…

REFLECTION:
He was in the beginning…Jesus is the Word made flesh…the Word Incarnate….God becomes man…Through Him comes Life….And this Life is the Light of the World ….the world is dark since the Fall…darkness cannot keep out the Light….those who choose Light become children of the Light….and testify to the Light…and become children of God…all in heaven and on earth await in anticipation for the Incarnation…the word made flesh…how do I await my Savior and Lord….

INTRODUCTION TO JESUS’ PUBLIC MINISTRY

Not much is known about Jesus’ child hood, adolescence, and emerging adulthood in his home town of Nazareth. We do know the Holy family were all devout Jews honoring and worshiping God according to Jewish practices, especially holy days like Passover, Feast of tabernacles, Pentecost and the like.

Mary and Joseph would have provided for their family in traditional roles of feeding and caring for their child. In his human nature Jesus would be learning and not taking any “divine” short cuts as he assisted his earthly adopted father, Joseph, in his carpentry trade.

We know from before and after Jesus began his public ministry he was a devout man of prayer and worship and a student of scripture. Not only did Jesus grow in earthly wisdom but his intimacy with His Father grew spiritually as he prepared to fulfill his heavenly Father’s mission.

Jesus’s coming on the public scene is foretold by John the Baptist, a distant cousin of Jesus who leapt in his mother’s womb when Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth. Now they meet once again. While Jesus has no need of baptism of repentance for he has no sin to repent, he presents himself to John and says, “Let it be for now.” Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan foreshadows the baptism of water and Spirit that later will cleanse men of their sins. “Behold the Lamb of God!”

JESUS BEGINS HIS PUBLIC MINISTRY

MARK 1:1-11 THE BAPTISM OF OUR LORD
John (the) Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
People of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins…

(JOHN 1:26-32) The next day John (the) Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”… (MATTHEW 3:14-17) After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened…the Spirit of God descended like a dove… And a voice came from the heavens, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

REFLECTION:
John proclaims a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins….John prepares the way for the Christ….Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world…Jesus is the sacrificial lamb who will sacrifice himself for us that our sins may be forgiven…repent and believe in the Gospel…the sinless one takes on the sins of the world…the Spirit of God descended upon Jesus, full of grace….The Father affirms…”This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased…
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SEVEN DEADLY SINS CATHOLIC CHURCH TEACHING

 

INTRODUCTION
Recently, I posted blog on the existence of the devil and hell because so often in today’s world these facts are ignored or dismissed by otherwise practicing Christians and their pastors. I have already taken up the notion in past posts of “once saved always saved’ as nonsense. We are all called to daily conversion. If we deny we are sinners then too we deny Jesus Christ because there would be no need of a Savior.

The Church has always taught the reality of the devil, and the possibility of being eternally damned along with him as a result of the spiritual warfare he wages against us. It is absolutely disastrous to deny or ignore the devil’s existence. Satan hates each one of us personally, and is always plotting and working against us, seeking our eternal damnation. .

The devil studies us very carefully, taking note of our strengths and weaknesses, our habits and inclinations. He shrewdly chooses the particular temptations best suited to overcome us, all the while striving to work behind the scenes without us suspecting anything. It is our duty to guard against this threat and use the spiritual weapons and defenses the Lord provides us through His Church.

The Church speaks of the “Seven Deadly Sins,” which are anger, envy, gluttony, greed, lust, pride, and sloth or laziness. Every human being is weak or easily tempted in at least one of these areas, so these are usually the focus of the devil’s attacks.
COMMENTARY SEVEN DEADLY SINS
ANGER (WRATH)
The devil wants us to nurse grudges and refuse to forgive other people, to become impatient with their failings, to overreact to the things about them that annoy us.
MEEKNESS – Where the sin of wrath is about quick temper and unnecessary vengeance, the virtue of meekness focuses on patiently seeking appropriate resolution to conflicts, and on the ability to forgive and show mercy.

ENVY
Satan tries to use the sin of envy against us by getting us to compare ourselves with others, to adopt an “entitlement mentality,” and to consider ourselves better than those around us.
KINDNESS (CHARITY) – is the virtue which counters the sin of envy. Envy is in contradiction to God’s law of love. It manifests itself in our unhappiness at someone else’s success or good fortune. Conversely, kindness and brotherly love manifests itself in the unprejudiced, compassionate and charitable concern for others.

GLUTTONY
We Americans compared to most people are very self indulgent. The devil has found gluttony to be a fertile field for his evil seeds. He tempts us to overdo life’s legitimate pleasures, to disdain or reject sacrifice and self-control, and to ignore other people’s poverty or suffering.
TEMPERANCE – The virtue of temperance or abstinence counters the sin of gluttony. To be gluttonous is to over-indulge. On the opposite hand, the virtue of temperance is centered on self-control and moderation.

GREED
Satan tempts us to want more money and possessions, more technology and convenience, and more luxury and leisure—when we should instead be concerned with storing up treasure for ourselves in heaven.
GENEROSITY – is the virtue that is counter to greed, the sin of immoderate desire for earthly things. Generosity focuses on appropriate concern for earthly things and a willingness to give freely and share with others from our blessings and abundance.

LUST
Lust is a particularly fertile field for the devil’s seeds. Satan is constantly tempting us to misuse sex, to glorify and expose our bodies, and to treat other people as objects for our own pleasure.
CHASTITY – Chastity is the counter-virtue to the sin of lust. Chastity embraces moral wholesomeness and purity, and in both thought and action treats God’s gift of sexuality with due reverence and respect.

PRIDE
Pride is the sin which transformed Lucifer, the greatest of all the angels into the hideous creature of Satan.
Misery loves company and so the devil delights in using this sin against us. He wants us to think, “I’m superior to others, I know what’s best for me, and no one is going to tell me how to live my life”—causing us to reject the God-given authority and saving power of the Church.
HUMILITY – Humility is the virtue that counters pride. Pride is a sin based on undue and inappropriate appreciation of one’s self worth. Conversely, the virtue of humility is about modest behavior, selflessness and the giving of respect. “It was Pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.”. – St. Augustine

SLOTH
Sloth is the desire for ease. Sloth, as a capital sin, refers to laziness in matters of Faith. The slothful person is unwilling to put out the effort to take advantage of the means of salvation, prayer, sacraments, almsgiving etc. Satan wants us to settle for being good enough—for that may eventually allow him to turn us against God.
DILIGENCE (PERSEVERANCE) is the virtue which acts as a counter to the sin of sloth.. Diligence combats laziness and encourages appropriately zealous attitudes toward living and sharing the Faith.
CONCLUSION FIGHTING BACK
The devil in his wiles uses many methods to snare us into one of the seven capital sins, such as poisoning relationships especially in families, distracting us with life concerns, too busy to notice God or call upon Him, inflating our egos so as to feel superior and want more attention, power, wealth, sex, our idols today. Above all Satan does not want us to worship or obey God.

How do we fight back these seeds of destruction! The most potent weed-killer against Satan’s evil seeds of spiritual destruction is humility. The more we humble ourselves, the more God’s grace can be at work within us, helping us overcome our faults and grow in holiness.

What spiritual fertilizer is available to us? First, the Sacrament of Reconciliation to clean up, wash up our souls and receive nourishment for the future. We wash our cars afterall…The devil is getting no foothold in my soul and when he tries again we are going to wash him out again and again….

Sunday Mass and worthy reception of Holy Communion is essential. By receiving Jesus, and loving Him in our heart on earth, He will be no stranger when we get to heaven. Throw in a daily Mass or two as well. Other valuable tools are reading the Bible, start with the Gospels, don’t try to read the Bible from beginning to end. It wasn’t intended to be read that way, set aside prayer time, seeking God’s guidance in all our decisions, learning more about our Catholic faith, submitting to the authority of the Church on moral and religious issues, praying for the conversion of sinners and for the souls in purgatory,

When we pray for others we are expressing the virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity. We acknowledge God’s goodness and mercy and accept His sovereignty and Divine Providence. The devil is out there but as Jesus told us over and over again, there is nothing to fear.

God’s grace is sufficient for us. How do we know; God told us it was, “a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times* I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me” (St. Paul)
2 Corinithians 12:9.