Friday, July 31, 2015

Limiting Jesus' Power in My Life

In today’s Gospel,  Mt 13: 54-58, Jesus visits his home town and performs no miracles there because of their lack of faith. The people are astounded by Jesus’ wisdom and ask: “Where did this man get such wisdom and miraculous powers? Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t  Mary known to be his mother and James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas his brothers?  Aren’t his sisters our neighbors? Where did he get all this?”   The people are offended by Jesus. They scoff at him, reject Him, limit Him by their low expectations of Him? 

How often do we not do this to others and to ourselves!  Who? That person? No way! Or we scoff at ourselves and our abilities, thus putting limits on what others can do or we ourselves can accomplish.

Jesus wants to work miracles in our lives and in the lives of others as well. He wants to share God’s love with us every day. He wants to shows us God the Father. He wants you and me to know that He walks with us, talks with us, is present and ready to do whatever we need Him to do to draw us to the Father and to empower us to be the men and women He created us to be. He wants to heal our hurts, our dis-eases, and our illnesses; to “raise” us from that which is “dead” in us, to remove the scales from our eyes, open our ears, mend our brokenness, cast out our “demons.”

Do I really believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the One sent into the World to Save us and it?  Or am I looking for another, as were the people of his hometown?

My prayer:

Lord, I believe You are present even when I do not see You.
Lord, I believe You are shielding me from Satan even when I do not realize it.
Lord, I believe that You are preparing the way for me to find You even when I am unaware of the work You are doing in my life.
Lord, I believe You send me Wisdom and enlighten me throughout the day.
Lord, I believe You look on me with love and compassion, especially when I am feeling unlovable.
Lord, I believe You re-direct me when I have chosen a path not right for me.

Lord, You are my Messiah, the One sent from God to set me free from that which holds me back from realizing my highest potential as a human being or recognizing that potential in another person.  I believe that you are the Messiah sent to reconcile me and everyone else to the Father, to Your God and my God.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Clarity of Vision--The Lifting of the Cloud

In today’s first reading from Exodus 40: 16-21, 34-38,  we are given instructions that are applicable  to our lives as Christians today; namely, Moses does exactly as the Lord had commanded him in erecting “the Dwelling.”  Also of significance to those erecting a dwelling for the Lord within their very being and within their marriage, their single life, their religious life or as priests,  is the statement:  “Whenever the cloud rose from the Dwelling, the children of Israel would set out on their journey. But if the cloud did not lift, they would not go forward; only when it lifted did they go forward. In the daytime the cloud of the Lord was seen over the Dwelling; whereas at night, fire was seen in the cloud by the whole house of Israel in all the states of their journey.” 

How often do I act when “the cloud” has not lifted. I am unsure. I have no clear sign of which direction to choose but go ahead anyway. The result: I realize that I did not wait upon the Lord. I rushed ahead and did it MY way. When I do that, it is always a mistake. Psalm 27: 14, tells us to “wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord.”  Psalm 37: 7 counsels us to “[b]e still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.”  The prophet Isaiah reminds us that “they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Is 40:31). The prophet Habakkuk  reminds us that “the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay” (Habakkuk 2:3).

Your experience?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Jesus' Love for Martha

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Martha, a close friend of Jesus.  She is the one who asked Jesus to tell her sister Mary to help her in meeting their hospitality responsibilities when He visited them.  Jesus is very honest with Martha and says to her:  Mary has chosen the better part, that is, sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to Him. That is not to say that service is not important. Both are! We need to balance both of these ways of serving the Lord. Martha also witnesses to her faith in Jesus when He came to visit them four days after Lazarus had died. She says to Him: “If you had been here, my brother would never have died.  Even now, I am sure that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” Jesus says to her: “Your brother will rise again.” Martha replies: “I know he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”   Jesus tells her: "I am the resurrection and the life: whoever believes in me, though he should die, will  come to life; and whoever is alive and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”  “Yes, Lord, I have come to believe that  you are the Messiah, the Son of God: he who is to come into the world.”  (John 11: 19-27).

Do you believe? How strong is your faith? How confident are you in Jesus as the Messiah?  Do you have a relationship with Jesus as did Martha? She was very natural with Jesus, very open and honest with Him. She complained to Him. She challenged Him. She shared her hopes with Him. She served Him. She shared her beliefs with Him. She shared her love with Him. 

Lord, may we grow in our faith as Martha did! May we be as honest with you as she was. May we rejoice in your visits as she did, go out to meet you as she did. May we grow to know you as intimately as she did. I ask for these grace in Your name.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Enslavement/Entrapment in God-substitutes

In today’s first reading, Ex 20: 1-17, God says to the people: “I, the Lord, am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. You shall not have other gods besides me. You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; you shall not bow down before them or worship them.”

The worship of other gods, the carving of idols for myself—whatever gets between me and God in such a way that I push God out of my day, out of my thoughts, out of my musings, out of my plans, out of my hopes, out of my dreams—is so easy to do. Without realizing it, I can fill my life, my day, my week, with God-substitutes: work, food, alcohol/drugs, entertainment, friends, success, productivity, the Internet, the i-pad, the smart phone, relationships; in short whatever I use as my only means of sustenance, fulfillment, and relief without seeking God.

Sadly, as long as I am too busy carving “idols” or God-substitutes for myself, I am denying myself the gift of knowing God as the source of my being, the One who heals me as no one else can, the One who comforts me like no other, the One who sustains me like no other, the One who guides me beyond flaws, the One who has a plan full of hope for me like no other.
“I, the Lord, am your God, who brought you out of…that place of slavery.”  “I, the Lord, am your God, who can and will free you from that which enslaves you. Trust me! I love you. I died on the cross for you.” 

The question I am left with is:  Whom/what do I first seek when I feel trapped, enslaved?  Or how long do I struggle with being enslaved before I seek God’s help, spend time quietly in solitude with the Lord? How many "side trips" do I take before laying my “chains” at the feet of  the Lord or  placing them on the altar as "bread" and "wine" to be transformed by the Lord?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

God's Coming in a "Dense Cloud"

In today’s first reading, Exodus 19: 1-2,9-11, 16-20b,  we read:  “I am coming to you in a dense cloud, so that when the people hear me speaking with you, they may always have faith in you also.”  Is it not true that most days God comes to us in “dense clouds?”  Only through faith, do we see and hear God. Many times,  we don’t see him and  don’t hear his voice.  Concerning His speaking to the crowd in parables, Jesus says to His disciples in today’s Gospel (Matthew 13: 10:17):  “This is why I speak to them in parables, because they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand.”

Is that not true of you and me at times; namely that 1) we look at people but really do not see their beauty and goodness as a child of God and 2) that we hear what they are saying but are not really listening or understanding? Our eyes can be blinded by our prejudices or by whatever preoccupies us. Past hurts that we have suffered from them can cause us to automatically turn them off or prompt us to walk away from them.  Things we heard about them from others can also blind us to their goodness, their beauty, their authentic person-hood.  Our ears hear but we may not be truly listening or understanding anything they are saying, though we may pretend to be listening and understanding.

However, there are also times when the Lord reveals “the mysteries of the Kingdom” through these very people we have blocked out. Our eyes and ears are opened by the Lord’s forgiveness and our own. We see differently. We truly listen, putting our personal issues aside, and understand. O, the grace of Almighty God—each one of us grows into being “hearing, listening, understanding” individuals. Christ in us increases and the ego-self decreases (cf.John 3:30).