Saturday, April 30, 2011

Christ is Risen, He is Risen Indeed!

He (Jesus) showed himself under another form to two of them as they were on their way into the country. These went back and told the others, who did not believe them either.

Mark gives account of Jesus' resurrection in his typically crisp style. However, he agrees with the other Gospel writers on the essentials;
- Women were the first to receive the Good News of Jesus' resurrection. 
- They were not believed at first.
- Jesus appeared in His resurrected body a number of times.
- Jesus gave the Great Commission to go tell the world the Good News of His resurrection.

The Resurrection is almost too good to believe. For many today it remains too good to believe.  Belief in the Resurrection is the great divide.  If you don't accept it, you're not a believer.  I go back to the gospel accounts of Jesus' passion, death and resurrection and to me they smack of authenticity. There's too much emphasis on Jesus' death to be a made-up story. The Book of Acts and New Testament epistles give too much detail on the joy and suffering of the early church for it to be all based on a lie.  I have experienced too many encounters with the Risen Jesus for Him to be a phantom of my imagination.  It comes down to relationship.  It's my daily contact with Him that causes me to shout, "Christ is Risen, He is risen indeed! Alleluia!"

Jesus my risen Lord, fill me with Your spirit that I may be a credible witness to the Good News that You have conquered the great enemy, death.  Thank you Lord for showing me the way to fullness of life.

Little Flower, please pray for me.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Name

'This is the stone rejected by you the builders, but which has proved to be the keystone. For of all the names in the world given to men, this is the only one by which we can be saved.’
Acts 4:11,12

John and Peter are being interrogated by the leaders and elders of the temple following the miraculous healing of the cripple.  Peter is "filled with the Holy Spirit" and boldly explains how the cripple came to be healed; by the name of Jesus.

Peter repeatedly clarifies the source of the power he and John employed; the name of Jesus.  He never hints that anything comes from himself.  It's always in the name of Jesus.  I have a list of prayer intentions I pray for each day.  Using the name of Jesus miracles can happen... today.

Lord Jesus, I lift up in Your precious name, the name by which all are saved, all those for whom I am praying.  In Your mighty name may they be healed, restored and blessed.  Amen.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

It Was For Me

Octave of Easter
'It was for you in the first place that God raised up his servant and sent him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.’
Acts 3:26

The cripple at the Portico of Solomon at the Temple has just been healed through the prayer of Peter and John.  A large crowd has formed, marveling at the wonder of this miracle. Peter gives another of his inspired preachings, identifying the true source of the miracle as the name of Jesus. Not missing the opportunity, Peter then goes on to preach the Gospel message; Jesus lived, died and rose again so that we may live.

Peter is addressing the Jews at the temple but his message is for all people; his message is for me.  It was for ME that God raised Jesus up and has sent Him to bless ME and turn ME from my wicked ways. Oh how I love Easter and all that it means for me.

Thank you Jesus that You do bless me and turn me from my wicked ways.  You are the source of my life. I place my trust in You.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

In the Breaking of the Bread

Easter Octave

Now while he was with them at table, he took the bread and said the blessing; then he broke it and handed it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognised him;

We are into the fourth day of the Easter Octave, the time where the Church says Easter is so big we have to fit Easter Sunday into eight days.  Today we continue relishing the Easter story, this time through the eyes of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus.  

I love this story, how Jesus enters into their dejection and sorrow by walking along side them.  He listens to them, inviting them to share their sorrow.  He then illuminates them with the truth of scripture and finally culminates His ministry to them by revealing Himself in the breaking of bread.  In other words, Jesus celebrates Mass with them.  I need to go to Mass, today...

Lord Jesus, You reveal Yourself in the breaking of the bread.  You feed me with Your flesh, You slake my thirst with Your blood.  Thank you for the wonderful gift of Holy Mass.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Awe and Great Joy

Come and see the place where he lay, then go quickly and tell his disciples, “He has risen from the dead and now he is going before you to Galilee; it is there you will see him.” Now I have told you.’ Filled with awe and great joy the women came quickly away from the tomb and ran to tell the disciples.

The two Mary's have gone to the sepulcher of Jesus, experience an earth quake and see an angel roll the entrance stone away revealing an empty tomb.  They are instructed to go tell the disciples what has happened, which they do with joy and so become the first carriers of the Good News.

The hallmark of the Good News right from its first appearance is awe and great joy.  I remember being received into the Church twenty-two years ago and that would describe exactly how I felt.  Those are my emotions again as I prepare to attend the Easter Vigil tonight. Awe and great joy are the natural response to the Good News that Christ is Risen.  Alleluia!

Jesus, my Risen Lord.  You are the source of awe and great joy in my life.  You have shown me the way to a new life filled with joy and hope.  I praise You my Lord.

Little Flower, please pray for me.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Crushed for My Sins

Good Friday.

But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins, Upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed. We had all gone astray like sheep, each following his own way; But the LORD laid upon him the guilt of us all.

This prophesy of Isaiah's answers the great "why" about Jesus' Passion and Death. It's the only escape route I have from the death sentence my sins earn me.  Isaiah pin-points the heart of my problem; my insistence on following my own way. That's the choice before me always; do I follow my way or God's way.

Jesus my Lord.  I can never repay the price You paid for my wrong choices.  I love You Lord.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Follow the King of Fools

‘Do you understand’ he said ‘what I have done to you? You call me Master and Lord, and rightly; so I am. If I, then, the Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you should wash each others feet. I have given you an example so that you may copy what I have done to you.’

Jesus is about to die and He knows it.  He would have thought carefully about what He would do with the little time He had left.   Instead of  giving great theological discourses He gave the Church two simple but profound examples to embrace; servant-hood to love others and Holy Mass to proclaim His death.  When these two things are authentically followed, our religion towers above all others.

Servant-hood has always been a struggle for for selfish me and proclaiming His death is seen as madness by the world.  And yet, this is what Jesus has called me to do. Today I re-aline myself with the Servant King, the King of Fools who literally loved me to death.

Lord Jesus, You are my Servant King.  Thank you for washing me clean. Help me follow Your example.
Little Flower, please pray for me.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Entertaining Angels

Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus to say, ‘Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the passover?’ ‘Go to so-and-so in the city’ he replied ‘and say to him, “The Master says: My time is near. It is at your house that I am keeping Passover with my disciples.”’ The disciples did what Jesus told them and prepared the Passover.

Jesus is resolutely heading for Jerusalem knowing He is also heading to His passion and death.  Where previously Jesus has escaped death saying "my time has not yet come", He now says "My time is near".

I've always been intrigued by this passage's refferal to the mysterious "Mr. So and So".  He is never named or referred to again. It could be guessed that he was a disciple of Jesus, but maybe not.  I try to imagine what it would be like to play host to God.  We know Zachaeus was placed in a similar situation when Jesus called him down out of his tree.  I can't think of a greater honor.

The charism of hospitality is a wonderful thing that I need to foster.  I have friends who have this charism.  They are the sort of people who are so welcoming and fun to be around. Scripture says; "Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it."  Heb.13:2. Maybe I could even be entertaining Jesus...

Lord Jesus, you were welcomed into a house where you bestowed the amazing privilege of  celebrating the very first Mass.  I pray for a spirit of hospitality that home may be a blessing to all.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Willing But Weak

Peter said to him, ‘Why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.’ ‘Lay down your life for me?’ answered Jesus. ‘I tell you most solemnly, before the cock crows you will have disowned me three times.’

At the Last Supper Peter gives his famous exclamation of loyalty to Jesus; "I will lay down my life for you.", only to have Jesus respond with the plain truth; "you will disown me".
I always feel great sympathy for blundering, loud-mouth Peter because he is so much like me.  No more so than in this scene at the Last Supper where his fears and insecurities are laid embarrassingly bare.

Like King David in the Old Testament, Peter's spirit is willing but his flesh is oh-so-weak.  Yet, like King David, from this quivering, imperfect, sinful flesh came a great leader and a great man of God. Starting with  heart-felt repentance King David and Peter were then able to be transformed into the men God knew they could be.

The same is true for me.  And it starts with repentance...

Lord Jesus, my spirit is willing but my flesh is weak.  Forgive me Lord for the times I have denied You. Transform me into the man You know I can be.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Gladness and Joy

The LORD shall ransom Jacob, he shall redeem him from the hand of his conqueror. ...Then the virgins shall make merry and dance, and young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into joy, I will console and gladden them after their sorrows.

Today the Church sings the canticle of Jeremiah.  We are given a foretaste of Easter.  Yes, we still have to travel the Passion and Death of Holy Week, but the resurrection is coming!

Holy Week is a time for me to really absorb in a deep way what it actually is that Jesus has gained for me on the Cross.  When I really appreciate that, then my natural response is gladness and joy.

Thank you Jesus that You have redeemed me from the conqueror.  You are the source of my Joy and Gladness today.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Great I Am

The Jews then said, ‘You are not fifty yet, and you have seen Abraham!’ Jesus replied:
‘I tell you most solemnly, before Abraham ever was, I Am.’
At this they picked up stones to throw at him; but Jesus hid himself and left the Temple.

Jesus' discourse with the Jews has the them retrenching more and more while Jesus speaks more clearly about who He is, culminating in Jesus finally saying the name He knew they would understand... "I Am".
This highlights for me the difference between the Old and New Testaments. The Jews could not grasp the new revelation of God in Jesus, the triune God to whom all time is one.

This statement of Jesus' is the great divide even today.  Many other religions recognise Jesus as a great teacher, even a prophet, ...but God?  Even non-believers will hold that Jesus was a good man who had many wise teachings, ...but God?  Recognising Jesus as God means submitting to Him and that is the stumbling block.  Today I submit anew to Jesus, my Lord, my King, my God.

Lord Jesus,  thank you for the gift of faith you have given me. I submit myself to Your love today.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Free Indeed

Jesus said: ‘If you make my word your home you will indeed be my disciples, you will learn the truth and the truth will make you free. I tell you most solemnly, everyone who commits sin is a slave. Now the slave’s place in the house is not assured, but the son’s place is assured. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

The Pharisees are disputing everything that Jesus now says.  Their deafness increases with every discourse, to the point where they refute everything Jesus says simply because He said it.  The irony is that Jesus is telling them the very thing that they desire; the way to total freedom.

There is a truth here for me also, to meet my desire for freedom. ‘If you make my word your home you, you will learn the truth and the truth will make you free'.  My daily devotional time reading God's Word is not just a pious discipline, its the way to freedom.  This is the way I become His disciple, today.

Lord Jesus, help me make Your Word my home that I may set free indeed!
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Look and Live

So Moses fashioned a bronze serpent which he put on a standard, and if anyone was bitten by a serpent, he looked at the bronze serpent and lived.

The Israelites are in the desert escaping from the Egyptians and doing what they did best... complaining.  God responds with fiery serpents, bringing the people to repentance.  God then does what He does best.. provides a life-line.   It's no accident that the medical profession has adopted the serpent on a standard as their symbol.  Anyone who is sick and looks at the standard will be healed. The serpent on the standard is also a prefiguring of Jesus on the cross. In today's Gospel Jesus says "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He".

This is God's life-line to me. When I look to His Son lifted up on the cross I see not only Jesus' death and what that has bought me, but I see His resurrection and what that promises me... eternal life. 

Lord Jesus, I look to You for fullness of life.  You are my way, my truth and my life.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

He will Live

Jesus said: ‘I am the resurrection. If anyone believes in me, even though he dies he will live, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’

Jesus is addressing Martha, the sister of Lazarus who has just died.  Jesus has deliberately set the stage for what was to be His last great miracle of calling Lazarus back from the dead.  This prefigures what is about to happen to Jesus himself in His passion, death and resurrection. The whole event is recorded in detail in John's Gospel and most dramatically demonstrates what Jesus has come to do... offer eternal life.

This verse is the source of my hope and joy in Jesus.  No other thing can offer me what Jesus offers me; life with Him forever.  This puts everything in perspective, my joys and struggles here on earth, why I want others to meet Jesus with me, where my real home is.  This gives ultimate meaning to my day, to this day...

Yes Lord Jesus, I believe!  You are my way, my truth, my life.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Loins and Heart

But you, the Lord of Hosts, who pronounce a just sentence,
who probe the loins and heart,
let me see the vengeance you will take on them,
for I have committed my cause to you.

Jeremiah has just discovered there is a plot to do away with him as his prophesies are unpopular.  In many ways the persecution of Jeremiah prefigures the persecution of Jesus.  The greater the pressure becomes, like Jesus, the more Jeremiah presses into God trusting in His protection and His final judgement.

I find this verse unsettling.  Probing the loins and the heart gets to the root of two places in me where sin can try to hide.  Nothing about me is unknown to God.  Yet in a strange way this gives me great comfort also.  While knowing my sins, God loves me still.  Nothing separates me from His love shown by His Son Jesus.  Satan points to the sins of my loins and heart and says, "see what a scum bag you are?"  God points to all of me and says, "see how much I love you?"  My sins catapult me into His arms, today...

Thank you Father that you love me so much that you throw me a rescue line from my sin.  Jesus, I place my trust in you.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Fatal Blindness

...their malice makes them blind. They do not know the hidden things of God, they have no hope that holiness will be rewarded, they can see no reward for blameless souls.

All of today's readings hint to the closing noose around Jesus' neck. The Gospel of John states the only reason Jesus wasn't captured and killed is that "His time had not yet come".  Jesus has become intolerable to those in authority and so His fate was sealed.

I often wonder at how the Pharisees and Scribes missed God so completely.  The final verse from the Book of Wisdom gives both a hint and a warning. "...their malice made them blind".   There is something totally debiliting about evil.  It is completely self-centered and separates one from the rest of humanity.  It is why a burglar can break into a home a steal a child's toys.  Lord spare me from malice.

Lord Jesus, You knew no malice.  Help me keep hatred from my heart.  Keep me soft towards my brothers and sisters that my soul may be blameless.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Idol Worhip

At Horeb they fashioned a calf, worshiped a metal statue. They exchanged their glorious God for the image of a grass-eating bull. They forgot the God who saved them...

Today's Psalm is a fitting response to the first reading from Exodus which recounts the apostasy of the Jewish people while Moses was up Mount Sinai conversing with God.  They quickly turned from God and demanded idols be fashioned so they could worship them instead.  Worship of the Creator was replaced by worship of creation.

How little things have changed.  People today have replaced God with things which they worship and make sacrifices to.  We will always have a god, the only question is which god?  I am among this apostatizing people and I can easily be swept up in the seduction of the temporal.  The antidote?  Jesus. I need to keep my eyes on Him, daily.  I need to keep my eyes on Him today.

I live a simple life, I take a day at a time.
I spend my mornings with God before I hit the grind.
The subtleties of darkness never cease to amaze,
as the physical world creates a spiritual haze

(DC Talk)

Lord Jesus, I place my trust in You.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Son of the Father

Jesus answered and said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, a son cannot do anything on his own, but only what he sees his father doing; for what he does, his son will do also.

The Jewish leaders are starting to persecute Jesus because of His growing popularity.  Instead of backing down, Jesus asserts more strongly who He truly is - the Son of God the Father.

In proclaiming His sonship Jesus declares a universal and timeless truth;  "...a son cannot do anything on his own, but only what he sees his father doing; for what he does, his son will do also."  This both frightens me and gives me hope when I ask what role-model I am setting for my son, for my daughters.  Parents and especially fathers have a huge influence on the character of their children.  Children are born with their personalities but their character comes from the environment in which they are raised.  What I do more than what I say is the influencing factor. Lord help me be a doer of The Word.

Father in heaven, You have the perfect Son in our Lord Jesus.  Help me be a great father to the children You have given me.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

River of Life

Wherever the river flows, all living creatures teeming in it will live. Fish will be very plentiful, for wherever the water goes it brings health, and life teems wherever the river flows. ...because this water comes from the sanctuary.

The prophet Ezekiel is describing His vision where he is shown the river of life flowing from the Temple.  Because the river's source is sacred it brings life where ever it flows.  From bareness is brought forward fertility, from sickness is brought forward healing. 

I am reminded of the Gospel two Sundays ago where Jesus meets the Samaritan woman and offers her living water to drink that she may never die. This living water is offered to me every time I go to Mass.  Jesus is there offering himself to slake my thirst.  I need to go to Mass... soon.

Lord Jesus, I thirst for Your living water that You offer me today.  Thank you Lord that You are the source of everlasting life.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Love God and Love Others

‘Which is the first of all the commandments?’ Jesus replied, ‘This is the first: Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is the one Lord, and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You must love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.’

A Scribe comes to Jesus with an authentic question for a change, not one to try and trick Him. So Jesus gives an authentic answer.  The resulting dialogue recorded in Mark gives one of the greatest encapsulations on how I am to live my Christian walk -  Love God and love others.

This "way to follow the Way" is constantly stretching me.  Love is such a high ideal that I can never say I have fully exercised it.  My love of self sometimes distracts me from loving others and even from loving God. And sometimes others aren't very lovely.  And yet there the commandment lies - Love God and love others.  When I achieve something of its fulness I know it is such a glorious and fulfilling way to live. 

So here I go again...Today I look for opportunities to love God and love others.  It's simply the best way to live life in its fulness.

Jesus, lover of my soul, today I'm calling on your help to love You and love others.  You are perfect love, help me in my imperfection.
Little Flower, please pray for me.