Thursday, June 30, 2011

Courage My Child

Then some people appeared, bringing him a paralytic stretched out on a bed. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, ‘Courage, my child, your sins are forgiven.’

Jesus is at the height of  His recorded healing ministry.  He has just delivered two demon possessed men in the region of Gadarenes.  On arrival back across the lake at His home town He is petitioned to heal a paralytic.  Jesus' immediate response is to forgive the man's sins.

Two important points strike me in this event.  Firstly, the faith of the paralytic's friends is all it takes to move Jesus into action.  Nothing is said about the paralytic's faith. Intercession works as far as Jesus is concerned.  Secondly, Jesus' immediate response was to deal with the most important thing, the state of the paralytic's soul, not his body.  He only healed the man's paralysis to demonstrate His authority to forgive sins.

I have had a relapse of my "bad back" over the last couple of weeks.  As anyone who has suffered from sciatica would know, it's the sort of pain from which you can't escape.  Whether lying down or standing up, it's there.  It can preoccupy my thinking and is typical of how the physical world creates a spiritual haze.  Yes, the pain is real and is debilitating, but according to Jesus the debilitating state of my soul is of far more importance.

I need to go to Confession...

Lord Jesus, I believe You have the authority to forgive my sins.  Have mercy on me Lord, a sinner from birth.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Feast Day of Saint Peter and Saint Paul

So I now say to you: You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church. And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it.

Today the Church celebrates the lives of two of its greatest founders, Saint Peter and Saint Paul.  Two very imperfect men, one a loud-mouth blustering fisherman, the other a self-righteous Pharisee.  Yet these two men allowed themselves to be transformed by Jesus into living Saints who both finally died a martyr's death. The Church is firmly grounded on the lives of Saint Peter and Saint Paul.  Our present Pope traces his line of authority back to the authority Jesus gave Peter. Saint Paul's epistles are read at most Masses throughout the world.

The lives of these two men inspire me as testimonies to the transforming power of Jesus.  They are prime examples of what Jesus can do with any life ...with my life.  I am never beyond the reach of Jesus' transforming power.  Sainthood is never an impossible dream, in fact it is my natural calling.  This is good news because I am in need of transforming.  Sainthood awaits, starting today.

Lord Jesus, you never gave up on Peter and Paul.  You will never give up on me.  Transform me Lord that I may be a witness for You to my world.
Saints Peter and Paul, please pray for me.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Take the Hand

The angels urged Lot, ‘Come, take your wife and these two daughters of yours, or you will be overwhelmed in the punishment of the town.’ And as he hesitated, the men took him by the hand, and his wife and his two daughters, because of the pity the Lord felt for him. They led him out and left him outside the town.

Abraham has just interceded with God to spare Sodom.  The "one good man" turns out to be Lot and God spares him because of His pity raised by Abraham's intercession.

There are two powerful lessons in this reading for me.  Firstly, intercession can move God to pity.  My prayer is never wasted.  Sometimes I may never know who has benefited from my intercessory prayer. Secondly, even though I may "hesitate" in my sin, God will still take my hand and lead me out to safety.  Sodom and its pleasures must have been hard to leave, even for a righteous man like Lot.  But the lord had him led by the hand out of its impending destruction.  What a reassurance for me as I struggle with leaving what I know can destroy me.  Not only that, but maybe there are some who the Lord would have me take by the hand and lead out to safety.

Father in heaven, thank you for the assurance of Your pity and mercy. Show me those who I should intercede for, those who I should take by the hand.  And Lord, help me be humble enough to take the hand offered to me when I need it.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Pilar of Fire

Solemnity - Corpus Christi

He humbled you, he made you feel hunger, he fed you with manna which neither you nor your fathers had known, to make you understand that man does not live on bread alone but that man lives on everything that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

On this Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ the Church takes us back to the time of the great Exodus from Egypt.  Moses is about to hand over leadership to Joshua who will lead the people into the promised land of Cana. He is summarisng the history of the Chosen People, here reminding them how God provided for them in the desert. Jesus in today's Gospel reminds me that the bread He offers in the Eucharist feeds more than my physical body, it brings me eternal life.

Our priest at Mass this morning, Father Graham Alexander, gave an interesting lesson from today's first reading.  He pointed out that even though the people had God with them in the desert as evidenced by the pillar of smoke by day and fire by night, they still lost sight of Him and complained to Moses, demanding to be fed with manna .  Father said a modern day similarity is created when we ignore God during the week and try to "tank up" on Him on Sundays at Mass.  Jesus taught the disciples how to pray before He instituted the Eucharist.  We need to have daily personal prayer with God during the week.  Then the Eucharist can be received and it's life-giving power released.  Food for thought on this Solemnity of Corpus Christi...

Jesus my Lord.  You know how easily I get distracted from you outside of Mass.  Help me bring my mind into captivity to You in daily prayer.  Then I may worthily receive Your precious Body and Blood.

Little Flower, please pray for me.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Hear and Do

‘Therefore, everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on rock... But everyone who listens to these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a stupid man who built his house on sand.'

Jesus is closing His Sermon on the Mount by underscoring the importance of what He has just said.  Hearing them is not enough.  His words must lead to action.

When I look back at what what Jesus has said in the Sermon on the Mount, I tremble.  Turn the other cheek... Love your neighbour... Love your enemy... Give, give and give some more...  Pray secretly and constantly... Don't even think lustful thoughts.  These are all extremely difficult things, yet Jesus lays them before me to pick up.

I need to remember that He promised His yoke is easy and I need to remember He loves me. This call is what makes following Jesus such an adventure.  Wimps need not apply.  It takes guts to hear Jesus' words and then act on them.

O Lord, I tremble at Your call, but with Your promises and with the Holy Spirit's strength... I follow.
Little Flower, Please pray for me.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Beware of false prophets who come to you disguised as sheep but underneath are ravenous wolves. You will be able to tell them by their fruits.'

Jesus is drawing His Sermon on the Mount to a close with a series of warnings. He emphasises the need to look out for those who appear to be harmless but who in fact are deadly dangerous.

Jesus has proclaimed a universal law of nature here; Fruits identify the tree. This is as true in the world of man as in the world of nature. Jesus repeats His warning of "Wolf in Sheep's clothing", emphasising how this is not an uncommon danger.

There is another way to look at this verse. What are my fruits? Do I produce grapes and figs or thorns and thistles? Am I life-giving or life-taking? In honesty I would have to say a bit of both, and some times I'm simply a desert producing nothing at all. The inference Jesus gives here is that fruit needs to be produced. I need to make sure my fruit is succulent and life-giving to those around me.

Jesus my friend, You know how my selfishness can sour my fruit, or even make it wither and die. Please help cultivate in me a healthy life of love that produces fruit worthy of a follower of Yours.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Saturday, June 18, 2011


My grace is enough for you: my power is at its best in weakness.’ So I shall be very happy to make my weaknesses my special boast so that the power of Christ may stay over me... For it is when I am weak that I am strong. 2Cor.12:9,10

Saint Paul is writing to the Church of Corinth and has outlined his own authenticity in the Christian life. He confesses to a "thorn in the flesh" which he says the Lord has not lifted from him to keep him humble. It is the genius of Paul that he then turns that weakness into the very source of his strength, that it causes the power of Christ to stay over him. Paul's weakness becomes his strength.

As a truly stumbling follower of Christ, this is good news for me. When I fall I am tempted to stay away from Christ to hide my shame. But that only gives power to the shame. When I do the opposite and press into Jesus with my shame exposed, it withers and dies, loosing its power over me. Truly, when I am weak I am strong.

This reminds of of Rembrandt's stunning painting of the prodigal Son. The ragged son's fall is obvious, yet the father embraces him with his love none the less. You just know that the son is on the path to healing and regained strength, all because he stopped hiding his weakness and threw himself into his loving father's arms. There's an ache in me to do the same...

Lord Jesus, you know my thorns of the flesh. I press into You as my only hope of a way back to the Father. May Your power stay over me to make me strong in my weakness.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


‘Yes, if you forgive others their failings, your heavenly Father will forgive you yours; but if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive your failings either.’

Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, has just given the Church the model on how to pray; the Our Father. He immediately zeros in on the forgiveness verse; "And forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven those who are in debt to us", emphasising the importance of forgiveness.

At first read this verse appears to make God appear fickle, not constant or loyal in His affections to me. But, I know the nature of God is love. So Love is telling me that I can only be forgiven as much as I forgive, and Love wants to forgive me much. He is drawing me past my human limitations and forcing me to look at the wonderful possibilities He is presenting; freedom from hatred, revenge and bitterness and offering in its place friendship, joy, and peace.

Today I embrace forgiveness as my hallmark of being a follower of The Way. Forgiveness is something we believers do. Why? ...because we have been forgiven much.

Thank you Jesus for the forgiveness You have given me, even though my sins helped nail You to the cross. Help me Lord to be a forgiver of others.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

God of the Secret Place

But when you pray, go to your private room and, when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in that secret place, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.

Jesus continues His radical, life-changing instructions on the Christian life in His great Sermon on the Mount. Here He instructs on how the believer is to talk/pray to God the Father... honestly and privately.

The great mystery of Christianity for the pagans and indeed, modern day unbelievers, is our relationship with an unseen God. The pagans needed their idols, modern unbelievers need something, anything that satisfies impericle reason. We Christians only need faith in our unseen God.

There is something very beautiful Jesus is saying about God the Father here. He is intimate. He is a personal God of the "secret place". The inference is that He is waiting in that place, always waiting and watching out for me to come and be with Him, much like the father of the prodigal son. Like the father of the prodigal son, He knows all about my sins, my indiscretions, yet He still desires me to return to Him in that secret place. Why? He can love me. Why would I resist such intimacy? Today I surrender again to my God of the secret place to bathe in His love.

Thank you Jesus for drawing me closer to our Father. Father God, I lay myself before You and receive your love.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


But I say this to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; in this way you will be sons of your Father in heaven.

Jesus is giving His great Sermon on the Mount, outlining His radical new way to live as followers of Him. He turned the world upside down for His Jewish listeners. He turns the world upside down for me.

All of Jesus' teaching in His Sermon on the mount flies in the face of the world's teaching and none more-so than "love your enemies". Revenge is not part of Jesus' vocabulary. Utu is a foreign concept to Him. Revenge is very much part of the language of the world because it's all about me. Love is the language of God as it is all about other.

There is a deep craving within me to focus on me, my plans, my rights, my wants, my needs. But there is an even deeper yearning to be free of that insatiable self-centered life, to be who I was really created to be; a great lover of others. Today Jesus shows me a way to that freedom. It's part of the underlying call to all believers... love God and love others. Today I love, not on my terms but on God's terms... and with His help I can do it.

Jesus, lover of my soul, teach me how to love today. Starting with those You place about me.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Under The Influence


No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord’ unless he is under the influence of the Holy Spirit.

Saint Paul is writing to the Church of Corinth giving instruction and guidance, particularly on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. In today's second reading Paul emphasises that the Holy Spirit is not an option for believers but is essential so His gifts can build up the Church.

I was about five years into my Christian walk before I received Baptism in the Spirit.  However, the Spirit must have been active in my life prior to that event because I had publicly declared "Jesus is Lord" as part of my conversion and entry into the Church.  Certainly, I never started exercising the Spirit's gifts until after Baptism in the Spirit... and that is the key.  It's allowing the Holy Spirit to "influence" me that makes all the difference.  Suddenly I couldn't get enough of The Word.  The Mass became alive to me.  I began to meet the Risen Jesus in the Sacraments.  I became a better lover.  Don't take my world for it, ask my family.

I need to yield again and again to the Holy Spirit in my life so I can be an authentic and effective follower of Jesus, starting again form today.

Come Holy Spirit, fall afresh on me.
Lead me with your power, satisfy my needs.
Only You can make me grow,
fill me up and make me whole.
Come Holy Spirit, fall afresh on me.

Little Flower please pray for me.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

My Story

Seeing him (John), Peter said to Jesus, ‘What about him, Lord?’ Jesus answered, ‘If I want him to stay behind till I come, what does it matter to you? You are to follow me.’

The Risen Jesus has appeared to the disciples and has just eaten breakfast with them.  Peter has just been given his great commission; "feed my lambs... take care of my lambs... feed my sheep". Peter then asks Jesus what are His plans for John, the Beloved Disciple?  Jesus answers that John's story is John's story, he (Peter) is to focus on his own story which is to follow Him (Jesus).

I often find myself second-guessing people's faith journeys.  This invariably ends up with me judging them.  In today's verse from John's Gospel Jesus is telling  me to stop doing this. Their story is between them and Jesus, not me.  My duty is to know what my mission is and to carry it out faithfully, starting today...

Forgive me Lord for the times I have judged my brothers and sisters in faith. Holy Spirit, empower me with a clear sense of the mission Jesus has given me and the courage to undertake it.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Be One

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said: ‘Holy Father, I pray not only for these, but for those also who through their words will believe in me. May they all be one that the world may believe it was you who sent me.

Jesus is praying for His followers just before His passion and death. He shifts the focus of His priestly prayer from His current followers to His future followers. He starts praying for me. Jesus' plea to the Father is that the Church present and future may be unified. Why? So the world may believe.

Disunity among Christendom has been Satan's greatest success since the foundation of the Church. Where faith leads, schism seems to follow. It is our disunity that makes the Good News unbelievable to an unbelieving world. Conversely, where there is unity the Good News is received and the Church grows.

How unified am I with the Church, with my Bishop, my parish, the little church which is my family? Unity with these is not an option, it is essential if I want to be an authentic witness to Jesus, starting today.

Lord Jesus, You prayed that I would be one with my brothers and sisters in You. Forgive me Lord for the times I have spoken against the Church hierarchy, against my priest, against my fellow parishioners and even against my family. Help me Lord to look past the differences and love them none the less as You have looked past my weaknesses and still loved me.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

In But Not Of

I passed your word on to them, and the world hated them, because they belong to the world no more than I belong to the world. I am not asking you to remove them from the world, but to protect them from the evil one.

Jesus is praying His great priestly prayer for His disciples, and for me, before His passion and death. His prayer includes a summary of what He has done and then a powerful intercession for protection.

Jesus highlights the tension that is the life of a Believer.  We are in the world but not of the world.  The world is not simply indifferent to us, it hates us.  Yet, in response we are called to love the world as Jesus does and call it into the fullness of His life. In my day today, I am called to respond to the world's hatred with love.  I am not meant to live in a Christian bubble but to be salt and light.  This is a difficult thing, impossible even, unless I receive the help of the Holy Spirit.

Holy Spirit of God, You know how the world can seduce me, how I can get caught up in its desires and temptations.  Help me be in the world but not of it.  Help me love the world into God's kingdom, starting with those I meet  today.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

My Mission

But life to me is not a thing to waste words on, provided that when I finish my race I have carried out the mission the Lord Jesus gave me – and that was to bear witness to the Good News of God’s grace.

Paul is about to return to Jerusalem and is fare-welling the Ephesian church.  He knows persecution awaits him and that he will never see them again. Paul reminds them of all he has told them about the saving grace of Jesus.

Paul had a clear conscience.  He knew he had completed the mission that Jesus had set for him at Ephasis. What is my mission?  Have I started it yet alone completed it?  Paul knew what to do as "the Holy Spirit, in town after town, has made it clear enough..." Acts 20:23. He was finely tuned to hearing what the Holy Spirit was saying to him.  The only way I am to know the mission Jesus has set for me is to do likewise.

Holy Spirit, rise up within me and give me guidance and direction.  Reveal to me the mission Jesus has set for me that I may be an authentic witness to the Good News of God's grace.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

I am with You

 Ascension Sunday

‘It is’ he had said ‘what you have heard me speak about: John baptised with water but you, not many days from now, will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.’

Jesus' last words to the disciples before He asended into heaven included this promise of the Holy Spirit to His Church.  He had promised this earlier but He chooses to repeat this now so it is ringing in the ears of His followers after He leaves them..

In a way, Jesus was limited by His physical body when He was walking upon the earth.  He could only be at one place with a limited number of people at a time.  After His ascension and the release of the Holy Spirit His power was magnified.  He can now been in limitless places speaking to to numberless people at any time. 

This is good news because it means He is with me here, now as I pray.  The key to being with Jesus now in the 21st century?  The Holy Spirit!

Come Holy Spirit of God.  Fill me that I may hear my Lord Jesus as He loves me today.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Joy is Mine

So it is with you: you are sad now, but I shall see you again, and your hearts will be full of joy, and that joy no one shall take from you.

Jesus is about to suffer terribly and die a horrible death.  He knows this, yet He talks to His disciples again and again about joy.  He sees the big picture and wants them (and me) to see it as well.

The joy that no one can take away is something that originally attracted me to faith in Jesus.  I met people who had ups and downs in their lives but they still seemed to be up-beat about life.  When I had downs I was crushed, without hope.

The mantra I have learnt from my faith in my Risen Lord is "this is not all there is".  No matter how bad (or good) things get, this is not the final say on my life.  I have the promise of something so infinitely better that my feeble brain cannot imagine it.  This is the source of my optimism today, why my heart is full of joy, a joy no one can take away.

Jesus my Risen Lord, thank you Lord for your promise that I shall see You again. You are the source of my joy today and always.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Great Joy

‘I tell you most solemnly, you will be weeping and wailing while the world will rejoice;
you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn to joy.’

Jesus is about to enter His passion and death.  He is warning the disciples of what is about to happen, events that will cause great sorrow (His passion and death) but then great joy (His resurrection).

In one sense, I have been spared the sorrow because I know the great joy.  I belong to a resurrection people, the Holy Catholic Church.  We know that Jesus is not dead, but that He conquered death and lives, that this is a promise also for me! Yes, troubles and sorrow will come in my life, but the fact remains that the joy of Christ's ressurection, my resurrection, remains ...always!  What a great promise to take into my day, whatever it may bring!

Thank you Jesus that You died so that I may have life and life in incredible fullness and joy.  May the joy of the Lord be my strength today.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

He is Risen! he (God) is telling everyone everywhere that they must repent, because he has fixed a day when the whole world will be judged, and judged in righteousness, and he has appointed a man to be the judge. And God has publicly proved this by raising this man from the dead.’
  At this mention of rising from the dead, some of them burst out laughing; others said, ‘We would like to hear you talk about this again.' After that, Paul left them.

Saint Paul is preaching to the Greeks in Athens and has told them their altar "To an Unknown God" is in fact representing the God he proclaims. Paul is listened to until he describes Jesus rising from the dead.  At that point the Greeks are divided; some laugh and scoff, some want to hear more.

Little has changed in two thousand years.  In New Zealand today we have altars to all manner of Gods, some religious, some worldly.  Whatever I want to worship I can find others who would worship with me; from worshipping myself, money, career, possessions or a plethora of Gods. But if I mention Christ crucified and risen from the dead, then the scoffers start.

I met a Philipino man last night who came to repair a broken air conditioner in my hotel room.  We got talking and quickly found we were both Catholic.  The conversation changed as we started talking about things of God, our families, our faith.  We had an affinity, a brotherhood that was refreshing to find in a chance encounter.  Thinking about it afterwards, what I found uplifting was that I could talk about my faith freely without needing to be defensive.  There was no underlying scoffing.

Where's this all leading me?  Like Saint Paul, I think I am still called to proclaim my Risen Lord, despite the scoffers.  Some will want to hear more.  Meanwhile, God will send angels to refresh me, like my Philipino friend.  Lord, set up those encounters today...

Lord Jesus, you are my living God present with me today.  Give me courage to speak of Your resurrection, especially in this Easter season.
Little Flower, please pray for me.