Saturday, July 30, 2011

Tell Jesus

John’s disciples came and took the body and buried it; then they went off to tell Jesus.

John the Baptist has just been beheaded by Herod.  His disciples do the only thing left for then to do, bury the body and then turn to Jesus.

I can only imagine the distress felt by John's disciples who have just had their very worst fears realised.  Their great leader had been jailed by Herod and was now killed in a shameful and gruesome spectacle. Yet, as followers of John they knew enough about Jesus to naturally turn to Him in their hour of grief.

What a great lesson for me.  There are times when calamity hits or when old sins rise up and I fall again.  The temptation is to let grief overwhelm me with despair and hopelessness.  John's disciples show the way forward.  Go off and tell Jesus.  He's waiting for me...

Lord Jesus, to whom else can I turn?  You have the words of everlasting life.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Defining Laws

“These are the solemn festivals of the Lord to which you are to summon the children of Israel, sacred assemblies for the purpose of offering burnt offerings, holocausts, oblations, sacrifices and libations to the Lord, according to the ritual of each day.”

Moses has just outlined in detail the solemn festivals and feasts the Israelites are to follow, as dictated to him by God. 

Leviticus is another of those "why did God bother?" books of the Old Testament.  Pages upon pages of what appear to be nit-picking rules and regulations.  However, when I place myself in amongst the children of Israel at that time, I get another picture.  They were still in the process of escaping from Egypt.  Not only were they undergoing a physical change from Egypt to Canaan , they were also undergoing a character change from salves to free people.  The traditions being given through Moses were going to redefine who they were... chosen people of God. 

The Catholic Church from the outside (and sadly, sometimes from the inside) is seen as a musty old institution full of pointless rules and regulations.  I had that view before I entered the Church.  But now, as a Catholic I see things differently.  The Teachings, liturgies and traditions of the Church define who I am, a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ.  I need the Church to help me in my daily walk with the Lord.  Without her I would have wandered off into the wilderness long ago.  Today I have a new appreciation of the treasures the Church holds for me, a child of God heading for the promised land.

Lord Jesus, thank you for the Church You established so long ago, knowing I would need her so much today.
Mary, Mother of the Church, pray for me.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Both New and Old

‘Have you understood all this?’ They said, ‘Yes.’ And he said to them, ‘Well then, every scribe who becomes a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out from his storeroom things both new and old.’

Jesus has just finished teaching His series of parables on what the kingdom of heaven is like.  Like any good teacher He asks His listeners, "Do you understand, have you got this?".

A scribe was an expert on the Law of Moses.  By referring to a scribe who has become a disciple, Jesus places His imprimatur, His sanction on the law of the old testament.  He implies that His teaching on God's kingdom is simply clarifying what has already been written.

The Church backs up the importance of the Law and the Prophets by having us hear them at Mass most days.  Today is a classic from Exodus, describing how Moses built the tabernacle for the Arc of the Covenant.  I'm tempted to say, "Who cares how the sockets of the tabernacle were joined?".  Well, Jesus for one.  Maybe it's the obedience of Moses to God's instructions that is the message here.  As Saint Paul wrote...

All scripture is inspired by God and can profitably be used for teaching, for refuting error, for guiding people's lives and teaching them to be holy. This is how the man who is dedicated to God becomes fully equipped and ready for any good work. 
2 Timothy 3:16,17

Lord Jesus, often I think I know it all.  Forgive me and heal me of my pride.  Help me to be teachable by Your Word, both new and old.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hidden Treasure

Jesus said to the crowds, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field which someone has found; he hides it again, goes off happy, sells everything he owns and buys the field.

Jesus is talking with His disciples, explaining to them what the kingdom of heaven is like.  He is using word-pictures of things that the people of his day would understand - yeast and dough, wheat and weeds, treasure and pearls, farming with seeds, fishing with nets.  These tangible things Jesus uses to explain the intangible truths of the kingdom of heaven.

This highlights for me my daily battle.  The tangible things of the world clamor for my attention and if I let them, my worship.  But as Saint Augustine said, "My soul is restless Lord until it rests in You".  I follow an invisible God, one whom I can't see and touch and yet who is my greatest reality.

I remember a time in my life when I didn't recognise God and the world had my full and devoted attention.  It was the most troubled and anxiety-ridden time of my life.  I never want to go back there.  Today I recommit myself to my invisible God, my treasure hidden in a field that I give up everything to posses.

Father in heaven, You are my God and I am Your son.  I give my all to You as You gave Your Son to me.  Jesus I am Yours.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Sun Shiner

Well then, just as the darnel is gathered up and burnt in the fire, so it will be at the end of time. The Son of Man will send his angels and they will gather out of his kingdom all things that provoke offenses and all who do evil, and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth. Then the virtuous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Listen, anyone who has ears!’

Jesus has just explained the parable of the weeds to His disciples. His point is that there is going to be a judgement day at the end of time where good and evil are separated and sent to their respective destinations, heaven or hell.

Jesus repeatedly teaches on the two destinations for all mankind, heaven and hell, yet it would be one of the most ignored truths of the Bible.  Popular thinking both inside and outside of the Church is that the road to heaven is wide and easy and everyone is going to get there.  In fact, Jesus says the opposite (Matthew 7:13)

An eschatological worldview gives rise to good questions.  Where do I want  myself and my loved ones to be at the end of time?  Why is it imperative that I spread the Good News of what Jesus has done for us?  Why be a Christian at all?  Jesus answers these today with the clear image of people weeping and grinding their teeth or shining like the sun.  Today I recommit myself to becoming a sun-shiner.

Lord Jesus, help me have ears to listen.  I recommit myself to Your crazy offer of undeserved grace, that I may spend eternity shining like the sun with You.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Upside Down Pyramid

'Anyone who wants to be great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be your slave, just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’

Today is the feast day of Saint James the Apostle.  The Gospel today tells of James' and Johns' mother asking Jesus for exulted positions in the coming kingdom.  The very human crowd of ten other disciples express their indignance at the two brothers, secretly wishing they'd had the nerve to ask first.  Jesus then explains that in His kingdom the order of power is very different from that of the world.  In His kingdom the first are slaves to all others, the great are the servants.  It's an up-side-down pyramid with the leader at the bottom carrying all those he leads.

This is a great catholic truth that I struggle to role-model in my own family.  I am the head of my household which makes me the servant of all.  For some ten years I have been official toilet cleaner in my home and I can tell you that you have to hug those things to do the job properly.  It's a small physical act to demonstrate a great spiritual truth.  After all, if Jesus came not to be served but to serve, what greater role-model do I require?

Lord Jesus, You are the Servant King.  Help me role-model authentic leadership in my family, to your glory.
Little Flower, please pray for me. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Love God and All is Well

We know that by turning everything to their good, God co-operates with all those who love him, with all those he has called according to his purpose.

This is one of those classic verses often quoted and often misunderstood, by me at least.  It was very tempting for me as a new Christian to read this verse as saying only good things will happen for me, now I am called by Christ.  As bad things continued to happen in my life I began to realise this is not what is being promised.  Scripture in fact promises the opposite; "Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses;" 2 Corinthians 6:4. 

I tend now to focus on the "those who love Him" part of the verse.  There is a great promise here, but it my take until the next life before I see it realised.  This puts an eternal perspective on things, which is a good discipline for me.  What is happening now, today, I may not have control over but it is not the final say on things.  I just need to keep loving God, which I do have control over.  It's all quite simple really.  Just keep loving God and all will be well... in the end.

Lord Jesus, You know how I get over-whelmed by the here-and-now.  Help me instead Lord to keep focused on You, on Your love for me and my love for You.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Friday, July 22, 2011


'When anyone hears the word of the kingdom without understanding, the evil one comes and carries off what was sown in his heart... the man who hears the word and understands it; he is the one who yields a harvest and produces now a hundredfold, now sixty, now thirty.’

Jesus is teaching His disciples on the meaning of the parable of the sower.  Jesus gives much attention to this parable, highlighting the importance of what it teaches.  Jesus is saying hearing the word of God is not enough, it must also be understood.

I am reminded of an event a number of years ago.  While mowing our front lawn one Saturday morning a car speeds up and stops outside our home.  A young man I know leaps out and runs up to me shouting, "I've just become a Christian!".  There's a huge expression of joy on his face.  I share in his new found joy and excitement and he drives off.  Nine months later I learn he's no longer attending church and is away from home living with his girl friend.  What was sown in his heart had been carried off.  I take some blame for that as I never helped that young man understand the word from God that he had received.

I always thought the heart was a sacred place where nothing could be stolen.  Jesus says no, the devil can steal even what is held close to my heart.  The protection against that happening is understanding.  Today's Psalm says the word of God "gives wisdom to the simple" Ps.19:7.  This is good news for me indeed as I am no scholarly theologian. So, I recommit myself to daily receiving of God's Word, seeking understanding with a simple heart.

Lord Jesus, I pray for understanding as I receive Your Word.  Holy Spirit, please give me the simple wisdom Your inspired word promises.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bread of Angels

He rained down manna for their food, and gave them bread from heaven.  Mere men ate the bread of angels.

Psalm 78 is in response to the first reading from Exodus 16 where the the complaining Israelites are given manna and quail to eat in the desert.  The psalm recounts the wonders of God as He watched over His chosen people and led them to the land He promised. Eventually the people started complaining even about this "bread of angels".

The term "Bread of Angels" immediately has me thinking of Holy Eucharist.  I am convicted this morning about the casual attitude I often have towards this superlative gift from Jesus in the form of bread... His very body.  Today I, a mere man, need to go to Mass and eat the Bread of Angels.

Lord Jesus, thank you for the most precious gift You give me in Holy Eucharist.  Indeed I am offered the Bread of Angels.  It is the source and summit of my life.  It is You...
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Brother

Jesus replied, ‘Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?’ And stretching out his hand towards his disciples he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven, he is my brother and sister and mother.’

Jesus is speaking to the crowds when his mother and family members arrive to speak to Him.  Tradition tells that they wanted to do more than speak to Him, they wanted to take Him away for fear of what His growing number of enemies were planning to do to Him.  Jesus' response is remarkable.  He seems to rebuke His family in preference to the group of followers He had with Him.

When I think of what that rag-tag gang of disciples was made of, Jesus' words take on a new meaning.  None of Jesus' disciples at that stage would have qualified for sainthood.  The best of them would have been the loud mouthed, blundering Peter.  The worst was the money-hungry and treacherous Judas. Yet it was to these that Jesus stretched out His hand and said, "These are my family".

I see myself very easily fitting into that motley group.  I am indeed a stumbling follower, yet Jesus says that's enough to qualify.  My stumbling efforts to do the will of His Father makes me family. There's something very grounding about that realisation.  I belong to Jesus in an intimate and familial relationship, despite my brokenness. This relationship defines who I am... a brother of Jesus.  O what peace and joy comes with that.

Lord Jesus, my brother, again I rush into Your arms and say thank you.  Thank you for defining who I am... a brother of the Son of God.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Keep Still

Moses answered the people, ‘Have no fear! Stand firm, and you will see what the Lord will do to save you today: the Egyptians you see today, you will never see again. The Lord will do the fighting for you: you have only to keep still.’

The Israelites have just escaped from Egypt and Pharaoh has given chase with his army.  The Israelites are seemly trapped between the advancing Egyptians and the sea and so are giving up in despair.   Moses alone trusts in God’s promise of deliverance and without yet knowing what that mighty plan is he encourages the people, “Have no fear… you have only to keep still!”.

When all seemed lost, when the reality of the situation seemed hopeless, all that was left was trust in God.  When the only way out seemed to be to fight their way out and they had no fight left in them, the answer was to keep still and let God do the fighting. 

Keeping still… there is a challenge.  I find it hard to keep still, especially in my mind.  I am constantly thinking and many of those thoughts tend to be anxious ones.  Worries about my family, my job, my health, my finances… all these at times seem like an advancing army coming to enslave me.  The answer?  Trust God and keep still…

Lord Jesus, You are my defender, You are my peace, I place my trust in You.  Holy Spirit of God, help me to keep still today…
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

God Defend New Zealand

He will not break the crushed reed, nor put out the smouldering wick till he has led the truth to victory: in his name the nations will put their hope.

Matthew's Gospel has just described how Jesus withdrew from the plotting Pharisees.  He continued to heal but had the people not tell of their miraculous recoveries.  His time had not yet come to be openly glorified.  Matthew then quotes the prophet Isaiah that describes the meekness of the Messiah; meek and yet so victorious that it is in Him the nations put their hope.

I am reminded of our beautiful national anthem, God Defend New Zealand. Before a nation can place its hope in God its people must place their hope in God.  It's a person by person thing.  My role is to place my hope in God and encourage those around me to do likewise, starting today...

God of Nations at Thy feet,
In the bonds of love we meet,
Hear our voices, we entreat,
God defend our free land.
Guard Pacific's triple star
From the shafts of strife and war,
Make her praises heard afar,
God defend New Zealand.

Saint Peter Chanel and Saint Mary of the Cross, pray for us.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Mercy Not Sacrifice

'And if you had understood the meaning of the words: What I want is mercy, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the blameless. For the Son of Man is master of the sabbath.’

The Pharisees have accused Jesus' disciples of breaking the Sabbath by eating ears of corn in the field.  The experts in the Law again missed Mercy when they met Him.

I would have made an excellent Pharisee.  I feel in control with laws.  They are very well defined and appeal to my judgemental nature.  They also make me feel good when I measure them against others and see that others fail to meet their standards.  The problem is, deep within me I know that I fail as well.  Mercy is my only hope.  I need to understand the words "What I want is mercy, not sacrifice".

Lord Jesus, have mercy on me a sinner.  Give me a merciful heart to those I met today.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

God is With Me

Moses said to God, ‘Who am I to go to Pharaoh and bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?’ ‘I shall be with you,’ was the answer. ‘and this is the sign by which you shall know that it is I who have sent you... After you have led the people out of Egypt, you are to offer worship to God on this mountain.’

Moses is being given his assignment from God who speaks to him from the burning bush.  It's the major turning point in his Moses' life where he changes from a shepherd in the wilderness to a leader of a nation.  He is as stunned by the revelation as anyone and questions God. "Who am I...?"  God answers, "You are right, you are nobody, but I shall be with you...".

It was the God factor in Moses' life that made all the difference.  The nobody shepherd was transformed into the great leader God intended.  This begs the question, "Who am I?"  The answer from God  is the same, "By yourself, nobody.  But with me anything is possible". 

Lord Jesus, I know you have great plans for me, but my fears and insecurities limit those plans.  Help me truly know that You are the God who is always with me.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Jesus began to reproach the towns in which most of his miracles had been worked, because they refused to repent. ‘Alas for you, Chorazin! Alas for you, Bethsaida!

Jesus is rebuking the towns where His miracles, His display of authority,  made no difference to to the sinful behavior of the people.  He prophesy's a resulting dire consequence for those communities that haven't repented after hearing His message.

There is a law of the harvest that says we reap what we sow.  I am reminded of a wise old friend of mine who says "it's not good people who get to heaven, it's forgiven people".  In today's Gospel Jesus underscores the truth that repentance is the key to heaven.  Unrepentance and its associated pride is the key to hell. My choice...

Lord Jesus, have mercy on me a sinner from birth. 
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Hear the Whisper

"What I say to you in the dark, tell in the daylight; what you hear in whispers, proclaim from the housetops. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul..."

Jesus continues instructing His twelve disciples in preparation for their missionary work.  These instructions apply to all believers.  Spreading the Good News is part of what we do as followers of Jesus.

Jesus implies here that we first hear from Him in privacy, in the quiet of our daily prayer times.  If I don't have these intimate, personal times with Jesus, how can I have anything to to proclaim from the housetops?  My daily prayer time is not just a pious thing to do, it's essential if I want to be in-tune with what Jesus is saying to me.  It's essential if I want to declare Him before men.

Lord Jesus. I rededicate my morning prayer time to You. Whisper to me Lord that I may then proclaim from the house-tops.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Sheep among Wolves

Jesus instructed the Twelve as follows: ‘Remember, I am sending you out like sheep among wolves; so be cunning as serpents and yet as harmless as doves.

Jesus is commissioning the twelve disciples before their first missionary trip.  He promises them persecution, hardship, arrest and floggings.  There was no payback promised in this life but certainly the promise of an eternal reward.

The "conditions of employment" haven't changed.  If am preaching an authentic Gospel I will be persecuted.  That is the nature of the battle against the Prince of the World we Christians are engaged in.   It follows that if my life seems a little comfortable and uneventful I must ask myself, am I preaching the Gospel?

Lord Jesus, You tell me   "do not be afraid ", but it is a fearful thing to stand up for You in my world. Send me Your Spirit so I may have the courage to be an authentic witness for You.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A Noisy Process

 Then Joseph could not control his feelings in front of all his retainers, and he exclaimed, ‘Let everyone leave me.’ No one therefore was present with him while Joseph made himself known to his brothers, but he wept so loudly that all the Egyptians heard, and the news reached Pharaoh’s palace.

Joseph has finally revealed his true identity to his brothers who have come to Egypt begging for grain. The emotion of the reunion is too great for Joseph to hide, his weeping being heard throughout his palace.

I love the story of Joseph in Genesis.  It's a story of jealousy, treachery, forgiveness and finally redemption.  It's such a human story and yet the divine plan of God is worked perfectly through it.  The above verses from Genesis portray the pain and agony Joseph had to work through before he could forgive his brothers.

We're not told what period of time passed from when Joseph first saw his brothers to when he revealed himself to them.  The brothers traveled to and from Canna a least two times so it could have been years.  Joseph had to process his pain and anger from the treachery of his brothers selling him into slavery.  When he did forgive, it was a loud and noisy process. "What's that noise?  Is the governor unwell? No, it's just the sound of a man forgiving".

Forgiveness is a part of mankind's story of salvation as played out by Joseph and his brothers.  It's a part of my story of salvation today.  Who do I still need to forgive...?

Lord Jesus, You know my heart and You know the ones who against I still hold a grudge.  Help me Lord to let go and forgive all offenses small or great, even it becomes a noisy process.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Rich Harvest

“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Jesus continues through the countryside teaching, preaching, healing and delivering. As much as He ministered, more people came to Him seeking His transforming touch.

If we were to measure Jesus' success by His getting on top of the job at hand, He never got there.  He would heal two and four more sick would step forward.  He would feed five thousand and another seven thousand hungry would clamor after Him.  Despite this pressure Jesus saw this great need as a "rich harvest".  The people's needs moved Him with compassion.

I get tired just at the thought of the needs I see in the people of my world.  I have to transform my way of seeing needy people from insatiable life-suckers to "harassed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd" Mt.9:36.  How?  By allowing myself to be moved with compassion.

Lord Jesus, the harvest remains rich and the workers remain few.  I ask You, Lord of the Harvest, to make me a worker.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Possess the Spirit

Your interests are not in the unspiritual, but in the spiritual, since the Spirit of God has made his home in you. In fact, unless you possessed the Spirit of Christ you would not belong to him...

In the Book of Romans, Paul writes to the Believers in Rome to give encouragement and assurance in all that God has freely given them.  In today's reading from Romans Chapter 8 Paul focuses on the importance of the Spirit of God in our lives.  In fact, without the Holy Spirit we cannot even say we belong to Christ.

The Holy Spirit in many ways is the "forgotten God".  He is wheeled out briefly at Pentecost and then safely put away again.  Yes, He is mentioned in all the sacramental rites but He's not the personality of God that most people relate to. 

Where do I place the Holy Spirit in my faith walk?  I think of myself as charismatic but does the Holy Spirit play a role in my daily life as a believer? I think not as much as I should allow Him.  If this is so, how much do I really belong to Christ?  My physical world creates a spiritual haze.  My interests need to focus more on the spiritual.  Then, as Paul writes, I will live.

Come Holy Spirit, fall afresh on me.
Fill me with your power, satisfy my needs.
Only You can make me whole,

give me strength and make me grow.
Come Holy Spirit, fall afresh on me.

Little Flower, please pray for me.

Saturday, July 2, 2011


Hello Test.

Lord of The New

'Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins; if they do, the skins burst, the wine runs out, and the skins are lost. No; they put new wine into fresh skins and both are preserved.’

John's disciples are trying to understand the new thing Jesus was doing.  "Why do you not fast when we and everyone else does?"  Jesus explains that you do mix the old and the new, the old cloth with a new patch, the new wine in an old wineskin, or both will be ruined. The new demands new ways of doing things.

Jesus doesn't say throw away the old, He simply says do not mix the two. I find the old comforting and the new challenging in a scary sort of way. It's always easier to stay where I am and not push the boundaries. My wife and I are presently embarking on a new business venture.  It involves major changes in our home and in our financial status (read bigger mortgage).  It's scary, but it seems right.  I am reminded by this scripture that new is OK.  That in fact new is good. Scary, yes, but good.

Lord Jesus, You always embraced the new, You embodied the new.  You are Lord of the new.  Give me the courage to step out, to step up to the new You are always calling me to.
Little Flower, please pray for me.