Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Happy Pills

I am sure I shall see the Lord's goodness in the land of the living.  Hope in Him, hold firm and take heart.  Hope in the Lord!
Psalm 27:13,14

Psalm 27 is such a great declaration of bold and firm faith.  It starts, "The Lord is my light and my salvation - whom should I fear!".  It finishes with the above verses proclaiming the source of every believer's hope and joy.

I'm quite often accused of taking "happy pills".  I am an optimistic person.  The glass is always half full to me. This morning's psalm has clarified where this comes from.  Jesus in my life has given me my firm hope and this in turn is a source of great joy for me.  This transcends the dust of daily battle where rubbish can still be found.  It even transcends the best of days when everything seems bright and sunny..  The very best of days still pales into insignificance when compared to the promised "land of the living".

Today I carry that firm hope and joy with me and let it shine in a world that needs the light that can only come from Jesus.

Lord Jesus, You are my light and my salvation. You are the source of my joy, I place my trust in You.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Be Ready

'Those who were ready went in with him to the wedding hall and the door was closed. The other bridesmaids arrived later. “Lord, Lord,” they said “open the door for us.” But he replied, “I tell you solemnly, I do not know you.” So stay awake, because you do not know either the day or the hour.’

Jesus is telling another parable to describe what the kingdom of God will be like. In the parable of the ten bridesmaids there is a clear warning that entry to the kingdom will require being prepared and ready.  Turning up unprepared or late denies entry into the kingdom of God.

Jesus tells a number of times what the kingdom of God will be like.  It was a hot topic then and is a hot topic today.  We all want to know what God's kingdom is like and how we can get there.  All of Jesus' teaching on the kingdom of God tell of a place I am yearning to be but it requires discipline to get there.  Many outside and even within the Church believe the road to heaven is wide and easy and many/most/all will get there.  This is entirely opposite to what Jesus repeatedly warns us.  The road is narrow and few find it (Mt.7:14).

So, I am to stay awake and be ready for I do not know the hour that the Lord is coming.  How?  Well, I think going to Mass today will be a step in the right direction...

Lord Jesus, thank you for calling me further up and further in to the kingdom of God.  Holy Spirit, help me stay awake and be ready for the day Jesus returns to call me into the wedding feast of heaven.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Live 'till I Die

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Stay awake, because you do not know the day when your master is coming... Happy that servant if his master’s arrival finds him at this employment. I tell you solemnly, he will place him over everything he owns.'

Today's readings all refer to being ready for the unknown but assured return of Jesus for the day of Judgement. Saint Paul writes about being blameless in the sight of God on the day Jesus returns.  The psalmist writes about being aware of the shortness of life so we might gain wisdom.  Jesus in the Gospel warns us to stay awake and be ready for the return of the master.

We don't know when Jesus will return, we just know that He will.  This is good for me.  If I knew the timing of my last day on earth I would procrastinate and polish myself up just prior to the event.  What a wasted life that would be!  According to Jesus, the aim is to be a servant busy about my alloted work right up to the last hour.  As Saint Francis famously said, if the last hour of life were known, I'd just keep hoeing.

It's great not having to worry about when my last hour on this earth will be.  I just keep on at what I know God has called me to do to bring His kingdom here on earth, waiting in joy and hope.  What a great way to live each day to the fullest!

Lord Jesus, I recommit myself to Your service.  Help me know what that is each day... to know what that is today so on Your return  You may find me at my employment.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Come and See

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, the one about whom the prophets wrote: he is Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.’ ‘From Nazareth?’ said Nathanael ‘Can anything good come from that place?’ ‘Come and see’ replied Philip.

The opening chapter of the Gospel of Saint John shows the formation of the first disciples of Jesus.  The call of Jesus spreads like wild fire following relational paths of either families or friendships.  The evangelising call in each case is very simple... "come and see".

Two things strike me about the calling of Jesus' disciples.  It was relational and invitational.  The invitation from a family member or friend to "come and see" is non-threatening.  I am reminded that the most effective way I can evangelise is to be in authentic relationship with those I invite to meet Jesus.  This may not haul in the crowds but it is focused and effective.  It is also the invitation offered to me today.  Come and see...

Lord Jesus, You invite me to "come and see" what You are offering me.  Let me be effected by what I see so the desire to invite others burns within me.
Saint Philip and Saint Bartholomew, please pray for me.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Life of the Church

We do not need to tell other people about it: other people tell us how we started the work among you, how you broke with idolatry when you were converted to God and became servants of the real, living God; and how you are now waiting for Jesus, his Son.

Paul is writing to the church in Thessalonika after Timothy has returned with his report of the activities there.  What a glowing response from Paul!  His joy at what the church he established has become is rippling through the opening verses of this epistle.  What would Paul write to my local parish?  Or to bring it closer to home, what would he write to my "little church", my family over which I am priest? 

Paul identifies the path of success that the Thessalonians have followed.  They broke with idolatry, became servants and waited for Jesus.  The first two actions are practical and for me involve a daily decision. The last action is an attitude of faith that can't be forced.  It is a natural result that comes from the first two.  When I have broken off from my idolatrous addictions and replaced them with loving servant-hood, looking forward to Jesus' triumphant return makes perfect and joyful sense.

Today I recommit myself to the breaking of idolatry in my life and replace it with loving service to others.  Then I look forward to Jesus' return with joy and hope.

Lord Jesus, help me break from the idols in my life and become a servant of God.  Maranatha, come Lord Jesus come.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Love God Love Others

Jesus said, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second resembles it: You must love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang the whole Law, and the Prophets also.’

Jesus is replying to a question from a pharisee who didn't really want the answer.  He was trying to confound Jesus. Instead, in reply Jesus succinctly summarises the entire Old and New Testaments in two sentences; love God and love others.

Whenever I get "over theologised" I return to this basic truth of my faith;  Love God and love others.  If what I am doing meets these two commandments, then I'm on track. Saint Augustine distilled this even further by saying "Love God then do as you please".

Of course, these five words are easy to say but hard to do and there lies my dilemma. By myself I cannot fulfill these two commandments.  I tend to love myself before loving God.  And to be honest, some of the others are not very lovely people.  My natural selfishness gets in love's way.  The antidote?  ...confess my selfishness and call on the help of the Holy Spirit.  Love is a supernatural calling and I can only practice it with supernatural help.

Come Holy Spirit.  Heal me of my selfish wound and let my love for God become the love of God for others.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Wedding Dresser

“How did you get in here, my friend, without a wedding garment?” And the man was silent. Then the king said to the attendants, “Bind him hand and foot and throw him out into the dark, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.” For many are called, but few are chosen.’

Jesus continues with His teaching on what the kingdom of God is like.  His description is not of a wide and easy path where anyone can drift in as some would say.  The call is given to all but criteria must be met, a wedding garment and not dirty old rags must be worn.
I still find this description of heaven shocking.  Surely just turning up is enough?  Not according to Jesus.  Certain attire must be worn, preparation must be made.  This is where the Church steps in. 

My wife is great at making sure I’m presentable before I go out the door.  “There’s toothpaste on your chin… your collar is crooked… those pants are grubby!”   In a certain sense the Church is my “wedding dresser”.  She makes sure I am correctly dressed, adequately prepared by the sacraments.  She checks me out before I go through the door.  I need to press in a little more closely to her if I want to be chosen.

Lord Jesus, I hear your invitation to the great wedding banquette.  Help me be humble enough to accept the teaching of your Holy Church so I may be correctly dressed on arrival.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Getting There

'I choose to pay the last comer as much as I pay you. Have I no right to do what I like with my own? Why be envious because I am generous?” Thus the last will be first, and the first, last.’

Jesus is giving a teaching to the chief priests and the elders.  He is addressing the greatest minds in the land and yet He uses parables just as He did with the simple.  His teaching is on a topic the chief priests and elders would consider themselves experts; the kingdom of heaven.  Rather than presenting a kingdom of power and justice according to the Law, Jesus paints a picture of a kingdom where the weak are exulted, where the last shall be first.

My joy is in the Kingdom of Jesus.  If the kingdom of the chief priests were truly the kingdom of heaven then I would have no hope.  I have stood idly waiting.  I have been a late entry.  Yet there is also some of the early worker in me, grumbling at the 'unfairness' of grace dispensed to some even later than me. The concept of "last being first" goes against the norms of the world.  Yet, that is the law of the kingdom of heaven and Jesus is saying that I will benefit from it.

So, do I wait idly, relying on the "unfair" grace of God to get me to heaven?  God forbid.  Jesus clearly indicates that waiting idly is not a good place to be.  Working in the vineyard is where I am meant to be.  Then I will get paid.  How much I get paid is not the point, being deserving of my wages is.  First or last is not the point.  Getting there is.

Lord Jesus, thank you for your "unfair" dispensation of grace into my life.  I deserve nothing yet you offer me everything.  You are my joy.  I place my trust in You.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Then the master sent for him. “You wicked servant,” he said “I cancelled all that debt of yours when you appealed to me. Were you not bound, then, to have pity on your fellow servant just as I had pity on you?”

Peter has just asked Jesus how many times he should forgive his brother and feeling generous offers the suggested number of seven.   Jesus blows Peter's concept of magnanimity away by multiplying  the number by seventy-seven, a seemingly impossible number of times.  To underscore the importance of His new way of looking at forgiveness, Jesus then tells the parable of the unforgiving servant.

Over the years I have forgiven people of small and great offenses against me. Despite knowing that this only what is expected from a follower of Jesus, I still feel a little self righteous when I do it.  Satan still tries to rob forgiveness of its power to deliver.  True forgiveness involves a conscious giving up of any rights I may think I have, recognising that my indebtedness overshadows anything I may have forgiven another.  Today I recall with gratitude the forgiveness I have received from God.  It will change the way I view the supposed indebtedness of others to me.

Lord Jesus, thank you that despite my sins contributing to the nails that held you to the cross, You have forgiven me.  Give me a spirit of gratitude today that will change my view of my brothers.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Cheerful Giver

Each one should give what he has decided in his own mind, not grudgingly or because he is made to, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Today is the Feast Day of Saint Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr. Living in Pagan Rome, Lawrence was in charge of giving to the poor.  When commanded to bring the riches of the Church to the prefect of Rome he gathered all the sick and poor he had been serving saying, "Here are the treasures of the Church". He embraced his tortuous death with joy, truly a joyful giver.

My wife is way better at giving than me.  Giving strikes at the very heart of my worldliness and my insecurities. The world tells me to gather more and more for myself, that it is in possessions that there is happiness. Today's scripture from Saint Paul tells me that giving away is not a choice but an expectation for a believer. The only choice I have is how I do it, begrudgingly or cheerfully.  I suspect this attitude towards possessions is in fact the key to a joy-filled life.  I am blessed to be a blessing... today.

Dear Jesus, You know how much I struggle with possessions.  Help me see them rightly so I do not become a slave to them.  Help me be a cheerful giver.
Little Flower, please pray for me. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Little Child

‘I tell you solemnly, unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. And so, the one who makes himself as little as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.'

 The disciples have asked Jesus who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.  They are thinking as men again, measuring greatness in terms of power and control.  Jesus turns their concept of greatness on its head.  The weakest and most powerless among them were children and these, says Jesus, are the greatest in God's Kingdom.

This teaching of Jesus always challenges my concept of greatness as well.  Without knowing it, I have absorbed the world's standard of greatness. You have to be powerful, rich, brainy and beautiful.  This is counter to the Christian world-view, as we have just read. God places value on meekness, humility, powerlessness, smallness.  These are all things I naturally tend to avoid.  Today I need to turn my concept of greatness on its head and become like a little child.

Lord Jesus, I know my feeble attempts at greatness actually distance me from You.  Help me become like a little child so I may be closer to You.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Son of God

The Transfiguration of the Lord

...a bright cloud covered them with shadow, and from the cloud there came a voice which said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favour. Listen to him.’

Today is the feast day of the Transfiguration.  The Gospel from Matthew tells of Jesus taking Peter, James and John up a mountain and then Jesus being transfigured in glory.  Peter, James and John were given the extraordinary privilege of seeing Jesus for who He really is, the Beloved Son of God.

Our Christian faith is based on this truth, that Jesus is the only Beloved Son of God.  What He had to do on the cross then makes sense.  His resurrection then gives hope.  It is also the most common truth that Christians are disputed about.  Jesus is recognised as a good man with wise sayings, a prophet even, but the Son of God? 

This is the wonderful truth that gives me joy today.  I am loved so much by God that He has sacrificed His own Son for me.  I am that precious in His sight.

Thank you Father for the great gift of Your Son.  I receive Him as the ultimate sign of Your love for me.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Think Like God

Peter started to remonstrate with him. ‘Heaven preserve you, Lord;’ he said ‘this must not happen to you.’ But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle in my path, because the way you think is not God’s way but man’s.’

Peter has just been proclaimed by Jesus to the rock on which the Church will be built.  His first recorded pronouncement as head of the Church is then condemned by Jesus to be the voice of Satan.  Within a few verses Peter swings from divine revelation to human foolishness, from the mind of God to the mind of man.

We all love Peter because he is so like us... well, so like me at least.  Like Peter, I have brief moments of divine revelation and long stretches of human foolishness. The good news is that Peter was still able to be eventually transformed by Jesus into a saint. The turning point for him is recorded in the Book of Acts when the Holy Spirit finally takes Peter over and he starts having more of the mind of God.  The Holy Spirit is the key for me also. Veni, Sancte Spiritus.

Lord Jesus, You know how I can swing from saint to sinner within a few moments.  Give me more of the Holy Spirit's power that I may think God's way more often.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Healthy Heart

He called the people to him and said, ‘Listen, and understand. What goes into the mouth does not make a man unclean; it is what comes out of the mouth that makes him unclean.’

Jesus has just met the Pharisees' complaint with a rebuke, accusing them of hypocrisy and describing them as “People who honor me with their lips, but whose hearts are far from me". Mt.15:8. Jesus then makes a teaching point out of the incident, highlighting that it is the state of a man's heart, as shown by his speech, that determines his righteousness.

This passage uncomfortably reminds me of an incident just yesterday.  I was attending a staff meeting at work and I made a crude comment about something.  The conversation moved on but that outburst of mine stayed with me, making me unsettled for the rest of the meeting.  I've wondered where that crudity came from and why did I say it.  I think part of it is my attempt to be "one of the boys", to be accepted.  But it says something about my heart, that I am not as rooted in the acceptance of Christ as I thought I was, that I still crave the acceptance of men. 

I need to listen to what comes out of my mouth more carefully as it says much about the health of my heart.

Lord Jesus, I recommit my heart to you. 
Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.
Little Flower, please pray for me.