Monday, December 26, 2011

Boldly Proclaim

Into your hands I commend my spirit.  It is you who will redeem me, Lord.  As for me, I trust in the Lord: let me be glad and rejoice in your love.

Today is the Feast of Saint Stephen, the first martyr.  The first reading from Acts tells of how Stephen was betrayed and stoned to death.  In the Gospel Jesus warns His followers how they will be betrayed for His name, brother against brother, children against parents.  Boldly proclaiming the Good News of Jesus will create enemies, that is guaranteed.  But the other more powerful promise is that God will save us, even if we are killed.  "...but the man who stands firm to the end will be saved." Mt10:22.

The fear of upsetting people or making enemies by proclaiming Jesus can make me silent at times.  This happens when I focus too much on the here and now.  The eternal promises of God get obscured by the temporal.   Stephen proclaimed the Good News of Jesus right up to his death.  He could see the angels and Jesus waiting for him.  He had an eternal perspective that made his earthly suffering insignificant.  Today I pray for the boldness of Saint Stephen.

Lord Jesus, You promise to save me in Your love.  Fill me with Your Spirit that I may boldly proclaim You in the face of enemies.
Saint Stephen, please pray for me.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Speak Blessing

And you, little child, you shall be called Prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins;

The first thing Zechariah does with his newly regained voice is to sing praise to God and prophesy over his new-born son John.  Under the power of the Holy Spirit Zechariah foretells his son's role in preparing the way for the returning Messiah.

A father's spoken words can influence a child's life; for good or for evil.  The words I speak over my children are powerful and I need to pick them carefully.  "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." Eph. 4:29

Lord Jesus, You know the struggle I have in controlling my mouth.  Help me speak only words that build up and bless my children.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Turn Your Heart

Know that I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before my day comes, that great and terrible day. He shall turn the hearts of fathers towards their children and the hearts of children towards their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a curse.

Malachi gives discourses that look forward to the "day of the Lord". The last verse in the old testament from Malachi is a warning and it has to do with fathers.  The heart connection of fathers to their children is an important, no, crucial objective of God's work among men. When the heart connection of fathers and children is right all is well, when the connection is wrong the land is under a curse.

If there is one possible summary that could be given about society in our land today it would be that the heart connection of fathers to their children is absent.  "Fatherlessness" is a modern social norm.  Our land is under a curse.

My role as father is to have a heart turned towards my children (and now, grandchildren).  I need  the prophesies of God to help me achieve this.  I cannot do it alone.

Father in Heaven, send Your prophets to speak into my life and help me become the father to my children that You mean me to be.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Mary said: ‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit exults in God my saviour; because he has looked upon his lowly handmaid. Yes, from this day forward all generations will call me blessed, for the Almighty has done great things for me.  Holy is his name...

The first reading today has Hannah consecrating her son Samuel to God.  The response has Hannah glorifying God for what He has done and is yet to do through her son.  The Gospel echos this event with Mary exalting God for what He has done and yet to do through her son, Jesus.

The Church has a great and growing excitement leading to Christmas.  She leads the way for me to follow with joy and excitement.  I have a twelve year old daughter who is just fizzing at the cork about approaching Christmas.  Sure, her excitement may be focused on material things but that's how our faith is expressed.  The physical exterior represents the spiritual inner truth.  This is an exciting time.  I can do well by following the lead of my daughter.  I think the Church would approve...

Lord Jesus, Your birth is exciting.  Even more so is the promise of Your eventual return.  Come Lord Jesus come.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Arise my Love!

My Beloved lifts up his voice, he says to me, ‘Come then, my love, my lovely one, come. For see, winter is past, the rains are over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth. The season of glad songs has come...
Song of Songs 2:10-12

The Song of Songs is reputed to have been written by Solomon. It is a love poem expressing passionate yet tender love between lovers.  It is a love poem from God to me.

‘Come then, my love, my lovely one, come. For see, winter is past, the rains are over and gone...".  What a beautiful call from God to me.  It is a call out from my self-centeredness and into the wonderful land of love that God has prepared for me. The winter and rains of my fallen nature are swept away.  The season of glad songs has come.  O happy day!

Jesus my lover, thank you for calling me with such love in Your voice.  I arise and come...
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Good Man

...Matthan the father of Jacob; and Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary; of her was born Jesus who is called Christ.

Saint Matthew starts his gospel with the genealogy of Jesus on Joseph's side.   The lineage starts with Abraham and follows forty-two men, some famous, some infamous and some obscure, never heard of in the Bible again.

The last three men in Jesus' genealogy are Matthan, Jacob and Joseph, Jesus' great-grandfather, grandfather and father. All that is known of these men is summed up in Joseph, a good man, good enough to be chosen as the protector of the infant Jesus.  Good men don't come from nowhere.  They are raised by good men.  I look at Joseph's father, Jacob, and grandfather, Matthan, and wonder.

I have just become a grandfather for the first time.  My granddaughter Anna in some ways is already the product of who I am.  As she grows I hope to have a continuing influence on who she grows up to be.  Am I good enough, as good as Matthan the grandfather of Joseph?  I hope so...

Lord Jesus, you were raised by Joseph, a good man.  Help me be a good man so I may have the best influence on Anna, my beautiful granddaughter.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Plan

All the people who heard him, and the tax collectors too, acknowledged God’s plan by accepting baptism from John; but by refusing baptism from him the Pharisees and the lawyers had thwarted what God had in mind for them.

Jesus is talking to the people about John the Baptist's role in God's plan for mankind.  The plan is revealed in today's earlier readings from Isiah and the psalm; man is to turn back to God so He may then lavish His everlasting love on us.  "...with everlasting love I have taken pity on you says the Lord, your redeemer." Is.54:8.

God has a plan for everyone.  God has a plan for me.  It is a plan based on love, a love that He wants to lavish on me for ever.  That's a plan I can buy into.  It satisfies my deepest longing, the longing to be loved with an all-knowing and forgiving love.  I just need to turn to Him.

Father in Heaven, thank you for your wonderful plan of love for me.  I turn to You and worship You, my loving Father, in Jesus' name.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Humble Confession

‘I tell you solemnly, tax collectors and prostitutes are making their way into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you, a pattern of true righteousness, but you did not believe him, and yet the tax collectors and prostitutes did.'

Jesus is speaking to the chief priests and elders and has just told the parable of the two sons.  One says he will obey his father but doesn't.  The other says he won't do as his father asks but thinks better of it and does.  The obvious inference is that it is actions that count, not perceived status.  The primary action required in response to Jesus' call is to turn from sin and turn to God.  Anyone can do that.  All that is needed is humility.

This is such good news for me.  Jesus' championing of tax collectors and prostitutes means He is a champion for me.  My sins don't bar me from the Kingdom of God.  My pride and stubbornness could.  The humility of an authentic confession prepares the way.  Advent Confession is available this week.  I need to go and prepare the way...

Lord Jesus, You are my champion.  I turn from my pride and lust and turn to You, my love and my joy.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Rejoice Always!

Be happy at all times; pray constantly; and for all things give thanks to God, because this is what God expects you to do in Christ Jesus.

Today is Gaudete Sunday, the third Sunday of Advent, a day to rejoice!  Paul writes to the Thessalonians and instructs then to be happy always.

My Deliverer is coming so I have every reason to rejoice, I have every reason to give thanks.   What a great message not only for Advent but for every day in the life of a Believer.   This is the day that the Lord has made.  I will rejoice and be glad in it!

Thank you Lord Jesus for being the source of my joy and hope today.  Thank you Mary for your yes to God's plan for redemption.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Missing God

"I tell you that Elijah has come already and they did not recognise him but treated him as they pleased; and the Son of Man will suffer similarly at their hands.’"The disciples understood then that he had been speaking of John the Baptist.

Jesus is answering the disciples question as to why Elijah must return before the end of time.  He affirms the role that John the Baptist has already fulfilled and prophesy's His own rejection by the Jewish leaders.

The Jewish elders were straining to be ready for the coming of the Messiah.  They missed not only Elijah in John the Baptist but also Jesus as Messiah. Why?  Because the New Testament was proclaimed in a new way.  Jesus was not the king of servants as expected but the Servant King.

Do I miss God?  Sometimes I suspect I do.  Jesus very clearly says he is with the poor, the oppressed, the down-trodden, the people at the bottom of the heap.  These are the very people that I find it difficult to relate to, the very people I sometimes avoid.  Today I will look for the hidden Jesus in others, especially the outcasts.

Lord Jesus, I long to see and serve You.  Help me recognise You in those I meet today.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Friday, December 9, 2011

River of Happiness

If only you had been alert to my commandments,
your happiness would have been like a river,
your integrity like the waves of the sea.

The prophet Isaiah laments Israel's stubbornness and then shows the way forward to freedom;  be alert to God's commandments.

A river of happiness!  I like that imagery.  I could do with a river of happiness and this is what God is offering me.  There is a joy from God that rides out the dust of daily battle.  No matter what the circumstances of the day, that river of happiness can still flow.  I suspect it's connected to the river of life which is unstoppable.

So, what are the requirement to get into this river?  Be alert to God's Commandments.  This is echoed in today's psalm... "Happy those who do not follow the counsel of the wicked,...Rather, the law of the LORD is their joy;" Psm.1:1   God's commandments don't oppress and weigh down.  They liberate and give happiness, give joy!  Today the river of happiness is mine to enter.  I choose to be alert to God's commandments.

Lord Jesus, You came bringing the supreme Commandment of Love.  Help me be alert to Your commandments that my happiness may be like a river.
Little Flower, please pray for me and Monique and Bun.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Light for Heavy

Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.

In preceding verses Jesus has just revealed His divine association and unity with God the Father.  Now He makes that wonderful invitation that has echoed down through the last two thousand years; "Come to me all who are weary...".  We follow a God who yearns to give us rest.

A day wouldn't go by when I haven't subconsciously rested on this promise of Jesus.  He's not a distant, uncaring God.  He's not a God who piles on burdens to weigh me down.  He is intimately concerned for me, offering to take my heavy yoke in exchange for His light one.  In the busyness of my day today I will take time out to hand my burdens to Jesus and embrace His rest.

Lord Jesus, You are the source of my peace and rest.  I readily take up Your offer of light for heavy.
Little Flower, please pray for me and those I love.