Monday, December 31, 2012

All is Well

The Word was made flesh, he lived among us, and we saw his glory, the glory that is his as the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Saint John starts his gospel with a prologue on the mystery of the incarnation, God became man in Jesus Christ and lived among us.

On this last day of the year the Church has us look at the beginnings of our salvation, "In the beginning was the Word: the Word was with God and the Word was God." Jn1:1.  New Year's Eve is a time of looking back and then looking forward.  Mother Church places Jesus as the touch-stone for this exercise.  All things are to be measured against Him.

I have regrets and joys from 2012.  2013 holds for me hope.  I surrender all these to Jesus, the regret, the joy and the hope.  These are all emotions He is familiar within His human nature.  He stops them from controlling me obsessively.  With Christ at my side, all is well...

Lord Jesus, I give my life again to You; my strengths, my weaknesses. I place my trust in You.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Same Kind

We can be sure that we are in God only when the one who claims to be living in him is living the same kind of life as Christ lived.

Saint John writes to impress upon us a living faith in Jesus Christ since this faith is life eternal.  He sets a high bar to aim at, Christ Himself.

Live the same kind of life as Christ lived.  Wow!  A tough call, yet there it is.  If I claim to be living in Christ then my life needs to reflect that.  Sometimes, no... often I don't feel like I'm living that kind of life.

But there's Good News, as we heard in yesterday's epistle... "but if we acknowledge our sins, then God who is faithful and just will forgive our sins" 1Jn.1:9.  Jesus sets the bar high and then provides the way for a stumbling follower to attain it.

Thank you Jesus for being the perfect role model and for helping me become what You model.
Saint John, please pray for me.

Friday, December 28, 2012

So Joseph Got Up

Feast of The Holy Innocents, Martyrs.

So Joseph got up and, taking the child and his mother with him, left that night for Egypt, where he stayed until Herod was dead.

Joseph is told by the Lord in a dream to take Mary and Jesus from Bethlehem to Egypt, so escaping the murderous rage of Herod.  Jewish male babies are slaughtered by Herod in his fear to eliminate the rumoured child-king.  The first martyrs of the Church are the Holy Innocents of Israel.

So Joseph got up...  Not much is said directly in scripture about Joseph, but much can be read about him from his recorded actions.  As carefully as God chose Mary, Joseph was no random selection.  He was to be the provider, protector and cherisher of Mary and the baby Jesus.  To travel those distances over the rough terrain from Palestine to Egypt and back through hostile country would take the energy and strength of a man in his prime.

Not only physical strength was required of Joseph, but also spiritual strength.  Joseph heard God and immediately acted, on more than one occasion.  He recognised God's voice, had faith in Him and was obedient to Him. What a great role-model for any man who is a husband and father.

Father, you have made me a husband and father.  Help me press into You for strength and guidance in cherishing  protecting and providing for my wife and children.
Saint Joseph, please pray for me.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Saint Francis at the first Christmas crib

Thomas of Celano (c.1190-c.1260), biographer of Saint Francis and Saint Clare
The First Life of Saint Francis, §84-86

Saint Francis at the first Christmas crib
About two weeks before Christmas, Francis said...: “I want to call to mind the Child who was born at Bethlehem and all the sufferings he endured from his childhood on. I want to see him with the eyes of my flesh just as he was, laid in a manger and sleeping on the hay between an ox and an ass”...

The joyful day arrived... The friars from several convents thereabouts were gathered together. In festive spirit the people round about, both men and women, all according to their means, made torches and candles ready with which to illuminate the night that saw the bright star arise to light up all the ages. When he arrived the saint saw that all was ready and rejoiced greatly. A manger and some straw had been brought; an ass and an ox had been led along. Truly, simplicity held the place of honor there; it was the triumph of poverty and best lesson in humility. Greccio had become a new Bethlehem! Night had been rendered as bright as day and as delightful for the animals as for the people. Crowds had hastened along and this re-enactment of the mystery reanimated their joy. The woods resounded with songs and the mountains threw back their echoes. The brethren sang the Lord's praises and the whole night was spent in rejoicing. The saint passed the night watch standing before the crib, broken with compassion, filled with inexpressible happiness. Finally, mass was celebrated on the manger as on an altar and the priest experienced fervor of a kind he had never felt before.

Francis had put on his dalmatic, for he was a deacon, and he sang the Gospel with resonant voice... Then he preached to the people, finding words as sweet as honey to speak of the birth of the poor King and the little town of Bethlehem.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Prepare Ye the Way

Jesus spoke to the crowds: ‘I tell you solemnly, of all the children born of women, a greater than John the Baptist has never been seen; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is'.

Jesus is speaking to the crowds about John the Baptist.  He clearly identifies John as the prophet foretold who is to prepare the way for the coming Messiah.  John's message continues to be the clarion call of Advent, "Prepare the way.  Repent, turn from sin and turn to God, for the Kingdom of God is near".

How's my preparation going for the coming Messiah?  Advent is not just about Mary on a donkey two thousand years ago.  It's also about preparing the way for Jesus' second and final coming.   I am going to face Him one day, maybe one day soon.  How's my preparation?  How straight is my path?

Lord Jesus, Your Kingdom is nearer than I imagine.  Give me a spirit of urgency in my preparation to receive You.
Mary, Mother of Jesus, pray for me.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Then turning to his disciples Jesus spoke to them in private, ‘Happy the eyes that see what you see, for I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see, and never saw it; to hear what you hear, and never heard it.’
Luke 10:23,24

The seventy-two have returned from their first missionary outreach and report great victories in Jesus' name for God's Kingdom.  Jesus is filled with "joy by the Holy Spirit", giving thanks to God .

This is a favourite passage of mine as it depicts Jesus on a joyful high.  I can imagine His elation that must have put broad smiles on all the seventy-two as they gathered around Him.  This joy can't be contained as Jesus tells His followers also to be happy.  "Happy the eyes that see what you see... ears that hear what you hear".  So what was it that the disciples were seeing and hearing?  Jesus.  They were seeing and hearing Jesus.

Here is a key to my happiness.  To see and hear Jesus.  To keep Him before me in my day.  Oh, happy am I ...

Lord Jesus, You are the source of my joy.  Holy Spirit, fill me with the joy of knowing Jesus today.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Slow down and Ponder

Lord, make me know your ways.
  Lord, teach me your paths.
Make me walk in your truth, and teach me:
  for you are God my saviour.
Psalm 24:4,5

Happy New Year!  Today is the first day of the Church's year and the first day of Advent.  It's a day of new beginnings, new-year resolutions.  Advent is a wonderful four-week season to help me start anew.  It's the best antidote to the orgy of "Xmas" that the world now rushes into.  It's a time of expectancy, waiting, preparing the way. It's a time to be humble and teachable. It's a time to focus on Mary who embodies all these virtues.

Today I slow down and ponder the mysteries of God's ways.

Lord, make me know your ways.
  Lord, teach me your paths.
Make me walk in your truth, and teach me:
  for you are God my saviour.

Mary, Mother of God, please pray for me.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Let Us Love

Jesus said to the disciples:
  ‘As it was in Noah’s day, so will it also be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating and drinking, marrying wives and husbands, right up to the day Noah went into the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.
Luke 17:26,27

As we near the end of the Church's year we are given readings to help contemplate end times.  Today Jesus talks plainly about what is to happen when He returns.  Some will be taken to Him, some won't.

Jesus gives me the ultimate answer to my ultimate question. Where will I spend eternity once my time in this life has ended?  Answer: With Him.  What is the deciding factor?  Saint John answers that in today's first reading.  Let us love one another.

I want to be sure this is the hope my loved ones, my wife and children, also have.  I can best do this by role modelling an authentic follower of Jesus.  I can love...

Lord Jesus, help me love today, that I may draw more people into Your kingdom.
Saint John, pray for me.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Polite to All Kinds

Be ready to do good at every opportunity; not to go slandering other people or picking quarrels, but to be courteous and always polite to all kinds of people.

Saint Paul is instructing Titus on the character of a follower of Christ.  He writes from his own remembered imperfections, before he was saved by Jesus.

This exhortation to common decency is very timely for me.  I'm embroiled in a conflict with work colleagues who I find difficult to relate to.  I'm meeting with my manager today and in my mind I have been rehearsing descriptions of all their faults that I could lay before him. The antidote to this "stinking thinking" is given by Saint Paul: "be courteous and always polite to all kinds of people".

Lord Jesus, you have shown me charity when I deserved less.  Help me exercise restraint and be courteous and polite as befitting a follower of You.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Get Found

The tax collectors and the sinners were all seeking the company of Jesus to hear what he had to say, and the Pharisees and the scribes complained. ‘This man’ they said ‘welcomes sinners and eats with them.’
Luke 15:1,2

The reputation of Jesus has been established.  The crowds know Him as one with a heart and a message for them and flock towards Him to receive this love.  The Pharisees know the same thing but are critical and are repelled.

The difference between the crowds and the Pharisees is not that one are sinners and the other virtuous.  No, both groups are sinners, but only one acknowledges the fact.  The parable of the lost sheep offended the Pharisees as they identified with the ninety-nine who were abandoned.  The people loved the parable as they identified with the lost sheep who was found.  In truth, both the Pharisees and the people, and I, are the lost sheep.  There is no one not in need of repentance and saving.

There's a joy that comes when I climb off my pharisaical high-horse and acknowledge my sinfulness.  It's only when I acknowledge my lostness that I can be found, carried on the shoulders of my Lord.  Perhaps it's time for confession...

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Faith and Joy

I feel sure I shall survive and stay with you all, and help you to progress in the faith and even increase your joy in it.
Philippians 1:25

Saint Paul is in prison in Rome and writing a letter to the Church in Philippi, expressing his joy at their success as a Christian community.  Even though life or death are the same in Christ for Paul, his hope is to return to Philippi and further increase their faith and joy.

Faith and Joy.  To Saint Paul these were two sides of the same coin.  The two went with each other and could not be separated.  Even as a prisoner in Rome, Paul exemplified faith and joy.  It was his prayer for the Church.  Faith and joy originally attracted me to the Church.  I met people who had these qualities and it was something I also wanted.  Today I choose to let these virtues be my hallmark, that people may look and say, "I want whatever he's got".

Lord Jesus, thank you for the gift of faith you have given me.  Let joy be the sign of my faith today, for your glory.
Saint Paul, please pray for me.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Sinner to Saint

All  Saints Day

Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up the hill. There he sat down and was joined by his disciples. Then he began to speak. This is what he taught them:
  ‘How happy are the poor in spirit;
  theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  Happy the gentle:
  they shall have the earth for their heritage.
  Happy those who mourn:
  they shall be comforted.
  Happy those who hunger and thirst for what is right:
  they shall be satisfied.
  Happy the merciful:
  they shall have mercy shown them.
  Happy the pure in heart:
  they shall see God.
  Happy the peacemakers:
  they shall be called sons of God.
  Happy those who are persecuted in the cause of right:
  theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
  Happy are you when people abuse you and persecute you
  and speak all kinds of calumny against you on my account.
  Rejoice and be glad,
  for your reward will be great in heaven.’
Matthew 5:1-12

Jesus sits down and gives His first great teaching, the Sermon on the Mount, a blue-print for an authentic Christian life. He starts His teaching by listing the attributes to happiness: - poverty, gentleness, mourning, righteousness, mercy, purity, peacefulness and being persecuted for Him.

Today is All Saints Day, instituted to honour all the saints, known and unknown.  The Church has selected the Beatitudes for today's Gospel, exemplifying saintly character.  These are characteristics I am called to live if I want an authentic Catholic life.  The bar is set.  Am I up to it?  With God's help all things are possible, even turning a sinner into a saint.

Lord Jesus, You know my sins, You know my virtues.  Help me Lord be a saintly witness for You today.
All Saints, please pray for me.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Be Happy and Prosper

O blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways!
By the labour of your hands you shall eat.  You will be happy and prosper.

This Psalm is one the Songs of Ascent, believed to have been sung by pilgrims on their climb up to the temple at Jerusalem.  It sings of the blessings that are given to all who love and honour God in their lives.

I have a poster at work that reads: "To love what you do and feel that you make a difference, what could be more fun!"  Psalm 127:1 and 2 is then quoted underneath.  I have days like that.  I love what I am doing and I have a sense that what I am doing matters.  These are days of great contentment and happiness.  They tend to be days when I am "right with God".

I guess each day I have a choice on how I live it, consciously with God or without Him.  Today, I choose to live with God.  By the labour of my hands I shall eat.  I shall be happy and prosper.

Thank you Lord for extending Your invitation to be in relationship with You today.  You are the source of my happiness and prosperity.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Friendship Kindness Forgiveness

Be friends with one another, and kind, forgiving each other as readily as God forgave you in Christ.  Try, then, to imitate God as children of his that he loves and follow Christ loving as he loved you.
Ephesians 4:32 - 5:1,2

Saint Paucontrasts the Christian life that his readers are to lead, with their pagan life that has been left behind.  The foundations of this new life include the virtues of friendship, kindness and forgiveness.

Friendship, kindness and forgiveness - these are seen as weak in the eyes of the world.  Yet, in my Christian life they are sources of great strength, they are Christian muscles.  Each of them requires that I take my focus off myself and onto others.  This requires an act of my will as my natural inclination is to attend to me, my wants, my needs.  A good starting point to flex these Christian muscles is in my world of today; my family, my work place.

Lord Jesus, Your natural inclination was to look to others needs before Your own.  You know my struggle with self.  Help me exercise my muscles of friendship, kindness and forgiveness with those I meet today.
Saint Paul, please pray of me.

Saturday, October 20, 2012


 ‘Everyone who says a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.'

Huge crowds of many thousands have gathered to hear Jesus teach. He starts by giving His disciples both encouragements and warnings.  A severe warning is given about blaspheming against the Holy Spirit.

Blasphemy is an old word from the english middle ages.  The dictionary defines it as; " to speak impiously or irreverently of (God or sacred things)".   Jesus warns that to blaspheme, speak irreverently, against the Holy Spirit is an unforgivable sin.

This reminds me of a quip given in a teaching from a Bishop on a men's retreat I was at recently.  He said,  "Is God's forgiveness unconditional?  Yes, on one condition".   A clever play on words that refers to the verse in the Lord's Prayer, "Forgive us our tresspasses as we forgive those who trespass against us".

Speaking irreverently against the Holy Spirit is another example of conditions on God's unconditional forgiveness.  In all cases, the limits placed on God's forgiveness are placed by us, placed by me.  It is my unforgiveness, my blasphemy that separates me from God's forgiveness.  And blasphemy against the Holy Spirit has permanent consequences according Jesus.  I can't say I haven't been warned.

Holy Spirit of God, place a guard on my lips and a sentry at the door of my mouth, lest I offend You.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Man under Authority

 "I am not worthy to have you under my roof; and for this same reason I did not presume to come to you myself; but give the word and let my servant be cured. For I am under authority myself,"

A Roman Centurion calls on Jesus to heal a favourite dying servant.  Jesus recognises great faith in this man because he recognises the authority Jesus operates under. As a result the servant is healed without Jesus even seeing the sick man or his master.

The Centurion is an enigma.  He is a leader in the hated Roman army but a friend to the local Jews.  He has the respect of the people over whom he rules.  He is a pagan yet exhibits to Jesus the greatest faith in all of Israel.  There is something great in the character of this man.  His great faith that impressed Jesus so much was based on his understanding of authority.  As a man under authority and who had authority over others, he recognises the authentic, divine authority of Jesus.

Faith based on authority.  There's an interesting concept.  You would think authority would lead to slavish duty.  But no.  Jesus says authority leads to great faith, a faith that allows Him to perform miracles.  Recognising the authority of Jesus means letting there be less of me and more of Him in my life.  Then perhaps I will see more miracles....

Lord Jesus, I am not worthy to receive you under my roof.  But only say the word and my soul shall be healed.
Centurion of Faith, pray for me.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Passing Away

Those who have to deal with the world should not become engrossed in it. I say this because the world as we know it is passing away.

Saint Paul is encouraging the Corinthian Church to reduce the effect of the world on their spiritual lives.  Marriage, mourning, even joy can be a distraction of the temporal from the spiritual.  The world as we know it is passing away to be replaced by the real world, the kingdom of God.

Nothing has changed in two thousand years.  There is still a tension between the flesh and the spirit.  The advantage we Christians have is that we know there is a tension and so we can resist it.  I can't fight this battle alone.  I need the support of the Church.  Maybe Mass today would be a good idea...

Lord Jesus, You know the battles that rage within me.  Give me strength I pray to let go of the world's seductions and be given over to You.
Saint Paul, please pray for me.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

God with Me

Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary

She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.’ Now all this took place to fulfil the words spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and they will call him Emmanuel,
a name which means ‘God-is-with-us.’

Today the Church celebrates the birthday of Mary, the mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  Rather than focussing on the holiness and purity of Mary, today's Gospel first chronicles the full genealogy of Jesus.  This includes adultery, incest and murder; all the darker side of human nature.  There are names that are great, names that are infamous and names that are mentioned nowhere else.  The genealogy of Jesus includes the good, the bad and the ugly.  Truly He is Emanuel, God with Us.

The "God with us" nature of Jesus is what makes him unique among religions.  He is both truly God and truly man.  In my brokenness I can still call Him "Brother",  for that is who He is. Jesus is more than a friend to me, He is my brother.  I take this intimate relationship with Jesus into my day today.

Jesus, my Lord, my King, my brother.  Thank you for overlooking my brokenness to stay with me, to be my Emmanuel.
Mary, Mother of God, pray for me.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Foolishness of God

Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on it is men you will catch.’ Then, bringing their boats back to land, they left everything and followed him.

Jesus has just used Simon's boat to speak from and then rewards him with a catch of fish so huge it almost sinks two boats.  Simon, who is never recorded catching a fish without Jesus' help, is overwhelmed and recognises something Holy within Jesus.  Jesus then calls Simon, James and Andrew to something way bigger that catching two boat loads of fish.

The transformation of Peter from a course fisherman to a holy saint starts here.  It's a story that has always fascinated me.  I see so much of myself in the former Peter and desire so much to become the latter. Jesus' choosing of such rough, uneducated men I believe was deliberate.  It is the "foolishness of God" at work, demonstrating that earthly wisdom is not what is required to be a follower of Jesus.  What is required is the honesty to fall at Jesus' knees and say,  "Leave me, Lord; I am a sinful man." Lk.5:8. 

Lord Jesus, You know my thoughts and how useless they are.  Give the desire for the foolishness of God that I may gain clean hands and pure heart and then climb God's mountain.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Power of God

In my speeches and the sermons that I gave, there were none of the arguments that belong to philosophy; only a demonstration of the power of the Spirit. And I did this so that your faith should not depend on human philosophy but on the power of God.

Saint Paul writes to the church in Corinth by first clearly stating where his teaching came from; not from the fleshly thinking of man but from the power of God.

That our faith shuns human philosophy is a constant aggravation to non-believers.  They have no ground on which to engage an argument.  Even though Jesus is a historical figure recorded in annals and the early Church is well recorded in its activities, our faith rests on things unrecorded, on things unseen... on the power of God.

It is such a relief for me to know Jesus offers me a relationship not a theological degree.  This doesn't exempt me from daily study of His Word and of the teachings of His Church, but I do these things out of love not out of performance. My faith rests on God, not on my performance.  There is a peace beyond understanding in this truth, for me today...

Thank you Lord for Your gift of faith to me.  I place my trust in You.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Keep On Hoeing

Therefore, you too must stand ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect... Happy that servant if his master’s arrival finds him at this employment.

Jesus is describing not only what will herald the end of time but also the unexpected nature of it.  Then He adds what the attitude of the true believer should be at that time, one of a servant about his appointed business.

Saint Francis is famously quoted on this question.  What would he do if he knew the end of time was imminent?  His answer... Keep on hoeing.  The peace in Saint Francis is in stark contrast to the frenetic screech of the world that demands I get more before it's too late.  This is the peace Jesus was talking about when He said "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27.

So, I'm to keep on hoeing, keep on working at my appointed tasks as a servant of God... today.

Thank you Jesus for the peace You give.  Help me serve You faithfully up until the day You return.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Speak Love

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.

Jesus continues His great lament against the leaders of the Jewish people. His strongest rebuke is against the Scribes and Pharisee's hypocrisy which they use to elevate themselves and burden others.

Matthew Chapter 23 has Jesus using the strongest language, so full of rage that I have to remind myself it is the God of Love speaking them. And yet, that is the case.  The God of Love is speaking them. Sometimes love has to use strong language to be heard.

I have a thirteen year old daughter whom I love dearly. I think I would actually step in front of a speeding train to save her.  However, recently I've had to use strong language to be heard by her.  The message she was resisting?  "Get out of bed on time".  Six simple words but the cause of so much morning stress.  She has heard me now and we've come up with a plan.  It must be working this morning as she's just come in to ask me for some money. Ha!

Strong language.  There is a time for it to be used judiciously, in my case with the restraining assistance of my wife as I'm not Jesus, the God of Love.  However, I can be Love's emissary.

Lord Jesus, even in anger You spoke in love.  Give me control over my tongue that I may only speak love.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hope Comfort Strength

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father who has given us his love and, through his grace, such inexhaustible comfort and such sure hope, comfort you and strengthen you in everything good that you do or say.
2 Thessalonians 2:16,17

Saint Paul writes to the church of Thesalonika, teaching on what the second coming of Christ will truly mean and to beware of false end-time prophets.  He finishes the letter with a beautiful blessing to comfort all believers as we wait in joy and hope for Jesus' return.

A well-meaning friend recently forwarded me an email that was full of impending gloom because of  "satanic symbolism" used in the 2012 closing Olympic ceremony.  These so-called portents were meant to be heralds of impending end-times ...a classic example of "rumour implying that the Day of the Lord has already arrived." 2Thes.2:2.  What alerted me to the false nature of this rumour was there was no hope, comfort or strength in its message.

Yes, the Day of Judgement is coming, but meanwhile, today, I can take hope, comfort and strength into the world as I wait in joy and hope for the coming of my saviour Jesus Christ.

Thank you Jesus for Your gifts of hope and comfort that strengthen me.  Help me Lord pass on these gifts to others I meet today who despair without hope.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Harmony with God

Mercy and faithfulness have met;
justice and peace have embraced.
Faithfulness shall spring from the earth
and justice look down from heaven.

The psalmist describes God the Father in terms of His attributes; Mercy and Justice.  The people of God are described by their attributes; Faithfulness and Peace. There is a two-way relationship.  Faithfulness in man draws mercy from God.  Justice from God draws peace from man.

There is something beautiful in this picture of man and God in perfect harmony.  My spontaneous faithfulness to God makes His crazy love for me pour down mercy on me.  Boy, that is like a refreshing, cleansing shower.   Then, when I surrender to God's sovereign justice instead of trying to administer my justice to life's situations, a peace beyond understanding takes hold of me.

I love living my faith this way. Today, mercy and peace are mine.

Father in heaven, I surrender to Your of Mercy and Justice.  Thank you for your gifts of faithfulness and peace.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Jesus-View

And everyone who has left houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children or land for the sake of my name will be repaid a hundred times over, and also inherit eternal life. ‘Many who are first will be last, and the last, first.’

Jesus is explaining to the disciples what He means about the difficulties inherent for a rich man trying to enter the kingdom of heaven.  He describes the kingdom of heaven as a back-to-front world, where the least here will become the greatest there, the poor will become rich, the last will become first.

The apparent injustice of this world only makes sense when placed in the perspective of the next world.  The riches of this world looses its glamour when placed alongside the promises of the next.  When I start getting seduced by this world's riches I need to extend my vision, gain a Jesus-view on life and what truly matters.

Lord, you know how this world's riches can seduce me.  Give me Your vision of where my treasures truly lie.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Who Do I Say?

‘But you,’ he said ‘who do you say I am?’

Jesus is with His disciples near the old city of Caesarea Philippi where He asks them to declare their relationship with Him.  Peter's confession of Jesus as "Son of the Living God" earns him leadership of the fledgling church.

Caesarea Philippi was a Roman city dedicated to pagan gods.  Jesus chooses this place to reveal His divinity and have it recognised by His disciples and so, by proxy, recognised by the Church. Jesus was not interested in hearing what others had to say about Him.  He wanted hear from the disciples themselves.

This is a question put daily before me.  Who do I say Jesus is? Sometimes I confess Jesus with my lips, then walk out the door and deny Him by my lifestyle. I can easily  talk about Jesus' divinity in a theoretical way, but to live a life declaring Jesus' Lordship is more difficult.  Today I want my lifestyle to say, "Jesus is the Son of the Living God".

Lord Jesus, my heart worships You as my God.  Help me live a life that declares what is in my heart.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Sincere Compassion

Saint Mary of the Cross (Mary MacKillop)

You are God’s chosen race, his saints; he loves you, and you should be clothed in sincere compassion, in kindness and humility, gentleness and patience.

Saint Paul calls the Colossians to an authentic Christian life where the other is always more important.  Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience all firmly place other ahead of self.
Today is the Feast of Saint Mary of the Cross, the great antipodean saint. Mary Mackillop embodied the virtues listed in Saint Paul's letter by serving the poor of Australia and New Zealand.

The "virtues of other" are counter-cultural in a world that encourages me to place my wants ahead of others needs.  It's a battle I sometimes win, sometimes loose.

Lord Jesus, help me be sincere in my compassion for others.  Less of me Lord and more of You.
Saint Mary of the Cross, please pray for me.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Lord! Save me!

‘Come’ said Jesus. Then Peter got out of the boat and started walking towards Jesus across the water, but as soon as he felt the force of the wind, he took fright and began to sink. ‘Lord! Save me!’ he cried. Jesus put out his hand at once and held him. ‘Man of little faith,’ he said ‘why did you doubt?

The disciples are battling a storm out on the lake and they're loosing the battle.  Jesus walks on the water towards them and Peter is the only one brave enough to respond to Jesus' call to "come".  But even Peter's faith flies from him in the face of the storm and he starts to sink.  The world's most powerful three-word prayer is then heard for the first time; "Lord! Save me!".  Instantly Jesus does just that, lifting Peter up out of the water.

This story of storm, fear, faith and salvation could be a synopsis of my life.  Life-storms can frighten me, taking my attention off Jesus and onto the perceived threat.  But that great prayer of Peter's, "Lord! Save me!" eventually comes to me and the storm looses its' power.  The antidote for life-storms? Jesus...

Thank you Jesus that you simply wait for me to cry out to You.  In Your faithfulness You always lean down and lift me up.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

God-seeking Hearts will Revive

Herod sent and had John beheaded in the prison. The head was brought in on a dish and given to the girl who took it to her mother. John’s disciples came and took the body and buried it; then they went off to tell Jesus.

Today's Gospel records the sordid details surrounding the death of John the Baptist.  A weak despot, in order to save face at his birthday party, is manipulated by evil schemers to bring about the death of "the greatest man born of a woman" Mt.11:11.  In the face of this greatest of tragedies what do John's disciples do?  Go to Jesus.

I remember visiting  friends in crisis just after learning their son had committed suicide.  We were all lost in grief as the pain overwhelmed us.  Then, out of the blue someone said, "Let's pray".  It was like turning a light on in what appeared to be unfathomable darkness.  A way forward was suddenly seen.  It was still going to be painful but we all knew "the man of Sorrows" was walking along side us.

Jesus is like that.  He gives me hope when all appears hopeless.  It's a hope I can give others when they are overwhelmed in darkness.

Lord Jesus, the poor when they see You will be glad and God-seeking hearts will revive; for You listen to the needy and do not spurn Your servants in their chains.
Little Flower, please pray for us.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Swell and Grow

Jesus put another parable before the crowds.  The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed... is like yeast...

Jesus is teaching the crowds in parables to explain what the kingdom of God is like.  He uses commonly understood objects to demonstrate a commonly misunderstood reality.  The ultimate in power and glory is cloaked in humility and smallness.

The kingdom of heaven, one would think, would be great, glorious and powerful.  And so it is, but not in a way the world expects greatness, glory and power to be.  The world's power works from the outside in.  It needs strength, dominance and control.  God's power works from the inside out, working secretly from small and hidden beginnings and so is more lasting and more glorious.  The seed grows  into a tree.  The yeast swells the entire loaf.

What is my seed of faith growing into?  Who is sheltering under its branches?  How is the yeast of my love of God swelling into something sustaining for many?

Lord Jesus, You are the seed and the yeast of the kingdom of heaven within me.  Help me let this beautiful thing swell and grow.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Mourning into Dancing

I will turn their mourning into joy,
I will console them, give gladness for grief.
Jeremiah 31:13

The prophet Jeremiah writes his beautiful Book of Consolation, giving a promise of recovery for the kingdom of Israel.  This contains the well known promise of God to people of all ages; "I will turn their mourning into dancing"

A close family friend is watching his father slowly die, both in mind and in body and it is tearing him apart.  Mourning has always been part of our human condition in this fallen world and always will be... until!

It's the great "until" that can give hope to my friend, give hope to me.  Yes, we will suffer and grieve as our loved ones suffer and grieve, until that great and glorious day when Jesus will return.  As Saint Paul writes,  "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." Rms.8:18.

I must present this hope to my friend, not as a mere platitude but as the truth revealed by Jesus and His Church.

Lord Jesus, You are the first of many to raise again in glory.  Help me be an authentic messenger of Your hope and joy.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Happy Eyes Happy Ears

‘But happy are your eyes because they see, your ears because they hear! I tell you solemnly, many prophets and holy men longed to see what you see, and never saw it; to hear what you hear, and never heard it.’

The disciples question Jesus as to why He speaks to the people in parables.  Jesus explains He does so to overcome their spiritual deafness and blindness.  He tickles their ears with a good story to overcome their prejudice against the truth.  However, parables are not needed by those listening and seeing with faith.  To them the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven are revealed.

I can take my gift of faith for granted, forgetting what a wonderful advantage it gives me.  My faith in Jesus is the source of my hope and my joy, a hope and joy that many people in my work and my family don't have.  This gift is one to share in a world without hope, without lasting joy.  Today I can shine up my gift and present it to those the Lord puts before me.

Lord Jesus, thank you for giving me happy eyes, happy ears.  Help me share the reason for my happiness with those I meet today.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

New Principle of Power

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.

Jesus is addressing His disciples who are disgruntled with James and John for trying to claim special privilege in God's Kingdom.  He explains the new principle of power He brings:  The great are servants, the first are slaves.

Parenthood meets Jesus' definition of greatness I think.  Our thirteen year old has us running her all over town for her sport and cultural activities.  We feed her, clothe her, give her time and attention over our own needs.  What a great lesson of Jesus' principal of power.

Lord Jesus, You are the Servant King.  Help me be a witness to Your greatness in my family and work place today.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Act justly Love tenderly Walk humbly

 ...this is what the Lord asks of you: only this, to act justly, to love tenderly and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8

The prophet Micah foresees the ruin of Israel resulting from their life of corruption.  In the midst of the Lord's case against Israel He gives the antidote to heal their hearts.  It is the heart-medicine of justice, love and humility.

Act justly; Love tenderly; walk humbly.  These are simple things and yet profound things whose presence or absence show the state of my heart. All three involve me taking my attention off myself and onto others.  Ultimately, my attention is taken off me and onto God.

So, today the antidote for my natural self-centredness  is this, only this; to act justly towards others, to love others tenderly and to walk humbly with my God.

Thank you Lord God for showing me the way out of my enslavement to self.  Holy Spirit, give me the courage to act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with my God today.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Helper of the Orphan

But you have seen the trouble and sorrow, you note it, you take it in hand.  The helpless trusts himself to you; for you are the helper of the orphan.

The psalmist has written  his laments of evil men plotting against him, but he finishes with this statement of hope and trust.  God, who is all-seeing, has noted the unjust plotting and He will act to defend the defenceless.

An orphan represents someone totally abandoned by those who should be defending him, being his advocate.  I recently watched a movie about the illegal deportation of British children to Australia in the the 1940s to 1970s (Oranges and Sunshine).  Many of the children were mercilessly exploited and abused.  They had no one defending them or ensuring they were being looked after.

Today's psalm gives us all hope, gives me hope.  No matter how abandoned I am feeling, God will never leave me or abandon me.

Father in Heaven, you are the helper of the orphan.  Thank you for Your promise to always be there for me.
Little Flower, please pray for me.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Rock the Boat

Jesus instructed the Twelve as follows: ‘Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth: it is not peace I have come to bring, but a sword.

Jesus is instructing His twelve disciples and plainly lays before them the cost of discipleship.  It will cost family relationships, personal comfort, even their very lives.   But Jesus hints at an eternal reward; “anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it”.

I read a quote from C.S. Lewis the other day along the lines; “...if you are looking for a comfortable religon, I don't recommend Christianity”.  Following Jesus isn’t for wimps.   By definition, Christianity is counter-cultural.  Our message is different from the message of the world.  Persecution should be my bedfellow.  If it’s not, maybe I’ve lost some of my discipleship zeal.

Lord Jesus, You know my reluctance to “rock the boat”, even for you Lord.  Help me regain my zeal for You that I may be an effective disciple.
Saint Thomas Moore, brave boat-rocker, please pray for me.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Snake and Dove

‘Remember, I am sending you out like sheep among wolves; so be cunning as serpents and yet as harmless as doves.  Beware of men:..."

Jesus continues His instruction to the twelve.  He warns that their mission will create for them enemies who want to silence them.  They are to be wary, calculating and yet gentle and peaceful.

Snakes and doves go together like oil and water. Yet, according to Jesus, this is the analogy of what I am to become in order to be an effective proclaimer of the Good News.  It's interesting that I am not to be all snake or all dove.  Too much of either trait will not work, it needs to be a balance of snake and dove.

The wary and calculating side of me is easy to present.  The gentle and peaceful side I need to work on...

Lord Jesus, You equip the called.  Help me cultivate the dove within me to balance the snake, that I may effectively proclaim the kingdom of God is close at hand.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Be the Gospel

Jesus instructed the Twelve as follows: ‘As you go, proclaim that the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.

Jesus is commissioning the twelve for their first solo mission.  The message He gives them to proclaim is very simple; "The Kingdom of God is close...".  To give their proclamation authority He gives them power to heal, raise, cleans and cast out.

The mission of the Church today, of mine today, is the same.  Proclaim the kingdom of God is close at hand.  The world tries to shout down this message.  It tries to convince that the kingdom of God is far, far away, if it exists at all.

So, what do I do?   Proclaim the message anyway.  How?  By living an authentic Catholic lifestyle.  As Saint Francis famously said, "Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words".

Lord Jesus, thank you for entrusting me with the Good News to proclaim.  Help me be the best gospel for people to read today.
Saint Francis, please pray for me.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sow Integrity, Reap Kindness

Sow integrity for yourselves, reap a harvest of kindness, break up your fallow ground: it is time to go seeking the Lord...
Hosea 10:12

Hosea is calling the people of Israel back from their idolatry and preoccupation with wealth.  The antidote to these distractions? Integrity and kindness.

Preoccupation with acquiring wealth.  Hmm... some things never change in human nature. But, if the sin hasn't changed then neither has the antidote.

From the dictionary:
Integrity n.   adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty. 
Kind       a.   of a good or benevolent nature.

Today I embrace honesty and goodness of nature as my hallmarks.  Simple words that lead to a radical lifestyle.

Lord Jesus, You are the ultimate example of integrity and kindness.  Send me Your Spirit today to help me embrace these virtues.
Little Flower who embodied integrity and kindness, please pray for me.

Monday, July 9, 2012

God of Love

When that day comes – it is the Lord who speaks – she will call me, ‘My husband’, no longer will she call me, ‘My Baal.’ I will betroth you to myself for ever.
Hosea 2:16-19

Hosea prophesies the restoration of Israel.  He speaks of a time when there will be conversation of heart and a re-flaming of the passion of first love.  The worship in fear of false gods will be replaced by a relationship of spousal love and faithfulness.

I live in an age where "Baals", false gods, are are worshipped all around me.  The temptation is always there to worship wealth, power, status, appearance, even health. These gods demand that I fight for them. They are competitive gods that pit me against my brothers and sisters.   There is no peace in them.

But what a beautiful alternative is placed before me this morning.  I'm invited again into a relationship with my living, loving God; a relationship based on loving tenderness, mercy, faithfulness and sacrifice.  The love of my God motivates me to love my brothers and sisters.  Peace flows like a river.

I walk into this day knowing I am loved by God and with a love to demonstrate to others.

Lord Jesus, You are Love.  Drench me today in Your love that it may flow through me to the people I meet today.
Little Flower, Saint John the Apostle of love,  please pray for me.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

New Wineskin

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 see something new in Jesus and His ministry and and start asking why.  Part of Jesus' reply is to do with timing (...the time will come) and part is to do with content ( cloth wine).  Everything about Jesus is new.  This newness needs a fresh perspective, a new approach... a new wine-skin.

Today is my fifty-eighth birthday. Sometimes I find myself treating my faith a bit like a comfortable old jersey.  It fits, it's snug, it's familiar, it has no surprises.  This happens when my prayer-life is slack and my relationship with Jesus has drifted.  The flame of my first-love has dwindled and I'm in cruise mode.

It's time to throw away the old jersey and put on the new cloak ready for the new cloth.  It's time to get out the new wine-skin with an expectancy that new wine is about to flow!

Lord Jesus, You are new every morning.  Rekindle in me the fire of my first love with You.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

By Your Word Give Me Life

Keep my eyes from what is false; by your word, give me life.
See, I long for your precepts; then in your justice, give me life.

The first reading from the Second Book of Kings tells of the Law of the Lord being rediscovered by King Josiah.  Psalm 119 is a powerful discourse on the beauty of God's Word that could well have been sung by King Josiah as he rededicates himself and all the people to the Word of God.

This morning is my first Bible study for some weeks, and I've missed it.  Busyness has led to late nights and late mornings.  It's good to reconnect with God in His Word.

Father, thank you for Your inspired Word.  They are for me, life!
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Most of the Most

Jesus called his disciples and said to them, ‘I tell you solemnly, this poor widow has put more in than all who have contributed to the treasury; for they have all put in money they had over, but she from the little she had has put in everything she possessed, all she had to live on.’

Jesus observes people placing their offerings in the temple treasury box.  He singles out the lowest of the low giving the least of the least saying she has given the most of the most.  Jesus' value system is different from the world's.

To be a widow in Jesus' time was bad enough.  To be a poor widow placed you firmly at the bottom of the heap.  Yet, after Jesus' proclamation of her generosity, you just know where she is going to be placed in the Kingdom of God.  It's what's in my heart that impresses Jesus, not what's in my show.

Attitude is everything, circumstance is nothing.  Each time I compare myself with my neighbour, I'm comparing my show.  Today I work on generosity of heart.

Lord Jesus.  You know how fixated I can become on the external.  Help me be fixated on the condition of my heart.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Eternal Life

He is God, not of the dead, but of the living.

The Sadducees, who denied there is a resurrection, set a question to Jesus to discredit Him and prove their own theology.  Jesus demonstrates from the Torah that rising from the dead has always been God's plan for mankind.  The resurrection is a promise Jesus is very strong on as He knew He was to be the first of many to experience it.

Belief in the resurrection puts my life in right perspective.  As good as this life is, it's not all there is.  The resurrection makes sense of the pain and suffering of this life, it is insignificant when compared to the glories that await.  As C S Lewis writes in the last page of The Last Battle, the final book in the  Chronicles of Narnia, "all that had happened before was just the title page to their great story that was about to begin".  What a wonderful promise I can carry into my day.

Thank you Lord Jesus for the promise of eternal life with You.  On this sure promise I place my hope today.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

God's First

‘Why do you set this trap for me? Hand me a denarius and let me see it.’ They handed him one and he said, ‘Whose head is this? Whose name?’ ‘Caesar’s’ they told him. Jesus said to them, ‘Give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar – and to God what belongs to God.’ This reply took them completely by surprise.

Jesus has been set a trick question by the Scribes and Pharisees to try and discredit him.  Jesus identifies their hypocrisy and steps over their trap, giving a truth to live by in the process.  We are to pay our dues to the world and to God.

There is a tension created when I recognise I am living in the world but trying to follow God.  The "Caesars" of the world can be tyrants and despots busy creating anything but the Kingdom of God.  Yet Jesus recognises my dilemma, saying it is not being disloyal to him by paying my dues to the world.  I am in the world but not of it as long as I also pay my dues to God.  As Saint Thomas Moore famously said before his execution by Henry the Eighth, "I am the King's good servant but God's first".

Lord Jesus, I want to be an honourable and authentic witness for You today.  Help me always put You first as I be a good servant today.
Saint Thomas Moore, please pray for me.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Last First

‘Many who are first will be last, and the last first.’

The rich young man has just walked away dejected at the standard Jesus has set for him to be a follower; "Give all your money to the poor, then come follow me" Mk.10:21.  The disciples are stunned at Jesus's warning on riches being an obstacle to flowing God.  Jesus then clarifies the statement, saying the deprivation and persecutions of disciples in this world will be more than compensated in the next. This life and the next life are counter-posed.  Those poor here will be rich there.  Those humbled here will be exalted there.  Those last here will be first there.

This teaching of Jesus gives me the answer to why injustice seems to triumph in the world.  Seen from an eternal perspective, the suffering and loss of this life is not the end of the story.  God's justice will prevail where and when it matters; in eternal life.  What a great promise for me today, no matter what happens.

Thank you Jesus for Your promises.  I place my trust in You.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Love with no Limits

Then he said to him a third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was upset that he asked him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and said, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.

The resurrected Jesus meets with the disciples and serves them cooked food, the universal act of friendship.  Jesus then asks Peter three times if he loves Him, responding each time with an instruction to shepherd the fledgling Church.

The disciples, and especially Peter, would be feeling the guilt of their betrayal of Jesus.  Jesus' response is to love them.  Peter, whose betrayal is recorded with most detail in the Gospels, is handed the role of "Good Shepherd" that Jesus himself had previously held.

This is Good News for me.  No betrayal can stand between a repentant heart and the love of Jesus.  His mercy for me knows no bounds.  All I need do is lift my head and receive that love

Lord Jesus, You know my betrayal. You know my fickle love. You knew all this from the beginning yet You have always loved me.  Thank you Lord.  I accept Your love.  Help me love others the same unconditional way.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Who's Top of the Heap?

Preserve me, God, I take refuge in you.  I say to the Lord: ‘You are my God.  O Lord, it is you who are my portion and cup; it is you yourself who are my prize.

King David, a man who has everything the world could offer, turns to God and places Him firmly on top of the heap; "You are my God, my sustenance, my prize".

I am currently taking part in a "Financial Peace University" course by Dave Ramsay.  Basically, it is giving tools and then motivation to use those tools to tame our finances.  It's made me realise what a huge incursion of "worldliness" into my life that money can be.  Taming money knocks it off it's deity-podium that it has placed itself and allows me to put God back up there... on top of the heap.

Lord Jesus, give the discipline and motivation to tackle our budget and savings.  Help me, with Kate, make a financial plan and stick to it.  You, Lord Jesus, are my portion and my cup.  I place my hope in You.
Saint Matthew, patron saint of finances, pray for us.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Truly the Son of God

Now at last they know that all you have given me comes indeed from you; for I have given them the teaching you gave to me, and they have truly accepted this, that I came from you, and have believed that it was you who sent me.

At the Last Supper Jesus is giving His priestly prayer for all Believers.  His relationship with God the Father is clearly revealed.  Jesus is from God.

The divinity of Jesus is still a stumbling block for the world.  His promises and teaching are just nice words until this fact is accepted.  Once Jesus is seen as God the Son, peace and joy immediately follow. He becomes Emmanuel, God with us, and we are alone and abandoned no longer.

I have family members who do not accept Jesus' own words about himself in today's Gospel.  God help me be a witness to Jesus' divinity.

Lord Jesus, truly You are the Son of God.  Help me be like Saint Paul and bear witness to the Good News of Your grace.
Saint Paul, please pray for me.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Which Baptism

...and yet, though he (Apollos)  had been given instruction in the Way of the Lord and preached with great spiritual earnestness and was accurate in all the details he taught about Jesus, he had only experienced the baptism of John.
Acts 18:25

Apollos was a Jewish believer who preached with great eloquence from a head knowledge of scripture and of Jesus, but he hadn't had a heart experience with the Holy Spirit.

Luke, in writing the Book of Acts, here clearly infers that a water baptism, while necessary, is not enough.  The consummate baptism for a follower of The Way is baptism in the spirit.  It was baptism in the spirit that transformed and empowered the Apostles in the upper room.  It was baptism in the spirit of Cornelius and his household that convinced Peter pagans could and should join the Church.  It was baptism in the spirit, received from Ananaias, that completed Paul's radical conversion.  

Pentecost is just a week away...

Come Holy spirit fall afresh on me.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Preach it Anyway

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, but there were some who attached themselves to him and became believers...

Paul is preaching in Athens, the center of human philosophy.  He verifies Jesus' authority as Savior by declaring He has risen from the dead.  Some Greeks respond by mocking laughter, others want their ears tickled further and some believe and follow.

Human wisdom hasn't changed in two thousand years.  At the Christian message of salvation some mock, some tolerate it as an interesting quirk and some believe.  Like Saint Paul, I need to proclaim the Good News anyway.  How people receive it is their story.  Mine is to be faithful to the Good News as I know it.

Lord Jesus, send me the Holy Spirit to strengthen me and help me be an authentic witness to Your saving love.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Know my Heart

Having nominated two candidates, Joseph known as Barsabbas, whose surname was Justus, and Matthias, they prayed, ‘Lord, you can read everyone’s heart; show us therefore which of these two you have chosen to take over this ministry and apostolate,'

Today is the feast day of Saint Matthias the Apostle.  The reading from Acts tells how Matthias was selected to replace Judas.  The apostles prayed that Jesus, who knows people's hearts, would guide their selection process which was as simple as casting lots.

The thought that Jesus knows my heart is both unnerving and comforting.  There are things in my heart that even I don't like to face and yet Jesus does.  The comforting thing is that having seen the very worst of me, Jesus still offers me the very best of Himself.

Rather than shaming me, Jesus lifts me up with His love.  This is truly a love I could never earn. It is a love that makes me want to change and have a clean heart.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,  and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Shout Serve Know

Cry out with joy to the Lord, all the earth.  Serve the Lord with gladness.  Come before him, singing for joy.  Know that he, the Lord, is God.

Today's first reading has Paul and Timothy being led on their missionary trip step by step by the Holy Spirit.  The Gospel has Jesus forewarning the Disciples of persecution and hatred from the world because of His name.

In both scenarios people's lives (Paul, Timothy, the disciples) are being radically and irreversibly changed because of their following Jesus.  Psalm 100 gives the beautiful blue-print to the life committed to Jesus; Shout with joy, serve with gladness, know He is God.  These are the hallmarks that follow a believer.  Do I shout, serve and know?

Lord Jesus, You are the source of my joy, irrespective of my circumstances.  Show me how to best serve You.  Help me to know You.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Complete Joy

'I have told you this so that my own joy may be in you and your joy be complete.’

Jesus has just given the powerful analogy of the vine and branches in explaining His relationship with His disciples.  He then caps this relationship with the promise of not only His love but the love of the Father.  The result is complete joy.

I remember once being a little too critical of a child's plans and being accused of being a "joy sponge", someone who sucks the joy out of a situation.  That made me sit up and look at what I was doing.  I'd far rather be accused of being a "joy pump", someone who pours joy into a situation.

Joy is what Jesus came to bring us.  He tells us so in today's Gospel.  As the bumper sticker says, "If you've got the joy of the Lord, please tell your face about it".  This joy can't be forced but comes with the realisation of who I am in Jesus and what it is He has given me.  Today I have the joy of the Lord and I tell my face about it.

Thank you Jesus for Your unconditional love for me and the complete joy that is mine when I receive it.  Help me be a joy-filled witness for You today.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Contagious Joy

But the Jews worked upon some of the devout women of the upper classes and the leading men of the city and persuaded them to turn against Paul and Barnabas and expel them from their territory. So they shook the dust from their feet in defiance and went off to Iconium; but the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.

Paul and Barnabas are attracting huge crowds in Antioch and also jealousy from the religious leaders.  This prompts Paul and Barnabas to switch tacts and preach the Good News to the pagans who received it with great joy.

What on the outside appears to be a defeat (expulsion from Antioch) is received by the disciples as a cause for great joy.  The Church continues to grow with gentile converts adding to their numbers.  The proclaimed Good News is irrepressible.  In its wake flows disciples "filled with joy and the Holy Spirit" Acts.13:52.

This is the sort of church I want to be part of.  Being filled with joy and the Holy Spirit sounds like an attractive attribute.  We have just past the middle of Easter season.  Now is a time to be filled with joy and filled with the Holy Spirit... today!

Lord Jesus, You are the source of great joy for me.  Send the Holy Spirit into my life that my joy may be contagious.
Saints Paul and Barnabas, please pray for me.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Good News!

I taught you what I had been taught myself, namely that Christ died for our sins, in accordance with the scriptures; that he was buried; and that he was raised to life on the third day.

Saint Paul is writing instruction and guidance to the fledgling church of Corinth.  He reminds them of the essentials of their faith and in so doing gives a pure definition of what the Gospel message is: Christ died for our sins, He was buried and rose again to life on the third day.

I need to be reminded of the simplicity of the Gospel and why it is Good News.  Jesus died for my sins.  Wow!  That means I don't have to die for them.  He was buried.  That means my sins did have an effect on Jesus.  It means He took the full consequence of them, which means I don't have to.  Wow!  Then Jesus rose to life on the third day.  Wow!  That means death has no power over all who follow Him, has no power of me!  Now this is Good News worth proclaiming... today.

Thank you Jesus for paying the price of my sins.  Help me be an authentic witness to Your Gospel today.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

God Revealed

Jesus declared publicly: ‘Whoever believes in me believes not in me but in the one who sent me, and whoever sees me, sees the one who sent me.

Jesus is recorded in John's Gospel very clearly stating by whose authority He speaks.  To know Jesus is to know God the Father.

Jesus' divinity continues to be the great stumbling block for many.  Even other religions acknowledge that Jesus existed, that He was a good man who spoke good things, a prophet even.  But God?

My own conversion story was stuck on this obstacle for years.  My first stumbling prayers started with; "Jesus, if You are God...".  Once I came to accept Jesus as Lord and God it was like a great light had turned on in my life.  The huge stumbling block was revealed as the pebble it really was and I stepped over it.  This faith in Jesus is a great gift that not all receive. I am so grateful I have it... today.

Lord Jesus, I join Saint Thomas and proclaim You are my Lord and my God.  Help me be a faithful witness to You today, that others may believe.
Saint Thomas, please pray for me.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Listen to His Voice

The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice;  I know them and they follow me.  I give them eternal life; they will never be lost and no one will ever steal them from me.

Jesus is responding to the Jews who are demanding He demonstrate who He says He is.  Jesus has already performed miracles before them but their unbelief blinds them and they demand more.  Jesus knows they are already lost and will never be convinced. He defines what they must become to be a follower; a listener to His voice.

Listening to the voice of Jesus can be hard or it can be easy.  It becomes hard for me when the screech and scream of this world overwhelms me.  Being a typical bloke, I am single minded.  If my focus is on a thing of this world then Jesus' voice doesn't get much attention.  However, this trait can work for me.  When my focus is on Jesus; in prayer, at Mass, in adoration, then I do hear Him.  

This quiet time at the start of my day is so precious.  Why? Because I can hear His voice.

Holy Spirit.  It can be hard to get out of bed on these cold mornings.  My spirit is willing but my flesh is weak.  Help me Lord enter this quiet time so I may listen to the voice of my Lord.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Eat Drink

The Jews started arguing with one another: ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’

Jesus is teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum and insists that eternal life comes by eating His flesh and drinking His blood.  To those who rejected this teaching it was a repugnant act of cannibalism.  To those who accepted what Jesus was saying, it was a mystery that carried the promise of all they yearned for; eternal life with God.

This is what sets the Catholic Church apart from all other religions, even within Christianity.  "How can this man give us His flesh to eat?" is still the question that rages.  It was the question that stopped me from entering the Church for at least five years.  I remember reaching the point where I simply said, "Jesus, You said it so I believe it", and I stepped out in faith.  Receiving His body and His blood is now the central act of my faith that feeds my spirit.

I need to go to Mass today...

Lord Jesus, thank you for Your insistence and Your patience; Your insistence on teaching the necessity of eating Your body and blood and Your patience in waiting for me to come eat, come drink.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Born From Above

'Do not be surprised when I say: You must be born from above. The wind blows wherever it pleases;
you hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. That is how it is with all who are born of the Spirit.’

Jesus is talking to Nicodemus, who recognises Jesus is sent by God but still doesn't understand the fullness of what Jesus is saying about the Kingdom of God.  Jesus explains to Nicodemus what is required of him next; to be "born from above", that is, filled with the Holy Spirit.

As Jesus explains, there is a mysterious power in the Holy Spirit.  Like the wind, you can tell when He is there but where and how He works is a mystery.  The first reading today from the book of Acts tells how the house shook as the believers prayed and were filled with the Holy Spirit.  Mysterious indeed!

When did the house last shake when I prayed? Like Nicodemus, I need to be born from above, open to the mysterious power of the Holy Spirit.

Come Holy Spirit, fall afresh on me.
Fill me with Your power, satisfy my need.
Only You can make me whole,
give me strength and make me grow.
Come Holy Spirit, fall afresh on me.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Be a Foot Washer

If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another's feet.
I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.

Jesus is in the upper room with His disciples at the Last Supper and, to their shock and discomfort, is washing their feet.  This last act of servitude sets the role His Church is to play from that day forward.

I've heard it said that the Christian Church is unique in that its sole reason for being is for the benefit of those who don't belong to it.  The Church is meant to serve the world.

This mission is only fulfilled when each member of the Church is serving... when I am serving.

Lord Jesus, You know how I struggle to remove myself from my center-stage.  Help me to serve others as You have served me.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Glimmer of Easter

And while they were eating, he said, "Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me."
Deeply distressed at this, they began to say to him one after another, "Surely it is not I, Lord?"

Jesus is in the upper room sharing His last Passover meal with His twelve closest friends, knowing that one of them is about to betray Him.  This shocking revelation is denied by all twelve, yet within twenty-four hours all but John will deny Him for fear of their lives.

"Surely not I Lord?"   I can hear myself saying these same words, yet to my shame I have denied my Lord each time I have chosen to sin.  But the story does not stop there.  Each one of those twelve, barring Judas, went on to become great saints.  This gives me great hope.  The resurrected Jesus appeared to them and gave them the Holy Spirit to empower them into sainthood.  The glimmer of Easter can be seen just around the corner.

Lord Jesus, You know my denial and my betrayal, yet You love me all the same. Lord, You are my help, come help me through this day.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Take the Bread

So he took the morsel and left at once.

It is the Last Supper and Jesus has just indicated who is to betray Him.  Judas takes the piece of bread offered by Jesus and leaves into the night to commit his betrayal.  Even knowing that Judas was His betrayer, Jesus' very last act towards Judas was still to serve him by offering him the piece of bread.

As one who has betrayed Jesus, this is heartening for me.  No sin I commit is a surprise to Jesus.  On the very first day I received Jesus with that sweet rush of love that I will never forget, even then Jesus knew I would betray Him.  Yet He still serves me, still offers me the precious piece of bread that is His body in Holy Communion.  Judas couldn't receive that unconditional love.  Peter could.  Today I pray for the heart of Peter, that as broken as I am I can still let Jesus transform me from sinner into saint.

Lord Jesus, I accept Your unconditional love.  Help me be open to Your transforming power.
Saint Peter the Apostle, please pray for me.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Betrayed by a Kiss

His betrayer had arranged a signal with them, saying, "The man I shall kiss is the one; arrest him and lead him away securely."   He came and immediately went over to him and said, "Rabbi." And he kissed him.



Today is the start of Holy Week.  We are faced with the betrayal, passion and death of Jesus.  Today we are faced with what we have done to contribute to Jesus' betrayal, Jesus' passion and Jesus' death.

The song writer Michael Card was written a song "Why" with the following opening verse:

Why did it have to be a friend
Who chose to betray the Lord
Why did he use a kiss to show them
That's not what a kiss is for

Only a friend can betray a friend
A stranger has nothing to gain
And only a friend comes close enough
To ever cause so much pain

I am the friend who has betrayed by a kiss....

Lord have mercy...
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Friend of God

The Jews answered him, ‘We are not stoning you for doing a good work but for blasphemy: you are only a man and you claim to be God.’

The Jews are so infuriated by Jesus that they attempt to stone Him.  The reason for their fury?  Jesus' constant assertion that He is the only Son of the Father.

It's the divinity of Jesus that continues to upset people today.  Many would happily call him a good man, a powerful teacher, a prophet even, but he Son of God?  No!  The work of the spirit of anti-Christ is very active in this age.  

So, I continue to testify what I know is true.  Jesus is the Son of God and so He has a divine nature.  And yes, as the Son of God He suffered and died for all.... died for me.  It's good for me to remember this.

Jesus my Lord and my God.  To know You is to know the Father.  Help me become more your friend that I may be the friend of God.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Hail Mary

‘I am the handmaid of the Lord,’ said Mary ‘let what you have said be done to me.’

The Annunciation of the Lord

The Angel Gabriel has just announced to a young Jewish girl that she is to conceive a child placed in her womb from God.  In response to this startling news Mary simply says, "I am God's slave, I'll go with whatever He plans".  Such courage.

The yes to motherhood is a courageous thing.  I have recently been focussed on mothers in my life.  My own mum who has recently battled with the news that she had a melanoma; my daughter being swept away with love for her own first-born; my wife's superlative mothering of our five diverse children.  Their "yes" to motherhood has drawn out deeper character in each of them, much to their surprise I would guess.

Mary's yes was a yes for me.  Her Son has become my Lord and my Saviour.  If Mary had said no I hate to think what the consequences would have been in my life. But she said yes, and Jesus was brought to me. I have so much to be thankful to Mary for. I carry this gratitude with me into my day today.

Hail Mary, full of grace.  The Lord is with you.
Blessed are you among women
and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Happy Place

Does a woman forget her baby at the breast, or fail to cherish the son of her womb?  Yet even if these forget, I will never forget you.

Isaiah the prophet is delivering God's message of love and compassion for all people.  He chooses the image of a baby at the breast of its mother to convey the nurturing love of God, an image that all people can relate to.

My son-in-law, daughter and baby granddaughter live immediately next door.  This gives me the opportunity most days to see my daughter mothering her baby.  She breast feeds and this is so obviously baby's happy place.  No matter how distressed she may be, mother's breast gives her peace, security and happiness.

God is telling me His compassion for me is even greater than my own mother's love.  When I am distressed, worried, hurt or upset, it is His loving arms that I can rush back to.  He is my happy place today.

Loving Father, thank you for your promise of love.  I lean into Your arms today.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The 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.

The prophet Ezekiel is led by an an angel in a vision of the River of Life flowing from the temple.  Because of its source, the river brings healing and life wherever it flows.  The source is what makes this river different.  It flows from the holy temple of God.

My mother has been diagnosed with a melanoma.  Suddenly death and life are in sharper relief.  The promises of  Jesus and what He did to defeat death now take on a very relevant meaning.  God is the source of all life.  When I surrender any claims I have to giving and taking life, there is peace.  Death as we see it is only a veil to pass through to a far better place, free from pain and fear.  What a wonderful promise to take into my day!

Lord Jesus, You are the River of Life.  Flow through my family, through my mother, that healing and eternal life may reign.
Little Flower, please pray for us.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

You just can't Escape

The tax collectors and the sinners were all seeking the company of Jesus to hear what he had to say, and the Pharisees and the scribes complained. ‘This man’ they said ‘welcomes sinners and eats with them.’Luke 15:1,2

The scandal of Jesus has reached the notice of the Pharisees and Scribes as well as the outcast sinners.  They each respond so differently.  The tax collectors and sinners respond with joy, the Scribes and Pharisees respond with condemnation.  Jesus responds to both groups with love, much the same way the father of the prodigal son responds to his two sons.

The joy of the outcasts and the condemnation of the Pharisees both bring good news.  That Jesus should welcome those who have patently broken God's Laws is good news for me.  Why?  Because that is the group I belong to.  However, there are times when the Pharisee within me rises up and I find myself condemning and judgemental of  the very group to which I belong.  Good news!  Jesus loves me even when I am in that place.

Basically, there is no escaping from the love of Jesus.  It pursues me wherever I go.  Now that is good news.  It means I have the love of Jesus with me today, with me now...

Thank you Jesus that You accept me where I am today and love me so much that You won't leave me here.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Life Saver

Then Abraham said to him, “If they will not listen either to Moses or to the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead.”

Jesus is telling the parable of the rich man and poor the man Lazarus to the Pharisees.  The rich man in Hell wants to warn his brothers of their approaching doom, but Father Abrahan says they have received warning enough from Moses and the prophets.  The parable tells how faith on the Word of God, the law and the prophets, predisposes a man to accept the message from God.

How can I listen to Moses and the prophets if I do not even hear them?  Sacred Scripture is not just an option, it's essential for my salvation.  As today's Psalm says, "Happy indeed is the man... whose delight is the law of the Lord and who ponders his law day and night." Ps.1:1,2.  My daily reading of scripture is actually a life-saver.

Holy Spirit of God.  You inspired all sacred scripture.  Inspire me as I read it so I may be convinced of Jesus when I meet Him.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Hope for Numbskulls

When the other ten heard this they were indignant with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, ‘You know that among the pagans the rulers lord it over them, and their great men make their authority felt. This is not to happen among you.

Jesus is approaching Jerusalem for the last time and has just warned His disciples of His coming passion, death and resurrection. Still not comprehending what this means, the disciples, goaded by the mother of James and John, squabble about who is to hold positions of power in the new kingdom.

The humanness of the disciples is both head-shakingly sad and inspiringly hopeful.   These three-year companions of Jesus still don't get it, even after Jesus plainly explains what is about to happen.   However, these numbskulls are soon to be transformed into saints and there lies my hope. 

You see, I am a numbskull as well.  I vacillate between holiness and sinfulness, wisdom and stupidness.  But, just as Jesus never gave up on His numbskull disciples, my hope is that He doesn't give up on me.  What a great hope to carry into this day.

Thank you Jesus for not giving up on me.  Please walk beside me today.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Ask Seek Knock

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For the one who asks always receives; the one who searches always finds; the one who knocks will always have the door opened to him.

Jesus is giving His Sermon on the Mount, the greatest record of His teaching.  In today's Gospel verses Jesus focuses on how to be a disciple.  It appears that a disciple must be active in his searching for God.  He must ask, seek, knock.

When I look back over my faith journey I see it is the times that I am actively asking, seeking and knocking that I am closest to God.  Conversely, the times when I am passive, just cruising in my faith-life, gravity always takes over and I start to drift down and away from God.

Lent is a good time to re-energise my faith.  I think it is time to recommit to a daily Asking, Seeking and Knocking time.

Lord Jesus, please walk beside me during these forty days to Easter.  I have things to ask, thinks to seek and doors on which to knock.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Joy and Grief

Jesus replied, ‘Surely the bridegroom’s attendants would never think of mourning as long as the bridegroom is still with them? But the time will come for the bridegroom to be taken away from them, and then they will fast.’

John's disciples have a genuine question for Jesus about fasting, which is a routine part of their faith practice.  Jesus' reply says there is a season for joy and there is a season for fasting.  We are to practice what is in season.

Jesus' foretells His coming passion and death that will cause so much grief for His followers.  But it has a wider application, shedding light on grief and joy and what to do with them.  The human condition by definition includes the wide range of emotional experiences from grief to joy.  Jesus gives permission to enter into both of these emotions when they are in season.  This is not a contradiction.  In fact it is part of the very fullness of life that Jesus brings. 

Today is my thirty-third wedding anniversary,  a cause of great joy.  Yesterday I heard a doctor tell my mother she had cancer, a cause of great grief.

We weep when our loved ones weep and rejoice when they are joyful.  What allows us to be free to do this is our firm faith in the promises of God made visible in Jesus.  The grief and even the joy is not the final word on our human experience.  The final word is the promise Jesus made when He said He has prepared a home for us where we can be with Him forever. That puts everything into its right perspective.  Today I can enter the joy and the grief knowing that all will be well.

Lord Jesus, both joy and grief were part of Your human experience.  This means they are sanctified by You.  Thank you Lord that I can find You where ever my emotions may lead me.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Help for Little Faith

‘If you can?’ retorted Jesus. ‘Everything is possible for anyone who has faith.’ Immediately the father of the boy cried out, ‘I do have faith. Help the little faith I have!’

Jesus has just returned from the mountain where He was transfigured.  He finds a large crowd arguing with the disciples.  At the center is a father with a possessed son whom the disciples were unable to help.  Jesus probes the father with questions; questions that reveal his love for his son and faith in God.  This is enough for Jesus to act and the boy is delivered of the demon. 

"Yes Lord I believe.  Help me in my unbelief!".  This cry of the father to Jesus is a favorite prayer of mine.  I think it describes the human condition.  My faith waxes and wanes depending on how I'm distracted by the world.   The Good News is that Jesus never waxes and wanes.  The little faith that I do have is enough for Him to act; to deliver me of my demons.

Lord Jesus, You know the demons I struggle with.  Lord, I believe.  Help me in my unbelief!.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Speak Blessing

And a cloud came, covering them in shadow; and there came a voice from the cloud, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him.’ Then suddenly, when they looked round, they saw no one with them any more but only Jesus.

Jesus has taken Peter, James and John up a high mountain where He was transfigured into a blazing white glory.  God speaks over Jesus a blessing, an imprimatur so to speak, giving divine authority to everything Jesus says and does.

The spoken word of a father is powerful to bless or to curse.  My own father was never a great man of words and so I missed his direct spoken blessing over me.  However, I remember once being a Best Man and giving a speech that surprised everyone, including me, for its unexpected eloquence.  At the conclusion of the toast there was a round of applause and I remember hearing my father shout, "That's my boy!".  Thirty years after that event everyone else present will have forgotten that moment, but I never will.  My father spoke a blessing over me that will last forever in my memory.

I need to look for opportunities to speak blessing over my own children, starting today.

Father God, I know You have spoken blessing over me.  I am Your beloved son because I am conformed to the image of Your Son, the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.
Little Flower, please pray for me.