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 ...today.

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.