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.