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.