Saturday, March 21, 2015

Missing Jesus

Several people who had been listening to Jesus said, ‘Surely he must be the prophet’, and some said, ‘He is the Christ’, but others said, ‘Would the Christ be from Galilee? ...So the people could not agree about him. Some would have liked to arrest him, but no one actually laid hands on him.

Jesus is preaching openly in the temple. He had such an impact that he could not be ignored but the people are divided over who is.

Missing Jesus has always been a problem, both two thousand years ago and today. You would think that having the Son of God stand patently in front of you and speak, his true nature would be obvious. But no, apparently not. Something else is required before he is recognised. I think that something is a true vision of self. I need to be honest about myself before a true vision of Jesus is received.

It was the people who openly acknowledged their brokenness, their sinfulness, who recognised Jesus and found healing. The woman caught in adultery, the woman at the well, all of the disciples. Those who saw only their own perceived righteousness in their pride, ...the Pharisees, the Scribes, the Sanhedrin... missed who Jesus was and so missed being set free.

Pride gets in the way of me seeing Jesus.

Lord Jesus, you are always before me but I do not always see you. Help me be lesser that you may be more in my life.
Little Flower please pray for me.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Cherish Protect Provide


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.’ When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do. 

Joseph has just found Mary, his betrothed, is pregnant and he knows the child is not his. A quiet divorce is the response he chooses until God's plan is revealed in a dream. He then unquestioningly changes course and gets instep with God's plan. Man's salvation is a result of his obedience.

The more I learn of Saint Joseph, the more I like him. He is for me a great model of authentic manhood.  I have four daughters, so I have given manhood and husband-ship much thought when faced with their chosen or future partners. I have distilled the role of a husband down to three things; He must cherish, protect and provide for his wife. Joseph did all three superbly for Mary.

I am a husband. There is a message here for me to cherish, protect and provide for my wife. I know that when I do this I am fulfilling my God-given role of authentic manhood. I am instep with God's plan.

Lord Jesus, you were raised by a righteous man, Joseph. You know what authentic manhood is like. Help me become such a man as I cherish, protect and provide for my wife.
Saint Joseph, please pray for me.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Never Forgotten

For Zion was saying, ‘The Lord has abandoned me, the Lord has forgotten me.’ 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 is prophesying the restoration of the people of Israel. Even when things look their bleakest, God says his people are never forgotten.

This is one of the verses that attracted me home to faith in God. I remember my first-time reading of the book of Isaiah, discovering this and the following verse; "See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands" Is.49:16. I was reduced to tears, realising that I wasn't just a random accident but a beloved son of God with my name engraved on his very hands. I began to perceive that I was loved by God and my whole world expanded. I began to see myself rightly.

This is good for me to revisit. Nothing has changed. I am still no less a beloved son of God my Father. When I accept this truth, peace and joy are mine... today.

Father in Heaven, thank you for loving me so much that you sent your one and only son to draw me back to you and your love. I place my trust in you.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A Forgiving Heart

Then the master sent for him. “You wicked servant,” he said “I cancelled all that debt of yours when you appealed to me. Were you not bound, then, to have pity on your fellow servant just as I had pity on you?” And in his anger the master handed him over to the torturers till he should pay all his debt. And that is how my heavenly Father will deal with you unless you each forgive your brother from your heart.’

Jesus is asked by Peter how many times he should forgive.  In reply, Jesus tells the parable of the unforgiving servant. The simple answer is we forgive as much as we have been forgiven and we have been forgiven much.

I'm always incredulous at the hardheartedness of the unforgiving servant in the parable. How could he not forgive a brother's debt of a few dollars when he had just had a debt of hundreds of thousands cancelled? Yet this is Jesus' point. I have been forgiven the incalculable debt of my many sins, yet I'm very quick to hold others to account for the speck in their eye.

But wait... there's more!  Jesus gives a very sobering warning after the parable to Peter and to me.  The fate of the unforgiving servant is my fate unless I develop a forgiving heart.

Lord Jesus, help forgiveness become my natural response to injustice. Help me develop a forgiving heart like yours.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Heart and Loins

‘The heart is more devious than any other thing, perverse too: who can pierce its secrets? I, the Lord, search to the heart, I probe the loins, to give each man what his conduct and his actions deserve.’

Jeremiah is prophesying about the day of judgement. The Lord will see all things that a man has done and then pass his judgement.

Heart and loins. What are more hidden then these? Yet even these will not escape the searching of God's judgement. The heart and the loins are the source of great evil or wonderful purity and righteousness. A sobering thought.

I turn to God's promises such as that found in Psalm 130.3,4:

If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
    Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
    so that we can, with reverence, serve you.

Lent is a time to acknowledge my sinfulness and fall on God's mercy. Praise God for the Mercy Seat found in the confessional.

Lord Jesus, look not on my sins but on my faithfulness. Let your mercy triumph over judgement. I place my hope in you.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Less Becomes More

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 has just been approached by the mother of James and John who requested her sons be given places of honor in the new kingdom. Salome presents a typical misconception of the Kingdom of God being structured in a human way, powerful at the top, weak at the bottom. Jesus turns the pyramid upside down with the great at the bottom serving the weak at the top.

The social structure of God's kingdom is counter-cultural to the world's way of thinking. If I am genuine when I pray "Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven", then I am praying for this upside down pyramid to be evident today, starting with me. Only then can I be great in God's eyes.

Lord Jesus, I find it hard putting others needs before my own, hard being a servant. Help me become less so that others will become more, starting with my own family.
Little Flower, please pray for me.