Tuesday, August 14, 2018

“The most sophisticated people I know - inside they are all children.”

A pure heart is perhaps one which has no natural propulsion towards anything in any manner whatsoever. When in its extreme simplicity such a heart has become like a writing-tablet beautifully smoothed and polished, God comes to dwell in it and writes there His own laws. - Maximus the Confessor: (580 – 13 August 662: was a Christian monk, theologian, and scholar.)

Gospel Text: (MT 18:1-5, 10, 12-14)
The disciples approached Jesus and said,
“Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?”
He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said,
“Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children,
you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven.
Whoever becomes humble like this child
is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.
And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones,
for I say to you that their angels in heaven
always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.
What is your opinion?
If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray,
will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills
and go in search of the stray?
And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it
than over the ninety-nine that did not stray.
In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father
that one of these little ones be lost.”

But how can I be childlike?

Faith makes it possible for me to be childlike. I can live in the present because my faith assures me that I have the mercy of God for the past and the providence of God for the future. I can have a sense of wonder because faith ushers us into a wonderful world that is more mysterious and more romantic than the world of the senses. I can have a sense of security which is based on the unconditional love of God because my faith tells me that God loves me unconditionally with a love I cannot earn or ever be worthy of. And God loves me for myself, not as I could be or should be but as I really am with all of the physical warts, psychological quirks and spiritual infidelities.

To be childlike, to be among the greatest in the kingdom, is to live in the present, to have a sense of awe and wonder and to have our security rooted firmly in the fidelity of the love of God.

Monday, August 13, 2018

“Pride has quite a bit to do with hatred. In many a case in which one hates another, one subconsciously begins patterns of cherry-picking and selective hearing: he continues to look only for things about the other person which he can use to justify his hatred, things which will then make him feel less guilty about hating someone. In this regard, hatred is not so much an emotion as it is a decision.”

For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity,will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths – St Timothy: (was an early Christian evangelist and the first first-century Christian bishop of Ephesus ,who tradition relates died around the year AD 97.

Gospel Text: (MT 17:22-27)
As Jesus and his disciples were gathering in Galilee,
Jesus said to them,
"The Son of Man is to be handed over to men,
and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day."
And they were overwhelmed with grief.

When they came to Capernaum,
the collectors of the temple tax approached Peter and said,
"Does not your teacher pay the temple tax?"
"Yes," he said.
When he came into the house, before he had time to speak,
Jesus asked him, "What is your opinion, Simon?
From whom do the kings of the earth take tolls or census tax?
From their subjects or from foreigners?"
When he said, "From foreigners," Jesus said to him,
"Then the subjects are exempt.
But that we may not offend them, go to the sea, drop in a hook,
and take the first fish that comes up.
Open its mouth and you will find a coin worth twice the temple tax.
Give that to them for me and for you."

When we are presented with information how many of us can say that we truly understand the implications of that information, or that we received that information with an open mind and an open heart.  How many of us have heard news, decided it was too hard to hear, and then listened selectively—picking either the best part or the most painful part of the news? 

I thought about this when I read the first part of the Gospel where Jesus is telling the disciples about his fate and they seemed to have heard only the part of his death, but not of his resurrection.  

How attentive are we to the truth; the mystery, and the Glory of God?

Saturday, August 11, 2018

“God has been FAITHFUL to me, that is why I have FAITH in Him.”

You were made by God and for God, and until you understand that, life will never make sense. Rick Warren: (born January 28, 1954: is an American evangelical Christian pastor and author.)

Gospel Text: (MT 17:14-20)
A man came up to Jesus, knelt down before him, and said,
"Lord, have pity on my son, who is a lunatic and suffers severely;
often he falls into fire, and often into water.
I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him."
Jesus said in reply,
"O faithless and perverse generation, how long will I be with you?
How long will I endure you?
Bring the boy here to me."
Jesus rebuked him and the demon came out of him,
and from that hour the boy was cured.
Then the disciples approached Jesus in private and said,
"Why could we not drive it out?"
He said to them, "Because of your little faith.
Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed,
you will say to this mountain,
'Move from here to there,' and it will move.
Nothing will be impossible for you."

The insurmountable can be accomplished by the infinitesimal.  Faith – even a small and fragile faith – has the power to unleash God’s healing grace in our lives.  That is what Jesus tells us.  And when we doubt his words, we are to listen to that thunderous cloud-covered, mountain-top voice: “Listen to him.”

Friday, August 10, 2018

"There is one and only one possible road to real, true and lasting joy: selfless love.”

Only God can give us a selfless love for others, as the Holy Spirit changes us from within. This is one reason we must receive Christ, for apart from His Spirit we can never be freed from the chains of selfishness, jealousy, and indifference. Will others see Christ's love in your life today? - Billy Graham: (1918 – 2018: was an American evangelical Christian preacher)

Gospel text: (JN 12:24-26)
Jesus said to his disciples:
"Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies,
it remains just a grain of wheat;
but if it dies, it produces much fruit.
Whoever loves his life loses it,
and whoever hates his life in this world
will preserve it for eternal life.
Whoever serves me must follow me,
and where I am, there also will my servant be.
The Father will honor whoever serves me."

When I was a child, St. Lawrence loomed prominently in my spiritual imagination. Much of this stemmed from my father who would often repeat the martyrdom account of St. Lawrence being roasted on coals, cheerfully telling his torturers, “It is well-done. Turn me over!” The legend’s combination of fidelity, humor, heroism, and the grotesque lodged in a young boy’s brain; it may also explain why the story has been passed down through the centuries.

Years later, I learned that St. Lawrence had his own feast day. A feast day, mind you, not just a memorial. In many ways this feast emerges as a curious interruption. Here we are, in the final days of summer (if you live in the northern hemisphere), praying our way through ordinary time. And then, out of the blue, Lawrence interrupts us. Why is the Church calling us to stop and pay such attention to this little-known deacon and martyr from the 3rd century?

I would argue that the prominence of today’s feast lies in the very concept of “martyr,” literally "witness." Most of us will not be called to be “Martyrs” in the large M way, suffering a violent death in witness to Christ. But all of us are called to be martyrs in a “small m” way, witnessing to God’s ordinary yet transformative work in our daily lives. All of us are called to sow bountifully, loving with abandon. All of us are called to be “cheerful givers.” All of us are called to be fertile soil for God’s sowing. And all of us are called to follow Jesus through diakonia or service, especially, as today’s Psalm reminds us, through gracious lending to those in need. It is to this life of self-sacrificing service that Lawrence stands as a faithful witness. At the end of this day, may we look back with Lawrence and say, “It is well-done.”