Friday, January 18, 2019

“I would rather have the approval of God over the accolades of men. For while men might 'lift' me up, God is the only One who can 'take' me up.”


“Do not trust to the cheering, for those very persons would shout as much if you and I were going to be hanged.”- Oliver Cromwell (1599 – 1658: was an English military and political leader)

Gospel Text: (MK 2:1-12)
When Jesus returned to Capernaum after some days,
it became known that he was at home.
Many gathered together so that there was no longer room for them,
not even around the door,
and he preached the word to them.
They came bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men.
Unable to get near Jesus because of the crowd,
they opened up the roof above him.
After they had broken through,
they let down the mat on which the paralytic was lying.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to him,
"Child, your sins are forgiven."
Now some of the scribes were sitting there asking themselves,
"Why does this man speak that way?  He is blaspheming.
Who but God alone can forgive sins?"
Jesus immediately knew in his mind what
they were thinking to themselves,
so he said, "Why are you thinking such things in your hearts?
Which is easier, to say to the paralytic,
'Your sins are forgiven,'
or to say, 'Rise, pick up your mat and walk'?
But that you may know
that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth"
–he said to the paralytic,
"I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home."
He rose, picked up his mat at once,
and went away in the sight of everyone.
They were all astounded
and glorified God, saying, "We have never seen anything like this."

Jesus could have spent His earthly life working physical cures and raising people from the dead. Had he stuck to these aims alone, He would have remained popular. There’s no telling how successful He might have become in the eyes of the world!

But it was not for fifteen minutes of fame that He came into our world of sin and death. It was to die that He dwelt among us. Give thanks that Jesus shows us how to put our mission above popularityand how to put the aim of dying to self before that of earthly life.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Open your heart - open it wide; someone is standing outside.


“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

Scripture Text: (HEB 3:7-14)
The Holy Spirit says:
Oh, that today you would hear his voice,
"Harden not your hearts as at the rebellion
in the day of testing in the desert,
where your ancestors tested and tried me
and saw my works for forty years.
Because of this I was provoked with that generation
and I said, 'They have always been of erring heart,
and they do not know my ways.'
As I swore in my wrath,
'They shall not enter into my rest.'"

Take care, brothers and sisters,
that none of you may have an evil and unfaithful heart,
so as to forsake the living God.
Encourage yourselves daily while it is still "today,"
so that none of you may grow hardened by the deceit of sin.
We have become partners of Christ
if only we hold the beginning of the reality firm until the end.

A hardened heart is a dangerous spiritual predicament because when our hearts are hardened nothing can touch them, nothing can enter into them; hardened hearts are closed to God’s spirit and life, closed to any possibility of healing and hope. Our hearts harden over time—sometimes so gradually that we have no idea what is happening to us—when we shut our lives to others, when we settle into self-serving routines that suck life from us and those around us, or when we become so comfortable with who we are and no longer are willing to grow and to change. With erring hearts we slip slowly away from God by letting other things (other persons, our own pleasures, money and possessions) take the place of God. With erring hearts it is not that we suddenly begin to love the wrong things, but that we love them in the wrong ways, giving lesser goods far more attention than they deserve. And with evil and unfaithful hearts we act as if we ourselves are gods, doing whatever we want and getting whatever we want no matter how much hurt and harm it brings to others.

So maybe it is time for a heart checkup. Like people who are sick long before they receive a proper diagnosis, we need to periodically check the condition of our hearts to be sure we are not denying ourselves the love, healing, mercy, and wholeness that God wants to give us and that we need to truly live.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

“God speaks in the silence of the heart. Listening is the beginning of prayer.”


“The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.” ― Soren Kierkegaard: (1813  -  1855: was a Danish philosopher, theologian, & poet)

Gospel Text: (MK 1:29-39)
On leaving the synagogue
Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John.
Simon's mother-in-law lay sick with a fever.
They immediately told him about her.
He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up.
Then the fever left her and she waited on them.

When it was evening, after sunset,
they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons.
The whole town was gathered at the door.
He cured many who were sick with various diseases,
and he drove out many demons,
not permitting them to speak because they knew him.

Rising very early before dawn,
he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.
Simon and those who were with him pursued him
and on finding him said, "Everyone is looking for you."
He told them, "Let us go on to the nearby villages
that I may preach there also.
For this purpose have I come."
So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons
throughout the whole of Galilee.

“Rising very early before dawn,
he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.”

To hear his voice we must be quiet. To let him talk, we stop talking. Our first vocation, then, is not to priesthood, marriage, religious life, lay ecclesial ministry, deaconate, the single state. No. Our primary vocation is to know Jesus, the Good Shepherd, so well, that when he whispers to us in silence, we will hear his voice and follow his call. 


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

“The authority by which the Christian leader leads is not power but love, not force but example, not coercion but reasoned persuasion. Leaders have power, but power is safe only in the hands of those who humble themselves to serve.”


Authority exercised with humility, and obedience accepted with delight are the very lines along which our spirits live. – C. S. Lewis: (1898 – 1963: was a British writer and lay theologian

Gospel Text: (MK 1:21-28)
Jesus came to Capernaum with his followers,
and on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught.
The people were astonished at his teaching,
for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.
In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit;
he cried out, "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?
Have you come to destroy us?
I know who you are–the Holy One of God!"
Jesus rebuked him and said, "Quiet!  Come out of him!"
The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him.
All were amazed and asked one another,
"What is this?
A new teaching with authority.
He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him."
His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.

In the culture that surrounds us, every person believes himself to be his own authority. In effect, this wide-spread belief means that no real authority exists. In our society there is a great need for clarity about the meaning and purpose of authority.

At its most literal level, the word “authority” comes from the word “author”. The author of a novel can create worlds of his own design from his imagination. Laws of physics need not apply. Strange creatures can exist, and fantastic events are commonplace. Tolkien, Lewis Carroll and C. S. Lewis are all authors in this sense. They have the authority to create worlds and races of creatures, and to confer life on and take life from individuals. However, this is merely a fictional form of authority. In reality, there is only one Author of creation.

Jesus, as God from God and Light from Light, is this divine Author. Through His divinity He has authority. He exercises this authority throughout the three years of His public ministry for various persons, and for all mankind on Calvary. However, in the face of His exercise of divine authority, astonishment arises for varied reasons.

Most cannot believe that a mere man could exercise divine authority. Jesus, of course, was not merely a man, even though He was fully so. In our own lives, we should not be astonished by the authority or power of Jesus. We should root our daily lives in His desire to grant us His grace.