Thursday, January 31, 2019

“Learn to light a candle in the darkest moments of someone’s life. Be the light that helps others see; it is what gives life its deepest significance.”

Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark. ~ Rabindranath Tagore: (1861 –1941: was a Bengali polymath, a poet, musician and artist from the Indian subcontinent)

Gospel Text: (MK 4:21-25)
Jesus said to his disciples,
"Is a lamp brought in to be placed under a bushel basket
or under a bed,
and not to be placed on a lampstand?
For there is nothing hidden except to be made visible;
nothing is secret except to come to light.
Anyone who has ears to hear ought to hear."
He also told them, "Take care what you hear.
The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you,
and still more will be given to you.
To the one who has, more will be given;
from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away."

Those of you baptized and confirmed ... you’ve received the Light of Christ. And this brings with it certain responsibilities, one of which is to let the light that Christ you’ve been given shine to the world. Remember how you use flashlights when it’s dark outside or the power goes out! That light helps you to find your way in the darkness. Well, this world of ours is in spiritual darkness ... in that it is often operating apart from the ways of God, who is Light. So, God has gifted us with His Holy Spirit and He’s counting on us to bring spiritual light to our dark world. If we do, then the world will be able to see and find their way ... to goodness and ultimately to God. You know that you don’t turn on a flashlight and then place it under a blanket. You just burn out the batteries and you’ve accomplished nothing.

In a similar way, God doesn’t inflame us with His light and His love just so that we can keep it to ourselves. The Gospels speak often of how God always expects us to reap a fruitful harvest with the grace that He gives us. God doesn’t want us to be faint of heart, which is why he gives us the gift of Courage. He wants us to be confident and courageous as we go out to be the light of the world!

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

“You want to make a difference in your world? Live a holy life: Be faithful to your spouse. Be the one at the office who refuses to cheat. Be the neighbor who acts neighborly. Be the employee who does the work and doesn't complain. Pay your bills. Do your part and enjoy life. Don't speak one message and live another. People are watching the way we act more than they are listening to what we say.”

We know certainly that our God calls us to a holy life. We know that he gives us every grace, every abundant grace; and though we are so weak of ourselves, this grace is able to carry us through every obstacle and difficulty. - St. Elizabeth Ann Seton: (1774 – 1821) was the first native-born citizenof the United States to be canonized by the Roman Catholic Church (September 14, 1975).

Gospel Text: (MK 4:1-20)
On another occasion, Jesus began to teach by the sea.
A very large crowd gathered around him
so that he got into a boat on the sea and sat down.
And the whole crowd was beside the sea on land.
And he taught them at length in parables,
and in the course of his instruction he said to them,
"Hear this!  A sower went out to sow.
And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path,
and the birds came and ate it up.
Other seed fell on rocky ground where it had little soil.
It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep.
And when the sun rose, it was scorched and it withered for lack of roots.
Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it
and it produced no grain.
And some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit.
It came up and grew and yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold."
He added, "Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear."

And when he was alone,
those present along with the Twelve
questioned him about the parables.
He answered them,
"The mystery of the Kingdom of God has been granted to you.
But to those outside everything comes in parables, so that

they may look and see but not perceive,
and hear and listen but not understand,
in order that they may not be converted and be forgiven."

Jesus said to them, "Do you not understand this parable?
Then how will you understand any of the parables?
The sower sows the word.
These are the ones on the path where the word is sown.
As soon as they hear, Satan comes at once
and takes away the word sown in them.
And these are the ones sown on rocky ground who,

when they hear the word, receive it at once with joy.
But they have no roots; they last only for a time.
Then when tribulation or persecution comes because of the word,
they quickly fall away.
Those sown among thorns are another sort.
They are the people who hear the word,
but worldly anxiety, the lure of riches,
and the craving for other things intrude and choke the word,
and it bears no fruit.
But those sown on rich soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it
and bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold."

The seed sown among thorns… “They are the people who hear the word, but worldly anxiety, the lure of riches and craving for other things intrude and choke the word, and it bears no fruit.”

This can be a danger for even good people.  We get so busy with work, family, school, social media, health concerns, paying bills, etc.  We are surrounded by noise, with so many people trying to get our attention. We put off praying, meditating, and spiritual reading.  We start to lose an awareness of God’s presence, forget to ask what is his will, forget to thank him, and just go about our daily lives living on the surface.

How do we ensure that we are not living among thorns, that we are good soil, so that the word bears fruit? 

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

“There are no 'if's' in God's world. And no places that are safer than other places. The center of His will is our only safety - let us pray that we may always know it!”

“In all His acts God orders all things, whether good or evil, for the good of those who know Him and seek Him and who strive to bring their own freedom under obedience to His divine purpose. All that is done by the will of God in secret is done for His glory and for the good of those whom He has chosen to share in His glory.” ― Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island

Gospel Text: (MK 3:31-35)
The mother of Jesus and his brothers arrived at the house.
Standing outside, they sent word to Jesus and called him.
A crowd seated around him told him,
"Your mother and your brothers and your sisters
are outside asking for you."
But he said to them in reply,
"Who are my mother and my brothers?"
And looking around at those seated in the circle he said,
"Here are my mother and my brothers.
For whoever does the will of God
is my brother and sister and mother."

When we say “thy will be done. . .” we open ourselves to what God has planned for us. Usually it is a life we never thought we would be living. Being open to the will of God offers a new freedom to live our life more closely to God. It may demand things from us we are not sure we can do or be. It will certainly change and mold us into the person God created us to be.

Monday, January 28, 2019

“Satan is screaming lies over us all day long. And God whispers the truth is a still, small voice. So often the voice we listen to most is the one we hear loudest.”

“Very few people believe in the devil these days, which suits the devil very well. He is always helping to circulate the news of his own death. The essence of God is existence, and He defines Himself as: 'I am Who am.' The essence of the devil is the lie, and he defines himself as: 'I am who am not.' Satan has very little trouble with those who do not believe in him; they are already on his side.” ― Fulton J. Sheen, Life of Christ

Gospel Text: (MK 3:22-30)
The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said of Jesus,
"He is possessed by Beelzebul," and
"By the prince of demons he drives out demons."

Summoning them, he began to speak to them in parables,
"How can Satan drive out Satan?
If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.
And if a house is divided against itself,
that house will not be able to stand.
And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided,
he cannot stand;
that is the end of him.
But no one can enter a strong man's house to plunder his property
unless he first ties up the strong man.
Then he can plunder his house.
Amen, I say to you, all sins and all blasphemies
that people utter will be forgiven them.
But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit
will never have forgiveness,
but is guilty of an everlasting sin."
For they had said, "He has an unclean spirit." 

The chief point of the parables we hear Jesus preach today is that Satan can have no place in the Kingdom of God. 

Our sins can be forgiven, and our charity can point to the Kingdom of God, but both are possible only through the power of the Holy Spirit.