Gospel Reflection: Grief to Joy

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn,
while the world rejoices;
you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.
When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived;
but when she has given birth to a child,
she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy
that a child has been born into the world.
So you also are now in anguish.
But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice,
and no one will take your joy away from you.
On that day you will not question me about anything.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.”-John 16:20-23

Today’s Gospel presents a beautiful scene between Christ and his disciples.  Christ has told them that he must go, and the disciples are sad to hear that their teacher and friend will not be around.  Jesus is honest and tells that they will mourn and that the world will rejoice.  Jesus encourages them by saying that their grief will turn to joy.  He then uses the imagery of a mother who has just given birth.  Though the birth was painful the child was worth it.

Is there something that you are grieving over today.  Perhaps it is a hard situation at work, the loss of a loved one, or some other difficulty.  It is easy to focus on the bad that is happening, but lets remember who we are in Christ.  Christ is with us and he we will go through hard times.  People will look at how you react to certain situations and will draw their own conclusions.  Will they conclude that you are a catholic by the way you react, or will they fail to see Christ?  Let’s remember the words of Christ in today’s Gospel.  He told the disciples that their hearts will rejoice.  The period you are in is temporary.  Keep your eyes on Christ and let him lead you.

 

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“If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze!”
-St. Catherine of Sienna

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Gospel Reflection: True Peace

The disciples said to Jesus,
“Now you are talking plainly, and not in any figure of speech.
Now we realize that you know everything
and that you do not need to have anyone question you.
Because of this we believe that you came from God.”
Jesus answered them, “Do you believe now?
Behold, the hour is coming and has arrived
when each of you will be scattered to his own home
and you will leave me alone.
But I am not alone, because the Father is with me.
I have told you this so that you might have peace in me.
In the world you will have trouble,
but take courage, I have conquered the world.”-John 16:9-33

There is nobody in the world that is exempt from worry.  We are being bombarded from a million different directions.  We have family obligations, work obligations, church obligations, and many more.  We don’t take enough time to rest and refresh ourselves.  What does this have to do with today’s Gospel reading?  If you think about it carefully, the two are very closely related.

The disciples made a statement that they believe that Christ came from God.  Christ responds by saying that each will be scattered.  What happens when we let the pressures of the world become our priority?  We try to do so much that don’t study scripture, the catechism, or may even miss mass.  Everything else becomes more important than God.  At this point we become scattered, and Satan has easy prey.  He has someone that he can deceive and twist their priorities.

In today’s Gospel Christ tells the disciples that He has overcome the world.  He also says that true peace lies in himself.  We have busy lives, but you will find peace in your job, money, or more toys.  True peace is found by cleaving to Christ.  Is Christ our priority today?

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“Christians must lean on the Cross of Christ, just as travelers lean on a staff when they begin a long journey. They must have the Passion of Christ deeply embedded in their minds and hearts, because only from it, can they derive peace, grace, and truth”.-St. Anthony of Padua

May 8 Gospel Reflection: We Have An Advocate

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Now I am going to the one who sent me,
and not one of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’
But because I told you this, grief has filled your hearts.
But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go.
For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you.
But if I go, I will send him to you.
And when he comes he will convict the world
in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation:
sin, because they do not believe in me;
righteousness, because I am going to the Father
and you will no longer see me;
condemnation, because the ruler of this world has been condemned.”John 16:5-11

When I read scripture, I often try to put myself in the place of the disciples.  I wonder how I would reacts in a particular situation.  I have the benefit of looking back and asking the disciples “How did you not see that?”  To do that is to miss the point in my opinion.  They walked, talked, and ate with Christ.  They were friends and went with him wherever he went.  At this point in Jesus’s ministry he was telling them that he had to leave, and this was a terrifying prospect for them.

What I find interesting is that not one disciple inquires as to where Jesus is going.  They were so terrified at the though of not living with Jesus that they couldn’t gather the courage to ask.  As I put myself in their shoes I don’t blame them.  I would be terrified as well.  Especially after all the bad things that Christ said would happen to those who believe in them.  However, that was not the case and he was looking out for them as he does with us.

The Holy Spirit, the advocate, had to come to empower the disciples.  In today’s passage we see the disciples as being scared, but when the Holy Spirit comes they boldly proclaim the Gospel, preserve the truth, and helps them teach the ways of God.  The Holy Spirit also convicts the world of its sin, and is acts in the defense of the disciples.

Like the disciples we may be afraid and think that Christ has left us.  The Holy Spirit is present and working among us even if we don’t realize it.  The Holy Spirit works in the Church and through us today.  Through scripture and sacred Tradition the Spirit is working for the ultimate good of all of us.  Are we open to the Holy Spirit prompting us to action?  Are we open to the Holy Spirit telling us that we are doing something wrong?  What is the Holy Spirit telling you to do today?

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O  Holy Spirit, descend plentifully into my heart. Enlighten the dark corners of this neglected dwelling and scatter there Thy cheerful beams.  –Saint Augustine

Gospel Reflection: We all Need a Helper

Jesus said to his disciples:
“When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father,
the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father,
he will testify to me.
And you also testify,
because you have been with me from the beginning.

“I have told you this so that you may not fall away.
They will expel you from the synagogues;
in fact, the hour is coming when everyone who kills you
will think he is offering worship to God.
They will do this because they have not known either the Father or me.
I have told you this so that when their hour comes
you may remember that I told you.”- John 15:26-16:4A

We all need a helper.  From the beginning of creation God said that it was not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18).  In today’s Gospel passage Jesus is telling the disciples that the world will hate them because they hated Christ.  Sometimes we tend to forget that the disciples were Jews, and because they followed and proclaimed Christ they were excommunicated from the fellowship of Israel.  They were not able to go into the synagogue and worship as they had always done.  This was serious business, and it becomes even more serious when one looks at the Rabbinic interpretation of Numbers 25:1-13 in the Talmud.  The rabbinic tradition says that apostates were to be killed as a sacrifice to God.  Yikes!

What does all this have to do with us today?  Just like the disciples we are in need of a helper.  Christ has not left us as orphans, but loves and cares for us.  The Holy Spirit was sent from the Father and the Son to be of advocate and comforter.  Just as with the disciples the Holy Spirit will give us courage to live in a world that has a growing hatred for Christ and his Church.  Take heart and have faith.  Christ is with us until the end of the age.  The Holy Spirit will help us testify to the person of Christ, and stand up for what is right.  Go forth today in the peace of Christ, and ask the Holy Spirit to guide your steps.

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Enrich your soul in the great goodness of God: The Father is your table, the Son is your food, and the Holy Spirit waits on you and then makes His dwelling in you. — St. Catherine of Siena

Study the Bible With Me

I want to start off for begging for your forgiveness.  On December 1 I started a new podcast titled The Daily Bible, and I forgot to make mention of it here.  The goal of this show is to help you understand the Bible a little more.  Everyday I go over one to three verses and explain the history, meaning, and application of the verse.

The show officially launched on December 1 with discussing the geneology in Matthew Chapter one.  This morning I completed chapter four, and tomorrow I will move into chapter five.  The shows run from 4-7 minutes and are a good way to accompany any devotional that you may be reading.  Every verse in the Bible will be covered…even the “controversial” ones.  When the New Testament is complete I will go into the Old Testament.  It has been an exciting journey thus far, and I hope you come along for the ride.

If you wish to listen I have provided the links to the show in popular podcast directories below.  God bless you and thank you for your support of this page.

 

Click here to listen of ITunes

Click here to listen on Soundcloud

Click here to listen on Spreaker

Click here to listen on Stitcher

Click here to listen on Podbean

Click here to listen on Castbox

I hope you enjoy the show, and if you do please rate it and share it.  God bless.

 

Book Review: 31 Proverbs to Light Your Path

The book of Proverbs has always been a favorite of mine.  I have read through the book several times as it provides great advice for daily living.  In her new book 31 Proverbs to Light Your Path Author Liz Curtis Higgs breaks down thirty-one verses is the influential Old Testament book.

The author takes one verse and created very readable, understandable, and relatable devotional book out of them.  Each chapter starts with a verse from Proverbs and the author relates it to everyday life.  She takes it a step further and does not rely on one translation of the scripture.  The main verse at the top of each chapter is from the New International Version, or NIV.  The author utilizes other translations within each chapter such as The Message, VOICE, Complete Jewish Bible, Good News Translation, NET, Holman Christian Standard Bible, and the Contemporary English Version.

Each chapter is fairly short, and is no longer than three pages in length.  At the end of the devotional the author includes a prayer, and a call to action.  The author also includes a Proverbs study guide at the end of the book as an added bonus.  This book is good for anyone who wants a better understanding of Proverbs.

[Note:  This book was provides free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.]

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We All Need Sympathy

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin.- Hebrews 4:15 (NRSV)

 

Like it or not, we are in the throws of the holiday season.  Christmas songs are already on the radio, and a couple weeks ago retailers started to put up their “holiday” decorations.  This is also the time of the year when people feel alone and get lost in the business that has become the holiday season.  With the popularity of social media people who are hurting may say so on the platform of their choice.  They may be depressed, alone, lost a loved one, or are hurting in some other way.  It is in our nature to want to connect, and that desire is heightened when we are hurting in some way.

Why?  Because, whether we want to admit it or not, we all need sympathy.  We want to know that people are supporting us during our darkest of times, and that other people have been where we are currently and have made it through to the other side.  Today’s verse shows us something remarkable, simple, and reassuring.  It shows us that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, is not some unfeeling and uncaring figure.  He walked on this Earth and felt what we felt.  He was tempted (Matt. 4:1-11), he felt the pain of someone close to him dying (John 11), and his friends abandoned him in his hour of need (Mark 14:50).

What are you struggling with today?  Do you feel that nobody understands what you are going through?  I want to encourage you and say that many sympathize and care for you.  Jesus Christ himself sympathizes and loves you with an everlasting love.  Throughout life we will always have hard times, but our savior lived on this earth and knows all about them on a personal level.  Jesus is there to sympathize, guide you, and walk you through the dark times.  Keep your head up!

He is Faithful

Lamentations 3:22-33

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,     his mercies never come to an end they are new every morning;     great is your faithfulness. (NRSV)

 

                When I was a child I got in a fight with my best friend.  As most childhood arguments go it was over something trivial.  I was so upset that I took a multi-colored crayon and expressed my feelings about him.  The problem was I didn’t do this on paper, but on the side of my house.  Imagine the shocked look that my parents had when they finally got a glimpse of my masterpiece.

My dad yelled my name, and I courageously barricaded myself in the bathroom hoping to escape the wrath to come.  When I emerged from my hideout I was not met with yelling or a spanking, but with a concern on why I would do such a thing.  I pleaded my case, was told that if I was truly sorry that I would do something about it.  My dad handed me a paintbrush, a can of paint, and told me to go say sorry to my friend.

The point I’m trying to get across is that we all do something that we regret.  Like this scenario from my childhood we try to hide and pretend that it didn’t happen.  My parents are wonderful people, and they showed me incredible love and patience that day.  It is the same in our relationship with the Lord.  His love and mercy are always available.  He is faithful to forgive us even when we have trouble forgiving ourselves.  Is there anything you have been holding onto?  Pray, and give it to the Lord.  In 1 John 1:9 we read “If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (NRSV).  Let Him love you and forgive you for everything you have ever done.

 

No One Will Make Them Afraid

But I will leave within you the meek and humble.  The remnant of Israel will trust in the name of the Lord.  They will do no wrong they will tell no lies.  A deceitful tongue will not be found in their mouths .  They will eat and lie down and no one will make them afraid.”-Zephaniah 3:12-13

The first job I ever held was that of a Chaplain Assistant in the United Stated Army.  My first duty station was in Hunter Army Airfield, Ga.  The chaplain I worked for was a Holy man, and I thank God everyday that I was able to serve under his mentorship.  We had a weekly Bible study, and a topic that always seemed to come up was the remnant of Israel.  The remnant are those who kept the commandments of the Lord in spite of what was going on around them.

Zephaniah prophesied during the reign of king Josiah, and morality among the people was at an all time low.  The book of the law, presumably Deuteronomy, was found and the King mandated that it be observed.  In the passage above the Lord says that there was a remnant that will tell the truth, be meek, be humble, will not be deceitful, and they will not be afraid.

A comparison can be made with the time in which Zephaniah wrote and our own.  A majority of people seem to be looking out only for themselves.  They willingly lash out, betray friends, and deceive whomever possible in an effort to get ahead in the rat race.  Where does that leave those of us who stand for biblical principles, and try to do the right thing day in and day out?  Like the remnant in the time of Zephaniah there are many who hold to scriptural principles, who treat other as they want to be treated, and want to see others do well even they are not.  Like the remnant of Israel in this passage, God has not abandoned those who are his children.  He is with us every step of the way, no matter what we are going through.

Do not be afraid of what you are going through.  The Lord and his servants are with you.  I hope this helps someone tonight.

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