Gospel reflection: when you are shunned or laughed at for doing God’s work

 

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
If then you were raised with Christ,
seek what is above,
where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

 

Gospel

Jesus said to his disciples:
“If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.
If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own;
but because you do not belong to the world,
and I have chosen you out of the world,
the world hates you.
Remember the word I spoke to you,
‘No slave is greater than his master.’
If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.
If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.
And they will do all these things to you on account of my name,
because they do not know the one who sent me.”

Reflection:-

Remember the word I spoke to you, ‘No slave is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.”  John 15:20

Do you want to be like Jesus?  If so, beware of what that means.  It’s easy to think that the closer we grow to Christ the more we will be loved and understood by the world.  We can think that everyone will see our holiness and admire it and all will be good and easy in life.

But all we have to do is look at the life of Christ to know this is not the case.  He was obviously perfect in every way.  As a result, He was treated with great malice and persecution.  In the dark of the night, He was arrested, given a mock trial, found guilty and sentenced to death.  His punishment was then carried out immediately.

Why did they do this to the Son of God?  Why would someone so perfect and merciful in every way be so cruelly treated?

If we were there, as His first followers, we would have most likely been shocked, frightened, scandalized and confused.  We may have thought that Jesus messed up and lost hope in Him.  But His plan was perfect in every way and His plan did centrally involve Him enduring false accusations and malicious persecution.  And by freely accepting this abuse, He redeemed the world.

So back to the original question, “Do you want to be like Jesus?”  This is a tough question when we look at it in the light of what happened to Him.  “No slave is greater than his master.”  “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.”  These are tough sayings to accept and agree to.

Persecution is something from which we should not run.  We should not despair if it happens and we should not hold our head low.  Why?  Because persecution is a clear sign that we are following in the footsteps of our Master.  We are more deeply united to Christ as a result of persecution than we could ever realize.

The key is to know that God intends to use all maltreatment for good if we let Him.  And we let Him use it for good when we surrender it to Him and receive it freely, not begrudgingly.  Our response must be to “rejoice and be glad” that we have been found worthy to follow in the steps of our Divine Lord.

Ponder today any form of persecution or injustice you suffer for the sake of your faith and embrace of the Gospel.  The Lord wants to use that if you let Him.

Today more than ever, It takes courage to be associated with your Church. It takes courage to go up on the altar and read. It takes courage to be involved in the mass ceremony. It takes courage to speak to others in a positive light about God, about our Priests and religious. It takes courage to speak to our children about God and pray with them. Everytime you do these things, the Lord sees and he will reward you on the last day.

Prayer:-

My persecuted Lord, I do surrender to You all that weighs me down.  I give any suffering I receive for being Your follower.  May I not only imitate You in Your suffering, but also in Your willing embrace of it.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Abandon your big worry and truely trust the Lord

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Christ had to suffer and to rise from the dead,
and so enter into his glory.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
Not as the world gives do I give it to you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.
You heard me tell you,
‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’
If you loved me,
you would rejoice that I am going to the Father;
for the Father is greater than I.
And now I have told you this before it happens,
so that when it happens you may believe.
I will no longer speak much with you,
for the ruler of the world is coming.
He has no power over me,
but the world must know that I love the Father
and that I do just as the Father has commanded me.”

REFLECTION

Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”  John 14:27

What a wonderful reminder that we all need to hear on a regular basis.  “Do not let your heart be troubled.”  And “Do not let your heart be afraid.”  How often do you follow that advice?

Interestingly, it’s actually more than advice.  It’s a command of love from our Lord.  He wants to be clear and wants us to know that a fearful and troubled heart is not of Him.  To be troubled and fearful is a great burden and weighs us down.  Jesus desperately wants us to be free of these burdens.  He wants us to be free so that we can experience the joy of life.

So what is it that burdens you in life the most?  Is there something in your life that you obsess about, are angry about, can’t let go of or that tends to dominate your life?  Or perhaps your burden is more subtle.  Perhaps there is nothing that overwhelms you but, instead, is a constant burden in a small way, always there in the background.  These burdens can be quite difficult when they last from year to year.

The first step to freedom is to see the burden for what it is.  Identify it and seek to identify the underlying cause.  If the cause of your burden is your own sin, repent of it and seek Confession.  This is the best way to experience immediate freedom.

If, however, your burden is the result of another’s actions or some situation in life that is out of your control, then you are in a unique position to surrender to our Lord, giving Him complete control of this situation.  Freedom is found in total surrender, trust and abandonment to His will.

Spend some time today reflecting upon that which burdens you the most in life.  What is it that weighs heavily upon you?  It is this, more than anything else, that Jesus wants to enter into and lift for you.  He wants you free so that you can experience the joy that He has to offer you in life.

Lord of true joy, I want to be free.  I want to experience the joy You have in store for me.  When the burdens of life weigh me down, help me to turn to You in my need.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Gospel and reflection – why we read the word of God!

 

Gospel

The feast of the Dedication was taking place in Jerusalem.
It was winter.
And Jesus walked about in the temple area on the Portico of Solomon.
So the Jews gathered around him and said to him,
“How long are you going to keep us in suspense?
If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”
Jesus answered them, “I told you and you do not believe.
The works I do in my Father’s name testify to me.
But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep.
My sheep hear my voice;
I know them, and they follow me.
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.
No one can take them out of my hand.
My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all,
and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand.
The Father and I are one.”

REFLECTION

Jesus walked about in the temple area on the Portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you and you do not believe.”  John 10:24–25

This statement of Jesus may have left His followers confused.  They wanted to believe that Jesus was the Messiah, and so they asked Him to tell them plainly if He was the Messiah.  And how did He respond?  He tells them that He already told them and they failed to believe.  This is an interesting situation.

The first thing to say about this is that Jesus was not being critical.  He was helping them to understand His language.  He was helping them to understand that the answer to their question was not a matter of Jesus simply telling them, “I am the Messiah!”  Rather, the answer to their question had to come to them from the Father in Heaven, spoken to their hearts as they listened to Jesus and witnessed His miracles.  The answer was to be given to them by the gift of faith that had to be received from within.  This gift of faith would give them the certainty they so desired.

The same is true with us.  Perhaps you’ve wanted God to come down from Heaven at times and tell you “plainly” the answer to this or that question.  But He does not do that.  He does it in His perfect way with His perfect language.  It’s the language of faith and it requires a complete submission of our minds and wills to God to hear and understand.  This is the only way to become converted in the way God wants us to be.

Reflect, today, on how well you listen to God speak.  You most likely can learn to listen to Him more clearly, discerning His voice of Truth.  As you hear Him, let yourself become completely convinced of all that He says.  And let that deep conviction rule your life. For example, read the Gospel and reflect on it, look up online catholicdailyreflections.com, listen to EWTN and to some of the speakers. Those are examples of you trying to give God an opportunity to talk to you by reading and listening to his word (in the busy world you operate within). Not everyone will hear God’s message in the same way. Some people may hear the Lord speak while out walking through the fields in the Countryside, witnessing it’s natural beauty. Another may hear the Lord speaking to them in the quietness of a church. Others by reading and reflecting on the Gospel or different readings. We need to keep exploring until we find a way that the Lord speaks to us in through our Hearts. Once we experience this once, then all of this starts to make sense and we want more! To those of no faith, this sounds utterly ridiculous.

The gift of faith, is the best gift one can ever receive. When someone is on a trolley going for an operation. No mobile phone, no internet, no family or friends allowed in to this area of the hospital. No watch, no nothing apart from you and God. You can speak in your mind to the Lord. He is with you always, when all the worldly items are not there. You are there worried about what will happen in the operation. You comfort in talking and trusting the Lord.

Locked in a prison on your own, the Lord is there with you. Once you have faith, you can never be parted from the Lord, notwithstanding what happens.

If only our children could understand this but we must keep trying to explain in a way that they can understand. Our role is to keep trying and the Lord will take it from there. At the very least, we keep praying for our children (family, neighbours and friends) to experience the gift of faith.

Dont take this gift for granted. The Lord gave you this gift to go out and speak his word in a respectful and polite way. Not everyone has received the gift you may have received and may have to spend years searching.

We cannot see the wind. We cannot see the Lord but we know they are both there.

 

Prayer

Lord of all Truth, I so often do not let myself hear You plainly through the gift of faith.  I so often want the easy answer to the difficult questions.  Help me to grow in patience so that I may know You and allow You to become my true Shepherd.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Do we recognise Jesus? Luke 24:13-16

Gospel

That very day, the first day of the week,
two of Jesus’ disciples were going
to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus,
and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.
And it happened that while they were conversing and debating,
Jesus himself drew near and walked with them,
but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.
He asked them,
“What are you discussing as you walk along?”
They stopped, looking downcast.
One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply,
“Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem
who does not know of the things
that have taken place there in these days?”
And he replied to them, “What sort of things?”
They said to him,
“The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene,
who was a prophet mighty in deed and word
before God and all the people,
how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over
to a sentence of death and crucified him.
But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel;
and besides all this,
it is now the third day since this took place.
Some women from our group, however, have astounded us:
they were at the tomb early in the morning
and did not find his Body;
they came back and reported
that they had indeed seen a vision of angels
who announced that he was alive.
Then some of those with us went to the tomb
and found things just as the women had described,
but him they did not see.”
And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are!
How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!
Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things
and enter into his glory?”
Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets,
he interpreted to them what referred to him
in all the Scriptures.
As they approached the village to which they were going,
he gave the impression that he was going on farther.
But they urged him, “Stay with us,
for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.”
So he went in to stay with them.
And it happened that, while he was with them at table,
he took bread, said the blessing,
broke it, and gave it to them.
With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him,
but he vanished from their sight.
Then they said to each other,
“Were not our hearts burning within us
while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?”
So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem
where they found gathered together
the Eleven and those with them who were saying,
“The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!”
Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way
and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

REFLECTION

That very day, the first day of the week, two of Jesus’ disciples were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.  Luke 24:13–16

This appearance of Jesus to two of His disciples is intriguing and fascinating.  They were quite distraught and didn’t seem to know what to think about Jesus’ death.  They had hoped He was the Messiah but then He was killed.  And then there were some who claimed His tomb was empty.  What should they make of all this?

As the story goes on, Jesus “interpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures.”  With that, these disciples realized that this man with whom they were speaking had incredible wisdom and understanding, so they invited Him to stay with them. Jesus stayed and sat down with them in their home.  While there, Scripture says that “he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight.”

Again, this is intriguing and fascinating.  Why did Jesus appear to them, conceal who He was, sit down and break bread with them, allow them to suddenly recognize Him and then vanish into thin air?  Well, He did it for a reason and we should be very attentive to this.

Jesus wanted those disciples, as well as all of us, to know that He who rose from the dead was very much alive and that we would recognize Him in the breaking of the bread.  We would recognize Him in the Most Holy Eucharist!

This appearance of Jesus to these disciples was, in fact, an appearance to teach all of us the simple truth of His presence in the Eucharist.  It was at that moment, as they “took bread, said the blessing, broke it,” that Jesus was suddenly made manifest to their minds and souls.  Jesus is alive in the Eucharist!  But it also tells us that He is veiled in the Eucharist.  This combination of being veiled and truly present gives us wonderful guidance in our faith.

Jesus is here, right now, in our presence, but we most likely do not see Him.  But He is truly here!  These disciples were in the presence of Jesus and they did not realize it.  The same is true for us.  We are constantly in His presence and we do not realize it.  This is especially true when we are at Mass but it is also true in countless other ways throughout our day.  We must commit ourselves to seeing Him, to recognizing Him and to adoring Him.  We must discover the resurrected presence of Jesus all around us.

Too often we think that our Lord is present only in extraordinary ways.  But that is not true!  He is constantly present to us in very ordinary ways.   He is here with us right now, loving us, speaking to us, and calling us to love Him.  Do you see Him?  Do you recognize His presence?

Reflect, today, upon the experience of these disciples.  If you were them, you’d be blessed to be in the presence of the Savior of the world.  What an honor!  The truth is that God is with you now and always.  He is constantly with you and is constantly speaking with you.  Look for Him and listen to His voice.  You may be surprised at how near He really is.

Prayer:-

My ever-present Lord, thank You for loving me so much that You are always with me.  Help me to see You and to recognize Your gentle and still voice.  Give me the eyes of faith to see You present in the Most Holy Eucharist, and help me to discern Your presence in every ordinary event of my day.  I love You, dear Lord.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Gospel, readings and reflection – Easter Sunday

 

Easter Sunday The Resurrection of the Lord
The Mass of Easter Day

Lectionary: 42

Reading I

Peter proceeded to speak and said:
“You know what has happened all over Judea,
beginning in Galilee after the baptism
that John preached,
how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth
with the Holy Spirit and power.
He went about doing good
and healing all those oppressed by the devil,
for God was with him.
We are witnesses of all that he did
both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem.
They put him to death by hanging him on a tree.
This man God raised on the third day and granted that he be visible,
not to all the people, but to us,
the witnesses chosen by God in advance,
who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.
He commissioned us to preach to the people
and testify that he is the one appointed by God
as judge of the living and the dead.
To him all the prophets bear witness,
that everyone who believes in him
will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.”

Responsorial Psalm

R  (24) This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.
or:
R  Alleluia.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his mercy endures forever.
Let the house of Israel say,
“His mercy endures forever.”
 This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.
or:
 Alleluia.
“The right hand of the LORD has struck with power;
the right hand of the LORD is exalted.
I shall not die, but live,
and declare the works of the LORD.”
 This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.
or:
 Alleluia.
The stone which the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
By the LORD has this been done;
it is wonderful in our eyes.
 This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.
or:
R  Alleluia.

Reading II

Brothers and sisters:
If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above,
where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.
For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ your life appears,
then you too will appear with him in glory.

OR:

I Cor 5:6b-8

Brothers and sisters:
Do you not know that a little yeast leavens all the dough?
Clear out the old yeast,
so that you may become a fresh batch of dough,
inasmuch as you are unleavened.
For our paschal lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed.
Therefore, let us celebrate the feast,
not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness,
but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Sequence

Victimae paschali laudes

Christians, to the Paschal Victim
Offer your thankful praises!
A Lamb the sheep redeems;
Christ, who only is sinless,
Reconciles sinners to the Father.
Death and life have contended in that combat stupendous:
The Prince of life, who died, reigns immortal.
Speak, Mary, declaring
What you saw, wayfaring.
“The tomb of Christ, who is living,
The glory of Jesus’ resurrection;
bright angels attesting,
The shroud and napkin resting.
Yes, Christ my hope is arisen;
to Galilee he goes before you.”
Christ indeed from death is risen, our new life obtaining.
Have mercy, victor King, ever reigning!
Amen. Alleluia.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed;
let us then feast with joy in the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel

On the first day of the week,
Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning,
while it was still dark,
and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
So she ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb,
and we don’t know where they put him.”
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter
and arrived at the tomb first;
he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.
When Simon Peter arrived after him,
he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there,
and the cloth that had covered his head,
not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Then the other disciple also went in,
the one who had arrived at the tomb first,
and he saw and believed.
For they did not yet understand the Scripture
that he had to rise from the dead.

 

REFLECTION

Alleluia!  He is Risen!

Saying those words is like drinking a tall glass of cold water after being out in the desert all day.  Lent is over and it is now time to celebrate the great joy of Easter!

At the Easter Vigil, the Exsultet is sung as Mass begins in darkness, illumined only by candles throughout the church.  The Exsultet is a beautiful hymn of rejoicing in Christ’s triumph over sin and death.  One part states:

O truly necessary sin of Adam, destroyed completely by the Death of Christ!  O happy fault that earned for us so great, so glorious a Redeemer!

This line stands out because it calls the sin of Adam “necessary” and refers to it as “O happy fault.”  At first, this may seem strange.  Why is it that we refer to the sin of Adam, Original Sin, as “necessary” and “happy.”  The answer is Easter.  It’s because God, in His perfect wisdom and love, took sin and the consequence of sin (death) and used them as the means of the salvation of the world.  That’s what Easter is all about!

This may be hard to comprehend so it’s worth thinking about more deeply.  Without Adam’s sin, there would be no Jesus.  God would not have had to become one of us.  So even though the original sin of Adam, as well as all future sin, is evil and wrong, God in His perfect power and love chose to use it as the very means of the salvation of the world.  How?  By allowing the sins of the world to persecute Him and crucify Him, and then, by turning that suffering and death into the very means of salvation.  Jesus destroyed sin by destroying the consequences of sin which is death.  Death loses in the Resurrection!  Jesus’ Resurrection takes away the effects of all sin for those who cling to Him.

Easter is a time when we must do just that.  We must “cling” to our resurrected Lord!  We must cling to Jesus who is alive and well.  We must cling to His Resurrection and strive to share in it.  How do we cling to our Resurrected Lord?  There are many ways.  Here is one.

Take joy in everything.  Start with whatever it is that burdens you the most.  Whatever it is that makes you angry, sad or depressed.  Whatever that is, it can potentially become one of your greatest sources of grace and joy.  Seriously, it can.  If the brutal Crucifixion of Jesus, the Son of God, can turn out to be the greatest event in all of human history, then your personal suffering, your burden, or even your sin can very much become a source of great joy as long as you let God transform it into part of His Resurrection!

This is the meaning of Easter!  Easter means that nothing can keep us from the joy that God wants to give us.  Nothing can steal that joy away.  Sure, at times we will struggle just as Jesus did in the Agony of the Garden and the Via Dolorosa (the Way of the Cross), but those sufferings will not win.  The Resurrection won with Christ and it will win with us when we cling to Him.  Jesus persevered and, in the end, rose victorious.  This is Easter!

Know that God wants you to experience the joy of Easter in your life.  Let Him fill you with hope and with the joy that only the Resurrection can bring.  God wants Easter to begin now in our lives!  Happy Easter!

 

Prayer:-

My transforming Lord, help me to cling to You in Your Resurrection.  Help me to let you transform every cross and burden in my life into joy.  Lord, may Your joy fill my life and be my strength in all things.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Gospel: Luke 11:29-32

 

Gospel

While still more people gathered in the crowd, Jesus said to them,
“This generation is an evil generation;
it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it,
except the sign of Jonah.
Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites,
so will the Son of Man be to this generation.
At the judgment
the queen of the south will rise with the men of this generation
and she will condemn them,
because she came from the ends of the earth
to hear the wisdom of Solomon,
and there is something greater than Solomon here.
At the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation
and condemn it,
because at the preaching of Jonah they repented,
and there is something greater than Jonah here.”

REFLECTION

“At the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because at the preaching of Jonah they repented, and there is something greater than Jonah here.”  Luke 11:32

What an interesting way for Jesus to call the people to repentance.  Simply put, the people of Nineveh repented when Jonah preached to them.  However, the people in Jesus’ time did not.  The result is that, at the end of time, the people of Nineveh will be given the responsibility of condemning those who failed to listen to Jesus.

The first thing we should take from this is that condemnation for refusing to repent of one’s sins is real and serious.  Jesus is speaking about eternal damnation to the people who fail to listen to His preaching.  As a result of this very strong teaching of Jesus, we should sincerely look at our own willingness to repent, or lack thereof.

Secondly, it’s important to point out that the people Jesus chastised were far more blessed with the prophetic message than the people of Jonah’s time.  Remember that Jonah was a man who, at first, ran from God and from his mission.  He did not want to go to Nineveh and only did so after being brought there in the belly of a whale against his will.  It’s hard to imagine that Jonah would have subsequently preached with a wholehearted zeal.  But, nonetheless, his preaching was effective.

The people of Jesus’ time were blessed with hearing the actual words of the Savior of the World.  But so are we!  We have the Gospels, the teachings of the Church, the witness of the great saints, the shepherding of the Holy Father, the Sacraments and so much more.  We have countless methods of obtaining the Gospel message in our technological age and, yet, we can easily fail to heed Christ’s message.

Reflect, today, upon your own willing response to the words of Jesus.  He speaks to us in powerful ways and yet we so often fail to listen.  Our failure to listen leads to a failure of complete repentance from our sins.  If this is you, reflect also upon the words of severe condemnation that await those who are obstinate.  This realization should fill us with a holy fear and motivate us to listen to the preaching of our Lord.

Prayer

Savior of the World, I know You speak to me in countless ways.  You preach through Your Scriptures, Your Church and in my life of prayer.  Help me to heed Your voice and accept all You say with perfect obedience and submission.  I love You, my dear Lord, and I repent of my sin.  Jesus, I trust in You.

 

Gospel and readings 27.2.2022

Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 84

Reading I

When a sieve is shaken, the husks appear;
so do one’s faults when one speaks.
As the test of what the potter molds is in the furnace,
so in tribulation is the test of the just.
The fruit of a tree shows the care it has had;
so too does one’s speech disclose the bent of one’s mind.
Praise no one before he speaks,
for it is then that people are tested.

Responsorial Psalm

R (cf. 2a) Lord, it is good to give thanks to you.
It is good to give thanks to the LORD,
to sing praise to your name, Most High,
To proclaim your kindness at dawn
and your faithfulness throughout the night.
Lord, it is good to give thanks to you.
The just one shall flourish like the palm tree,
like a cedar of Lebanon shall he grow.
They that are planted in the house of the LORD
shall flourish in the courts of our God.
Lord, it is good to give thanks to you.
They shall bear fruit even in old age;
vigorous and sturdy shall they be,
Declaring how just is the LORD,
my rock, in whom there is no wrong.
Lord, it is good to give thanks to you.

Reading II

Brothers and sisters:
When this which is corruptible clothes itself with incorruptibility
and this which is mortal clothes itself with immortality,
then the word that is written shall come about:
Death is swallowed up in victory.
Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?
The sting of death is sin,
and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God who gives us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters,
be firm, steadfast, always fully devoted to the work of the Lord,
knowing that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.

Alleluia

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Shine like lights in the world
as you hold on to the word of life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel

Jesus told his disciples a parable,
“Can a blind person guide a blind person?
Will not both fall into a pit?
No disciple is superior to the teacher;
but when fully trained,
every disciple will be like his teacher.
Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye,
but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own?
How can you say to your brother,
‘Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,’
when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own eye?
You hypocrite!  Remove the wooden beam from your eye first;
then you will see clearly
to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye.

“A good tree does not bear rotten fruit,
nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit.
For every tree is known by its own fruit.
For people do not pick figs from thornbushes,
nor do they gather grapes from brambles.
A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good,
but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil;
for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.”

REFLECTION

A good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit.”  Luke 6:43

Conversely, it should be said that a good tree does bear good fruit.  This must be our goal.  By saying that “A good tree does not bear rotten fruit,” Jesus is teaching us the supernatural effect of living a holy life.  When we live a life grounded in Christ, the effect will be that good fruit is born from our lives.  This is an important spiritual principle to understand.

Hopefully, we all want to live good lives.  We all want to make a difference in our world and in the lives of others for the good.  But the fundamental question to ask is how do we do this?  The answer is that it’s not so much a matter of choosing the good actions we do; rather, on a more basic and fundamental level, we must choose to live a life grounded in Christ, thus becoming a “good tree.”

If you want to bear good fruit and make a holy and positive difference in the world, then you need to do one primary thing.  Work at becoming holy.  To use the image that Jesus gives, see yourself as a tree that is planted in the ground.  See your roots stretching far and wide.  See yourself being nourished and basked in the Sun.  And see yourself growing and flourishing.

This is the life of grace and the effect is that good fruit automatically comes forth.  The life of grace is accomplished by focusing upon your own health and spiritual well-being.  You become this “good tree” by doing the basics well.  First, pray, pray well and pray hard.  Let your life be centered in prayer.  Second, learn your faith.  Listen to the Gospels, learn all that God has revealed through the Church, read the teachings of the saints, and learn from other holy people.  Third, live a good sacramental life.  Go to Mass, celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation, understand the grace of your Baptism, Confirmation, Marriage, Ordination, etc.  Know that the Sacraments nourish you in powerful ways and embrace that nourishment with your whole heart.

Reflect, today, upon the important mission you have been given to go forth and to bear an abundance of good fruit in our world.  This mission can be accomplished only as a result of a life of holiness.  This holiness is only accomplished when your roots are firmly grounded in the life of grace.  Embrace this life of grace through the many means that God has set before you, and know that the commitment you make to holiness will bring health not only to your own soul, but also to the souls of those whom God will touch through you.

Lord, I love You and I give my life to You.  I pray that I may be planted in the fertile soil of Your abundant love and mercy.  Help me to be nourished by the life of grace You have lavished upon me and, as I grow in holiness, bring forth an abundance of good fruit in my life.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Mark 8:22-26

_______________________________

_____________________

Gospel

When Jesus and his disciples arrived at Bethsaida,
people brought to him a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him.
He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village.
Putting spittle on his eyes he laid his hands on the man and asked,
“Do you see anything?”
Looking up the man replied, “I see people looking like trees and walking.”
Then he laid hands on the man’s eyes a second time and he saw clearly;
his sight was restored and he could see everything distinctly.
Then he sent him home and said, “Do not even go into the village.”

REFLECTION

Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. Putting spittle on his eyes he laid his hands on him and asked, “Do you see anything?”   Looking up the man replied, “I see people looking like trees and walking.”  Then he laid hands on the man’s eyes a second time and he saw clearly; his sight was restored and he could see everything distinctly.  Mark 8:23-25

This story is very unique for one reason.  It’s unique because the first time Jesus tried to cure the blind man it only worked half way.  He could see after Jesus’ first attempt to heal his blindness, but what he saw were “people looking like trees and walking.”  It took Jesus laying His hands on the man’s eyes a second time for him to be fully cured.  Why is that?

Consistently, throughout the Gospels, when Jesus cures someone it is done as a result of the faith they have and manifest.  It’s not that Jesus couldn’t heal someone without faith; rather, it’s that this is what He chose to do.  He made healing contingent upon complete faith.

In this miracle story, it appears that the blind man has some faith, but not much.  As a result, Jesus does something very telling.  He allows the man to be healed only part way so as to illustrate his lack of faith.  But He also reveals to us that a little faith can lead to more faith.  The man, once he could see a little, clearly began to believe some more.  And once his faith grew, Jesus laid hands on him again, bringing his healing to completion.

What a great illustration for us!  Some people may have complete faith in God in all things.  If that is you, then you are truly blessed.  But this passage is especially for those who have faith, but struggle nonetheless.  To those who fall into this category, Jesus is offering much hope.  The action of healing the man twice in a row tells us that Jesus is patient and merciful and will take the little we have, and the little we offer, and use it the best He can.  He will work to transform our little faith so that we can then take another step closer to God and grow in faith.

The same could be said of sin.  Sometimes we have imperfect sorrow for sin and sometimes we sin and have no sorrow for it, even though we know it’s wrong.  If that is you, then try to take at least one small step forward toward the healing of forgiveness.  Try, at very least, to desire that you will grow in a desire to be sorry.  That may be the bare minimum, but Jesus will work with it.

Reflect, today, upon this blind man.  Ponder this twofold healing and twofold conversion the man undergoes.  Know that this is you and that Jesus wants to take you one step further in your faith and in your repentance of sin.

PRAYER

Lord of mercy, I thank You for the incredible patience You have with me.  I know my faith in You is weak and must increase.  I know my sorrow for my sins must also increase.  Please do take the little faith I have and the little sorrow I have for my sins and use them to draw me one step closer to You and Your merciful heart.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Mark 8:11-13

Gospel

Does someone reject the love you try to bestow up them?

The Pharisees came forward and began to argue with Jesus,
seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him.
He sighed from the depth of his spirit and said,
“Why does this generation seek a sign?
Amen, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.”
Then he left them, got into the boat again,
and went off to the other shore.

Reflection:

The Pharisees came forward and began to argue with Jesus, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. He sighed from the depth of his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Amen, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.”  Mark 8:11-12

Jesus “sighed from the depth of His spirit.”  It is clear this was no ordinary sigh.  It was a sigh that was more than emotion.  It was from the “depth of His spirit.”  What was going on with Jesus?

This sigh reveals a pain and suffering in Jesus that was spiritual in nature.  It was a pain and suffering that came as a result of being rejected by others.  But it wasn’t just that He was hurt or offended, because He wasn’t.  The suffering He felt was from His love.  It came as a result of Him loving the Pharisees deeply and realizing that they were rejecting the grace He wanted to offer them.  This hurt not because Jesus was sensitive to being hurt; rather, it hurt because of His boundless love for them.

It’s interesting that we rarely think of Jesus’ love for the Pharisees.  Often, we only think of Him being harsh to them and condemning them.  But every strong word He directed toward them was aimed at converting them out of love.  It was an attempt, on His part, to shake them out of their indifference and rejection of grace.  It was an act of love.

Reflect, today, upon the “Pharisees” in your life.  Perhaps you do not encounter those who are proud or haughty, or maybe you do.  The Pharisees in your life are those who reject the free gift of love you try to offer.  They are those who are so hurt, confused or bitter that they find it very hard to let love in.  They throw up every sort of defense there is to avoid letting your love in.  And when you see this rejection, it hurts.  It may then tempt you to have anger or condemnation.

But how should you react?  You should do as Jesus did!  You should sigh, and “sigh deeply.”  You should feel the hurt of their rejection and feel holy sorrow for them.  At times, you may need to confront them as Jesus did.  But never out of your wounded pride.  You should confront only because you judge that it’s the best way to win them over.  You will know that this is an act of love when you feel that deep sigh within your spirit.

Prayer:-

Loving Lord, help me to love with a pure and holy love.  Help me to feel a holy sorrow over my sins and the sins of others when I encounter their sins.  Let that holy sorrow compel me to love more deeply.  Jesus, I trust in You.

From Catholic Daily Reflections.com

___________________________________________