Saturday, March 25, 2017

Each Person is Chosen by God to Exist

By Ablakok (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0] via Wikimedia Commons

“We did not happen to be, we were chosen by God to exist.” -Mother Angelica

Today’s first reading tells the story of David’s anointing as King of Israel. Young David, the least of his brothers, is not even included when Jesse’s sons are called together by the prophet Samuel. Can’t you just picture David dancing with joy in a meadow, singing songs of praise to God while watching over the sheep, when his father sends for him? No one would have been more surprised than David himself. But God, who sees the heart, choses His beloved son David to be king, above all his impressive-looking brothers. Appearances can be deceiving.
In the Gospel reading, appearances also deceive the disciples, who, upon seeing the blind man begging by the roadside, ask Jesus, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"
Jesus replies, saying, "Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.” He then shows the glory of God by opening the eyes of the blind man, something that was unheard of.
From before his birth, the blind man was chosen, just as surely as David was chosen to lead Israel. His blindness was to serve the great purpose of bringing many to believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of Man. This man must have wondered why he must suffer blindness, poverty, and accusations of sin, but in time, God revealed the purpose for his suffering, and restored him to wholeness.
In the same way we can be sure that God created each of us, with whatever shortcomings and disabilities we may have, for a greater purpose. You have been chosen by God to exist, just as you are, no matter how humble or obscure, and you were born at this very time in history for a reason. Trust in God, offer Him all your sufferings and doubts about yourself, and be willing to fulfill the plan He has for you.

 March 26th, 2017, 4th Sunday of Lent

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Thirsting for Living Water

Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink." ~ Jn 4:7
God loves us so much that He came to us as a human being, subject to the same pain and difficulties we all face, including hunger and thirst, sorrow and loneliness. This is beautifully illustrated in today’s Gospel story of the woman at the well. This woman has everything stacked against her. As a woman, she is regarded as unworthy of notice by men. She is a Samaritan, a race rejected by the Jews. She comes alone to the well at noon, although most women would have gathered in the cool morning to draw water. Yet Jesus - God himself - comes to her, lonely, tired, dusty, and thirsty, asking for water. At first, she doesn’t understand why He is asking her. We never do understand how much God thirsts for our friendship, our help, and our love. If only we knew, we would ask Him for Living Water and all our own lonely, tired, dusty, thirsty days would be washed clean and renewed. 

Jesus knows all about her broken relationships with five husbands. This woman has spent most of her life seeking love in all the wrong places, yet Jesus chooses to offer her the Living Water of eternal life. Jesus reveals that He is the Messiah and that she, lonely and rejected, is invited to be part of the Divine Plan. She believes Him, and rushes to bring the good news to her people, no longer fearful of condemnation, but boldly declaring that she has met the Christ. By her witness, the villagers come to believe that Jesus is the Savior of the World.

God has a plan and purpose for each of us. He knows your deepest secrets and biggest mistakes and loves you still. He will fill up your loneliness and invite you to discover what true love is. What can you do to comfort God, who suffered thirst, loneliness, and death for you? He is asking for your help and He longs for your love. Listen for His voice and do not fear: Jesus is calling you. Will you take His message to your world?


Sunday, March 12, 2017

Mountaintop Highs Bring Strength for the Valleys

By Andrey Ivanovich Ivanov [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
"This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him." ~ Mt 17:5

One thing I love about today’s Gospel account of the Transfiguration is Peter’s reaction. I can always count on Peter to react in a very human manner, just as I might react myself. Witnessing this glimpse of the true glory of Jesus Christ leaves Peter overwhelmed with joy, and he doesn’t want it to end. He wants to set up some tents and stay there on the mountaintop with Jesus, Moses, and Elijah, dwelling in the presence of the living God.

But the time has not yet come for entering into God’s glory eternally. There is work that must still be done. Strengthened by what they have seen, Peter, James and John are called to listen to the voice of God and follow His will. Again, Jesus reminds them not to fear, no matter what might come. They must go down from the mountaintop, ready to “bear their share of the hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God” (2 Tm 1:8).

If you have ever experienced a sublime moment when you become deeply aware of God’s presence, you can easily sympathize with Peter’s desire. Those moments are precious and don’t come often or remain long. But when the Lord sees that we are in need of strength, He may give us the gift of a mountaintop experience of our own. The heightened awareness of God’s presence in those rare moments will bring us the strength we need to face whatever trials we must encounter.

Trust in God, who will never fail to let us know He is with us in times of difficulty and trials. Fear not, but listen closely for the voice of Jesus and seek to do the will of the Father.
March 12th, 2017 - Second Sunday of Lent

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Lord of the Rings and the Lord of Life

"Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil." Mt 4:1 
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien is known and loved by generations of fans. Some are not aware that Tolkien, a devout Catholic, once stated, “The Lord of the Rings is… a fundamentally religious and Catholic work.”

In Tolkien’s mythical Middle Earth, hobbits are guileless creatures, devoted to family and home. Few among them harbor great ambitions or suffer temptations for power or riches. From them, Frodo Baggins is chosen to carry an evil ring of power to its destruction. If returned to its evil creator, this ring will empower him to rule the world. Many noble kings, elves, and wizards support Frodo in his task, but they cannot do it for him. Each of them has ambitions which, while good in themselves, can be corrupted by the evil ring and used to tempt them.

Frodo’s heavy burden nearly overcomes him as the ring works its evil. But Frodo’s friend Sam, a pure and simple hobbit, supports him throughout the journey. Sam briefly takes up the ring when Frodo has fallen, even carrying Frodo himself at a critical point in the journey. Sam’s devotion and his complete detachment from temptation help Frodo succeed in his quest.

Today’s readings show how good desires can be corrupted by evil, if our focus is on the good thing itself and not on the One who is good. Eve falls to temptation, desiring wisdom over the Giver of wisdom. But Jesus resists Satan’s temptation, steadfastly focusing on God alone: bread for the hungry is good, but the Word of God is the bread that gives life; trust in God is good, but testing God is not trust; worship belongs to God alone, even if all the riches of the world are offered in exchange for worshipping evil.  

As Lent begins, we also must detach from good things that can become a temptation. Let us fix our eyes on God alone as we fast from rich food, detach from wealth by giving alms, and live chastely, humbly, and prayerfully in preparation for the real Return of the King. 
First Sunday of Lent, March 5th, 2017



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