THEIR Faith

January 14, 2022

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase from the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

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.” (Mark 2:1-12)

THEIR FAITH: Today’s gospel reading offers some insight into the shared responsibility to pray. Jesus was traveling from town to town, preaching to all and healing the afflicted. A paralyzed man wanted desperately to be in the presence of Jesus. He was confident that simply being in the presence of Jesus would cure him and allow him to walk again. However, the crowd was too big and the paralyzed man could not get close enough. Others interceded on his behalf. They carried his stretcher, made their way through the crowd, and brought him to where Jesus stood.

The words of the gospel that appeared just before Jesus healed the paralyzed man resonated with me: “When Jesus saw their faith…”

The paralyzed man had great faith. He believed Jesus could heal him. He also believed that there was strength in numbers. He knew he couldn’t do it alone, so he called upon others to help. A pivotal part of the story – the others responded. They, too, believed. They made it possible for the paralyzed man to reach Jesus.

It was their faith Jesus saw – that of the paralyzed man and those who carried the stretcher.

Next time someone asks you to pray for him or for someone close to him who is suffering, set aside the thought that your intercession is not good enough. Picture yourself carrying the stretcher. Think of yourself as one of the people making it possible for that person to be in the presence of Jesus.

Touched Him

January 13, 2022

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase from the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.” (Mark 1:40-45)

TOUCHED HIM: If I had been a witness to the event in today’s Gospel, I am not sure what would have amazed me more – a leper approaching Jesus or Jesus touching the leper. Both of these actions would have been unheard of. Lepers were forbidden to approach others. As a matter of fact, they were required to call out, “Unclean! Unclean!” if anyone came near them, to warn others of their condition.

And yet, we have this leper engaging Jesus. Showing his tremendous faith, the leper said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” He expresses no doubt as to Jesus’ ability to heal.

Jesus rewarded this faith in two ways: First, He healed the leper of his affliction. Second, and just as powerful, He offered the leper human contact, something the leper would not have experienced for years.

With that simple touch the leper learned that he was worthy of love and that his unrelenting faith would be rewarded.

When we consider ourselves unworthy, when the shame of our sins make us feel like lepers, we must have faith. We must remember: There is nothing we could ever do to make God love us less…nothing.

Your Servant is Listening

January 12, 2022

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase from the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

When Samuel went to sleep in his place, the LORD came and revealed his presence, calling out as before, “Samuel, Samuel!” Samuel answered, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” (1 Samuel 3:9-10)

YOUR SERVANT IS LISTENING: You read about a mission trip in the parish bulletin, and think to yourself, “This sounds right up my alley.” You talk it over with your spouse and commit it to prayer. Ultimately it moves to the back burner, and then off the stove completely. The opportunity comes and goes.

The Salvation Army bell ringer shouts, “Hello!” You check your pockets quickly. No change. You know all you have in your wallet are $20 bills. You can’t put a $20 bill in the red pot, right? So you wave hello and move on.

Your son sees your car pull into the driveway and runs out to greet you, two mitts and a baseball in his hands. “Oh, buddy, not tonight,” you say. “I’m so tired.”

God reveals His presence daily. Is His servant listening?

As One Having Authority

January 14, 2020

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase from the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

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. (Mark 1:21-22)

AS ONE HAVING AUTHORITY: The residents of Capernaum came to the temple, as they did every sabbath, to listen to the scribes teach. When they heard Jesus teach, they were “astonished.” Why?

When one of the scribes taught, he repeated what he had learned from the Rabbi under whom he had studied, putting his own spin on it. The Rabbi he had studied under repeated what his mentor had taught him, adding his own interpretation. And so on, and so on, all the way back to those who first read Scripture, the divinely inspired Word of God.

When Jesus taught, the people of Capernaum heard the Word of God in its original form, pure and unchanged – “as one having authority.”

Abandoned Their Nets

January 10, 2022

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase from the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

Jesus said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Then they abandoned their nets and followed him. (Mark 1:14-20)

ABANDONED THEIR NETS: The more time I spend with scripture, the more fascinated I become by the deliberateness of word choice by the evangelists. The word abandoned speaks volumes about the affect Jesus had on people, and the incredible faith shown by some of those who chose to follow Him. There is an immediacy and finality to the word abandoned. When they abandoned their nets, they instantly acknowledged and accepted the fact that their lives would never be the same. Jesus inspired a certainty of purpose for them.

I can’t think of very many at once decisions I have made in my life. I usually reflect on a situation, weigh the pros and cons, and talk it over with my spouse, children, or friends. Then I mull it over for a few days. Even then I doubt myself, wondering if I have made the right decision.

The apostles knew very little about Jesus, yet they abandoned their nets to follow Him. We know so much more about Him. We understand who He is and what He wants from us; and yet, we struggle to respond to His call.

The finality of abandoning our nets may be too much for us. Fear, doubt, and lack of trust tend to creep in.

Why don’t we start by setting our nets down next to us, within arms length, and giving Him some of our attention? Who knows, we might discover we don’t need our nets after all.

Homily: Being Open to God’s Presence

January 9, 2022 – Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

The following homily on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord was originally delivered in 2014 at St. Pius X Church, Indianapolis:

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord. After Jesus was baptized, the sky opened up and a dove came to rest on Him. A voice from the heavens said, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” As with last week’s celebration of the Epiphany of the Lord, God was once again revealing Himself to His people.

The epiphany is not just a series of Bible stories. It is an ongoing phenomenon. If we are paying attention, God is continually revealing Himself to us.

To those who are open, there are “God moments” all around us.

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I Must Decrease

January 8, 2022

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase from the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

He must increase; I must decrease. (John 3:30)

I MUST DECREASE: When John the Baptist said, “I must decrease,” he meant that his own will, desires, and ambitions must dissolve as Jesus takes over.  It meant that all selfishness must be abandoned and selfless living must be the founding principle of his life. 

To “decrease” before God means we become humble.  Humility is a way of giving up everything not of God and allowing only Him to shine through.

We should reflect upon John the Baptist’s beautiful statement regularly, perhaps making it a prayer or mantra and saying it over and over.  It should become the guiding principle of our life.

Jesus: “I do will It”

January 7, 2022

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase from the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

It happened that there was a man full of leprosy in one of the towns where Jesus was; and when he saw Jesus, he fell prostrate, pleaded with him, and said, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.”

Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I do will it. Be made clean.” And the leprosy left him immediately. (Luke 5:12-16)

I DO WILL IT: Today’s Gospel sends a beautiful message. He will forgive us.

We tend to make seeking forgiveness more difficult than it needs to be. All we need are sincerity and effort. We can be made clean; we simply need to ask.

You’ll notice that Jesus did not hesitate in cleansing the leper. He did not ask a bunch of questions, or force the leper to qualify his need. He saw the leper’s effort and heard sincerity in his request. Jesus’ simple response, “I will do it.”

Whatever your flaws, whatever baggage you are carrying around, Jesus is waiting to forgive you. Allow Him to love you.

Today

January 6, 2022

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase from the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

Jesus stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.

Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”  (Luke 4:14-22)

TODAY: There are times when I read a Gospel passage that I wish I could have been there. I wish I could have been a fly on the wall in the synagogue in Nazareth the day Jesus was handed that scroll. He opened the scroll and read a Scripture passage from Isaiah: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. The Gospel tells us, “the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.”

There was electricity in the air. Something big was happening. Then Jesus said, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

He basically told them, “What I just read is about me. It is happening right now. Christ is among you right now.”

Can you imagine what must have been going through the minds of the people in the synagogue that day? This man grew up right here in Nazareth. He’s the man we’ve had our eye on because of all the odd things he has been doing – eating with sinners and tax collectors, healing on the Sabbath. This man is telling us He is the Christ. I’m sure there was a whole range of thoughts and emotions coursing through the synagogue:

Fear – What if what he is saying is true? I have been waiting and preparing, but am I ready to meet Christ today?

Doubt – How can this be? I was expecting God’s anointed one to ride in on a white horse, a king to save his people, not this simple preacher.

For some it may have been joy. Finally he has come! Praise God!

Jesus said, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled.” The word “today” is a powerful word. “Today” means there is no more time left, no more waiting.

It’s here. It’s now.

Brought to Perfection

January 5, 2022

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase from the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

…if God so loved us, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.  (1 John 4:11-18)

BROUGHT TO PERFECTION: Today John writes about the cyclical and replenishing nature of God’s love.

We cannot see God’s love, but we know it is real because it comes to us “in the flesh” through the love of others. Others express the love of God to us. If we do not return that love or take that love out into the world, it is fleeting – it leaves us as quickly as it came.

When we love one another, we re-cycle God’s love.

God wants you to be His sponge: You need to soak up all of the love others offer you on His behalf, allowing it to fill you up. But you’re not done yet. Everyone knows you don’t put away a sponge in that condition. Make sure you wring it out for others to experience.

Isn’t it sad to think that some may not feel God’s loving presence in their lives because others have chosen to keep it all to themselves?