You Shall Not Kill

June 10, 2021

Each day, I reflect upon a word or 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.

“You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment” (Matthew 5:20-26)

YOU SHALL NOT KILL: When Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees in today’s Gospel, He was not just re-hashing Commandment #6. He was expanding on it. We can’t simply check off the box and say, “No problem, I would never kill anyone.”

“You shall not kill” is not limited to the taking of another human life.

We are in violation of the sixth commandment if…

…we are engaged in a dispute with a friend and refuse to offer forgiveness, killing the relationship.

…we are continually negative and non-supportive with others, killing their spirit.

…we engage in gossip and innuendo, killing someone’s reputation.

…we turn our backs on those greatest in need, killing their human dignity.

Take some time to reflect on the Ten Commandments today. Read deeper into each commandment. Be sure you are obeying not only the law, but the spirit of the law as well.

Taking Credit

June 9, 2021

Each day, I reflect upon a word or 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.

“We cannot for ourselves take credit for anything as coming from us” (2 Corinthians 3:4-11)

TAKING CREDIT: When I was a high school head football coach, I learned quickly that when the team won, credit usually went to the players. When the team lost, it was the fault of the coach. We didn’t win much, so I needed to develop a pretty thick skin over the years.

We often do the same with God. Good things that happen to us are the result of our skill, intelligence, or ability. When things are not going too well, we say, “Why, God, why?”

The simple fact is that it should be the exact opposite. When things are going well, there should be prayers of gratitude, “Thank you, God, for making this possible.” Then, we should pray for his continued presence and support when things are not going so well.

Notice in both situations, we are maintaining prayer. In good times and bad we need to keep in contact with God. Don’t let pride stand in the way. I encourage you to keep Paul’s words in mind, “We cannot for ourselves take credit for anything as coming from us.” This type of humility keeps us grounded.

Light

June 8, 2021

Each day, I reflect upon a word or 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.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house.” (Matthew 5:13-16)

LIGHT: When we read this scripture passage, we generally assume it to mean that we need to share our God-given gifts with the world. In other words, we are the source of the light. While it is true we are called to share our gifts, there is more to it.

I think the light Matthew refers to is the light of Christ shining through us. That means even if I wasn’t given the gift of a beautiful voice, I should sing anyway, and allow the light of Christ to shine through me. If I wasn’t given the gift of artistic ability, I should create anyway, and allow the light of Christ to shine through me. If I wasn’t given great academic gifts, I should work hard and study right alongside my more gifted classmates, and allow the light of Christ to shine through me.

The light of Christ is not intended to simply bounce off our God-given gifts and radiate out to the world. Rather, it is intended to shine through us and reflect both who we are and who Christ is to others.

Peacemakers

June 7, 2021

Each day, I reflect upon a word or 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.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (Matthew 5:9)

PEACEMAKERS: Today we read The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s Gospel. Jesus preaches the beatitudes, the beautiful guidelines we are all called to use in living our daily lives.

I have a favorite beatitude: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

I think this resonates with me because I see so many people trying to manage the stress they have allowed to be a part of their lives. You can see in their attitude and demeanor, and often in their physical appearance, that they are losing their battle against stress. Because of this, people who seem to be at peace really stand out in the crowd.

“Peacemakers” are not simply people who break up fights or resolve conflict. Peacemakers are also those who make others more calm and peaceful by their own peaceful presence. They have a calming influence on others.

People who are at peace generally don’t stress over things that they can’t control. They tend to be reflective. Most importantly, they make time for prayer and put their trust, and their lives, in the hands of God.

Be a peacemaker!

From Poverty

June 5, 2021

Each day, I reflect upon a word or 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.

“Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.” (Mark 12:43-44)

FROM POVERTY: The following is a passage from the journal I kept when I traveled to Haiti in 2011 – a real life example of what it means to give from poverty.

Mass was generally only celebrated every 3-4 weeks at each of the small mountain chapels, since just two priests served two large parishes and nine satellite chapels. When there was to be a Mass celebrated at a given chapel, a bell was rung to alert the people in the area. The bell was rung two hours prior to the service so the people living in the area had time to prepare themselves and make the trek to the chapel. People needed to travel the mountain paths, many traveling 1-1/2 to 2 hours on foot, so they needed the advance notice.

When they arrived they were dressed in the very best clothes they owned – clothes they wore only for church services. Shoes were shined, although dusty from the walk. Little girls were in dresses and had bows in their hair; women wore hats and white gloves; men and boys wore ties and sport coats. They packed the chapel – a chapel close to collapsing following the earthquake thirteen months earlier. And they praised God with their enthusiastic responses to prayer. They raised their voices in song – singing loudly and with real joy. The Sign of Peace lasted 10 minutes as neighbor greeted neighbor warmly and everyone took time to make us – the strangers – feel welcomed.

Finally, it was powerful to see Scripture come to life: “this poor widow put in more than all the rest…” These very poor people reached into their pockets or into tattered change purses and pulled out a coin or two to drop in the collection basket – gladly and with smiles on their faces. It was not excess money, but rather money that would have gone for food or medicine. When the basket arrived at my seat near the back of the Church, there was approximately $7.00 total.

God was alive in that chapel.

This is an important message. What do we give of ourselves when we feel depleted? Do we leave the work of God to others or do we “dig deep” and bear our cross with the joy exhibited by these Haitian people?

Keep His Word = Loving Acts

June 4, 2021

Each day, I reflect upon a word or 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.

Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him. (John 14:23)

KEEP HIS WORD (LOVNG ACTS): Today’s Responsorial Psalm speaks to the cycle of love. We are called to love Jesus. How do we do that? We do that by keeping His word, and His word is to love others. So, we love Jesus and love others, and we are loved by God in return – the cycle of love.

The most challenging part of the cycle is “keeping His word” and loving one another as Jesus intends. This includes loving others when they are not so lovable.

Loving others is simple in theory, difficult in practice. I have found it easier to wrap my mind around loving acts. We love others as Jesus intends through loving acts.

Examples:

I get in an argument with a co-worker and we are angry with one another. I may not be ready to hug him or invite him to lunch right away, but I can love him as Jesus intends through the loving act of forgiveness or tolerance.

I choose to go out and serve the homeless twice per month. When I do that, I am not only loving those I serve. I am loving as Jesus intends. Through the loving act of of serving the homeless, I am loving all of the homeless, the poor, and the disenfranchised, many of whom I will never meet.

The loving act of prayer allows us to love as Jesus intends. We may feel like we cannot touch the lives of all who suffer, so many who need our love – but we can pray for them.

We can’t put an end to war on our own. We can however, exhibit the loving act of peacefulness.

It is incredibly challenging to love as Jesus intends us to love. Breaking the challenge up into small loving acts may make it more manageable for us.

With All Your Heart

June 3, 2021

Each day, I reflect upon a word or 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.

You are right in saying, He is One and there is no other than he. And to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices. (Mark 12:28-34)

WITH ALL YOUR HEART: If you really dig into the teachings of Jesus Christ, you’ll find that His message is quite simple.

Throughout the Gospels, we read about the disciples being confused, and about listeners to Jesus’ message being “amazed” or “astonished.” But in reality His message is quite clear and concise: “Love God. Love others. With all your heart.”

They were not confused and amazed because the message was so difficult, but rather, because it was so new and different. It turned everything they had been taught, everything they knew, upside down. Burnt offerings and sacrificed animals were not the way to God? God is not a God of fear? He loves us and wants us to love Him and others? Jesus delivers a new, fresh message.

This simple message of Jesus still needs to be voiced today. We live in a world that accepts, even promotes, selfishness. It’s about me. It’s about what I want and I want it now.

Jesus asks us to think and act outside of ourselves. That is how you love Him with ALL YOUR HEART.

Living

June 2, 2021

Each day, I reflect upon a word or 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 is not God of the dead but of the living(Mark 12:18-27)

LIVING: Are you living three pages ahead on your calendar? So caught up in what the future will bring or what needs to be done for tomorrow that you miss the beauty of today?

People of faith get caught in this trap at times. Most certainly our goal is to have eternal life with God in heaven, but I hope we’re not thinking, “I can’t wait to die so I can go there!”

Our life on this earth will end soon enough, but God gave us life, our time on earth now. It is a gift. We love God by cherishing the gift He has given us. We glorify God by putting this gift to work, spreading the Gospel message…by LIVING.

Repayment

June 1, 2021

Each day, I reflect upon a word or 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.

Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God. (Mark 12:13-17)

REPAYMENT: The Pharisees and Herodians have heard Jesus say, “You can’t serve two masters.” They attempt to trip Him up by asking whether or not they should pay taxes to Caesar – can one serve both God and the Roman Emperor?

By saying, “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God,” Jesus makes the distinction between being in this world and being of this world. We are in this world. Because we are in this world, as good citizens we must abide by its laws, assuming they are not immoral or directly in conflict with God’s law. Speed limits, taxes, neighborhood association bylaws, school dress codes, and airport security searches are all expectations society may put on its citizens. We abide by these rules as they are reasonable, or at least necessary, expectations.

Unfortunately, society also allows for, accepts, and in many cases seems to endorse, many other behaviors for those wishing to be of this world: materialism, abortion, disregard for the dignity of human life, sexual immorality, and much more.

Many people choose to be both in this world and of this world. Unfortunately for those who do, God’s law becomes more and more distant, often falling out of sight altogether.

Jesus urges us to recognize the difference between being in this world and being of this world. Be in this world (repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar) when it comes to following its laws, but do not get caught up in the immoral behaviors it promotes. Instead, do those things that will lead you to the Kingdom of God (repay to God what belongs to God).