Thursday, June 17, 2021

Avoid Babbling

 

 Mt 6: 7-15

The Lord's Prayer

And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,[a]
    but deliver us from the evil one.[b]

14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Frequently enough,we are at a loss for words when we pray.  Rather than babble on, we can fall back on "the old standard" taught to us by Jesus himself, succinct and covering all the bases: The Lord's Prayer.  When we pray it slowly, as if it were our own words, it helps us re-focus on what really matters and gives us a peaceful connection to our Father.  We have become so accustomed to it, that we rattle it off with such speed that it becomes the meaningless babble Jesus was referring.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Do Good Quietly

Matthew 6:16-18

Giving to the Needy

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Prayer

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

How would Mary, the mother of Jesus understand this passage?  Thinking of her at Cana, with her quiet suggestion to Jesus and leaving the solution in his hands, we see these words in action.   Perhaps he learned this "method" from her!  It comes with his blessing and it works.  May we follow suit in our actions today.
Bro. Rene


Monday, June 14, 2021

Go Beyond

Eye for Eye

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

Are these just suggestions or do they carry the weight of a command?  The latter is correct.  Not easy, for they go against the "what's-in-it-for-me" grain.  We are the ones who have to stretch...go beyond what comes naturally, but when we do, we see amazing results. People's disbelief, gratitude, and inclination to adopt such behavior themselves, to pass on our kindness by being kind to others themselves. With the news filled with shootings, threats and expanding tales of selfishness, it's time to start putting self behind and others first.  We might feel like door mats, but actually we are giants walking in the footsteps of Jesus, who lived this way and gave us the assuring example that it is both possible and necessary.

Bro Rene


Sunday, June 13, 2021

It's The Small Things That Count

The Parable of the Growing Seed

26 He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. 29 As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”

The Parable of the Mustard Seed

30 Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. 32 Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”

33 With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. 34 He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.

If you ever have planted seed, you know the wonder of the tiny sprouts that appear after a few days of heat and moisture.  In the case of the mustard seed, a very tiny seed, the variety that grew in Palestine at the time of Jesus, "the black mustard", reached the height of 9 feet, truly a noteworthy phenomenon!

So too with our small,apparently insignificant acts of kindness, such as listening to a family elder or friend repeat stories over and over, or giving the proverbial cup of water.  There are so many little things we do but which, overall, bring joy to others and help us take on to some extent the role that God plays in our lives with his countless gifts of grace and support that help us over hurdles large and small.

Bro  Rene.

 

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Lost and Found

Luke  2: 41-51 

Mary Kept All These Things in Her Heart

41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover.

42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast.

43 And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it.

44 But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance.

45 And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him.

46 And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.

47 And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.

48 And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.

49 And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?

50 And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them.

51 And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.

We can imagine Mary's heart pounding as she and Joseph discovered that Jesus was missing. Turning around and searching for three days might be some indication of their state of mind.  What relief when they found him, and yet his answer must have seemed as strange to them as his disappearance. Nevertheless he returned to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them.  All this was much food for thought and Mary kept these things all in her heart, :"pondering them" as we read in other translations. 

Reflecting on this in our own lives, how many times do unexpected, even painful things happen in our own lives leaving us to walk in the darkness for awhile until they fully unfold and we see them as part of God's plan to test us or strengthen us or to prepare us for the next step he has in mind  for us. In the end we have to admit that being "lost" for awhile was necessary to experience the need to ponder, trust, and experience the joy of being found.

Bro Rene

 

 

Friday, June 11, 2021

His Infinte Love

 John 19: 31-37

Jesus' Side Is Pierced

31 Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. 32 So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. 33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. 35 He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. 36 For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” 37 And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.”

On this Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we focus on the infinite love of Jesus for us. The image of the pierced heart with the drainage of blood and water gives us a visual of Jesus's complete emptying of his life in order to bring life to us. Early Church writers saw the blood as a figure of the Holy Eucharist, and the water as a symbol of the waters of Baptism which give us new life in Christ. Those waters continue to flow to this day to each newly baptized person and serve as a reminder of the waters that continue to sustain all the baptized.  "There is no greater love, than that of one who lays down his life for his friends (others)."  (Jn 15:13). In Jesus we see that love  and are reminded that we are called to share that love with others. Jesus, I don't think of your love or thank you enough for it. Help me to find time to reflect on it, cherish it and extend it to others, particularly "the least favored."

Bro. Rene 

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Be Reconciled

Mt 5: 20-26

20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Murder

21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

25 “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.

A brief thought, one made brief by an unexpected interruption:  How many of us have not offended another by our tongues or our thoughts, which often surface in the heat of anger?  Jesus is very clear and direct on this: Be reconciled before continuing on with not only your "offering", but with your day's work or whatever. Be up front and honest before God, who sees and knows our hearts.

Bro. Rene