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“Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?”

Do you know someone who has that certain gift of telling you what the truth of the matter is whether you want to know it or not?  You find that rather refreshing when they’re using that gift on everyone but yourself; it can be rather uncomfortable when you are the one being admonished by the truth being directed at you.  We all know someone like that, right?  We do and His name is Jesus Christ.

When I reflect on the message of today’s Gospel, I think about the pride the apostle’s had as they arrived at the place where Jesus was speaking and as the person came up to them, how the apostles announced to that unnamed person – “Let Jesus know that we have arrived.”  I’m quite sure that they thought Jesus would stop his teaching and make a big deal that they had arrived – His chosen band of men.  I’m sure they fully expected an announcement from Jesus – “Look, everyone, these are the 12 I have chosen!  Let’s all give them a round of applause!”  What they got instead was a message that they were no greater than the group of people whom Jesus was teaching.  And that message was this – God must be the center of all our attention.  No matter where, no matter when, no matter who else is asking for it.  If we are not focused on God, if all we do is not for His greater glory, then what we do is in vain.

I found Bishop Barren’s reflection rather inspirational this morning so I will share it with you here…

Friends, in today’s Gospel someone tells Jesus, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, asking to speak with you.” Jesus stretches his hand toward his disciples and says, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.”

Family is wonderful. There is nothing in the world wrong with fostering the flourishing of your family. But over and again, the Bible places the goods of the world into question—even something as good as family relationships.

Why? Because family isn’t God. It is not that which you should serve with your whole heart; it doesn’t belong in the center of your life.

Is family the point around which most of your energies revolve? Is it your primary focus as you make your way through the day? Are there times when you feel your family obligations competing with the will of God?

Then remember Jesus’ words: “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers? . . . Whoever does the will of my heavenly Father.”

Another thought that came to mind reading this Gospel is that Mary is mentioned along with the apostles here.  She may have been with them, but my faith tells me that Mary was without sin, so although she was with the “brothers”, she had no intention of announcing her presence or interrupting her son’s teaching.  Pride is sinful and Mary was without sin.

So again Jesus confronts me with the following question.  Do I love my family more than I love my God?  Would I do anything to keep peace in the family that I love at the risk of turning away from the will of God?  I write four mantra’s at the end of each post and they are the same four mantra’s that I pray I’m able to do each day.  Today’s readings, especially the Gospel, call on me to reflect upon, pray upon and live those mantra’s without fail.

Do something great for our Lord today – let God’s will be done; be not afraid; just have faith; trust in Jesus; let Christ increase in your life.  Live these four mantra’s everyday and pray that everyone you encounter see’ s you living them and desires to live them to.

God’s will, not mine, be done.

Be not afraid; just have faith.

Jesus, I trust in You.

He must increase; I must decrease.

“Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'”

I’ve had a few prayer requests come in and want to pass them along to everyone reading this today so you can offer their names up in your daily prayers…

Laurie R. – concerns about her job

Pauline E. – cancer

David S. – cancer

Eternal God, in whom mercy and the treasure of compassion are inexhaustible, increase in us Your Mercy so that in difficult moments we may not despair nor become despondent but with great confidence, submit ourselves to Your Holy Will, which is love and mercy itself.  Amen.

I have conflicting thoughts running threw my head right now.   Here are just a few…

I’m joyful that we celebrate the Feast of St. Mary Magdalen today.  She is a beautiful Saint who, once healed of the seven demons that possessed her, dedicated her life to Christ.  She is known as the Apostle to the Apostle’s and was the first witness to the risen Christ.  If you get a chance, take some time to look her up on the inner webs.  She is the true example of what Christ desires us all to be – totally dedicated to Him and His mission.

I am stressed over the political fighting between the Left and the Right in our country.  I know this is a strong word, but I have come to HATE politics in our great country.  The impression I get from reading the press (and I read very little about politics anymore ((and watch even less news)) because I hate (again, that word) the fact that you either have to be completely on one side or the other – there is no in between.  I am not going to use this blog to further divide what is happening in our world only to say that I pray daily for peace, for perseverance and for purity of heart.  i believe our Country needs to go on a retreat with the theme – One Nation, Under God with Liberty and Justice for All.

I don’t want to end on a stressful note, so I will offer thanks for the following…

My niece Sam, her husband Ryan and their beautiful son Ethan James who I saw for the first time this weekend.

My son Jerome and his wife Megan who are expecting their second child.

My nephew Tim and his wife Taylor who are expecting their first child (about the same date as Jerome and Megan) – congrats to them on this exciting news.

My sister in law, Anne, who will celebrate her 25th Anniversary with the Sisters of Charity order this coming Saturday.

To my brother Jeff – who will retire at the end of the year after 30 years of selfless service with the Osage Beach (MO) fire protection district.

Do something great for our Lord today – spend some quiet time in adoration of His Resurrection.  He has RISEN, He has beaten the bonds of death and opened up for us the gates of eternal life.  Again, to quote my favorite quarterback Kurt Warner – “Thank You Jesus!”

God’s will, not mine, be done.

Be not afraid; just have faith.

Jesus, I trust in You.

He must increase; I must decrease.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways—oracle of the LORD.

To continue from Isaiah’s 55th chapter:

For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

so are my ways higher than your ways,

my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

These aren’t pulled from Today’s Readings, but when reading about the Passover and the instructions of God to Moses and Aaron in the first reading, my thoughts immediately went to this passage from Isaiah.  I struggle when I read in today’s first reading…

For on this same night I will go through Egypt,
striking down every first born of the land, both man and beast,
and executing judgment on all the gods of Egypt—I, the LORD!
But the blood will mark the houses where you are.
Seeing the blood, I will pass over you;
thus, when I strike the land of Egypt,
no destructive blow will come upon you.

“This day shall be a memorial feast for you,
which all your generations shall celebrate
with pilgrimage to the LORD, as a perpetual institution.

Have you ever heard somebody make the comment similar to this – “My god would never allow someone to die.”?  I have heard it said many times and for the longest time in my life, I agreed with them.  How could a god who I believe to be all loving and forgiving ever allow someone to die on his watch.

I was listening to EWTN one day when somebody asked the same question and the answer made me pause and give this much thought.  I still think about it to this day which is why my mind went to the passage from Isaiah this morning when reading about the Passover.  Our God does allow death to happen; our God even allows the death of the innocent to happen.  We read this in Genesis (today) how His angels killed the firstborn child of every Egyptian; we read it in Matthew’s gospel when Herod kills the every male child (and still commemorate that day with the Feast of Holy Innocents); and then we proclaim it at every Mass commemorating the death of our Lord.  God’s ways are not my ways, God’s thoughts are not my thoughts.  It is hard sometimes to accept this but this is one of the mysteries of our faith.  Take time to read and think about the Passover (from our first reading this morning).  Read about the Holy Innocents in Matthew’s Gospel and then read the Passion.  God does allow death – I must learn to accept this because He is God and He alone is the author of life – He alone is the author of death.

Do something great for our Lord today – pray for those who suffer; pray for the Holy Innocents; pray in thanksgiving for the sacrifice our Lord made on the Cross.  It is thru death, and death alone, that the faithful will find eternal life.

God’s will, not mine, be done.

Be not afraid; just have faith.

Jesus, I trust in You.

He must increase; I must decrease.

The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.

I will be brief.  I have a meeting at 7 AM (and again, overslept this morning.)  The Lord is famous for His covenants.  Adam and Eve; Noah; Abraham; Moses; David…but my favorite covenant is the one He entered with Sarah and myself some 32 years ago.  Just as God remembers, so do I.  I thank the Lord everyday for bringing Sarah into my life and I hope she feels the same way.

Do something great for the Lord today – tell your spouse how much you love her (him); tell God how much you love Him and stay true to that covenant you entered into with them.

God’s will, not mine, be done.

Be not afraid; just have faith.

Jesus, I trust in You.

He must increase; I must decrease.

There an angel of the LORD appeared to him in fire flaming out of a bush.

I had an epiphany while attending Mass last week on vacation.  I was praying during the consecration to have that washed over feeling when I consumed the Blessed Sacrament at Communion.  Why would I pray for this?  Think about this for a minute.  Does something become so routine that you learn to just do it automatically?  How often do you think about breathing?  How often do you think about blinking your eyes?  Sad to say, as often as I attend Mass it started to become something I did without having to think about it.  Mass is a necessity for me, just like breathing and blinking, but I think it was becoming so routine that I didn’t have to think about doing it anymore – I just did it.  I wanted to have the washed over, what just hit me, wow moment when I took Jesus into my body.  That is when the Holy Spirit came to me and revealed to me one of the mysteries of the kingdom.

It is because I take Communion, because I have the privilege of receiving the Body and Blood of Christ every Sunday that I am able to live the blessed life that I do.  God is with me always whether it is a joyful week (as was last week) or a stressful week because of work or a sorrowful week as when I lose a loved one or find out a loved one has become sick.  I am able to face all of these times because I have God in me.  I was reminded by the Spirit last week to look for God in small things.  Who remembers the James Thiem song written some fifty years or so ago?

Take care to wonder at the world through which we wander.  Never hurry by an open door.  For we live in a universe, full of miracles galore.

Look for God in small things – a drop of rain or a grain of sand.  Praise Him whenever you find Him in anything small.

Wonder-ful World

And so it goes on from there.  I believe that is what the readings of today are telling us to do.  Did Moses pass by the burning bush?  No, something about that bush caught his eye and he went to closer to see what was happening.  Have you ever been struck by something that didn’t look right but were so busy that you blew it off and went on your way?  Have you ever seen something that just didn’t seem right and because you couldn’t explain what was going on you again blew it off and went on your way?

We don’t have to have a doctorate in Theology to understand the way of God.  As I said earlier this week, God can be summed up in three simple words…God is Love.  God has and will continue to reveal Himself, in all His glory, to each one of us.  It is up to us to stop wandering by the open doors and take the time to seek God.

Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.

Do something great for our Lord today – find Him living in the small things in your life.  When you find Him, reach out and touch Him.  Let Him give you that washed over feeling of love.  Amen.  (Chris K. – I still owe you a Hot Fudge Sundae!)

God’s will, not mine, be done.

Be not afraid; just have faith.

Jesus, I trust in You.

He must increase; I must decrease.

Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.

I offer the following prayer (from today’s responsorial psalm) to the people who are on my daily rosary.  I found the responsorial psalm this morning to be rather uplifting.  So as they pray for God’s strength, as you read this today, offer this up on their behalf.  If you know of others that are mentioned here, add their name(s) to your prayer.  So to you Sarah, Judy, Bernice, Jeff, Mark, David, Ellen (and now one of my baseball hero’s – Bob Gibson), I offer the following prayer to God to give you strength during your illness, to give your family strength to help you and to hopefully offer you some peace of mind.

I am sunk in the abysmal swamp
where there is no foothold;
I have reached the watery depths;
the flood overwhelms me.

Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.

But I pray to you, O LORD,
for the time of your favor, O God!
In your great kindness answer me
with your constant help.

Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.

But I am afflicted and in pain;
let your saving help, O God, protect me;
I will praise the name of God in song,
and I will glorify him with thanksgiving.

Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.

“See, you lowly ones, and be glad;
you who seek God, may your hearts revive!
For the LORD hears the poor,
and his own who are in bonds he spurns not.”

Turn to the Lord in your need, and you will live.

In your great mercy God, I pray that you heal the people I have mentioned above (and all those not mentioned but need your graces).  Give them the courage to have faith in You, an almighty and loving Father; a Father who cares for all, heals all.  For those in need of healing – reach your hands out to touch God; reach your hands out to grab onto His healing graces.  Do not let your hearts be troubled – have faith in God. Pray for the strength to endure; pray for the courage to let God’s will be done in and through you.  In Jesus’ name, we offer all our prayers, sufferings, joys and sorrows for the greater glory of God.  Amen.

Do something great for our Lord today – if you hear His voice – harden not your heart.

God’s will, not mine, be done.

Be not afraid; just have faith.

Jesus, I trust in You.

He must increase; I must decrease.

“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

I am back, refreshed from a week’s vacation with my family.  It would have been the perfect vacation but due to my oldest son’s new job, he wasn’t able to make it.  Had he been there, it would have been the perfect vacation.

During my vacation last week, I unplugged from all external news sources.  I turned off my cell phone for the most part, didn’t watch much TV (except for the Golf Channel), no twitter, no LinkedIn, not much of anything but family, fun and food.

Now that I’m back, I am trying to get back into my regular routine, so I’m here posting more thoughts on the daily readings of the Mass.  Two very challenging Gospel’s between yesterday and today for us to think about.

The opening quote was taken from yesterday’s Gospel.  It sounds easy enough but I find it to be very challenging.  I am to love the Lord with ALL my heart, ALL my being, ALL my strength and ALL my mind.  That would be challenging enough if Jesus would have stopped His comments there, but He requires even more.  I am to love my neighbor in the same manner.  Jesus is asking me to leave prejudices behind, leave resentments, leave anything that would put a condition on the love I should show my God and my neighbor.  Take some time to think about that today.  God’s purpose can be  summed up in these three simple words…God is love.  If I am to love God with all my heart, being, strength and mind, then my purpose too can be summed up in three words…I am love.  So if I am love, then I must challenge myself to find love, to give love, to be love in all that I do and say.  Can I do this?  Yes.  Will I do this is a harder question to answer.  I spent a lot of years focusing on myself and what’s best for me and best for my family.  I have always tried to keep God at the center of this, but I know in my heart I’ve fallen short at times.  Today’s Gospel parallels these thoughts I’m having.  By placing God at the center of all that I do, am I willing to put the love of my family at risk?

Jesus said to his Apostles:
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth.
I have come to bring not peace but the sword.
For I have come to set
a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
and one’s enemies will be those of his household.

“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me,
and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;
and whoever does not take up his cross
and follow after me is not worthy of me.
Whoever finds his life will lose it,
and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

“Whoever receives you receives me,
and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.
Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet
will receive a prophet’s reward,
and whoever receives a righteous man
because he is righteous
will receive a righteous man’s reward.
And whoever gives only a cup of cold water
to one of these little ones to drink
because he is a disciple–
amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.”

When Jesus finished giving these commands to his Twelve disciples,
he went away from that place to teach and to preach in their towns.

There is a lot to contemplate here.  Please take the time to think about all that we are being told in these Gospels.

Do something great for our Lord today – be love.  Give yourself to Him who is love.  Love Him with all your heart, all your being, all your mind and all your strength.  And do the same for your neighbor.

God’s will, not mine, be done.

Be not afraid; just have strength.

Jesus, I trust in You.

He must increase; I must decrease.