Thursday, August 14, 2014

How Often Lord?

Peter approached Jesus and asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. -Matthew 18:21

As Christians we pray very often if not everyday the Prayer that Jesus taught us, otherwise known as the Our Father. There are so many layers to this simple and quick prayer. This is often recited without peeling back the many beautiful layers that lie within it. One part of the prayer states: "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others who trespass against us." Really? Do we really want the Lord to forgive us in the same manner that we do for others? If so, great. It means you're a forgiving person. If the answer is no, you must proceed with caution. So many times we ask for God's mercy and forgiveness, yet we withhold it from one another. Immediately following the verse above Jesus tells a parable. The ending of that parable has the servant being thrown in prison until his last debt was paid because he refused to offer the same forgiveness that he sought from the Master. 

As we seek forgiveness from the Lord may we too offer forgiveness to others. How often you ask? How about as often as you seek it from the Lord!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


The disciples approached Jesus and said, "Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?” He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me. - Matthew 18:1-5

A young child is so innocent. A child is open to life, learning, and to others. A child places complete trust in the person entrusted with his care. A child has joy and a unbelievable way to comfort those hurting. This is what it means to be childlike. This is what it takes to enter the Kingdom of heaven.

Are you innocent?
Are you open to life, learning, and to others?
Do you place your trust in God the same way a child places his trust in a parent?
Do you have joy?
Are you able to be compassionate to those who are hurting?

Sometimes as adults we allow the pains and struggles of the world to strangle our innocence. We begin to close ourselves off to others and think we know it all. We don't trust God because we have been let down by people who were meant to protect us. We turn from joy and live with anger and resentment. We lose our compassion for others and allow jealously to be our guide.

Don't despair for God can renew all things. The question is, will you invite God to give you new life?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Power of Anger

"You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment." - Matthew 5:21-22

Once more Jesus challenges his disciples. He states that both killing and anger are both liable to judgment. An initial response may be to reject Jesus' words. Some might wish to discredit or think it was some mistake. So why would Jesus make this claim? What is He saying? We must not forget that Jesus always invites his disciples to further reflection and more radical living. To be a disciple means to avoid settling for the easy path, limiting the call to holiness or rationalizing immoral behavior. 

Our world today is full of countless stories where individuals walk down a path of hate and choose to release it by taking the life of another. Where does that hate come from? No one is born to hate. Quite the contrary we are born to love! Yet, as we mature we somehow learn to hate. Hate grows and if one was to search out the root of hate they would most likely find anger. Anger divides, insults, and slanders. Anger leads to lies through the tools of deception and manipulation. Anger destroys relationships, feeds hate and is outlet for ignorance. Above all it can lead to death!

Jesus knows that anger if left unchecked will lead to death. With this awareness we can teach others and ourselves to look for the red flags when anger begins to unmask its ugly face. We must not be ignorant of its potential but be ready to channel its power into passion for life.

By the way, when was the last time anger made you or your situation better? Honestly, anger will never make you or your situation better. No matter how much you may try to justify it, the only thing anger will do is create further division and unhappiness. Anger will weigh you down and rob you of your joy. There will no doubt be times when you get angry, but your response in words and deeds will be the true test of Christian discipleship. 

Don't waste your precious days nor risk your salvation for this empty and deflating emotion! If you find yourself filled with so much anger or even hate I want you to know Jesus gave you a key to unlock it. It is the key of forgiveness. Forgiveness never approves the wrongdoing nor denies any pain. Forgiveness gives you the freedom to live again. Do not allow the weight of anger, resentment and hate to hold you back any longer. It will free you to experience life in a whole new way. It was no mere coincidence that Jesus encouraged his disciples time after time to forgive. For it is through forgiveness that you can experience God's grace, rediscover joy and find true fulfillment.

It is better to cry than to be angry, because anger hurts others, while tears flow silently through the soul and cleanses the heart. -Saint John Paul II

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Light of the World

"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 lamp stand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” -Matthew 5:14-16

Right after Jesus teaches his disciples the beatitudes He immediately proclaims them the light of the world! I'm sure this proclamation brought about puzzled faces. It is a common response of Christians to remain hidden or disguised. There is desire to remain insignificant in false humility or to shy away from our Christian responsibility in fear. This is why Jesus affirms that a city set on a mountain cannot be hidden nor a lamp be placed under a basket. Jesus is saying we are significant. Jesus affirms we have purpose. He doesn't let any of us off the hook rather he reminds us we are meant to shine! We are called to make a difference in the world!

We are able to shine before others with the light of Christ given to us at our baptism. Like Jesus Himself, His light is meant to be shared. It is a light that must not be hidden nor disguised. As followers of Christ we are sent to bring the light of Christ to a world that often chooses darkness. This is no easy task, but Jesus asks us to shine in His name. In so doing we allow others to see our good deeds, not out of attention or reward, but so that they too may glorify the heavenly Father.

Go shine! Live with purpose! Make a difference! Allow others to see your good deeds so that they too may glorify the heavenly Father! 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Have Faith

Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. - John 14:1

This verse is part of the Last Supper discourses found in chapter 14 of John's Gospel. Through these discourses Jesus is preparing His disciples for his ensuing passion and death. In a way, Jesus is encouraging them much like a coach with a player before a big game or a teacher with a student before a big test. He wants them to remember all He has taught them. He needs them to trust that despite the obstacles that may come, He is never far away!

We, like the disciples, have moments where we doubt and situations where we don't have the answer. We also wonder why something has to happen the way it does and question whether we are strong enough to endure. The words Jesus spoke to his disciples over 2000 years ago are the same for us. DO NOT LET YOUR HEARTS BE TROUBLED! 

By letting our hearts become troubled we simply focus on what is crippling us and only see that which is wrong. This is never helpful nor redemptive. Rather, Jesus tells us to maintain faith, to trust that He is present and to remember His promise. His promise to guide, deliver, and save us! 

Jesus will always be the way, the truth, and the life. And so if Jesus is the way he will offer you a path! If Jesus is the truth he will help you to discover it and be set free by it! And if Jesus be the life, He will bring you through suffering and death to newness of life!

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Path

I will instruct you and show you the way you should walk, give you counsel and watch over you. -Psalm 32:8

I have always loved the image of a journey to speak about the spiritual life. No one can escape the necessity to choose a way in life, to follow a path. We may disagree that it is spiritual or even call it by different names, but the fact remains, we are all going somewhere and in order to do so, we must journey. The decision to travel down a certain path over another means that each of us must accept the highs, lows, joys, pains, and consequences, good or bad, that come along with it.

As children we are normally told by family which path to take. There are little worries or concerns. We need only to hold the hand of our loved one or keep on eye on them from a distance. If we are guided by loving adults and do as we are told we remain safe.

As adolescents we suddenly come to know everything! Thus, we think we do not need to listen as much and if we take the wrong path it is always someone else's fault. Some can make it through adolescence having learned from elders and have a clearer image of what path to take into the future. While others may want to completely forge their own way, even if it means putting their person at risk by going down a dangerous path.

As adults we have learned to accept personal responsibility. Based on life experiences we strive to do our best by making the wisest choices possible at any given point. Part of maturity is realizing that although we must take personal responsibility, it doesn't mean we must go at it alone. We can turn to others to take counsel and direction for our own journey. We can depend on others to walk with us along the way. Whether the accompaniment is for a short time or the long haul, we need not do it alone.

As Christians there is nothing greater than knowing God's great love for us. In love, God gives us a way and accompaniment to guide us along the way. The way is Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). The company for the journey is the Church. We need others to help us along the way. People who love us enough to tell the truth, but respects our freedom to make our own decision. Along the journey God provides all we need. Direction, accompaniment, nourishment, light, grace, and healing remedies. We are asked to trust and to stay the course. Yet, even if we get lost for a time or in anger leave the path, we can always come back! However, if we go off path we must accept personal responsibility and place blame on no one else, "Sometimes a way seems right to a man, but the end of it leads to death" (Proverbs 16:25). This is the gift of free will. In the end, if we stay the course and make use of God's gifts, He will indeed instruct us, give us counsel and watch over us!

Friday, March 28, 2014

God First Loved Us

One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?” Jesus replied, “The first is this: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength." - Mark 12:28-30

What does it truly mean to love God with all of one's heart, soul, mind, and strength? Often it is said that this verse means to put God before everything else in life. This perspective sounds appealing, but then again, do we do this? Do we reflect daily on how we might better love God before all else? Do we learn from our failures so as to help us to grow and do better? What are the obstacles that prevent us from loving God above everything else?

My brothers and sisters, as much as it is important to reflect on how we can better love God, this cannot be the starting point. “Since God has first loved us (cf. 1 Jn 4:10), love is now no longer a mere “command”; it is the response to the gift of love with which God draws near to us” (Pope Benedict XVI). The starting point is always God, not us!

By focusing first on God and God’s free gift of love, we move away from the negative and turn to the positive. Often times our days are so filled with looking at failures and imperfections that we become easily frustrated and discouraged. It then becomes increasingly difficult to respond with love. We may do it for a while out of mere obligation, but soon it may altogether come to an end. Why? The focus becomes us rather then God! Thus, we see only the impossible rather than the possible.

For love is not focused on all that is wrong, but concentrates on what is right and allows for that which is good to be nourished and take root! Fidelity helps us to stay the course and to remember the who and the why! 

So take your eyes off yourself and place your gaze upon God!  Begin each day by seeking God's presence, power, blessing, and love! When you willingly accept God’s perfect love for you, God will transform your doubt into faith, weakness into strength, failure into victory, and sin into new life!

“God does not require that we be successful only that we be faithful." –Blessed Mother Teresa