Work Toward Perfection

June 19, 2018

“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48)

Today’s Gospel passage asks us if we are “all in.” Anyone can do the minimum, we are told; but can you go the distance? Love your friends and pray for them?

Sure, anyone can do that. But can you challenge yourself to do more? Can you love your enemies and pray for them?

The Gospel passage ends with, “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

God does not really expect us to be perfect, but He does expect us to be continually working toward perfection. He does expect us to challenge ourselves.

He does want us to be all in.

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Turn the Other Cheek? Really?

June 18,2018

When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. (Matthew 5:38-42)

Jesus used a variety of teaching methods. Sometimes he taught using parables. Other times He was more direct in His approach. Still other times, like today, He said things that left listeners scratching their heads.

Was Jesus really telling us that we need to just stand there and take a beating? We should provide no resistance to an aggressor? By telling us to turn the other cheek is Jesus suggesting we invite further aggression?

If not, what is the purpose behind Jesus’ words?

Jesus’ shocking words inform us. They tell us: Don’t be so quick to react. Don’t always give a knee jerk reaction. Consider reflection and prayer rather instinctive reaction. Attempt to understand. Have compassion.

That’s a pretty good list of rules to live by. When we hurt someone (as we invariably will), we certainly hope the person we’ve hurt will do all of those things.

Be a Person of Integrity

June 16, 2018

“Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’”  (Matthew 5:33-37)

Today’s Gospel gives us more of the instruction offered in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. The sermon contains some of the most direct, specific teaching of Jesus in the three years leading up to His human death.

Today’s lesson: Integrity. Are you someone who can be believed? Someone who can be trusted?

After committing to something, does your “Yes” sometimes waver? You said, “Yes,” but now something has come up that you think is more important or more enjoyable, so your “Yes” changes. You said, “Yes,” but what you committed to was much more difficult than you anticipated, so now you’re not so sure. You said, “Yes,” but you only said that so others would quit asking you; you had no intention of actually following through.

Parents in particular struggle with “No” meaning “No.” As parents you know what’s right for your children. You have established the moral foundation for them. You have said “No” to them when it comes to drinking, drugs, pre-marital sex, immodesty in dress, boy-girl sleepover parties, and so much more. But, it seems like these things are accepted by all of the other parents, and by society in general. You tell your daughter “No” to some of the immodest clothing she wants to wear to the school dance, but then you see other girls entering the dance wearing whatever they want. You waver. You begin to think that maybe you’re being too hard on your daughter. You allow your son to have a party in your home. You have always said, “No” to underage drinking in your home, but it seems that the trend is to allow it, as long as you “keep it safe” by taking car keys or by “keeping a close eye on them.” So maybe your “No” wavers, because you want your children to like you, right?

We have clear teaching from Jesus. Be a person of integrity, someone others (especially your children!) can count on and trust. Stick to your commitments. Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’

Shouldn’t We Be Better Prepared?

June 15, 2018

If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into Gehenna. (Matthew 5:27-32)

The Gospels are full of warnings to be aware, vigilant, awake and alert, prepared, and watchful. We have another example in today’s gospel. We are told that we need to be aware of what is taking our focus off of God and eliminate it.

Questions for your consideration:

  • If we truly believe what we say in the Creed – He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead – shouldn’t we be better prepared?
  • Shouldn’t we be doing the right thing all the time, just in case today is the day?
  • What state would Christ find us in if His return in glory happened today?
  • How prepared are we to be judged?
  • What planning and preparation have we done to welcome Jesus upon His return?
  • What is distracting us from what is most important?

In my heart I know that I am unprepared. I think it’s because my day of judgment still seems so far off. There’s always time to right the ship, so what’s the hurry?

Does this sound like you?

Identify what it is that is distracting you from Jesus. Tear it out or cut it off, and throw it away – do whatever you need to do to prepare for the day you will meet Him face to face.

We Can ALWAYS Turn to God

June 10, 2018

The LORD God called to Adam and asked him, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden; but I was afraid, because I was naked, so I hid myself.” (Genesis 3:9)

This doesn’t make sense, does it? First, if we are true believers, there is no need to fear God. Second, if we are afraid, we know we can turn to Him for comfort. Yet in this reading, it seems that God was the source of Adam’s fear, so much so that he felt he must hide from Him.

If we look at the root cause of the fear, we may discover that we are no different than Adam. The cause of the fear was not God, but Adam’s nakedness. It was shame that kept Adam from turning to God.

It is our own nakedness that causes us to be afraid, too. Not physical nakedness, but vulnerability. At times we are stripped of our confidence, or our direction, or our purpose, and are left naked and exposed…and afraid. We know we can turn to God for comfort, but how can we face Him? We are ashamed. We’ve let Him down again.

We need not be ashamed. We can always turn to God. He welcomes us with open arms.

There is nothing we could ever do to make God love us less…nothing.

Christ May Dwell in Your Hearts

June 8, 2018 – Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

 

“…to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (Ephesians 3:14-19)

The Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus comes 19 days after Pentecost. Today’s reading shows us the connection between the love and sacrifice of Jesus and the coming of the Holy Spirit.

God created us in His image. Jesus serves as our human role model of servitude. He teaches us, consoles us, forgives us, encourages us, and loves us unconditionally. He offered up the ultimate sacrifice, giving up His own human life for us on the cross. Paul writes that through his Spirit…Christ may dwell in your hearts – through this gift we are given our voice and called to action.

Our actions should signal to others that we willingly receive this gift and accept the challenge of taking the message of Jesus out into the world. The use of the word ‘challenge’ is intentional. Not everyone is open to the message of Jesus. Armed with the love of The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, we can go forward with confidence to meet this challenge.

Belief = Action

May 31, 2018 – Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled. (Luke 1:45)

The words above were spoken by Elizabeth to her cousin, Mary. Mary listened to the words of the Angel Gabriel – “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus” (Luke 1:31) – and believed. She not only believed, she acted.

Today’s Gospel issues a challenge: God is speaking to us. Do we believe? More importantly, do we act upon His words?

When God speaks to us, he may not do so through his angels, but His word is still available to us. It comes to us through Scripture. It is made known to us in our interactions with others. It speaks volumes through the beauty of nature.

The message comes through loud and clear: Nothing is possible without God. Nothing is impossible with God.

If we believe, then we must act. Our actions are clear as well: Love God with all your heart, and love others as yourself.

Blessed are we if we live this Gospel message.