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Chris (email link at the bottom of each page)

Occupy your mind with good thoughts

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St John Henry Newman (Feast)

2 Timothy 1:1–5 • Psalm 95 (96) • John 15:9–17

There are two extremes into which people fall when it comes to their attitude to evil and the devil. At one end of the spectrum is to believe in the devil and evil excessively, and at the other not to believe in evil or the devil at all — with plenty of people fitting somewhere in-between!  This is as true in our age as any other, and we have ample evidence of excessive belief in innumerable blockbuster films and books and even weekend courses on the occult and demons.

We, for our part, are guided and governed by the Scriptures and the wisdom of the Church passed down through the ages. The Church has always affirmed that the devil and his realm is a reality (see, e. g. Catechism of the Catholic Church 407) which we ignore at our peril.  Jesus is the strong man who by his death and resurrection has redeemed the world.  By his cross, in his name and through his blood we who have received the grace of baptism are protected and kept safe, but we need to call upon this shield of God’s grace.

We are invited to enter into the spiritual battle which is waged every day. This notion of spiritual conflict or engaging the enemy can seem rather obscure or remote, especially when the daily  struggle to deal with the problems of this world is hard enough.  Perhaps the great saint and martyr Thomas More shed some light on' this when he said: “Occupy your minds with good thoughts, or the enemy will fill them with bad ones; unoccupied they cannot be.”  Being passive and undisciplined in our thinking and in our behaviour can open us up to the devil and his ways. The devil delights in an idleness of mind and a passivity which does not actively take up the good fight of faith.

A mind filled with God’s truth and God’s thoughts is a mind which is bolstering and protecting itself against the snares and attacks of the Evil One. God created us with the gift of free Will, and the greatest challenge we face every day is to choose God and reject the devil, to choose the good and repel evil, and to stand firm in faith.

Lord Jesus, protect us from the snares, wiles and schemes of the Evil One.  I call upon the power of your name, cross and blood, that I may live more and more in your presence.

Chris

 
 Graphic from; https://princessofjesusblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/21/gods-protection-a-true-story/

 

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Who is Jesus?

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Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 • Psalm 143(144) 1–4 • Luke 9:18-22Robed figure, below the head, with hand outstretched

It is sometimes difficult to express simply and clearly what we believe. For some, it may stem from a lack of confidence or a fear of being rejected. For others, it might be that they don’t even have the words.

Take those suffering with dementia, for example. There are in the UK 700,000 people suffering from dementia, and that number is steadily increasing. Being diagnosed with dementia is distressing for the individual concerned and for their family and friends. As someone’s ability to relate to the world around them is diminished, they become more isolated. Communication becomes increasingly difficult – they might not be able to talk or to communicate in other ways.

Jesus asked Peter, ‘Who do you say that I am?’ (v 20). Peter knew exactly who Jesus was, just as God knows exactly who we are. He knows the number of hairs on our head (Luke 12:7). Whatever happens to our mental functions, we remain spiritual beings. The Catechism fo the Cat/90hr Church states that ‘The dignity of the human person is rooted in his creation in the image and likeness of God’ (para. 1700).

Peter recognised Jesus as the Christ (v. 20). Do we look for and recognise God in those with dementia? The decline in someone’s mental faculties does not end their personal journey of faith or diminish their full human integrity. They continue on their pilgrimage, usually aware of the continuing importance of their deeply held spirituality, and often finding comfort in familiar prayers and rituals. God is there in their loneliness to give them comfort.

Would Peter have openly stated his faith if he hadn’t been directly challenged byJesus? He might not have made such a declaration without prompting, but he knew what he thought and felt. He had faith. For those witnessing the mental decline of their loved ones, faith becomes all the more important too. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear…” (Ps. 46:1-2).

Loving Father you are close to the broken-hearted. Look with compassion on those whose lost memories have robbed them of home and belonging. Comfort and strengthen those who care for them. May they make their home in you. This we ask through Christ our Lord, Amen.

Chris

Graphic from: https://slmnallotey.wordpress.com/2016/07/26/jesus-the-word-of-god/

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Christ the High Priest (Feast of the Lord)

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Matthew 26:36–42
 
Icon of Christ the Great High Priest
 
 
 
A profound mystery of our faith is that through baptism we receive the threefold ministery of Jesus: priest, prophet and king.  This amazing truth should affect our lives every day.  We have a share in the priestly, prophetic and kingly ministry of Jesus Christ!
 
Key to deepening our grasp of the High Priestly ministry of Jesus is understanding his sacrifice on the cross.  Jesus is both priest and victim.  "God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through shedding of his blood" (Rom. 3:25 NIV), and he "offered for all time one sacrifice for sins" (Heb. 10:12 NIV).  By his death Jesus atoned for every sin that has ever been committed on this earth.
 
The light of revelation shows us that in Jesus we have a Great High Priest who is now seated at the right hand of the Father.  In him we have One who identifies with our weakness and temptations because he has been tempted in every way that we are, but did not sin.  Therefore we can approach God's throne of grace with freedom and confidence, knowing that we will receive mercy.
 
We tend to think when we are tempted that God is far away, but this isn't true: God draws close when we are suffering.  His grace gives us the strength to resist temptation and, should we fall, to repent and receive his mercy.
 
Heavenly Father, I thank you that through baptism I have a share in the priestly ministry of Jesus, our Great High Priest.
 
Chris
 
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Knowing the Father

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Matthew 11:25-27

As we become one with Jesus Christ in baptism and the life of faith, we are taken into his intimate relationship with God the Father. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, we share in the love that exists between the Father and the Son.   We don’t enter this relationship primarily through intellectual understanding. When we adore the Holy Trinity we are caught up in a heart knowledge that is far more simple and profound, and we enter into the relationship and learn far more than we can ever understand intellectually. Through this sharing we become like 'little children', like the 'babes' Jesus talks about, and we begin to experience truths that are far beyond our imagination. 

Heavenly Father, by the revelation of Jesus Chris in the power of the Holy Spirit, draw me into the mystery of your everlasting love. 

Chris

(from Bible Alive)
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