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Chris (email link at the bottom of each page)

God's Delight

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Matthew 11:25–30
 
“I delight in you” GOD
 
Today’s Gospel is a particularly beautiful one.  It reveals a wonderful truth about God and his nature, expressing it in a way that no mere human mind could.  These words of Jesus come directly from the Father’s heart.
 
The passage is effectively in three parts: the Father’s delight; the relationship between Father and Son; and the grace of revelation.  Jesus teach us that God the Father delights to pour out a gift of revelation on his children.  “Revelation” in this context means receiving a blessing, an insight or fresh understanding which enables us to enter more deeply into the mystery of God.
 
In the Christian faith there are no new truths, simply the ancient revelation of the Scripture, the Creed and the teaching of the Church; and it is in these truths that we immerse our minds and hearts.  As we do so, the Holy Spirit opens our minds and hearts to see the hidden depths: a new meaning, a fresh interpretation or a word of nuance which touches us deeply and moves us to love and worship God.
 
This grace of revelation can come to us in many ways, but of course as we reserve time and space to pray and to study the Scriptures – as we are still before the Lord – we can experience it in a special way.  We are allowing our hearts to open to the grace of revelation; we can see this as the desire of the Father’s heart.
 
By making ourselves receptive to revelation from God we can know God’s joy and rejoice in his plan of salvation.  Today we have an opportunity to experience the delight of our heavenly Father as we penetrate the mystery of his Son, and receive the grace of revelation that brings us peace, joy and happiness.
 
Praise the Father, the good and holy Creator who blesses his children with the grace of revelation and the gift of deep and lasting joy.
 
Chris
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Only God can Forgive Sins

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Matthew 9:1–8
 
The teachers of the law got at least one thing right: by claiming to forgive sins, Jesus was claiming to be God.  And of course we know that he is God, and he does forgive sins, repeatedly.
 
Fr Ronald Rolheiser:

“. . .if the Catholicism that I was raised in had a fault, and it did, it was precisely that it did not allow for mistkes. If you made a mistake, you lived with it and, like the rich young man, were doomed to be sad, at least for the rest of your life. A serious mistake was a permanent stigmatization. We need a theolgy of brokenness. We need a theology which teaches us that even though we can’t unscramble an egg, God’s grace lets us live happily and with renewed innocence beyond any egg we may have scrambled. Every time we close a door, He opens another one for us . . .

"We need a theology that teaches us that God does not just give us one chance, but that every time we close a door, God opens another one for us. We need a theology that challenges us not to make mistakes, that takes sin seriously, but which tells us that when we do sin, when we do make mistakes, we are given the chance to take our place among the broken, among those whose lives are not perfect, the loved sinners, those for whom Christ came. We need a theology which tells us that a second, third, fourth, and fifth chance are just as valid as the first one. We need a theology that tells us that mistakes are not forever, that they are not even for a lifetime, that time and grace wash clean, that nothing is irrevocable. Finally, we need a theology which teaches us that God loves us as sinners and that the task of Christianity is not to teach us how to live, but to teach us how to live again, and again, and again."

Chris

from Ron Rolheiser

 

 

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Walk the extra mile – for Jesus

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Matthew 5:38–42
 
Jesus has fallen under the cross
 
We need to strike a balance between Jesus’s call not to seek retribution and the moral responsibility to take a stand against the evil in our world.  Jesus is telling us that we have a personal responsibility to examine our response to challenges we face, evil or otherwise.
 
Jesus’s challenge to turn the other cheek, is an almost impossible one to meet – our instincts for self-defence are strong, after all.
 
Jesus also asks us to examine how we face up to demands on our property (giving the cloak), our time (walking the extra mile) and our money (borrowing).  Because we are immersed in a materialist culture it can be difficult to respond as Jesus teaches us when we encounter such demands.
 
But as we consider those demands and Jesus’s call, consider that he has given us the greatest example of all: beaten, spat upon, mocked and unjustly condemned, he remained silent; stripped, humiliated and crucified, he pleaded for forgiveness for his tormentors.
 
Jesus is our model as well as our teacher.
 
Lord Jesus, may the power of your Holy Spirit break through my deep-seated selfishness and egocentricity and give me the grace to put these attitudes to death.
 
Chris
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Guard against self-interest

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Jesus – “Salvation is found in no one else . . .
Acts  4: 1–12
 
For the Sadducees life after death was a revolutionary and subversive idea that threatened their position.  Their difficulty was that, “People who believe that their God is about to make a new world, and that those who die in loyalty to him in the meantime will rise again and share gloriously in it, are far more likely to lose respect for a wealthy aristocracy than people who think that this life, this world and this age are the only ones there will ever be . . .” (Tom Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God).
 
The Sadducees held much power; their interest was not in the word of God, but in the maintenance of the status quo, because this was of most benefit to them.  The Sadducees wanted to preserve their own interests.
 
To guard against the same temptation, we can harness the power of prayer.  Perfect prayer is all love.  The key to protecting ourselves from becoming like the Sadducees is to avoid self-interest in the first place, to focus our attention on love.
 
Oh my God, I love you above all things, with my whole heart and soul, because you are all good and worthy of all my love.  I seek to love my neighbour as myself for the love of you.  I forgive all who have injured me and I ask pardon for all whom I have injured.  Amen.
 
Chris
 
 
 
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Jesus heals the official's child

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John 4:43–54
 
In today’s Gospel passage the child of a Gentile officer in Herod’s court is ill and dying.  But his encounter with Jesus is very brief.
 
“Sir, come down before my child dies.” (v.49)
 
 “Go, your son will live."
 
The fever left the child and he was restored to health.
 
The key to this healing was the official’s faith.  “The man took Jesus at his word and departed.” (v.50).  By this John provides us with a great definition of faith: taking God at his word.
 
It’s like saying simply to God, “If you say it is so, then it is so, and I can put my hope and trust in you.”  Faith, we know, is being sure of what we can hope for and certain of what we cannot see (Hebrews 11:1).
 
Faith is really no more than taking God at his word.  As St Augustine said, “For what is faith unless it is to believe what you do not see?"
 
Take heart and encouragement from our official in today’s Gospel, for he took Jesus at his word and was mightily blessed.  If we take Jesus at his word we too will be mightily blessed.
 
"The righteous will live by faith.” Romans 1:17
 
Chris
 
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Ritual Washing

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Mark 7:1–13


Jesus always condemned hypocrisy, and however well intentioned the Pharisees they had missed the point of obeying God, which is love.

The Pharisees were blind to the state of their own hearts. There is something rather intoxicating about appearing to be holier than other people – it can make us feel superior and detach us from reality.

We can all be seduced into thinking that we are in some way more holy if we do certain things, but the truth is that the holier we are, the more conscious we become of our sin and weakness.

We pray today for the grace to avoid the trap and darkness which is hypocrisy, and to walk in the light of Christ, which is the light of humility and of grace.


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Jesus is God, Lord and Creator

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Mark 4:35-41
Jesus and disciples in a small boat with sails in a storm and rough sea.

Jesus calmed the storm that was terrifying the disciples; everything is possible with God.  But this could be the same for the storms in our own lives, so trust the Lord to care for you.

God loves us more than we love ourselves.  God knows us more than we know ourselves.  God knows every worry, every anxiety, every overarching concern which cause us to be buffeted by the tumultuous waves of life.

The Holy Spirit is at work in us to convince us that “neither death, nor life, nor angles, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, . . . nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord”. (Romans 8:38-39)
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God's Love

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1 John 4:11-18 and Mark 6:45-52
 
God is our Father and he loves us perfectly.  
 
His love is unchanging.  It does not depend on external circumstances but is constand and sure.  We can trust completely because God is faithful and his love endures forever.
 
God wants to replace fear with a secure trust in his care for us.  He will set us free from fear as we draw closer to Jesus.  We can trust Jesus with everything: our past, our worries, our pain, our joys and our deepest longings.
 
We can hand over to Jesus every fear and oppression.  When we do this, something wonderful happens.  Through the Holy Spirit we enter into the inheritance that we received at baptism — we are born again.
 
As adults we may have taken the step of making our own the promises given us by our parents at baptism, and may have known the grace flowing from such great commitment. But we are weak and sinful.  How easily we can lose our first love for Jesus!  How quickly our vision of living life in the Spirit can grow dim!
 
From time to time we need to stop and take stock so that we can reaffirm our decision to take seriously the call of Jesus to follow him.  We need to come daily into God’s presence in prayer, repenting of the ways in which we have failed as his disciples.
 
God’s love is so great that he is quicker to grant forgiveness that we are to ask for it, and he will give us the power of the Holy Spirit to live a transformed life.
 
Father God, as your sons and daughters we ask you to release us from every fear.  Draw us deeply into the life of the Trinity each day and reveal how much you love us.
 
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Who is my neighbour?

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Luke 10:25-37
 
Who is your neighbour?  Our faith invites us to go beyond our immediate circle and to reach out to people who fall outside our neat categories and boxes.  We are called to love and to care for people who might be unlovable by the standards of the world: criminals, drug addicts, drug dealers etc . . .
 
Despite the social action element of the parable many Church fathers saw that Jesus was in fact the Good Samaritan and we the wounded, bruised body on the roadside.
 
There is a profound depth to this parable whch the Holy Spirit can open up to us.  We are called to be merciful, but mercy is about understanding our need for redemption and salvation.  
 
This is the greatest human need: to know God’s forgiveness, mercy and healing.
 
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Love – Do good – Give

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Luke 6:39-42
 
Love, do good, give; the moral and ethical teaching of Jesus can be summed up in these four words.
 
The Church draws on thousands of years of teaching and human experience, much of it rooted in the dark alleys of confusion, darkness and sinfulness of its sons and daughters, clergy and lay people alike.  
 
But the wisdom of the Church resides first in the wisdom of Christ.  She is wise because Christ is wise; we are wise because Christ is wise.  True wisdom is learning daily to live life in the Spirit, learning to listen to the Spirit and to give witness to the fruits and gifts of the Spirit.
 
In the midst of this endeavour we must live alongside people and learn to relate to them.  The Christian faith should help us to master living alongside our fellows in fraternal love and affection.  We learn not to judge others but to be quicker to judge ourselves.
 
”If you judge other people you have no time to love them.”  St Mother Teresa of Calcutta
 
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