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Jesus tells us always to be ready

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Matthew 24:42–51

We do not know when we are going to die, or when the Lord is coming again, or even what will happen today or tomorrow.  We live in time but walk on the cusp of eternity.  We forget – or put out of our minds – how brief and fragile is life and that we have an eternal destiny.

Jesus wants to shake us out of this kind of self-deception.  He captures a very common experience in the aftermath of a crime: regret and recrimination.  The householder is left wishing that he had kept watch, and this is something to which we can all relate.  Victims of crime speak of being violated, exposed and humiliated.  Those who have been negligent or forgetful in securing their property experience guilt.  This often gives way to resentment and anger and a profound sense of loss (particularly if what was taken is irreplaceable).

We guard and protect those items that we value, but Jesus is challenging us to reflect on how much we value his life within us.  Just as we guard our material goods, so should we protect our spiritual possessions.  We need to cultivate our relationship with God through prayer, reading his Word and drawing ever more deeply from the riches of the Eucharist.  But we should also guard our hearts, to understand life’s  brevity and to long for Christ’s return.

We could do no better than to reflect on today’s Gospel and to consider the insight of Thomas à Kempis, who said in The Imitation of Christ: “How wise and happy is he that labours to be in life as he is in death.  A perfect contempt of the world, a desire to go forward in virtue, the love of discipline, the toil of penance, the readiness of obedience, the denying of ourselves, and the bearing of any adversity whatsoever for the love of Christ, will give us great confidence and we shall die happily.”

Lord, fill me with a true longing for your coming.  By the power of your Holy Spirit living within me, may I always be alert for the signs of your life and love in the world around me.

Chris

from Bible Alive

 

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Mercy

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Matthew 18:21 – 19:1
 
Our world is crying out for mercy, but it does not realise it.
 
In today’s parable, Jesus invites us to consider how the two qualities of forgiveness and mercy work int he human heart.  The servant is a classic example of one who, despite being the recipient of great mercy, fails to change his heart.  His behaviour towards the servant in debt to him is reprehensible.  The parable is intended to invoke our sense of moral indignation.  “How shocking and scandalous!” we cry.  And this is how we are supposed to react.
 
Then the penny drops – as the light of the Holy Spirit shines – and we realise that we are just like this servant.
 
We have been forgiven the huge debt of our now sin, but we easily hold on to grudges, nurse resentments and find it hard to forgive.  The formula we must understand and live out daily is that since we have received mercy, we should show that same mercy to others.
 
By God’s grace we can be ambassadors of God’s mercy.  We can live it, we can witness to it and we can pray for it.  The world needs men and women who will witness to God’s mercy because it is God’s mercy which melts hearts, converts sinners and reveals his love for every human person.
 
”Our sins are nothing but a grain of sand alongside the the mountain of the mercy of God.”  (St John Vianney)
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When the Storms of Life Assault Me

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Matthew 14:22–36
 
Jesus retired to a private place to pray.  He knew the importance of refreshing himself in communion with his Father.  During the night he walked across the water to meet his disciples and calmed the storm.  We face many storms that frighten us and which threaten to overwhelm us, but when matters seem at their worst Jesus is with us saying, “Do not be afraid.”.  It brings us peace.
 
It is typical of Peter’s impetuosity that without thinking he got out of the boat and walked towards Jesus.  It is also typical that his faith wobbled as he focused on the power of the storm and not on Jesus.  He began to sink.
 
Peter called on the Lord for help.  We can identify with Peter’s humanity, his love for Jesus, his sudden fear and his call to Jesus to help him.  Peter’s actions here exemplify many of our experiences in trying to live the Christian life.  When Jesus call us we are attracted to him and try to step out in faith to reach him.  If we keep our eyes and mind fixed on him all is well, but when storms and crises arise we are distracted from our faith in the Lord.  But Jesus will still any storm and deliver us from any situation when we have faith.
 
It is at times of trial and challenge that we most need to turn to the Lord.  Focusing on our problems leads to darkness and to despair, but keeping our mind focused on Jesus will lead us to safe harbour and peace.  Jesus does not promise to make our problems disappear, but he promises that he will be with us through them all, and that we will be able to find peace and calm in him – instead of being overwhelmed by life’s tumultuous waves.
 
Jesus, increase my faith in you, so that when the storms of life assail me I may put my trust in you to lead me safely to my heavenly home.
 

Chris

from Bible Alive

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