Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Tuesday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time - Mark 10:28-31
Today Peter responds to Jesus’ statement to the young man in yesterday’s Gospel. Peter reminds Jesus: “We have given up everything to follow to you”. Jesus tells Peter that anyone who chooses to give up family, home, job or land for home, job or land for His sake will receive a reward, a reward so great that this individual will receive a hundred times more than she or he gave up! Now that could be quite a reward depending on what you have given up!
Jesus is reminding his disciples that he desires “their all.” He doesn’t want lukewarm disciples; rather, Jesus longs to have followers who have a deep commitment to him and his ministry. And this is what Jesus wants from each of us. If we are deeply committed to Jesus and if we truly give our all, we also will receive a hundred times more than we have given. What a promise!
However, it is not always easy to “give our all” to Jesus. There are so many distractions as well as many other attractions in our world. We can easily wander off from Jesus; hopefully, we also wish to belong wholeheartedly to Jesus. What will we choose today? No one else can choose the path for us. Only we can make this decision. And it is a decision that we need to make each and every day. Today what will I decide? What will you decide? Will we follow Jesus today, even if the cost seems great? I pray we will!
Monday, February 27, 2017
Monday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time - Mark 10:17-27
As Jesus was setting out on a journey a man ran up to Him and asked, “Teacher, what must I do to share in everlasting life?” Jesus answered him: “You know the commandments. All you need to do is to live the commandments every day of your life”! The man said to Jesus: “I do this every day”. Then Jesus looked at the man with great love and He said to him: “There is one thing more you must do. Go and sell all you have and give to the poor; then you will have treasure in heaven. And then come and follow me.”
Jesus could tell that the man was seriously reflecting on His words. After a few minutes, the man’s face fell and he sadly walked away from Jesus. He had many possessions and he could not fathom giving up everything he had so worked for. Ask yourself: What would you do if Jesus asked you to give up your possessions, your status, and your wealth? I suspect it would be difficult for most of us to give up all that we had worked so hard to achieve in our lives. In our current culture, family, money, possessions and accomplishments may be our wealth. Yet Jesus offers so much more to us, a wealth that we cannot comprehend!
Today may be a good day to ask ourselves: What am I willing to give up to have everlasting life? After all, you and I profess to be followers of Jesus. Perhaps we need to examine our minds and hearts and be honest with ourselves. It is easy to say we are followers of Jesus; but it is not easy truly to follow in Jesus’ footsteps.
Sunday, February 26, 2017
The Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Matthew 6:24-34
Matthew’s Gospel today begins with a very strong statement: “No one can serve two masters.” Now, take a moment and calculate how many masters you strive to serve in one day’s time. Note: a master does not have to be human. How many masters do you have? Who and what are your masters? It may be helpful to write down who and what your masters are.
A master can be anything or anyone. Today, cell phones seem to be the master of many people. No matter where they are or who they are with, the phone is right with them. And they might even feel lost when they don’t have their phone with them. If you have been in an airport lately, you may have noticed that everyone seems to be on the phone, Ipad or computer. These days the need to be constantly connected almost seems obsessive. Ask yourself: do you feel “lost” or “naked” when you don’t have your cell phone or Ipad?
Don’t get me wrong. The reality is that technology is an integral part of most people’s lives. Technology is useful in a wide variety of ways. However, the question may be: is technology ruling our lives, be that personal, professional or spiritual? Has technology become our god? Have we lost a sense of the sacred in our lives?
Today Jesus warns his disciples to keep their priorities in order. He doesn’t want them to worry about the little things. Jesus reminds them that life is more than food or shelter. We can have all the money in the world and still not be satisfied. Jesus is reminding his listeners that only God has the ability to give us true and lasting peace and happiness. Yes, there are many gifts in our wonderful world, but without God, there is no meaning! Yet so often, I continue to look for love (or satisfaction) in all the wrong places. Do you?
Today may we look to God for our peace, our grace and our happiness! Everything else is short-lived!
Saturday, February 25, 2017
Saturday of the 7th Week in Ordinary Time - Mark 10:13-16
Today many people brought their children to Jesus so that He might touch them. However, the disciples were being protective of Jesus and they rebuked the people who approached Him. However, Jesus was delighted that the people and the children were coming to Him. He loved being with “His” people.
When Jesus realized what the disciples were doing, he strongly rebuked them. He said to them: “Let the children come to me. . . for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Jesus then added: “Whoever does not accept the Kingdom of God like a little child will not enter the Kingdom.” Jesus then embraced the children, placed His hands on them and blessed them.
Children can be great role models those of us who are adults. Children typically are just who they are. They have not yet learned to hide their thoughts or their emotions. They express their feelings and thoughts in a variety of ways – some of them appropriately and some inappropriately. I suspect that even though we may be adults, we also act childishly on occasion.
One of the gifts of children is that they live in the moment. They enjoy life and they have a great capacity for joy, laughter, and the simple gifts of life. Today enjoy the children in your life or the children you encounter at the grocery store, at church or the children in your neighborhood. And today, also give thanks to God for your inner child. She/He is the person who enables us to be silly, solemn, helpful, and playful. Today, enjoy and appreciate the simple gifts of life. They are all around us.
Friday, February 24, 2017
Friday of the 7th Week in Ordinary Time - Mark 10:1-12
Today the Pharisees once again try to corner Jesus. They approach him and ask: “Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?” Jesus responds, but he asks them a question. He asks: “What did Moses command you?” They reply: “Moses permitted a husband to write a bill of divorce and dismiss her.” Jesus bluntly says to the Pharisees: “Moses only wrote the bill of divorce because of the people’s stubbornness and hardness of heart.” Jesus then states: “God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh.”
From the beginning of time, relationships have been fragile. This is especially true in marriage where two individuals live day in and day out with each other. At varying times, the “hard work” a good marriage requires may test the strength and the commitment of the two individuals in the relationship. The current reality is that we live in a disposable world. We use a computer for a time and then when a new model comes out, we buy the new one.
All relationships require a great deal of work, be that family, friends or work relationships. However, we do not commit ourselves to coworkers, neighbors, and friends for life. Yes, there are instances when the healthiest choice for a spouse or a family is divorce. And most likely, this also was true in Jesus’ day. Yet Jesus clearly desires that we give our all to any significant relationship, especially marriage.
Today and every day Jesus hopes we will make thoughtful, discerning and loving choices. Since we live in a disposable world, our natural instinct may be to move on to another relationship; and perhaps this may be the healthiest choice for us and our family. However, when we commit ourselves to marriage or any other committed way of life, we promise to work together in good times and in bad. This may involve counseling and working daily to giving our all and to see if the marriage or relationship can be saved. Divorce may still be the answer. However, hopefully it will not be the first answer we consider!
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
The Chair of Peter, Apostle, Feast - Matthew 16:13-19
Matthew writes: “Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi with his disciples.” As they were walking along, Jesus asked his disciples: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some believe that you are John the Baptist. Others believe you are Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”
Jesus was not satisfied with answers the disciples gave. He looked at his disciples and asked, “Who do you say that I am?” It’s not surprising that Simon was the one who answered this question. He looked directly at Jesus and said from the depths of his soul: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Today Jesus will ask each of us this question. He will look at me and say, “Kris, who do you say that I am?” He also will look at you and ask, “Who do you say that I am?” I wonder how we will respond to this question? Will we be silent for a time as we search our minds and hearts for the answer to Jesus’ question? Will we respond to Him from the depths of our hearts and proclaim that Jesus is Christ, the Son of the Living God?
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Tuesday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time - Mark 9:30-37
Jesus and his disciples were traveling through Galilee. He was teaching his disciples and he said to them: “The Son of Man will be handed over and will be killed. Three days after his death the Son of Man will rise.” His disciples did not understand what Jesus was saying to them. Would what he foretold really come true? How could that be? Jesus was a great teacher and rabbi and they hesitated to question him about this.
They arrived in Capernaum and when they were settled in the house where they were staying, Jesus asked His disciples: “What were you arguing about during our journey?” The disciples were silent and embarrassed. The topic of their conversation had been “who was the greatest disciple.” Most likely, they knew that Jesus would not approve of their conversation.
Jesus said to his disciples: “Whoever wishes to be first shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” Jesus then called a little child over to him and said to the disciples: “Whoever receives one child in my name, receives me; whoever receives me, receives the One who sent me.”
Power and renown! In our world, this is what many people long for and strive for! Think of all the movie stars, rock singers, models, and political candidates who vie for publicity, power, and fame. Do they actually believe that these will bring them true happiness or are they simply caught up in the world’s values? Jesus wants us to find our happiness and security in Him, not in fame or fortune.
Naturally, we all want others think well of us. In and of itself, this is not bad. However, we get into trouble when we are driven to look good or to achieve so that we gain status, honor, or esteem. We believe that people will approve of us and of what we have accomplished.
Today I invite you to take some time and ask yourself: How important is power and admiration to me? Do I hope other people admire me? Or am I content to live my life as well as I can and not need approval from others.
There is no guile in young children. They simply are who they are. They trust. They love. They enjoy life. And yet we adults often consider them immature. And in many ways they are. Yet, they can be a great example to us of what truly is important in life. Today observe a child. Imitate a child. You may have a wonderful day!
Monday, February 20, 2017
Monday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time - Mark 9:14-29
In today’s reading, a man brought his son, who was possessed by a mute spirit, to Jesus. The man had asked Jesus’ disciples to drive the spirit out, but the men were unable to do so. When Jesus heard this, he said, “O faithless generation, how long will I be with you”? He then told the father to bring his son to Him. When the spirits saw Jesus, they immediately threw the boy into convulsions. The child fell to the ground and he began to foam at the mouth. Jesus asked the father some questions about his son. Finally the father said to Jesus: “If you can do anything, please have compassion on us. Please help him!”
Jesus quietly said to the father, “’If you can!’ Everything is possible to those who have faith.” The father immediately cried out: “I do believe; help my unbelief.” Much to the crowd’s amazement, Jesus drew the unclean spirit out of the boy and pulled the boy to his feet.
What is the healing you desire? It may be for you, for someone you love, or it might be for our broken and hurting world. If you are uncertain that Jesus will answer your prayer, cry out to Him: “I do believe; help my unbelief!” It may be helpful to repeat this phrase throughout the day or even throughout the week. Trust that Jesus is healing you, your loved one, and our world even if you do not see the healing. Healing is very different than a miraculous cure. Healing takes time. Be patient! Trust! Be attentive to small changes in your life or in the person you want Jesus to heal. You will experience healing changes. Trust Jesus!
Sunday, February 19, 2017
The Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time - Matthew 5:38-48
In this Sunday’s gospel, Jesus surprises the crowds with these words: “You have heard the commandment, ‘An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.’” However what I say to you is: “Offer no resistance to any type of injury. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn and offer him/her your other cheek. Or if someone takes you to court over you shirt, give him your coat as well.” Then Jesus gives other examples.
“You have heard the commandment: love your countryman and pray for your persecutors. This will prove that you are children of God. After all, the sun rises on the bad and the good and rains on the just and the unjust.”
Jesus always hopes that we will act without limits on our love and our forgiveness. Often, this seems impossible to do; yet if we pray and strive to have an open heart, eventually we will be able to forgive the individual and hopefully develop a healthier relationship with him or her. The ball is in your court! What will you choose to do?
Saturday, February 18, 2017
Saturday of the 6th Week in Ordinary Time - Mark 9:2-13
The gospel for today is Mark’s account of the Transfiguration. Jesus decided to take Peter, James and John up to a mountain. When they arrived at the top of the mountain, Jesus was transformed before them and His clothing became dazzling white. Then Elijah and Moses appeared and they began to converse with Jesus.
After a time, Peter spoke to Jesus and said: “Rabbi, how good it is for us to be here! We will erect three booths for you on this mountain, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” Peter did not know what else to say, for he and all the disciples were filled with awe. Then a cloud came and overshadowed them. A voice spoke from the cloud saying: “This is my Son, my beloved. Listen to him.” Then the disciples realized that no one else was with them– only Jesus.
The disciples knew that Jesus was an extraordinary teacher; however to have Moses and Elijah appear and converse with Jesus must have astounded them! Moses and Elijah were two of the most important prophets in the Old Testament; yet they saw these prophets and heard Jesus converse with them like they were old friends.
Why were the disciples so astounded? After all, not long ago on the Feast of the Epiphany, Jesus’ identity had been revealed to them; yet once again they are astounded by this revelation! I suspect that many of us react in a similar way when we experience an unusual happening in our lives; typically we also need to take time to absorb an unexpected or unusual reality. However, the most important words in this Gospel are the words that were spoken from the cloud: “This is my Son, my beloved. Listen to him.” This is our call for today and every day. We are to attend to Jesus’ presence in our lives and listen for His voice. Today Jesus will come to us; however, if we are not awake or attentive we will miss him. What a loss that would be!