All for the Kingdom of God

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Luke 9:57-62

As Jesus and his disciples were proceeding
on their journey, someone said to him,
“I will follow you wherever you go.”
Jesus answered him,
“Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests,
but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.”
And to another he said, “Follow me.”
But he replied, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.”
But he answered him, “Let the dead bury their dead.
But you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.”
And another said, “I will follow you, Lord,
but first let me say farewell to my family at home.”
Jesus answered him, “No one who sets a hand to the plow
and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God.”

The Christian must be willing to give up everything- comfort, home, family, and perhaps most difficult, the appearance of being a good person. What does Jesus say to the one who wants to bury his father, “Let the dead bury their dead.” These are difficult words! To neglect burying one’s father would be a grave negligence for a faithful Jew. And yet this is what Jesus demands.

And what is the return for those of us who are willing to give up- home, family, comfort and reputation? Nothing less than the Kingdom of God.  A Kingdom of goodness, truth, beauty, love and life that stretches beyond our imagination throughout eternity.

Reflection

What is keeping you from inheriting the Kingdom of God? What are you unwilling to give up for the sake of Christ?

Prayer

Lord God, you are the source of all good things. From you I recieved my home, my family, all that I have, all that I am, all that I love. Help me to entrust back to you all these goods, and let nothing separate me from your love.

What were you discussing on the way?

Mark 9:30-37

They went on from there and passed thought Galilee. And he would not have any one know it; for he was teahin his disciples, sayint to them,  “The Son of man will be delivered into the hands of men, and hey will kill im; and when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to ask him.

And they came to Capernaum; and when he was in the house he aksed them, “What were you discussing on the way?”  But they were silent; for on the way they had discussed with one another who was the greatest.  And he sat down and called the Twelve and he said to them, “If any one would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”

Word of Jesus’ teaching, authority and power have spread. Every where He goes, there are crowds, pushing in on him, asking for miracles, expecting something great to happen.  In this story, Jesus sneaks away from the crowds so that He can teach and guide his Tweleve Apostles for the great task that they will have of leading his Church and spreading His Gospel to “the ends of the earth.” He foretells his passion, death and resurrection. He is sharing with them important and intimate details about himself.  He gave up the glory of being God and became man to suffer, die, and rise. He does this to save humanity from sin and death, and to open Heaven to mankind. He is speaking to them of the coming climax of his earthly life and the great task he has come to accomplish. What is their reaction?

Silence. They don’t understand, and they’re afraid to ask questions.  When they do begin to speak again, what do they speak about? They argue about which one is the greatest.

What foolishness and vanity! Blinded by their pride and ambition, they do not even recognize the sifnificance of what Jesus is telling them, or how painful it might be for him. Jesus patiently corrects them. “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”

Reflection

We all want to be well thought of and liked. But this cannot be a driving force for us Christians. Look at your relationships, do you try to show others how important you are, or are you content to be quietly serving others?

Activity

Next time you are with a group of classmates or friends, try not to speak. Try to really listen to what the others are saying.

Jesus-Disciples-Listening-to-Him

Amazing Faith

Luke 7:1-10

When Jesus had finished all his words to the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave who was ill and about to die, and he was valuable to him. When he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and save the life of his slave. They approached Jesus and strongly urged him to come, saying, “He deserves to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation and he built the synagogue for us.” And Jesus went with them, but when he was only a short distance from the house, the centurion sent friends to tell him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof. Therefore, I did not conisder myself worthy to come to you; but say the word and let my servant be healed. For I too am a person subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, ‘Go and he goes; and to another, ‘Come here, ‘ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this and he does it.”  When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him and, turning, said to the crowd following him, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” When the messengers returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.

“When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him…

How does one amaze the God-Man?

Faith. Jesus says, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.”

The Centurion is a Roman soldier. The Romans were pagans who often worshipped many false gods. The Israelites were the “Chosen People” of God. God had revealed himself to them and continually saved them and cared for them. They should have had great faith, and indeed many did.  But let us compare the faith of the Jewish elders in this story to that of this Roman soldier.

Remember that the soldier sent “elders of the Jews to Jesus” because he did not believe himself worthy of asking Jesus’s help. What do the elders say? “He deserves to have you do this for him…” The soldier is so humble, he will not approach Jesus. The elders on the other hand tell Jesus, “this man deserves to have you to do this for him.” While they tell Jesus what he should do, the soldier acknowledges that he is not even worthy to have Jesus enter his house. He humbly awaits Jesus’s command, knowing that even a word from Jesus will accomplish all that he asks.

For Reflection:

As Christians, we have been baptized into the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We have been sealed with the Holy Spirit and given the gift of faith. Do we believe that Jesus owes us something? or are we like the Roman centurions, humblying asking for Jesus to make us worthy of his help?

Prayer:

Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter my house, but only say the word,

and I shall be healedrome-clipart-roman-centurion-10

If you have thoughts you would like to share…

Even the demons testify to Jesus.

Gospel Lk 4:31-37

Jesus went down to Capernaum, a town of Galilee.He taught them on the sabbath,and they were astonished at his teachingbecause he spoke with authority.In the synagogue there was a man with the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out in a loud voice,“What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?Have you come to destroy us?I know who you are–the Holy One of God!”Jesus rebuked him and said, “Be quiet! Come out of him!”Then the demon threw the man down in front of themand came out of him without doing him any harm.They were all amazed and said to one another,“What is there about his word?For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits,and they come out.”And news of him spread everywhere in the surrounding region.

          This reading comes early in the Gospel of Luke, in the fourth chapter. The chapter begins with Jesus going into the desert, to fast and pray for 40 days, in preparation for his public ministry.  After his time of prayer and fasting, he goes first, to his home town of Nazareth. Jesus preaches in the temple there, but the people reject him. They are surprised that Jesus, a carpenter and the son of Joseph, could preach with authority and grace.  Still they are curious.  They want to see him perform signs, almost as a test.  But they are full of jealousy and doubt. Jesus knows this. They refuse to believe that Jesus is really the Christ so, “They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill … to hurl him down headlong.” (Lk 4:29)  But Jesus escapes with ease.

         Next Jesus goes to this town of Capernaum, where again people are astonished at his teaching.  But here, he is not mere spectacle of curiosity. Rather the people are astonished “because he spoke with authority.”  They acknowledge his authority in his words.  Then, as confirmation of his authority, he preforms a great sign. He commands an unclean demon out of a man. The demons recognize what the people of Nazareth refused to acknowledge. The demons cry out, “you are the Holy One of God!”  Not only that, the demons obey him! At the word of Jesus, the demons leave the man in peace.

Reflection:       

 What about us? Do we recognize the authority of Jesus? Do we obey? For if we don’t we are truly fools!  Even the worst enemies of Jesus recognize his power and serve him.3234343kksdl

Prayer:

You alone are the Holy One! You alone are the Lord! You alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ!

 

Let us not take the gift of Heaven for granted!

Matt 22:1-10

And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a marriage feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the marriage feast; but they woul not come. Again he sent other servants, saying ‘Tell those who are invited, Behold, I have made ready my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves are killed, and everything is ready; come to the marriage feast.’ But they made light of it and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants and treated them shamefully, and killed them. The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the streets, and invite to the marriage feast as many as you find.’  And those servants went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.  

In this Gospel story, Jesus is talking to the Chief priests and the elders. Throughout the Gospels, he speaks sternly and boldly to the religious leaders. This is because they don’t like him. They are jealous of all the attention and respect that the people give Jesus, an unknown carpenter from Nazareth.

Before he tells this parable, the leaders of the temple confront Jesus and ask him by what authority he teaches, in a sense they say, “What right do you have to be in this temple teaching the way that we do?” His answer is a bold and unwavering warning.

He tells of a king that sends out invitations to his son’s wedding feast. The King has spared no expense for the feast, and he is eager to share all his riches to celebrate his son’s wedding. Presumably, the King would be inviting other wealthy and respected members of society. How do they respond? Some with indifference, some with disdain, and even hatred! So the King destroys those who ignored him and rejected and harmed his servants. Then he sends servants out to gather anyone who is willing to come to the feast.

No one gets into Heaven based on position or authority. In fact, no one gets into Heaven without an invitation from God. The Kingdom is His, the riches are His, nothing gives us the “right” to share in His eternal goodness and life except a humble response to His invitation.

For Reflection:

Do you think that you will go to Heaven when you die? Why do you think this?

Prayer:

Lord God, all of heaven and earth are yours. I know that you see me and you love me. Forgive my sins, and when my time on earth is done, please, let me come enter into your Kingdom!

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The frustrations of the Savior

Matthew 17:14-20

A man came up to Jesus, knelt down before him, and said,
“Lord, have pity on my son, who is a lunatic and suffers severely;
often he falls into fire, and often into water.
I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.”
Jesus said in reply,
“O faithless and perverse generation, how long will I be with you?
How long will I endure you?
Bring the boy here to me.”
Jesus rebuked him and the demon came out of him,
and from that hour the boy was cured.
Then the disciples approached Jesus in private and said,
“Why could we not drive it out?”
He said to them, “Because of your little faith.
Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed,
you will say to this mountain,
‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move.
Nothing will be impossible for you.”

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If your hand causes you to sin…

Mark 9:42-48

Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,
it would be better for him if a great millstone
were put around his neck
and he were thrown into the sea.
If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.
It is better for you to enter into life maimed
than with two hands to go into Gehenna,
into the unquenchable fire.
And if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off.
It is better for you to enter into life crippled
than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna.
And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.
Better for you to enter into the Kingdom of God with one eye
than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna,
where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.

Commentary

If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, than with two hands to go into Gehenna.

These are hard words! Is this really from Jesus, the one who loves us perfectly. Is this from the mouth of God? Remember as St. John tells us, God is love. How can the God, who is love itself speak this way?

It is because he loves us that he uses such strong language. Hell is real and it horrific. God does not want any of his little ones to go there. Sin is bad and if we choose it, we turn away from God and put ourselves on the path to never-ending suffering in Hell. God loves us so much, that he wants us to understand how seriously we endanger ourselves if we sin.

So does he want us to maim ourselves? NO! we are sacred and holy. But, we must understand that the damage that sin does to us, the destruction which it causes and the horrific suffering of hell are far worse than missing a hand, a foot, or an eye.

Are you ready to forgive 70 x 7?

Matthew 18:21

Then Peter approached Jesus and asked him, Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.”

 Christians know that we must forgive. In fact, most of us are willing to forgive once, maybe even twice, but it becomes really hard when we have to forgive someone over and over and over again. Yet that is the command of our Lord. When he says 70 times seven, he means that as often as someone wrongs you, that is how often you must forgive him.

In family life, we have many opportunities to forgive. St. John Paul the Great called the family, “the school of love,” and so it is.  Forgiveness is essential to love.  It is in our homes, and with our family members that we first experience this lesson. How many times do our family members hurt us or offend us? Younger brothers and sister destroy our work or ruin something we value. Siblings take things without asking, or say unkind words. Older brothers bully us, older sisters are bossy. It happens all the time. We must forgive.

Why is offering forgiveness so important? Without offering forgiveness, we cannot receive God’s forgiveness for our sins. Recall the words of the Our Father: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.” We will only be open to God’s forgiveness if we have first forgiven those who have injured us, and there is no Heaven without God’s forgiveness. Our eternal happiness depends upon our ability to forgive.

This life is passing away

Luke 16:19-31

There was a rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, full of sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table; moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried; and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus in his bosom. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Son, rember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment. ‘ But Abraham said, ‘The have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.’ “

This world is temporary. Our lives here on this earth are short. We will die. All of us will die one day. All our riches and stuff, everything that we had, our clothes, our homes, our toys, our video games and i pods. They will be of no use. The only thing that will matter then will be how we lived, and most especially how we loved. Did we love God? Did we obey him and worship him? Did we see him in others? Did we love and care for him in others?

We must be realistic. We must look at ourselves and how we treat others. How do we treat the people whom we encounter each day? Be honest, because that is what matters in this life. Our life here on earth is passing away and it is so short compared to what awaits us after death. Choose to love God and others. Choose eternal happiness.

The Feast of the Chair of St. Peter

Matthew 16:13-19

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”: And Jesus answered him, “blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against.  I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Jesus established a Church and He chose Peter to lead it. He says it quite explicitly here, “And I tell you, you are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church.” Today the Church, founded by Christ, celebrates the feast of the Chair of St. Peter.

A feast for a chair you say?

Yes! The Chair of St. Peter represents the authority of Peter. This authority of Peter to be Jesus Christ’s Vicar on earth is revealed most clearly in this passage,”I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Peter receives a share in Almighty God’s authority. Memorize this line: Matthew 16:18.

Jesus established the Church to continue His salvific work when he would take his place in Heaven at the right hand of His Father. His authority, his grace, his redemption comes to us today, over two thousand years later through his Church. Thank God for his Church! Enjoy the feast!