The bible study for the Fifth Sunday of Lent is now available. CLick on the link to open or download it.
The bible study for the Fifth Sunday of Lent is now available. CLick on the link to open or download it.
HE NEVER GIVES US MORE THAN WE CAN STAND. SO… STAND ON HIS WORD!
BIBLE STUDY – LORD INCREASE MY FAITH? Deacon Terrel Broussard will continue to publish the Bible Study and post it on the parish website. To attend the Bible Study by Conference Call, dial into the conference line at 7:00 PM Monday Night for a discussion of the Sunday readings. The Dial in Number is: (425) 436-6314. The Access Code is: 601575. The Word of God can move us from fear to faith. This week, we continue our Lenten preparation and study of the Word of God with the GENERAL THEME: LORD, INCREASE MY FAITH? During week 5 we ask: LORD, GIVE ME A FAITH THAT IS ALIVE?
· The Bible Study this week is based on the readings for the Fifth Sunday in Lent Year A. Reading I: Ezekiel 37:12-14; Responsorial Psalm: 130:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8; Reading II: Romans 8:8-11; Gospel: John 11:1-45.
· These readings challenge us to come out of the tombs of our fears into a life in Jesus Christ. Jesus gives life to all who believe in Him. He gives life to dead and dying faith. Lord, give me faith that is alive. IS YOUR FAITH ALIVE? HOW DO YOU KNOW?
Sometimes when we are leaving a family member or a loved one, we want to provide them with instructions that will help them in our absence. There is much we should tell them, but we can’t say everything we want to say. Even if we had time to instruct them, they may not understand everything. We can only hope that the spirit of what we did say to them will secure them while we are away. At that moment, we can only trust in God. If we ask Him, He will protect those we leave behind until we return. Since we are united with Him through Baptism, He will protect us on our journey and those we left behind because we are His family.
FIRED UP! - The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. Fire has no shape or substance. It has no taste, or smell. It has no weight or measure in order to examine its elements. You touch it at great risk. Yet, it has extraordinary power. In scripture, fire represents holiness. Holiness can be defined as a life that submits to the power of the Holy Spirit of God. It is a life of good works done for the greater honor and glory of God. As Christians, we must bring the Gospel of Jesus into our homes, schools, communities, workplaces, government and local congregations, and wherever we meet the world. We are charged with the responsibility to spread the Holy Spirit of the Lord that was breathed upon us in the Sacrament of Baptism.
These words from a preacher or homilist seek to get the congregation to validate the truth of his sermon or homily. The Ascension of our Lord validates His life on earth as: "the seed of the woman" (Gen 3:15); "the seed of Abraham" (Gen 22:18); the "Prophet like Moses" (Deut 18:15); "the priest according the order of Melchizedek" (Ps 110:4); "the rod out of the stem of Jesse" (Isa 11:1,10); "Immanuel, the virgin's Son” (Isa 7:14), "the branch of Jehovah" (Isa 4:2); and, "the messenger of the covenant" (Mal 3:1). Like His call to the disciples, Jesus’ Ascension to heaven calls us to witness that Jesus Christ is: The Great Deliverer, the Anointed One, the Savior of men.
In the day before live streaming and the internet, some movies were promoted with these words, “… coming to a theater near you.” With great expectation we would search the movie listings to note the arrival of the spectacle. Of course, we could not see the movie at any nearby theater, unless we obeyed the protocol of buying a ticket and obeyed the seating arrangements in the theater to get the full benefit of the movie. The Gospel reading this week sets the theme for this study. It tells us that if we keep His Word, God will come to live in us. He is coming to our hearts and to hearts near and far if we keep His Word. Isn’t it wonderful to know that the creator of the world will make His home within us, if we love Him enough to keep His Word?
The Gospel song, “We Shall Overcome” became the anthem of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and 1960s. It is still sung in protest movements around the world. Its origin is believed to be derived from Charles Tindley’s Gospel song, “I’ll Overcome Some Day” (1900). It was the opening and closing melody from the 19th century spiritual “No More Auction Block for Me,” which dates back to before the Civil War. The powerful images in this Gospel Hymn of determination, freedom and success in adversity are grounded in the power of God to protect His people from violence, persecution and abuse. The hymn is assurance that God has not abandoned us and that we overcome when we walk hand in hand with Him.
Let Him In! Closed doors send very deliberate messages: “do not enter;” “you are not invited”; “I am afraid of you”; “I don’t trust you”; and, “enter at your own risk.” Closed hearts send the same messages: I “don’t like you.” I don’t want you.” But an open door or open-heart means that we are willing to accept others as they are. In doing so we open our hearts to the Gospel of Love of Jesus Christ. Faith in Jesus Christ can soften the hardest of hearts and open the door of salvation. The readings this Sunday shows the liberating character of Faith in Jesus Christ.
Is it wrong to ignore our inconsistencies? We often think that it is good enough to give lip service, or a good outward appearance, while letting our hearts go silently in another direction. Other times, our responses to ordinary circumstances are plagued with violent and disrespectful words. Our tendency is often to ignore our own inconsistencies, thinking that it is enough to give a good outward showing while letting our hearts go in quite another direction.
The story is told about an Armenian nurse who had been held captive along with her brother by the Turkish Army during World War I. Her brother was slain by a Turkish soldier before her eyes. Somehow, she escaped and later became a nurse in a military hospital. One day she was stunned to find that the same man who had killed her brother had been captured and brought wounded to the hospital where she worked. Something within her cried out "Vengeance." But a stronger voice called for her to love. She nursed the man back to health. Finally, the recuperating soldier asked her, "Why didn’t you let me die?" Her answer was, "I am a follower of Him who said, ’Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.’" She not only talked the talk, she walked the walk
Life has a way of challenging our serenity. Either nothing happens at all, or everything happens all at once. For some, frustration breaks their spirit and they crumble under the weight of exasperation. The British maxim, “Keep Calm and Carry On”, captures the response to life’s frustrations. As Christians, we know that our frustrations are not always caused by what we do, or what is being done to us, but by worry, anger and resentment. Trust in God is the cure for the frustrations in life. The Gospel of Matthew tells us not to worry about the frustrations of life, because if God provides for the birds of the air and the flowers of the field, He will certainly provide us. Don’t get frustrated, trust in God. This Sunday, the readings tell us that God is our only refuge.
This digital age in which we live has spawned a new criminal element called, “identity thieves.” By some records, almost 15 million United States residents become victims of identity theft each year, leading to losses in the billions of dollars. It is reported that criminals can open new bank accounts, file tax returns, obtain mortgages and even get payday loans in your name. It is likely that there is a victim of identity theft every two seconds. During these times our identity, who we are, has become a valued commodity. Our spiritual identity is also under attack. Has the world stolen your identity as a follower of Christ? As we journey with Christ this year, the readings this Sunday reminds us that we must identify ourselves as followers and believers in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Dr. Martin Luther King. “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” ― Martin Luther King Jr., Strength to Love
The wedding at Cana in this Sunday’s Gospel was quite a party. But the real party did not get started until Jesus performed what is recorded as His first miracle. The miracle of Cana seems at first sight to be out of step with the other signs that Jesus performed. What are we supposed to make of the fact that Jesus produced a huge surplus of wine—about 20 to 30 gallons or 520 liters—for a private party? But Jesus’ miracle was for more than a private party. It was a sign of the glory of God that was to come. With this miracle, He started His banquet of salvation to which we are all invited.
As we begin this New Year, these assuring words should calm our anxieties and fears. During the Seasons of Advent and Christmas, we prepared for and received the light of Christ’s presence within us. Empowered by his presence, we are assured that God is with US as we start this year seeking a deeper personal relationship Him.
Since waiting requires patience, waiting for people can be an annoying experience. As we sit impatiently waiting for the arrival of a family member, co-worker or guest, we ask, “Where are they?” But when the expected one finally arrives, our pulse quickens. We may even jump for joy with the knowledge that the one waited for has arrived. Psalm 62: 2-3 expresses our attitude during the Fourth Sunday in Advent. “My soul rests in God alone, from whom comes my salvation. God alone is my rock and salvation, my fortress; I shall never fall.” (NABRE) Lord we wait on you.
Joy can be defined as a pleasant emotion or delight. The Encarta English Dictionary of North America defines happiness as a feeling or showing of pleasure, contentment or joy. The Bible describes many forms of joy, including gladness, contentment, and cheerfulness. The joy of Christians rises above earthly circumstance and reflects the character of God. The joy of a righteous person (Ps. 150; Phil 4:4) is produced by the Spirit of God. It looks beyond our present circumstance to our future salvation (Rom. 5:2). This kind of joy is not mere happiness. Joy like this is even possible during sorrow. It is the joy that comes from loving others like God loves us. It is this joy that we seek and await during this Season of Advent.
The theme for this Advent is, “Lord We Wait for …” The purpose of this theme is to inaugurate a term of active waiting as we prepare to receive Jesus Christ on Christmas Day. This form of active waiting includes personal and communal acts designed to prepare a deeper place for Jesus Christ in our lives. Each week we will focus on an attitude of prayer, fasting, and service, by implementing some of the social teachings of the Church. We will concentrate on a virtue that is a variation of the general theme; “Lord we wait for…”. During this first week of advent the theme is, “Lord We Wait for Justice.”
As Christians, we are all in search of the truth. In this regard, C. S. Lewis wrote; “If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort, you will not get either comfort or truth, only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.” The truth may not always be comfortable for us, as it forces us to see ourselves as we really are. It forces us to confront the evil within us. Tell the truth and shame the devil, is a well-known saying. Can we honestly say that Jesus is the center of our lives?
The law of survival of the fittest tells us to preserve ourselves even at the expense of others. Look out for number one is the slogan of the survivalist. The modern-day minimalist declares: “If I give it all away, I could see what it feels like to not be attached to anything. I could better determine the importance of things I need by living without them. My mind could be free to think about things above and beyond stuff. I’d have nothing to lose.” This statement sounds radical to the survivalists in this materialistic society. However, it is precisely what we must do to serve God and each other. We must remove our attachment to worldly things. We are called to give it all away.
Pope Francis once said, “Saints are not supermen or super women who are born perfect. But rather are ordinary people who followed God with all their heart. The test for all of us is to love each other as God loves us. Achieving this is a great spiritual success. God does not reveal His love for us all at once. It is revealed over time and through others who share God’s love with us. As you read the Gospel see if you can find a correlation with this saying from St. Augustine: “Love God and do whatever you please: for the soul trained in love to God will do nothing to offend the One who is Beloved.”
This slogan is founded on unwavering hope. Hope is also the foundation of this quote from the celebrated African American Olympian, Jesse Owens, who said; “We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort.” Yes, determination, dedication and self-discipline start with hope. Likewise, our quest for eternal life starts with hope and determination.
“Sometimes the only way that the good Lord can get into some hearts is to break them”, says the late Bishop Fulton J. Sheen. The request of James and John for superiority set them up for a divine heart break. They sought a cup of success rather than a cup of service. Is this why the accepted the call from Jesus? (1:19-20). Their request for prominence over other disciples appears in Mark’s Gospel just after Jesus predicts His suffering and death for the third time (10:32-34).
To “open up” is to submit to the will of God. We cannot be open to God’s purpose for us, if we are closed, indifferent, or hostile to others. This letter to James reminds us to be open to receive others into our homes, communities, parishes and hearts. These verses warned against choosing people based on appearances and status. We are warned not to claim to practice our faith, while showing personal prejudice against those whom God has favored. This is a conflict between love of God and love of neighbor. In the Christian community, there must not be any favoritism or discrimination based on wealth, status, or ethnicity (James 2:1-13).
Many waive American flags and claim to be patriotic Americans. Yet only 0.4 percent of the population of the United States are currently serving in the United States Armed Forces. Only 7.3 percent of all living Americans have served in the military. Marcus Garvey, a leader of the Pan African Movement in the 1930s warned, “You must not make the mistake lip service and noise for bravery and service.” In these days of polarization and racial insensitivity, we would do well to avoid the noise of those who give lip service to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and look to those who bravely risk themselves in the service of others.
This phrase can be traced to its French origins in the 1800s. It surfaced in 1920 in the United States when the nutritionist, Victor Lindlahr, developed a diet which proved that diet controlled health. In essence, he proved that we are as healthy as we eat. Today, the world is filled with dietary supplements and energy drinks that provide artificial ways of losing unwanted pounds and boosting energy levels, which may be unhealthy. In ancient China, the gods are said to have eaten “peaches” they claimed made them immortal. Likewise, our eternity depends on our spiritual food on earth. We are what we eat. The readings this week show the wisdom of feeding on the flesh of Jesus the Christ. We are what we eat.
For the past three Sundays in lent we have been on a journey of hope. We know that hope is confident expectancy. Christian hope comes from God (Rom. 13:13), from His grace and His gospel. (Eph. 2:12; 1 Tess. 4:13). This week we define hope as knowing that God loves us. We constantly live in the confident expectancy that God’s love and mercy is always with us. As Pope Francis stated in his August 15, 2015 homily, “If in creation the Father has given us the proof of his great love by giving us life, in the passion of his Son he has given us the sum of all proofs: he has come to suffer and die for us.” The Pope continued, “And this love that is so great is the mercy of God, because he loves us, he forgives us.” Hope, then, is the expectancy of something already fulfilled. God has shown His love for us. Therefore, we must live in hope, knowing that God loves us.
It has been said that a person can live eight days without water, forty days without food, four minutes without air, but only a few seconds without HOPE. We all know someone who needs hope. Hope is not some foggy or strange hallucination of the future. It is facing the future remembering how we made it through tough times with God’s help. Hope is knowing that God is faithful.
It has been said that God dances with the outcast. If this is true, then who are the “outcasts” today and where is God dancing these days? "Outcasts" today are those who we have cast out. We cast out people who are different because of religion, race, culture, gender, ethnicity or politics. We even make members of our own families “outcasts.” We build walls costing millions of dollars to keep out those we don’t like. If God dances with the “outcasts,” we might be missing the divine dance. If we are not dancing with God’s favorite dance partners, it is time for a cleanup. It is time for us to consider how we view others in light of our own religious freedom.
Young children spend more time with digital technology, that is, touch screens on electronic devices, than ever before. We are witnessing what may be called the “Touch Screen Generation.” The technology itself is amazing. Toddlers can access information on a digital device like an iPhone, iPad or tablet including purchasing items on their parent’s smart phone or tablet. The average phone user touches these addictive devices 2,617 a day. The human touch is powerful.
As Christians, we are required to teach our children the power of the human touch to bind wounds, heal broken hearts and calm anxiety. We must imitate the loving touch Jesus displayed in healing Simon’s mother-in-law. After all, we all need a touch of love.
The idea of being made in God’s image and likeness is awesome. It means that we are truly God’s and He is ours. We are like Him. He sees us for who we are. Not the person that the world tells us we should be. The challenge is to become more of who He is, than who we are.
Ann Lamott, in her work, Traveling Mercies (New York: Anchor Books, 1999), p. 112, quotes Eugene O’Neil as saying, “Man is born broken. He lives by mending. The grace of God is glue.” His glue, His grace, is the best part of us. We see the best part of each other when we see His glue, and His grace in ourselves and others.
Have you ever felt that you know what you want to do and what you need to be doing? But for some reason, you are off doing something else. When this occurs, procrastination, has overpowered your ambition. When we escape into procrastination we miss the season or opportunity to be all God has intended us to be.
In Baptism we were given the grace and power of the Holy Spirit to do what is right. We are called daily to live our Baptism promises. In each season of our lives God provides opportunities for us to follow Him. Now is the time. Now is the season. It is your season for a deeper commitment to following the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Many people show their team loyalty by purchasing team jerseys. Often the players whose numbers are on the jerseys, perhaps once successful, have fallen short physically, morally or are no longer on the team. The cost of these jerseys is over $100.00. Yet, many fans hear the call of the team’s success, profess loyalty, count the cost of identifying with the team and choose to buy the jersey. As a Christian, we can't stand on the sidelines of this world with no team jersey, or team colors to show our allegiance to Christ. We have heard of Jesus’ victory at Calvary and we are called to His team, the Church. The cost is a life of dedicated service. The team jersey is the Cross of Salvation. Hear the Call! Count the Cost! Now Choose!
During the season of Advent we asked the question, “What are you looking for?” Are you looking for love? Are you looking for forgiveness? Are you looking for joy? Are you looking for God’s Favor? On the celebration of the Nativity of our Lord, we can say as the shepherds did, I found what I was looking for. The Lord is with us. I found Jesus.
“If, in your relationship with the Lord, you do not feel that He loves you tenderly, you are missing something, you still have not understood what grace is, you have not yet received grace which is this closeness.” These words of Pope Francis illustrate that grace or favor is a free gift from God. It is something we do not earn or produce. Grace is amazing, since it is so transforming. Grace provides enthusiasm to do God’s will, which allows us to live in the joy of the Most High God. Grace saves us from this world and from ourselves as it provides an opportunity to see the world and ourselves, as God sees us. The appropriate response to favor or grace is faith. The fulfillment of grace in the human soul is elegantly portrayed in the words of the hymn, Amazing Grace: “How precious did the grace appear the hour I first believed.” Are you looking for God’s favor this Advent? Look no further than your Baptism and the sacraments. We have found favor with God. He dwells in and among us. What are you looking for?
“Everyone should be able to experience the joy of being loved by God, the joy of salvation. It is the gift that one cannot keep to oneself, but it is to be shared. These words of Pope Francis set the theme for the Third Sunday in Advent. On this Sunday, the liturgy gives the word “Joy” prominence. Therefore we, ask the question: Are you looking for joy? Joy is defined as a pleasant emotion or delight. There are many examples of joy in the Bible, but God’s revelation of Himself as Creator and Savior gives us tremendous Joy. Psalm 95:1 expresses this type of joy; “Come, let us shout with joy to the Lord, the rock of our salvation.” The source of all joy is God Himself.
Each Christmas we remember that forgiveness, reconciliation and love are the center of this holy season. During this Season of Advent, we observe that the purpose of Christmas is forgiveness and reconciliation. Through the Incarnation of Jesus Christ — His passion, death, and resurrection — God’s mercy flowed into the world. The breach of original sin was repaired, and fellowship between God and man was restored. During the Second Week of Advent, we embrace the sense of waiting and searching for forgiveness. The many meanings of forgiveness include: pardon, mercy, clemency, amnesty and absolution. The Season of Advent combines the emotions of waiting and seeking. In anticipation of the celebration of the birth of the Messiah at Christmas, we prepare ourselves by both seeking forgiveness and by forgiving. The Lord’s Prayer is instructive during this week’s preparation. We should forgive as God forgives us. Our daily and eternal well-being depend upon it.
This is the first in a series of four Bible Study sessions for the season of advent. The overall theme is, “What are you looking for”? Each week a new object of waiting and searching will be discussed. During the First Week of Advent, we embrace the sense of waiting and searching for that most elusive of treasures, love.
I know life has challenged you, But the King in me speaks to the king in you, You were born to rule.” This verse from Donald Lawrence’s celebrated hymn, entitled, “There is a King in Me,” captures the theme for the solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ The King. It reminds that us that no matter what we have endured, there is a divine King in all of us who dwells in us and to sustain us so that we can sustain others. We know that there is a King in us since we are made in God’s image and that King is alive in us through our rebirth in Baptism. The King in each one of us requires us to speak to the King in in others to remind them that we are all members of the Body of Jesus Christ who are called to serve each other. The image of the Good Shepherd who cares for the weak and the infirm is affirmation of the King in each one of us.
Some say that luck is preparation meeting opportunity. Others profess that it is better to be the most prepared in the room than the smartest. As Christians, we are encouraged to live each DAY as though it is our last. Perhaps this is why we pray, “..give us this day…” in the Lord’s Prayer. As we conclude this liturgical year, the church focuses on the end times. As we do so, it is helpful to recall whether we have maintained the light of Christmas in us through the year? Are we better prepared to meet the Lord this year than we were last year? In this world of nuclear threats, mass murders, terrorist attacks, racial injustice, and political instability, it is wise to keep the light of Christ burning brightly in us, so we do not lose hope. It is wise to keep the light on.
“Hypocrisy” refers to the act of claiming to believe something, but acting in a different manner. The word is of Greek origin, which means “actor”- literally one who wears a mask. Don King, the celebrated boxing promoter says that: “Hypocrisy is the mother of all evil and racial prejudice is still her favorite child”. The Christian, therefore, is challenged to preach God’s law of love by the way we live.
When asked, “What does love look like? St. Augustine of Hippo replied; “It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.” In a sense, he gives us a vision of God, who is love. It is only when we decide to love others as God loves us that we reflect God’s image and likeness. This is how we live a life that shines the light of God into a dark and depraved world. Our lives, as Christians, should be all about love. God’s love for the Israelites delivered them from slavery in Egypt. He made an agreement, or covenant, with them. He promised to deliver them to the Promised Land and ever protect them, provided they kept certain rules of conduct (Ex. 19:1-24). In keeping the rules of conduct, the Israelites would show their love for God. The verses in this Sunday’s readings cover their duties toward strangers, orphans, widows and the poor.
As citizens of a materialistic society, we sometimes get the impression that everything we acquire is ours. Yet, we know that God is the Creator of all things. We owe God our very existence. Sometimes our relationship with God places us in conflict with civil authority. A conscientious objection to war, police brutality, policy decisions on poverty, immigration and the environment are a few examples of such conflicts. When these conflicts arise, do we decide to serve God, or do we serve the civil authorities? The answer is to give God what is His.
These are the days of bold invitations. People will send notices of events and almost order you to save the date of the event. Some are so bold as to tell you what you should wear to the event. Some wedding invitations read: “Formal attire only, no children please.” Even though these requests may burden the attendees, such requests come from hosts who want to brand their event with an exceptional quality or atmosphere. The premise of the invitation is that if you like me enough, you will do it. If you are curious enough, you will do whatever it takes and come.
God also invites us to His banquet, which is His presence for all eternity. He tells us to save the date of our arrival, even though we don’t actually know the date, or the hour.
These words are good advice for anyone who wants to continue to receive something from the hand. It is also a request for peace and reconciliation from one who is prone to retaliation against another with violence. Mahatma Gandhi is believed to have said: “I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.” Therefore, that violence, even for a worthy cause, inflicts permanent evil. How then do we stop the cycle of violence that exists in our communities and in the world? Some suggest that to return good for evil is the answer. Others point to a strong violent response as a deterrent to violence. As Christians, we know God’s grace is sufficient. God never gives more than we can stand. We should not bite the hand that feeds us.
COME OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE!
If we believe that God has given each one of us gifts, talents and abilities, then we should be willing to use and develop them. When we develop our gifts and talents and believe that we are persons of purpose, we can rise up out of any situation. That is why we must move out of our comfort zones. We can grow only if we are willing to feel awkward, clumsy, uncomfortable and even rejected when we try something new. Often our failure to believe that we are gifted children of God who are called according to His purpose is the result of “spiritual blindness.”
A Theophany is a dynamic encounter with God that involves the presence of God’s power perceived with our senses. Like Elijah in the first reading, the apostles had such an experience in this Sunday’s Gospel.
From Fear to Faith!
St. Catherine of Siena, the great 14th-century mystic, once experienced a terrible time of spiritual suffering in her soul. It was made all the worse by her fear that Jesus had abandoned her. Finally, she cried out to Him in prayer: "Where were you when my heart was so tormented?" To which she heard Him reply: "I was in your heart." It may be that we fear what we do not know or understand. We fear the future, change in circumstances, diagnosis of a major illness, strangers in our community, and members of different races, or ethnicities.
Some are ever afraid of the dark or their own shadows in sunlight. As people of faith, we know that fear is not of God. God did not give us a spirit of fear and weakness. Rather, we are empowered by His love that gives us courage and discipline. Jesus did not die for us to live in fear. He died so that we would have the freedom and power that love of God and love of neighbor bring to the world. That is why we must move from fear of the world to faith in God.
GROWING WHEAT OR KILLING WEEDS?
It is a good thing that God does not spend time killing the weeds – evil- in His Kingdom. He chooses to nourish the wheat instead. That is, He considers all of us to be wheat - good, until we turn into weeds - evil.
The topic of discipleship is discussed by Jesus in the form of parables for a second consecutive Sunday. In doing so, Jesus gives His disciples hope so that they and we might imitate His kindness and justice (Wis. 12:19). The long form of the Gospel contains three parables. As disciples, we are constantly assessing our progress. We look for the “Blessed Assurance” that our conduct is acceptable to God. In the parables, Jesus gives us that “Blessed Assurance.” He assures that God’s wisdom and mercy allows for justice, even though evil exists alongside of good.
From Roots to Reality!
Reality can be defined as something that must be dealt with in everyday life. A parable is a story that compares a Christian truth with events in everyday life. A parable is grounded in the basic or root experience of the listener, connects with the ritual of everyday life and shows the relationship between the Christian truth and the reality of human activity. This is why Jesus used parables to teach (vv. 10-17) about His ministry on earth.
As Christians, our goal is to nourish our Christian roots with the rituals of the sacraments, so that we can have a personal relationship with God to apply to the reality of daily life. Our roots are the foundation of our faith. The rituals are the sacraments that are designed to develop our relationship with God that we apply to everyday life.
TAKE A BREAK – REST WITH JESUS!
Exhaustion can be fatal if left untreated. Complete exhaustion is a condition that causes an extreme decrease in energy. It generally stems from stress and various diseases, such as cancer. Complete exhaustion is often caused by mental stress, rather than physical exertion. Mood swings and fatigue are also signs of exhaustion. Since the dominant cause of exhaustion is stress, relaxation exercises such as yoga and anger management are prescribed treatments. In other words, we should rest. The same is true spiritually when we become exhausted with the things of life, we should rest in prayer with the Peacemaker, Jesus the Christ. Take a break! Rest in Jesus.
When do You Rest?
The Catholic Catechism Teaches that Sunday is a Day of Rest.
2168 The third commandment of the Decalogue recalls the holiness of the Sabbath: “The seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD.
2173 The Gospel reports many incidents when Jesus was accused of violating the Sabbath law. But Jesus never fails to respect the holiness of this day. He gives this law its authentic and authoritative interpretation: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” With compassion, Christ declares the Sabbath for doing good rather than harm, for saving life rather than killing. The Sabbath is the day of the Lord of mercies and a day to honor God. “The Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”
Show Me You Love Me!
A young man was devastated by the effects of rejection that he experienced during his childhood. Finally, one night he decided to recount to God every instance of rejection that came to mind and place them in God’s hands. As he tossed and turned trying to sleep, he felt a change in the room’s atmosphere. As he lay there, he felt the powerful peaceful presence of God in his tiny apartment. The young man showed God how much he loved Him by placing all his hurts in the hands of the Divine Healer. God returned the love by giving the young man peace. That same love is available to us, if we show God how much we love Him by surrendering ourselves to Him.
He’s Got Your Back!
In these days of terrorist attacks, violence in our streets, and growing intolerance of each other, we tend to feel insecure. Security then becomes our focus even during ordinary activities. Airports and many public venues screen those who enter the facilities in order to give them a sense of safety and security. All this security tells us that someone is looking out for us. Someone is protecting us when we are most vulnerable. Someone has got our back.
As Christians, we know who has our back. We know that our Heavenly Father will not abandon or forsaken us. We are His, the sheep of His flock. He’s got our back.
This contains study questions for the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible, the only Catholic Study Bible based on the Revised Standard Version – 2nd Catholic Edition. For more information on the study Bible, or to download study questions for other books of the Bible, please visit www.CatholicBiblePage.com,
WE ARE WHAT WE EAT.
According to a recent study in the Journal of American Medicine, obesity is common and costly. This means that as Americans we eat a lot of what is not good for us. More than one-third of U.S. adults (34.9%) are obese. The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $147 billion in 2008 U.S. dollars, and the medical costs for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than for those of normal weight. Non-Hispanic blacks have the highest age-adjusted rates of obesity (47.8%), followed by Hispanics (42.5%), non-Hispanic whites (32.6%), and non-Hispanic Asians (10.8%). The medical costs attributed to obesity are growing. Businesses are suffering due to obesity-related job absenteeism ($4.3 billion annually). We are what we eat and it is killing us.
If our spiritual life imitates our physical life, it is time to change and go on a diet of spiritual food. We need more of the Eucharist – the Body and Blood of Christ and the Word of God. He is food indeed.
IT’S ALL ABOUT LOVE.
St. Augustine, the celebrated North African theologian, expressed the theology of the Holy Trinity in these few sentences: “…the Trinity is one true God and it is exactly true to say, believe and think that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are of one single and the same substance or essence” (De Trin. I, 2, 4). Many often wonder what binds this “single and same substance or essence?” I suggest it is Love.
POUR OUT YOUR HOLY SPIRIT!
The liturgical year of the church is rich in spiritual gifts. This Easter Cycle closes with the feast of Pentecost. During Advent, we prepare for the coming of the Son of God to live with us. It is the love of God that we celebrate. During Lent, we focus on the sufferings of our Lord as a way to understand our own sufferings in the light of the triumph of Resurrection Sunday. Pentecost crowns the work of God in us as He gives us His Spirit to live His Gospel through the rest of the year. This is but a small example of how the Holy Spirit is poured out on us through the sacraments and the liturgy of His Holy Church.