Posts Tagged ‘healing’

Prayer and Meditation for Saturday, January 12, 2019 — “He must increase; I must decrease.”

January 11, 2019

Here John shows the essence of humility, which has many forms. In what ways do I exemplify humility?

Image result for Jesus and his disciples in Judea,, art, pictures

Detail of “The Charge to Peter” by James Tissot.

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Saturday after Epiphany
Lectionary: 217

Reading 1 1 JN 5:14-21

Beloved:
We have this confidence in him
that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.
And if we know that he hears us in regard to whatever we ask,
we know that what we have asked him for is ours.
If anyone sees his brother sinning, if the sin is not deadly,
he should pray to God and he will give him life.
This is only for those whose sin is not deadly.
There is such a thing as deadly sin,
about which I do not say that you should pray.
All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not deadly.We know that anyone begotten by God does not sin;
but the one begotten by God he protects,
and the Evil One cannot touch him.
We know that we belong to God,
and the whole world is under the power of the Evil One.
We also know that the Son of God has come
and has given us discernment to know the one who is true.
And we are in the one who is true,
in his Son Jesus Christ.
He is the true God and eternal life.
Children, be on your guard against idols.
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Responsorial Psalm  PS 149:1-2, 3-4, 5-6A AND 9B

R. (see 4a)  The Lord takes delight in his people.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Sing to the LORD a new song
of praise in the assembly of the faithful.
Let Israel be glad in their maker,
let the children of Zion rejoice in their king.
R. The Lord takes delight in his people.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Let them praise his name in the festive dance,
let them sing praise to him with timbrel and harp.
For the LORD loves his people,
and he adorns the lowly with victory.
R. The Lord takes delight in his people.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Let the faithful exult in glory;
let them sing for joy upon their couches;
Let the high praises of God be in their throats.
This is the glory of all his faithful. Alleluia.
R. The Lord takes delight in his people.
or:
R.  Alleluia.

Alleluia MT 4:16

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light,
on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death
light has arisen.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel  JN 3:22-30

Jesus and his disciples went into the region of Judea,
where he spent some time with them baptizing.
John was also baptizing in Aenon near Salim,
because there was an abundance of water there,
and people came to be baptized,
for John had not yet been imprisoned.
Now a dispute arose between the disciples of John and a Jew
about ceremonial washings.
So they came to John and said to him,
“Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan,
to whom you testified,
here he is baptizing and everyone is coming to him.”
John answered and said,
“No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven.
You yourselves can testify that I said that I am not the Christ,
but that I was sent before him.
The one who has the bride is the bridegroom;
the best man, who stands and listens for him,
rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice.
So this joy of mine has been made complete.
He must increase; I must decrease.”

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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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12 JANUARY, 2019, Saturday after the Epiphany

THE JOY OF RECONCILING MAN WITH GOD

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [  1 JOHN 5:14-21PSALM 149:1-69JOHN 3:22-30 ]

Christmas celebrates the gift of God to us in the person of Jesus.  In assuming our humanity, Jesus reveals to us our identity as children of God.  Indeed, God became man so that man could become god.  However, many of us fail to recognize our dignity as children of God and as a consequence do not live as one.   This is because of sin.  Indeed, our sins prevent us from being conscious of our identity as sons and daughters of God.

St John in the first reading warns us of the danger of sin.  “Every kind of wrong-doing is sin, but not all sin is deadly.”  The truth is that a man begins by committing small sins.  If such things spring from his wounded nature and the manifestation of his human weakness, it is a venial sin.  Such sins are normally committed because of temptations and the weakness of the will to resist sin.   Such sins can be forgiven through prayers and the reception of the sacraments.  This is why, St John says, “If anybody sees his brother commit a sin that is not a deadly sin, he has only to pray, and God will give life to the sinner – not those who commit a deadly sin; for there is a sin that is death, and I will not say that you must pray about that.”

However, the sins that really destroy us are those deliberate sins which we purposefully seek to commit, knowing full well that it is a sin.  When such sins are planned and a person chooses to go against God’s will and hurt his neighbours, it is a serious sin leading to death.  Hence, we call them mortal sins.  St Paul says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Rom 6:23)  The truth is that one begins with a small sin and then we become more daring and commit bigger sins because our hearts and minds are clouded by our sins and selfishness.  After some time, what is sinful and serious is no longer felt in our conscience.  We become dead to sin and as the consequence of sin, we hurt ourselves more and more by hurting others.

Once we commit a serious sin, unless we repent and turn to God in contrition, it will lead to a repetition of our sins.  This is what the Lord warns us.  That is why a sin of lust will lead to another and more serious sin of lust. Jesus taught, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’  But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”  (Mt 5:27f)  An act of anger will lead to revenge and eventually killing.  “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” (Mt 5:21f)

Prayers will help a person to grow in holiness and be attuned to the will of God.  “We are quite confident that if we ask the Son of God for anything, and it is in accordance with his will, he will hear us; and, knowing that whatever we may ask, he hears us, we know that we have been granted what we ask of him.”   St John is saying that Christ will hear our prayers if we pray in accordance with His will.  Indeed, all prayers are directed towards finding and doing the will of God.  Many of us think that prayer is to change the mind of God.  Rather, prayer is to align ourselves with His holy will, which is always best for us.  That is why, if our prayers are to be answered, we need to be obedient to His will.  Indeed, we must ask whatever the Lord wants of us.  Jesus said, “I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”  (Jn 14:13f) To ask in the name of Jesus is to ask everything for His sake and for the glory of His name.  Therefore, there is nothing more effective in growing in holiness than through prayers and intimacy with the Lord.

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Prayers will help us to know Jesus.  Knowledge of Jesus is the key to overcoming our sins because using our will is not sufficient because the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.  St Paul struggled with sin himself.  “Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”  (Rom 7:21-25)  Indeed, through our own strength alone, we cannot be delivered from sin except in the power of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faith in Jesus’ love and mercy helps us to conquer sin, not out of fear of punishment but out of love for the Lord.

This is what St John meant when he wrote that if we are baptized, we will not sin.  “We know that anyone who has been begotten by God does not sin, because the begotten Son of God protects him, and the Evil One does not touch him.”  It does not mean that Christians can no longer sin.  What St John meant is that we do not sin deliberately because of God’s spirit in us.  But we will still sin out of weakness.  However, we do not fall into despair but continue to trust in the mercy of God, knowing that He has won victory over sin.  “We know that we belong to God, but the whole world lies in the power of the Evil One. We know, too, that the Son of God has come, and has given us the power to know the true God. We are in the true God, as we are in his Son, Jesus Christ.”   This is what baptism is all about.  We have Jesus in the gospel baptizing in the river Jordan.  To be baptized is to ask for forgiveness of our sins and most of all, to be filled with the Spirit of Jesus so that we can share in His sonship.

Today, like John the Baptist, we are called to direct sinners to the Lord.  Today, it is very difficult to convince people of the truth because of relativism.  We are bombarded with all kinds of philosophy and reasoning.  There is so much information and so many viewpoints on any issue that many of us are more confused than ever after reading all the different views.  We no longer know what is right or wrong anymore.  When reasoning and all arguments fail, the sure way to get people to accept Jesus is to lead them to Him.  If they know Jesus and if they fall in love with Him, then they will be able to see everything from the perspective of our Lord in the scriptures.  So instead of seeking to reason out with those who are disagreeable, although, it still might be necessary at times to defend our faith, yet, the better approach is through the testimony of our lives and our faith. Only through a life of holiness and faith in our Lord, can we convince others to come to Him so that He can be the Lord of their lives.

For this reason, we must pray for sinners even as we seek to reach out to them in compassion and love.  Our Lady, in all her apparitions, constantly urged us to repent and pray for sinners.  If words cannot change them, then prayers will change their hearts through God’s grace.  It is not enough just to pray for physical health and material needs.  If the body is important, how much more important is the soul because that soul is destined for eternal life.  We need to pray for the salvation of souls so that united with the Lord, they are saved for eternity, not just for this world.  If God answers prayers for material and physical needs, more so, He will hear our prayers for the conversion of sinners.

Indeed, like John the Baptist, great is our joy when we bring a sinner to Jesus to be reconciled with God.  “The bride is only for the bridegroom; and yet the bridegroom’s friend, who stands there and listens, is glad when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. This same joy I feel, and now it is complete.”  In bringing sinners back to God, we also save our own souls.  St James wrote, “My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”  (Jms 5:19f)  Indeed, like John the Baptist, we must be conscious of our role as mediator to Jesus.  Once that is done, we should move aside and not be an obstacle for others to come to know the Lord.  With John the Baptist, we say, “I myself am not the Christ; I am the one who has been sent in front of him. He must grow greater, I must grow smaller.”

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore 

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Reflection from Lectio Divina

Both John the Baptist and Jesus indicated a new way to the crowds. But Jesus, after having adhered to the movement of John the Baptist, and after having been baptized by him, advanced a step ahead and created His own movement. He baptized  people  in the Jordan River when John the Baptist was also doing it. Both of them attracted the poor and abandoned people of Palestine by announcing the Good News of the Kingdom of God.

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• Jesus, the new preacher, had a certain advantage over John the Baptist. He baptized more people and attracted more disciples. Thus, a tension arose between the disciples of John and those of Jesus, concerning the “purification,” that is, concerning the value of baptism. The disciples of John the Baptist experienced a certain envy and went to John to speak to him and informed him about the movement of Jesus.

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• John’s  response to his disciples is a beautiful response, which reveals his great spirit. John helps his disciples to see things more objectively. He uses three arguments: a) Nobody receives anything which is not given by God. If Jesus does such beautiful things, it is because he receives them from God (Jn 3:27). Instead of having envy, the disciples should feel joy. b) John reaffirms once again that he, John, is not the Messiah but only the precursor (Jn 3:28). c) In the end, he uses a comparison taken from the wedding feast.

At that time, in Palestine, on the day of the wedding, in the house of the bride, the so called “friends of the bridegroom” waited for the arrival of the bridegroom to present him to the bride. In this case, Jesus is the bridegroom, the crowd is the bride, John the friend of the bridegroom. John the Baptist says that, in the voice of Jesus, he recognizes the voice of the bridegroom and can present him to the bride, to the crowds. At this moment, the bridegroom, the people, leave the friend of the bridegroom and follow Jesus, because they recognize in Him the voice of their bridegroom! And for this reason the joy of John is great, “complete joy”. John wants nothing for himself! His mission is to present the bridegroom to the bride! The last sentence summarizes everything: “He must increase, I must decrease!” This statement is also the program for anyone  who follows Jesus.

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• At the end of the first century, in Palestine as well as in Asia Minor, where there were some communities of Jews, there were also people who had been in contact with John the Baptist or who had been baptized by him (Acts 19:3). Seen from outside, the movement of John the Baptist and that of Jesus were very similar to one another. Both of them announced the coming of the Kingdom (cf. Mt 3:1-2; 4:17). There must have been some confusion between the followers of John and those of Jesus. And because of this, the witness of John about Jesus was very important.

The four Gospels are concerned about transmitting the words of John the Baptist saying that he is not the Messiah. For the Christian communities, the Christian response, John’s response, “He must increase but I must decrease” was valid not only for the disciples of John at the time of Jesus, but also for the disciples of the Batiste or Cambric community of the end of the first century.

http://ocarm.org/en/content/lectio/lectio-divina-john-322-30

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Homily By Pastor Mark Driscoll

How odd would it be if you attended a wedding in which the star of the show was one of the groomsmen? Imagine if he demanded to be at the center of the photos, stood in front of the pastor for the ceremony, cut the cake, and had the first dance.

That would be incredibly awkward and wrong. Why? Because that is not his place.

Humility literally means, “to know your place.” Being humble requires knowing and accepting your place. None of us can say we are humble, but we should seek to say that we are pursuing humility by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Before Jesus started His ministry, John the Baptizer’s ministry began and got off to a rocket-ship launch. Before long, some of the people and leaders following John left him and started following Jesus instead. Some of John’s leaders were a bit miffed, so they brought their concerns to John. John’s response is amazing. In humility, he says that Jesus is the groom, the Church is the bride, and he was just the groomsman there to help – he’s not the star of the show.

The phenomenon of people leaving one ministry for another is nothing new. When someone transitions, some people immediately think it’s a bad thing and start to blame others. Sometimes the leader, ministry, or person leaving is tagged as bad.

John reveals that sometimes it is good for a person to transition from one ministry to another. Jesus and John the Baptizer were both good leaders with good ministries, and the people moving to Jesus’ ministry from John’s were seemingly good people. John rightly saw this as a good thing.

At the end of the day, people belong to God, not to the human leaders in a ministry. Sometimes, God moves people from one ministry to another because they are needed. This is precisely what John is saying – that the people were being sent by God to help Jesus, which is a good thing. This is a healthy model for handling transition in a godly way.

Are you more prone to encourage or criticize other ministries? If God calls you to move from one ministry to another, how can you do that in a healthy and godly way?

https://markdriscoll.org/he-must-increase-i-must-decrease/

Related:

More later….

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Bishops Describe Retreat With Father Raniero Cantalamessa

By Carol Zimmermann 
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Although the weeklong retreat for U.S. Catholic bishops emphasized quiet reflection, several bishops spoke out on social media during the retreat and after it wrapped up Jan. 8 with positive reaction about it and to give shoutouts to the retreat leader, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, who has preached to popes and top officials of the Roman Curia for nearly 40 years.

One bishop said listening to Father Cantalamessa was akin to being in the presence of the early Christian theologians. “Clear, intensely filled with the Holy Spirit, and all for the Kingdom of God,” Auxiliary Bishop Michael J. Boulette of San Antonio said in a tweet. “Let us continue to pray for one another, our church and our world. A blessing to be here!”

Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, the official preacher of the papal household, delivers the homily to U.S. bishops during Mass Jan. 3 in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception at Mundelein Seminary during the bishops’ Jan. 2-8 retreat at the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Illinois, near Chicago. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

Archbishop Paul D. Etienne of Anchorage, Alaska, tweeted that the retreat leader was a “true instrument of the Lord” and that the Holy Spirit was at work during the retreat.

Bishop Lawrence T. Persico of Erie, Pennsylvania, described Father Cantalamessa’s talks and homilies as “powerful and engaging.”

He tweeted that he was glad they had time to reflect and pray about their role as shepherds, stressing: “We must start there to be able to offer healing. I am taking this very seriously but feeling positive.”

Boston Auxiliary Bishop Mark W. O’Connell said it was a “truly blessed experience” to be on retreat with Father Cantalamessa and fellow U.S. bishops.

“The Holy Spirit was powerfully present, and I was quite moved,” he tweeted. He also thanked the pope for giving the bishops this gift.

Pope Francis suggested the bishops hold the retreat and offered the services of the 84-year-old Father Cantalamessa, who has served as preacher of the papal household since 1980. The time of prayer Jan. 2-8 at Mundelein Seminary at the University of St. Mary of the Lake near Chicago was planned largely in response to last summer’s revelations of allegations of sex abuse that reached the highest levels of the U.S. church.

In a Jan. 8 column for Angelus News, the archdiocesan news outlet of Los Angeles, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles said the bishops’ retreat leader focused “our attention on the vocation and responsibility of bishops in this moment in the church.”

“We are praying together as a visible sign of our unity as bishops and our communion with the Holy Father. There is a collegial spirit here and a firm commitment to address the causes of the abuse crisis we face and continue the work of renewing the church,” he added.

The archbishop said Father Cantalamessa asked them to “trust more in the Holy Spirit. We need to have confidence that we are always living in God’s loving presence.”

Auxiliary Bishop F. Richard Spencer of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services listens to the homily during Mass Jan. 3 in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception during the bishops’ Jan. 2-8 retreat at Mundelein Seminary at the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Illinois, near Chicago. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut, wrote a few blog posts about the retreat with some reflection about the retreat leader’s message.

 

He said they heard about the need to emphasize in their preaching the fundamental belief in Jesus before delving into his message and teachings.

He also said Father Cantalamessa emphasized the need to root out “love of money” and all that it implies, including material possessions, honor or power.

“If this pursuit for ‘money’ needs to be rooted out from our Christian lives, then we need to embrace a true spirit of detachment,” the bishop wrote, adding that he would add more to that topic in the days ahead.

The theme of the U.S. bishops’ retreat was “the mission of the apostles and of their successors” drawing from Mark 3:14, which says Jesus “appointed 12 — whom he also named apostles — that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach.”

Reflections from the retreat do not seem to be about the crisis in particular, maybe for a reason.

In an email to Catholic News Service weeks before the retreat, Father Cantalamessa said he would “not talk about pedophilia and will not give advice about eventual solutions; that is not my task and I would not have the competence to do so.”

“The Holy Father asked for my availability to lead a series of spiritual exercises for the episcopal conference so that the bishops, far from their daily commitments, in a climate of prayer and silence and in a personal encounter with the Lord, can receive the strength and light of the Holy Spirit to find the right solutions for the problems that afflict the U.S. church today,” he added.

In a Jan. 9 column for the Chicago Catholic, the archdiocesan newspaper, Chicago Cardinal Blase J. Cupich said the pope’s intention for the retreat went beyond “this particular moment or challenge facing us bishops.”

“We are not leaving this retreat with all the answers to the important questions facing the church in these days,” he wrote, but he said the bishops now have a renewed sense of the importance of taking their cues from “Christ’s spirit rather than our own efforts.”

Another blessing from the week, he said, was being drawn closer to each other and to the pope.

“I have no doubt that just as the early church relied on Peter’s unique ministry to meet the challenges of the day, so we will draw strength and insight from our unity with his successor,” he said.

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Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim

Source:https://cnstopstories.com/2019/01/10/bishops-describe-their-retreat-as-inspiring-spirit-filled/

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Prayer and Meditation for Monday, September 10, 2018 — “You are inflated with pride. Your boasting is not appropriate.”

September 9, 2018

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He said to the man with the withered hand,
“Come up and stand before us.”
And he rose and stood there.
Then Jesus said to them,
“I ask you, is it lawful to do good on the sabbath
rather than to do evil,
to save life rather than to destroy it?”
Looking around at them all, he then said to him,
“Stretch out your hand.”
He did so and his hand was restored.

Image result for Jesus cures the man with the withered hand, pictures

Monday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 437

Reading 1 1 COR 5:1-8

Brothers and sisters:
It is widely reported that there is immorality among you,
and immorality of a kind not found even among pagans–
a man living with his father’s wife.
And you are inflated with pride.
Should you not rather have been sorrowful?
The one who did this deed should be expelled from your midst.
I, for my part, although absent in body but present in spirit,
have already, as if present,
pronounced judgment on the one who has committed this deed,
in the name of our Lord Jesus:
when you have gathered together and I am with you in spirit
with the power of the Lord Jesus,
you are to deliver this man to Satan
for the destruction of his flesh,
so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.

Your boasting is not appropriate.
Do you not know that a little yeast leavens all the dough?
Clear out the old yeast, so that you may become a fresh batch of dough,
inasmuch as you are unleavened.
For our Paschal Lamb, Christ, has been sacrificed.
Therefore, let us celebrate the feast,
not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness,
but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Responsorial Psalm PS 5:5-6, 7, 12

R. (9) Lead me in your justice, Lord.
For you, O God, delight not in wickedness;
no evil man remains with you;
the arrogant may not stand in your sight.
You hate all evildoers.
R. Lead me in your justice, Lord.
You destroy all who speak falsehood;
The bloodthirsty and the deceitful
the LORD abhors.
R. Lead me in your justice, Lord.
But let all who take refuge in you
be glad and exult forever.
Protect them, that you may be the joy
of those who love your name.
R. Lead me in your justice, Lord.

Alleluia  JN 10:27

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord;
I know them, and they follow me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel  LK 6:6-11

On a certain sabbath Jesus went into the synagogue and taught,
and there was a man there whose right hand was withered.
The scribes and the Pharisees watched him closely
to see if he would cure on the sabbath
so that they might discover a reason to accuse him.
But he realized their intentions
and said to the man with the withered hand,
“Come up and stand before us.”
And he rose and stood there.
Then Jesus said to them,
“I ask you, is it lawful to do good on the sabbath
rather than to do evil,
to save life rather than to destroy it?”
Looking around at them all, he then said to him,
“Stretch out your hand.”
He did so and his hand was restored.
But they became enraged
and discussed together what they might do to Jesus.

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First Thoughts From Peace and Freedom
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Every Gospel story could have any one of us at its core.
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We all suffer afflictions, diseases, sins and human failings.
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The Gospels tell every one of us to come forward, stare Jesus in the eye, get to know Him and ask for His Divine Help.
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I am the man with the “withered hand.” I am the Prodigal Son. The humility we need to come forward and seek forgiveness is the necessary first step in a new, adult conversion and a life lived in the pursuit of sanctity and holiness.
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We renounce Satan and evil in our lives to allow God, to give him permission, to cast out all that we know has no justified place in our heart and soul. We need and seek reconciliation, forgiveness and a “Christ-like life.”
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And what is it that we get in return? A new life, full of hope for eternity. We move away from anxiety and worry caused by our human limitations and weaknesses — and toward empowerment with spiritual energy that can only come from him.
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Hundreds of scripture readings contain the words “do not be afraid.” Once we approach Jesus and know His way, we can follow without anxiety or fear or worry.
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The Holy Spirit within us starts as a tiny flame, like the pilot light in a gas stove. When we lead the life of love that Jesus shows us, that flame grows in warmth and life from Him.
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John Francis Carey
Peace and Freedom
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Commentary on Luke 6:6-11 From Living Space

Immediately following the incident of plucking the grains in the cornfield, we have another confrontation with religious leaders also on a Sabbath day. This one is even nastier as it involves what is called in American police movies a “set up” or “entrapment”.

Jesus had gone into the local synagogue, as was his practice on the sabbath, and began to teach. Right in front of him was a man with a withered hand, no doubt something he was born with.

There were scribes and Pharisees in the congregation and, we are told, they “were watching him” to see whether he would heal the man on a Sabbath day so that they could accuse him of breaking the Law.

Medical work was forbidden on the Sabbath because it normally took time. Jesus, of course, healed with just a word but even if he did not, could one say that healing was against the spirit of the Sabbath? At the same time, it is also worth noting that the man was suffering from a chronic and probably non-painful disability. There was no need for him to be cured on the spot; it could easily have waited until the next day.

Christ Healing the Man with the Withered Hand, by Robert T. Barrett

That gives further point to Jesus’ argument. The poor man had clearly been “planted”. He was being used as bait for their sinister ends. For the Pharisees and their co-conspirators the man and his plight were secondary. They had to prove their point and he was seen as a useful tool.

Jesus, of course, is fully aware of what is going on. He speaks directly to the disabled man: “Rise up and stand out in the middle!” The command to “rise up” is already an indication of what is going to take place; the man is going to be given new life. Nor is there any secrecy. What Jesus is going to do is to be seen by all.

But first he puts a question to the whole congregation, scribes and Pharisees included: “Is it lawful on the sabbath day to do good, or to do evil? to save life or to destroy it?”

It is really an unanswerable question because the answer is so obvious. But it was not the way these Pharisees were thinking. Their question would be very different: “Is it right to obey the Law or to violate it?” For them the Law, even the letter of the Law, was paramount. There is an irony in Jesus’ question because Jesus is planning to bring healing into a man’s life while they were preparing to bring about his destruction. Who was really breaking the Sabbath?

Not so with Jesus. For him the Law was relative to the true and the good. No implementation of a law can offend the true and the good. And sometimes the following of the true and the good may have to go against the letter of the law. What is legal is not always moral. It can be immoral, that is, evil, to obey a law in certain circumstances. What is moral sometimes transcends the law and may even contradict the law.

Hearing no dissenting answer, Jesus says to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so. His arm was fully restored to normal.

The scribes and Pharisees were furious and began to plot against Jesus. Their plans had been brought to nought. They showed no pleasure that a crippled man had been made whole. Their interpretation of the law had been shown to be wanting and they had to get back at Jesus.

Such situations are by no means unknown in our Christian life and in our Church. We will run into situations where doing good may be in conflict with traditional regulations and legal formulae.

We will find ourselves in situations where contemporary Pharisees will try to put the Church into a straitjacket of narrow-mindedness and fundamentalism whether it involves our understanding of the Scripture or the liturgy or morality or something else. These are people who put the letter of the laws, regulations and rubrics before love. For them it is more important to observe the externals of rules than to be a loving person.

http://livingspace.sacredspace.ie/o2232g/

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Prayer and Meditation for Monday, July 9, 2018 — Humble Faith is The Pre-Requisite to Healing and God’s Power In Us

July 8, 2018

“Courage, daughter! Your faith has saved you.”

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One of the oldest pieces of Christian art, “If only I could touch the hem of his cloak, I will be healed.”

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Monday of the Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 383

Reading 1  HOS 2:16, 17C-18, 21-22

Thus says the LORD:
I will allure her;
I will lead her into the desert
and speak to her heart.
She shall respond there as in the days of her youth,
when she came up from the land of Egypt.On that day, says the LORD,
She shall call me “My husband,”
and never again “My baal.”I will espouse you to me forever:
I will espouse you in right and in justice,
in love and in mercy;
I will espouse you in fidelity,
and you shall know the LORD.

Responsorial Psalm PS 145:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

R. (8a) The Lord is gracious and merciful.
Every day will I bless you,
and I will praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the LORD and highly to be praised;
his greatness is unsearchable.
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful.
Generation after generation praises your works
and proclaims your might.
They speak of the splendor of your glorious majesty
and tell of your wondrous works.
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful.
They discourse of the power of your terrible deeds
and declare your greatness.
They publish the fame of your abundant goodness
and joyfully sing of your justice.
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful.
The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and of great kindness.
The LORD is good to all
and compassionate toward all his works.
R. The Lord is gracious and merciful.

Alleluia  SEE 2 TM 1:10

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Our Savior Jesus Christ has destroyed death
and brought life to light through the Gospel.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
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Image may contain: 3 people
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Gospel  MT 9:18-26

While Jesus was speaking, an official came forward,
knelt down before him, and said,
“My daughter has just died.
But come, lay your hand on her, and she will live.”
Jesus rose and followed him, and so did his disciples.
A woman suffering hemorrhages for twelve years came up behind him
and touched the tassel on his cloak.
She said to herself, “If only I can touch his cloak, I shall be cured.”
Jesus turned around and saw her, and said,
“Courage, daughter! Your faith has saved you.”
And from that hour the woman was cured.When Jesus arrived at the official’s house
and saw the flute players and the crowd who were making a commotion,
he said, “Go away! The girl is not dead but sleeping.”
And they ridiculed him.
When the crowd was put out, he came and took her by the hand,
and the little girl arose.
And news of this spread throughout all that land.
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Reflection on MT 9:18-26 By Fr. Stephen B. Reynolds
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Jesus is nothing if not efficient.  On the way to perform one miracle, he affects another (see Matthew 9:18-26).  Two people approach the Lord, one quite openly, one in secret.

They are people of deep faith who have confidence in Jesus’ power to save.  Their prayers are answered in a most marvelous way, beyond their expectations.

Even when surrounded by large crowds, Jesus is interested in each person.  No one is anonymous to him.  In a group of one hundred souls, Jesus is interested in one hundred of them.

We should never image that God overlooks us or does not take an interest in our lives, our needs, or our sufferings.  We are always present to him, and he constantly cares for us.

Let’s take a look at the two petitioners who come before the Lord on this occasion.

The first is called “an official.”  Both the Gospel of Mark and that of Luke refer to him as “Jairus,” the head of the local synagogue in Capernaum (Mark 5:22; Luke 8:41).  He may have been a witness to other miracles that Jesus performed in that town: the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law (Matthew 8:15); the dramatic healing of a paralyzed man, whose sins he also forgives (Matthew 9: 2-6); even the moral miracle of St. Matthew’s conversion (Matthew 9:9).

Jairus was convinced that Jesus could restore his dead daughter to life.  Imagine the scene:  Jesus is speaking to a large group of people, most of whom would have been known to Jairus.  As the leader of the synagogue, he was putting his reputation on the line in approaching Jesus in this way.

Jairus’ request is an implicit acknowledgement, if not of Christ’s divinity, then at least of the fact that God was working through Jesus in an altogether unique way.  By kneeling before Jesus and asking for such an unheard of miracle, Jairus shows that he desires the grace of God more than human respect.  He is willing to put his reputation, honor, and position on the line in order to obtain a greater good.

While on the way to raise his daughter, Jesus encounters “a woman suffering hemorrhages.”  We don’t know the exact nature of her illness, although it was clearly a burden to her and was undoubtedly a source of suffering and embarrassment.  While Jairus petitions Christ publicly, this woman does so in the silence of her heart.

Of course, the Lord knows what she is thinking.  He has already heard her prayer.  Jesus turns to the woman and says, “Your faith has saved you.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that “faith makes us taste in advance the light of the beatific vision, the goal of our journey here below. faith is already the beginning of eternal life” (CCC, no. 163).

Through her act of faith, made possible by God’s grace, this woman has already embarked upon the path of salvation.  We can imagine that after the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ, she became a great believer, and brought others to know Jesus and his Gospel.

Moving toward the conclusion of the Year of Faith, this Gospel provides rich food for contemplation.  Is our faith as strong as these two petitioners?  Do we regularly approach Jesus with our struggles, asking for his divine intervention?  Are we willing to risk embarrassment and the loss of personal honor in order to give witness to our faith?

Our Blessed Mother knows what it is to believe with all of one’s strength.  Let us ask her to intercede for us, that we may always be strong in faith, especially in the midst of trials.

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Fr. Stephen B. Reynolds is the Pastor of St. Theresa Catholic Church in Sugar Land, Texas. You are invited to visit them on the Web at: www.SugarLandCatholic.com.

https://www.catholic.org/homily/yearoffaith/story.php?id=51612

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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09 JULY, 2018, Monday, 14th Week, Ordinary Time

HUMBLE FAITH AS THE PRE-REQUISITE TO RECEIVING HEALING

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ Hosea 2:1617-1821-22Mt 9:18-26 ]

The first reading from Prophet Hosea speaks of the tender and merciful love of God who comes to forgive and heal us.  The God whom we believe in is not a God who enjoys punishing us or seeing us suffer.  On the contrary, it hurts Him more to see us in our misery because of our sins.  That is why the Lord told Hosea to tell the people, “I am going to lure her and lead her out into the wilderness and speak to her heart. There she will respond to me as she did when she was young, as she did when she came out of the land of Egypt.”  God loves His people and is always faithful to them even when they are unfaithful to Him.

The exile of the Israelites to Babylon must not be seen as a punishment of God but the means by which a new exodus could begin.   The first exodus from Egypt, the land of slavery, to the Promised Land did not last long because of the complacency of the people, leading them to sin, idolatry, injustice, sexual immorality and greed.  So God led the people into exile in Babylon so that the people could find time to rethink their way of life.  Indeed, often a comfortable and affluent life leads us to take things for granted.  We become demanding, unappreciative, calculative and self-centered.

It is only when we enter into the desert of failure, emptiness and desperation that we begin to realize that we are not so powerful and self-sufficient after all.  Indeed, only in our loneliness and misery can we come to realize who our true God is and who is the one whom we can rely on.  This is what the Lord said, “When that day comes – it is the Lord who speaks -she will call me, “My husband”, no longer will she call me, ‘My Baal.’”  Indeed, it is not Baal or the gods of fertility, of money, power and status that will see us through in life.  Only God who is our love will be able to sustain us, give meaning and purpose in life.

This God who is faithful in love will once again accept us back even if we were adulterous before.  God forgave His people who committed adultery against Him.  How many of us can forgive and accept our spouse who has been unfaithful to us in marriage?  How many of us can continue with our relationship with someone who has betrayed us?  Most of the time, we would not be able to forgive them.  For many, that would be the end of the relationship.  But this is not so for God.  God is willing to forgive our past, renew His covenantal love for us the moment we repent and turn back to Him.  This is what He said through the prophet, “I will betroth you to myself for ever, betroth you with integrity and justice, with tenderness and love; I will betroth you to myself with faithfulness, and you will come to know the Lord.”

This healing, forgiving and long-suffering love is expressed once again in the person of Jesus, who was a man of deep sensitivity.   We read that “while Jesus was speaking, up came one of the officials, who bowed low in front of him and said, ‘My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her and her life will be saved.’  Jesus rose and, with his disciples, followed him.”  He did not get angry or annoyed that the man came and interrupted Him when He was speaking.  Instead, when He heard that his daughter had died, Jesus immediately stopped what He was doing and followed the official to his house.   Jesus was extremely sensitive to the needs and the sufferings of people.  He was not so absorbed in doing what He was doing but He was conscious of something more important that demanded His immediate attention because the father must have been distraught with the death of his daughter. Jesus did not delay in attending to the official’s bereavement.

The compassion of our Lord is also seen in the healing of the woman with haemorrhage.  Even in His preoccupation with the urgency of attending to the official’s daughter, Jesus was also sensitive to the suffering of this woman.  “Then from behind him came a woman, who had suffered from a haemorrhage for twelve years, and she touched the fringe of his cloak, for she said to herself, ‘If I can only touch his cloak I shall be well again.’”  Jesus was sensitive to the touch of the woman.  He was able to feel power coming out from Him.  Even whilst attending to another problem, He did not ignore others who were equally desperate for His help.

But the gospel clearly underscores that the outreach of Jesus, whether to raise the daughter of the official or the woman with haemorrhage, were never done to show forth His power or to sensationalize, but only to help.   For this reason, when He arrived at the house and there were many onlookers who came out of curiosity and some out of sympathy, Jesus turned the people out.  He was not performing a spectacular stunt so that people would be cowed into believing in Him.  He was only interested in restoring the daughter to the father, who He knew was suffering much from the loss.

In the same way too, when Jesus turned round and saw the woman who touched Him, He said to her, “’Courage, my daughter, your faith has restored you to health.’  And from that moment the women was well again.”  Jesus singled out the woman not to expose her condition or to reprimand her for breaking the law by touching Him when she was menstruating.   He and all those whom she came into contact with would have been made unclean by her.  But Jesus wanted her to be freed not just from her physical illness but from this guilt and fear as well.  Hence, Jesus felt the need to affirm her that her bleeding had stopped and that she had not broken the law.

What, then, does it take for us to receive His mercy?  We need the faith of the Official and that of the woman suffering from haemorrhage.   It was the faith of the official who believed in Jesus and saw Him as a true man of God.  It was also the faith of the woman who had spent all her money on doctors who could not treat her illness.  Because of their faith in Him, the Lord, on account of the official, raised his daughter back to life; and cured the woman of her bleeding.

If we want healing and forgiveness, we must come to the Lord with expectant faith like them.  Without expectant faith and trust in His power to heal and His mercy to forgive us, we cannot receive His love and mercy.  This is the faith and expectation of the psalmist when he prayed, “Age to age shall proclaim your works, shall declare your mighty deeds, shall speak of your splendor and glory, tell the tale of your wonderful works.  They will speak of your terrible deeds, recount your greatness and might. They will recall your abundant goodness; age to age shall ring out your justice. The Lord is kind and full of compassion, slow to anger, abounding in love. How good is the Lord to all, compassionate to all his creatures.”

Secondly, we need the humility of the official and the woman who turned to Jesus.  The official humbled himself to approach the Lord for assistance.  He was not afraid of what others might think of him associating with Jesus and worse still, believing in Him.  So too the woman was humble enough to admit that she touched the fringe of the Lord’s cloak.  She was ready to admit her fault and her sin.  She did not defend herself nor was she too proud to admit her weakness.  Indeed, when we come to the Lord, we too must come in humility for healing.  No matter who we are, we all must recognize our nothingness before God.  We can be rich, influential, famous and powerful, but before God, before death and illness, we are nothing.  So, if we want the Lord to heal us, we must, like the Israelites in their suffering, humble ourselves to recognize who the real Lord and God is.  We too must confess our sins and surrender our pride if we seek the Lord’s healing grace and mercy.

Finally, there is a warning to those without faith and those who are proud and cynical.  They will be turned out, as Jesus did to those cynics in the house.  “When Jesus reached the official’s house and saw the flute-players, with the crowd making a commotion he said, ‘Get out of here; the little girl is not dead, she is asleep.’  And they laughed at him.”  If we want to remain proud, arrogant and skeptical of Jesus, then we will not be able to receive anything from Him.  Indeed, without faith in Him, the Lord would not perform miracles, neither for His countrymen when He went back to Nazareth (cf Mt 13:58), or for Herod who wanted Him to put on a show for Him.  (cf Lk 23:8f) But if we are open and receptive then we will see the miracles He will work in our lives.  And we too will be like the people who spread the news “all round the countryside.”

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh

 

http://www.catholic.sg/archbishop/scripture-reflection/

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Prayer and Meditation for Monday, September 18, 2017 — The Humility of the Centurion

September 17, 2017

Monday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 443

Image may contain: 5 people, people standing

Reading 1 1 TM 2:1-8

Beloved:
First of all, I ask that supplications, prayers,
petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone,
for kings and for all in authority,
that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life
in all devotion and dignity.
This is good and pleasing to God our savior,
who wills everyone to be saved
and to come to knowledge of the truth.

For there is one God.
There is also one mediator between God and men,
the man Christ Jesus,
who gave himself as ransom for all.

This was the testimony at the proper time.
For this I was appointed preacher and Apostle
(I am speaking the truth, I am not lying),
teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

It is my wish, then, that in every place the men should pray,
lifting up holy hands, without anger or argument.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 28:2, 7, 8-9

R. (6) Blessed be the Lord, for he has heard my prayer.
Hear the sound of my pleading, when I cry to you,
lifting up my hands toward your holy shrine.
R. Blessed be the Lord, for he has heard my prayer.
The LORD is my strength and my shield.
In him my heart trusts, and I find help;
then my heart exults, and with my song I give him thanks.
R. Blessed be the Lord, for he has heard my prayer.
The LORD is the strength of his people,
the saving refuge of his anointed.
Save your people, and bless your inheritance;
feed them, and carry them forever!
R. Blessed be the Lord, for he has heard my prayer.

Alleluia  JN 3:16

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel  LK 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 consider 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.

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Homily For 1  TM 2:1-8 Steven J. Cole
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How concerned am I with people around me who are perishing without Jesus Christ? Do I care more about my own comfort and financial gain than I do about people dying without the Savior? Do I go on about my business day after day, week after week, without any burden for those who need to know Christ as Savior?

You say, “Well, after all, what can I do? I’m just one person, and there are billions who don’t know Christ.”

For starters, you can commit yourself to prayer. You can meet with others to pray for those who are lost and perishing without the Savior.

You say, “Prayer? Come on, I thought you were talking about a way I could really get involved. You know, a way I could do something that would really make a difference.”

That’s precisely what I’m talking about. Prayer is doing something. Prayer will make a tremendous difference. The amazing fact is that the sovereign God has chosen to work in response to the prayers of His people.

As Paul begins to tell Timothy how to conduct oneself in the local church (3:15), he puts prayer as the first priority (2:1, “First of all”). But Paul is not just talking about the need for prayer in general. He is talking about the need for prayer as it relates to the salvation of the lost. He repeats some words and ideas in 2:1-8 that show what he is driving at: “all men” (2:1); “all” (2:2); “God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved” (2:3, 4); “mediator … between God and men” (2:5); “a ransom for all, the testimony” (2:6); “preacher and … teacher of the Gentiles” (2:7). Paul is talking about men—people—and not just about a certain few, but about all men. And he is talking about the Savior. His concern is that all would be saved. What he is telling us is that,

Prayer that all people may be reached with the gospel should pervade the life of the church.

We should have such a burden for those who are perishing without Christ that we’re driven to entreat God, who is the Savior, that all people might be reached with the good news that there is a Mediator who gave Himself as the ransom for their sins.

Does such prayer pervade our church? Does such prayer pervade your life? Does such prayer pervade my life? I confess that I fall far short here. I would guess that many of you do too. It’s easy to get like those Chinese fishermen, so busy with our own interests that we’re indifferent to those who are “drowning” nearby. Your prayer life (what you pray and how much) reveals the intensity of your concern. Allow God’s Spirit to speak to you through this portion of His Word.

1. Prayer that all be reached with the gospel is in line with God’s plan (2:1-2, 8).

Prayer is not a nicety, but a necessity. God is sovereign, yet His sovereign plan includes the prayers of His people. If we are involved with God’s plan for the world, then we will be praying in line with His plan. We can see four facets of God’s plan in these verses:

A. GOD’S PLAN INVOLVES ALL KINDS OF PRAYER FOR ALL KINDS OF PEOPLE.

In verse 1 Paul uses four different words for prayer. The words are not altogether distinct in meaning, but there are nuances of difference that reveal different needs that require prayer:

“Entreaties” = prayer stemming from a sense of need. Sensing our lack and God’s sufficiency, our impotence and God’s omnipotence, should move us to pray.

“Prayers” = a general term for prayer to God. One commentator suggests that the word here refers to requests for needs that are always present, in contrast to specific and special needs (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary [Baker], p. 92). This would include prayer for more wisdom, godliness, repentance, revival, etc.

“Petitions” = means to converse freely; it pictures someone who can go into the presence of the king and talk freely with him on your behalf. It is used of the intercessory work of the Holy Spirit and of Christ on our behalf (Rom. 8:27, 34Heb. 7:25). It points to the fact that we can go freely before God at any time or in any place to talk with Him on behalf of others.

“Thanksgivings” = this points to the fact that we must express not only our petitions, but our gratitude to God for His gracious answers.

The point of all these words is that we have different needs at different times. But at all times we need God and, therefore, we need to pray.

Not only do we need all kinds of prayer, but also we need to pray for all kinds of people. We have already noted Paul’s emphasis on “all men” (2:1, 2, 4, 6; in these verses Paul uses the Greek anthropos, a generic word for “people”). No person is too far gone, too lost in sin, whom God’s grace cannot reach. Nor is there any person so high and mighty, in a position of governmental authority, who does not need God’s grace. All people are sinners who need to know God as Savior. Maybe you cannot speak to the person about God; but you can always speak to God about that person.

Paul here singles out for prayers those in positions of authority in government. In his case, this included the cruel maniac, Nero, who later executed both Peter and Paul, who lit his gardens in the evenings with Christians covered with pitch, burned as human torches. And yet Paul does not call Christians to political revolution, but to prayer. Prayer is God’s means for removing tyrants and establishing peace. Thus the plan of God involves all kinds of prayer for all kinds of people.

B. GOD’S PLAN INVOLVES THE SPREAD OF THE GOSPEL SO THAT ALL MAY BE SAVED.

That, I take it, is Paul’s train of thought between 2:2 and 2:3 & 4. We should pray that those in authority would govern so that we might enjoy a tranquil and quiet life. But the purpose for such a life is not that we might be comfortable and happy, but so that we can grow in “godliness and dignity” with a view toward the maximum spread of the gospel. Both words, “godliness and dignity,” point to the outward manifestation of Christian virtues. Paul is concerned here with the testimony of God’s people. Under persecution, some professing Christians cave in. In times of peace, there is more opportunity for their good deeds to be seen. So the idea is that we should pray for political peace so that we can live in observable godliness so that lost people will be saved.

C. GOD’S PLAN REQUIRES HOLINESS AND HARMONY AMONG HIS PEOPLE.

We are to live in “godliness,” which means being reverent or devout. We are to live in “dignity” (a quality required of church leaders, 1 Tim. 3:4, 8, 11) which has the nuance of commanding respect. A person with these qualities takes God seriously. He doesn’t joke about the things of God. In verse 8 Paul says that men should be “without wrath and dissension.” We are to work out anger and relational problems in private so that we can pray without hypocrisy in public. We can’t pray and work together for God’s plan in the world unless we are walking in holiness and harmony as God’s people.

D. GOD’S PLAN DESIGNATES MEN AS TAKING THE LEADERSHIP IN PRAYER.

God wants “men” (the Greek word in 2:8 means “males,” men in contrast to women) to take the leadership in the prayer life of the church. In 1 Corinthians 11:13 Paul indicates that women may pray in public as long as they are obviously in submission to men (“heads covered”). But both there and here he makes it plain that men are to take the leadership in the church, including this matter of prayer. The same applies to the home: Men, you need to take the initiative in prayer!

Note briefly the posture of prayer. In Paul’s day one posture was to stand and lift their hands toward God. If you study the various postures for prayer mentioned in the Bible, you’ll find standing, kneeling, and falling prostrate; sitting is only mentioned once, to my knowledge (2 Sam. 7:18). You’ll find the hands lifted heavenward and spread out, but never folded. You will find the head both bowed and lifted up with the eyes looking heavenward (so far as I know the eyes are never closed; see Hendriksen, pp. 103-104). We shouldn’t become legalistic about it, but I will suggest that our casual posture in prayer may indicate a casual attitude toward God. In public, Paul and his friends knelt down on the beach and prayed (Acts 21:5).

We’ve seen that prayer that all people may be reached with the gospel is in line with God’s plan.

2. Prayer that all be reached with the gospel is in line with God’s pleasure (2:3-4).

Note the words, “good” (beautiful, pleasant), “acceptable,” and “desire.” God’s desire is for the salvation of all men. The Lord told Ezekiel (33:11), “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live.” When Christians pray for civil rulers so that there is peace, it allows for the gospel to be preached and men to be saved, which is good and acceptable in the sight of God, who desires the salvation of all people.

I can’t answer the theological conundrum, “If God desires that all be saved, why doesn’t He save all?” The Bible is clear that God has sovereignly foreordained some to eternal life, while passing by others. Scripture often sets together in the same context the seeming contradiction that God is sovereign and yet men are responsible to repent and believe (Rom. 9:15-18; 10:13). Jesus, who was going up to Jerusalem to die for our sins according to the predetermined plan of God (Acts 2:23Luke 13:33), lamented, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it!” (Luke 13:34; see Luke 10:22 for contrast). In our text, Paul’s concern was to counter the Jew who said that God wishes to destroy sinners and the spiritually proud who said that salvation is only for the elite, by saying, “No! God desires to save all men.”

I once heard a man who has a deep burden for the lost tell of how he was praying for the conversion of his neighbor, a man named Ray. Every morning this man would pray fervently for Ray’s salvation. On many mornings, he said he would have to wipe the tears from the pages of his Bible as he pled with God for Ray to come to Christ. Then one morning he got the frightening thought, “What if Ray isn’t one of the elect?” So he said he prayed, “Lord, if Ray isn’t on the list, then You put him there! Make up a new list, if you have to, but bring Ray to know You!” Eventually, Ray did trust in the Savior.

Maybe his theology wasn’t precisely correct. But don’t get hung up on the theology and miss the obvious application of verse 4: Is my heart in tune with God’s heart? Do I desire the salvation of all people? Does my prayer life for the people I know who are without Christ reflect God’s pleasure to save all people?

3. Prayer that all be reached with the gospel is in line with God’s provision (2:5-6).

I could easily preach several messages on these important verses. They contain much crucial truth in succinct form, and may have been an early creed. There is one God, the fundamental tenet of Judaism: “Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God; the Lord is one!” (Deut. 6:4). Christians do not believe in three Gods, but in one God who exists in three persons. Although there are many different types of men, there is only one true God for all men, and He has provided only one way of salvation for all.

That one way of salvation involves a mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. In order for God to be reconciled to sinful man, man had to pay for his sin. The price was death, because the wages of sin is death. But God provided a representative man to be the substitute for all other men through His death. He became the ransom, the one who paid the price to release us from bondage to sin and judgment. This ransom is sufficient for all who will receive it.

By calling Jesus a man, Paul is not denying His deity, of course. We saw that he affirmed Christ’s deity in 1:13, 15-17; he will do so again in 3:16. A bridge must be firmly anchored to both sides if it is to be usable. As mediator between God and men, Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man, undiminished deity and perfect humanity united without mixture or confusion in one person forever. He was the testimony of God, revealed to man at the proper time. He alone is the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Him. All who come find abundant pardon through His grace. Thus, prayer that all people may be reached with the gospel is in line with God’s provision in His Son.

Prayer that all be reached with the gospel is in line with God’s plan, pleasure, and provision.

https://bible.org/seriespage/lesson-6-priority-prayer-1-timothy-21-8

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This Roman soldier approached Jesus with full confidence that He could heal the servant over a distance. Yet we get upset with God because we think He doesn’t hear our prayers. Now, I don’t intend to go into a rant about how we lack faith and that’s why our prayers don’t get answered. In fact, what I want to say has nothing to do with prayer at all. We lack a relationship with and knowledge of who God really is.

This soldier, who was not by any means a Jew, knew more about Jesus’ character than the majority of the Israelite population that has been waiting for Jesus’ arrival for centuries! The 12 disciples were still just figuring out if this guy (Jesus) was for real or not and a Roman soldier just comes up expecting Jesus to heal this servant in bed back home. While everyone else is standing around bewildered at the miracles Jesus is performing, the Roman approaches Him and practically demands that the servant be healed. This is a full confidence in the providence of the Lord and it does not come from our own gumption. It comes from a secure trust in God. People wonder why we don’t see many healings like this in today’s world; it’s because we don’t believe anymore. We don’t care to know who God is because we have created our own gods. We don’t “need” Him, or so we think.

Those of you who follow my blog regularly might be tired of reading this but I am going to say it again because it is crucial: why aren’t we seeing and doing more of this? In John 14 Jesus is giving His farewell speech to His disciples and He drops this bomb on all of us: (John 14:2-3)

 “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves.  “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.  “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.

http://thethoughtsofasimpleman.com/the-faith-of-a-roman/

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Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Christ heals the Centurion’s dying servant from afar, without seeing or touching him; Christ has the supernatural knowledge and power to heal any illness simply by willing it. Re-read the Gospel and ask yourself, “How does Christ do this?”

2) Men don’t like to admit when they are in trouble and don’t like to ask for help. As the Centurion shows, Christ will help those who approach Him in humility. Humbly complete and Examination of Conscience, pray for Christ’s help to overcome your sins and go to Confession.

3) Many Catholic men have a lukewarm or cold faith. What does Christ think about your faith; does He “marvel” at it? Pray that He send the Holy Spirit to give you a faith like the Centurion’s.

http://www.newemangelization.com/page/69/?ref=driverlayer.com

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Article by Jon Bloom

Jesus, the “founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2), once marveled at the faith he found in a man. And it’s the only instance that the gospels record such a response from Jesus (Matthew 8:5-13Luke 7:1-10). Who was this man? A rabbi? No. A disciple? Nope. A Roman soldier.

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Jesus had walked down from the brow of the low mountain outside of Capernaum, his adopted home (Matthew 4:12-16). He had just delivered what would become the most famous sermon in history.

When he entered the town, he was met by a small delegation of Jewish elders. They had an urgent request. There was this Roman centurion whose servant was so sick that he was expected to die shortly. The centurion had asked these elders to go to Jesus on his behalf to see if Jesus might be willing to heal his servant.

Now, this was very unusual. Jewish leaders were not in the habit of being fond of Roman soldiers.

Feeling the obvious oddness of the request, one of the elders quickly added, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.”

This was also unusual. Roman soldiers were not in the habit of being fond of Jews.

Jesus discerned the Father’s hand in this and so he set off with them to the centurion’s home. He had also just preached a couple hours earlier on the importance of loving one’s enemies. This was something to encourage.

As they neared the house another group of friends intercepted them. There was a brief huddled conference with the elders. There were hushed earnest voices. The elders seemed confused and concerned. Some observers thought the servant must have died.

Then a representative of the intercepting group stepped over to Jesus and said respectfully, “Teacher, I have a message for you from my Roman friend. He says,

Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, “Go” and he goes; and to another, “Come,” and he comes; and to my servant, “Do this,” and he does it.’”

Jesus’ expression turned thoughtful. He pondered the words, “I am not worthy to have you come under my roof” and “I too am a man under authority with soldiers under me.” He nodded his head slightly and there was just a hint of a chuckle. This man was a Roman soldier, a representative of Israel’s enemy. And yet he understood what even these Jewish elders didn’t yet grasp. It was a marvel.

He looked back at the friend and then to the elders. Then he turned and scanned his eyes over his disciples and the small crowd of people who had followed him down the mountain. Then he said, loud enough for everyone to hear, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith” (Luke 7:9).

See more:

http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-centurion-faith-that-made-jesus-marvel

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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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12 SEPTEMBER 2016, Monday, 24th Week of Ordinary Time
ARE YOU A PAGAN CATHOLIC?

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [  1 Cor 11:17 – 33Ps 39:7-1017Lk 7:1 – 10 ]

In the gospel, we cannot but be inspired by the faith of the Centurion.  He is a true model of a believer in God and in Christ.   The Church even asks us all to repeat his words to the Lord at every Eucharistic celebration, “I am not worthy to have you under my roof but give the word and let my servant be cured.”  Besides this centurion, it is quite significant that the bible gives us a few examples of other centurions who could inspire us in our faith life.  We have the conversion of the Roman Centurion Cornelius who received the Holy Spirit even before he was baptized.  (cf Acts 10)  Then we have the confession of faith of the centurion at the foot of the cross.  “Now when the centurion and those with him, who were keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were terrified and said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!” (Mt 27:54)

What is the reason for the gospel giving us so many examples of centurions who were supposedly pagan and enemies of the Jews yet very much Christian at heart?  The answer is clear.  This is to provide a scandalous contrast between so called pagans, whom we think are not saved, and ourselves, so called believers and baptized Christians when in truth our hearts and minds are pagan, unconverted, selfish and inward looking.  And there are many of these baptized pagans in our Christian communities!

Let us examine how the Centurion showed himself to be a real Catholic and Christian at heart. 

Firstly, he was a true Christian because we read that he was a man of great compassion and love, especially for those who were suffering.  He had “a servant, a favourite of his, who was sick and near death. Having heard about Jesus he sent some Jewish elders to him to ask him to come and heal his servant.” He was only a servant; yet he treated him the way he would have treated his own son.  For him, the servant was not a worker or a machine or a slave.  The servant was a human being with feelings and needs like everyone, for food, lodging, respect, love, security, acceptance and good health.  The centurion regarded him as a human being worthy of being loved as his own.  Such was the great love of the centurion, like the way our Heavenly Father loves us and calls us all His children.  (cf 1 Jn 3:1f)

Secondly, he was a true Catholic because his love was all embracing.  Although a Roman soldier, he had deep love for the Jews as well.  He did not behave like a conqueror and the Jews as prisoners or subjects. His love extended beyond the confines of his household, his own country, to all.  He regarded all of them well.  He even built for them a synagogue when he was not a Jew or a believer!  Such was his all-embracing love for all, regardless of race, language or religion.  His love was universal and this is what it means to be Catholic!

Thirdly, he was a man filled with the Holy Spirit because he exhibited the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  The gifts of humility, faith, hope, tolerance, kindness, generosity and love were found in him.  He was truly humble.  He sincerely felt that he was not good enough to have Jesus come to his house.  This was what he said to Jesus, “for this same reason I did not presume to come to you myself.”  He did not feel that he was worthy to even approach Jesus directly.  His love for his servant was so great that he did not mind lowering himself to ask his friends to approach Jesus for help.

He was a man of great sensitivity and respect for others.  He was very conscious of the rituals and customs of the Jews.  Instead of doing what he liked in his position of authority and power, He was sensitive to Jesus and considerate of the culture and sentiments of the Jews.  He did not wish to oblige Jesus to enter into his house because he was fully aware that Jews could not enter the house of pagans.

Most of all, he was a man of great faith in the Lord. He told the Lord, “For I am under authority myself, and have soldiers under me; and I say to one man: Go, and he goes; to another: Come here, and he comes; to my servant: Do this, and he does it.”  Thus, the centurion was saying to Jesus, because of the divine authority vested on you, just say the word and it would be done.  The evangelist remarked, “When Jesus heard these words he was astonished at him and, turning round, said to the crowd following him, ‘I tell you, not even in Israel have I found faith like this’. And when the messengers got back to the house they found the servant in perfect health.”

In the light of what we have said about this centurion, we can appreciate why he endeared himself not only to the Jews and the synagogue leaders but especially to Jesus.  Even though he was not a believer, or a Christian, or a Jew, yet his life reflected one who knew God and had deep faith in Him.  Indeed, he puts us all so-called believers of Christ to shame.  We do not possess his virtues of humility, faith and display the kind of unselfish, inclusive love and compassion he had for others.  Many of us behave like the early Christians during the time of St Paul in the first reading.  We behave like pagan Christians because what we believe and celebrate is not how we live. We are a contradiction and a counter witness to the Lord.

In what ways are we betraying the Lord today, just like Judas at the Last Supper? The words of the institution should challenge us to examine ourselves in the way we live out the Eucharist that we celebrate.  “For this is what I received from the Lord, and in turn passed on to you: that on the same night that he was betrayed  …”  In what ways are we guilty of making a mockery of our faith, especially in the Holy Eucharist, which is the summit of our faith in Christ, celebrating His passion, death and resurrection.

Firstly, on the ecclesial dimension, if we are true believers of the Lord and true worshippers of the Eucharist as the Real Presence of our Lord, His body and blood, then all the more, we should have special reverence for members of His body the Church.   Jesus is the Head and we are His mystical body.  There can be no head without the body and there can be no body without the head because Christ and man are one.  So if, like the early Church, we live a life that has no thought for our fellow brothers and sisters, then we are not truly worshipping our Lord in the Eucharist.  Our brothers and sisters, baptized or otherwise, are our brothers and sisters in the Lord because they are children of God.  So if we truly love the Lord in the Eucharist, then we must revere the Lord in the members of His body, the Church.   Each human being is as sacred as the Eucharist we worship.

The love for the Eucharist is always very much related to our compassion and love, especially for the poor and the marginalized.  We cannot worship the Eucharist apart from the community and apart from love.  This was what St Paul was reprimanding the early Christians, especially those were rich and better off.   Those who were labourers had to work late, and by the time they came for the Eucharistic meal, there was no more food left.  Those who were rich did not bother to wait for the rest to turn up before breaking bread, or even leave some food for them.  This could be the case for us as well when in our policies or decisions we do not take into consideration those who are not as fortunate as others.

Compassion and love also means sensitivity.  Like the Centurion, we need to be sensitive to each other’s culture and sentiments. In each community and more so today, we need to live with each other and embrace each other’s culture.  But this has to be done in a sensitive manner, taking into consideration the feelings of others.  There are different levels of sensitivity where it pertains to religious preferences, culture, social status, intellectual capacity, language, etc.  So we must be careful that we do not impose our culture and preferences on others; or be intolerant of them, especially those who are in the minority.   Those in the minority must equally be sensitive to the larger interests of the community and hence be discreet in promoting their own culture and religious inclinations.  At the end of the day, we need to exercise tolerance, patience and accommodate each other as no community is perfect.

Christians must always remember that we are a community.Parochial-mindedness is always a threat to the unity of the Church at every level.  Church organizations often operate as if they are independent of the entire parish.  They are only concerned about their members’ interests and the name of their organization.  They do not work with other organizations and together with the parish as one body with many parts.  Such factionalism is still prevalent in our churches.  This is also true on the archdiocesan level where parishes function independently of the archdiocese and do not support archdiocesan programs and organizations which are meant to serve the larger interests of the entire Christian family, regardless whether it is youth, family, schools, media, migrants, administration.

Indeed, if we truly want to be Christian and live out the exemplary faith of the Centurion, we need to take the Eucharist seriously; not just as a perfunctory ritual we go through.  Such an attitude towards the Eucharist cannot save us.  We are called to conduct our lives in accordance with the example the Lord has set for us.

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore

Has this man found the secret of happiness? — Man’s Search for Meaning

July 21, 2017

Image result for vintage Rolls-Royce, photos

  • Mo Gawdat personally started many of the Google’s worldwide operations
  • He was a former stock market trader, and made ‘a ton of money’ in Dubai
  • His ‘life had ticked every box’ but he was still feeling miserable
  • Death of Mr Gawdat’s son, Ali, 21, made him realise an equation for happiness

One click — and I had bought a vintage Rolls-Royce. Another click — and I bought a second. Just like that. It might sound like something from your wildest dreams, but this was just an average evening for me. Successful, wealthy and at the pinnacle of my career, I had every luxury you could imagine.

A top executive at Google, I had personally started close to half of the company’s worldwide operations. And even before I made it big at Google, you could certainly say that I was at the top of the tree. A former stock market trader, I had made a ton of money while working in Dubai.

I had a huge house. My colleagues and friends were similarly rich and successful. And to top it all, I had married my university sweetheart and had two beautiful children. My life had ticked every box.

Formula: Mo Gawdat was a former stock market trader, and made 'a ton of money' in Dubai. His 'life had ticked every box' but he was still feeling miserable (file pic)

Formula: Mo Gawdat was a former stock market trader, and made ‘a ton of money’ in Dubai. His ‘life had ticked every box’ but he was still feeling miserable (file pic)

My Rolls-Royces soon arrived. Exquisitely engineered, they were as perfect as my own existence appeared. I looked at them for 20 minutes. Then I left them in the garage without even opening a car door — and returned to my unhappy thoughts.

Yes, that’s right. Despite attaining all the things the modern world tells us we need for happiness, I was profoundly miserable.

The bitter irony of my situation was deepened by the fact that one of my personal side projects was developing a scientific formula for happiness.

I wanted to find a ‘code’ that could be applied to deliver happiness every time. I spent thousands of hours trying to apply logic to the issue of happiness, in the hope of finding an algorithm to summarise how the brain processes joy and sadness. My son Ali, then a teenager, helped me, vetting many of my ideas.

Eventually, in 2010, young Ali and I came up with a formula: a few letters and mathematical symbols that I thought nailed the art of happiness.

Little did I imagine that the sudden death of my beloved boy when he was just 21 — an earth-shattering, pointless event — would show me what fleets of cars and algorithms never could: the true meaning of happiness and how to be content, every day.

My path to finding the meaning of happiness began with a vision of unimaginable catastrophe.

Machines bleeped, tubes wove their terrible path in and out of my boy’s body — and Ali lay there, unconscious in an intensive care unit. It was 2014, and my son had been rushed to hospital for the most routine of operations, an appendix removal.

Mo Gawdat (pictured) personally started many of the Google's worldwide operations

Mo Gawdat (pictured) personally started many of the Google’s worldwide operations

But something went wrong. A needle punctured a major artery and precious moments slipped by before the doctors realised the blunder.

Then a series of additional mistakes were made. The words ‘agony’ and ‘despair’ do not come even remotely close to how Ali’s mother and I felt at the moment we realised we were going to lose our precious son.

We stood helplessly by his bedside, and I kissed his forehead. He looked so handsome, even in that state — as peaceful as I’d ever seen him.

We’d endured the worst night of our lives, as Ali was hooked up to machines, his life hanging delicately in the balance. We were tormented by the thought he might be in pain as his organs failed one by one.

Then came the moment to say goodbye. And as we left the hospital, leaving our 21-year-old son behind, our minds collapsed as grief set in, and penetrated every cell in my body.

The pain was like a spear piercing my heart. There were countless hours of tears, guilt and anger about what had happened, as well as my fear about having to exist in a world I could no longer contemplate without my beloved son.

Ali was kind, clever, loving and in the prime of his life, and losing him unexpectedly to preventable human error seemed unbearably cruel. How was I going to cope?

My feelings were all the more painful because Ali was the one person I would ordinarily seek out for comfort when times were hard. But now he was gone. Nothing made sense.

Without my son to anchor me, my thoughts spiralled and became toxic. ‘That doctor murdered my son,’ I thought. Then: ‘What’s the point of living even a day without him?’.

I couldn’t stop wondering whether his death was somehow my fault. Could life be punishing me for something I’d inadvertently done? Was this a sort of karma for my success, for not realising how blessed my existence had been?

I spent excruciating days in this state, numb to the outside world. I was terrified of what might happen to my wife, my daughter — of what else this cruel life might take from me. How could I ever be happy again?

Someone suggested we pursue a medical negligence investigation and we were asked if an autopsy could be performed on Ali’s body. I asked my wife what she wanted to do. She paused, then uttered the words that saved us: ‘Will it bring Ali back?’

It was like a lighthouse cutting through the fog. Nothing we could do — nothing — would bring Ali back. Any thought beyond this simple truth was pointless.

It was the turning point I needed.

No doubt any parent reading this will wonder how I can say I am happy after I’ve lost a child. Of course, life today is nothing like what it was when Ali was alive. But I am happy, despite the tragedy of his death.

How? It’s thanks to Ali. Deep down, I knew if I’d asked him Ali would say, with the precocious wisdom he was blessed with, ‘I’ve already died, Papa. There is nothing you can do to change that, so make the best of it’.

In the purgatorial time after his death, I heard no other voice in my head but Ali’s repeating those sentences. So when a negative thought popped into my mind I asked myself: ‘What would Ali do or say in this situation?’ It became a healing process.

When I angrily thought, ‘That doctor murdered my son!’, I would hear Ali’s reply: ‘Is that true? What doctor wakes up in the morning and says: “Today is the day I’m going to kill someone”?’

I am happy, despite the tragedy of his death. How? It's thanks to Ali. Deep down, I knew if I'd asked him Ali would say, with the precocious wisdom he was blessed with, 'I've already died, Papa. There is nothing you can do to change that, so make the best of it'

I am happy, despite the tragedy of his death. How? It’s thanks to Ali. Deep down, I knew if I’d asked him Ali would say, with the precocious wisdom he was blessed with, ‘I’ve already died, Papa. There is nothing you can do to change that, so make the best of it’

To my despairing howl, ‘No one should die at such a young age,’ Ali would answer: ‘Is that true? Youngsters die by the thousands every hour of every day.’

As for the cry of all grieving parents, ‘This is the worst thing that could have happened!’, Ali’s voice echoed in my mind, saying: ‘Is that really true? I could have been diagnosed with a lingering cancer or drafted into the madness of war instead of leaving peacefully in my sleep.’

When I recriminated with myself, saying again and again, ‘I drove you to the hospital myself. I should have known better’, Ali would soothe me, saying: ‘Is that true? You did what you thought was right. You wanted me to recover. No one could have known this was going to be how things turned out.’

And to my most common thought of all, ‘I can’t bear this pain, it will torture me for years and years,’ Ali brought solace and clarity: ‘Is that really true? You will live, and time will pass. The days will be long, and the years will be short. Instead of thinking about the years to come, focus on now. Do the best you can. Make me proud.’

And so, 17 days after that terrible night, I began to write. I felt compelled to follow Ali’s advice and do something positive. Those writings eventually became a book, in which I sought to spread the true meaning of happiness — and it wasn’t to be found in flashy cars or expensive gadgets.

And as I wrote, it brought my mind back to that algorithm I’d created with Ali. Except now I finally understood the meaning of my equation for happiness.

Because, as I had found, the more successful I became, the more happiness seemed to elude me.

Each time I reached the next rung of the corporate ladder, there would always be another goal just out of reach. Yet I couldn’t stop myself working, striving to be better, wealthier, and ultimately, I hoped, happier.

I was driven by the misguided assumption that, sooner or later, all this effort would pay off and I’d find a pot of gold — happiness — at the end of my high-achievement rainbow. But it seemed like the more literal gold I accrued, the more miserable I became.

In the years where I worked myself into the ground in pursuit of more success, I was probably pushy and unpleasant — even at home. I spent too little time appreciating the remarkable woman I’d married and not enough time with my wonderful children or pausing to enjoy each day as it unfolded.

All the while I treated happiness as something I needed to succeed at, a puzzle that my rational brain needed to solve. I spent almost ten years investigating the mathematics behind happiness, and eventually developed an equation: a well-engineered model of happiness and how to sustain it.

Yet despite finding the ‘secret’ to happiness, I did nothing to implement this into my own life.

Then came Ali’s death — and my own moment of reckoning when I was forced to confront my secret equation head-on.

So what is the magic formula, I hear you ask. It’s H ≥ e – E. Or in other words: happiness is greater than or equal to the events of life, minus the expectations of life.

What I discovered was that, for most, happiness is the default setting. Children are born happy. But as we move through life, we grow out of that happy state.

As we strive for more, flashes of unhappiness appear every time life misses our expectations. The key to happiness, I concluded, lay in controlling the way we compare the events of our life with our expectations. It lay in being content with what we have in the present moment, rather than striving for the intangible ‘more’.

Until Ali’s death, I didn’t apply this discovery to my own life. But his departure forced my hand.

That’s not to say the pain of losing my son isn’t still very real. Indeed, it will never go away. Every time I remember Ali I weep.

But I have learned there’s a difference between pain and suffering. Pain is a mechanism the body uses to keep us alive — it protects us from further suffering. We learn from our pain.

Suffering, however, is not useful. It is a cycle where a thought causes more anguish through feelings of guilt. Pain should be enough of a motivation to improve your life.

And so, the minute I feel the pain of Ali’s death, which I feel every time I miss him, instead of self-flagellation and guilt, I think ‘What can I do about it? How can I make the world slightly better even though Ali is not in it?’. It has taught me that we are all in charge of our lives, our destiny and, ultimately, our happiness.

Because happiness really can be controlled. Anyone can be happy — even in the face of what appeared to be an unparalleled catastrophe like mine. Happiness is about filling your mind with beautiful memories, and finding reasons to be truly thankful, despite the pain life can bring.

And so sometimes I find it easier to think of Ali as a kind guest who was just visiting, but who brought light and happiness to our home.

The 21 years with him zoomed by, and if we’d had another 21 years together, they would have zoomed by just as fast. And even that wouldn’t have been enough.

So instead of thinking about losing him, I try to be grateful that we had him at all. I’ve changed my expectations. Rather than thinking that my son should never have died, I choose to be grateful for the times we had, rather than mourn the times we didn’t.

Happiness is not about what the world gives you — whether it’s a lottery win or the loss of a child — it’s about what you think about what the world gives you.

It’s not always easy, but it’s an exercise I run through many times a day. I think of it like going to the gym — I’m getting better at it all the time.

I’m glad to say I’ve helped many others, too; those who have found peace through mine and Ali’s discovery. One interview I did with Channel 4 has had 32 million hits and counting.

Yes, my heart aches. Yes, I want my son back by my side more than anything in the world. But I understand that I can’t have him — and so I have made the commitment and choose to be happy instead.

Interview by LOUISE ATKINSON

  • Solve For Happy by Mo Gawdat, Bluebird, £10.49 on Amazon

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Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4716514/Google-executive-devises-scientific-formula-happiness.html#ixzz4nSJvVHqi
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Prayer and Meditation for Monday, November 28, 2016 — Jesus Heals a Centurion’s Servant

November 27, 2016

Monday of the First Week in Advent
Lectionary: 175

Reading 1IS 4:2-6

On that day,
The branch of the LORD will be luster and glory,
and the fruit of the earth will be honor and splendor
for the survivors of Israel.
He who remains in Zion
and he who is left in Jerusalem
Will be called holy:
every one marked down for life in Jerusalem.
When the LORD washes away
the filth of the daughters of Zion,
And purges Jerusalem’s blood from her midst
with a blast of searing judgment,
Then will the LORD create,
over the whole site of Mount Zion
and over her place of assembly,
A smoking cloud by day
and a light of flaming fire by night.
For over all, the LORD’s glory will be shelter and protection:
shade from the parching heat of day,
refuge and cover from storm and rain.

Responsorial Psalm PS 122:1-2, 3-4B, 4CD-5, 6-7, 8-9

R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
I rejoiced because they said to me,
“We will go up to the house of the LORD.”
And now we have set foot
within your gates, O Jerusalem.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
Jerusalem, built as a city
with compact unity.
To it the tribes go up,
the tribes of the LORD.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
According to the decree for Israel,
to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
In it are set up judgment seats,
seats for the house of David.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!
May those who love you prosper!
May peace be within your walls,
prosperity in your buildings.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
Because of my relatives and friends
I will say, “Peace be within you!”
Because of the house of the LORD, our God,
I will pray for your good.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.

Alleluia SEE PS 80:4

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Come and save us, LORD our God;
let your face shine upon us, that we may be saved.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 8:5-11

When Jesus entered Capernaum,
a centurion approached him and appealed to him, saying,
“Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.”
He said to him, “I will come and cure him.”
The centurion said in reply,
“Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof;
only say the word and my servant will be healed.
For I too am a man 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 and said to those following him,
“Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith.
I say to you, many will come from the east and the west,
and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
at the banquet in the Kingdom of heaven.”

Centurion Beseeching Jesus, William Brassey Hole

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Commentary on Matthew 8:5-17 From Living Space

Today we read the second of the 10 miracles of Jesus described by Matthew after the Sermon on the Mount. It is a story also found in Luke and John but, strangely enough, not in Mark.

The significant element in this story is the fact that the person asking for help is a centurion, a soldier and presumably not a Jew. Yet he has this great faith in Jesus. It is a sign of the future role of Gentiles in the originally all-Jewish Christian community.

He asks Jesus to cure a servant who has become paralysed. Jesus immediately responds that he will go and cure him. “No, no,” replies the centurion. “I am not worthy that you should come to my house. Just say the word and my servant will be healed.” (Words very familiar to us from their paraphrase used in the prayers before sharing in Communion.) And he goes on to say that as an army officer, he just has to give commands and they are carried out on the spot. When it comes to healing, he knows that Jesus can do the same.

Jesus is astonished at the faith of this pagan: “Nowhere in Israel have I found faith like this!” And he foretells that this is a sign of what is going to happen in the future when Gentiles from all over the world will enter the Kingdom while many of Jesus’ own people will be left outside. What is more they will become God’s people sharing glory with the Jewish ancestors: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It is a sad theme running through the whole of this gospel: the rejection of Jesus by so many of his own people and their self-chosen exclusion from the Kingdom.

The faith that Jesus expects is not an acceptance of religious doctrines. It is rather an act of total trust and surrender by which people commit themselves to the power of God – in this case, the power of God in Jesus. “Christ asks for this faith especially when he works his miracles, which are not so much acts of mercy as signs attesting his mission and witnessing to the kingdom; hence he cannot work miracles unless he finds the faith without which the miracles lose their true significance.” (Jerusalem Bible, loc. cit. Text references omitted.)

For this reason this faith was not easy to give, especially for many of Jesus’ hearers who could not see the presence of God in Jesus and hence could not commit themselves to him. Even the disciples were slow to believe. We see this especially in Mark’s gospel. But, once present, such a faith can bring about the transformation of a person’s life, as many converts to Christianity can attest.

Turning to the centurion Jesus says, “Go back home; you have believed, so let this be done for you.” The servant was cured at that very moment.

What is clear from this story and from many other healings by Jesus is the crucial element of faith in the one approaching Jesus. It is the only condition necessary – racial origins are irrelevant. Luke will tell us that Jesus was restricted in the help he could give to the people in his home town of Nazareth because they simply did not have faith in him.

Let us pray that we may never lose that gift of faith which has, in the mysterious ways of divine Providence, been given to us. And let us remember that, without that faith, God will be hampered in reaching out his healing love to us.

Source: http://livingspace.sacredspace.ie/o2127g/

Related:
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On Suffering — From Suffering With Joy

We hear the tale of the Roman centurion who is used to ordering others around and getting instant obedience.  But he, too, approaches Jesus with a humble heart full of compassion for his suffering servant and complete faith in Jesus’ power to heal, even at a distance.  From this encounter with the Lord we have the powerfully compelling words, “Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant shall be healed.”

From this passage in Matthew we draw the beautiful prayer we say together before receiving Holy Communion: “Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst come under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

In the traditional Latin Mass we say this prayer three times.  Why?  Because in Hebrew expression there is no comparative or superlative as we have in English.  Thus, the triple repetition of something signifies the greatest emphasis possible in what is being said.  Since much of the Traditional Mass originates from the time of the apostles, we find this custom retained in the Latin expression of the Hebrew culture.  Thus, we, in praying this prayer three times at Mass, emphasize our great lowliness in the face of Jesus, our helplessness to cure ourselves, and our great faith in Jesus.  A second reason for the triple repetition is acknowledgement of the triune God.  Jesus is the second Person who cannot be separated from the Father and the Holy Spirit.

I write a lot from the viewpoint of suffering in this world.  Often we suffer because our souls need healing.  We need God’s help to root out anger, resentment, envy, covetousness, and many other evils from our hearts/souls.  Often, physical suffering can be eliminated or greatly ameliorated by the healing of the soul. This prayer of the centurion prepares us to receive the healing power of Christ in Holy Communion when we say it at Mass.

When we are not at Mass but on a bed of pain, we can repeat this prayer as an offering to God as we unite ourselves to the Passion of Christ and seek His aid in conforming ourselves to the will of God.

Source: http://sufferingwithjoy.com/2012/01/23/the-leper-the-centurion-and-jesus/

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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28 NOVEMBER 2016, Monday, 1st Week of Advent
LIVING IN HOPE OF A NEW CREATION

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ IS 2:1-5; MT 8:5-11   ]

What a positive way to begin a new liturgical year with the vision of Isaiah in today’s first reading.   He prophesied a day will come when all of us, “peoples without number” will come to the Lord’s mountain, the place where God dwells where we will be instructed by the Lord so that we will all come under His Lordship and “walk in his paths.”  On that day, there will be no more wars and bloodshed but peace and unity.  This grandiose vision of Isaiah remains ours.

How is the vision being already realized?  Whenever we find ourselves growing in our spiritual life, we know that we are scaling to the top of the Lord’s mountain to meet Him face to face.  Whenever we find peace and joy as it is for those who have been to the mountaintop, we know that God is there in an awesome way.  Whenever we are able to reconcile conflicts and persuade warring parties to “hammer their swords into ploughshares, their spears into sickles.” Whenever we are able to reconcile relationships in our family and in our workplace, we know that God has made it possible.  Whenever we see how the United Nations is working to ensure that “nation will not lift sword against nation”, we know that God is at work in a divided world.  In other words, when everyone comes under His Lordship where truth and love, justice and compassion, forgiveness and tolerance reign, we know we are nearer to the universal peace envisaged by the prophet Isaiah.

But this is not possible unless the Lord comes into our lives.  The season of Advent precisely celebrates His coming and invites us to receive Him.  When we speak of His coming, we are not limiting ourselves to His first coming at Bethlehem, nor even His Second Coming at the end of time, but also His present coming, here and now in our daily life.  Indeed, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” To the extent that we welcome the Lord Jesus into our lives, to that extent the vision of Isaiah is fulfilled in us, even now, if not perfectly, it surely can be felt.  He has taken the initiative at Christmas and He is still extending the same invitation.  In fact, if He had not first found us, we would not have been able to find Him.  However, He will not force Himself into our lives.  So we must first desire the Lord.  The Lord cannot come into our lives unless we actively seek Him, just like the gentiles in today’s scripture readings.

How, then, do we open our hearts to receive the Lord?  Firstly, we must realize our inadequacy. Although the Centurion was an officer and a respectable person, yet, he was conscious of his limitations.  He knew that he was not all that powerful and therefore he turned to Jesus for help to heal his slave.  The truth is that no one will seek the Lord earnestly unless he knows that he is incomplete and insufficient.  What is equally true is that many of us think so highly of our intelligence and talents, our power and influence, our office and position that we think we can do everything without God’s grace.  We think we can manage on our own.  If that is the case, we will never be earnest in seeking Him.

Secondly, we must come to realize our sinfulness.  When Jesus wanted to go to his house, the Centurion was fully aware that gentiles are seen as sinners and His coming would make Jesus unclean.  So in humility, he said, “Sir, I am not worthy to have you under my roof; just give the word and my servant will be cured.” He knew that he was not worthy of Jesus, the holiness of God to come into his dwelling place.  If we want to prepare well for Christmas, the most important step to take is to purify our hearts and minds through the sacrament of reconciliation.  We must start the year on a clean slate instead of burdening ourselves with the sins of our past life that continue to haunt and condemn us.

Thirdly, we must be serious in wanting to live the life of truth and charity.  That is what the prophet asks of us, “O House of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord.”  There is no question of experiencing the peace and joy of the Lord in our lives so long as we walk in darkness.  To think that we can continue in our sins and find peace and freedom in the Lord is an illusion.  We have to choose God or sin.  Psalm 24 asks, “Who may ascend the mountain of the “Lord?  Who may stand in his holy place?  The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.” (Ps 24:3-4) So today, we need to make up our mind, as the Elijah tells us, “How long will you go limping with two different opinions?  If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” (1 Kg 18:21)

Fourthly, we must begin to strengthen our spiritual life by opening ourselves to the Word of God.   We need to imbue ourselves with the Word of God.  Some think that they can deepen their prayer life without grounding themselves in the Word of God and coming to know God through the humanity of Jesus.   St. Teresa of Avila warns us that “the very care taken not to think about anything will arouse the mind to think a great deal” and therefore any attempt to separate the mystery of Christ from Christian meditation is always a form of “betrayal” (cf.  Letter to the bishops of the Catholic Church on some aspects of Christian meditation, no 10).  Pope St. John Paul II in his apostolic letter, “Novo Millennio Ineunte” says that the only way to see the Lord is to contemplate on the face of the Lord.  Furthermore, not only should we be more than ever firmly set on the face of the Lord” but that this “contemplation of Christ’s face cannot fail to be inspired by all that we are told about him in Sacred … so that Saint Jerome can vigorously affirm: ‘Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.’  Remaining firmly anchored in Scripture, we open ourselves to the action of the Spirit (cf. Jn 15:26).”

So Christian Faith is one that turns to Jesus as our Lord, Saviour, Teacher and Guide as He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  It is through a deepening faith in Jesus that we come to realize who we are and what we are called to be.

Indeed, because the Centurion had encountered Jesus, he was able to submit in faith.  He told the Lord that He only needed to give the word and His servant would be cured.  He knew that the Word of Jesus was effective and efficacious.  Faith ultimately comes about when we know Jesus through His Word and teaching.  With faith, we can therefore trust in Him regardless of whatever situation we are in.  With faith inspired by the Word of God, we will find direction and inspiration from the Lord guiding us and helping us to walk in the light of God, which is the path of freedom in truth and love.  This was the faith of the Centurion, a faith that amazed Jesus even.  He had such confidence in Jesus that he did not even feel the necessity for Jesus to come personally to heal his slave.

If only we cultivate this faith of the Centurion, we would have been great evangelizers transforming the whole world, bringing them to Christ the Light of the world.  The reality is that many of us do not even know Christ because we do not read His Word. We can be truly the beacon of evangelization that Isaiah envisaged if we are personally connected with Jesus, imbued with His Word and walk in the path of truth and charity.

It behooves us at the beginning of the season of Advent to turn our eyes once again on the Lord.  Let us renew our personal relationship with the Lord, who “from the fullness of his love, addresses men as his friends (cf. Ex 33:11; Jn 15:14-15), and moves among them (cf. Bar 3:38), in order to invite and receive them into his own company.” (Dei Verbum n. 2)  Together with the Centurion, let us intercede for each other, for those Catholics who do not yet have a personal encounter with the Lord Jesus and for those who do not yet know Him.  If we intercede for each other and the world the way the Centurion interceded for his servant, then we can be sure that our prayers would be heard.  With the same compassion and love for one another and for the world, let us keep the season of Advent, which is a season of waiting, a season of hope, in prayerful watching.  Let us not allow the festivities of this season to distract us from our primary focus, that is, on the Lord and not on the external trappings of Christmas, namely, the parties and gifts and the merrymaking.

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh
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Art: The Roman Centurion by Nathan Greene
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Lectio Divina From The Carmelites
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Reflection
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Today’s Gospel is a mirror. It reminds us of the words we say during the Mass at the moment of communion: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter my house, say but the word and I will be healed”.  Look at this text in the mirror, it suggests the following:
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The person who seeks Jesus is a pagan, a gentile, a soldier of the Roman army, which dominated and exploited the people. It is not religion nor the desire for God, but rather the need and the suffering which impels him to seek Jesus. Jesus has no prejudices. He does not demand anything first, he accepts and listens to the request of the Roman official.
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Jesus’ answer surprises the centurion, because it is beyond his expectation. The centurion did not expect that Jesus would go to his house.
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He feels unworthy: “I am not worthy”. This means that he considered Jesus a highly superior person.
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The centurion expresses his faith in Jesus saying: “Say only one word and my servant will be cured”. He believes that the word of Jesus is capable of healing. From where does he get this great faith? From his profession experience as a centurion! Because when a centurion gives an order, the soldier obeys. He has to obey! Thus he imagines Jesus: it is enough for Jesus to say one word, and things will happen according to his word. He believes the word of Jesus encloses a creative force.
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Jesus was surprised, astonished, and praises the faith of the centurion. Faith does not consist in accepting, repeating and decorating a doctrine, but in believing and trusting in the word of Jesus.
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Personal questions
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Placing myself in the place of Jesus: how do I accept and listen to the persons of other religions?
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Placing myself in the place of the centurion: which is the personal experience that leads me to believe in Jesus?
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Concluding Prayer
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Come near to me with your saving power, let me share the happiness of your chosen ones, let me share the joy of your people. (Ps 106)
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Related:
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Getting God’s Help: First Surrender Yourself, Then Ask God’s Power to Come In

August 13, 2016

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People Who Have Failed At Running Their Lives Themselves Can Always Surrender — We say that because every day we meet people who express a deep sense of failure or worthlessness.

Christians have a way out. We can always surrender. But who do we surrender to? And what do we give up?

For centuries, Christians have been taught to surrender themselves to God.

Pastors for centuries have said “We need to follow Jesus. We need to try to emulate his way. We need to seek-out a “Christ like life.”

May say mankind’s greatest flaw is ego, or self. The sense of entitlement that comes with a huge ego means people start to think “I am the master of the universe.”

As long as we are filled with selfe, there isn’t too much room for God within us.

Andrew Murray is one of the great teachers of surrender. Murray authored over 240 books based upon his learning and understanding of the teachings of Jesus Christ. He is perhaps the greatest evangelist of the last two centuries.

Many people in our “modern times” can benefit immeasurably from surrendering to a higher power than themselves. This is the very first step in many life-changing or healing or recovery programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.)

 Many of us struggle with ego, false pride and self-esteem issues. Many of us constantly worry about money, our jobs, our future security, our health or health care.
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Yet Jesus says, “Do not worry about your life.” Again and again the theme in the Bible is: “Do not be afraid.”
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A basic teaching, perhaps THE basic teaching of Christianity is: With Jesus we are OK. Do not be afraid.
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If you are depressed, maybe you need some life changing therapy….
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Seek medical help. And do what doctors tell you. But also, if you believe that each human being has a spiritual dimension, seek spiritual help.
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John Francis Carey
Peace and Freedom
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Andrew Murray on “Absolute Surrender”

“And Ben-hadad the king of Syria gathered all his host together: and there were thirty and two kings with him, and horses, and chariots: and he went up and besieged Samaria, and warred against it. And he sent messengers to Ahab king of Israel into the city, and said unto him, Thus saith Benhadad, Thy silver and thy gold is mine; thy wives also and thy children, even the goodliest, are mine. And the king of Israel answered and said, My lord, 0 king, according to thy saying, I am thine and all that I have” (I Kings 20:1-4).

Ahab gave what was asked of him by Benhadad – absolute surrender. I want to use these words: “My lord, 0 king, according to thy saying, I am thine, and all that I have,” as the words of absolute surrender with which every child of God ought to yield himself to his Father. We have heard it before, but we need to hear it very definitely-the condition of God’s blessing is absolute surrender of all into His hands. Praise God! If our hearts are willing for that, there is no end to what God will do for us, and to the blessing God will bestow.

Absolute surrender-let me tell you where I got those words. I used them myself often, and you have heard them numerous times. But once, in Scotland, I was in a company where we were talking about the condition of Christ’s Church, and what the great need of the Church and of believers is. There was in our company a godly Christian worker who has much to do in training other workers for Christ, and I asked him what he would say was the great need of the Church-the message that ought to be preached. He answered very quietly and simply and determinedly:

“Absolute surrender to God is the one thing.”

The words struck me as never before. And that man began to tell how, in the Christian workers with whom he had to deal, he finds that if they are sound on that point, they are willing to be taught and helped, and they always improve. Whereas, others who are not sound there very often go back and leave the work. The condition for obtaining God’s full blessing is absolute surrender to Him.

And now, I desire by God’s grace to give to you this message-that your God in heaven answers the prayers which you have offered for blessing on yourselves and for blessing on those around you by this one demand: Are you willing to surrender yourselves absolutely into His hands? What is our answer to be? God knows there are hundreds of hearts who have said it, and there are hundreds more who long to say it but hardly dare to do so. And there are hearts who have said it, but who have yet miserably failed, and who feel themselves condemned because they did not find the secret of the power to live that life. May God have a word for all!

Let me say, first of all, that God claims it from us.

 

Yes, it has its foundation in the very nature of God. God cannot do otherwise. Who is God? He is the Fountain of life, the only Source of existence and power and goodness.

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Throughout the universe there is nothing good but what God works. God has created the sun, the moon, the stars, the flowers, the trees, and the grass. Are they not all absolutely surrendered to God? Do they not allow God to work in them just what He pleases?

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When God clothes the lily with its beauty, is it not yielded up, surrendered, given over to God as He works in it its beauty? And God’s redeemed children, oh, can you think that God can do His work if there is only half or a part of them surrendered? God cannot do it. God is life, love, blessing, power, and infinite beauty, and God delights in communicating Himself to every child who is prepared to receive Him.

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But ah! this one lack of absolute surrender is just the thing that hinders God. And now He comes, and as God, He claims it.

You know in daily life what absolute surrender is. You know that everything has to be given up to its special, definite object and service. I have a pen in my pocket, and that pen is absolutely surrendered to the one work of writing. That pen must be absolutely surrendered to my hand if I am to write properly with it. If another holds it partly, I cannot write properly.

This coat is absolutely given up to me to cover my body. This building is entirely given up to religious services. And now, do you expect that in your immortal being, in the divine nature that you have received by regeneration, God can work His work, every day and every hour, unless you are entirely given up to Him? God cannot. The temple of Solomon was absolutely surrendered to God when it was dedicated to Him. And every one of us is a temple of God, in which God will dwell and work mightily on one condition-absolute surrender to Him. God claims it, God is worthy of it, and without it God cannot work His blessed work in us.

God not only claims it, but God will work it Himself.

GOD ACCOMPLISHES YOUR SURRENDER

I am sure there is many a heart that says: “Ah, but that absolute surrender implies so much!” Someone says: “Oh, I have passed through so much trial and suffering, and there is so much of the self-life still remaining. I dare not face entirely giving it up because I know it will cause so much trouble and agony.”

Alas! alas! that God’s children have such thoughts of Him, such cruel thoughts. I come with a message to those who are fearful and anxious. God does not ask you to give the perfect surrender in your strength, or by the power of your will; God is willing to work it in you.

Do we not read: “it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13)? And that is what we should seek-to go on our faces before God, until our hearts learn to believe that the everlasting God Himself will come in to turn out what is wrong. He will conquer what is evil, and work what is well pleasing in His blessed sight. God Himself will work it in you.

Look at the men in the Old Testament, like Abraham. Do you think it was by accident that God found that man, the father of the faithful and the friend of God? Do you think that it was Abraham himself, apart from God, who had such faith and such obedience and such devotion? You know it is not so. God raised him up and prepared him as an instrument for His glory.

Did God not say to Pharaoh: “For this cause have I raised thee up, for to show in thee my power” (Exodus 9:16)?

And if God said that of him, will God not say it far more of every child of His?

Oh, I want to encourage you, and I want you to cast away every fear. Come with that feeble desire. If there is the fear which says-“Oh, my desire is not strong enough. I am not willing for everything that maycome , and I do not feel bold enough to say I can conquer everything”-l implore you, learn to know and trust your God now. Say: “My God, I am willing that You should make me willing.” If there is anything holding you back, or any sacrifice you are afraid of making, come to God now and prove how gracious your God is. Do not be afraid that He will command from you what He will not bestow.

God comes and offers to work this absolute surrender in you. All these searchings and hungerings and longings that are in your heart, I tell you, they are the drawings of the divine magnet, Christ Jesus. He lived a life of absolute surrender. He has possession of you; He is living in your heart by His Holy Spirit. You have hindered and hindered Him terribly, but He desires to help you to get a hold of Him entirely. And He comes and draws you now by His message and words. Will you not come and trust God to work in you that absolute surrender to Himself Yes, blessed be God! He can do it, and He will do it.

God not only claims it and works it, but God accepts it when we bring it to Him.

GOD ACCEPTS YOUR SURRENDER

God works it in the secret of our heart; God urges us by the hidden power of His Holy Spirit to come and speak it out, and we have to bring and yield to Him that absolute surrender. But remember, when you come and bring God that absolute surrender, it may, as far as your feelings or your consciousness go, be a thing of great imperfection. You may doubt and hesitate and say:

“Is it absolute?”

But, oh, remember there was once a man to whom Christ had said: “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth” (Mark 9:23). And his heart was afraid, and he cried out: “Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9:24).

That was a faith that triumphed over Satan, and the evil spirit was cast out. And if you come and say: “Lord, I yield myself in absolute surrender to my God,” even though you do so with a trembling heart and with the consciousness: “I do not feel the power. I do not feel the determination. I do not feel the assurance,” it will succeed. Do not be afraid, but come-just as you are. Even in the midst of your trembling the power of the Holy Spirit will work.

Have you not yet learned the lesson that the Holy Spirit works with mighty power, while on the human side everything appears feeble? Look at the Lord Jesus Christ in Gethsemane. We read that He, “through the eternal Spirit” (Hebrews 9:14), offered Himself a sacrifice unto God. The Almighty Spirit of God was enabling Him to do it. And yet what agony and fear and exceeding sorrow came over Him, and how He prayed! Externally, you can see no sign of the mighty power of the Spirit, but the Spirit of God was there. And even so, while you are feeble and fighting and trembling, with faith in the hidden work of God’s Spirit do not fear, but yield yourself.

And when you do yield yourself in absolute surrender, let it be with the faith that God does now accept it. That is the great point, and that is what we so often miss-that believers should be thus occupied with God in this matter of surrender. Be occupied with God. We want to get help, every one of us, so that in our daily life God will be clearer to us, God will have the right place, and be “all in all.” And if we are to have that through life, let us begin now and look away from ourselves and look up to God. Let each believe- I, a poor worm on earth and a trembling child of God, full of failure, sin, and fear, bow here, and no one knows what passes through my heart.

I simply say, “Oh God, I accept Your terms. I have pleaded for blessing on myself and others. I have accepted Your terms of absolute surrender.” While your heart says that in deep silence, remember there is a God present that takes note of it, and writes it down in His book. There is a God present who at that very moment takes possession of you. You may not feel it, you may not realize it, but God takes possession if you will trust Him. God not only claims it and works it and accepts it when I bring it, but God maintains it.

GOD MAINTAINS YOUR SURRENDER

That is the great difficulty with many. People say: “I have often been stirred at a meeting or at a convention, and I have consecrated myself to God.

But it has passed away. I know it may last for a week or for a month, but it fades away. After a time it is all gone.”

But listen! It is because you do not believe what I am now going to tell you and remind you of. When God has begun the work of absolute surrender in you, and when God has accepted your surrender, then God holds Himself bound to care for it and to keep it.

Will you believe that?

In this matter of surrender, there are: God and 1-1 a worm, God the everlasting and omnipotent Jehovah. Worm, will you be afraid to trust yourself to this mighty God now? God is willing. Do you not believe that He can keep you continually, day by day, and moment by moment?

Moment by moment I’m kept in His love;

Moment by moment I’ve life from above.

If God allows the sun to shine on you moment by moment, without intermission, will God not let His life shine on you every moment? And why have you not experienced it? Because you have not trusted God for it, and you do not surrender yourself absolutely to God in that trust.

A life of absolute surrender has its difficulties. I do not deny that. Yes, it has something far more than difficulties: it is a life that with men is absolutely impossible. But by the grace of God, by the power of God, by the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, it is a life to which we are destined, and a life that is possible for us, praise God! Let us believe that God will maintain it.

Some of you have read the words of that aged saint who, on his ninetieth birthday, told of all God’s goodness to him- I mean George Muller. What did he say he believed to be the secret of his happiness and of all the blessing which God had given him? He said he believed there were two reasons. The one was that he had been enabled by grace to maintain a good conscience before God day by day. The other was that he was a lover of God’s Word. Ah, yes, a good conscience is complete obedience to God day by day, and fellowship with God everyday in His Word and prayer-that is a life of absolute surrender.

Such a life has two sides-on one side, absolute surrender to work what God wants you to do; on the other side, to let God work what He wants to do.

First, to do what God wants you to do.

Give yourselves up absolutely to the will of God. You know something of that will; not enough, far from all. But say absolutely to the Lord God: “By Your grace I desire to do Your will in everything, every moment of every day.” Say: “Lord God, not a word upon my tongue but for Your glory. Not a movement of my temper but for Your glory. Not an affection of love or hate in my heart but for Your glory, and according to Your blessed will.”

Someone says: “Do you think that possible?”

I ask, What has God promised you, and what can God do to fill a vessel absolutely surrendered to Him? Oh, God wants to bless you in a way beyond what you expect. From the beginning, ear has not heard, neither has the eye seen, what God has prepared for them that wait for Him (I Corinthians 2:9). God has prepared unheard-of-things, blessings much more wonderful than you can imagine, more mighty than you can conceive. They are divine blessings. Oh, say now:

“I give myself absolutely to God, to His will, to do only what God wants.”

It is God who will enable you to carry out the surrender.

And, on the other side, come and say: “I give myself absolutely to God, to let Him work in me to will and to do of His good pleasure, as He has promised to do.”

Yes, the living God wants to work in His children in a way that we cannot understand, but that God’s Word has revealed. He wants to work in us every moment of the day. God is willing to maintain our life. Only let our absolute surrender be one of simple, childlike., and unbounded trust.

Read more:

http://www.worldinvisible.com/library/murray/absolutesurrender/abssur1.htm

Related:

There are our “top overnight reads” at Peace and Freedom:

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Related:

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“God tempers the wind to the shorn lamb.”

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We recommend the book “Holy Spirit” By Edward Leen. It changed my life. It can change yours too.This is the Catholic version of Andrew Murray’s “Absolute Surrender.” (And Andrew Murray is easier to understand for many)

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“Introduction to the Devout Life,” By St. Francis de Sales. Many people reject that word  “devout.”  But we are all devoted to a thing or two.  A crack addict is devoted to cocaine. Once a  human being decides maybe he can find a better life with the help of God, he naturally becomes less devoted to some things and more devoted to others…..

If “Introduction to the Devout Life,” looks too big, the works of St. Francis de Sales have been broken up into several volumes….

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“Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence” by de Caussade — the goal is total dependence upon God. To get a new self; most human beings need to get rid of the old self.

Jean Pierre de Caussade (7 March 1675 – 8 December 1751), advice on people having great troubles, anxiety, depression:

“They have only to fulfill the simple duties of the Christian Faith and of their state of life, to accept with submission the crosses that go with those duties, and to submit with faith and love to the designs of Providence in everything that is constantly being presented to them to do and to endure, without searching for anything themselves.”

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 (Padre Pio) (If you are totally dependent upon God, and you are working to have a good life and want to stay alive, I guarantee you’ll have no trouble sleeping.)
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“The Catholic Guide to Depression,” by Aaron Kheriaty, MD and Fr. John Cihak, STD.
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Many people have said to us that the four signs of a “dynamic Catholic” are also the characteristics of many Christians of all denominations and people in recovery programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous.

Dynamic Christians and the the really hard working people in recovery do the sames kinds of things:

  1. They Pray and Meditate
  2. They Study (The Good Book or the Big Book or both)
  3. They pour themselves out in loving service to others (AAs call this “Twelve Step Work”)
  4. They evangelize (They spread the message)

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 — At every age, a strong faith and God helps. But as we encounter disease, tragedy and death, we need more from Him. Less me, more Him.
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Prayers for healing the grief — We can console those that seem inconsolable — By the Power of God

March 1, 2016

A Christian Science perspective

Christian Science Monitor

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Hearing the news of mass shootings last week, I longed to take all the people of Kalamazoo, Mich., and Hesston, Kan., in my arms and in some way by some power remove any fear and grief they might feel. Physically this was impossible, but I took courage knowing I could embrace these communities in my prayers – affirming the power of God, who is Love (see I John 4:16), to bring relief and healing.
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Speaking of the power of God’s love to meet the human need for comfort, care, and healing, Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science and the founder of this newspaper, wrote: “Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need. It is not well to imagine that Jesus demonstrated the divine power to heal only for a select number or for a limited period of time, since to all mankind and in every hour, divine Love supplies all good” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 494).

Christ Jesus’ healing works give undeniable proof that God is Love and that this Love is ever present to minister to each of us. Through his understanding of the activity of God’s love to meet the needs of humanity, Jesus restored health to those who were sick and brought comfort and healing to those who were brokenhearted. His “humble prayers were deep and conscientious protests of Truth, – of man’s likeness to God and of man’s unity with Truth and Love,” Mrs. Eddy explained (Science and Health, p. 12).

Jesus was not affirming that a vicious or victimized mortal was God’s likeness. In his prayers, he looked beyond the human circumstances and protested in behalf of man’s pure spiritual identity as God’s likeness (see Genesis 1:26). His protests uplifted the human thought and freed it from sin, sickness, and sorrow.

When we make our mental protest that in our pure spiritual being we and our fellow men are one with God, Love, this brings to light Love’s ability to meet us right where we are and communicate with each of us in a way that we can understand. At times Love’s comforting messages come to us without words but bring peace to our hearts, gently removing our burdens and opening the way for Love’s healing warmth to stir within us and uplift our thought.

This is what happened to me when a dearly loved family member passed on unexpectedly. The burden of loss was a shock to me and other members of the family and we were deeply grieved. Struggling under the weight of sadness, I found a few free minutes to take a walk while my young children were at their piano lessons. On my walk I thought about how God’s love was infinite and realized that Love’s infinitude meant Love was big enough to meet everyone’s need, including my own. This inspiration transformed my thinking and the way I saw everything around me. As I walked on quietly, I noticed the sky was a deep, deep blue, and the sun shed its warm light all around me, bringing out the most brilliant colors in everything I saw. The view was so stunning that it stays in my thought even today, many years later. That day, I truly felt God’s wonderful, divine embrace giving me a perfect sense of assurance and comfort in the continuity of God’s love for me and everyone. My burden was lifted. This spiritual peace brought complete healing to my troubled heart.

As we continue to pray for the families and communities that have suffered tragedy, we can be assured that divine Love reaches everyone with its healing message. Love frees us from the burden of grief and lovingly guides us with wisdom as we work to establish a sense of peace and security, grounded in divine Love’s allness.

http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/A-Christian-Science-Perspective/2016/0301/The-comfort-of-Love

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See also:

“We are gathered here because of one man. A man known personally to many of us, known only by reputation to even more. A man loved by many, scorned by others. A man known for great controversy, and for great compassion. That man, of course, is Jesus of Nazareth.

It is He whom we proclaim. Jesus Christ, son of the father, born of the Virgin Mary, crucified, buried, risen, seated at the right hand of the Father. It is because of him. because of his life, death and resurrection that we do not mourn as those who have no hope….”

Prayer and Meditation for Monday, February 8, 2016 — They begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak — Ours were the sufferings he was bearing for us

February 7, 2016

Monday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 329

Woman reaches to touch the tassel …. The faith of a mustard seed…..

Reading 1 1 KGS 8:1-7, 9-13

The elders of Israel and all the leaders of the tribes,
the princes in the ancestral houses of the children of Israel,
came to King Solomon in Jerusalem,
to bring up the ark of the LORD’s covenant
from the City of David, which is Zion.
All the people of Israel assembled before King Solomon
during the festival in the month of Ethanim (the seventh month).
When all the elders of Israel had arrived,
the priests took up the ark;
they carried the ark of the LORD
and the meeting tent with all the sacred vessels
that were in the tent.
(The priests and Levites carried them.)King Solomon and the entire community of Israel
present for the occasion
sacrificed before the ark sheep and oxen
too many to number or count.
The priests brought the ark of the covenant of the LORD
to its place beneath the wings of the cherubim in the sanctuary,
the holy of holies of the temple.
The cherubim had their wings spread out over the place of the ark,
sheltering the ark and its poles from above.
There was nothing in the ark but the two stone tablets
which Moses had put there at Horeb,
when the LORD made a covenant with the children of Israel
at their departure from the land of Egypt.When the priests left the holy place,
the cloud filled the temple of the LORD
so that the priests could no longer minister because of the cloud,
since the LORD’s glory had filled the temple of the LORD.
Then Solomon said, “The LORD intends to dwell in the dark cloud;
I have truly built you a princely house,
a dwelling where you may abide forever.”

Responsorial Psalm PS 132:6-7, 8-10

R. (8a) Lord, go up to the place of your rest!
Behold, we heard of it in Ephrathah;
we found it in the fields of Jaar.
Let us enter into his dwelling,
let us worship at his footstool.
R. Lord, go up to the place of your rest!
Advance, O LORD, to your resting place,
you and the ark of your majesty.
May your priests be clothed with justice;
let your faithful ones shout merrily for joy.
For the sake of David your servant,
reject not the plea of your anointed.
R. Lord, go up to the place of your rest!

Alleluia SEE MT 4:23

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Jesus preached the Gospel of the Kingdom
and cured every disease among the people.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MK 6:53-56

After making the crossing to the other side of the sea,
Jesus and his disciples came to land at Gennesaret
and tied up there.
As they were leaving the boat, people immediately recognized him.
They scurried about the surrounding country
and began to bring in the sick on mats
to wherever they heard he was.
Whatever villages or towns or countryside he entered,
they laid the sick in the marketplaces
and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak;
and as many as touched it were healed.
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Photo: In the Philippines, survivors of Super Typhoon “Yolanda” march during a religious procession in Tolosa in Leyte on November 18, 2013, over one week after the supertyphoon devastated the area. AFP/Philippe Lopez

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Lectio Divina from the Carmelites
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Reflection
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The text of today’s Gospel is the final part of the whole passage of Mark 6,45-56 which presents three different themes: a) Jesus goes to the mountain alone to pray (Mk 6, 45-46). b) Immediately after, he walks on the water, goes toward the disciples who are struggling against the waves of the sea (Mk 6, 47-52). 3) Now, in today’s Gospel, when they were already on the shore, the people look for Jesus so that he can cure their sick (Mk 6, 53-56).
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Mark 6, 53-56. The search of the people. “At that time, Jesus and his disciples having made the crossing, they came to land at Gennesaret.
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When they disembarked, the people at once recognized him”. The people were numerous looking for Jesus. They came from all parts, bringing their sick. The enthusiasm of the people who look for Jesus and recognizing him follow him is surprising. What impels people to search for Jesus is not only the desire to encounter him, to be with him, but rather the desire to be cured of the sicknesses. “And hurrying all through the countryside they brought the sick on stretchers to wherever they heard he went. And wherever he went to village or town or farm, they laid down the sick in the open spaces, begging him to let them touch even the fringe of his cloak, and all those who touched him were saved”. The  comments and enlightens this fact quoting the figure of the Servant of Yahweh, of whom Isaiah says: “Yet ours were the sufferings he was bearing, ours the sorrows he was carrying”. (Is 53, 4 and Mt 8, 16-17)
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“She reached only for the tassel” …. Christ Healing a bleeding woman, as depicted in the Catacombs of Rome
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To teach and to cure, to cure and to teach. Right from the beginning of his apostolic activity, Jesus goes through all the villages of Galilee, to speak to the people about the imminent coming of the Kingdom of God (Mk 1, 14-15). There, wherever he finds people to listen to him, he speaks and transmits the Good News of God, he accepts the sick, in all places: in the Synagogues during the celebration of the Word, on Saturday (Mk 1, 21; 3, 1; 6, 2); in the informal meetings in the house of friends (Mk 2, 1.15; 7, 17; 9, 28; 10, 10); walking on the street with the disciples (Mk 2, 23); along the beach, sitting in a boat (Mk 4, 1); in the desert where he took refuge and where people looked for him (Mk 1, 45; 6, 32-34); on the mountain from where he proclaimed the Beatitudes (Mt 5, 1); in the squares of the villages and of the cities, where the people took their sick (Mk 6, 55-56); in the Temple of Jerusalem, on the occasion of pilgrimages, every day without fear (Mk 14, 49)! To cure and to teach, to teach and to cure that is what Jesus did the most (Mk 2, 13; 4, 1-2; 6, 34). This is what he used to do (Mk 10, 1). The people were amazed (Mk 12, 37; 1, 22.27; 11, 18) and they looked for him, as a crowd.
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In the origin of this great enthusiasm of the people was, on the one hand, the person of Jesus who called and attracted and, on the other side, the abandonment in which people lived, they were like sheep without a shepherd (cf. Mk 6,34). In Jesus, everything was revelation of what impelled him from within! He not only spoke of God, but he also revealed him. He communicated something of what he himself lived and experienced. He not only announced the Good News. He himself was a proof, a living witness of the Kingdom. In him was manifested what happens when a human being allows God to reign in his life. What has value, what is important, is not only the words, but also and above all the witness, the concrete gesture. This is the Good News which attracts!

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Personal questions
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The enthusiasm of the people of Jesus, looking for the sense of life and a solution for their ills. Where does this exist today? Does in exist in you, does it exist in others?
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What attracts is the loving attitude of Jesus toward the poor and the abandoned. And I, how do I deal with the persons excluded by society?
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Concluding prayer
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How countless are your works, Yahweh, all of them made so wisely! The earth is full of your creatures. Bless Yahweh, my soul. (Ps 104,24.35)
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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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08 FEBRUARY 2016, Monday, 5th Week in Ordinary Time
DOMESTICATING THE PRESENCE OF GOD

SCRIPTURE READINGS: 1Kgs 8:1-7.9-13; Ps 131:6-10; Mk 6:53-56

In the first reading, we read of the completion of the Temple of Jerusalem, the brainchild of King David but which was left to King Solomon to finish the task.  There was great rejoicing in Israel as “Solomon called the elders of Israel to together in Jerusalem to bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord up from the Citadel of David, which Zion.”   The Ark of the Covenant had special significance for the people of Israel.  The Ark housed the two tablets containing the Ten Commandments God gave to Moses.  It was important to the Israelites because it represented the presence of God for the people of Israel.

In all religions, signs and symbols are always used.  Every religion would have their symbols to signify God’s presence.  For Christians, the Bible is considered the sacred book of God.  For Catholics, besides the bible, we have the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, which is the real presence of Christ. The tabernacle is to us what the Ark was to the Israelites.  Instead of housing the Two Tablets of the Decalogue, literally, the Ten Words or Laws, we have Christ who is the Word of God made flesh in the Eucharist.  We too have great devotion to the Eucharist whom we recognize as the presence of God par excellence.

The necessity of signs and symbols to represent the presence of God is due to the fact that we are not pure spirits.   We need to see, smell, hear, feel and touch.  The medium of communication is through the human body.   This is the basis for the incarnation.  God assumes our humanity so that through Christ, we can come to know the Father.  Jesus is for us the presence of God in person.   This accounts for Jesus’ claim that to see Him is to see the Father. For this same reason, the Lord instructed His disciples to heal the sick. “So they set of to preach repentance; and they cast out many devils, and anointed many sick people with oil and cured them.” (Mk 6:13) Such use of natural objects concurs with the first reading when God made His presence felt through the clouds, through the things of nature.

However, there is always the temptation to domesticate God.  As in the days of old, symbols and signs which were meant to mediate the presence of God were often taken as the ends themselves.  When that happens, we fall into superstition. This was the case of the Israelites.  Unfortunately, this is true of some Catholics as well who are more concerned with sacramentals, rubrics and the externals of the liturgical celebrations than with the meaning that has been intended.  What we need to emphasize is how we encounter God through the sacramentals, gestures and actions.  We read in the gospel that all those who “touch even the fringe of his cloak.  And all those who touched him were cured.”   Would we say that this is pure superstition?  The use of sacramentals like holy water, oil, crucifix are not to be considered as superstitious practices so long as such elements and objects are connected with God or with Christ.  The power of such sacramentals is not dependent on the things in themselves but by the promise of Christ through His Church that He would act through such objects so that people could feel His presence and love more deeply and tangibly.

Of course, it would be ideal if we have the faith of the Centurion who said, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof;  therefore I did not presume to come to you. But only speak the word, and let my servant be healed.” (Lk 7:7)  But few have this simple faith as Jesus noted.

For this reason, God, knowing our weakness, was reluctant to have the Temple built for Him.  When David wanted to build the Temple, the Lord instructed the Prophet Nathan, “Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord, ‘Are you the one to build me a house to live in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, ‘Why have you not built me a house of cedar?’” Indeed, God is a trek God, a nomadic God who moves with His people.  He does not stay in a place like human beings.  He does not want to be tied down to a particular location or an object.  This God wants to be with His people, journeying with them in all their activities and life.   This is the beginning of the domestication of God.

So after 480 years since they left Egypt, a Temple which He did not ask to be built was constructed for Him.  In truth, the Temple was more for the people than for God.  In the New Testament, we find that again, the Lord wanted to be present in His people, not so much in the Temple.  Jesus told the Samaritan, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (Jn 4:21-24)  St Paul wrote, “What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, ‘I will live in them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (2 Cor 6:16)

In Vatican Council teaching on Sacred Liturgy, the Fathers speak of the different ways Christ is present in His Church in the liturgy, especially in His ministers and the People of God.  “To accomplish so great a work, Christ is always present in His Church, especially in her liturgical celebrations. He is present in the sacrifice of the Mass, not only in the person of His minister, ‘the same now offering, through the ministry of priests, who formerly offered himself on the cross’, but especially under the Eucharistic species. By His power He is present in the sacraments, so that when a man baptizes it is really Christ Himself who baptizes. He is present in His word, since it is He Himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in the Church. He is present, lastly, when the Church prays and sings, for He promised: “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Mt 18:20). Christ indeed always associates the Church with Himself in this great work wherein God is perfectly glorified and men are sanctified. The Church is His beloved Bride who calls to her Lord, and through Him offers worship to the Eternal Father. Rightly, then, the liturgy is considered as an exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ.

In the liturgy the sanctification of the man is signified by signs perceptible to the senses, and is effected in a way which corresponds with each of these signs; in the liturgy the whole public worship is performed by the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the Head and His members. From this it follows that every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the priest and of His Body which is the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others; no other action of the Church can equal its efficacy by the same title and to the same degree.”

In the gospel today, Jesus mediates the presence of God through His works of healing and compassion for the poor.  People “brought the sick on stretchers to wherever they heard he was.  And wherever he went, to village, or town, or farm, they laid down the sick in the open spaces.” In Jesus, they saw the presence of God.  Christ was the mercy and compassion of God for them.  He is the fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah.  He is the visitation of the Lord.  “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel.  He has visited His people and redeemed them.” (Lk 1:68)

We, too, who worship the Lord in the Temple and receive Him in the sacraments, are called to do likewise.  We must become what we receive.  Having received Christ, we must be Christ to others in the way we live our lives, the way we speak, the way we serve, the way we look at others.   Only when our lives and our very being also become the very presence of God’s love and mercy, could we then say that we have not allowed ourselves to fall into the temptation of domesticating God, but we have allowed Him to live and dwell in us, making us living stones of His Holy Temple.

For those of us who are celebrating the Lunar New Year Festival, as we go about visiting our friends and loved ones, let us be conscious that we are called to be God’s visitation as well.  We must bring joy to others through our presence, our gifts, our sharing and most of all, when we share our lives with each other.  May we become great messengers of God’s blessings to everyone we meet during the Lunar New Year.  We must go beyond merely fulfilling our obligation to visit our elderly to pay respects, but that we are carrying out the command of our Lord to bring His presence and love to them.  Let us not waste the opportunities to radiate His presence and love during this Lunar New Year Celebration.

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Commentary on Mark 6:53-56 from Living Space

In last Saturday’s Gospel reading we saw Jesus and the Twelve landing at a remote place by the lakeshore to spend a day of quietness and reflection. But, as soon as they disembarked, they were met by a huge number of people for whom Jesus, as their Shepherd, was filled with the deepest compassion. After teaching them at length, he arranged with his disciples for the 5,000 people there to be fed. After this, the disciples were sent off in their boat to Bethsaida. On the way, they ran into a huge storm. In the middle of it Jesus appeared walking on the water. When he got into the boat and commanded the wind and the waves there was total calm. In our weekday readings from Mark, these two scenes are passed over at this point (we will be reflecting on them at another time).

Today we have a passage summarising what Jesus was doing for the people. It indicates the tremendous hunger of the people to be healed and made whole by Jesus. The people recognise him immediately and go everywhere, bringing along those in need of healing.

Jesus, in turn, was visiting towns and villages. The sick, strong in their faith, only asked to be allowed to touch the edges of his outer garment and everyone who touched him was healed and made whole.

Let us pray that our influence on others at home, at work and elsewhere may have a truly healing effect.

http://livingspace.sacredspace.ie/O1052G/

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Turning to God in prayer: Pete Seeger’s song “To Everything There Is a Season” were taken word for word from the Bible

February 4, 2016

A Christian Science perspective: What does it mean to “turn” to God?

Christian Science Monitor

The lyrics of Pete Seeger’s song “To Everything There Is a Season” were taken word for word from the Bible (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). The only words Seeger added were “Turn! Turn! Turn!” and “I swear it’s not too late.”

While I can’t claim to know what Seeger’s intended meaning was, for me, the simple word “turn” has always reminded me of the importance of turning to God. The great figures of the Bible showed that turning to God – when they had important decisions to make, faced desperate situations, or needed healing for themselves or others – got them results.

When Moses led the Hebrew people out of Egypt after 400 years of slavery (see Acts 7:6), the Egyptian army pursued them to the Red Sea. In this crisis, when escape looked impossible, Moses turned to God for help, and a strong east wind opened a path through the sea (see Exodus, Chaps. 13, 14).

Moses Praying on Mt. Pisgah

The prophet Elisha turned to God for guidance continually. Through his communion with God he was able to warn the king of Israel numerous times of ambushes and surprise attacks planned by the Syrians against the army of Israel (see II Kings, Chap. 6).

In another instance, Peter was imprisoned by King Herod, chained in his cell, and guarded by 16 soldiers the night before he was to be executed. Yet the Christians of the budding Antioch church prayed for Peter without ceasing, and that very night Peter walked out of the prison to freedom (see Acts, Chap. 12).

Turning to God in tough, seemingly impossible situations was very natural for these biblical worthies. They knew that God was with them and that He was all powerful. They understood that God heard their prayers and that He answered prayer in ways that brought freedom and healing.

Christ Jesus turned to God continually in prayer and acknowledged Him as the power behind the healings he brought about. Expressing unsurpassed humility, even in light of what were deemed miraculous healing works, Jesus always gave God, the Father, the entire credit for what he did. He said, “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise” (John 5:19). ​Jesus understood so clearly that the man and woman of God’s creation are perfect, that his healings were instantaneous. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, states: “Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God’s own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” pp. 476-477).

Jesus Praying in Gethsemane

When Jesus healed the man with the withered hand, for example, he was so conscious of God’s supreme goodness, justice, and love, and of the perfection of that man’s true identity, that his understanding overruled the deformity. The man was healed immediately (see Mark 3:1-5). Christ Jesus said that his followers would emulate his healings, as they understood the truth he taught. The healing that results from turning to God and understanding Him to be our source of life can be practiced today.

In one case, a man with a medically diagnosed case of shingles contacted a Christian Science practitioner for help through prayer. The practitioner did not dwell upon the diagnosis or what may have caused the problem. Rather, he immediately turned his thought to God and prayed to understand this man as made in the image and likeness of God, as brought out in Genesis 1:26, 27. The patient reported that the pain dissipated almost immediately, and within four days all bodily evidence of the diagnosed condition was gone.

Turning to God in prayer and beginning to understand our own relationship to the Father reveals our true being as the perfect man of God’s creating. This kind of turning transforms our thinking and brings practical – healing – results.

A version of this article ran in the Jan. 30 issue of The Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, Miss.).

http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/A-Christian-Science-Perspective/2016/0204/Turn!-Turn!-Turn!