In Gospel reading (Luke 1:26-38; Luke 1:39-4), we see Elizabeth and her unborn son, John, joyfully reacting to the nearness of the unborn Christ. Since Jesus wasn’t visibly saving the world yet, how could this happen?
We can safely guess that Elizabeth was already feeling joyful, since after many infertile years she had become pregnant and, increasing her joy, she knew that she carried a son who was destined to be very special for the kingdom of God. And I’m sure she was happy to see her delightful relative, Mary.
Yet, surely Elizabeth’s joy was tested by the difficulties of being pregnant at an old age and even the normal problems of everyday life. How come she didn’t greet Mary with complaints about the extra weight that was making her back ache or about her husband’s sin that had struck him dumb?
The scripture doesn’t say that Elizabeth was filled with “joy” but that she was filled with the Holy Spirit. Her joy, which was evidenced in the greeting she gave to Mary, was a fruit of the Spirit, nourished by faith.
How much joy do you have? If the answer is “not enough”, why? You have the presence of God’s Spirit within you. How much faith in the Holy Spirit’s love do you really have?Read More »
Notice the determination of Zacchaeus in this Sunday’s Gospel reading. His view of Jesus was obstructed, but that didn’t stop him from seeing Jesus. He had an obstacle (the crowd) and a handicap (his short stature), but he refused to allow any of this to prevent him from reaching his goal of getting a clear view of Jesus.
In fact, Zacchaeus was so eager to experience Jesus that he did something drastic: He climbed a tree! Maybe he felt embarrassed hanging onto a tree limb; maybe onlookers thought he was odd. Maybe someone tried to talk him down. Maybe the tree was rough and tore his clothes and scratched his skin. None of that stopped him.
We all have handicaps — prejudices, misconceptions, bad training, spiritual laziness, fears and doubts, and so on — which obstruct our view of Jesus. And we all have short stature: we are much smaller than God and cannot see the goodness that he sees in and beyond our hardships. In our short-sightedness, we conclude that Jesus has abandoned us, and we feel so very alone.
Instead, we should be like Zacchaeus. In our desire to see Jesus fully, as he really is, we should do everything possible to find a way around all obstacles and overcome all spiritual handicaps.Read More »
Blind faith is trusting in something without any evidence. It has been described as a leap in the dark, a giving over of oneself to something despite a solid foundation. God does not expect us to have this type of faith.
God has revealed Himself to us. Romans 1:20 says, “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” God is evident in creation. It may take faith to believe that God is Creator, but that faith is far from blind.
God has also revealed Himself through Scripture. In the Bible we read of God speaking to the patriarchs and prophets of the Old Testament. His manifest presence was with the Israelites (Exodus 13:21; Exodus 33:7-11). He gave us Scripture that we might come to know Him and trust Him (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
The greatest revelation of God is Jesus Christ. He is God Incarnate, the Word made flesh (John 1:1-5; 14). Jesus reveals to us the glory and character of God. Because He rose from the dead, His message is validated.Read More »
Imagine celebrating your birthday like you’re 10 years old again. Full of joy, excited for the year ahead, doing something you love with the ones who make you smile.
Why do so many of us stop celebrating as the years pass? Birthdays come and go – maybe there’s a dinner involved, a few cards, some well wishes online. We move up one number, and it’s business as usual.
What would it look like to really celebrate our years again – to begin shifting our focus from the fear of aging, to the rich, full lives God is calling us into as the years pass?
“Why grow old gracefully?” Says a beautiful, wrinkle-free woman, “I intend to fight it every step of the way!”
But what does God say about it all? If we listen to the One Who created us, we will hear all about grace and goodness; not fear and resistance.
He reminds us more than once in His Word that growing older is an honor. “Gray hair is a glorious crown…” Proverbs 16:31 CSB. The more years we live, the more experiences we’re given to learn from, and the more wisdom and perspective we gain to see life in new and beautiful ways. When we see someone in their later years (or when we look in the mirror and it’s us!) let’s remember what a gift that is.
And while the media leads us to believe that youth somehow has more value, the truth is, we are treasured by God at every age. Not only that, but He gives us specific gifts to share with the world in every season of our lives. In Titus 2:3-5 CSB, Paul reminds the older women of their great purpose – that by living reverent lives of love, self-control, purity and kindness, they will bless and nurture the hearts of the younger women and their families. The generations to come depend on our willingness to share what God has given us.Read More »
Hell broke loose on the Christians of Kandhamal on August 25, 2008, after Hindu extremists blamed Christians for the August 23 murder of Hindu leader Swami Lakshmanananda Saraswati, even though Maoist rebels claimed the assassination.
Fr. Singh said that ten years after the violence, the victims, their families and survivors still await justice. In addition, 7 Adivasi Dalit (indigenous of low cast origin) Christians who were falsely accused of the murder of Lakshmanananda, are behind bars for the last 10 years under life imprisonment. On the contrary, not a single person who committed “heinous crimes” such as murder, gang rape, arson, looting and destruction of churches and homes, is behind bars. Besides, Fr. Singh said, there is also a huge amount of intimidation and threat against justice and the Christians.
Fr. Singh pointed out that the 2007 and 2008 violence on Christians was the worst in past 300 years in India.
Hundreds of innocent people were killed or injured in the violence, nearly 7000 homes were reduced to ashes and 395 churches were demolished. This went on for 6 to 7 months but what Fr. Singh regrets most is that 10 years after the violence, people still haven’t been able to return to their homes and villages.
Read full article: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/church/news/2019-01/india-kandhamal-odisha-antichristian-violence-justice-raikia.html
Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation
Why does the Bible, and why does Jesus, tell us to care for the poor and the outsider? Is it first of all because people need help? Maybe, but I believe it has a much deeper genius. We are the ones who need to move into the worlds of powerlessness for our own conversion! We need to meet people whose faith, patience, and forgiveness tell us we are still in the kindergarten of love. We need to be influenced by people who are happy without having all the things we think are essential to happiness.
When we are too smug and content, we really have little need for the Gospel, so we make Christianity into pious devotions that ask nothing of us and do nothing for the world. We are never in need of forgiveness because we have constructed a world that allows us to always be right and “normal.” We are highly insulated from the human situation. When we are self-sufficient, our religion will be corrupt because it doesn’t understand the Mystery of how divine life is transferred, how people change, how life flows, how we become something more, and how we fall into the great compassion.
Only vulnerable people change. Only vulnerable people change others. Jesus presented us with an icon of absolute vulnerability, and said, “Gaze on this until you get the point. Gaze on this until you know what God is like!” That demanded too much of us, so we made the cross instead into a juridical transaction between Jesus and God (“substitutionary atonement theory”), which in great part robbed the cross of its deep transformative power.Read More »
Are you involved in a ministry or service that needs a resurrection? Perhaps you’ve been working on something for a long time and have not yet succeeded. Does it seem like your efforts are pointless, fruitless? Where has progress been too slow or too lethargic? Are you hedged in and unable to do what you believe you’re called to do? Is it time to cast your net over the other side of the boat, as in our Gospel reading (Luke 24:35-48)?
In the first reading, Peter and John experience the first roadblock in their preaching ministry. They are put into prison because someone wants to stop them. The next day, they will be ordered by the authorities to never mention Jesus publicly again.
Would this have stopped you? What is stopping you now?Read More »