Daily Archives: August 18, 2019

19 Aug, Monday – Trusting In Him is the Treasure

19 Aug 2019

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Judges 2:11-19

The sons of Israel did what displeases the Lord, and served the Baals. They deserted the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods from the gods of the peoples round them. They bowed down to these; they provoked the Lord; they deserted the Lord to serve Baal and Astarte. Then the Lord’s anger flamed out against Israel. He handed them over to pillagers who plundered them; he delivered them to the enemies surrounding them, and they were not able to resist them. In every warlike venture, the hand of the Lord was there to foil them, as the Lord had warned, as the Lord had sworn to them. Thus he reduced them to dire distress.

Then the Lord appointed judges for them, and rescued the men of Israel from the hands of their plunderers. But they would not listen to their judges. They prostituted themselves to other gods, and bowed down before these. Very quickly they left the path their ancestors had trodden in obedience to the orders of the Lord; they did not follow their example. When the Lord appointed judges for them, the Lord was with the judge and rescued them from the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived, for the Lord felt pity for them as they groaned under the iron grip of their oppressors. But once the judge was dead, they relapsed and behaved even worse than their ancestors. They followed other gods; they served them and bowed before them, and would not give up the practices and stubborn ways of their ancestors at all.

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Matthew 19:16-22

There was a man who came to Jesus and asked, ‘Master, what good deed must I do to possess eternal life?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you ask me about what is good? There is one alone who is good. But if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.’ He said, ‘Which?’ ‘These:’ Jesus replied ‘You must not kill. You must not commit adultery. You must not bring false witness. Honour your father and mother, and: you must love your neighbour as yourself.’ The young man said to him, ‘I have kept all these. What more do I need to do?’ Jesus said, ‘If you wish to be perfect, go and sell what you own and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ But when the young man heard these words he went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth.

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And you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.

Today’s readings are on the common theme of trust. They remind us that the trust is in the WHO, not the what. We see how the Israelites turn from God, again, and we are dumbfounded at their choice. God used Moses to free them, and with their own eyes they saw His miracles for them, the plagues, the Passover, the parting of the Sea. And then they did the unthinkable — they put their trust in something else. And we do the same.

In today’s gospel, we meet the young, rich man who is ‘good’ and follows all the commandments — he wants to follow Christ. Jesus invites him, but first he must sell all his possessions. The young man walks away, grieving. He chose not to trust God, instead he put his trust in the treasures of this world.

We trust God…mostly. We trust God…most of the time. We trust God…when we don’t have a choice. We trust God with this issue, but not so much with THIS issue. After all, it is the 21st century. We trust God with direction for this relationship, but not with this one.  After all, everyone is doing it. We trust God with our future, but not with the size of our family. After all, I don’t make enough money to put X number of kids through college. And the trusting and the ‘after alls’ go on and on and on.

Our treasure is in the WHO we put our full trust in. And in the winds and tides of life on this earth. What solace, peace, contentment, tranquility, joy and eternal hope we have when we are in full knowing of the assuredness that our trust is secure; our trust will not be in vain; our trust will withstand even the gates of hell, because our trust is in THE God Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things seen and unseen. That is a treasure.  Correction, that isn’t a treasure that is, THE treasure. Trusting without fear, no matter the darkness of the skies, the depth and volatility of the oceans and the enemy who is prowling the earth is the treasure.  And we would do well to remind ourselves of that every day, sometimes multiple times a day.

On Facebook last week, while I was reading the following, I assumed I knew how this little anecdote would go, ‘I have money because I value money…’ and I almost didn’t finish reading it. You see, I thought this little story was about the treasure of financial wealth. I am so glad I read it till the end.

Arlene and her husband were invited to dinner with her husband’s very wealthy boss. She was thrilled with the exclusive restaurant choice, one she and her husband would never frequent. As they were approaching the restaurant, the boss suddenly, looking down on the pavement for a long silent moment, reached down and picked up a penny. He smiled and put it in his pocket as if he had found a great treasure. HOW ABSURD!  What need did this man have a single penny? A dirty penny? Why would a man of his wealth and stature even take the time to stop and pick it up?

Throughout dinner the scene nagged at her. Finally she could stand it no longer and casually mentioned that her daughter once had a coin collection, and asked if the penny he had found had been of some value.

A smile crept across the man’s face as he reached in his pocket for the penny and held it out for her to see.  She had seen many pennies before…what was the point of this?

‘Look at it.” He said, ‘Read what it says.’ 

She read the words – ‘United States of America’.

‘No, not that; read further.’

‘One cent….?’

‘No, keep reading.’

‘In God We Trust…?’ ‘YES!’

‘And…?’

‘And if I trust in God, the name of God is holy, even on a coin. Whenever I find a coin, I see that inscription. It is written on every single United States coin, but we never seem to notice it? God drops a message right in front of me telling me, trust Him! Who am I to pass it by? When I see a coin, I pray, I stop to see if my trust IS in God at that moment. I pick the coin up as a response to God; that I DO trust in Him. For a short time, at least, I cherish it as if it were gold. I think it is God’s way of starting a conversation with me. Lucky for me, God is patient and pennies are plentiful!’

When I was out yesterday I found a penny on the sidewalk. I stopped and picked it up, and realized that I had been worrying and fretting in my mind about things I cannot change. I read the words, ‘in God We Trust’, and I had to laugh to myself. Yes God, I get the message.

It seems that I have been finding an inordinate number of pennies in the last few months, but then, pennies are plentiful? And, God is patient…

(Today’s Oxygen by Gina Ulicny)

Prayer:  Father God how we praise your name, the name that we trust, the only name that we can trust in any and all circumstances.  We lift our voices and sing praises to Your name and we trust in You, our treasure, for all things.

Thanksgiving:  Thank you Father, for the ‘pennies’ that you put in our path daily.   Thank you for revealing to us that You are he only treasure we will ever need. We pray that we will always look to You as we journey on this earth, and we thank you for your patience for us every day.

18 August, Sunday – Which house will be your home?

18 Aug 2019

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Jeremiah 38:4-6,8-10

The king’s leading men spoke to the king. ‘Let Jeremiah be put to death: he is unquestionably disheartening the remaining soldiers in the city, and all the people too, by talking like this. The fellow does not have the welfare of this people at heart so much as its ruin.’ ‘He is in your hands as you know,’ King Zedekiah answered ‘for the king is powerless against you.’ So they took Jeremiah and threw him into the well of Prince Malchiah in the Court of the Guard, letting him down with ropes. There was no water in the well, only mud, and into the mud Jeremiah sank.
  Ebed-melech came out from the palace and spoke to the king. ‘My lord king,’ he said ‘these men have done a wicked thing by treating the prophet Jeremiah like this: they have thrown him into the well, where he will die.’ At this the king gave Ebed-melech the Cushite the following order: ‘Take three men with you from here and pull the prophet Jeremiah out of the well before he dies.’

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Hebrews 12:1-4

With so many witnesses in a great cloud on every side of us, we too, then, should throw off everything that hinders us, especially the sin that clings so easily, and keep running steadily in the race we have started. Let us not lose sight of Jesus, who leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection: for the sake of the joy which was still in the future, he endured the cross, disregarding the shamefulness of it, and from now on has taken his place at the right of God’s throne. Think of the way he stood such opposition from sinners and then you will not give up for want of courage. In the fight against sin, you have not yet had to keep fighting to the point of death.

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Luke 12:49-53

Jesus said to his disciples: ‘I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were blazing already! There is a baptism I must still receive, and how great is my distress till it is over!
  ‘Do you suppose that I am here to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on a household of five will be divided: three against two and two against three; the father divided against the son, son against father, mother against daughter, daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law, daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.’

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…five in one household will be divided

This is such a tough, somewhat confusing teaching from Christ upon the first read, and certainly when we were children. We see Christ as the peacemaker, filled with love, forgiveness, mercy and bringing us all together – yet here he speaks of division, and in the very house we live in. He tells us he came to bring division in our very own house. We look to our house, our home, as a place of joy and love and acceptance, a place where we are all one. And yet, Christ is telling us in no uncertain terms, that He will divide our house.

That division is the pivotal ‘place’ where we make the choice. Where our free will is carried out. Will we choose to focus on our house on this earth, and all things and people of this world, or will we look to our true home – with God? St. Augustine says, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”

Home. For most people that is the most desired place to be. The place where we simply are, who we really are; where all facets of us, the good, the bad and the ugly, are accepted, known and still loved. There is nothing like ‘going home’, especially when you know there is someone(s) there waiting for you, someone(s) who can’t wait to see you and hug you and just sit next to you and be in your space. There truly is nothing like the enveloping comfort of home.

Is that not the best definition of our Catholic faith and the place — the house — that holds the Eucharist? When I am at mass, and especially when I sit in Adoration, that is the overall feeling I experience. Total acceptance and omnipresent love because in that place, I am truly home. I am totally known. I am totally accepted and loved. In many ways, that is the only place on this earth where any of us are truly home. All other places are really just worldly houses.

I am so grateful for my Catholic faith, for mass, for being able to walk into any Catholic church in the entire world, from the biggest and most grandiose cathedrals and basilicas to the smallest and simplest country churches and squeezed in churches in overcrowded concrete cities. Even in a Catholic church in a country that speaks a language foreign to me, I am still home. I can still communicate, I can still understand, because I am with my family in our Father’s house, in our Father’s home on earth. The overwhelming comfort and belonging that I encounter when I attend mass, even when alone and not in my ‘home’ church, surpasses understanding. During mass, I know that all the angels and saints in heaven are in that house of prayer with me, as are all those I love most dearly on this earth.  We are all experiencing that same ‘home’. I am lifted high because this sense of belonging is not only about the fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ, but because of the mystery of the Eucharist. The holiness of a Catholic Church during the consecration, or in Adoration, is indescribable. It can only be felt through prayer – even when human words cannot be found, because our bodies are praying without words – how could that not be true when our Lord and Savior is present.

And yet, with all that we receive from being in God’s house, still this world loudly calls us to other places physically, mentally and emotionally. Still it can be a fight, and even more sadly, a chore, to make it to mass with enough time to sit in quiet prayer and properly prepare our hearts and minds for our Lord in the mass. For myself, I know that when I arrive early, I am able to let go of the day, the week, the worries, the plans, the to-do list that preoccupies my mind. And that is when I am emptied out of ‘myself’ and able to talk to God with a contrite heart so that I can be filled to the brim with Him. Again.

Mark Hart said, “Prayer doesn’t help our relationship with God, prayer IS our relationship with God”, so of course, prayer should be a constant stream in our life. Like many, I pray throughout the day. Lots of little prayers and lots of little ‘thank you’s. Praying outside in nature when I am taking in the glorious creations of our God brings a joy and peace that washes over me. Yes, nature is God’s home, but, there is a sense of His Holy Presence in our Catholic churches, in the house of prayer for all people, like no where else on earth.

Let us always remember that our real home is one that is not divided.

(Today’s Oxygen by Gina Ulicny)

Prayer: Father God how we praise your name! We are so grateful for your gift of our faith and the church that holds the Eucharist, You. We kneel in amazement at your gifts to us, including the gift of being able to simply talk to You. We desire to live in communication with you and release the stronghold this world has on us.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Father, for listening to us. Thank you Father, for always calling us to You. Thank you Father, for never tiring of hearing our voices, and giving us your peace when we let go of all and come to You.