15 February, Saturday – If you could see how much God loves

15 February

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1 Kings 12:26-32,13:33-34

Jeroboam thought to himself, ‘As things are, the kingdom will revert to the House of David. If this people continues to go up to the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem to offer sacrifices, the people’s heart will turn back again to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah, and they will put me to death.’ So the king thought this over and then made two golden calves; he said to the people, ‘You have been going up to Jerusalem long enough. Here are your gods, Israel; these brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’ He set up one in Bethel and the people went in procession all the way to Dan in front of the other. He set up the temple of the high places and appointed priests from ordinary families, who were not of the sons of Levi. Jeroboam also instituted a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth of the month, like the feast that was kept in Judah, and he went up to the altar. That was how he behaved in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves he had made; and at Bethel he put the priests of the high places he had established.

Jeroboam did not give up his wicked ways but went on appointing priests for the high places from the common people. He consecrated as priests of the high places any who wished to be. Such conduct made the House of Jeroboam a sinful House, and caused its ruin and extinction from the face of the earth.

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Mark 8:1-10

A great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat. So Jesus called his disciples to him and said to them, ‘I feel sorry for all these people; they have been with me for three days now and have nothing to eat. If I send them off home hungry they will collapse on the way; some have come a great distance.’ His disciples replied, ‘Where could anyone get bread to feed these people in a deserted place like this?’ He asked them, ‘How many loaves have you?’ ‘Seven’ they said. Then he instructed the crowd to sit down on the ground, and he took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks he broke them and handed them to his disciples to distribute; and they distributed them among the crowd. They had a few small fish as well, and over these he said a blessing and ordered them to be distributed also. They ate as much as they wanted, and they collected seven basketfuls of the scraps left over. Now there had been about four thousand people. He sent them away and immediately, getting into the boat with his disciples, went to the region of Dalmanutha.

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I have compassion on the crowd

Jesus shares that this crowd has been with him for three days, so we know he must be exhausted and hungry. But his thoughts and motives aren’t for himself, they are for all those around him. He doesn’t say, ‘it’s not my problem, they should have brought their own food…’ or anything like that at all. His heart sees the people. He realizes they must be hungry and his strongest desire is to give to them. Even his disciples try to dissuade his compassion and generosity, but he is not deterred. Always thinking of others before himself, always loving all others all the time.

At a recent retreat, I was sharing with Brother Mark about a difficult person in my life. A person I love, but one who is constantly complaining, criticizing and gossiping. Her attitude and words make me want to just never spend time with her, and when I do, I want to point out her mean words and lack of gratitude for all those who are at her beck and call 24/7. My heart was filled with judgement on this person who I loved, but at this point didn’t like. I gave him many examples, and he agreed with me, then Brother Mark said, “ Yet, if you could see how much God loves her, it would break your heart.” Powerful words that immediately brought me to tears. Powerful words that demand – if I honestly want to be a disciple of Christ – for me to change MY perspective, my thoughts, my words so that I act with the LOVE of Christ, and not my flesh attitude of judgement.

I want to live a life of compassion for all those around me. Those I like and don’t like. The good, the bad and the ugly, knowing that I am all those things. If I have strength in compassion in the way that I live, I know Christ will be reflected. Most everyone I come into contact quickly realizes that I am a ‘Jesus’ person, and if we spend more than a handful of minutes together, they will know that I am Catholic. I want to be available for God to use me as He chooses, and I know that when I act in love, I honor him.

My heart’s desire is to do things well to honor God. All things. I will begin anew today.

(Today’s Oxygen by Gina Ulicny)

Prayer: Father God, open our eyes so that we truly see all those You have put in our path, and in seeing, are able to be Christ for them.

Thanksgiving: Father God, thank you for the compassion you have for each of us every second of our lives. Thank you for loving us through all our phases, failings and sinful acts. Thank you for your compassionate mercy, grace, forgiveness and perfect love.

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