Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Gospel Word for Today: Afraid

About 4 years ago, when my youngest daughter Taylor was home visiting for a week, I was overjoyed to see her since she had moved to California. One night she and her friend were heading out around 10pm to catch up in downtown Ft. Myers. My heart and mind began going into overdrive . . . it can be dangerous in some parts of downtown! Grant it, this young woman had been living in LOS ANGELES for the past 3 months! But I still found myself telling her to be safe, not to take certain streets, yada yada yada! She gave me a big hug and said she would be careful. As much as she acted like she was all grown up, I know she appreciated my warnings in love. I guess I will never stop being a mom, caring and praying for the safety of my children. The same goes for our Heavenly Father! He wants us to feel the safety and comfort of His Love every second of every day. If that's what we want for our own children, why wouldn't God want the same for His?

In today's Gospel (John 14:27-31A), Jesus wants us to understand there is nothing to fear in the world as long as we believe:

Jesus said to his disciples: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me tell you, ‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe. I will no longer speak much with you, for the ruler of the world is coming. He has no power over me, but the world must know that I love the Father and that I do just as the Father has commanded me.”

In Volume Two, Jesus encourages us to always remember He will always be there to protect us (and our loved ones):

"I tell you that you are destined for great holiness and you will achieve this holiness if you remain united to Me. And you will do so because I will protect you. Children, do not seek to further or advance the opinion others have of you. It is irrelevant. Please spend no time at all wondering or worrying about this. Worldly opinions change with the wind and a person could think well of you one day and slander you the next. You must not rely on these opinions for your peace because, as you have learned, you will be disappointed. Instead, rely on Me, who does not change. My opinion of you remains steady. I will always love you."

Lay apostles, what do you choose today . . . hanging on to the criticism of others and internalizing it or remaining peaceful in the comfort of Our Lord's embrace, allowing Him to handle all the chaos? I choose Him today. I choose Him every day!

Thank you, Lord, for the criticisms, challenges, and lessons You send my way every day. Continue to hold me close to Your Sacred Heart so I can let go of anything quickly, placing it into Your Hands!

God bless,

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Gospel Words Today: Holding On

There are just some things hard to let go of at times . . . past hurts, ego, mistakes made, traumatic events. When I read the Gospel today, I started thinking about the depth of the wounds now healing in my heart. Instead of holding on to anger, pride or mistrust, through Christ, I can look past offenders to the fact I have been the offender periodically in my lifetime. I know I have never done anything mean intentionally (well, maybe when I was young and my little sister wouldn't give me my Barbie back!). But if I have hurt someone, especially someone I love, I want them to forgive me, not hold on to the hurt for years as we all have seen, heard of or experienced in families. Instead of holding on to the unpleasant memories, I try to view them as imperfect people making imperfect decisions . . . myself included. And that is my prayer when they think of me. Placing Christ in the forefront, I have better clarity gazing through His Eyes.

In today's Gospel (John 20:11-18), Jesus tells us to let go of earthly attachments:

Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the Body of Jesus had been. And they said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken my Lord, and I don't know where they laid him." When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?" She thought it was the gardener and said to him, "Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him." Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabbouni,"  which means Teacher. Jesus said to her, "Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, 'I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" Mary went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord," and then reported what he had told her.

I love the following from Staying in Place . . . it's time to move onward and upward:

"The offenders abused the power that came with representing God. Note that we gave them the power, which speaks to our need for development, too.

There now. A deep breath must be taken by all and a new way found. We must seek a new way. What is the past is the past and those who cling to it soon wither because it no longer feeds. Those who preach it find few takers because it no longer inspires. The Gospel message is always fresh, as stated. We can all look back with today’s knowledge and perhaps find little spots where we, too, got it wrong, perhaps in actions which, while not elevating to the criminal level, lacked mercy and honest human expression and thus distorted God. We must all accept our collective need for development, along with our faith expression. What was enough in the past now must be updated because it is no longer enough to hold the love that is God. We have to ‘up our game’ and be more mindful of integrating our humanity with our Christianity. That means that ugly behavior is ugly behavior and we should call ourselves on it instead of spiritualizing it. Because we can all point to a person or a group of people and say, ‘If that is the Catholic Church, count me out.’ There is actually a case to be made that if a ship is sinking, you jump in a mechanism for survival that has been hard wired.

However, and this is a big however, all families are dysfunctional to some degree and our faith family has predictably proven itself no different. While some need to leave to heal, some need to stay to repair and recover the family, sweep up the glass, face the neighbors and yes, deal with any outstanding legal matters, may the Lord bless our bishops."

Lay apostles, what past sins or hurts or opinions are you holding on to? First, ask yourself WHY you are holding on to them. When you figure out the WHY, contemplate where Jesus fits into the equation. There is a wonderful little book called Thoughtful Men and Women of God: A Guide to Contemplative Prayer to assist you in the healing process. It is time well spent with Our Lord. Give it a try. It's time to stop holding on and begin living your life for Christ!

Thank you, Lord, for the ability to heal the wounds acquired over my lifetime.

God bless,


Monday, April 2, 2018

Gospel Thoughts Today: Who Do You Follow?

A few years ago Jay and I were watching the last installment of The Bible on the History Channel. From the moment the soldiers came to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, I could barely contain myself (The Passion of the Christ invokes the same). Throughout His torture, I wondered about His disciples. Were they so fearful for their human lives they went into hiding, nowhere to be found at the cross?  Did they feel immense anger or frustration knowing they couldn't save Christ as it would spoil God's plan?  And when Peter denied Christ three times . . . well, I can imagine how disgusted Peter was with himself. Is covering up the truth for fear of an unknown outcome = not trusting Jesus? I think it does. He is the Truth, the Way and the Life.  We have the benefit of the Bible, the Volumes, and all God has provided over the last 2,000 + years. Stand up for Christ. Don't remain quiet when others deny Him. It's time to be bold, lay apostles. Admit you know theTruth!

Today's Gospel (Matthew 28:8-15) should prove lies will only lead you away from Christ:

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce the news to his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

While they were going, some of the guards went into the city and told the chief priests all that had happened. The chief priests assembled with the elders and took counsel; then they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him while we were asleep.’ And if this gets to the ears of the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” The soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has circulated among the Jews to the present day.

In Volume Five, Jesus the Redeemer makes it plain and simple . . . choose Him or choose the enemy:

"I assure you that a human being does not have the right to choose against God. That is not one of the choices you have been allowed. So when a soul chooses against God, he chooses to follow the enemy. Again, this is simple. The father of lies draws souls but only those souls who say “yes” to the darkness. Choose Me, then follow Me. You would not choose Me and then follow a path that leads away from Me. Many are doing just that because they do not like the earthly sacrifices that come with following My course. Little ones, you will laugh at the nothings of this earth when you die in your body and are born into your eternity. If you have sacrificed your eternity or your crown in heaven for the nothings of this world, your regret and bitterness will be profound. This is not for you. You are for heaven so I want you to learn all about Me, your Redeemer, and God, My Father, and all of our saints and true servants. I want you to learn about My Church on earth. I want you to have the answers when someone asks you why you follow this carpenter’s Son."

Lay apostles, what has Lent and the joy of Easter done for your spiritual life this year? I feel clarity, calm and fearless. After reading Volume Five, I have never felt so focused.

Thank you, Lord, for all the protection You offer when I stand up for You. Please continue to open my eyes to Your Truth.

God bless,


Friday, March 30, 2018

Holy Gospel According to John

Gospel Today: John 18:1—19:42

Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley 
to where there was a garden, 
into which he and his disciples entered.
Judas his betrayer also knew the place, 
because Jesus had often met there with his disciples.
So Judas got a band of soldiers and guards 
from the chief priests and the Pharisees 
and went there with lanterns, torches, and weapons.
Jesus, knowing everything that was going to happen to him, 
went out and said to them, "Whom are you looking for?"
They answered him, "Jesus the Nazorean."
He said to them, "I AM."
Judas his betrayer was also with them.
When he said to them, "I AM, " 
they turned away and fell to the ground.
So he again asked them,
"Whom are you looking for?"
They said, "Jesus the Nazorean."
Jesus answered,
"I told you that I AM.
So if you are looking for me, let these men go."
This was to fulfill what he had said, 
"I have not lost any of those you gave me."
Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, 
struck the high priest's slave, and cut off his right ear.
The slave's name was Malchus.
Jesus said to Peter,
"Put your sword into its scabbard.
Shall I not drink the cup that the Father gave me?"

So the band of soldiers, the tribune, and the Jewish guards seized Jesus,
bound him, and brought him to Annas first.
He was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, 
who was high priest that year.
It was Caiaphas who had counseled the Jews 
that it was better that one man should die rather than the people.

Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus.
Now the other disciple was known to the high priest, 
and he entered the courtyard of the high priest with Jesus.
But Peter stood at the gate outside.
So the other disciple, the acquaintance of the high priest, 
went out and spoke to the gatekeeper and brought Peter in.
Then the maid who was the gatekeeper said to Peter, 
"You are not one of this man's disciples, are you?"
He said, "I am not."
Now the slaves and the guards were standing around a charcoal fire
that they had made, because it was cold,
and were warming themselves.
Peter was also standing there keeping warm.

The high priest questioned Jesus 
about his disciples and about his doctrine.
Jesus answered him,
"I have spoken publicly to the world.
I have always taught in a synagogue 
or in the temple area where all the Jews gather, 
and in secret I have said nothing. Why ask me?
Ask those who heard me what I said to them.
They know what I said."
When he had said this, 
one of the temple guards standing there struck Jesus and said, 
"Is this the way you answer the high priest?"
Jesus answered him,
"If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong; 
but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?"
Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

Now Simon Peter was standing there keeping warm.
And they said to him,
"You are not one of his disciples, are you?"
He denied it and said,
"I am not."
One of the slaves of the high priest, 
a relative of the one whose ear Peter had cut off, said, 
"Didn't I see you in the garden with him?"
Again Peter denied it.
And immediately the cock crowed.

Then they brought Jesus from Caiaphas to the praetorium.
It was morning.
And they themselves did not enter the praetorium, 
in order not to be defiled so that they could eat the Passover.
So Pilate came out to them and said, 
"What charge do you bring against this man?"
They answered and said to him,
"If he were not a criminal, 
we would not have handed him over to you."
At this, Pilate said to them, 
"Take him yourselves, and judge him according to your law."
The Jews answered him, 
"We do not have the right to execute anyone, " 
in order that the word of Jesus might be fulfilled
that he said indicating the kind of death he would die.
So Pilate went back into the praetorium 
and summoned Jesus and said to him, 
"Are you the King of the Jews?"
Jesus answered,
"Do you say this on your own 
or have others told you about me?"
Pilate answered,
"I am not a Jew, am I?
Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me.
What have you done?"
Jesus answered,
"My kingdom does not belong to this world.
If my kingdom did belong to this world, 
my attendants would be fighting 
to keep me from being handed over to the Jews.
But as it is, my kingdom is not here."
So Pilate said to him,
"Then you are a king?"
Jesus answered,
"You say I am a king.
For this I was born and for this I came into the world, 
to testify to the truth.
Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice."
Pilate said to him, "What is truth?"

When he had said this,
he again went out to the Jews and said to them,
"I find no guilt in him.
But you have a custom that I release one prisoner to you at Passover.
Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?"
They cried out again,
"Not this one but Barabbas!"
Now Barabbas was a revolutionary.

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged.
And the soldiers wove a crown out of thorns and placed it on his head, 
and clothed him in a purple cloak, 
and they came to him and said,
"Hail, King of the Jews!"
And they struck him repeatedly.
Once more Pilate went out and said to them, 
"Look, I am bringing him out to you, 
so that you may know that I find no guilt in him."
So Jesus came out, 
wearing the crown of thorns and the purple cloak.
And he said to them, "Behold, the man!"
When the chief priests and the guards saw him they cried out, 
"Crucify him, crucify him!"
Pilate said to them,
"Take him yourselves and crucify him.
I find no guilt in him."
The Jews answered, 
"We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die, 
because he made himself the Son of God."
Now when Pilate heard this statement,
he became even more afraid, 
and went back into the praetorium and said to Jesus, 
"Where are you from?"
Jesus did not answer him.
So Pilate said to him,
"Do you not speak to me?
Do you not know that I have power to release you 
and I have power to crucify you?"
Jesus answered him,
"You would have no power over me 
if it had not been given to you from above.
For this reason the one who handed me over to you
has the greater sin."
Consequently, Pilate tried to release him; but the Jews cried out, 
"If you release him, you are not a Friend of Caesar.
Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar."

When Pilate heard these words he brought Jesus out 
and seated him on the judge's bench 
in the place called Stone Pavement, in Hebrew, Gabbatha.
It was preparation day for Passover, and it was about noon.
And he said to the Jews,
"Behold, your king!"
They cried out,
"Take him away, take him away! Crucify him!"
Pilate said to them,
"Shall I crucify your king?"
The chief priests answered,
"We have no king but Caesar."
Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.

So they took Jesus, and, carrying the cross himself, 
he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, 
in Hebrew, Golgotha.
There they crucified him, and with him two others, 
one on either side, with Jesus in the middle.
Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross.
It read,
"Jesus the Nazorean, the King of the Jews."
Now many of the Jews read this inscription, 
because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; 
and it was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek.
So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, 
"Do not write 'The King of the Jews,'
but that he said, 'I am the King of the Jews'."
Pilate answered,
"What I have written, I have written."

When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, 
they took his clothes and divided them into four shares, 
a share for each soldier.
They also took his tunic, but the tunic was seamless, 
woven in one piece from the top down.
So they said to one another, 
"Let's not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it will be, " 
in order that the passage of Scripture might be fulfilled that says:
They divided my garments among them,
and for my vesture they cast lots.
This is what the soldiers did.
Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother
and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas,
and Mary of Magdala.
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved
he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son."
Then he said to the disciple,
"Behold, your mother."
And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.

After this, aware that everything was now finished, 
in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled, 
Jesus said, "I thirst."
There was a vessel filled with common wine.
So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop 
and put it up to his mouth.
When Jesus had taken the wine, he said,
"It is finished."
And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.

Here all kneel and pause for a short time.

Now since it was preparation day,
in order that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath,
for the sabbath day of that week was a solemn one, 
the Jews asked Pilate that their legs be broken 
and that they be taken down.
So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first 
and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus.
But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, 
they did not break his legs, 
but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, 
and immediately blood and water flowed out.
An eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true; 
he knows that he is speaking the truth, 
so that you also may come to believe.
For this happened so that the Scripture passage might be fulfilled:
Not a bone of it will be broken.
And again another passage says:
They will look upon him whom they have pierced.

After this, Joseph of Arimathea, 
secretly a disciple of Jesus for fear of the Jews, 
asked Pilate if he could remove the body of Jesus.
And Pilate permitted it.
So he came and took his body.
Nicodemus, the one who had first come to him at night, 
also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes 
weighing about one hundred pounds.
They took the body of Jesus 
and bound it with burial cloths along with the spices, 
according to the Jewish burial custom.
Now in the place where he had been crucified there was a garden, 
and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had yet been buried.
So they laid Jesus there because of the Jewish preparation day; 
for the tomb was close by.