Friday, December 14, 2018

Gospel Thoughts Today: Humility and Wisdom . . . The Final Frontier

Learning lessons the hard way. Yep, that was me the first half of my life.  When I was younger, everything seemed so complicated. Poor choices were brushed off with the next difficulty. Only by the grace of God, I raised three daughters, all of whom I cherish. Since the girls were teens, I have tried to teach them the consequences of my mistakes at their age, and encourage them to be better . . . to be wiser. With age does come wisdom. All the pain, all the mistakes, all the poor choices, all the judgments made, and all the secret embarrassment did amount to something . . . humility and wisdom.  So take heart lay apostles still in the learning phase, it will all begin to make sense one day.  And when it all becomes clear . . . you will be thankful for every single blooper, blunder, aberration or whatever you want to call your misfires.  Accept this as part of your journey . . . the lessons and gifts. Once again, He proves just how much He loves us.

In today's Gospel (Matthew 11:16-19), Jesus speaks of wisdom prevailing:

Jesus said to the crowds: "To what shall I compare this generation? It is like children who sit in marketplaces and call to one another, 'We played the flute for you, but you did not dance, we sang a dirge but you did not mourn.' For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they said, 'He is possessed by a demon.' The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they said, 'Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.' But wisdom is vindicated by her works."

I love the following quote from Anne a lay apostle's book Serving in Clarity.  She gets right to the heart of it all:

"Which one of us would deny that our past pain from our sins has given us wisdom and compassion? Do not judge others. Bring others God’s love and God’s truth."

Lay apostles, what lessons have you learned along the way? How can you take those lessons and apply them to your life now? Discard the negative thoughts and replace them knowing the wisdom you have gained will lead you closer to Christ and His mission.  Pass on the lessons learned to your children or grandchildren; to close friends or family. Be gentle when they have made the same choices . . .

Thank you, Lord, for the humility and wisdom I have gained so far in my life. Thank you for showing me my "poor choices" have turned me into the person I am now . . . Your devoted follower!

God bless,
Bonnie


Thursday, December 13, 2018

Gospel Thoughts Today: Hear With Your Heart

In nursing school, I could sit in lectures all day learning how to perfectly execute a physical exam, insert a foley catheter, and start an IV. I could watch videos and demonstrations on correct procedure until I was blue in the face.  But the moment I walked into a patient's room and had to perform, everything heard with my ears seemed to have evaporated from my mind. Then a mentor would step in and assist until I achieved the task at hand.  It took a lot of practice, and eventually, I evolved into a skilled nurse. It became a part of me . . . who I am. In my heart, I will always be a caregiver.

Think about being a Christian. We can read everything we get our hands on from the Bible to the Volumes to the Catechism on a daily basis. We can attend renewals and Mass on Sunday.  We can hear with our ears and see with our eyes,  but struggle sometimes to hear with our heart. Maybe the crabby waitress upset with a small tip was counting on making enough money to pay the bills, or buy diapers for her child. Maybe the rude cashier at the supermarket is going through a painful divorce. Practice what you read in the Bible and Volumes. Soon, you will begin to hear with your heart.

In today's Gospel (Matthew 11:11-15), Jesus asks us to sharpen our listening skills:

Jesus said to the crowds: "Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent are taking it by force. All the prophets and the law prophesied up to the time of John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah, the one who is to come. Whoever has ears ought to hear."

In Volume Ten, Jesus requests we answer His Call.  He will concern Himself with the strength we need to do it:

"Dear souls of the Kingdom, you are called to service. You know this. You have heard My call and rested in My anguish. I want to talk to you about your duty. Perhaps you hear My call and feel resistance at what it is I am asking from you. Let me promise you that you will be given exactly what you need to embrace your portion of this mission. Do not be afraid to stand beside Me as I move into the world through each one of you. Souls will see you with their physical eyes, but they will experience Me. Your fears, your hesitance, have no bearing on how you will perform for Me. Do not worry about your ability when it comes to completing your duty. Do not worry about your lack of strength. It will come from Me. It will flow deeply and completely from Me. Your willingness to serve is all that is required."

Lay apostles, in this Advent season, begin to contemplate your reactions to unhappy or rude people. Try to turn the situation around with a kind word. Was the check-out person at Whole Foods short with you? Tell her she has beautiful eyes as you pay your bill. Find something positive to say.  You never know when one kind word will change a life.

Thank you, Lord, for teaching me how to hear with my heart. It is so important I take the focus away from myself and look upon others with my heart first. You are the Mentor of mentors!

God bless,
Bonnie

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Gospel Thoughts Today: Faithful Listening

Engrossed in conversations igniting passion within me can overwhelm others.  The Italian in me shines through on topics bearing any semblance to my experiences.  I just get so excited to share I don't take time to listen as much as I should.  The same principle applies to faith.  If our minds and prayers are busy asking God for what we want, how can we hear Him tell us what we need?  It takes great listening skills to hear God's plan for us.  And, once we've realized His plan, will we accept His guidance? Or, will we question it?

The Gospel (Luke 1:26-38) today reflects on a young girl visited by an angel of God informing her, a virgin, she has been chosen to carry our Savior.  You can imagine her confusion!  But our Blessed Mother didn't bombard the angel with a bunch of questions about how God's plan will affect her life:

The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.”
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.

This, lay apostles, is faithful listening.  Taking what God gives you and making the best of it, no complaints.  Anything that happens to you in your life is for some greater plan we can't see at the moment.  Sometimes there are great injustices hard to swallow and to which no good could possibly come, right?  But if we do our absolute best and understand God is in control of our lives, any outcome is His and we must accept it, no matter how difficult or unfair it seems. I know this sounds impossible to do when bad things happen.  The more I listen to Him, the easier it is to bear hardships and surprises.  Just as Mary did.

Our Blessed Mother, in Volume One, emphasizes the importance of listening to Her Son:

"You see that Jesus is leaving nothing to chance. He wishes to guide His children in an unusual way during this time. All has been foreseen, dear children. I want you to say “no” to anxiety and distress. My children can rest peacefully in my arms these days, as Jesus fulfills His plan for the salvation of the world. How happy you will be to have participated. Jesus is granting you great graces by asking for your help. I know you will not disappoint Him. All you need to do to serve Him is be at peace and listen to His voice in prayer. Be still, little ones, and know that He is God. All else, all details, will flow naturally from that one directive. Do you hear the voice of your mother, little one? I am appealing to your heart and beg you to trust me and live my words. These are serious times, but I am with you and will quiet all of your fears. Be at peace now, and spend your time with Jesus in your heart."

Today, think about a hardship you endured in the past.  What lessons did you learn?  Was it more compassion for those in similar situations?  Was it increased knowledge for determining good over evil?  Don't think about the negative impact difficulties create, think about the good derived from them.

Thank you, Lord, for teaching me to listen more intently to Your messages through Sacred Scripture, the Gospels, and the Volumes. Your patience sustains me!

God bless,

Bonnie

Monday, December 10, 2018

Gospel Thoughts Today: Do You Believe?

There is a Christmas song from Polar Express called "Believe" sung by a young girl named Jackie Evancho (https://youtu.be/r0zWdwa0bzA). Her voice is angelic. I love the following words from this song:

We were dreamers not so long ago.
But one by one we all had to grow up.

When it seems the magic slipped away,
We find it all again on Christmas day...

Believe in what your heart is saying,
Hear the melody that's playing.
There's no time to waste,
There's so much to celebrate.

Believe in what you feel inside,
And give your dreams the wings to fly.
You have everything you need,
If you just believe.

We all do grow up eventually. But that doesn't mean we stop believing. We have been given so much to celebrate, why do we waste so much time being angry, depressed or anxious? Life continues on, day after day until we are summoned to our heavenly home. Every day you wake up is one more day to build the Kingdom. How can you build it today? God has provided everything we need. Do you believe? 

Today's Gospel (Luke 5:17-26) shows true faith and belief in Christ can move mountains:

One day as Jesus was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there, and the power of the Lord was with him for healing. And some men brought on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed; they were trying to bring him in and set him in his presence. But not finding a way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on the stretcher through the tiles into the middle in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, "As for you, your sins are forgiven."

Then the scribes and Pharisees began to ask themselves, "Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who but God alone can forgive sins?" Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them in reply, "What are you thinking in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise and walk?' But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins?" he said to the one who was paralyzed, "I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home."

He stood up immediately before them, picked up what he had been lying on, and went home, glorifying God. Then astonishment seized them all and they glorified God, and, struck with awe, they said, "We have seen incredible things today."

In Volume Four, Jesus assures us if we have any doubts, all we have to do is pray:

"On this day I want you to tell Me all day long that you believe in Me. You may not feel this. You may have a difficult time even forming the words. But in your heart, all of this day, tell Me this. I can then give you graces that will help your disbelief. We will begin to shift the stubborn doubts sowed by the father of lies. You have nothing to lose. You have tried many other remedies for your discontent. Some of you have abused your bodies in an attempt to quiet the cries of your soul. I want you to think of Me as another remedy for any difficult symptoms you are experiencing. If I do not keep My promise, to grant you peace and joy, then you may continue your search. But you must give Me a chance and to do that you must spend time in silence with Me. Come to a church that houses a tabernacle. Sit before Me in silence. Allow Me to speak to you and I will speak to you. Be brave, little soul."

Lay apostles, if you struggle with doubt, try believing for a day.  Do as Jesus asks in the quote from Volume Four above. Nothing else seems to work, why not try believing? Christmas is the perfect time of year to begin.

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of believing. Every day, through Your Graces, I am strengthened and more in love with You.

God bless,
Bonnie