Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Gospel Thoughts Today: We Are Family

At my mother's 70th birthday party (late 90s), the DJ played a song I will always remember as a shining moment when I think of her. The song was "We Are Family" by Sister Sledge.

We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up everybody and sing
We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up everybody and sing

Having all my sisters present, we grabbed my mother and started dancing to this wonderfully upbeat song. Once we were up dancing, having a good time, our friends and family began to join us. Last month my youngest daughter and I were at my great niece's wedding in California. All my sisters were once again together, after 10 years. Toward the end of the reception, as we all sat at our family table, the first two notes of this song had us all up and running toward the dance floor! After the "sisters" were up dancing, all our family members (most of them female!) joined us as we sang the words at the top of our lungs! We may all live in different places across the US, but we are family. There was so much love at that moment, I felt truly blessed to be a part of it.

Lay apostles, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. Whether related by blood or circumstances, we must not forget the lesson in today's Gospel (Matthew 12:46-50) . . . through Christ, we are family:

While Jesus was speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers appeared outside, wishing to speak with him. Someone told him, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, asking to speak with you.” But he said in reply to the one who told him, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.”

In Volume Ten, Jesus vividly describes His love for His Family:

"Consider how important each soul is to Me. Consider Me, Jesus, in the form of My humanity. As I suffered anguish in the Garden, I was tempted with every form of temptation. Let us say that the enemy offered Me every soul on earth but one. For stepping away from the chance of saving this one soul, I could escape the cross. Add to the consideration that this one soul might reject Me and be lost anyway. Would I be tempted? Would you? Now consider that this one soul was yours. What do you think I would say? I assure you, My beloved, I said NO. Do not hold back from Me, little servants. Do not sidestep the Divine Will. Your family needs you and I need you."

Lay apostles, we must treat others with the love and mercy Christ shows us. Even when we reject Him, He continues to have hope for our souls. So why wouldn't we give others the same? Christ was rejected often, and ultimately, died for even those who did the rejecting. So today, look past the rejection and see before you a child of God. Makes it a little easier to accept when looking through the eyes of Jesus.

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of family. Despite all the dysfunction, I am so blessed to have people to love and who love me.

God bless,
Bonnie

Monday, July 22, 2019

Gospel Thoughts Today: Get Moving!

Some days, I'm just not feeling it. I'm either too tired or just plain lazy. And I'm really good at convincing myself it will be ok if I just skip it one day. Alas, one day turns into two, and well, you know how the snowball effect works. About 3 months ago, my perpetual laziness (well, I did have a mile worth of steps on my iPhone health app usually every day!) was beginning to show up in ways never experienced . . . worsening insomnia, joint soreness, and all-day tiredness. Wow! The joy of aging! So, I kicked my own butt and pulled out my old standbys: Jillian Michaels, Jeanette Jenkins, and Kathy Smith DVDs. I probably have over 15 workouts to choose from. I had been ignoring those stacks sitting by my TV as if invisible for quite a while. Better health was always just one DVD away for me. Action on my part was all it took to move in the right direction.

It's like Jesus in today's Gospel . . . He is there 24/7, yet we tend to call out His name only in times of desperation . . . when all else fails or things aren't going the way we expected. We must strive to be consistent with our prayers and conversations to and with Him. Feel His presence. Even if you aren't feeling it, believe it. He is waiting for you to speak His name. As for me, I think I see a kickboxing DVD with my name on it for tonight . . .

In today's Gospel (John 20:1-2, 11-18), Jesus reminds us to stop "weeping" and start believing:

On the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.” 

Mary 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 Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and then reported what he told her.

In the Monthly Message from October 2006, Jesus reminds us to not become overwhelmed with the work He has for us:

"My children, I am with you. Your God, your Creator, speaks this message in so many ways. In every daybreak you must hear My voice saying,‘I am with you.’ When tempted toward despair because of crosses and hardships, you must hear My whisper saying,‘I am with you.’ When you look at the work you must do and find it overwhelming, allow Me to move you gently into it with perfect assurance that ‘I am with you.’ Dearest apostles, so brave, I am with you. I do not tell you that you will be overcome. I do not tell you that you have been given work that is impossible for you to complete. Those messages do not come from Me. Instead, I tell you that you will persevere and ultimately triumph. Our mission of mercy does not falter, even though the steps of my little apostles sometimes falter. This mission pushes through the world with a steadiness that defies all attempts against it."

Lay apostles, there are times when a task seems too difficult to achieve. As Jesus says above, bring your concerns to Him and nothing will be impossible to achieve.

Thank you, Lord, for reminding me I can do anything I put my mind to. Give me the strength of body and mind I need to fulfill what You ask of me.

God bless,
Bonnie
 

Friday, July 19, 2019

Gospel Thoughts Today: Just Stop Complaining

Teenage girls. Boy oh boy did my three drive me nuts every once in a while during their adolescence. Enlisting them to set the table for dinner, let alone clear the table or do the dishes was torture. So I created a list rotating between the three tasks. But when the "clearer" didn't do her job quick enough, the "dishwasher" wandered off, usually gabbing on the phone with girlfriends. Then came the complaining from the "setter." She did her job on time so why were the other two able to slack off? I would then proceed to one of the bedrooms blaring some hip-hop song and calmly remind the "clearer" to get moving so the "dishwasher" could do her job. By the third reminder, I wasn't so calm. As soon as a certain tone erupted from my patient demeanor, I'd get the dirty look along with the "ok, mom!" irritated growl. Suffice to say my girls all survived adolescence! Two of them are now mothers themselves and are already experiencing the joy of 7 and 4-year-olds complaining once in a while! I pray the Good Lord allows me to live long enough to witness my grandchildren's teenage years! I think my beautiful daughters will appreciate me just a little more!

In today's Gospel (Matthew 12:1-8), the Pharisees just couldn't stop complaining:

Jesus was going through a field of grain on the sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, "See, your disciples are doing what is unlawful to do on the sabbath." He said to them, "Have you not read what David did when he and his companions were hungry, how he went into the house of God and ate the bread of offering, which neither he nor his companions but only the priests could lawfully eat? Or have you not read in the law that on the sabbath the priests serving in the temple violate the sabbath and are innocent? I say to you, something greater than the temple is here. If you knew what this meant, I desire mercy, not sacrifice, you would not have condemned these innocent men. For the Son of Man is Lord of the sabbath."

In Volume One, Jesus asks us to put duty over feelings:

“I want My children to have spiritual discipline. This means you practice your faith regardless of how you feel. There is far too much time spent on feelings today. Duty is more important. My children of the world think that their duties should be suspended if their feelings change. This is not the case, My children. On the contrary, you must complete your duties despite feelings of fatigue, boredom, and restlessness. The enemy uses these feelings to persuade people that they should not serve their loved ones. The world encourages this and does not hold people responsible when they shirk their duties or become lax or lazy. Indeed, even in work My children complain and think they should be given liberty. They begrudge doing their duty in every area of their lives. Only in their personal entertainment do they stop complaining, and that is being taken to excess. Children, this is not the way I intended for you to live. Your duty is holy and in it you will find your path to holiness. When you are unsure about what I want you to do at a given moment, look for your duty. Does it lie with your children, your job, your family, your home, your work? Everyone has a duty and in it you will find the path to your salvation. I want you to have discipline now. Decide, through prayer and conversation with Me, what spiritual practices you need to adopt. Then you must be disciplined about these practices.”

Lay apostles, simple tasks such as washing the dishes or mowing the lawn are not exactly entertainment. But we must strive to complete our tasks on time with love and with no complaints. Each of us has a duty in life. Figure out what yours are and ask Christ for a heaping dose of motivation to accomplish them.

Thank you, Lord, for helping me survive teenage girls without pulling out all my hair! Please help my daughters to respond with love when their children reach that wonderful time in their lives when shirking duties/complaining is an everyday occurrence!

God bless,
Bonnie

Monday, July 15, 2019

Gospel Thoughts Today: A Mother's Love

Jay's mother is a Godsend. "Nana" is 89 years old and we both belong to the mutual admiration society. We've decided we are kindred souls. Every Friday she is our last stop before heading home for the weekend. I treasure every minute. She is funny, brilliant, and loves Jesus! And, she loves/treats me as a daughter.

Time evaporates quickly on Friday afternoons with Nana . . . it never seems like I have enough time with her. We hug and kiss a few times before I even get close to the door. Jay is usually outside starting the car by the time I say my last "I love you, Nana!" Her response every time is "I love you more!"

She has blessed my life beyond all belief. She inspires me to love and trust Christ with everything I encounter in life . . . to strive for the peacefulness 89 years on this earth has brought her. I know she reads my blog every time I post something new, so I just want to say . . . NANA, I LOVE YOU MORE!!!

Todays Gospel (Matthew 10:34–11:1) is a lesson for all of us to love God . . . most:

Jesus said to his Apostles: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s enemies will be those of his household.

“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

“Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever receives a righteous man because he is righteous will receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because he is a disciple–amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.”

When Jesus finished giving these commands to his Twelve disciples, he went away from that place to teach and to preach in their towns.

In Anne a lay apostle's book Lessons in Love, the path to God is clear:

"Jesus offers us gifts of forgiveness and healing but we must accept these gifts. Let others continue on the path of rebellion and confusion. We will turn sharply now, at this moment, and walk into the Lord’s heart completely, where there is mercy and healing. This is the only way for us if we desire heaven. Jesus will take us to His Father and say, 'Look, Father, there is love for Me on earth. I am welcome in the soul of this apostle.' This is the right way for us. We must turn away from the world and its shame and walk with Jesus."

Lay apostles, look around you. Despite what is happening in the world, do you see the love God feels for you? Love in the form of a daughter's smile, a grandson's hug, an encouraging word from a mother-in-law? Do you take the time to thank Him for the little things? It's like the Tea Cup ride at Disneyworld . . . you spin around and around until the ride stops. Vertigo occurs the minute your feet touch the ground (at least it does for me!). The last thing I want to do is stagger around the park, feeling nauseated. Instead, I sit down (preferably in air conditioning!) and get centered again. Within minutes, I am ready for the next adventure. That's how it works with God . . . get centered on Him, love Him with all your heart, love Him most. In doing this, we develop the ability to see good in a dark world.

Thank you, Lord, for Nana. I am forever grateful You found me worthy of a mother's love such as this.

God bless,
Bonnie