Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Gospel Thoughts Today: Is Fame Killing?

Fame . . . it can be the positive outcome of dedication to one's craft or it can be the unfortunate conclusion resulting from betrayal/abuse. If we ultimately achieve the "fame" we strive for, is the attention going to be used for good or for greed? Most celebrities these days, especially those with the biggest megaphones, have stepped beyond honing/sharing their craft (which I used to gladly pay to see) to freely trashing our country and a majority of American patriots. But there are those celebrities who turned to drugs and/or alcohol in order to calm themselves and escape the reality of Hollywood and their fame. Some to the point of death . . . John Belushi, Chris Farley, Whitney Houston, and Michael Jackson, to name a few. You know what I wonder when I see these talented people literally killing themselves/their fame with abuse of substances or abuse of our President/country? I wonder that if God was a part of their life, would things turn/have turned out differently if they did everything for His Glory? Famous people have the opportunity to impact so many, leading their followers to God. Instead, many demonstrate behaviors leading in the opposite direction. Think about the pressure Jesus was under. Talk about becoming famous! Yet despite the chaos, He continued on with His mission, knowing it would culminate in His Death. A death He didn't choose for Himself. A choice His "fans" made. Do you see the irony?

Today's Gospel (Mark 1:21-28) demonstrates how fast the news of good works can spread. And they killed Him because . . .  ?

Jesus came to Capernaum with his followers, and on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught. The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes. In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit; he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are–the Holy One of God!”  Jesus rebuked him and said, “Quiet! Come out of him!” The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him. All were amazed and asked one another, “What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.” His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.

In Anne a lay apostle's book Climbing the Mountain, the quote she shares from Father Raneiro Cantalamessa basically sums up the problem with our society:

"For almost twenty centuries, Christians have been awaiting the return of the Savior King. Even His own apostles thought they would live to see His return as He had promised. While we pray for His return as an article of faith, “Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again,” we no longer truly anticipate Jesus’ return in our hearts, but consider it an event both remote and uncertain in time. Father Raneiro Cantalamessa, preacher to the Pontifical Household, in his homily on the Feast of Christ the King, said: 'A general atmosphere of impunity is established in today’s society, in which there are competitions to break the law, to corrupt and allow ourselves to be corrupted, with the justification that ‘everyone does it.’ Is not this, in a certain sense, the situation in which we all live? One after the other, the commandments of God are calmly broken, including the ones that say, ‘Thou shall not kill,’ ‘Thou shall not steal,’ ‘Thou shall not commit adultery,’ with the pretext that ‘everyone does it,’ that culture, progress and even human law now allow it. But God has never thought of abolishing the commandments or the Gospel, and this general feeling of security is no more than a fatal deception.'"

Lay apostles, who do you admire? They may be incredibly talented people within their field, but how do they conduct themselves in reality? Are they choosing drugs and alcohol or Christ? Are they using their fame to further His Kingdom or are they making it cool to live a Godless life? I used to give my oldest daughter living in Washington, DC a hard time about certain actors she refused to spend a dime on at the movie theater because of their liberal political views. I now fully understand and am in complete agreement with her!

Thank you, Lord, for continually showing me unless I'm doing everything for Your Glory, it is not worth doing.

God bless,
Bonnie

Monday, January 14, 2019

Gospel Thoughts Today: I Am With You . . . Always

God is with us in our sorrow, pain, and struggles. He is with us when we are happy and on top of the world. He knows every secret hurt we hold deep in our hearts, waiting for us to ask for healing. Some believe if they don't speak to or think about Him, He is not in existence. Well, I have some news for those folks . . . there is no escaping God. So if there are any doubts as to His Presence in your life . . . backspace, delete, and then begin writing your new chapter! As Jesus says below, "believe in the Gospel." Now is as good a day as any to reboot your life with Christ!

Pick up a Volume or read them for free here:
 https://www.directionforourtimes.com/library/english/#.XDym289Khp8

In the Gospel (Mark 1:14-20) today, the fishermen don't even hesitate to leave their lives behind to follow Christ:

After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the Gospel of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”

As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Then they left their nets and followed him. He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him.

In Anne a lay apostle's book Lessons in Love, she lets us know we are not the only ones doing the following . . .

"When we wander, He follows, wherever we go, waiting to illuminate for us the condition of our soul in His light of truth. Jesus loves us. Our sinfulness saddens Him but He will never strike out violently against us. Now it must be said that one of the greatest graces Jesus allows is sudden conversion. These St. Paul-like experiences must be the delight of the saints in heaven. I believe Jesus does this when He needs service from the person NOW. He perhaps has tried to shift the soul gently but the soul is stubborn in his resisting the plan of our beautiful Jesus. This, my friends, I believe to be the most loving of actions. A soul bounced from his horse, metaphorically speaking, surely can have no doubt that his service is of urgent importance to the Kingdom and his resistance is doing damage to the Kingdom. Clearly, the humble soul rests in the latter thought. Even in situations like this, there is evidence of the Lord’s gentleness. Jesus surrounds the soul with grace, sending in help from both heavenly and earthly sources. The soul is guided very carefully afterwards into the service intended for him. I think that a soul experiencing the Lord’s correction abruptly will sometimes not feel that it happened gently in terms of the impact it has on his life. Here is why. When someone turns on the lights suddenly and a person sees the error or falseness in which he has been living, that person might be tempted to run for cover. My friends, this feeling of being exposed is inevitable. Everything that is now covered will be uncovered, and everything now hidden will be made clear. For this reason, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in hidden places will be proclaimed on the housetops (Luke 12). Again, I say, do this now. We must ask Jesus to show us any areas where we can improve ourselves and then we will have no unpleasant surprises when we die. Jesus will be gentle in showing us the wrong way and the right way. Once we ask forgiveness, acknowledging our error, Jesus simply draws us into the correct course."

Lay apostles, despite our transgressions, Jesus loves us. We can't hide from Him; we can't pretend He isn't watching when we digress from the path He has laid out for us. So talk to Him. Tell Him when you are struggling. Ask for His help. He is waiting for you to ask.

Thank you, Lord, for the kind and gentle way You show me where I'm getting it wrong and for the loving way you guide me as I make my way back to the right path.  I will always follow You!

God bless,
Bonnie

Friday, January 11, 2019

Gospel Thoughts Today: Secrets and Gossip

Secrets and gossip. I despise them. Especially if the gossip is detrimental to another person who is unaware of a situation. Although I am guilty of this sin (as we all are at one time or another), I have learned to avoid joining in the chaos the best I can. How do we respond to the "gossiper" initially? Do you tell the "gossipee" the slander being spread about them or do you keep it to yourself? Is it disobedience when we don't keep secret what was asked to be kept secret? I don't know what the right answer is to any of those questions, but I know how I can respond. The gossiper usually gets an encouraging word about the "gossipee" . . . focus on the positive. Or, I keep my mouth shut. Sometimes what we don't know won't hurt us.

In today's Gospel (Luke 5:12-16), I still wonder if the leper was disobedient or needed gossip for God's Plan to unfold:

It happened that there was a man full of leprosy in one of the towns where Jesus was; and when he saw Jesus, he fell prostrate, pleaded with him, and said, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I do will it. Be made clean.” And the leprosy left him immediately. Then he ordered him not to tell anyone, but “Go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.” The report about him spread all the more, and great crowds assembled to listen to him and to be cured of their ailments, but he would withdraw to deserted places to pray.

In Anne a lay apostle's book Whispers From the Cross, I love the following quote and advice she gives to alert us to be mindful that whatever comes out of our mouthes should further the Kingdom . . . not evil:

"In moments of useless communication when we are not in communion with Jesus, the enemy can come with temptation. Our talk is then subject to a dark influence. Our talk can then become subject to the enemy’s plan. In many ways and on many occasions we have furthered the plan of Satan through talking and other forms of communication that are not willed by heaven. Better we be mute than assist Satan in tearing down what the Lord attempts to build. Many things can happen in useless talking and random communication. Often what happens is destructive gossip. Before any communication, therefore, we must seek to determine if Jesus wants us to communicate. Is Jesus asking us to make this communication? Many times and probably most times the answer will be ‘No’. Jesus needs only the smallest percentage of the communications we make."

Lay apostles, do you find yourself gossiping or responding to others' negative gossip? If you are or do, back away. Reread the quote from Anne above. Even better, print out the above quote to hand to the next gossiper you come across. Or, print it out for yourself if you have a gossiping problem. Nothing like a little reminder of the damage gossip can render in an already struggling world.

Thank you, Lord, for reminding me of the importance of what comes out of my mouth should always reflect You!

God bless,
Bonnie


Thursday, January 10, 2019

Gospel Thoughts Today: Wishy Washy Emotions

Wishy-washy emotions. Ugh. Luckily for those interacting with me, I can handle wishy-washy emotions and reactions. A mother with Bipolar Disorder taught me (at a very young age) to understand the climate can change quicker than the blink of an eye. I try, to the best of my ability, staying evenly keeled. My love doesn't change from one day to the next. But I'm pretty lucky. My experience growing up and throughout most of my adulthood gave me a high tolerance for bad behavior. Since becoming a lay apostle, I have become calmer . . . more peaceful. My commitment to this apostolate has not wavered one bit. Jesus has led me here, at this time, in this place. I have seen a few lay apostles be led astray by false accusations. Wishy-washy emotions. After reading today's Gospel (Luke 4:14-22), where everyone thought Jesus was amazing, I find it hard to believe soon after they crucified Him. Do you think wishy-washy emotions are caused by fear of the unknown? Fear of death to self? Fear of showing your weaknesses? Or, fear of admitting you are imperfect? Stand strong, lay apostles. Read the Gospel below and stand up for Jesus:

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news of him spread throughout the whole region.  He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all.

He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the sabbath day.  He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah.  He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.

Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.  He said to them, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”  And all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.

In Volume Four, Jesus the King shows us how to remain calm and steady:

"If I am at all welcomed by you, I reside within you. But I am also beside you. I am in every conversation where someone asks Me to participate. Do you want to know how to please Me? Allow Me to speak through you. Allow Me to act through you. Allow Me to love through you. You have noticed changes since you began to follow Me with decision. You have noticed that as the world attempts to pull you away from peace, I draw you back to peace. You have noticed that is easier to love those around you. You have noticed more patience, more joy, and a deeper contemplation of the world as I see it. Now, little souls, I want you to begin practicing something different. I want you to calmly bring Me with you in everything you do and everything you say. In each part of each day, understand that I, the King of heaven and earth, am working through you."

Lay apostles, if you are one of those people who love one day and are disinterested the next, stop and implement Jesus' words above. Love Him unconditionally.  Love Him no matter what happens in your life. When you do this, loving others becomes easier. I know how much His words have changed me. I promise, if you listen to Him, they will change you.

Thank you, Lord, for opening my ears and eyes to this apostolate. I will continue to pray and show tolerance for those whose emotions fluctuate on a day to day basis.

God bless,
Bonnie