A Command To Not Worry!

TWENTY-SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

Reflection Question: Do you trust God to take care of your every need?

Listen, my brothers and sisters, understand that God is perfect, all-powerful, all-knowing, and is everywhere all at once. He walks with us in our everyday lives and He knows our every need! I would argue that God knows our needs better than we know our own needs. I say that because He sees what we cannot, and so when we worry about money, relationships, friends, family, and whatever else comes to mind you are really saying in your heart, ‘I trust God to take care of my salvation, but I don’t trust him in all the other areas of my life.’

Consider this: ‘In thee, O Lord, I have hope.’ – Psalm 71:1. Do you really have hope without complete trust? Could King David have asked this following question without knowing who is his only salvation? ‘I have lifted up my eyes to the mountain, from whence help shall come to me. My help is from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.’ – Psalm 121:1. We pray in church the Lord’s Prayer – St. Matthew 6:9-13 which in and of itself is a confession of our trust and obedience to God. So, my brothers and sisters have these verses become just sayings we say out of habit? Has our faith in God become eroded to the point that we pray these prayers without conviction? ‘NO!’ I say, we must be completely surrendered, confident, and continually asking for God to teach us his way, ‘Teach me your way, Lord; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors.’ – Psalm 27:11

Reflection Question: Did Jesus not raise Lazarus from the dead? Did he not comfort Mary and Martha?

Jesus comforts sisters Mary and Martha when their brother Lazarus had died in this scene from a Bible Video.

Reminder to not worry: If you worry about the earthly things then you have sinned against God for we have been commanded to not worry. St. Matthew 6:25 ‘Therefore, I tell you do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is life not more than food, and the body more than clothes?’

Too many of us spend too much time worrying about money, love, friendships, work, and the list never ends! The point is to let it go and give it to God! St. Matthew 6:28-30 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothed the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you – you of little faith? So, my brothers and sisters, I say to you, be honest unto yourself and list your worries, having complete faith in God that he already knows your worries and by your act of praying to Him, (‘Our Rock Who Saves Use’, – Psalm 18:2), about your worries then will you be relieved from them! In this real-world exercise of putting away this sin of worry, (which is a heavy unfair burden), your confidence in God grows. For isn’t it God who knows all things, who has promised to take care of you in all things? See, when we fail to have faith that God can deliver on this promise we become instant hypocrites in our hearts at the moment we ask him for help; not believing he really can and will help us. ‘In thee, O Lord, I have hope, let me never be put to confusion: deliver me in thy justice, and rescue me.’ – Psalm 71:1. Say it with confidence, believe it in your hearts and you will have no reason to worry!

Recap:

Step 1Admit Your Worries and fears to yourself. Example: St. Matthew 26:39 “may your will be done.” This is Jesus’s complete surrender to God! Have you completely surrendered to God?

Step 2: Have Faith that God is on your side. Example: St. Matthew 6:31-34 “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat? or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?'” For the modern person of faith, ‘Where shall we work?’ or ‘Where shall we live?’ or ‘How shall we take care of our family?’ For God promised to open specific doors in your life, guide you through the maze, and deliver you from your worries if only you ask Him for his help and place him above other things in your life. In a sense, you are giving God the keys to your house to which He has access to every room. You are trusting him to come to your aide each and every time you call upon him.

Step 3: Pray with confidence! Example: 2 Corinthians 3:5-8 “Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. Therefore, we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” Praying with complete confidence in God you are putting away the sin of worry, doubt, and fear. God who lives within us will take care of all your needs here on earth and beyond! ‘I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.’ – Psalm 27:13

Let Us Pray!

God, come to my assistance. – Lord, make haste to help me.

‘Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen Alleluia.’

Say in this order – Psalm 95, 23, 67, & 100 with every two verses of each reciting the antiphon. Canticle of Mary: ‘Of what use is it to a man to gain the whole world, if he pays for it by losing his soul?’

Morning Prayer: The Liturgy of the Hours

Ant. 1 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. 

Song of Joy for Salvation

Psalm 118

This is the stone which, rejected by you builders, has become the chief stone supporting all the rest. (Acts 4:11)

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; his love endures for ever!

Ant. 1 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. 

Let the sons of Israel say:
    ‘His love endures for ever.’
Let the sons of Aaron say:
    ‘His love endures for ever.’
Let those who fear the Lord say:
    ‘His love endures for ever.’

Ant. 1 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. 

5 I called to the Lord in my distress;
    he answered and freed me.
The Lord is at my side; I do not fear.
    What can man do against me?
The Lord is at my side as my helper;
    I shall look down on my foes.

Ant. 1 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. 


It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to put trust in man:
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in princes.

Ant. 1 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. 


10 
The nations all encompassed me;
    in the Lord’s name, I crushed them.
11 They compassed me, compassed me about;
    in the name of the Lord’s name, I crushed them.
12 They compassed me about like bees;
    they blazed like a fire among thorns.
    In the Lord’s name, I crushed them!

Ant. 1 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. 


13 
I was hard-pressed and was falling,
    but the Lord came to help me.
14 The Lord is my strength and my song;
    he is my savior.

Ant. 1 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. 

PRAYER

PRAY WITH CONFIDENCE!

Almighty God,

Every good thing comes from you. Fill our hearts with love for you, increase our faith, and by your constant care protect the good you have given us.

Dear Lord, We also ask you to calm our hearts, touch our souls, and bring peace into our lives. Show your children grace and love and remember your promise to take care of us, your children, wiping away our worries and fears which we can not see the ultimate resolution. Therefore, Lord build within us a trusting heart and unshakable confidence in you by walking with us always and forever. Teach your children Lord your holy ways and guide us so we do not falter from your path. As your Son, Jesus Christ had said, ‘your will be done’, sho shall it be in all your children’s lives.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

Thus, therefore, shall you pray, Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.

10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our supersubstantial bread.

12 And forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation. But deliver us from evil. Amen.

May the Lord Bless Us, protect Us, from all evil, and bring Us to everlasting life. Amen.

Saint Joseph Pray for us.

Sancte Ioseph, Ora pro nobis

The Malleable Family of God!

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.

Proverbs 22:6 Modern English Version (MEV)

Being a parent is honestly the hardest job we will ever endeavor to take on. There is no rule book, no one piece of advice that is the magic bullet, and as much as we struggle it all comes down to our own abilities in how our children turn out. I say this because I work with children who are growing into young adults and listen to their parents who agonize over all their decisions and honestly are caught in the proverbial trap of social media and mobile devices that has shrunk our world. But I find this one proverb still holds a measure of truth from the moment it was penned to this very day, train your children in the virtues of God and they will never depart from it.

The next hardest job we are born into is being a sibling, a son or daughter, a cousin, uncle, aunt, nephew, or niece. Each of these roles within a family help to shape the children within our family no matter the distance in time or space. Each role is important as their unique opinion or life experience can lend a helping hand to mold the malleable minds of every other member of the family from the oldest to the youngest. If done correctly a father can rely on a brother or sister to reach a child with a perspective that is different from that of the parent. A grandparent can approach the problem from a life filled with experience and wisdom. Cousins can speak about generational concerns with words more familiar. Each member of the family is important in their own way. Here is the downside: these are roles we must want to take on and take pride in their fulfillment.

I say these things to you my brothers and sisters to bring home the truth about God, one that is earth-shattering and so fundamental to our own growth and preparations in becoming parents ourselves. God our Father in Heaven is the only source of love and forgiveness. He alone gave the gift of love, demonstrated how it works, and proved he practices what he preaches in the forgiving of all our sins through Jesus Christ, his only son. So, in everything I preach, I always bring it down to love and forgiveness. I will always remind people that though we are not perfect in our obligations of being a parent, a sibling, uncle, aunt, son, daughter, a nephew or niece, and yes, regrettably there are times we say things and do things we wish we could take back. We must hold fast to our God who made us malleable, he constantly gives us opportunities to follow his lead, he never gives up, and he loves us even when we are at our worst. God our Father is our example and though we may not live up to this ideal all the time, there is no excuse not to try.

Being malleable means the following… ‘capable of being shaped or changed, whether physically or mentally.’Unknown Author. Within that definition, being malleable is being willing to learn, grow, understand, comprehend, love when you are upset, forgive when you don’t feel like it, challenging your personal paradigm, adapting to earth-shattering events, admitting there is a better way, giving credit where it is due, and last but not least being gracious and kind with your actions and words. Being malleable is being a lifelong learner and lifelong lover of God by living your life with purpose and relentlessly seeking the wisdom of our Father and Creator. In this lifelong practice, parenting becomes a little easier, being a sibling becomes more doable, and being a son or daughter a little more rewarding. So, being malleable is having an open mind, quick to love, and slow to anger.

In conclusion, I say to you my brothers and sisters, ‘1 A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches and loving favor rather than silver and gold. 2 The rich and poor have this in common, the Lord is the maker of them all.” – Proverbs 22:1-2. Write these words into your heart and know that if you practice being a good person with a good honorable name, unbreakable in faith, seeking God’s wisdom rather than riches your life will be filled with love. Your teachings to your children will bear fruit worthy of delighting in. But, if you ignore the fact God created us all equally and seek dishonesty and rudeness your children will be a misery to us all. Being a productive part of a family can be messy, can be filled with heartache, pain, and profound disappointment. Your parents may say or do things you disagree with, your siblings may be disagreeable in their actions, and our sons and daughters may surprise us with an unthinkable point of view. But in all the chaos if every member seeks understanding, is sincere in being malleable then there is no problem that cannot be overcome while maintaining a good name for everyone involved. But with equal effect, if you choose to remain quiet, unresponsive, and use silence as a weapon then the emptiness you plant will someday be harvested ultimately being utilized for an unproductive outcome that could tear a family apart. Again, my brothers and sisters God gave us free will and the minds to go our way. He constantly gives us opportunities that can change our lives for the better. We are all connected and all affected both positively and negatively in what we choose.

Let Us Pray!

Pray this in the silence of your hearts –

‘Dear Lord, I pray to always remain malleable in my words and actions, I ask for your strength to face my family with love, truth, and understand ready always to forgive. Be that sibling, father, mother, son, daughter, aunt, uncle, cousin, nephew, or niece that is relentlessly seeking a good name by dedicating my life to learning your wisdom then actively applying it, teaching your virtues to my children. Dear Lord, open my mind make it malleable so you may shape me into the more perfect version of myself. Please do the same for all the members of my family so that they too may reap the rewards of unconditional love in your arms.’

Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

May the Lord bless you, and keep you from all evil and bring you to everlasting life.

Amen.

Saint Joseph Pray for us.

Sancte Ioseph, Ora pro nobis

Mother’s Day 2020

God’s Command To Love!

Sixth Sunday of Easter

Jesus said to his disciples: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.
10 If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.

Then Jesus said, 11 “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you
and your joy might be complete…”.

This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.”

John 15:9-12

SUNDAY REFLECTION

How true it is that as a child there is no greater knowledge than to know you are loved by God, your earthly family, and most especially your mother. Moms the world over for centuries have been the backbone of the household and for this sometimes thankless sacred duty, all they want in return is to know they are truly loved by their children and their families. Love… is oftentimes a word overused, and whose meaning is so understated. Love is a commandment, it is more than a word, it is more than a catch-all phrase we use in jest, and it is more than a feeling. Rather, Love is a commandment that good mothers exceedingly excel at!

In John 15:9-10 Jesus gives a perfect example of how we can stay within his good graces. As a leader, he does something which all good leaders do… he practiced what he preached! So Jesus through his own human experience brings attention to the fact that he has kept all his Father’s commandments and urges us to do the same… not from an authoritarian point of view but out of the deepest of concerns for our immortal soul! God wants all his children to be with Him in heaven above and not rotting in hell due to some bad decisions or lack of belief. Likewise, moms also want only the best things for their children like Jesus, coming from the deepest of concerns for our wellbeing and this deep want comes from the same bucket of love that God Himself has bestowed upon all His children.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY MOM! I LOVE YOU!

Reflecting deeper on this I am reminded that my own mother taught me the same lessons about staying in God’s good graces through acts of love. My mother’s own human experience harkens back to her caring and nurturing nature where love rules over everything else and must come first in every action and every reaction. Was my mother perfect? No. Am I perfect? No. Is any mother perfect in their execution of parenting? No. But therein lies the beauty of love… we as human beings do not need to be perfect rather we need to be sincere in our love… loving others with fidelity. This comes in many forms most specifically through forgiveness of a trespass, reconciling after harsh and hurtful words, loving another so much that you would be willing to set them free to make their own mistakes, (as demonstrated by God daily), and to be willing to be sympathetic to another person’s pain. These examples only top a much longer list of examples where our mothers have exceeded in loving us every day of our lives and wholeheartedly deserve this day of celebration!

Guiding Question: Why do you think Jesus followed up his example with verse 15:11? “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you
and your joy might be complete

Every Women of All Generation!

God’s Commandment to Love One Another

Taking a step back I think we need to humanize what we all face within these strange and scary times of COVID-19. Many people will not be able to travel and see their mothers on this special day, many people have suffered great losses as family members have passed due to this highly contagious disease, and there is the impulse to be short-tempered, impatient, willing to play to the fear-mongering and unneeded polarization of this issue. Our mothers who love us, cherish us, and who forgives every stupid thing we do and say should be within our collective hearts this Sunday. Just so you all understand exactly what I mean when I say, “Every Mother”, I mean every single woman on planet Earth who has given birth, adopted a child or has taken in children to raise as their very own, and “YES” even mothers who have personal demons and are overtaken with the various challenges humans can face. This COVID-19 should not define our love and supersede God’s commandment to love one another rather it should embolden our love for each other and especially the love we show to our moms. With that said, if we love every human being with fidelity as Jesus commanded then I tell you, my brothers and sisters, we would see a lot fewer enemies in this world, fewer threats, and more friends and allies to which we can conquer any challenge we humans face! So I say to you… love one another as God loves us!

MAY YOU ALL HAVE A WONDERFUL AND PEACEFUL MOTHERS DAY!

LET US PRAY!

Lord, open my lips to praise your holy name. Cleanse my heart of worthless, evil, or distracting thoughts. Give me the wisdom and love necessary to pray with attention, reverence, and devotion. Father, let my prayer be heard in your presence, for it is offered through Christ our Lord. Amen.

CANTICLE OF MARY: ANT. I will ask the Father and He will give you another Paraclete to remain with you forever, alleluia.

For All Mothers:
That they be supported and encouraged in their special vocation of love for others;

ANT. I will ask the Father and He will give you another Paraclete to remain with you forever, alleluia.

That their children will honor their many sacrifices by lives of service and virtue;

ANT. I will ask the Father and He will give you another Paraclete to remain with you forever, alleluia.

That those mothers who await the birth of a child that they be safe and filled with joy:

ANT. I will ask the Father and He will give you another Paraclete to remain with you forever, alleluia.

That the Lord protect all unborn sons and daughters and bring them to a safe delivery;

ANT. I will ask the Father and He will give you another Paraclete to remain with you forever, alleluia.

That all might treasure and support God’s plan for life and love;

ANT. I will ask the Father and He will give you another Paraclete to remain with you forever, alleluia.

In this we pray to the Lord;

God our Father ln Heaven, have mercy on us. God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us. God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us. Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.

Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. 

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.
Amen.

Saint Joseph, Pray for us. ~ Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

NOW GO SPREAD THE WORD!

Brother Brian
Knights of Columbus
St. Louis de Montfort Council 11137 Inservice to one. In service to all.

Copyright ©2020 by Brian K. Stark. All rights reserved.

Permission to print for personal use only.

Peace I Leave With You…

The Spirit of Fear, God, therefore, did not give to humanity.

TWENTY-THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – WK II

CANTICLE OF MARY – Antiphon “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there among them, says the Lord.”

7 “God did not give us a spirit that makes us afraid. He gave us a spirit of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7 International Children’s Bible (ICB)

Dear brothers and sisters, listen for the truth in these trying times of which we live is under attack at every turn! You only have to watch the nightly news channels, the doom, and gloom reporting about the lies and misconduct of those in power, people who have decided to take it upon themselves to commit horrible crimes leaving in their wake pain and heartbreak. But, I would like to reassure you that there is still a lot of good news to be had in all of this daily chaos. Simply put God did not put into our hearts the spirit of fear, no… flawed people do that. They do it in their words laced with the selfish intent of maintaining control over those around them. They do it in their selfish actions and unreasonable deep-seated misguided beliefs that are transferred from one to another like a plague. I have known people who have prided themselves on the fact that they were hard to get along with; I used my nice voice on that comment. Moreover, I have known people that have boasted… yes you heard me… boasted that they can be argumentative, pushy, rude, and admit they have a bad attitude and that they don’t care who they hurt. They wear these bad attitudes like a badge – a badge of honor! Remember my brothers and sisters, “God gave us a spirit of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7)  

Practical Application

In reflection, I think we all need to get back to the basics by looking at some examples that inhabit our sinful world for the purpose of striking fear into our hearts! From there I promise to serve as a guide in looking at ways we can overcome our individual personal fears which plague us daily; finding the right source –  knowing where to turn for relief and rejuvenation.

World-Wide Societal Examples of Fear Driven Agendas

Slavery of all kinds around the world, racism, sexism, as well as economic, religious, and cultural oppression. The idea that human beings allow the spread of lies, resentments, crushed and fearful hearts, as well as the condoning of acts of social deviance, in all do not come from God, but rather the human race.

Reflection Question:

“Have you ever been put into a situation that put real debilitating fear into your heart? Was that situation manifested by a flawed human being or by our loving, forgiving, perfect God?”

Think about this for a moment before answering. Take time to examine it fully. I would wager that 100% of the time it was a man-made dangerous and careless action that snowballed out of control. Perhaps it was an accident or maybe due to unforeseen events. Then look around you in your town, city, neighborhood, and state and if you look deep enough for every so-called innocent accident created by man there are at least a hundred events that affect your life which had been planned and executed diligently and deliberately with fidelity over a long period of time that does real evil in our world. Crimes which tear families apart, suppress fathers rights, discriminate against the weakest and most vulnerable of us, that being our children. Actions by people in power at all levels and even by individuals who seek to maintain control over their children and make a convincing argument which leads to alienation of the child’s biological father or mother. I am talking about things in this world so evil that it causes permanent damage to our hearts, minds, and souls. All of which was not condoned or given to us by God, but perpetrated unto us by members of our own human race! From start to finish evil allowed to live in our world by the heinous actions of yes… our own brothers and sisters! Done with malice and purpose to drive fear into those who only see the effects and are innocent of the long-range plan. But take heart my brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, for it is this fear mongering which kicks up the fears from within, stirs the insecurities passed down by family members, or maybe close friends, certainly the nightly news can wear thin on our sensibilities. Ignoring them, using sarcasm, comedy,  or worse in the attempts of shutting them out only puts a band-aid on your problems at that singular moment. These fears are real and valid and stock us during the day and at night when we are awake and in our dreams.  Know that the fears of our world if allowed into our hearts take hold and grow becoming your new unwanted reality and begin to shape your life in ways you could have never possibly imagined. It is these fears which hold you back and until you find a way to free yourself from those fears will then and only then your eyes be truly opened. (John 8:32)   Now, think about your life and ask yourself were did these fears come from then when you arrive at the true answer do not sit back and do nothing, but rather give them all to God. For I tell you from experience that God gave us power and love and self-control. The power to stand up and let our true feelings be heard loud and clear. God gave us love so that the message we preach is given with sincerity and kindness which allows for forgiveness and reconciliation.  Self-control to know when to talk and when to be quiet, when to help and when to be still.

Turn To God!

4 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” ~ Psalm 23:4 Modern English Version (MEV)

In the depths of your fear know that God protects you, God comforts you, and God walks by your side. In that what reason is there to fear? When you think your parents, brothers or sisters, husband or wife or a friend may not support you, or when you think you will be deserted know that God is with you and in that knowledge you are never deserted, left alone, unprotected, and when a person slams a door closed in your face God is there ready to open a new and better door! What is there to fear in the face of such unjudging love? I can’t tell you how many times in my life people have closed the door in my face without rim or reason. I can’t begin to express the uncertainty of not having any income, or even worse yet to have money taken from my bank account because falsehoods had been propagated against me which left me almost without a home, car or food and without any recourse to spend precious time with my only child. Imagine the evil it takes to tell a parent they can never see their only child at no fault to that parent! What gets me is the unfairness of it all!  On the other hand, God never left me and put good people in my life which took wonderful care of me. That my brothers and sisters is the very nature of our God, always walking by our side bringing us to glorious victory! Jesus says we must have confidence in our faith, and God has given us many perfect examples that are powerful and tangible so that we might have that confidence in Him. (Mark 5:36)   When life gets you down don’t allow pity to fill your heart rather say this instead; 13 “For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’” (Isaiah 41:13)   Say it with confidence, my brothers and sisters, because I testify before you that it is true, God does indeed hold your hand and walks with you through all kinds of mayhem, hoopla, and chaos! Finding comfort in the Lord is the starting point for reclaiming the real you, the one He is molding into a more perfect version! (Jeremiah 29:11)

LET US PRAY!

MY HEART SHALL NOT FEAR – Psalm 27

Psalm of David

27 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Ant. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 MEV

When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.

Ant. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 MEV

Though a host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.

Ant. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 MEV

One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.

Ant. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 MEV

For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.

Ant. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 MEV

And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord.

Ant. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 MEV

Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me.

Ant. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 MEV

When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.

Ant. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 MEV

Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.

Ant. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 MEV

10 When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.

Ant. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 MEV

11 Teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.

Ant. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 MEV

12 Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty.

Ant. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 MEV

13 I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Ant. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 MEV

14 Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.

Ant. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 MEV

Remember to also pray for all the victims of Sexual Misconduct within the Catholic Church, we all pray: (Month of September 2018) The Prays of Contrition & Reconciliation.

NEED HELP OR ENCOURAGEMENT?

If you would like to receive ongoing encouragement, to help you stay focused, and/or need some guidance in where to look for motivational scriptures in the bible then feel free to email me at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com with your request. Remember you’re never alone.

May the Lord bless you, protect you from all evil and bring you to everlasting life.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Saint Joseph, Pray for us. ~ Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

NOW GO SPREAD THE WORD!!

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EASTER 2018 – The Lord is Risen! Alleluia, Alleluia

The Price of Sin Paid in Full by the Gift from God!

April 1, 2018

Easter SUNDAY

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 6:23 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Ant 1:  The splendor of Christ risen from the dead has shone on the people redeemed by his blood. Alleluia

Insight 1: So it was at the beginning that God created the Earth and from the dust of the Earth he created Adam, the first human, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. Then Lucifer offered to Eve the first women made from Adam the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. She ate it and gave it to Adam and he too ate of it. From this day forth sin entered into the world and God saw man’s heart had been taken by sin, therefore the Lord God declared,

You were made out of the ground. You will return to it when you die. You are dust, and you will return to dust.” – Genesis 3:19 (NABRE)

Therefore, I tell you my brothers and sister from that time till the rising of Jesus Christ death took us and we had no hope, no repentance, and our relationship with Our Heavenly Father was severed. It took the sacrifice of Jesus to redeem our sinful hearts, repair that sacred relationship with the Father, and in this, we now have his precious gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. For today he is risen!

The Tomb is Empty

20:1 Early on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb. It was still dark. She saw that the stone had been moved away from the entrance. So she ran to Simon Peter and another disciple, the one Jesus loved. She said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb! We don’t know where they have put him!” So Peter and the other disciple started out for the tomb. Both of them were running. The other disciple ran faster than Peter. He reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there. But he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him. He went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there. He also saw the funeral cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place. It was separate from the linen. The disciple who had reached the tomb first also went inside. He saw and believed. They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead. – John 20:1-9 (NABRE)

Ant 2:  Our Redeemer has risen from the tomb; let us sing a hymn of praise to the Lord our God, Alleluia

Insight 2: Jesus had told his disciples many things before he was crucified and much of what Jesus had said they did not understand. Chief among them was;

17  “The reason my Father loves me is that I give up my life. But I will take it back again. 18 No one takes it from me. I give it up myself. I have the authority to give it up. And I have the authority to take it back again. I received this command from my Father.” – John 10:17-18 (NABRE)

To his disciples, this was a mystery because they did not want Him to die. They did not understand why he had to die. Therefore, when he was crucified they ran and hide filled with fear and uncertainty. Over and over they recounted the many things Jesus had said and in their grief, they still could not understand. However, Jesus had also told them;

 21 “When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world. 22 So you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.” – John 16:22 (NABRE)

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, I tell you when Jesus was beaten for our sins, we too were one with Him in that pain. When Jesus felt the anguish of the cross, so was it that we too were in anguish for his blood was innocent and the worlds from Adam to this day was guilty steeped in sin. It was the curse of sin which equals death that Jesus now faced on our behalf willingly. His love so filled with forgiveness, mercy, and kindness that He walked confidently to His death on the cross, and willing lay His life down for us. But the mystery His disciples missed was in the words, ‘And I have the authority to take it back again.’ So, at the moment the disciples arrived at the tomb they saw with their own eyes that it was empty, and at that moment they understood that Jesus defeated death for all of us, redeemed all of us, and in this victory over death, we all now have eternal life.

Guiding Question: ‘So after knowing that Jesus willingly died for you then was raised on the third day to conquer death for you… is there any doubt left what Our God wouldn’t do for you… the one He loves so?’ 

Peter’s Speech

40 This man God raised [on] the third day and granted that he be visible, 41 not to all the people, but to us, the witnesses were chosen by God in advance, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead. 43 To him, all the prophets bear witness, that everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.” Acts 10:40-43 (NABRE)

Ant 3:  Alleluia, The Lord is risen as he promised, Alleluia!

Insight 3: Dear brothers and sisters, it is our victory of salvation, through our Lord Jesus Christ who died to wash away our sins, and who rose again on the third day to glorify our eternal Father in Heaven. I say to you that His promises which span millennia are as valid today as when he made them, for our Lord is faithful to His word. With fidelity did he make plans before the foundations of the Earth to conquer sin, and to bring salvation to His children whom he made in likeness, and who he within His infant wisdom became man, and lived among us. Through the prophets he reached out to us laying down His divine law, working wonders so that we might believe, and then in His final efforts to bring us closer to Him God raised Jesus from the dead. It was God’s declaration that the earthly tombs we are put in at death shall not be the final experience of life, for His promise was to raise us in His likeness, to shower us with His love and mercy. To breathe upon us the breath of everlasting life. This promise He fulfilled through His son Jesus Christ two thousand years ago in Jerusalem! Alleluia, alleluia!

Happy Easter – Celebrate saying, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad, Alleluia!

Intercessions

Christ is the Lord of life, raised up by the Father; in his turn, he will raise us up by his power. Let us pray to him by saying;

Christ our life, save us.

Lord Jesus, light shining in the darkness, you lead your people into life, and give our mortal nature the gift of holiness,

– may we spend this day in praise of your glory.

Lord, you walked the way of suffering and crucifixion,

– may we suffer and die with you, and rise again to share your glory.

Son of the Father, our master, and our brother, you have made us a kingdom of priests for our God,

– may we offer you our joyful sacrifice of praise.

King of glory, we look forward to the great day of your coming in splendor,

– that we may see you face to face, and be transformed in your likeness.

Let’s Us Pray

God, come to my assistance.

Lord, make haste to help me.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Ant. Very early on the morning after the Sabbath, when the sun had just risen, they came to the tomb. (Alleluia) 

 

God our Father, by raising Christ your Son you conquered the power of death and opened for us the way to eternal life. Let our celebration today raise us up and renew our lives by the Spirit that is within us. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. – The Liturgy of the Hours, pg. 428-429

May the Lord bless you, protect you from all evil and bring you to everlasting life.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Saint Joseph, Pray for us.Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

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Adventus – Time of Preperation

14 “You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.” ~ Luke 1:14 (NRSVACE)

The coming of Christ is indeed a joyous event. ‘Proclaim the good news among the nations: Our God will come to save us.’ ~ The Liturgy of the Hours, Advent – Proper of Seasons, pg.41. Here we have the seeds of our happiness, great joy, and a reason to rejoice not to mention the first season of the Catholic Liturgical Year. Here we see the event before it took place and the anticipation of this happening before it happened. There was no stopping the word of the impending savior, nothing would get in the way of worldwide redemption. This is the story of what would happen after Advent, let’s instead focus on what it took for the savior to come, which is the story of preparation and the true meaning of ‘Adventus’ Latin for ‘Advent’.

  Preparation Equals A Mind Wide Open

Before our savior could come there had to be someone willing to give birth to him. This person would have to be female and married because an unmarried woman would most likely be stoned to death for having sex before marriage. This married women would have to be a virgin and for that to happen she would need to just be engaged and not yet married. This also causes a big problem because what would the soon to be husband think? Would he tolerate his soon to be wife having conceived by another man? Most men would not, and in this case, this goes against every Jewish law on the record books. How could he marry an unfaithful woman who was now no longer a virgin? In my mind, I often question what the Jews were really thinking: I mean how did they think all this was going to come about? See my brothers and sisters here we have a conundrum of the largest order! But God is all knowing and all powerful, He already had this part of the plan worked out because He had this planned since before the foundations of the world! That being said, God knew and was waiting for Mary and Joseph. God hand-picked both of them to be the earthly parents to His only son, our savior Jesus Christ. But this still did not by any means make everything ok by the larger population. Rather God needed Mary and Joseph to work with Him on this plan, they had to be willing participants or else this plan of a savior would not happen as we now know it. Both Mary and Joseph had to think outside of the box, they both had to let their love for each other rule the day, and they both had to prepare for Gods miracle together.  In many ways, faith became their new reality. Preparation is just as important to those who lived two thousand years ago as it is for us today.  It’s not enough to live day by day allowing each day to bring its fruits and or ills with little participation by the people who are living it. To just slide by and not be ready is really not living at all. I say this to you, my brothers and sister because to live means you prepare every day for the fruits of God no matter what they are. If Mary and Joseph had just simply been living in the haze of unpreparedness then Jesus could not have come through them. How might the world be different? No! I am glad they prepared for Jesus, and in the Season of Adventus that is what we do, prepare our hearts, minds, souls, and life for the coming goodness of the Lord.

Advent Family Activity

36 “Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” ~Luke 21:36 (NRSVACE) 

Because I am a teacher who maintains an active network made up of other teachers I wanted to give everyone an activity that can help teach children the Advent Season and in many ways help us grown-ups and parents learn a thing or two. I also want to thank the teacher who suggested this calendar so that I can share it with all my followers.

On this Advent Calendar, each day is a new way to prepare for Jesus while keeping you on track, which as I have stated above both Mary and Joseph also had to undergo preparations for the coming of the Lord. Because today is the First Sunday of Advent we read the scripture and reflect. Jesus tell’s us to be on guard and to watch, why would he say that? Perhaps, Jesus is telling us to look for the signs of the next coming so we are not fooled by those clever fakes who would try and trick us by mimicking some of the signs Jesus spoke about. Know the difference between what is fake and what is real is very much a part of being active in life as I had written above. It’s also linked to being prepared for Jesus when He comes on Christmas Day. I like to think how prepared were the three wise men who watched the stars and the movements of the heavenly bodies, keeping track of all the great signs in the night sky while using a specialized calendar to help them navigate to find Jesus on the very night he was born. This is being aware, being prepared, being active in life, and verifying their faith making it an undeniable fact! See, my brothers and sisters, hope is very much a part of this day as well for we wait in the hope of the return of Christ, we watch for the very signs he told us about while we prepare our hearts, minds, body, and soul for His triumphant return. Each day on the calendar is important to reflect upon and to research as well teach to our children so they may have the same hope as we who understand the task given us until the time of Christ.

Amen!!! Alleluiah!

Primary Goal: To Alway Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

Ways to Communicate

As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting Listening Faithfully Facebook page.

Don’t forget to become part of this awesome community by signing up at Listening Faithfully Community Page. In addition, I have started a new page where you can also visit me at fb.me/listeninfaith and send me messages at m.me/listeninfaith.

Finally, another means of direct communication os by sending me a tweet on Twitter at Brian Keith@Listeninfaith, or become a part of our spiritual group: Friends who Like Listening Faithfully…. “Let’s grow together as children of God” 

Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

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Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2017 

Special Reflection – Thanksgiving 2017

Thanksgiving 2017

11 “On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, 13 they called out, saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’ 14 When he saw them, he said to them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were made clean. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. 16 He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus asked, ‘Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? 18 Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’ 19 Then he said to him, ‘Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.’” ~ Luke 17:11-19 (NRSVACE)

On Thanksgiving, we celebrate the historic event of two different cultures coming together and being thankful for each other and being thankful for the growing partnership that was forged which ended up as our traditional day of thanksgiving. But, brothers and sisters I have already written that posting many times over. I would rather reflect on something more outside the box and less traditional. For this past week, I have heard this passage from Luke now in two different settings in two different church ceremonies. The first time I heard it was in a school play just prior to ending the two day week of teaching. The second time I heard it was today in Mass. In both accounts, the two different priests said two completely different things but in my heart, God was showing me how similar these two messages are. So, my brothers and sisters, if you could indulge me I would like to add to what I had heard and hopefully do justice to what God showed me in this most unconventional Thanksgiving post.

Jesus heals ten lepers, but only one came back to thank him. His gratitude was deeply genuine and heartfelt. Jesus comments to what happened to the other nine, ‘where are they?’, he inquires. This line of questioning is critical and poignant to the core of our salvation for as Christians and believers we must ask ourselves how many times have we been the recipient of great gifts but never took time to came back to the source in sincere gratitude.  Often I think God gives us gifts and our response is one of puzzlement just short of responding with, “And? Is this it? What am I supposed to do with that?”  Or perhaps if it was something you had asked for and really wanted then when you get it your so excited the words ‘Thank You!’ never seem to be stated. Our culture is one of instant gratification, ‘I want what I want and I want it now!’ Please and thank you are missing. As a teacher I have this same thing happen to me with my kids I have taught, few come back and thank me for all the hard work I did for them to prepare them for the next more difficult level. To date, just a hand full ever really reach out in true thanksgiving. I could easily ask what happened to the other thousand plus.  But even if I did ask that question in my heart I know what happened to all my other students just as Jesus knew what happened to the other nine. In this world, it’s far easier to receive than it is to give.

Now here is another thought, what if when we received those gifts from God that puzzled us or gifts we receive from people we do not particularly like and made a conscious effort to change our own mindset to one of instant thanksgiving and gratitude. What would our life be like? How would that simple act affect others? Instead of pointing fingers and looking for people to blame for our own inadequacies what would happen if we thanked God for the criticism?  But this is small potatoes to what is really possible, no my brothers and sisters lets go one step further and examine all those deep dark happenings that we couldn’t find any way to be thankful for at the time it happened. In the heat of the moment of a firing, or a bashing from a boss or coworker, or maybe even that one comment which cut to the bone and crushed our heart. What if we look at those hurts again and look for the tiniest thing to be thankful for. A good example of this in my own life happened this past summer; on the record, I was not offered a contract to return to my elementary school after ten successful years because of a lack of money. But the real reason was other teachers playing politics thinking if I was not there then they could get away with destroying my lab, taking the laptops whenever they wanted, they would not have to worry about me observing them as I was trained to do to help them become better teachers. No, they wanted the easy way out even if it cost me my job and cut me from ever seeing my students who I deeply love and who needed a professional computer teacher such as myself.

Now watch Gods actions in this moment: In this scary painful loss I have found growth and was given a better opportunity elsewhere. In looking for that tiniest of miracle perhaps the last ten years God was developing me, molding me, preparing me for the responsibilities of today. Yes, it was painful but being a Christian means I listen and do the will of God, He alone directs my path into the future. He alone knows what I need to do next and how to get it done even if I don’t see it yet; especially if all I can see is the injustice of the act itself which caused the hurt. I tell you, my brothers and sisters, there is more to be thankful for in this life than all the wonderful gifts which we had asked for and then received. I humbly ask you my brothers and sisters what about those bag of hurts you locked away and tried to forget about? How thankful can you make your heart for those?

The other nine lepers Jesus had healed ran away in joyous thanksgiving never to be seen or heard from again. Rather it is that one leper who came back to the source and received the complete and total healing from Christ; that Samaritan, that foreigner is who we remember. I tell you my brothers and sisters lets mimic the one and be thankful for everything we are given in this life, the good and the bad, the happy and the sad, the expected and unexpected treating all of them in kind, with love and deep heartfelt gratitude. Keeping in your memory the blessing of leprosy is what led all ten to God, but it was God’s love and compassion which brought back the one.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Amen!!! Alleluiah!

Primary Goal: To Alway Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

Ways to Communicate

As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting Listening Faithfully Facebook page.

Don’t forget to become part of this awesome community by signing up at Listening Faithfully Community Page. In addition, I have started a new page where you can also visit me at fb.me/listeninfaith and send me messages at m.me/listeninfaith.

Finally, another means of direct communication os by sending me a tweet on Twitter at Brian Keith@Listeninfaith, or become a part of our spiritual group: Friends who Like Listening Faithfully…. “Let’s grow together as children of God” 

Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

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Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2017 

 

Mother's Day 2017

Mother’s Day Message

4 “Rather, let your adornment be the inner self with the lasting beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in God’s sight.” ~ 1 Peter 3:4 (NRSVACE)

With Mother’s Day upon use let not the moment fade without there being the proper sentiment being spread throughout the world. For what do our mothers do for us on a yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily basis which gives our lives such meaning and which gives rise for such celebration? In that idea, the perfect way to celebrate this special day is to see our mothers through the prism of how Jesus see’s and celebrates His own mother, Mary.

Introduction of Mother Mary

26 “In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.” ~Luke 1:26-27 (NRSVACE)

Imagine if you will the town in Galilee called Nazareth. It would have been a small place complete with a small town environment where everyone would have known everyone else. “The people of Nazareth were essentially farmers, so they needed space between the houses for livestock and their enclosures, as well as land for plants and orchards. Nazareth would have had a population of around two to four hundred in antiquity, that is to say, several extended families or clans.” ~ Elizabeth Fletcher (2012) Basic Facts about Nazareth.

Now imagine a girl who was completely nieve to the world and yet was engaged to be married and according to scripture; Mary was pure in heart and mind. I think that in this moment Mary’s true attractiveness to God was her purity, her love, her faith in God.  Another consideration is that God fulfills his promises in the most unlikely of ways. But interestingly enough God fulfills His promise of a savior through scripture, marking the savior as being born from the house of David. Both Mary and Joseph was descendant from King David; Joseph from David’s son Nathan, and Mary from David’s son Solomon. In this way we see the perfect parents to God’s only son Jesus and for scripture to be fulfilled.

Look at your own parents, particularly your mother’s family tree.  How did God make it possible for your parents to meet? Remember that God fulfills scripture and He can make the impossible happen; so think big and outside of the box. God brought Mary and Joseph together in order that His son would be raised within the loving home as the descendant of King David.  God brought you into the world from a special family and for a special purpose. Look deep and see the connections that God has placed in your own families story.

26-28 “In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to the Galilean village of Nazareth to a virgin engaged to be married to a man descended from David. His name was Joseph, and the virgin’s name, Mary. Upon entering, Gabriel greeted her: ‘Good morning! You’re beautiful with God’s beauty, Beautiful inside and out! God be with you.'” ~ Luke 1:26-28 The Message (MSG).

The Archangel Gabriel came from heaven to deliver a message straight from God. His words within this message indicate a radical departure from the life Mary was leading to one that was completely blessed by and one with God.  In that moment Mary was elevated from a normal human being to a Holy Bride. Mary was chosen to give life to the savior in our mortal sinful world. But what Gabriel explained to her next would have scared anyone else away, but not Mary for again, she was pure inside and out!

33 “You will become pregnant and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus.  He will be great, be called ‘Son of the Highest.’ The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David; He will rule Jacob’s house forever— no end, ever, to his kingdom.” ~ Luke 1:26-33 The Message (MSG).

Because Mary had observed every Jewish custom she had never slept with nor had any sexual relations with any man. So naturally, her thoughts begged the question; “How could this be?” Gabriel went on to explained;

35 “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, the power of the Highest hover over you; Therefore, the child you bring to birth will be called Holy, Son of God.” ~ Luke 1:26-35 The Message (MSG). 

The purity of mary shined through when she finally understood because it led her to open her heart and answer God with love;

38 “Yes, I see it all now: I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve. Let it be with me just as you say.’ Then the angel left her.” ~ Luke 1:26-38 The Message (MSG). 

 Mary’s Love For Jesus and God

21  “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you will be filled.
“Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.” ~ Luke 6:21 (NRSVCE) 

Mary so loved Jesus that she protected Him from all harm, she loved Him with all her heart and soul, she cared for Him as only a mother could. She afforded Him an up bring and teachings every Jewish mother had. But, what Mary had done that was most outstanding was to give her family the gift of love.  She taught Jesus and all her children from Joseph the acts of mercy, love, forgiveness, and truth. In that, many of the words Jesus used on the topic of love are maternal in nature and therefore, coming from his mother. Think about your own words you use with others. How many of those words could be contributed to your mother or your father? Yes, Jesus’s overall message is a Godly message, but remember the spirit of God was also in Mary, the message she taught Jesus was one and the same. Mother’s generally reinforced behaviors throughout our entire life, so the behaviors passed onto Jesus from Mary were holy, pure, and Godly. Mary’s influence spans the individual moments that Jesus experienced as being poor living as all other poor Jews lived under the hardships of the Roman oppression. Mary’s influence overshadowed the moments when Jesus was physically hungry or when He was sad and cried, for her words to Him was uplifting, caring, considerate, and heartfelt.

Give yourself a minute and remember the funniest moment you experienced with your mother, remember the joy in your heart, the sense of security, love, and protection. Remember the sound of your mother as she laughed with you, the feel of her touch upon you, the smell of her clothes or perfume as she hugged you. I think this is as close to heaven as we can get here on earth; to experience the pure love of your mother. Jesus had this in abundance! It is my sincere hope all of you do as well!

Mother are also instrumental in teaching the hard lessons of life, most particularly the lessons which set children free of what makes use feel safe and secure.  The older we grow hopefully the wiser we become, and the troubles we experience are lessened by our mother’s advice. I remember calling my mother every day asking her deep questions when I faced my deepest hurts. It was the strength of my mother I drew upon when confronting the scary things in this life. In this way, Mary also excelled as she knew the faith of her son the redeemer of the world. Think about the fear which penetrated her heart every day from His birth to His death helpless to do anything about it. Mary was indeed a brave and strong woman. Reflect upon your own mother, how much of a help she was in your times of need, how brave she was when she gave advice, how courageous she was for seeing your hurts coming but could do nothing to stop them?

Reflect upon your own mother, how much of a help she was in your times of need, how brave she was when she gave advice, how courageous she was for seeing your hurts coming but could do nothing to stop them?

In reflection, I will say to you my brothers and sisters in Christ that our Mother Mary was strong, courageous, and true to Jesus until the very end, as she stood there on Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), and watched grief stricken as Jesus drew his last breath. Mary remained by her son’s side until they brought Him down from the cross and had buried Him. She was among the woman at the tomb of Jesus, and she was instrumental to the spreading God’s message to the world. Mary was loyal to her husband, family, and to God all the days of her life. Her example is as a perfect for how to be a true servant of God as it is to being a beautiful human being and mother. In this way, because Jesus saved us from our sins, Mother Mary is the mother of the world; the world freed from the debt of sin. Her message of love, nurturing, and forgiveness is the very essence of God’s (Agape) love. Look deep inside your own hearts and you will find the same love from your own mothers here on this special day we celebrate called Mother’s Day.

Amen,

Ways to Communicate

As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting Listening Faithfully Facebook page.

Don’t forget to become part of this awesome community by signing up at Listening Faithfully Community Page. In addition, I have started a new page where you can also visit me at fb.me/listeninfaith and send me messages at m.me/listeninfaith.

Finally, another means of direct communication os by sending me a tweet on Twitter at Brian Keith@Listeninfaith, or become a part of our spiritual group: Friends who Like Listening Faithfully…. “Let’s grow together as children of God” 

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Twisted Words

‘Oh, God… I am a Sinner!’ 

5 “All day long they twist my words; all their schemes are for my ruin.” ~ Psalm 56:5 (NIV)

I begin today with a confession… one that every person is obligated to make, “I am a sinner.”   Have you ever felt bound, held down, kept quiet, ignored, made inconsequential, pushed away, rejected, and even made fun of behind your back because you are a sinner?  King David did, all the apostles did, every great leader has. I imagine King David must have said something that he didn’t write down, something like this. ‘Oh, God I am a sinner…  Is my sin so great that my every word is twisted and used against me? How many more times will those with power come calling my name wanting me to give up and quit through their relentless targeting and hateful sneers?  For the words they say harm me and my reputation, will my community be able to tell the difference and know I have been lied against?’

King David felt hounded for sure! His Kingship outright challenged! Not by strangers did these things come, rather it was through his own family. Jealousy is the devil’s weapon blinding a person and keeping them from doing good while bending their very nature into a twisted mess that does nothing but evil. King David knew this and was armed with the sprite of God.

Guiding Question: How many times in your life have you felt that way…  felt lied against, felt your words twisted because  you are a  sinner? 

In reflection, I can honestly say these feeling as a teacher has come to me more than once from different sources and its root was mainly from other people feeling jealous or because of a perception of me having more power than they or  the perception of my earning more money than they, and maybe because they saw my good works. In any case, it never had to do with me being a sinner… because that my brothers and sisters is between God and I!  For it is to these whom I speak could see how much effort I put into building relationships with people and see the response from that effort. Sadly, those people were very good at small talk but lacked the social skills to really build community and so they felt threatened. Many people in my life have twist my words in conversations and yes they did what no Christian should ever do… bear falsely against me. Why do I share this? Because many ordinary people feel like the world has closed in on them and that they are being hounded and their words twisted which deeply impacts their lives in a negative way.  Regardless of whether you personally like someone or not does not give you the right to work such malice against them! I say to you who feel this way, never give up and keep your head held high, let them be evil while you continue to do God’s work!  To that theme, I wanted to point out that King David wrote about his experiences in such detail that it is inspiring to read about, but he was not the only one in the Bible to have felt this way. In fact, there are many people who have felt hounded! To have felt their words twisted and evil being done against them. In each case, we draw inspiration from their experiences and know God was always with them by how the story developed and eventually ended. So again my brothers and sisters, turn away from the world’s sinful hate and gain God’s never ending inspiration through His message found within the Holy Bible and allow yourself to truly be inspired!

Gaining Inspiration through Comparing Scriptural Translations

5  “All day long they seek to injure my cause; all their thoughts are against me for evil.” Psalm 56:5 (NRSVACE)

The message in this translation is more modern, a little more impactful. The hurt King David felt becomes more understandable to our advanced sensibilities. Instead of the word “twist”, it is replaced with, “seek to injure my cause”. The charge in these words are more server and cuts deeper and becomes more personal.  In comparing them we can see how words have meaning, words are powerful, words, if used wrongly, can do real damage.  They impacted King David as they do use all today. It is easy to drum up chaos from nothing, but it is much harder to develop and create real lasting true friendships and relationships.  With that said, my community has always known the difference between the truth and the lie being told. For God walks with my community, my friends, and throughout all my relationships. Like King David, I have faith in the one true God, and money has never been my motivator nor has power. God has been my motivator throughout my teaching career and in all aspects of my life. I write this to give inspiration to those who are feeling hounded… I can relate. But you have one powerful relationship with God I wanted to remind you about. Having a real relationship/communion with God will get you through the toughest of times!

Guiding Question: Can you see God’s power working in the background of this scripture: Psalm 56:5

5-6  “They don’t let up— they smear my reputation and huddle to plot my collapse.  They gang up, sneak together through the alleys to take me by surprise, waiting for their chance to get me.” Psalms 56:5-6 (The Message Bible – MSG)

This translation is very clear… King David’s voice is really heard! “They don’t let up!”  Now we can see the effect of harassment and bullying as it is seen by those who are receiving this treatment. “They just won’t stop!”  These words imply a timeless – never ending cycle of hurt through the spoken and written word. I find this interesting because now we have completely moved into the modern era with this language. Now we have our enemies huddling up, plotting and active in gossip! Broken down to its finest parts King David was being harassed and gossip was being spread against him. Wow… people have not changed in over two thousand years! With this added information it is easy to see how hopeless King David must have felt. Again, this reflection is written for those who are feeling this way today… right now in 2017! Remember, God has never changed in how much he loves us, how much He will protect us, and what He will do to ease our pain. Again, despite his feelings, David’s love for God was greater and his comfort from God given in abundance. So I tell you, my brothers and sisters, we all have been plotted against, harassed, marginalized, made fun of, been the object of gossip, and even ridiculed for something, by someone. I say draw inspiration from these Bible stories, be inspired by others you know – be it me – or someone else who has told these kinds of stories. But most of all stay inspired by how God is working in the background to comfort you and lessen your pain. Remember, we are all confessed sinners… but we are also saved by the blood of Christ!

Amen,

Ways to Communicate

As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting Listening Faithfully Facebook page.

Don’t forget to become part of this awesome community by signing up at Listening Faithfully Community Page. In addition, I have started a new page where you can also visit me at fb.me/listeninfaith and send me messages at m.me/listeninfaith.

Finally, another means of direct communication os by sending me a tweet on Twitter at Brian Keith@Listeninfaith, or become a part of our spiritual group: Friends who Like Listening Faithfully…. “Let’s grow together as children of God” 

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