The Lord is My Shephard

Leave a comment

One of the readings at Mass Sunday was Psalm 23. This psalm is mostly known from being  read at funerals. Depending on the particular bible translation you use, the NABRE used at Mass reads differently than the RSVCE. The difference is verse 4:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death – RSVCE

Even though I walk in the dark valley – NABRE

Not being a biblical scholar I guess this can be taken as the psalmist is on his deathbed, but I look at it differently. I look at Palm 23 as talking about our journey through life in general. It describes what trusting in God is like, how your life journey will be.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.

When you trust in the Lord, you shall not want, He will give you what you need, it may not be what you want, but it will be what you need. He will protect you from harm, he will guide you through the storms. He will lead you to green pastures where you can rest peacefully, with plenty of food and out of harm’s way. He will lead you to restful waters where you will be able to drink without worrying about being washed away by rough currents. You will also be able to cross these streams without difficulty. Because your journey is made easier by following Him, your soul will be refreshed and rested.

He guides me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
With your rod and your staff
that give me courage.

The Lord will guide you, making sure you are on the right path. He will make sure you don’t stray from the path, becoming lost, abducted or misled. Even when you are in a dark valley, even after death, He will be right with you and you do not need to fear evil. All you need to do is look at Him, see Him next to you and you can get through anything. I know this has certainly worked for me. I have been on a pretty rough journey, and once I began to trust in Him, letting Him guide me, I was no longer afraid of where I was going or what was going to happen to me. I was always afraid, uncertain of the future, not knowing what was coming next, and what I would do when something happened. No longer do I feel that way for I know God has my back. He has given me the strength and courage I never had before.

You spread the table before me in the sight of my foes;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

Only goodness and kindness follow me all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD for years to come.

When you follow the Lord, he spreads his table before you, all the gifts you could want, all you need. He does this in front of your enemies so they can see what He has to offer and they will realize they cannot compare. You will see that your cup will truly overflow.Because you follow Him, goodness and kindness will always be with you. You come into the world with nothing and you will go out with nothing. All you can leave behind you is the good works you have done, and a legacy of all the good you have done.

Are you following the shepherd?

Advertisements

Keeping Watch – Luke 12:35

Leave a comment

I certainly don’t claim to be a biblical scholar, and I certainly am not a theologian (I can’t even pronounce it), I am just a layperson who sees how God has worked in my life. When I began my journey one of the many things I learned was that every time you read a passage of scripture for the second third of more time, you will learn something new. The latest of these is Luke 12:35 – 40.

This is the parable where Jesus tells the story of the master who has gone to a wedding feast and the servants are charged to stay awake and await his return especially if he returns after dark. In the time of Jesus, there were only locks on the inside of doors, probably a sliding bar of some sort. Once this bar was in place the door could only be opened from the inside. It was up to the servants to listen and know the sound of the master’s voice, even his footsteps to ensure they didn’t open the door for anyone but him.

Most people interpret this parable, correctly I might add, that it means we must be ever vigilant to hear when Jesus comes to our door at the end of time and invites us to come with him. If we don’t open the door for him, we will be left behind. Jesus isn’t going to open the door himself, he isn’t going to wait for us, he will move on. He can’t open the door, we must open it for him. We need to know when he is there.

The last time I read this passage, actually last Sunday since it was the Gospel reading, I was struck with another thought. Couldn’t this also mean we need to be as vigilant to not open the door for the wrong person, i.e. Satan? Isn’t he trying to get into our door as well?  We need to be as, if not more, attentive to who is at the door before we open it.

But here is the problem, there is so much noise around us in today’s world, we can’t always hear. We are surrounded by noise, noise of all kinds, from all directions, from all sorts of devices. When was the last time you were actually immersed in complete quiet? No television, no cell phone, no computer. It’s probably been awhile. This is exactly what Satan wants from us, to be surrounded by noise. When we are, we can’t hear God talking to us. The saying “Out of sight, out of mind” comes to mind. When we can’t hear God, we forget about Him. We put Him away somewhere and wonder where He is later when something happens. Just like the Evil One wants.

I was never one who listened for God. It wasn’t until I fell off that truck and really started thinking about things that I realized that He had been talking to me all my life, I just never listened. I didn’t know who was knocking at my door. I didn’t know who I was letting in and who I was keeping out. Now I do.

Let me share a quick example as to how I have done this. The last job I had, I would always let myself be dragged into the negativity, gossiping and back-biting that was a daily occurrence. At my new job, this still goes on, and at a higher level than at the last one, but the difference is now I don’t let myself be dragged into it. I don’t and won’t participate no matter how much others will try to get me to. I know who is knocking and I don’t answer the door.

Take the time to listen. Listen for God, listen to God. Take some quiet time to learn what He looks like and what He sounds like. Learn to differentiate between Him and Satan. He is out there. Once you shut out all the noise, you will find Him. I have and so can you.

The Same Only Different

Leave a comment

Only five more days until Christmas. For some Christmas is a time for joy and happiness. For others, it can be anything but. For me, I am somewhere in the middle. I spend a lot of time reflecting on my life, where I was, where I am now, where I am going. This year is the same, only different.

The last couple of years have been tough on me. I have been struggling with what seems to be an endless financial mess. My health hasn’t been all that great, I can’t do the kinds of things I like to do, physically I just can’t do it. I have had to make some pretty hard decisions. That is what has been the same.

The what is different is that I finally seem to have an inner peace within myself. I realize that no matter what happens I have Jesus at my back, guiding me and pointing me in the right direction. I know if and when I stumble He will be there to help me up. And more importantly, I have finally realized that there actually is a purpose to life, an “End Goal”.

So many people struggle with trying to figure out where they want to be in life. They wonder what life has in store for them, thinking it is the here and now that is the most important thing in life. They surround themselves with things, always trying to get ahead, to have the latest “stuff” and forget about what is really important along the way. They are so busy pursuing these dreams of wealth and success that they forget why they are really here. They forget about love and kindness. They forget about the “End Goal”.

What is that “End Goal”? It is to use this life to get to the next one, the one where we will spend eternity. We have two choices as to where that will be. We can either spend it in Hell with Satan, or we can spend it in Heaven with Jesus. We always hear about God having a plan for us. Well, this is what is plan is, to spend eternity with Him in Heaven. We won’t get there through materialism, narcissism, hedonism or any other “isms”. We will only get there by being virtuous as we can be, by living our lives the way He wants us to.

Do I always do that? Nope, but I try. And looking back over the last few years I realize that I have come a long way in reaching that goal. Yes, I have a long way to go, but at least I now have the “End Goal” in sight. I am working to that goal each and every day. Whether it is at home, at work, through my writing (which I have done darn little of lately) or through my day to day actions, I am doing my best to get there.

How about you?

Taking the Narrow Gate

Leave a comment

How often when faced with a choice do we opt for the easiest one? How often do we follow the crowd and do what everyone else is doing, even if we aren’t sure it is the right thing to do? Or to follow along with Jesus’ teaching and take the broad road in order to go through the wide gate? More

John 1:38 What are you looking for

Leave a comment

It has been awhile since I have done a Sunday reflection, but then it has been awhile since I have done any reflecting or even much writing. So here goes…

“What are you looking for?”

This is what Jesus asks the two disciples of John the Baptist when they begin to follow him. (John 1:38) This is a question we all should ask ourselves.What are we looking for in our lives? Are we looking for the right things?

We should be looking for Jesus and spending the rest of our lives with one goal in mind: Getting to heaven and spending eternity with God. That really should be our purpose in life, the end goal. After all, we all start out the same, made in God’s image and without sin.We establish an “intimate and vital bond of man to God” when God creates us. But as we learn from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 29:

But this “intimate and vital bond of man to God” (GS 19 # 1) can be forgotten, overlooked, or even explicitly rejected by man. Such attitudes can have different causes: revolt against evil in the world; religious ignorance or indifference; the cares and riches of this world; the scandal of bad example on the part of believers; currents of thought hostile to religion; finally, that attitude of sinful man which makes him hide from God out of fear and flee his call.

If you recall the “Parable of the Sower” (Matthew 13:1 – 9, 18 – 23) you will remember it is about a farmer who spreads his seeds and they fall in four different places: John 1:38

  • The path
  • The rocky ground
  • Among the thorns
  • The rich soil

The only seed that flourished was the seed that fell onto the rich soil. All the rest produced nothing. God is the sower, the seed is his love for us, given to us when he creates each of us. We all have this love and wisdom, but so many of us lose it. Why? Because we are going after the wrong things. Instead of keeping the end in mind, the next life, we are too focused on this life. This leads to us spending all our effort collecting material things, getting more and more “stuff”. And like the seed that falls among the thorns, we begin to grow in Jesus but soon the thorns choke us out. Some of the thorns are listed above in the paragraph from the Catechism.

Where do these thorns and weeds come from? We only need to look at Matthew 13:37 – 39:

He said in reply, “He who sows good seed is the Son of Man. the field is the world, the good seed the children of the kingdom. The weeds are the children of the evil one and the enemy who sows them is the devil.”

Satan is the one who comes along and sows the weeds. We don’t see him, we don’t hear him, but he is there. He sows the seeds of temptation in us, things like greed, lust, envy, pride, and this leads us to sin. If we let these weeds grow, like in the first parable the good seed won’t grow, it will eventually die, it will not bear any fruit.

But the good news is that this doesn’t have to be. Unlike the man in the second parable, we don’t have to wait until the weeds have grown before we get rid of them. We are able to tell them apart as soon as they begin to come out of the ground. Even when they are fully grown it is not too late to pull them out. And like the weeds in my little garden, they will come back, but the more you pull them, the less they return. They may never completely stop growing and coming back, just like Satan, but you can keep ahead of them. We need to catch them early enough before they take over.

When Jesus asks where we are going listen when he says “Come and you will see.” (John 1:39)

Do you not care if we perish?

Leave a comment

“Teacher, do you not care if we perish?” This is what the disciples said to Jesus when crossing the sea and a storm began to blow. This is from yesterday’s Gospel reading, Mark 4:35 – 41. Do you ever ask Jesus the same question? “Jesus, don’t you care about me?”

More

Looking With Different Eyes

1 Comment

Some days it just seems like the world is spinning out of control. It gets crazier and crazier every day. What was once considered evil is now considered good. Killing people we don’t want anymore has become second nature to us, we even make it legal.  More

Older Entries