Keeping Watch – Luke 12:35

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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.

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What Have You Done With My Lord

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“What have you done with my Lord?”

These are the words that Mary used when she entered the tomb of Jesus and found it empty. These are the same words we can use when we see all that is happening in the world around us. Every day there is more violence around us whether it is terrorists acts, domestic violence or random shootings. Each time we ask the same question: Where is God through all of this?

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Taking the Narrow Gate

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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

Sunday Reflection: Duty to Live in the Light

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Every once in awhile I come across a passage in the bible that hits me, like a two by four. This happened last night when I read Ephesians 5: 6 – 20. I wish I had read this forty years ago. Maybe if I had I would have this whole thing called life figured out and would not have strayed off the narrow path like I did.

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John 1:38 What are you looking for

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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)

How are You Spending Your Talents

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I hate to admit it but I am not always the smartest person in the room, especially when it comes to my faith, theology, the catechism, and especially interpreting the Bible. Sometimes passages will speak to me (sometimes they even yell at me) and other times they make no sense to me at all, or hardly any.

Today’s Gospel reading, Matthew 25:14 – 30 is one of those. It is  the “Parable of the Talents” where a business person has to leave on a business trip and entrusts three of his servants with some money. Two of them spend them wisely, doubling the owner’s money while the third, well, not so much. For some reason, I could never quite understand what this was supposed to be teaching me, even though the title should have been a clue.

Before I get into what it has taught me, let me say this. Since me reversion to the Catholic faith, I have realized that the more you seek, the more you find (Matthew 7:7). Each day I learn something new about my faith, whether through the Bible, reading the Church Fathers and other writers, listening to catholic radio, or just reflecting and thinking. I may read something more than once, and learn something new each time, or come away with a new insight I didn’t have before. It’s amazing what happens when you let God speak to you.

Ok, back to the talents. I have been writing for awhile now. When I first began it was before I fell off that truck. I used to write about politics and even became somewhat involved in it, helping candidates, etc. Through two presidential elections and three mid-term elections, I began to realize something, The problems in this country are way deeper than the political process. It is way more than the Democrats, the Republicans, the Libertarians and the Tea Party. I have come to believe it is a crisis of faith. I believe by removing God from “the public square” we have allowed Satan to take His place. It was then I realized that I was working for the wrong things. Not that these things can’t be changed through politics, but I believe we need to start with our faith.

And now the insight I received from today’s reading. On my phone I have an app called “Laudate” (you can find it in your app store). This app gives the daily readings for the day and a whole bunch of other great stuff. As part of the daily readings there is a “Reflections” tab which contains a daily reflection on the readings. Here is a paragraph from today’s:

What do coins and the law of economics have to do with the kingdom of God? The Lord entrusts the subjects of his kingdom with gifts and graces and he gives his subjects the freedom to use them as they think best. With each gift and talent, God gives sufficient means (grace and wisdom) for using them in a fitting way. As the parable of the talents shows, God abhors indifference and an attitude that says it’s not worth trying. God honors those who use their talents and gifts for doing good. Those who are faithful with even a little are entrusted with more! But those who neglect or squander what God has entrusted to them will lose what they have.

There is an important lesson here for us. No one can stand still for long in the Christian life. We either get more or we lose what we have. We either advance towards God or we slip back. Do you seek to serve God with the gifts, talents, and graces he has given to you? – Daily Scripture

God gives us talents, with me I like to think it is a gift for writing, well at least until He tells me otherwise, and I realize I need to use it to make a difference. That difference isn’t by trying to change the world through politics, but rather, through getting people back to God. It is to somehow stop people from making the mistakes I have made in my life, to either bring them back into the faith or stop them from leaving the faith. This is where the change has to come from, where it needs to begin.

Reading this reflection today I finally understood that I have been wasting the talents God has given me and I need to focus more on my writing, I need to use these talents for the right reasons. Yes, I will still write about politics, and recently have resurrected one of my old blogs and will soon resurrect a second, but with a slightly different view. In addition, I will continue with some other writing projects with the same ultimate goal in mind.

I don’t know if I will be successful, but I know I can no longer squander the talents God has given me.

For your reading pleasure from Amazon:

Diary: Divine Mercy in My Soul

Evangelizing Catholics: A Mission Manual for the New Evangelization

New Evangelization: Passing on the Catholic Faith Today

If I Knew Then – Reflection of a Wayward Catholic

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One of the first things I did when I decided to find my way back to God was to read the Bible. This is something I had never done. I remember once as a teenager, perhaps when I was in college, picking it up and starting to read it but I didn’t get very far. This time I had more motivation and actually read the whole thing … twice.

One of the first things I noticed was that the Bible is full of good advice. I am not just talking about spiritual advice, although there is plenty of that, but just plain old common sense advice on life. Whether it be relationships, work or business there is something for everyone. I look at the Bible as a collection of writings with good advice for everyone. Even if you are one who doesn’t believe the Bible is real, that is is a elaborate myth written by people with some kind of agenda to promote religion, it is hard to argue that there is a wealth of knowledge inside it.

Yesterday’s gospel reading is a good example:

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” – Matthew 7:1 -2 (NIV)

What does this passage tell us, especially the last eleven words? Time’s up. It tells us that we will get back what we put into something. This is true whether we are dealing with people, work, faith or even writing blog posts. If we do everything half-assed then this is what we will get back. If we treat others like dirt, we can expect to get treated like dirt in return.

In these times, especially here in the US, individualism, Hedonism and minimalism are the norm. Here is a quote from Matthew Kelly’s Book “Rediscovering Catholicism”:

Individualism: When most people today are faced with a decision, the question that seems to dominate their inner dialogue is “What’s in it for me?”

Hedonism: Hedonism is the philosophy that emphasizes pleasure as the ultimate goal in life. The motto, the creed, the catch cry of the hedonist is, “If it feels good, do it!”

Minimalism: A minimalist is always seeking to exert the minimum effort and receive the maximum reward. (You can get a free copy of this book here. I recommend both Catholics and non-Catholics get it. )

These three terms certainly described me for most of my adult life. I am definitely the product of the late sixties through the early eighties when these traits took over our country. Although in my defense, once I had children my individualism turned more to a “family-ism” where I tried to do everything for them. I truly believe that had I not ran away from the church and the teachings of Jesus, had I studies (or even just read the Bible) I would not have fallen for these three traits and become the sinner I did.

Back to Matthew 7, when we only care about “What’s in it for me?” we don’t care what we do or who we hurt to get what we want. It is also the same with “If it feels good, do it!” I could write a book about my experiences with that one but I don’t write porn, not that I didn’t in another life. And it should be evident that minimalism isn’t really the best course of action. When you do as little as possible, when you only care about what is in it for you or doing only what makes you feel good, you will get back what you put into any situation.

If the measure you use is to lie in order to have as many sexual partners as you can, then guess what? Others will lie to you. If you cheat, you will be cheated on, if don’t give 100% at your job, then your job won’t give 100% back to you. When we strive to be materialistic, hedonistic, a minimalist of an individualist, we spend more time worrying about those things than we do about the truly important things like our health, family, friends and our faith.

I’ll leave you with one more passage from Matthew.

 “For this reason I say to you, [n]do not be worried about your[o]life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the [p]air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?  And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his [r]life? 28 And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!  Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’  For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But [s]seek first [t]His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be [u]added to you.

“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will [v]care for itself. [w]Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:25 – 34 (NASB)

Isn’t this good advice, even if you leave the source out of it?

Comments? Questions? Criticisms? Feel free to comment below.

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