Trust in Jesus

Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid (Matthew 14:27).” Jesus speaks these comforting words to the disciples who were overwhelmed while riding in the storm-tossed boat on the Sea of Galilee.

When one goes out on the Sea of Galilee during the day it seems like a large lake that could not possibly be intimidating for one to sail across in a small boat. However, at night it gets really dark and the winds often blow fiercely down the mountains toward the sea causing dangerous conditions.

The disciples were returning from the feeding of the thousands to the town of Capernaum by boat and got overconfident on sailing a familiar route but at an unfamiliar timenight. All of a sudden rather than navigating familiar waters they found themselves a few miles off shore and in a situation, that was out of their control.

Jesus enters into the out of control situation by demonstrating His Lordship and mastery over creation as He walks upon the troubled waters. From His path upon the churning and tumultuous sea, Jesus speaks into the fears of the disciples by encouraging them to set their fears aside and trust. Placing his faith in Jesus Peter states, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water (Matthew 14:28).” Jesus beckons for Peter to walk toward Him across the agitated waters, as Peter’s faith is strong he walks towards the Lord, as he focuses on himself Peter begins to sink, leading him to cry out, “Lord save me!” Jesus then says to Peter, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt (Matthew 14:31).”

This Gospel account is describing our life in Christ. Many people who believe in Christ have storms or difficulties in life. It can be our intention before the storm to act on our own when life is going great and all the blessings are coming our way. Even thinking to ourselves during the good times in life that down the road we will give back to the Church or Community as a sign of gratitude. But how quickly can our fortune change and we find our health failing or money running short or even people we love getting sick and dying.

During the storms of life do we cower in fear on the ship of our own making and forget that Jesus is in our midst? Or do we establish a relationship of trust through daily prayer and regular service of God’s people that helps form us to call upon Jesus when we are getting rocked by life’s challenges and difficulties?

Jesus Himself identifies that area that is weak in this whole situation and that is faith. If we follow Jesus in what He says and does then we must be willing to trust in Him when life challenges us. We cannot afford to be “cafeteria Catholics” who pick and choose what they want to hear and believe in. Our souls are in real jeopardy if we ignore Jesus in the feel-good parts of our life and then curse Him or whine for Him in the storms of our life.

Rather than seeking Jesus when it is convenient for us, we need to be honest and look at the gift of faith we have received and say yes, I am living my life with complete trust in the Lord or no I only relate to Jesus when life gets crazy. If you find yourself lacking in trust in Jesus, take time this week to examine your life and identify the places where faith needs some encouragement and also where priorities need to be shifted so that Jesus is first in life.

 

God Is Love

“I love you” is a phrase that we hear from another that makes us feel loved and cherished. When we love God and other people in our lives we say, “I love you.” As Christians, we learn about how to receive the special love of God and share this love with others around us.

Love is a person for as we hear in 1 John 4:8, “God is love.” God chose to reveal His presence of love by the following truth, “This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him (1 John 4:9).”

From the example of the Father’s love for each of us in sending His Son, Jesus, Christians, as they mature in their faith, should understand that love is a choice. God chooses to share His love with us and reveals His great love to us in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. We in turn learn from God’s example how to choose to love those around us.

This weekend, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Transfiguration. The Transfiguration is another powerful way that the Father reveals His great choice to send love into our midst. “Transfigure” literally means “changing thoroughly” (trans) and “a person’s body” (figure). In this week’s Gospel account, Jesus goes up Mount Tabor with His three closest disciples, Peter, James, and John, and changes His bodily appearance before them.

The action of Jesus’ Transfiguration is not a normal, everyday occurrence and most of us, without a whole lot Divine encounters, could not handle the sight. In the changing thoroughly of His Body, the face of Jesus becomes like the sun and His clothes become white as light. Jesus on Mount Tabor literally becomes Glory before the disciples.

As we pray in the Nicene Creed in stating our belief in Jesus Christ, “God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God,” faith compels us to believe that the Glory of Heaven is revealed to us through the Lord. Bathed in this glorious and heavenly light, Jesus offers a glimpse of the ever-present reality of eternal life and His authority over the known things of the earth.

Jesus as the Lord of History fulfills or completes the Torah (Jewish Law) as revealed by Moses and fulfills the messages given through the prophet’s voice that prepares people for the coming of the Messiah embodied in Elijah. In the midst of this intense encounter, Peter offers to build three tents in order to remain in the present, but as the Lord of the past, present, and future, Jesus is revealed as always present love by the Father, “From the cloud came a voice that said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him (Matthew 17:5).'” The Father’s great love for Jesus proclaims and reveals the motivation for salvation, namely, God’s great love for us.

As eyes struggle to see anything after looking up at the sun, so too it is impossible for us to fully grasp the greatness of the love of God for us found in Christ Jesus. As stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “After the Resurrection, Jesus’ divine sonship becomes manifest in the power of His glorified humanity (CCC 445).”

The Transfiguration for Christians stands as a powerful example of God saying, “I love you,” and should be taken as a gift that reveals the Father’s plan of salvation. Jesus Christ is our Messiah and He reveals the glory of heaven that awaits those who believe in Him. May we receive the gift of faith anew this day so as to have nothing else before our eyes but Jesus alone and hear the voice of the Father saying to Jesus and us, “You are my beloved.”

All Things Work for Good

“Brothers and sisters: We know that all things work for the good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).”

St. Paul this week gives us an encouraging word for those who are trying to listen to the voice of God and do what is asked of them. This past week I was reminded of this Scripture verse as I stopped to visit Lake of the Woods Bible Camp by Baudette, MN. This verse from St. Paul was our theme for the youth coming to the camp and became a conversation starter for them to reflect on what they want to do in life and what God wants them to do in life.

As I walked through the camp I prayed in thanksgiving for my summers at that camp on the Rainy River, and I prayed for the young people who now as adults are hopefully living God’s will and serving the purpose intended for them. At times in life we should stop and pause in prayer and reflect upon our past. As we do so hopefully we can see the hand of Our Heavenly Father guiding us through major events and small alike. I know in my own life that God has saved me from my foolishness and led me into places of abiding love and joy with Him.

Our life is a gift from God and we are created with an intentional mission to know, praise and serve Him. If you are feeling that your life is a waste or that you feel out of place in your job or life situation turn to the Lord in prayer, reflect upon the blessed times in life, see the hand of God at work and know that His love is everlasting.

 

Discernment of Spirits

The discernment of spirits is important in each Christian’s day-to-day walk with God. It is important for each follower of Jesus to pray every day and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us in all our decision making. St. Paul says “[t]he Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings (Romans 8:26).” The discernment of spirits is part of the expression of our relationship to God.

If I go to Mass once a month and never pray or think about God it will be nearly impossible to understand the world around me in a spiritual way. However, for the Christian who spends time each day in prayer, there comes an openness to the voice of the Holy Spirit and an increased awareness of Good and Evil in the world around us. Taking time to pray and reflect upon Sacred Scripture allows a person to notice God’s action in the world and in our lives.

In our quiet time with God we can notice our thoughts, feelings, and desires. Taking prayerful time to notice what is happening inside of ourselves leads to opportunities to acknowledge what is happening in our lives to Jesus, relate the truth of our thoughts, feelings, and desires to Jesus, receive the words of blessing or guidance from Jesus, and to respond with love and honesty for the truth He invites us to embrace.

When we pray in this transparent way each day, our eyes and hearts begin to see the work of the Holy Spirit and the Evil Spirit in our lives and in the world around us. This increased awareness helps us to become more aware of the promptings of the Holy Spirit and our need for daily prayer and reflection. Over time, as the discerning Christian understands the ways that Holy Spirit guides, counsels, and corrects, they also begin to understand the ways that the Evil Spirit confuses, lies, and promotes sinful behaviors. Through the help of the Holy Spirit a person can then practically discern the realities around them through the discernment of spirits by accepting the movements of the Holy Spirit and rejecting the enticements of the Evil Spirit.

Taking time daily to slow down and be still before the Lord opens our hearts and minds to the truth of the discernment of spirits. Making prayer a priority in our life can assist us in our journey to eternity. Are you taking time this summer to pray and be still before the Lord? If not, why not? If so, go, go, go to the Lord!

Fertile Soil

“Thus says the Lord, Just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to the one who sows and the bread to the one who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; my word shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:10-11

In all of our scriptures this weekend we hear an agricultural theme. The seed that is placed in the good ground and is watered and cared for from above will produce abundant fruit. Any farmer knows that there are many aspects to growing crops that are out of his control. Just last week when a storm came through Blooming Prairie with the strong winds, heavy rain, and scattered pockets of hail, all that could be done was say a prayer for God to spare the fields and flocks of our area families.

We cannot control the weather or the amount of sun or anything in the seed-to-crop process, really. We need God and are invited to a posture of total trust and dependence on Him. It is the seed of God’s word that is to be planted in our hearts and nurtured by daily prayer and sacrifice that will grow into something beautiful to be harvested as the first fruits of the Spirit. The human heart that is still and available is a fertile place of discernment where the movement of the Holy Spirit can be noticed and followed.

In the midst of these summer days, spend some time in quiet reflection either praying a rosary or reflecting upon a passage of scripture. Allow God to tend to the seeds of faith that have been planted in your heart and with Him watch them grow. Maturity in the spiritual life does not happen immediately, but like crops in the field God watches over our souls and brings about a rich harvest of faithfulness.

“Locks of Compassion”

Considering a lock is often defined as a device that restricts access and confines, you may wonder how it could possibly be associated with compassion. But, did you know a lock can also be a symbol of promise, enduring friendship and love? A lock links and unites one to another.

In many parts of the word “love locks” create that symbolic expression of unity in our community this summer by embracing a spirit of compassion! Locks decorated with signs, symbols, and words expressing compassion will be prominently displayed on the “Locks of Compassion” community display in Rochester’s Peace Plaza. The Mary, Mother of Mercy Catholic Cluster will be participating in this wonderful cause… watch the bulletin for more details.

A child recently asked me what it means to have compassion and I explained it in this way: Compassion is a feeling inside of us that says, “I care about others—especially those who suffer and feel sad. In my heart, I want to help them.”

Compassion starts in the heart, but  what if a decorated lock could express your compassion for a child in need, a homebound senior, a family member, a visitor to our community…and the hope it creates begins to ripple….

Catholic Relief Services – Africa Drought

There is a drought in East Africa affecting Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, and Uganda. In Somalia, there are 6.2 million people in need which is 50% of the population. Overall, 23 million people presently across the horn of Africa are without enough to eat. Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is already on the ground coordinating with the United Nations to airlift supplies.

Go to the link provided to learn more and for ideas on how to help: www.crs.org/media-center/current-issues/africahunger-crisis

 

Happy Father’s Day!

May God be gracious to you.
May God bless you.
May God make his face shine upon you.
May you be strengthened with all power
according to God’s glorious might.
May you be filled with joy.
May God give you the desire of your heart,
and make all your plans succeed.
~ Psalm 67:1, Colossians 1:11, Psalm 20:4 ~