Do you approach the Lord with confident expectation that he will hear your request and act?


 

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We see in today’s gospel the absolute faith of the official whose daughter had died, and also the absolute faith of the woman who had suffered from a hemorrhage for twelve years. Neither questioned the ability of Christ to heal. Both believed. The official said to Jesus, “Come lay your hand on her, and she will live.” The woman said, “If only I can touch His cloak, I shall be cured.” What can we learn about faith from the example of these two individuals in the gospel?

It is important to know that they were not afraid to approach Christ and to clearly state their needs. In doing so, they realized that their situation was beyond their own control. They realized that they should “let go and let God intervene.” It is of interest that we hear no more about these individuals, no secondary requests, no deals with God, no disappointment that the healings didn’t meet their specifications or any requests for the future. They accepted the generous gifts of Christ and went on with their lives.

It would be interesting to know what happened to these individuals, but really, they are like us, we who are constantly showered with healings and blessings. How do we reflect the many times that Christ has intervened in our lives?

The Lord lets us touch Him as did the hemorrhaging woman . Although Jesus’ body has ascended to heaven, the Lord still takes us by the hand, as He took the hand of Jairus’ daughter, to raise us from the dead. We stay “in touch” with Jesus, and His Incarnation is extended to us now especially through the Church and the sacraments.

Some people may think that touching, hearing, and seeing Jesus sacramentally is not as good as touching Him physically. In fact, it is much better. The hemorrhaging woman was blessed with a healing, but had nothing like the amazing privilege we have of receiving the Body, Blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus into us. The girl raised from the dead received a great miracle, but eventually died. However, we who live today can be raised from the dead forever by letting Jesus give us a new nature in the sacrament of Baptism.

By becoming members of the Church, we not only touch Jesus but also become parts of His Body in a very real way. Through the Holy Spirit working through the Church and the sacraments, we live in Christ and He in us. Celebrate the sacraments. Live in touch with His love.

In Jesus we see the infinite love of God extending to each and every individual as he gives freely and wholly of himself to each person he meets. Do you approach the Lord with confident expectation that he will hear your request and act?

“Lord Jesus, you love each of us individually with a unique and personal love. Touch my life with your saving power, heal and restore me to fullness of life. Help me to give wholly of myself in loving service to others.”

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The story of Doubting Thomas


TODAY’S REFLECTION
When we reflect on this story, there are probably times in our own lives when we’ve behaved much like Thomas. We’ve probably said, “I won’t believe that unless I hear it directly from the lips of Jesus Himself.” However, unlike Thomas, we probably don’t believe even then. The lesson we learn from Thomas is that skepticism is no sin, but being hardened in our skepticism that can lead to rejection of Jesus.

So if you find yourself saying “Show me,” as Thomas did, be prepared to say and proclaim to the world, “I have seen my Lord and my God!”

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It is normal for us as humans to have questions, concerns and doubts about our belief system. Christ, though God, is totally human and surely understands us. Faith is believing that which we don’t tangibly know or understand.

Today’s Gospel invites us to bask in the glory of Jesus’ resurrection through the eye witness account of His Apostles and specifically St. Thomas.  More popularly known as the “Story of Doubting Thomas,” this golden morsel of the Gospel reveals God’s radical love and overwhelming desire for our faith.  Even though the apostles had encountered the resurrected Christ merely a week earlier, they find themselves still hiding behind closed doors, afraid of the possible persecutions that lurked on the other side.  More personally, the apostle Thomas confessed his unbelief and had locked his faith deep into the confines of his broken heart.  Their fear, their heartache, their unbelief does not…

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We have a whole new set of lepers today, people whom we ostracize, whom we exclude and excommunicate, declare unclean and push aside.


audio icon matthew 8 vs 1-4 healing of the leper

Today, we have another account of Jesus cleansing a leper. There is a part of each one of us that is like the leper, in need of healing. Once we recognize that we are all in need of healing, God will have compassion on us. Then again, once God shows compassion to us, we should want to show compassion to each other…in fact, to everyone on the planet.

We have a whole new set of lepers today, people whom we ostracize, whom we exclude and excommunicate, declare unclean and push aside. In our culture, we ostracize people on death row, people with AIDS, people with disabilities, people who are Muslim, or people are just different. We often think they are the cause of our problems: let’s push them aside or imprison them or ignore their sufferings; or kill them and get rid of them.  Then, we will be OK; we’ll be safe, we’ll be secure. But, like Jesus, we must side with the lepers of our time, cultivate a heart of compassion, stretch out our hands and welcome them into our community.

Look at this:

·         Paul was once a “leper” to Christians, a persecutor of those who followed Jesus. He was converted but the community didn’t believe it, and wouldn’t allow Paul into the circle of Christians. Barnabas was convinced of Paul’s genuine, authentic conversion and persuaded the community. The best way Paul could give evidence of his healing from “leprosy” was to produce good fruit and so glorify God.

·         Mark was a “leper” in that he deserted the first Christian missionary journey. Barnabas gave Mark another chance. While Paul refused to believe that Mark was genuinely healed and ready to evangelize again, Barnabas believed in Mark. The best way Mark could give evidence of his healing was to produce good fruit and so glorify God.

Healed and converted “lepers” are accountable to God, not man. They need not prove themselves before men. However, some people need evidence of full conversion and healing, and the best evidence is fruit, that is, undeniable holiness and good works for His kingdom.

We have to reconcile with everyone everywhere. Only then, like Jesus, will we become people of infinite compassion!

The greatness of John the Baptist is seen in the great emphasis given to the announcement of his birth!


 

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In today’s gospel, Luke describes the birth and circumcision of John because it is linked to the birth and circumcision of Jesus.

John was called to be the precursor of Jesus from his mother’s womb. Both children grew and became strong in spirit. Then John began to preach a baptism of repentance always asserting that he was preparing the way for one greater than himself. Eventually Jesus came to seek baptism from his kinsman.
Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus proclaimed the fulfillment of God’s promise to send the light of life to his people.

The greatness of John the Baptist is seen in the great emphasis given to the announcement of his birth and the event itself: both made prominently parallel to the same occurrences in the life of Jesus. Except for Mary, no one had a higher function in the unfolding of salvation than John the Baptist. Yet, the least in the Kingdom, Jesus said, is greater than John the Baptist, for the gift of salvation that God gives.

John challenges us Christians to the fundamental attitude of Christianity:  total dependence on God, in Christ. The attractiveness as well as the austerity of John, his fierce courage in denouncing evil, all stem from his fundamental placement of his life within the will of God. And this is not something, which was only true long ago in the past.  It is always true, because the repentance which he preached always remains the way into the kingdom which he announced. John is always relevant because he calls for a preparation and repentance, which all of us need to make on daily basis!

Pray, fast, give alms, all in the secret silence of your heart, offering every effort for the glory of Jesus.


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The message of Jesus in today’s Gospel is simple, straightforward, and clear.

Do what you do because it is the right thing to do. Do not seek recognition or reward for doing what you ought. Just do it.

Pray, fast, give alms, all in the secret silence of your heart, offering every effort for the glory of Jesus. Your reward for doing so will be the certain knowledge that you have done what is right and proper–you have pleased God.

Prayer is not some secret language of fancy phrases; there aren’t any magic formulae to make God hear us, or act upon our requests. When we speak to God in our everyday normal speaking language, we are praying. Jesus prayed constantly and talked a lot about prayer. He knew that prayer releases God’s power into any situation and renews our spiritual strength to handle anything in life. Whenever the pressure on Him became overwhelming, Jesus went to a private place and prayed. But, just as He knew that God was the source of His strength, Jesus knew, equally well, that God is always poised, ready to help us in times of trouble. He may not release us from a trial, but stand with us as we go through it. We may be in dire circumstances; but we should always know that God is there with us. If we really, really trust Him, God has promised that everything will work out for our ultimate welfare.

Who is one person you consider to be an enemy? Hate for hate’s sake only intensifies the existence of evil in the world.


 

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Today’s readings give us a challenge.

Is our love for God and neighbor genuine? Or is it halfhearted and extended when it’s convenient for us?

Jesus Himself, in today’s gospel, advises us to love not only our friends, but our enemies as well. That’s a pretty tall order. Are we ready to step up to the challenge?

Love your enemies! Over the centuries, many people have argued that this is an extremely difficult . Many would go so far as to say that it just isn’t possible to move into the actual practice of this glorious command. But far from being an impractical idealist, Jesus was the practical realist.  And now the words of this text glitter in our eyes with a new urgency. This command is an absolute necessity for the survival of our civilization. Yes, it is love that will save our world and our civilization, love even for our enemies!

It’s also necessary that we go into the question of why we should love our enemies: because hate for hate’s sake only intensifies the existence of evil in the world. Somewhere, somebody must have a little sense and that’s the strong person. The strong person is that who can cut off the chain of hate, the chain of evil. The tragedy of hate is that it intensifies the existence of evil in the universe. We simply must have enough faith to cut it off and inject, within the very structure of the universe, the strong and powerful element of love for our enemies.

Think for a minute.

Who is one person you consider to be an enemy? It may be someone you know personally, or perhaps you know of this person only through news accounts. Jesus is asking for your Christian love and concern for this person, and for your prayers as well.

You can start right now, to pray for this person:

O Lord, help me to love my enemies, especially ______________, I lift up not only my family and loved ones and friends, but also _______________. May Your blessings come upon ______________, and may You enlarge my heart to encompass __________, just as Your heart does! For You died not only for me and for my loved ones, You died for _________ as well. May You bless ___________ and bring him/her to eternal life with You in Heaven! Amen.

Possibly more than any other saying of Jesus, this sums up what it means to be a Christian.


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“When someone strikes you on your right cheek, then turn the other one to him as well.” (Matthew 5:39)


Turn the other cheek! Possibly more than any other saying of Jesus, this sums up what it means to be a Christian. Does Jesus want us to be doormats, suckers who allow ourselves to be taken advantage of by every bully and gangster, who walk into our lives?


Why would we be advised to turn the other cheek? Aren’t we supposed to love ourselves, have some self-respect? Aren’t we supposed to fight evil? It is difficult to give absolute reasons, but there are several important ones. The message of Christ is always about love. We aren’t acting in a loving way when we strike back at a person. Besides, who are we to judge the motives of another person? Only God would understand the motives of that other person.

Then, there is also the issue of free will–the choices we make. We are called to act at a higher level than our animal instinct to strike back. That is what my cats do.

Then there is the example of Christ in the most horrific situation of His crucifixion, Who prayed to our Father to “forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Reading this in the gospel is easy; following the message is not, but that is our calling. With the help of God’s graces, let us do so. Christ died on the cross to redeem all people, not just the ones who are nice to us.