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April 28th, 2014

The Stolen Miracle

The Stolen Miracle

If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed (Mark 5:28). That’s what she told herself, this nameless, bleeding woman who’d traveled 30 miles, fueled by nothing but faith.

It was a daring plan. According to Mosaic Law, women who were ceremonially unclean weren’t allowed to touch anyone, let alone the Son of God. But desperate women do desperate things. For 12 long years blood had flowed from her body, making her physically sick and socially unacceptable.

Desperation and Determination

The physicians of her time were unable to relieve her suffering. She “spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse” (Mark 5:26). Some of us have been there, dealing with a prolonged illness or stubborn medical condition. It’s frustrating, even embarrassing, to keep going to the doctor, only to return home with an expensive prescription, yet little hope.

The true miracle in this story is what remained healthy: her faith. Her willingness to believe she could be well again, despite all evidence to the contrary. When she heard about a man who’d “healed many who had various diseases” (Mark 1:34), she made a beeline for Capernaum.

After a 30-mile journey, I would have thrown myself in his path, begging him to help me. Instead our bleeding sister quietly “came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak” (Mark 5:27). By law, her touch would have made him unclean. By grace, just the opposite happened. “Immediately her bleeding stopped” (Mark 5:29). Without a word, a look, or a touch from Jesus, she was made whole simply by believing he could heal her—and daring to act on that belief.

A Stolen Miracle

When her faith was rewarded, she wasn’t the only one who noticed. “He turned around in the crowd and asked, ‘Who touched my clothes?’” (Mark 5:30). How her heart must have pounded. She’d just stolen a miracle!

When the disciples pointed out that many in the crowded street were touching him, “Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it” (Mark 5:32). He wasn’t looking to accuse but to affirm.

The same faith that empowered her to stretch out her hand now gave her the strength to step forward. She “fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth” (Mark 5:33). She risked everything—public humiliation, if not punishment—to make her confession of faith, explaining to the crowd “why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed” (Luke 8:47).

Restored

With a single word from Jesus, 12 years of pain and isolation were swept away: “Daughter…” (Mark 5:34). In no other gospel account does Jesus use this term of endearment and respect. Daughter. She was a member of the family now, restored to her community, setting an example for others who “begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed” (Mark 6:56).

This woman literally put feet to her faith: traveling to Capernaum, reaching out to touch Jesus’ garment, and walking forward at his invitation. By faith, we too can go first in our families, in our workplaces, and in our circles of influence, stepping forward to proclaim, “There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole.”

- – - written by Liz Curtis Higgs


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April 22nd, 2014

Earth Day Christian Thoughts

Earth Day Christian Thoughts

In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. – Job 12:10

Today is Earth Day. It is celebrated on April 22nd every year. On Earth Day, people in more than 192 countries demonstrate support for environmental protection. On the same day, many environmentalists might start the ever hot debate on how life originated on Earth, is it through Darwin’s Evolution Theory or created by a supreme creator. We are not planning to take part in that hot discussion but rather consider what message this Earth Day brings to all the Christians on this earth. Let us ponder on some Earth Day christian thoughts now.

Spirituality

Creation itself inspires us and calls us to care. Many people have had their most profound spiritual experience in nature. As we behold the power and love of God in a mountain range, a sunset, or in the timelessness of the ocean, we can’t help but be moved. But creation also includes humans – our families, communities, and created landscapes. God created all things of Heaven and Earth and God is our inspiration to care for both wild places and our own cities and backyards.

Stewardship

Psalm 24 states that “The Earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it.” Humans simply hold the Earth in trust for God. We are tenants here, called to care for the creation on behalf of future generations and all species. The Bible calls us to “till and keep the garden” and names human beings as the trustees of creation. Because God created all the Earth and all of us, creation is beautiful and good and sacred. We are called by our devotion to God and our love for God’s works to protect it.

Sustainability

At the heart of sustainability is the goal of meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. In a world of finite resources, those among us who have more than enough must address patterns of consumption so that we can provide for all. Acquiring more “stuff” has a direct effect on the sustainability of the planet and on the quality of life for people around the globe. The good news is that more and more people are realizing that spiritual emptiness can’t be filled by consumption. What makes us happy is intimacy – intimacy with self, with others, and with God. In the end, sustainability means seeing ourselves and our neighbors as children of God, not as consumers or competitors for Earth’s resources.

Justice

Justice means that in addition to providing aid to our neighbors, we are called to change societal systems that cause poverty, injustice, and environmental damage in the first place. It goes beyond helping to meet physical needs to creating a society with laws and policies that allow the needs of all Earth’s inhabitants to be met. Care and responsibility for the “least of these among us” is a central tenant of Christianity and has a direct connection to environment issues. The impact of environmental degradation falls most heavily on the people around the world who are least able to mitigate these impacts — poor and vulnerable populations. It also disproportionately affects fragile plants, animals and ecosystems. Working for justice calls us to channel our faith into power, to call for social and environmental justice at the local, state and national level.

Thoughts for Christians on this Earth Day

If you have been accustomed to scoffing at Earth Day or merely passing it off as a humanist holiday, perhaps this year you could consider making it a time for asking if there might indeed be many ways in which followers of Christ could “integrate new insights and revise positions” about caring for the earth that we acknowledge “is the Lord’s” and not ours to do with as we please and regardless of the collective damage we may be doing to it. Could we indeed be “muddying water” and “trampling pastures” that others have as much right to as we? Its time to think and act!


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April 16th, 2014

The Week That Changed The World

The Week That Changed The World

As we all prepare for the Holy Week, the week that changed the world, the following reflections are for you to use and to share with others.

Palm Sunday

“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Luke 19:38)

On Palm Sunday we commemorate the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem. On this joyful day He was surrounded by throngs of people singing His praises and marveling at all the miracles He had performed. Here, at the beginning of Holy Week, let us take some time to focus on the things we wanted to accomplish during Lent. Have we made improvements in our prayer life? Have we offered sacrifices to God? Have we given alms or service to those in need?

As we reflect on today’s readings, especially the Lord’s Passion and Death, let us renew our commitment to a deeper relationship with our Savior.

Monday Of Holy Week

“Wait for the Lord with courage; be stouthearted, and wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14)

Monday of Holy Week is a day of waiting. Just as in the Christmas carol we sing, “Let every heart prepare Him room”, we must also prepare our hearts for the sorrows of the Triduum. Even though Monday can be the most hectic day of the week, don’t forget to carve out some quiet time for yourself today. Get up a little earlier to do the readings for the day. Find a quiet place to sit at lunch and read your favorite spiritual book. Gather your family to pray at the end of the day. These are all excellent examples for integrating the spirit of Holy Week into your day.

As we reflect on today’s readings, especially when Our Lord raises Lazarus from the dead, let us ask Jesus to raise us above any obstacles that prevent us from drawing nearer to Him.

Tuesday Of Holy Week

“I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:6)

Today we continue our waiting and preparation as we approach Good Friday. Just as you did yesterday reserve some time to “Be still and know that (He) is God” (Psalm 46:10). If possible, make a Holy Hour today and visit with Our Lord in Adoration. During His agony in the garden on Holy Thursday Jesus asks His disciples to pray with Him. If you don’t have a lot of time, or if you find an hour is too long to stay focused, try going for 15-20 minutes. You will be amazed to find that even this brief break in your day can refresh your soul!

As we reflect on today’s readings, especially Judas’ betrayal of Jesus, let us search our own lives to identify weaknesses or temptations that may cause us to betray Our Lord if we are not careful.

Wednesday Of Holy Week

“See, you lowly ones, and be glad; you who seek God, may your hearts revive!” (Psalm 69:33)

As we reach the middle of our Holy Week our waiting turns to anticipation. Spending a little time in prayer each day has helped us to identify some of our weakness and times we need to turn quickly to Christ for help. Spend some of your daily prayer time doing an examination of conscience.

As we reflect on today’s readings, especially Isaiah’s words foretelling Our Lord’s suffering, let us seek forgiveness for times we have caused others to suffer.

Thursday Of Holy Week

On Holy Thursday we celebrate the institution of the “source and summit” of our Faith – The Holy Eucharist.

On the night of the Last Supper, Jesus celebrated the Passover meal with His disciples: “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:26-28)

As we reflect on today’s readings, especially Paul’s remembrance of the Last Supper, let us ask for the Graces we need to truly believe in Christ’s presence in the Eucharist and to approach the altar with reverence and awe.

Good Friday

“But He was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins; upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed. We had all gone astray like sheep, each following his own way; but the Lord laid upon Him the guilt of us all.” (Isaiah 53:5-6)”

One of the most beautiful traditions of this day is the Veneration of the Cross. “While we bend down in body before the cross we bend down in spirit before God.”

As we reflect on today’s readings, especially John’s recount of Christ’s Passion, let us try to keep an awareness of Our Lord’s suffering in our hearts throughout the day.

Holy Saturday – The Easter Vigil

“We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.” (Romans 6: 4)

On Holy Saturday our sorrow and emptiness begin to be replaced with a growing joy and anticipation.

As we reflect on all of the readings and responsorial psalms, let us rejoice and give thanks to God for our wondrous Salvation History.

Easter Sunday – The Resurrection Of The Lord

“Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said.” (Matthew 28: 5-6)

Alleluia! He is risen! This is the most joyous feast of the year. Christ’s death and resurrection is the foundation of the Christian Faith. The church is now filled with the spirit of Jesus and with His Light. It is no longer silent as we join our songs of praise with the choirs in heaven. We are reminded of Christ’s promise “I will give you a joy which no one will take from you.” (John 16:22). Easter is the beginning of our new life with Christ. Although our Lenten Journey is complete, don’t forget to create times of prayer in your daily lives where you can spend time with our Risen Lord.

As we reflect on today’s readings, especially the Gospel, let us ask the Risen Christ for courage and strength we need to take His Light into the world.


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