The angels in the first reading and all creation in the Psalm response proclaim the power and grandeur of God.
Tag Archives: God’s grace
Study: Name a role model who lives a principled life. What is it that they say or do that inspires you?
Pray: Ask the Lord for the strength to make the right choice, especially over a difficult or challenging situation.
Serve: Is there someone in your life who looks to you for guidance and example? How can you help them?
The first reading, psalm, and gospel readings today touch upon the notions of earthly and heavenly governance. Part of our human condition requires that we recognize our need for others; by working with people we unite in strength, and by serving the Lord we understand our values and priorities in life.
Let’s start first with human governance. In the first reading from Isaiah we hear how God has anointed Cyrus – the pagan king – as the instrument for Israel’s redemption. While the king does not know the Law or the Prophets, he gives the people of Israel a new opportunity by conquering their enemy, Babylon.
This distinction between the pagan King and the people’s faith is a helpful guide for us today. While Christianity has made countless contributions to Western Civilization, we find ourselves living in a culture that has many non-Christian influences. Some are good, some neutral, and others are just plain bad. Yet Isaiah teaches us today to look for what is good and useful, recognizing that God can work through a variety of instruments.
Since we live in this world filled with all these different elements, we are constantly challenged to discern and choose those options which are good, holy, and true. It is not always easy! Indeed, we can find ourselves confronted by issues that push and stretch us in a variety of ways.
So how do we decide? The gospel today offers a gem from the Lord:
“Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar
And to God what belongs to God.”
We have duties and obligations as members of both heaven and earth. In the world we have our responsibilities – voting and jury duty, abiding civil laws, serving in local organizations, and actively living as good citizens. And as a people of faith, we are bound to follow the teaching and commandments of Jesus Christ.
So what do we do in a conflict? In the end we remember that all creation is the Lord’s. When pushed to extreme, we follow Christ. God made this world, and one day we will be called out of it. May our example show to others our desire to be good citizens – both on earth, and in heaven.
Note: This blog was originally published on October 13, 2014.
We all know the story of David and Goliath…it’s one of the first we learn as kids. Yet this classic underdog situation reminds us that with God’s help we can face whatever challenges come our way.
Study: Consider a moment when you were greatly helped by someone. How did it feel to have their support?
Pray: Set before the Lord your challenges and remember in your daily prayers the needs of others.
Serve: How has the Lord blessed you to help others? What gifts and talents do you possess that make a difference today?
Isaiah’s prophecy proclaims the power and might of God. Among the words of the 1st reading we find:
Strengthen the hands that are feeble,
make firm the knees that are weak,
say to those whose hearts are frightened:
Be strong, fear not!
Here is your God,
he comes with vindication;
with divine recompense
he comes to save you.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,
the ears of the deaf be cleared;
then will the lame leap like a stag,
then the tongue of the mute will sing. (Is. 35:3-6)
These are words of hope! In the midst of the challenges of life the Lord comes to strengthen our hearts and renew our lives. Yes, there are difficulties; yet we face them boldly – supported by the grace and power of God.
This hope in God’s power appears in the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus cites this passage from Isaiah to the disciples of John the Baptist. Christ is the one who fulfills the words of the prophet; he is the one who comes to save us.
What’s more, those that receive this saving grace – the citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven – are greater than all the prophets, including John. In other words, when we accept the power and might of God we are transformed into a new creation as the old bondage of sin and death is destroyed.
May we claim this saving grace today! As we call upon the Lord in our daily prayers, we ask that the power and might of Jesus Christ heals our hearts and strengthens our souls. We have work to do! May God’s grace help us to make it happen.
Note: This post was first published on December 5, 2016.
Jesus heals a man who is brought to him on a stretcher by four men. The image profoundly illustrates a crucial point: sometimes we give help and sometimes we receive it. May the Lord help us in both cases!
One of the hallmarks of the Early Church was the transformation that took place in the hearts of the disciples. Standing before the Risen Lord, they were freed from the fear of sin and death as they opened their hearts to the power of repentance. Their example inspires us to call upon God for the grace we need every day to walk in the light His love.
Study: Consider one thing you can do today to live your faith. What would it be?
Pray: Do you have any unfinished business that you need to complete? Ask the Lord for the strength and conviction to finish it.
Serve: Is there someone in your life who struggles with depression, fear, or doubt? How can you help them?
We start a new liturgical year in the Church (that’s “Year A” if you need to use the Lectionary for Sunday readings and “Cycle I” for daily Mass) with a vision of the end of time when the Son of Man comes in glory.
Several key points emerge:
- It will happen suddenly, when no one expects it (Gospel)
- All nations will come and be taught God’s ways (1st Reading)
- It is the Lord who makes peace possible, not humans (1st Reading)
- In God’s house there is great joy (Psalm)
- We live each day fully prepared, ready if the Lord call us (2nd Reading)
Advent gives us a rich – but very short – opportunity to prepare our hearts for Christmas. All of these points listed above serve as excellent reminders regarding how we live each day fully invested in the present moment. We live for the Lord, following his commands, so as to be ready whenever and wherever our lives will take the next turn in the road.
For when God calls us into eternity we hear that the unity, peace, and joy we glimpse in precious moments in this life will come to fulfillment. United in the Lord, we will join the heavenly host when this world passes away.
I invite us all to consider how we might do one thing better each day – to be more focused, more aware, more present – so that we can give glory and honor to Jesus Christ. We follow the Lord with all our hearts; may we make the most of every day to live our faith to the fullest.
May this Advent be a time of blessing for us all!
Those moments…when our guts constrict and the air goes out of our lungs. The times in life when we are overwhelmed, lost, consumed by pain or grief, feeling abandoned, tempted to the breaking point…
And Jesus understands. Forty days of solitude in the wilderness, hungry and thirsty, the Lord triumphed over the temptations of Satan. It is crucial to note that these temptations – over physical needs, personal power/control, and death itself – would all be faced by Christ at Calvary. What’s more, he will triumph!
Our faith reminds us of two key facts. Yes there will be times of trial, but as we confront the reality of life we do so equipped with the victory of Jesus. We face our struggles with God’s grace, and we call upon the Lord as we say:
Be with me Lord, when I am in trouble!
If you are looking for more material to help you this Lent, you might consider this list of presentations I have offered over the last couple of years. Feel free to check it out and share if you find it helpful:
Life offers its share of transitions, moments when we entrust our work to another and turn over our efforts into someone else’s care. Of course, that means that things are going to get done differently – maybe in a way that we would never do – and we learn how to let go and allow things to happen beyond our control. The key ingredient to this handoff? Trusting and relying on God to see it through.