Taking Up My Cross And Following Jesus

Years ago, if I was writing this reflection, it would have been very important to me that I would write the message and words so that you would like what I say and even think kindly of me. Even today, my personality of a people pleaser would want that but as I have been growing in my faith, that is really not important. Sharing God’s truth with love is what is important to me and the reactions of readers can go many ways.

Today is one of those days when scripture brings to my mind pain, suffering and death. All three I would have easily wanted to avoid at all cost through most of my life. Today, I try to embrace them all and give all the praise and glory to God. In today’s Gospel passage from Matthew 16:24-28, Jesus speaks to me and His disciples…

“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life?”

In my 64 years of the life that I have been given by God, 31 of them as a Christian, it is no longer important to me what the world says I should do or who I should be. It is really all about following Jesus at all costs. I know I am still a great sinner, filled with selfishness and desires of the flesh. But I also know, by the grace of God, that I will never give up seeking holiness and dying to myself. It is my cross that I will pick up each day and follow the person I love most, Jesus. And of course, I know He loves me.

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Taking Up My Cross And Following Jesus

Feast of the Transfiguration

I was reflecting on the Transfiguration of Jesus today in the Gospel of Mark 9:2-10. It must have been amazing! Jesus’ clothes become dazzling white. Peter, James and John, glad to be there but terrified. Then there is Moses representing the Law and Elijah representing the Prophets. And finally the cloud casting a shadow and Our Father’s voice saying, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”

In the first reading today from Daniel 7:9-14, the prophet Daniel had a vision long before Jesus ever set foot on the earth…

One like a Son of man coming, on the clouds of heaven; When he reached the Ancient One and was presented before him, The one like a Son of man received dominion, glory, and kingship; all peoples, nations, and languages serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away, his kingship shall not be destroyed.

I am not sure what Heaven is going to be like. I do believe in the promise of Jesus. I also think that the Beatific Vision, which Peter, James and John were able to receive a glimpse of, will be so unbelievable for us to experience in it’s fullness for eternity. Whatever we go through on our journey on earth, especially our perseverance through all the evil permitted in our lives, will be worth it until we are called home. Until then, I will do as the Father commands, “LISTEN TO HIM!”

Feast of the Transfiguration

Praise God

I am still finishing up at work and for the third day in a row it looks like a 13 hour day at the office. My last two days have been filled with problems and challenges. PRAISE GOD!

I read a lot on Facebook, Twitter and Blogs. It is amazing how much we all PRAISE GOD. It is also amazing that praise seems to come only when we get something we want or something the world considers good happens to us.

In today’s Gospel from Matthew 15:21-28, a Canaanite woman, non-Jew who is despised by the Jewish people, comes to Jesus with the faith of knowing He can help. She wanted Him to take away a demon who was tormenting her daughter. Basically, Jesus tells her no because He came to help the Jewish people. She persists in faith and Jesus tells her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish” and her daughter was healed at that moment.

The lesson for me is to have faith that everything including trials, challenges, the good, the evil are all permitted by God for a greater purpose for His glory. It is contrary to what the world believes but it is truth. PRAISE GOD!

Praise God

COME

I was thinking about today’s Gospel from Matthew 14:22-36. The disciples are in a boat a few miles offshore. Think of that, a few miles. Their boat was being tossed by waves and they were afraid. They were even more afraid when Jesus was walking on the water toward them and they thought He was a ghost. Jesus tells them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid” and Peter says, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” Jesus says one word, “COME.”

We remember that Peter started walking on water but he became frightened and began to sink and Jesus had to save him. I was wondering how often Jesus tells me to “COME” and I am too frightened to change my old habits and continue to do things my way. Then when things get too rough, I cry out like Peter, “Lord, save me.”

Another reminder for me that not my will be done but your will dear Jesus. Amen.

COME

Grumble, Grumble, Grumble

Today, unfortunately, it is about grumbling! Why can’t I just put our faith and trust in the Lord? I know that is the answer to peace and joy, even when things might not be going the way I would like them to go. God knows best, but I still like to grumble.

In today’s first reading from Numbers 11, the Israelites are grumbling that God is only providing them with manna. They lament for the food they had in Egypt while they were enslaved and groaning for God to help them. The Gospel from Matthew 14 has the disciples grumbling with Jesus who tells them to feed the hungry people. They grumble that they have only 5 loaves and two fish.

The lesson for me is to trust God. If I give to God what I have, He will multiply it just like He did the five loaves and two fish to feed 5000 men, not counting women and children and still have 12 wicker baskets full of leftovers. I know this. It is shown throughout all of scripture how much God loves me and provides for me. I just need to give Him what I have.

Today, after a great week of vacation, I headed back to work. My attitude was good and I thanked God immensely for the blessings of my time off. I even looked forward to getting back to work but….here comes the grumbling, I knew I would have crap piled up on my desk and a myriad of problems to have to deal with. But God humbles me again as my desk was clean and the work I expected was handled extensively by a dedicated student I appreciate greatly. Talk about grumbling for nothing and not trusting God! Another lesson hopefully learned. I am a very blessed man. Thank you Jesus!

Grumble, Grumble, Grumble

I Am The Bread Of Life

All three scripture readings today point to Jesus. In the first reading from Exodus 16, it talks about God giving the Israelite community, Bread from Heaven. In the Gospel from John 6, Jesus had just fed 5000 people and now the people were searching for Him for more food. Jesus tells them…

“Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.”

Of course hearing that, the people wanted this special food that Jesus would give them that would endure forever. I am pretty sure they might have thought that they would never need any food again. But Jesus tells them…

“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

St. Paul in His letter to the Ephesians 4 does not specifically mention bread but he does mention the importance of following Jesus, the Bread of Life when he tells them…

“that you should put away the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth.”

I think that the best way for me to follow St. Paul’s advice as a Catholic is to eat the Bread of Life as often as I can. That would be the Eucharist which we believe to be the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus which if I am in a state of grace, I can receive daily at every Mass. When I hear the words of Jesus that He is the Bread of Life, I think of the Eucharist. Many of my brothers and sisters in Christ that are not Catholic may think differently. I also know that Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament reading today from Exodus that He is the true Bread from Heaven. May the “Bread of Life” have mercy on us all, Amen.

I Am The Bread Of Life