There is a lot going on in today’s scripture readings and everyone seems to have a problem. In the first reading from 2 Samuel 15, King David gets word that one of his sons, Absalom, is coming to take over so he orders all to flee and weeps. As he flees, he runs into a man from the clan of King Saul who curses at him and throws stones. Yikes! So much for being chosen King by the Lord!
In the Gospel reading from Mark 5, Jesus runs into a man possessed by many unclean spirits. The unclean spirits named Legion, pleaded with Jesus not to drive them from the territory. They beg him to let them enter about 2000 swine which Jesus permits and once they do, the swine rush down a steep bank into the sea and drown. Talk about having a problem! The swineherd just lost 2000 swine and they ran away to report the incident. At least there was one thankful person, the possessed man. But he was disappointed too because he wanted to stay with Jesus but was told to go home to his family and announce to them the pity that the Lord had on him.
Reading these passages make my problems in life seem pretty trivial. My problems are real yet because I have scripture, tradition and the teaching authority of the church, I have a better understanding of the saving power of Jesus. Psalm 3, just as it was lamented at the time of David’s struggles in the passage today, gives me great hope that whatever comes my way, my God is there to save.
O LORD, how many are my adversaries! Many rise up against me! Many are saying of me, “There is no salvation for him in God.”
But you, O LORD, are my shield; my glory, you lift up my head! When I call out to the LORD, he answers me from his holy mountain.
When I lie down in sleep, I wake again, for the LORD sustains me. I fear not the myriads of people arrayed against me on every side.
Mike Burke; Monday, February 1, 2016
Part of Sunday’s scripture reading from 1 Corinthians 13 is posted in my cubicle at work as a reminder to me each day to love. Today’s passage ends saying,
“So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
Isn’t the promise of eternal life all about love? All I have to do is look in the mirror and deeply look at the person staring back. I know flaws that you don’t know. I’ve done terrible things that you don’t know. I am not even the person that you think you know. Yet God knows me better than I know myself and he loves me.
So here is my daily challenge to live my life fully in love. I have this opportunity always and everywhere in my life but especially each day at work as I am involved with many people. This passage tests me as to how well I really reflect Jesus to all my brothers and sisters. You may also test yourself. In this passage, replace the word love with your name.
Mike is patient; Mike is kind; Mike is not jealous; Mike is not pompous; Mike is not inflated; Mike is not rude; Mike does not seek his own interests; Mike is not quick-tempered; Mike does not brood over injury; Mike does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth; Mike bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things; Mike never fails
I would add that Mike often fails but love, aka Jesus, never fails and only by the grace of God will I be able to really live these words to the fullest. Jesus commands me to love him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength and to love my neighbor as myself. This passage is a great guide for love and to follow what my Lord commands. I pray the world comes to know this meaning of love. I hope you all have a most beautiful and blessed Day of the Lord. Amen.
Mike Burke; Sunday, January 31, 2016
The title is not what you might expect. God is amazing and the first reading from 2 Samuel 12 shows the wisdom of God that points out how we judge others without looking at ourselves. I begin my writing again with the confession that I am an adulterer. 10 years into my marriage, I committed a grave sin that has broken my marriage of 42 years to this day. I write this because again today, God speaks to me through the sin of King David.
The prophet Nathan tells David a story about a rich man and a poor man. The poor man has one ewe which he loves and treats as family. The rich man has a visitor and instead of preparing a meal from his own flocks and herds, he takes the poor man’s ewe for his meal. King David becomes very angry to the point of saying the rich man merits death! Nathan says to David, “you are the man!”
Nathan reminds David that he stole Uriah’s wife Bathsheba and basically tells him that he will live but that the Lord is going to bring evil upon his house. It’s some pretty bad stuff that the Lord brought on David. As I said yesterday, God forgave David but there was still justice and penance to pay. It’s extremely sad but I understand.
What I have come to understand is how strong my desire is to not offend the Lord. It’s not out of the fear of punishment but out of how can I hurt the person who gives me everything and sustains me. Though I did not know God at the time of my sin, I did know better. It was wrong. David knew what he did was wrong and the end of today’s passage shows his great repentance for his sins. God told him the son born to him must surely die. And when the child becomes ill, David declares a fast and lies on the ground in sackcloth refusing to take food or listen to the words of the elders.
My hope is in the Lord. I will beg for his mercy and accept all that he permits to happen to me and accept his will. It may be hard to believe or understand, but I have great joy and peace in my life. My daily prayer for my wife, the one I love and the one I hurt so deeply, is that she will find her joy and peace in Jesus. May God have mercy on us. Amen.
Mike Burke; Saturday, January 30, 2016
Today’s first reading tells about the sinfulness of David. In short, he sees a beautiful woman bathing named Bathsheba; he finds out she’s married to the leader of his army’s “armor bearer” named Uriah; he summons the woman and has relations with her; she gets pregnant; David sends for her husband to coerce him to have relations with his wife; when that does not work, he gets him drunk but Uriah goes to sleep in a bed among David’s servants; David tells his army leader to go back to the battle and put Uriah on the front line and then pull back; Uriah is killed.
Could you imagine what social media would be talking about if David had done this today? I think many people today have little tolerance for selfish actions like this and not too much mercy. David brought great darkness to God’s Kingdom. I said this last sentence because all the power in my neighborhood just went out. It is pitch black with the exception of my battery driven laptop screen. Darkness = the absence of Light. David thought only of himself, his gratification and cover-up that left him in darkness.
I did not want to dwell on David’s sin but more on his repentance and God’s mercy. Psalm 51 and today’s response from the title is David’s repentant lament to God. It’s one a sinful man like me needs to pray.
Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness; in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense. Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me. For I acknowledge my offense, and my sin is before me always: “Against you only have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight.”
The Lord was very merciful to David and as I believe he will be for me, there was still a great penance David would have to pay for his sin. Like David, I think that my sufferings in my life today are the redemptive sufferings for my terrible sinfulness. As my God loved David, he loves me and his great passion and death on a cross proves his love for me. I can do the same for him.
Mike Burke; Friday, January 29, 2016
In the readings for today, what came to mind is how God is so faithful and I am not. In yesterday’s passage, God promised to build a house for David even though he was upset with David’s plan going against his will. David knows that God is faithful and today he speaks this prayer:
“And now, Lord GOD, you are God and your words are truth; you have made this generous promise to your servant. Do, then, bless the house of your servant that it may be before you forever; for you, Lord GOD, have promised, and by your blessing the house of your servant shall be blessed forever.” (2 Samuel 7:25-29)
I do not have to think twice to know how blessed I am. By the grace of God I continue to grow. The world and its standards mean little to me where before it meant pretty much everything. To live in the world and not be of the world is Godly advice. My worldly past I still suffer for. I believe fully that it is my redemptive suffering and God’s plan to more fully understand his cross and the love he has for me. So being joy-filled each day regardless of my feelings, sufferings and sin is a great gift from God.
One of my daily prayers that I share often is Philippians 2:3-4:
“Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory, but rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves; each looking out not for his own interests, but also, everyone for those of others.”
May all that we do be for the glory of God, our God who is faithful!
Mike Burke; Thursday, January 28, 2016
King David wants to build a house for the Lord. That sounds pretty good and generous to me. But God is not pleased with David. This is David’s plan and not God’s. First message to me – God’s will be done not mine.
As God spoke to David through the prophet Nathan, we come to understand the depth of God’s plan versus David’s plan.
“The LORD also reveals to you that he will establish a house for you. And when your time comes and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins, and I will make his Kingdom firm. It is he who shall build a house for my name. And I will make his royal throne firm forever. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me.” (2 Samuel 7:11-14)
No, our Father was not speaking about Yankee Stadium and the “House that Ruth built” but the house that his son, Jesus Christ built, the Church. How easy it is to get caught up like David and have these great desires to do things for the Lord. My intentions to do things for the Lord must be discerned in the power of the Holy Spirit. God did not want David to build his house as that was reserved for Jesus.
I have a great passion for music and especially playing for the glory of God. In my passion, I can try to play as many Masses as possible thinking I am serving the Lord in using my talents for him. But maybe, just maybe he has reserved some of these Masses to use the talents of others. Without discernment, I become like David and desire my will and not the Lord’s. Second message to me – God’s will be done, not mine.
Mike Burke; Wednesday, January 27, 2016
How can I share my love for God and not turn people off? I have been on the other side and running from those exuberant lovers of the Lord that made me feel so uncomfortable. How do I write and share my life, especially my joy of growing deeper in love with Jesus to readers when they might not be accepting of my exuberance? I have read many blogs with good solid messages written with “preachy” and “you better listen” attitudes that just do not sit well with me.
The answer for me is to share the truth as I have come to know it with great love and compassion. It’s my story and I am just sharing what I believe. Everything I am and everything I have been given is because of the Lord. He has loved me into existence. It’s really not about me but all about God. Today’s scripture continues to talk about teaching and living the truth with a Gospel message of “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” Since we are brothers and sisters in Christ, I guess we better do well to do the will of God.
What is the will of God? We are many parts but we are all one body in Christ. We are given different gifts to build the Kingdom of God. Using our gifts in ways pleasing to God by loving and caring for the needs of others brings glory to God. I should not accept any glory because I am truly an unprofitable servant. God’s love for me is gratuitous and I owe him everything. He does not need me at all and he owes me nothing but out of his love for me, I exist to serve my Lord in his great love and mercy. God is faithful and his promise of eternal life is mind blowing to me just to think that a sinful man like me will live forever with God. This is my story and at least for this moment, I’m sticking to it.
Mike Burke; Tuesday, January 26, 2016