In the early church, a dispute arose because the newly Jewish Christian believers thought it necessary that all Gentile Christians be circumcised and follow the Mosaic Practice or they could not be saved. To solve the dispute, the issue was brought to Peter and the Apostles. And guided by the Holy Spirit, a letter was written and this is the decision that was made.
“It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities, namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage. If you keep free of these, you will be doing what is right. Farewell.” (Acts 15: 28-29)
My thoughts are that either I trust completely in everything the church authority teaches concerning faith and morals in the power of the Holy Spirit or I pick and choose what I like and do not like and trust the Holy Spirit to guide me personally. I can look at these teachings as a burden like Mosaic Law, rules that I have to follow or I can see them as a gift from God, revealed by Jesus to the church that allows me to live in the freedom he has given me.
I am not a teacher. It is not a gift I possess. I do not write to open up controversy of why I love my catholic faith, to convince you that I am right or for others to tell me I am going to hell. I pray, study, read and reflect on my journey. I love my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and I love you. I make lots of mistakes and surely do not have it “all together” in my life. What I do have is faith that God is guiding me on my journey and the best way for me is living a Sacramental life where I find fulfillment in the church.
“O Holy Spirit, beloved of my soul, I adore you. Enlighten me, guide me, strengthen me, console me; tell me what I should do, give me your orders. I promise to submit myself to all that you desire of me and to accept all that you permit to happen to me. Let me only know your will.” Amen.
Mike Burke; Sunday, May 1, 2016
Two passages I would like to briefly reflect on today. The first from the Gospel of John 15: 20-21 says “Remember the word I spoke to you, ‘No slave is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. And they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know the one who sent me.”
I believe that with all my heart but I still think I am in a beginning stage of persecution because I accept people where they are and tend not to rock the boat unless I am asked to proclaim my belief so people are more accepting of my loving acceptance. In my path to Jesus, I have been shown and given his mercy beyond belief. My heart tells me to love my brothers and sisters and extend God’s mercy. I trust in the Holy Spirit to guide me but sometimes I am left with should I have said this or done that? What I am learning to do is to continue praying and trust that he is making good out of all my feeble efforts.
The second passage is from Psalm 100: 1-2 which says; “A Psalm of thanksgiving. Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands; serve the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful song.”
Coming from me a musician with my commitment to sing for God’s glory, this passage lights me up! To be thankful, to sing with great joy and gladness and do as he asks to come before him singing with joy, I will do it until he says no more! Sometimes, my will unites with the will of God and that is something to reflect on. I usually spend much time reflecting on my flaws and not that I do not have flaws in the praising of my Lord with song, but I have been given a gift, a passion and a way to praise the Lord that is uniquely mine and that is awesome! Thank you Jesus! Amen.
Mike Burke; Saturday, April 30, 2016
Here’s today’s short Gospel from John 15: 12-17; Jesus said to his disciples: “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.”
Some of my recent reflection titles are “Like Father, Like Son”, “I Give You A New Commandment”, “Bearing Good Fruit” and yesterday’s “Keep My Commandments”. I list them because today’s Gospel reading seems to be a summary. But what really jumped out at me today is laying down one’s life for one’s friends.
My mind says I would do it. My heart says I would do it. If I am going to follow Jesus, I have to do it. He laid down his life for everyone, even those who hated and killed him. Thinking about it, do I have the confidence that I would be able to really do it? My true answer would be no because I am selfish and I would want to live as much as you would want to live. But if like so many martyrs have done by calling on the name of Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit for the glory of God the Father, by his grace, I would and could do it. What comes to mind is I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
I will pray though that I am not put to the test but if I am called to lay down my life for the glory of God, let your will be done Lord.
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Mike Burke; Friday, April 29, 2016
Anyone else besides me have problems keeping the Commandments of Jesus? In the Gospel today, Jesus says; “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.” (John 15:9-10)
We might think of the Ten Commandments or the Beatitudes but I think Jesus gave us a very simple but not an easy way to keep God’s Commandments. One, love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and two, love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus also tells us to love one another as I have loved you.
So I share, probably too often when I write, that I am a horrible sinner. Without God’s grace, I am capable of anything. United with his grace, I know there is mercy when I do not cooperate with the gifts I am given and repent. I have found great peace sharing my love for others and seek being merciful as Jesus is merciful. It is really pretty awesome.
Here is my story today. A friend came to me and showed me a picture of her proposing to her female partner. She was so happy! She has been going through trials and to see her smile with tears in her eyes was a great blessing. I got up and hugged her and told her how happy I was for her and how great it was to see her so happy. Her partner also arrived and I did the same with her.
Now I know my faith pretty well and believe in all the teachings of the church. I have no doubt that this is not God’s will for marriage. I chose to love at that moment the way I think God would love me with great mercy. My friend knows my love for the Lord and if I had to guess might have even been apprehensive to share her great news with me.
Did I sin by my actions? Am I misunderstanding to “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us?” I look back at my life and realize how wrong my perceptions were in my ignorance yet God has loved me and brought me to this point of my life where I do love him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. I do not always love well as I am unfaithful in my sin but God is always faithful. For now, I think I did the right thing. Lord, let us all keep searching for truth with the help of your grace. Amen.
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Mike Burke; Thursday, April 28, 2016
How many times have I heard that the Father is the vine grower, Jesus is the vine and I am one of many branches? It is easy for me to gloss over this but today I am hearing some sober news for me. I have shared before that the music and time I dedicate for God’s glory in the church is a way that God uses me as a branch to bear good fruit. It is a great blessing for me to use this passion for music that I have to praise and glorify my Lord.
There are also simple gifts I have been given such as kindness. It is easy for me to smile and uplift others. I see goodness in others and am growing to have patience and acceptance of those with different opinions and life views. And because I am attached to the vine I receive his joy and his peace.
The sober part of this great gift of being a branch of the Father and Son is that recently I have been making some choices, old habits that for me are not good. I plainly hear Jesus speaking to me; “Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned.” (John 15:6) It saddens me when I offend God yet a great grace given me is that I believe I can throw myself into his ocean of mercy and I hope to drown in it as I read, “Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) And recently, I have been doing nothing on my own.
I am so thankful when I am awakened by the Word of God. I want to bear good fruit and pruning is necessary for me to bear good fruit. Jesus tells me that I am pruned by his Word and today I have felt some pain. “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7) And Lord, what I ask is that I may do your will to produce good fruit to glorify the Father in your Holy Name. Amen.
Mike Burke; Wednesday, April 27, 2016
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(Picture from Google.com images)
When I read scripture like today, I make a dangerous mistake. My mind says I have heard this so many times what can I possibly say different than what I have said and written before? I do ask the Holy Spirit to guide me always in my study and reflection and I think I am being scolded for this attitude of mine.
Scripture has so many layers and speaks to me right where I am at. As much as I try to hide it and tell myself and you that I am at peace, the uncertainty of my life, my marriage and even my work causes my heart to be a little troubled. By the grace of God I am not afraid. I trust my Lord but I am anxious to know where he is leading me and what is going to happen to me in my current uncertain situations.
It is kind of funny that as I sit here rereading what I just wrote, I feel peace. I hear an inner voice saying trust me. I do not need the things of the world to make me happy or to bring me peace. My relationship with Jesus and the many people he places in my life each day usually brings me his peace.
But today I saw one of my favorite, most upbeat students in a sad state. I had never seen her this way and I was not at peace. She brightens my day and I wanted to brighten hers today but it just was not going to happen. I want peace for her so I will pray for her. I think most of the young people I know base their peace on how the world is treating them with things and relationships. I am reminded again that I have been through this stage of the world too many times in my life. There is just no lasting peace with the world regardless of the amount of things I am given. The new car, the new phone, the raise, the pat on the back and you can name your pleasure will just not do it.
It is very different with the peace that Jesus gives.
Mike Burke; Tuesday, April 26, 2016
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“Greet one another with a loving kiss. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.”
I have often thought how amazing my life would be and how great the world could be if we took the advice of Peter and all of us who love the Lord would greet each other with a loving kiss. Some translations say holy kiss. What an awesome gift that would be to say I love you Lord as I love my brother and sister in Christ as you command!
When I read this again in today’s first reading from 1Peter, I know just how uncomfortable that makes me feel. My journey in life has been filled with lustful and impure thoughts. I am very guilty of looking at women as objects and not always with the dignity each woman deserves from me for God’s glory. And kissing a man as a greeting goes so against my upbringing by the world’s standards I grew up with. By the grace of God I have grown much in this area seeking to see men and women in the image of God that we are created to be.
So why am I uncomfortable with this passage? Isn’t it a great way to bring the love and intimacy of the peace of Jesus to each other? It is! God wants it but the world wants nothing to do with it. I am still bombarded with impurity everywhere I look. It seems to have become the norm and frankly, that temptation is always before me.
In my life journey and especially in my writing and sharing groups I have been involved in, I have tried to be open to listen and to share as intimately as I can. With that being said, thoughts always run through my mind that others who know me may not trust me. I do leave that in God’s hands as I can only move forward in his grace. But unfortunately, it still causes me to be very cautious when greeting others with a loving kiss.
Lord, may you remove the barriers in my life and the lives of all your children that we may bring your peace to each other with the greeting of a loving kiss. May it always be for your glory, in your love and far from the sins of the flesh. I ask this in the holy name of Jesus. Amen.
Mike Burke; Monday, April 25, 2016