The Amos In You And Me

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The first reading today was from Amos 7:10-17. Reading the story, I thought that I have grown in many ways through God’s grace. Basically, there was a shepherd and dresser of Sycamores named Amos. God told him to prophesy to His people in Israel which Amos did. Amaziah, the priest in Bethel, did not like what Amos was saying and told him to leave and go to Judah and stay away from Bethel. Instead, Amos told him some pretty harsh things that were going to happen to him and his family.

So, how have I grown? In the past, when I did not like what someone was telling me or disagreed, I pretty much cut them off, argued or just basically eliminated them from my life. I did not have time to listen to things I thought were pretty “stupid” points of view. Ironically, I can think of many things that I vehemently disagreed with and now believe wholeheartedly to be true, even about myself.

I have grown to listen much more than I speak. I ask the Holy Spirit often for the Knowledge, Understanding and Wisdom of what was said that I may discern it properly. There are many people, friends, foes and strangers that say things that I do not want to hear. Like Amos was to Amaziah, they can be a thorn in my side. But because of those thorns, I have come into a better relationship with God and a better understanding of myself.

Even the blogs I read here from many of you, have points of views that I may not initially agree with. Praying, discerning and seeking to understand the point of the message has really helped me to grow ecumenically as a Christian. So to all the Amos’ out there, I am listening with an open mind and heart but at times, I can also be the Amos for others. God is amazing. It will do us all well to heed his voice through whomever he sends to us. Amen.

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Mike Burke; Thursday, June 30, 2016
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The Amos In You And Me

Solemnity Of Saints Peter And Paul

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Today’s readings feature the lives of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. These are two very powerful Saints that have very unique stories as to how they became apostles for Jesus. Instead of talking about them today and sharing what I know about them, I want to ask these Saints to pray for all of us and the mess of this world that we sinners created. We need our Lord more than ever. Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us!

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Mike Burke; Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Solemnity Of Saints Peter And Paul

“Why Are You Terrified?”

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The question that the Gospel asks of me today is what am I so terrified of because of the lack of my faith? What do I need to ask Jesus to rebuke in my life? I have been pondering this now for a little while and one thought I do not want to share but my Lord knows exactly what I am thinking about. The other is that I will end up in hell, not able to spend eternity with my God.

In Matthew 8:23-27, Jesus is sleeping in a boat while it is being swamped by waves. The disciples are screaming at Jesus. Lord save us! We are perishing! They seem desperate and questioning if they are going to die. Have you ever been there? I am not sure that I have or not. I have had problems and difficulties and have asked the Lord for help. I remember once hearing late at night that we might lose a young child in our family that was going into a life threatening surgery. I remember praying very earnestly as best as I could. She lived and is doing very well today. I praise and thank God!

How did Jesus handle all this commotion? He said to his disciples, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?” Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm. Now calm is something that I can relate to in my relationship with Jesus. I experience a great calm in my prayers, my holy hours and just my daily communication with Jesus. So I again ask myself, why am I so terrified about ending up in hell? Maybe terrified is too strong a word as I do have great faith in God’s mercy. What I lack in myself is the faith that I will cooperate with God’s grace and avoid my habitual sinfulness.

I will end in prayer from today’s Psalm 5:8 which says … But I, because of your abundant mercy, will enter your house; I will worship at your holy temple in fear of you, O LORD. May my fear O God be not one of terror but a holy fear that trusts completely in you and your holy will. Amen.

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Mike Burke; Tuesday, June 28, 2016
“Why Are You Terrified?”

Contrary To The Rolling Stone’s Song, “Time Is ‘NOT’ On My Side

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I think most of us take for granted that we have another day to live tomorrow. I am pretty confident, my health is okay and when I go to sleep each night, I pretty much expect to wake up to start a new day. Sometimes I catch myself with the phrase “God willing” when I talk about tomorrow but honestly, I take it for granted that God will give me another moment of life.

Today’s Gospel from Matthew 8:18-22 got me thinking about God’s grace and not to take the gift of time for granted. Jesus asks us disciples to follow him right now at this moment, his will be done, no excuses and just follow. A disciple says to him today … “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.” Jesus responds to the disciple … “Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead.”

It might sound like Jesus is being a little bit mean to this disciple but I have come to understand the translation to mean that the man wanted to go back to his father who was alive and stay with him until he died. Then, he would come back to follow Jesus. I think Jesus is telling me that in my life, there is nothing more important than following him, not family, friends, work or pleasure. I cannot take time for granted and put off doing the will of God when I am ready. He calls me now, and I must follow him now.

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Mike Burke; Monday, June 27, 2016
Contrary To The Rolling Stone’s Song, “Time Is ‘NOT’ On My Side

Freedom And My Daily Battle

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At Mass today, I listened to the second reading from Galatians 5:1, 13-18 and thought to myself that St. Paul is talking about my daily battle in life. Here is what he wrote … Brothers and sisters: For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery. For you were called for freedom, brothers and sisters. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love. For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement, namely, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. But if you go on biting and devouring one another, beware that you are not consumed by one another. I say, then: live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh. For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want. But if you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

I can honestly say that loving my neighbor as myself is something I am constantly aware of and strive to do. I no longer seek to be better than, bite or devour others. I want us all to go to heaven and spend the rest of our lives together in the presence of God. I am blessed with the power of the Holy Spirit living in me and in this way, glorifying God with the freedom I am given.

Here is my problem. Even with the Holy Spirit living in me, the desire of the flesh is screaming in me. It is a constant battle. I know who wins the battle at the end of time and I elated that the Holy Spirit wins but will this struggle continue for the rest of my life on earth? Only God only knows but my hope is in Jesus that His Spirit will cast out the desires of the flesh in me. Come Holy Spirit, Come.

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Mike Burke; Sunday, June 26, 2016

 

Freedom And My Daily Battle

HE IS GOD

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I love the Lord, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. All three readings today humble me before God. I am in awe and I am in fear. It’s a good fear to remind me of the awesome power of God and how can I treat our Creator and Savior as just a friend or acquaintance. HE IS GOD, who loves me so much that he allowed His Son Jesus, who was without sin, to bear mine and your sins. He is my Savior. He is my Father and I am His adopted son. He is Spirit that lives in me. HE IS GOD.

There is a verse from the reading of Lamentations 2:2-19 that reminds me of the life and world I live in today. It says … Your prophets had for you false and specious visions; They did not lay bare your guilt, to avert your fate; They beheld for you in vision false and misleading portents.” We have so many greedy false prophets today telling us we should do this and that contrary to the teachings of Jesus. We love our money and we love our power. We are teaching people that to be successful you have to have stature, power and money. We have forgotten the value of service. We are told we can be who we want to be if you just work hard and do what it takes to get what you want. We have forgotten to seek counsel to know what God wants for us. We buy into political correctness and accept evil as good and good as evil. We make scripture fit into our vision of relativism. I am painting a very bleak picture because this reading is very depressing sharing the anger of a God who loves us but we, His children, just don’t get it!

But there is also hope in today’s Gospel from Matthew 8:5-17. A powerful, worldly centurion humbles himself before Jesus, asking Jesus to cure his suffering paralyzed servant. Jesus says he will go and cure him. The centurion says … “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.” Jesus sees his great faith and says the Word and his servant is healed immediately. And by the same Word, Jesus then cures Peter’s mother-in-law, drives the demonic spirits out of many and cured all who were sick.

We are in desperate times and in desperate need of our Savior. We, the people of this world, need great healing. We need to be humble before our God, sinful as we are, and recall the words of the prophet Isaiah at the end of the Gospel reading today … He took away our infirmities and bore our diseases.” Jesus may be our friend but we should surely remember He is much more. HE IS GOD.

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Mike Burke; Saturday, June 25, 2016
HE IS GOD

John the Baptist

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How many of us today would accept the role of John the Baptist? His mission in life was to herald the coming of Jesus by proclaiming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. John would say … What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. Behold, one is coming after me; I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.” (Acts 13:25) John was chosen by God to make known the word of salvation has been sent.

It would take much humility and much strength to carry out such a mission. Would any of us say and follow, even today … “He must increase; I must decrease?” (John 3:30) There would be no glory for John. He would point everyone to Jesus. He was given much grace by our Heavenly Father which would also cost him his life. We know that John was put in prison because he spoke the truth to Herod when he objected to Herod taking his brother Philip’s wife Herodias in an unlawful marriage. Because of the grudge that Herodias had against John, he was beheaded. In society today, how much does political correctness play in our lives? Are we willing to speak the truth of Scripture to a society that seeks its own twisted truth?

These are tough questions for me to answer. I know I sometimes speak when I should be silent and I am silent when I should speak. I think God is calling me and us believers to follow the mission to point others to Jesus, not like John the Baptist necessarily, but with the grace given us to accomplish his will. Today, the church celebrates the Solemnity of the Nativity of John the Baptist. John was born for a purpose. So are we. God bless us all.

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Mike Burke; Friday, June 24, 2016
John the Baptist