Exhausting The Soil?

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I was thinking that a good title for today’s scripture reflection might be that bad things happen to good people. We know that to be true. We wonder how good people in our lives become afflicted with illness, trials and even death. I am not sure if the Galileans or the people at Siloam were “good people” but Jesus today poses some questions in the Gospel of Luke 13:1-9 to make a point about repentance and He tells us … Some people told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. He said to them in reply, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did! Or those eighteen people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them–do you think they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!”

A definition of repentance that I like says “Voluntary sorrow because it offends God, for having done something wrong, together with the resolve to amend one’s conduct by taking the necessary means to avoid the occasions of sin. To repent is to be sorry for sin with self-condemnation. (Etym. Latin repoenitere, to be very sorry, regret intensely.)” 

I believe that God is so merciful, and there is no sin of mine, that He will not forgive. God loves me so much, that is not in question, but what is in question, is how much do I love God and am willing to accept and cooperate His grace to repent. I think that God has been more than patient with me. I have fallen to sin, over and over, and continue to return to Him, begging Him again, for His mercy. How long will His patience last? The second half of today’s Gospel sheds some light … And he told them this parable: “There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard, and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none, he said to the gardener, ‘For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none. So cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil?’ He said to him in reply, ‘Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.’”

When I continue to sin and am not open to use all the gifts I have been given to build God’s Kingdom, I “exhaust the soil”, but with my repentance and God’s mercy, I am fertilized by Jesus, the gardener in His mercy. His grace helps me bear fruit. But back to my original thought, even cooperating with the grace of God, bad things may still happen, even when I am good and producing fruit because following Jesus is the way of the cross. So yes, bad things do happen to good people and we are called to continue to pick up our cross and follow Jesus.

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Mike Burke; Saturday, October 22, 2016
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Exhausting The Soil?

Raising Up The Lowly

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I was reading today’s Gospel from Luke 11:29-32, which talks about condemnation of people who will not repent. Jesus tells us … “This generation is an evil generation.” I can look at the world today and see it very clearly. Sometimes, I can look in the mirror and see it clearly as well.  But I was actually uplifted by the message of repentance as well as the Responsorial Psalm 113 which tells me … “He raises up the lowly from the dust; from the dunghill he lifts up the poor.”

You see, as I laid down my head to rest last night, I felt like a had fallen into a dunghill. Yesterday, I had a complete day to myself to do whatever I want. My days have been filled with work and many other opportunities to serve. When I have time to myself like I did yesterday, I am not always happy with the choices I make. I take on a selfish attitude where I, and my desires, become more important to me. I will leave it at that and try to practice and accept what I always seem to write … “Our God is a merciful God.” Being humbled and repenting is a good thing. Lord have mercy on me a sinner. Amen.

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Mike Burke; Monday, October 10, 2016
Raising Up The Lowly

Rich Man, Poor Man, LOVE

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How long will the merciful God I believe in be patient with us? When will we listen to the constant warnings God has given us? When will we understand the Parables of Jesus and take heed to His message? The Gospel today from Luke 16:19-31 is another wake-up call. When will we as children of God wake up?

Lazarus is a very poor man. He was ignored by a very rich man. They both died and went to the netherworld. The father of all nations, Abraham was resting comfortably with Lazarus in his bosom. The rich man was far off, separated by a great chasm, suffering torment in flames. He wanted help from Lazarus to cool his tongue. When they were both alive on earth, Lazarus needed help also but the rich man was too busy, concerned about himself, rather than being concerned with a poor, low-life like Lazarus. Abraham tells the rich man that no help can come any longer because the chasm will not allow either side to crossover. That in itself is a great warning for us.

How do I read this? First of all, we have major problems all over the world. No matter where we live, there are problems. If we will not listen to God, we are going to end up like the rich man. If we keep telling God we know best and we do not need Him or even that we do not believe in Him, He is going to love us by letting us choose our own demise. I read about people blaming God. How can a loving God let all this evil happen? I would like to ask how people who are loved by God, keep choosing to sin against Him? The blame lies fully with us. Our loving Father sent His Son Jesus to save us. His Son died for us so that we can live. He has told us what to do. The answer is simple yet we do not, as children of God, do what God has commanded us. Love God and love each other. LOVE is the answer.

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Mike Burke; Sunday, September 25, 2016
Rich Man, Poor Man, LOVE

Do What Is Right & Just

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I do not know why, but after watching Sunday night’s football game, I changed the channel to the Emmys. I tend to take a more negative perception of award shows. I grew up seeking awards and the pats on the back for doing well. Pride was important to me and humility seemed to be lost. I now hope to do the best I can as an unprofitable servant but it is still a journey in overcoming pride. That is just me and my opinion and celebrating the accomplishments of greatness in one’s career can be good. How? I think by realizing that all the glory goes to God and being thankful for the gifts that God has given to achieve the award.

Watching only a few minutes, there was Hollywood, center stage with actors in the spotlight promoting their worldly viewpoint of sin. Here are some of the most talented people, with great influence on the young and the old, sharing what they believe is right and just in today’s society. The battle of the world versus God will continue and Hollywood, with all the applause, will seem to have the upper hand leading more and more people into darkness. Fortunately, we know who wins in the end.

All of today’s scripture readings, Proverbs 3:27-34; Psalm 15; Luke 8:16-18; have a theme of being in the light and doing what is right and just. Everything that we do in darkness will one day be revealed in the light. We are a very divided world. As a Christian, my views really clash with the popularity of what Hollywood and society accepts as the norm. As I grew up without Jesus, I was one of these children of darkness. I did not know any better and really had no spiritual guidance. Someone or many someones must have been praying for my conversion to come into the light of Jesus. My prayer tonight is for all of Hollywood and the world who have accepted evil as good and good as evil, to come to know the truth. Lord Jesus, have mercy on us all. Amen.

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Mike Burke; Monday, September 19, 2016
Do What Is Right & Just

How Is Every “Body” Doing?

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This past week has been challenging for me. There is much going on at work with the renovation of my office and the busyness of my workday. I am up at 4:30am, on the road at 5:30am, in the office at 7am, work until 8pm, home around 9:30pm and in bed at 11:30pm. Doing this for all 5 days this week has left me very tired. I am back into the bad habits of eating late and eating a lot and my body is aching and feeling like I am carrying a ton of extra weight.

As I read today’s first reading from 1 Corinthians 15:35-49, St. Paul addresses what will be our resurrected body. The first words that caught my attention were … What you sow is not brought to life unless it dies.” I am not looking for an excuse as to how I have been treating my body but in reality, my body is going to die.

I thought what St. Paul continues talking about in regards to the resurrection of the dead was very interesting to reflect on. He says about our body … “It is sown corruptible; it is raised incorruptible. It is sown dishonorable; it is raised glorious. It is sown weak; it is raised powerful. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual one.”

Yes, I am a sinful man, sown corruptible, dishonorable and weak. I continue the daily battle with the help of God’s grace, love and mercy. My hope is in Jesus who was raised glorious and powerful. Following Him with the cross of my natural body, with the help of His grace, should prepare me for eternity with my spiritual body. Lord knows, there is still much more work in me to be done.

Praise and glory to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

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Mike Burke; Saturday, September 17, 2016
How Is Every “Body” Doing?

Lost

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Today’s scripture readings speak about things and people being lost. But before I share a reflection on the passages, today is 9/11 and on that horrible day here in the United States, many lives were lost. It will never make sense to me how anyone could have so much hate to want to kill in the name of a most loving and merciful God. My hope is that all who were lost are now found, living with our Heavenly Father, in His glory for all eternity. Amen.

In the first reading from Exodus 32:7-14, God’s children were lost. God had brought them out of their slavery in Egypt and they thank God by worshiping a molten calf. God is not pleased and wants to wipe them out but through the pleading of Moses, God relents from punishing them. Message to me: Never give up praying and pleading to God for the people we care about who seem to be lost and distant from God.

In the Responsorial Psalm 51, King David was lost in sin. He pours out his repentant heart to God in this amazing Psalm of repentance. The Response itself is the answer for us when we are also lost. It says … “I will rise and go to my Father.”

Saint Paul in the second reading from 1 Timothy 1:12-17 shares how he was lost prior to being called to be the Apostle to the Gentiles when he said … I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and arrogant, but I have been mercifully treated because I acted out of ignorance in my unbelief.  Indeed, the grace of our Lord has been abundant, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance:”

The Gospel of Luke 15:1-32 talks first about losing one sheep out of a hundred. Jesus likens the lost sheep to a sinful person. He will search until He finds that one sheep and brings it back into the flock. Jesus then adds … “Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep. I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.” 

A woman has 10 coins and loses one. She searches and searches and when she finally finds the coin, she calls her friends and neighbors together to rejoice with her. It sounds like a party to me. Again, Jesus likens this parable to a lost sinner who repents when He says … “In just the same way, I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Lastly, there is the story of the Prodigal Son. He takes his father’s inheritance, squanders it in sin, returns to the father for mercy and is completely forgiven and a great feast is thrown for the wayward son. Message to me: If I should get lost, I will rise and go to my Father. Amen

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Mike Burke; Sunday, September 11, 2016
Lost

Responsibility In Seeing Clearly

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I believe so much in the love and mercy of God. His mercy upon me I cannot explain as I do not deserve it but I accept it with thanksgiving, praise and glory for our Lord. I think about today’s Gospel passage from Luke 6:39-42 as a reminder to share God’s mercy with others … Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,’ when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own eye?”

Focusing on this part of the scripture passage, I am lead to really look in the mirror before seeking to help correct others. This passage has humbled me as that wooden beam in my eye has been larger than me or Jesus would want it to be. My perception has also caused me to be much more silent and reflective upon myself rather than others. Today I realize that this type of behavior in me might be good if I stop right there in the passage. But if I continue on, I read … You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye.”

God is calling me to responsibility by removing the areas of sin in my life so that I will have a clearer vision of His Holy Will. Then, seeing much more clearly, I can gently help to remove the little splinter of sin in my brother’s eye. My goal would be to seek to see clearly, so I can help others in the difficult and sinful areas of their lives. I cannot just be silent but must also be active in sharing the truth with love.

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Mike Burke; Friday, September 9, 2016
Responsibility In Seeing Clearly