Spiritual Thought for Today Archive Week #11


Friend of Sinners

" Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear Him (Jesus). And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, "This man receives sinners and eats with them."

The most scandalous and consistent thing that Jesus did that offended religious people was that he congregated with sinners.

How far we have come in 2000 years.

I remember when Pope John Paul II met with Yassar Arafat about ten years ago, how scandalized people were, the Pope meeting with a terrorist. But who among us isn't a sinner?

Jesus is the God-man who receives sinners and has lunch with them.

Our goodness does not come from our failures, it comes from our relationship with Jesus.

I feel sorry for people who don't feel "good" enough to go to church. The church is the just the place for people who don't feel quite "good" enough.

#2

Our Cross

"Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after Me, cannot be My disciple."

This is one of those passages that Christians grow up with, but one that we often conveniently forget.

Jesus preached an earthly experience quite different from what the Jews of his time had come to expect. They, and some Christians who conveniently exclude such passages as the one above, believed that if a person was in a relationship with God that God rewarded that person. In such a worldview the rich were blessed, the poor were obviously cursed.

Jesus arrives on the scene and turns the world upside down. He says, "Blessed are the poor," a very scandalous statement to the faithful people of his time.

In Christianity, the human plight is not due to God's punishment; it's the result of original sin. Some people suffer because of genetic deficiencies of their forebears and through no fault of their own physical choices. This is the cross that we are all nailed to and have no way of avoiding.

Can we pick up our cross (our lot in life) and follow Jesus? Jesus promises us that this is not the end, that even our limitations cannot be the ultimate curse but with him can be turned into a blessing.

#3

The Mind of Christ

"Have this mind among yourselves, which was in Christ Jesus. Who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped."

Perhaps all of us suffer from the opposite dilemma of Jesus. We are not God, but we like to count ourselves as equals of God.

Some of us (myself included) hate to admit that we are wrong, ever. We think we know it all. We are upset when things do not go according to our plan as though we are in charge of the entire world's governance.

Having the mind of Christ then is a lofty goal.

One of the primary goals of the spiritual life is to have the attitude that first and foremost that one is a creature of God. Humility means to literally have one's feet on the ground. In other words to live in reality.

Monitor yourself today and watch to see how many times you claim to know what you do not know. How do you react to attacks on your person?

Try to have the mind of Christ.

#4

All Souls

"Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour."

There is something that is scary about death. Halloween gives everyone a chance to make fun of that fear, but today's feast asks us to confront it.

We do that best by remembering the dead, especially all of those people we have known; our family, our co-workers and our friends.

They all remind of us of our own death, and confront us with the reality that awaits us all.

What happens when you die?

There are the accounts of people who have had near death experiences, but what happens when you are not sent back?

The Christian church has had the tradition of praying for the dead. We should do that not only today but every day remembering those who have given us life and praying that they may enjoy eternal life.

One day we will join them and we know not the day or the hour when.

#5

St. Therese

This weekend we celebrate the Feast of All Saints.

I would like to share an experience that I was told about countless times over the past ten years and leave it to you to make of it what you will.

Many people have told me that they had asked St. Therese to pray for them for this or that cause and that as a sign that she had prayed for them or that God would answer their prayer they would begin receiving roses as a sign.

Sometimes the roses came literally, sometimes in pictures such as a greeting card, sometimes out of the clear blue they received a picture of the Saint herself.

I was skeptic, but I tried it in need and it all happened to me in the same way and my prayer was answered!

The Saints desire to continue doing good for us... we may be foolish not to invoke their help!

#6

Spiritual Warfare

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; above all taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."

Paul's advice to the Ephesians and by extension to us reminds us that there is a war going on within and without us that is essentially spiritual.

There are desires within us that are of God and are essential to being all that God has created us to be.

But there are other "pulls" within us that seek to destroy God's plan. Some of these have been put here by other people, some our put there by our pride and the disordered desire to appear "pleasing" to others.

Paul urges us to stand firm in the faith. We have a purpose a mission in life.

And Paul wrote this while in chains in a prison.

What kind of prison are we in? What keeps us from being whole? What is the evil in our life and how do we deal with it?

May the power of God drive away all destructive forces in our lives, so that we may be who God created us to be+

#7

To touch or just know?

"And all the crowd sought to touch Him, for power came forth from Him and healed them all."

Throughout the Gospels there are many of accounts of those who saw Jesus, heard him speak and formed their opinions about him. Some of them followed him, some argued with him and some sought his death. Most of us fall into one of those three camps. We know what Jesus said and we form our opinion about him based on whether we agree with it or not.

But there is another crowd mentioned in today's gospel and hopefully we all will be a part of that one. They sought to touch and be touched by Jesus and their lives were changed as a result.

Often our faith is centered in our heads, while our life is lived in our emotions. The crowd who seeks to be touched by Jesus allows Jesus to touch their emotions and they are all blessed!

Jesus we long to feel your touch!