The Abiding Presence of God March 31, 2020


Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent
Readings for Today

“The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone.”  John 8:29

Most young children, if left at home all alone, would react with fear. They need to know that their parents are around. The idea of being somewhere all by themselves is frightening. It would be just as frightening for a child to get lost in a store or another public place. They need the security that comes with a parent being near.

The same is true in the spiritual life. Interiorly, if we sense we are all alone we may react with fear. To feel as though there is an interior abandonment from God is a frightening thought. But on the contrary, when we sense that God is very present and alive within us, we are greatly strengthened to face life with courage and joy.

This was Jesus’ experience in the passage above in which He speaks much about His relationship with the Father. The Father is the One who sent Jesus into the world for His mission and Jesus acknowledges that the Father will not leave Him alone.  Jesus says this, knows it and experiences the blessing of that relationship in His human and divine Heart.

The same can be said of each one of us. First, we must come to realize that the Father has sent us. We each have a mission in life. Do you realize that? Do you realize that you have a very specific mission and calling from God? Yes, it may entail very ordinary parts of life such as chores around the house, the daily grind of work, the building up of your family relationships, etc. Our daily lives are filled with ordinary activities that make up the will of God.

It may be possible that you are already fully immersed in the will of God for your life.  But it is also possible that God wants more from you.  He has a plan for you and it’s a mission that He has not entrusted to another. It may require that you step out in faith, be courageous, move out of your comfort zone, or face some fear. But whatever the case may be, God has a mission for you.

The comforting news is that God does not just send us, He also remains with us. He has not left us alone to fulfill the mission He has entrusted to us. He has promised His continued help in a very central way.

Reflect, today, about the mission that Jesus was given: the mission to give His life in a sacrificial way. Also reflect upon how God wants you to live out this same mission with Christ of sacrificial love and self-giving. You may already be living it wholeheartedly, or you may need some new direction.  Say “Yes” to it with courage and confidence and God will walk with you every step of the way.

Lord, I say “Yes” to the perfect plan you have for my life. Whatever it may be I accept without hesitation, dear Lord.  I know that You are always with me and that I am never alone. Jesus, I trust in You.

40 Days at the Foot of the Cross – Reflection Thirty-Four – “I Thirst”

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Image: Luca Rossetti da Orta, The Holy Trinity’, fresco, 1738-9, St. Gaudenzio Church at Ivrea (Torino)

The Wisdom that Comes with Age March 30, 2020

Monday of the Fifth Week of Lent (Year A)
(Note: Since John 11:1-45 from Year A was used yesterday on the Fifth Sunday of Lent, John 8:1-11 from Year C of the Fifth Sunday of Lent is used today.)

Readings for Today

“Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”  Again he bent down and wrote on the ground.  And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders.  John 8:7–9

This passage comes from the story of the woman caught in adultery when she is dragged before Jesus to see if He would support her stoning.  His response is perfect and, in the end, she is left alone to encounter the tender mercy of Jesus.

But there is a line in this passage that is easily overlooked.  It is the line that states, “…beginning with the elders.”  This reveals an interesting dynamic within human communities.  Generally speaking, those who are younger tend to lack the wisdom and experience that comes with age.  Though the young may find it hard to admit, those who have lived a long life have a unique and broad picture of life.  This enables them to be far more prudent in their decisions and judgments, especially when it comes to the more intense situations in life.

In this story, the woman is brought before Jesus with a harsh judgment.  Emotions are high and these emotions clearly cloud the rational thinking of those who are ready to stone her.  Jesus cuts through this irrationality by a profound statement.  “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”  Perhaps, at first, those who were younger or more emotional did not allow the words of Jesus to sink in.  They probably stood there with stones in hand waiting to start throwing.  But then the elders began to walk away.  This is age and wisdom at work.  They were less controlled by the emotion of the situation and were immediately aware of the wisdom of the words spoken by our Lord.  As a result, the others followed.

Reflect, today, upon the wisdom that comes with age.  If you are older, reflect upon your responsibility to help guide the younger generation with clarity, firmness and love.  If you are younger, do not neglect to rely upon the wisdom of the older generation.  Though age is not a perfect guarantee of wisdom, it may be a far more significant factor than you realize.  Be open to your elders, show them respect, and learn from the experiences they have had in life.

Prayer for the young: Lord, give me a true respect for my elders.  I thank you for their wisdom stemming from the many experiences they have had in life.  May I be open to their counsel and be guided by their gentle hand.  Jesus, I trust in You.

Prayer for the elder: Lord, I thank You for my life and for the many experiences I have had.  I thank You for teaching me through my hardships and struggles, and I thank You for the joys and loves that I have encountered in life.  Continue to pour forth Your wisdom upon me so that I may help guide Your children.  May I always seek to set a good example and lead them according to Your Heart.  Jesus, I trust in You.

40 Days at the Foot of the Cross – Reflection Thirty-Three – “My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?”

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Image: Brooklyn Museum – The Adulterous Woman-Christ Writing upon the Ground, James Tissot

Let us Go and Die With Him March 29, 2020

The Fifth Sunday of Lent (Year A)
Readings for Today

So Thomas, called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go to die with him.”  John 11:16

What a great line!  The context is important to understand.  Thomas said this after Jesus told His Apostles that He was going up to Jerusalem because Lazarus, His friend, was ill and close to death.  In fact, as the story unfolds, Lazarus actually did die before Jesus arrived at his house.  Of course, we know the end of the story that Lazarus was raised up by Jesus.  But the Apostles tried to keep Jesus from going to Jerusalem because they knew there were many who had been quite hostile toward Him and wanted to kill Him.  But Jesus decided to go anyway.  It was in this context that St. Thomas said to the others, “Let us also go and die with him.”  Again, what a great line!

It’s a great line because Thomas appeared to say this with a certain resolve to accept whatever was waiting for them in Jerusalem.  He appeared to know that Jesus was going to be met with resistance and persecution.  And he also appeared to be ready to face that persecution and death with Jesus.

Of course Thomas is well known to be the doubter.  After Jesus’ death and Resurrection he refused to accept that the other Apostles actually saw Jesus.  But even though he is well known for his act of doubting, we should not miss the courage and resolve he had in that moment.  At that moment, he was willing to go with Jesus to face His persecution and death.  And he was even willing to face death himself.  Even though he ultimately fled when Jesus was arrested, it’s believed that he eventually went as a missionary to India where he did ultimately suffer martyrdom.

This passage should help us to reflect upon our own willingness to go forth with Jesus to face any persecution that may await us.  Being a Christian requires courage.  We will be different than others.  We will not fit in with the culture around us.  And when we refuse to conform to the day and age we live in, we will most likely suffer some form of persecution as a result.  Are you ready for that?  Are you willing to endure this?

We also must learn from St. Thomas that, even if we do fail, we can start again.  Thomas was willing, but then he fled at the sight of persecution.  He ended up doubting, but in the end he courageously lived out his conviction to go and die with Jesus.  It’s not so much how many times we fail; rather, it’s how we finish the race.

Reflect, today, upon the resolve in the heart of St. Thomas and use it as a meditation upon your own resolve.  Do not worry if you fail in this resolve, you can always get up and try again.  Reflect also upon the final resolution St. Thomas made when he did die a martyr.  Make the choice to follow his example and you, too, will be counted among the saints of Heaven.

Lord, I desire to follow You wherever You lead.  Give me a firm resolve to walk in Your ways and to imitate the courage of St. Thomas.  When I fail, help me to get back up and resolve again.  I love You, dear Lord, help me to love You with my life.  Jesus, I trust in You.

40 Days at the Foot of the Cross – Reflection Thirty-Two – “Woman, Behold Your Son…Behold Your Mother”

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Image: Rubens – The Raising of the Cross

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My Catholic Life!

Homily of Pope Francis, March 27, 2020

March 28, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Yesterday, Pope Francis led us in a time of prayer and reflection. In his preaching on a passage from the Gospel of St. Mark, our Holy Father offered for not only Catholics, but for the entire world, an eloquent expression of encouragement based on faith.

I want to share with you the text of his preaching with the hope that, in the midst of these trying days, it brings to you comfort, solace and a reassurance that we have hope in the cross of our Lord.

Please know of my heartfelt prayers for you, as I remain,

Sincerely yours in Christ,

The Most Reverend Allen H. Vigneron
Archbishop of Detroit

On that day, as evening drew on, he said to them, “Let us cross to the other side.” Leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat just as he was. And other boats were with him. A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!”* The wind ceased and there was great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” They were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?” (Mark 4: 35–41)
Homily of Pope Francis, March 27, 2020 (español):
“When evening had come” (Mk 4:35).  The Gospel passage we have just heard begins like this.  For weeks now it has been evening.  Thick darkness has gathered over our squares, our streets and our cities; it has taken over our lives, filling everything with a deafening silence and a distressing void, that stops everything as it passes by; we feel it in the air, we notice in people’s gestures, their glances give them away.  We find ourselves afraid and lost.  Like the disciples in the Gospel we were caught off guard by an unexpected, turbulent storm.  We have realised that we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other.  On this boat… are all of us.  Just like those disciples, who spoke anxiously with one voice, saying “We are perishing” (v. 38), so we too have realised that we cannot go on thinking of ourselves, but only together can we do this.It is easy to recognise ourselves in this story.  What is harder to understand is Jesus’ attitude.  While His disciples are quite naturally alarmed and desperate, He stands in the stern, in the part of the boat that sinks first.  And what does he do?  In spite of the tempest, He sleeps on soundly, trusting in the Father; this is the only time in the Gospels we see Jesus sleeping.  When He wakes up, after calming the wind and the waters, He turns to the disciples in a reproaching voice: “Why are you afraid?  Have you no faith?” (v. 40).

Let us try to understand.  In what does the lack of the disciples’ faith consist, as contrasted with Jesus’ trust?  They had not stopped believing in Him; in fact, they called on Him.  But we see how they call on him: “Teacher, do you not care if we perish?” (v. 38).  Do you not care: they think that Jesus is not interested in them, does not care about them.  One of the things that hurts us and our families most when we hear it said is: “Do you not care about me?”  It is a phrase that wounds and unleashes storms in our hearts.  It would have shaken Jesus too.  Because He, more than anyone, cares about us.  Indeed, once they have called on Him, He saves His disciples from their discouragement.

The storm exposes our vulnerability and uncovers those false and superfluous certainties around which we have constructed our daily schedules, our projects, our habits and priorities.  It shows us how we have allowed to become dull and feeble the very things that nourish, sustain and strengthen our lives and our communities.  The tempest lays bare all our prepackaged ideas and forgetfulness of what nourishes our people’s souls; all those attempts that anaesthetise us with ways of thinking and acting that supposedly “save” us, but instead prove incapable of putting us in touch with our roots and keeping alive the memory of those who have gone before us.  We deprive ourselves of the antibodies we need to confront adversity.

In this storm, the façade of those stereotypes with which we camouflaged our egos, always worrying about our image, has fallen away, uncovering once more that (blessed) common belonging, of which we cannot be deprived: our belonging as brothers and sisters.

“Why are you afraid?  Have you no faith?”  Lord, your word this evening strikes us and regards us, all of us.  In this world, that you love more than we do, we have gone ahead at breakneck speed, feeling powerful and able to do anything.  Greedy for profit, we let ourselves get caught up in things, and lured away by haste.  We did not stop at your reproach to us, we were not shaken awake by wars or injustice across the world, nor did we listen to the cry of the poor or of our ailing planet.  We carried on regardless, thinking we would stay healthy in a world that was sick.  Now that we are in a stormy sea, we implore you: “Wake up, Lord!”.

“Why are you afraid?  Have you no faith?”  Lord, you are calling to us, calling us to faith.  Which is not so much believing that you exist, but coming to you and trusting in you.  This Lent your call reverberates urgently: “Be converted!”, “Return to me with all your heart” (Joel 2:12).  You are calling on us to seize this time of trial as a time of choosing.  It is not the time of your judgement, but of our judgement: a time to choose what matters and what passes away, a time to separate what is necessary from what is not.  It is a time to get our lives back on track with regard to you, Lord, and to others.  We can look to so many exemplary companions for the journey, who, even though fearful, have reacted by giving their lives.  This is the force of the Spirit poured out and fashioned in courageous and generous self-denial.  It is the life in the Spirit that can redeem, value and demonstrate how our lives are woven together and sustained by ordinary people – often forgotten people – who do not appear in newspaper and magazine headlines nor on the grand catwalks of the latest show, but who without any doubt are in these very days writing the decisive events of our time: doctors, nurses, supermarket employees, cleaners, caregivers, providers of transport, law and order forces, volunteers, priests, religious men and women and so very many others who have understood that no one reaches salvation by themselves.  In the face of so much suffering, where the authentic development of our peoples is assessed, we experience the priestly prayer of Jesus: “That they may all be one” (Jn 17:21).  How many people every day are exercising patience and offering hope, taking care to sow not panic but a shared responsibility. How many fathers, mothers, grandparents and teachers are showing our children, in small everyday gestures, how to face up to and navigate a crisis by adjusting their routines, lifting their gaze and fostering prayer.  How many are praying, offering and interceding for the good of all.  Prayer and quiet service: these are our victorious weapons.

“Why are you afraid?  Have you no faith”?  Faith begins when we realise we are in need of salvation.  We are not self-sufficient; by ourselves we founder: we need the Lord, like ancient navigators needed the stars.  Let us invite Jesus into the boats of our lives. Let us hand over our fears to him so that he can conquer them.  Like the disciples, we will experience that with Him on board there will be no shipwreck.  Because this is God’s strength: turning to the good everything that happens to us, even the bad things. He brings serenity into our storms, because with God life never dies.

The Lord asks us and, in the midst of our tempest, invites us to reawaken and put into practice that solidarity and hope capable of giving strength, support and meaning to these hours when everything seems to be floundering.  The Lord awakens so as to reawaken and revive our Easter faith.  We have an anchor: by His cross we have been saved.  We have a rudder: by His cross we have been redeemed. We have a hope: by His cross we have been healed and embraced so that nothing and no one can separate us from his redeeming love.  In the midst of isolation when we are suffering from a lack of tenderness and chances to meet up, and we experience the loss of so many things, let us once again listen to the proclamation that saves us: he is risen and is living by our side.  The Lord asks us from his cross to rediscover the life that awaits us, to look towards those who look to us, to strengthen, recognise and foster the grace that lives within us.  Let us not quench the wavering flame (cf. Is 42:3) that never falters, and let us allow hope to be rekindled.

Embracing His cross means finding the courage to embrace all the hardships of the present time, abandoning for a moment our eagerness for power and possessions in order to make room for the creativity that only the Spirit is capable of inspiring. It means finding the courage to create spaces where everyone can recognise that they are called, and to allow new forms of hospitality, fraternity and solidarity.  By His cross we have been saved in order to embrace hope and let it strengthen and sustain all measures and all possible avenues for helping us protect ourselves and others.  Embracing the Lord in order to embrace hope: that is the strength of faith, which frees us from fear and gives us hope.

“Why are you afraid?  Have you no faith”?  Dear brothers and sisters, from this place that tells of Peter’s rock-solid faith, I would like this evening to entrust all of you to the Lord, through the intercession of Mary, Health of the People and Star of the stormy Sea.  From this colonnade that embraces Rome and the whole world, may God’s blessing come down upon you as a consoling embrace.  Lord, may you bless the world, give health to our bodies and comfort our hearts.  You ask us not to be afraid.  Yet our faith is weak and we are fearful.  But you, Lord, will not leave us at the mercy of the storm.  Tell us again: “Do not be afraid” (Mt 28:5).  And we, together with Peter, “cast all our anxieties onto you, for you care about us” (cf. 1 Pet 5:7).

Copyright © 2020 Archdiocese of Detroit, All rights reserved.

Liturgy of the Word for 5th Sunday of Lent.

Dear Friends,As we have seen, the national and global situation regarding the coronavirus remains critical. We must not lose faith in the goodness of Jesus and his love for us. Our life with him, our eternal life, is already planted within us by grace; we remain firmly in the loving hands of our Lord, and nothing can snatch us out of his hand.

Let us remember the words of Saint Paul, written also during a time of great trial: What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? As it is written: For your sake we are being slain all the day; we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered.” In all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom 8:35-39).

On this Fifth Sunday of Lent, with a “stone” that seems to come between us and Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, we make an act of faith and spiritual communion, trusting that the power of his grace and mercy reaches us still. We give him our worship and our praise and our gratitude, for his love endures forever.
Click here for the Liturgy of the Word pdf to celebrate at home by yourself or with your family.

Be assured of my prayers for all of you, and please pray for me.

In Jesus and Mary,

Fr. Sebastian, O.P.
Removing the Stones of Fear and Doubt

I turn now to today’s beautiful Gospel [Jn 11:1-45] in which, I think, we find the answers or the beginning of the answers. Yesterday, as is my custom, I went to confession to my regular confessor. He said, “Read carefully today’s Gospel and reflect on it. What strikes you? Jesus weeps. Jesus weeps over all the sufferings and pain in the world, yours and mine.”

Jesus weeps over my sins and yours.… Jesus weeps for others who have been the victims of tragedies. Jesus weeps for those who have been involved in those tragedies. Jesus weeps for all those over whom a cloud seems to settle because of a tragedy….

Then follow through with the Gospel. Before Jesus did anything but weep he asked the sisters of Lazarus, the dead man, Do you believe that I am the resurrection and the life? Do you believe that I am the Light of the world? Do you believe that I can bring the dead to life? Do you believe that those who live in darkness can see the Light because of me? When they said, Yes, Lord, we believe, then Jesus said, Take me to the tomb of Lazarus, where Lazarus had been buried for four days. They warned Jesus that the body would be corrupt. But what did he say? Take away the stone. Only when they took away the stone did Jesus say, Lazarus, come forth, and Lazarus was restored to a new life, greater than any he had dreamed of before…. Our Lord says, Do you want new life? Do you want light in the darkness? Take away the stone.

Only we know if there is a stone before our hearts. Only we, with God’s help, can remove that stone. Then the Lord who suffered and died for everyone in the world will say to each of us, Rise to new life. Be filled with my Light.

 

John Cardinal O’Connor (+2000) was the Archbishop of New York, a former Navy chaplain, and a great friend to MAGNIFICAT in its first years.

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In Awe of Jesus March 28, 2020

Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Readings for Today

The guards answered, “Never before has anyone spoken like this man.”  John 7:46

The guards and many others were in awe of Jesus, amazed at the words He spoke.  These guards were sent to arrest Jesus at the order of the chief priests and Pharisees, but the guards couldn’t bring themselves to arrest Him.  They were rendered powerless in the face of the “awe factor” Jesus enjoyed.

When Jesus taught, there was something communicated beyond His words.  Yes, His words were powerful and transforming, but it was also the way in which He spoke.  It was hard to explain but it’s clear that, when He spoke, He also communicated a power, a calm, a conviction, and a presence.  He communicated His Divine Presence and it was unmistakable.  People just knew this man Jesus was different than all the rest and they hung on His every word.

God still communicates to us this way.  Jesus still speaks to us with this “awe factor.”  We simply need to be attentive to it.  We should strive to be attentive to the ways that God speaks in a clear and convincing way, with authority, clarity and conviction.  It may be something someone says, or it may be an action of another that touches us.  It may be a book we read, or a sermon we listen to.  Whatever the case may be, we should look for this awe factor because it is there we will find Jesus Himself.

Interestingly, this awe factor also invited extreme criticism.  Those with a simple and honest faith responded well, but those who were self-centered and self-righteous responded with condemnation and anger.  They were clearly jealous.  They even criticized the guards and others who were impressed by Jesus.

Reflect, today, upon the ways that God has left you in awe of His message and His love.  Seek out His voice of conviction and clarity.  Tune into the way God is trying to communicate and pay no attention to the ridicule and criticism you may experience when you do seek to follow His Voice.  His Voice must win out and draw you in so that you can savor everything He wishes to say.

Lord, may I be attentive to Your unmistakable Voice and to the authority with which You speak.  May I be amazed at all You wish to say.  And as I listen to You, dear Lord, give me the courage to respond with faith regardless of the reaction of others.  I love You, dear Lord, and desire to be transfixed upon Your every Word, listening with wonder and awe.  Jesus, I trust in You.

40 Days at the Foot of the Cross – Reflection Thirty-One – “Today You Will be With Me in Paradise”

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Image: Brooklyn Museum – The Pharisees and the Herodians Conspire Against Jesus, James Tisso

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My Catholic Life!

March 27, 2020 Letter from Archbishop Vigneron

March 27, 2020

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Being good citizens means we are all striving to follow Governor Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order through Easter Monday (April 13, 2020). As Archbishop Vigneron mentioned in his letter earlier this week, this challenge presents unprecedented difficulties. But there is no time without grace and opportunity for spiritual growth.

There are numerous ways in which all of us in the Archdiocese of Detroit—our parishes, schools, clergy, religious and laity—are supporting each other in building up the Body of Christ during this time. I would like to direct you to a particular resource that you may find helpful for your faith life during these challenging days. Formed is a collection of Catholic resources for you and your family to enjoy. During this time of social distancing, they are offering a free 40-day subscription. While many have access to Formed through their parish, now everyone has access for free for the next few weeks.

I encourage you to sign up for this resource and make use of the Bible studies, faith formation opportunities, and Catholic movies available. Signing up only takes a few easy steps:

  1. Visit www.formed.org and click “Sign Up.”
  2. Click “I belong to a Parish or Organization.”
  3. Type “Faith at Home Detroit” in the box under Create New Account.  (You’ll see it populate from the drop-down menu.)   Click “Next.”
  4. Enter your first and last name as well as your email.
  5. Now you’re registered!  You can also download the app on your Smartphone.  If you need further assistance, contact Formed at www.help.formed.org or toll-free at 844-367-6331.

In addition to this resource, I encourage you to stay connected to our website spiritualcloseness.org where daily faith resources are available for you and your family. Please share both of these resources with your neighbors, friends and families in your phone calls, emails, group chats, and video conferences as a way for each of us to “unleash the Gospel!”

Finally, we have even more resources planned, especially during Holy Week and into the Easter Season. Keep the faith!

Your brother in Christ,

Fr. Stephen Pullis
Director of Evangelization and Missionary Discipleship

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The Temptation with Familiarity March 27, 2020

Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Readings for Today

Jesus cried out in the temple area as he was teaching and said, “You know me and also know where I am from.  Yet I did not come on my own, but the one who sent me, whom you do not know, is true.”  John 7:28

Sometimes the more familiar we are with someone the harder it is to actually see their goodness and the presence of God in their lives.  Often, we are tempted to look at them and presume we “know all about them.”  As a result, what we can often do is simply highlight their faults and weaknesses in our minds and see them only through the lens of these faults and weaknesses.

This is what happened with Jesus.  When Jesus went up to the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles, there were some there who knew Him.  They probably knew Him as this ordinary son of a carpenter.  Perhaps they were even from His home town.  As a result of this familiarity with Jesus they immediately doubted He could be the Messiah.  But they were, of course, very mistaken.

This presents a great lesson for us.  It’s the lesson of being judgmental and overly critical of others we know well.  The more we know about someone the more we will be aware of their faults and weaknesses.  And if we are not careful, we will focus in on those qualities rather than on the good qualities God wants us to see.

This is what happened with Jesus.  No, He did not have any actual bad qualities.  He was perfect.  But there were most likely many parts of His life that invited the false judgment and criticism of others.  His self-confidence, the authority He manifested in His teaching, the extraordinary compassion He had toward sinners, etc., were all exceptional qualities that some could not understand.  And, as a result, they chose to be critical.  “We know where He is from,” they said.  In other words, they did not think that someone they knew could be filled with greatness.

What do you think about those around you?  What do you think about those closest to you?  Are you able to see beyond any apparent weakness they have and see the hand of God at work?  Are you able to see beyond the surface and see the value and dignity of their lives?  When you can see the goodness of others, point it out, and be grateful for it, you will actually be seeing and loving the manifest goodness of God.  God is alive and active in every soul around you.  It is your responsibility to see that goodness and love it.  This takes true humility on your part but, in the end, it’s a way of loving God in your midst.

Reflect, today, upon how you look at those who are closest to you and spend some time trying to ponder the ways that God is alive in their lives.  If you do this, you will be loving God in your very midst.

Lord, I do love You.  Help me to see and love You in others.  And help me to shed any temptation I have toward being judgmental and humbly be drawn into the goodness of all Your sons and daughters.  I love You, dear Lord, may I also love You in others.  Jesus, I trust in You.

40 Days at the Foot of the Cross – Reflection Thirty – “Father, Forgive Them, For They Know Not What They Do”

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Image: Jesus Among the Doctors, Paolo Verones

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