Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What Will Today Bring?

This is the day the LORD has made;
let us be glad and rejoice in it.
- Psalm 118:24
Every day of our lives is a gift from God. What we do with that gift, the choices we make, shape how the day goes. God might have blessed you with a steady job. Do you thank Him by doing the best you can each day? Or do you complain that the work is too hard, your co-workers are slackers, and do the least you can to get by? God might have blessed you with children. Do you thank Him by caring for them, playing with them, and laughing with them? Or do you spend the day nagging them to clean up their toys, shouting at them for spilling a drink, and longing for their bedtimes?

What about the days when it rains, when your car breaks down, when your savings fall to zero, when your goldfish dies? These too are gifts from God. Rain is good for the grass, even if it is not good for the soccer game. Fixing your car will keep the local mechanic in business for another week - your recommendation of his good work may keep him going much longer. An empty savings account may be just the prompt you need to take a risk on a new job. And a dead goldfish? Well, no more tank cleaning for a while.

Every day is created by God, and is a gift from Him. Rejoice and be glad, and strive to make the best of everything the day brings you; the good, the bad and the ugly. Even a dead goldfish.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Rejoice and be Glad

All who believed were together and had all things in common.
- Acts 2:44
It's interesting how much our surroundings affect our mood and behavior. Three days ago I attended the Easter Vigil. Twenty-seven people were received into the church (including seventeen baptisms). The four-hour mass seemed over in a flash, the whole church was filled with joy and celebration, and the presence of the Holy Spirit was strong. My heart was bursting with happiness and love for the Lord, and I was still buzzing long after midnight.

The next day I also attended Easter Sunday mass with my family, and what a difference. Despite the joyous occasion, the mood felt dull. The singing was muted, the people looked distracted. It felt like any other Sunday, and the lack of celebration for the Risen Lord almost broke my heart.

The difference was the attitude of the congregation. On Saturday night, every single person was there because they wanted to be. They were ready and excited to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus, and the initiation of twenty-seven new Catholics into their family. They expressed their joy in song, and the Spirit shone through in the smiles on their faces. On Sunday, I could sense that many of the people were there only because they felt they had to be. It was Easter Sunday, it was their duty to be there. For many that is the only day of the year they even attend mass. They weren't really thinking about the reason for the celebration. They didn't want to sing, they didn't shout the Alleluia with joy. They just wanted to do their duty and get back home.

If attending mass feels like a duty or a chore, we're really missing the point. We go to church to worship God, to give thanks and praise to Jesus for dying for our sins, and to celebrate His saving grace. Every Sunday should fill us with excitement and joy, as we once again profess our faith and receive Jesus bodily into our own bodies. If we truly understand our faith, and what happens at the mass, we should long for Sunday to come around again. We should desire to celebrate and worship with our brothers and sisters as often as possible, even more than once a week. We should be able to draw strength and support from our fellow worshipers. We should build up each others faith, and rejoice together in all that our Lord has done for us.

When I got home Saturday night, my face hurt from smiling, my hands hurt from clapping, and my throat hurt from cheering and singing. And I couldn't wait to do it all over again. I want to feel like that after every single mass. And I pray that everyone who professes the Christian faith would feel the same way.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Seek Life

Then the angel said to the women in reply, "Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Christ the crucified."
- Matthew 28:5
As we approach the glorious celebration of Easter, let us not make the same mistake of the women at the tomb. They sought Jesus the crucified. But we should seek Jesus the Resurrected. While Jesus' death for our sins is something we should never cease thanking Him for, it is His resurrection that is the root of our faith. He rose from the dead because death has no power over Him, and therefore it has no power over us either. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. In Him there is life, always.

Although the crucifix is the symbol of our faith, never forget that that was not the end. We are Easter people, and Easter is not today, Good Friday, the day Jesus died. It is Sunday, the day He resurrected. Easter Sunday is the biggest celebration of the year for us! So don't dwell on the cross. Don't dwell on the fact that Jesus had to die to save us. Rejoice in His resurrection!

Alleluia! Christ is Risen!

Happy Easter :)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I Can Only Imagine

Think of what is above, not of what is on the earth.
- Colossians 3:2

I can only imagine
What my eyes will see
When your face
Is before me

I can only imagine
When all I will do
Is forever
Forever worship You

Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus or in awe of you be still
Will I stand in your presence or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine

Is this what you spend your time thinking about? Or do you fill your head with trivial matters? Do you spend all day planning what to cook for dinner? Are you stressed because you couldn't afford those new shoes you really wanted? Do you have a job that consumes your every waking moment? Are you feeling guilty because your son poured milk in the fish tank and killed the goldfish?

In the end none of these things matter. Whether you cook chicken or pasta for dinner will have no effect on eternity. What shoes you wear is of no concern in Heaven. Instead, spend some time just trying to imagine how wonderful it will be when you finally meet Jesus. Will you rush into His arms like a child, or will you fall to your knees in worship? Will you tell Him how much you love Him, and thank Him for what He did, will you sing of His glory, or will you be struck dumb in awe? What will He look like? What will the angels' singing sound like? What will Jesus say to you?

If you have a small child in your life, ask them what they think. Their imaginations are often a lot closer to the truth than we are.

I Can Only Imagine

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hindsight is Always 20/20

We are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree.
- Acts 10:39
The apostles and disciples of Jesus' time were lucky. They got to see everything Jesus did, and hear everything He taught. Believing must have been easy for them. How could you not believe that Jesus was the Son of God after witnessing His life, death and resurrection?

It's easy for us to assume that we would believe in Him without question if we had been there. After all, we're already believers based purely on what other people have told us. If we had seen it all with our own eyes, how much stronger would our faith had been! But is that really true? There were plenty of people who spent weeks, months, even years in Jesus' presence, yet were not convinced of His true identity. They were so unconvinced in fact, that they put Him to death for His claims.

If Jesus had been born in this day and age, how would we have reacted? A man from a poor part of town, with little education, challenging our way of life and our long-held beliefs, and claiming to be God. How would that have gone down? Just as 2000 years ago, there would be believers and opponents. Jesus' miracles and teachings would convert many, and enrage others. Which side do you think you would be on?

Perhaps we should be grateful that Jesus came when He did. Things often look very different in hindsight than they do in the heat of the moment. We can look back over the last 2000 years and see that everything Jesus said was true. His message has endured the test of time, and His followers have been justified. We have a written record of all His actions and teachings, we have the complete picture. As awesome as it would have been to have walked with Him in Jerusalem, in many ways we are the lucky ones.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Lead Me

If the Spirit of the One who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the One who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit dwelling in you.
- Romans 8:11
What an amazing thought: the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead is the same Spirit who dwells in us. If He can raise Jesus from the dead, just imagine what He can do in us! Nothing is impossible for Him. He gives us wisdom, courage, strength. He guides and protects us. He gives us gifts and talents to share. He listens to our prayers, and at the end of time He will also raise us from the dead.

Take some time today to talk to the Spirit that dwells in you. Feel His presence. Thank Him for all the blessings He has given you. Ask Him for what you need. And let Him lead and guide you today.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Was Blind but Now I See

The man answered and said to them, "This is what is so amazing, that you do not know where he is from, yet he opened my eyes."
- John 9:30
This Sunday's Gospel reading is the account of Jesus curing the blind man. Jesus spits on the ground to make clay, rubs the clay on the man's eyes, and tells him to go and wash. When he does this, he can see.

There are two very different reactions to this. The blind man - now no longer blind - immediately understands where Jesus' power comes from, and becomes a believer. His eyes have been opened in more ways than one. The religious authorities on the other hand, refuse to believe, despite the evidence in front of their eyes, as well as the testimony of the man's parents. The authorities are more bothered by the fact that the man was healed on the sabbath than the fact that he was healed. Despite the miracle that Jesus has performed, they cannot see who He is, where He is from. They remain blind.

Are we more often like the blind man, or the authorities? Do we allow our faith to open our eyes, or do we get caught up in irrelevant issues that keep us blind? Pray for wisdom to recognize what is really important. Pray for faith to believe in Jesus' words. And pray for courage and strength to open your eyes.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound.
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found.
Was blind but now I see.