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Showing posts with the label Jesus Asks

Is Jesus a Judge and Arbitrator?

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In today’s Gospel reading, we read about the rich man and the bountiful harvest. The parable stems from a request, by a follower, asking Jesus to tell his brother to share an inheritance with him. Jesus retorts, “Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?” (Luke 12:14). Jesus asks this question because He does not want to get in the middle of the squabble between the follower and his brother. Yet, Jesus never misses an opportunity to take such squabbles and turn them into a teaching moment. Ultimately, we all know that one day we will stand before Jesus, our Judge. In this life, we constantly ask Jesus to intervene in our affairs and arbitrate on our behalf. Therefore, we could all easily see Jesus as our judge and arbitrator. But, on this occasion, Jesus teaches us a different lesson. Judge and Arbitrator, or Savior and Redeemer? Life, a gift from God, is not an accumulation of possessions, but rather an accumulation of what matters to God. What we try to cling to in this…

Find Courage to Face Fear

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Fear does NOT come from God. Let’s make that clear, right up front. “God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control” (2 Tim 1:7). When we become afraid of something, it is because we lack trust in God; we feel alone and on our own. Throughout the Bible, God assures us that we need not be afraid. We can find courage in God’s own words and promises: Fear not, I am with you; be not dismayed; I am your God. I will strengthen you, and help you, and uphold you with my right hand of justice (Is 41:10). Find Courage to Face Fear When we find the courage to face fear, we can act upon our beliefs, regardless of persecution or criticism, because we know the Truth (God). We find that courage, by placing our trust in God. We, then, align our wills with God’s Will, with the goal of adhering to God’s Will in all things. God doesn’t want us to worry, or fear. So, we need to leave our worries and fears at the foot of His altar. In the Gospel of Matthew, chapter …

Feast of Saint Martha

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Today is the Feast of Saint Martha, sister of Lazarus and Mary, and friend of Jesus. Martha always gets compared to her sister, Mary, for Martha was the diligent sister who attended to the household chores. Mary, on the other hand, cast those chores aside to sit at the feet of Jesus, whenever He spoke. From today’s passage, however, both women cast aside their chores to grieve the death of their brother, Lazarus. When Jesus arrives to visit with Martha and Mary, Jesus conducts an interchange with Martha that should enlighten the faith within us all. Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise.” Martha said to him, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:23-26). Saint Martha and the Testimony of Faith On the heels of this major declaration, Jesus asks this piercing question: “Do you believe this?” (John…

Are You True Prophets of Christ? Or False Prophets?

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The quality of your deeds determines the goodness of the fruit that you produce for Christ. In today’s Gospel from Matt 7:15-20, we hear Jesus ask a tongue-in-cheek question. “Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles” (Matt 7:16)? With this question, Jesus is warning us to be on watch for false prophets. How might we identify false prophets? We will know by their deeds, because good fruit cannot be borne from bad acts. Good fruit can only come from a good source. That is why grapes do not come from thornbushes. They come from the vine. Figs, associated with prosperity, well being and security (all good things) come from a fig tree; not a thistle. Both grape vines and fig trees require care, time and attention, as do our souls.  If we are to produce good fruit, as true prophets of Christ, then our words and deeds must be good. Jesus Asks if You are True Prophets of Christ If Jesus stood in front of you today and asked you if you produced good fruit, and thus would …

Jesus Asks: What is Your Name?

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In today’s Gospel from Mark, (Mark 5:1-20), I pondered why Jesus asked the demon, “What is your name?” (Mark 5:9). Why would Jesus ask such a question, when Jesus, as God, knows everything? And the demons know Jesus’ true identity! Well, what Jesus is really doing here, by asking the demon for his name, is turning the tables on the demon, “thus gaining power over the demon possessing the man.”1  The demon must respond to Jesus’ inquiry, because He must respond to God. By doing so, the demon reveals his name. Jesus doesn’t need to do the same in return, because He is God. Thus, Jesus exerts His power over the demon. This encounter from today’s Gospel reminds me of an incident that occurred to me, several years ago. At one Saturday evening Mass, I watched people as they received Communion. I saw a man place the consecrated host in his pocket and start walking for the door. As a trained Eucharistic minister, I knew what he did was wrong, because we are expected to consume the host immed…

The Importance of Fasting

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In today’s Gospel, from Mark 2:18-22, we see Jesus ask the people, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them” (Mark 2:19)?  He asks this question in response to an inquiry about why Jesus’ disciples are not conducting the proper fast. This question has many layers of understanding behind it. So, let’s first set the stage with some proper background information. This will help us better understand where this question stems from, and why fasting is important. In typical Jewish tradition, the Jews fasted on the Day of Atonement, asking forgiveness of sins. They would do this because they knew that sin separates us from God. Fasting reminds us of our need for food and for God, who provides all, to meet our needs. Thus, fasting brings us in touch with our need for God, who not only provides, but forgives our sins. What is Jesus Asking/Stating? Now, to understand Jesus’ question, we need to peel away the layers of the onion, so to speak... Read more...

Jesus Asks: What are You Thinking in Your Hearts?

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In Luke 5:22, Jesus asks the Pharisees, “What are you thinking in your hearts?” It is a rhetorical question, as Jesus knew quite well what the Pharisees were thinking; what the Pharisees believed. It is here, in the Gospel of Luke where we read of the historical event of Jesus physically healing the paralytic, and spiritually healing his friends. The room, in which Jesus was teaching, was so crowded that the paralytic’s friends could not get him inside. Yet, they knew that if they could somehow get their paralytic friend in front of Jesus that Jesus would heal him. Their faith in Jesus was great. So, the friends dropped the man into the room from the roof! “When He saw their faith, He said, ‘As for you, your sins are forgiven’”(Luke 5:20). Jesus knew that the Pharisees did not recognize Jesus as God, and that they believed only God can forgive sins. But, for the friends and the paralytic, they knew otherwise... Read more...

What Do You Want Jesus to Do For You?

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In today’s Gospel, we hear from the blind beggar, who begs Jesus to hear his plea. Jesus asks in response: What do you want me to do for you? (Luke 18:41) The beggar asks Jesus to cure him of his blindness. Jesus responds, “have sight; your faith has saved you” (Luke 18:42). So, the blind man now sees, and he sees through the eyes of faith. It is because of the man’s faith that he not only sees physically, but he also comes to understand spiritually that Jesus is Our Savior and Redeemer. Jesus Asks You This Question, Too! This is a hefty question to consider. If Jesus sat across from you today, and asked you the same question, how would you respond? Would you ask for money, power and/or fame? Would you want Him to solve your transient problems of the day? Perhaps you would ask for a physical cure of your own illness. Or maybe you would seek understanding, wisdom and knowledge of God. Whatever your need, God is ready to listen. However, I think... read more...

Do You Remember to Thank Jesus Daily?

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In today’s Gospel, we hear the parable of the ten lepers. Of the ten, only one Samaritan leper came back to thank Jesus for curing him. Jesus’ response was rather frank, and in the form of a series of questions: Ten were cleansed, were they not?Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God? (Luke 17:17-18) So, I’ll get right to the point, on this post. Are you more like the nine who failed to return to give thanks? Or, are you more like the one Samaritan leper because you thank Jesus routinely for His blessings? Maybe, you are somewhere along the spectrum between these two extremes. Thank Jesus Today Everything good that we have comes from God; from the... Read more...

Jesus' Mercy Abounds - Even on the Sabbath

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In today’s Gospel from Luke 13:10-17, we see Jesus confronting synagogue leaders. They accuse Jesus of curing the sick on the Sabbath, as if that was a bad thing. Why? Because the leaders of the synagogue believe that such activity constitutes work, and work was forbidden on the Sabbath. Therefore, they think Jesus violated Jewish law. They did not correlate Jesus’ action to Jesus’ mercy. Jesus’ Mercy Abounds With great hindsight, and two thousand years of scriptural interpretation, we can look at this passage, and quickly come to judgment that the synagogue leaders were wrong in their thought process. The mercy that Jesus bestowed upon the woman that day was an act of love for neighbor on Jesus’ part. Through Jesus’ teachings, we have been trained to “love our neighbor” and to perform acts of charity. In today’s Gospel passage Jesus teaches us how to treat others. In verses 15-16 Jesus attempts to address the synagogue leader’s concerns by asking: Does not each one of you on the sabb…

Jesus Asks: Are You the Faithful and Prudent Steward?

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In today’s Gospel, from Luke 12:39-48, we learn of the parable of the faithful and prudent steward. When the master is away, some stewards fulfill their responsibilities. The master deems such people as trustworthy and capable of performing more important tasks. Other servants use the opportunity to take advantage of their positions and treat the staff cruelly. We can apply this parable to how we act in the workplace when the boss is away on business. How trustworthy are we to faithfully fulfill our responsibilities? If Jesus were standing in front of you now, would He be able to declare you as a faithful and prudent steward of the gifts He has given to you? He has blessed you with prudence, courtesy, kindness and many other virtues. Do you make use of these gifts by always treating others fairly? Even when the boss is away? Or do you place little value on what God has blessed you with to do your job? Instead, you deem it too burdensome to care for, and cultivate God’s gifts. Being d…

You are Not the Sum of Your Possessions

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We have all asked that proverbial question: Who am I? The answer can be telling. Do we describe ourselves by our profession (doctor, lawyer, banker, professor, etc.)? Perhaps we describe ourselves by our possessions, or lack thereof (rich, poor, educated, uneducated, etc.). Or, might we describe ourselves as a child of God, a loving spouse and parent, etc.? The answer you give to this question, and the basis upon which you draw your answer, shines a light on what you value. In today’s Gospel from Luke 12:13-21, Jesus wants to impart upon those listening that it is not the sum of your possessions that matter, but whether you value what matters to God. Read more...

Jesus Asks: What is Written in the Law?

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In today’s Gospel, Jesus gives us an oral exam. Specifically, Jesus asks, “What is written in the law?How do you read it?” (Luke 10:26) This is in response to a man asking Jesus what is necessary to gain entry to heaven. The man responds correctly, by noting that he is to love God with his whole heart, and to love his neighbor as himself. Yet, the man asks for clarification on the definition of “neighbor.” Jesus responds with the parable about the Good Samaritan. In this story Jesus comments on two people who avoid helping an injured man on the side of the road, as they do not want to violate Jewish law, by touching his blood, for that would make them unclean. Finally, the Samaritan offers compassion and assistance to the injured man. Jesus then asks, Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robber’s victim? (Luke 10: 36) This is another instance where Jesus reinforces the fact that man was not created to serve the law. Rather, the law was created to serve man. Jesus…

To What Shall I Compare the People of This Generation?

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In today’s Gospel, Jesus asks “to what shall I compare the people of this generation” (Luke 7:31)? Jesus compares the people of His time to John the Baptist, considering John to be the greatest of the prophets on earth, with the caveat that the least in the Kingdom of God is greater than John the Baptist. Something to think about! Remember, at this moment in time, Jesus had not yet opened the gates of Heaven. That would not happen until after Jesus died on the cross, and prior to the Resurrection. So, who were the members of the Kingdom of God at that moment? The Father Almighty, the Son, the Holy Spirit and the angels, were the only members. John the Baptist represents the greatest of the Old Testament prophets, and Jesus represents the greatest of the New Testament, as He is God. It is at Jesus’ Baptism, that Jesus ushers in his ministry and brings the Kingdom of God to earth. Thus, now allowing us to participate in the Kingdom of God. Every time we attend Mass, God invites us to p…

Is It Lawful to Do Good on the Sabbath?

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In today’s Gospel, Jesus asks. “is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than destroy it” (Luke 6:9)?  In the Theology course that I teach, on the Fundamentals of Catholic Moral Theology, I specifically address this question with my students. The scenario goes something like this: A doctor and her family are on their way to Sunday Mass when they come upon a serious car accident. The doctor stopped her car to give comfort and aid to the victims of the crash, until the paramedics arrived. As a result, she and her family missed the last Mass of the day. What I ask of my students is to tell me whether missing Mass is a sin, in this case. What do you think is the correct answer? Do Good in the Spirit of the Law In today’s passage from Luke, Jesus is asking a similar question of the Pharisees. In Jesus’ questioning, He debates the Pharisees on the strictness of the law, versus the spirit of the law. What Jesus tried to convey is... Read more... 

Jesus Asks: Are You a Hypocrite?

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Today’s Gospel reading comes from Matt 23:13-22. In this very cryptic passage, Jesus asks a couple of piercing questions: Blind fools, which is greater, the gold, or the temple that made the gold sacred? Matt 23:17You blind ones, which is greater, the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? Matt 23:19 Jesus asks these questions because He is not happy with the actions of the Scribes and the Pharisees. He sees them as hypocrites, as they do not “walk the talk.” Their actions differ from their speech. The Scribes and Pharisees speak of the promotion of piety, but do not act pious. They believe their words alone will suffice in garnering the desired prestige of the community. Their intentions are corrupt; thereby making their actions immoral. In this passage, Jesus points out that the source of all goodness comes from God, not from man’s piety. Jesus uses the metaphor of the temple being more sacred than the gold within the temple. He reinforces His argument, by noting that it is …

Jesus Asks: What Do You Wish?

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In today’s Gospel, Jesus asks the mother of James and John, what do you wish (Matt: 20:21)? Their mother asks Jesus to allow her sons to sit on Jesus’ right and left in the Kingdom of Heaven. This mother has a lot of moxie! In response, Jesus asks an additional question, directed at James and John: “Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink” (Matt 20:22)? What do you wish? I find the question, what do you wish, to be quite intriguing. If Jesus were sitting at a table across from you right now, and asked you that very question, how would you answer? Some of you might respond by requesting material comfort, in the form of money and a cushy lifestyle.Perhaps you might request power to rule over others.Maybe you seek fame. My hope is that you would dispense with these types of requests, and you might ask for any of the following: Read more...

What Kind of Fruit Do You Produce?

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In the early Church, those who spoke in the name of the Lord were considered prophets. It was important for the early Christians to discern between true and false prophets. In today’s Gospel, from Matt 7:15-20, Matthew writes about false prophets. He uses the analogy of trees that bear good fruit (true prophets) versus those trees that bear bad fruit (false prophets). The analogy is meant to correlate to the works of those who speak on behalf of the Church. Some of those who spoke were false prophets, evidenced by their bad deeds. With bad intentions, these false prophets produced bad fruit. Whereas, the Apostles and their disciples, who remained true to the teachings of Christ, produced good fruit via their good deeds. In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus asks a rhetorical question: “Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?” (Matt 7:16). Jesus’ question is more of a statement. He tells us that people know the difference between good and evil. People know where to …

Do You Not See Your Own Sin?

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How easy it is to judge others! How much more difficult is it to be honest with ourselves! In today’s Gospel we hear Jesus ask, yet again, another “pointed” question Matt 7:3-4. Jesus quickly points out that we fail to see our own sin. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye? We are so quick to point out the faults of others; to admonish the sinner, under the guise of a spiritual work of mercy. Yet, we fail to see our own sins; let alone do anything about them. Rather than looking to find fault with others, we need to look inward and take stock of our own sins. Judging others is God’s business and none of our business. Only God can judge others, because only He can read every human heart and know the true intention for one’s actions. Do you not see your own sin? If you want to judge someone, then the only …

How Well Do You Know Scripture?

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Jesus speaks to us today through scripture. In today’s Gospel from Mark, Jesus addresses the Sadducees on the concept of the Resurrection. This is because the Sadducees did not believe in an afterlife. The question originates on the basis of Jewish law. You see, when one brother dies, the next in line is expected to take the widow as his wife. This is for two reasons. 1) so that the widow would be cared for, as she was not allowed to earn a living on her own, and 2) for the procreation of the Jewish population. The Sadducees questioned Jesus, wanting to know whose wife would the woman be at this supposed Resurrection. Jesus, being God, and filled with all Wisdom, responded with a question of His own: Are you not misled because you do not know the scriptures or the power of God? (Mark 12:24). Using this question, Jesus segues into a revelation of what life will be like at the resurrection of our own bodies, where we will be like angels. The concept of marriage will no longer exist. But…