To touch Christ

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against things like this. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified self with its passions and its desires. ~Galatians 5:22-24 (CEB)

“I’ll never forget during the Bangladesh suffering: we had ten million people in and around Calcutta.

I asked the government of India to allow a number of other congregations to come to our aid, to help us, because we were working the whole time.

They allowed them to come” about fifteen or sixteen different sisters came to help us, and each one, on leaving Calcutta, said the same things, “I have received much more than I have given and I can never be the same person again; because I have touched Christ, I have understood what love is. What it is to love and to be loved!” ~From My Life for the Poor by Mother Teresa

Almighty God, grant that I may this day present my body as a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to you. By the power of Your holy spirit make me strong to fulfill my ministry this day. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Love each other

“As the Father loved me, I too have loved you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy will be in you and your joy will be complete. This is my commandment: love each other just as I have loved you. ~John 15:9-12 (CEB)

“Giving needs not be confined to money or material gifts, but I would like more people to give their hands to serve and their hearts to love- to recognize the poor in their own homes, towns and countries, and to reach out to them in love and compassion.” ~From My Life for the Poor by Mother Teresa

Almighty God, You have called the church into being and have gathered us into one family. By the power of Your Holy Spirit help us to live in unity and peace with all of Your children. May my actions this day be fruit of my faith in Your kingdom. In the name of Christ. Amen.

Love makes the difference

When they finished eating, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

Simon replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.”

Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” Jesus asked a second time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Simon replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you.”

Jesus said to him, “Take care of my sheep.”  He asked a third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was sad that Jesus asked him a third time, “Do you love me?” He replied, “Lord, you know everything; you know I love you.”

Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” ~John 21:15-17 (CEB)

“As I drove up the driveway, our children raced out the front door and met me at the car. Before I could bet my suitcase out of the car, they were telling me about Puddles, the dog that had followed them home from the little store a few blocks away. We had talked nearly every day about the dog we were going to get when we were able to move into the country. Everyone wanted a big dog like a Dalmatian or a black Labrador. But as I got out of the car I noticed a dog that was small and scraggly, of mixed origin, very soon to be a mother, and yet very personable. The chorus of affirmation for the dog from our children was compelling. But I gave no clear answer to their question, “Can we keep Puddles?” I did not want to adopt a dog like this, and I knew I had to move quickly to make sure we did not have a dog and a littler of puppies on our hands.

I suggested that after our evening meal and our shores were completed we would talk about what to do with the dog. Later, when we were all settled down in the family room, and with the dog in the garage, I asked each of the children to tell me why he or she thought we should keep Puddles when we could get a beautiful and large dog. Each of them had a good reason. She needed a home. We would enjoy the puppies. She would be a watchdog. Last I turned to our eight-year-old son and asked him what we should do with the dog and why. His eyes filled with tears and he said, “We should keep her.” I asked him for his reason why we should keep this scraggly dog. He responded through his tears, “Because she loves me.” We kept Puddles. She was with us while our children grew up and when they called home form college and career, their first question was always, “How is Puddles?” She lived with us seventeen years because one little boy lover her enough to save her.

Jesus knew that only love was strong enough to keep the disciples faithful in the days ahead. His repeated questions to Pete were meant to clarify for Peter what the real love of his life was. Only love is strong enough to keep us faithful and the question or qualification is first of all about our love. For God knows what we know: Only love is strong enough to keep us faithful . . . and joyful. May our love for God continue to grow in the presence of God’s love for us.” ~From A Guide to Prayer For All Who Seek God, Rueben P. Job

Almighty God, I thank You for loving me so much. Thank You for the adoption into Your eternal family. May the gratitude I feel for Your love strengthen me as I go about Your will for my life. In this time of prayer, come to me. Speak words of life and love into the depths of my being. May I feel Your presence this day, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Real freedom

One day Jesus was standing beside Lake Gennesaret when the crowd pressed in around him to hear God’s word. Jesus saw two boats sitting by the lake. The fishermen had gone ashore and were washing their nets. Jesus boarded one of the boats, the one that belonged to Simon, then asked him to row out a little distance from the shore. Jesus sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. When he finished speaking to the crowds, he said to Simon, “Row out farther, into the deep water, and drop your nets for a catch.”

Simon replied, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and caught nothing. But because you say so, I’ll drop the nets.”

So they dropped the nets and their catch was so huge that their nets were splitting. They signaled for their partners in the other boat to come and help them. They filled both boats so full that they were about to sink. When Simon Peter saw the catch, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Leave me, Lord, for I’m a sinner!” Peter and those with him were overcome with amazement because of the number of fish they caught. James and John, Zebedee’s sons, were Simon’s partners and they were amazed too.

Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid. From now on, you will be fishing for people.” As soon as they brought the boats to the shore, they left everything and followed Jesus. ~Luke 5:1-11 (CEB)

“We need to look for what we dismiss and what we disdain. Look at what we’ve spent our whole life avoiding. We don’t want to look unsuccessful. That’s our shadow. I can see why my father, Francis, intentionally countered the way the West was moving. He moved entirely into the shadow self and said, ‘Here is where I will rejoice.’ I will delight in nonpower, nonaggression, nondomination, nonpleasure, nonwealth and nonsuccess. He lived so close to the bottom of things that he could never fall very far. Now that is freedom! ~From Everything Belongs by Richard Rohr

Almighty God, as You have sent Jesus to be for me the light and truth, send now Your spirit upon me to grant me grace and strength to follow in His footsteps this day. Amen.

Freedom of the soul

Brothers and sisters, I want you to know that the things that have happened to me have actually advanced the gospel. The whole Praetorian Guard and everyone else knows that I’m in prison for Christ. Most of the brothers and sisters have had more confidence through the Lord to speak the word boldly and bravely because of my jail time ~Phil. 1:12-14 (CEB)

“We are desperately afraid of having no power. We fear loneliness, poverty and boredom. We fear failure terribly.

Nonviolence, nonpleasure, nonaggression are also part of our American shadow. These are the things that we avoid to create our character armor. We lust after the kind of aggression that allows us to be dominant, to be powerful. We settle for a certain kind of pleasure that really isn’t joyous. Sometimes pleasure, as a limited [secularized sacred] experience, is the avoidance of joy. It is to entertain one part of our body, perhaps, but at the price of the inner glow and juice of our whole being. Poverty is the ultimate shadow for many of us. We cannot imagine being happy without our money. We would be petrified to be without our many options. We’ve substituted freedom of choice for the freedom of the soul which alone gives spiritual joy.” ~From Everything Belongs by Richard Rohr

Almighty God, may Your strong hand defend, guide, and empower me along my journey today. Help me to overcome the darkness with Your light, my selfishness with Your love and my indolence and cowardice with Your steadfast devotion that I may ever live in Your presence and perform faithfully over my appointed tasks, and finally come to everlasting life; through the Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

Bushes aflame

“Therefore, don’t be afraid of those people because nothing is hidden that won’t be revealed, and nothing secret that won’t be brought out into the open. What I say to you in the darkness, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, announce from the rooftops. Don’t be afraid of those who kill the body but can’t kill the soul. Instead, be afraid of the one who can destroy both body and soul in hell. Aren’t two sparrows sold for a small coin? But not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father knowing about it already. Even the hairs of your head are all counted. Don’t be afraid. You are worth more than many sparrows. ~Matt 10:26-31 (CEB)

“Two years ago I faced the crisis of cancer. The dreaded disease, which had already taken the life of two close friends and relatives and invaded two others, now attacked me. In stark moments of confrontation with the truth, we can never predict our own response. At first I fell into a black hole, defeated. Then I swam in a sea of surrounding realities: my connectedness to others, my faith in the immensity of life, a strength whose source I simply accepted. In time my feelings roamed the spectrum of fear and despair. My body endangered by mortal enemy. My life thrown into turmoil and my future made uncertain. My total helplessness in the face of a silent, aggressive foe.

My recovery was quick, my prognosis good, my basic attitude healthy. I was immersed in understanding and love. My pain was borne by others and in that sharing there was comfort and hope. Before long I was engaged in all my normal activities. But ‘normal’ has become a meaningless word. Health has become a relative experience. Time is etched with urgency. Life, which I too am prone to take for granted, has assumed a precious value. People and the time spent with them are treasures, not to be calculated, and not to be abused.” ~From Every Bush is Burning by Joan Puls

Almighty God, through the power of your Holy Spirit you enable us to do and be more than we can think or imagine. I thank You for community through which You have shown me Your love in my helpless moments. Come now, dwell within me, and make me strong to do Your work and will. Through Christ my Lord. Amen.

The greates gift

 

After these events, the LORD’s word came to Abram in a vision, “Don’t be afraid, Abram. I am your protector.Your reward will be very great.”

But Abram said, “LORD God, what can you possibly give me, since I still have no children? The head of my household is Eliezer, a man from Damascus.” He continued, “Since you haven’t given me any children, the head of my household will be my heir.”

The LORD’s word came immediately to him, “This man will not be your heir. Your heir will definitely be your very own biological child.” Then he brought Abram outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars if you think you can count them. He continued, “This is how many children you will have.” Abram trusted the LORD, and the LORD recognized Abram’s high moral character. ~Gen. 15:1-6 (CEB)

“The greatest gift I have ever received from Jesus Christ has been the Abba experience. ‘No one knows the Son except the Father, just as no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him’ (Matt. 11:27). My dignity as Abba’s child is my most coherent sense of self. When I seek to fashion a self-image from the adulation of others and the inner voice whisperers, ‘You’ve arrived; you’re a player in the Kingdom enterprise,’ there is no truth in that self-concept. When I sink into despondency and the inner voice whispers, ‘You are no good, a fraud, a hypocrite and a dilettante,’ there is no truth in any image shaped from that message. ~From Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning

Lord God, in whom I find life, health, and strength, through whose gifts I am clothes and fed, through whose mercy I have been forgiven and cleansed, be for me guide, strength, Savior, and Lord all the days of my life. I offer my prayers through Christ. Amen.

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