Lenten Reflection Day 41 Holy Week: Isaiah 42:1

Listen to the audio version here: https://anchor.fm/simplediakonia/episodes/Lenten-Reflection-Day-41-Holy-Week-Isaiah-421-ets6hq

“Here is my servant whom I uphold,

my chosen one with whom I am pleased.” (Isaiah 42:1)

Reflection

What is Holy Week?

Holy Week affirms obedience to the Father.

Holy Week fulfills God’s promise of salvation.

Holy Week models the perfect sacrifice of service.

Holy Week unites our human suffering with the divine.

Holy Week gathers the lost and the scattered sheep.

Holy Week celebrates victory over sin and death.

Holy Week is Jesus, and in him, Holy Week is us.

Today’s Intention

O God, may we too be pleasing to you this Holy Week and always.

Peace and Goodness

Lenten Reflection Day 40: Mark 11:8

Listen to the audio version here: https://anchor.fm/simplediakonia/episodes/Lenten-Reflection-Day-40-Mark-118-etmf4l

“Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields.” (Mark 11:8)

Reflection

Did you hear? The Messiah has entered Jerusalem.

Come, let us honor him. Bring your palm leaves.

Let us shout: “Jesus Christ is Lord!”

Did you hear? A woman poured perfumed oil on Jesus’ head.

Together with his disciples, Jesus broke bread.

What can we do to prepare him for his death?

Did you hear? One of his disciples betrayed Jesus; another one denied him.

He rests crucified now. He has died so that we may live.

Come, let us join Mary and John at the foot of the cross.

Today’s Intention

Thank you, Lord, for humbling yourself; for sharing our humanity so that we may share your divinity. Following your Father’s will, may the Holy Spirit fills us with a sense of mystery, worship, and prayer this Holy Week.

Peace and Goodness

Lenten Reflection Day 32: John 7:46

Listen to the audio version here: https://anchor.fm/simplediakonia/episodes/Lenten-Reflection-Day-32-John-746-et39fj

“Never before has anyone spoken like this one.” (John 7:46)

Reflection:

Lent is the season of hope. When someone touches our hearts as never before, we see in them hope. Unfortunately, at times, we misplace our hope.

The chief priests and the Pharisees placed their hope in the laws, but Jesus in his Father. Their expectations produced different results. Hope in the rules harvested fear, betrayal, and death. Hope in the Father conceived faithfulness, forgiveness, and salvation. In who we place our hope determinates our fate.

Today’s Intention:

Lord, your triumphant 40-day journey in the desert gives us hope. Please continue to walk with us so that we, too, can complete our Lenten journey with the same determination.

Peace and Goodness

To Not Lower Our Spirituality Standards

Homily: Feb 16, 2020

Readings: Sir 15:15-20; PS 119:1-2, 4-5, 17-18, 33-34; 1 Cor 2:6-10; MT 5: 17-37

Opening Prayer: Jesus, you died for us sinners, because we are Your Father’s beloved children. Thanks for the opportunity to worship you this day. Send the Holy Spirit to open our fragile hearts and minds to God’s desire for us today: “To not lower our spirituality standards.”

My wife knows that when it comes to buying things, I have two standards: well-made and practical. For example, I drive a 165K miles 2003 vehicle. I like driving it because it meets those standards. Most of you are probably in my camp when it comes to having standards when buying things, right? We want to buy things that last and serve us well. When it comes to our spirituality, God wants our spirituality to last and serves us well too. His desire for us is not to lower our spirituality standards.

When guided by the Holy Spirit, our spirituality is discernment in action, shining with high standards. When in communion with the Holy Spirit, we develop the wisdom that helps us understand God’s spirituality standards for us, which is to obey His law. Armed with this knowledge, we recognize that “to none does he give license to sin.[1] Instead, through His Son, Jesus Christ, He commands us to keep the commandments: to love God above all and to love our brothers and sisters as we love ourselves. Then, he reaffirms that the whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.[2]

On the other hand, when we lack the guidance of the Spirit, as in the case of the scribes and the Pharisees, our spirituality standards become flawed. As the Apostle Paul tells us: “if they have known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory…. For the Spirit scrutinizes everything”[3] Moreover, when the Holy Spirit guides our spirituality, we receive the gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, courage, knowledge, reverence, and respect of the Lord. Those gifts help us discern our Father’s will: not to lower our spirituality standards.

Children have a prominent presence in the Gospels. In Matthews 18:2-3, Jesus says: “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” When we obey God’s commands, we humble ourselves like a child.  Children obey and trust their loving parents because they know parents want the best for them. This reminds me of a children story I read recently,

Once upon a time, in a small country, people decided to investigate what it was that parents liked the most. A competition was organized. It would use the latest invention of a famed local professor, the Gladometer.

The Gladometer was the only contraption ever built, capable of measuring joy and happiness.

So, one by one, the children demonstrated their talents to their parents. And the Gladometer measured their parents’ reactions.
One boy turned up with a trained pig; the pig sang and danced. A girl came and played the violin like an angel, and an intelligent boy came and read his very big book. The parent’s happiness was plain to see.

Finally, a boy came to the Gladometer carrying nothing. Nor did he know how to do anything. When the organizers asked him what he was going to do, he said: “I am very obedient.”

This said the machine measured such a high reading that it began to vibrate violently, and finally exploded. The boy who had done nothing won all the prizes that day, for solving the mystery of what pleases parents the most.[4]

God wants our highest spirituality standard to be obedient.  When we are obedient, we follow Jesus’ words in the Gospel of John: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”[5] That is the example Jesus gave us as he agonized in the garden: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.”[6] Jesus had the opportunity to lower his standards, but he chose to love his Father by following His commandments. Then, Christ commands us to do likewise: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”[7]. If that was unclear, he said: “For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.”[8]

God knows, however, that we are broken by nature, and when left to our own devices, we may lower our spirituality standards. To assist us, He provides a set of commandments for us to use as guiding posts in our lives.  The commandments tell us how to worship and praise God, how to behave with our parents, with each other’s, and in our community. When we follow the commandments, we fulfill God’s desire for us today: to not lower our spirituality standards.

Let us pray: Lord, thank you for your incomprehensible love. We want to be your obedient servants; to not lower our spirituality standards. However, we cannot do it alone because we are weak and sinful. Send Your Holy Spirit to give us wisdom and fortitude. May our prayers of praise rise to you like incense. May the body and blood of your Son, Jesus Christ, which we will receive shortly, remove any darkness preventing us from following your commandments. May we always live in communion with the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

[1] Sirach 15:20

[2] Matthew 22:40

[3] 1 Corinthians 2:

[4] https://freestoriesforkids.com/audiostories/american-english/proudest-parents-short-audio-story-narrated-american-english

[5] John 14:15

[6] Luke 22:42

[7] Matthew 7;21

[8] Matthew 12:50