One-Minute Reflection: Romans 14:19 (30 days of prayer for unity #4)

Listen to the most recent episode of my podcast: One-Minute Reflection on Romans 14:19 (30-Days of Prayer for Unity #4) https://anchor.fm/simplediakonia/episodes/One-Minute-Reflection-on-Romans-1419-30-Days-of-Prayer-for-Unity-4-epd7vs

“Let us then pursue what leads to peace and to building up one another.” Romans 14: 19

Reflection:

Peace and building one another are foundations that support the bridge of unity. A bridge designed by God, built by Jesus, and operated by the Holy Spirit.

As children of God, we are the laborers responsible for the maintenance of the bridge of unity. We form the rebar system that reinforces it against the forces of division. We are its guardians, protecting it against sabotage.

Today’s Intention:

O Lord, may we live up to our duty as laborers and guardians of the bridge of unity.

We Always Come First

When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns.
When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick.” (Matthew 14:13)

How would have you reacted if, in the moment of mourning a friend, people interrupted you so they could be healed? Many of us would have asked for privacy or maybe we would have been too sad to help others, or maybe we would have been angry by people’s lack of consideration. I think we would have been understanding of Jesus if he felt those emotions. We can see from his actions that his love is not like our love. We always come first and nothing can separate us from this love, not even John’s murder. That’s the message of today’s gospel (Matthew 14:13-21).

As the Apostle Paul explains in the epistle to the Romans: “What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us” (Romans 8:35). Jesus will always be there for us. As is it written in today’s Psalm “The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs” (Psalm 145:cf.16).

The depths of Jesus’ love for us are unknown. The Prophet Isaiah alludes to this when he says: “All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; Come, without paying and without cost” (Isaiah 55:1). These are not empty words. As we experience in today’s gospel, these words are fulfilled in the miracle of the loaves bread and fish.

We must be careful, however, not to misconstrue Christ’s love for us as a cheap commodity that we can buy and throw away. Yes, his love is there for the taking, but we must do our part to justify it. What may that be? “Heed me, and you shall eat well, you shall delight in rich fare. Come to me heedfully, listen, that you may have life” (Isaiah 55:2-3) God does not force himself on us, we must heed his words to receive his love.

 

— God, I give my heart to you this day; may you will it to please you.–

 

Our Guide to Living in Christ

This week, one of the scriptures that stuck with me was Romans 12: 5-15AB. I love this scripture because it shows me how to live in Christ. It is simply written, yet to accomplish it is a lifetime journey full of failures and successes; a journey impossible to complete without perseverance, forgiveness, and God’s grace.

  • “So we, though many, are one Body in Christ and individually parts of one another.” – We are all together in this. We make the body of Christ. What affects one person affects all of us. Moreover, for better or worse, our actions impact the Church, which is Christ.
  • “Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them.” – We are all unique adopted children of God. We are all blessed with gifts. These were entrusted to us to be used wisely; not for selfish use, but for the benefits of all.
  • “Let love be sincere; hate what is evil; hold on to what is good.” – If every action we take starts we love, we can’t go wrong no matter the result.
  • “Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.” – Let’s be passionate in our faith; by doing so, we are passionate about the Lord and thus life.
  • “Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer.” – This to me is the definition of Faith.
  • “Contribute to the needs of the holy ones, exercise hospitality.” – Holy people live simple lives; their gifts is to serve the Lord about all else. They are rich is love and compassion but poor in worldly possessions. We should contribute to them with prayers, acceptance, and financial support.
  • “Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse them.” – This one is a true test of our Christianity; one that most of all will fail more often than not.
  • “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” – Empathy goes a long way to build each other up.
  • “Have  the same regard for one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly.” – It is the poor, the afflicted, and the needy who God wants us to associate with. They humble and save us.

May God bless you. Happy Saturday!!!

© hectorortiz 2013. All rights reserved.

Do not Worry! Riiiiiiiight…

Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.” (Matthew 6:34)

Do not worry about tomorrow!? Wow! That’s a juicy one for me; easier said than done. Worry has been a constant companion of mine. Sometimes, her presence is more present than others, but she is never too far away. Sometime I overcome my worries and sometimes they overcome me. So many things to worry about: What do people think about me?  How do I look? Do I have enough money, power, prestige? Am I making the right decisions? How is my English or my writing? Would I be able to support my family emotionally and financially? Am I Christian enough? Am I a good co-worker, father, or husband? How do I get what I need or want? Why are my wife and children this and that? The list goes on…

What leads to worry? Fear! When we are afraid we worry. Father Anthony De Mello, in his best-selling book Awareness, beautifully wrote the following about fear “It’s not that we fear the unknown. You cannot fear something that you don’t know. Nobody is afraid of the unknown. What you really fear is the loss of the known. That’s what you fear. Fear to lose something.” What are we afraid of losing – our pride, vanity, honor, power, wealth, reassure, affection, safety, loved ones, friendships, employment, etc.?

Worries in themselves are not terrible; they are part of our self-defense and survival kit; they can be a source of strength when facing uncertainty or difficult situations. However, when we let them control us or when they are misdirected, they could lead us to suffering; they become heavy emotional loads that hold us in bondage and harm others.

Fortunately for us, we have God by our side. God does not promise a worry-free existence. Life is full of misfortunes, successes, opportunities, and challenges; worries are part of being in this world. However, if we ask, God can give us strength, perseverance, consolation, and joy to live a life filled with light instead of fear.

When we surrender to God’s will, he shines his light on our darkness; If we do not surrender, “the path of the just is like shining light, that grows in brilliance till perfect day. The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know on what they stumble.” (Proverbs 4:18:19). Moreover, when we walk in the light, we become God’s light to the world: “You are the light of the world…your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father…you are a guide for the blind and a light for those in darkness” (Matthew 5:14, 16; Romans 2:19).  When we offer up our worries to him and go about our life without grumbling or questioning, we are like “blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom  you shine as lights in the world.” (Philippians 2:15)

Worries have always been a “thorn on my side.” Like Paul, I have asked the Lord to remove it. Conversely, I have been just as unsuccessful. However, I hope like Paul did that the Lord’s “grace is sufficient” for me “for power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12: 8-9).

The next time I am worried, I will make an effort to become aware of her power and the opportunity for spirituality. I will face my fear with courage even if I fail trying. I will pray “teach me, Lord, your way that I may walk in your truth.” (Psalm 86:11). I will remember Christ’s words “Do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil. ” (Matthew 6:31-34)

Acceptance of Divine Will Prayer

May the most just, most lovable, and the most high will of God be done, be fulfilled, be praised and exalted in all things forever.

© hectorortiz 2013. All rights reserved.