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Luke 21:37-22:9- Gandalf and Judas

Glory be to Jesus Christ!

There is a powerful passage from The Lord of the Rings where Frodo, who has been tasked with the mission of delivering the evil Ring to a council, tries to give it to Gandalf. This wise and powerful wizard refuses it however, because he knows its power and his own limits. He knows how much damage the Ring could do through him if he were to use it for evil.

We are given a sobering reminder in our Gospel reading today brothers and sisters. No one is immune to temptation. Judas was called the same way the other disciples were. He as not “above” temptation because of his special relationship with the Lord. When Jesus Himself was tempted we read that “the devil awaited a more opportune time,” and found one through the turning of Judas. Two points need to be understood from our reading:

  1. If Jesus Himself was tempted everyone will be tempted- including you!
  2. Judas’ special relationship with our Lord and his betrayal allowed Jesus to be captured and killed. Those who have been gifted or given responsibility can inflict more damage upon the Body of Christ and so must be even more “on guard” against evil influence and temptation. It is for this reason that St. John Chrysostom states that the road to hell is paved with the vestments of priests and bishops!

Let us be on our guard not to betray Him, and if we slip, let us return to Him as Peter did (who also betrayed Him remember). Our Lord took Judas’ betrayal and used it to save the world through His life saving passion. Let us never doubt either our own ability to sin or our Lord’s ability to save us through our repentance! 

krispy-boot

Luke 21:28-33- Stay Alert

Glory be to Jesus Christ!

Imagine if you had an emergency and you called 911 to get an ambulance to come and get you right away. The operator comes on the phone and asks what you need and you stammer out that you need an ambulance, and she replies with “OK, we’ll get around to it sometime today.”

Complacency can set into any relationship, but it is especially dangerous when it sets in with our relationship with God and our commitment to the mission which He has given us. Christians have been given the life-saving truth of the Gospel and equipped by the Holy Spirit to share this Good News with the world- let’s not fall asleep at the wheel!

Anyone who has spent time around athletes will observe how frequently they change up their training routines. They may have just mastered a particular exercise, but they already move to something a little different. They change it up to keep their bodies alert and awake. How do we keep the eye of souls awake?

  1. Frequent confession: Of all the routines of a Christian, prayer and confession are ones which keep us most awake in this world. Examining ourselves daily and bring it to the Lord keeps us alert!
  2. Change it up- be generous in a situation that is “out of the ordinary.” It is easy to get into a routine, even a good one, but go out of your way to be intentional about giving. It will bring new breath into your walk with the Lord and your neighbors.

Now is the time brothers and sisters, let us not miss our opportunity by going through life half asleep!

Front of Marian Centre

John 1:35-51- Come and See

Glory be to Jesus Christ!

I remember when I was in High School and my youth leader at the time invited me to come to the Marian Centre, a field-house of the Madonna House Apostolate. The Marian Centre is a soup kitchen in the inner city of Edmonton which serves hundreds of homeless men and women every week. It was a truly grace-filled invitation, and one that would help me to come back to my faith after a very rocky undergraduate experience at the UofA. The “offhand” invitation of a Bible Study leader who had experienced the love, faith and reality of the Christian messaged lived out at this Christian community had an impact that he wouldn’t see, but would lead me back to the Lord years later.

“Come and See.” So often today we fall into the misguided assumption that evangelization must require large groups of people to be “effective.” St. Andrew the First-Called evangelized the world through bringing his brother St. Peter to meet Christ. This personal invitation to relationship, this personal invitation to faith still echoes throughout the world.

Today, consider your introductions to the faith. Who encouraged you to come to the Lord? How can you continue to join St. Andrew in introducing others to the lifesaving Person of Christ? How can we encourage those in our families, friends and neighbors to “come and see?”

Through the prayers of St. Andrew the First-Called, Lord Jesus Christ our God have mercy on us!

mother_teresa_in_india

Luke 21: 12-19- Leave the Success to Him

Glory be to Jesus Christ!

How inconvenient does your faith make your life? Every once in a while I’ll turn on the “Christian Music Radio Station” on in the car, but I can only listen for a few minutes. I always feel that they have turned Christ into some sort of “coping mechanism” and it’s such a reduction of the gospel message.

In our reading today our Lord gives His disciples a warning which we all too often forget or ignore: if you will follow Him expect resistance. Persecution is a litmus test for discipleship. And yet, even before we are allowed to worry about, strategist and plan our response, Christ takes that off our plate and simply reminds us to trust Him. 

When St. Teresa of Calcutta was asked how she felt over the fact that there were many more sick and dying people on the streets than there were when she began her ministry, she replied that the Lord asks us to be faithful, not successful.

Today, ask yourself a few questions as we continue our journey through the St. Philip’s Fast:

  1. Do I encounter resistance in my life because of the Gospel? Why or why not?
  2. Where do I attribute success in my life, to God or to my own efforts?

Let us continue to rely on the Lord and leave the success to Him!

canadian-dollar

Luke 20:19-26- Lovingly Minted

Glory be to Jesus Christ!

Do you have a coin collection? My son has a collection of coins from around the world, and also a special collection of coins which were minted in the year he was born. Coins are some of the most interesting artifacts from our current culture and from ancient cultures. The coins of the Roman Empire allowed business and trade to happen across a wide and diverse empire through a common currency.

We read in today’s passage of duplicitous people trying to trap Jesus in His speech. They give Him a question: “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” They think this is a no-win question. Saying “yes” would have convicted Him among his own oppressed Jewish people, but saying “no” would have brought a charge against Him of treason. Our Lord’s amazing answer flips this trial completely around!

You see, brothers and sisters, we have been minted by God. We have been made in His Image and Likeness. We belong to Him on the most fundamental level imaginable! Our life is a life of returning to Him that which He has already given, that which He has already blessed. We remember this especially when we life up our prayers to the Lord during the Liturgy: “We offer to You Yours of Your own in behalf of all and for all.”

Take a few minutes today to contemplate the mystery of the gift of life God has given you. You have been designed and created for a purpose. Your life has inherent dignity and meaning. You have been lovingly minted.

Let us continue to return to “Him who made us” this life, through living for Him today!

grapes

Luke 20:9-18- Mind His Grapes

Glory be to Jesus Christ!

Are you into family histories? It is always interesting seeing family trees, and learning more about our ancestors. What sort of person was my great grandfather? What was life like for my great great aunt? How did she live a “normal day”? These family histories are not simply disjointed recordings of what happened in a time and place far away, but stories of how we have arrived where we are today. Some are lessons to repeat and some are warnings of what to completely reject. As the famous maxim goes “those who are ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it.”

In our reading today, Our Lord gives an overview of the history of His chosen people and their continual refusal to accept Him. Prophets were continually sent and rejected until finally the Son Himself was sent- and rejected. We read today of both tragedy and great honour. A great gift and an incredible responsibility has been given Christians- to cultivate, till and protect the Lord’s vineyard, His Church here on earth.

What does this mean for us here and now. I would suggest a couple of points:

  1. Read the Scriptures. Be familiar with the story, our family story. Only then can we appreciate all that was done and is being done for us. Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ, and without knowing where we have been, we have a very difficult time knowing where we are going.
  2. Consider how your everyday actions affect the vineyard we have been entrusted with. We have received a priceless and eternal gift and responsibility. How are we managing it?

As we continue our pilgrimage to the Nativity of our Lord, let us continue to meet Him in the Scriptures He has gifted to us, and the Church He has entrusted us with!

Photo from: http://pdpics.com/photo/2553-truth-word-newspaper/

Luke 20:1-8 Post-Truth

Glory be to Jesus Christ!

I was watching a debate recently on a very important issue currently before the government legislative bodies and the word “post-truth” was used to describe someone’s position. In many ways, our culture embodies a “post-truth” stance, either through relativism or fear. The temple leaders in our reading today show their true intentions through their avoidance of Jesus’ question; they are not seeking the truth.

The leaders come to the Lord seeking for Him to identify the authority by which He is preaching because their authority as temple leaders has been threatened. Our Lord asks them a simple question which underlines the reality that they are not actually interested in getting an answer, and so Jesus does not answer them!

How far, brothers and sisters, are we willing to go for the truth? Do we believe that truth actually exists and that we can come to know it, or have we swallowed the lies of relativism and skepticism of our modern culture? We must all struggle to live in the light of Truth, as difficult and as painful as that might be. There is no post-truth, as Truth is a person, Truth is the Lord. He is the way, the truth and the life. To turn back from His path because it is difficult, is to walk the way of hypocrisy, sophistry and delusion- we will consign ourselves to a dream world which turns out to be a nightmare.

Let us daily pray for the strength to run into the arms of Truth, as difficult and painful, as real as He may be!

christ-in-chalice

Luke 19:45-48 Purify your Temple

Glory be to Jesus Christ!

This year, the day after celebrating Mary’s entrance into the temple as a small child, we recall the Lord’s purification of that temple when He drives out the money changers and merchants.

Unknown to the people, the Lord visited His temple, and found that the worship of His people in the temple, the “place of prayer for all the nations,” had become a place of self-worship through idolatry and greed. We might be tempted to shake our fingers and heads at these people, but the Scriptures were not written for them, but for us! The question for us today is, “are we any better?” We not only have a temple, but are living temples of the Holy Spirit. Are our lives dedicated to the worship of the Lord, or are they oriented towards our own gain?

We do not encounter the Lord of our temple in some distant, far away event, but whenever we receive Him in the Eucharist. How are we prepared? Are our temples clean and pure for His arrival? As the Most Holy Theotokos was humble and pure in receiving God Himself into her womb, let us renew our efforts to be aware of the visitation of the Lord of our lives, and examine the condition of our souls to receive Him!

Glory be to Jesus Christ!

Year of Mercy ends, Holy Doors close around the world

As Year of Mercy ends, Holy Doors close around the world

A holy door closes at Saint Paul Outside the Walls church in Rome. Nov. 13, 2016.

By Hannah Brockhaus

As Holy Doors close in churches and basilicas around the world, including in Rome, it is estimated that over 20 million people participated in the Church’s Jubilee Year of Mercy at the Vatican – and a billion people may have participated in churches worldwide.

According to Msgr. Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, it is estimated that 20.4 million people attended Year of Mercy events at the Vatican over the course of this year. Continue reading