Archive | January 2016

Do Not Fear: “God Is with You”

Introductory Prayer

Father, you created me and put me on earth for a purpose.
Jesus, you died for me and call me to complete your work.
Holy Spirit, you help me to carry out the work for which I was created and called.
In your presence and name—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—I begin my reflection.
May all my thoughts and inspirations have their origin in you and be directed to your glory. logo-small

Saturday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time

At the conclusion of every Mass we are sent, sometimes even with the words, “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.” We are a people on the move, a living Body that desires constantly to grow; we are chosen by God, anointed with His love, to bring good news to all. Jesus promised to equip us for this mission, and assures us that we do not labor alone or unsupported. He tells us not only that the seeds we sow will respond differently according to the hearts we encounter, but that His Word must first grow in our hearts. We are the light of the world, alight with the fire of God’s love; even a small spark can set a forest ablaze.

This mission, this task which Christ has entrusted to us, can be daunting; it is daunting. We are striving to labor with Christ for the salvation of souls, with our own salvation still being worked out at the same time. We may find ourselves completely overwhelmed, helpless, or so discouraged at our failures–actual or perceived–that we are tempted to despair, and giving up altogether seems like our only alternative.

When the storms of discouragement rage around us, when our culture seems unyielding or even hostile to the reason for our hope (1 Peter 3:15), when it seems we are failing left and right and the fruit we desire to lay at our Lord’s feet has not grown, do not be afraid. You might come into a dark time of struggle in your faith and wonder, “Where are you, Jesus?”

Our Gospel today ought to bring us great consolation: Jesus never abandons us. Even should He be asleep, He is yet there; our God is a God that does not slumber (Psalm 121:4) and always guards us. Even when the storm arose at sea and His friends feared disaster, what could befall them if Jesus was there, asleep or otherwise? When God is silent in our lives, when it seems we are abandoned, we must have faith that we are not alone. We are the children of the perfect Father who says, “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.” (Isaiah 49:15) We are members of the Body of Christ; can He forget Himself? We are anointed with the Spirit of God; our Baptism, our Confirmation cannot be undone. God’s silence does not equal His absence; He is there.

Do not fear, then, whatever the world throws at your faith, whatever holds you back from serving the Lord and continuing His mission. His Word never returns to Him without effect (Isaiah 55:11), and that impulse to grow and bear fruit, should we seek to suppress it, will become like a fire in our heart that cannot be ignored. (Jeremiah 20:9) Be not afraid! God is with you; love Him, serve Him as best you are able, and know that all success, all fruit comes about by His grace, even if it seems we have failed. The storms of opposition may blow against you, but the Lord of Heaven and Earth is there with you, and He will not leave. (Matthew 28:19-20)

Jacob Boddicker, S.J.

Be Not Afraid of Poverty

a17b2-hip-replacement-recall-briberyI have been poor and I have been wealthy. In both situations, I have enjoyed  happiness and I have endured suffering. I admit that it’s a lot more fun to move up the ladder than it is to either fall or be pushed down it. But, at the end of the day, the state of your bank account doesn’t remotely dictate your quality of life – you do.

“Do not be afraid, my son, because we have become poor.

You have great wealth if you fear God and

flee from every sin and do what is good in the sight of the Lord your God.” Tobit 4:21 

Mary, Ark of the New Covenant

I fear the class left  with some uncertainty 2012-11-25 14.57.16about Mary being the Ark of the New Covenant when she was carrying Jesus in her womb. So I decided to give you more scriptures to read that help explain the concept.

First, those who have not had The Great Adventure Bible Study need to know that in the Old Testament, God gently and graciously taught His Chosen People about Himself gradually building up from basic concepts to readiness for accepting  the Messiah. They lived in a world where every other tribe worshipped idols and maintained religious practices that degraded the participants and led to constant turmoil.

So He began at the kindergarten level by revealing Himself in small ways to Adam, Noah, and Abraham. Then each new interaction with a member of his family revealed a little more about God and Truth. Generations later, the newly freed slaves who crossed the Red Sea on foot, who built the tabernacle and who received the Ten Commandments were still in the early primary grades of His School.

They were told to build The Ark of the Covenant for the Holy of Holies section of the tabernacle with three items kept inside: a golden jar of manna that miraculously stayed fresh, Aaron’s rod that budded (to reveal who was the real High Priest), and the two stone tablets with the Ten Commandments written on them. This let them know that the ark, its contents, and the Mercy Seat over it were supremely holy and revealed God in a special way.

Hebrews 9:4 sums it up in the New Testament: In it stood the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which there were a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant;

These items taught them about God’s nature. We usually refer to such Old Testament revelations as types. The manna provided miraculous food for the wanderers for forty years that kept them healthy as they participated in “God’s Fitness Camp.” This type taught them that they could depend of God for practical necessities of life.

Aaron’s rod showed them in an undeniable, physical way exactly whom God had appointed to lead them spiritually as they journeyed to the Promised Land. So they could quit lobbying for leadership roles and instead look for, appreciate, and obey the person that God chose for them. And the stone tablets, which the Jews often call the Ten Words, showed them how to live in a happy, satisfying, and productive way here on earth.

During the rest of the Old Testament: the period of the Judges, the Kingdom period, and the diaspora, they learned more and more. They even began to look for a Messiah and His kingdom.

With our 20-20 hindsight, we can see that as Mary carried Jesus before birth, she also carried: the Bread of Life, the Great High Priest, and the Word of God. The Messiah embodied or fulfilled those types from the first Ark in Himself. And He offers to freely share their godly graces with those who ask and believe.

Bread of Life:

  • Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat. John 6:31
  • Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. John 6:3

 Aaron’s Rod that Budded or Spiritual Authority: Hebrews 4:14-16

Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

The Ten Commandments or The Ten Words: John 1:1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.