wisdom words for today

“Faith makes things possible – not easy!”

Good words to reflect on today.

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the Father’s injunction…

Today’s Gospel, Mark 9:2-13, finds Jesus leading Peter, James and John up a high mountain where they are witnesses to an incredible encounter.  “And He was transfigured before them, and His clothes became dazzling white … Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus … Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; then from the cloud came a voice, This is my beloved Son.  Listen to Him.

The voice from the cloud is the voice of God, the Father.  His injunction to the three disciples – and to you and me this day – is to listen to Jesus, His beloved Son.  Jesus speaks and teaches on behalf of the Father.  His words are the words of life.  Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  We are to listen to Him with active attention, and we are to live out His words, His teachings.  It’s a challenge to actively listen to His words and only with His grace can we live them out.  Today, may we pray for the grace to listen to Him and to live according to His teachings.

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the condition for discipleship

Jesus does not mince any words in today’s Gospel, Mark 8:34-9:1.  He puts it bluntly to His disciples and the crowds that were following Him:

“Whoever wishes to come after Me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.  For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the Gospel will save it.” 

We can’t have it both ways.  We cannot compromise serving both God and Mammon.  We choose one or the other.  If we choose to serve God and live according to the teachings of His Son, Jesus, then we set ourselves on a collision course with our world.  The values of our world are diametrically opposed to the values presented to us by Jesus.  And if we seek to live according to the teachings of Jesus we will find ourselves shunned by many of our fellow human beings if not out rightly discriminated against or persecuted. Just listen to news reports and the struggles for basic religious freedom in the United States and around the world.

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One of the most important questions to reflect on

As Jesus was travelling with His disciples, He confronted them with one of the most important and challenging questions of their lives (Mark 8:27-33).  “…who do you say that I am?”  This is a question posed not only to the disciples of long ago, but it is a pressing question that is posed to you and to me – on a daily basis.  WHO IS JESUS FOR ME HERE AND NOW!  Not just a theoretical question but a question whose answer has profound implications for who I am and how I live here and now.  Unfortunately, some Christians are “functional atheists.” They state that they are Christians but their belief in Jesus has no bearing on how they live their lives.  For all practical purposes they live as non-believers.

“Who do you say that I am?”  If our response is like that of Peter, “You are the Christ!” then there are fundamental implications for us in our daily living.

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Am I my brother’s keeper?

We know the story of Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:1-15).  It’s as contemporary today as it was when written several thousand years ago.  They were brothers, the sons of Adam and Eve.  they both made offerings to the Lord.  For whatever reason, the Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering but did not on Cain and his offering.  Cain resented his brother and killed him.  And then the Lord confronted Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” To which Cain replied, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”  And from that day onwards, the Lord has been confronting us about how we relate to our brothers and sisters.  Often we respond as did Cain, “Am I my brother’s (my sister’s) keeper?

Human history is filled with stories of resentment and violence ending in the killing of countless innocent people.  We read about family feuds, slavery, genocide and discriminatory policies that dehumanize.  We can forget that the Cain and Abel story is being lived out, right now, in today’s world.  We live in this world and can be infected easily with its narcissistic attitudes.  We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, and the Lord will hold us accountable.  As I reflect on this reading, three interconnected areas come to mind that kill our brothers and sisters.

The first is the spreading of misinformation about others; the second is not speaking up in defense of those unjustly attacked and the third is dismissing others because they are “different.” We can do this as a nation.  We can do this as individuals.  Pope Francis reminds us that we need to focus on building bridges not walls with the world’s people’s.  There are situations that we may not be able to correct, but we can correct our attitudes.  We may have differing opinions, and there are times when we may have to defend ourselves against attack but we always need to look for and work for the common good.  This holds true for us as individuals and as a nation.

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