Tuesday, May 23, 2017

My Household

‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ They told him, ‘Become a believer in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, and your household too.’ Acts.16:30,31

Paul and Silas have miraculously been freed by an earthquake from their prison shackles. They stopped the gaoler from killing himself, telling him they haven't run off. The gaoler, recognising the hand of God is over Paul and Silas, becomes a believer, saving not only himself but his entire household.

Jesus works in households, in families. It is well proven that if a mother and father actively practice their faith their children will grow up doing likewise. This is both a wonderful blessing and a fearful responsibility. Fearful as we are talking about eternal salvation of our children and children's children.

I must be authentic and demonstrative in my Catholic faith. In this season of Eastertide this is made easier. How? Easter joy! There's something incredibly attractive about people filled with joy, especially joyful parents to their children

Holy Spirit, fill me with Easter joy today that I may be an authentic witness to my household.
Little Flower, please pray for me.



Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Divine and de Branch

It is to the glory of my Father that you should bear much fruit, and then you will be my disciples.
Jn.15:8

Jesus is explaining the relationship between himself and his disciples using the analogy of vine and branches. Branches bear fruit when they are connected to the vine and are pruned.

There's a great line from the Steve Green 70's classic, "He'll take care of the rest" that goes;

"Remember, He is divine and you are de branch"

Staying connected to Jesus is a daily decision for a disciple. Daily prayer time helps. The point of discipleship is to bear fruit, says Jesus. And the point of bearing fruit is to glorify the Father.

So here goes. Another day in the vineyard bearing fruit for the glory.

Lord Jesus, I reconnect to you this morning. May I bear fruit to glorify the Father today.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

A Peace the World Can't Give

Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you.
Jn.14:27

Jesus had just promised to his disciples that the Holy Spirit will be sent once he leaves. The first fruit of the spirit is peace, a peace the world cannot give.

It's a standing joke how beauty pageant contestants in their open speech always throw in the line, "and I pray for world peace".  The world could certainly do with that today. But Jesus is offering something the world cannot give, it can only receive it. That is, his peace.

It's only through Jesus that a man can look over the place where his four daughters drowned and then say, "It is well with my soul" (Horatio G. Spafford). This is the peace beyond understanding.

So, today I receive this priceless gift from Jesus and say, no matter what happens, it is well with my soul.

Jesus, thank you for your wonderful gift of peace. Help me pass this on to those I meet today.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Joy and the Holy Spirit

So they shook the dust from their feet in defiance and went off to Iconium; but the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.
Acts 13:52

Paul and Barnabas are on their mission trip, preaching to the Jews. Their message is rejected by the Jewish leaders so they turn their attention to the pagans of the town where their message is joyously received.

Nothing has changed. The message gets preached. By some it is rejected, by others it is received with great joy. Where the Good News is accepted the Holy Spirit arrives with great power, changing lives.

We are currently involved in a Life in the Spirit Seminar. The message is being preached. Some are skeptical while others are rising up and asking for more.  I guess, like Paul and Barnabas, we continue preaching the truth of the Good News irrespective of the reaction of the listeners, praying for them all the while.

My "preaching", to be authentic, must be reflected in my daily life, starting with my family. Today...

Come Holy Spirit. I can't do this without you. Fill me afresh this day that I may be a witness to you, the Father and the Son.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Son of Encouragement

He (Barnabas) urged them all to remain faithful to the Lord with heartfelt devotion; for he was a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and with faith.
Acts.11:24

Barnabas is sent to Antioch to check out the news that a church was growing from Greek converts. He instantly recognised God's hand in what was happening and encouraged the church to continue its grace-filled work.

Barnabas the encourager continues his particular ministry. Of him the Bible records he was a powerful preacher, an encourager, a good man filled with the Holy Spirit and with faith.

He sounds like the sort of man I would enjoy hanging around. He sounds like the sort of man I wish I was... today.

Holy Spirit of God. Fill me that I may be an encourager to those I meet today.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Less Fear More Boldness

The rulers, elders and scribes were astonished at the assurance shown by Peter and John, considering they were uneducated laymen;
Acts:4:13

The Jewish leaders are astounded at the boldness of Peter and John whom they had arrested for healing a cripple in the name of Jesus. The transformation of Peter and John from ignorant nobodies to proclaiming somebodies was undeniable and astonishing.

There is creative, fearless genius in everyone, just waiting to be released, waiting for the right conditions. For Peter and John the right condition was being filled with the Holy Spirit before the Sanhedrin. There result? The name of Jesus was lifted up and glorified.

There are times when I make myself cringe and then times when I astound myself at my boldness, wondering where what I have said has come from. Today, for me, let there be less cringe and more boldness, that the name of Jesus may be lifted up.

Lord Jesus, fill me with your spirit of boldness that I may glorify your name.
Little Flower, please pray for me.





Friday, April 21, 2017

Filled with Holy Spirit

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, addressed them, ‘Rulers of the people, and elders! If you are questioning us today about an act of kindness to a cripple, and asking us how he was healed, then I am glad to tell you all...
Acts:4.8-10

Following the miraculous healing of a cripple at the Temple, Peter and John are brought before the Sanhedrin and interigated. Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, boldly proclaims the risen Jesus as not only the saviour of the cripple but of all mankind.

Peter the former sand-pile displays again how he has now become the rock. He is now the embodiment of the new name Jesus had given him. The reason for the the conversion? The Holy Spirit. The risen Jesus had breathed on the Apostles and given them the Holy Spirit. Now the power of the Holy Spirit is released and at work. And the Holy Spirit's work? To proclaim the name of Jesus...

I have been given the Holy Spirit, been "breathed on by Jesus", at my Confirmation. Now is the time for that power to be released.

Come Holy Spirit, fall afresh on me.
Fill me with your power, satisfy my need.
Only you can make me whole,
Give me strength and make me grow.
Come Holy Spirit, fall afresh on me.

Little Flower, please pray for me.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Rejoice and be Glad

Alleluia, alleluia! This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad. Alleluia!
Gospel Acclamation Ps117:24

Easter Thursday and the joy of the resurrected Lord permeates the Church. This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad.

This acclamation has become my morning prayer, recited before I rise out of bed. Joy is such a wonderful way to approach every day, no matter what it may hold.

This morning my daughter planned for us to wake up early and watch the sun rise over Ohope Beach.  What a spectacle of glory! Truely the Lord's finger prints could be seen in the vista that unfolded before us.

Thank you Lord for this day you have made. I shall be the joy that reflects it on all who I meet today.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Alleluia! He is Risen!

Jesus said, ‘Mary!’ She knew him....
Jn.20:16

Today is Easter Tuesday of the Easter Octave. The bells ringing "Alleluia, He is Risen! " are still loud in my ears. The Gospel has me watch Mary Magdalene enter the empty tomb, not yet knowing what has really happened. Then Jesus calls her by name, and she instantly knows...

My faith in Jesus became real when I realised it's about relationship, not religion. Relationship happens when two people start knowing and being real with each other. Two "people". The person of Jesus, who he really is, started to dawn on me and that's when I fell in love with him.

Easter brings back the joy of that first love. The incense and the Alleluias soak into me for fifty days... then Pentecost! Oh joyous days!

My Risen Lord! You are my companion today. Let your joy become my joy as I love those whom you love today.
Mary Magdelane, please pray for me.


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Just Judge

Those who did good will rise again to life; and those who did evil, to condemnation. I can do nothing by myself; I can only judge as I am told to judge, and my judging is just.
Jn.5:29,30

Jesus has just healed the invalid at the pool of Bethesda and is answering the criticism of the Pharisees. He states he only does the will of the Father, including being judge at the end of time.

There is a fallacy sometimes heard in the Church that everyone is going to heaven, being handed out baskets of kittens as they float blissfully through the pearly gates. Not according to Jesus. There will be judgement, sheep and goats, some to eternal life and others to condemnation.  Our saving grace is that Jesus is the judge, not us ...not me.

There is a little judge in me that is constantly pulling at the leash I have placed around his neck. Sometimes he escapes and I blush at what I hear him saying about others. I call judgement on myself when this happens. I choose again to leave all judgement up to Jesus. He alone knows all the facts.

Lord Jesus, you are the just judge. Have mercy on me a sinner. Help me be an encourager, not a judge of others today.
Little Flower, please pray for me.



Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Scandal of Mercy

“You wicked servant,” he said “I cancelled all that debt of yours when you appealed to me. Were you not bound, then, to have pity on your fellow servant just as I had pity on you?”
Mt.18:32,33

Jesus is telling the parable of the unmerciful servant in response to Peter's question on how many times should he forgive. Jesus answer... never stop forgiving.

I don't think I've ever been severely wronged to the point where I've held resentment. But this goes beyond mere resentment. Jesus is demanding that I be always merciful, that I always have an attitude of mercy.  That covers everything from the little niggles of family life, the careless driver cutting me off when I'm cycling to work, the work colleagues not pulling their weight... everything.

Mercy is surprisingly controversial in the Church. I hear many people retreat angrily to the law when mercy is being proposed. I think there is a misunderstanding of mercy and people fear it will be demanded as a right. That's not mercy. That's a free ticket to do what you want. Mercy doesn't say a wrong is suddenly right. Wrong is still wrong, a debt is still a debt. Mercy aligns me with the debtor saying I too have owed much and have been forgiven much. You and I are brothers in that regard. Somehow, in this process we are both lifted up from the dung heap we deserve.

Lord Jesus, I have been forgiven much. Help me be an agent of mercy today.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Give and Get

"Give, and there will be gifts for you: a full measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured into your lap; because the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given back."
Lk.6:38

Jesus continues his Sermon on the Mount. Generosity strikes at the heart of what it means to live a Christian life.

Some call this verse the Sermon on the Amount. Of course, it's not just referring to the giving of money. It can be time, talents, anything that is of value to me and to the recipient. However, my attitude to giving money says a lot about how seriously I take what Jesus is saying here.

My wife is great at stuffing $20.00 notes into the letterboxes of needy families. I find that hard. Yet, if I believe in what Jesus says, what I give is the measure of what I will get and get back generously.

I love the story of Scrooge in Dickens's Christmas Carol. From a miserly, tight-fisted, mean old man he is transformed into a "letterbox stuffer" in the extreme. From a sour old grump he becomes a giggling, joyous child as he buys the largest Christmas goose in the shop to secretly gift to Bob Crachit and his family.

Joy. Here is the immediate fruit of generosity. What can I give to another today? I will know I have found it and given it when joy overtakes me.

Lord Jesus, you know how tight-fisted I can be. Help me become a joyous giver today that I may become an authentic witness of you.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Taught to Love

But I say this to you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you; in this way you will be sons of your Father in heaven...
Mt.5:44,45

Jesus is giving his great teaching on what it is to live the Christian life authentically, his Sermon on the Mount. He unfolds the true meaning of the law of Moses, in this instance the true duty on how to love.

Loving an enemy seems an impossible ask. It can only be contemplated when looking at my persecutor through the eyes of Jesus. He sees the child that grew to become the person now acrimonious. He sees what made them become who they now are.

It was Nelson Mandela who famously said, "No child is born hating.... people learn to hate and if they learn to hate they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally".  I can be taught to love, even those who are my enemies.

Lord Jesus, you cause the sun to rise on bad men as well as good, and  rain to fall on honest and dishonest men alike.  Help me be as generous in this day you have placed me.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A Smiling Face

Add a smiling face to all your gifts, and be cheerful as you dedicate your tithes. Give to the Most High as he has given to you, generously as your means can afford; for the Lord is a good rewarder.
Ecc.35:8-10

The writer of Ecclesiasticus emphasises the virtue of cheerful giving. The Church lifts up this virtue with its focus firmly on the approaching season of Lent.

I recently have benefited from an increase in my disposable income. One of the things I've enjoyed being able to now do is be more generous. I can now shout people a coffee and be more spontaneous in giving gifts. I haven't quite reached the "stuffing twenty dollar notes into letter boxes" level of my wife, but I'm getting there.

Alms giving in Lent has always been a struggle for me. Perhaps this Lent I can more generous "as my means can afford". More importantly, I can be cheerful in my giving.

Lord Jesus, you were generous to the point of giving everything, even your life. Help me be a cheerful giver this Lent and experience the true joy that such giving brings. 
Little Flower, please pray for me.


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Cup of Cold Water

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘If anyone gives you a cup of water to drink just because you belong to Christ, then I tell you solemnly, he will most certainly not lose his reward.
Mk.9:41

Jesus is teaching his disciples principals of the law of the harvest. Do good and you will receive your reward. Do evil and hell awaits.

I remember visiting a priest and giving him news of his old house keeper's death. His immediate response was, " If anyone gives a glass of cold water... She will not loose her reward". Apparently this unassuming old lady in our parish was a saint to the priests she served.

A cup of cold water can go a long way. Serving with humility doesn't get much press on earth, but in heaven it is noted and recorded. Who can I give a cup of water to today...

Lord Jesus, you are the Servant King. Help me recognise those in need today and show me best how to serve them.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Little is Big

He then took a little child, set him in front of them, put his arms round him, and said to them, ‘Anyone who welcomes one of these little children in my name, welcomes me; and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.’
Mk.9:36,37

Jesus is confronting the disciples who have been arguing among themselves about which of them is the greatest. He places a child in front of them to pull their attention away from what is great in the world's eyes to what is great in God's kingdom.

Small, vulnerable, powerless, innocent, guileless... these are words that could be used to describe children. It is such as these that Jesus says he is associated. Welcome children and you welcome God.

I am leading Children's Liturgy this Sunday. As I sit down on the floor with them I will be sitting down with God. What a joy. What a privilege.

Lord Jesus. Help me see you in the small and vulnerable today.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Joy of Faith

Only faith can guarantee the blessings that we hope for, or prove the existence of the realities that at present remain unseen.
Heb.11:1

The writer of Hebrews starts his discourse on the essential nature of faith for the follower of Christ. Head knowledge and works are not enough to gain the promises.

I remember struggling in my conversion to try and understand what Catholics meant by "The Faith". It almost seemed like a cop out from establishing a personal relationship with Jesus. I came to realise it was a general term for all that comprised of being a practicing Catholic. It didn't relate to that person faith one has in Jesus.

Not having a personal faith held me back from entering "The Faith" for many years. It wasn't until I took a step in faith that I received the gift of a personal faith in Jesus. Only then could I receive the hope of "realities that at present remain unseen".

I treasure my gift of faith. It gives a tangible joy that I take into my day today.

Lord Jesus, again I thank you for my gift of faith. The joy of knowing you is mine today.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Flesh and Bone

The Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make him a helpmate.’ Gen.2:18

The Garden is created. Adam is placed in the most beautiful place the world has known, but he is alone and unhappy. God then created the antidote to loneliness... Eve.

Sex is God's idea. It's his solution to the first problem that creation experienced. Loneliness. And sex is designed by God to be physical. Adam's first response to Eve wasn't, "That looks good to play Chess with". No! He exclaimed, "At last, flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone". He liked what he saw.

The psalmist today echos this truth from Genesis. "Your wife will be like a fruitful vine in the heart of your house; your children like shoots of the olive, around your table. Indeed thus shall be blessed the man who fears the Lord." Ps.128:3,4

I am so blessed today. My wife is my fruitful vine, my five children and seven (last count) grandchildren are shoots around my table.

Thank you Father for blessing me so. Today I live with a thankful heart.
Little Flower, please pray for me.



Monday, February 6, 2017

The Gift

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Gen.1:1

The very first verse of the very first book in the Bible lays the foundation for faith in God and the hope that brings to all of creation.

Either God created or he didn't.  Acceptance or rejection of this verse determines how the rest of the Bible is read. I accept it.

Yesterday, my family and I spent the day at one of the most beautiful places on the planet, Lake Taupo, New Zealand. Towering rock cliffs formed from an ancient volcano swept down to a narrow headland covered in native bush. This inturn led up to a beach of soft sand that gently succumbed to the crystal clear waters of the lake. The sky went from deepest blue directly above to a pale blue over the distant ranges on the far side of the lake.  It was beautiful. The day put "wind under my wings" and lifted my spirit.

I saw the fingerprints of God everywhere. I sensed the place had been created those thousands of years ago specifcally with me in mind to enjoy on Sunday 5th Frebruary, 2017. And I'm thankful.

Lord Jesus, co-creator of the universe, thank you for the gift of yesterday and the promise of today. I place my trust in you.
Little Flower, please pray for me.


Sunday, February 5, 2017

Shine

No one lights a lamp to put it under a tub; they put it on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the house. In the same way your light must shine...
Mt.5:15,16

Jesus is just starting the great teaching of his Sermon on the Mount. He starts by giving the reason for his teachings, so that we may become the light of the world.

We often call Jesus "The Light of the World" but here he clearly says that we are the light of the world. The darkness is to be overcome by us. Yes, it's the light of Christ within us but we are the ones  encountering the darkness to be overcome, most often within our very selves.

As a man, this task is more clearly defined for me when Jesus instructs where my light is to shine, in my house. As the man of my household my "mission field" is clearly defined. It must start at home with my wife, my children, my grandchildren. This is both a joyful and a fearful thing. Joyful because I get to minister to those whome I love. Fearful because the consequences of failure are more painfully felt.

To fulfill this task I need the "power of the Spirit" that Saint Paul writes about in 1Cor.2:5.

Come Holy Spirit of God. Help my light shine in my world today, that the Father may be glorified.
Little Flower, please pray for me.




Saturday, February 4, 2017

Rest Awhile

Then he said to them, ‘You must come away to some lonely place all by yourselves and rest for a while’
MK.6:31

The twelve apostles have just returned from their first mission trip. It had been successful beyond their wildest dreams with demons driven out and and many sick people healed. They return to find Jesus at the center of a frenzied crowd. "Time for a rest" says Jesus...

Busyness happens. Things get stressful. It's part of the human condition. I am currently holidaying with my family in a very peaceful part of New Zealand. Last evening we walked along side a river watching trout fishermen cast their lines. All that was heard was the cry of native birds in the over-hanging trees and the rush of cool fresh water over rocks. It was refreshing, spirit lifting.

The next few days here are an oasis, a time to slow down and draw deep from the spring.

Thank you Jesus for being the co-creator of this place with me in mind. This is my quiet place to rest awhile, a gift from you.

Little Flower, please pray for me.



Friday, February 3, 2017

Don't Worry, Be Happy

Put greed out of your lives and be content with whatever you have; God himself has said: I will not fail you or desert you, and so we can say with confidence: With the Lord to help me, I fear nothing: what can man do to me?
Heb.13:5,6

The writer of Hebrews is concluding with exhortations for the Christian life. "Be content with what you have" is held up as the attitude of one who has complete confidence in God.

Contented people are good company. There's no stress or striving greed in them.

Be content, fear nothing. This is a sure recipe for peace and peace is the desire of every man's heart. What a wonderful way to live out today.

Lord Jesus. Give me a contented heart today. I place my trust in you.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Generous

The amount you measure out is the amount you will be given – and more besides; for the man who has will be given more; from the man who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
Mk.4:24,25

Jesus is teaching beside the lake to a great crowd using parables and straight out instruction. Here he encourages generosity.

I'm married to a generous wife. She is able to stuff $20.00 notes into letterboxes in a carefree way that that I'm unable to do. If I had to characterise her whole family it would be with the word 'generous'.

Generosity is such an attractive attribute. Generous people are fun to be around. They exemplify a true Christian spirit. Today I want to be perceived as a man with an open hand...

Lord Jesus, you gave away everything so that I may have everything. Help me gain a natural spirit of generosity so I may be an authentic witness for you.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Family Restored

Mercy and faithfulness have met; justice and peace have embraced. Faithfulness shall spring from the earth and justice look down from heaven.
Ps.84,11

In Psalm 84 the psalmist pleads for restoration of relationship with God. Then in the final verses, like a consummation, love and faithfulness meet and kiss.  The family is restored.

This psalm is a picture of my relationship with God. I keen to be restored to him. There is a yearning in my heart to be leaning into my Father's breast, to be intimate. I stretch up to heaven, but not in vain as my Father is leaning down to earth with outstretched hand. He is keening just as badly for me.

My feeble efforts, such as this morning prayer time, are rewarded beyond measure. Not for what I have done but for God's pent up love pouring down into me. Oh happy day!

Thank you Father that you ache for me as I for you. Send me your spirit today that we may be one.
Little Flower, please pray for me. 


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Power to Save

The power of Jesus to save is utterly certain, since he is living for ever to intercede for all who come to God through him.
Heb.7:25

The writer of Hebrews is outlining the supremacy of Jesus' role as High Priest. His sacrifice has obtained everything for all people throughout all of time.

There are times I need reminding of this, times when bad things happen to good people, times when the wicked seem to prosper and the good suffer injustice. I need to be reminded my High Priest, my advocate, is in the highest courtroom there is, the assembly of heaven. And he is rooting for me.

The power of Jesus to save is utterly certain. What wonderful words I can take into my day today.

Thank you Jesus that you are my cheer leader before God the Father. My case for clemency is utterly certain through you. My salvation is assured. Alleluia!
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Water into Wine

The steward tasted the water, and it had turned into wine.
Jn.2:9

At Mary his mother's bidding, Jesus performs his first public miracle and so launches his mission, letting his glory be seen, and his disciples believed in him.

I love that Jesus chose a wedding to let his glory first be reveled. I have three daughters and a son who are married. I have watched as the water of ordinary lives are transformed into a sacramental couple, a sign of Christ among us, the very best of wine.  Jesus is in the business of transforming the ordinary into extraordinary.

Oh,, again this is good news for ordinary me. My ordinariness is no limitation to Jesus' transforming power. My water can become the very best of wine.

Jesus, you turned the water into wine. Transform me so that your glory may be revealed and the world may believe in you.
Little Flower, please pray for me.