Saturday, September 16, 2017

Told by its Fruit

There is no sound tree that produces rotten fruit, nor again a rotten tree that produces sound fruit. For every tree can be told by its own fruit: 
Luke 6:43

Jesus is teaching his disciples how we exhibit in our lives what resides in our hearts. It's a law, like gravity, affecting everyone.

For a tree to be sound it needs to be well fed and well grounded. The analogy is obvious. Shallow roots lead to a crash in the first storm.

My grounding comes from the Church, from reading the daily readings, from spending time with God such as now.  This time is essential for my nourishment,for me to thrive and produce good fruit.

My daughter Rebekah (shout out) relies on my nurturing her roots while she's at home so that when she leaves she continues to search out nourishment for the good fruit she has experienced. What have I done to nurture her today?

Lord Jesus, help me provide good fruit for my daughter, so her heart in turn may be full of good.
Little Flower, please pray for us. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

It's Personal

The Exaltation of the Holy Cross - Feast

Alleluia, alleluia! We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you, because by your cross you have redeemed the world. Alleluia!


Today's Gospel Acclamation is taken from the Good Friday liturgy for veneration of the Cross.

In my early Catholic years I found the veneration of the Cross a bit weird. Our priest was very particular about us approaching the Cross in "stockinged feet" (he was Irish) before kissing it.

Now I find this one of the most moving events of Holy Week.

What's changed?

It's become personal. I guess I've come to realise what a sublime representation of God's love for me the Cross of Christ is. I can now say God loved me so much that he gave his only son that I may not perish but have eternal life.

The Cross has become a throne on which sits Love. How can I not bend the knee before it and acclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Lord Jesus, your love for me drove you to become humbler yet and accept death, death on a Cross. I adore you and praise you for by your Cross you have redeemed the world.

Saint John of the Cross, please pray for me.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

My Own Fulfilment

Make sure that no one traps you and deprives you of your freedom by some second-hand, empty, rational philosophy based on the principles of this world instead of on Christ. In his body lives the fullness of divinity, and in him you too find your own fulfilment,
Col.2:8-10

Saint Paul warns the Church at Colisia to be ready when worldly philosophies come to seduce them from their true faith in Christ.

Nothing has changed in two thousand years. The second-hand empty, rational philosophies are still here. Oh the beautiful fulfilment that is found in Christ. No longer do I have to work hard at defending the empty principles based on this world. That was exhausting.

In Christ I find my own fulfilment and that is more, much more than enough for me today.

Lord Jesus. In you I live and move and have my being. Thank you for the wonderful gift of my faith in you.
Little Flower, please pray for me.


Thursday, September 7, 2017

Push and Pull

When Simon Peter saw this he fell at the knees of Jesus saying, ‘Leave me, Lord; I am a sinful man.’ For he and all his companions were completely overcome by the catch they had made;
Lk.5:8,9

Jesus has just finished teaching the crowds from Peter's boat and tells him to put into the deep again and fish. Reluctantly Peter does, only to be overwhelmed by the size of his catch. Peter recognises Jesus is from God and is gripped by fear. Jesus' divinity highlights Peter's destitution. Peter pushes Jesus away in fear. Jesus calls Peter forward in love.

I have times when my spiritual destitution  makes me push Jesus away. How could he love me knowing what I have thought or done. Yet the more I push the more he pulls, just like with Peter.

The sacrament of Confession is a good place to experience the pull of Jesus. It's been a few weeks....

Lord Jesus, the more I say "leave me Lord" the more you pursue me. Your love is beyond understanding.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Intercession

At sunset all those who had friends suffering from diseases of one kind or another brought them to him, and laying his hands on each he cured them.
Lk.4:40

Jesus has just healed Simon's mother in law and word has spread. Friends of the sick and the possessed have brought them to Jesus for healing and deliverance.

The disciples interceded for Peter's mother in law. Friends of the sick interceded for them. In both cases Jesus responded and worked miracles in the lives of the suffering. Jesus works powerfully through intercession.

We were recently approached by a man in our parish who is friends with another who has just learnt he has advanced lung cancer. A non-smoker, this came out of the blue and is a shock to him and his family. We were asked to pray for the sick man and so went to his a home and did so.

It's still early days but we are continuing to ask for a miracle. Today's Gospel is a timely reminder that Jesus loves working through the prayer of friends.

Lord Jesus we lift up Vincent again to you and ask that you heal him of his cancer. We ask for a peace beyond understanding for Doris and the children as they travel with Vincent through the valley of the shadow of death.
Little Flower please pray for us.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Mana

And his teaching made a deep impression on them because he spoke with authority.
Lk.4:32

Jesus is teaching in Capernaum at the start of his public ministry. The people had never heard anything like him. His authority stood out and above anyone they had encountered.

In New Zealand we have a Maori word for what Jesus displayed to the people here. Mana.

Mana (noun) - prestige, authority, control, power, influence, status, spiritual power, charisma.

I have experienced people with mana. And it is an experience, you don't just meet these people. You experience them. It was the experience of Jesus that so impressed the people. It also impressed demons, as shown when the demon in today's Gospel fled at Jesus' rebuke.

This mana, this spiritual power and charisma is available to me today. How? By plugging into Jesus' mana. His power and charisma can work through me to bring about God's Kingdom here on earth. What a joy...

Lord Jesus, without you I can do nothing. With you I can move mountains. Be my power source today that you may be glorified.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Investment

‘The kingdom of Heaven is like a man on his way abroad who summoned his servants and entrusted his property to them....
Mt.25:14

Jesus is giving his disciples instruction on what the end of time will be like when God's kingdom is finally and fully established.  In this example his parable focuses on the bringing to account what we have done with the abilities we have been given.

I play the guitar... poorly. I call myself a "hit and hope" guitarist. I hit it and hope it sounds alright. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. However, despite my mediocre playing, I use my guitar when leading Children's Liturgay at Mass. The children don't care about my skill level. They like the fun that it brings to the lesson.

I guess I have other skills that I'm more coy about, especially in adult company. Fear of performing badly can stop me using them at all.  Today's Gospel reminds me that any talents I have are not just for me. I'm expected to invest them for the benefit of God's kingdom.  The promise is that I will then share in my masters happiness on judgement day.

Jesus, thank you for the gifts that I have been given. Give me courage to invest them for a return that gives you glory.
Saint Thomas Moore, pray for me.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Come and See

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, the one about whom the prophets wrote: he is Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.’ ‘From Nazareth?’ said Nathanael ‘Can anything good come from that place?’ ‘Come and see’ replied Philip.
Jn.1:45,46

Philip has just been called by Jesus and in his fervour he in turn calls Nathanael. The invitation to "come and see" has Nathanael encounter Jesus and also become his follower.

Come and see. There's something engaging about that invitation. It promises something to look at, hinting at something you have not seen before. It meets you where ever you are at.

I was evangelised by this invitation. There was an unspoken "come and see" from my yet-to-be mother and father in law. The Jesus for me to see was in their solid Catholic faith life. The same was shown in my yet-to-be wife.

What do I have of Jesus for others to come and see? We have a visiting French exchange student living with us at the moment. She has shared with us that she is not Christian. What does she see of Jesus in me?

Jesus, help be an authentic witness for you that others may come and see you in me.
Little Flower, plzease pray for me.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Unwrap the Gift

I tell you solemnly, if your faith were the size of a mustard seed you could say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it would move; nothing would be impossible for you.
Mt.17:20

Jesus explains to the disciples why they were unable to cast out a demon. Their small faith in God limited their ministry.

The first reading has Moses giving adherence to the law as the way to loving God. The Gospel has Jesus showing the new way to love God. Unshakeable faith in him.

Law is an outside in process. Faith is an inside out process and so by far the superior way. It wasn't until I claimed and named faith in Jesus that things started to change in my life. What a precious gift my faith in Jesus is.

Thank you Jesus for the gift of faith you have given me. I unwrap it again today and marvel at its beauty and power to change my life.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Be There

John’s disciples came and took the body and buried it; then they went off to tell Jesus.
Mt.14:12

Herod has just had John the Baptist beheaded, resulting from the vengeful plotting of his wife. John's disciples bury their teacher and then immediately go tell Jesus what has taken place.

When a beloved dies, what can you do? I'm impressed by the actions of John's followers. They show their love for John by burying him. Then, they show their distress at his cruel death by seeking Jesus and pouring out their hearts. These are very human reactions and Jesus meets them in amongst it all.

When, not if, crises happen, my best response is to "go tell Jesus". He will meet me in the midst of my mess. His love will minister to me.

Perhaps I can be Jesus to someone in a mess today...

Thanks you Jesus that you are always, always, always there for me. Help me be there for those you place in my path today.
Little Flower please pray for me.



Friday, August 4, 2017

Complacency

Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is only despised in his own country and in his own house’, and he did not work many miracles there because of their lack of faith.
Mt.13:58

Jesus is teaching and ministering in his home town. The people question his authority, seeing Jesus only as "the carpenter's son".

Familiarity breeds contempt. This saying probably comes from this event the the Bible. It can be applied to the miracle of the Eucharist that occurs at every Mass. I've heard a Protestant say if he really believed Jesus was present in the Eucharist he would crawl over broken glass to receive him.

It would be good to get to Mass today.

Lord Jesus, forgive my complacency. I do believe. Help me in my unbelief.
Little Flower please pray for me.


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Life Raft

'The Son of Man will send his angels and they will gather out of his kingdom all things that provoke offences and all who do evil, and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth. Then the virtuous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Listen, anyone who has ears!’
Mt.13:31-43

Jesus is explaining the meaning of the parable about the weeds among the wheat. It is a warning to all of what is to happen at the end of time.

Today's psalm is Psalm 103, one of my favourites, describing God's mercy and love for us. Yet here in the Gospel we have a very clear picture of Hell and what is to happen to those banished there. It's not a popular gospel, yet Jesus is insistent.

This throws into strong relief what God's love and mercy is calling us back from, eternal flames and weeping and grinding of teeth.

I'm greatful for this reminder, not only for myself but for my loved ones. Our Church isn't just a fluffy feel-good club. It's a life raft. I want to make sure we are all on board when the angels are sent out. We don't know when that will be. Maybe today....

Thank you Jesus for your great mercy and love. Thank you for the Barque of Peter, our life raft. Help me pull more souls onboard today.
Little Flower, please pray for us.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Soften my Heart

You will listen and listen again, but not understand, see and see again, but not perceive. For the heart of this nation has grown coarse.
Mt. 10:14,15

The disciples have asked Jesus why he talks in parables to the people. Jesus says it is because they have no knowledge and that they have no knowledge because of their hard hearts.

Listening and not understanding. Seeing and not perceiving. Nothing has changed in two thousand years. The hardness of heart disease still exists today. This is why a non-believer can attend Mass and walk out saying "What a load of mumbo jumbo", while a believer can leave having experienced the  shekinah glory of God.

The antidote? A softening of the heart. Those disciples who picked up their crosses and followed Jesus had heart surgery and were changed. Those who came to have their ears tickled or to judge went away in the same condition they arrived, with hard hearts and deaf and blind.

I will only help a person see Jesus if I first soften his heart. This is an inside job that comes about through relationship. It takes time and it costs but it works. That's how my heart was softened, by friends and family entering into relationship with me, where I was at.

Lord Jesus, my heart starts to re-calcify at times. Help me keep a soft heart towards others so they see and hear you in me.
Little Flower, please pray for me.




Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Bread from Heaven

Alleluia, alleluia!
The seed is the word of God, Christ is the sower; all who come to him will live for ever.
Alleluia!
Gospel Acclamation

Today's first reading tells how God provided manna to feed the fleeing sons of Israel in the desert. The Gospel is Jesus telling the parable of the sower. Both highlight how God feeds his people, both physicaly and spiritually.

All nourishment for my healthy living is provided by God. His most precious food is that which I am now consuming. His Word. Jesus says if the soil of my heart is fertile, Gods Word will produce a bountiful crop., today.

Lord Jesus, thank you feeding me this morning. May I produce a crop worthy of you.
Little Flower please pray for me.


Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Earthenware Jar

We are only the earthenware jars that hold this treasure, to make it clear that such an overwhelming power comes from God and not from us.
2Cor.4:7

Saint Paul writes to the fledgling Church of Corinth, describing how the Christian life is not to be judged on temporal appearance but on spiritual truth that comes from God.

The world and all its tinsel constantly tries to seduce me. From my receding hair line to the latest IT toy, they all call for my pampering. My abilities and gifts strain to be noticed and stroked, screeching "look at me, look at me!".

This clamour crowds out God. I am reminded I am simply an earthenware jar, any abilities are from God, all trinkets are reconstituted dust. What a relief! I don't have to constantly worry and strain about appearances. My true treasure is from heaven, freely given out of love. My true worth is revealed in the eyes of God.

There is a peace in knowing the only opinion about me that matters comes from God and that he is head-over-heals in love with me.

Thank you Jesus that I do contain treasure. My body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. Help me see others in the same light today.
Saint James, please pray for me.





Saturday, July 22, 2017

He is Alive!

I found him whom my heart loves.
Song of Songs 3:4


Feast of Saint Mary Magdalen

The anguished yearning of the the seeker in the Song of Songs is consummated when she finds him whom her heart loves.

This seeking of a lover for her beloved beautifully represents Mary Magdalen outside the tomb. Finding the tomb of Jesus empty, she is distraught until she meets and recognises him as risen from the dead. She had followed his brutal killing. She knew he had truly died. Now she knew he had truly risen.

Then, as it is with great joy, she had to share the good news with the disciples. She could not contain it.

Joy is contagious. That is its great power. I contain the same good news that Mary had . "Jesus is alive!". I can spread that Good News with those I meet today. How? By being joyful. I have the best of reasons to be so.

Lord  Jesus. You died. You rose. You will come again. Alleluia!
Saint Mary Magdalen, please pray for me. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Rest for my Soul

Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.’
Mt.11:28-30

Jesus has just condemned the crowds for not listening to John the Baptist and the towns for remaining unrepentant. He then softens and invites the wearied and the labored to come to him for relief.

This is one of the most read verses in the Bible, and for good reason. We've all been wearied and labored, I'm feeling a bit that way now. Jesus himself must have been feeling that way after dealing with the obstinacy of the people.

Jesus knows what we are suffering and so he offers the solution, himself. He doesn't remove my yoke, he puts it in perspective by replacing it with his one that is light and easy. His gentleness and humbleness gives rest for my soul, today....

Thank you Jesus for understanding my burden and offering to exchange it for your easy yoke. I accept your offer and claim rest for my soul.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Part of the Plan

Among the reeds she noticed the basket, and she sent her maid to fetch it. She opened it and looked, and saw a baby boy, crying; and she was sorry for him.
Ex.2:5,6

Pharaoh's daughter has found the basket holding Moses amongst the reeds in the river. Her compassion for the the crying baby moves her to save him and in so doing sets in motion events that would culminate in the birth of Jesus and the salvation of the world.

A diverse range of women are involved in this history-making drama, from slave girl to princess. The courage of Moses' sister Miriam, the desperation of Moses' mother, the compassion of Pharaoh's daughter all played their role in God's plan. If either one of them had not been so moved, Moses would have died and God's plan would have been thwarted.

That seems to be the way God works. He entrusts his great vision into the trembling, dirty hands of mere common clay like me. Look at the eleven disciples that made up the core of the Church when Jesus died. They were trembling, confused betrayers hiding in an upper room. Yet into their tremulous hands Jesus entrusted His Church and mission to preach to the ends of the earth.

This gives me hope. Despite my many imperfections, God can still use me for great things in his Kingdom.

Lord Jesus, give me the motivation of Moses' mother, the courage of Miriam and the compassion of Pharoah's daughter to be part of your glorious work today.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Worthy Cross

Anyone who does not take his cross and follow in my footsteps is not worthy of me. Anyone who finds his life will lose it; anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it.
Mt.10:38,39

Jesus is instructing the twelve disciples before moving off to preach in their towns. He warns them that following him will involve attack, division and hardship. But he finishes with the promise of finding life.

Here Jesus speaks of the cross knowing its shadow lies across his life. He would not say it lightly. To be worthy of him I must not try to avoid hardships, crosses, in my life. Embracing them seems to make me grow in stature before Jesus.

This is not an attractive spin, yet there it is. This contains a hidden truth, that fullness of life can be found in suffering and it is not found in trying to avoid it. The crosses I face today are a path to fullness of life.

Lord Jesus, crosses frighten me. Give me courage to embrace the crosses in my life so I may be worthy of you and find life.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Authority and Power

Jesus summoned his twelve disciples, and gave them authority over unclean spirits with power to cast them out and to cure all kinds of diseases and sickness.
Mt.10:1

Jesus commissions the twelve disciples for their first mission trip. They are given authority and power, then instruction to proclaim the Kingdom Heaven is near.

The mission of Jesus continues today. I, as a disciple of Jesus, am given authority and power. Authority over unclean spirits and power to heal. I can start exercising this authority and power, starting with myself.

Lord Jesus, in your name I cast out unclean spirits from my life. In your name I claim healing for my body, soul and spirit. In your name I proclaim the Kingdom of Heaven is near at hand.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Hard Road

Enter by the narrow gate, since the road that leads to perdition is wide and spacious, and many take it; but it is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
Mt.7:13,14

Jesus is closing his great sermon on the mount warning that the path to destruction is easy and wide while the way to life is narrow and difficult.

Perdition: Complete and utter ruin.

The wide easy road is mesmerising. It promises happiness and fulfillment. In no way to does it seem to be a road to complete and utter ruin. Hence many take it.

The way to life is more adventurous. I remember climbing the Tongariro Crossing earlier this year. There's a section called "The Devil's Staircase" where you climb from 1400 to 1600 meters above sea level. It's a killer, but the view at the top is spectacular and the glorious alpine walk starts to become surreal, like you're on another planet. It's thrilling.

This is how I think of the way to life. The devil tries to obscure it with threats of hardship. Yes it is hard but the destination is worth it!

Lord Jesus, give me the grit, the courage to take the hard road leading to life today.
Little Flower, please pray for me.



Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Wonder of my Being

Birthday of John the Baptist

For it was you who created my being, knit me together in my mother’s womb. I thank you for the wonder of my being, for the wonders of all your creation.
Ps.138:13,14

David writes a song glorifying the wonder of God's creation, starting with himself. The wonder of who he is reflects the wonder of all of God's creation and that in turn reflects the wonder of God the Creator.

Wonder:   A feeling of amazement and admiration, caused by something beautiful.

Some days I have this feeling of amazement and admiration about myself. On these days indeed the whole world appears wonderful as I see the fingerprints of God everywhere. On other days amazement and admiration are replaced with disappointment and revulsion. These are grey days where my world is small and self centered.

God knows all my beauty and my ugliness yet he sees me as something beautifully made, indeed made in his own likeness. The key here is to see myself rightly, to see myself as God sees me, warts and all. I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
Saint John the Baptist, please pray for me.



Monday, June 19, 2017

Radical Day

We beg you once again not to neglect the grace of God that you have received. For he says: At the favourable time, I have listened to you; on the day of salvation I came to your help. Well, now is the favourable time; this is the day of salvation.
2Cor.6:1,2

Paul is pleading with the Corinthian Church to live a radical life of holy example, using his own life as a template. And this radical life is not something to be attained in the future, it is to be lived today.

The different drum we are to march to is exemplified by Jesus in today's gospel; walk the extra mile, turn the other cheek, give the extra cloak.  There's something liberating in this generosity. It shows our hearts are fixed on other things, spiritual things.

There is a joy in this sort of detachment, a joy obtainable today, the day of salvation.

Lord Jesus, you call me "further up and further in" to this radical life. Help me let go and be generous with those I meet today.
Little Flower, please pray for me.



Saturday, June 10, 2017

Cheerful Giver

‘I tell you solemnly, this poor widow has put more in than all who have contributed to the treasury;
Mk.12:43

Jesus has watched people placing offerings in the temple treasury. He calls his disciples and singles out the poor widow who has given two small coins, all that she has, and exalts her as the most generous giver.

There's a couple of lessons here. Firstly, Jesus observes all that we give. Secondly, he's not impressed by quantity but by commitment. Someone who gives all is totally committed. Like the chicken who supplied an egg for breakfast and the pig who supplied the bacon. Who is committed?

There's times when I've given like a pig, without counting the cost and times when I've given like a chicken.  I've been quite miserly. The miserly times leave me miserable. The generous times leave me with a sense of joy. Let me be a cheerful and generous giver today...

Lord Jesus, you gave your all for me. Help me do the same for you in those I meet today.
Little Flower, please pray for me.

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.