Uncategorized

The Cost of Discipleship

10 March 2021

Mark 5:17-19

Following Christ has never been easy. In fact, we are asked to deny ourselves and take up our crosses, to follow Jesus. If you’re giving up chocolate, carbs, soda, or any other comfort food for Lent, you know just how difficult a small sacrifice can be. You might even find yourself having “just one bite” when your willpower gives out.

In these verses, Jesus makes it clear that discipleship is challenging. But our reward in heaven will be great. Living in 2021, we are often confronted with a gospel that emphasizes God’s mercy and generosity, while ignoring that God asks something of us, too. He asks that we deny ourselves. He asks for our obedience. Our lenten offerings, given as a sacrifice to God, strengthens our obedience. It’s like spiritual weight-lifting.

In this day, it can be unpopular to follow rules, or even to talk about following rules, especially rules of morality, such as those contained in the Ten Commandments. But as Christians, we are called to speak truth, and we’ve been called to rise above the trends of popular culture.

As theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer taught, “Salvation is free, but discipleship will cost your whole life.” Do you have the heart and courage to live as Jesus teaches us? Even when it’s hard? Even when nobody else is watching? Are you willing to thoughtfully and lovingly speak out and defend our faith in a culture that does not share our values?

If there was ever a time when we should act in a way which glories God, and speak words that are consistent with our faith, now is that time!  

Muffy Patterson

Meditation

 Lord, you call us to “be salt of the earth” and “light of the world.” Help us to understand the responsibility we have to share Gospel by our actions and by our words. Give us courage, we pray. Amen.

Lent Devotional 2021
Download your copy of A Time to Grow: A Daily Devotional for Lenten Pilgrims here.
Bible, Gospel, Lent, Saints

Feast of the Chair of St. Peter

22 February 2021

Matthew 16:13-19

Feast of the Chair of St. Peter

“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” My word! Can you imagine having a pop quiz with Jesus? As the disciples stumble through to the correct answer, it is faith that ultimately moves Peter to respond, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

It is easy to read the Bible, to read a commentary, or watch a video and recite back a lesson learned or memorized, but Jesus doesn’t ask us for book smarts. He asks whether we know him. When Peter identifies Jesus as the Messiah, Jesus know that this knowledge came from the Father (see Mt 16:17). Jesus doesn’t ask us to recite information. He asks for our hearts. He asks that we serve him like Peter served him.

If you visit the Vatican you will see a large tablet in the basilica on which are inscribed the names of all the Popes, the successor of St. Peter. They have guarded and guided the faithful since the day that Jesus built his Church upon Peter. It is fitting that we remember to pray for Pope Francis today and for all who lead the Church.

Muffy Patterson

The names of all the successors of St. Peter (photo by Elizabeth Tomlin)

Meditation

O God, shepherd and ruler of all the faithful,
look favorably on your servant Francis,
whom you have set at the head of your Church as her shepherd;

Grant, we pray, that by word and example
he may be of service to those over whom he presides
so that, together with the flock entrusted to his care,
he may come to everlasting life.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the
unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Amen.

                                                          Prayer from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops


Lent Devotional 2021
Download your copy of A Time to Grow: A Daily Devotional for Lenten Pilgrims here.
person holding opened book
Advent, Bible, Gospel, Uncategorized, Women's Ministry

Is the Bible Still Relevant? Gospel Reflection Friday of the Second Week of Advent

Friday 11 December

Matthew 11:16-19

Jesus said to the crowds: “To what shall I compare this generation? It is like children who sit in marketplaces and call to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance, we sang a dirge but you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they said, ‘He is possessed by a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they said, ‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is vindicated by her works.”


Some people say that the Bible is no longer relevant. Well, hello! This passage is timeless. It’s like Jesus knew he would be dealing with us thousands of years into the future.

We still admonish one another like this today.  In these COVID-19 days, if someone is extremely cautious, we accuse them of being too risk averse.  If someone is a risk taker, we accuse them of being reckless. This sort of rhetoric sounds like old school Bible stuff. We’re making the same mistakes as the children in today’s parable.  We’re not listening to one another or seeking to understand.  

It was easier for people to dismiss John the Baptist, as an eccentric Essene who ate locusts, than it was to listen to his prophetic message.  It was easier for some to persecute Jesus’ message of love, and indeed, his very identity, than it was to accept that the Messiah had come.

I don’t think many of us are at our best nearly nine months into the Corona Virus. Many of us have lost loved ones. Some of us have consumed a few more adult beverages than typically imbibed. Some of us are nursing our feelings with Double Stuff Oreos. “Meme-ing” has become both a verb and national pastime because making light of this surreal years is easier than actually dealing with it.  

But we know that, “wisdom is vindicated by her works” (Mt 11:19). In Luke’s Gospel, this parable is preserved as “wisdom is vindicated by all her children” (Lk 7:35). This is a somewhat confusing phrase, but it means that John and Jesus are the children of Widsom. The works of John and Jesus are those of divine Wisdom.

But what of our actions? I’d like to think that as the pandemic has gone on, Wisdom is being vindicated in our works, too. People have begun taking care to prepare healthier snacks and beverages.  We’re righting the ship, so-to-speak. People are placing more value on family and friends, and the time we can spend together. Prayer has become more commonplace among those who may have strayed from faith, and on-line church services boomed. We have begun to look out for our neighbors, which may be one of the most healing balms of all, and this all harkens back to Jesus’ command to love one another.

Muffy Patterson

To Ponder

What Bible passage speaks to you in 2020 as if it were just written or spoken today for the very first time?