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Bible, Gospel

Thoughts for When we Feel Insecure

27 March 2021

John 11:45-56

In today’s Gospel, Jesus had just performed yet another miracle in raising Lazarus from the dead, garnering more believers with each miracle. When this news reached the Pharisees and the chief priests, a meeting of the Sanhedrin was called. Instead of being open to what God was revealing through his son, these leaders felt threatened. 

They worried about preserving their position and wealth and allowed greed, fear, and envy to motivate them.  Insecurity and ego can lead people to do horrible things. We know historically that the chief priests and the Pharisees did not always get along, but when they saw a common enemy, they colluded to persecute the Son of God.  

When you think about it, the world may have changed as it moved through the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and the Information Age, but some things have not changes. When people feel threatened or afraid, they will often employ sinful means to suppress the threat. 

Some have relied on emotions or propaganda. Others have relied on instilling fear. Some use clever but faulty logic or reasoning to get their point across. The irony in this reading is that in verse 50, Caiaphas states exactly what must happen to realize God’s plan of salvation without realizing that Jesus’ death is offered to save all of us and not merely his alliance.

Can you see yourself in this passage? Do you let fear, greed, or a desire for influence or adulation steer your decisions? Do you deal fairly with others in your person and professional pursuits? We all fall short of God’s law sometimes, if you see these vices in your life, make a good confession. Don’t beat yourself up. Know that where you are weak, your community of faith is praying for you . . . having a piece of chocolate may help, too.

Aly Tugaoen

Meditation

From the Daniel Iverson Hymn: Spirit of the living God, Fall afresh on me. Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me. Spirit of the living God, Fall afresh on me.

Lent Devotional 2021
Download A Time to Grow Lent Devotional as a free E-book here
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Bible, Eucharist, Gospel, Lent, Mass Reflection, Self Care, Theology

It’s all About Relationships

16 March 2021

John 5:1-16

What exactly did Jesus do that was so upsetting to the Jews that they wanted to have him killed? The last line of the Gospel is the perfect place to begin this reflection, “because he not only broke the Sabbath but also called God his Father, making himself equal to God” (Jn 5:16).

Ironically, this last line points to exactly why Jesus was born. He came on a mission to create a kingdom of love to reign in our hearts, to share the love of God the Father with us, and reveal that he is one with God, for Jesus is God, a member of the Holy Trinity. Jesus came to invite us into a personal relationship, heal us, and inspire us to follow him and grow in holiness. 

In life, it is easy to see matters through “our worldly lenses”.  We can start to think that God will follow our formulas and ways of thinking rather than being open to the Lord’s plan. When life doesn’t go our way, we can become anxious, stressed, and even dive into depression. We can push God away. Yet, we’re called to press into God in these moments – into his promises, his embrace, his offer of salvation.

Think of the man in this passage who longed to be healed and waited 38 years for this most glorious moment of his life. He was not only healed but had a rich and meaningful encounter with Jesus!  Imagine how grateful he was when Jesus healed him. Jesus is offering us the same type of healing, he wants to set us free from the baggage that holds us back from loving Him. Jesus shows us that there is always meaning to be found when we are struggling. If nothing else, struggles offer us an opportunity to encounter Jesus more profoundly and learn to trust that he is there for us. 

Jesus sought out the man so that he would know that Jesus was the one who healed him and shared a powerful message. He said, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse befall you.” In a way, these final words to the man are a formula for life. Jesus wants to heal us, yes, but the next line, “sin no more that nothing worse befall you” is the most important, for what is worse than being crippled or even blind? Sinning and going to hell, and ending our relationship with Jesus. May we seek to be holy!

Emily Jaminet

Meditation

From what do you need healing? It could be a physical ailment, anxiety, desire to control something, the need to forgive a wrong. Wherever you need healing, offer it to Jesus today. Invite the Lord to that place.

Lent Devotional 2021
Download A Time to Grow Lent Devotional as a free E-book here
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Bible, Gospel, Lent, Lent, Mass Reflection

A Prayer for When you Feel Lukewarm

15 March 2021

John 4:43-54

It must have taken a certain amount of desperation for this royal official to seek Jesus out. A few biblical commentaries say that he was probably a pagan, so right away, he’s not initially going to be open to the idea of a Jewish Messiah. We don’t know how long his son was ill, but we do know that it had become so serious that he begged Jesus to come and heal him. 

How much of this is rooted in real belief, and how much of this is desperation? We don’t know, and I’m not sure if it really matters. Because in the end, we read that the man “believed the word that Jesus spoke to him.” (v. 50) This doesn’t sound like lukewarm sort-of-belief to me. It sounds like belief brought to fruition by desperation. 

Sometimes this is what it takes to throw ourselves into God’s arms. It’s the divorce, the diagnosis given over the phone, or a child’s life-threatening accident. In these moments of terror, we give ourselves over to the one who is always there for us, even if we haven’t realized it up until that moment. Sometimes a shock is needed to jolt faith awake. 

In this case, Jesus’ word is enough to save the beloved son. Just as his father created the entire cosmos with his word, Jesus–whom John calls the “Word of God”–heals with a simple word. 

Before we receive Communion at Mass, we pray, in part, “Only say the word and my soul shall be healed,” echoing the centurion. Jesus, the Word of God, is still acting today. He waits for you to say your words, words of faith, which will open the door to him so he can come into your life and act, healing your soul’s wounds. We just have to say the word. 

Emily DeArdo

Meditation

Lord, I am not worth that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word, and my soul shall be healed.

Lent Devotional 2021
Download A Time to Grow Lent Devotional as a free E-book here
Lent Devotional 2021
Lent, Lent, Uncategorized

A Time to Grow – Lent 2021 Devotional

Friends, Your response to the Good Tidings 2020 Advent Devotional was so generous that I decided to compile another devotional for Lent. Several faithful, talented, and loving friends helped me to write this Lent devotional, which I’ve named A Time to Grow. I hope that you grow this Lent. If you’re subscribed to the blog, you’ll receive a new Gospel reflection to your inbox daily. You will also be able to download A Time to Grow as a free e-book.

St. Gregory the Great preached that scripture “grows with its readers.”

When we pray (or at least when I pray), I don’t hear an audible voice of God speaking to me. But when we pray with scripture, we’re opening an opportunity for the Word to speak to us. 

I have a friend who is a Baptist preacher, and he looked at me one day and said, “You know, Elizabeth, we Baptists believe that the Holy Spirit is actually present in the words we preach.” 

“Of course the Holy Spirit can be present in preaching,” I thought. He paused for a while. Then he said, “So I can see how Jesus could be present in the Eucharist.” I responded, “Welcome to the Catholic Church, friend!”

Scripture grows with the reader, and we grow with scripture, too. 

What might God’s Word have in store for you this Lent? 

We can read scripture alone, but it’s helpful to do so in community with others. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Pv 27:17). To that end, I’m grateful that so many women have collaborated with me to create this Lent Devotional. I encourage you to read the Gospel daily, take time for meditation, and hop on over to the Joyful Momentum group on Facebook, where we can talk about how God is revealing himself to us through his Word. I pray that you have a diligent, loving, and fruitful Lent. 

Elizabeth Tomlin

Download your free E-Book of A Time to Grow

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Advent, Gospel, Motherhood, Parenting

When Your Hopes and Dreams for Your Child Don’t Turn Out the Way You Planned

Wednesday 23 December 2020

Luke 1:57-66

When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her. When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said in reply, “No. He will be called John.” But they answered her, “There is no one among your relatives who has this name.” So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called. He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,” and all were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God. Then fear came upon all their neighbors, and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea. All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, “What, then, will this child be?” For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.


Parents have great hopes and dreams more often than not when they bring a child into the world. What will he or she become? We pray for health and for happiness, surely. But many pray that the gifts God bestows on them will be used well and appreciated by the child, that the gifts will be used to glorify God. Whatever the hopes and prayers, things don’t always turn out the way we expect.

At some point, when expectations are dashed, parents need to pray new prayers for their children, especially our young-adult children,: “Lord, give them the grace they need to overcome the struggles. Give them peace. Heal them. Comfort them. Be with them. Keep them safe from harm. Shield them from pain, from evil. Help them to know You’re with them always, that we’re here for them. Let them know we love them unconditionally just like You do, Lord. We may not love them as much as You do, but we love them as much as is humanly possible.”

Even Elizabeth and Zechariah were probably initially disappointed or confused, certainly, by John the Baptist’s life choices. He was living in the desert, wearing nothing but camel’s hair clothing and a leather belt, and eating honey and wild locusts. He spoke truth to power. He spoke of the Truth that is Jesus, the Lamb of God. Not so long after, Jesus would mourn his death.

What we envision for the future of our children or ourselves is rarely what occurs. God’s has a plan, and it is for our salvation. We have to trust Him and what he wants for us and our children which is, ultimately, eternal life with him. Life here isn’t always what we planned.

Lynda MacFarland

Meditation

Let’s ask God, recalling the mercy he shows us through the passion, death, and resurrection of his Son, to help our unbelief.


lighted holiday tree in front of building
Advent, Gospel

God Looks Upon our Lowliness

Tuesday 22 December

Luke 1:46-56

Mary said: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. for he has looked upon his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name. He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm, and has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children for ever.” Mary remained with Elizabeth about three months and then returned to her home.


To be seen through the eyes of God, even in our lowliness, is a true blessing. As women we know we can be our own worst enemies. We do not need others to put us down because no one does that better that we do. Unfortunately, we often see ourselves as if we were looking at a fun house mirror full of distortion. We see every perceived imperfection and we focus on those. Can you imagine how sad God must be with how we look upon his creation this way?

I was looking through my closet one day, pulling out clothes and complaining that nothing looked good on me. I called myself fat and ugly and bemoaned the fact that I could not make any of those clothes look good. What I thought I was saying in my head I was obviously saying out loud, and my husband heard me. Before I knew what was happening my husband grabbed me by the shoulders, turned me around, and said “I don’t care how you are feeling.  I won’t allow anyone to speak about the woman I love that way! You are hurting her, and you are hurting me as well. Stop it now!”  I was hurting him by speaking badly about me. Can I tell you that I have never felt more loved by him than I did in that exact minute?

God looks upon us in our lowliness and he calls us blessed. When we do not love ourselves (who have been created in his image and likeness) we hurt him. I can imagine God doing what my husband did, holding us and telling us to “Stop it now!” I love you!

Lisa Miklos

Meditation

God is captivated by you, and that includes the imperfections that you may see in the mirror.