Fill Yourself with Good Things

Luke 1:53

“He has filled the hungry with good things.”

Such a short sentence to reflect on today! You might think it doesn’t mean too much other than God provides us with good things. But I think you can read and reflect on this in a number of ways.

My first observation was on the word “hungry.” This is mainly because as of now, it’s time for me to eat being almost lunch time. Also, I’m currently dieting for a fitness competition so food is on my mind a lot these days.

But did you ever think about how we feed our souls and our minds?

I think about this a lot; we feed on what we see and hear everyday. Something as simple as a movie or a song that we hear or watch. We feed on the words of our friends and co-workers. We feed on what we hear and see and look at everyday.

This is why it’s very important to our faith that we “consume” as much of the Word as we can each day. It leaves little room for the rest of the “anti-Word” to enter our minds and bodies.

You can think of the Word as all the good things God provides to us; good healthy nourishing food of course, but scripture and God’s loving words are good for the soul. What else can we feed on that’s “good?”

  • Uplifting songs on the radio and on our ipod’s
  • Volunteering/stewardship for organizations and causes that need help
  • Positive images in magazines and in advertisements (or simply trashing the trashy ones)
  • Motivational videos on social media and TV
  • Following and reading blogs and organizations that have a “good” theme

How can we avoid or abstain from the “anti-Word” things? (This doesn’t mean REPRESSING our feelings or even AVOIDANCE but it does mean making an effort to surround yourself with “Good” things)

  • When shopping, only purchase what you budget for
  • Avoid the candy/junk food aisle if you know that you can easily be swayed and “cheat”
  • Change the channel on the radio/tv when you know something is coming on that you have no desire to watch/that might make you feel depressed or angry
  • Read books (besides the Bible) that explore theology or are faith based; books that might help you learn instead of escape

Fit In Your Faith Today: What do you “consume” that you know isn’t provided by God? Do you purposely seek out these “anti-Word” items? How can you seek out the “Good” in an effort to become less tempted to consume the “anti-Word” messages/items?

This is probably not an overnight process. This will be a journey for most that might take a long time.

Here are some authors/books that I have found particularly helpful:

Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst

Fill These Hearts: God, Sex, and the Universal Longing by Christopher West

What Are You Hungry For? By Deepak Chopra

The Rhythm of Life: Living Every Day with Passion and Purpose by Matthew Kelly

 

No Need to Keep Jesus a Secret

John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30

Jesus moved about within Galilee;
he did not wish to travel in Judea,
because the Jews were trying to kill him.
But the Jewish feast of Tabernacles was near.

But when his brothers had gone up to the feast,
he himself also went up, not openly but as it were in secret.

Some of the inhabitants of Jerusalem said,
“Is he not the one they are trying to kill?
And look, he is speaking openly and they say nothing to him.
Could the authorities have realized that he is the Christ?
But we know where he is from.
When the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from.”
So Jesus cried out in the temple area as he was teaching and said,
“You know me and also know where I am from.
Yet I did not come on my own,
but the one who sent me, whom you do not know, is true.
I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.”
So they tried to arrest him,
but no one laid a hand upon him,
because his hour had not yet come.

From the New Life Study Bible: Jesus came with the greatest gift ever offered, so why did he often act secretly? The religious leaders hated him, and many would refuse his gifts of salvation, no matter what he said or did. The more Jesus taught and worked publicly, the more these leaders would cause trouble for him and his followers. So it was necessary for Jesus to teach and work as quietly as possible, and worshiping publicly with little persecution. These believers should be grateful and make the most of their opportunities to proclaim the Good News.

The Jewish religious leaders had a great deal of power over the common people. Apparently these leaders couldn’t do much to Jesus at this time, but they threatened anyone who might publicly support him, most likely with excommunication. Excommunication from the synagogue was one of the reprisals for believing in Jesus. To a Jew this was a severe punishment.

Fit In Your Faith Today: Do you hide your belief in Jesus? Do you think you’ll get grief or persecuted for your belief in Christ? We don’t need to hide or keep our faith quiet these days. Learn from the early followers of Christ. Take opportunities to spread the Good News. Today, many of us living in the free world don’t need to worry about persecution for our beliefs. Do not be concerned about a negative reaction or someone not “hearing” your words. In time, they might come back to you with questions or inquiries and you can expand on your love of God and possibly help this person become a follower as well!

What’s Truly Important

Proverbs 2:1-5

My child, if you will receive my sayings, and hide my commands with you, in order to incline your ear toward wisdom, then you shall apply your heart to understanding. For if you cry out for understanding, if you life your voice for insight, if you seek her like silver and search her out like treasure, then you will understand the fear of Yahweh, and the knowledge of God you will find.

From Rebecca Van Noord  – Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan:

The knowledge of God isn’t just knowledge ABOUT God. It’s also the desire and the process of inclining and applying your heart to understanding. The father encourages his son to cry out for understanding or lift his voice for insight- going beyond just intellectual comprehension.

We might claim to hold a life of worship, but do our actions really reflect that value? Do our efforts and decisions reflect a heart that cries out to God for His wisdom? God has redeemed us at a great price with the death of His son. He desires that we turn over our lives to Him – and that includes pursuing Him with all our being.

Fit in Your Faith Today: Are you pursuing “the knowledge of God” and applying your heart to understanding?

A New Perspective on the Commandments

The key to getting our relationship with God right is the key to getting everything else right in the moral life. – Fr. Robert Barron

Fr. Barron gave a very insightful homily today on our first reading from this Sunday’s mass.

Here’s a summary of his thoughts on each commandment:

  1. I am the Lord your God, you shall have no other gods besides me. Everybody worships something or someone – the center of gravity for your life. Everyone has the ultimate concern. What is of supreme importance to you? That is what you worship. What is of highest worth to you? The first commandment tells us it has to be God. If He is not, your spiritual life comes apart.
  2. You shall not the name of the Lord your God in vain. It’s one thing to claim that God is the center of your life, but do you speak like it and act like it? Don’t speak so casually about it. Speech matters. Right speech contributes to the building up of the soul. Wrong speech leads to the coarsening of the soul.
  3. Remember to keep holy the sabbath day. Unless you incarnate your worship of God in some definite of act of worship otherwise that commitment becomes an abstraction and then irrelevant. It must express itself through action. God does not NEED our worship. WE NEED worship. Fr. Barron points out the falling off of people attending mass on Sundays. Sunday has become like any other weekend day like Saturday. This signifies this loss of focus of our society.
  4. Honor your Father and Mother. Not just your parents but also your family. If you love God but can’t manage to love and honor those closest to you, something is wrong. Family is the building block of society. The foundation will become lost if you love God but don’t love those closest and dearest to you.
  5. You shall not kill. 60 million unborn babies killed since Roe vs Wade. Victims of ISIS, casual murders in our streets/gang violence. God is the giver of life – We have no business interfering with that preogative. Do we enhance life or do we diminish it after meeting someone? In our dealing with people, do they feel more alive after being with us?
  6. You shall not commit adultery. Marriage is in serious trouble. Think of the pain that takes place when infidelity takes place. The family is the building block of society. Husbands and wives can’t stay committed and the sadness and pain that takes place when that commitment is broken.
  7. You shall not steal.  When you start bad mouthing someone, that’s a kind of stealing. You’re stealing the good reputation of someone.
  8. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. How we love tearing each other down. It’s a function of the ego’s need to be superior and to feel protected.  Our favorite indoor pastime is critiquing each other. How often do you engage in bearing false witness during the course of the day? Do you lie about someone for your own purposes?
  9. You shall not covet your neighbors goods/ 10. You shall not covet your neighbors wife. We desire what our neighbor desires. We tend to desire things not because their good in themselves, but because someone else desires them. We want someONE or someTHING because someone else wants it.

Fit in Your Faith Today: Take one of the commandments and focus on it and how you are possibly, without even realizing it, comitting one of these sins. Are you honoring your family? Do you covet things just because someone else wants it too? Have you stolen someone’s reputation by bad mouthing them? Do you treat Sundays just like any other day without making it a holy day? There’s so much we can work on spiritually to live out these commandments. We can go through our own transformation this Lent as we make an effort to not only memorize these commandments but live them out as well.

An Impossible Discovery

Galatians 3:28-29

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendant, heirs according to the promise.

An Impossible Discovery by Father Vincent Nagle, from the book Praying with St. Paul

“It was December and the beginning of summer vacation for the students in Kenya. Myself and a missionary priest I had just met were standing in a field far from Nairobi waiting for the students to start arriving for a vacation together. I had arrived in the country just a couple of days before for the first time, to begin a new mission. As I stood there I could not have felt more estranged. I did not know anyone coming, I did not know the language, I had never been to sub-Saharan Africa, and there was almost nothing planned for the days ahead. And as the young men and women started to wander in, bedraggled from hard travel, and we had a first bad meal together, my anxiety increased.

Then, after dinner, some of the students, the teachers, the priest, and I all sat down together. We asked, “What do we want from these days ahead?” What strongly emerged among us was that we wanted to meet Christ that week. We wanted the One in whom we see our destiny to become visible among us. We wanted him, the meaning of everything. What had seemed alien to me now was familiar. They wanted what I wanted. What they had encountered and had brought them to that place was precisely what had brought me.

After that I have always been able to hear the stupefaction in the words of Saint Paul as he describes what is impossibly unfolding in the people before him. Their hearts, touched by Christ, are one. Gulfs once believed unbridgeable, between mentalities, histories, and cultures, are joined in the unity of an identical commotion in their hearts. Their desire has become one, him. Differences no longer have the last word. The encounter with Jesus Christ has revealed for each the heart of the other. In all our estrangements, let us beg for Jesus to reveal himself, giving us our communion with all.”

Fit In Your Faith Today: We can learn a lot from this reflection from Father Vincent. People may be different from us, we may feel threatened by them. We may just think we couldn’t possibly have anything in common with those who are different from us. But we can see and hear, even if we don’t speak the same language, that our hearts are the same. They all seek to know Christ. If there is someone in your life whom you don’t interact with because they are “too different” from you, ask them. Ask them if their heart is the same as yours – You might discover the impossible – that you seek the same thing!

 

Not an Inspired Message

1 Corinthians 13: 1-2, 8-10

I may be able to speak the languages of human beings and even of angels, but if I have no love, my speech is no more than a noisy gong or a clanging bell. I may have the gift of inspired preaching; I may have all knowledge and understand all secrets; I may have all the faith needed to move mountains- but if I have no love, I am nothing. 

Love is eternal. There are inspired messages, but they are temporary; there are gifts of speaking in strange tongues, but they will cease; there is knowledge, but it will pass. For our gifts of knowledge and of inspired messages are only partial; but when what is perfect comes, then what is partial will disappear.

Fit in Your Faith Today: Are you falling for an “inspired message” from the secular world about Valentine’s Day and about Love? Remember who and what is love: God. God is love. (1 John 4:7-10) Let us show one another THIS kind of love not just today, but every day. Not just with chocolate and flowers, but with actions and words.

Isaiah 26:3

Isaiah 26:3

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

From the New Life Study Bible:

We can never avoid strife in the world around us, but when we fix our thoughts on God, we can know perfect peace even in turmoil. We focus our mind on God and his Word, we become steady and stable. Supported by God’s unchanging love and mighty power, we are not shaken by the surrounding chaos. Do you want peace? Keep your thoughts on God and your trust in him.