Your Body is a Temple

1 Corinthians 10:31

So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

This scripture passage is my screensaver on my iPad and laptop. Why? I found it one day while searching for some sort of guidance while dieting and trying to stick to my meal plan.

I refer to it when I’m feeling like having a huge binge or having some food that I know will not be healthy for me. So I would read this sentence over and over until it sunk in. I also remembered other passages that remind us that our bodies are our temples and you shouldn’t trash the temple (by eating junk food).

But you can also reflect on this passage a little differently and think that whatever task you do, as mundane as it may be, do it for the glory of God. Does the food you eat and the drinks you consume glorify God? Do they honor your body and your health?

Fit In Your Faith Today: Do your actions throughout the day glorify God, or do they dishonor God and yourself? Are you giving in to tempting foods and drink that you know don’t do honor to God or to your body? Treat your body and your mind as a holy temple. Visualize yourself as this temple the next time you are tempted to engage in behavior or habits that don’t glorify God.

Wisdom, not Pride.

Proverbs 3:7-8

Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.

Good News Translation:

Never let yourself think that you are wiser than you are; simply obey the Lord and refuse to do wrong. If you do, it will be like good medicine, healing your wounds and easing your pains.

The book of Proverbs always has interesting insights. Especially the direct nature of the wording.

This one basically says – Don’t be a know-it-all. You aren’t all that smart.

This isn’t meant to make us feel inferior or unintelligent. I believe it’s just meant to take the ego down a notch. Don’t let yourself become inflated with thinking you are superior to others.

On the contrary, obey the Lord and turn away from evil and wrongdoing. By doing so, it acts like medicine for our broken bodies. It eases the pain in our hearts. I appreciate that this passage compares obeying God as a way to stay healthy in mind, body and soul. You can think of sin or doing not-so-great things as causing a wound in our body to be opened. Or pain in our soul taking place. What’s the cure? Good works. Good words. Good actions. Obeying the Lord and treating others as equals.

Fit in Your Faith Today: Do you talk down or act differently around people who you think are inferior to you? Do you think yourself as being a know-it-all sometimes? Try to look at others as equals, no matter what their job or their education level or social status says about them. Treat them well, obey the Lord as He commands us, and our minds and bodies and souls will be healed from the pain of mistreatment, anger, and pride.

Don’t be a Jezebel

2 Kings 9:36

“But when they went out to bury her, they found only her skull, her feet, and her hands.”

Jezebel’s skull, feet and hands were all that remained of her evil life – no power, no money, no prestige, no royal finery, no family, no spiritual heritage.

In the end, her life of luxury and treachery amounted to nothing.

Power, health, and wealth may make you feel as if you can live forever. But death strips everyone of all external security. The time to set your life’s course is now, while you still have time and before you heart becomes hardened. The end will come soon enough.

-From The New Life Study Bible

 

Fit in You Faith Today: Do you appreciate life more than power and money and social status? If you stripped away every material thing in your life, would you still consider yourself to be “rich” in your life? As the study guide suggests, it’s never too late to set your life’s course. Our time on earth is never guaranteed.

Fix Your Thoughts on What is True

Philippians 4:8

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

What we put into our mind determines what comes out in our words and actions. Paul tells us to program our mind with thoughts that are true, honorable, pure, lovely, right and admirable.

Do you have problems with focusing your mind on honorable and true things? Examine what you are putting into your mind through television, social media, books, music, movies, magazines, conversations, etc. What kind of information is being communicated to you?

Is this information harmful to you? Is it negative? Ask yourself if it’s even true? Is it even worthy of your time to think and daydream such things? Replace this input with better thoughts. Godly thoughts. Positive thoughts. Above all, read God’s Word and pray. Ask God to help you focus your mind on what is good and praiseworthy.

This won’t happen overnight. This takes a long time to get this thought process down. But with prayer and practice, it can happen.

Fit In Your Faith Today: What harmful thoughts have entered your mind? Do you start your day with these thoughts? Get started on the right foot and read God’s words instead of words of the secular world. Read and think thoughts that are helpful, not harmful.

Reach Out to Those in Need

Galatians 6: 1-3

Brothers, even if a person is caught in some transgression, you who are spiritual should correct that one in a gentle spirit, looking to yourself, so that you also may not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so you will fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he is deluding himself.

Here’s another translation:

Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.

It can be difficult to ask for help when we are so used to being independent. But sometimes we need help. We may have sunk to a new low. We may have fallen in with the wrong crowd or just gotten into bad habits such as resentment, gluttony, or even something as seemingly harmless as laziness. After all, you might think, I’m not hurting anyone but myself with my ______ (insert bad habit here).

But hurting yourself is not healthy or holy. And it’s at that point when you need to reach out to others for help.Look to the godly and holy people in your life. Seek them out to help you get out of your rut. If you yourself are being sought, be careful not to fall into your friends bad habits. It might even be someone close to you like your spouse or parent. If you are not fully aware, you could easily be sucked into their world. Don’t let that happen. Stay true to your beliefs and your godly ways.

Extend the rope. Pull them out of that place and offer to lighten their load. Offer assistance. Work together for the common good!

Fit in Your Faith Today: Who in your life could use your kindness and goodness? Who can you call upon to help YOU get out of a difficult situation you find yourself in? Depend on others and allow others to depend on you. Be open to it!

The Feast of the Epiphany

Today Catholics in the United States celebrate the Epiphany of the Lord, the moment the three wise men had an epiphany, a moment of realizing the truth about God.

Here is the gospel reading for today from Matthew 2: 2-12:

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,
in the days of King Herod,
behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star at its rising
and have come to do him homage.”
When King Herod heard this,
he was greatly troubled,
and all Jerusalem with him.
Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people,
He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea,
for thus it has been written through the prophet:
And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
since from you shall come a ruler,
who is to shepherd my people Israel.”
Then Herod called the magi secretly
and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance.
He sent them to Bethlehem and said,
“Go and search diligently for the child.
When you have found him, bring me word,
that I too may go and do him homage.”
After their audience with the king they set out.
And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them,
until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star,
and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother.
They prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Then they opened their treasures
and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
they departed for their country by another way.

If you’ve been a catholic most of your life, you may recall the story of the three wise men and think, “Yes I know this one, everybody knows this story!”

But no matter how many times you’ve read or heard this gospel, you can always learn something new. You can always have an epiphany yourself!

For instance, it wasn’t just Herod the Great who was “greatly troubled.” It was “all of Jerusalem.”

When King Herod heard this,
he was greatly troubled,
and all Jerusalem with him.

We know why King Herod was troubled by this news; He was not the rightful heir to the throne of David so many Jews hated him as a usurper. If Jesus was an heir, trouble would arise. Also, Herod was ruthless, and because of his many enemies, he was supicious that someone would try to overthrow him. Herod would not want the Jews to unite around a religious figure.

So why would all of Jerusalem be greatly troubled? According to the Life Application Study Bible commentary: When Jesus was born into the world, people immediately began to react. His presence did not soothe and comfort most people; instead, it startled and disturbed them. In some he awakened spiritual longings; in others, fear and insecurity.

It seems that Jesus’ birth had quite the effect on the people around him, even when he was just a newborn. By the time the three wise men probably met Jesus, it was most likely a year or two after his birth. A trip on camel or on foot back then would have taken a long time. Most people would like to think they arrived just moments after his birth but actually, Jesus was probably 1 or 2 years old at the time.

Another interesting point is that Herod tells the wise men: When you have found him, bring me word,
that I too may go and do him homage.

We know this was not true. Herod was a ruthless leader who was threatened by the birth of this King. He had no intention of worshiping Christ. He wanted this king dead so he could remain in power. In fact, he took no chances and ordered all baby boys in Bethlehem killed.

Luckily, as we see from Matthew’s gospel, having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
they departed for their country by another way.

The wise men did not give word to Herod and managed to avoid an encounter with him. They had an epiphany, and changed direction.

Fit in your Faith Today: How can you learn something new from the story of the 3 wise men and apply it to your own life? Is there a King Herod in your life who is threatened by your faith in God? Have you been warned by someone or something to avoid a ruthless person from entering your life? Did you have an epiphany recently that caused you to change direction in your own life? Take some time to reflect on some of these points and look at the story of the 3 wise men from a different direction.

Thoughts on Suffering from Charles Sidoti and Rabbi Akiva Feinstein

I came across this blog post from Charles Sidoti and just had to share.

Sidoti as well as Rabbi Akiva Feinstein share their thoughts on suffering and the questions we should be asking when tragic events occur in our lives.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • The span of a human life is simply too brief to achieve any meaningful understanding of the ways of the universe.  Just as we cannot judge a movie by arriving in the middle and leaving before the end, we cannot judge God’s master plan for us or for the world.  It is only with the passage of significant amounts of time that we could hope to gather even a measure of illumination.

 

  • It is perfectly natural to ask “Why?” but our response needs to evolve from there if we are to grow spiritually.

 

  • It occurred to me then that our own suffering, if we could learn to accept it in some measure into our lives, could serve a similar purpose for us.  Even as the sabal (the porter), cheerfully carried his heavy load knowing that he would be compensated, we can be buoyed by the knowledge that our sevel (our suffering) is not in vain.  We can live with confidence that our suffering has a higher purpose and represents an opportunity for growth, even though that purpose and opportunity may not be apparent to us.

 

  • Our personal response to suffering is our responsibility, and we do have a choice.

 

  • We will discover that, although in a different way from joy and happiness, the suffering that naturally comes our way has its part to play in our spiritual growth and in our becoming the loving person that God is calling us to be.

I would highly suggest reading the entire post (it’s not that long) to get the full effect. I was truly moved by the Rabbi’s explanation of the porter and the connection to our suffering. Think of the transformations that could occur in people everywhere if we view suffering not so much as a burden but as an opportunity for growth.

Fit in your Faith Today: Read today’s blog post from Charles Sidoti and reflect on the suffering that you have experienced and endured in your life. Ask yourself how you can see these “tragedies” as “opportunities” to grow in your faith.

Start Your Day With Prayer

Prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas

Grant me, O Lord my God, a mind to know you, a heart to seek you, wisdom to find you, conduct pleasing to you, faithful perseverance in waiting for you, and a hope of finally embracing you. Amen.

 Do you start your day with a prayer? A prayer of gratitude, or even just the words “Help me, Jesus?” Prayers are just conversations with God. Sometimes people think they have to be these long, memorized, recited words. But they don’t!

Sometimes you can just start your day with a simple “Thank you God for another day to worship you.”

Or “I’m not sure what to say today Lord but I just wanted to say thanks for blessing me with all that I have.”

This prayer above from St. Thomas Aquinas is a great one that sums up what many of us need everyday.

“A mind to know God” – There’s a saying that you fill your mind with God’s word before you even get out of bed, that way it leaves little else for your mind to be “littered” with throughout the day. Have God always on your brain.

“A heart to seek God” – Always be searching for Him. You don’t know to look very far. He’s near us, He created us, He is in us.

“Wisdom to find God” – Reading devotionals like this one are a great way to seek wisdom. Of course the Bible provides all the wisdom about God that you could possibly need. Saturate your mind with His words.

“Conduct pleasing to God” – This is probably one of the more difficult requests. Do you conduct yourself throughout the day in a manner that would be pleasing to God?

“Faithful perseverance in waiting for God” – One day we will meet God. In the meantime we must wait for Him with great anticipation.

“A hope of finally embracing God” – This prayer ends with words of comfort. Picture the final embrace you will receive once you finally pass from this life and into the next. It shouldn’t cause you any distress; it should give you comfort to know that we will one day meet Our Father.

Fit in Your Faith Today: Start everyday with a prayer. It can be as simple or as short or as long as you want. You’re having a conversation with God; talk to Him. Use St. Thomas’ prayer if you want. Or come up with your own. Create this habit and note if you feel or find yourself in better spirits because of this great way to start your day!

Back on Track

1 John 1:1-4

Beloved:
What was from the beginning,
what we have heard,
what we have seen with our eyes,
what we looked upon
and touched with our hands
concerns the Word of life —
for the life was made visible;
we have seen it and testify to it
and proclaim to you the eternal life
that was with the Father and was made visible to us—
what we have seen and heard
we proclaim now to you,
so that you too may have fellowship with us;
for our fellowship is with the Father
and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
We are writing this so that our joy may be complete.

According to Life Application Study Bible: First John was written by John, one of Jesus’ original 12 disciples. He had a special relationship with Jesus. The main problem confronting the church at the time this letter was written was declining commitment. Many believers were conforming to the world’s standards, failing to stand up for Christ and compromising their faith.  (Sound familiar to today?)

False teachers were everywhere and they were accelerating the church’s downward slide away from the Christian faith.  John wrote this letter to put believers back on track and to show the difference between light and darkness and to encourage the church to grow in genuine love for God and for one another. He also wrote to assure true believers that they possessed eternal life and to help them know that their faith was genuine – so they could enjoy all the benefits of being God’s children.

Can you relate to the motivation that John used to write this letter? He was trying to spread love, not hate. He tried to get people out of the darkness of evil by shedding light upon them. This entire introduction to First John can definitely be applied to our world today. How many times do you turn on the tv and see the “darkness?” It can be hard to avoid all the bad news and evil that seems to flood the news channels and newspaper headlines.

We can stay on track and remember that light will overshadow the dark. Truth will reign supreme over false testimony. Good will prevail over evil. How? By being a witness to the light that John writes about in this letter. Remember that Christians back then even had doubt. They were giving in to the false teachers and forgetting about their Father in heaven. Don’t let yourself fall away from Christ, even in the toughest of times. Even when it seems like everyone around you is stuck in a bad place. Come back to the light and to the fellowship with God.

Fit in Your Faith Today: Look for the light in the darkest of places today. It may be in your own heart or someone you love who is struggling with an addiction, or a destructive habit, or someone who has just fallen into the darkness. Help them (or yourself if it’s you!) to get back to where the light shines bright.

The Word is Alive

John 1: 1-5, 9-14

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.
What came to be through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race;
the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
He was in the world,
and the world came to be through him,
but the world did not know him.
He came to what was his own,
but his own people did not accept him.

But to those who did accept him
he gave power to become children of God,
to those who believe in his name,
who were born not by natural generation
nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision
but of God.
And the Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory as of the Father’s only Son,
full of grace and truth.

Merry Christmas to all the children of God on this most blessed day, the day our savior was born!

 

Fit in your Faith Today:  Be sure to spend some quiet time after the gifts have been unwrapped, after the last sip of egg nog, after the final goodbye to relatives. Spend time in quiet prayer in awe and wonderment at the true meaning of what this day signifies to all of us and to you.