God's love

  • by Anthony Wood
  • 07 Sep, 2017

Week 22, Thursday;  Col 1:9-14; Ps 97:2-6; Lk 5:1-11

God loves imperfect people! This is the good news for us in today's gospel. As we hear, Simon Peter had witnessed a miraculous catch of fish. But then he told Jesus to go away, because Peter knew that he was a sinner. But Jesus didn't go away. Instead, He called Peter to Himself, told him not to be afraid, and made him a fisher of men.

Like Peter, we too can sometimes fear Jesus because of our sins and imperfections. They can lead us to think that we're not worthy to be Jesus' disciple. At times like this, we need to remember the experience of Peter. As one old slogan puts it: "God doesn't call the perfect. But he does perfect the called!"

At other times we're so deeply ashamed of our sins that we fear Jesus will reject us or punish us. But that's not the Jesus who hung on the cross. When we're sorry for our sins, the only punishment we need fear is the one we inflict on ourselves when we don't seek Jesus' forgiveness, and when we don't forgive ourselves.

You see, Jesus loved Peter in spite of his imperfections, and He loves us too. Because if Jesus loved only the perfect, He'd have no one on earth to love.

Daily reflections

by Anthony Wood 17 Dec, 2017

“there stands among you – unknown to you – the one who is coming after me; and I am not fit to undo his sandal-strap.”

When a person believes that he is great just the way he is, that everything he achieves is due to his merit, he stops acknowledging God, and also thanking Him for the gifts received. In time he may recognise that he no longer needs God. However, when he then fails, makes a mistake, or experiences rejection he will remain in his own sadness and despair alone.

John the Baptist fully accepts the advent of Christ. He has no regret that his popularity may fade, that his disciples may leave to go with Jesus. Even when he has the chance to “shine” before the priests and Levites and acknowledge that he is a prophet like Elijah, he denies it. What’s more he directs all their attention to Jesus who is coming – the Messiah. Before Him he sets himself as lower than a slave, whose job was to undo the sandals of his master. Only a humility such as this can lead to complete joy. And not just when at the peak of fame, when successful, but also when you have get off the pedestal and let another finish the work you started.

by Anthony Wood 16 Dec, 2017

God speaks to us in various ways. He doesn’t always do it in the same way. Each of us has a different sensitivity, we each get something different. God knows us perfectly and knows in what way to speak to our hearts. Communication is a process, for which two are necessary. If we do not engage in it, then we may be like the Israelites who failed to recognise the arrival of Elijah. Alas, not only him, they did recognise the coming of the Son of God himself. Are we able to recognise Him? He comes to us many times. How many times do we miss Him, not even suspecting He is close by? An encounter with God with all its extraordinariness is not at all something unusual. He desires to be with us constantly. The Kingdom of God is after all among us (cf. Lk 17:21). We can now taste the joy of an encounter with Him. He is among us. Our task is to allow to transform us in a way which makes us able to encounter Him.

Lord, purify us, so that we will be able to see Your closeness and desire to remain in it.

by Anthony Wood 15 Dec, 2017

“Happy indeed is the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked; nor lingers in the way of sinners . . . .” so good in theory. What about in practice? Are we happy? Do we see our happiness this way, that it is those “whose delight is the law of the Lord and who ponders his law day and night”?

So why is there so much disappointment, frustration, testing, or good deeds which don’t come off? Have we already forgotten that is the Lord God who has the last word and judgement? Why are we constantly looking for confirmations – for our road, our decisions, leaving ourselves the gate open (so that we can . . . ).

It won’t be easy. Really, it will not be easy. But what other way is there for us Christians – chosen by God and choosing God? In the way of the wicked I am lost. In the way of the just God is known.

Prayer

Lord, open my eyes and ears to Your Word, and set in my heart courage to trust Your wisdom.

Jesus, true Divine Wisdom, help me to recognise the time of Your visitation and guide my footsteps to follow the way of Your wisdom.

by Anthony Wood 13 Dec, 2017

But those who hope in the Lord renew their strength,

they put out wings like eagles.

They run and do not grow weary,

walk and never tire.

It’s possible to see in holiness different aspects. Each of us come to it in our own individual and unique way. The holy, despite difficulties, misunderstanding, rejection above all trust in God, because through great humility they were wholly committed to Him. The prophet Isaiah today encourages us to have confidence. Trust, despite not understanding the events that come to meet us, even if their meaning remains undiscovered to the end.

Only the humble person, aware of their sinfulness, who knows the inadequacy of their spiritual life, can trust in this way despite everything. This humility and trusting leads to holiness. The desire to be praised, to be noticed and admired leads to holiness for show. This can be dangerous – especially for me – because it wounds Jesus if it is not for His praise but mine that speak. When I bend the truth so that I will not be disliked. Do I change my attitude if I fear my faith may be laughed at? Am I afraid of admitting I love Jesus? Fearing rejection and misunderstanding. Could Jesus be denied because my pride stops me from trusting completely?

In today’s gospel we hear Jesus addressing all those who carry heavy burdens, which is all of us at some time. He doesn’t say he will remove those burdens, solve all our burdens, explain everything. But He does promise to refresh us.

When I lack trust, feel threatened, or over-burdened, all I need do is make a sincere appeal to Jesus at any time. I will always emerge from such prayer refreshed and more capable, because He promised.

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by Anthony Wood 11 Dec, 2017

God forgiving sins is for us sometimes incomprehensible, uncomfortable. Because what precisely does this mean – he forgave? Our worldly standards are entirely different, let’s admit it, and the hardness of our hearts or the complicated relationships with others also don’t make things easier. Or do we decide to believe God, listen to His word full of power – this is a matter of our decision, our choice.

“Your sins are forgiven you” – “See the king, the Lord of the world, will come. He will free us from the yoke of bondage.”

The one who fell, lifts himself up. The one who was dependent on others, acts independently. The one stuck in a dead place – goes home.

by Anthony Wood 06 Dec, 2017

The mindset of Jesus in the teaching on the Sea of Galilee, when He heals the sick and feeds the hungry, teaches that Christians should not separate themselves from commitment to this world. He Himself responds in very specific to this need, which is written in our physical condition. The human being is one and any contradiction of the spiritual and physical sphere in us is unchristian. An ancient truth of Christianity says that grace builds on nature. If we forget this, then it will be difficult for us to see spiritual progress. Spiritualism is as unchristian as materialism. Each of us is called to build an internal harmony between what is physical and what is spiritual.

The Eucharist has been described as the "gift that heals," because in this sacrament, Jesus fills us His with strength, patience, endurance, hope, forgiveness, and renewed life in the Holy Spirit. He comes to us spiritually and physically. He showed us that separating the spirit and body means death, and that their glorious reunion is resurrection . . . . . He took our brokenness, that He might make us whole.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, You teach us to unite the reality of spiritual and material so that we can experience the peace there is in this harmony, whose perfect example is You yourself.

by Anthony Wood 05 Dec, 2017

“I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth for hiding these things from the learned and clever and revealing them to mere children.” (Lk 10:21)

Today’s Gospel teaches us that one of the most important things to which we are called in our spiritual lives is awaking the child in us. This is not about being infantile or cheap sentimentalism. Each of us is called to this, that with the Grace of God we are born anew and form in ourselves an unlimited trust in God, the sort of trust in which a child, without fear entrusts himself to his parents. Only crossing this, as it may appear, simple boundary may result in the beginning of the true road leading to knowing God. He desires to reveal Himself to each of us and constantly seeks ways to reach us. Unfortunately, we are too often shut up in the chill of rationalism and don’t manage to open our eyes long enough so as to see Him. He doesn’t hide Himself from us, but if we do not renew in ourselves trust in Him, if we avoid understanding that the basis of our Christianity is the Divine childhood received in baptism, then it will be difficult for us to constantly hold Him in our spiritual sight.

Prayer

Lord, help us to keep You in sight everyday and to renew and build our truth in You. Let everything which is now an obstacle to knowing You, thanks to Your Grace, serve our development.

by Anthony Wood 01 Dec, 2017

How true it is, that we have reason, use it every day, and yet sometimes would prefer not to have it. Prefer not to understand. Then our consciences would be able to be calmed. Since I don’t understand the call, how can I follow him. Isn’t this a good excuse? Jesus exposes it in one word. Hypocrites! Someone understands, only they don’t want to understand. Refuse to repent, refuse to follow the way, and yet don’t have the courage to say: I refuse. And digs in, blind, in one place . . .

But the time comes closer. The time to strike is ending. Today Jesus says: open your eyes. You could miss what the key is. You could lose everything.

Open your eyes. Today. Because the kingdom of God is near . . .

by Anthony Wood 29 Nov, 2017

This passage of the Gospel reminds me of the figure of Samson, whose hair was cut and he became helpless. Jesus assures us today that not one of our hairs on our heads will be lost. In this He is not saying that that we will not be persecuted, that we will lose nothing, that we will be able to rescue everything and always be happy. He wants to tell us by this that we will always have the strength to fight, even if that fight is momentous. Of course it’s about our spirit and preserving faith. In this we will not lack the strength if we trust Jesus Christ. The Master does promise that we will always win and that nothing will be lost in this fight. Jesus promises that He will be our strength and that He will fight in us and this is our encouragement. A hair of ours will not be lost, means we will not lose strength like Samson, we will always be the strength of God. Would that we discover within us each day this strength of Jesus.

Prayer

Lord, we so fear being criticised for Your sake, being ridiculed and rejected by the world. Give us love and power and unwavering faith. We want courage and strength drawn only from You.

by Anthony Wood 28 Nov, 2017

While you were gazing, a stone broke away, untouched by any hand, and struck the statue, struck its feet of iron and earthenware and shattered them. And then, iron and earthenware, bronze, silver, gold all broke into small pieces as fine as chaff on the threshing-floor in summer. The wind blew them away, leaving not a trace behind. And the stone that had struck the statue grew into a great mountain, filling the whole earth.

The dream of Nebuchadnezzar, interpreted by Daniel . . . and an eternal message. We can add: equally eternally unacceptable. Because now we have great powers. Wealth. Authorities. Strength. We look on them as a great statue of gold, silver and iron, bewildered by its size and power. We don’t manage to see the fragility of this temporary power. A brittleness that will one day make it fall into ruins. Add will be nothing, of no use for greatness nor power.

We look at the power. We feel dazed. Fascinated. Admiration. Jealousy, if it is not ours. Pride, if it defines us. Terror, if it threatens us. And we entirely fail to see that of what we look on not a single stone will be left on another: everything will be destroyed. How could that be? Who could threaten us? Who could be victorious?

So many powers of this world have passed. So many overthrown by weak people. And yet we still believe in gold, silver and iron, forgetting history. Continuing to forget that in the hand of God is that stone, who is able to sweep away everything when the time of iniquity is completed.

Someone’s. Mine.

Take care not to be deceived . . . .

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