Gospel Meditation John 6:24-35 for Sunday August 2nd

by Angela Lambert

Jesus teaching

August 2, 2015; 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Gospel of John 6: 24-35 NAB

When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into boats and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus. And when they found him across the sea they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” Jesus answered them and said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.” So they said to him, “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.” So they said to him, “What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do? Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.” So Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” So they said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

Meditation Reflection:

Jesus instructs us to “work for the food that endures for eternal life.” The people respond wisely  by asking a follow up question, which in modern language could be phrased “tell us the job description.” The task seems simple enough – “believe in the one God sent.”

How is believing in Christ work though? If believing in Christ were merely an intellectual assent then it wouldn’t be much work at all. However, believing in Christ means believing He is the Savior sent to transform our hearts and lives. This requires not merely an assent of the intellect, but the arduous work of aligning our will with His and allowing Him to change our lives. In his famous book, What’s Wrong with the World, G.K. Chesterton astutely states the reason why so many people forsake believing in Christ and the reward that comes with it. He writes,

“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.”

Jesus does not say “I am the bread of life who will force feed you”. Rather, He states that those who come to Him will never hunger. Still, you may ask, how hard is it to come to Christ? Well, how hard is it to make it to Mass every Sunday? How difficult is it to attend one or more daily masses a week? How hard is it to find 30 minutes to pray with Scripture? How hard is it to listen, with your full attention, to your child, spouse, or friend in need? How difficult is it to turn to Christ in prayer when you are feeling anxious, frustrated, or angry rather than escaping through t.v., drinking, or shopping?

Coming to Christ and believing in Him is work, but like any job it gets easier as you get the hang of it. Imagine the career satisfaction you could experience in a job with that kind of reward. We all want happiness and we go to great lengths to achieve it. Christ promises that if we are wise enough to put all of our efforts toward relationship with Him, we will be guaranteed an abiding happiness we can find nowhere else.

Consider:

  • In your daily life, what is the biggest challenge to seeking Christ?
  • What do you hunger for most? How do you try to fill that hunger? How long does it last before feeling hungry again?
  • Do you seek Christ for the joy of relationship with Him, or do you seek Christ so He will just answer your petitions?
  • When was a time you experienced delight, satisfaction, peace, or happiness from God?

Make a Resolution (Practical Application):

  • Choose one way to come to Christ this week that has been difficult in the past. (wake up 30 minutes early to pray, spend 10 minutes with each of your kids, download a bible app to your phone, attend a daily Mass, make a holy hour at adoration)
  • Start a gratitude journal for God’s gifts to you each day. Before bed think back on your day and identify God’s grace at work in your heart and life.
  • The next time you feel anxious, frustrated, or angry, stop and sit in silence with God for 5 minutes. Find a quiet spot (even if it’s your car or bedroom), set a timer, and just turn your heart and ears toward God. Gently push away distractions and be in God’s presence. Let Christ fill your hunger and soothe your thirst.

~ Written by Angela Lambert © 2015

* These Sunday meditations are intended to engage the heart and imagination in prayer and include a practical application (resolutions) to your daily life. In our presentation on prayer I offer a more detailed discussion of ways to pray with Scripture that can take 5 minutes, 15 minutes, or half an hour and vary in depth depending on your time-frame and prayer goals.  

 

 

Gospel Meditation John 6:1-15 for Sunday July 26th

by Angela Lambert

miracle of loaves and fish

July 26th, 2015; 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Gospel of John 6:1-15 NAB

“Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee. A large crowd followed him, because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. The Jewish feast of Passover was near. When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” He said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people recline.” Now there was a great deal of grass in that place. So the men reclined, about five thousand in number. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted. When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.” So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat. When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, “This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.” Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain alone.”

Meditation Reflection:

A friend of mine has a gift for including others and making them feel a part of things. In observing him these past few years I realized that he does this by asking whoever is around for help with whatever project or task he is doing. If he is working in the garage or the yard and you happen by, be assured that a tool will be handed to you or a job assigned. His talent is most evident in the way he even includes his kids and their friends. The result is not the feeling of slave labor however, but rather the experience of being important, included, and an integrated part of what’s going on. It forms bonds and knits everyone together. The truth is, he doesn’t always need help, but he does enjoy people and being together.

Christ’s miracle in this passage reveals what I find to be one of the most remarkable mysteries of our faith: that God includes us in His work of salvation. It wouldn’t surprise me that Christ did something amazing. It does surprise me when He does something amazing with a small contribution from me. When we look at the needs of the world, we can be overwhelmed like Philip. Like Andrew, we may consider what small resources are available to us but in contrast to the need they seem pointless. The critical question for you and I is whether we will make the contribution anyway, with faith that Christ can work wonders even today. If the contribution is small it can seem worth the gamble and it makes us feel like good people at least. However, in the case of the child in this passage, it required all the food he had. Our faith is most tested when our contribution requires real sacrifice and real risk. Though it may seem like a lot to give up for what would seem to be a very small effect, the Gospel reveals that Christ’s miracles require precisely this gift. In his spiritual classic, Abandonment to Divine Providence, Fr. Jean-Pierre de Caussade exhorts us to make these acts of faith with confidence that Christ still works miracles today. He writes,

It is this same Jesus Christ, always alive and active, who continues to live and work fresh wonders in the souls of those who love Him.

Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman articulated the importance of this proof of faith in the Christian life, or “venture” as he called it, when he preached:

As regards individuals, then, it is quite true, that all of us must for certain make ventures for heaven, yet without the certainty of success through them. This, indeed, is the very meaning of the word “venture;” for that is a strange venture which has nothing in it of fear, risk, danger, anxiety, uncertainty. Yes; so it certainly is; and in this consists the excellence and nobleness of faith; this is the very reason why faith is singled out from other graces, and honoured as the especial means of our justification, because its presence implies that we have the heart to make a venture.” (Sermon 20)

Faith requires a risk for a reward that can only be calculated supernaturally. According to Christ’s math, five loaves and two fish can feed five thousand people with leftovers to boot. Like my friend, Christ does not necessarily need our particular contribution, but He does desire us and working with Him results in an experience of being bonded, knit together, and the satisfaction of being a part of something amazing.

Consider:

  • Do you believe Christ still works miracles today? Have you experienced one in your own life?
  • What sacrifice is Christ asking you to make for His work?
  • Is there a need that keeps tugging at your heart? Is there anything you can do to help, no matter how small the effect might be?
  • Consider Christ’s love and friendship for you; that He desires to work with you and to include you in His mission.

Make a Resolution (Practical Application):

  • Each day this week, offer to Christ the work of your day and entrust Him with the results.
  • Identify one thing about your life or work that you know is Christ’s will but you often get discouraged about because it’s seemingly so small in the world’s eyes. Ask Christ for faith and encouragement.

~ Written by Angela Lambert © 2015

* These Sunday meditations are intended to engage the heart and imagination in prayer and include a practical application (resolutions) to your daily life. In our presentation on prayer I offer a more detailed discussion of ways to pray with Scripture that can take 5 minutes, 15 minutes, or half an hour and vary in depth depending on your time-frame and prayer goals.  

Gospel Meditation Mark 6:30-34 for Sunday July 19, 2015

 by Angela Lambert

July 19th, 2015; 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Gospel Mark 6:30-34 NAB

“The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught. He said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.’ People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat. So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place. People saw them leaving and many came to know about it. They hastened there on foot from all the towns and arrived at the place before them. When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.”

Meditation Reflection:

This passage describes so well the spiritual life of a parent. As a mother I feel that call of Christ to come away with Him “to a deserted place” away from the busy activity of everyday life to “rest a while”. For me, this tends to be my cozy living room chair where I curl up with coffee, my bible, and prayer books to spend a tranquil and quiet moment with my Lord. For this to happen of course, my children need to be sleeping. In family life however there are no deserted places, at least not for long and children do not necessarily stay sleeping as you would hope. I have had more success now that my kids are older, if I get up very early at least. However, there have been many times, especially when my kids were little, that my refreshment with the Lord was interrupted by one of my children. They have the keenest ears or some kind of child sixth sense that no matter how quietly I tiptoe, even taking acrobatic steps over the creaky stair, they see me “leaving…and come to know about it.” Then they “hasten” to get to me. My heart would then be “moved with pity for them,” and I would tend to their need or let them sit with me. When all three of my kids were younger I felt like giving up on finding time alone with God altogether and just substituting serving God for sitting with God. Yet, Christ truly desires us to make this time with Him. He knows we need rest and that we need it with Him, alone and removed in some way from the world. This passage reminds me to make time with Christ a priority, and at the same time not to get frustrated if it is interrupted by one of my beautiful children needing me.

Consider:

  • Reflect on how Christ’ desires time alone with you, sometimes above anything you can do for Him. Consider His love for you personally.
  • Relate Christ’s example in this Scripture passage to your own life – who are the “sheep” in your life that call forth your pity? How might you care for them in a similar way as Christ did? What attitude do you want to take toward them?
  • When do you make time to be alone with Christ?
    • When you do make that time, how does it refresh you?
    • When you don’t make that time, what often prevents you? What excuses do you sometimes make?
  • Do you ever substitute serving Christ for sitting with Christ? How might you find balance between the two?

Make a Resolution (Practical Application):

  • Think about your day and your obligations. Choose a time that you will set aside just for Christ. If you are married or have kids, discuss it with them as well and ask them to help you have those minutes alone. Start with 15 minutes.
  •  Ask Christ for the gift of joy and patience toward the seemingly constant needs of your children and family life so that you may imitate Him as the loving, Good Shepherd.
* These Sunday meditations are intended to engage the heart and imagination in prayer and include a practical application (resolutions) to your daily life. In our presentation on prayer I offer a more detailed discussion of ways to pray with Scripture that can take 5 minutes, 15 minutes, or half an hour and vary in depth depending on your time-frame and prayer goals.  

Gospel Meditation Mark 6:7-13 for Sunday July 12th, 2015

 by Angela Lambert

July 12th, 2015; 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Gospel Mk 6:7-13 NAB

“Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick—no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic. He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave. Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.” So they went off and preached repentance. The Twelve drove out many demons,
and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.”

Meditation Reflection:

I would like to focus on how “the Twelve drove out many demons.” Satan and his demons, even if they do not take total possession of a person, can and do take possession of pieces of us whenever we allow ourselves to be bound by their lies and their allurements. Christ came to conquer sin and death that we might experience freedom and the “fullness of joy.” In this passage we see that He does this by giving His own authority to those He had chosen and sending them out to us. Christ gave His saving Truth to His Church, not because of the apostles’ perfect character but simply because He willed it and wanted to personally extend His Gospel throughout the whole world. He continues to do this through the apostles’ successors today, who are also flawed human beings, and yet still messengers of the authoritative and saving word of God. This Truth confronted the recipients’ sin, thus the call for repentance before being able to receive healing. Oftentimes our response to being convicted of sin is to become defensive, attack the messenger, or walk away. To this response Jesus tells the apostles to “shake the dust from their feet” and move on to those who are open to His Word. Yet, sin is precisely where the demons have a foothold in our heart and deprive us of true joy. You may not feel strong enough to overcome a sin, but by acknowledging your sin and inviting Christ in, and His Body the Church, He can drive the demons out and fill you with His peace. The choice is up to you.

Consider:

  • Think of one sin you struggle with the most.
  • What are the lies and rationalizations that keep you tied to this sin?
  • People were free to accept or reject the apostles. Consider how receptive or defensive you are toward those Christ sends to you. Who specifically are those persons in your life?
  • Invite Christ to free you with the help of His grace, to accept His Truth and to detach from the lie or sin you are struggling against. You don’t have to do it alone, He gives you the whole Church, infused with His own authority and grace, to strengthen and support you.

Make a Resolution (Practical Application):

  • Identify one specific, practical way you will reach out to accept the support of Christ’s Church to help you overcome your sin and receive freedom and healing.
  • (Examples: talking openly with a spiritual friend or your priest; receiving grace through attending a daily Mass; meditating on Scriptures or spiritual books that address your particular struggles; going to the sacrament of Confession…)
* These Sunday meditations are intended to engage the heart and imagination in prayer and include a practical application (resolutions) to your daily life. In our presentation on prayer I offer a more detailed discussion of ways to pray with Scripture that can take 5 minutes, 15 minutes, or half an hour and vary in depth depending on your time-frame and prayer goals.  

Workshops and Retreats

PRESENTATION OVERVIEW

The Journey of Prayer – Finding Happiness and Freedom in the Lord

Mary’s Yes – Her Yes to Christ and Her Yes to You

The Journey of Prayer

 

 

“The two night prayer talks were very encouraging for me. It was nice to have the different kinds of prayer talked about. Kind of gives me a direction, goals, stages to go through!…The power of” fasting along with the prayer is so powerful as you both reminded me. I know I can do this again!”
“Both of you complement each other. As one gives the more ‘book’ info the other gives more of how this comes to play in real life.”
“Thank you for the informative and inspiring talks. I was feeling a little stagnant in my prayer life and feel that these talks will be very helpful to me.”

 

 

Mary's Yes.JPG

Welcome!

Here you can find informative and inspirational posts centered on the Christian spiritual life.  We are professional speakers on topics regarding growing in your spiritual life, practice of your faith, and developing a deeper relationship with God in your everyday life.  If you have attended one of our speaking engagements or workshops you are already familiar with our down to earth, practical examples.  If not, see the links for attending a workshop or hosting us at your organization or parish.

~ Michelle Steele and Angela (Lambert) Jendro

20160628_211650000_iOS  20160628_213509353_iOS