Sunday Food For Thought: Jesus Christ – God’s Son and Our Warrior

The Baptism of the Lord:   Scripture Readings

Food For Thought

*excerpt from Take Time For Him: Remain In His Love

The Baptism of Jesus marks the beginning of His public ministry.  Up to this point He had spent His life quietly as a carpenter in a small town as the son of Mary and Joseph. Now at thirty years old, He began His work as the Son of God ushering in the eternal Kingdom.

When John baptized Jesus, the Spirit of God descended upon Him as a dove and God affirmed His Sonship audibly to those present. After so many long years of suffering under the weight of sin and death, God had finally come to fulfill all His promises to save everyone from those things we cannot overcome on our own. 

“He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord. Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, ‘Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.’” Luke 4: 16-20

 John had been baptizing many, but his was only a sign of repentance and preparation, it did not have the power to confer the forgiveness of sins or divine grace.  John himself urged that his baptism was only a precursor for the one to come who would baptize with “the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Luke 3:16).   Jesus alone has the power to forgive our debt to God, to heal our wounded souls, and to release us from those sins that we cannot conquer on our own.

Sin that has taken its full course in a soul can be aptly compared to addiction.  Persons may or may not be aware that they have a problem.  Their addiction slowly takes greater and greater hold of their life, consumes their thoughts, directs their choices, and begins to undermine their relationships, their health, and their joy.  Having a glass of wine with dinner will not do harm to a temperate person.  However, someone with an alcohol addiction cannot limit themselves to one glass.  Every human person has one or more weakness that they cannot seem to keep in balance on their own.  It may be pride, vanity, lust, greed, anger, envy, laziness, or gluttony.  Book stores have rows of shelves with self-help books to help you deal with any one of these addictions.  Books, therapists, goals, and gritty resolve can all be helpful, and they can have a real impact in your life.  But their power is limited.  They could be compared to the Baptism of John – they provide awareness of the problem, contrition of heart, and desire for change, but they cannot transform us from within or release us from the power our sin has over us.

God sees us suffering and has come in an intimate way to help each of us personally. Pope Benedict XVI, in his book Jesus of Nazareth, offers moving insights into the meaning of Jesus’ baptism for you and I.  In respect to Jesus’ descent into the water, taking on our sins and putting them to death on the Cross, He writes:

Now God speaks intimately, as one man to another.  Now He descends into the depth of their human sufferings.[i]

God does not point His finger and say “I told you so.” He has compassion for our suffering which is always the consequence of sin.  Jesus did not need to be baptized.  He had no sin to repent.  Rather, at His baptism, Jesus took on our sin.  Pope Benedict XVI describes it in this way:

“Jesus loaded the burden of all mankind’s guilt upon His shoulders; He bore it down into the depths of the Jordan.  He inaugurated His public activity by stepping into the place of sinners.  His inaugural gesture is an anticipation of the Cross.[ii]

 The primary mission of Christ is to free us from sin.  This will require dying to pay our debt, and providing the transformative grace needed to heal our minds clouded by lies and faulty reasoning, strengthen our wills which can be too weak to make the right choice, and inflame our tepid hearts with divine love.  The magnanimous lives of the saints are not beyond our reach.  They were the result of receptivity to the ordinary working of grace in the soul to the person open to Christ’s transformative fire within.

Through Christ, God no longer remains merely a transcendent God immune from the experience of our condition.  The Son has become man, and as such taken upon Himself every suffering we experience so He may accompany each of us on our journey as an understanding and intimate ally as well to defend us and conquer in His own life every obstacle in our way.

Jesus’ Baptism, then, is understood as a repetition of the whole of history, which both recapitulates the past and anticipates the future.  His entering into the sin of others is a descent into the ‘inferno’.  But He does not descend merely as the role of a spectator, as in Dante’s Inferno.  Rather, He goes down in the role of one whose suffering-with-others is a transforming suffering that turns the underworld around, knocking down and flinging open the gates of the abyss.  His Baptism is a descent into the house of the evil one, combat with the ‘strong man’ (cf. Lk 11:22) who holds men captive (and the truth is that we are all very much captive to powers that anonymously manipulate us!)[iii]

 God had revealed to Mary and then to Joseph that Jesus was God’s Son.  Now, God reveals to all mankind that His Son has come and dwells among us, ready to free us from that which enslaves us if we will let Him.  If we are smart, we will take the Father’s advice heard audibly by those present and “Listen to Him.

[i] Pope Benedict XVI. Jesus of Nazareth, translated by Adrian Walker, New York: Doubleday, 2007)

[ii] Ibid

[iii] Ibid

 

Consider:

+ Imagine Christ taking upon His shoulders your particular sins and struggles, putting them to death in the depth of the water, and emerging with you victorious.

+ Examine what drives your decisions in a negative way. What weaknesses undermine your joy and/or your relationships?  Surrender them to Christ and ask for His grace to transform you.

Application:

+ Show compassion toward someone struggling with a sin that impacts you.

For some practical examples of how you can practice these in your everyday life, read the full reflection in Take Time For Him: Remain in His Love ebook or paperback

 

Order the new set of guided meditations for this year’s Sunday Gospels!

 

© 2021 Angela M Jendro

Christmas Day: Who Will Be A Witness?

Nativity of the Lord:  Scripture Readings
Read the Gospel of John 1:1-18

Food For Thought

*excerpt from Take Time For Him: Remain In His Love

Meditation Reflection:

As a prophet of God, John the Baptist “came to bear witness to the light” (John 1:8) and prepare hearts to receive Christ’s Word by his testimony that Jesus’ mission and person were of divine origin.

The apostles then bore witness to Christ from their direct experience with Him.  Rather than merely a charismatic teacher or remarkable healer, the apostle John made clear that Jesus Christ is truly God and truly Man, our Redeemer and Savior Who has approached us in His merciful love. 

Just as Moses and the Israelites testified to seeing the glory of God during their escape from Egypt and time in the desert, John the apostle testified to seeing the glory of God return in the flesh through His only Son. After Moses had a direct encounter with God on Mount Sinai, his face shone so brightly it startled the people and had to be veiled. John’s beautiful proclamation expresses a similar effect emanating from his very soul.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.” (John 1:14)

Moses, John the Baptist, and the apostles experienced close contact with the Lord, but they were a select few chosen by God, the rest of us have to experience it through them rather than directly right? WRONG.  John the apostle made it very clear that:

The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world.” (John 1:9 emphasis added)

On Christmas we celebrate our direct encounter with God incarnate, Jesus Christ.  He has come to us, and the only thing necessary on our part is to believe in Him and receive Him.  From Israelite shepherds to foreign wise men, Christ drew all mankind to His saving presence.

“But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13)

Union with Christ means union with God!  How can one not be changed as a result of this reality?!  If Moses’ sight of God’s back caused his face to radiate supernaturally, consider what the indwelling of the Trinity from Baptism radiates in our souls! Caryll Houselander (1901-1954), a British Catholic artist and spiritual writer, who went through her own faith crisis before recommitting to her Catholic identity, described this new reality so well:

“Because of the Incarnation, our natural life is supernaturalized.  Love has become incarnate: God has become human. Because of Christ’s birth, a new stream of goodness is set flowing. Holiness has become the completion of nature: the fulfilling of the law.”[i]

Christ continues to dwell among us through His Eucharistic presence and through us, His Mystical Body. We too have a responsibility to bear witness to the Lord as others have for us.

Christ’s plea to Mother Teresa was:

“Come, come carry Me into the holes of the poor. Come, be My light.”[ii]

Caryll Houselander experienced this need too and writes of it poignantly in a letter to her friend during the war efforts of World War II (when she served at a First Aid Post).

“We were told there would be priests at the Post, but I hear it won’t be so, even in case of a raid – There is only one other Catholic, besides Joan, Iris and I, and that one hardly admits she is Catholic, she told us so as a secret. The atmosphere is incredibly unspiritual – it’s almost frightening, no outward recognition of God at all. It makes me feel how necessary it is for Catholics to carry Christ into these places through our Holy Communions.”[iii]

God is real.  He is here.  He is present.  It has been repeatedly attested to by witnesses. May you and I be added to the witness list!

 Consider:

  • Imagine what it must have been like for Mary and Joseph, holding Jesus for the first time.
  • Reflect on the witness of Moses, the prophets, John the Baptist, Mary and Joseph, the apostles, the first Christians, and the saints and all Christians since then.
  • When have you experienced the closeness of Christ? When has God felt the most “real” to you?

Practical Application:

  • As Brother Lawrence would say, Practice the Presence of God. Set a reminder on your calendar or a sticky note in your line of sight to remind you of Christ throughout the day.
  • Spend time with Christ personally for five minutes two to three times daily. Read one of the Gospels or simply close your eyes and spend the time in silence with His image in your mind.
  • Look for an opportunity to do an act of Christian kindness each day.

[i]  Houselander, Caryll, and Wendy M. Wright. Caryll Houselander: Essential Writings. (Maryknoll:Orbis Books, 2005).

[ii]  Teresa, Mother, and Brian Kolodiejchuk. Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light. (New York: Doubleday, 2007).

[iii]  Houselander, Caryll, and Wendy M. Wright. Caryll Houselander: Essential          Writings. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2005).

 

Order the new set of guided meditations for this year’s Sunday Gospels!

 

© 2021 Angela M Jendro

Sunday Food For Thought

Third Sunday of Advent:   Scripture Readings

Food For Thought

*excerpt from Take Time For Him: Remain In His Love

To prepare for Christ to renew mankind, and ourselves in particular, John the Baptist provides some practical advice.  God is Justice and Mercy, therefore he instructs his followers to image God by practicing justice and mercy in their everyday life, thereby repenting of their own sin (injustice toward God and others) and restoring peace through mercy (forgiveness and reconciliation). Although this cannot be achieved fully without grace, the efforts and desire prepare for receptivity to that grace when it arrives in Jesus. 

For some practical examples of how you can practice these in your everyday life, read the full reflection in Take Time For Him: Remain in His Love ebook or paperback

+ Reflect on the mercy God and others have shown you. Offer God and those persons your gratitude.

+ Pray about the works of mercy and write a list of ways that you could incorporate them into your life.

 

Order the new set of guided meditations for this year’s Sunday Gospels!

 

© 2021 Angela M Jendro

Sunday Food For Thought

First Sunday of Advent:   Scripture Readings

Food For Thought

*excerpt from Take Time For Him: Remain In His Love

The nativity scene of Jesus as a baby in a manger may be quaint, but it has nevertheless had world-changing and life-changing effects.  The incarnation of Christ stands as the axis of history.  When the Son of God became man, He raised the dignity of human nature higher than that of the angels.  No other creature shares such intimacy with God! 

Advent we take a step back to readjust our perspective.  Unfortunately, the craze leading up to Christmas tempts us to step backward rather than forward.  We can too easily become either stressed by the anxieties of Christmas celebrations or distracted by feasting and consumerism that we forget the impact and gift of Christ in our lives.  God became man, that we might become God.  Advent is a time to reflect on this mystery and invite Christ to bring to perfection this good work that He has begun in us

+ God’s intimacy through Christ is startling and should have a startling effect on your life. Thank God for how He has transformed your heart and your life.  Invite Him to transform it even more.

 

Order the new set of guided meditations for this year’s Sunday Gospels!

 

© 2021 Angela M Jendro

Sunday Food For Thought

Solemnity of our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

Scripture Readings

Food For Thought

Sometimes we become so accustomed to Jesus Christ’s humble poverty, that we forget His glorious majesty.  The same Jesus Who gives Himself to us in the intimacy of the Eucharist, also reigns as king in Heaven.

It’s good spiritual practice to contemplate this reality once in awhile.  After all, the fruit of humility is majesty, He raises up those who are bowed down.

Who shall climb the mountain of the Lord?

   Who shall stand in His holy place?

The man with clean hands and pure heart,

                Who desires not worthless things.

Psalm 24:3-4

+Pray for Christ’s kingdom to come in your own heart each day this week.

Order the new set of guided meditations for this year’s Sunday Gospels!

Hard but Satisfying Work

Excerpt from Take Time For Him: Some More

by Angela M Jendro

Order your paperback or e-book from Amazon!

Order the kindle e-book (or paperback) to read the Christmas meditation, the meditation for Mary Mother of God, and to reflect on the meditations all year at your convenience.

18th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Read the Gospel of John 6:24-35

Meditation Reflection:

After Jesus exhorted the people work for the food that endures for eternal life, they responded with a smart follow up question, which in modern language could be phrased: “sure, but tell us the job description.” Jesus gave them a simple enough task – “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent” (John 6:29).

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. Consider the life changing “yes” of Mary, Joseph, the Apostles, all the saints, and the transformation in lives of people you know who have accepted Christ and follow Him intentionally.

In his famous book, What’s Wrong with the World, G.K. Chesterton astutely stated the reason why so many people forsake believing in Christ and the reward that comes with it. He observed,

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

Jesus did not say “I am the bread of life who will force feed you”. Instead, He offered 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?

Going 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, especially the secure kind, and we go to great lengths to achieve it. Christ promised 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 no other way.

Consider:

  • In your daily life, what is your biggest challenge to seeking Christ? (time, distractions, tiredness, disinterest, lack of ideas or opportunities)
  • What do you hunger for most? How do you try to fill that hunger? How long does it last before feeling hungry again?
  • When was a time you experienced delight, satisfaction, peace, or happiness from God?

Practical Application:

  • Choose one way to be with 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.

All Rights Reserved © 2020 Angela M Jendro

The Extraordinary Ordinary

Excerpt from Take Time For Him: Some More

by Angela M Jendro

Order your paperback or e-book from Amazon!

Order the kindle e-book (or paperback) to read the Christmas meditation, the meditation for Mary Mother of God, and to reflect on the meditations all year at your convenience.

14th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Read the Gospel of Mark 6:1-6

Meditation Reflection:

And Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.” (v. 4)

Growing up we tend to take our family members for granted and mistreat the ones we love the most – particularly our siblings!  A childish point of view sees siblings in competition with us – for resources, status, achievement, and affection.  A mature perspective appreciates the gift of a sibling – someone who shares your history, someone who knows your whole story, whose achievements do not diminish yours but rather should give you pride.

The people in Jesus’ town were His extended family relations.  They could not believe their eyes or ears which informed them that He was the long-awaited Messiah.  Pride revolted complaining that Jesus was too ordinary for such a role. 

Satan impresses the idea that we need to be big and important, powerful, famous, a person of clout to do any good work, and certainly someone from “out there in the world” not from “right here in town.” Yet, Jesus saved all of mankind through impoverishing Himself, living a hidden life for thirty years in a small family in a small town, and completing His public ministry with rejection, and a torturous crucifixion and death. The apostles’ pride and our own strains to believe such a mystery.  In fact, the only reason we accept this path is because of its fruit – resurrection.  As St. Paul said, (I Corinthians 15:17) had Jesus not risen from the dead, our faith would be in vain. But Jesus did, and we will too.

“Abba Anthony said, ‘I saw the snares that the enemy spreads out over the world and I said groaning, ‘What can get through from such snares?’ Then I heard a voice saying to me, ‘Humility.’”  Sayings of the Desert Fathers

The best vantage point for battle is sneaking behind enemy lines unnoticed and attacking by surprise or disrupting the supply chain.  This role is best done unseen and quietly.

The pride of the world cannot accept the humility of Christ, yet it continues to cripple us. Jesus offers healing but He does not force it.  “And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands upon a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief.” (v. 5-6)

Christ began the beatitudes proclaiming, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).  Every saint and spiritual writer echo His insistence that humility is the foundation of holiness.  Here are just a few quotes to consider:

“If then pride be the beginning of all sin, whereby should the swelling of pride be cured, had not God vouchsafed to humble Himself? Let man blush to be proud, seeing that God has humbled Himself. For when man is told to humble himself, he disdains it…The Lord Christ therefore vouchsafed to humble Himself in all things, showing us the way; if we but think meet to walk thereby.” St. Augustine
“For that persecutor, when first he was created, raised himself up in the haughtiness of pride, throwing himself into death and expelling Man from the glory o Paradise; but God did not will to resist him by His power, but conquered him by humility through His Son…So let anyone who wishes to conquer the Devil arm himself with humility” St. Hildegard of Bingen
The deeper our encounter with God, the more humble we become.  Humility is a sign of a real experience of God.” Jacques Philippe The Eight Doors of the Kingdom

Humility sprouts from authenticity – knowing one’s own littleness as a creature not the Creator, and at the same time one’s profound dignity as a child of God. It expresses itself in loving service, like Christ washing the feet of the apostles. A definition I once heard for humility (which really hit home!) was being teachable.  Humility opens one up for so much growth and freedom because we aren’t held back by the obstinacy or critical resistance of pride.

Begin by encountering God in prayer.  Then look around you – the secret to a life of greatness may be right in front of you, in your own family or your own town through loving service. 


Consider:

  • Consider how humble Jesus must have been for His extended family to find it so incredulous that Jesus would be anything but ordinary.
  • Humility can be like a weapon of stealth – it’s quiet, hidden, and undetected by pride.  How does a humble approach disarm prideful conflict?
    • Consider the non-violent protests of Martin Luther King Jr. or of Gandhi.
    • How might you apply it to your own relationships?
      • Instead of being defensive, try to be understanding. 
      • Small acts of love can soften hardened hearts. 
      • Caring for children is a humble task yet one of tremendous influence.
  • Humility and Love are inseparable.  Consider how humility springs from a love and appreciation for God, and how it inspires humble love toward others.
  • How has your relationship with your siblings (if applicable) changed over the years? How has it matured?  How might it still mature more?

Practical Application:

  • Pray the Litany of Humility by Cardinal Merry del Val
  • Make a gratitude list – one for God, and one for each of your family members.
  • Tell a sibling something you admire about him or her.

All Rights Reserved © 2020 Angela M Jendro

It Isn’t Magic, but it is Supernatural

Excerpt from Take Time For Him: Some More

by Angela M Jendro

Order your paperback or e-book from Amazon!

Order the kindle e-book (or paperback) to read the Christmas meditation, the meditation for Mary Mother of God, and to reflect on the meditations all year at your convenience.

13th Sunday of Ordinary Time

Read the Gospel of Mark 5:21-43

Meditation Reflection:

The Scriptures today confront our anger at God for death and suffering.  Wisdom 1:13-14 reminds us however that neither of these came from Him:

“God did not make death, and He does not delight in the death of the living.  For He created all things that they might exist.” 

When we read the Creation account in Genesis 1 and 2, nowhere do we find disease, suffering, or death.  Rather, God’s creation reflected His glory and so He commanded all the living things that He made to “be fruitful and multiply.” 

Death entered not through God, but through sin.  Satan and the fallen angels sinned against God and chose an eternity of suffering for the sake of prideful rebellion over an eternity of joy at the cost of humble obedience.  Adam and Eve did not experience suffering or death until they joined Satan in sin and disobeyed God as well.  In consequence, Genesis 3-9 relays the sad story of the proliferation of sin and suffering beginning with this first Original Sin.  Toil, pain in childbirth, marital struggles, sibling rivalry, murder, polygamy, sickness, and death each begin with the decision to sin by the free will of individuals.  As much as we want to blame God, the truth is most of our suffering stems from our own poor choices or the choices of others. 

Sure, you might say, we are at fault but can’t God do anything about it?  Why does He sit back in silence?  Doesn’t He care? YES!  From the beginning, God offered a merciful helping hand to sinful humanity.  When Adam and Eve realized they were naked, He gave them clothes.  When He confronted them about the consequences of their sins, He also promised to one day send a Savior (Genesis 3:15).  He made covenants with Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and so on.  Finally, His only begotten Son left the glory of Heaven to take on a lowly human nature, freely divesting Himself of His divine privileges to live the life of a creature so as to carry our Cross and personally meet us in our need.   St. Paul describes it well in 2 Corinthians 8:9:

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich.”

God literally has skin in the game.  Not only did Jesus offer healing, in today’s Gospel we see how much He cares when He heals.  He accompanied the grief-stricken father to attend to the dying little girl.  When He entered the room He didn’t want people gawking or treating it like magic.  Instead Jesus sent everyone out but the parents and a few of His apostles. 

When Jesus heals it’s a personal encounter.  Jesus understands our pain and our needs because He lived it.  Being man, He has shared our experience.  Being God, He has the power to re-create us and restore us with a Word.  By His divine power, Jesus commanded the girl to get up, thereby empowering her to do so. “Little girl, I say to you, arise”(v.41). From His human experience, He commands the little group with Him to give her something to eat.  What a great little detail!  I imagine her family and the apostles were just standing there in shock when she came back to life.  Jesus moved on to the practical need at hand – after getting well from a long sickness a person is ravishingly hungry.  Therefore, He instructed them not to talk about it but instead to give her something to eat.

This encounter with the grieving father and dying girl has all the drama of a great script.  Except, a fiction writer would not have interrupted the momentum with the seemingly tangential account of the woman with a hemorrhage – an encounter with competing drama that would be a distraction to a story.  But this is not a fictional story, this is real life.    I learned early on as a mom that once you have kids you can say goodbye to uninterrupted focus on any task.  Nothing, not even dishes, can be completed without interruption.  Even now, although my kids are teens, I was interrupted yesterday by all three texting and calling and needing something even though I had said I was travelling for a few hours and would have spotty cell service.  I recall one time in particular that illustrates the mulit-tasking of relational living.  At the time my kids were little.  I was driving home from visiting my dad and my brother caught a ride with me.  As we were talking in the front seat kids asked for snacks, water, help with the dvd, and so on.  I just kept talking, driving, and handing things back or fixing the dvd player with one hand, all while keeping my eyes on the road.  My brother just stopped and laughed and said, “how are you doing this?”.  With my first child I was a rookie for sure, but by three I had practice. 

Jesus lived real life and cared for real people.  While helping one family, a woman reached out in faith and needed His help too.  People’s needs are rarely convenient but love always makes time.  As God, Jesus could easily have healed her as He walked along, somewhat like my brother’s astonishment as I tended the needs of three children while we travelled.  Here again however, Jesus underscored the relationship between faith, healing, and personal encounter with Him.  He’s not a magic wand or a machine. The woman with the hemorrhage was healed because of His power and her faith.  At the same time, He stopped what He was doing to pause and encounter her personally. In asking who touched Him, He invited her to not only receive His healing power, but to be received by Him personally.  He didn’t want her to feel like a desperate beggar, so He gave her the opportunity to bravely step forward, and then affirmed her in front of everyone for her faith.  How many people must have avoided her for so many years due to her bleeding?  And here Jesus received her and invited her back into communion with God and with society. 

We live in a culture that wants a quick fix with a pill to remedy any ailment.  Thankfully, we live in a time when medicine has produced a pill to fix a myriad of things.  However, some things cannot be alleviated so simply.  Christianity is not a pill that will make you instantly happy and take away all your problems.  It is however a personal encounter with Christ Who is both God and man and cares for you.  Suffering and death come from sin.  Life and joy come from God.  Faith does heal.  Sometimes He heals in a moment, other times it takes years of relationship with Him to allow His work to fully take root in our souls.  The Gospel affirms that no matter how dire the situation, Jesus will answer.  We only need to ask in prayer or to reach out to Him and touch Him.   Be prepared though.  After suffering for so long, health can seem foreign.  When Jesus commands you to arise and be at peace, you must leave your sickness behind and live as a new creation.

Consider:

  • Spend some time in silence, reaching out to Christ like the father of the little girl or the woman with the hemorrhage. Bring your troubles and worries to God…be humble like the woman to admit you need help.

Practical Application:

  • Set a reminder on your phone or with sticky notes to pause throughout the day and encounter Christ.  Bring your needs of the moment before Him, no matter how small, and offer Him thanks for His presence and help.

All Rights Reserved © 2020 Angela M Jendro

Living in the Mystery of Divine Love

Excerpt from Take Time For Him: Some More

by Angela M Jendro

Order your paperback or e-book from Amazon!

Order the kindle e-book (or paperback) to read the Christmas meditation, the meditation for Mary Mother of God, and to reflect on the meditations all year at your convenience.

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Read the Gospel of Matthew 28:16-20

Meditation Reflection:

The mystery of the Trinity is so sublime, any words of reflection feel like an injustice.  The revelation of the inmost reality of God, His very essence, far exceeds the scope of our limited human experience.  Any attempt to imagine or explain Gods’ Triune nature feels inadequate and even irreverent.  Yet Christ revealed this ineffable mystery to us and commanded the apostles to preach this truth to the whole world. In consequence, with the utmost humility, we ought to contemplate this essential mystery of the Christian faith, and the Triune God in Whose image we have been made.

Christ came to restore God’s image in us, which had been wounded by sin.  He provided both the sacrifice for our salvation and the perfect example of how to live as children of God. Christ demonstrated concretely how to align our will with the Father’s and how to act with the love of the Spirit. 

At every turn, Jesus remarked that He had come to do the Father’s will.  Even in His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, His human will resisted the impending Cross, but resigned “Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42).  During the first thirty years of His life, Jesus even obeyed the will of Mary and Joseph and followed all the prescriptions of the Mosaic Law (Luke 2:51).  Rather than usurp their authority (the only teen who really was smarter than His parents), He obeyed them and respected God’s ordering in the family.  Jesus did not have to offer sacrifice in the Temple because He had never sinned, but He chose to because He wanted to share in our suffering. 

This flies in stark contrast to our highly individualistic culture, fixated on self-assertion.  However, despite all the attempts to do away with any personal or relational limits, definitions, and even the laws of human nature, our secular culture seems to only sink deeper into depression, anxiety, loneliness, and slavery to addictions. 

Jesus illuminated the difference between license and freedom.  License means doing whatever arbitrary thing we feel like.  Freedom is the ability to choose the good.  License leads to impulsivity and selfishness, but freedom is best expressed in self-giving love and obedience to the Father. St. Paul urges us to have the same attitude as Christ:

“Have this mind among yourselves, which was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name” Philippians 2: 5-9

To assume the attitude of Christ we begin by humbly surrendering our adolescent pride which thinks we know better than our Heavenly Father, and our foolish rebellions against His guidance and “rules”.  When we allow ourselves to be taught by God and developed under His authority, we mature and blossom like a child who assents to his parents loving care through the turbulent periods of growth into adulthood.  No adult looks back and says, “I wish my parents had been more weak and let me raise myself.” Most often, the opposite is true.

Aided by divine grace and the gift of the Holy Spirit, the maturing soul increasingly appreciates the depth of God’s love and comes to see His Wisdom, making unity easier.  At 15 many kids consider their parents’ rules overbearing and their views outmoded.  At 25 they begin to thank their parents for those rules and see the wisdom in their advice.

Union with God produces greater unity within the human family as well.  As God’s love fills the soul, the fruits of His Spirit emerge in one’s life: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, [and] self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).    If trying to align our mind and heart with God, who is perfect, is so hard, how much more difficult to accomplish mutual respect with imperfect humans! Impossible.  Thankfully, Christ assures us that what is impossible for man is possible for God (Matthew 19:26). These fruits of the Spirit are necessary for it to happen.

Union of mind and will can only be achieved in mutual love with the help of grace.  Forced submission through violence or manipulation is not union, only domination. No political system, media blast, educational model, or diet can produce the mysterious reality found in the Christian union of mind, will, and heart, in freedom, joy, and love. The only place we can experience the peace we long for is in the Mystical Body of Christ, of which Christ is the Head.   United in Christ, however, we exercise all the diversity of personality given to us by our marvelously creative Father while at the same time working toward the same end in harmony and mutual respect. 

There’s no greater happiness than true love, and no greater love than that between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  The Lord invites us into that love and into His blessed happiness.  The Father sent the Son, the Son redeemed us and sent the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit sanctifies us and fills us with the love of God, and we are then sent to share that saving love with others.  What an incredible mystery!

Consider:

  • Take a few minutes to simply rest in the presence of the Triune God. 
    • Consider in awe the immensity of love between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
    • Consider how you are a fruit of God’s love.
  • Consider how the closer you have become with the Lord, the more purified your love has become for your neighbor. 
  • Consider how the fruits of the Spirit produce loving union in human relationships as well.
    • What often undermines developing a mutual understanding or working in alignment? (pride, anxiety, fear, stubbornness, hate, selfishness, over-ambition, self-assertion, etc.) Contrast these with the fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
  • Christ is the Head of the Mystical Body, and we are its members (I Corinthians 12). Consider times or ways in which you try to be the head and lead Christ, rather than the other way around.

Practical Application:

  • Make the sign of the Cross slowly and thoughtfully as a prayer to the Triune God at the beginning and end of the day.
  • Exercise the fruits of the Spirit to bring greater unity in your family.

All Rights Reserved © 2020 Angela M Jendro

Pentecost Sunday: Spirit of Peace

Excerpt from Take Time For Him: Some More

by Angela M Jendro

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Pentecost Sunday

Read the Gospel of John 20:19-23

Meditation Reflection:

The health of a culture can be measured to some extent by its general effects in society – positively or negatively.  For example, the culture of despair heavy in post-war Europe together with materialist individualism resulted in an astonishing decline in birth rate.  George Weigel described it as literally “demographic suicide” and sourced its illness to a spiritual crisis in his book The Cube and the Cathedral.

In American culture today, we see record levels of anxiety and depression rampant through all ages, income levels and geographic regions.  In teens and young adults, the suicide rate has jumped dramatically over the last 10-15 years, making it the second leading cause of death for that age group.

How much we need Jesus and His words today: “Peace be with you”!

Pope St. John Paull II’s opening words of his pontificate, and the recurring theme of his many teachings was Jesus’ command: “Be not afraid.”

Certainly mental illness plays a real and significant role in the overall sickness plaguing our society. At the same time, we can’t overlook the toxins present in our culture that either make us more vulnerable to such illnesses, or at least exacerbate them. Remedies should include professional therapy and possibly medication.  At the same time, we also have a responsibility to change the culture – to restore youthful optimism in our youth, respect the dignity and meaning of every human life, honor the little way that builds a strong society rather than celebrating only the famous.

If we want full recovery though, not just surviving but thriving, then we need to “Receive the Holy Spirit (v.22). 

Even the apostles were stricken with fear and anxiety in the upper room.  They had just seen Jesus crucified and knew they might be next.  All they had believed in, all they had sacrificed for, appeared to be for naught.  Then, “Jesus came and stood among them,” resurrected!  “He showed them has hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord” (v. 20).  This is the source of Christian hope – seeing our risen Lord.  Suffering and apparent failure no longer mean death, but rather new life through Christ.  When we feel like all is lost, we too need to look at the risen Lord, confident in His ability to redeem.

How much our culture needs this hope, how many people need this!  Generational studies expert Dr. Jean Twange, in her book iGen, attributes much of young people’s failure to launch to fear of failure.  Their obsession with being safe and with perfection cripples their ability to develop by trying new things and taking reasonable risks. Many don’t even have their drivers license by the age of 18 because they are afraid of failing the test!

In Christ we have our hope and through the gift of His Spirit we receive the necessary peace and courage to live in that hope.  Before Pentecost, one of the twelve had committed suicide and the other eleven were hiding in fear.  After Pentecost, they left the room on fire for Christ and preached the Gospel with power and zeal – baptizing, healing, and even accepting martyrdom themselves. 

To live in this same peace, we too need the Holy Spirit.  We receive the indwelling of the Spirit in Baptism, a strengthening of His action in our hearts through Confirmation, and the ongoing animation of His works in our soul through nurturing our relationship with Him in prayer and the Eucharist. 

When I feel discouraged, the best antidote is to spend time to friends and family who are encouraging.  When I’m anxious and worried, being in the presence of someone filled with confidence and strength eases me.  When I’m feeling sad and alone, spending time with a loved one restores my heart.  Being in the presence of the Holy Spirit effects all of these.  When I feel overwhelmed or defeated, sitting in the stillness of prayer, the Spirit replenish me and even bears a fruit or two (see Galatians 5:22-23).

“‘If anyone thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, “Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.”’ Now this he said about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive; for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” John 7:37-39

Jesus has risen, He has been glorified, and He has sent His Spirit among us for the salvation of our souls. Praise be to God!  Let us receive Him today in our hearts and in our culture.

Consider:

  • Imagine the risen Lord, standing before you, His pierced hands outstretched, and saying to you personally, “Peace be with you”.
  • Consider these words of Christ below regarding the Holy Spirit:
But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.  Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” (John 14:26-27)
  • How is the peace of Christ different than the peace of the world?
    • How can we “not let” our hearts be troubled?  What must you do to stay near the Holy Spirit and maintain this source of peace?
  • How does the resurrection change everything? Offer to Christ your present failure, struggle, or loss for Him to redeem.  Remember that He resurrects us to new life though, not the old.

Practical Application:

  • Develop your relationship with the Holy Spirit
    • Pray to the Holy Spirit throughout the day, ask for His help and guidance.
    • Read the Scriptures
    • Reflect on the fruits and gifts of the Spirit.
    • Listen to Catholic podcasts or read good books about the Holy Spirit.
  • Try to live as a person of peace. Ask the Spirit for help!

All Rights Reserved © 2020 Angela M Jendro