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

Wednesday Boost!

Scripture Readings: Isaiah 45: 6c-8, 18, 21c-25

Let justice descend, O heavens, like dew from above,

    like gentle rain let the skies drop it down.

We often think of God’s justice negatively, but justice orders things and restores peace. The prophet Isaiah reminds us that God’s work of justice can also be gentle and refreshing.

+Pray for the Lord to renew and refresh your heart, your relationships, and your life by restoring them to order.

Christian Witness:

St. Mary di Rosa (1813-1855) served God with remarkable courage, even opening the door to invaders during a war and turning them back with a crucifix and her fierce faith as she protected the sick and the sisters with whom she served. She tackled one need after another applying her intelligence, her energy, and her love toward those in need beginning with her parish when she was seventeen, to poor girls in a work house during her 20’s, and finally the sick in hospitals. May we put all of our energy toward the work of Christ before us today.

© 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

Wednesday Boost!

Scripture Readings

Luke 21:12-19

because of My Name

At our Baptism, we took the name of our Lord becoming His – Christians.

Because of His holy Name, we take His yoke upon us – suffering and dying with Him, but also rising with Him.

+ How is Christ calling you to share in His sacrifice of love today?

Christian Witness:

Saint Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions died for the name of Christian. Read about their heroism HERE

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!

Take Time For Him: Remain In His Love

Take Time For Him: Remain in His Love

Volume three of my guided scripture meditations for the Sunday Gospels is now available on amazon!

Available in PAPERBACK or Kindle EBOOK


Whether with the paperback or ebook, join me as we reflect on this year’s Sunday Gospels. 

 

Introduction:

This year’s gospels primarily follow the evangelist, Luke. Himself both a physician and historian, Luke captured Christ the divine healer and he emphasized the historicity of Jesus – both man and God.  This union of two natures in the one divine Person of Jesus, though articulated more theologically in John, remains at the center of Luke – through Jesus’ empathetic understanding concomitant with His divine healing touch.  At every turn in this gospel account, Jesus addresses our worries and limitations; He shows patience and the kindness of humble condescension to our littleness. 

Beyond merely physical healing, Luke also proclaims the healing effect of the Good News. Jesus’ call to “repent and believe in the gospel” is both a diagnosis and a treatment plan for our most serious illness – sin.  Christ cures every disease, but only those we allow Him. The only terminal spiritual illnesses are pride and despair – pride that refuses treatment or despair that refuses to hope in Jesus.

This year let’s accept the Lord’s free healthcare plan.  He has already paid the price; all it takes on our part is cooperation. Let’s pray for the loyal faith of the Blessed Virgin Mary to say, “Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38), the courage of Simon Peter and the other apostles to respond to the Lord’s call to “Put out into the deep and let down your net for a catch” (Luke 5:4), and the generosity to leave everything and follow Him (Luke 5:11). Let’s listen to Him with the attentive heart and ear of Mary of Bethany who recognized that “one thing is needful” and chose “the good portion” (Luke 10:42). Let’s humble ourselves so we may be exalted (Luke 14:11), and like the blind man on the side of the road who heard “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by” cry out “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Luke 18:38).  “The Son of man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10), may we come to recognize Him on our journey as the men on the road to Emmaus did. May our hearts burn as He speaks and may we too ask the Lord: “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.”

“So he went in to stay with them.” (Luke 24:29).

Thank you so much everyone for your support, encouragement, and prayers!

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