Reasons to Love The Lord, Our God
A Reflection for the 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time 2009
Based on readings from Isaiah 50:5-9, James 2:14-18, Mark 8:27-35
By Rev. Robert Johnnene OFD
Mission Sts. Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy
Reformed Catholic Church of New England
“The Lord has opened my ear. For my part, I made no resistance, neither did I turn away. I offered my back to those who struck me, my cheeks to those who tore at my beard; I did not cover my face against insult and spittle.” (Isaiah 50:5-9)
These words from the book of Isaiah foretold how Jesus Christ would be treated and how Jesus would react to the ridicule and ultimate sacrifice He would endure.
These words also should remind us that we might have to endure taunts and even rejection because of our love for God and because the way of Christ is not the way of today‘s society.
Christ taught compassion, love, mercy, and forgiveness. These are qualities that are in short supply in today’s world.
“What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is ill clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit?
So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. But some one will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith.” (James 2:14-18)
These words of James, the brother of Christ and head of the church at Jerusalem, explain how we need to act in order to proclaim our faith. In no uncertain words they say that we live our faith by our actions.
This has been the theme of the last few weeks and a constant theme of Christ’s teachings.
Many people proclaim to be followers of Jesus Christ, but they have blinders on towards the suffering and pain that exists all around them. If they are aware of it, they seem to have no desire to put an end to it.
Our nations leaders who for the most part claim to be Christians are engaged in discussions to make our health plans more affordable and the best in the world for all people regardless of their income yet they resist because of what it might cost or because of their party affiliations.
What happened to the idea of “Government for the people”
So many people give lip service but somehow little is really done to bring and end to homelessness, poverty, affordable medical assistance for the poor and seniors on low fixed incomes and affordable quality education for every person.
The Government can find trillions to explore space, wage wars, give tax breaks and incentives to the rich and corporations that pay their executives exorbitant salaries, often a thousand time greater than the average worker receives.
"If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it.” (Mark 8)
These words of Christ tell us that to become followers of Christ, we must be willing to endure the crosses we are given. We must deny ourselves things that are considered luxuries so we can care for the needs of those who are poor, ill and unable to care for themselves without help.
Every day I pray to God asking him to provide me with the tools to do His work here on earth and be able to bring comfort and the sacraments to those who cannot get to church or have been told they were not wanted.
I try to spread The Good News of God’s everlasting compassion, infinite love and mercy for all His children.
God always hears our prayers, but He only answer us with what is best for us and at the appropriate time. When people who are sick, need a job or desire to sell their house or some other need ask God’s help, He hears them, but always gives them what is best for them.
Sometimes he calls the sick person home to him as the best way of ending their suffering.
It leaves us feeling sad, lonely, and sometimes angry but we need to realize that God did what was best for them. That is what it means to deny ourselves. We must accept God’s will in our lives, just as Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane pleaded “Lord remove this cup from me, but not my will, but yours be done”
Maybe if we make that prayer the qualification of all our petitions to God we will not be dissatisfied with God‘s answers to our prayers. I have found that when God deems it right He provides those things I need. My favorite poem FOOTSTEPS reminds us how God sometimes carries us when we thought He had abandoned us. God never leaves us but we often leave God out of our lives. I have learned that God needs to be a major part of our life and in a perfect world God is the center of our life.
We cannot allow ourselves to give up on God, worshiping Him and asking Him to be with us just because some have told us we are unwanted, or others try to claim that God is a myth, and still others who are supposed to represent Him have committed heinous crimes. We need to put our trust in God and love Him with all our being. Jesus instructed us with these words; “LOVE THE LORD, YOUR GOD, WITH ALL YOUR HEART, MIND, SOUL AND BODY AND LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOU LOVE YOURSELF” (Mark 12:30) Christ also said “LOVE ONE ANOTHER AS I HAVE LOVED YOU” God loved us so much He was willing to die so that our sins could be forgiven and we could attain everlasting life with Him forever. AMEN
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