"Walking in the way and the love of the Lord"
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“ Worry is like a rocking chair—it's always in motion
but it never gets you anywhere.”
by Joyce Meyer
Worry, feeling uneasy or troubled, seems to plague multitudes of people in our world today. It's human nature to be concerned about the bad situations in our world and in our personal lives, but if we're not careful, the devil will cause us to worry beyond what's reasonable.
So why do we struggle with it? And what good does it do? Worry is the opposite of faith, and it steals our peace, physically wears us out, and can even make us sick. When we worry, we torment ourselves—we're doing the devil's job for him! Worry is caused by not trusting God to take care of the various situations in our lives. Too often we trust our own abilities, believing that we can figure out how to take care of our own problems. Yet sometimes, after all our worry and effort to go it alone, we come up short, unable to bring about suitable solutions.
At a young age, I discovered firsthand that people hurt people, so I didn't trust others. I tried to take care of myself, deciding not to depend on anyone who would hurt or disappoint me. Too often our experiences in the world teach us this, and even after we become Christians, it takes a long time to overcome it. It's difficult to learn how to trust God, but we eventually must learn that trying to take care of everything ourselves is too big a task.
Cast Your Cares on the One Who Cares for You
First Peter 5:6-7 says, Therefore humble yourselves [demote, lower yourselves in your own estimation] under the mighty hand of God, that in due time He may exalt you, casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully. Since Jesus invites us to cast all of our care and worry on Him, why do so many of us refuse to let go? Apparently, we're not yet fed up with being miserable.
The only way to have victory in our lives is to play by God's rules, and He says we must quit worrying if we want to have peace. So when things come our way that cause us to be concerned, we need God's help. How do we get it? First Peter 5:6-7 lists two important steps: 1) humble yourselves, and 2) cast your care on Him.
That seems pretty clear and simple, yet some continue struggling because they're too bullheaded to ask for help. But the humble get the help. So if your way isn't working, why not try God's way? All of us would be better off if we'd learn to lean on God and ask for His help. But as long as we try to do everything ourselves, God will let us. He won't take care of our problems and worries—our cares—until we turn loose of them and give them to Him. Either we're going to do it or God's going to do it, but both of us aren't going to. Now, casting your care doesn't mean you can be irresponsible. God won't do for you what you can do yourself. You must do what you can do, and then trust God to do what you can't. When we humble ourselves and ask for His help, then He's able to release His power in our situations. It's only then that we can really enjoy life.
So the cure for worry is humbling ourselves before God, casting our cares on Him, and trusting Him. Instead of making ourselves miserable trying to figure everything out on our own, God wants us to place our trust in Him and enter into His rest, totally abandoning ourselves to His care. I know that when we are able to believe and say, "God, I trust You," it will literally change our lives. Psalm 37:3 says, Trust…in the Lord and do good.... God didn't create us to worry about helping ourselves all the time. He wants us to sow good seed by reaching out to help others. When we simply trust God and get busy doing the good things we know to do, then He'll bring a harvest of blessings into our lives and meet our needs.
Develop an Attitude of Faith and Prayer
I've learned that my attitude has a lot to do with living a worry-free life. There will always be situations that cause us concern, but with God's help, we can live above all of it and enjoy life. Cast your care on the Lord and say, "God, I trust You, and I'm going to enjoy the life You have given me." When you give your problems to God, you must also decide to be satisfied with His answers. Trusting God to do what's best for us involves dying to self. Paul said, ...it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me (Galatians 2:20). You can trust God to do what's best for you, so you don't have to worry about it. When you have a positive attitude and keep your faith in God, you can't be defeated.
We must stop trying to make things happen the way we want and get to the place where we desire to please God more than ourselves. The Christ in us has to supercede what we want. Faith and the Word of God will help you overcome worry. Worrying involves negative thoughts, but speaking positive things out of your mouth will interrupt those negative thought patterns. When we are full of the Word of God, we can speak it out of our mouths in faith. Faith is stronger than doubt, negativism and unbelief. Faith has a positive attitude that can overcome our past and lead us into a great future. Faith is a powerful force that cannot be conquered. Another powerful force is prayer. When you're under pressure, it's always best to pray about it instead of talk about it. Prayer is the blueprint for a successful life. During His time on earth, Jesus prayed. He entrusted everything to God—even His reputation and life. We can do the same. We don't have to explain all the problems to Him; we can just give them to Him and ask Him to take care of everything. Don't complicate prayer. Just have confidence in simple, believing prayer.
Look at Paul's instructions in Philippians 4:6-7: Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. And God's peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. If you're a Christian who goes around burdened or weighed down all the time, something is wrong. You may have had faith in Christ for salvation, but you haven't moved into walking in faith daily for the life that God has given you. The Bible tells us that God is faithful—that's one of His major characteristics. He can be counted on to come through for us, so we should trust Him totally and completely. When we do, we'll be ready for anything that may come our way.
Allow God to Give You Peace and Rest
In Matthew 11:28, Jesus said, Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.] Jesus wants to ease our burdens and give us rest. The Message Bible says it this way: Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly (Matthew 11:28-30).
That sounds good, doesn't it? I've had enough heavy stuff in my life, and I want to be free. It's nice to know that we don't have to figure everything out. We need to get comfortable with saying, "I don't have a clue, but I'm not going to worry about it because God's in control. I'm going to live free and light!" When we're overloaded with the cares of this life—struggling, laboring and worrying—we need some help. Our minds need to rest from worrying about how to take care of problems, our emotions need to rest from being upset all the time, and our wills need a rest from stubbornness and rebellion. So we need to be humble enough to call out to God and say, "I need help!" Your beginning doesn't have to dictate your ending. Get God involved in every area of your life and allow Him to lead you into rest.
Worry or Worship?
Worry and worship are exact opposites, and we'd all be much happier if we learned to become worshippers instead of worriers. Worry opens the door for the devil, but worship is reverence and adoration for God that leads us into His presence. God created us to worship Him, and I don't believe we can walk in victory if we don't become worshippers. Sometimes when we don't have what we need or want, the enemy tries to discourage us and keep us from worshipping God. But when we know that God has our best interests at heart, we can worship Him regardless of our circumstances. Remember, God is good even when our circumstances are not! God doesn't always give us our heart's desire right away. He wants us to develop a deep, personal relationship with Him and an outrageous love for Him so much so that we can't live without it. This kind of relationship and love brings the worshipful attitude that God wants us to have.
To worship means "to reverence," or "to defer to." We are to have reverential fear and awe of God. We are to respect and honor Him, and defer to Him by submitting to and obeying Him, and adapt ourselves to His will. We must realize that Christ, living in us, has come to lead and guide us into a special lifestyle of worship and victorious living. When Satan throws worry on you, I challenge you to stop what you're doing, get down on your knees before God, and begin praising Him. Worship is a spiritual weapon, a warhead or bomb you can use against the enemy. Your prayers and worship will get you heavenly help, and you won't have to fight your own battles. God's grace and power can make things happen with ease that you can't bring about no matter how much you struggle.
So stop worrying about everything, give it to God, and live in grace. Grace isn't just divine favor—it's power! Don't waste another day of your life worrying. Determine what your responsibility is and what it is not. Don't try to take on God's responsibility. When we do what we can do, God steps in and does what we can't. So give yourself and your worries to God and begin enjoying the abundant life He has planned for you.
The Miracle of the Image – Ugo Festa
Ugo Festa was born in Vicenza, Italy in 1951. He was struck down at an early age with multiple sclerosis. Gradually his health deteriorated. This led to many other problems in his young life. By the age of 39, he was suffering from multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy and epilepsy. Early in 1990, his spine was becoming distorted and he was having seizures daily. He had been continually attending doctors since he first contracted the disease, but they could do nothing for him. He decided there was nothing left to try but prayer.
On the 28th April 1990, Ugo went with a pilgrimage to Rome. In his unfortunate situation, he was introduced to Mother Teresa who was in Rome at the time with a group whom he also became acquainted with. Ugo was invited along with this group to a retreat at the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Trent, but he refused. On leaving, one of the group, a nun, gave him five copies of the Divine Image Picture and a Divine Mercy medal. The following day the 29th April 1990, Ugo wore the medal and carried in his arms the Images to be blessed to the papal audience at the Vatican. At the bottom of the steps to St. Peters the Holy Father passed by. Ugo asked him to bless his Divine Mercy pictures. After blessing the pictures the Pope asked him how he was.
Ugo told him he felt very despondent and was at a crisis in his life. The Holy Father said “How could you have a crisis with Jesus the Divine Mercy in your arms? Entrust yourself to him and pray to my Sr. Faustina to intercede.” With this advice Ugo changed his mind and decided that he would go to the the Divine Mercy Shrine in Trent.
At the side altar in the Villa O’Santissima Villazzano, Trent, there is a shrine to the Divine Mercy with a life size icon of the Divine Image. On the fourth day of praying in front of this icon Ugo suddenly noticed the arms of the Image stretched out to him and tremendous warmth flowed through his body. He found himself standing on his feet with his arms outstretched to the Lord and he heard himself loudly praising Jesus the Divine Mercy. He saw Jesus coming down to him, his white garment blowing as if in a breeze, he thought, “My God, this is the man from Galilee coming towards me”. He heard Jesus say in a clear voice, “Rise up and walk”. He began to walk. All his ailments were at that instant cured and he was more physically perfect than he had ever been in his life.
On August 19th, 1990, Ugo returned to the Vatican and during a Papal Audience at Paul VI Hall, was taken to meet Pope John Paul II again. He told him about the great grace he had received and thanked him for the words of inspiration which led him to Trent, and resulted in this great miracle of Divine Mercy. He gave Pope John Paul II a copy of the Divine Image, with the signatures on the back of the many people who witnessed the miracle on that day.
Ugo Festa thereafter devoted his life to Jesus, voluntarily working with disabled people and spreading the Message of Divine Mercy throughout Italy.
By: Carolyn M. Berghuis, MS, ND, CTN, April 8, 2015.
How often do we experience miracles in our lives? The birth of a child, the bliss of romantic love, the gift of friendship, the healing of an “incurable” disease – not to mention the miracle of transubstantiation. What if we, like the crippled man in today’s first reading, went to our church jumping and praising God after experiencing a miracle? Would it make a difference in the world today?
God loves it when we praise him and today’s scripture readings are rich with this very notion. Of course God does not need our praise, rather, he loves it when we praise him because of what it does for us, his beloved children. When we praise him our whole being; body, mind and heart begins to more closely resemble God. Today’s Psalms (105:1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8-9) beautifully reveal to us how to praise God: give him thanks, call on his name, proclaim his deeds to all the people, sing to him, make music for him, recount all his wonders – the list goes on! So beautiful – and all easily found in scripture.
Remember the crippled man in today’s first reading (Acts 3:1-10), who after receiving healing at the hands of Peter and John, was compelled to go to the temple with the disciples. No doubt studying sacred scripture would be part of this visit. Along the way he was jumping and praising God in such a heightened manner that “everyone” could see him. That’s right, he was so filled with joy that “everyone” took notice! We read that those who witnessed his jubilant behavior were astonished and perplexed. What if we, after experiencing a miracle, expressed such magnificent jubilee? What effect could we have on our little corner of the world? Would others around us be astonished and perplexed? Would our joy be the light that God uses for someone to turn to him? Could we become the magnet God uses to draw his lost sheep more closely to himself?
I invite you to think for a moment about those individuals in your life who are authentically joy filled, who find joy in praising God. You know, those folks who walk with a spring in their step and a smile on their face even in hard times. Do they attract others to themselves? Do they radiate an internal joy that others are drawn to? Do others want to be like them? Do you find yourself feeling better in their presence? Do you want to be more joy filled like them? I know silly questions – of course the answer is yes. You too can be the joyful person and praising God for the miracles in your life is a good place to start. Just imagine what the world look like if all God’s children praised him like the crippled man after experiencing his infinite miracles in our lives.
In today’s Gospel (Luke 24:13-35) we further witness the great power that awaits us if we but only submerse ourselves in scripture. The two disciples of Christ, on their walk to Emmaus, unknowingly encountered Jesus on the day he rose from the dead. Jesus, explaining to the two men the prophecies of the Old Testament showed them how his resurrection had already been foretold. Yes, again, turn to scripture – it’s all there. The secrets we seek that will lead to eternal joy and happiness have already been gifted to us from our most loving Father and we can find this in our Bible. Just as the hearts of these disciples burned within as Jesus explained scripture, our hearts can burn as well if we allow Jesus, who lives within us, to reveal sacred scripture to us. As Jesus finally revealed himself to these two men when he took the bread and blessed it, he too desires to reveal himself to us and open our eyes and heart in the Eucharist and in sacred scripture.
Here is an area I love being Catholic! All of us, like the disciples on the walk to Emmaus, have a heart that will burn within as it more fully understands scripture. As Catholics we enjoy a rich faith full of individuals who have devoted years and decades of their life to understanding sacred scripture. From the writings of the great saints, to our modern day religious (who by the way spend decades learning the faith), to our lay educators we have a plethora of devotees of the faith we can trust and turn to for direction and guidance.
As many a Catholic can attest, once we embark upon the journey of uniting ourselves more fully with Father God by studying scripture our hearts will burn, our joy will expand and we will find ourselves walking around with a spring in our step while praises to God rolls off our lips.
Jesus – I love you!
Catholic Daily Mass Reflections
BY RICK WARREN
“If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me.” (Matthew 10:39 MSG)
Jesus was a man who was purpose driven. He knew his purpose, and he lived with priorities. The earliest statement we have from Jesus was when he was 12 years old and said, “I must be about my Father’s business.” At age 12, he already knew his life plan. He was focused. Then, at the end of his life, he said, “It is finished.” Those are the bookends of a successful life.
I want you to live a successful life. I want you to get to the end of your life and say, “I did it. I used my life the way God wanted me. I may have had a rocky start. But I used the rest of my life the way God wanted me to use it. And I put him first.”
Jesus said in Luke 12:30, “Only people who don’t know God are always worrying”(CEV). What does that mean? It means that when you worry, you’re acting like an atheist. Worry is practical atheism. It’s saying you don’t really believe God’s going to take care of you. It’s acting like an orphan.
Jesus also said in verse 31, “Your Father knows what you need. But put God’s work first, and these things will be yours as well.” All the other things in your life — your career, your education, your friendships, your romance, your finances — are all from God and are good. But if you’re a Christian, God comes first in your life. Everything else is second place. When you put him first, everything else will come into focus. God will help you with that.
Have you ever talked to people who say, “I'm just trying to find myself”? I hate to tell them, but they’re never going to find themselves — unless they do what Matthew 10:39 says: “If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me” (MSG).
The most counter-culture statement in today’s world is the first sentence of “The Purpose Driven Life”: “It’s not about you.” Everything in society says it’s all about you. All of the advertisements say it’s all about you: “Have it your way,” “We do it all for you,” “You deserve a break today,” “Obey your thirst,” “You’re worth it.”
Yet God says the only way you’re ever going to find yourself is by forgetting yourself and focusing on God. Then you’ll not only figure out God; you’ll also figure out you. That’s what it means to live like Jesus.
Talk It Over
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Jesus Christ made seven final statements during his last hours on the cross. These phrases are held dear by followers of Christ because they offer a glimpse into the depth of his suffering to accomplish redemption.
Recorded in the Gospels between the time of his crucifixion and his death, they reveal his divinity as well as his humanity. As much as possible, given the approximate sequence of events as portrayed in the Gospels, these seven last words of Jesus are presented here in chronological order.
1) Jesus Speaks to the Father, Luke 23:34
Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."
Even among His excruciating suffering and pain, the heart of Jesus was focused on others rather than Himself. Here we see the nature of His love—unconditional and divine.
Dear Lord, though I believe at one level that you have forgiven me, this amazing truth needs to penetrate my heart in new ways. Help me to know with fresh conviction that I am fully and finally forgiven, not because of anything I have done, but because of what you have done for me. May I live today as a forgiven person, opening my heart to you, choosing not to sin because the power of sin has been broken by your salvation. May I live today as a person who forgives the ones who have hurt me. I may not understand their actions, but allow me the grace to forgive. Thank you Jesus for your matchless forgiveness! Amen.
2) Jesus Speaks to the Criminal on the Cross, Luke 23:43
"I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."
Jesus spoke to the one criminal who was being crucified with Christ. This man recognized who Jesus was and expressed faith in him as Savior. Here we see grace poured out through faith, as Jesus assured the dying man of his forgiveness and eternal salvation.
Dear Lord Jesus, how I wonder at your grace and mercy! O Lord, though my situation is so different from the criminal who cried out to you, I am nevertheless quite like him. Today I live, trusting you and you alone. When I cry out to you, you hear me! Your mercy, dear Lord, exceeds anything we might imagine. It embraces us, encourages us, heals us. Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom! Amen.
3) Jesus Speaks to Mary and John, John 19:26-27
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple John whom He loved standing nearby, He said to his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son," and to the disciple John, "Here is your mother." Jesus, looking down from the cross, was still filled with the concerns of his mother. None of his brothers were there to care for her, so he gave this task to the Apostle John. Here we clearly see Christ's humanity in caring for His mother.
Lord Jesus, the presence of your mother at the cross engages my heart and shows us the human side of this sacrifice. You are not only the Savior dying for our sins, but a son with a mother. O Lord, how do I thank you for what you suffered? I don't know where to start. Nevertheless, I will start with a thank you. Thank you for bearing my sin on the cross. I give you my praise, my love, my heart . . . all that I am, because you have given me all that you are. Thank you Jesus, Savior of the world . . . my Savior! Amen.
4) Jesus Cries Out to the Father, Matthew 27:46 (also Mark 15:34)
And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” In the darkest hours of his suffering, Jesus cried out. This shows us the agony Christ felt as he expressed separation from God. Here we see the Father turning way from the Son as Jesus bore the full weight of our sin.
O Lord Jesus, I will never fully understand the wonder and horror of your abandonment by the Father. Every time I think about this, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. How can I ever thank you for what you did for me? What can I do for you? I can offer myself to you in gratitude and praise? Thank you, Lord. Thank you Lord for taking my place. Let me remember this and never doubt that you did this so that I might never be forsaken by the Father. Thank you Jesus!
5) Jesus is Thirsty, John 19:28
Jesus knew that everything was now finished, and to fulfill the Scriptures he said, "I am thirsty." Jesus refused the initial drink of vinegar, gall and myrrh (Matthew 27:34 and Mark 15:23) offered to alleviate his suffering. But here, several hours later, we see Jesus fulfilling the messianic prophecy found in Psalm 69:20-21. Their insults have broken my heart, and I am in despair. If only one person would show some pity;
if only one would turn and comfort me. But instead, they give me poison for food;
they offer me sour wine for my thirst.
O Lord, once again I thank you for what you suffered on the cross. Not only did you experience extraordinary pain, you also experienced extreme thirst. All of this was part of your taking on our humanity so that you might take away our sin.
Dear Lord, when you spoke the words, “I am thirsty” , I hear myself speaking those words. I too am thirsty, Lord, not for physical drink. I don’t need sour wine. Rather, I need the new wine of your kingdom to flood my soul. I need to be refreshed by your living water. I yearn for your Spirit to fill me once again. I am thirsty, Lord, for you. Amen.
6) It is Finished, John 19:30
... he said, "It is finished!" Jesus knew he was suffering the crucifixion for a purpose. Earlier he had said in John 10:18 of his life, "No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father." These three words were packed with so much meaning. The Scriptures had been fulfilled.
How can I ever find words to express my gratitude to you, dear Lord Jesus? You did it. You finished what you had been sent for, faithful in life, faithful in death. You took the sin of the world upon your sinless shoulders . . . taking my sin so that I might receive your forgiveness and new life. Dear Jesus, thank you for saving me!
7) Jesus' Last Words, Luke 23:46
Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last. Here Jesus closes with the words of Psalm 31:5, speaking to the Father. We see his complete trust in the Father. Jesus offered up his life as the perfect sacrifice and placed himself in God's hands.
Gracious Lord, even as you once entrusted your spirit into the hands of the Father, so I give my life to you. I trust you, and you alone to be my Savior. Here I am, Lord, available to you, both now and in the future. Let us reflect upon your death, not in despair, but in hope. With Good Friday behind us, Easter Sunday is on the horizon. Amen.
Isaiah 50:4 The LORD God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word.
The word “weary” jumped out at me as I read these words. Perhaps it is because I am feeling a little weary myself today. I suspect many of us are weary. We are worn down from illness, grief, or caretaking. The daily demands of life wear us down, or burn us out.
Today’s gospel says that Jesus was “troubled in spirit.” I imagine that he was weary too. Weary from constant travel, weary of the power structures that sought to destroy him. His disciples must have made him weary too. One betrayed him, another denied him, they all misunderstood him.
What words sustained Jesus in his weariness? Psalm 23? The word “beloved”, spoken at his baptism? Somehow, he found the strength and resolve to move forward to the cross.
What sustains you when you are weary? A favorite Bible verse? A song? A friend? A walk in the woods? As we follow Jesus in his final days, we join him in his weariness. And, as his followers, we ourselves can offer a word to the weary.
Let us pray: "Dear Jesus, May I be content to remain in your arms when there is darkness in my life. If I truly know how to rest there, I know that no one can take me away from you."
Prayerful Path/Mary Maddox
Saint James, pray for us that we may be willing to leave everything to follow Jesus as you did. Help us to become special friends of Jesus as you were. Amen