Let us give thanks to the Father for having made you worthy to share the lot of the saints in light.
He rescued us from the power of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of his beloved Son. Through him we have redemption, the forgiveness of our sins.
He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creatures. In him everything in heaven and on earth was created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities. All were created through him; all were created for him.
He is before all else that is. In him everything continues in being.
It is he who is head of the body, the church. He who is the beginning, the first-born of the dead, so that primacy may be his in everything. It pleased God to have all his fullness reside in him and, by means of him, to reconcile everything in his person, both on earth and in the heavens, making peace through the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:12-20)
For reflection: St. Paul gives us this great hymn of praise of Jesus. Let us choose one phrase or sentence to think about and let it dwell within us for a day or two.
It is no small thing to be a son of God. Paul says, repeatedly, that we are sons of God through faith in Jesus as the Son of God and our Savior. What does being a son mean? Sons inherit from their father. And we are not minor children. We are old enough to not only inherit but also to manage the estate. As Paul says, we have the full rights of sons. Because we are sons, we have clothed ourselves with Christ and received his Spirit into our hearts. Now we can call God "Daddy." (Galatians 3:26-4:7)
So, we are sons, clothed in Christ, having the Spirit in our hearts, our Dad created the heavens and the earth, and He put us in charge of managing the estate, the kingdom of God on earth.
For reflection: Daddy, thank you for making us your sons. You have given us great rewards and great responsibility. I'm glad that you have other sons and I am not in this alone. Help me to clothe myself with Christ, to put on Christ every day and to walk in your Spirit as I go about the work of the Kingdom.
In the 3rd chapter of Galatians, which is certainly a difficult one, Paul contrasts the law with the promise given to Abraham and the law with faith in God/Christ. In both cases, the law is the loser. The promise to Abraham is greater than the law and faith in Christ is greater than the law.
Let us pray. Lord, you have lavished me with your love
St. Paul seems to me to be the great interpreter of what the life, death and resurrection of Jesus meant for both Jews and Gentiles. How is it that someone who never met Jesus in the flesh becomes the theologian who works out the applications of what Jesus accomplished? Paul himself says it was by revelation, not by the teaching of the other apostles (Galatians 1:11-24).
When he writes to the Galatians to reinforce what he had previously taught them, Paul begins with the example of Abraham. "Those who believe (in God) are children of Abraham" (Gal 3:7). It's a simple statement, but with it Paul extends the promise made to Abraham to both Jews and Gentiles, and indeed to all who have faith. This was not generally accepted Jewish teaching. It was a revelation from God. "So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith" (Gal 3:9).
But faith in God, lived under the law, as Paul will demonstrate, will only get you so far. The work of Jesus and faith in him is necessary.
Let us pray. Thank you, Father, for bringing us to faith. We thank you for Abraham and Sarah, Miriam, Aaron and Moses, Saul, David, Solomon, Isaiah, and Jeremiah. We thank you for all the men and women who have listened to you over the centuries. We thank you for the promise made to Abraham and Sarah and the law given to Moses. We thank you for the bravery of David and the wisdom of Solomon. We thank you for your prophets who spoke your word at the cost of their lives. May we be inspired and graced to follow their example.
God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because we are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out "Abba, Father." So we are no longer slaves, but sons, and since we are sons, God has made us heirs (based on Galatians 4:4-7).
Because Jesus died and rose, I am able to be a child of God, not a slave. Because Jesus died and rose, I can call God "Father". Because Jesus died and rose, I am able to receive Jesus' Spirit in my heart. Because Jesus died and rose, I am an heir of the Kingdom - the Kingdom of God.
Let us pray. Though I am unworthy, Father, you sent your Son. Though I am unworthy, Father, you call me "son." Though I am unworthy, Father, you place your Spirit within me. Though I am unworthy, Father, you give me the Kingdom. What wondrous love is this?
"When Jesus had washed their feet and put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, "Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me 'teacher' and 'master,' and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another's feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do." (John 13:12-15).
"Only when power is changed from the inside, and we accept Jesus and his way of life, whose whole self is there in the action of foot-washing, only then can the world be healed and the people be able to live at peace with one another." (Benedict XVI)
What do we get by forgiving and loving others? What's in it for us? Jesus actually answers those questions. "I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:44-45a). In 6:14-15 Jesus goes on to say, "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."
If we go beyond loving those who love us (Matthew 5:46), we can participate in the divine forgiveness that God the Father offers, be true sons of the Father, and have our sins forgiven also. Those promises would be incentive enough, but forgiving others sets us free from the judgments we have made (Matthew 7:1-2) and brings spiritual and (often)physical healing to our bodies.
For reflection: What lingering unforgiveness can I get rid of this week, before Easter?
Let us pray. "My prayer is not for them alone (the apostles). I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me" (John 17:20-21).
The teachings of Jesus recorded in Matthew 5 are certainly counter-cultural. They were counter-cultural then; they are counter-cultural now. That's because we have never really put his teachings into practice. "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 5:44) has never been easy. It may even be the hardest.
In October 2006 a man killed a number of girls in an Amish school in Pennsylvania. Then he killed himself. Some of those families buried their daughter one day and attended the funeral of the killer the next. A year later they were still helping to support the man's widow and his three children. "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."
This radical forgiveness stopped the community from being torn apart. The Amish live a counter-cultural life and they chose to follow the counter-cultural command of Jesus. Like the Rwandan people we spoke of on Friday, they took the road less traveled. They chose love rather than hatred and forgiveness rather than revenge.
For reflection: "Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals - one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, 'Father, forgiven them, for they do not know what they are doing'" (Luke 23:32-34).
Let us pray. Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.
The Rwandan genocide began 20 years ago this week. There was already a civil war going on, but now there was a government-ordered mass killing of civilians of all ages, even babies. Those being killed could offer little to no resistance. It was a horrible time.
What has happened since? The new government realized that they could not put half the population on trial for war crimes. So they chose, for the most part, to emulate the truth and justice commissions of South Africa. Neighbors faced neighbors with the facts of the murders. The guilty were asked to repent; the innocent were asked to forgive. It is hard to imagine even one of those meetings. Yet with one million people killed, how many of the face-offs had to be held?
What if the Rwandans had followed an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth (Matthew 5:38-42) instead of repentance and forgiveness? Who would be left?
For reflection: From what do I need to repent? Whom do I need to forgive?
Let us pray. "If today you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts" (Psalm 95:8). Let me hear your voice today, Lord. Grant me the grace of repentance and forgiveness.
I started this website and blog on May 1, 2012. I am a Catholic who has been in ministry for many years. I first developed what I would call a close relationship with Jesus in the early 1970s. Ever since then I have been praying with people for healing and other needs. It is because I have seen so many of these prayers answered that I am so bold as to offer to pray for you individually through this website and phone line.