One More Time
Immediately upon his public ministry, Jesus began to perform miracles. Luke gives these accounts in his gospel to show that Jesus is the anointed one of God, the Messiah. Because people had seen him casting out demons and healing people, more and more people gathered to hear him preach.
Jesus had already healed Simon's mother-in-law of a high fever, when he sits in Simon's boat to preach to the people on the shore. Following the message, he told Simon to go out into the deeper water to fish. It was not the right time of day to fish and Simon knew it. But he went out anyway because Jesus asked him. They caught so many fish that one boat couldn't handle them all. So James and John bring out their boat to help (Luke 5:1-11).
This miraculous catch of fish, mid-morning, convinced Simon(Peter), James and John that Jesus was someone worth listening to. They hadn't asked Jesus to help them with fishing. Although they hadn't caught anything that early morning, and had no doubt missed out on a day's wages, they didn't complain. It seems Jesus arranged that miracle just to impress them. It worked. They began to follow Jesus.
For Reflection: Jesus may move in unexpected ways. After all, what does a carpenter know about fishing? Where will I see Jesus working today? If He calls me to do something I've already tried and failed at, will I try one more time?
Let us pray. Jesus, you are the master of everything above the earth, on the earth and under the earth. All creation owes its existence to you.
Jesus in the House
Jesus is in the house! As we saw in yesterday's post, in Luke's Gospel, Jesus' standing up and reading from Isaiah in the synagogue is the beginning of Jesus' public ministry. He then goes out to start fulfilling Isaiah's prophecy, as he said he would do. He teaches with authority (Luke 4:31-32, 36); he frees a man possessed by a demon (4:33-35); he heals many people (4:38-41); he preaches the good news to all who would listen (4:42-44).
Jesus does not ask us to do anything for which he did not give us an example. And just as he did not do things in his own strength, he does not want us to do things on our own strength. He had the authority of the Father and the power of the Spirit to preach, to free, to heal. He prayed before he began his ministry, he prayed all during his ministry, he continues to intercede for us before the Father (Romans 8:34).
For Reflection: If Jesus needed to pray, how much more so do I need to pray?
Let us pray. Jesus, you set the example. You laid out the mission. You showed us how to accomplish it - through our prayer, with the authority of the Father, empowered by the Holy Spirit and your own intercession. It is in partnership with you that we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). You are the source, the holy one.
Jesus proclaimed his marching orders when he stood up in the temple of Nazareth and read from Isaiah: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor" (Luke 4:18-19).
These are the orders given to him by the Father and enabled by the Holy Spirit. Jesus knew why he was sent. He had a mission, a purpose. He also had help. He had his Father's authority behind him and Holy Spirit with him always. He embodied the Trinity. He was never alone in living out and accomplishing his mission.
For Reflection: If Jesus needed the Father's authority and the Spirit's anointing, how can we expect to get by without them?
Let us pray. Jesus, I see the mission you had and I want to follow your example. I too need the Father's authority and the Spirit's anointing. I want to embody the Trinity to the extent that I can because there are still people who have not heard the good news, who have not been set free, who have not been healed, who do not know of your favor. I need your help to walk in your footsteps and continue your mission of bringing the kingdom of God on earth.
Wasting Time with God
Wasting time with God. That's what some people call it. It's the time we spend with the Father/Jesus/Holy Spirit when it seems like nothing is going on. We're not conversing, we're just enjoying each other's company, sharing the same space.
Perhaps it's like a long-married couple who don't talk so much any more, but they don't want to be away from each other either. In a book I read recently an older gentleman told his adult children, when their mother had to spend some time in hospital, "You're mother and I have never spent a night apart. I don't intend to start now." So he slept in his wife's hospital room. Conversation is not always necessary, but presence is.
If we've never spent time like this with God, it can be helpful to imagine our favorite place - a beach, the mountains, the woods - and invite God to join us. Replace the present with God's presence.
Give Me Back My Stuff
Victory of Jesus
Jesus took all of our sins onto himself when he was crucified. Even though we had not been born yet, even though we had not sinned yet, he died for us (1 Peter 2:24). He forgave all of our sins at that time. St. Paul assures us, "He forgave us all our sins" (Colossians 2:13). Further, by his death he cancelled the penalty due to those sins which was our eternal death.
Jesus took on himself our sins, our hatred, our cruelty to one another. He also took on what others have done to us - the injustices, the theft, the cursing. He accepts the garbage of the abuser and the hurt of the one who was abused.
These assurances from Peter and Paul are past tense. Already done. But we have to appropriate them in our lives. We have to admit our sins to God and accept the forgiveness that Jesus offers. Then we need to let go of the sin, the guilt, the shame, the hurt. We can trust God with it and not hang on to it. "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7). If we hang on to these things, we deny that Jesus was capable then and still is capable now of saving us. He won the victory.
For Reflection: Have I truly admitted my sins and accepted forgiveness for them? Am I hanging on to the guilt, the shame or the hurt?
Let us pray. Jesus, I realize now that I've been hanging on to the guilt and the hurt. You are more than capable of carrying these, so I give them to you. I don't want them any more. I want to take a victory lap with you.
A Great Sinner
Many of us are dragging around a load of guilt. We think that we are too great a sinner for God to forgive us. Not true. God is bigger than our sin. In fact it is hubris to think that any sin of ours is too big for God to forgive or to believe that he can't take away our guilt.
Paul made this very point is his letter to Timothy. Paul considered himself the worst of sinners. He was a "blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man" (1 Timothy 1:13-16; Acts 8:3). Yet God forgave him. Jesus came into the world to save sinners. If Jesus can forgive someone like Paul (who really was a great sinner) and take on all of Paul's sin and guilt, why not ours?
For Reflection: Jesus came into the world to save sinners. I am a sinner. Therefore Jesus came into the world to save me.
Let us pray. Jesus, I have sinned. I realize that if you can forgive Paul, you can forgive me. I have . . . . I ask you to forgive me. Help me to make amends for what I have done and to not commit these same sins again.
The Life of a Prophet
With regard to the prophets, such as Elijah whom we've been reading about, I'm not sure how far in advance God spoke to them about what he wanted them to do. For example, we don't see, "God said to him, 'Next month I want you to go to the desert.'" It always appears to be immediate instructions that are given.
Sometimes there are long periods when the prophet is not speaking for God. Elijah waited during the 3 years of the drought before God told him to go back and speak to King Ahab again. What did he do during those 3 years? We could assume he did whatever type of work he was doing before God called him to speak to Ahab. Although he fled his home and went to Zarephath, perhaps he had a skill or trade that could be practiced anywhere. But even if he was able to practice his trade in Zarephath, he had left his home and his family behind.
Nor do we know how old he was. Was he about the same age as Ahab? Older? Younger?
What we do know about Elijah is that he had a relationship with God; he listened to God; he waited on God; he was devoted to God. When God spoke, Elijah listened.
For Reflection: Where am I? Do I have a relationship with God? Do I listen to God? Do I wait on God? Am I devoted to God? If God called me to drop everything and do something for him, would I do it?
Let us pray. God, I tell people you are the most important person in my life, but I see now that may true. I'm not sure that I could drop everything to follow your instructions. How do I build my trust in you to the point where I could do that?
Soft Hearts, Open Ears
For the most part the time of the Kings of Israel was not an illustrious one. With a few exceptions they served false gods and were wicked men. God sent prophets to them, but they didn't listen. The entire people suffered because of the kings.
The Psalmist says, "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts" (Psalm 95:7-8). Yes, the kings of Israel hardened their hearts, but God continued to send prophets. God never gives up on us. He still speaks today.
Let us pray for leaders around the world to be men and women with soft hearts and open ears who listen to God. Let us pray the same thing for ourselves and our families.
We touched briefly in the last couple of weeks on God sending Elijah into hiding while he waited on Ahab to change his mind (1 Kings 17:3-4, 8-9, 18:22, 19:10). During that time, three years, Elijah felt very much alone. Although Elijah was isolated from the other believers, there were others who were faithful. There were Obadiah and the 100 prophets he hid in caves. And in 1 Kings 19:18 God tells Elijah that there are 7000 more who have not worshiped the false gods.
There is another reference to Elijah. This time it is from the lips of Jesus. In Luke 4:25-26, Jesus says that Elijah was not accepted by his own people, but was sent instead to a non-Jew, the widow in Zarephath. Jesus' implication is that the Jews of Nazareth are just as unaccepting of him, a native son, as the Jews of the northern kingdom of Israel were of Elijah. And so the prophet, whether Elijah or Jesus, is sent to a person or people who are more open to the word of God.
For Reflection: Being sent to speak to other people, to do the work of God, may cause us to be alone or to feel alone. But in the power of the Spirit we can draw on the strength of God, on the strength of those worshiping in heaven and on the strength of the faithful on earth.
Let us pray with those in heaven: "Holy, holy holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come. . . . You are worthy, our Lord and God to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being" (Revelation 4:8, 11).
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.