Three years pass for Elijah in Zarephath. While Elijah was hiding out in the home of the widow, King Ahab mounted a search to find this prophet who had cursed him with drought. In all the surrounding nations no one knew where he was. Meanwhile the drought continued and the famine worsened.
Queen Jezebel's response was to kill all the prophets of God that she could find. King Ahab and his top adviser (and faithful servant of God) Obadiah were trying to save the country from disaster. They went out one day looking for any remaining grassland on which to pasture the animals. Ahab and Obadiah had gone in different directions when Elijah walked up to Obadiah, who recognized him, and said, "Tell the King that Elijah is here" (1 Kings 18:1-8).
For Reflection: Sometimes the plans of God don't work quickly. While God waited three years for Ahab, King of Israel, to repent, Elijah cooled his heals in modern-day Lebanon. This time of resistance to God was not a fun time for anyone. Ahab and Obadiah had to deal with the drought; Elijah had to leave his country; most of the prophets of God were killed.
Where I am today? Am I in the "waiting on God to work out his plans" stage? Or am I in the action stage of speaking to people who need to hear God's word? Is it possible to be in both stages at once?
Let us pray. Only you know, Lord, only you know the times of my life, the ups and the downs. Don't let my heart be stubborn like that of Ahab or Jezebel. Help me to stay true to you like Elijah and Obadiah in times of waiting and times of action.
In his letters, St. Paul is fond of providing lists of bad things to avoid and good things to do. He also is quite clear that our old rebellious nature died when we were baptized. Speaking for myself, it does not always seem that way. I think I'm just as temped to do things on the bad list as I would have been without baptism - but it's hard to know for sure. I've been baptized a long time.
When writing to the Colossians, Paul tells them that the old rules - don't do this, stay away from that - simply don't work and never did (2:20-23). Instead, since we have been baptized into Christ's death and raised with his resurrection, we should change our mindset. Change what we think about. Put off the old and clothe ourselves with the new ways of Christ. In baptism, this is symbolized by putting on a white garment. And what does this white garment represent? Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Forgiveness, peace and thankfulness (3:1-15).
Some years ago I asked a young boy, who had just been baptized and had on his white garment, what did it mean when the pastor told him to bring it "unstained" to the judgment seat of heaven. He said, "Don't get mustard on it."
For reflection: How is my white garment looking?
Let us pray. Jesus, would you give me a visual on how my white garment is looking today?
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Let's be on the lookout today for good things. Too often we notice the bad things going on around us without taking note of the good. So today let's watch for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
For reflection: Who can I compliment today?
Let us pray. "I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together." Psalm 34:1-3
On this day to celebrate labor in the U.S., I am reflecting on the movie showing now "Lee Daniel's The Butler". Cecil Gaines is a man who begins his work life at a very young age picking cotton. With no formal education at all, he eventually becomes a butler at the White House where he serves 8 American presidents over 30 years.
Mr. Gaines works as a butler with honesty and dignity and to the best of his ability, but his older son Louis disdains the work he does as being beneath him. Also at one point his wife resents his job because he spends more time at the White House than at their house. Both of them have a point. Mr. Gaines endures much self-effacement in order to serve "properly" and he eventually cuts back his hours at the White House to be home with his family more.
He has two dilemmas common to many people today. Being underemployed and working enough to provide for his family while still having adequate time to spend with them. (I haven't done the movie justice. I'm just reflecting on the work aspect of it.)
Let us pray. As we thank God today for the jobs he has given us both at home and in the workplace, let us pray for those who are unemployed, underemployed and seeking balance in their life. Let us pray for child laborers and child soldiers. Let us pray for those involved in human trafficking and illicit work.
Continuing with our story of Jesus fixing breakfast on the shore for the disciples who have been fishing, we come to the well-known talk that Jesus has with Simon (John 21:15-19). Three times Jesus asks Simon, "Do you love me?" Three times Simon Peter answers, "Yes, Lord." Jesus instructs him to "feed my sheep."
Aside from the fact that these three questions parallel the triple denial of Jesus by Peter, what else might they signify? To me they show that although Peter failed Jesus miserably in his hour of need, God's call on Peter's life still remains. Peter's failure did not negate the call of God on his life. God has not given up on Peter.
Jesus then says to Peter here at the end of the gospel the same thing he said at the beginning, "Follow me." But now Peter knows what "follow me" entails - persecution, being an outcast, danger, trials and death.
Peter had already passed one small test since his denial and Jesus' resurrection: he fished on the other side of the boat when Jesus told him to. Now Jesus gives him a much bigger task: follow me and feed my sheep.
For reflection: My failure does not negate the call of God on my life.
Let us pray. Lord, I may not always be successful, but I want to be faithful. Don't let my failures keep me from trying to what you call me to do.
"The Lord dealt with Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as he had promised" (Gen 21:1).
After all the travail of having the initial promise of a son for Abraham, the waiting, the birth of Ishmael by Hagar, Hagar running away and coming back, more waiting, God speaking to Abraham again and sending the three visitors so that Sarah could hear the promise again, we have a simple sentence. God did as he said he would.
Abraham and Sarah rejoiced as Abraham named their son Isaac (he laughs). Sarah exclaimed, "God has brought laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me. Who would ever have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age."
God did as he said he would. It is true for us too. All that God has promised us will happen in due time. This week we celebrate the fulfillment of another of the promises of God - that he would send a Savior who would set us free from the laws of sin and death. God did as he said he would.
For reflection: How are we keeping the promises of God alive in our hearts? What promises has God already fulfilled in my life?
Let us pray. Lord God, you are not only one who makes promises but one who keeps them. Thank you for the promises you have made to me, the promises already kept and the promises I know will be fulfilled because you made them. Holy is your name.
In Genesis 17 we saw Abraham's reaction to being told that he and Sarah would have a son in their old age. Now we see Sarah's reaction in Genesis 18: 1-15. The story is different. In chapter 17, it is God who speaks to Abraham directly. In chapter 18, three messengers arrive at Abraham and Sarah's campsite. They are welcomed and shown hospitality. Sarah begins to make bread; Abraham has a calf killed and prepared. Conversation ensues over the meal.
Several anomalies occur in the story. The three messengers appear at Abraham's tent. Why didn't Abraham or one of the servants see them coming? How is it that they ask for Sarah by name? Both Abraham and Sarah are addressed by their new names, and yet Sarah doesn't seem to know that she is to have a son. In this version of the story, it is Sarah who laughs, not Abraham. Granted, she is more delicate in her laughter - she doesn't roll on the ground laughing as Abraham did. Finally one of the messengers, the one who promises a son, is identified as "the Lord." Speaking so that Sarah can overhear the promise, he tells Abraham of a son to be born in the next year.
Let's apply a little imagination between chapters 17 and 18. What if, after God speaks to Abraham as recorded in chapter 17, Abraham tells Sarah of her new name and the requirement of circumcision as a sign of the covenant, but doesn't tell her about having a son and naming him Isaac? What if 99-year-old Abraham was afraid to talk to 90-year-old Sarah about having a baby? Then we see the necessity of the visit by the three messengers to reaffirm the message to Abraham and to allow Sarah to hear it herself. Now Sarah can join her faith to Abraham's in the conception of Isaac. Abraham and Sarah both need to believe the promise.
For reflection: When has God been persistent with us in giving the same message over and over until we believe? What is the promise we have the most trouble accepting?
Let us pray. God, you are the Father of promises and the Lord of truth. Help us to recognize, understand and believe the promises you have made to us.
In re-reading our text, Genesis 17:15-22, I am amazed at God's patience. God waits while Abraham laughs at the notion that he and Sarah will have a child at their advanced age. Then Abraham suggests to God that the covenant be established through Ishmael. God calmly replies, "No, but your wife Sarah shall bear you a son." So the covenant will be established through Isaac. However, God does not forget Ishmael. "As for Ishmael, I have heard you; I will bless him and make him fruitful and exceedingly numerous."
God does not appear to be offended by Abraham's laughter nor by his suggestion that the covenant be established through Ishmael. He patiently explains that Abraham's legitimate wife, not Hagar, will have a son, as He said all along. It was Sarah who lost patience with God's promise and her infertility. God shows himself more patient than Abraham and Sarah both.
For reflection: How and when has God been patient with me?
Let us pray. Lord of Patience, thank you for all the occasions that you have been patient with me. . . . Forgive me for all the times I have been impatient with you.
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.