There is always Purpose

In John 6:26, Jesus says, to the Crowd, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of loaves.” Sometimes, I think we can become consumed by the experience and how it relates to us personally rather than reflecting on the purpose of the words and actions of others and the events that occurred. In this case the Crowd inferred by Jesus were hoping to be physically gratified but what Jesus was offering went beyond that.

 So, the question is, was the Crowd really being superficial or were they there because they believed Jesus would proclaim a message l that when making significant choices would provide them with a greater purpose in lives?  Also, is it that we always look for good experiences to sustain us? I often feel we learn more from the challenges we experience each day than doing the things we want to do. I believe I give more of myself when faced with difficulties. Additionally, I call on others to assist me to overcome these issues. Hence, I by continuing to make the hard choices and with the help of key people in my life I can achieve positive outcomes as they give meaning and purpose to my life.

 

Moreover, as Jesus says do not work for food that perishes, but for food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” John 6:27. Thus, there is more to life than material items that eventually have passed their used by date. Granted, they can bring us joy but it is only in the short term because eventually you want to upgrade to the latest model. Therefore, I can’t be seduced into allowing my meaning and purpose of life to be driven by attaining these material items. However, Jesus offers us a meaning and a purpose through his Gospel values that give us spiritual food that will not only sustain us in this life but the next.

Jesus a role model for empathy & understanding.

In Mark 5:21-34 we read the Narrative of a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years and despite seeking help from numerous doctors she was unable to find a cure. In fact, her condition had deteriorated. So, when finding out that Jesus was coming to her town she believed that if she was able to touch his cloak she could be cured. My question is what led her to this belief and why she did not just ask Jesus personally for a healing?

Firstly, I am sure that the woman had heard about Jesus’ power to heal people when nobody else could. So, the woman knew it was her last opportunity to be cured and whatever the outcome she had given it her best shot.  Ultimately, upon touching Jesus’ clothes she was immediately healed from her bleeding.

Secondly, Jesus asks “Who touched my clothes?” Mark 5:31 He asks the question not because he is angry that someone had the temerity to touch him but he wants to know who and why they touched him. Immediately, the woman is fearful that Jesus will rebuke her however Jesus says to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” Mark 5:34 Thus, Jesus reassures her she did the right thing by seeking a healing and it was her faith that relieved her suffering.

Finally, it is Jesus’ empathy and understanding that makes the woman’s healing whole. The woman’s courage to grasp the opportunity for a healing changes to one of fear and trembling when Jesus asks who touched my clothes. However, it is Jesus’ empathy and understanding that wins the day. For it was not through touching Jesus’ clothes that healed the woman but her faith. Hence, when  faced with challenging situations  we need the courage to express our faith and it is there we find a empathetic and understanding Jesus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Growing in Faith

In Matthew 13:31-32 Jesus tells a parable about a mustard seed which grows into a large tree where even birds come to nest in it.

 Today, this parable could describe our modern day Christian Church. Jesus through his words and actions empowered his disciples to continue his mission and from there inspired by the message of the Gospel churches were built throughout the world.

 At last count there were 2.3 billion Christians spread across different nations globally.  That is 31% of the world’s population. How incredible that just from one man, Jesus, his twelve apostles and the early Christian Communities that from their words and actions Christianity is the largest religion in world today.

 However, like the mustard seed for Christian Communities to grow they must be welcoming and inviting places of worship where positive relationships are built and there is an opportunity for everyone to participate. A church that allows everyone no matter what age to express their faith and feel like they have a sense of ownership within that community. Thus, the Christian Church gives a sense of identity to each individual and place where they belong.

 Hence, for the Christian Church to continue each  Community throughout the world must be a place where each person is supported to be who they are and encouraged to share their faith with others. I believe that it is through such vibrant Communities that like the mustard seed that grows into a tree I can develop my faith and grow closer to God. Furthermore, like the birds nesting in the trees I can invite others to come and share their faith  and build the Christian Community.

Demand for a Sign

In Matthew 16:1 The Pharisees and Sadducees test Jesus by asking him for a sign from heaven. I wonder how many times I too ask Jesus for sign when circumstances don’t go my way. Sometimes it is easy to become frustrated when I feel situations conspire against me and need God’s help. No matter how many times I pray to God nothing seems to change. So, I tell myself this is what I need to do.

 Firstly, assess the situation and work out a plan to realise what I can do to work out a resolution to the issue. I feel if I am contributing to solving the problem then it doesn’t seem has great as I think it is.

 Secondly, asking my family and friends for help. I often feel pride can get in the road of me seeking assistance. I always think it is important that even if your friends can’t help you with your difficulties you can at least have someone who will listen to you and empathize with your challenges.

Finally, sometimes situations test us and then I am required to turn over my issues to God has only through prayer can a solution be achieved. Furthermore, while I feel I may have a cross to bear at the time I know it is essential to keep positive as I am sure that God is looking out for me. Hence, you don’t need a sign you just need to maintain your faith in God.

 

  

 

 

 

 

Being a Disciple

In this week’s Gospel, Matthew 28:19, Jesus asks his apostles to make disciples of all nations baptizing and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded of you. I believe when Jesus says go out and baptize all nations he is asking them to widen their horizons and take them out of their comfort zone. Therefore, Jesus is defining the role of being a Disciple.

Immediately, the disciples know that they are going to be commissioned to the four corners of the Earth. Maybe, to places they haven’t been before or even to places they don’t want to go. The bottom line is they have undertaken the role of discipleship and are prepared to see it through no matter what challenges they face.

Sometimes, I must undergo tasks that I don’t really want to encounter. When I experience such difficulties, I can either refuse to see it through or try and tackle it to the best of my ability. Like the apostles there is always that fear of the unknown however, for me it is always my belief in my own knowledge and skills and faith that enables me to attempt the assignment. For the apostles they had Jesus’s last words in Matthew’s Gospel resonating in their ears, “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” A statement that applies to all Christians throughout the world today when we offered the opportunity to proclaim the Gospel.

 

 

 

 

Love

“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you, abide in my love. If you keep my commandments you will abide in my love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.” John 15:9-11.

For me the scripture gives me the knowledge the Lord loves me know matter what. There are no requirements that I have to meet to receive this love. All I have to do is develop a positive relationship with God through prayer, scripture and encountering people and creation with respect and dignity.

The criteria to ensure your love for God is interdependent is keeping the commandments. Therefore, to cultivate our faith, we must maintain our desire to act selflessly and not to be motivated by decisions that will only benefit ourselves but to create a ripple effect of assisting others.

Furthermore, this will fill us with joy and inspire us even more to bring happiness to others. We also will acknowledge how the world around us exhibits God’s great love through the people we meet and the wonder and awe of creation. Hence, I believe we have a view of the world that enriches our faith and makes our joy complete.

Being Afraid

In Mark 16:8, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome, “fled from the tomb for terror and amazement had seized them and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” This was despite a young man dressed in a white robe telling them he had been raised and was no longer in the tomb. Mark 16:5-6.

So why were they still afraid? Perhaps, because they were uncertain of about what happened to Jesus. I can empathize with them as when I am unsure of what has occurred in a situation I feel unable to make a definitive choice. I believe too often with a rushed decision I end up not being aware of all the facts and therefore my judgement is clouded.

Furthermore, when they saw just the clothes in the tomb they may have thought they would not see Jesus again. I would argue when I realize something has reached a conclusion and can’t be changed  I feel powerless. Possibly, like the woman the idea that I am unable to influence an outcome leads to frustration has the circumstances are beyond my control.

However, I finally understand this is what the Jesus’ resurrection is all about.That is despite feeling hopeless and unable to make an impact there is always hope. It may not always be evident at the time but can lead to greater consideration in future situations. After all, there will always be doubts and trepidation but through Jesus overcoming death there are limitless opportunities to achieve our goals. We just need to ask for God’s help.

The Betrayal of Jesus

In Matthew 26:23 Jesus says,

“The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me.”

To which Judas replies,

“Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?”

The question I have always pondered is why did Judas betray Jesus?

In Matthew 26:14 it is assumed that Judas’ motive is money as he asks the chief priests,                                                                                                                                      “What will you give me if I betray him to you.?”

The sum being thirty pieces of silver to Judas to deliver Jesus to the high priests.

So, did Judas do it for the money and for what purpose did he need it?  This doesn’t seem the case as shortly after Judas saw that Jesus was condemned he repents and tries to give back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests. They refuse to accept the money, so he throws it down in the temple and goes and hangs himself. Matthew 27:3-6.

I believe we need to look for deeper underlying reasons and for me the betrayal of another person often is because of a breakdown in their personal relationship. Hence, we need to explore the relationship between Jesus, the other apostles and the country’s feelings towards Jesus and Judas. I would argue it begins with Judas and his perception of his relationship with Jesus evident by his commitment to his teachings?

I consider  for Judas to betray Jesus he may have sensed there wasn’t that close connection as with the other disciples. Moreover, he didn’t feel as though he belonged to the group and his role was minimal in the proclaiming the Gospel and continuing the mission of Jesus.

Furthermore, maybe Jesus’ teachings were not being as universally accepted by everyone as Judas hoped they would and therefore he thought they were doomed to failure. Hence, his frustration with Jesus, the other members of the group and his diminishing commitment to Jesus’ teachings. Thus, perhaps the underlying reasons for Judas’ betrayal and his loss of faith in Jesus.

For me the message of Judas’ betrayal is that when we disagree with someone in our own personal relationships we shouldn’t make a hasty decision such as Judas did but try and talk through our differences of opinion and more importantly how we feel about the situation. I consider once both parties feel listened to they can negotiate a resolution rather than make an injudicious decision they regret. I believe Holy Week is a great time for reflection on how we can continue positive relationships with all those we encounter. Consequently, realizing we can make a difference to peoples lives.

The Purpose of our Choices

In the Gospel of Mark 1:40-45 A Leper kneels before Jesus and says,

“if you choose you can make me clean.”

Jesus moved with pity stretches out his hand and touches his hand saying,

“I do choose be made clean.”

Immediately the leprosy left him and he was made clean.

There are two questions I ask myself about this passage.

Firstly, how did the Leper know Jesus could cure him?

Maybe word had filtered through to the Leper of Jesus’ healing power.

Thus, the Leper took a leap of faith and asked Jesus to heal him.

I wonder before Jesus’ arrival if his decision to beg for a healing                                                   was something he pondered over or was done on the spur of the moment?

Regardless, the Leper took his opportunity and his request was granted.

How many opportunities do I miss to achieve successful outcomes to  difficult situations because I neither seek support or seize the occasion?

Secondly, why did Jesus heal the Leper? In verse 41 we learn that Jesus was moved with pity but does the demonstration of Jesus’ healing power go deeper than that? I would argue that Jesus not only felt pity but also compelled to reveal God’s authority over all afflictions that humankind could not cure. Therefore, making God visible and available to all people who desire his graciousness. A God that is accessible not just to a select few but is open to everyone.

Finally, I would argue that this a story challenges us in our decision making to not only seek support when confronted with problems bit also assist others through their trials. Consequently, our the purpose of our choices is to make God visible in our relationships with those we encounter and in every aspect of our life.

Feeding the Five Thousand

In Mark 6:36, The disciples ask if they should send the crowds away to get something to eat. To which Jesus replies give the crowd something to eat.

Firstly, I would look at it from the point of view of the disciples as they were only working with five loaves and two fish. If I was a disciple I would be thinking this is an impossible task how can I possibly feed all this people? Immediately, I have closed my mind to any possibility of achieving this goal and just given up.

Secondly, there is Jesus who makes the request of the disciples to feed the crowd so obviously he thinks this goal is achievable. Does Jesus challenge the disciples because he knows he can make this happen or because he wants to garner the disciple’s response? Therefore, is Jesus testing the disciple’s faith in him to make feeding five thousand possible?

Finally, is this Gospel story really about the food or listening to Jesus’ words and actions that nourish us in our daily lives. Additionally, through the miracle we are now empowered to believe anything is possible. Furthermore, I think Jesus is asking us to not to give up our own goals when we faced with difficulties but to put our trust in others to support us in achieving successful outcomes. Moreover, also putting our faith in Jesus to make things happen after all isn’t that what faith is all about?