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?

Christmas Season

 

 The Christmas Season is a time when we celebrate promises kept and prophecies fulfilled. This prophecy becomes reality when Jesus is born in a stable in Bethlehem on Christmas Day.

So, when I am opening up my presents and eating too much food on Christmas Day, I need to remind myself about the meaning of Christmas. For me that message is best illustrated in Luke 2:8-12

The message of the Angel to the shepherds wonderfully states the purpose of God sending his son, Jesus to Earth. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

I believe the purpose was for the Shepherds to proclaim to the rest of the world that the Messiah was born. The Shepherds were God’s way of demonstrating that the Messiah had come to save all people from every corner of the Earth.

For me that means God through Jesus is there for me in all have do is invite God in. How magnificent is it to know that I am loved by God for every moment of my life. What a great message to reflect on at Christmas.

 

 

 

 

 

Be Watchful & Be Alert

In Mark 13:33, Jesus said to his disciples, “Be watchful! Be alert!”

I think Jesus is asking wherever I am or whatever I do it is always important to be ready for the unforeseen circumstances that may occur. Hence, the need for an open mindset that requires flexibility so I can react appropriately to the matter at hand.

Therefore, this allows me to make the choices according to God’s will. Thus, I am making decisions with purpose and meaning and not reacting straight away without thinking it out and listening to the voices around me. How many times do we wish we could take our actions and words back. Moreover, the friction we have in our relationships can be easily avoided.

Furthermore, being proactive is a great way of dealing with conflict and resolution. By not burying our head in the sand but being aware of challenging situations that arise we can dismantle the tensions that may boil over. Additionally, we creating positive outcomes for all parties involved instead of a fractured atmosphere that lingers on.

So, when we are watchful and alert we are being transparent, listening, pre-emptive and taking time to reflect on our words and actions where solutions can be achieved without repercussions that jeopardize relationships. Hence, in peace and harmony with the world.

Doing your Father’s Will

In Matthew 23:3 Jesus says to the disciples and the crowd, “Do not do as the Scribes and Pharisees do tie up heavy burdens hard to bear and lay them on the shoulders of others, but they themselves are unwilling to move them.”

 How often are we ourselves challenged with burdens that only we can take responsibility for as much as we would like to pass the onus onto some else?

Sometimes when what I face is daunting I turn over my anxiety to God and ask him to help me through the issue. Recently, I begin to pray a novena,

(A novena is a series of prayers that are said for nine straight days, usually as a prayer of petition but sometimes as a prayer of thanksgiving. The nine days recall the nine days that the Apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary spent in prayer between Ascension  Thursday  & Pentecost Sunday) or issues that I really needed God’s and the Saints I prayed to  help with to achieve a successful outcome.

23:5 “The Pharisee’s and Scribes do all their deeds to be seen by others.”

 I have always thought that if I needed to defer to self-praise or was entitled to praise from others then my actions were all about me and not about what I did. I have often found that I really appreciate praise for just doing things that I normally do. That is nothing out of the ordinary, waving the traffic through morning and afternoon, welcoming a new student to the school who comments on that when he or she are leaving for high school or the celebration of a mass where the person said that felt God was present.

 23:6 “They love to have the best place at synagogues and to be greeted with respect in the market places.”

 Often, I feel embarrassed if I am offered a place of honour at a celebration. I would prefer to sit inconspicuously with everyone else and treated as one of the crowd. To be honoured is not sitting at the best seat in the venue but to be acknowledged and respected by your peers for the contribution you have made in their lives.

In the end, my life will be judged on the responsible decisions I make that affect others, my ability to act humbly and the influence I had on people’s lives hopefully always acting in accordance with doing God’s will.

 

 

 

 

Jesus the Teacher Part 2

Jesus’s educational leadership inspired the faith of communities to make God’s presence visible by living the values of care, openness and respect. I believe Jesus demonstrated these values through both his words and actions.

 The story of the Blind Beggar, Bartimaeus is evidence of Jesus’ compassion and empathy towards others. (Mark:46-52) in the narrative Bartimaeus is sitting by the roadside in Jericho. So, he is visible to a large crowd with Jesus and his disciples walking towards Jerusalem.  Immediately, when he heard Jesus of Nazareth was coming, Bartimaeus shouts out “Son of David have mercy on me.” (Mark 10:48) He is rebuked by the many to stop calling out but calls out even louder. (Mark 10:49) How often because we are rebuked do we become less inclined to take risks when our voice like Bartimaeus needs to be heard? I think what this narrative points out is that Jesus always hears our voice.

 Bartimaeus is also a great example of persistence as he keeps on shouting despite the opposition from the crowd? Bartimaeus’ perseverance through his faith acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God and has the power to heal him. The healing will not only cure him from his blindness but also enhance his economic status and allow him to seek employment rather than continue to beg. Furthermore, this is why perhaps the crowd scolded Bartimaeus for asking for a healing due to his low economic and social status.

 Jesus then asks for the people to call him over and on hearing that Jesus wants to speak to him Bartimaeus springs up and comes to Jesus.

Jesus says, what do you want me to do for you? Bartimaeus replies, my teacher, let me see again. Then Jesus said, “Go your faith has made you well. Immediately, Bartimaeus regained his sight. (Mark:49-52) What I particularly like about this story is Bartimaeus’ asking for Jesus’ help. I would argue that Bartimaeus is a great inspiration to me to ask God for help as too often I try to solve issues myself. Jesus demonstrates through this narrative that no matter the circumstances his respect, care and openness to others through healing a poor, blind man illustrates that Jesus’ salvation is available to everyone.

The bottom line for me in my role as an APRIM is to imitate Jesus and follow his teachings. I believe I demonstrate this by witnessing my faith, listening to the needs of others and acting sensitively, graciously and compassionately with everyone I encounter.  Therefore, through being welcoming and inclusive of all staff, students, parents and members of the community I build relationships that are based on trust and openness. Ultimately, I make God visible within Holy Family by respecting and utilizing the gifts and talents of all and engaging each person in prayer, liturgies, masses and social justice. Thus, embracing the Gospel message of the Parable of the Sower and the narrative of Blind Bartimaeus to seek success for all seeds that fall in different areas regardless of their social and economic backgrounds and taking risks to share my faith even though I may endure hardship and failure. Isn’t that what teaching and learning is all about?