Sometimes you meet people in life and you think to yourself they are Modern-Day Saints. The impression they make on your life is profound because what they do doesn’t require thanks; rather they gain appreciation of how they have helped in some way. One person who met that selflessness in my life that I had the privilege to know was my work colleague, Raelene.
So, what makes a Modern-Day Saint? I believe it is a person who sees a need and assists without being asked. Raelene if she saw a need she would go out of her way to assist you.
For me it was washing the church corporal, a white small tablecloth & the sanctifier, small finger towels when they receive wine stains after masses. I never asked her to do it, she just offered; such was the extent of her kindness.
Furthermore, a Modern-Day Saint extends aid beyond work needs without looking to be affirmed. When I told Raelene about my son, Simon and how he ripped so many of his clothes she gave me some of her two sons’ clothes. Such generosity wasn’t done as a grand gesture but a recognition that her assistance would bring joy to others. In this case, my son, Simon and my family has allowed us to spend money for Simon on his other requirements and improve his quality of life.
Moreover, a Modern-Day Saint would make you feel genuinely comfortable in their presence. Every time I saw her, she would always enquire how my family and I were going. She made you feel important when engaging in conversation with you and her laughter would fill a room. Additionally, she would strongly share her ideas and opinions with you but it was always positive and the emphasis placed on the best possible outcome for all.
In Matthew 6:21 Jesus says, “Forwhere your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”When I think about Raelene I reflect that her treasure was helping others to achieve the best possible outcomes and she gave that assistance with all her heart every day of her wonderful life.
In Matthew 6:19 Jesus says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. Hence, the call for all people everywhere to aspire not to the trappings of material wealth and power but to something greater. So, what is this greater treasure we need to desire?
Jesus answers, “store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Thus, Jesus is implying that the only permanent treasures are those you can store up for heaven. Therefore, where do we find these treasures we can store in Heaven?
The place that I find these treasures is in my personal relationships with other people I encounter. From my family and friends to my work colleagues, students and parents the key is my personal interaction and how I witness the gospel message that Jesus proclaimed. Furthermore, daily reflecting on my words and actions through prayer and scripture and how they resonate with gospel values which underpinned Jesus’s teachings. Consequently, I use these key indicators to build a platform for my store of treasures.
Jesus also defines another way of storing my treasures in heaven. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Luke 6:21. The question I have is do my interactions with others, my work and passions demonstrate that I am living the Gospel? Now, if the answer to that question is yes then I am storing my treasures in heaven. Nevertheless, I believe my storing of treasures in heaven is continuing to evolve and remains a work in progress.
“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” John 6:51. So how do we eat the bread of life?
I believe I nourish the bread of life with my family when I share table fellowship with them. The general chatter, the laughter and the challenging issues we converse with each other about our everyday life, provides a listening ear, some insight and wisdom and trust. Thus, feeding the positive relationships which encourage us to be confident in our words and actions daily.
Moreover, my friends who nourish my self-esteem. They are with me sharing my passions and interests which delights me and makes those experiences all the more special. They are also with me in the hard times coming to visit me with a word or gift that makes me feel better about the situation. No matter what, I can always trust them whether I chat about the challenges I face ahead to the successes that I have achieved. It is always good to know they are there consoling me when I feel frustrated and building me up when I do well.
Finally, I am nourished by my Church Community. I pray and celebrate my faith through listening to the word, eating the bread and drinking the wine that sustains me for the week ahead. It is great to rejoice in your faith with other people who have similar beliefs. Additionally, it is wonderful to know that I worship a God who loves me unconditionally, Jesus his son, who sacrificed his life for all humanity and a Spirit that inspires me to use my gifts to continue proclaiming the Gospel.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.