What Does It Mean to be Welcoming?

Matthew 10: 27 Jesus says,” What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops.”

 So how does this scripture relate to being welcoming?

I think Jesus is challenging us to being transparent. Hence, our transparency can resonate with other people who perceive that this is a person who they can trust because they are so open and hospitable with everyone they meet. They treat everyone that same and don’t do special favours for a chosen few.

Moreover, the scripture refers to proclaiming from the housetops rather than what you hear whispered. I believe Jesus is asking us to feel good about who we are and what we are doing and letting other people know about it, particularly when witnesses the good news of God’s Kingdom. Our own personal witness through the work we do demonstrates that we go beyond just a welcome, but we interested in building relationships with others which ultimately develops a culture of compassion and engagement.

 

Furthermore, welcoming means reserving judgement and always looking for the best in others. It requires us to be cautious and not regret our actions that may sabotage a positive outcome in any situation. Thus, welcoming is the starting point to creating a community that builds a community that lives the Gospel values.

 

 

Waiting is the Hardest Part

I often find it difficult waiting for anything. If I want a reply to a question, an email, a phone message or buying my food from a takeaway or order from a restaurant I want it straight away. This has led me to reflect on why is waiting so difficult?

In my case I think it is due to wanting to be straight away. I want my answer to the question, email or phone call so I can move on to my next actions to fulfil my needs. Moreover, with the food I want my hunger satiated so I can be contented. Thus, my motives are purely self-aggrandisement.

For the disciples, I have a different take. I imagine when Jesus said he would return to earth that the disciples thought he would be back in their lifetime.

So, you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” Matthew 24:44

I think for the disciples the waiting for Jesus was because they needed his support but once they realized they had the ability to continue Christ’s mission without him their anxiety diminished.

Finally, I have also come to the conclusion that sometimes if we just wait for events to unfold they have a way of working themselves out. Consequently, how we need to proceed further becomes clearer and may result in a more positive outcome than if we acted.

Therefore, I believe waiting is more than just looking for a response so we can get on with the next part of our life or satisfying a need. I believe it is about reassurance which gives us hope to continue our life and faith journey.

 

The Spirit of Truth

In John’s Gospel 14:16 to17 Jesus says,” And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever the Spirit of truth.”

I believe that Jesus teachings are what guide us to the Spirit of truth. Moreover, when I am are able to interpret these teachings and relate them to my life it is the power of the Spirit that is revealing the words and actions to take me forward.

“The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.”

Furthermore, to live according Jesus’ teachings is challenging and requires me to give myself to others. Consequently, it necessitates that I make choices where I am unable to please everyone. Sometimes these choices may alienate my family and friends but if I know they contribute to positive outcomes for them or other people then I am doing God’s will.

In verses 20 and 21 Jesus goes on say that God is always is with us.

On that day, you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

What a great a feeling it is to know that God is not only present but also dwells within me. Additionally, for me realizing I am made in the image of God and therefore a visible witness of God’s presence on Earth. Thus, my role is proclaiming the Gospel and reveal the Spirit of truth to everyone I encounter. Ultimately, it is this Spirit of truth that sets us free and gives meaning and purpose to my life.

 

A Matter of Believing


How many times do we feel our relationships are going along perfectly when suddenly they turn in a way we didn’t think possible.

In Mark, chapter 14:27-31 he writes,

27 “You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written:                  “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’

28 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”

I often wonder why Peter was the disciple that Jesus points out as the person who denies him. In response,

29 Peter declares, “Even if all fall away, I will not.”

Surely if I was the person publicly accused in front of my friends as the one who denies Jesus I would doing my absolute utmost not to succumb to Jesus’ prediction.

30 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “today yes, tonight before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.”

However, Jesus even nominates the time of each the denial.

31 But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.

So therefore, why does Peter despite his confident protestations surrender to denying Jesus three times.

I believe the reason Peter denied he knew Jesus was threefold. The first accusation comes from a servant girl where perhaps Peter just didn’t want to be associated with Jesus fearing for his own safety and how it might lead to his own death. Consequently, realizing his life was threatened he put it before his loyalty to Jesus. I wonder how often do I act out of self-preservation rather than support the actions of my family and friends.

However, the servant girl continues to step up the pressure by telling others that Peter was a follower of Jesus. Under pressure from many more challengers Peter denies again. Thus, it goes beyond                        self -preservation there is a need for Peter to get away from the pointed fingers.

I would argue that it may be guilt that compels him to try to get away from the scene as fast as possible. Hence, I consider how many times have I sought an escape route rather than face the problem.

Finally, Peter has bystanders confront him and retorts, “I don’t know this man your talking about.” I think by this stage Peter had reached the end of his tether and realized there was nothing he could do to help Jesus. Thus, for Peter there was no solution to Jesus’ plight it was just spiraling to an inevitable conclusion, Jesus’ death. I sometimes reflect whether I defer to there being no solution rather than looking for possible ways to come a resolution.

Surely, Jesus through his resurrection witnessed not only to Peter but the world there is always room for hope it is just a matter of believing.

 

Blind to Possibilities

Blind to Possibilities

 In John 9:1-12, A man born blind receives sight. What I find really interesting is the motivation behind Jesus’ healing. When Jesus was asked why the blind man was cured he replied,

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned, he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.” (John 9:3)

Hence, Jesus’s purpose was to demonstrate that despite the severity of any illness or disability God’s power can cure all. How often do we think there is no solution to our problems? Additionally, do we take the opportunity through prayer to ask God for help in searching for an answer to the difficulties we are encountering? Too often I am fixated on quick solution rather than patiently working through a process to achieve the optimum result for everyone.

Furthermore, through the healing Jesus was giving us a glimpse of the Kingdom of Heaven. I imagine it would be amazing to be relieved of any burdens I carry or know so that I would never have to endure suffering again.

Moreover, the witnesses to Jesus’s healing of the “Blind Man” would pass on the story to families, friends and their local community. It was then written in the Gospel of John so God’s power is proclaimed to future generations. Thus, actions and words have the power to speak to others when we overcome problems. Therefore, building positive relationships with the people affected also has the flow down effect of developing an optimism and resilience amongst the community.  Consequently, a growth mindset when facing their next difficult situation and examining every possibility to achieve a successful outcome.

I believe solutions are achieved by not searching for a quick answer to a problembut by analysing the action I have taken in resolving the situation. In the future, I will attempt to have a clear intent in determining a solution that is sustainable and gives hope to making a difference to the lives of the people experiencing adversity. Thus, never being blind to the possibilities of a positive conclusion.

Resisting Temptation

When reading Matthew 4:1-11, “The Temptation of Jesus “I reflected on what are some of the things that tempt me and how does it relate to the scripture?

 Jesus’s first temptation after 40 days and nights in the desert was to be tempted by the devil to turn stones into bread.

Jesus replied,

“One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God

My interpretation of this scripture verse is what do I hunger for? I ask myself the question do my goals and ambitions align with the Gospel values?  When reflecting on the answer to that question I believe the key is that do they provide a catalyst for the goals and ambitions of others? Thus providing a hunger and thirst for knowledge and wisdom that affirms all people and the wider community.

Secondly, Jesus was tempted by the devil to throw himself off the pinnacle of the temple and God’s angels would save Him from getting hurt.

However, Jesus answered,

“Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”

My take on what Jesus said here is do I pray to God about my wants more than my needs?

I constantly think about how often do I let God into my life or do I  drive the direction my life proceeds? Additionally, do I make the time to pray and read the scriptures or consider my life too busy that in my downtime I seek to pursue my own interests rather than share my life and possessions? Hence my time sometimes seem to relate more to my wants than to my needs and often doesn’t include God or others but my own yearnings.

Finally, Jesus was offered all the kingdoms if he bowed down and worshipped the devil.

Yet Jesus responded

“Worship the Lord your God and serve only Him.”

My understanding of Jesus’ response is that in all aspects of our life we must acknowledge God has our creator.  That is building a positive relationship with God through my relationship with other people, the community and creation. Furthermore, to centre my relationships with creation, family, friends and communities on empathy and understanding not on my own self importance and prestige. Thus, continuing to develop positive relationships and that is where I see the face of God.

 

Love your Enemies

In Matthew 5: 43 Jesus says, “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you so that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”

 I think Jesus is asking us to act with patience and gentleness when we hurt by people or situations in our lives. How often do I focus on our anger rather than opening our hearts to a different option?

 Hence, I react without thinking about the consequences instead of stopping to reflect about our words and actions. Many times I have wished that I could have responded more positively if only I had paused, taken a few breaths and thought about how I was going to proceed I am sure the outcome may have been different.

 Furthermore, Jesus implores us to strive first for the Kingdom of God, then all things would be made possible for us. Regularly I can fall for the trap of wanting things to happen for my own selfish gain rather than showing kindness and generosity to others.

I am reminded of Jesus’s words may we not be troubled by worldly concerns but store our faith in the richness of the Gospel. Additionally, everyday attempt to heed the words of Pope Francis not to fight for the small things but instead search God’s kingdom and its justice, the rest comes afterwards.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

People who have shaped your life.

My Baptism Photo

Let your light shine before others. Matthew 5:16

There are people who have a strong influence in your life and sometimes when in reflection you realise the effect they have.

Furthermore, you can see the face of God in them and one of those people was my Grandmother.

My Grandmother lived in the house behind us and always made me feel welcome. She strongly I believe lived our 3 pillars, core values.

 

Firstly, Catholic Identity which goes beyond faith and started with her personal witness which for me was our relationship.

This stemmed from her always providing an environment that was safe & comfortable.

Her relationship with God was exhibited through her religious symbols of crosses, holy pictures, statues, rosary beads and dedication to Mary.

If she ever dropped one she would pick it up and kiss it. Something I still do to this day.

She inspired me with her strong prayer life and was always the first one in the car to Sunday mass usually half and hour before.

Her other passions were sport and music, these are also mine & by the way she had a state of the art record player.

In sport she would pray to God to help her team and her favourite music was Arabic, Dusty Springfield & the Beatles. I did try to interest in the Rolling Stones but they just were not her cup of tea.

 

Secondly, Ecological Sustainability, my grandmother lived through the depression and always maintained the stewardship of God’s creation would provide. Hence our backyard consisted of 4 apricot, a plum, nectarine, peach, lemon, almond & walnut trees, eggplants, Lebanese cucumbers, tomatoes, parsley, mint and chickens.

Although I can distinctly remember her armed with a tomahawk and a chicken and asking what she was doing? Stupid question, it was no fun being chased by a headless chook.

Hence, you never saw me near the chicken coop when it was at Holy Family.

2 years ago, our backyard was the subject of a migrant museum exhibition possibly thanks to my sister’s ability to sell it as a market garden, but to me it was just a backyard however my grandma would have been proud.

 

Finally, Evolving Pedagogy my Grandma’s favourite thing in life was cooking.

One day I was eating a pasty which she referred to as a mystery bag and said she would cook me something better. Immediately her learning intention was to expose me to a different cultural tasting experience that was Kibbeh my favourite food. So she took me into her house and engaged me in the process by taking me through the steps of grinding the wheat, tenderising the meat, and adding the different herbs and spices and most importantly allowed me to enjoy the fruits of her labour. The interesting thing was she never made it the same way she was always looking for the perfect recipe and she never wrote it down. I have never found Kibbeh that ever tasted so good. Little did  she know that  she created a lifelong legacy which shows how profound a learning intention with a multi layered pedagogical approach that can have great influence on one’s life and we can pass that learning onto others.

The final point I would like to make is something my grandma said to me. She believed that everyone has a gift and it is important that you share it with everyone.

Christmas is a time of Reflection,

In Luke 2:8-12 the angel tells the shepherds, “Do not be afraid, for see I am bringing you the news of great joy for all the people to you born this day in the city of David a Saviour who is the Messiah the Lord. This will be a sign for you and you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”

This scripture passage resonates with me for two reasons. Firstly, the theme of Luke’s gospel is that the Messiah came for the poor symbolised by the shepherds. Moreover, I believe that the announcement to the shepherds was because they were a group of people that were faithful to the message of the prophets that a Saviour would be born amongst them. Hence they would go and proclaim the good news to others after visiting Jesus.  For me it makes me realise how excited we all should be when sharing the good things happen in our lives.

Secondly, the manger continues Luke’s theme of Jesus being born in extremely humble surroundings illustrating that his lowly birthplace placed him above no one else but demonstrated his desire to live amongst humanity. Jesus’ circumstances showed that despite his birthplace he was special and those who witnessed it immediately recognised that he was the Messiah. I often believe regardless of the place and the events it is what you make of the situation and the relationships that can make you rise above it to make any event worthwhile.

Consequently, at Christmas time I reflect on the following points initially, sharing positively with others and growing and maintaining those relationships by appreciating the value and specialness they add to my life. Additionally, no matter the difficulties I have faced during the year I believe it is a good time to dwell on the positives and how I have grown as a person through undertaking those responsibilities. Hopefully it enables me to build greater empathy and understanding when encountering the next challenge. Besides, underpinning all of these factors is the faith of Mary, Joseph and the Shepherds that the wait is over and we can all share the joy of Jesus being born on Christmas Day with our families and friends