Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Matthew 7:15-20 Beware of False Prophets

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing,
but underneath are ravenous wolves.
By their fruits you will know them.
Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
Just so, every good tree bears good fruit,
and a rotten tree bears bad fruit.
A good tree cannot bear bad fruit,
nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit.
Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down
and thrown into the fire.
So by their fruits you will know them."

In this passage, we are reminded that it is very often to become swayed by false prophets. Who are these false prophets you ask? These are the people, the philosophies, the isms, that lead us away from our neighbours and distorts our relationship with God. When we are told to value objects or people above God and our neighbour, we fall prey to these false prophets. So stay awake.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Luke 1:57-66, 80 The Birth of John the Baptist

When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child
she gave birth to a son.
Her neighbors and relatives heard
that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her,
and they rejoiced with her.
When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child,
they were going to call him Zechariah after his father,
but his mother said in reply,
"No. He will be called John."
But they answered her,
"There is no one among your relatives who has this name."
So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called.
He asked for a tablet and wrote, "John is his name,"
and all were amazed.
Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed,
and he spoke blessing God.
Then fear came upon all their neighbors,
and all these matters were discussed
throughout the hill country of Judea.
All who heard these things took them to heart, saying,
"What, then, will this child be?"
For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.
The child grew and became strong in spirit,
and he was in the desert until the day
of his manifestation to Israel.

In this passage we are given a glimpse into the life of John the Baptist. Luke makes it very clear that John's birth is connected to God's saving hand in humanity. John's birth parallels that of Abraham and Sarah. Just as Sarah was barren so too Elizabeth. It is only possible through the grace of God that they are able to have children in their late years. We also learn that John grew up in the desert which matches the biography of him found in the other gospels as being an ascetic who lived in the desert and baptized people.

Matthew 6:24-34 Worship God, not Yourself! One cannot serve two masters.

 Jesus said to his disciples:
"No one can serve two masters.
He will either hate one and love the other,
or be devoted to one and despise the other.
You cannot serve God and mammon.
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life,
what you will eat or drink,
or about your body, what you will wear.
Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
Look at the birds in the sky;
they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns,
yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are not you more important than they?
Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?
Why are you anxious about clothes?
Learn from the way the wild flowers grow.
They do not work or spin.
But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor
was clothed like one of them.
If God so clothes the grass of the field,
which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow,
will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?
So do not worry and say, 'What are we to eat?'
or 'What are we to drink?' or 'What are we to wear?'
All these things the pagans seek.
Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given you besides.
Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.
Sufficient for a day is its own evil."

In this passage we are reminded that we cannot serve both God and ourselves. So often we make false gods to worship: Money, Power, Material Things, and worst of all Ourselves. When we make a god out of ourselves we cannot possible have room to serve God our Heavenly Father. Our goals become inconsistent for God calls us to serve one another while we only want to build up wealth for ourselves. So be mindful of who you really serve, God or yourself. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Matthew 6:19-23 Invest in treasure that will never lose its value

 Jesus said to his disciples:
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,
where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal.
But store up treasures in heaven,
where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal.
For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.

"The lamp of the body is the eye.
If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light;
but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness.
And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be."

 In this passage we are reminded that material things will not bring true happiness. So often in our contemporary world, we are bombarded by messages that say happiness is about owning a brand or living in a luxurious lifestyle. When we buy into this message all we get is unhappiness. We struggle to make ends meet and worst of all we want what our neighbours possess. Freedom comes from eliminating our desires. Freedom is allowing God to shower us with grace. Freedom is about being open to the Holy Spirit and allowing the Spirit, the Giver of Life, enter our hearts and allow us to make the Kingdom of God a reality. Hence, we should build treasure in heaven and not hoard material things.  

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Matthew 6:7-15 Jesus Teaches Us to Pray by Calling God Father

Jesus said to his disciples:
"In praying, do not babble like the pagans,
who think that they will be heard because of their many words.
Do not be like them.
Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
"This is how you are to pray:
"Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil."
"If you forgive others their transgressions,
your heavenly Father will forgive you.
But if you do not forgive others,
neither will your Father forgive your transgressions."

In this passage, Jesus reminds us that our relationship with God is not that of a servant and a king. Our relationship is like a Father to a child. God loves us unconditionally. God's love is endless. Like a Father, God wants what is best for us and hates it when we sin. Our relationship with God is forged on love. When we cease to Love God and only fear him, that is when we run into problems. When we sin we must ask for forgiveness, not out of fear but out of love. We can share all our sorrows and joys with our Loving Father.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18 When you pray, shut the door, for your time with God is both private and sacred

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Take care not to perform righteous deeds
in order that people may see them;
otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.
When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you,
as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets
to win the praise of others.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you give alms,
do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,
so that your almsgiving may be secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

"When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites,
who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners
so that others may see them.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door,
and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

"When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.
They neglect their appearance,
so that they may appear to others to be fasting.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,
so that you may not appear to others to be fasting,
except to your Father who is hidden.
And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you."

In this passage we are reminded that our relationship with God is both public and private. It is public in the sense that we worship and celebrate God's glory in the community. However, there are times when we must also be alone with God. Our praise should be between us and God. It should never be out of selfish reasons or to simply be seen.  Similar to how when couples date, they spend time alone with one another, we must make time to spend with God alone. It is only when we create this empty space that God can fill it.

Matthew 5:43-48 Love of neighbour extended to one's enemy

Jesus said to his disciples:
"You have heard that it was said,
You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.
But I say to you, love your enemies
and pray for those who persecute you,
that you may be children of your heavenly Father,
for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good,
and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?
Do not the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet your brothers only,
what is unusual about that?
Do not the pagans do the same?
So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect."

In this passage, we see Jesus expanding the notion of neighbour. Instead of neighbour, being a member of the clan or community, it is expanded to all people including one's enemies. How easy it is to be nice to one's friend but to have a moral obligation to serve one's enemy is radical. In other words, our love should have no limits.