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Daily Reflection

Hosea 2:16-22
Psalm 145
Matthew 9:18-26

In our gospel today, we have the story of the daughter of Jarius who died with Jesus bringing her back to life.  And the story of the woman who touched his cloak whereby she received a healing.  In each case, the healing relied upon the great faith of those seeking the help of Jesus.

In each healing there are incredible actions.  The woman who touched the cloak of Jesus really had a lot of courage in doing so.  That woman would have been considered unclean, meaning she could not worship in community and was in fact not to be around any other people – just being around others would have made them unclean as well and they would not have been able to worship until they made a sacrifice.  By touching Jesus, she would have made Jesus unclean.  In fact, just the opposite occurred – Jesus made her clean.  

The other great miracle was the rising of the little girl who had died.  We get a shorter version of this story than what Mark gives in his gospel.  It is very clear that Jesus showed great compassion in bringing the girl back to life.  We see in Mark’s account that Jesus brings her back from the dead and tells her parents to get her something to eat.

Jesus is the great healer of body, mind, and spirit.  He is the one who heals us of our sins.  What He wants from us is the same as was offered by Jarius and the woman in today’s gospel – great faith that He will take care of us.  To do that, He asks us to live with great trust in Him in all things.

It is a great day!  Go smile at God today!

July 8

FOCUS: Jesus is our Lord and God.

Today’s Gospel ends with a call to action to those who are witnesses to the love and compassion of Jesus.  This call is for everyone, not just those present at today’s miraculous healing.	

	The people were amazed when Jesus drove out the demon from the one possessed.  But the Pharisees reacted with condemnation, trying to align Jesus with Satan, the prince of demons.  What was Jesus giving that had never “been seen in Israel”?  Love and compassion for those in need.  Jesus is concerned with our needs.  Jesus came, sent by the Father, to rescue us from our biggest need, the power of Satan, sin and death.  We are all in need of the love and compassion of Jesus. 

	Jesus rescued us from the power of Satan, sin and death by giving us everything he had, his entire life.  Jesus’ death on the cross was His ultimate sacrifice.  He willingly accepted death on the cross not for His own gain, but for ours.  His resurrection from the dead was the final victory over Satan, sin and death, not because he needed it.  He was not subject to Satan, sin and death.  His victory was for us.  Will we be His faithful followers?

	Our first call to action is to recognize Jesus as our Savior.  Our action, or inaction, depends on how we react to this first call.  Do we choose to follow Jesus, our Good Shepherd?  Or do we refuse to surrender to His divine power to heal like the Pharisees, instead relying on our own beliefs and desires?

	But it is the second call to action in today’s Gospel that makes all the difference.  Knowing that there will be many “like sheep without a shepherd” for centuries to come, Jesus asks his disciples, and us, to “ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.”  Jesus is asking his disciples, his faithful followers, to ask Him to be sent out to gather even more followers.  The harvest Jesus desires is for everyone to understand the Good News of being rescued by Jesus from Satan, sin and death, and respond by becoming one of His disciples.

	One of the four pillars of our faith is that we are “catholic” which means universal.  We are gathered as the body of Christ into Church that has one mission.  That mission is to “make disciples of all nations,” everyone.  How will we do this?  By giving the same love and compassion to others that Jesus gave to us.  In essence, they will know we are Christians by our love.  

Today’s Questions for Prayer and Reflection
How is Jesus calling you to become a laborer for His harvest today?  To whom will you share the Good News of the love and compassion of Christ?

July 9

FOCUS: As Christians, we are called to consider whether we are following God’s laws or our own whims.

Called by name, sent two by two to proclaim the Kingdom is at hand! Such a wonderful illustration of the work of Evangelization! Here we see the mobilization of the group of men transformed by Christ to proclaim the Kingdom of God! Furthermore, it is an exercise of the Priesthood and the Diaconate to move forward and testify! The Church fully alive administered by Christ Himself and continued by the Disciples! Such work is extended to Laity as well! When we receive Christ, we become witnesses to the redemption obtained by him and we too must proclaim His Kingdom!

July 10

FOCUS: By virtue of our baptism, we are called to go forth proclaiming the kingdom.

Hosea 11:1-9
Psalm 80
Matthew 10:7-15

Today is an important feast day in our Church – the celebration of St. Benedict.  We are not certain of his exact birth date but it was sometime around 480AD.  His sister is St. Scholastica.  Benedict turned away from his wealthy family background and lived as a hermit.  He became the link between monasticism of the East and the newer age that was expanding.  After about three years as a hermit, he was asked to become the abbot of a monastery in the area.  Benedict warned the monks they likely could not live under the strict Rule he had established.  The monks thought they could…well, they couldn’t and they tried to poison Benedict.  When presented with the chalice containing poison, Benedict prayed over it and the chalice exploded.

St. Benedict did go on to establish sever monasteries and instituted the Rule of St. Benedict, a way of life for Benedictine monks and nuns even to this day.  The Rule calls the monks and nuns to view work as being not an end in itself but rather a great disciplinary act for human nature – being idle was simply not an option.

In our gospel today we see clearly that the Rule of St. Benedict fits well with the teachings of Jesus.  In the gospel, Jesus is calling us to get out and do something for others.  We are called to be the face of Jesus to others with a particular calling to bring peace to others.  In that peace our relationship with God grows, and that is exactly what He wants for us.

So today, who can you help?  Go ahead and step outside your comfort zone to get it done if it requires doing so!  God is right there to help you bring peace.

It is a great day!  Go smile at God today!

July 11

FOCUS: Simplicity is a needed attribute for all disciples of Jesus.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus sends out his disciples to spread the message of the Kingdom of God “like sheep in the midst of wolves…” immediately followed with the instruction to “be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves.”  How are we to make sense of these images as how to act as His disciples?

	How is a sheep a model for us on the path of discipleship, especially amid the “wolves” of this anti-Christian world?  Jesus refers to the meek and gentle quality of sheep.  Sheep do not attempt to defend themselves.  Sheep are not aggressive.  Sheep are humble. Sheep do not fight “fire with fire” so to speak.  Sheep are calm and tame.  Jesus is asking us to act with humility and self-control, trusting in the Holy Spirit to guide our words and actions.  However, the world will certainly be aggressive like wolves in trying to devour our lives with an ideology resembling survival of the fittest.  Jesus does not promise us an easy path forward.

But Jesus is sure to give us two more images to help us navigate the world as His disciples.  We are to be prepared, not dumb as some may consider the sheep.  He first urges us to be wise as serpents (or snakes).  Snakes are known in many cultures for their cunning and intelligence.  We are to go into the world with our eyes wide open, knowing how things work and the opposition we will face.  We are to act with wisdom, a gift from the Holy Spirit.

We should be wise, but not follow the wisdom of the world.  We are to be innocent (simple) as doves.  We are to maintain a pure lifestyle with clean consciences.  That way if we are called in before the authorities we can stand up with confidence knowing that we have done nothing to be ashamed of.  We could be punished for doing good such as evangelizing, but we should not be punished for doing something evil, which will dishonor Christ and His church.  

Are we willing to step out and be disciples for Jesus?  Jesus promises that he will be with us always, giving us the wisdom, words, strength, and endurance to persevere to the end.  How many times did Jesus tell His disciples “Be not afraid”?  When times get difficult, we can look to Jesus, who was willingly led to the slaughter of a brutal crucifixion, for the sake of giving us a path to eternal joy with the Father in heaven.  Our life on earth is temporary; we can certainly endure the persecution of this world for the eternal reward to come.

Today’s Question for Prayer and Reflection
Are you willing to accept hardship and suffering in serving the Lord Jesus Christ?

July 12

FOCUS: God is always with us and for us.

Is 6:1-8
Ps 93:1ab, 1cd-2, 5
Mt 10:24-33

Persecution and Martyrdom. These are the realities of discipleship. Jesus is clear and does not sugarcoat the consequences of proclaiming his name throughout the world. But he gives his disciples encouragement and reassurance that no matter what, God the Father sees them, knows them and cares for them. 

Now as then, we, the disciples of the 21st century, are being exhorted to have courage and bear witness to Jesus Christ, no matter what. He wants the good news to be preached forever, in all places, and in all circumstances. He wants us to spend ourselves in service of the Gospel, bringing its light to the darkness of the world. 

Most of us are not going to face the challenges and opportunities of persecution and martyrdom, like the great saints that have gone before us, but what are we willing to go through, or go without, in the service of the Gospel? 

In the first reading, Isaiah, despite his misgivings about his worthiness, offers his life to serve the Lord, as the cleansing action of the angel gifts him with the grace to boldly go forward. We have been washed in the waters of Baptism, received the Sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist, and have received power when the Holy Spirit came upon us at our Confirmation. Like Isaiah, we have been prepared and are constantly nourished and strengthened to bring about the kingdom. How are we doing? Are we tapping into these life- giving, soul-saving graces, to give us the desire and courage to give thanks and proclaim Christ, in all circumstances? 

Like Isaiah, we may think that we are not worthy. But Jesus has an answer for us: Not a single sparrow falls without the knowledge of the Father, and we are worth more than many sparrows. And don’t forget, every hair on your head has been counted.

July 13

FOCUS: With the Lord beside us, we can do his will.

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