Tag Archives: prayer

The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin

Children of the Promise

Mary, the mother of Jesus, visits her cousin Elizabeth who was also with child. When the child in Elizabeth’s womb hears Mary’s voice he leaps for joy. This child is John the Baptist. The moment of celebration brings joy to Mary and she prophesies:

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
    and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
    Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
    and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
    from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
    he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
    and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
    and sent the rich away empty.   (Luke 1:47-55)

Mary’s prophecy echoes the great joy of another Mother who had a miraculous child. Hannah prayed:

“My heart exults in the Lord;
    my strength is exalted in my God.
My mouth derides my enemies,
    because I rejoice in my victory.

“There is no Holy One like the Lord,
    no one besides you;
    there is no Rock like our God.
Talk no more so very proudly,
    let not arrogance come from your mouth;
for the Lord is a God of knowledge,
    and by him actions are weighed.
The bows of the mighty are broken,
    but the feeble gird on strength.
Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
    but those who were hungry are fat with spoil.
The barren has borne seven,
    but she who has many children is forlorn.   (1 Samuel 2:1-5)

Hannah dedicated her child who became Samuel, the great prophet and man of God. Hannah was barren but she believe in the promise of God.

What is remarkable about Mary and Elizabeth also is that they believed the promises of God, even though great miracles of God were required to fulfill them. Mary, a virgin, had conceived a child and Elizabeth, who was well beyond any child bearing age, had also conceived. Nevertheless, these chosen instruments of God were able to believe God as was Abraham before them.

Are we able to believe in the miraculous today?

Mary and Elizabeth understood that the promises God made to them were not just about them. Jesus and John the Baptist are children of the promise which God made to Abraham. Their births extended and expanded that promise down through the ages. Today, we are recipients of that promise.

God has made promises to us as well. His plans for us may not be as dramatic as Mary and Elizabeth, but they are important to God just the same. Are we willing to believe in those promises and hold on to them. There will always be obstacles in the way of our receiving God’s promise. The Apostle Paul tells us how to overcome these obstacles with this prescription:

Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.   (Romans 12:12)

In time, the promises of God will come to pass. The blessing is in the believing and perseverance. Too often me take matters in our own hands and thwart God’s plans and purposes for us. Others are depending upon to make the right choices. In fact, their future blessings depend upon our faithfulness. Let us be willing to see beyond ourselves as the wonders of God’s work unfolds. We are also children of the promise

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St. Philip and St. James

Greater Works Ministry

Today we celebrate the lives and ministries of the Apostles Philip and James, son of Alphaeus, often called “the Less.” He was called this name to distinguish him from James, the brother of John. Little is known about him. We know that he was chosen by Jesus and that he was among the twelve disciples on the Day of Pentecost. He was possibly an early witness to the resurrection if he is the James as recorded in 1 Corinthians 15:7.

James the Less was martyred for the Faith because he would not renounce Jesus as required by the Jewish high priest. Thus, James was faithful to the end and serves as an example for us all. Without the commitment of James and others like him we would not have the Church today.

Let us now turn to the Apostle Philip. In today’s New Testament reading, he seems to be having doubts when he asked Jesus a very important question:

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, `Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.”   (John 14:8-14)

When the words of Jesus sank in this same Philip became a great evangelist. He began performing the “greater works” which Jesus promised. The signs and wonders he performed made a great impact on the people of Samaria when he preached the word there:

Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was great joy in that city.   (Acts 8:4-8)

How did the skeptic Philip grow into such a powerful ministry? He meditated on the teachings of Jesus. Jesus explained that the greater works that Philip and others were called to do would be accomplished in the same manner as Jesus’ own ministry on earth. Jesus did not do the works. He explained:

“The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works.”   (John 14:10)

Are we ready to step into the “greater works” ministry? We must first step into Jesus and the Father by faith. Then we must receive the promise from the Father which is the Holy Spirit. If a skeptic like Philip could answer the call then why should we remain a skeptic when there is an exciting ministry ahead?

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Friday in the Fourth Week of Lent

Testing God’s Ways

When we strive to live righteous lives we will certainly be tested. Satan, the ruler of this present age, has his minions in place to test us:

Let us test him with insult and torture,
so that we may find out how gentle he is,
and make trial of his forbearance.
Let us condemn him to a shameful death,
for, according to what he says, he will be protected.”

Thus they reasoned, but they were led astray,
for their wickedness blinded them,
and they did not know the secret purposes of God,
nor hoped for the wages of holiness,
nor discerned the prize for blameless souls;
for God created us for incorruption,
and made us in the image of his own eternity,
but through the devil’s envy death entered the world,
and those who belong to his company experience it.   (Wisdom 2:19–24)

Some seek God’s ways and some seek to test his ways. Testing is a sign of unbelief. We are using our rational mind to figure God out. That is what many were doing in Jerusalem when Jesus entered the city for the Festival of Booths:

Now some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, “Is not this the man whom they are trying to kill? And here he is, speaking openly, but they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Messiah? Yet we know where this man is from; but when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.”   (John 7:25–27)

When do we get beyond testing? When we value righteousness more than knowledge. The psalmist wrote:

Evil shall slay the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous will be punished.

The Lord ransoms the life of his servants,
and none will be punished who trust in him.   (Psalm 34:21-22)

Our hope is to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and not in our rationalizations.

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Thursday in the First Week of Lent

He Cares for the Lowly

Jesus makes it clear that, as God’s children, we have every right to call upon the Father:

Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.   (Matthew 7:7–8)

How we approach God has very much to do with how He will respond to us. Esther had spent her life among the Jewish exiles in Persia, where she lived under the protection of her cousin Mordecai. She became Queen to King Ahasuerus, who did not realize that she was a Jew. The evil Haman planned to kill Mordecai and exterminate all Jews from the kingdom. Ester found out about this plot. She understood that she was powerless, on her own, to stop Haman. Though Esther was a queen, she humbled herself before the Lord and God gave her a plan to succeed. We remember that the King eventually executed Haman rather than Mordecai.

The psalmist wrote:

All the kings of the earth will praise you, O LORD,
when they have heard the words of your mouth.

They will sing of the ways of the LORD,
that great is the glory of the LORD.

Though the LORD be high, he cares for the lowly;
he perceives the haughty from afar.   (Psalm 138:5-7)

God is the high and exalted One. The good news is that we are able to call upon him in times of trouble:

For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.   (Isaiah 57:15)

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Wednesday in the First Week of Lent

The Sign of Jonah

Jesus told us to look for the signs in the heavens. There are significant signs which tell us the season in which we live, both climatically and spiritually. Spiritual signs are given for unbelievers and not believers. These spiritual signs do not guarantee belief. There is really only one sign that is important:

When the crowds were increasing, Jesus began to say, “This generation is an evil generation; it asks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.   (Luke 11:29)

What is this sign of Jonah? It has to do with our repentance and the mercy of God.

When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.   (Jonah 3:10)

Nineveh was a wicked city destined for God’s judgement and destruction. Nonetheless, by the power of God’s message through the prophet Jonah, both the leadership and the people repented and escaped what God was ready to pour out on them.

We have a sign from God that is so much greater than Jonah:

For just as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so the Son of Man will be to this generation.   (Luke 11:30)

Our sign is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ – his life, death, and resurrection. It should cause our leaders to repent and our nation to repent. It should cause our churches to repent. This sign should lead to our own repentance.

Do we say we are Christians and have already repented? Let us take a look at the conditions in which we live. Are we not responsible in many ways? God tells us:

ifmypeople who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.   (2 Chronicles 7:14)

Let us pray for our nation, the Church, and ourselves.

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