This week’s memory verse: Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. — James 1:27

8/19 – Galatians 5:13
8/20 – 1 Peter 2:2
8/21 – Ezekiel 18:7
8/22 – Proverbs 29:7
8/23 – 1 John 2:3-4
8/24 – Hebrews 5:12
8/25 – 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2

Pray the week: Lord Jesus, break the chains that bind me. Free me so I may do Your will. Destroy the enemy who prowls about.

The days
can be…

Brothers and sisters: Watch carefully how you live, not as foolish persons but as wise, making the most of the opportunity, because the days are evil.

St. Paul was not speaking of anything new, at least in part of his letter to the Church at Ephesus. In a certain way, everyone had and has heard it before: the days are evil.

The roman poet Cicero wrote “O tempora o mores” a little over one hundred years before Paul was to write to the Ephesians. It translates literally as ‘Oh the times! Oh the customs!’ The inference is that the times and the customs are far worse today than the old days. Edgar Allen Poe used Cicero’s quote as a title for one of his poems. It appeared in the movie (staring Gary Cooper and Jean Arthur) Mr. Deeds Goes To Town. Politicians used the phrase in recent elections.

There is quite the history and tradition of looking at the evil of the day, not seeing the evil of yesterday, thinking that tomorrow will somehow be different, and giving up with the saying: the days are evil or “O tempora o mores”

The second part of Paul’s letter offers the antidote: be filled with the Spirit, address one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, sing and play to the Lord in your hearts, give thanks always and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.

In other words, living the life of Jesus is the antidote. There is a way of living, speaking, singing, playing, and thanking that destroys evil. We have to be different.

There is a great contemporary Christian song: Chain Breaker by Zach Williams. In it, the composer recounts how Jesus is the difference maker. Jesus takes away pain, makes a way, breaks prison bars, and breaks the chains that bind us. The wisdom in the song starts when the composer confronts us with our reality: We’ve been walking the same old road for miles and miles. We’ve been hearing the same old voice tell us the same old lies. We’ve trying to fill the same old holes inside. He then tells us that Jesus’ better life, really the best life, makes the difference.

Certainly, the days are what they are – evil – but there is a way out. It is never the way the days or certain people are, but what we can be in Jesus. Jesus explicitly tells us: the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. That is huge. We have to feed on Jesus, be part of Jesus, hold faith in Jesus, and live Jesus’ life daily.

This week’s memory verse: “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” — Matthew 6:26

  1. 8/12 – Philippians 4:6-7
  2. 8/13 – Luke 12:22
  3. 8/14 – Psalm 148
  4. 8/15 – 1 Corinthians 11:26
  5. 8/16 – Genesis 9:3
  6. 8/17 – 1 Corinthians 10:15-17
  7. 8/18 – 1 Corinthians 10:31

Pray the week: Lord Jesus, grant me to grow each day as You feed me. Grant that I may recognize Your great gift.

Eat and
run.

“Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!” He got up, ate, and drank; then strengthened by that food, he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb.

Elijah is both literally and spiritually in the wilderness in today’s first reading. He is so despondent that he asks the Lord to take his life.

Elijah had engaged with the worldly prophets of Baal and Asherah, the false gods that the people of Israel had come to adore. With God’s power he destroyed those prophets and any hope their false gods could deliver. We would think that he would have had a new found confidence, obviously, look at what the One and true God had done. But something is wrong. Elijah experiences a sense of failure, some kind of downer emotion that is not at all obvious to anyone. It is inside him, a nagging evil that leaves him deflated, despondent, depressed, and ready to die. He sits under the Broom tree; the end has to be now.

Most of us have experienced hard situations like Elijah did. We may feel down even though all around us seems great. There may be true miracles in our lives, but we take a different message from them. We grow sad or even despondent.

This story is repeated many times in scripture. Hagar lays Ishmael under a bush and waits to die. Jonah sits under the Castor Bean tree and is angry and despondent.

Some people calls these times ‘bumps in the road,’ but they are more than that to us when we are in the middle. Previously, Elijah was seen as assured and triumphant. He seemed to have no problem finding his way, yet now we see a very different Elijah, an Elijah sharing more in common with Hagar and Jonah. All were, at one time, seen as the blessed of God. Yet they came to ask: ‘Where is the blessing?’

The answer and blessing, as always, comes from God. While we meet a very different Elijah, we meet the same Lord who ministered to Hagar and Jonah. We meet the true God who feeds us, provides drink, gives strength, and shows the way. Elijah’s story, that of Jonah and Hagar, invite us to get up, to eat and continue moving forward. Just as God stays close to Elijah in order to help him overcome his travails, we must have the same confidence that God is present and will be present in our lives; He stays close to us. It is always down to Jesus’ promise: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever”

This week’s memory verse: But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen —2 Peter 3:18

  • 8/5 – 1 Timothy 4:15
  • 8/6 – Job 8:7
  • 8/7 – 2 Corinthians 9:10
  • 8/8 – Matthew 6:33
  • 8/9 – 1 Samuel 3:19-20
  • 8/10 – Colossians 2:6-7
  • 8/11 – 1 Peter 2:2

Pray the week: Lord Jesus, grant me to grow each day; to learn from You. Forgive me any complaining and help me to be the new person You have made.

Growth
confusion.

I declare and testify in the Lord that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds; that is not how you learned Christ, assuming that you have heard of him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus, that you should put away the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds

Today, we find ourselves caught among the complainers and those who refuse to grow.

The Israelites were barely across the sea – having complained there that God’s servant, Moses, had led them to their impending deaths. Now, they were complaining about being hungry. Not just complaining, but dramatically complaining. They didn’t think, or intellectualize all that God had done for them. They forgot what God had done faster than we forget many of life’s minor daily details.

It is said that the human mind forgets things because our focus is on understanding, not remembering. For instance, we may go to a baseball game, or picnic, or family event not so much to remember the brands of hotdogs and chips we ate there, but to grow in understanding of times together. We do remember aspects of those events, but only as a byproduct our understanding and growing.

Ah, there’s the problem. The people of Israel forgot, not only the details, but also failed to understand, comprehend, or integrate the things God had done in their journey to freedom. They missed real faith in God. They did not grow.

On the other end are the people following Jesus around. Sure, they thought, but only with their stomachs. They only remembered what Jesus had just done for their physical wellbeing. They did not move beyond that to an understanding, comprehension, or integration of the things Jesus was teaching. As the days progressed, following Jesus around, they missed the spirit – the reality of God’s truth and their call to faith in His truth. They went so far as to say to Jesus: “What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you?  What can you do?” in spite of everything they had seen Jesus do. Their stomachs grew but otherwise they did not grow.

Paul confronts lack of growth and refusal to get what God does. Don’t live for today or get caught complaining. See what God is doing. We learned of Jesus and were taught in Him. Abandon the futile. Let us be renewed in not just remembering, but in understanding and growing.

Our ever growing, super fun, and free parish and community picnic is scheduled for Sunday, August 19th. There will be one Holy Mass that day at 10:30am and the picnic will immediately follow on the parish grounds. The tent, tables, and chairs have been ordered. We look forward to seeing everyone there along with your family and friends. The picnic is open to everyone. The parish will be providing hot dogs and hamburgers – and many are bringing a dish to share. Come join in!

This week’s memory verse: For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. — 1 Corinthians 3:11

  • 7/29 – Ephesians 4:11-12
  • 7/30 – Hebrews 8:6
  • 7/31 – Ephesians 2:19
  • 8/1 – 2 Peter 3:9
  • 8/2 – Psalm 18:2
  • 8/3 – 1 Corinthians 14:26
  • 8/4 – James 1:18

Pray the week: Lord Jesus, grant me the power to pray, plan, and act for Your Kingdom each and every day.

Called to
greatness.

I urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call

Our Christian lives, as we have reflected on over the past few weeks, are not about the past. We can certainty take lessons from the past, but we cannot live there.

St. Paul clearly calls Christians out on living in the past. He writes: live in a manner worthy of the call you have received. That is important to us, to live and move forward.

The feeding of the multitude happens about right in the middle of Jesus’ thirty-second year. It is in fact, the pinnacle of His popularity with the crowd. He had been teaching them “many things” when He saw they were “sheep without a shepherd.

What He had been teaching them was the truth of His Father’s Kingdom plan. It was a new way of thinking, living, being, and acting. It was forward thinking – for today and tomorrow. It was in complete uniformity with all the prophets had been trying to get at – and as with the prophets, the people would not listen. The people could only look backward. They missed Jesus’ point. They missed tomorrow because they were stuck in yesterday.

Shortly after the multiplication of loaves the people would turn away, the majority left Jesus. He wouldn’t do today what He did yesterday – We see that they were stuck back there. They wanted a repeat performance.

For this past week the youth of the Church gathered new tools and new skills. They have set out on a mission to make the choice – to pray, plan, organize, gather people, and set to work to rebuild our Holy Church, our parishes, and our communities. So must it be with us.

We are called to greatness, but not to live in yesterday’s greatness. Our call is to a new greatness, a magnificent greatness. This greatness comes from carrying out the Father’s Kingdom plan as laid out for us by Jesus. So we must get into action.

Here’s the part where everyone says – well what do I do? The first step is pick up the Holy Bible and check out the kingdom blueprint. Then pray, ‘Lord, what would You have me do?’ Then listen. He will point out those we should invite. He will show us how to live and do in a manner worthy of our call.

This week’s memory verse: This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. — Psalm 118:24

  • 7/22 – Mark 11:24
  • 7/23 – Hebrews 3:7
  • 7/24 – Matthew 6:11
  • 7/25 – Hebrews 13:8
  • 7/26 – Hebrews 3:13
  • 7/27 – Luke 23:43
  • 7/28 – James 4:13-15

Pray the week: Lord Jesus, grant that today will be made great by Your strengthening my witness and resolve.