This week’s memory verse: Give us this day our daily bread

Matthew 6:11
  • 8/1 – 1 Corinthians 10:17
  • 8/2 – Matthew 26:26
  • 8/3 – Isaiah 55:2
  • 8/4 – Acts 20:7
  • 8/5 – Genesis 14:18
  • 8/6 – Deuteronomy 8:3
  • 8/7 – Psalm 81:16

Pray the week: Lord Jesus, grant that I may live on Your bread alone, trusting in You for my provision. Renew the thinking of my mind so I may progress in newness of life daily.

Strength of Faith.

“Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

Over the months of Ordinary Time, a time dedicated to growth, we focus on how we live out the Christian faith, how we walk in Strength of Faith. Remember, we are focusing on our Strength of Faith.

In Exodus 16 we join the children of Israel just six weeks into their wilderness journey. They witnessed the ten plagues visited on Egypt for her disobedience. They experienced the first Passover, the deliverance out of literal death and out of Egypt. They walked dry shod through parted sea. Yet now, here in the wilderness, they allowed fear and doubt take over. They grumble against Moses and through him at God. God is not a saving god; we’d rather go back to Egypt. We would rather sell ourselves back into slavery over trusting in God, over living in strength of faith.

God, in His mercy, responds to their grumbling by giving them food. If we were to read on to Exodus 17, we would find them grumbling again, this time about water.  That event was at Meribah and Massah, names which mean “testing,” and “quarrelling.” The people when tested, quarreled with God.

For the people of Israel, immediate need, and in the face of that need, doubt and worry, won over strength of faith and complete reliance on God. How could one see the great works of God and doubt? How could one worry when God has them in His hand? Yet we do too.

The model for what Jesus would face is right there – the people are fed in the wilderness and yet they ask: “What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do?” They saw a great work of God, yet still doubt and question. They still quarrel when tested. 

God sent His Son to once and finally free us from all captivity. He gave us an eternal Passover from death. He gave us bread that lasts forever, the food of eternal life. All we need to do is “believe in the One.

Jesus told us that He is “the bread of life;” and He added: “whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”

God knows our needs. He knows them before we even realize them. He also knows that we need a provision that is complete and whole – so in Jesus we have assurance of a life that is eternal and perfect. We who believe in strength of faith receive not only food for today, but food everlasting!

As St. Paul states, we must live and think differently, no longer in the futility of our minds. The Galileans were thinking in earthy terms when they confronted and quarreled with Jesus. Let us not sell ourselves back into slavery over trusting in God, over living in strength of faith as we continue to become new selves.

This week’s memory verse: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.”

John 14:12
  • 7/25 – Acts 19:11
  • 7/26 – Psalm 77:14
  • 7/27 – Mark 16:20
  • 7/28 – Luke 1:37
  • 7/29 – Acts 14:3
  • 7/30 – Jeremiah 32:27
  • 7/31 – Hebrews 2:4

Pray the week: Lord Jesus, grant that I may have complete trust in Your miraculous power to make great wonders out of the smallest of gifts. Take what I have and use me to build up Your Holy Church and Kingdom.

Strength of Faith.

Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted.

Over the months of Ordinary Time, a time dedicated to growth, we focus on how we live out the Christian faith, how we walk in Strength of Faith. Remember, we are focusing on our Strength of Faith.

Today we encounter another of Jesus’ most well-known and amazing miracles, the multiplication of loaves and fish. A few weeks ago, recall we encountered Jesus calming the sea. Powerful miracles!

On this occasion we see Jesus once again testing His disciple’s faith. He is taking a measure of their store of faith, how full was their faith tank? [Jesus] said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” He said this to test him, because He Himself knew what he was going to do.

He is testing our level of faith as well. How strong is our faith? Is this a true miracle or a nice story? Do we believe or not?

I remember a few Biblical Studies courses where the professors would posit that there was no direct miracle from heaven. They would say that people in those days never traveled without food. When they saw the strength of Jesus’ faith, they pulled out the food they had hidden away and shared it, thus creating a surplus of food, i.e., the miracle was the opening of people’s hearts. I was shocked. What, Jesus did nothing!?!

Perhaps such a thought gives some people a nice feeling. They can discount heavenly stuff and remain fixed on themselves. Jesus doesn’t do much, He just inspires good actions. How wonderful.

If, however, we confront the reality of the miracle Jesus performed in the multiplication of five loaves and two fish, we must recognize Who and What Jesus is. He is God Who works great things from the smallest of gifts for those who come to Him. He is the God of amazing works and of everlasting care. 

Jesus’ care is directed at us and is a sign of heavenly power and favor for believers. His care is for the strengthening of our bodies and souls. He builds us up so, as St. Paul says, we may live in a manner worthy of the call we have received; to live in strength of faith.

God’s call is never to focus inward, but first upward to heaven, the source of all good, and then to take that experience outward to others. 

In our heavenward focus, let us realize that the Holy Spirit in and among us continues to take the smallest of things in and about us and makes them massively wonderful. Let us consider then the small gifts we each have, our skills, knowledge, and abilities, and let us pray that God take the loaves we have to offer and through His miraculous power accomplish great things. In strength of faith trust and it will happen!

This week’s memory verse: Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity

Titus 2:7
  • 7/18 – Ephesians 5:1
  • 7/19 – Matthew 5:16
  • 7/20 – 1 Timothy 4:12
  • 7/21 – Philippians 3:17
  • 7/22 – Romans 14:1-4
  • 7/23 – 1 Thessalonians 1:7
  • 7/24 – Colossians 3:17

Pray the week: Lord Jesus, grant that I may live the model You have set before us; to proclaim the gospel near and far, to summon people afar off, and be Your habitation, the Church, in the world all the time.

Strength of Faith

In Christ Jesus you who once were far off have become near by the blood of Christ.

Over the months of Ordinary Time, a time dedicated to growth, we focus on how we live out the Christian faith, how we walk in Strength of Faith. Remember, we are focusing on our Strength of Faith. 

So far, we have considered our “transformation” into Christ’s image here and now. How we must say no to fear and stand in strength of faith. How we must disregard ridicule, naysayers, and panic relying on Jesus as we work to overcome all things in the strength that is ours. How the reaction of others must not define what we do, but rather how we remain faithful to our mission and decision to follow Jesus. And, last week, how we express our faith in action.

This week we focus on the presence of Church and the identity of the Shepherd; how in Jesus, we who were far off have become near and the model we are to live.

Jeremiah begins with a lamentation aimed at those who do not live up to God’s standard. The rest of this Sunday’s scriptures walk us through to the recognition of the One Shepherd, and the model He has left us. A model we are to live in strength of faith living up to His standard.

St. Paul tells us that we were far off, living in enmity, in separation from God. But now, those who believe by faith in Christ, have become near to God. We now have one Shepherd, Jesus Who has broken the wall of partition, reconciling us to God and making us one, His Church.

Jesus broke down all barriers and partitions between us and God for this exact reason, so that His followers as Church might live as a new creation and work to establish His kingdom.

The model is this: That we proclaim the Gospel of peace near and far. That we summon people who remain afar off so that they too might have access by one Spirit to the Father.

We, as Church, are the model household of God, a holy people, people who are the building of the Church ourselves, a habitation for the Lord. Bottom line, we are to live in the world ministering to it in strength of faith because Jesus lives in us.

In Old Testament times mere men offered sacrifice to God on behalf of people. They offered sacrifice for sin and for thanksgiving. Yet that sacrifice was imperfect, and we remained separated from God. Jesus changed all that and offered the one perfect sacrifice of Himself to make us holy and near. He also instituted the eternal re-presentation of His sacrifice which we celebrate here so that all who gather as His body might be strengthened, renewed, and revitalized in living out the model He set for us. 

Let us not confuse ourselves over the identity of the Chief Shepherd and let us recognize His eternal presence in us who are Church, and our duty to live His model in strength of faith all the time.

This week’s memory verse: But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

James 1:25
  • 7/11 – James 2:14-26
  • 7/12 – 1 John 2:4-5
  • 7/13 – 1 Peter 2:4-5
  • 7/14 – Psalm 62:12
  • 7/15 – Acts 2:22-24
  • 7/16 – Acts 2:40-41
  • 7/17 – Ruth 1:16-18

Pray the week: Lord Jesus, grant that I may spring into immediate action and in strength of faith carry out all the work You have called me to do.

Strength of Faith

The LORD took me from following the flock, and said to me, Go, prophesy to my people Israel.

Over the months of Ordinary Time, a time dedicated to growth, we focus on how we live out the Christian faith, how we walk in Strength of Faith. Remember, we are focusing on our Strength of Faith. 

This week we consider the fact that strength of faith must be expressed in action.

Faith is not just an interior journey, nor as the worldly would have us think, a private matter. People who are or wish to be strong in their faith must cultivate both an interior life of faith and an expressive life of faith.

Last week we considered Ezekiel’s call to go and prophesy. Whether the message he spoke was accepted or rejected, the people would know a prophet had been among them. God’s word was proclaimed, and people knew where Ezekiel stood. Similarly, today where we read of Amos’ experience as a prophet. He is told to get out, to go away. Speak your word somewhere else, but not here. Amos would not budge, for he knew he was on God’s mission. God took Amos from his ordinary everyday life and transformed him to a person of expressive action by His word.

So, it must be for us. People strong in faith cannot just rest in the ordinary. We cannot shrink back or go away. We must, as an expression of our belief in Christ, transform every ordinary moment into an extraordinary one for God. We do that by our words (evangelism), the example we set, and the service we perform.

Like Amos, the word we speak, and work we do, draws people to God and into His Church. The fastest growing parishes are ones that in big and small ways disciple though word and action. People see it and respond. It takes all of us, who together, must express our strength of faith.

St. Paul tells the Ephesians: In him we were also chosen…so that we might exist for the praise of his glory. We cannot exist for praise of Jesus’ glory without action. We cannot exist for the praise of Jesus’ glory if we lean on excuses for inaction.

Jesus instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick—no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic. In other words, the disciples were to spring into immediate action. Notice that the things they were to take they already had on them. They were not to wait, to go to the bank to get money, to go and buy another coat or a suitcase, or stop at the grocery. Action could not wait.

The urgency of the disciples’ action is the same urgency with which Jesus sends us out today. There are people who need healing. There are evils that need to be driven out. Repentance and the kingdom need to be proclaimed for the world does not know Jesus. In strength of faith let us step into action now. 

This week’s memory verse: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

John 10:10
  • 7/4 – John 14:6
  • 7/5 – John 6:35
  • 7/6 – Romans 8:28
  • 7/7 – Philippians 4:13
  • 7/8 – John 8:12
  • 7/9 – Isaiah 41:10
  • 7/10 – 1 Timothy 6:12

Pray the week: Lord Jesus, grant that I may go from strength to strength, and when confronted by opposition, find even greater strength through Your grace.

Strength of Faith

They said, “Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

Over the months of Ordinary Time, a time dedicated to growth, we focus on how we live out the Christian faith, how we walk in Strength of Faith. Remember, we are focusing on our Strength of Faith. 

Today, the scriptures and gospel present three examples of strength of faith. I’d label them: Shut up; Ouch, it hurts; and Get out of here. How should we stay strong when we encounter those?

In the Old Testament reading we hear God’s instruction to Ezekiel. He must go to the house of Israel to prophesy against it. God would not let them get off so easy, ignorant of what He wants. God knows that Ezekiel would not have it easy, but God knew the people had to hear His voice; the word spoken so that they might correct their behaviors. The result would be what it would be, but whether they heed or resist—they shall know that a prophet has been among them. Ezekiel certainly heard the words, Shut up. Even so, he prophesied in strength of faith, in accord with God’s instruction.

So too today. Those hearing God’s word have a choice, to heed or resist, to have a full life in God, or to lack. We, like Ezekiel, must proclaim the word, speak the truth, share the gospel, and remain strong in faith even if we hear: Shut up!

In our Epistle, St. Paul discusses the thorn of Satan he received. Whatever the set of temptations he was subject to, no matter how strong the enemy, he recognized that the grace of God was stronger. He knew that the grace of God amid weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints built up his strength of faith.

We have thorns of Satan as well. Yes, ouch, temptations big and small hurt. That does not mean we are defeated. It does not mean stop, but rather like Paul we need to press forward in strength of faith relying on God’s grace, so we get to the fullness of life promised for those who follow God’s path.

So too Jesus. He did nothing other than to proceed in strength of faith. That did not mean He was without challenge. Imagine going back home and having everyone tell you, Get out of here! They took offense at Him.

The reaction of others back then or today was and is not important, but rather that we follow the example of Jesus Who always walked in strength of faith. We are called to be strong.

Following Jesus did not and will not mean that we do not face: Shut up; Ouch, it hurts; or Get out of here. What really matters is our decision to walk in strength of faith, relying on God’s grace, and if we do, we receive fullness of life eternal.