Gospel Meditations for Men

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Notes and Meditations on the Gospel of John

Lord, for you, charity is the highest value.

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You even spoke about it the night before your death. Christmas should enkindle charity in my heart. Let me see you in every person I meet today. I will perform a special act of charity today for someone at home, work or school.

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December 15, — Bethlehem and the Cross. Because of our wounded nature, we worry that obedience to God will somehow restrict our freedom and deter us from our full potential.

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This same self-assertion applies to our neighbor whom we view in light of our own pleasure or gain. If he or she will add happiness or pleasure, we love them. Otherwise, we tend to suspect them, like jealous siblings, worried that they will steal something from us, compete for the same resources and attention, or annoy us. Thankfully, as we mature spiritually, we grow out of these childish concerns. We understand that our Heavenly Father sets us high upon the rock in safety Ps We also grow into a more adult relationship with our brothers and sisters in the Lord, realizing they are not a burden but a blessing.

Loving God means taking time for Him, in prayer and Scripture. It means learning more about Him and deepening our understanding of His self-revelation. The Christian disciple follows the example of Christ, who modelled and taught the way of Love — prayer and sacrificial works of mercy. His prayer life was so deep, His disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray, upon which He gave them the Our Father.

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His merciful actions were so numerous John states at the end of His Gospel that if everything He did was written down, the whole world could not contain it John Everyone searches for the key to happiness. This blood gives you knowledge of the truth when knowledge of yourself leads you to shed the cloud of selfish love.

There is no other way to know the truth. No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honor your father and your mother. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.

It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God. All things are possible for God. Jesus is about to leave when the young man comes running to Him. The question must have been burning on his heart and he knew he had to get to Jesus and ask Him before He left.

In every human soul, the question of eternal life singes until satisfied. In his work, Pensees , the philosopher Pascal observed that we fill our lives with distractions just to avoid this very question. When we are quiet or alone, it surges up and must be dealt with.

We realize the feebleness of our nature and our true vulnerability.

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We are then faced with the clear decision that either there is no God in which case I can live as I want but my life is meaningless, or there is a God and I can live forever but I must acknowledge His authority and live by His precepts. Many of us make something of an effort. Like the rich young man, many of us modern religious persons live comfortable and fairly moral lives. Yet, our hearts still burn for more. Thankfully, the man in the passage pushes Jesus on the issue. Jesus affirms that the man has done the minimum requirement for eternal life.

Christ, God incarnate, is about to set out for a journey. He offers the man the opportunity to come follow Him.

Jesus, Christ and Servant of God: Meditations on the Gospel According to John

Yet to do this, he would have to leave everything behind — another fork in the road. How many times do we turn down incredible opportunities to stay in our comfort zone? We get sentimental or attached to any number of our possessions and it undermines our freedom to say yes to the gifts of Christ that come in the form of service opportunities, vocation, relationships, even careers we may end up finding more fulfilling but less lucrative.

When we let fear, comfort, or greed hold even a small part of us back from God, we experience a nagging feeling of hunger because we are not quite full. The young man in this passage encountered Christ and saw His gaze of love. May we too be blessed to see this gaze of love for us and say yes to perfect fullness. But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.

So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate. Pope Francis recently visited the United States for the purpose of supporting and building up the family. Scripture reveals that the family in fact represents most completely the image of God. Moreover, the image of a God who has revealed Himself to be a communion of Persons of life-giving love.

The first instance being when God created humans in His own image. We read in Genesis 1: The unity of man and woman as the image of God is again affirmed in Genesis 2: The unity between man and woman has been harmed and the joy of openness to life undermined. Rather than unity, we more often see power struggles, selfishness, adultery, use and abuse, and so on. He brought us truth, healing, love, and redemption. Jesus has not given up on marriage and the family, He has come to redeem it.

It is the very image of our Trinitarian God. Sometimes I feel like life is a knotted up ball of a mess and I feel overwhelmed and powerless. Jesus and his disciples left from there and began a journey through Galilee, but he did not wish anyone to know about it.

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  8. They had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest. This week, a student of mine asked me why a woman cannot be the pope. I myself wrestled with this question when I was in college. This seems sexist, unfair, and therefore not Christ-like. They were arguing along the way about who would have the highest position, the most power and prestige. Jesus corrects them in a pointed way.

    As God says in Isaiah Rather than considering that they might be called to follow in His footsteps they wonder who will take leadership afterward. Jesus clarifies what He means by His kingdom. His words would have been surprising to the apostles and they are still surprising to us today. The world looks at the papacy and sees position and power. What can be more humble and self-sacrificing than caring for a small child, especially if you are its mother or father?

    This path of humility is open to all with equal opportunity. Some might even say that women have an unequal and greater opportunity since we alone have the ability to carry in our wombs new life at its most vulnerable stage. Every Christian can become a saint if he or she cooperates with the grace of Christ.

    Teresa of Avila said that what prevents individuals from experiencing greater depths of prayer and union with God is a lack of generosity, courage, and humility.

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    My eyes are on a different prize though. Again Jesus left the district of Tyre and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, to the district of the Decapolis. And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him off by himself away from the crowd. He ordered them not to tell anyone. But the more he ordered them not to, the more they proclaimed it. He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.

    Begging implies a kind of poverty and desperation. It can be hard enough to ask for help sometimes, but to beg can seem too humiliating to do. This passage underscores the centrality of our relational nature — both our relationship with others and with God. Relationship depends upon communication.

    Clearly the people in this passage had communicated their love to the man through their actions and their expressions. However, they begged Christ to remove the barrier of deafness and the speech impediment so that they might share words with the man and receive them in return. Truthful words can communicate our inner thoughts and feelings, a sharing of ourselves that can only be known if we choose to share it with others.

    Christ healed the man by restoring his ability to communicate and therefore enabling him to enjoy more freedom to relate to those he loved. Jesus went even further by connecting the man to God Himself. He took the man aside, physically touched him, and opened his ears to hear and his tongue to speak — both bodily and spiritually.

    Jesus, the Word of God, became man that we might have relationship with God. He desires to restore all of us to relationship with Him and with others. If we humble ourselves to beg Him to open our ears and free our tongues, He gives us hope in this passage that He will unite us at a deeper level than we can imagine to God and those we love. Corporal Works of Mercy: Athanasius, described it beautifully in this way: What, then, must God do?

    The more we offer mercy the more we will receive mercy, and the more will become like God! If John the Baptist were to offer you advice, what would it be? Would he see an injustice that you could correct or an opportunity for mercy you could take? Reflect on the mercy God and others have shown to you. Offer God and those persons your gratitude. Pray about the works of mercy and write a list of ways that you could incorporate them into your life.

    Make a Resolution Practical Application: Do one work of mercy each day. Offer a prayer for those who have shown you mercy. Receive the sacrament of Confession. Catherine of Siena , she relates this advice from Christ regarding examining our souls: I do not wish the soul to consider her sins, either in general or in particular, without also remembering the Blood and the broadness of my Mercy. The Catechism defines sin in this way: Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods.

    It wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity. Read about and reflect on the seven capital sins. Read and reflect on the Beatitudes.

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    5. Actively try to overcome a sin through prayer and practicing the opposite virtue. The Catechism of the Catholic Church summarizes the Christian belief in this way: I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. Reflect on the inestimable dignity you have in Christ. Consider the gift of God becoming man. Daily message stays with the word with references from scripture. Daily lessons do not have a calendar date; can start at the beginning at any time.

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