Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

This reflection was written by Maureen Waldron in 2011.

When my daughter, Katy, was born, my best friend was in the hospital. She wasn’t sick but was confined to bed for the last several months of her pregnancy. Her husband and toddler were at home and it was a difficult and discouraging time, but she dealt with it gracefully. One afternoon I brought my newborn Katy to the hospital to see my friend. She was delighted with the visit and marveled, as my husband and I had, at this beautiful girl who was now our daughter. At one point, as Katy laid across her pregnant stomach, we laughed that our children were meeting for the first time. Six weeks later, her miraculous daughter, Anne, was born.

I think of that joyful experience every time I read this gospel. There is something about motherhood that creates a bond among women, especially women who love each other. Elizabeth and Mary, neither one of them expecting to be pregnant, were now carrying their children and were filled with the joy that comes with that.

Was the experience without fears? Probably not. Every pregnancy brings anxieties, every experience of parenthood comes fully equipped with inadequacies and apprehensions. But even in their very human fears, both women trusted in God. Mary, whose pregnancy had begun in fear, had trusted in God and said “Yes.”

So many questions remained unanswered in the two women’s lives and yet they had such delight and trust in God! Why does my own life seem so different at times? It is as if I am reluctant to turn over control of my own life to God. There are times I feel like I am wrestling for control of my own life away from God, proclaiming proudly, “I can handle this God. I’ll call you if I need you.”

Humility is not a valued trait in our culture, but it means simply being nothing more than who I really am. It helps me to move the focus of my life from me to someone else. Today’s gospel invites us to focus on God as the center of our lives, and to live in the joy that comes with surrendering that control.

Show me how, Mary. Somedays I simply have no humility in my life. I don’t want help and I don’t trust that it will be there even if I ask. Your life and words are filled with such joy. You have the fears but have learned to trust in God. It’s what I long for but never ask for.

Dear Lord, give me the grace to surrender to you. Let me trust that you are there for me. Hold me as close to you as a newborn is held by a parent. Teach me how to be humble so that with the same joy as Mary and Elizabeth, I can serve in the way you want me to.

“He who is mighty has done great things for me”

Daily Reading & Meditation

Friday (May 31): “He who is mighty has done great things for me”
Scripture: Luke 1:39-56  (alternate reading: John 16:20-23)

39 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
46 And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50 And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. 51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; 52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel,in remembrance of his mercy, 55 as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.” 56 And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.

Meditation: Do you recognize the indwelling presence of the Lord Jesus in your life? Blessed are you if you see and recognize the Lord with the “eyes of faith”. The word “blessed” [makarios in Greek] literally means “happiness” or “beatitude”. It describes a kind of joy which is serene and untouchable, self-contained, and independent from chance and changing circumstances of life.

God gives us supernatural joy with hope in his promises
There is a certain paradox for those “blessed” by the Lord. Mary was given the “blessedness” of being the mother of the Son of God. That blessedness also would become a sword which pierced her heart as her Son died upon the cross. Anselm, a great teacher and Archbishop of Canterbury (1033-1109), spoke these words in a homily: “Without God’s Son nothing could exist; without Mary’s son, nothing could be redeemed.”  To be chosen by God is an awesome privilege and responsibility. Mary received both a crown of joy and a cross of sorrow. Her joy was not diminished by her sorrow because it was fueled by her faith, hope, and trust in God and his promises.

Jesus promised his disciples that “no one will take your joy from you” (John 16:22). The Lord gives us a supernatural joy which enables us to bear any sorrow or pain and which neither life nor death can take away. Do you know the joy of a life given over to God in faith and trust?

They were filled with the Holy Spirit
What is the significance of Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth before the birth of Jesus? When Elizabeth greeted Mary and recognized the Messiah in Mary’s womb they were filled with the Holy Spirit and with a joyful anticipation of the fulfillment of God’s promise to give a Savior. What a marvelous wonder for God to fill not only Elizabeth’s heart with his Holy Spirit but the child in her womb as well. John the Baptist, even before the birth of the Messiah, pointed to his coming and leaped for joy in the womb of his mother as the Holy Spirit revealed to him the presence of the King to be born.

The Lord wants to fill each of us with his Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is God’s gift to us to enable us to know and experience the indwelling presence of God and the power of his kingdom. The Holy Spirit is the way in which God reigns within each of us. Do you live in the joy and knowledge of God’s indwelling presence with you through his Holy Spirit?

“Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit and give me joy in seeking you more earnestly. Increase my faith in all your promises, my hope in the joy of heaven, and my love for You as my All.”

Psalm 80:1-3,14-15,17-19

1 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock!  You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth
2 before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh! Stir up your might, and come to save us!
3 Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved!
14 Turn again, O God of hosts! Look down from heaven, and see;  have regard for this vine,
15 the stock which your right hand planted.
17 But let your hand be upon the man of your right hand, the son of man whom you hast made strong for yourself!
18 Then we will never turn back from you; give us life, and we will call on your name!
19 Restore us, O LORD God of hosts! let your face shine, that we may be saved!

Daily Quote from the early church fathersJohn prophecies from the womb, by Maximus of Turin (died between 408-423 AD)

“Not yet born, already John prophesies and, while still in the enclosure of his mother’s womb, confesses the coming of Christ with movements of joy – since he could not do so with his voice. As Elizabeth says to holy Mary, ‘As soon as you greeted me, the child in my womb exulted for joy.’ John exults, then, before he is born. Before his eyes can see what the world looks like, he can recognize the Lord of the world with his spirit. In this regard, I think that the prophetic phrase is appropriate: ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you came forth from the womb I sanctified you’ (Jeremiah 1:5). Thus we ought not to marvel that after Herod put him in prison, he continued to announce Christ to his disciples from his confinement, when even confined in the womb he preached the same Lord by his movements.” (excerpt from SERMON 5.4)

Meditations may be freely reprinted for non-commercial use – please cite: copyright (c) 2019 Servants of the Word, source:  www.dailyscripture.net, author Don Schwager

 

“When the Counselor comes, the Spirit of truth”

Daily Reading & Meditation

Monday (May 27): “When the Counselor comes, the Spirit of truth”
Scripture: John 15:26-16:4

26 But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me; 27 and you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning. [John 16] 1 I have said all this to you to keep you from falling away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues; indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. 3 And they will do this because they have not known the Father, nor me. 4 But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you of them. I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you.

Meditation: Where do you find help and support when you most need it? True friendship is strengthened in adversity. Jesus offers his disciples the best and truest of friends. Who is this promised friend? Jesus calls the Holy Spirit our Counselor and Advocate (also translated Paraclete or Helper). How does the Holy Spirit help us as the counselor? Counselor is a legal term for the person who defends someone against an adversary and who guides that person during the ordeal of trial. The Holy Spirit is our Advocate and Helper who guides and strengthens us and brings us safely through the challenges and adversities we must face in this life.

Person and role of the Holy Spirit
As Jesus approaches the hour he was to be glorified – through his death on the cross and his resurrection – he revealed more fully to his disciples the person and role of the Holy Spirit. What does Jesus tell us about the Holy Spirit? First, the Holy Spirit is inseparably one with the Father and the Son. It is the Holy Spirit who gives life – the very life of God – and who makes faith come alive in hearts and minds of people who are receptive to God’s word.

The Holy Spirit makes it possible for us to know God personally. He gives us experiential knowledge of God as our Father. The Spirit witnesses to our spirit that the Father has indeed sent his only begotten Son into the world to redeem it and has raised his Son, Jesus Christ, from the dead and has seated him at his right hand in glory and power.

The Holy Spirit reveals to us the knowledge, wisdom and plan of God for the ages and the Spirit enables us to see with the “eyes of faith” what the Father and the Son are doing. Through the gift and working of the Holy Spirit we become witnesses to the great work of God in Christ Jesus.

Spirit strengthens us in faith and courage
Jesus warned his disciples that they could expect persecution just as Jesus was opposed and treated with hostility. We have been given the Holy Spirit to help us live as disciples of Jesus Christ. The Spirit gives us courage and perseverance when we meet adversities and challenges. Do you pray for the Holy Spirit to strengthen you in faith, hope and love and to give you courage and perseverance when you meet adversities and challenges?

“O merciful God, fill our hearts, we pray, with the graces of your Holy Spirit; with love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, humility and self-control. Teach us to love those who hate us; to pray for those who despitefully use us; that we may be the children of your love, our Father, who makes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. In adversity grant us grace to be patient; in prosperity keep us humble; may we guard the door of our lips; may we lightly esteem the pleasures of this world, and thirst after heavenly things; through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  (Prayer of Anselm, 1033-1109)

Psalm 149:1-6a,9b

1 Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of the faithful!
2 Let Israel be glad in his Maker, let the sons of Zion rejoice in their King!
3 Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with timbrel and lyre!
4 For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with victory.
5 Let the faithful exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their couches.
6a Let the high praises of God be in their throats.
9b This is glory for all his faithful ones.  Praise the LORD!

Daily Quote from the early church fathersThe Comforter is with us in our troubles, by Cyril of Jerusalem, 430-543 A.D.

“He is called the Comforter because he comforts and encourages us and helps our infirmities. We do not know what we should pray for as we should, but the Spirit himself makes intercession for us, with groanings that cannot be uttered (Romans 8:26), that is, he makes intercession to God. Very often, someone has been outraged and dishonored unjustly for the sake of Christ. Martyrdom is at hand; tortures on every side, and fire, and sword, and savage beasts and the pit. But the Holy Spirit softly whispers to him, ‘Wait on the Lord’ (Psalm 27:14). What is now happening to you is a small matter; the reward will be great. Suffer a little while, and you will be with angels forever. ‘The sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing to the glory that shall be revealed in us’ (Romans 8:18). He portrays to the person the kingdom of heaven. He gives him a glimpse of the paradise of delight.” (excerpt from CATECHETICAL LECTURES 16.20)

Meditations may be freely reprinted for non-commercial use – please cite: copyright (c) 2019 Servants of the Word, source:  www.dailyscripture.net, author Don Schwager

 

A FATHER’S BLESSING

Father,
I thank you for the gift of my family
for whom I now pray 
and upon whom I now ask you 
to shower your blessings.
With St. Joseph as my guide,
may I always be ready 
to spend my life for them.

Bless my wife whom you have given to me as my spouse,
sharing in your wondrous work of creation.
May I see her as my equal 
and treat her with the love of Christ for his Church.
May Mary be her guide 
and help her to find your peace and your grace.

Bless my children with your life and presence.
May the example of your son 
be the foundation upon which 
their lives are built,
that the Gospel may always
be their hope and support.

I ask you, Father, to protect and bless my family.
Watch over it so that in the strength of your love
its members may enjoy prosperity,
possess the gift of your peace and,
as the Church alive in this home,
always bear witness to your glory in the world.

Amen.

Daily Light on the Daily Path

Revelation 21:4  and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”

Isaiah 25:8  He will swallow up death for all time, And the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces, And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; For the LORD has spoken.

Isaiah 60:20  “Your sun will no longer set, Nor will your moon wane; For you will have the LORD for an everlasting light, And the days of your mourning will be over.

Isaiah 33:24  And no resident will say, “I am sick”; The people who dwell there will be forgiven their iniquity.

Isaiah 65:19  “I will also rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in My people; And there will no longer be heard in her The voice of weeping and the sound of crying.

Isaiah 35:10  And the ransomed of the LORD will return And come with joyful shouting to Zion, With everlasting joy upon their heads. They will find gladness and joy, And sorrow and sighing will flee away.

Hosea 13:14  Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from death? O Death, where are your thorns? O Sheol, where is your sting? Compassion will be hidden from My sight.

1 Corinthians 15:26,54  The last enemy that will be abolished is death. • But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory.

2 Corinthians 4:18  while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

 

“Believe in me – that you may not remain in darkness”

Daily Reading & Meditation

 Wednesday (May 15): “Believe in me – that you may not remain in darkness”
Scripture: John 12:44-50  

44 And Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And he who sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come as light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 If any one hears my sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 He who rejects me and does not receive my sayings has a judge; the word that I have spoken will be his judge on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority; the Father who sent me has himself given me commandment what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has bidden me.”

Meditation: What kind of darkness does Jesus warn us to avoid? It is the darkness of unbelief and rejection – not only of the Son who came into the world to save it – but rejection of the Father who offers us healing and reconciliation through his Son, Jesus Christ. In Jesus’ last public discourse before his death and resurrection (according to John’s Gospel), Jesus speaks of himself as the light of the world. In the Scriptures light is associated with God’s truth and life. Psalm 27 exclaims, The Lord is my light and my salvation.

The light of Christ removes the darkness and reveals the goodness of God to us
Just as natural light exposes the darkness and reveals what is hidden, so God’s word enables those with eyes of faithto perceive the hidden truths of God’s kingdom. Our universe could not exist without light – and no living thing could be sustained without it. Just as natural light produces warmth and energy – enabling seed to sprout and living things to grow – in like manner, God’s light and truth enables us to grow in the abundant life which only he can offer us. Jesus’ words produce life – the very life of God – within those who receive it with faith.

To see Jesus, the Word of God who became flesh for our sake (John 1), is to see God in visible form. To hear the words of Jesus is to hear the voice of God. He is the very light of God that has power to overcome the darkness of sin, ignorance, and unbelief. God’s light and truth brings healing, pardon, and transformation. This light is not only for the chosen people of Israel, but for the whole world as well. Jesus warns that if we refuse to listen to his word, if we choose to ignore it or to take it very lightly, then we choose to remain in spiritual darkness.

The Word of God has power to set us free from sin, doubt, and deception
Jesus made it clear that he did not come to condemn us, but rather to bring us abundant life and freedom from the oppression of sin, Satan, and a world in opposition to God’s truth and goodness. We condemn ourselves when we reject God’s word of truth, life, and wisdom. It is one thing to live in ignorance due to lack of knowledge and understanding, but another thing to disdain the very source of truth who is Christ Jesus, the Word of God sent from the Father. Jesus says that his word – which comes from the Father and which produces eternal life in us – will be our judge. Do you believe that God’s word has power to set you free from sin and ignorance and to transform your life in his way of holiness?

Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) summed up our need for God’s help in the following prayer he wrote: “God our Father, we find it difficult to come to you, because our knowledge of you is imperfect. In our ignorance we have imagined you to be our enemy; we have wrongly thought that you take pleasure in punishing our sins; and we have foolishly conceived you to be a tyrant over human life. But since Jesus came among us, he has shown that you are loving, and that our resentment against you was groundless.”

The Holy Spirit opens our minds to understand the truth and wisdom of God’s word
God does not wish to leave us in spiritual darkness – in our ignorance and unbelief. He is always ready to give his light, wisdom, and truth to all who seek him and who hunger for his word. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit he helps us to grow each and every day in faith, knowledge, and understanding of his life-giving word. Do you want to know more of God and grow in his transforming love? Look to Jesus, the Light of God, and in his truth you will find joy, freedom, and wholeness of body, mind, heart, and soul.

“Lord Jesus, in your word I find life, truth, and freedom. May I never doubt your word nor forget your commandments. Increase my love for your truth that I may embrace it fully and live according to it.”

Psalm 67:1-7

1May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, 
2 that your way may be known upon earth, your saving power among all nations. 
3 Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! 
4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. [Selah] 5 Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! 
6 The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, has blessed us. 
7 God has blessed us; let all the ends of the earth fear him!

Daily Quote from the early church fathers: Whoever sees Jesus sees the Father, by Cyril of Alexandria, 375-444 A.D.

“[Our Lord] gradually accustoms their minds to penetrate the depth of the mysteries concerning himself, [leading them] not to the human person but to that which was of the divine essence. He does this inasmuch as the Godhead is apprehended completely in the person of God the Father, for he has in himself the Son and the Spirit. With exceeding wisdom he carries them onward, … for he does not exclude himself from being believed on by us because he is God by nature and has shone forth from God the Father. But skillfully (as has been said) he handles the mind of the weak to mold them to godliness in order that you might understand him to say something like this: ‘When you believe on me – I who, for your sakes, am a man like yourselves, but who also am God by reason of my own nature and because of the Father from whom I exist – do not suppose that it is on a man you are setting your faith. For I am by nature God, notwithstanding that I appear like one of yourselves, and I have within myself him who begat me. Forasmuch therefore as I am consubstantial with him that has begotten me, your faith will assuredly pass on also to the Father himself.’ As we said therefore, the Lord, gradually trains them to something better and profitably interweaves the human with what is God-befitting.” (excerpt from COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL OF JOHN 8.7)

Meditations may be freely reprinted for non-commercial use – please cite: copyright (c) 2019 Servants of the Word, source:  www.dailyscripture.net, author Don Schwager

The Feast of Saint Matthias, Apostle

In the celebration of Easter Time (the great 50 days) the Church invites us to prayerfully consider that the Victory of God has been accomplished in the death and resurrection of Jesus.  But we are also asked to ponder that this Good News of Victory is for all the world and each one called has a “portion” or “share” of the work of spreading the message by lives of faithful attentiveness to Jesus.

Today’s Feast day of Saint Matthias focuses on these two themes by recalling, in the Reading from Acts of the Apostles, the historical act of selecting a person to take up Judas’ portion of the Apostolic labor of witnessing to the Resurrection of Jesus.  The apostles determined that it needed to be a man who had walked with Jesus from the earliest days of his ministry.  We don’t know any details of Matthias’ response to Jesus except by Luke’s witness that from the baptism of Jesus until the Resurrection, the two men put forward had been faithful to Jesus and his message.  They chose these two men to enter a discernment by lots – a means often used in Judaism and in the early Church to allow for God’s ultimate choice. “The Eleven” prayed that God would read their hearts and choose the right person between them.  The lot fell to Matthias to fill in the twelfth place abandoned by Judas.

Matthias is not mentioned overtly anywhere else in the New Testament, the point here is less about his own gifts than about the charism of leadership necessary to fulfill the promise of Jesus to restore “the twelve tribes” – a symbolic expression of the whole people who are saved by Jesus’ Mission, just as the original 12 tribes were the whole of the people called by God to constitute the “people of God.” Matthias had been a faithful disciple and God “knew his heart.” Thus, he is confirmed in his leadership to witness to the Resurrection and shepherd the people.

Today’s Gospel reminds all of us that to be a true disciple (a lá Matthias) we are each called to “remain” in Jesus’ love – that is, both receiving God’s love through Jesus and returning our willed love to God through Jesus. (Love is recognized more in deeds than in words, we are reminded by a later disciple).  To remain in the original Greek usage, to be attentive to, or set up a tent with.  In other words, we are to live with Jesus – all day, every day.  We have been invited into this relationship – to live in and witness to love as he defines it by his behavior.   

In a world where there is a great deal of emphasis placed on everybody having the same “rights” to all good things, it is tempting to think that everyone has a right to live in God.  But it is important to remember the character of gift giving.  God CHOOSES us to live with the Divine Self – we don’t have a “right” to be chosen – and we also don’t have a right to exclude anyone else’s invitation.  It belongs to God to determine who is invited to “remain” in the Divine presence.  The criteria by which we know of our invitation is our willingness to love those – all those – around us because God gives us that capacity.

Recently a speaker on Creighton’s campus told a few students attending his talk that “his neighbor was the person who lived next door who was legally documented to live in this country.”  By the criteria of the Gospels of both Luke and John this stance fails the “remain” test; such a one does not remain in Jesus’ tent – but has chosen a path outside of the command to love as Jesus loves. Similarly, one who destroys a human child unborn or born, or who despises a whole population of humans because of skin color does not live in Jesus’ tent.  By refusal of the command to love each other and the marginalized we fail to remain in Jesus’ love. Once given the capacity to remain in Jesus’ love we become “response-able,” to remain.

St. Matthias, faithful disciple and “designated hitter for Judas’ portion of the mission,” support our desire to remain in Jesus’ love.

Receive the fullness of God’s love and joy

Daily Reading & Meditation

Tuesday – Feast of the Apostle Matthias (May 14): Receive the fullness of God’s love and joy
Scripture: John 15:9-17  (alternate reading: John 12:44-50)

9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 This I command you, to love one another.

Meditation: How can love lead to immeasurable joy? Jesus tells his disciples that he is united with his Father in heaven in a perfect bond of mutual love, honor, and joy in one another. Their love is inseparable and unbreakable. That is why the Son delights in obeying the eternal Father who loves him with infinite love. The Father and Son invite all to join in their eternal bond of love and friendship. How can we enter into that unbreakable bond of  love and friendship? Jesus, the Word of God who became flesh for us, shows us the way – keep my word, keep my commandments. If you abide in my word you will know my love and that love will fill you with immense joy – a joy which is unsurpassing, exalted, and unfading (2 Peter 1:3,8).

A new command of love 
Jesus’ commands are not hard or burdensome for those who know his love and mercy. The Lord fills us with his Spirit and transforms our hearts to be like his heart. Paul  the Apostle reminds us that “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5). Jesus gave his disciples a new commandment – a new way of love and fruitful service which is empowered by his Holy Spirit. We are called to love and serve others just as Jesus has loved us with heartfelt compassion, kindness, and mercy. Jesus proved his love for us by laying down his life for us, even to death on the cross. Our love for God is a response to his exceeding love for us through the gift of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

How do we prove our love for God and grow in the knowledge and depth of his unfathomable love? The same way Jesus did – by embracing the way of the cross each and every day. What is the cross in my life? When my will crosses with God’s will, then his will must be done. If we accept God’s way of love, truth, and wisdom, then we will discover the joy and freedom of loving, serving, and laying down our lives for others, just as Jesus freely laid down his life for each and every one of us. Do you know the joy of being united with the Lord Jesus in a bond of unbreakable love and peace?

A Friend of God 
One of the special marks of favor shown in the Scriptures is to be called the friend of God. God called Abraham his friend (Isaiah 41:8), and God spoke with Moses as a “man speaks with his friend” (Exodus 33:11). Jesus, the Lord and Master, calls the disciples his friends rather than his servants (John 15:15). What does it mean to be a friend of God? Friendship certainly entails a relationship of love which goes beyond mere duty or loyalty. Scripture tells us that “a friend loves at all times; and a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17).

The distinctive feature of Jesus’ relationship with his disciples was his personal and unconditional love and care for them. He loved his own to the very end (John 13:1). He loved his disciples selflessly and generously because his love was wholly directed to their good. His love was costly and sacrificial – he gave not only the best he had, but all that he had. He gave his very own life in order to bring the abundant everlasting life of the eternal Father to those who believed in him.

The fire of Christ’s love purifies and transforms
The love of Jesus Christ compels us to give our best not only to God but to our neighbor who is created in the image and likeness of God. God’s love purifies and transforms us into the likeness of Christ. The Lord Jesus promises that those who abide in his love will bear much fruit for the kingdom of God – fruit that will last for eternity as well (John 15:16). If you seek to unite your heart with the heart of Jesus, your life will bear abundant fruit – the fruit which comes from the Holy Spirit who dwells within us – the fruit of love, joy, peace, goodness, and friendship which lasts forever (Galatians 5:22-23).

“Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit and make me fruitful in your love, mercy, kindness, and compassion. May there be nothing in my life which keeps me from your love and joy.”

Psalm 113:1-8

1 Praise the LORD! Praise, O servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD! 
2 Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and for evermore! 
3 From the rising of the sun to its setting the name of the LORD is to be praised! 
4 The LORD is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens! 
5 Who is like the LORD our God, who is seated on high, 
6 who looks far down upon the heavens and the earth? 
7 He raises the poor from the dust, and lifts the needy from the ash heap, 
8 to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people.

Daily Quote from the early church fathers: Love your enemy and make a friend, by Gregory the Great, 540-604 A.D.

“The unique, the highest proof of love is this, to love the person who is against us. This is why Truth himself bore the suffering of the cross and yet bestowed his love on his persecutors, saying, ‘Father, forgive them for they know not what they do’ (Luke 23:34). Why should we wonder that his living disciples loved their enemies, when their dying master loved his? He expressed the depth of his love when he said, ‘No one has greater love that this, than that he lay down his life for his friends’ (John 15:13).’ The Lord had come to die even for his enemies, and yet he said he would lay down his life for his friends to show us that when we are able to win over our enemies by loving them, even our persecutors are our friends.” (excerpt from FORTY GOSPEL HOMILIES 27)


Meditations may be freely reprinted for non-commercial use – please cite: copyright (c) 2019 Servants of the Word, source:  www.dailyscripture.net, author Don Schwager

“God so loved the world that he gave us his only Son”

Daily Reading & Meditation

 Wednesday (May 1): “God so loved the world that he gave us his only Son”
Scripture: John 3:16-21

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. 18 He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God.

Meditation: Do you know the love which surpasses the greatest joy and happiness which one could ever hope to find in this life? Greater love is manifested in the cost and sacrifice of the giver. True lovers hold nothing back but give the best that can be offered to their beloved, including all they possess, even their very lives. God proved his love for each and every one of us by giving us the best he had to offer – his only begotten Son who freely offered up his life for our sake as the atoning sacrifice for our sins and the sin of the world.

God loves each of us uniquely and personally  
Abraham’s willing sacrifice of his only son, Isaac, prefigures the perfect offering and sacrifice of God’s beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. This passage in the Gospel of John tells us of the great breadth and width of God’s love. Not an excluding love for just a few or for a single nation, but a redemptive love that embraces the whole world, and a personal love for each and every individual whom God has created in his own image and likeness (Genesis 1:26,27). God is the eternal Father of Love who cannot rest until his wandering children have returned home to him. Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) said, God loves each one of us as if there were only one of us to love. God gives us the freedom to choose whom and what we will love.

Truth, goodness, and beauty are made perfect in the love of Christ
Jesus shows us the paradox of love and judgment. We can love the darkness of sin and unbelief or we can love the light of God’s truth, goodness, and beauty. If our love is guided by what is true, and good, and beautiful then we will choose for God and love him above all else. What we love shows what we prefer and value most. Do you love God above all else? Does he take first place in your life, in your thoughts, affections, and actions?

“Lord Jesus Christ, your love is better than life itself. May your love consume and transform my heart with all of its yearnings, aspirations, fears, hurts, and concerns, that I may freely desire you above all else and love all others generously for your sake and for your glory. Make me love what you love, desire what you desire, and give generously as you have been so generous towards me”.

Psalm 34:2-9

2 My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and be glad.
3 O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!
4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.
5 Look to him, and be radiant; so your faces shall never be ashamed.
6 This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.
8 O taste and see that the LORD is good! Happy is the man who takes refuge in him!

A Daily Quote from the early church fathers: The Intensity of God’s Love and Our Response, by John Chrysostom, 347-407 A.D.

“The text, ‘God so loved the world,’ shows such an intensity of love. For great indeed and infinite is the distance between the two. The immortal, the infinite majesty without beginning or end loved those who were but dust and ashes, who were loaded with ten thousand sins but remained ungrateful even as they constantly offended him. This is who he ‘loved.’ For God did not give a servant, or an angel or even an archangel ‘but his only begotten Son.’ And yet no one would show such anxiety even for his own child as God did for his ungrateful servants…”
“He laid down his life for us and poured forth his precious blood for our sake – even though there is nothing good in us – while we do not even pour out our money for our own sake and neglect him who died for us when he is naked and a stranger… We put gold necklaces on ourselves and even on our pets but neglect our Lord who goes about naked and passes from door to door… He gladly goes hungry so that you may be fed; naked so that he may provide you with the materials for a garment of incorruption, yet we will not even give up any of our own food or clothing for him…  These things I say continually, and I will not cease to say them, not so much because I care for the poor but because I care for your souls.” (HOMILIES ON THE GOSPEL OF JOHN 27.2–3)

Meditations may be freely reprinted for non-commercial use – please cite: copyright (c) 2019 Servants of the Word, source: www.dailyscripture.net, author Don Schwager

Prayer FOR A FAMILY

O dear Jesus,
I humbly implore You to grant Your special graces to our family.
May our home be the shrine of peace, purity, love, labor and faith.
I beg You, dear Jesus,
to protect and bless all of us,
absent and present, living and dead.

O Mary,
loving Mother of Jesus,
and our Mother,
pray to Jesus for our family,
for all the families of the world,
to guard the cradle of the newborn,
the schools of the young and their vocations.

Blessed Saint Joseph,
holy guardian of Jesus and Mary,
assist us by your prayers
in all the necessities of life.
Ask of Jesus that special grace
which He granted to you,
to watch over our home
at the pillow of the sick and the dying,
so that with Mary and with you,
heaven may find our family unbroken
in the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Amen.