Are you anxiously looking for Jesus?

Luke 2:41-52
The Boy Jesus in the Temple.
Each year his parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover,
and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom.
After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Thinking that he was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances, but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.” And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus advanced [in] wisdom and age and favor before God and man.

Recently I was having a restless night, with deep concerns on my mind. I found it difficult to continue sleeping, my body was tired, but my mind was racing. I held my rosary in my hands and asked God to bring peace to the matter of my concern. As I continued, I felt heat and chill at the same time. Knowing that I would not be able to stop the racing mind, I rose out of bed, grabbed my rosary and went to the living room to pray the Joyful Mysteries. Ironic, because I did not feel any joy at the time. As I began praying, I did begin to feel my heart and mind slow down, but it wasn't until the Fifth Mystery that I felt a break through. Finding Jesus in the Temple! Upon completion of the Rosary, I opened up my study bible and looked up the scripture passage Lk 2:41-52. As I read it over a couple of times, I recalled the scripture passage also in Luke about the Road to Emmaus, Lk 24: 28-35, how Jesus meet a couple of his followers on the road and asked them why are you looking so sad? I thought about Joseph and Mary looking three days frantically for Jesus. As a parent and grandparent I know how upset they must have felt, worrying about their missing child. Even for a minute in a department store losing sight of a child could send a parent into an immediate panic. Imagine three days in a big city? My thoughts jumped back to the disciples on the road in their sadness, knowing that Jesus was nailed to a cross, died and placed in a tomb with a large rock to cover it up. Their whole world was also thrown into confusion and grief.
When our world is thrown off it's axis we often feel those same emotions. Especially when we realize we cannot control the situation or it's outcome. All we can do is look for guidance, peace, and hope. But where can we find them? Well as I was praying my Rosary and read the Fifth Mystery, it occurred to me where I could find it. The same place Mary, Joseph and the disciples on the Road to Emmaus found it! In the temple, in the breaking of the bread! As I read in the temple story, it it took Joseph and Mary three days to find Jesus in the temple, His Father's House. Our Father's House! Similarly I realized that the disciples on the road ran into Jesus on the third day. They exclaimed how their hearts were burning as he explained the scriptures about Him to them. But it wasn't until He sat at table with them, blessed, broke, and gave them the bread, that they recognized Him. I know when I attend Mass, I participate in those same acts as Mary, Joseph, and the disciples on the road to Emmaus. In the Church I find the same Jesus as them, the Jesus explaining the scriptures to me, the crucified, and risen glorious Jesus in the breaking of the bread sharing of Himself in the Eucharist, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity! Yes we can pray anywhere, anytime, about anything. Too often we look for answers in all the wrong places, we try to do it on our own, our way! However, wouldn't it be better to be physically with our Risen Lord? Where the youthful Jesus and the Risen Jesus share of Himself with us? When we look for Him in our own ways, desperately seeking Him, He calls out to us, "Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Our Father's house! He's waiting for you to come home!


The Master is in need of it!

Luke 19:28-40
Jesus proceeded on his journey up to Jerusalem.  As he drew near to Bethphage and 
Bethany at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples.He said, 
“Go into the village opposite you, and as you enter it you will find a colt tethered 
on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it here.  And if anyone should ask
 you,‘Why are you untying it?’ you will answer, ‘The Master has need of it.’
So those who had been sent went off and found everything  just as he had told 
them.  And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you 
untying this colt?” They answered, “The Master has need of it.” So they brought
 it to Jesus, threw their cloaks over the colt, and helped Jesus to mount.  As he
 rode along, the people were spreading their cloaks on the road; and now as he
 was approaching the slope of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of his 
disciples began to praise God aloud with joy for all the mighty deeds they had seen.
 They proclaimed: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord. 
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.”  Some of the Pharisees in the crowd
 said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.”  He said in reply, “I tell you, if they
 keep silent, the stones will cry out!”
What has you tethered to the world?  What keeps you from experiencing the joy that the disciples expressed, as Jesus rode on a colt, which had never been sat upon, much less ridden.  For those of you who have experience riding horses, you know it takes some time and an experienced rider to break in a horse before it could be ridden.  Yet, here we see Jesus riding this here before unridden, untethered colt on His journey toward Jerusalem.

 People were so excited to see Jesus that they spread their cloaks on the road as he approached.  They shouted praises to God with joy for all the miracles they had seen while following Jesus.  We know that this joy and praise would soon be followed by the cries of "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!"  However, the sorrow and fear His faithful disciples experienced, would soon be followed by the everlasting joy that could not be extinguished, except by following Judas' example and believing The Lord could never forgive us. 
 As men, we sometimes find it difficult to untether ourselves from the trappings of the world, whether it may be money, power, fame, comfort or any other worldly, self centered desire.  When we hear the world shout praises to us, for what we believe are our own talents and accomplishments, we tighten the tether which holds us back from experiencing true joy and peace that could only be experienced by surrendering our will to the Father.  He wants so much more for us than we could ever imagine for ourselves.  So as we enter into Holy Week, let us finish this Lenten Season strong, strong in the Lord!  Allow the Master to untether you, turn the praises back to the Lord, be a colt.  The Master is in need of you!

Prayer for the Defense of Marriage

Prayer In Defense Of Marriage

God our Father, we give you thanks
for the gift of marriage: the bond of life and love, and the font of the family.
The love of husband and wife enriches your Church with children, fills the world with a multitude of spiritual fruitfulness and service, and is the sign of the love of your Son, Jesus Christ, for his Church.
The grace of Jesus flowed forth at Cana at the request of the Blessed Mother. May your Son, through the intercession of Mary, pour out upon us a new measure of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit as we join with all people of good will to promote and protect the unique beauty of marriage.
May your Holy Spirit enlighten our society
to treasure the heroic love of husband and wife, and guide our leaders to sustain and protect the singular place of mothers and fathers in the lives of their children.
Father, we ask that our prayers
be joined to those of the Virgin Mary,
that your Word may transform our service
so as to safeguard the incomparable splendor of marriage.
We ask all these things through Christ our Lord,
Saints Joachim and Anne, pray for us.


How to Help Others Through Lent

How to Help Others Through Lent

Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D.
by Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D. on March 11, 2013 ·

For many, Lent means spiritual self-improvement through sacrifice.  It’s often all about what to “give up” for Lent.
But Jesus’ 40 day fast in the wilderness was not for his own sake.  It was all to prepare for his ministry, a ministry that brought light to those in darkness and healing for the afflicted.
The early Christians followed Jesus in their approach to Lent.  They fasted and prayed for forty days before Easter to support two special groups of people who were pushing up against some serious obstacles.  First there were those preparing for baptism who were struggling to break the bonds of sin and paganism.  The second group were the penitents who had been away from the sacraments for many years.   They were preparing for reconciliation and a return to communion at Easter.  So Lent in the Early Church was not so much a time of personal growth as church growth.  Rather than a time to look inward it was about looking outward.
drowning hand 2In this Year of Faith, we are being asked not just to deepen our faith, but to share it.  It is finally time to take seriously the call to the New Evangelization and make it a part of our Lenten journey.
There are many Church-going Catholics who experience the practice of their faith more as a chore than a joy.  There are an increasing number of Catholics who have been away for a long time.  And there are many from other religious traditions and of no religious background at all, who don’t know that they have a loving Father.
Evangelization is not about pushing our ideas on people.  It’s about letting them know the Good News that they are loved and forgiven, that their life has more meaning and promise than they ever suspected.
Several years ago, I called a cab to take me to the airport.  I decided to make conversation with the driver who was obviously from the middle east.  “Where are you from?”  “Iran,” he answered.  “Are there many Christians in Iran?”  “I never met one,” he replied.  “So why do you have a cross hanging from your mirror?”
Then he told his story.  “I was an army officer when the Shah was overthrown and the Ayatollahs came to power.  They preached a harsh religion of intolerance and hate, and it made me hate religion.  I left Iran and I vowed never to set foot in a mosque again.  After years in the states, a neighbor invited me to his Church.  I decided to go, to find out if what I learned about Christianity was true.  That Sunday, I heard about a God of love, a God of mercy, a God who tells us to call him “Father” and who sent his son to die for me.  This message moved me very deeply.  So I kept going back became a Christian.”
This Lent let’s pick up our heads and look around– around the family, the neighborhood, the workplace.  Who needs to experience the love of God?  Pray and fast for them.  Reach out to them.  Listen to their story.  Invite them to your home for a cup of coffee, a glass of wine, or a meal.  Invite them to your Church home for Mass or a Lenten mission.  If they are not Catholic, invite them just to see what a Catholic Church is like.  No pressure.  If they’ve been away, invite them to see what your Church is like.  Next time you are going to confession, invite someone to come with you.
The Iranian cabdriver could have said no.  But he had a right to know the truth about his heavenly Father.  And his neighbor had a duty to introduce him.  Thank God that his neighbor’s love was greater than his fear of getting a “no.”
Now there’s a good thing to give up for Lent – the fear of rejection!

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