READINGS for 2007-08-18
ARM’S LENGTH MINISTRY
Little children were brought for Jesus to lay his hands on them and pray. But the disciples scolded those who brought them. “Don’t bother him,” they said. – Matthew 19:13
We entered the compound and immediately children began to swarm all over us. Sick children. Dirty children. Children with mucous dripping down their noses or wounds on their skin. And a couple of the little ones extended their arms to us,
hungry for hugs and wanting to be carried. My companion and I, both of us supposedly veteran fulltime servants of the Lord, looked at each other. The stench alone was overwhelming for us who had been used to “arm’s length” ministry. All we could muster were pats on the head of the dirty little ones.
That happened many years ago. And while there have been other chances to interact with the poor in the course of serving the Lord, I’m light years away from the path that Mother Teresa took.
Imagine if Jesus chose to minister to us at arm’s length?
“I don’t want to be like one of them!” He would say to the Father,”“They’re too sinful and evil and sinister.”
But He not only became man, He even allowed us to condemn Him to a shameful death. He didn’t mind the stench of our sin, the wounds of our offenses, the dirt of our wrongdoings. Rissa S.
Is ministry a bother to you? Does it move you out of your comfort zone? It should!
Lord, teach me to serve You whether it’s convenient or inconvenient.
Joshua wants to make it very clear to the Israelites that if they commit themselves to following the Lord, then the journey in front of them will probably be difficult. The same is still true today. To live a life worthy of our Christian title is to live a life apart from many of the cares and concerns of the world. We need to pray for the grace to be able to make the right choices when engaging the world in dialogue and interacting with it. If we make the wrong choices here, we can very quickly be led astray.
14 “Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve him completely and sincerely. Cast out the gods your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. 15 If it does not please you to serve the LORD, decide today whom you will serve, the gods your fathers served beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are dwelling. As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD. 16 But the people answered, “Far be it from us to forsake the LORD for the service of other gods. 17 For it was the LORD, our God, who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, out of a state of slavery. He performed those great miracles before our very eyes and protected us along our entire journey and among all the peoples through whom we passed. 18 At our approach the LORD drove out [all the peoples, including] the Amorites who dwelt in the land. Therefore we also will serve the LORD, for he is our God.” 19 Joshua in turn said to the people, “You may not be able to serve the LORD, for he is a holy God; he is a jealous God who will not forgive your transgressions or your sins. 20 If, after the good he has done for you, you forsake the LORD and serve strange gods, he will do evil to you and destroy you.” 21 But the people answered Joshua, “We will still serve the LORD.” 22 Joshua therefore said to the people, “You are your own witnesses that you have chosen to serve the LORD.” They replied, “We are, indeed!” 23 “Now, therefore, put away the strange gods that are among you and turn your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel.” 24 Then the people promised Joshua, “We will serve the LORD, our God, and obey his voice.” 25 So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day and made statutes and ordinances for them at Shechem, 26 which he recorded in the book of the law of God. Then he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak that was in the sanctuary of the LORD. 27 And Joshua said to all the people, “This stone shall be our witness, for it has heard all the words which the LORD spoke to us. It shall be a witness against you, should you wish to deny your God.” 28 Then Joshua dismissed the people, each to his own heritage. 29 After these events, Joshua, son of Nun, servant of the LORD, died at the age of a hundred and ten.
P S A L M
Psalm 16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 11
R: You are my inheritance, O Lord.
1 Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge; 2 I say to the LORD, “My Lord are you.” 5 O LORD, my allotted portion and my cup, you it is who hold fast my lot. (R) 7 “I bless the LORD who counsels me; even in the night my heart exhorts me. 8 I set the LORD ever before me; with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed. (R) 11 You will show me the path to life, fullness of joys in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever. (R)
G O S P E L
There is never a time when Jesus does not want to bless us with His grace and gifts. Even when we sin, He wants to give us the gift of repentance. Unfortunately we are often not in the right place to be able to receive such a gift. It is up to us whether or not we create the right environment to receive His blessing. It is here that the example of children shows us the way. They are always willing to entrust themselves to their loving parents; they are naive and always willing to give others the benefit of the doubt. Let us try to cultivate such a relationship with Jesus.
13 Children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked them, 14 but Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 15 After he placed his hands on them, he went away.
think: To live a life worthy of our Christian title is to live a life apart from many of the cares and concerns of the world.
Thank You Lord for: ____________________________________
READ THE BIBLE IN ONE YEAR Jeremiah 49-50
IT IS ALL ABOUT MAKING A DECISION
There is no way we can get around the issue – we have to decide whether or not we are going to live for the Lord or not! We will never be comfortable doing a half-half sort of thing; it is either one or the other. Joshua lays it on the line before the People of God and tells them that he and his household are going to serve the Lord. What are they going to do? The response is very positive in that all commit themselves to following the way of the Lord and serving Him.
However, it does not take much time for us to discover that it is very easy to say something but far more difficult to actually live it out. This is why it is important that we have conviction when we commit ourselves to serving God. This is why encounters with God in the Scriptures and the lives of the saints often take on an extraordinary aspect to them – in order to help us build a conviction that will support us in our decision to follow God’s will for our lives. Even so, there will always be struggles and suffering involved with such a decision. The notion of a supposed prosperity Gospel where there is no suffering for those who truly have faith in God is a lie and a dangerous one at that!
It is very simple to see that it is just not true! Jesus does not always heal those who are sick. We all know people who have died young from one sort of sickness or another through no fault of their own. God is not the sort of God who punishes sinners with sickness! If He is, I do not want to know Him as He is not a God of love! Sickness may be a result of sin in some circumstances but is definitely not all caused by sin.
As we seek to follow the Lord we need to learn to embrace whatever comes to us and when there is suffering, persevere in holiness until God brings about good through the suffering! Jesus suffered for our sake, so how can we think we will be able to avoid it if we are to follow Him?! Fr. Steve T.
REFLECTION QUESTION: How do I view suffering or the potential of suffering to come in my life? Will it be an obstacle to my faith or will I be mature enough to be able to embrace it and trust that God is doing something good in me through the suffering?
Lord Jesus, as You suffered on the cross and bore the pain due to my sin You brought to me the gift of salvation. Help me to imitate You in all things according to Your will for the sake of my salvation and the salvation of all.
Sts. Florus and Laurus, martyrs, pray for us.
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