The “come as you are” approach to “dressing down” for Sunday service has caused the Sabbath to become sloppy. Today, people saunter into church in baggy shorts, flip-flop sandals, tennis shoes, and at times, grubby t-shirts. Some even slide into the pew carrying coffee cups.
When attending church, it is expected that you dress in a way that reflects the morals and standards of that particular church. While standards for dressing have changed over time, many churches still expect you to wear your best clothing when attending the worship service. Before you make the mistake of offending someone, take the correct steps to make sure that the clothes you wear are appropriate.READ MORE
"If you love me you will keep my commandments." It's really as simple as that. We are only paying lip service to the Lord if we externally declare ourselves to be Christians but don't follow through on a life that confirms it.
In our modern culture, we often think of love as a feeling or a kind of devotion. It is thus all too common to separate love from appropriate action. Perhaps we reassure ourselves that we love Jesus because we believe that he is the Son of God and our personal Savior. But these thoughts--or even any grateful or pleasant feelings that come along with them--are not the fullest manifestation of real love. Rather, as Jesus tells us directly in today's Gospel, "Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me."READ MORE
"Whoever believes in me will do the works that I do." What were the works that Jesus did? Miracles, sometimes, but what were the essence of these miracles? Caring for the sick, comforting the sorrowful, feeding the hungry ... much of Jesus' ministry was spent in carrying out what we call the works of mercy. But he did more than that; he also preached and publicly shared the good news, he fostered fellowship and community, and he prayed. All of this makes a kind of plan of action for us as Christians. As Jesus says today, if we truly believe in him, we will follow in his footsteps and do these same things.
What this all suggests is that belief itself--having faith, being Christian--is only part of the picture. Jesus expects us to take this faith and put it into concrete, practical action. Apparently this goes hand in hand with real faith. If actions don't follow, then faith is not being lived to its fullest.
This of course presents a real challenge. Our lives are busy and our plates are full, just with the tasks and demands of daily existence. It can seem like a burden to serve others, to share the Gospel, to be actively involved in a faith community, to find time to pray. But these are meant to be priorities for true disciples of Christ. And as many will testify, when we sincerely ask God to help us get our priorities in order, he has a way of miraculously multiplying our time. Somehow, we find the opportunities right before us to follow God's will and bring our faith to life. That simple prayer of asking for help may be where we need to start. The first step is not so much to fill our calendar as to fill our hearts, or just to pray that God will fill our hearts, with the desire to "do the works" of Jesus.
"Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture." Jesus uses the image of a gate today to help us understand how we are to relate to him. He is our path to "pasture," in other words, to the peace and prosperity that we long for. He shows us the way to find all that we need right there before us.
Some people, however, may think that it's better to avoid the trouble of finding the gate and thus choose to enter another way instead. But Jesus says, "Whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber." Although this is all cast in the gentle terms of an analogy about sheep, the message is actually rather stern. Jesus is telling us that if we don't follow him, we are taking the wrong course of action. He is not suggesting a kind of relativistic principle that says, "Following me is one of many good options." No. He is telling us that in order to "have life and have it more abundantly," we must follow the path that goes by way of Christ.READ MORE
"Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him." The disciples on the road to Emmaus had already heard reports about Jesus' resurrection. It was at the forefront of their minds, but in spite of this, they did not recognize Jesus when he stood right before them.
Why not? Perhaps because they weren't looking for him. Maybe they didn't really believe that he was alive. Or it could be that his appearance was not the same as it had been before. Whatever the case, it's very interesting to learn that it was actually while celebrating the Eucharist that these men finally realized who was right there with them! "He was made known to them in the breaking of bread."READ MORE
"Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, 'Peace be with you.'" This greeting from the resurrected Christ must have been a profound one for the disciples. They were living behind locked doors "for fear of the Jews," which really meant for fear of their own lives. They had seen what happened to Jesus and didn't want to face the same fate. Imagine the paralysis of this fear, keeping them locked inside a prison of their own making.
But even the walls and the locks could not keep Jesus out! He came "although the doors were locked" and brought them a message of peace. And then their fear turned to gladness for they "rejoiced when they saw the Lord." This transformation from sadness to joy, from fear to peace was not just a gift for these first disciples. It is a gift for all of the followers of the Lord, ourselves included!READ MORE
The idea of building Small Christian Communities SCC or Basic Ecclesial Communities BEC started immediately after the Second Vatican Council. Vatican II is the catalyst of the universal movement of a church model organized into SCC/BEC. Envisioned in the conciliar documents is a renewed church through the SCC. The formation of SCC movement is regarded as the concrete realization of the communitarian model of the Church (A Church of Community of Communities) envisioned and promoted by the Second Vatican Council. The conciliar ideas attributed to directly promote a church of communities like the SCC were as follows:READ MORE
"Peter said to him in reply, 'Though all may have their faith in you shaken, mine will never be.'" Peter thought pretty highly of his faith. On the eve of Christ's death he professed, in essence, that he was more committed to Jesus than anyone else. And yet, we know how the story turns out: when put to the test in the moment that mattered, Peter "began to curse and to swear, 'I do not know the man.'"
On this Palm Sunday, we hear many stories of betrayal. The crowds, who once hailed Jesus with "hosannas," will soon be chanting, "Let him be crucified!" Judas, who was counted among the closest companions of the Lord, turns him over to the chief priests for thirty pieces of silver. And Peter falls short in the moment of truth, and then "went out and began to weep bitterly."READ MORE
"I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live." As we draw near to the great feast of Easter, the Church gives us here some food for thought regarding the idea of resurrection and eternal life. Today's Gospel shares the story of a dead man who came to life again by the power of Jesus. Lazarus, who had been lying lifeless in a tomb for four days, "came out" of the tomb, burial cloths draped around his body, in a moment that must have been absolutely astonishing! This miracle could not have been explained by anything other than divine power over life and death. It's important to consider that this story is not so much about Jesus' own resurrection but rather it is about OURS. Jesus uses the occasion of this restoration of his friend, Lazarus, to teach that we ALL can be raised to new life through the power of the Lord. Jesus tells us that we too can overcome death by believing in him: "everyone who lives and believes in me will never die."READ MORE
"Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him." The prevailing theology of Jesus' time led people to believe that any kind of disability was a punishment from God. So Jesus' disciples assumed that the man born blind suffered that affliction because of someone's sin: either his parents' or his own. But Jesus sets the record straight. Not only did he reject the idea that the blindness was a punishment for sin; he also went so far as to suggest that this very trial was an opportunity for God's glory to be revealed.READ MORE
"But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshippers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth." Are we true worshippers? Do we praise and honor God the Father in the way Jesus described to the Samaritan woman at the well? It seems that this woman was caught up in logistics about WHERE to worship more than HOW to worship. Her people worshiped in one place, the Jews in another. She was puzzled by this and, even though she could see that Jesus was a prophet, she challenged him because she thought perhaps he wasn't a true worshipper of God. The Lord's response to her was to shift the focus away from a particular physical location for honoring God. In essence, he told her that what mattered was that we worship God by being filled with his Spirit, "the Spirit of truth, [who] will guide you to all truth," as Jesus will say later in John's Gospel (16:13). This woman, whose life was marked by such a sad string of broken relationships, had been missing the point.READ MORE
"When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid." Peter, James, and John already knew Jesus. They had been following him, learning from him, watching him for quite some time. But what took place before their eyes at the Transfiguration was unlike anything they had yet witnessed. This was not just a miracle or a message: this was a supernatural vision. When Jesus' face suddenly "shone like the sun" and two ancient prophets appeared and spoke, and a heavenly voice announced the true identity of their friend and teacher, these three disciples nearly fainted in fear. It must have been too glorious, too strange, too astonishing to handle.READ MORE
"He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry." And no surprise! That's an incredibly long time to fast. Undoubtedly Jesus' physical and emotional strength would have been extremely weak after enduring such a marathon of abstinence. And isn't it interesting that the "tempter" should choose to appear at this particular moment? When bread must have sounded better than ever, the devil comes and tests Jesus, saying, "Command that these stones become loaves of bread."READ MORE