A Year Acceptable to the Lord

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus went into the synagogue and read this passage from Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”

He then looked at all those who sat listening to Him and proclaimed: “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Wow! We hear that and we feel excited. But the people listening then were astounded—so astounded that they became furious. They drove Him from the temple believing He had committed blasphemy. But we know that He did not. We know that Jesus was the fulfillment of all the promises in the Old Testament. 

As Christ said, He was sent to “proclaim liberty to captives.” We desperately need this liberty, for we are all ensnared and held captive by something of this world—our jobs, our friend groups, social media, the news, even our phones. We allow these things to take the place of Jesus in our hearts and minds. We allow these things to fill us, and often they fill us with anger, resentment, anxiety, sadness, or more. 

But Jesus is here—and has always been here—to free us from the chains that come with these things. He doesn’t just fill us, as these things do, He brings us joy, peace, love, and harmony.

Nothing of this world can do that. Sure, many can bring happiness, but happiness is fleeting. Happiness doesn’t last. But a joy in Christ lasts. 

So let us take time to reflect on how we spend our days. Where is our focus? Are we spending so much time watching the news, playing on our phones, or scrolling through social media that Christ becomes secondary in our lives? Are we letting the world fill us with an anger that threatens to destroy the joy we have? 

Because of sin, our world is broken. This should—and often does—bring us sadness, but it’s a sadness we must not dwell upon. Instead, we must turn this sadness into an awareness that only loving and God-centered actions can effect the change we need in this world.

So, as we begin this new year, let us allow God to liberate us from our captivity and truly make this a year acceptable to the Lord. 

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Susan Ciancio has a BA in psychology and a BA in sociology from the University of Notre Dame, with an MA in liberal studies from Indiana University. For the past 17 years, she has worked as a professional editor and writer, editing both fiction and nonfiction books, magazine articles, blogs, educational lessons, professional materials and website content. Eleven of those years have been in the pro-life sector. Currently Susan freelances and writes weekly for HLI, edits for American Life League, and is the editor of Celebrate Life Magazine. She also serves as executive editor for the Culture of Life Studies Program-an educational nonprofit program for K-12 students.

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Standing for Truth

Today’s Gospel is short, only 2 verses. When I first read it I thought to myself, “Now what in the world am I going to write about for this Gospel?! There’s nothing there!” But there is so much packed into these 2 short verses. 

In today’s Gospel, we hear what seems to be talked about a lot less than Christ’s miracles and His gathering of followers. We hear that His mission was not always easy. Throughout the years He spent preaching and performing miracles, He encountered countless people who rejected Him. Many thought that Christ was crazy, that he was “out of his mind”. Despite sharing the Truth of salvation, He experienced harsh criticism and condemnation. 

In the same way that Christ was mocked, ridiculed, and shunned for telling those around Him the Truth, so too do we risk being mocked, ridiculed, and shunned for our belief in the Truth. Yesterday (and throughout the month of January), all over the country hundreds of thousands of people marched for the rights of unborn babies. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops recognizes today as a “Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children”. Those who stand for the dignity of human life in the womb are met with the same ridicule and the same bitter criticism that Christ faced in the Gospel.  

St. John Paul the Great encouraged us in our mission of protecting the dignity of human life at all stages: “Never tire of firmly speaking out in defense of life from its conception and do not be deterred from the commitment to defend the dignity of every human person with courageous determination. Christ is with you: be not afraid!” In saying “Christ is with you”, John Paul II did not mean merely on a spiritual level, although that is true too. Christ is with us in our battle to share the Truth about human life. He endured the same derision for speaking the same Truth. 

May we find great comfort in uniting our suffering and the mockery we endure to that which Christ endured. In times of sorrow and frustration, may we seek His Holy Face and be reminded that He has already won the battle and place our hope and trust in Him. 

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Dakota currently lives in Denver, CO and teaches English Language Development and Spanish to high schoolers. She is married to the love of her life, Ralph. In her spare time, she reads, goes to breweries, and watches baseball. Dakota’s favorite saints are St. John Paul II (how could it not be?) and St. José Luis Sánchez del Río. She is passionate about her faith and considers herself blessed at any opportunity to share that faith with others. Check out more of her writing at https://dakotaleonard16.blogspot.com.

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A Modern Day Apostle

Do you consider yourself to be a disciple of Jesus Christ? Although clearly not one of the twelve, do you see yourself as an apostle? Do you show others God’s love, mercy, and hope like those first chosen by Christ? The word apostle translates into one sent on mission. Have you discerned the mission God has set you apart for, something only you can do that in some way brings the Good News to others? A mission possible by living in the light of Christ, never crushed or discouraged by circumstances, that trust in Him alone. 

An apostle has been summoned, called, or appointed to preach, bearing some responsibility to proclaim the Gospel. A summons can be defined as an urgent demand for help—being called upon for specific action; how you answer will look different for everyone. For me, this call became my profession—leaving behind one career to embrace a new one as an evangelist. For others, it may look more like sharing the faith at home, parish, or community as a volunteer or simply living the Catholic faith in a way to reflect Christ to others.

Discipleship needs to be rooted in grace found compellingly through prayer, Scripture, and participation in the sacraments. Before appointing the twelve to be sent out preaching, Luke (6:12) reveals that Jesus retreated to a time of silence, alone with the Father, and spent all night praying.

God has entrusted the message of reconciliation to each of us, making us ambassadors just as he did the first apostles. It is a participation in the mission of Christ not just to watch others about the work of God but alive, fully engaged, and active within it ourselves. We fulfill our baptismal promises to profess the faith by sharing the faith handed down or discovered by us. Our contribution to preaching the Gospel can be as simple as how we live our lives, whether in our homes, parishes, family, or communities. 

 As often accredited to Saint Francis’s, preaching does not always involve words but, more importantly, our actions and how others see us. God, out of pure love, brought you into being. In an abundance of his love, we exist. Created to know, love, and serve him; however, as the Scriptures teach, the greatest of these is always love and how we choose to love Him. God gives us the freedom to accept or reject a life of faith. The first apostles accepted the call to come and follow—to grow nearer, pick up their crosses, and embrace the gift of salvation through Christ. 

So, do you consider yourself an apostle of Jesus Christ? How will you demonstrate God’s love, mercy, and hope like those first chosen by Christ? Will you accept the invitation to the mission God has for you? In humble obedience to give yourself, your life, to Him who loved you into being. To say along with the Psalmist, “Be exalted above the heavens, O God; above all the earth be your glory!”

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Allison Gingras works for WINE: Women In the New Evangelization as National WINE Steward of the Virtual Vineyard. She is a Social Media Consultant for the Diocese of Fall River and CatholicMom.com. She is a writer, speaker, and podcaster, who founded ReconciledToYou.com and developed the Stay Connected Journals for Catholic Women (OSV).   

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The views and opinions expressed in the Inspiration Daily blog are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Diocesan, the Diocesan staff, or other contributors to this blog.

What Does Your Boat Look Like?

This past weekend we celebrated my 7 year old son’s birthday. It was an emotional one for me because I realized that we very well could have been mourning on this day instead of rejoicing. I am so grateful to my merciful Lord and the Doctor who had the courage to perform a risky surgery so that my son could still be with us. 

I ask myself why we are so “lucky” (ie. blessed) and so many other families are suffering. I could name a handful of local young Catholic families with several children who have lost a mom or a dad in the past six months. Whether it be from an accident, a freak illness or some other unexpected cause, these kids are now growing up without a mom or a dad.

Sometimes these thoughts make me weary and together with my daily tasks and taking care of an infant, exhaustion sets in. At these times I feel like I can relate to Jesus in today’s Gospel.

 “Jesus withdrew toward the sea with his disciples. [ ] He had cured many and, as a result, those who had diseases were pressing upon him to touch him.” Can you imagine how exhausted He must have been? If we have little ones, or work or daily tasks “pressing upon us” all day we just want to be left alone. We want some time to be quiet, to relax and to process. Yet, the crowds in this passage seem merciless. They were encroaching on His personal space. They were demanding. Yet, Jesus in his compassion, saw their need and did not deny them. He cured many and cast out evil spirits. 

So whenever we feel like our daily life is crowding us, pressing upon us or closing in on us, let us remember what Jesus did. He asked his disciples to ready a boat and he withdrew toward the sea. 

What does your boat look like? Where can you withdraw for some quiet time with our Lord? Perhaps you live on a lake and can gaze out on the water as Jesus did. Perhaps you have a prayer corner in your home or an office with religious images on the walls. Perhaps you have to lock yourself inside your room. Whatever it takes, don’t be afraid to get into your “boat” and withdraw with your Lord and God. 

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Tami Urcia grew up in Western Michigan, a middle child in a large Catholic family. She spent early young adulthood as a missionary in Mexico, studying theology and philosophy, then worked and traveled extensively before finishing her Bachelor’s Degree in Western Kentucky. She loves tackling projects, finding fun ways to keep her little ones occupied, quiet conversation with the hubby and finding unique ways to love. She works at her parish, is a guest blogger on CatholicMom.com and BlessedIsShe.net, runs her own blog at https://togetherandalways.wordpress.com and has been doing Spanish translations on the side for over 20 years.

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Who has the power?

Two important questions: Who has the power? Who speaks for God?

Today’s First Reading and Gospel gave me great pause. They forced me to think about two questions that are as important today as they were at the time that these events took place in the life of David and of Jesus. 

Who has the power?

Who speaks for God?

King Saul, the anointed King of Israel, was responsible for leading his soldiers into battle. Instead he cowered with his army for over forty days until a boy offered to fight the mighty Goliath. 

Who had the power here? It seemed that Goliath had the raw power of size and strength. King Saul had the power of authority. David, who would be called “a man after God’s own heart,” had the power of trust in God, of truly knowing God’s heart. In the Responsorial Psalm we almost hear King David’s heart sing of his dependence on and trust in the Lord his rock:

Blessed be the LORD, my rock,
            who trains my hands for battle, my fingers for war….
My shield, in whom I trust,
            who subdues my people under me….

You who give victory to kings,
            and deliver David, your servant from the evil sword.

For Saul to engage the situation with Goliath with complete responsibility he would have had to go into battle, relying on a God who was faithful and not on his own devices. He would have had to risk engaging the enemy troops even at the possible cost of his own death for the sake of securing the safety and sovereignty of the Israelites. David was absolutely sure that the Lord who delivered him from the claw of lion and bear would keep him safe while he engaged Goliath in battle. He looked not at the seeming power Goliath possessed, but at the power of God who had shown the shepherd David that he was never alone, that he couldn’t save himself, and that God would continue to deliver him.

In the Gospel, it appears that the Pharisees would have the power. They, the appointed shepherds of the people, used the man with the withered hand as a tool to trap Jesus. Their minds were set regarding what they thought about Jesus and the text says, “their hearts were hardened.” And indeed after Jesus heals the man in the synagogue that day, they join with the Herodians in plotting Jesus’ death. 

Jesus, the Good Shepherd, reaches out to heal, showing us the heart of God for us all. Jesus doesn’t change his story out of fear of the consequences for his own safety. Instead, Jesus, who does always what the Father tells him to do, enters into battle ultimately with the power of sin and darkness. Even through his death, he ultimately is victorious in the power of God. The Pharisees and Jesus would have talked about the situation in the synagogue that day in very different ways. While there was a blindness on the part of the Pharisees who had hardened their heart to Jesus and his teaching, there was in Jesus an openness, an obedience to God even unto death. Imagine sitting at table with the Pharisees later that evening, and then later around the campfire with the apostles and their Master. Two different narratives would have emerged.

Who has the power?

Who speaks for God?

JD Flynn, Editor-in-chief of The Pillar, in his article “Competing realities, ecclesial division, and ecclesial renewal,” talks about a similar situation in which we live today. “Right or wrong, we’ve learned in the past two years that before history can be written, there is sometimes a period in which wildly divergent narratives compete to account for even the most basic sequences of events.” (See The Pillar newsletter on January 4, 2022.)

There are “mutually exclusive interpretations and re-tellings at both the highest levels of government and family dinner tables” of the events of January 6, the coronavirus pandemic and vaccinations, the elections of 2020. Even Catholics are fragmented into sharply divided camps often led by strong personalities with a social platform giving competing accounts of ecclesial realities. Flynn notes that even within our family and Catholic circles we struggle with or against each other as we engage in conversations about vaccine mandates, or Vigano, or whether the parish should still be requiring masks.

It isn’t easy to live in these times of uncertainty. It can be disconcerting when we discover that family and friends with whom we ordinarily get along have very different conceptions of the reality around us. That experience is jarring, particularly in a situation in which everyone is sifting through information to determine as best as they can what is true and what is fake. What would have two years ago been an interesting conversation has turned into an attempt to convince the other of what each believes to be real, as each entrenches themselves more and more in their own camp.

Who has the power?

Who speaks for God?

I am taking away from these readings today three touchstones in living through this continued uncertain time, and I offer them for your consideration:

  1. It is reliance on God and not self-sufficiency that will give me the courage to risk being what I have been called to be, whatever may be the consequences for myself.
  2. If I use people, events or facts solely in order to bolster my own view of reality against another’s, I have to seriously examine myself if I am only increasing my own blindness and hardening my heart.
  3. Like Christ, we each live our lives within the great drama of salvation. We each have a role in the salvation God is bringing about in the Kingdom of God. Whatever I can do to keep my own attention on the larger mystery of what God is doing will help me engage with others more wisely, more freely, more lovingly.

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Sr. Kathryn J. HermesKathryn James Hermes, FSP, is the author of the newly released title: Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments, by Pauline Books and Media. An author and spiritual mentor, she offers spiritual accompaniment for the contemporary Christian’s journey towards spiritual growth and inner healing. She is the director of My Sisters, where people can find spiritual accompaniment from the Daughters of St. Paul on their journey. Website: www.touchingthesunrise.com Public Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/srkathrynhermes/ For monthly spiritual journaling guides, weekly podcasts and over 50 conferences and retreat programs join my Patreon community: https://www.patreon.com/srkathryn.

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Faith, Freedom, and Pharisees

Pharisees. As we read through Mark’s Gospel, we see Jesus making enemies when he is only trying to hold out the truth to them (have you ever felt like this?). The Pharisees are the ones who hold themselves above everyone else because they know the law up and down, inside and out. And they follow the law. Scrupulously. Not just the Scriptural law, but the hundreds – HUNDREDS – of traditional interpretations of that law. In their (self-determined) superiority, they ruled over the people and in their (self-determined) self-righteousness, they looked down on all others.

This is what humans will do. Because we are fallen, and we are free. So wherever there are rules, there will be a tendency for some to act like the Pharisees. There will always be some who assure themselves that they are doing things properly because they are obeying the precise letter of “the law.” And it never ends there! For those who think and operate like the Pharisees, there will always be a tendency to nitpick the (self-determined) failures of others.

At some point on the spiritual journey, most of us become hyper-aware of “the rules” and work hard to conform ourselves, our behavior, our habits, to those rules. Saying specific prayers, attending Mass, confessing our sins, and practicing other devotions are good things! But the enemy can turn these good things into emblems of (self-determined) righteousness, and even tempt us to think we are better than others. We may even be tempted to look down on others or begin to nitpick inessential details. This is not the point of the rules the Church gives us!

If we do these “good things” just to “be good Catholics”, we are missing the essential thing. Religion is not about following rules (though the rules are certainly the guardrails that keep us on the road and not in the ditch!). All of the many practices and devotions in the Church have one essential goal: to help us encounter and love Jesus Christ, who alone is holy!

We are made to glorify HIM, and not ourselves.

The Pharisees were glorifying THEMSELVES, and not God.

In their (self-determined) righteousness, the Pharisees refused to let Jesus’ transforming love heal their hardened hearts so that their lives could open up to the unimaginably broad horizons of God’s will for them. We can do the same thing – God has given us a free will that makes self-determination possible, but what we determine for ourselves will always be so much smaller, so cramped and limited, compared to what God wills for us. Let’s determine to open ourselves and offer ourselves as completely as we can to Him, trusting that He wants more for us than we can imagine!

Lord, I give everything to you and I accept everything that You send, knowing that Your love for me is greater than my weakness and littleness, and will never fail me. Amen.

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Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including Father Rob), and four grandchildren. She is President of the local community of Secular Discalced Carmelites and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 30 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE, and as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio. Currently, she serves the Church by writing and speaking, and by collaborating with various parishes and to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is www.KathrynTherese.com

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Celebrating His Presence!

 Can one pour old wine into new wineskins?

Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them?

Today’s Gospel is one of celebration! Weddings and wine and the glory of being in the presence of our dear Savior- Oh My! For such happy occasions on Earth cannot begin to compare to the Glory of that offered to us by the true presence of living alongside our Lord, Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ lives! 

While 2000 years ago Christ may have breathed and ate alongside His disciples and the inhabitants of Israel, to this day currently, He is always here with us. We don’t ever need to be lost or afraid, but can rejoice that His word continues to live. More than anywhere else, we can encounter the great joy and peace He offers in the Holy sacrifice of the Mass. Are you mindful of Christ’s real presence when you receive him in Holy Communion? How blessed are we to be able to participate in the Mass, Christ’s union with His love, the Church!

Let us always remember that the will of the Lord is Always Great! Christ, who calms the storm, who heals the sick, wants us to be with Him. Whether through prayer, or the physical act of attending Mass, celebrate His love that lives with us today and always. 

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Dr. Alexis Dallara-Marsh is a board-certified neurologist who practices in Bergen County, NJ. She is a wife to her best friend, Akeem, and a mother of two little ones on Earth and two others in heaven above.

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Who Knows

The Wedding Feast at Cana is one of the more well known Scripture passages. This is Jesus’ first public miracle in the Gospel of John, albeit a reluctant one. As I reflected on this passage, I found myself drawn in by the sheer number of people at play in it. 

There are the obvious characters – Jesus and Mary. Then there’s the wedding couple, the disciples, the guests and the head waiter. There are also the servants. There’s a whole lot of activity in these few verses. Mary comes to Jesus, He protests. The servants have to fill very large pots with water (for a second time as these were already used once for the guests to purify themselves before the meal), the miracle itself and the drinking that followed. It is easy to get caught up in the anticipation of the moment, Scripture coming to life in our mind’s eye. 

In the midst of the swirl and joy of the new wine, I found the extra note in v.9 about the servants to be most fascinating. While yes, this was Jesus’ first public miracle, who exactly knew about it? Not the head waiter. Which means not the couple or the guests. We assume the disciples knew, but aren’t told by the Gospel writer. Who, precisely, knew about the miracle of water turned into wine? The servants and Mary. Only those who actively participated in the miracle knew what had happened. 

It should not come as a surprise that Jesus chose to reveal His power to the lowly, to the poor, rather than to the guests. He could have easily turned this miracle into a show of His great power, commanding the vessels be placed in the center of the party for all to see. Though Mary isn’t specifically mentioned after her request, how could she not know? She doesn’t announce her son’s greatness, boasting in His accomplishments. Rather she, I imagine, sits quietly in the background, marveling at His generosity as she cups her miracle wine. 

This being His first miracle, I see Jesus setting the tone for what is to come. His miracles are for all people, even those who serve, especially those who serve. The servants followed Jesus’ request, though I’m sure they did not understand it. Their obedience was rewarded with knowledge others only learned of later. 

What is Jesus asking of you today? What task is repetitive, simple, or unglamorous to your eyes? Could it be that Jesus is waiting for your vessel to be filled so that He can transform it into something miraculous? Let’s all spend today being faithful to the calling Jesus has given to us, offering it to Him with open hands. Let Jesus take your work today and transform it for His purpose and glory.

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Kate Taliaferro is an Air Force wife and mother. She is blessed to be able to homeschool, bake bread and fold endless piles of laundry. When not planning a school day, writing a blog post or cooking pasta, Kate can be found curled up with a book or working with some kind of fiber craft. Kate blogs at DailyGraces.net.

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Jesus’ Simple Calling

Have you ever sat and thought long and hard about time? Sometimes I think to myself, “that second that just passed a second ago is now in the past and will never be lived again.” Sometimes I think back to 9-11 and consider how that was already over 20 years ago. The times I have been pregnant in my third trimester, I thought to myself “can time go any slower?!” and then as soon as the baby was out, time continued on at its rapid pace (My baby is 5 months old already!!).

Time is such a mystery and if we think on it too hard, it might be enough to befuddle us bonkers. It is such a consolation that in heaven there is no sense of time and all we have to “worry” about is rejoicing in God’s holy presence.

God works within space and time, yet His words are also timeless. In today’s Gospel, Jesus calls Matthew saying “Follow me.” Later he states, “I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” 

God also calls us to follow Him each and every day. He recognizes that not one of us is righteous, we are all sinners, yet He calls us anyway. His call is simple, “Follow me.”

Over Christmastime, I watched a movie with my children called “The Star”. It is an animated film that came out a few years ago with a depiction of the Christmas movie from the point of view of the animals, particularly Mary and Joseph’s donkey. His dream had always been to march in the “Royal Caravan” with the pristine horses. After meeting Mary and experiencing her kindness he realizes that protecting her on her trip to Bethlehem is much more important to him. In the end, he realizes that he actually did participate in a royal caravan, because he carried the King of Kings on his back. 

Following Jesus might entail something different for each person. For the donkey it was carrying the King of Kings on his back, for us, it is carrying the King of Kings in our heart. 

However God might be calling you, within this mystery of time that we call life on Earth, may your answer always imitate that of the Virgin Mary, who simply said “yes.”

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Tami Urcia grew up in Western Michigan, a middle child in a large Catholic family. She spent early young adulthood as a missionary in Mexico, studying theology and philosophy, then worked and traveled extensively before finishing her Bachelor’s Degree in Western Kentucky. She loves tackling projects, finding fun ways to keep her little ones occupied, quiet conversation with the hubby and finding unique ways to love. She works at her parish, is a guest blogger on CatholicMom.com and BlessedIsShe.net, runs her own blog at https://togetherandalways.wordpress.com and has been doing Spanish translations on the side for over 20 years.

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Faith Over Fear

“I should share this on Facebook! It’s so inspirational and really struck a chord with me. No… what if my friends think it’s too religious? Or what if even my Christian friends think it’s too in-your-face?”

This is a conversation (aka battle) I have with myself every day. As a Catholic that also struggles with depression and anxiety, I find a lot of my mental solace comes from inspirational Scripture or Catholic teachings. Still, I know that not all my friends on social media are Christians and rather than using this as an opportunity to evangelize… I choose not to. 

Maybe you can’t relate, but I’ve often had the same conversation with my 21-year-old sister. We realized that we often let what others think of us make decisions for us. Actually, we don’t even know if it’s what others think of us. We let what we think is the public’s perception of us determine our lives. Really, we let fear not faith decide. 

In today’s Gospel reading, we see the powerful, unstoppable faith of the four men carrying the paralytic. They don’t just try to get him to Jesus, they break through the roof to lower him down. They ignore what people are saying and don’t think about what others are thinking because they have so much faith that only a touch, only a word, could heal him. 

In the Gospel, Jesus also shows us the power of witness, regardless of what others are saying or thinking. Unlike us, Jesus actually knew what the scribes were thinking. He knew they were judging him since he was forgiving sins, something the scribes believed could only be done by God directly. So Jesus calls them out on it with the truth and Word of God. And THEN he heals a man. A paralyzed man. Can’t move. Just… gets up. Walks away. And so does Jesus. He says what he needs to, heals the man, and does not engage further. The truth has been shared.

And THEN, the last line of today’s reading is shared and it is almost the most important: 

“They were all astounded and glorified God” (Mark 2:12).

Yes, people were astounded by Jesus calling out and addressing the scribes. Yes, people were astounded by the miracle of healing. But furthermore, they witnessed all of this and glorified God

In today’s world, with social media and the internet, we have such an opportunity to share our faith and we cannot let our fear stop us. We must let our faith bring us closer to God, even if it is for the world to see, even if there are people that may confront us. We can show our faith without it being an argument. 

So many times, I see other’s Christian posts and I have never felt upset or annoyed or rolled my eyes. Instead, I am uplifted. I am inspired. It changes my day for the better. 

So I challenge you (and myself) to share your faith on social media. Share the love of your beautiful and merciful God, never condemning, and invite others into a relationship with God. Maybe it’s exactly what they need today. 

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Veronica Alvarado is a born and raised Texan currently living in Pennsylvania. Since graduating from Texas A&M University, Veronica has published various Catholic articles in bulletins, newspapers, e-newsletters, and blogs. She continued sharing her faith after graduation as a web content strategist and digital project manager. Today, she continues this mission in her current role as communications director and project manager for Pentecost Today USA, a Catholic Charismatic Renewal organization in Pittsburgh. 

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In the Waiting

Just last night, my husband and I were talking about good friends. I mentioned how in one city I had so many acquaintances but very few close friends and how in another city I had great affection for many of my friends, even though I haven’t lived there in almost a decade. 

We were also reminiscing about how long we were single and how neither one of us ever thought we would get married. I had resigned myself to the fact that I would just have to be the best single aunt I could be, but would never have children of my own, and he just thought he would live with his family for the rest of his life. And here we are, about to celebrate our 10th anniversary in a few months, with 5 beautiful children!

Life really does have a way of throwing you for a loop sometimes, but then it throws you plenty of surprises too, and I’m talking about the good kind. I am reminded of the Heinz ketchup commercial “The best things come, to those who wait.” I always thought that was tongue in cheek, but with a few more years under my belt, I can see that it actually applies to many situations. 

For example, I ask myself how long the leper in today’s Gospel had to wait to be healed by Jesus. The passage doesn’t mention his age, but somehow I imagine he had dealt with the disease for some time. And just like that, with seven words from Jesus, “The leprosy left him immediately.” 

Perhaps there is something that you have been praying for for years, even decades. Perhaps you are hoping for physical healing or waiting for a loved one to come back to the Church. Perhaps you are experiencing spiritual dryness and are asking for more consolation in your prayer life. The list could go on and on just as our waiting can go on and on. 

Our faith tells us that with just one word from Jesus, each one of these situations can be resolved, if He wills it. Maybe today is not the day, nor tomorrow, but one day, either this side of eternity or the other, we will be made clean just like the leper. 

Let us use our time of waiting, no matter how long it may be, to draw ever closer to our Lord in prayer. Amen.  

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Tami Urcia grew up in Western Michigan, a middle child in a large Catholic family. She spent early young adulthood as a missionary in Mexico, studying theology and philosophy, then worked and traveled extensively before finishing her Bachelor’s Degree in Western Kentucky. She loves tackling projects, finding fun ways to keep her little ones occupied, quiet conversation with the hubby and finding unique ways to love. She works at her parish, is a guest blogger on CatholicMom.com and BlessedIsShe.net, runs her own blog at https://togetherandalways.wordpress.com and has been doing Spanish translations on the side for over 20 years.

Feature Image Credit: Umit Bulut, https://unsplash.com/photos/qbTC7ZwJB64

Mission And Communion

“The whole town was gathered at the door.” What would this look like if it happened at your house? “After sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons.” What would you think about this? What would your friends think about this? What would you do?

Jesus responded by curing many and driving out demons. If we had that ability, maybe we would do this too. But then, Jesus does something we probably would not do – he leaves and goes far away from all the people clamoring for his help, celebrating him, undoubtedly wanting more from him.

He goes away to pray. He leaves the crowd so that he can be alone with his Father.

This is a recurring pattern in the Gospel, so it must have happened often. Jesus, who alone is the Holy One, who alone is the Lord, who alone is the Son of God, goes to be alone with his Father. In his singular power and steadfastness, in his spiritual perfection, in his emotional and psychological integrity, he is utterly independent of every inordinate human influence. He is focused on the Mission from his Father, and neither the criticism of others nor their adulation can move him unless it is the will of the Father. And so, he returns to communion with the Father repeatedly, even when he must get up very early or stay up very late to do so.

His friends go looking for him (in another passage, they seem to think he is losing his mind because they cannot understand his actions). When they tell him “everyone is looking for you,” he responds that he needs to keep moving, to preach in other places, so that others can experience the Good News. Was this the message he received from the Father in prayer? It seems so, by his words, “For this purpose have I come.”

And then he preaches and heals throughout all of Galilee, to fulfill the Mission given to him by the Father.

When we remain firmly in the Truth of our own mission, we too can be less disrupted by the criticism or adulation or advice of others. We all have a mission, we all have tasks put before us by the Father. How do we know what they are? They are usually revealed in the duties, interruptions, and inspirations of the moment: our family, our parish, our job, those in need before us. It is only when we spend quiet time with the Lord, as Jesus did, that our purpose can become clearer to us, and we can fulfill our mission with courage and confidence. Otherwise, we can be like snowflakes in the wind, being blown in every direction by influences that are not holy.

In 2022, let’s resolve to imitate Christ by spending more time in solitary prayer, receiving our mission and the grace to fulfill it from the Father Who loves us.

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Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including Father Rob), and four grandchildren. She is President of the local community of Secular Discalced Carmelites and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 30 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE, and as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio. Currently, she serves the Church by writing and speaking, and by collaborating with various parishes and to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is www.KathrynTherese.com

Feature Image Credit: JacksonDavid, https://pixabay.com/photos/hands-hand-together-prayer-5216585/