Love’s Response to Evil

In today’s Gospel we hear the famous words of Christ to “turn the other cheek” to those who are evil. The command “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” was an Old Testament law intended as part of a justice system. By Jesus’ time, however, the law was no longer being used as it was intended. It is for that reason, therefore, that Jesus elevates the Old Testament law and instead calls us to return evil with love rather than revenge. 

This is not an easy thing for us to hear or an easy command for us to follow. Oftentimes we do not return “an eye for an eye” out of revenge but we do so in self defense and out of a sense of self preservation. Our intention is to look out for ourselves. I think it is easy for us to fixate on questioning why Jesus would want us to simply accept evil when we encounter it rather than combating it. He is not telling us that we should endure hateful, abusive, or uncharitable relationships. Rather, I think He is saying that evil does not go away when fought with more evil. I am reminded of the words of Martin Luther King, Jr: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that”. This is what Jesus wants us to understand. We are called to be the light that drives out darkness and the love that drives out hate in our world. Jesus came as the Light of the World and it is our mission to continue to be that light until we are united with Him in His heavenly kingdom. 

Christ is the perfect example of turning the other cheek. He faced immense hate and evil in His life but He responded to everything He endured with love. The very reason He endured His Passion and Death was out of love for us. He gave His life for us who have nothing to give Him out of pure love and so that we can be fully united with Him.

Jesus’ purpose in His command is to urge us to be humble and charitable in all situations, not just those in which it is easy to practice humility and charity. If we return evil with love, we will be that much more willing and able to show charity to those who ask a service of us. We will also be more able to give more to those who have nothing. 

Today, on the Feast of St. Anthony of Padua, may our prayer be that of St. Anthony: “Lord Jesus, bind me to You and to my neighbor with love. May my heart not be turned away from You. May my soul not be deceived nor my talent or mind enticed by allurements of error, so that I may never distance myself from Your love. Thus may I love my neighbor as myself, with strength, wisdom, and gentleness, with Your help, You who are blessed throughout all ages. Amen.”

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Dakota lives in Denver, CO with her husband, Ralph, and their two sons, Alfie & Theophilus. She is the Dean of Enrollment Management for Bishop Machebeuf High School where her husband also teaches. You can find Dakota at the zoo or a brewery with her family or with her nose in a book at home. For more of Dakota’s writing check out https://dakotaleonard16.blogspot.com/

Feature Image Credit: alisol, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/5980-te-ofrezco-mi-corazon-

Mission

Today we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost – the day the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles in the Upper Room and the day in which the Church was started. 

In the Upper Room, Christ tells the Apostles, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you”. He starts off with “Peace be with you” because it is God who brings peace to our hearts. Christ follows that invocation of peace with a challenging call: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Well Christ just suffered immensely as part of the mission He was called to. Is He telling the Apostles, and in turn us, that He is calling them to suffer? Yes! But He is also telling them that the Holy Spirit will be with them and will provide them with the courage and strength necessary to carry out their mission. The suffering the Apostles, and we, will endure is in the name of God. God would not leave us alone; He would not call us to something of which we are incapable. He calls us because He knows we are capable of rising to the challenge of bringing more people into the body of Christ. 

I love today’s readings from Acts and from 1 Corinthians because they both bear witness to the universality of the Church. St. Paul tells the Corinthians, “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit”. When Jesus sends the Apostles out into the world, He does not intend for them to only spread the Gospel to one particular group of people. Rather, He wants the Gospel to be spread to all peoples. In Acts we hear the story of the Apostles preaching to the people of Jerusalem and being heard in many different languages. These two readings show us that the message and mission of Christ belongs to all people. 

So, what does Pentecost mean for us today? St. John Paul the Great said, “The Church of Christ is always, so to speak, in a situation of Pentecost; she is always gathered in the Upper Room in prayer, and at the same time, driven by the powerful wind of the Spirit, she is always on the streets preaching”. In the same way the Holy Spirit entered the hearts of the Apostles, we too must allow the Holy Spirit to enter our hearts in order that we can go forth spreading the light of Christ. It is our mission to share that message of Christ to all those we encounter. 

Please pray for our son, Theophilus Mark, who will be baptized and welcomed into the Church today!

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Dakota lives in Denver, CO with her husband, Ralph, and their two sons, Alfie & Theophilus. She is the Dean of Enrollment Management for Bishop Machebeuf High School where her husband also teaches. You can find Dakota at the zoo or a brewery with her family or with her nose in a book at home. For more of Dakota’s writing check out https://dakotaleonard16.blogspot.com/

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Mary’s Joy

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Visitation refers to Mary going to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, while carrying in her heart the good news of the coming of the Messiah and in her womb the Messiah Himself. 

There seems to me to be one word that links our reading from Zephaniah with the Gospel from Luke:  joy. The words joy and rejoice are repeated throughout the two readings:

Shout for joy, O daughter Zion! Sing joyfully, O Israel! 

He will rejoice over you with gladness…

He will sing joyfully because of you…

…the infant in my womb leaped for joy…

My spirit rejoices in God my Savior…

In the reading from Zephaniah, we hear of Israel’s hope in the Lord and of the love the Lord has for His people. Israel hopes in the Lord with great joy and it is that hope that allows them to be filled with joy. The hope they have and the joy they experience does not mean they will not suffer. As we know, the Israelites endure much suffering. That suffering, however, is marked by their perseverance and trust in the Lord. God made us so that we can participate in His own love so, when our hearts are joyful because of Him, He too is joyful because of us. He loves us and He rejoices in His sons and daughters. 

Having joy in the Lord does not mean that everything will be easy or that we will not encounter hardships. It does mean that when life gets hard and when we are faced with difficulties, we have someone to turn to. God wants to be our refuge. In the midst of our suffering, He wants us to turn to Him with hearts that are joyful. 

Mary is the perfect example of someone who experienced difficulty and, rather than relying solely on herself to get through it, she turned to God. Mary perfectly conformed her will to God’s despite what others might have thought and she is filled with peace and joy because of her conformity. Mary then goes and shares her joy with Elizabeth. When she visits Elizabeth, even the child in Elizabeth’s womb recognizes Mary’s hope and for that reason leaps with joy at the sound of her voice. 

The joy that comes from hope in our Lord is meant to be shared with all people. May we, like Mary, carry our Savior with us and go out with joy to proclaim His presence.

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Dakota lives in Denver, CO with her husband, Ralph, and their two sons, Alfie & Theophilus. She is the Dean of Enrollment Management for Bishop Machebeuf High School where her husband also teaches. You can find Dakota at the zoo or a brewery with her family or with her nose in a book at home. For more of Dakota’s writing check out https://dakotaleonard16.blogspot.com/

Feature Image Credit: Lilia Macías, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/6971-familia-creacion

Making the Unbearable Bearable

In today’s Gospel Christ tells His disciples, “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now”. Jesus knows the hearts of His disciples; He knows they love Him. But He also knows that they are not expecting nor are they ready to endure the hardships that come with proclaiming the resurrection of the Savior.

The disciples will be met with rejection and hatred, just as Christ was during His Passion. Jesus knows what He will suffer and He is preparing His disciples for what will come after His Passion, Death, and Resurrection. I would imagine that hearing “…you cannot bear it now” would make me feel anxious. What could be so horrible that Christ couldn’t even tell me about it? Christ follows that, though, with reassurance that the Holy Spirit will be with them. He tells them that the Holy Spirit “…will guide you to all truth”.

The same is true for us today. How many times does it feel like we don’t know what will happen next? The future can feel scary and unbearable. But Christ’s assurance that the Holy Spirit will guide us is what we ought to place our faith in. When we place our faith in the Holy Spirit, rather than ourselves, we surrender control to God and, in doing so, also glorify God.

Today’s first reading from Acts of the Apostles is my absolute favorite story of evangelization. St. Paul tells the Athenians who have an altar in honor of “An Unknown God” that he knows who that unknown god is. The God that is unknown to the Athenians is the one, true God who became man and saved us from our sins. Paul then goes on to tell the Athenians how good God is, that He created the world and mankind, that it is He who will judge us with justice, and that He is the one who resurrected from the dead. It took great courage for St. Paul to proclaim this good news to the Athenians. He knows that when telling others about his faith in Christ, he faces the possibility of being met with hostility. But it is precisely his faith in Christ and his knowledge that he is being led by the Holy Spirit that allows him to preach, regardless of the consequences.

As St. Paul told the Athenians, God created the world and mankind “…so that people might seek God, even perhaps grope for him and find him, though indeed he is not far from any one of us”. May we continue to seek God in all that we do and do everything for His glory! When life feels unbearable, may we look to Christ and leave our anxieties at the foot of the Cross.

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Dakota lives in Denver, CO with her husband, Ralph, and their two sons, Alfie & Theophilus. She is the Dean of Enrollment Management for Bishop Machebeuf High School where her husband also teaches. You can find Dakota at the zoo or a brewery with her family or with her nose in a book at home. For more of Dakota’s writing check out https://dakotaleonard16.blogspot.com/

Feature Image Credit: Tim Stief, unsplash.com/photos/YFFGkE3y4F8

Flesh for the World

In today’s Gospel we hear part of what is commonly referred to as Jesus’ Bread of Life discourse. The imagery Jesus presents is powerful and His words form the foundation of our Eucharistic theology. 

He compares Himself to the manna the Israelites ate in the desert. He differentiates Himself from the manna by saying that even though the manna was nourishing, those who ate it still died. Those who eat of His flesh, however, will not die. Just before this declaration He says, “Amen, amen I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life”.

Reading this, I felt, was a pretty good indication that participation in the Eucharistic feast is really, really important. Christ gives Himself to us in the Eucharist as a way of drawing us close to Him and thereby drawing us to His Father. It is important for us to recognize the sacrifice that is present in every Mass.

As I’m walking up the center aisle for communion, especially on Sundays, I often find myself distracted. My eyes are not fixed on our Lord in the Eucharist, but rather they are searching the pews for friends or cute babies. My heart is not contemplating His great sacrifice, but rather I am thinking about where to go for breakfast or whether or not my outfit is “churchy” enough.

What if, as I walked up that center aisle toward our Lord Jesus Christ, I fixed my eyes and heart on the depth of the Eucharistic mystery. How much stronger would my faith be? Christ’s words are very clear “…the bread that I will give is my Flesh for the life of the world”. Throughout the remainder of Easter, my mediation as I approach the true Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Eucharist is going to be “Lord, allow me to recognize Your sacrifice as I receive you”. 

May you continue to have a blessed Easter season and may the joy of the Resurrection continue to live in your hearts.

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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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The Soul’s Surrender

“So let your heart hold back no longer. Let the city of your soul surrender–for Christ has set fire everywhere, and there is nowhere you can turn, physically or spiritually, without encountering the fire of love.” (St. Catherine of Siena)

When first looking at the readings for today, I struggled with what to write because I really didn’t see a common thread. It took awhile for me to finally realize that what the reading from Acts of the Apostles and the reading from John have in common is someone trying to rely on themselves, rather than God, and failing. In Acts of the Apostles, the Sanhedrin claim they know the will of God and they deny the preaching of the Apostles who say that Jesus is the Son of God for whom they have been waiting. It is Gamaliel who warns them that by trusting in themselves not only are they running the risk of failing in their attempts to stop the Apostles’ preaching, but they also might be actively fighting against the will of God. In John’s Gospel, we hear the story of the multiplication of loaves. When Jesus presents the question of where to get enough food to feed the crowd, Phillip’s response is, in short, “We can’t. It is impossible”. It is Andrew who humbly presents what he does have–five barley loaves and two fish–and asks Jesus what to do. Jesus, taking what has been given to Him, provides in abundance for His people.

We see the “fire of love” of which St. Catherine writes when Jesus provides for His people by feeding their physical hunger. We see it more profoundly still in His Passion, Death, and Resurrection when Jesus provides for His people by feeding their spiritual hunger for unity with Him. I think the most powerful line found in today’s readings is from Acts of the Apostles: “So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name”. The Apostles were flogged for preaching and teaching the Good News of Christ. Yet, rather than complain or lament their suffering, they rejoice. They rejoice because it is through their own suffering that they are able to unite more fully to the suffering of Christ and His Passion. This is true understanding of the suffering and the resurrection of Christ: great sorrow followed by great joy.

May we, following the example of St. Catherine of Siena and the disciples, preach the Gospel to all peoples. May our lives bear witness to the love of Christ so that others will come to Him through us.

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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.

Feature Image Credit: GDJ, https://pixabay.com/vectors/jesus-miracle-fish-bread-religion-5786111/

Easter People

He is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!

How powerful is today’s First Reading from Acts of the Apostles! We hear that Peter and John are arrested for doing good and miraculous works in the name of Christ. We should have the same confidence in Christ that Peter and John do. In defense of their actions, they defend the name and person of Christ: “There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved”. Peter and John testify to Jesus Christ as Truth incarnate who became man for the sake of our salvation. Their testimony–in both word and deed–show us that when we do good works in the name of Christ, there are two possible outcomes: the conversion of others or the persecution by others. Peter and John experience both and face both with unwavering faith in Christ. 

The story we hear in the Gospel tells of the third time Jesus reveals Himself to the disciples after His death and resurrection. Christ seeks out his disciples in the ordinariness of their lives. They are fishing, something that supports their livelihood. Christ knows that His followers need inspiration in every aspect of their lives, especially in the midst of the ordinary. It is in our everyday lives that we should be living out the Gospel. We should seek Jesus in the faces of the people who we encounter in the midst of our typical day, in the tedium of sending emails or returning phone calls, in the mundane tasks of picking up milk or driving kids to swim lessons, and in the normality of conversations with our families, co-workers, and friends. Those we encounter should also see the face of Christ in us when they meet us in the humdrum of everyday life. 

As we continue through this Easter season, may we remember to be a witness to the miracle of the Resurrection in our everyday lives. May our hearts be ever ready to see the face of Christ in every person we encounter and may we be a light for others on the path to Christ.

“We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song!” – St. John Paul the Great

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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.

Feature Image Credit: J_Photo, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/19921-christ-has-risen-from-the-grave

Christ’s Testimony

In our day to day lives, we hear a lot of testimonies. All we have to do is turn on the television or go to YouTube and we see an advertisement with a celebrity promoting something that will make our lives better: skincare, a workout regimen, a new computer, a vacation, etc. Some of those advertisements are powerful and convincing; I often find myself envying the clear skin or relaxing life of whatever celebrity is in the advertisement! But in today’s Gospel we hear the most powerful, convincing, and important testimony the world has ever needed. We hear Jesus testify that He is the Son of God, sent by the Father.

Many people who encounter Christ question His testimony: how are we to believe that He is truly sent by the Father? Jesus tells them that by witnessing His actions, they are also witnessing proof that He was sent by the Father. It is not his words, but the works He performs that bear witness to His mission. After saying this, Jesus condemns them for seeking praise from others rather than seeking the praise that comes from God. The praise of others is fleeting and devoid of meaning whereas the praise of God is eternal and life-giving. 

When we perform works in the name of Christ, we should follow His lead. The intention behind our works should not be self-seeking. Rather, they should be selfless. In the same way that Christ became man for our sake, so too should we sacrifice our time, our treasure, our talent, our love, and our hearts for the sake of His Kingdom. 

As we continue through our own Lenten journeys may we remember that our sacrifices are for God, not for ourselves or others. May we follow Christ in His journey to Calvary, keeping in our hearts the love of the Father.

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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.

Feature Image Credit: Policraticus, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/10564-miada-cristo-cruz

The Sacrifice of Words

In the Gospel, we are told by Jesus of the importance of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving as well as the proper way to participate in those sacrifices. When we pray, fast, and give alms, we should do so not to gain praise from those around us, but rather for the sake of praising God. The intention of our sacrifice should be to honor our Lord in Heaven so that “your Father who sees you in secret will repay you”. 

During this season of Lent we are called to enter into fasting, prayer, and almsgiving in a more profound way than during other seasons of the year. In the weeks leading up to the start of Lent, today, I saw a lot of reflections, journals, and calendars advertising “how to make your Lent more meaningful/sacrificial/powerful”. These resources are all encouraging people to go deeper than just abstaining from meat on Fridays and giving up coffee or chocolate or social media. In fact, this year I noticed a common theme: changing our language so it better reflects the love of Christ. That has really stuck with me; how can changes in the way we speak and what we say be sacrifices? We can abstain from gossip. We can give up the tendency to say the first thing that comes to mind and more intentionally think before we speak. We can fast from swearing. We can ask others to join us in prayer before meals. We can humbly ask others to pray for us. 

I think the most powerful thing we can do this Lent is be joyful through our sacrifice. That is at the heart of what Jesus tells His disciples. May we be joyful in our sacrifice and in our words so that others may see the mercy and love of Christ through us. May we spend this Lent with the words “Be merciful, O Lord, for we have sinned” readily in our hearts and minds.

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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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How God Thinks

When I think of the most relatable person in the Bible, Peter is often the first to come to mind. He messes up. A lot. The event we hear of in the Gospel is one of those times. Rather than embracing Christ’s words with faith, we are told, “…Peter took him [Jesus] aside and began to rebuke him”. But, at the same time, Peter also has great faith in who Jesus is. When Jesus asks Peter who He is, Peter’s response is “You are the Christ”. 

So how does Peter go from a faith-filled acknowledgment that Jesus is Christ, the Messiah who has come to redeem man from his sin, to rebuking Jesus for teaching them the realities of what being the Christ will entail – rejection and death? And what does Jesus’ response mean? “You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” How can we think like God does instead of as human beings do? 

I think the answer to these questions lies in Peter’s own expectations of what the Messiah, the Christ would be. If Christ is the one who redeems the world, that means that He must be powerful and strong which is what Peter expected. But Christ’s explanation of what He will endure does not exactly align with the typical notion of power and strength. In fact, suffering greatly, being rejected by those in authority, and being killed all sound like the exact opposite of power and strength. But this is what Jesus means by thinking as human beings do. It takes work for us to see the power and strength at the center of God’s plan for salvation.  It took the strength only God possesses for Him to humble Himself, become man, and die on the cross for the sake of our salvation. For us to think as God does, we must let go of our expectations of who Christ is and acknowledge the strength and power that lay in the sacrifice He made for us. 

In our faith, may we remember that our God is humble and strong. It is His strength that freed us from our sins and it is His humility that we seek to imitate when we come to Him in our moments of despair.

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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.

Feature Image Credit: Gime Salvatelli, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/16859-sacrificio

The Cultivation of Interior Devotion

The parable Christ tells in today’s Gospel would have been difficult for the people of His time. There were strict laws on what constituted clean food and unclean food but now Jesus is telling them that all foods are clean. In doing so, He seemingly contradicts or defies the law. Even the apostles wonder at His words. His explanation to the apostles helps us understand the purpose of the law in relation to our interior disposition. 

Laws do not exist for their own sake. That is to say that the reason for the law regarding clean and unclean foods is not simply to limit the food that the people could eat. Rather, they exist to cultivate the interior spiritual dispositions of the people. Therefore, what seems to be Christ’s abandonment of the law regarding clean and unclean food, is really a fulfillment of that law. He fulfills this law by focusing on what it is meant for. Namely, their interior devotion, not their exterior display of piety. 

The idea was that whatever we allow into our bodies is also what we produce. The same thing is true for our minds and hearts. If we allow “evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly” into our minds and hearts, we will produce all those evil things. 

Are there evil things we allow to infiltrate our peace of mind and our hearts of charity? The spirit of gossip or selfishness or judgment? Are there times when we get caught up in the distractions of our world that we forget that we are meant to be the light of Christ to others? 

May we always remember that we are meant to show Christ to others through our example of living a virtue-driven life. May we always strive to live intentionally and cultivate virtue in our relationships, vocations, jobs, and all other interactions.

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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.

Feature Image Credit: Luis Angel Espinosa, LC, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/1457-cruz-atravesada-luz

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.

Feature Image Credit: https://www.cathopic.com/photo/4498-toda-vida-vale