Lord, It Is Good That We Are Here

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. People often ask for signs in moments of despair or hopelessness. No greater sign can be given than the Transfiguration. In order to strengthen the Apostles-specifically Peter, James, and John-and give the three of them a glimpse of His divinity, a sign of hope for what they believe in. Peter’s response to Jesus’ transfiguration and the appearance of Moses and Elijah is, “Lord, it is good that we are here.”

Lord, it is good that we are here. 

What a powerful statement! It is good that we are here. Not only in His glory, but at the foot of His Cross, as John was. The Transfiguration is a sign of what Christ’s suffering will bring about for the world: glory! However, that glory was not attained without suffering. Jesus endured the Passion to bring about our redemption. When we unite our sufferings to the suffering of Christ, we are filled with the hope of the glory of the Resurrection. That hope is what Jesus gives to us in the Transfiguration. He gives us the hope that will get us through whatever present suffering we might be experiencing and the hope that guides our faith.

May we remember that it is good that we are “here”…wherever “here” is. Be it with our families, with our friends, at work, at the grocery store. It is good that we are here and that we know the Glory of God. When “here” is a place of despair, loneliness, or suffering, may we remember the Transfigured Lord and pray, “Lord, it is good that we are here.”

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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.

God’s Proposal

Store up in your minds the Lord’s words, which you receive through your ears, for the Word of the Lord is the nourishment of the mind. Be careful that the seed received through your ears remains in your heart.” – Pope St. Gregory the Great

In today’s Gospel, we hear the Parable of the Sower, the parable in which Jesus compares the Word of God being received by different types of people to seed being sown on different types of ground. This is one of my favorites because not only does Jesus tell the parable, He tells us how it should be interpreted:

The seed sown on the path represents the person who hears the Word of God without understanding it.

The seed that falls on rocky soil represents the person who received the Word of God with joy but quickly falls away.

The seed that falls among thorns represents the person who hears the Word of God but is distracted by worldly things and does not share the Word.

The seed that falls on good soil represents the person who hears the Word of God, understands its meaning, lives according to God’s Word, and encourages others to do the same.

This Gospel is an invitation to evaluate how we are living our own lives. When we hear the Word of God, what do we do? What harvest do we reap? Do we dismiss the Gospel message because we do not understand it or do not think it is relevant in today’s world? Are we afraid of persecution and therefore fall away from the Word of God? Are we distracted by the messiness and complicated nature of our world right now and not make time for the Gospel? Or, do we live every day with God and His Word at the center and allow ourselves to be vessels of His Word and His love?

Pope Francis says that in this parable Jesus presents himself as the sower because he does not “impose but proposes”. He throws the seed, inviting us to Him and giving us what we need to grow in faith (the seeds). However, it is up to us to determine what kind of foundation that seed will land upon.

May our hearts always be open to the Word of God and our mouths always willing to share His love.

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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.

The Vineyard of Faith

Today’s Gospel message is one that I struggle with quite often. I find myself saying, “I got here first” or “I’ve been waiting longer”. Sometimes I ask myself, “I’ve worked harder and longer. Why am I not reaping the same benefits or rewards and someone else who has not worked as hard or as long as I have?” Then I hear this parable and am immensely humbled. How many people serve God in a greater capacity than I do? A ton! Great saints like John Paul II, Gemma Galgani, Jose Luis Sánchez, and Martin of Porres dedicated their lives to Christ and His Church. Comparatively, I do very little. But rather than resigning myself to the fact that I may never “measure up” to their faith, I look to the saints as inspiration for my own life and I ask for their intercession. And what about those who have not yet come to the faith? Would we reject them just because they are coming to the faith later than we are? Absolutely not! We welcome them with open arms because we are grateful that they have come to know the same love of God that we know.

Today’s Gospel serves as a humbling reminder that God is generous and merciful. He desires for us to be united with Him in His Heavenly Kingdom whether we come to His vineyard at 5 years old or at 95. It is not an effort of ours or merit we can earn that grants us God’s love. Rather, He loves without condition and makes His love equally available to all.

When we come to God’s vineyard, He envelops us in His love which we hear of in today’s Responsorial Psalm. Every time I hear or read Psalm 23, I think of myself in preschool. I don’t have many memories of preschool; in fact, I don’t even remember my teacher’s name or the names of any of my classmates. What I do remember, however, is being taught Psalm 23. “The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.” For a long time, I wondered why that psalm and why at such a young age? Looking back now, I think I understand. Our teacher wanted us all to be confident in and of God’s everlasting love for us. If we know that love at a young age we can grow up knowing Him and loving Him, and even perhaps begin bringing more laborers to His beautiful vineyard.

May we always remember the love of God and may we continue working as laborers in his vineyard.

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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.

Set Solidly

“How easily we could win Heaven day by day just by doing what we have to do — but doing it for God!” -St. John Vianney

In today’s Gospel, we hear the end of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. The first words we hear are powerful and clear: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.” Later, Jesus uses the analogy of a house built on a rock–a strong foundation. Those who build their houses on rocks are safe and protected from dangers such as floods and winds. Those who build their houses on sand–a weak foundation–however, are susceptible to those dangers. In a homily on this Gospel, Pope Francis distinguishes between “Christians of words” and “Christians of action and of truth”. The “Christians of words” are those that say “Lord, Lord” but do not bear witness to those words with their actions; these Christians build their houses on sand. The “Christians of action and truth” are those that bear witness, through their actions, to the Truth of Christianity; these Christians build their houses on rock.

We were made to know, to love, and to serve God. It is part of our nature to follow His will. Yet, how often do we find ourselves saying the words but not following them with our actions? St. Teresa of Avila, in The Interior Castle, wrote “What value is there in faith without works? And what are they worth if they are not united to the merits of Jesus Christ, our only God?” Christ died on the Cross to save us from our sins. He did not simply say, “You are saved”. Rather, He became man, suffered persecution, and ultimately sacrificed His life for our sake. He is asking us to follow His example. He showed His love for us through His words and His actions. So too should we show our love for Him and be “Christians of action and truth”.

May we remain set solidly on the rock that is Christ and the Church and may we put our trust in the One who gave His life for our Redemption.

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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.

Fiat

Today’s first reading is from the Book of Kings. The purpose of the Books of Kings is to encourage the faithful to remain faithful so we hear stories of the faith of the Kings of Israel or, oftentimes, the stories of their lack of faith. The stories of the prophets, like Elijah, are also told and the prophets are always more faithful than the kings. The message is to follow the example of the prophets. In the first reading, we hear of Elijah throwing his cloak on Elisha, an act signifying Elijah’s call for Elisha to succeed him as a prophet. Before following Elijah, Elisha “says goodbye” to his previous by praying (the slaughter of the oxen). Elisha, recognizing his calling, wholeheartedly says “yes” to following Elijah and departs his previous life to serve Elijah as his attendant.

In the Gospel, Jesus tells the disciple “Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes’, and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything more is from the Evil One” which seems like an easy command. But let’s think about the fact that “Anything more is from the Evil One”. Anything more. Anything more–in addition to–yes or no. That means any doubts, any hesitations, any apathy, any moments of indecision are feelings from the Devil that prevent us from giving God our whole-hearted fiat, our wholehearted ‘Yes!’. It works the same way with our ‘No’. Our rejection of temptation should be just as emphatic and unfaltering as our ‘Yes’ to Christ.

St. Anthony, whose feast day is today, serves as an example of how to say and how to mean ‘Yes’ and ‘No’. He said his ‘Yes’ to follow Christ when, as a young man, he left his wealthy life to join the order of St. Augustine. Inspired by the Franciscans who were martyred in Morocco, St. Anthony eventually joined the Franciscans and, knowing the risk of martyrdom, asked to go to Morocco to continue the mission of evangelization. His ‘Yes’ was fervent and unqualified; he said ‘Yes’ to Christ regardless of the consequences and with deep love. In one of his homilies, St. Anthony said, “The joy of the saints consists in three things: the resurrection of the body, the blessedness of the soul, and freedom from the sting of the flesh and the temptation of the devil”. He knew the importance of saying ‘Yes’ to Christ and following his commandments and also knew that a wholehearted ‘Yes’ entails a ‘No’ to anything that is from the Evil One.

May we follow the examples of Elisha and St. Anthony who said “yes” and meant “yes”.

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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.

Perseverance Through Faith and Hope

Both readings for today urge us to have hope in the presence of Christ. In the first reading, we hear of St. Paul’s experience in Corinth. He is confronted with persecution but is able to persevere because of the faith and hope he places in God’s presence: “Do not be afraid. Go on speaking, and do not be silent, for I am with you.” In hearing the words of God, St. Paul is emboldened to continue preaching the Gospel despite what hardships may befall him. In a homily from 2014, Pope Francis described St. Paul as a “very courageous man” and encouraged us to follow the example of St. Paul. We, like St. Paul, experience fear, pain, and suffering and sometimes that causes us to question our faith or to ask God why. Why me? Why this feeling? Why do I have to suffer? I suppose the answer to those questions is joy. We experience fear and pain and suffering so that we can encounter true joy. Christ in His passion showed us that in order for us to be redeemed, we must first carry a cross. He carried His own cross so that we might enter into eternal life with Him, but in doing so, He also called us on to live a Christian life. The Christian life is not easy, nor is it meant to be, but the reward is the fulfillment of our greatest desire.

In the Gospel, Christ tells the disciples exactly that; they will feel great sorrow when He leaves them, but the joy they feel in the Resurrection cannot be taken from them. I think it is also important to note that this sorrow the disciples will feel when they are separated from Christ is the same sorrow that we experience when we are away from the Sacraments, especially that of Confession. We need Christ in our everyday lives. We need His love and His forgiveness if we want to enter into eternal life with him. At this time, I know it feels difficult to participate in the Sacraments, but Christ suffered for us so that we may place our hope in His Resurrection. As Christ said to His disciples, “…you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve but your grief will become joy…But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you”.

May we continue to hope in Christ and His Resurrection!

St. Rita, pray for 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.

The Peace and Glory of God

I wish I could have a nickel for every time I’ve read a blog post, social media post, or news article that starts with “In these strange/uncertain times…” I would be a very rich woman. So, at the risk of sounding cliche…

In these strange times, I have found great comfort in the readings that seem truly timeless right now. In today’s Gospel, we hear what Jesus tells the disciples at the Last Supper. He is telling them of what will occur in the days that follow: His Passion. He opens His discourse by saying, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as this world gives do I give it to you”. The difference between His peace and that of the world is that Jesus’ peace consists of consolation in the knowledge that God is with us. Right now it seems to me that the world is offering us a lot of “peace”: car commercials telling us that “we’re in this together,” news articles telling us how to “make the most of quarantine,” social media posts telling us to not compare our experiences to others in order to “avoid anxiety.” Every time I encounter this rhetoric, I feel like something is missing. It wasn’t until reading today’s Gospel that I realized what is missing in all those good-hearted messages: the peace that only God can give.

Even to his disciples, Jesus says to not be afraid because He knows they will grow fearful without Him. His words to his disciples ring true and striking today. He reminds them that He is going to Heaven to be with a Father. The comfort He offers the disciples is what we should take to heart as we persist through this trying time. God is with us now, just as He was with the disciples at the Last Supper. If we place our trust in Him, we will have peace, and our hearts will not be troubled.

Today we celebrate the Sts. Nereus and Achilleus, 1st century martyrs who converted to Christianity after being part of the Roman Army. Part of the epitaph for their tombs reads, “They suddenly gave up their savagery, they were converted, they fled the camp of their evil leader, throwing away their shields, armor, and bloody spears. Professing the faith of Christ, they are happy to witness to its triumph…understand what great deeds can be brought about by Christ’s glory”. May we, like Sts. Nereus and Achilleus, in our suffering, be happy witnesses of the joy of our faith. May we continue to recognize the certainty of Christ’s glory amidst our feelings of uncertainty.

Sts. Nereus and Achilles, pray for 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.

Radical Joy

Today is the Feast of St. Mark the Evangelist, and we get to hear his words in today’s Gospel. St. Mark’s Gospel is characterized by his call to radical discipleship. Throughout his Gospel, St. Mark shows us how that radical discipleship and radical love for Christ leads to overwhelming, overflowing joy. St. Mark’s Gospel is also the shortest of all four, so he does this in few words that are packed with love for our Redeemer and the desire for all people to become steadfast, joyful followers of Christ.

In today’s Gospel, we hear the story of Jesus commissioning the disciples to the whole world. I love the word “commission” to describe this event. When you break it down, it becomes “co-mission.” The disciples are entrusted with Christ’s mission to bring the Good News to all people. Christ tells the disciples that those who believe will “..drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” After instructing the disciples to carry on His mission–a weighty and perhaps intimidating task–Christ reassures His disciples that He will continue to accompany them on the journey. The radical mission is filled with joy because Christ is not abandoning them. On the contrary, in the end, it will be Christ’s signs that will aid the disciples in their mission of evangelization.

May we follow the example of Mark and become radical, joy-filled followers of Christ. May we preach the Gospel to all those we encounter, and may our joy serve as a witness to our faith.

O God, who raised up St. Mark the Evangelist and endowed him with the grace to preach the Gospel, grant, we pray that we may so profit from his teaching as to follow faithfully in the footsteps of Christ.

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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.

Joy in the Risen Christ

In today’s Gospel, we hear two sides of one story. The first side we hear is the joy of the Resurrection! Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, on their way back from the tomb, encounter the Risen Christ, who tells them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” The second side we hear is of those who fear and reject the Resurrection. The men guarding the tomb are told by the chief priests to lie when asked about Jesus’ body and to say that the disciples stole the body while the guards were sleeping. Even today, we see this dichotomy between those who embrace Christ’s Resurrection and those who reject it. Those who take joy in Jesus rising from the dead, attempt to spread the Gospel of hope throughout the world. They are those living out Christ’s commands to not be afraid and to spread the Good News. Those who reject the Resurrection are those who spread evil and malice throughout the world and reject the Truth of the Gospel. 

Many of us celebrating the Resurrection this year may be celebrating in a different way than years past. Many of our Masses are canceled, and we are not able to gather in large groups to celebrate the Good News that is the Resurrection of Christ: the rising of Love itself from the dead. In speaking of this Gospel, Pope Francis said, “Let us go back to proclaim, to share, to reveal that it is true: the Lord is alive! He is living, and he wants to rise again in all those faces that have buried hope, buried dreams, buried dignity…Let us go, then.” In this uncertain time, many of us are experiencing desolation and desperation. It is sometimes difficult to recognize the joy of the Gospel when we cannot go and physically spread the Good News. Today’s responsorial psalm calls us to look to our Heavenly Father for refuge and reminds us that He will keep us safe. May we remember this in our times of desolation. May we have hearts like Mary Magdalene and the other Mary: filled with joy at the sight of the Risen Christ! 

I hope, despite current circumstances, that as we enter into this Easter season that we are able to do what Pope Francis urges us to; may we try to give hope to the hopeless, inspire faith in the faithless, and love those who feel unlovable.

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

A Man of Peace

I think we can all agree that we are in the midst of a strange, confusing, uncertain, and in some ways, scary time. A lot of people are suffering from illness, from unstable financial or professional situations, from hopelessness, from boredom, from anxiety, and from a plethora of other things. It feels appropriate to me that this pandemic occurred during Lent, a time in which we have already given something up or added something to our daily routines so that we may better unite our sufferings to Christ in His suffering on the Cross. We live in a time of noise: traffic, radio, television, social media, news, etc. As a teacher on “extended Spring Break” for the next 3 weeks, I have found myself constantly checking my work email for more news about how the school year will progress, checking social media for updates about how my friends are keeping themselves entertained at home, checking my phone for more news about how this virus is spreading and how it is affecting our society. But as I thought about the readings today and about the man St. Joseph was, I realized that the only way we will get through these current times is with a peaceful mind and a joyful heart.

In the Gospels, St. Joseph says nothing. Not one word. Yet we know so much about his character from his actions. He was a generous man; when he found out Mary was pregnant before their marriage, he decided to “divorce her quietly” rather than cause a scandal and her to live in shame. He was a faithful man; when an angel appeared to him telling him not to be afraid to take Mary into his home, Joseph did exactly as the angel instructed him. He was a caring man; when Jesus remained in Jerusalem after Passover and Mary and Joseph were looking for their son, Joseph worried about Jesus. Despite the many hardships that Joseph endured and the many times he had to protect his family, he remained faithful to the Will of the Lord.

The responsorial psalm today says, “The promises of the Lord I will sing forever; through all generations, my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness, for you have said, “My kindness is established forever”; in heaven you have confirmed your faithfulness.”

This is something that Joseph understood and lived out every day of his life. May we look to St. Joseph as a source of hope and inspiration for faith in our Redeemer and His Will.

In this time of uncertainty and suffering may continue to unite our suffering ever more fully to Christ in His Passion.

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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.

Walking Toward Heaven with Christ

The Responsorial Psalm for today is, “Who shall live on your holy mountain, O Lord?” Isn’t that a question we ask ourselves pretty regularly? Maybe it’s weird, but I often think about the people who are in Heaven (or who are not). Is Abraham Lincoln in Heaven? What about Martin Luther King Jr. or Rosa Parks? Marie Curie or Albert Einstein?

There are so many people who did a lot of good in the world that I often think, “There’s no way they aren’t in Heaven.” There are a lot of people who affected the world negatively, and I think, “I wonder if somehow they renounced their evil deeds before they died and fully converted on their deathbed.” After reading Psalm 15, I realized I don’t have to ask those questions. I know exactly who is in Heaven: “He who walks blamelessly and does justice, who thinks the truth in his heart and slanders not with his tongue…who harms not his fellow man, nor takes up reproach against his neighbor…”. We are told who is in Heaven and, in turn, we are told how we should act, how we should live our lives in order to join those who are already with our Father in His Heavenly Kingdom.

In yesterday’s Gospel, we heard Christ reprimand the disciples because of their blindness. In today’s Gospel, we hear of Christ, healing a blind man. Again we are reminded that only by seeing Jesus for who He truly is–the Son of the Living God who became incarnate to save us from our sins–that we are able to enter Heaven. Many times, like the man whom Christ heals, it takes more than one touch, more than one sign from God to convince us His presence in our lives. We need Jesus to work in our lives, and we need to recognize that work, in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. We cannot do it alone. We need our faith to guide us to become people who walk blamelessly and do justice, who think the truth in our hearts and do not slander with our tongues.
It is only through Christ that we are saved, and it only through faith that we come to know Christ.

As we prepare for the season of Lent may our prayer be, “May the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ enlighten the eyes of our hearts, that we may know what is the hope that belongs to his call” so that we may enter ever more deeply into the light of His love.

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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.

Joy in Christ’s Presence

In today’s Gospel, Jesus asks His disciples, “Do you not yet understand or comprehend? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear?” Christ is pointing out the blindness of His own disciples and, in turn, when we hear this Gospel, we hear of our own blindness. The disciples take Christ’s word literally and fear that He is upset with them for not bringing enough food for the journey. This reaction in and of itself is proof of their blindness. Jesus has to remind them of the times in which He fed the multitudes with little food, yet food remained left over. Despite being witness to these miracles, the disciples are still unable to recognize who Jesus is and what He is doing in their lives. Ultimately, it is an obstacle right in front of their faces that blinds the disciples. They forgot the food. That obstacle prevented them from being fully present with Christ, thereby preventing them from recognizing who He is.

How many times do we allow ourselves to become blinded by the obstacles before us?

Personally, I had a rough week. Nothing seemed to go right; plans were canceled, we had car troubles, there were snow days that messed up schedules, and it was just messy in general. It was really easy for me to get caught up in that “where’s-the-good-in-the-world” attitude. I couldn’t recognize Jesus working intimately in my life. The plans that were canceled allowed my husband and me to have two lovely three-day-weekends in a row together; despite car troubles and snow, I got to work all week safely; my students were joyful.

What is it that hardens our hearts?

In the first reading, we hear, “Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers and sisters: all good giving and every perfect gift is from above…” God gives us so many wonderful gifts every single day. The gift of life, of friendship, of warmth, of intellect, of faith, of humor, of joy, of strength. It is so easy to overlook those gifts and focus on the negative, on the difficulties. But it is in focusing on those negativities that we are prevented from understanding the Good News of Christ. That Good News is that He loves us and that He will care for us if we only put our trust in Him.

“The most beautiful act of faith is the one made in darkness, in sacrifice, and with extreme effort.”
St. Pio

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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.