True Joy

How can we be happy? This seems like the question that has echoed through the ages. Everybody wants to be happy and wants to find the key to peace. Often we turn to worldly things for this happiness because we are given a glimpse of happiness when we receive material things. We turn to money, status, food, relationships, whatever we can in order to feel happiness for just a few moments.

But today in the Gospel we hear Jesus talk about joy instead of happiness. He says, “I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete.”

So Jesus doesn’t seem super occupied with happiness, but instead with joy. What is the difference? I think if we truly look at it, happiness is an emotion that can come and go, but joy is a virtue that stays. What do I mean? Think of some of the martyrs who were joyful even during their death because they knew where they were going. They were able to live the virtue of joy even in the most “unhappy” of times. They did not let the world affect their virtue.

So we really should be asking how can we always have joy? The answer, of course, is given to us in the Gospel. We ask Jesus for it. He has perfect joy and wants to share it with us. He wants to give us this virtue that lasts even when it seems that we should be unhappy or broken or hurt or suffering.

Do we know this Jesus who wants to give us this joy? Ask yourself that question personally. Have you met this Jesus who wants to take your yoke and make it easier, who wants to give you joy beyond your imagination, who wants to bring you peace and love? I think we want to believe that Jesus is that person or we easily believe he does that for others, but do we pray to know this Jesus who wants to bring us joy? 

Especially during this time of Easter, let’s all pray fervently for the grace to grow in this important virtue. So that we may always have joy even when the things around us seem negative, we know that nothing and nobody can rob us of joy. From all of us here at Rodzinka Ministry, God bless!

Contact the author

Tommy Shultz is the Founder/Director of Rodzinka Ministry and the Director of Faith Formation for the North Allegan Catholic Collaborative. In these roles, he is committed to bringing all those he meets into a deeper relationship with Christ. Tommy has a heart and flair for inspiring people to live their faith every day. He has worked in various youth ministry, adult ministry, and diocesan roles. He has been a featured speaker at retreats and events across the country. With a degree in Theology from Franciscan University, Tommy hopes to use his knowledge to help all people understand the beauty of The Faith. Contact Tommy at tommy@rodzinkaministry.com or check out his website at rodzinkaministry.com.

Feature Image Credit: Mohamed Nohassi, https://unsplash.com/photos/odxB5oIG_iA

The Works of the Father

Today we celebrate the Feast of Sts. Philip and James, two of the apostles. Today’s Gospel is one of those readings that makes me feel better as a human person because it shows the true humanity of the apostles. Here they are walking, living, and learning, from Jesus and still they don’t understand a word he is saying. 

Philip tells Jesus that if they just see the Father that would be enough for them and Jesus promptly responds with, “I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” Now, let’s give some credit to Philip, what Jesus says here is really confusing to a normal person. If someone were to walk up to you on the street and say my father and I are distinct persons but one God, you would probably be confused as well. So we can give Philip a break for being confused because these truths can only really be understood through revelation. But what I want to focus on is the faith of Philip. 

Jesus is speaking about his father in heaven, and Philip immediately just wants to see. He wants to know God the Father. He wants to know him personally. I think sometimes we make the mistake of believing we have to know everything there is to know about the Catholic Church or about God before we can truly enter into a relationship, but today’s Gospel would say otherwise. Philip didn’t know much at this point about God the Father or even about Jesus. But he wanted to know. That faith was enough. 

As we move on in the Gospel we see the result of this faith. When we have faith in Jesus and rely on God the Father we can do the works of Jesus. Philip didn’t understand this yet, but that’s exactly what happened. The apostles relied on God the father, listened to Jesus, and allowed the Holy Spirit into their lives, and then their works were effective, they were miraculous, they were the works of the Father. 

We have the same call today. Do we have that kind of faith? Do we trust that God will allow us to do these works as well and bring many back to the Lord? This isn’t a work that we do, but it comes from God the Father through Jesus Christ. Let’s pray for the grace to live this faith boldly and proclaim it loudly as Philip eventually did. From all of us here at Rodzinka Ministry, God bless!

Contact the author

Tommy Shultz is the Founder/Director of Rodzinka Ministry and the Director of Faith Formation for the North Allegan Catholic Collaborative. In these roles, he is committed to bringing all those he meets into a deeper relationship with Christ. Tommy has a heart and flair for inspiring people to live their faith every day. He has worked in various youth ministry, adult ministry, and diocesan roles. He has been a featured speaker at retreats and events across the country. With a degree in Theology from Franciscan University, Tommy hopes to use his knowledge to help all people understand the beauty of The Faith. Contact Tommy at tommy@rodzinkaministry.com or check out his website at rodzinkaministry.com.

Feature Image Credit: Matías Medina, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/22086-apostoles

Change In Community

Imagine a parish where you walk in and are greeted at the door by a smiling face who welcomes you and directs you to a seat that is reserved just for you. Imagine that those around you aren’t interested in your political ideals or viewpoints on hot topic issues, but they are just grateful to meet you and welcome you into God’s house. Keep imagining, if you will, a place where everyone can freely worship God the way that fits their spirituality, without being mocked or scorned, but they can just be with Jesus in the way they most prefer. Imagine a place where the full truth is preached with conviction, despite what the consequences may be. Imagine someone who is willing to walk through the mess of your life and not judge you or condemn you, but also not leave you in the filth of your sin, but help guide you to the truth.

Sound like a place you have ever been? The reality is that what I just described should be what every Christian church looks like. The question is, do they? Let’s read through the First Reading today and really reflect on it in light of the questions I just asked.

“The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. With great power the Apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all. There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the Apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need. Thus Joseph, also named by the Apostles Barnabas (which is translated ‘son of encouragement’), a Levite, a Cypriot by birth, sold a piece of property that he owned, then brought the money and put it at the feet of the Apostles.” -Acts 4:32-37

So what can we say about this reading? As I read through it what stood out was how this is what Jesus wants us to look like as Christian communities. This is what he wants your church to look like. So the simple question is, what can we do to make it more like this? Are we giving of our time, talent, and treasure to help those around us? Are we trying to sow unity while also standing firm with the truth. Are we like Jesus who gave the fullness of mercy to the woman caught in adultery and then promptly said to sin no more? Let’s make a commitment today to be the change. Preaching the Gospel through our actions with the people God has given us. From all of us here at Rodzinka Ministry, God bless!

Contact the author

Tommy Shultz is the Founder/Director of Rodzinka Ministry and the Director of Faith Formation for the North Allegan Catholic Collaborative. In these roles, he is committed to bringing all those he meets into a deeper relationship with Christ. Tommy has a heart and flair for inspiring people to live their faith every day. He has worked in various youth ministry, adult ministry, and diocesan roles. He has been a featured speaker at retreats and events across the country. With a degree in Theology from Franciscan University, Tommy hopes to use his knowledge to help all people understand the beauty of The Faith. Contact Tommy at tommy@rodzinkaministry.com or check out his website at rodzinkaministry.com.

Feature Image Credit: Cathopic, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/5323-luz-iglesia

Baptisms Galore

I am writing this reflection on Holy Saturday, in the midst of Holy Week. What is supposed to be one of the holiest weeks of the year becomes the busiest for anyone working for the Church. In my role I have many sacraments coming up, including Confirmation and First Communion. We of course, have all the Holy Week Liturgies as well as extra times of prayer and confession. It’s a busy time, which is good because a busy church is a living church, but that doesn’t make the stacks of paperwork any easier.

This is why I love the First Reading for today. Let’s look at just the last line which says, “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand persons were added that day.” I love how that is just casually mentioned as if it was normal to baptize that many people. Think about that logistically. The priest must have been out there for hours just baptizing one after the other. But what do I like most about it? No paperwork. Haha. But really what is the most beautiful thing about it? That it is the preaching of the simple Gospel and it was so profound that three thousand people decided to enter The Church.

Now I don’t know about you, but our Easter Vigil at my parish has never had this many people lining up. Then I get to thinking what is the difference between now and then? Why don’t we have such large numbers of people asking to be made children of God? I think there are many reasons one can think of. The process is longer, the world is more secular, there aren’t enough priests, people aren’t catechized. You could find many different reasons, but I think number one is that we have stopped believing in the power of the resurrection.

Here we are in the midst of the Easter season and I think that is the question I will ponder for the next few weeks. Do I believe in the power of the resurrection? Do I believe that if God wants it, then three thousand will line up at our doors? Do I believe that the same Holy Spirit that made those conversions happen is still active today? Or do I think that somehow God only had so much power in the tank and it has been running on fumes?

Now I hope anyone reading this believes God does have the power, but then the next question is, do we let that power work in our lives? Sometimes it can be scary to let God have full control and give in completely to the power of the Holy Spirit. It can be unexpected, new, foreign, or just uncomfortable. But what would happen if all of us submitted to the power of the Holy Spirit just like they did in this First Reading? What would the Church look like? That’s a question I ask daily. How can I submit even more to the Holy Spirit and God working in my life. What is he asking me to do? Where is he asking me to go? From all of us here at Rodzinka Ministry, God bless!

Contact the author

Tommy Shultz is the Founder/Director of Rodzinka Ministry and the Director of Faith Formation for the North Allegan Catholic Collaborative. In these roles, he is committed to bringing all those he meets into a deeper relationship with Christ. Tommy has a heart and flair for inspiring people to live their faith every day. He has worked in various youth ministry, adult ministry, and diocesan roles. He has been a featured speaker at retreats and events across the country. With a degree in Theology from Franciscan University, Tommy hopes to use his knowledge to help all people understand the beauty of The Faith. Contact Tommy at tommy@rodzinkaministry.com or check out his website at rodzinkaministry.com.

Feature Image Credit: II ragazzo, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/19650-bienvenido-familia-catolica

Fulfilling the Law

I love the readings for today because they connect so beautifully. The Church is brilliant with how it pairs readings sometimes. The first reading for today speaks about the importance of the law and statutes and decrees that are given by Moses. Moses must have been a brilliant salesman because he implores the people to follow the statutes and says that if they do, other nations will look at them as an intelligent society. So of course they will want to follow the rules, because they will look intelligent in doing so. Brilliant. But then the Gospel comes in and speaks to us about how Jesus did not come to abolish the law, but fulfill it. Jesus himself says, “Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven.”

See sometimes I think we make Jesus into a person he was not because our faith can be much more comfortable that way. We decide that Jesus is too loving for anyone to go to hell, but yet Jesus speaks of hell. We decide that religion is not about rules, but about love. But Jesus speaks at length about the rules. We decide that if we are just a good person we will make it to heaven, but Jesus says to repent and believe in the Gospel. So sometimes we make up a jesus in our minds that there is really no biblical basis for. And I think that happens most when we talk about laws. Now of course, the Catholic religion is not about just blindly following laws for the sake of the law, Jesus condemned this idea too, but he also spoke of the importance of what the law does to our hearts.

Think about the discussion on adultery for example. Jesus says, “But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” Here Jesus is calling the people out for obeying the letter of the law, they were not committing the act of adultery, but missing the entire point of the law itself, not to lust at all and to learn how to truly love. And notice what happens when we focus so much on the letter of the law as opposed to what it is trying to teach us. Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it was not so.”

When we focus on the letter of the law, when we reject the laws entirely, when we make Jesus into someone he is not, our hearts become hardened. We put up a wall between ourselves and the Lord. So how do we counteract this? I think one of the ways is to read through the Gospels. The more we learn about who Jesus really was and what he taught, the less tempted we will be to make him into someone he was not. Let’s pray for that grace today. From all of us here at Rodzinka Ministry, God bless!

Contact the author

Tommy Shultz is the Founder/Director of Rodzinka Ministry and the Director of Faith Formation for the North Allegan Catholic Collaborative. In these roles, he is committed to bringing all those he meets into a deeper relationship with Christ. Tommy has a heart and flair for inspiring people to live their faith every day. He has worked in various youth ministry, adult ministry, and diocesan roles. He has been a featured speaker at retreats and events across the country. With a degree in Theology from Franciscan University, Tommy hopes to use his knowledge to help all people understand the beauty of The Faith. Contact Tommy at tommy@rodzinkaministry.com or check out his website at rodzinkaministry.com.

Feature Image Credit: Sean Foster, https://unsplash.com/photos/jrazH5W7niA

To Turn

The verse before the Gospel today is a favorite of mine. “Even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart; for I am gracious and merciful.” I actually have a tattoo of a similar verse, “Whoever is in Christ is a new creation. The old has passed away, behold the new has come.” Both verses speak of conversion. Conversion just simply means to turn away from one thing and to another. This act of turning shows a denial of a person, place or idea, and at the same time an affirmation of another person, place or idea. When I was in seminary to become a Franciscan, something that was talked about quite often was constant conversion. Sometimes I think we hear testimonies of people where their entire life changed in one moment and from there they never ceased loving God. But I don’t think that happens most of the time. Most of the time we are called to this constant conversion where every day we have to meet the part of us that doesn’t want to follow God. Our desires, our worries, our fears, we meet these head on and make the choice whether or not to turn.

The first reading from today is one of these moments of conversion. Azariah is crying out with passion for the Lord to have mercy on them. They have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, but they are making the choice to turn. We also hear of the opposite in the Gospel. The master forgives the servant who owed a debt, but then that same servant goes and demands the debt from his own servant. He had a chance to start anew, to convert, but instead he went and demanded the debt to be paid.

The bible is riddled with stories of conversion. Abram to Abraham, Saul to Paul, Simon to Peter. But notice that these people, after they converted, still had many things they struggled with and sins they had to face. Peter was already turning to the Lord when he decided to turn away three times. So, I think especially during this time of Lent, the question we can ask ourselves is, are we taking every day to turn back to the Lord? Sometimes Lent can be difficult because we look at it as this 40 day chunk that we have to try to get through. But in a lot of ways, it should be no different from how we normally live. Of course, we are giving up extra things, fasting, and abstaining, but every day we should look at our life and ask, are we turning closer to God, or further away? Let’s pray for the grace today and every day to turn even closer to him. From all of us here at Rodzinka Ministry, God bless!

Contact the author

Tommy Shultz is the Founder/Director of Rodzinka Ministry and the Director of Faith Formation for the North Allegan Catholic Collaborative. In these roles, he is committed to bringing all those he meets into a deeper relationship with Christ. Tommy has a heart and flair for inspiring people to live their faith every day. He has worked in various youth ministry, adult ministry, and diocesan roles. He has been a featured speaker at retreats and events across the country. With a degree in Theology from Franciscan University, Tommy hopes to use his knowledge to help all people understand the beauty of The Faith. Contact Tommy at tommy@rodzinkaministry.com or check out his website at rodzinkaministry.com.

Feature Image Credit: Bobby Stevenson, https://unsplash.com/photos/Qc4YBIo-1Ro

Practice What You Preach

Practice what you preach, it seems super basic doesn’t it? Well so is eating healthy and many of us don’t do that. So is sleeping enough but then midnight comes around and we are still up watching this or that show. Some of the simplest things in the world can be the things we struggle with the most. That was certainly the case for the scribes and the Pharisees in the Gospel today. Preaching for them was an easy thing. They knew the law, they knew the word of God, they knew how to talk about it, and they had status and power in their communities to do so, the hard part was to put what they preached into practice. This is where they ultimately failed. 

I always give the Pharisees a really hard time. I look at them in the Gospels and think, “How could they be so stupid?” The son of God is literally walking amongst them, the One they have been waiting for, and instead of throwing a massive celebration, they are suspicious. Suspicious to the point of turning him in and playing a role in his very death. They had one job to do. Preach the word of God and prepare the world for the coming of the Messiah. Well the Messiah came and they themselves weren’t ready, so how could they possibly prepare the way? 

So I look at them and give them a super hard time, and then I know that gaze needs to immediately turn and focus on myself. Something I believe I have been gifted with is an ability to give talks and engage a crowd. I love speaking to large groups of people about the faith. When you do this over and over and the audiences start growing it can be very easy to slip into the mentality of the Pharisees. Your “job” so to speak becomes helping others with their spiritual lives, and not caring so much about yours. I remember a time I was giving a talk on prayer for a Diocesan retreat once and halfway through the talk I realized I hadn’t prayed in a long time. Now, I worked for the Diocese so I was praying a lot for work, but I wasn’t personally reaching out to the Lord. 

This was a wake up call for me. Hopefully this blog post is the same wake up call for all of us. Do we practice what we preach? You might work at a Diocese or parish. Do you go to Mass as much as you are able? I know I need to work on this. I could swing daily Mass every single day, but other things pile up. The point here is not to feel bad about ourselves and wallow in self-pity. The point is just to ask, what more can we do to practice what we preach? 

Jesus had some harsh words for the Pharisees because they knew the law and didn’t follow it. Let’s pray for the grace to know the law and follow the One who came to set us free. From all of us here at Rodzinka Ministry, God bless! 

Contact the author

Tommy Shultz is the Founder/Director of Rodzinka Ministry and the Director of Faith Formation for the North Allegan Catholic Collaborative. In these roles, he is committed to bringing all those he meets into a deeper relationship with Christ. Tommy has a heart and flair for inspiring people to live their faith every day. He has worked in various youth ministry, adult ministry, and diocesan roles. He has been a featured speaker at retreats and events across the country. With a degree in Theology from Franciscan University, Tommy hopes to use his knowledge to help all people understand the beauty of The Faith. Contact Tommy at tommy@rodzinkaministry.com or check out his website at rodzinkaministry.com.

Feature Image Credit: Nycholas Benaia, https://unsplash.com/photos/2wGjjX8Qb-g

Life is a Drudgery

Wow, so the First Reading from today is pretty depressing, huh? Just the words we need to shock us out of any sadness or anxiety that we may be dealing with. As a classic optimist, I was tempted to go right past the First Reading and focus on something else, but I kept getting drawn back to it.

The following is the optimist’s take on one of the most depressing passages in Scripture. First, what is drudgery? I had to look up the word, because I knew it sounded bad. Scripture is comparing our lives on earth to hard, menial or dull work. At first glance this just sounds negative, but put it in relation to all of existence, and it makes sense.

Sometimes we wander through this life, or I know that I do, thinking that this is the best of the best. We try to make this earthly life as amazing as possible because it is what we know, and it’s hard to imagine anything else. But the good news is that this is just the beginning. God had so much planned for us, we screwed it up, he fixed it, and promises even more than the original plan.

What a loving God we have. Now all of this is hard to realize because all we know right now is our experience, but I have found it very helpful to take moments throughout the day to realize the place God has made for us in heaven. This life can be amazing, it doesn’t all have to be hard, menial or dull work, but even the best of moments is nothing compared to what God has in store for us. We are eating the scraps when God promises the feast. This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from C.S. Lewis.  

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” -C.S. Lewis

If we are offered infinite joy, then that should shape everything we do. Even the mundane and boring times in this life become meaningful to us because they are one step closer to our ultimate destiny, eternal life. We have a tradition in the Catholic Church of remembering that we will die someday. We are reminded of this on Ash Wednesday. The First Reading clearly points to this. But I say we should remember that someday we will fully live. That should shape everything we do and how we treat others. From all of us here at Rodzinka Ministry, God bless!

Contact the author

Tommy Shultz is the Founder/Director of Rodzinka Ministry and the Director of Faith Formation for the North Allegan Catholic Collaborative. In these roles, he is committed to bringing all those he meets into a deeper relationship with Christ. Tommy has a heart and flair for inspiring people to live their faith every day. He has worked in various youth ministry, adult ministry, and diocesan roles. He has been a featured speaker at retreats and events across the country. With a degree in Theology from Franciscan University, Tommy hopes to use his knowledge to help all people understand the beauty of The Faith. Contact Tommy at tommy@rodzinkaministry.com or check out his website at rodzinkaministry.com.

Feature Image Credit: Pedro Gabriel Miziara, https://unsplash.com/photos/HVwLvZYw6O4

Do We Trust?

I always like to read through the entire reading for the day and pray through it a little before writing a reflection. Well today, the line that stood out the most was right at the beginning. “We have this confidence in Him.” I immediately thought to myself, do I?

Do we have confidence in God? Through all the things that have happened in our world do we still have confidence that God has a plan, or do we want to try to forge our own path. I know there were many times in 2020 where I wanted to take over the driver seat and do my own thing because things didn’t seem like they would work out any other way. But then I heard that simple line from the First Reading and am faced with the question. Do I really have confidence in him?

As 2021 begins I think this is the most important question we can ask ourselves. We have no idea what is going to come our way in 2021 and although we should be smart and plan as much as we can, we also at some point have to put down the reigns and trust that God loves us, that he wants what is truly best for us, that he has a plan to get us there, and that he has power to get it done.

If the past couple years has shown me anything about the world it has shown me that we tend to think we can get through everything on our own and God is only petitioned when it’s the really big stuff. And then we put him back in the closet of our hearts and try to endure through life until the next big thing comes. What would happen if we trusted him with the big and the small? Not just one moment but with every moment? I think this has the power to change our year for the better.

I would encourage you to take just a few moments to ask yourself that important question. Do I have confidence in him? And then be bold and ask great things and expect miracles. From all of us here at Rodzinka Ministry, God Bless!

Contact the author

Tommy Shultz is the Founder/Director of Rodzinka Ministry and the Director of Faith Formation for the North Allegan Catholic Collaborative. In these roles, he is committed to bringing all those he meets into a deeper relationship with Christ. Tommy has a heart and flair for inspiring people to live their faith every day. He has worked in various youth ministry, adult ministry, and diocesan roles. He has been a featured speaker at retreats and events across the country. With a degree in Theology from Franciscan University, Tommy hopes to use his knowledge to help all people understand the beauty of The Faith. Contact Tommy at tommy@rodzinkaministry.com or check out his website at rodzinkaministry.com.

Feature Image Credit: Dave Lowe, https://unsplash.com/photos/nRNsIl1NH9Y

He First Loved

“We love because he first loved us.”

Think about that for a second and really let it sink in. God loved us first. I know for a lot of my life, especially in high school, it sometimes felt like I was constantly chasing after God. As if the sins I had committed increased the dark and spaceless void between myself and God and I was the subject who had to do everything I could to bridge the gap and win him back.

Have you ever felt that way? The good news we hear in the First Reading today is that God is the one who longs for us. He starts the whole process and sees it through in a loving and consistent manner. Think about a romantic relationship for a second. Typically there is one person who is initiating the love. Something about the other draws them out of themselves and gives them the courage to make that first move. Well with God we don’t have to wait or wonder. 

Since the very moment of our conception, God has been chasing after us, longing for us, loving us first. He looks at us and since he is the perfect gift he not only gives himself, but he becomes one of us in order to save us from our sin. This reality should blow us away. It changed my whole perspective on life. I no longer needed to feel like God was lightyears away from me, a sinner, but when I look up he is already there. He is helping me, guiding me, giving me grace and love.

We are now a week into the new year. Maybe a focus of this year can be to stop throughout the day and become aware of how God is loving us in each moment. We can forget if we don’t actively engage in the things he is doing in our life. It’s the same in a relationship as well. If you stop being intentional with one another then you start losing the sense that the other person is even there for you. Let’s be intentional with God this year. This can be as simple as stopping a few times a day and saying, “Jesus, I love you.” It doesn’t have to be hard. Wherever we are, God is there. From all of us here at Rodzinka Ministry, God Bless!

Contact the author

Tommy Shultz is the Founder/Director of Rodzinka Ministry and the Director of Faith Formation for the North Allegan Catholic Collaborative. In these roles, he is committed to bringing all those he meets into a deeper relationship with Christ. Tommy has a heart and flair for inspiring people to live their faith every day. He has worked in various youth ministry, adult ministry, and diocesan roles. He has been a featured speaker at retreats and events across the country. With a degree in Theology from Franciscan University, Tommy hopes to use his knowledge to help all people understand the beauty of The Faith. Contact Tommy at tommy@rodzinkaministry.com or check out his website at rodzinkaministry.com.

Feature Image Credit: Jez Timms, https://unsplash.com/photos/bwtgal6MJLM

A New You

A new year, a new you. If 2021 is not going to be the biggest seller of self help books, dieting fads, and new years resolutions, then the world has lost out on a huge opportunity. I think 2020 threw most people for a loop, and we all want a fresh start, a clean slate, to become better versions of ourselves.

While we strive to make our bodies and minds better and stronger, let’s not forget that we should also take care of our souls during this new year. Part of the First Reading today really struck me. “Let what you heard from the beginning remain in you. If what you heard from the beginning remains in you, then you will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made us: eternal life.”

So what did we hear in the beginning? Think back. We heard that we are created good. We heard that we are made to be a gift to each other. We heard we are made in the image and likeness of God. I know I talk about this a lot in my posts, but it’s because it’s really one of the most important things we can understand.

If we understand that we are made in the image and likeness of God then we will remain in the Son and the Father. If we truly believe we are made in such a special way, then we will act accordingly. If we truly believe we are an image of God, then we will make that image a beacon to the whole world of God’s love.

It is easy to make resolutions about physical or monetary accomplishments and it is also easy to break them. These things are easier to break because their focus is on things that will eventually be gone. But when it comes to the spiritual resolutions we should be making, we should dig in deep and realize the eternal importance of these promises to God.

This year I am going to make a point to reflect and pray through the following Scripture verse every day. “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” I want to do this in order to be reminded of who I am, who I should be, and how I should treat others. I may even print it out and put it by my bed as a reminder. What can you do to remind you this year of the spiritual realities of God? And how can we all share these better with others?

Merry Christmas and Happy New year. From all of us here at Rodzinka Ministry, God Bless!

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Tommy Shultz is the Founder/Director of Rodzinka Ministry and the Director of Faith Formation for the North Allegan Catholic Collaborative. In these roles, he is committed to bringing all those he meets into a deeper relationship with Christ. Tommy has a heart and flair for inspiring people to live their faith every day. He has worked in various youth ministry, adult ministry, and diocesan roles. He has been a featured speaker at retreats and events across the country. With a degree in Theology from Franciscan University, Tommy hopes to use his knowledge to help all people understand the beauty of The Faith. Contact Tommy at tommy@rodzinkaministry.com or check out his website at rodzinkaministry.com.

Feature Image Credit: Annie Spratt, https://unsplash.com/photos/Ef1H5YTTmZ8

The Word Became Flesh

“They found the infant lying in a manger.” These simple words from our Gospel today have a profound impact on our personal lives. When we think about Jesus becoming man, I think it’s easy to focus solely on Jesus coming to die for our sins. While this is of course true and the act by which we receive salvation, I think we do injustice to the goodness of God if we only focus on this one act. Jesus came to die for our sins and much more.

I want to briefly reflect, during this beautiful day of Christmas, on two specific reasons that God became man. The first is told to us by St. Athanasius and affirmed in the Catechism. “For the Son of God became man so that we might become God.” CCC 460

This is our ultimate destiny, that we become divine. Not that we become our own God or a God among many, but that we perfectly and intimately participate in the divinity of God himself. Jesus is the first man to be raised to the level of divine, fully God and fully man. In a way, he becomes one of us to show us our destiny. In the Catholic Church we call this divinization. John Paul II described it this way, “Divinization means participation in the inner life of God himself. In this state penetration and permeation of what is essentially human by what is essentially divine will then reach its peak, so that the life of the human spirit will reach a fullness that was absolutely inaccessible to it before.”

The other reason I want to focus on is the fact that God became man to remind us about who we are. Think about it, man was made good from the beginning. But unfortunately, the human race fell short of the glory of God through the sin of Adam and Eve. We constantly need reminders of who we are, how we were created, and how we should act. Jesus accomplishes all of these things for us. By becoming man he puts flesh on the love of the creator and reminds us through that flesh how good we really are.

Catechism 1015 states, “The flesh is the hinge of salvation. We believe in God who is creator of the flesh; we believe in the Word made flesh in order to redeem the flesh; we believe in the resurrection of the flesh, the fulfillment of both the creation and the redemption of the flesh.”

These are only a few of the reasons that God became one of us on this Christmas morning. For many more, check out this link to the Catechism: https://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p122a3p1.htm

I hope these help you reflect on the beauty of what happened in Bethlehem so many years ago. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Contact the author

Tommy Shultz is the Founder/Director of Rodzinka Ministry and the Director of Faith Formation for the North Allegan Catholic Collaborative. In these roles, he is committed to bringing all those he meets into a deeper relationship with Christ. Tommy has a heart and flair for inspiring people to live their faith every day. He has worked in various youth ministry, adult ministry, and diocesan roles. He has been a featured speaker at retreats and events across the country. With a degree in Theology from Franciscan University, Tommy hopes to use his knowledge to help all people understand the beauty of The Faith. Contact Tommy at tommy@rodzinkaministry.com or check out his website at rodzinkaministry.com.

Feature Image Credit: Il ragazzo, https://unsplash.com/photos/4eWwSxaDhe4