We all reach moments in our lives where we desperately need to hear God’s voice to tell us how to act in a certain situation. Do you ever get frustrated that God won’t just speak words
from the heavens to guide us?
In fact, God already did: He gave us the Bible. In the Scriptures, “the Father who is in heaven
comes lovingly to meet his children, and talks with them,” (Catechism of the Catholic
Church, #. 104).
When reading the Bible, it can be difficult to know where to start. Here are a few tips:
Believe it or not, don’t start at the beginning! Start with the Gospels, which are the stories of the life of Christ
found in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (found about 2/3 of the way in).
Read slowly. Focus on quality, not quantity, of reading.
If something stands out to you, stop! Re-read that section a few times and let the words sink into your heart
and mind. Listen to the still, small voice of God in your heart and mind.
This week, commit to pray with Scripture! To learn 5 steps for reading and praying with Scripture, go to our
website, click on the PRAYER section, then watch the video about Scripture from Fr. Josh Johnson.
God does provide….one way is through Prayer
In the Gospel reading this week Jesus sends His disciples out two by two, and tells them that He will provide for us. In turn, Jesus sends us out as
well today, as modern day disciples. Now while I do believe He has provided for our physical needs for our journey, Jesus has provided in
another very essential way….. through prayer. Jesus is there to lead and guide us all days of our lives as we live a journey of faith with Him and
others. Jesus is our source of power, strength, and encouragement. A few weeks back, Fr.Toochukwu spoke about our cell phones and how when the
cell. phone battery gets low, we go and reconnect the phone to it’s source of power. If we don’t plug the phone in, the connection will get lower and
lower and eventually it will die. I believe our prayer life is very similar in the sense that if we don’t connect to our source often, our personal connection with the Lord will weaken, and weaken,
and eventually we too will lose total connection to the source. I know in my own life, if I don’t pray everyday, suddenly I feel vulnerable and alone, and I need to reconnect with the source, which is the Lord.
So what is prayer? One of the gifts St. Mother Theresa had was to express complex thoughts very simply, she said about prayer “Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God.” Isn’t that a beautiful way to say it?
Next week, we will be speaking about different forms of prayer, but in the meantime please go to the new prayer
section on this website
God bless you all, Deacon Dan MacDonald
My name is Dan Perera, most of you know me as Danny or have seen me running around trying to help out around the parish in anyway I can. I’ve been a parishioner here at St Thomas More for about the past 6 years and it’s been such a blessing to be apart of this beautiful, loving community.
This past school year I was blessed to be serving with NET Canada (National Evangelization Teams) as a Catholic missionary in beautiful British Columbia where myself and my six other teammates from across Canada served primarily in the Archdiocese of Vancouver and the Fraser Valley. It was such a great experience to be able to fully immerse our selves in the community there where people so lovingly accepted us as we made Vancouver our home for the year. Continue reading “Support Dan Perera”
If it were Today
Today is the Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist (the Feast Day of the birth of John the Baptist). Both the life of Jesus, and John the Baptist were foretold by prophets, especially Isaiah. The only record of the birth of John the Baptist appears in the Gospel of Luke and it is at the heart of our Gospel reading today. A key player in this event is, of course, John the Baptist’s father Zechariah. Zechariah was a Jewish priest, but when the Archangel Gabriel revealed to him that he would father a child, Zechariah refused to believe it. As a result he was rendered speechless un-til John was born. Zechariah had total trust in the Lord. Although it was traditional at that time to name the first son after the father, he and
Elizabeth had been told that they were to name him John. As reported in the Gospel, Elizabeth said “He will be called John.” The family protested at which time Zechariah wrote “His name is John.” When he did that, Zechariah could speak once more. He did not say “should be”; he said “is.”
The trust shown by Zechariah is an example to us that we must trust in God, not just when it is
convenient, but all the time.
When I was researching the life of John, I guess after all was said and done, I was left with a ques-tion. If John were here today, how and what would he be telling us ? Of course, John would be pointing us to Jesus, and preparing the way for in this case, the return of the Lord. While over 2000 years have passed, in one sense nothing has changed, Jesus is still our source of light in the world, and He is still offering us a relationship with him that is life changing; where we can be immersed in His love. I feel that John would be speaking out about injustices in the world. I can see him
being the most vocal opponent to things going on in the world, like the detaining of migrant
children in the U.S., tearing children away from their families and holding them in an old Wal-Mart. He would be the first person down at the Olivet cemetery, cleaning up the statues and signs, and
decrying that Christianity should not be the one last religion, philosophy, or belief system that it is ok to persecute. At the same time though, he would be reminding Christians to pass on the
authentic, loving, mercy filled good news gospel, and to use scripture and the traditional teachings of the church as guides in our new evangelization. Lastly, I feel as if he would be so in touch with the poor, that maybe he himself would be living on the streets, and proclaiming the gospel to
everyone that he meets. So what is the message that is being given to us today by John, when
remembering his feast day? We are to point all we meet to Jesus, the best we can, and to live the authentic gospel message while remembering those who are left behind, so they too can live in the light of Christ.
God bless you all, Deacon Dan
A Gift that will Sustain and Transform us
This Sunday we celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi. This is a solemn feast in which Jesus
offers us yet another free gift, the gift of himself. We see Moses coming to the people where
they all answered with one voice. “We will do everything that the Lord commands”.
Jesus, on the other hand, provides a food that will sustain to eternal life.
Originally, we were created out of love, to be one with God. Eventually we as people turned our backs on God, but
through the sacrifice of Jesus, our relationship was renewed. The thing about this gift is that it cannot be forced, or manipulated
in any way, it is our choice to receive the gift or to not receive the gift. God’s desire is to be in relationship
with us and through offering this gift, he wants us to become a Eucharistic people.
This may be an odd sounding phrase to be a Eucharistic people but I believe the key underlying theme that helps us
understand it is the theme of sacrifice. Two examples of sacrifice come to mind as throughout the Old Testament we
read about sacrifices to God. Then in the New Testament ,Jesus sacrifices his own body so we can be in right relationship
with the father. I believe that if we are going to be a Eucharistic people, we need to sacrifice in our own lives.
A couple of examples come to mind, the first being that we are called to reach out to communities in need and help
anyone living on the margins, that can often take sacrifice. Sometimes too we may be estranged from someone and
need to reconcile, that takes sacrifice.
Now, you may be recalling the words of Jesus when he said that he doesn’t require sacrifice. It’s absolutely true, it’s
absolutely nothing to do with what he needs, it’s all about what we need to be a Eucharistic people.
From the reading though we can be encouraged by the fact that every Sunday, Jesus offers us this gift of the Eucharist,
to sustain us and help us in our Christian Journey. This is truly the greatest gift that we can receive and that we can in
turn share with our families, friends, and all whom we encounter.
Let us pray for the grace to encounter Jesus and become the people he wants us to be. Amen
God bless you all,
Deacon Dan MacDonald
We are Disciples too
I was struck with the “great commissioning”, gospel reading for this
Sunday. Especially considering what the disciples had just seen, the death and
resurrection of Jesus lived out right before their eyes. What stood out to me was not
that they worshiped Jesus, but that the reading says some doubted. Why, after all this
would they doubt?
So, I looked at a few other translations, and I came across the use of the word
“hesitated”. It seems more likely that they weren’t questioning their belief in Jesus, it
was that they were unsure of themselves, and what would happen next. What could
the disciples bring to the mission of Jesus? And how could they live out the command of Jesus to make disciples of all
nations? I know many have similar feelings today when it comes to spreading the gospel message. What is it that I
can bring to this incredible commissioning which Jesus calls us to today? It is the same commissioning today, as when
he called the first disciples.
This all got me thinking about the gifts that people have, and the gifts we bring to the service of God with the guidance
of the Holy Spirit. Some have the gift of music, some have a great love and knowledge of scripture, while others have
the gift to preach to congregations. I have known some others too, who witness their faith by their everyday interactions
with people. They don’t talk about their faith all that often, but the Holy Spirit, and the love of Jesus seems to be
present in all they say and do, and in all that they are. I am sure you can think of someone in your life that matches that
description. They bring us closer to Jesus, just by the dignity of their life.
After thinking all of this through, I finally came to the conclusion that Jesus simply wants us to witness to his love for
us and witness to our faith, to whomever we encounter. We can only do that by expressing our gifts and by showing
God not as a distant entity who is far away from our lives, but as a friend who is part of every aspect of our lives. His
spirit flows in all of creation, in love, suffering, and joy. If we do get discouraged and become hesitant though, he gave
us two gifts to help us through. The first gift is the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the second is community,
he gave us each other. So on Sunday, we may gather and be strengthened by the Eucharist, and by the friendships
we develop to help us along the journey. For me, those two elements are the reason that Christianity has grown from
humble beginnings to now reaching the far corners of the earth. All of this was accomplished through witnessing the
love of Jesus to the world, which is in need of Jesus now, more than ever.
God bless you all, Deacon Dan MacDonald
New Spiritual Life
I feel any reflection on Pentecost has to start with Genesis 2:7, where God
breathed on the first man and gave him life; just as Adam’s life came from
God, so now the disciples’ new spiritual life comes from Jesus.
Pentecost was the time that Jesus breathed life into the church, and sent
the Holy Spirit upon the disciples as he said “Receive the Holy Spirit”. In
a very real sense this was a special type of “ordination” to the disciples,
whom Jesus gave the ability to forgive and retain sins. Before Pentecost,
the disciples were holed up in the upper room and were scared to go out
on mission. So not only does Jesus imbue the Holy Spirit upon the disciples, he “unlocks the door”, and sends them
out to further his mission on earth according to their own particular gifts, and to have other people join the mission and
grow the church. I have been blessed to see these gifts lived out collectively and individually in the service of God and
his church. Reflecting upon the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, it made me realize just how much we need each other to
grow the church, and even to survive in this world. We were blessed last year to have three speakers be with us at our
mission who focussed on the Holy Spirit, leading up to Pentecost weekend. Each speaker brought their own gifts, and
ways of teaching us about the Holy Spirit, and all three have been able to bring Christ into the world and bring people
to Christ through their various ministries.
In our lives, if we take some of the gifts one by one, I bet we will all have someone come to mind who has that particular
gift. For the gift of wisdom, I think of my parents, for the gift of understanding I think of my spiritual director, for
the gift of fortitude I think of my wife, just to name a few. What has come abundantly clear to me is that I wouldn’t be
able to get along without them, and the gifts that they bring or have brought to me. I am sure all of you have similar
experiences and feelings as I have, in that we are intrinsically connected to one another in our lives, and are so much
stronger together than trying to go it alone. As we grow in relationship and love for the Holy Spirit, our relationships
to each other grow as well. This growth in the spirit should orient us outward rather than inward, toward service to
God and others rather than service toward ourselves. That itself is the greatest gift we are given, and one shared by all
who open their hearts to it. Let us pray for the grace to “unlock the door” to mission this Pentecost weekend.
God bless you all, Deacon Dan MacDonald