Passion of the Lord – Palm Sunday ~ The Rev. Dcn. Igor Kalinski, OPI

“Fear no more, O daughter Zion; see, your king comes, seated  upon and ass’ s colt” ~John 12:15

It begins the Great or Holy Week, when in 8 days we celebrate the greatest secrets of Christianity: Jesus’ passion, death, burial and resurrection. The flowering plant is an introduction to that celebration. The contents of the Palm Sunday reveal the priest’s greeting, which begins the faithful’s meeting in the church, and reads: “Today we gather to begin the celebration of the Paschal Mystery, that is, the Passion and Resurrection of Christ.” That is why Jesus entered his city of Jerusalem, ready to accept the cross in order to redeem people from evil for the freedom of the sons and daughters of God.

“Dear brothers and sisters!

The solemn revelation of Jesus’ passion – brought to us today by the Gospel of Luke – has certainly evoked in all of us, who are people of faith, deep feelings and thoughts that lead us to a radical conversion of life.

And indeed, this is exactly what the path of prayer and penance, typical of the Lenten season, was supposed to lead us to.

Jesus solemnly enters Jerusalem and this represents an event of fundamental importance, above all for Jesus, and then for his disciples and for us today, the people of the New Covenant in His death and Resurrection.

Instead, by entering the Jerusalem Temple, after the solemn welcome we remembered a few moments ago, Jesus makes us understand that the Kingdom of God is the true inheritance of salvation, whose Messiah, the Savior, makes men its partakers again, and who have lost it. because of the misery of his own sin.

Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, with Jesus we come out of the illusion of the ancient temple to enter into the reality of the salvation of the kingdom of God, through the journey, which above all requires, to leave sin and all that is evil in God’s eyes.

Each of us carries a lot of good in us, but also a lot of bad. Here, if we want to enter the Kingdom of God, we must strip ourselves of this evil, which not only harms us personally, but causes harm to the entire Christian community. And indeed, just as we speak of the “communion of saints,” that is, of the intimate communion among all those who use the gift of Baptism and who are consistent in that gift in their lives, so we can speak of the intimate connection between all who do evil and live in disharmony. with the commitments they received on the day of their Baptism.

However, there is another event that follows the solemn entry of Jesus into Jerusalem: the expulsion of the merchants from the temple, which we find in the Gospel of Mark, in chapter 11, verses 15 to 18.

In particular, by expelling the merchants from the temple, Jesus wants us to understand that the outward forms of godliness and all that is associated with them — which is sometimes misunderstood as the power of salvation — are in reality, in themselves, of no value, and unable to mediate. our salvation. Instead, they have value when they are an expression of a heart that is fully attached to the Lord, a heart that knows how to do God’s will, a heart that is obedient to the Church, even when the Church, in God’s name, offers us truths contrary to our way of thinking. , for the ways of the Lord do not coincide with our selfish and materialistic ways.

The flowering plant opens the door to Holy Week, into the sea of suffering that Jesus went through to enter into his glory. There are two reasons for this: First, Jesus ’passion and death are the foundation on which his glorious resurrection is built and on which our salvation rests. Through Jesus ’suffering we are redeemed, our sins are destroyed and atoned for, and we are reconciled to God. The Church cannot forget the suffering and death by which the world was saved, so it is mentioned every year for gratitude. The second reason is a unique event in our history – the resurrection of Jesus. Namely, Jesus earned eternal life by his death. One cannot forget the death by which Life came? Jesus ‘death overcame our death, and Jesus’ resurrection guarantees eternal life to the baptized. The Church solemnly celebrates this truth as the truth of salvation and the source from which Christian daily life is nourished, carried by the hope that our death, like Jesus’, will be a passage to Life.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and Holy Ghost, Amen.

The Annunciation ~ The Very Rev Lady Sherwood, OPI

Reading I: Is 7:10-14; 8:10

Responsorial Psalm: 40:7-8a, 8b-9, 10, 11

Reading II: Heb 10:4-10

Gospel: Lk 1:26-38

Liturgical colour: White.

My dearest brothers and sisters in Christ:

Today, we come together to celebrate The Annunciation of Our dear Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. The day when The Angel Gabriel brought the glad tidings to Mary that she was going to conceive, and to be the mother of Our Lord when he was to come and live amongst us on the earth.

Let us take a look at today’s Gospel reading of Lk 1:26-38 (NIV):

The Birth of Jesus Foretold

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”

38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

There has never ever been better Good News proclaimed to us than the Holy message which the angel Gabriel spoke to Mary that day.  The world was in darkness of sin. Then, as if out of nowhere comes an angel to this young girl Mary, who was from a lowly family to announce the greatest news ever heard by human ears…

God has spoken to sinful humans.  His message is Jesus Christ, our dear Lord and Saviour.

This news brought to Mary from God, by way of the angel Gabriel, was the way in which Jesus would make His first entrance into our earthly world.  The incarnation is the result of Jesus being born of a human mother and of the Holy Spirit.  We also realize that technically it was a virgin conception.  This divine miracle here is how Jesus was conceived.

 LK 1:26-27 NIV:

The Birth of Jesus Foretold

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.

In Verse 27, we are told young Mary was pledged to be married (betrothed) to Joseph.  From ancient Jewish customs, we understand that a betrothal was a binding engagement. A signed contract. Once the contract was signed by all the parties it could not be broken except by a divorce.  During this time of betrothal there were to be no intimate acts together.  The husband to be would pay the father of the bride a certain amount of money because the father of the bride was loosing a worker and the other family was gaining one.

For Mary to show up pregnant would cast enormous amount of doubt on her character.  Everyone would be wondering what on earth was going on.  Mary and Joseph are not living up to the agreement or perhaps Mary has found someone else?

Regardless what people would’ve thoughts or talked about behind her back she was willing to obey God regardless.  She feared God more than she feared man.  Would we be willing to sacrifice our reputation to do God’s will just as Mary did?  You may say that God would never ask us to do something that would put our reputation in jeopardy…so think about what this meant for the young, betrothed Mary.  For the rest of her life she was looked down upon by those who didn’t believe.  Jesus was considered an illegitimate child and Mary an adulterer.

Mary was of lowly estate. By human standards Mary was an unimportant teenager, but to God, however, she was indeed highly blessed.

Mary was Highly Favoured (LK 1:28-29 NIV):

[28] And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O Favoured one, the Lord is with you!”  [29] But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.

  [30] And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God.

From these verses, we realize that being Favoured by God and being of low estate can go together.  Often, we as human, for some reason think that poverty is a sign of disfavour.

 But here, it’s crystal clear that they can and often do go together.  This should bring up the question…Are we really blessed?  Are all the comforts and material things which we enjoy so much truly always a blessing from God?  Mary was highly Favoured and yet she remained very poor to the world’s standards.  This should challenge our engrained thinking about the worldly material possessions which we may have.

Mary had much the same reaction as did Zechariah when the angel appeared to him.  He was frightened she was greatly troubled.  Gabriel says his usual opening line, Do not be afraid.

What is meant by the word favoured  is that God chose her to bear the Lord Jesus.  She was favoured or chosen to be the mother of Our Lord Jesus.

The Hail Mary:

Hail Mary, full of grace

The Lord is with thee.

Blessed art thou among women

and blessed

is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, mother of God

Pray for us sinners

Now and at the hour of our death. Amen

Let us pray:

[That we may become more like Christ,

who chose to become one of us.]

Almighty Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

You have revealed the beauty of your power

by exalting the lowly virgin of Nazareth

and making her the mother of our Saviour.

May the prayers of this woman

bring Jesus to the waiting world

and fill the void of incompletion

with the presence of her child,

who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit

one God forever and ever. Amen

He Knows My Name ~ The Rev. Dcn. Scott Brown, OPI

Based on Today’s Gospel: Jn 12:20-33

Jesus knew he was going to die a physical death, there was no doubt of this. He knew his death would be physically painful, long and drawn out. Along with all this he also knew that his physical death would allow all of us, yes everyone of us on this planet from that day until the end of time would be a candidate for eternal life with the Father and Son in Heaven for all of eternity. Just think about that for a minute please: Did he know that you and I would exist? Did he know how many souls were involved? The answer to these questions is explained in the lyrics of a beautiful song sung by Francesca Battistelli:

He Knows My Name:

Spent today in a conversation
In the mirror face to face with
Somebody less than perfect
I wouldn’t choose me first if
I was looking for a champion
In fact I’d understand if
You picked everyone before me
But that’s just not my story
True to who You are
You saw my heart
And made
Something out of nothing

I don’t need my name in lights
I’m famous in my Father’s eyes
Make no mistake
He knows my name
I’m not living for applause
I’m already so adored
It’s all His stage
He knows my name oh, oh,
He knows my name oh, oh

I’m not meant to just stay quiet
I’m meant to be a lion
I’ll roar beyond a song
With every moment that I’ve got
True to who You are
You saw my heart
And made
Something out of nothing

I don’t need my name in lights
I’m famous in my Father’s eyes
Make no mistake
He knows my name
I’m not living for applause
I’m already so adored
It’s all His stage
He knows my name oh, oh,
He knows my name oh, oh

He calls me chosen, free forgiven, wanted, child of the King
His forever, held in treasure
I am loved

I don’t need my name in lights
I’m famous in my Father’s eyes

I don’t need my name in lights
I’m famous in my Father’s eyes
Make no mistake
He knows my name
I’m not living for applause
I’m already so adored
It’s all His stage
He knows my name
He knows my name oh, oh
He knows my name

He knows my name, he knows your name, he knows the name of every one of his children, he has a plan for every one of his children, and there is nothing we can do to change this. As the song says we are famous in our Fathers eyes and we do not need any earthly fame or fortune. He saw our hearts and made something out of nothing. We are the chosen children of our Lord and Savior, Rescuer, and our Redeemer…

 We are living on his stage; we should be proclaiming His glory and salvation in our every action. We should be the Jesus that others see. We should be the Bible that others read. The song says that I won’t be a lion but I will roar his song, proclaim his love, shout it at the top of my lungs. Second Timothy tells us how to proclaim God’s love and how to preach his healing words:

2 Timothy 4:2-5

Proclaim the Word of God and stand upon it no matter what! Rise to the occasion and preach when it is convenient and when it is not. Preach in the full expression of the Holy Spirit —with wisdom and patience as you instruct and teach the people. For the time is coming when they will no longer listen and respond to the healing words of truth because they will become selfish and proud. They will seek out teachers with soothing words that line up with their desires, saying just what they want to hear. They will close their ears to the truth and believe nothing but fables and myths. So be alert to all these things and overcome every form of evil. Carry in your heart the passion of your calling as a church planter and evangelist, and fulfill your ministry calling.

When people quit listening, preach harder, louder, and with more passion. Do not give up, don’t get down and out, keep being the Jesus others see, preach and proclaim by words, actions, and deeds. Show the world that you love the Lord and are not ashamed to show it. By doing this, our Lord did not die in vain. Rise to every occasion and use every situation to proclaim our Lord’s love and compassion. You know you are loved – so show others that they are loved too. They may not have ever been shown or told that the Lord loves them. Just imagine how this could change the life of someone who is depressed and feeling sad and lonely. The song says it best:

He calls me chosen, free forgiven, wanted, child of the King
His forever, held in treasure
I am loved

You are loved, Jesus gave his live to prove this to us. It is our obligation to spread the love and let all the world know that Jesus’s love is real, available, and free for the taking. Romans 4:17 says: “ That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing.

Heavenly Father: guide us, help us, teach us, and enable us to spread the glory of our salvation to those who are faltering and failing. Help us to find and love those who are lonely and need you. Help them to open their hearts so You can make something out of nothing. Help us to help others make something out of nothing as you did for me. You made me one of Your children and for that I am truly grateful. Amen

St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin~ Br. Milan Komadina

Sisters and brothers, today we commemorate Saint Joseph, the husband of Mary and stepfather of Jesus. This holiday takes place during Lent, a time of fasting and traditionally this holiday is meatless. Saint Joseph plays an important role in the history of the Church since he was married to mother of our Savior. His ancestor was David who was given the promise in the Old Testament that through his seed Messiah will come. Let us take a look at several sentences from 2nd Samuel, chapter 7: 4-5; 12-14, 16:

And it came to pass that night that the word of the Lord came unto Nathan, saying: ‘’ Go and tell my servant David, Thus saith the Lord, Shalt thou build me a house for me to dwell in? And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men. From year to year he went on a circuit from Bethel to Gilgal to Mizpah, judging Israel in all those places. 

As we see the Lord calls David ‘my servant’. Likewise, Joseph was servant of God. And in the New Testament Joseph was also called to serve. We can understand some interesting comparison here. As David was called to build a house of God where God would dwell in – this was related to the material temple. The same way Joseph was called to be a loving and caring husband of the living house of God – Mother of Jesus. Holy Mary was a living house of God. It is written that our bodies are God’s temples. We all, sisters and brothers, are called to be like Mary and to let the Holy Spirit dwell in us, in our hearts. And we should also be like Joseph and be loving people toward our family, friends, and neighbors. What can we learn from Joseph? Was he suspicious? Oh, yes. Was he a judge? O, yes. He was questioning if Mary was honest. He was questioning her virginity. But he let God teach him. Now, is it good to judge our neighbors? Maybe we are all Joseph and maybe our neighbor who we judge may be a Mary? What would you do if you were Joseph? Would you trust your wife or life partner? These are some thoughts we should be thinking about while we pray on this day. Now, let us take a brief look at the New Testament. Romans, chapter 4: 13, 16/18, 22:

It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring — not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.”

What is mutual to Joseph and Abraham? After considering these quotes we may conclude that one trait was mutual to these two holy men. It is called righteousness. But what does this refer to? Biblical righteousness refers to our faith in God. We all live in the modern world when we are witnessing lot of injustice, pain, diseases, misfortune on daily basis. We tend to question if there is a god or what god is that god allowing all these things to be happening. But… do we wonder who God might be? Would we love him if there is no pain in the world? Would we trust him if there is no injustice or no suffering? Would we try to find his guilt in something else? Would we unfollow Him if God has an Instagram profile? If God tells today (or posts on Facebook) that a 75-year-old lady from your neighborhood will become mother and you know she used to try to have a baby in the time of her monthly period when she was 20 and 30 and 40, would you trust in that possibility? Would you trust in that God? If God uses social networks would you probably block him? I would. Unfortunately many of us would. And why is that? We lack of faith my dear sisters and brothers. We lack of faith in God. But you know who hadn’t done that – Abraham. And Joseph. And they were both called righteous. Let us learn to have faith like them. Next, I would like to take a minute of your time and take a quick look at Mattew, chapter 1/16;18-21

Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah. Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah. This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.

As previously mentioned Joseph was faithful and righteous. But even to him. This was hard to believe. Even harder that it was hard to believe for Abraham about Sara’s pregnancy in her late age. But God, sent him the angel in his dream and these are the words that the angel told Joseph (Mattew 1/24):

 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 

We can learn from Joseph many things. How to be a caring and loving partner, father, family member. Joseph knew that Jesus was not his biological son. But he was a caring stepfather who loved Jesus. At that old time it was very difficult to accept child which was not one’s biological child. Today we also live in the world where we make differences to our own blood relatives, our own religion, our own nation, tradition. But Joseph teaches us, through his example that everything that belongs to God belongs to all of us. He knew that Jesus was the Son of God. But to Joseph his focus was to love and to serve God. The same way we should love all people regardless of their nationality, skin color, biological parents, natural characteristic and orientation, regardless religious background they were raised in. Let us learn to love and trust God the same way as Saint Joseph did. In the end of this sermon I would like to take one more minute of your time to take a look together at the additional very important aspect of Joseph’s treatment to his family. And here we may learn or remember one additional important life lesson applicable to all of us. Luke, chapter 2/ 41-51:

Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”But they did not understand what he was saying to them. Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 

Now, let me tell you an interesting fact. Were Joseph and Mary a very religious couple who were every day praying in the temple and not having earthly fun at all? This is amazing thing we often do not think about. They were going to the festival. They were even so careless at the moment of festival euphoria that they lost their own kid, 12-year-old Jesus. Hey, the festival was over and Joseph and Mary got back home without noticing that Jesus was missing. What would you say if your Christian neighbors go to the party, go back home and you hear that they lost their child? And next three days they are wondering where their child is? The last option they think about is – the church? Would you say those are Christian parents? Maybe they lost their child at the party but they love Jesus, they are Christians? I don’t think so. See, there are two types of religious people. Those who are non-stop in the church and pray all the time, they don’t go to festivals or parties. They believe that being a Christian prohibits spending some nice time at the party. But what about the Bible. What we can learn through this example is that – yes we can go to festivals or parties. Remember that in the old times festivals were similar as today’s open-air parties. The same that Holy Mary and Saint Joseph were doing. Just DON’T FORGET JESUS! Don’t go back home after the festival like Joseph and Mary did finding out: ‘Hey, where’s my Jesus?’ Another fun fact and at the same time an amazing fact were the places where this religious couple had been searching this 12-year-old Son. Did they go to the church, temple or holy places? No. They were visiting relatives and friends and not just one or two days but even tree days. Now, would we tend to judge a neglecting couple from our neighborhood? I guess yes, we would. At least I would. But did God judge them? Yet mother of God is the most holy Lady in the world, the most respected one Saint Mary and her husband, Saint Joseph is the righteous holy man. Dear sisters and brothers we are all called to be like Mary and Joseph. Not to be super-Christians. Just let us be like Mary and Joseph. We are not called not to go to the festivals, or parties. But we are called not to LOOSE JESUS! Yet we can learn here where we can find Jesus. He may be and in our relatives’ house (if our relative is hungry or thirsty – there is Jesus in his house, trust me). If our friend is sick and needs help – yes, you found Jesus in your friend’s house. But also you can find him in the temple. What I would pray for you to understand today is that if you feel that you lost Jesus. Remember Mary, remember Joseph. Go to your relative, go to your friend, and go to your neighbor first and then go to the church. You may try to find him in the church building first, too. But don’t forget that he may dwell in the living people. Not just in the buildings made of stone. I pray that we all never loose Jesus and that we all may be like Mary and Joseph.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Jesus Hulks Out ~ The Rt. Rev. Michael Beckett, OPI

Super heroes are a thing.  When we were (much) younger, my brother was into body building and his end all be all was The Hulk.  In case you don’t know who The Hulk is, well, he’s green, he’s way feet tall, and he’s bulging with pounds and pounds of muscle. He’s the Incredible Hulk, hands down one of the coolest comic book heroes ever created. You don’t want to make him mad, because as he often warns, “The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets!”  His anger and strength have entered the common lexicon of today in the phrase “Hulk out.”  According to The Urban Dictionary, to hulk out means “To become enraged; to lose one’s temper, clothing and power of coherent speech before embarking on a spree of violence and wanton destruction.

In today’s Gospel, we read of a time when Jesus sort of kinda hulked out:  Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem.  He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money  changers seated there.  He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen,  and spilled the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.”  His disciples recalled the words of Scripture, Zeal for your house will consume me.  (John 2:13-17)

Well now.   This little bit of Scripture is problematic for a lot of folks because we have been taught that Jesus was this meek and mild-mannered little guy who preached love and patience and turning the other cheek and instructs us to be slow to anger.  I can assure you that Jesus did, in fact, teach us those things, but I can also assure you that Jesus was far, FAR from being “this meek mild mannered little guy,”  and we should not confuse “meek” with “weak.”

We are inundated from all sides by ads and commercials urging us to get more physically fit, to build muscle on top of muscle, to be perfect specimens of humanity.  I figure that Jesus pretty much fit that physical description.  Jesus as a hunk?, you ask?  Well… yeah.  Think about it for a minute.  Here was a man of great stamina who walked everywhere between the villages of the Holy Land in his ministry of salvation, and there is no record in the New Testament that he ever rode a horse, a camel, or a carriage, (though he did once enter Jerusalem on a donkey, but that’s a sermon for another time.)  He regularly traveled over hills and climbed mountains. We know that Jesus was either a carpenter or a stone mason, and there were, at that time, no power tools, so He was surely lean and muscular.  We have further evidence of Jesus’s physical fitness from reading of His passion.  The torture that he underwent killed many men.

Another reason that this particular bit of Scripture is problematic is that we imagine Jesus to be angry, and remember He was all about the “preaching love and patience and turning the other cheek and instructing us to be slow to anger.”  An angry Jesus???  Isn’t anger a sin???  People look at this episode and say, “Shame, shame. Jesus ignored His own teachings by getting angry and not forgiving those moneychangers. He really lost his cool, didn’t He?” 

At the same time other people view this episode as proof that it’s okay for us to get angry, and even take violent action if necessary, in doing God’s will.

So, who is right?  And the answer to that stunning question is, NEITHER. 

Anger is one of the Seven Deadly Sins, and St. Paul clearly teaches in his letter to the Galatians that “outbursts of fury” are the result of our sinful nature. So what’s the deal here? Did Jesus give in to the sinful nature when He got angry in the Temple, or what?

First, we have to understand that Jesus did not have a sinful nature. There have only been three sinless people in history: Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and my mother.  (OK, OK, my momma wasn’t perfect.  Give a guy a break, tho.)

There is a very fine line between “righteous anger” and “self-righteous anger.” Jesus’ anger was completely righteous. Those merchants were making a mockery of God’s holy temple. They were taking advantage of the average person’s sincere faith. Motivated by greed, they forced the believers to pay obscene sums in order to have their worship rituals labeled as “proper.”

You wonder what Jesus’ reaction might be if He appeared today and observed the behavior of Wall Street bankers and Washington politicians. Just sayin’.

Jesus is the only person in history completely controlled by the Spirit. He never gave in to the sinful human nature. The rest of us should avoid anger because we don’t have our sinful human nature under control like Jesus did.

The Gospel reading of Jesus clearing the Temple really should have a disclaimer. In big bold letters the Bible should say: “Jesus is a professional. Do not try this at home.” When people cite this episode as justification for getting angry, often they truly have a righteous goal in mind. But it doesn’t take long for that righteousness to slide into self-righteousness. The next thing you know, some looney toon is bursting into an abortion clinic with a rifle, sincerely convinced that God wants him to kill people to prevent people from being killed, or participating in insurrection at the nation’s capitol to impede the government, or blowing up gay bars, all in Jesus’s name. 

And all the while Satan is howling with glee. He just loves to see us get so worked up over a righteous cause that we become consumed with self-righteous anger. As C.S. Lewis wrote: “The devil would be quite content to see your chilblains cured if he was allowed, in return, to give you cancer.”  In a way, anger, especially self-righteous anger is cancer. It’s spiritual cancer. For those of us who have not yet reached Jesus’s level of spirituality (which means ALL of us), we are susceptible to this disease. Only Jesus can handle anger without contracting the spiritual cancer of self-righteousness.

We mere mortals do not yet share in Jesus’ spiritual perfection. As such, we are not capable of handling anger properly. Good intentions quickly become evil.   When our anger is out of control we can say and do things that hurt others.  Anger in the hands of we sinful people, to paraphrase P.J. O’Rourke, is like whiskey and car keys in the hands of teenage boys. It’s just too dangerous.

So what then, do we do when we are angry?  In our daily lives, for most of us those times where anger would be justified are likely pretty rare.   As with all things, follow the Spirit.  Paul, in Galatians 5:20-21, instructed “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” In 1 Corinthians 13, we are directed that love is patient and kind and does not dishonor others and is not easily angered. It can be reasoned that anger is contrary to charity, if it is spontaneously meant to dishonor our neighbor.  Proverbs 15:18 tells us a “hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.”

The Bible seems to place anger as the last response to the circumstances of life.  We as Christians are to be peacemakers and find a solution before allowing an incident or conflict to escalate.    Breathe.  Pray.  Act in love.  And remember, we are, none of us, The Hulk.  Amen.

Homily for 28 February in lent II from the Dominican Oratory in Macedonia ~ The Rev. Dcn. Igor Kalinski

Dear brothers and sisters, with sincere and divine peace in our hearts, abstinent from the worldly allure and the devil’s attacks, we are in peace and joy with the shining sunlight and blossom the nature with the first flowers, announcing the longer and sunny days, fruits, and all that God is giving for our living in this earth. I want and I pray for all of you with God’s blessings to experience his mercy and grace.

But let me tell you something about that, we first need to be fully given to God to use us as clay, to make good vessels for His plans, and that is dividend with daily prayer, things of our strongholds and fallen nature, with the spiritual lent, less food for those that can bear, but for all of us weak or stronger, the spiritual abstinence of all evil and rotten devil allurements.

Penance, with reclusive time for reading the Scripture or any good spiritual book that you like, and compassion always as a good Samaritan, that’s the way, and that is impossible with our faithfulness of prayer, God is doing in us.

I am happy that today when I went to the Priory group of our Order, just to see in case what I should be inspired to share with the rest of us, I want to say that our official web site is refreshed and is dedicated one  chapter space for our never forgotten and dearly beloved deacon Dollie Wilkinskon OPI, and after long time spend in silence, God blessed us with new brother from Serbia that join the Postulancy of Order. Many are called, few are chosen. Don’t lack don’t lose interest of Gods knocking of your heart, Will be not given other time, catch the time, now is the time of salvation.

Please pray for increasing for holy priests and religious to eb given to us from our Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen.

Lent: Our Spring ~ The Very Rev. Lady Sherwood, OPI

Reading I : Gn 9:8-15

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9

Reading II: 1 Pt 3:18-22

Gospel: Mk 1:12-15

Liturgical colour: Violet.

My dearest brothers and sisters in Christ:

The season of Lent in the Church Liturgical year has begun. The purpose of Lent is for each and every one of us to prepare ourselves for the upcoming sacred days of Holy Thursday with the Lord’s Supper, Good Friday with the Lord’s Passion, and Holy Saturday with the Lord’s triumph, the Easter Vigil and with the resurrection of the Lord on Easter Sunday.

Now the word ‘Lent’ itself means ‘springtime!’ “but Springtime so early?” you well may ask. The answer is “Yes!” In ancient English, the word ‘lent’ is short for the meaning of ‘lengthening,’ as in ‘when winter’s darkness begins to give way to the ever-lengthening light of day.’

Lent, then, announces to us the beginning of the Church’s springtime season.

Whilst Lent is, indeed, a season of penitence — a season of calling us to turn our lives around and to bring our hearts back to God — it’ should not become a time for us to moan and groan or to feel shame for our past sins and for our present failings.

Rather, Lent is a time for us all to rise up and to prepare ourselves to greet the dawn of the new season of hope and of joy.

Lent is first and foremost the celebration of the presence of the Lord among us. For our Lord has come indeed, and he has come to stay: to live with us, to suffer with us, even to die to the past and rise with us to embrace a newness of life together. This saving grace of Jesus, and his redeeming presence, are with us again, and always, as is spoken in the Holy Scriptures, “His love is everlasting.”

What, then, are the works that we are called to do during this Lenten Season — we who are called to change the world?

How small and insignificant are we, and hardly able for the task. And yet, consider for a moment the size of the ant.

When I was a young girl, on a summer’s night, I loved to sneak out of bed, run outside and gaze at the ants busily going about their busy lives, ants, the smallest of the smallest of God’s creatures. I’d gaze and look upon how they darted about every-which-way, but filling my eyes with wonder and flooding an empty heart with new hope and dreams.

So too, must we learn from the ants, and let our good works shine forth and we ought to dart about showing the light of Christ and the warmth of his love in this often-dark world in which we now live, and listen to the words of Jesus our Lord, “Let your light shine before others, so that seeing the lovely things you do, they may give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

Since ancient times there have been only three basic works common to a proper Lent: prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

Prayer, for the good of our soul:

A return to a daily, intimate dialogue with God our Father, speaking and listening with the heart, experiencing His presence and love not only in the safety of our own solitude but in the work of building up a community of love with each other — remembering his words, “Wherever two or three of you are gathered together in my name, I am there in the midst of you.”

For this, during this sacred season, we must search out quiet places and, even more importantly, we must learn to sit still!

Fasting, for the good of the body:

Fasting to feel and share in the experience of the hunger of the breadless poor and to taste the tears of those who live on the edges of despair. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice sake” … those who work for the growth of peace and harmony, for the righting of wrongs, for the breaking down of barriers and for a new birth of compassion, understanding and love in this world…

Yes, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice sake, for they shall be satisfied.” Christ is one with them when he cries out from the cross: “I thirst.” Who, if not we, are listening? Who, if not we, are to respond? Take courage: For as it is written: “In the chaos of learning to love, we are redeemed.”

Almsgiving, for the good of our neighbour:

To take upon ourselves personal responsibility for helping a brother or sister in need is to reach out and touch God Himself. “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, this you do unto me.” (Matthew25:40)

Let us finish with this prayer from Dimitrii of Rostov:

Come, My Light

Come, my Light,

and illumine my darkness.

Come, my Life,

and revive me from death.

Come, my Physician,

and heal my wounds.

Come, Flame of divine love,

and burn up the thorns of my sins,

kindling my heart

with the flame of thy love.

Amen.

Dirty Foreheads, Clean Lives~ The Rt. Rev. Michael Beckett, OPI

Fine, powdery, dark gray and black ashes, smudged onto our foreheads in the shape of a cross, for all the world to imagine what we’ve been doing, looking like we bumped our heads while cleaning out the fireplace, and forgot to wash that part of our faces…
Just a few ashes…symbolizing more than most of us realize as we go through the motions of Ash Wednesday. What do we say to people who ask us the obvious question: What IS that on your head? Why do you have black stuff on your face?
Why WILL we participate in this strange custom this evening? What DOES it mean? The spiritual practice of applying ashes on oneself as a sign of sincere repentance goes back thousands of years. Frequently in the days of the Old and the New Testament, when someone had sinned, he clothed his body with sackcloth and covered himself with ashes. [Jer. 6:26] The sacramental that we are observing today arises from that custom, the spiritual practice of observing public penitence. Church history tells us that the liturgical practice of applying ashes on one’s forehead during the Lenten Season goes back as far as the eighth century. This was accompanied by different forms of fasting, prayer, sacrifices, charity towards others, etc… The writings of St. Leo, around 461 A.D., tell us that during the Lenten Season, he exhorted the faithful to abstain from certain food to fulfill with their fasts the Apostolic institution of forty days. In the days of the Old Testament, many tore their clothing as a sign of repentance.
Today, we use the ashes as a reminder of who we are. The Bible tells us
that we came from the dust and to the dust we shall return. The first
human was formed out of the dust of the earth by God and then God breathed
life into that dust. That is a powerful image. One that is meant to
remind us that without the breath or Spirit of God moving in us, we are
just like these ashes: lifeless – worthless.
The ashes that many of us will wear tonight are meant to be for us symbols of our repentance and signs that we truly seek to follow in God’s path.
The people in the Biblical stories probably put the ashes on top of their
heads – so why do we, instead of putting these ashes on our heads, put them
in the sign of the cross on our foreheads?
We do so because it is a reminder of how we are sealed for Christ. In most
churches when a baby is baptized the minister or priest uses oil to mark
the child with the sign of the cross. The mark of the cross is a mark of ownership. These ashes tonight remind us that we are Christ’s – that he died so that we might live. These may be just a few ashes but they mean a lot. They are a symbol of our need for God. We are nothing but dust and ashes apart from God.
But what about Lent itself? What is it? Why do we have this season? Most of us were taught that the lengthy period of Lent was one of penitence and fasting, a time provided for those who were separated from the church by their sins, so they could be reconciled by acts of penitence and forgiveness.
For most of us, Lent is the time of sometimes painful self-examination, during which we scrutinize our habits, our spiritual practice, and our very lives – hoping to make ourselves better, trying to make ourselves worthy of the love of God. We “step up” our prayer, fasting, and self-denial in order to remove worldly distractions from our lives. And we take on Bible study, classes, and service projects in order to add meaning and depth to our existence. For some children, Lent means no sweets, for teenagers, less time on Facebook. For adults, it may be consuming less meat or alcohol, or attending that Lenten course offered by the Church.
However we go about it, the goal is pretty much the same: Lent makes us ready for Easter. Quite simply put, we are better able to appreciate Resurrection joys come Easter Day by enduring these Lenten disciplines now.
The Old Testament Lessons, the Psalm appointed for today, and today’s Gospel Reading all tell us the “how” and “why” of Lent. But then, there is Paul. Saint Paul tells is, right off the bat, in the very first verse of the Epistle for today, to “BE RECONCILED TO GOD.” Nowhere does he say, “Observe a Holy Lent, THEN be reconciled to God.” Not after enduring a forty-day fast. Not after lengthy Bible study. Not even after prayer, but now, here, today: Be reconciled to God. Paul not only invites us to be reconciled to God, he actually beseeches us. That is, he pleads, implores, presses, begs, and demands. “We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. … Now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation.”
If we but recognize this, if we are but reconciled to our God NOW, and THEN work toward our Lenten goals of fasting, of prayer, and of penitence, if we seek to discipline ourselves during Lent, and make those disciplines into daily habits, we will not only most assuredly have the Holy Lent we all desire, but will come to live a more holy life in general. And isn’t that, really, what Lent is all about in the first place? Amen.

THE COMPASSION OF CHRIST~ The Rev.Dcn. Scott Brown, OPI

(MARK 1:40-45)

A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said,
“If you wish, you can make me clean.”
Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, 
touched him, and said to him, 
“I do will it. Be made clean.”
The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.
Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once. 

He said to him, “See that you tell no one anything,
but go, show yourself to the priest 
and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed;
that will be proof for them.”

The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter.
He spread the report abroad
so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly.
He remained outside in deserted places,
and people kept coming to him from everywhere.

Before we unpack what was unusual about the encounter in Mark 1:40-45, the OT book of Leviticus gives us a biblical-contextual understanding of who this leper was and what leprosy was about. Understanding the Old Testament allows us to understand the New Testament and the gospels in the fullness of their biblical-historical context. One of the best ways to read and understand the Bible is therefore through the lens of the Bible itself. The table below breaks down the key points of the passage:

Back to Mark 1:40-45: this leper who approaches Jesus should by all accounts be required to live in isolation apart from his community. He is a societal outcast, quite literally an untouchable. Luke 5:12 even tells us that this man was “full of leprosy”!

By now it should become clear why the encounter between the leper and Jesus was unusual. Jesus whose status was that of a common Jew, was inside of society, while the leper was outside of society! Their paths were not supposed to cross under any circumstances.

Given the culture at the time, some might describe this leper’s actions as audacious. Such a scenario may be hard to imagine in Singapore as ethnic and community tensions are somewhat mitigated by social cohesion policies that are put in place by the government. Somewhat. In many countries around the world such discrimination and drawing of fault lines still exists. India’s Dalits, or untouchables, are one example, and discriminatory segregation between black South Africans and African Americans is another. 

Perhaps an equivalent would be someone in torn clothes smelling of sweat and urine walking into a fancy restaurant in MBS and asking one of the diners to do something for them. What would you do if someone like that walked into your air-conditioned church and asked around for a favour, perhaps even for someone to pray for them? Before they can even open their mouth to ask, I’m not proud to say that the majority of us, myself included, would probably tend to judge them on their appearance. Friends, would a leper be accepted in your church?

But here’s another way to look at it: the  leper’s actions in Mark 1:40 can be thought of as desperate rather than audacious. On one hand, he’s desperate, but on the other, also hopeful, trusting and deferential. His actions (i.e. kneeling, imploring) and what he says display faith in Jesus, rather than an arrogant challenge to Jesus’ power. Hear his words! “If you will, you can make me clean”.

So whose will is the leper focused on for his cleansing? Note that he begins his request by saying ‘If the Lord is willing’. Jesus’ ability and His power are not even in question. How often do we find ourselves praying “Your will be done”? There are churches that teach that God just cannot wait to pour out His healing upon us and our unbelief is in fact preventing God from working His healing power! So all we have to do is to receive. Just name it and claim it.

But is that really what the Bible teaches? We see here that the leper did not say to Jesus ‘I declare that there shall be healing in your name or that I am safe from all harm and affliction’. Instead he says “If you will, you can make me clean”. We should not be in any doubt about God’s power to save or to heal. But we should not presume God’s prerogative to deliver that healing.

In some ways, the leper’s posture of submission to the will of God over his circumstances gives us an example of how we are to come before God. The leper recognized the authority and the power of Jesus Christ – and in faith, asked Jesus to make him clean. Friends, do we adopt the same posture that this leper – one whom our hearts would be quick to ostracise and judge – adopts? We have much to learn.

3 details stand out immediately (Mark 1:41) from Jesus’ response – (i) First, Jesus was moved with pity; (ii) Second, he stretched out His hand to touch the leper; and (iii) Third, He cleanses the man by the power of His word.

If Mark is in such a hurry, why does he emphasize the first two details? “He stretched out His hand to touch the leper” take up 9 precious words of bible real estate amid the urgency of Mark’s gospel. He could have just said something like “…and Jesus made the man clean”. It’s also interesting that Jesus doesn’t always lay hands on those that He is healing. Therefore when He does we should ask if it has any significance.

The answer is in Lev 13 – remember that lepers were not supposed to come into contact with anyone. Anybody who came into contact with a leper became ceremonially unclean. Even Jewish rabbis, who were supposed to teach and model godly behavior for the people, have been known to despise and shun anything to do with a leper’s presence. If you think about it, the only way you can touch someone or something unclean and not become unclean yourself is if you make the other person or thing clean. You can’t both stay the same. The people at the time knew this. There were only two logical outcomes for a person who had the audacity or the misfortune to touch an unclean leper – they either became unclean, or it must have been God Himself.

Only God Himself, pure and holy, could choose to touch this leper in order to demonstrate His power and His divinity. And notice that His power was demonstrated by his word. “Be clean”. Therefore, when Jesus reaches out to touch this leper, He cleanses the diseased man instead of becoming defiled by him. With one touch He reveals His identity, and implicitly reveals Himself as the fulfilment of the Law. This should be apparent to the priests in the temple!

In Lev 14, there are certain prescribed ways for lepers to re-enter the community. On the rare occasion that they recover, they had to approach a priest for re-examination and perform a whole bunch of other rites as part of their purification and re-entrance into the community. The priest also has to affirm the leper’s recovery. This was clearly set out in the Law.

Therefore, Jesus’ instructions in Mark 1:43-44 can be explained by two main reasons: the first was quite clearly to enable the man’s reconciliation or reintegration into the community. Basically, what Jesus told him in Mark 1:44 is i.e. “don’t make a big fuss out of this, go straight to the temple and let the priests examine you. Then do what the Law commands and offer the sacrifices that you need to offer for your cleansing”. This will be a proof to the priest. We see that this was a priority for Jesus because He sternly charged the man with this instruction and sent him away at once. Jesus cares about the restoration and the reconciliation of the lost and outcast. 

The key to understanding the second reason is right at the end of Mark 1:44 – “for a proof to them”. What ‘proof’ did Jesus intend the priesthood to have? Another word for proof is also testimony – the man was to go straight to the priests to get himself examined and restored to the community, but more importantly, so that having been cleansed, he would give testimony of the one who had cleansed him. The one they call Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus’ power and the miracles that He performed pointed to His divinity. The message for the priesthood would have been loud and clear – the Messiah has come; the Kingdom of God is at hand. And He had come not to overturn the Law, but to fulfill it! So the second reason for Jesus’ instruction to the man was that it was intended to reveal Himself to His people, specifically, to the priests and the religious leaders, the shepherds of God’s people, as the Messiah.

Praise the Lord Anyway! ~ The Rt. Rev. Michael Beckett, OPI

How many times have we heard, “I’ve been through alot this past year and I’ve always wanted to believe in God.. I’ve tried.. but I don’t understand why there’s so much suffering in the world.. why do people beg and plead and pray to God to not let loved ones die.. and they die anyway? What kind of God would allow that? The horrific things people go through and see while praying to God for help.. I don’t get it and saying it’s a part of God’s plan or you just have to have faith doesn’t work for me either.. I’ve prayed about it and listened and tried to understand but I just don’t.. I’m an open-minded person and I respect everyone’s beliefs but I’m just not able to accept that a loving God would let good people suffer.”?

This question is as old as humanity.  First of all, God does not ‘give’ us the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad things that happen in our lives.  Life happens.  Crap happens.  People make poor choices.  Natural disasters occur.  We get sick.  Nowhere does Holy Writ support the claim that any of these things is God’s doing.  What kind of God would we worship if he, indeed, sent us all the trials and tribulations and suffering and horror for which He is blamed?

We have to remember that, even though God is firmly in control, Satan has power and he fights against our Lord.  Ephesians 2:2 says:  “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:1–2, emphasis added). In this text the apostle Paul describes Satan first as a “prince” with power, because he has authentic power in the world (1 John 5:19). This power has been given him by God (Luke 4:6). Satan has power over some illnesses (Luke 13:16; see also 2 Corinthians 12:7—it’s unknown if Paul’s “thorn” was an illness or something else). In some sense, Satan has power over death (Hebrew 2:14). The reason Satan is called a prince rather than a king is because there is only one King—Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 6:15).

Satan also has power over some people. The “sons of disobedience” referred to in Ephesians 2:2 are those who have not trusted Christ as Lord and Savior (cf. Acts 26:18; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Revelation 13:12). The demons are also under the rule of Satan (Matthew 12:24), and one of his titles is “prince of demons” (Matthew 9:34). Satan has a kingdom (Matthew 12:26) and a throne (Revelation 2:13). Satan is called a prince because he is a ruler and possesses power to manifest evil in the world through influencing people and commanding demons.

“The air” in Ephesians 2:2 may refer to the invisible realm above the earth where Satan and his demons move and exist. This space, of course, is the location of the earth’s atmosphere or “air.” In Ephesians 6:12, Paul writes, “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” This evil realm called the “air” could be an actual locality, but it could also be synonymous with the “world” of John 12:31. This whole world is Satan’s domain (Matthew 4:8–9).

Although Satan has power and authority in the current world system in which we exist, his power is limited, always under the sovereign control of God (Job 1:12), and it is temporary (Romans 16:20). God has not revealed all of the why’s and when’s concerning Satan’s rule, but He has made it clear that there is only one way to escape the power of Satan’s dominion, and that is through His Son, Jesus (Acts 26:18; Colossians 1:13–14). It is Jesus who, speaking of the impending cross, declared victory: “Now the prince of this world will be driven out” (John 12:31).

Now, when Satan has so much power, what are we left with?  The Bible DOES say that that he will, when we are suffering temptation provide a way of escape (1 Cor. 10:13). But never does it say that God will not give us more pain and suffering than we can handle.

Many Christians have suffered to the point of death at the hands of executioners, (consider the Holy Martyrs.) Many suffer to the point of death at their own hands. All we can say is that “the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). This may not solve our depression, but it does give us perspective. Even if our depression has caused us enormous doubt, this can be helpful. 

When “bad” things happen to any of God’s children, God is grieved and suffers with us, and this was experienced most vividly in the hurt and suffering of Jesus Christ for all humanity. Any “bad” thing which happens is never the last word. Rather, God is the deepest and last word, and that word is love and eternal life with God.

The Bible clearly teaches that God does not cause us to suffer. For example, the Bible says that when we go through trials, it would be a mistake to say: “I am being tried by God.” Why? Because “with evil things God cannot be tried, nor does he himself try anyone.” (James 1:13) In other words, God never causes the trials we face or the suffering that follows. To do so would be wicked, but “God does not act wickedly.” (Job 34:12.)

If God does not cause us to suffer, then who or what does? Sadly, humans are often victimized by other imperfect humans. (Ecclesiastes 8:9) Additionally, we may face calamities because of “unexpected events”—that is, because of simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. (Ecclesiastes 9:11) The Bible teaches that ultimately “the ruler of this world,” Satan the Devil, is responsible for human suffering, for “the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” (John 12:31; 1 John 5:19) It is Satan—not God—who causes people to suffer.

God is aware of our suffering. From the very start of human suffering, not a single teardrop has gone unnoticed by our loving Father, whose “watchful eyes” see everything. (Psalm 11:4; 56:8) For example, when his worshippers in ancient times were being oppressed, God said: “I have certainly seen the affliction of my people.” But was he only vaguely aware of their pain? No, for he added: “I well know the pains they suffer.” (Exodus 3:7) Many people have found comfort in that truth alone—the thought that God is aware of everything we suffer, even the trials that we or others may not be aware of or fully understand. (Psalm 31:7; Proverbs 14:10.)

God feels for us when we suffer. Our Heavenly Father is not only aware of human suffering but also deeply moved by it. For example, God was sincerely troubled when his ancient worshippers faced trials. “During all their distress it was distressing to him,” says the Bible. (Isaiah 63:9) Although God is vastly superior to humans, he feels empathy for those who suffer—as if their pain were in his heart! Indeed, “Our Heavenly Father is very compassionate and merciful.” (James 5:11) Additionally, Our Heavenly Father helps us to bear our suffering. (Philippians 4:12, 13.)

We must also remember that our Lord Jesus knows what it is to suffer, to mourn.  He wept at the grave of Lazarus, he wept over Jerusalem, and he suffered horrifically during His Passion.

God will end all human suffering. According to the Bible, God will bring an end to the suffering of every human on the planet. By means of His Heavenly Kingdom, God will drastically change the human condition—for the better. Regarding that time, the Bible promises that God “will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4) What about those who have already died? God will bring them back to life here on earth so that they too can enjoy life free from suffering. (John 5:28, 29) Will anyone be plagued by painful memories of past suffering? No, for Our Heavenly Father promises: “The former things will not be called to mind, nor will they come up into the heart.” (Isaiah 65:17.)

Jesus could have come and healed Lazarus when he was still alive.

Instead, He waited to raise him from the dead when he was already in his grave.

God could have made David become king the day after he was anointed.

Instead, He waited 15 years to rise to the throne, many of those years spent fearing for his life, hiding out and running away from his own father-in-law.

God could have spoken to Moses in the desert about sending him to help free His people from slavery 40 days after he ran away from Egypt.

Instead, He made him wait for 40 long years.

God could have gotten Joseph out of prison one year after he was sentenced there.

Instead, he was stuck in that dungeon for 10 years before he was finally set free.

God could have given Abraham the son He promised him when he was still a young man.

Instead, He waited until he was 100 years old and because of physical reasons would have a more difficult time conceiving at that age.

God could have answered prayers and met the needs of these men of God much quicker, but He didn’t.

He made them wait instead.

And He often makes us do the same.

He makes us wait for healing to come after we’ve been praying for years and there is no sign of recovery.

He makes us wait to fulfill His call in our lives after He puts the desire and passion in our hearts to serve Him in a certain way.

He makes us wait to give us the desires of our hearts, whether it’s a baby, a spouse, or a new job.

He makes us wait for direction when we are stuck at a dead end and we don’t know where to go or what to do.

He could answer that same prayer that you’ve been praying for years every night in a millisecond.

That same prayer that has been bringing you to tears.

That same prayer that the longer that it goes unanswered, the more it makes you question whether He even hears.

He kept Moses in a desert for 40 years.

Joseph in a prison cell for 10 years.

Abraham without a child for 100 years.

David on the run for 15 years.

And maybe He is keeping you right where you’re at for the same reason He kept these men for so many years: to build your faith.

To build your faith in a dungeon cell, during the valley in your life where it’s too dark to see and too hard to believe.

To build your dependence on Him when you are barren and empty to see if He is truly all you desire and all you need.

To see how well you will trust and serve Him when you are still stuck in the background somewhere, doing seemingly nothing too significant for Him.

To build your trust in Him when the storm keeps raging, the battle keeps going and breakthrough and victory doesn’t seem near.

That we grow in faith.

That we learn to only depend on Him.

What are you waiting for today?

What longing do you have that seems so far from ever being fulfilled?

What prayer do you keep on praying that seems to never reach God’s ears?

I want to remind you that God is not deaf to your prayers.

He is not blind to your constant tears, to your desires, and to your needs.

IF He is making you wait, there is a very good reason for it.

If He is telling you “no” today, maybe it’s because He has a better “yes” waiting for you tomorrow.

If He is keeping you in the same place you’ve always been today, maybe it’s because He’s helping build your faith before you enter your Promised Land tomorrow.

If He is not healing you or bringing you victory today, maybe it’s because you will have a greater testimony when He waits to help you be an overcomer tomorrow.

Wherever you are at today know that God is right beside you and that there is a purpose for you. Even if that purpose is to wait.

Don’t give up just because you don’t see anything happening today.

Maybe there is nothing physically happening that your eyes can see but there is definitely something happening in the spiritual realm as you learn to rely on Christ.

Don’t allow your waiting period to make you hopeless about what tomorrow will bring.

Instead, let it build your faith and give you even greater hope for what God has prepared for you.

He made some of the greatest men of faith wait.

Don’t be discouraged if He makes you wait as well.

He will come through for you, just like He came through for them.
“Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” – Psalm 27:14