Daily Prayer Reflection: Are we rooted in Christ?

The coming of the kingdom of God cannot be observed, and no one will announce, 'Look, here it is,' or, 'There it is.' For behold, the kingdom of God is among you." Then he said to his disciples, "The days will come when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. There will be those who will say to you, 'Look, there he is,' (or) 'Look, here he is.' Do not go off, do not run in pursuit. Luke 17:20-23

Does it seem to anyone else that we hear more and more people these days trying to predict the end of the world or the second coming? With movies like 2012 hitting the big screen, it can be tempting to start to buy into some of the hype. As we've been doing all week, though, we must remain solid in our foundation and rooted in Christ, or we'll wander all over the place. In this passage from Luke, Jesus speaks to us so clearly today - it's as if he's seen the trailer and is shaking his head saying, "Listen, just stand firm and don't buy into the hype."

In fact, going beyond just telling us to not run after any possibility of his coming again, he tells us rather, that the kingdom of God is here among us. In that time, he was telling the Pharisees and his disciples that God was in their midst. Today, he tells us the same thing - Christ LIVES. We can begin to get into the mindset that Jesus was here 2000 years ago, we're around now trying to live up to his example, and then he'll come again one day (and we try to guess at when). We forget that our God is a living God, alive in our midst, made present to us in the Eucharist, in his in-dwelling Spirit that lives in each of us. If we worry about when Christ may come to the earth in physical form again, we lose sight of his very real presence among us now, and forget that we must continue to follow him today. Do we stay rooted in the living Christ or are we chasing the future?

Let us pray that we might recognize Christ as he reveals himself in our midst each day, remaining rooted in the living God now, following his call to us in the present rather than pining for a future we cannot predict.

Daily Prayer Reflection: Are we willing to stand our ground against evil?

For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. Ephesians 6:12-13

We talk at great length about the power of God in our lives. In this current culture, though, to talk about the power of the evil one is not as comfortable a topic. No one wants to point the finger at something and claim it to be the work of evil. Yet, if we believe in the Word of God, we know that evil works in the world to separate us from God at every turn. From Adam and Eve in the garden to the present day, there is evil at work in the world. To be able to face our struggles, we have to acknowledge that. Once we acknowledge that evil is present, we are more apt to understand the great necessity to protect ourselves with a firm, solid faith - to understand that God does work for good, but He is not the only one at work. If we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, we must be vigilant in protecting that temple. It should impress upon us the need to call upon the name of Jesus with certainty in the midst of our struggles and hardships, and to do so for those around us we see immersed in the darkness of the world.

To name evil when we see it is not to be intolerant of people in our midst. There is a great fear that we will be labeled as intolerant or some type of "-ist" if we speak the Truth about darkness. We must not fear. Truth must always be spoken in charity and without labeling people as evil, but if we do not call out the darkness and bring it into the light of Christ, then we are likely to be overcome by it. We cannot battle evil on our own - as much as movies may lead us to believe we can. The strength of our spirit is great, but it is Christ's Spirit within us, not our own human strength which gives us the fortitude and wisdom to fight the battle.

Make no mistake, the battle that began in Eden continues to this day. We know the end - we know Christ wins. The question is, are we willing to call on His name and stand our ground against evil in the world today?

Let us pray that we might readily call on the Holy Spirit and bring any darkness in our lives into the light of Christ, calling on the name of Jesus to overcome the struggles and battles we (and those around us) face.

Daily Prayer Reflection: Are we passive recipients of God's Word?

Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined. Matthew 7:24-27

We continue on our theme of dwelling and building today with this passage from Matthew. Once again, our lives and our bodies are likened to a house. What strikes me in reading this passage is that it is not simply hearing the words of Christ that strengthen us, but acting on them. It is not enough to passively receive Christ - we must actively practice what He has taught us. We all know that what we learn we do not retain if it is not practiced. That is precisely the wisdom Jesus leaves us with here.

If we listen and act on what He teaches us, we begin to grow more firm in our practiced faith. If we merely listen and do nothing, when push comes to shove, there is no guarantee that we will retain what we have heard. To remain strong, we must be active in practicing our faith, and in living out that which Christ has taught us. Our faith community surrounds us to help us in this. We are called to help each other build ourselves up in Christ, to practice a living faith in our daily lives, to create a solid foundation for those times we are under pressure from the world. Are we helping one another to live out the faith we received from Christ?

Today, pray that we might find ways to act on our faith and remain attentive to the ways that the Spirit presents us with those opportunities throughout our week.

Come, Holy Spirit!

Daily Prayer Reflection: Do we make room for God to dwell in us?

Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16

When we think of a temple or church, what immediately comes to mind? Most likely it is an image of a structure, a building, something external to ourselves. How many of us would readily say that we are worthy to be a house of God? I know I wouldn't. That is, however, exactly what Paul reminds us that we are - a temple of our living God. If we remembered this and really took it to heart, how would we change our lives? Apart from the blatantly physical ramifications (for instance, perhaps God does NOT like McDonald's quite as much as I do), how would our behavior toward others change? How would our churches change?

This verse is at the culmination of Paul's rebuke of some of the early churches who are already in their time creating division by claiming to belong to one or another apostle, acting out of a spirit of jealousy and rivalry. We, as children of God, have one foundation - Jesus Christ. We seek unity in and under Him, and in the one Spirit by which we were baptized. In today's day and age, the divisions are endless. How do we contribute to those divisions?

Let us pray that we might live in complete awareness of the one Spirit of God that dwells within each of us, and draw each other closer to the source of life that is Christ our Lord. May we work to eliminate all division in the body of Christ, calling on the Holy Spirit to remove any trace of jealousy, rivalry, selfishness and pride from our midst, making us truly one Body under Christ once again.

Come, Lord Jesus, come!