We receive strength and glimpses of this eternity in the Sacraments, which is why the Church constantly reminds us to receive them, particularly Reconciliation and the Eucharist.
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There is a story that Pope St. John Paul II, in the midst of his pastoral travels that took him all over the world, fell ill between two of these trips. Doctors ordered him to rest in bed, but he was insistent that God had entrusted him with the mission to shepherd the people of this world to a closer union with God. On this feast of All Saints, may we too be as worried about our own holiness and the holiness of those we hold dear. You know someone in authority is near,and you call to them to help you; the people in the crowd tell you to stop shouting and making a fuss.
We see that scenario played out in our Gospel passage this week from St. Mark, where Jesus encounters Bartimaeus, the blind man. Jesus is ministering and moving about, generating a lot of interest and crowds. People are coming to see him, to touch him, to hear what he has to say.
Something profound is happening here. Bartimaeus, living in his blindness, recognizes that someone in authority, with great power, is nearby. But the crowd around Bartimaeus tells him to be quiet. Are we not all invited to live a life in union with God and with each other? Are we not called to bring others to come to know, love and serve God? And it is because of that faith, that Jesus heals Bartimaeus; and the gospel says Bartimaeus followed Him.
This particular passage gives us a very clear example of the choices we can make in our own lives in bringing about the Kingdom of God. It should be readily apparent that we must belong to the second group, the group that evangelizes, the group that, by a lived example, draws others to the healing love of Jesus.
Is it easy? There is a common bit of wisdom in a phrase that most of us have heard at one time or another; sometimes it is spoken in relation to our jobs, or our homes, or even our families. It often centres on our personal wants or desires, our goals or even our prayers: That bit of wisdom is, be careful what you ask for — you just might get it.
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It also suggests that with thing or situation we want, we also receive additional work, or duties or responsibilities or difficulties. Our Gospel illustrates this in the request of the apostles Sts. James and John to Jesus. These two brothers, the Sons of Zebedee ask Jesus to grant them seats at his right and his left when he enters into his glory.
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In Jesus time, whenever anyone held a banquet, the places of honour were the seats next to the host. If the person hosting the banquet was someone particularly important, say royalty or a high official, the seats at his right and left hand were reserved for guests of the highest importance; it would be a way for all the others at the feast to see these particular guests and recognize how important at least in the public eye they were. Without taking the time to understand what it is that Jesus has even asked them, and without considering what sharing the cup or sharing His baptism really means.
Again in this culture, at a great feast, if a person of high rank hosted it, he would have a special cup, a prized possession. To be invited to drink from this cup was reserved to the most important guests, and was a sign of a high honour being bestowed by the host. It may be that this was the image of sharing the cup that James and John were thinking of. Biblical scholars and historians tell us that James and John were once disciples of John the Baptist, likely present when Jesus was baptized in the Jordan. But the cup that Jesus is talking about is the cup of his suffering, of service, and the baptism is an entering into His passion and death; because without the passion and crucifixion, there cannot be a resurrection.
Without the suffering and the service, there cannot be a place in the Kingdom. We know that as Christians, when we serve others, it is without expectation of being repaid, or without consideration of gaining some type of advantage over another. But the giving of our lives as a ransom for others takes some deeper consideration; maybe it even makes us a little afraid because it sounds like something so far beyond our experience. It sounds like something that is only in the realm of martyrs or great Saints in history.
John would outlive all the other Apostles, ancient traditions tell us he survived two attempts on his life for witnessing to Jesus. People who put aside their own wants and goals to care for an aging parent have touched on this ideal. Anyone who sets aside their own wants and comforts and dedicates themselves to the service of others as a lifestyle are definitely in touch with this ideal. In their own way, they have given their lives as a ransom for someone else.
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This sharing of the cup and baptism of Jesus will not be without trials: Jesus never promised that it would be easy: but he led by example for each of us, and continues to teach and to lead us: in our second reading, St. Paul tells the Hebrews Jesus is able to sympathize with us in our weakness because he is like us in every way except sin: he was tested and hurt as we can be. But he is always there to approach, so that we may receive the grace to help us in times of need; the strength we need to persevere in sharing that cup and baptism.
As if the sum total of our life and existence is the amount of material wealth we have or have not accumulated. As people of faith, we know that this mindset is very narrow; our hearts and our souls tell us that there is much more to our life and our passage from it than a bank statement or a list of possessions. In our Gospel passage this week, we read of an encounter between Jesus and a rich man; we are given an insight into the reaction of the human heart when we deny ourselves a deeper, closer relationship with Jesus.
The man asks Jesus what he has to do to gain eternal life — which is an eternity with God. But the words St. The most important thing for me is that she is happy, and she is. The next thing we need to do is the Ikea shop. No doubt there will be other misty eyed mothers pushing heaving trolleys around alongside us.
Isabella… The thought of going to university is really exciting to me — making new friends, exploring a brand new city and shaping my identity. Aida… Our family of four has just returned from a long summer spent away and we all feel a bit nervous about Luka starting at his new school next week. It is a huge change for him, and us, as he is moving from a small state primary school to a bigger private secondary school.
One of the things that concerns him, and us, is that most of the other children will be coming from prep schools and will be more familiar with the private school system. My husband and I have talked to him about our first days at secondary school and how we felt apprehensive about it to too, and how he will not be alone in feeling like that, that it will be the same for many of his classmates too. However, it really is a big step for us all.
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It feels like overnight we have to let go of our baby boy and are now sending him out into the big wide world. Luka himself is very excited, but I know he is also quite nervous so we are trying not to show that we are nervous too and instead highlight the positives of it all — the new challenges, the friendships, the school trips, this is what we are focussing on. I have done a lot of tests this year and now I will have more.
I am also quite unhappy about leaving my primary school after seven years spent there. And I am very much looking forward to making new friends and stepping up to the new challenges that secondary school will bring, while hopefully having some fun along the way. Rachel… I have mixed emotions about Miller starting nursery school. On the one hand I feel relieved that I will have more time to focus on my business, but I also feel sad that our youngest is already old enough to go to a school nursery.
Also, knowing how tough the curriculum is from day one once they start in Reception, I feel that being in a school setting from nursery age is best in terms of preparing him for that. At the same time though I feel anxious that it will be a lot for him to be there from 9am until 3. But I am excited for him. Also a highlight for him was buying his school shoes.
I am looking forward to seeing the giant snail every day, he lives in the classroom. I am also going to get to play with Charlie a lot, he is my friend. The best thing about going to school is that I will get to play the piano that is in the playground. Having said that I do feel her nerves. None of the teachers know her so she is starting with a blank sheet giving her the chance to reinvent herself. I guess I kind of feel like I need a bit of a change.
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