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I thought these prayers would come in handy...

Edited by: ON_A_DIET at: 12/27/2019 (22:27)
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12/23/19 9:47 P

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Lead Me Lord

Readings

Malachi 3:1-4; 23-24
Psalm 25: Lift up your heads and see; your redemption is near at hand.
Luke 1:57-66

Reflection

Surely the hand of the Lord was with him. The hand of the Lord is with
you who fear the Lord. Many do not wish to fear the Lord. Many like to
love “to choose and see my path,” until, as St. John Henry Cardinal
Newman wrote after a life-changing experience, “...now Lead Thou me on!”

Fear not the Lord, listen not to the messenger of the Lord at your peril
and doom. Those who do listen will find themselves “In the calm light of
everlasting life,” as Newman closed his poem “Lead Kindly Light.” The
original title was “Pillar of Cloud” as he was seriously ill and in a
dense fog out at sea in a ship that had no wind to push it forward.
Deeply depressing.

Seeing a young mother, with two born children, pregnant with a third,
totally abandoned, far from home with little prospects of any family
support, having trust that the Lord has a plan for her is amazing and
hope-filled. She had childlike faith and a mother’s strong will.

“Lead, Saviour, lead me home in childlike faith / Home to my God. /
To rest forever after earthly strife / In the calm light of everlasting
life.” How I’ve seen some people, like Newman himself must have, live
in that “calm of light” even in this troubled world.

Newman’s poem was set to music and sung, as the prayer it is, by people
on one of the Titanic's lifeboats. Also by soldiers in the trenches in
World War I. Also courageously by women who were being herded by Nazi
S.S. troops into a concentration camp.

As I draw near to the overwhelming joy and challenge of Christ’s birth,
do I choose to take the hand of the Lord, or do I try to lead by my own
hand?

Prayer

Lord, whatever situation I find myself in today, help me to take Your
hand, let You choose my path, let me be abandoned to You as a child.
I trust in You. Lead me on. Amen.

Monday, December 23
“‘Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way
before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple;
and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is
coming,’ says the Lord of hosts.” Malachi 3:1

As you await the birth of Christ, take time to renew your faith. Jesus
prepares the way for us, removing all obstacles on the road to holiness
and redemption.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

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Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

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Sunday, December 22

“The Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying: ‘Ask for a sign from the Lord,
your God; let it be deep as the netherworld, or high as the sky!’
But Ahaz answered, ‘I will not ask! I will not tempt the Lord!’”
Isaiah 7:10-12

Look for signs of God's presence in your life. Though you may not
see Him, trust that He is always near, especially when you need
Him most.

The Time Is Nigh, Are You?
Readings

Isaiah 7:10-14
Psalm 24: Let the Lord enter; he is king of glory.
Romans 1:1-7
Matthew 1:18 - 24

Reflection

The time is nigh for the baby to be born. Fear, anxiety, wonder,
amazement. Mothers nest. Some, I have seen, become incredibly
active, even to the point of rearranging whole rooms, cleaning
out basements, attics, or closets. Others become sedate, quiet,
contemplative, reflective. Fathers have their steady reaction:
work, work, work. Of course, inside it may be a jumble of emotions
or an incredible, thoughtful anticipation. Of course, a baby can
be a surprise, in that, birth can happen like a thief in the night,
on a day unexpected.

During this Advent, have you been preparing prayerfully, frenetically,
thoughtfully, emotionally? Have you allowed yourself the time to think
or felt there’s no time to think or pray? No matter how many challenges,
the Lord is coming. The Lord is calling you. The Lord who entered this
world through conception and birth is still here with you. Are you here
with Him?

Do not be afraid, the Angel tells Joseph in a dream no less. Let the Lord
enter. To all the beloved you are called to be holy, too. Do not be afraid.
Let the Lord enter. You are called to be holy.

Prayer

Angel of the Lord who spoke to Joseph, speak to me, too. Help me to not be
afraid. Help me to welcome Mary and Jesus into my house. Help me to grow in
the vocation God has given me. Help me to know Emmanuel, that God is with us.
Amen.



Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

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Love and Joy Come to You

Readings

Song of Songs 2:8-14 or Zephaniah 3:14-18A
Psalm 33: Exult, you just, in the Lord! Sing to him a new song.
Luke 1:39-45

Reflection

On this last Saturday before Christmas, before the culmination of
our Journey Toward Light, there is a current of joy running through
all of our readings, a current of love and joy. In the Gospel, we
read of Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard
Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth,
filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said,
"... At the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the
infant in my womb leaped for joy.”

Read through the Scripture readings. Be conscious of love and joy.
God is love. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.
Our whole journey, our whole life, it’s always been about love. And
with the love of God, joy comes to us as well. Sometimes we think we
are coming to God, to the baby in the manger. But it’s even truer
that God is coming to us. The baby comes to us. We are on a journey,
yes, but it is God coming to us. He first loved us. He is seeking
what is lost.

Hark! my lover–here he comes springing across the mountains, leaping
across the hills.

The lover of our soul comes, then he calls us to come! Listen to God
tenderly calling us in the imagery of a lover calling his beloved:
"Arise, my beloved, my dove, my beautiful one, and come! … O my dove
in the clefts of the rock, in the secret recesses of the cliff, Let
me see you, let me hear your voice, For your voice is sweet, and you
are lovely." God created us in his image. He loves us. Jesus desires
our love. He rejoices in our love. He will rejoice over you with
gladness, and renew you in his love, He will sing joyfully because of
you, as one sings at festivals.

He rejoices over us. We also can rejoice in him. Exult, you just, in
the Lord! Sing to him a new song. Shout for joy, O daughter Zion! Sing
joyfully, O Israel! Be glad and exult with all your heart, O daughter
Jerusalem! The LORD has removed the judgment against you, he has turned
away your enemies; The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst, you
have no further misfortune to fear. On that day, it shall be said to
Jerusalem: Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged! The LORD, your God,
is in your midst, a mighty savior!

God rejoices over us. We rejoice in the birth of the Son of God. The
birth of a child is meant to bring joy. Our moms, amidst the struggles
of life, rejoice in the birth of their children. Our plans may come to
naught. We may not understand God’s plans. But the plan of the LORD
stands forever. Get ready to rejoice in the birth of Christ! Love and
joy come to you!

Prayer

O Emmanuel, our King and Giver of Law: come to save us, Lord our God!
We desperately need saving. We desperately need your love. Thank you
for coming to me. Thank you for calling me. Thank you for loving me.
I rejoice in your love. I trust in your plans. I love you. No matter
what struggles I face, help me to live in your love and in your joy.
Please help all those in need, especially our moms and babies. May
they also live in your love and joy. Love and joy, come to us all.
Amen!

Saturday, December 21
“...rejoice and exult with all your heart...the Lord has taken away
His judgments against you, He has cleared away your enemies. The King
of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst...” Zephaniah 3:14-15

Think about your relationships with family and friends; are you holding
any grudges? Work on letting them go and try to forgive someone who has
wronged you or made a mistake.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


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IN THE FACE OUR OUR NEIGHBOR

Whoever has fed, welcomed, visited, loved on the the least and poorest of me, will have done it to the Son of God. Let us entrust ourselves to the maternal intercession of Mary, the Mother of Jesus and our mother, that she may help us this holy Christmastide, which is already close at hand, to see in the face of our neighbor, especially the weakest and most marginalized people, the image of the Son of God made man.

REFLECTION: Who are the weakest among you? Who are the marginalize? We shoudl certainly help the poor, especially in this season, but there may be others around us who need our help as well. Are there people in your parish, neighborhood, or family you could reach out to? How could you treat them like Jesus?

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

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Enlarge Your Hearts and Say Yes

Readings

Isaiah 7:10-14
Psalm 24: Let the Lord enter; he is the king of glory.
Luke 1:26-38

Reflection

Do you ever feel like you weary God? This was the rebuke King Ahaz
received in today’s first reading from Isaiah: Listen, O house of
David! Is it not enough for you to weary men, must you also weary
my God? Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the
virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.

I am sure I weary God many times with many things: unbelief, sin,
being slow to obedience, doubt, fear, selfishness. You name it.
But even in the rebuke of King Ahaz, we have the greatest of
promises: the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall name
him Emmanuel.


Rest assured, God is greater than any weariness we cause. But we
also experience weariness. Sometimes our weariness is the result
of the darkness of this world. We feel worn down by another
circumstance to overcome, another battle to fight. We do walk in
dark times, but we have seen a great light. The people who sit in
darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land
overshadowed by death light has arisen. (Matthew 4 fulfilling
Isaiah 9)

This is what Advent is all about. This is what Advent prepares us
for. Death and darkness are about to be overcome in the joy and
light of Christmas. We are getting close!

How can we prepare ourselves today? How can we overcome any
weariness or darkness in our lives?

First, give God more room in your heart and in your life. In today’s
psalm, the response is “Let the Lord enter; he is the king of glory.”
Psalm 24 also says: Lift up your heads, O gates; be lifted, you
ancient portals, that the king of glory may enter. Our God, the king
of glory is bigger and more powerful than we can ever imagine. The
gates to your heart need to be larger. Enlarge your hearts that the
King of Glory can enter in today in a greater and more profound way.
Make room for God. Think practically. If you want to bring more of
God into your house, get rid of the junk lying around.

Second, give God your “yes” like Mary. Mary said, "Behold, I am the
handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word."
Say yes to God. In big ways and in small ways. Think practically.
Who is going to come into your home, if you are always saying no?

Prayer

O Key of David, opening the gates of God's eternal Kingdom: come
and free the prisoners of darkness! Jesus, take your key, free me
from darkness and open the gates to your eternal Kingdom. Thank you
for inviting me in. I also give you the key to my heart. I invite
you to enter. Help me to enlarge the gates to my heart. Help me to
give you more room. Help me to clear out the junk. I want to say yes
like Mary. Please give me the grace to do so. Yes, Lord. May you do
with me as you will. Amen!

Friday, December 20
“And coming to her, he said, ‘Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with
you.’ But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what
sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, ‘Do not be
afraid, Mary...’” Luke 1:28-30

God is always with us, especially in our deepest moments of anxiety,
doubt, loss and fear. If you are feeling any of these emotions right
now, offer them to God.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


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A Page Out of Joseph’s Book

Readings

Jeremiah 23:5-8
Psalm 72: Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of
peace for ever.
Matthew 1:18-25

Reflection

At the first coming of Jesus as a baby, we see the beginning of
the fulfillment of the prophecy from Isaiah 11: But a shoot shall
sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall
blossom.

We also await the second coming of Jesus, to bring to fulfillment
the prophecy of Jeremiah from our first reading: Behold, the days
are coming, says the LORD, when I will raise up a righteous shoot
to David; As king, he shall reign and govern wisely, he shall do
what is just and right in the land. We have also heard multiple
times during this Advent season the Responsorial Psalm: Justice
shall flourish in his time and fullness of peace for ever.

We long for Jesus to come again. We long for the complete
fulfillment of the Kingdom of God when all will be made right.
These are promises to hold onto. In today’s Gospel, we hear two
more great promises that were given to Joseph in a dream:

[Mary] will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.
Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means "God is with us."

Jesus saves us from our sins and is with us. Great promises to
hold onto, to be sure.

Now, let’s learn something about Joseph from today’s Gospel.
When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded
him and took his wife into his home. In fact, every time the angel
of the Lord comes to Joseph in his dreams, the next thing you read
is Joseph taking action and obeying. Take Mary into your home to
be your wife. Name the child Jesus. Flee to Egypt. Take Mary and
Jesus back to Israel. Go to the region of Galilee.

We have powerful promises to hold onto. let’s thank the Lord. We
want the Kingdom of God to come, let’s pray for it. We want to do
God’s will, let’s take a page out of Joseph’s book. We have the
word of God and the catechism of the church, let’s be obedient.
We have the teachings on the spiritual and corporal works of mercy,
let’s put them into action. Let’s each of us do our part to bring
God’s kingdom to them.


Prayer

O Leader of the House of Israel, giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai:
come to rescue us with your mighty power. You have given us great
and precious promises, bring them to fulfillment. Speak to us
through your word, through Mass, through the teachings of the church.
Give us the desire and will to obey like Joseph. Meet the needs of
moms, babies and families everywhere. Help me to take action and do m
my part to bring your kingdom to earth. Amen!

Wednesday, December 18

“...an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph,
son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child
who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son;
and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their
sins.’” Matthew 1:20-21

God gave us the greatest gift, offering His only Son for us. What can you
do today to honor His loving sacrifice? During this gift-giving season, p
erhaps you can provide a Christmas miracle for a deserving family within
your community or parish.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


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A COURAGEOUS PRAYER

Miracles happen. But they need prayer! A courageous prayer, that struggles for that miracle. Not like those prayers of courtesy: Ah, I will pray for you! Followed by one Our Father, a Halil Mary, and then I forget. No! It takes a brave prayer like that of Abraham who was struggling with the Lord to save the city, like that of Moses who prayed , his hands held high when he grew weary. --- Homily, Domus Sanctae Marthae, May 20, 2013

REFLECTION: Is your prayer brave? Is it courageous? Are you confident that courageous prayer can work miracles? Pray for others with confidence.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

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The Big Picture

Readings

Genesis 49:2, 8-10
Psalm 72: Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of
peace for ever.

Matthew 1:1-17

Reflection

Jacob called his sons and said to them: "Assemble and listen,
sons of Jacob, listen to Israel, your father… The scepter shall
never depart from Judah.”

We hear from our first reading in Genesis, a prophetic utterance
from Jacob regarding his son Judah. Kings will come from Judah.
The Gospel reading today is the genealogy from Abraham to Jesus,
the King of kings.

The interesting thing about the genealogy of Jesus, besides tracing
the line of Jesus through the kings of Judah, is the amount of
scandal you find. Jacob himself had a colorful life, deceiving his
brother out of his inheritance, and being deceived by his father-in-law
into marrying the wrong daughter. Judah’s son came through his
daughter-in-law, Tamar, who deceived Judah by disguising herself as a
prostitute. David had one of his mighty warriors killed to cover up
the affair he had with his wife, Bathsheba. Solomon had 300 wives and
700 concubines. A number of the ancestor kings of Jesus are described
as doing “evil in the sight of the Lord.” Eventually, the Jews go into
exile in Babylon.

How bleak things would have looked for the Jews in exile and at many
points before and after. Would you have kept the faith? Would you have
looked at the circumstances and said the prophecies of a Messiah are
hopeless? Would you have stayed on the path?

Let’s shift now to the present day. A well-known media personality,
Sean Hannity, recently announced he was leaving the Catholic church because
of “institutionalized corruption.” We’ve all heard the different scandals
in the church. Might you feel like one of the ancient Jews living during
one of the dark days of exile? The genealogy of Jesus gives us the big
picture. In retrospect, we can see that Jacob’s prophecy is fulfilled in
Jesus. But it’s an incomplete prophecy, isn’t it? Even in Jesus’ life,
we don’t have the final fulfillment yet.

There’s light at Jesus’ birth, but what would you have done after his
crucifixion? What would you have done when Judas, one of the twelve
apostles, betrayed Jesus? Would you have left the path when the apostle
Peter, the one on whom Jesus said he would build the church, denied knowing
Jesus? Scandals were there at the beginning. And they are not going away
any time soon. Are you thinking of leaving the path? Sometimes we journey
in darkness. Times are confusing. Remember the big picture, though we cannot
see the complete path before us. Remember that Jesus himself said the gates
of hell shall not prevail against the church. Stay on the path! Stay in the
church! Have faith! Stay with Jesus!

Prayer

O Wisdom of our God Most High, guiding creation with power and love: come to
teach us the path of knowledge! Today, help me stay on the path. Help me to
keep my eyes on my destination. No matter the darkness, no matter the
circumstances, help me to stay the course. Jesus, I believe in you. Jesus,
I trust in you. Help me to remember the big picture. Amen!

Tuesday, December 17
“The mountains shall yield peace for the people, and the hills
justice. He shall defend the afflicted among the people, save
the children of the poor...” Psalm 72:3-4

There are so many people living in despair, loneliness and poverty
around the world. Consider making a sacrifice—even just a small
one—to help someone less fortunate. This can be as simple as
spending some time with a person living alone, praying for someone
in need or if you have the means, sending a donation to your favorite
charity.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


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Fences

Readings

Numbers 24:2-7, 15-17A
Psalm 25: Teach me your ways, O Lord.
Matthew 21:23-27

Reflection

Fences. They might make for good neighbors, but they are not good
for our faith.

The first reading today gives us two of the oracles of Balaam, son
of Beor. His utterances contain prophetic blessings regarding the
people of Israel, concluding in our reading from Numbers with a
prophecy pertaining to the coming of Jesus: A star shall advance
from Jacob, and a staff shall rise from Israel.

The background of Balaam, not found in today’s reading, is also
interesting. He could be called a religious compromiser. He wanted
to straddle the fence. In terms of our Journey Toward Light, he
tried to walk two paths. His oracles declared truth, yet he was
hired by an enemy king to curse Israel.

On his way to the enemy, Balaam is famous for his donkey talking
to him, saving him from “the angel of the LORD standing in the
road with sword drawn.” We read elsewhere in Numbers that Balaam’s
advice led the Israelites to unfaithfulness. In the end, Balaam was
killed in Israel’s battle against the Midianites. Not a great legacy.

The chief priests and the elders of Israel in today’s Gospel also
straddle the fence, but they are more calculating. Jesus asks them
a simple question: “Where was John's baptism from? Was it of heavenly
or of human origin?” They don’t give an answer. They won’t make a
commitment. What do the polls say? What is the popular opinion? It
doesn’t matter what I believe, which answer brings a better result
for me?

Whether we straddle the religious fence because we want the “benefits”
of both sides, or we won’t commit because we can’t decide what’s going
to play out the best for us in the end, we need to come to terms with
Jesus. Are we on his path or not?

If I say,“Teach me your ways, O Lord,” the response of today’s psalm,
it presumes that I both desire his ways and will follow what I am
taught. Why do I want to learn from Jesus, if I will not follow what
I learn. It is a time for action. It is time for me to do the word,
not only hear it. It’s time to go all in. It’s time to live what I
say I believe. It’s time to commit. It’s time for me to get off the
fence. What about you?

Prayer

Jesus, as I continue to prepare in Advent for your birth at Christmas,
help me to recognize the fences I straddle. My desire is to be completely
on your path, to be completely yours. Please give me the strength of
will to commit every part of my life to you. Teach me your ways! Give me
the grace to live what I learn from you. I know I’m not the only one on
your path. Help all those who travel your path. In Jesus’ name, amen!

Monday, December 16
“Your ways, O Lord, make known to me; teach me Your paths, guide me in
Your truth and teach me, for You are my God my Savior...” Psalm 25:4-5

Has there been something troubling you lately that you cannot resolve?
Examine your conscience and ask God to guide your heart.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


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THE GREATNESS OF HIS MERCY

The Third Sunday of Advent....is called Gaudete Sunday; that is the Sunday of joy...

God is he who comes to save us and who seeks to help, especially those who are fearful of heart....We are invited to strengthen the weak hands, to make firm the feeble knees, to be stron and to fear not, because our God always shows us the greatness of his mercy. He gives us the strength to go forward. --- Angelus, December 15, 2013

REFLECTION: If we want to see the greatness of God's mercy, then we need to be bold enough to open our lives and weaknesses to him each day. Pray for the courage to do so!

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


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Prophets & Persecution

Readings

Sirach 48:1-4, 9-11
Psalm 80: Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we
shall be saved.
Matthew 17:9A, 10-13

Reflection

Three people join our journey today. In Sirach, we read about the
fiery prophet Elijah. He called down fire from heaven and was taken
up into heaven in a fiery chariot. He boldly confronted the evils
of Ahab, King of Israel, but he also fled into the desert when Jezebel
the queen sought to kill him.

The Gospel reading begins right after the transfiguration, as Jesus and
his disciples are coming down the mountain. They have questions about
Elijah, but Jesus alludes to John the Baptist who “will go before him
in the spirit and power of Elijah.” John is also a fiery prophet persecuted
by King Herod and his wife, eventually executed by Herod through the
machinations of Herodias.

Lastly, today is the memorial of Saint John of the Cross, Priest and Doctor
of the Church. He sought to reform his Carmelite order. Though his reforms
were approved, he was cast into prison by the elders of his own order, only
escaping after nine months at the risk of his own life. Though persecuted,
he became a great mystic and doctor of the church.

Two basic themes emerge in these three men: They spoke up and were persecuted
for doing so; They did what was right and suffered for it.

As we travel this path, we also can expect resistance, even persecution.
As practical examples, think of the courage of our mothers to have their
babies in very difficult circumstances. Some moms have to leave their
families because they are pressured to abort to receive their help. Many
worry how they will provide for themselves and a new baby. Others have
been counseled it is easier to just make the “problem” go away.

Take courage today, by the example of moms who choose life. Let your light
shine before the world, come what may. Take heart in our examples of faith
who have walked this journey before us.

Prayer

Oh God, please give me courage today to walk this journey, to live my faith
and to let my light shine. When resistance or persecution comes, be with me
and help me to be strong. Help all the moms who are bravely choosing life.
Provide for their needs. Bless their children. Help the many organizations
that give assistance to moms in need. Fill me with the fire of your Holy
Spirit, that I may bravely walk the path chosen for me. Amen. St. John of
the Cross, pray for us!

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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Who Are You Following?

Readings

Isaiah 48:17-19
Psalm 1: Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.
Matthew 11:16-19

Reflection

Pay close attention to the word “follow” today. Those who follow you,
Lord, will have the light of life.

Today is the memorial of Saint Lucy, Virgin and Martyr, whose very
name means light. On our Journey Toward Light, we need light to see.
But, a question to ask: Whose path are you on today? Who are you following?

In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus speaks to the crowds in general:

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they said, “He is
possessed by a demon.” The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they
said, “Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors
and sinners.”

Essentially, the sentiment is, “I can’t follow John, it’s too hard, and
besides, he’s crazy. I can’t follow Jesus, he’s too easy and hangs out
with sinners.” They stay on their own path. They are not willing to
follow. But what about us?

We say we love Jesus. But are we walking on our own path? Are we asking
Jesus to follow us on the path we have chosen? Or are we humble enough
to walk on his path, choose his ways, and follow him?

Isaiah says in chapter 55, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are
your ways my ways... For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so
are my ways higher than your ways, my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

Padre Pio said, “Self-love never dies before we do.” There is always the
temptation to follow our own ways. But Jesus invites us to follow him. As
Isaiah says in today’s first reading, I, the LORD, your God, teach you what
is for your good, and lead you on the way you should go.

I invite you to take a moment. Imagine you are one of the disciples with
Jesus. Your sole intent is to follow him. When he is teaching, you are
sitting there closely following every word he says. When he gets up, you
go with him. You watch what he does. You see a man blind from birth receive
his sight. You are there when he forgives the adulterous woman. You are
amazed as Lazarus staggers from his tomb still wrapped in his burial clothes.
You see his compassion for the crowds, the lost, the poor, the sick, the
children. Jesus looks straight at you, challenging you to die to yourself,
take up your cross and follow him. After reading this, close your eyes and
imagine for yourself what it is like to follow Jesus.

Prayer

Jesus, I want to follow you today. I admit that I often go my own way, and
want you to walk on my path. Forgive me, Lord. Help me to realize what it
truly means to follow you. I want to be your disciple. Your word is a lamp
for my feet, a light for my path. Help me to know your word. Shine the light
of your word – not on my path – but on your path. Help me to stay on your
path. Please give me the desire, the will and the grace to follow you. Amen.

Friday, December 13

“Blessed the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked nor walks in the
way of sinners, nor sits in the company of the insolent, but delights in the
law of the Lord…” Psalm 1:1-2

Have you heard the phrase, ‘pay it forward?’ Consider setting a positive
example for others around you by performing a simple deed like buying a cup
of coffee for the next person in line; putting a quarter in an expired
parking meter so someone doesn’t get a ticket; or simply smiling at someone
who seems to be having a tough day.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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Glad you are enjoying the reflections.


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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I love your post ......it was my Grandmas birthday...born 1906..thank you emoticon


Take time to THINK...It is the source of power.Take Time to READ..It is the fountain of wisdom.
Take time to PRAY..It is the greatest power on earth. Take Time to LOVE and BE LOVED..It is a God-given privilege.
Be FRIENDLY, It is the road to happiness.. take time to LAUGH..it is the music of the soul.
Take time to Give it is too short a day to be selfish.. Take time to DO CHARITY..
it is the key to heaven.
I live in El Paso, TX


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Silence

Readings

Zechariah 2:14-17 or Revelation 11:19A; 12:1-6A; 10AB
Judith 13: You are the highest honor of our race.
Luke 1:26-38 or Luke 1:39-47

Reflection

Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who is the patroness
of the Americas and the pro-life movement. What an important feast
day as we travel the road to Bethlehem!

We know things are not right in this world. As they say, it’s not
rocket science to see and understand this. When Our Lady appeared
to the Indian convert Juan Diego in 1531, things were not right
then either. An estimated 20,000 people were sacrificed a year
in the Aztec Empire. These numbers include children.

Child sacrifice was not exclusive to the Aztecs, but other South
American cultures as well. Within 10 years of Our Lady’s appearance,
ten million natives were converted and baptized into the Catholic
church and human sacrifice ended in Mexico.

The great battle still rages between Our Lady’s children and the devil:

A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with
the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.
Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth, to
devour her child when she gave birth.

The first reading from Zechariah says: Silence, all mankind, in the
presence of the LORD! For he stirs forth from his holy dwelling.

Perhaps today is a day to share few words, to spend some extra
time in silence recognizing the power of God that came through
Our Lady of Guadalupe and meditating on the following Scriptures
from Zechariah and Revelation:

See, I am coming to dwell among you, says the LORD.

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:

“Now have salvation and power come, and the Kingdom of our God and
the authority of his Anointed.”

Prayer

Lord, we know you desire conversion. We know you care about all of us,
especially the weak and vulnerable among us. Through the intercession
of Our Lady of Guadalupe, we pray for the conversion of hearts and the
end of abortion. We pray that you would protect all life, from the womb
to natural death. Protect us from the enemy. Help us to care for our own
families with great compassion and love, entrusting them to Our Lady.
Protect and provide for mothers everywhere, those with children and
those waiting for their birth. Amen!

Thursday, December 12
“The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor
with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name Him Jesus.’” Luke 1:30-31

Mary trusted in God’s plan for her, even though she did not fully understand
it. What is God asking of you? Will you respond with ‘...let it be done to
me according to your word...’? (Luke 1:38)

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

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i am reading the Sacred Advent reflection from loyola ministry. today's made me think. normally i hate going out in the winter. i dont like the cold. todays med said -

don’t try to avoid the weather; go out into it.... bundle up, go for walks, explore the cold outdoors, be active in it.

there was more to it but it made me realize how much i hide away from something that mifght seem unpleasant but if i do a little planning, it can be fun and i can be happy i did it

Tammy, Scarlet Dragons
CST


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Comfort for the Journey

Readings

Isaiah 40:1-11
Psalm 96: The Lord our God comes with power
Matthew 18:12-14

Reflection

Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God.

The journey is not always easy. Of course, as creatures of the
flesh, we desire and look for comfort. A comfortable chair to
sit on. A warm comfortable bed to sleep in. Nice presents around
the Christmas tree, to bring comfort and convenience into our lives.
But our journey with Mary and Joseph to the Light is not about
creature comforts. The comfort our Father has for us answers the
deepest needs of our hearts and souls.

Many of us have been on this journey of life for a long time. If
you are younger, you will soon come to know that each passing year
brings the realization that our lives are so fleeting. The material
or worldly things we have sought in the past haven’t brought the
deeper comfort we need.

Isaiah depicts our condition well:

All flesh is grass,
and all their glory like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower wilts,
when the breath of the LORD blows upon it.
So then, the people is the grass.

This may not seem like comfort at first. Our bodies and all of the
physical things of this world are passing away. Things wear out and
break. We lose things, we lose people. Rust and moth corrupt. We grow
old and all of the things we grasp and hold onto, slip through our
hands like sand in an hourglass. Nothing of this world that we cling
to lasts. Where is the comfort?

Isaiah continues:

Though the grass withers and the flower wilts,
the word of our God stands forever.

Here is where the real comfort of today's readings begins: The word of
our God stands forever. And what does this word say to us today, what
comfort does it bring on our journey?

Like a shepherd he feeds his flock;
in his arms he gathers the lambs,
Carrying them in his bosom,
and leading the ewes with care.

Can you find comfort in this today? Jesus leads us with care. Can let
you let yourself be carried in the bosom of our Good Shepherd? What
comfort! He searches for each one of us particularly. Even if we have
strayed off the path, our Shepherd is seeking us. He will carry us on
his shoulders. When we need extra emotional and spiritual comfort in
our lives, he holds us close to his heart, he carries us in his bosom.
Once on the path, Jesus leads us with care.

Prayer

Jesus, my Good God and Good Shepherd, lead me. Help me to realize that
this world is passing away, and that ultimate comfort is found in your
word, the Word made flesh, that stands forever. Bring me back if I have
strayed from your path. Lead me with care today. Hold me close to your
bosom during the hard days and sorrows of this world. For those who lack
basic comforts like food, clothing and shelter, help me to be an answer
to their prayers. I ask all of this, trusting in the care of my Good
Shepherd, Jesus. Amen!

Tuesday, December 10

“Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice; let the sea and what
fills it resound; let the plains be joyful and all that is in them! Then
let all the trees of the forest rejoice.” Psalm 96:11-12

Today, sit in quiet reflection for a few moments outdoors and allow yourself
to be embraced by all of God’s creations.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

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Do Not Fear

Readings

Genesis 3:9-15, 20
Psalm 98: Sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvelous deeds.
Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12
Luke 1:26-38

Reflection

Since yesterday was the Second Sunday of Advent, the Solemnity
of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary is
transferred to today.

We begin today’s journey in the garden of Eden, with the aftermath
of the first sin. God called to Adam after the fall. Adam answered,
“I heard you in the garden, but I was afraid because I was naked,
so I hid myself.”

Though we have repented, this is just the beginning of the journey.
We must recognize that we are fallen. We have discarded clothes of
self-righteousness, so we may feel a bit naked. We can experience
fear, even when God is calling to us. We need continual conversion
to stay on the right path.

As always, this time of the year brings us not only to the babe in
the manger, but also to his mother, Mary. And that’s where we find
help today, in the Blessed Virgin Mary. A journey is always easier
if we have someone with us on the journey. We can make our journey
with Mary.

Think about this...

Mary is on her way to Bethlehem. And though she will see Jesus in
a more profound way, he is already with her on the journey. Mary is
also our Mother. As the power of the Holy Spirit, the power of the
Most High overshadowed Mary, the Holy Spirit overshadows us. As the
body of Jesus was formed in Mary’s womb, so Mary helps to form Jesus
within us as we make our journey. We are going to Jesus, but he’s
with us already! As fear attempts to turn us back, we also take heed
to the angel’s words to Mary. “Do not be afraid.” Why? ”For nothing
will be impossible for God."

If we all stay with the Blessed Mother and journey with her, we will
be sure to arrive at the manger where the Light of the world is to be
found. Mary always brings us to Jesus. If the road is hard, take
comfort. She always brings Jesus to us on the journey.

Prayer

Blessed Mother, help me on my journey today. Continue to form Jesus
within me. At times, I am afraid when I see the dangers on the road.
But I know you will protect me. I know my Guardian Angel is with me,
telling me not to be afraid. I remember the moms and babies, and all
those with me on this journey. Bring us all to Jesus. More than that,
bring Jesus to us as we travel this road together. I ask all of this
in the name of Christ Jesus, the babe of Bethlehem. Amen!


Monday, December 9

“The Lord has made His salvation known; in the sight of the nations
He has revealed His justice. He has remembered His kindness and His
faithfulness toward the house of Israel…” Psalm 98:2-3

Do you know someone who is in need of a kind gesture? Perhaps they’ve
recently lost a loved one, are experiencing depression, or simply
can’t seem to catch a break in life. Writing an encouraging note or
offering a willing ear can help restore their hope.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


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Sunday, December 8

“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to think in
harmony with one another, in keeping with Christ Jesus, that with
one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of
our Lord Jesus Christ. Welcome one another, then, as Christ
welcomed you, for the glory of God.” Romans 15:5-7

Jesus wants us to live in harmony with one another and in doing so,
we can glorify God. If you find yourself on the verge of a
disagreement this week, take a deep breath, remain calm and respond
from a place of love.

Oh, But For The Grace of God

Readings

Isaiah 11:1-10
Psalm 72: Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace
forever.
Romans 15:4-9
Matthew 3:1-12

Reflection

Today in the Gospel, we hear the story of John the Baptist.

John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea and saying,
"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand! I am baptizing you with
water, for repentance.”

Take a moment, and let’s place ourselves there on the banks of the
Jordan River. There’s a rough man, clothed in camel’s hair with a
leather belt around his waist. Can you see him standing there in the
water? He’s crying out. Can you hear him? “Repent!”

If you look around, there are two groups of people. There appear to
be many common, everyday people – poor and humble – standing in groups
near the water, humbly acknowledging their mistakes, their failures,
their sins, heads downcast, waiting to stand before the Baptist, to
have the cleansing waters of the Jordan, of repentance, pour over them,
washing them clean. Lots of tears mixed in with the water, but lots of
relief, joy, even laughter, as they glimpse a light in the darkness,
hope in the valley of the shadow of death.

But there’s another group. They are standing apart. Do you see them?
Aloof. Looking down on the foolishness of the crowds, the mobs. They a
re dressed in fine clothes. Can you see their haughty expressions, their
disdain? If you listen, can you hear their comments? “I’m glad I’m not
like them.” Untouched. “Thank you, God, that I’ve got everything together.”
Not much joy. They look well respected, there in the light of day, but
they don’t seem particularly happy.

Now, I realize I’m standing there in my fine clothes. I’ve got my arms
folded on my chest. I’m actually rubbing shoulders with the second group,
not really that close to the edge of the water. There is that thought,
buried deep, that not everything is right with my life. But what will
my colleagues think? They don’t seem to need change. But with a desperation
I didn’t know I had, I run towards the light reflecting on the water,
towards the Baptist. “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” I don’t care who’s
looking. I just need help, I need hope, I need light in my life. I need God!
I fall in the sand, tears streaming down my cheeks, not worrying about my fine
robes. I get up. Now my clothes are in the river, soaking the water in,
feeling heavy. The clothes are dragging, a pull that still wants to hold me
back. But no, I don’t care anymore. I let go of everything holding me back.
I need to change. I push through to John. The only words that I can find,
as I feel the water flow over my bowed head, quite a spectacle in all my
fine clothes, “I repent!”

Prayer

Jesus, I need you today. There are so many things that drag on my soul,
that seem to hold me back from you, from your grace, from your mercy. But
I repent. I set aside all the “things” that make me look right. I let go
of my pride, my self-righteousness. I need you. Make my path straight. Help
me make this journey to the light. Lead me to yourself, the lowly, poor babe
in the manger. Amen!





Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

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The Harvest is Abundant but the Laborers are Few

Readings

Isaiah 30:19-21, 23-26
Psalm 147: Blessed are all who wait for the Lord.
Matthew 9:35-10:1, 5A, 6-8

Reflection

“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest
to send out laborers for his harvest.”

Then he summoned his Twelve disciples and
gave them authority over unclean spirits to
drive them out and to cure every disease
and every illness.

This is a sure reflection of the crisis in our Church today:
The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few.

This helps us to reflect back on our tradition, on our heritage
and history as Catholics – where our church started, with Jesus
and the Twelve disciples. The authority they have was given to
them by Jesus, and the authority the Church has was given to her
by Jesus.

Man cannot change that. We are not the authors or the Creator.

It is in this time of turmoil and in this culture of
self-gratification that we are called to be laborers. To follow
and share the Church’s teaching on human dignity, from conception
to natural death and to never compromise.

Prayer

Lord God, help us always to uphold your law and to never give in to
the pressures of society. Today let us especially pray for our good
and faithful priests, bishops and cardinals, that they may be
steadfast and courageous in their faith. And we pray for the Holy
Father, that he may lead us in orthodoxy and tradition, as the seat of
St. Peter. All for Jesus, all through Mary. Amen. St Ambrose, Bishop
and Doctor of the Church, pray for us!


Saturday, December 7
“Praise the Lord, for He is good; sing praise to our God, for He is
gracious; it is fitting to praise Him.” Psalm 147:1

What are some of your favorite Christmas carols? Today is a perfect
day to play them as you contemplate the imminent arrival of Jesus.
Go ahead—indulge in a little loud singing, too!


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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Let It Be Done for You According to Your Faith

Readings

Isaiah 29:17-24
Psalm 27: The Lord is my light and my salvation.
Matthew 9:27-31

Reflection

“Do you believe that I can do this?”
“Yes, Lord,” they said to him.
Then he touched their eyes and said,
“Let it be done for you according to your faith.”

When I reflect on these two blind men, they show me how to pray
and to have faith in God’s promises. So many times we can pray
half-heartedly or maybe even doubting that God will hear us.

Today’s Gospel is a reminder of how much God loves us and cares
about our struggles and our desires, our heartache and our pain.
He wants to show us that He is a faithful God. Those who pray
with great faith give God the invitation to move in their lives.

Once you have experienced God’s goodness in your life, how can
you keep it a secret? You can’t! You must share it with others
so they, too, may know God.

Prayer

Lord, we continue to battle the culture of death. You know when
our hearts are discouraged, you know the pain we feel. Help us
to keep our hearts open to the love you have to give us, so we
may share your light to those who are struggling in the darkness.
We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Friday, December 6
“When He entered the house, the blind men approached Him and Jesus
said to them, ‘Do you believe that I can do this?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’
they said to Him. Then He touched their eyes and said, ‘Let it be
done for you according to your faith.’” Matthew 9:28-29

Miracles can happen when we have faith. What will you ask for in
prayer? Trust that God is with you always and will bestow His
grace upon you.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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Let It Be Done for You According to Your Faith

Readings

Isaiah 29:17-24
Psalm 27: The Lord is my light and my salvation.
Matthew 9:27-31

Reflection

“Do you believe that I can do this?”
“Yes, Lord,” they said to him.
Then he touched their eyes and said,
“Let it be done for you according to your faith.”

When I reflect on these two blind men, they show me how to pray
and to have faith in God’s promises. So many times we can pray
half-heartedly or maybe even doubting that God will hear us.

Today’s Gospel is a reminder of how much God loves us and cares
about our struggles and our desires, our heartache and our pain.
He wants to show us that He is a faithful God. Those who pray
with great faith give God the invitation to move in their lives.

Once you have experienced God’s goodness in your life, how can
you keep it a secret? You can’t! You must share it with others
so they, too, may know God.

Prayer

Lord, we continue to battle the culture of death. You know when
our hearts are discouraged, you know the pain we feel. Help us
to keep our hearts open to the love you have to give us, so we
may share your light to those who are struggling in the darkness.
We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Friday, December 6
“When He entered the house, the blind men approached Him and Jesus
said to them, ‘Do you believe that I can do this?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’
they said to Him. Then He touched their eyes and said, ‘Let it be
done for you according to your faith.’” Matthew 9:28-29

Miracles can happen when we have faith. What will you ask for in
prayer? Trust that God is with you always and will bestow His
grace upon you.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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Take time to THINK...It is the source of power.Take Time to READ..It is the fountain of wisdom.
Take time to PRAY..It is the greatest power on earth. Take Time to LOVE and BE LOVED..It is a God-given privilege.
Be FRIENDLY, It is the road to happiness.. take time to LAUGH..it is the music of the soul.
Take time to Give it is too short a day to be selfish.. Take time to DO CHARITY..
it is the key to heaven.
I live in El Paso, TX


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Readings

Isaiah 26
Psalm 118: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Matthew 7:21,24-27

Reflection

In today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus say to his disciples, "Not everyone who says
to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who
does the will of my Father in heaven”.

Jesus continues...

“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like
a wise man who built his house 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.”

Faith alone is not enough; we need faith and works.

We need to put into place what God has asked of us. Yes, we are Pro-Life,
but not just because we say we are; we work to put our beliefs into action
through the all weserve.

Let us build our house on rock, not sand. We must know our faith and
understand it. We must own our faith and put it into action.

Prayer

Lord God, thank you for the gift of our faith. Help us to be courageous in
putting our faith into action. Give us the perseverance to serve you joyfully
all of the days of our lives. Amen.

St Damien of Molokai, pray for us!

Thursday, December 5
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord; we bless you from the house
of the Lord. The Lord is God, and He has given us light...” Psalm 118:26-27

Let His light shine upon you for all the world to see and let nothing extinguish
it. Today, make it a goal to say a prayer for each person you love and care about
as the days approach Christmas.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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Justice Shall Flourish

Readings

Isaiah 11:1-10
Psalm 72: Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace forever.
Luke 10:21-24

Reflection

Today, the first reading is where we get our ‘Jesse tree’. This reading is
essential in understanding who Jesus is and the importance of His victory.
He brings both judgment and hope:

But he shall judge the poor with justice,
and decide aright for the land's afflicted.
He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.
Justice shall be the band around his waist,
and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.

And in the Gospel we see Jesus giving praise to God for giving the gift of
faith to the childlike. It is a reminder to us that our very faith is a gift
from God.

Jesus says to his disciples:

Blessed are the eyes that see what you see.
For I say to you,
many prophets and kings desired to see what you see,
but did not see it,
and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.

When we are able to see the fruits of our labors, that is a gift from God,
though that is not always the case. However, we can rest assured that on the
day of our judgement all will be revealed.


Prayer

Lord, help us to persevere in Your work, whether we see the fruits of our labor
or not; give us the strength to continue in this fight. Amen.

St. Francis Xavier, pray for us!

Tuesday, December 3
“Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, ‘I give You praise, Father,
Lord of heaven and earth, for although You have hidden these things from
the wise and the learned, You have revealed them to the childlike. Yes,
Father, such has been Your gracious will.” Luke 10:21

Do you remember the unbridled excitement you felt as a child, waiting for
Christmas morning, when you and your family all gathered lovingly around
the twinkling tree? Take a moment to recapture that feeling and hold it
in your heart for the next four weeks—with a conscious effort to remember
the reason for the season.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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Week 1, Day 2

Lord, I am not worthy
Readings

Isaiah 4:2-6
Psalm 122: Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord
Matthew 8:5-11

Reflection

Today’s Gospel is the story of the centurion who asks Jesus to heal his servant. It is a story of the centurion’s faith and his humility. We are reminded of our own unworthiness everytime we prepare to receive Our Lord in the sacrament of Holy Communion: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

Prayer

Lord God, we ask for the grace of increased faith. We ask to have faith as the centurion had faith, and we ask for increased humility. We ask for a servant’s heart. All for Jesus, all through Mary, Amen.

Monday, December 2

“Come and save us, Lord our God; let Your face shine upon us, that we may be saved.” Psalm 80:3

In order for God to save us, we have to open our hearts to His forgiveness. Today, make it a point to confess your sins and vow to do better next time.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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Take time to THINK...It is the source of power.Take Time to READ..It is the fountain of wisdom.
Take time to PRAY..It is the greatest power on earth. Take Time to LOVE and BE LOVED..It is a God-given privilege.
Be FRIENDLY, It is the road to happiness.. take time to LAUGH..it is the music of the soul.
Take time to Give it is too short a day to be selfish.. Take time to DO CHARITY..
it is the key to heaven.
I live in El Paso, TX


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Stay Awake
Readings

Isaiah 2:1-5
Psalm 122: Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord
Romans 13:11-14
Matthew 24:37-44

Reflection

What powerful readings we have to reflect on today!

In the second reading from Romans, we are reminded to resist the temptations of the flesh and to prepare for the coming of Our Lord. It is a great start as we enter this penitential season of Advent.

In the Gospel, we are reminded that our days are numbered. Every moment of every day is a gift from God, and we will decide how we will use it. We cannot go back in the past and make up for lost time, but we can choose at this moment to live an intentional life.

St. Alphonsus Liguori says, “There are two ways you can lose your soul: mortal sin and voluntary distraction.” If Satan cannot get us to sin, he certainly can distract us from God. Now more than ever we are surrounded by constant distraction.

Let us take this season of Advent to reflect and prioritize our lives back to the One who created us. Let us remember we are not promised tomorrow, today is all we have. So let us not miss an opportunity to fight for the weakest and vulnerable among us – TODAY!

Prayer

Lord God, we ask for the grace to stay focused on you. Help us to be good stewards of our time and to not waste a moment given to us on frivolous things. Give us the strength to resist the pleasures of the world and to stay focused on building Your Kingdom. We ask this through Christ Our Lord, Amen.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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New Season of Advent is upon us. I will post a daily short reflection with the hopes that you can spend 10 minutes in reflection to prepare us for the birth of our Savior.


Sunday, December 1

“And do this, understanding the present time: the hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” Romans 13:11-12

Identify something that’s preventing you from fully living the life God intends and picture yourself putting on an armor of light against it. Allow this warm, positive energy to repel the behavior or feeling you’d like to eliminate. As you light the first candle on your Advent wreath, remember that “You are the light of the world…let your light shine before others...”
(Matthew 5:14,16)

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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12/25/18 8:40 P

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How Beautiful are the Feet That Bring Good News

Today's Readings

Isaiah: 52:7-10
Responsorial Psalm: All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.
Hebrews 1:1-6
John 1:1-18

Reflection for Today

Alleluia! The Word became flesh. God lived on the earth with us. What a great joy!

Maybe today isn’t that joyful. Maybe you’ve lost a loved one. Maybe you’re in the midst of suffering personal, family or work-related stress. If not you, then someone dear to you might be suffering unimaginably.

Yet today is Christmas. Our God calls upon us to go beyond ourselves and give. Gifts are that token sign. What gift might the Lord be asking: Give of your heart, your time, your compassion to those who have no one else’s heart or time or concern. Give of yourself most to those who cannot pay you back. Most especially to those who dislike you.

Let us pray for our enemies to learn the joy to know that Our God, Our Creator has become just like you, just like me.

Prayer for Today

Let us pray to see beyond ourselves and reach out to our neighbor in need and even to our enemy.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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How Beautiful are the Feet That Bring Good News

Today's Readings

Isaiah: 52:7-10
Responsorial Psalm: All the ends of the earth have seen the saving power of God.
Hebrews 1:1-6
John 1:1-18

Reflection for Today

Alleluia! The Word became flesh. God lived on the earth with us. What a great joy!

Maybe today isn’t that joyful. Maybe you’ve lost a loved one. Maybe you’re in the midst of suffering personal, family or work-related stress. If not you, then someone dear to you might be suffering unimaginably.

Yet today is Christmas. Our God calls upon us to go beyond ourselves and give. Gifts are that token sign. What gift might the Lord be asking: Give of your heart, your time, your compassion to those who have no one else’s heart or time or concern. Give of yourself most to those who cannot pay you back. Most especially to those who dislike you.

Let us pray for our enemies to learn the joy to know that Our God, Our Creator has become just like you, just like me.

Prayer for Today

Let us pray to see beyond ourselves and reach out to our neighbor in need and even to our enemy.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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Blessed Be the Lord Who Has Come to His People

Today's Readings

2 Samuel 7: 1-5, 8-12. 14. 16
Responsorial Psalm: For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
Luke 1:67-79

Reflection for Today

Prayers and Mass this special, usually busy, hectic, incredibly anticipatory morning are about the cusp of the coming of the Lord. John the Baptist’s father, Zechariah, whose name means “The Lord has remembered” sings out the goodness of the Lord, who has remembered His holy covenant. Zechariah’s child shall be the prophet of the Most High.

Are we not all called to sing out, “The Lord has remembered” and to be witnesses to the Most High?

May our words be kinder, gentler, uplifting today and every day.

Prayer for Today

Oh Holy Zechariah, father of the Baptist, help me to remember the Lord at all times. Help me to speak words of Light and Life to all around me.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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Lord, Make Us Turn to You

Today's Readings

Micah: 5:1-4
Responsorial Psalm: Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.
Hebrews: 10:5-10
Luke 1:39-45

Reflection for Today

The short Fouth Week of Advent begins today and ends tomorrow morning. Turn to the Lord even more with your heart, not just your sacrifices. Last minute shopping – is that a sacrifice, a duty, an obligation? Final Christmas preparations – madness or a joy? Traveling or getting the home ready. Never enough time. Offer it all to the Lord.

The Blessed Mother visited Elizabeth to be of help. Elizabeth is overcome with humility that she, the “Mother of my Lord” visits her. Her own baby leaps for joy. Can you imagine such a scene! In this beauty, painted on myriad canvases, these women transcended the moment and entered into Eternity. They brought us into Eternity. Can I embrace such a moment with those around me, those I know and love, even the stranger, the widow and orphan?

Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved. O shepherd of Israel shine forth around me, in me, through me.

Prayer for Today

Oh Blessed Mother of Jesus, help me to see as you did, that my soul may magnify the Lord and my spirit may rejoice in God my Savior. Amen.


Let Go and Let God!

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God's Mercy Endures Forever

Today's Readings

1 Samuel: 1:24-28
Responsorial Psalm: My heart exults in the Lord, my Savior.
Luke 1:46-56

Reflection for Today

Mary shares with us today God’s promises. Though times can be tough and life may be challenging, God’s mercy endures forever.

“He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty.” Though it may seem that some people have things ‘better’ or ‘easier’, God has great mercy on the marginalized who trust in Him, and they will be truly blessed.

Prayer for Today

“It is You Jesus, stretched out on the cross, who gives me strength and are always close to the suffering soul. Creatures will abandon a person in his suffering, but You, O Lord, are faithful…” Amen. – St. Faustina

Let Go and Let God!

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The Infant Leaped for Joy

Today's Readings

Song of Songs: 2:8-14
Responsorial Psalm: Exult, you just, in the Lord! Sing to him a new song.
Luke 1:39-45

Reflection for Today

Today’s Gospel we hear about the visitation. A pregnant Mary travels to visit her relative Elizabeth, who is also with child, “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting the infant leaped [for joy] in her womb.” What a testimony to the life and dignity of the human person in utero!

The first person to recognize Christ Our Savior was an unborn baby, a child in the womb, the unborn, John the Baptist. Despite these mothers’ situations – Elizabeth being late in her years and Mary not yet fully wed to Joseph – their unborn babies had a purpose to fulfill; they each had jobs that only they could do.

Every child is created with purpose and meaning. No life is ever created without the hand of God. Therefore, no pregnancy is ever an accident. God does not make mistakes. That baby was created because God has a plan for that child’s life. If Mary or Elizabeth were alive today and in the same situation, many ‘friends’ and doctors would be encouraging them to abort. Let’s pray today for all women who find themselves pregnant.

Prayer for Today

Heavenly Father, in Your love for us, protect against the wickedness of the devil, those helpless little ones whom You have given the gift of life. Touch with pity the hearts of those women with child in our world today who are not thinking of motherhood. Help them to see that the child they carry is made in Your image – as well as theirs – made for eternal life. Dispel their fear and selfishness and give them true womanly hearts to love their babies and give them birth and all the needed care that a mother alone can give. We ask this through Jesus Christ, Your Son, Our Lord, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.


Let Go and Let God!

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Always Have Faith

Today's Readings

Judges: 13:2-7, 24-25A
Responsorial Psalm: My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!.
Luke 1:5-25

Reflection for Today

In both the first reading and the Gospel, we see two examples of barren women, who conceived through a miracle. In the Gospel, Zechariah became mute because he had doubt and was hesitant to believe the angel Gabriel. God sends a clear message here, to always have faith, even when things seem hopeless and unlikely.

We are fortunate to be serving a mission that welcomes life. We see a lot of beautiful babies born and it is clear that they are pure gifts from God.

Prayer for Today

Today let us pray for all married couples who are struggling to conceive, that they may find consolation and hope in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Let Go and Let God!

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12/18/18 8:51 A

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Saint Joseph, Pray for Us

Today's Readings

Jeremiah: 23:5-8
Responsorial Psalm: Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
Matthew 1:18-25

Reflection for Today

In today’s Gospel we see how obedient and courageous Joseph is; a man of integrity and kindness.

Often times, the babies born in Good Counsel homes are lacking a father figure in their lives. The love of a thousand women cannot make up for the lack of love from a man. Men, especially fathers, play a special and vital role in a child’s life: to love, protect and encourage. Even though we may not all be blessed with wonderful fathers that have strong traits like St Joseph, we are blessed with God the Father, who gave His only begotten Son, that we may be redeemed.

Prayer for Today

Lord God, help us to live a life of gratitude. Help us to always strive to be good stewards of the gifts we have been given. And Lord we ask You to heal any brokenness in our family tree, past and present. Amen.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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A God Who Humbly Comes to Us

Today's Readings

Genesis: 49:1-2, 8-10
Responsorial Psalm: Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
Matthew 1:1-17

Reflection for Today

In today’s Gospel we are looking at the genealogy of Jesus Christ. This is the God of the universe, and He has decided to humble Himself, to be more relatable for us. He has made the choice to come from humble beginnings, to work most of His life doing manual labor and making a humble and honest living. Our family background and our family tree are very important. Many things are handed down from generation to generation, some good, some not so good.

We see this with quite a few of the people we meet on the streets; they have grown up dependent on government assistance, or maybe their parents are in a homeless shelter. We should provide the homeless and poor with the opportunity to change the course of their lives and therefore, the lives of their children, by breaking the cycle of homelessness. We do this by providing the homeless with the tools and resources they need to become self-sufficient.

Prayer for Today

Lord God, help us to live a life of gratitude. Help us to always strive to be good stewards of the gifts we have been given. And Lord we ask You to heal any brokenness in our family tree, past and present. Amen.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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A God Who Humbly Comes to Us

Today's Readings

Genesis: 49:1-2, 8-10
Responsorial Psalm: Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
Matthew 1:1-17

Reflection for Today

In today’s Gospel we are looking at the genealogy of Jesus Christ. This is the God of the universe, and He has decided to humble Himself, to be more relatable for us. He has made the choice to come from humble beginnings, to work most of His life doing manual labor and making a humble and honest living. Our family background and our family tree are very important. Many things are handed down from generation to generation, some good, some not so good.

We see this with quite a few of the people we meet on the streets; they have grown up dependent on government assistance, or maybe their parents are in a homeless shelter. We should provide the homeless and poor with the opportunity to change the course of their lives and therefore, the lives of their children, by breaking the cycle of homelessness. We do this by providing the homeless with the tools and resources they need to become self-sufficient.

Prayer for Today

Lord God, help us to live a life of gratitude. Help us to always strive to be good stewards of the gifts we have been given. And Lord we ask You to heal any brokenness in our family tree, past and present. Amen.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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Rejoice in the Lord Always!

Today's Readings

Zephaniah: 3:14-18A
Responsorial Psalm: Cry out with joy and gladness: for among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.
Philippians 4:4-7
Luke 3:10-18

Reflection for Today

Rejoice in the Lord always! It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day struggles and frustrations of life. The second reading is a good reminder to us to have faith that God hears and answers us. He does not abandon us, and to always, in everything, give thanks and praise.

In today’s Gospel “Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.” We are called to serve. God has so richly blessed us, and we are to take our blessings and share them with those who have less.

Prayer for Today

Lord God, give me a servant’s heart and a missionary’s spirit so I may seek to fulfill Your will for me by serving my brothers and sisters in need, with joy and thanksgiving. Amen.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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Rejoice in the Lord Always!

Today's Readings

Zephaniah: 3:14-18A
Responsorial Psalm: Cry out with joy and gladness: for among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.
Philippians 4:4-7
Luke 3:10-18

Reflection for Today

Rejoice in the Lord always! It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day struggles and frustrations of life. The second reading is a good reminder to us to have faith that God hears and answers us. He does not abandon us, and to always, in everything, give thanks and praise.

In today’s Gospel “Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.” We are called to serve. God has so richly blessed us, and we are to take our blessings and share them with those who have less.

Prayer for Today

Lord God, give me a servant’s heart and a missionary’s spirit so I may seek to fulfill Your will for me by serving my brothers and sisters in need, with joy and thanksgiving. Amen.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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12/15/18 2:49 P

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How am I Helping to Prepare the Way for Jesus?

Today's Readings

Sirach: 48:1-4, 9-11
Responsorial Psalm: Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.
Matthew 17:9A, 10-13

Reflection for Today

We see in the Gospel today that the three disciples are asking Jesus why the scribes say Elijah must come first. He replied, “Elijah will indeed come and restore all things; but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him but did to him whatever they pleased. So also will the Son of Man suffer at their hands.”

Elijah’s second coming was to pave the way for the Messiah, much like John the Baptist’s role, and much like our role. Today’s Gospel is a call to action. How is God calling me to pave the way for the second coming? How am I helping to prepare the way for Jesus? Am I prepared to face the challenges?

Prayer for Today

Lord Jesus, I ask that You give me the grace and strength to follow the examples of Elijah and John the Baptist, to pave the way for You to come again in Your glory. Amen.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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12/14/18 8:10 A

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Lord, Help Me to See You in Others

Today's Readings

Isaiah 48:17-19
Responsorial Psalm: Those who follow you, Lord, will have the light of life.
Matthew 11:16-19

Reflection for Today

In the first reading God gives us encouragement to cling to His Truth and He will not forsake us. Our God is a good God. He does not try to trick us or deceive us. He has given us instructions, and He has given us the grace to follow through. It is up to us whether or not we choose Him. He loves us so much that He gives us the free will to make that choice, to choose Him out of love.

In the Gospel, Jesus is asking us to go further, to look deeper. We cannot always go by our first assumption. John the Baptist and Jesus were often at times misunderstood and accused. How often do we do this to others? Next time we feel the temptation to judge someone, let us pause and first look for Christ in that person and ask to see that person through Christ’s eyes.

Prayer for Today

Lord God, help me to have the courage to follow You. Give me Your heart and Your eyes that I may see things through You. Amen.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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12/13/18 9:48 P

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Whoever Has Ears, Let Them Hear

Today's Readings

Isaiah 41:13-20
Responsorial Psalm: The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger, and of great kindness.
Matthew 11:11-15

Reflection for Today

What we see in the Gospel today is very important. Jesus is speaking very highly of John the Baptist. It is important for us to pay attention to what He is saying, John the Baptist had a great responsibility to pave the way for the Messiah. The Jewish people believed that Elijah would return and immediately after that the Messiah would arrive. Jesus says, “And if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah, the one who is come. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

Jesus is making it clear that He is the Messiah. Do I recognize Jesus in His glory? Or am I busy waiting for Elijah? So often Jesus is revealing Himself to us, revealing His will to us, yet we are so focused on ourselves or our own will that we don’t even see Him.

We are so focused on the material things that are lacking, that we want them to know that they are safe now and God has not forsaken us. It is our prayer to change our perspective enough for us to see God working in our lives.

Prayer for Today

Lord God, help me to always seek Your will for my life. I want less of me and more of You. Help me to seek to hear Your word clearly. Amen.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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12/11/18 8:32 A

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God Pursues Us to the Very End

Today's Readings

Isaiah 40:1–11
Psalm 96: The Lord our God comes with power
Matthew 18:12–14

Reflection for Today

In the Gospel today we still have the same theme – hope – and God’s faithful devotion to us. This is a wonderful Gospel reading because it is so easy for us to feel insignificant in this world. Maybe we feel like no one cares or no one understands us or what we are going through.

“God has seen our unloveliness – the deep brokenness and rebellion in our hearts – and instead of withdrawing, He pursues us to the very end.” –Matt Chandler

Maybe you feel unimportant sometimes, but the truth is the God of the universe pursues you. Picture this: Jesus looks at the cross and then at you – “You’re worth it,” He says.

Prayer for Today

Jesus, thank You for Your sacrifice, thank you for loving me so much that You pursue me to the end. Thank you for Your mercy, which I do not deserve. Help me to show Your love and mercy to all of those who I encounter. Amen.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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12/10/18 8:44 A

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Lord, Open My Eyes to See You

Today's Readings
Isaiah 35:1-10
Psalm 85: Our God will come to save us!
Luke 5:17-26


Reflection for Today

In the Gospel reading today, Jesus shows us that He is God.

Jesus wants us to have faith in Him, as the men did who hoisted up the paralyzed man. They did not need to see to believe. They had ‘blind’ faith in Jesus, and He blessed them for that and healed the paralyzed man.

But Jesus knows our hearts and He knows that some people are of little faith and need to see to believe. So He reveals His healing power to the scribes and Pharisees so they ‘may know the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.’

We all would like to think that we have that ‘blind’ faith in God, but let us take some time today to really reflect on our own faith and the way that we pray. Do I constantly ask God for signs and ignore them? Are my eyes truly open to seeing God’s glory around me?

Prayer for Today
Lord Jesus, open my eyes to see You in the small and simple things in life. Jesus, I believe, help my unbelief. Amen.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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12/9/18 8:56 P

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Second Sunday of Advent

Today's Readings
Baruch 5:1 – 9
Psalm 126: The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
Philippians: 1:4 – 6, 8 – 11
Luke 3:1 – 6


Reflection for Today

In the readings today we see a common theme. HOPE.

It is clear through these readings that God will not forsake us. When we are feeling low and hopeless, we can always turn to scripture, to these readings in particular and remember God’s promises. God cannot tell a lie; therefore, we know this is the truth. We hope it brings you peace as you reflect on God’s faithfulness and love for you today.

In the second reading, Paul says to the Philippians, “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.” It is not over until it is over. There is always hope for renewal. This is the message we try to share with our mothers that come to Good Counsel; God will not forsake you.

Prayer for Today
Holy Spirit, increase my hope in you. Give me the courage to trust in You, even when I am feeling vulnerable. Thank you Lord for Your love and faithfulness to me, a lowly creature. Give me courage to spread the good news to others. Amen.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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Second Sunday of Advent

Today's Readings
Baruch 5:1 – 9
Psalm 126: The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.
Philippians: 1:4 – 6, 8 – 11
Luke 3:1 – 6


Reflection for Today

In the readings today we see a common theme. HOPE.

It is clear through these readings that God will not forsake us. When we are feeling low and hopeless, we can always turn to scripture, to these readings in particular and remember God’s promises. God cannot tell a lie; therefore, we know this is the truth. We hope it brings you peace as you reflect on God’s faithfulness and love for you today.

In the second reading, Paul says to the Philippians, “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.” It is not over until it is over. There is always hope for renewal. This is the message we try to share with our mothers that come to Good Counsel; God will not forsake you.

Prayer for Today
Holy Spirit, increase my hope in you. Give me the courage to trust in You, even when I am feeling vulnerable. Thank you Lord for Your love and faithfulness to me, a lowly creature. Give me courage to spread the good news to others. Amen.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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12/8/18 9:54 A

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Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

Today's Readings
Genesis 3:9-15, 20
Psalm 98: Sing to the Lord a new song for He has done marvelous deeds
Luke 1:26-38


Reflection for Today

Where are you?

That’s God’s first question to Adam and Eve.

Where are you?

How would you respond to God today?

After Adam and Eve fell from Grace, it was in pain she would bear children. It is through sweat that he would work for food.

A priest who visited Good Counsel once said that it is through the pain of childbirth mothers may expiate many sins.

For sure, many mothers forget all their pain after labor when they hug their child the first time.

Full of Grace is what Mary was told. She is a superior example of what it means to be human. She is forever our mother and our guide. Let us ask her for strength, guidance and wisdom each day of our lives.

Prayer for Today
Lord Jesus, help me to always be willing to see my faults and learn from them. Help me to strive to become the best version of myself. Give me the courage that Mary had, to accept Your will for my life. Amen.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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12/7/18 9:35 A

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If Jesus Told You to Keep a Secret, Would You?

Today's Readings
Isaiah 26:17-24
Psalm 27: The Lord is my light and my salvation.
Matthew 9:27-31


Reflection for Today

If Jesus told you to keep a secret, would you?

Do you keep secrets of your friends or associates now?

Jesus sternly told two blind men whom he healed, “See that no one knows about this.” What a challenging command. Now you have sight and you are not supposed to tell anyone.

Did Jesus not know they would tell? A perplexing Gospel message.

They were healed because of faith. Jesus commanded His disciples to proclaim their faith to the ends of the earth.

In the Diary of St. Faustina Jesus tells her to ask her superior for a special favor. When the favor is denied, St. Faustina asks the Lord why He wanted her to do something He knew would be refused. The Lord explained it was for her to be obedient.

Prayer for Today
Lord God, I believe in Your healing power. I ask that you heal all of those who suffer with addiction, mental or physical disabilities. I pray especially for the healing of the family; for healing of all brokenness that has entered the family. You are the divine physician and I trust in You. Amen.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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12/6/18 9:26 A

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Remain in the Comfort of God’s Company

Today's Readings
Isaiah 26:1-6
Psalm 118: Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Matthew 7:21, 24-27


Reflection for Today

In the first Reading today we learn that being in God’s favor brings us safety and love. Living a good and holy life will keep us in the comfort of God’s company. For those who lose faith and trust in God, they will fall weak to their ego and sense of superiority. They will suffer for their false sense of dominance and perfection. Their lives will be left to unhappiness and a world of ruins.

The Responsorial Psalm tells us to believe in God because his mercy endures forever. His love and trust is more worthy than another human being’s. How often do we find ourselves taking the word or assurance of another, rather than relying upon Jesus’ proven history? Through prayer and good works a Good Counsel mom will always find success. Resist the temptation to rely upon another person whose faith is lacking, offering false evidence will leave you further from the Lord. First finding out “I’m pregnant” a single mom may think, “I can’t ever be a success.” But through prayer and seeking God’s path many have already prevailed.

In today’s Gospel, we are urged to listen to the word of God. Good fortune will belong to those who follow the word of God. Those who do not listen will suffer a life of hardship. It may not be the easiest advice to take. For those who listen in spite of the challenge, great joy will follow.

Prayer for Today
Lord I have heard Your word, give me the strength and courage to follow You. When I am tempted to take the easy route, give me the strength I need to fight temptation and to hold fast to Your teachings. Amen.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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12/5/18 8:04 A

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They All Ate and Were Satisfied

Today's Readings
Isaiah 25:6-10A
Psalm 23: I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
Matthew 15:29-37


Reflection for Today

They all ate and were satisfied after Jesus multiplied seven loaves and a few fish. Though I walk in the dark valley, I fear no evil for the Lord is at my side. Let us rejoice and be glad that the Lord saved us!

All this speaks of Trust. Trust in the Lord at all times for all things. Trust when you can’t see where that food will come from. Trust when you feel surrounded by enemies or problems or troubles with no one to turn to. Trust.

I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life when faced with doubt or sorrow. Good Counsel moms are often faced with disbelief when told to believe in God and the spirit of a positive future. Belief in the works of Jesus should also be in times when we least expect good may come.

Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee and saw many people stricken with disease and hardship. He looked over this crowd and healed them all. Then seeing that their human needs required attention, He fed them from a meager supply of food.

Prayer for Today
Lord God, we thank You for the miracles that You perform in our lives daily, the big miracles such as curing someone with a terminal illness, and the ‘smaller’ miracles such as the sunrise or sunset. Lord help us to see You in all things, in all areas of our lives. Help us to give You thanks always! That we may recognize that every morning that we wake up, that in itself is a miracle. We praise You and thank You always! Amen.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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12/4/18 9:25 A

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God Reveals Wisdom to the Childlike

Today's Readings
Isaiah 11:1-10
Psalm 72: Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
Luke 10:21-24


Reflection for Today

If I’ve gone to school, gotten degrees, certificates, even years of experience at work and in life, still God reveals wisdom to the childlike. Have I done it all wrong? No.

Childlike is the innocence of accepting, of seeing and believing how God’s Grace works in every one around me, and even in me. What is this grace? It is the grace to see good in others, to find a deep sense of peace in the midst of turmoil, to know that the Lord brings good even out of evil.

“All things work out for the best,” mother used to say. Sometimes very hard to believe. Have faith, trust, pray.

A mother at Good Counsel gave birth to a baby boy with a serious heart condition. His breathing was labored and his tiny body was very weak. Every moment was painful to watch, and yet she hoped and prayed for the best. But baby Thomas was taken by the Lord. At his grave side burial the pastor said, “Where he has gone he will not return. Where he has gone we someday hope to go. Let us work and pray to join him in the Glory of the Lord.” This gave Thomas’ mom much hope in the midst of such pain. I saw in her a childlike innocence of accepting God’s will for her son.

Prayer for Today
Father God, help us to receive each moment as given by you. Thank You for giving us this time, these joys and sufferings. Help us to have a complete childlike trust in you no matter how long we live, no matter how much we learn. Help us to love as You love and to always have a grateful heart. Amen.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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12/3/18 8:56 A

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Trust in the Lord

Today's Readings
Isaiah 2:1-5
Psalm 122: Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
Matthew 8:5-11


Reflection for Today

In today's first reading, the message God is telling us is to look to the house of the Lord, which means we must take His direction, live in peace, and avoid false gods.

Today’s Gospel message instructs us to incorporate in our daily lives thanksgiving for God's goodness and love. God blesses those who trust in Him and follow his direction, just as those for whom you are in charge, must follow your instruction. Loving God helps us to achieve a life in grace.

Just as in today’s Gospel, when Jesus entered the town of Capernaum, He praised a centurion for his trust and belief in Him.

Prayer for Today
Jesus, give us faith to know that You are God and You are in control. When we are feeling doubt, give us the grace to focus on Your almighty power. Increase our faith in You Lord. Amen.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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12/2/18 10:55 A

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emoticon emoticon


Take time to THINK...It is the source of power.Take Time to READ..It is the fountain of wisdom.
Take time to PRAY..It is the greatest power on earth. Take Time to LOVE and BE LOVED..It is a God-given privilege.
Be FRIENDLY, It is the road to happiness.. take time to LAUGH..it is the music of the soul.
Take time to Give it is too short a day to be selfish.. Take time to DO CHARITY..
it is the key to heaven.
I live in El Paso, TX


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Reflection for Today

Today's reading begins addressing brothers and sisters: May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all...

As we begin our Advent journey, the second reading reminds us that at the core of Jesus’ teachings lies the mandate to increase and abound in love for one another and for all. We learn that how we should conduct ourselves to please God is for our own good and for others. Here at Good Counsel we have an opportunity to act as models in doing what is expected of us. Doing so demonstrates to others that our own behavior serves as encouragement for others to follow.

Our Gospel today encourages us to stand strong prepared to face the Son of Man. It is incumbent for each of us to reflect daily asking forgiveness for our sins and resolve to walk closer in God’s path.

Prayer for Today
Lord God, prepare our hearts to receive you. Give us the grace to follow you and to lead by example. Help us to keep our eyes fixed on You as we anticipate Your coming. Amen.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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Fourth Friday in Advent

The Great Lesson of Bethlehem

The prophet Micah says that Bethlehem-Ephratha is “too small to be among the clans of Judah” but “from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel” (Micah 5:2). Micah is himself one of the minor prophets and so it is only appropriate that he speaks of a small city, little Bethlehem, from which the great Messiah would come.

How common this is in the Bible: the reversal of expectations, the little giving rise to the great, wonderful things coming where you least expect them. The stuttering Moses speaks up to mighty Pharaoh, the slaves face down the Egyptian army, tiny David kills the giant Goliath.

And this last connection is the important one here. Bethlehem is the city of David, the city of the shepherd King. When Samuel came to that town to find the new king, he went through all of Jesse’s splendid sons and then was told there was one more, little David out in the fields. And it was this overlooked one whom God anointed.

This just seems to be God’s way, and that's why the Messiah would be born in that tiny town, in an out of the way cave under the earth, because there was no room for him in the inn. Yet, through God’s amazing grace, great things can happen, including the birth of the Messiah.

Looking at the small, insignificant town of Bethlehem teaches us three great messages: greatness comes from smallness, never give up hope, and trust always. With those three convictions in our hearts, we’re almost ready for Christmas.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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Fourth Thursday in Advent

The King of a Different Army

Yesterday, we explored St. Luke’s telling of the Christmas story, in which the author compares two different kings: one a destitute infant who comes simply and non-violently, and the other a powerful emperor who reigns with force and oppression.

Lest we have any doubt as to which of these kings is more powerful, Luke tells us, “Suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in high heaven, peace on earth to those on whom his favor rests.’”

We should not be sentimental in regard to angels, for the typical reaction to one in the Bible is fear. And we are dealing here with a stratia of these fearsome creatures. That Greek word, translated usually as “host,” literally means army. The only reason that Augustus Caesar was able to dominate the world is that he had the biggest army, but Luke is saying that the baby king actually possesses a bigger army, though it is one that fights, not with the weapons (arma) of the world, but with those of heaven.

It is of these arms and of this man that Luke sings. As we near Christmas Eve, Luke's subversive tale poses a question: Which narrative do you accept? Whose army do you join? Which king do you choose, Caesar or Jesus?

Let Go and Let God!

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Fourth Wednesday in Advent

The True King

St. Luke’s telling of the Christmas story, commences by invoking the first-century’s most powerful man: “In those days Caesar Augustus published a decree ordering a census of the whole world.”

Here the emperor is doing a paradigmatically powerful thing. If you can count your people more accurately, you can tax them more efficiently and you can draft them into the military more expeditiously. So far, this story begins like all other ancient epics, by praising the strong and powerful.



But then St. Luke makes a canny move. He shifts his attention away from Augustus Caesar and toward a poor couple of no notoriety whatsoever, making their way to a dusty hamlet on the fringes of the Roman Empire. In the nothing town of Bethlehem, Mary gives birth to a child, who is wrapped up in swaddling clothes and placed in the manger where the animals eat. The baby is visited, not by courtiers, but by shepherds, who had, at that time, something of the status that street people have today.



Then an angel appears and announces that this destitute infant, to whom Caesar Augustus in Rome would pay absolutely no heed, is in fact the true Emperor: “I come to proclaim good news to you—tidings of great joy to be shared by the whole people. This day in David’s city a savior has been born to you, the Messiah and Lord.”

To say “Messiah” and “Lord” was to imply that a new David had arrived, a new King of the Jews. But as any careful reader of the Psalms and Prophets would know, to say King of the Jews was to imply King of the world—which is precisely why the angel said his message was for “the whole people.”

This true king—simple, humble, vulnerable, and non-violent—would establish an order, a kingdom of God, which stands athwart the order of Rome.


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Fourth Tuesday in Advent

Joseph the Just

We know almost nothing about Joseph. There are legends and stories, of course, but the Scriptural evidence is, to say the least, meagre. Yet some very powerful spiritual themes emerge in the accounts of Joseph, all of which focus on the birth of Jesus.

Let me highlight just a few figures from Jesus’ family tree. Matthew tells us that the Messiah was descended from Jacob, a great patriarch and hero of Israel, and also a man who wrestled with God. In a lyrical passage from the 32nd chapter of the book of Genesis, we hear that Jacob struggled all night with the Lord and was wounded permanently in the process. I imagine that there are some reading these words who have wrestled all their lives with God, questioning, doubting, wondering, struggling mightily with the Lord, perhaps even bearing spiritual wounds as a consequence. Well, the Messiah came forth from Jacob and was pleased to be a relative of this fighter.



First, we look at the sadness and the quandary of Joseph. He had become betrothed to Mary and this union had been, according to the religious law of the time, blessed by God. And then he finds that his betrothed is pregnant.



There is something terribly universal and contemporary about this scene and about the psychological dynamics involved. An engagement that has to be called off: how embarrassing and difficult that is in itself. What will people say?



But there is more. It has to be called off because of an irregular pregnancy. For someone who is law-abiding and concerned with his status in the community, this would be the profoundest kind of embarrassment. And more to the point, this must have pained him at the deepest emotional level: the feeling of betrayal by one he had loved.

It is a wonderful tribute to the piety and goodness of Joseph that he didn’t vent his frustration in a way that almost everyone would have understood and countenanced. He swallowed his pain and looked to the feelings of Mary. “Unwilling to expose her to shame,” he resolved to divorce her quietly. Still, this must have been an emotional maelstrom for him. At the deeper level, it is a spiritual crisis. What is God up to? What does God want him to do? Joseph can’t see a good way forward.

Then the angel appears to him in a dream and tells him, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.” Joseph realizes at that moment that these puzzling events are part of God's much greater plan. What appears to be a disaster from his perspective is meaningful from God’s perspective.

Next we read, “He did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.” Joseph was willing to cooperate with the divine plan, though he in no way knew its contours or deepest purpose. Like Mary at the annunciation, he trusted and let himself be led.


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Fourth Monday in Advent

God Joins Our Dysfunctional Family

The opening lines of Matthew’s Gospel—and hence the first words that one reads in the New Testament—are a listing of the genealogy of Jesus, the 42 generations that stretch from Abraham to Christ. If the Word truly became flesh, then God had, not only a mother, but also a grandmother, cousins, great-aunts, and weird uncles. If the Word truly dwelt among us, then he was part of a family that, like most, was fairly dysfunctional, a mix of the good and bad, the saintly and the sinful, the glorious and the not so glorious. And this is such good news for us.

Let me highlight just a few figures from Jesus’ family tree. Matthew tells us that the Messiah was descended from Jacob, a great patriarch and hero of Israel, and also a man who wrestled with God. In a lyrical passage from the 32nd chapter of the book of Genesis, we hear that Jacob struggled all night with the Lord and was wounded permanently in the process. I imagine that there are some reading these words who have wrestled all their lives with God, questioning, doubting, wondering, struggling mightily with the Lord, perhaps even bearing spiritual wounds as a consequence. Well, the Messiah came forth from Jacob and was pleased to be a relative of this fighter.



Matthew’s genealogy informs us that Ruth was an ancestor of the Lord. Ruth was not an Israelite, but rather a Moabite, a foreigner. I would be willing to bet that there are some reading this who have felt all their lives like outsiders, not part of the “in” crowd, perhaps looked at askance by others. Well, the Messiah came forth from Ruth the foreigner and was pleased to be her relative.



And then there is Rahab. As you recall from the book of Joshua, Rahab was a prostitute living and working in Jericho at the time of the Israelite conquest of the promised land. Are there people reading these words who feel like Rahab? Who think that their whole lives have been sunk in sin, who have become unrecognizable to themselves? Well, the Messiah came forth from Rahab the prostitute, and he was pleased to be her relative.

The good news of Christmas is that God himself pushed into the dysfunctional and ambiguous family of man. And he continues to join us, even though we, like so many of his Israelite ancestors, are unworthy of him. Like them, we are flawed, compromised, half-finished. But he becomes our brother anyway. That’s the amazing grace of the Incarnation


Let Go and Let God!

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The Presence of God
“I stand at the door and knock,” says the Lord. What a wonderful privilege that the Lord of all creation desires to come to me. I welcome his presence.

Freedom
Saint Ignatius thought that a thick and shapeless tree trunk would never believe that it could become a statue, admired as a miracle of sculpture, and would never submit itself to the chisel of the sculptor, who sees by her genius what she can make of it. I ask for the grace to let myself be shaped by my loving Creator.

Consciousness
Knowing that God loves me unconditionally, I can afford to be honest about how I am. What are my fears and desires? What do I expect from God? What am I willing to give to God—from my emotions and talents, thoughts and energy? And how do I feel now? I share my feelings openly with the Lord.

The Word
I take my time to read the word of God, slowly, a few times, allowing myself to dwell on anything that strikes me.

Matthew 1:18–24
Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means, ‘God is with us.’” When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife.
Joseph is faced with a heartbreaking dilemma. His life is in turmoil because he loves Mary so much. Let me imagine for a few moments how welcome the angel’s message must have been to him! How quickly he acts, allowing himself to follow his heart and not allowing his sense of legal obligation to rule.

How often in Scripture does the quiet prompting of the Spirit come from within, in the form of a dream. How sensitive must the dreamers have been, to recognize the Spirit in their hearts. Do I invite the Spirit to prompt me? How ready am I to hear what the Spirit might suggest?

Conversation
Do I notice myself reacting as I pray with the word of God? Do I feel challenged, comforted, angry? Imagining Jesus sitting or standing by me, I speak out my feelings, as one trusted friend to another.

Conclusion
I thank God for these moments we have spent together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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Fourth Sunday in Advent

The New Eve

As we near the birth of Christ, it’s worth turning to the beautiful and familiar story of the Annunciation. The angel Gabriel comes to a virgin named Mary to announce she will give birth to a son. Although undoubtedly shocked, Mary responds, “I am the maidservant of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to your word.” Mary abandoned her own plans and acquiesced to what God wanted her to do.



The Church Fathers were fond of describing Mary as the new Eve, the new mother of all the living. In fact, some say the angel’s “ave” ("hail") reversed “Eva.”



What was Eve’s problem? Eve grasped at the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, claiming along with Adam that she would be the criterion of right and wrong, that her will would determine the nature of the good. Every one of our spiritual and moral problems flows from this primordial sin. But when Mary says, “Let it be done to me according to your word,” this spiritual momentum is stopped and then reversed. It is this reversal that allows Christ to be born into the world.

Meister Eckhart noted that every Christian has the vocation of Mary, to bring Christ to birth. We each do this in our own ways and styles, according to the exigencies of our unique vocations. But we do this, Eckhart saw, the same way Mary did: by abandoning our projects and plans, our sense of the good life, and acquiescing to God’s purpose working through us.

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Third Saturday in Advent

The Return from Exile

Sometimes, as we wait, we can feel like we are in exile. Exile is a huge theme in the minds of the Biblical authors because two great exiles practically define Israelite history: the exile in Egypt and the exile in Babylon. In both cases, God’s holy people, his specially chosen race, was enslaved by a foreign power.

The prophet Baruch, who was the secretary to the prophet Jeremiah, writes from Babylon, from the land of exile. At the time, Jerusalem, the holy city which, had been ravaged by the Babylonians and left abandoned, its temple and walls in ruins. With this in mind, Baruch tells the Israelites to “take off your robe of mourning and misery and put on the splendor of glory from God forever” (Baruch 5:1). With his prophetic eyes, he envisions the day when God would lead his people back home.



In light of Baruch’s prophecy and this long history of exile and expectation, we now turn to the Gospel of Luke. Luke begins by mentioning all of the major representatives of the powers oppressing Israel: Tiberius Caesar, the king of the world; Pontius Pilate, his local representative; Herod and his brother Philip, Roman puppets; Annas and Caiaphas, collaborators.



These were all of the people who were, in various ways and to varying degrees, oppressing Israel. But look how artfully this passage is composed: after mentioning these high and mighty figures, Luke tells us that the word of God came, not to them, but to this odd figure in the Judean desert, this strange and obscure prophet called John.

God’s ways are not our ways. God does not regard people and events the way we do. How strange that he would come to this seemingly insignificant figure!

And what is the message God brings to John? The deliverer is coming! The Messiah! Not just someone who will liberate Israel provisionally and politically, but someone who will liberate them from their ultimate exile, their alienation from the Lord.Israel is going to be definitively saved, brought home to God. So get ready to receive the Messiah.


Let Go and Let God!

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The Presence of God
Jesus, help me to be fully alive to your Holy Presence. Enfold me in your love. Let my heart become one with yours.

Freedom
I will ask God’s help, to be free from my own preoccupations, to be open to God in this time of prayer, to come to know, love, and serve God more.

Consciousness
I ask how I am within myself today. Am I particularly tired, stressed, or off form? If any of these characteristics apply, can I try to let go of the concerns that disturb me?

The Word
God speaks to each of us individually. I listen attentively to hear what God is saying to me. Read the text a few times, then listen.

John 5:33–36
Jesus said, “You sent messengers to John, and he testified to the truth. Not that I accept such human testimony, but I say these things so that you may be saved. He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. But I have a testimony greater than John’s. The works that the Father has given me to complete, the very works that I am doing, testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me.”
Jesus points out that John’s message was indeed a light to the people but that now there is a brighter light, which is Jesus. Sometimes we must transition from one wisdom or enlightenment to another. When do we know it’s time to do this? Am I comfortable with the idea that I might need to make such a shift in my spiritual attention?

What “works” are evidence that God is present? Many people claim to do God’s works and deliver God’s message, but certainly not all of them speak the truth. Holy Spirit, help me discern when what I am witnessing is a work of God.

Conversation
Sometimes I wonder what I might say if I were to meet you in person, Lord. I think I might say, “Thank you, Lord” for always being there for me.

Conclusion
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be,
World without end. Amen.

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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12/15/16 10:04 P

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The Presence of God
Jesus, help me to be fully alive to your Holy Presence. Enfold me in your love. Let my heart become one with yours.

Freedom
I will ask God’s help, to be free from my own preoccupations, to be open to God in this time of prayer, to come to know, love, and serve God more.

Consciousness
I ask how I am within myself today. Am I particularly tired, stressed, or off form? If any of these characteristics apply, can I try to let go of the concerns that disturb me?

The Word
God speaks to each of us individually. I listen attentively to hear what God is saying to me. Read the text a few times, then listen.

Luke 7:24–30
When John’s messengers had gone, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who put on fine clothing and live in luxury are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written, ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ I tell you, among those born of women no one is greater than John; yet the least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” (And all the people who heard this, including the tax collectors, acknowledged the justice of God, because they had been baptized with John’s baptism. But by refusing to be baptized by him, the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves.)
What do I go out to see? What are my true values? What impresses me? Jesus was impressed by John because he expressed God’s values and chose simplicity of life. I ask him if he is impressed by me, and I listen in my heart to what he says to me.

Luke uses a Hebrew poetic form of speaking—with repetition, question, and answer—to emphasize that with Jesus’ ministry a new world order is beginning. I thank Jesus that I know the divine project, which John could not have known. I ask that I may help in the unfolding of God’s intentions for the world. I can be at least a very minor prophet by living the gospel in my place and time.

Conversation
Sometimes I wonder what I might say if I were to meet you in person, Lord. I think I might say, “Thank you, Lord” for always being there for me.

Conclusion
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be,
World without end. Amen.


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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Third Thursday in Advent



What Should We Do?



Everyone is, in principle, interested in repentance. Whenever that call is uttered in a clear and uncompromising way, people tend to respond. No matter how high they might seem in the society, no matter how self-confident, they ultimately want God.



And so, like those who in the time of John the Baptist, we ask “What should we do? How should we live our lives?” This question, of course, tells us something else about repentance: that it has to do with action more than simply changing our minds.



We know our lives have gone off the rails in different ways, and we want to get them back on track. This is possible only through certain things we do. The spiritual life is, finally, a set of behaviors.



So what does John the Baptist tell us to do? His first recommendation is this: “Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none” (Luke 3:11). This is so basic, so elemental—yet so almost thoroughly ignored! In the Church’s social teaching, we find a constant reminder that although private property is a social good, the use of our private property must always have a social orientation.



Pope Leo XIII wrote in Rerum Novarum, “If the question be asked how must one’s possessions be used, the Church replies without hesitation that man should not consider his material possessions as his own but as common to all.” And then this startling line, very effective for an examination of conscience: “when what necessity demands has been supplied, and one's standing fairly taken thought for, it becomes a duty to give to the indigent out of what remains over.”



An early Church Father, St. Basil the Great, expressed this idea even more radically and in tones that echo John the Baptist: “The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry. The cloak in your wardrobe belongs to the naked. The shoes you allow to rot belong to the barefoot. The money in your vaults belongs to the destitute. You do injustice to every man whom you could help but do not.”



So what should we do this Advent, we who seek repentance, we who await the coming of the Messiah? Serve justice, render to each his due, and give to those who are need.





Let Go and Let God!

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TODAY’S ADVENT REFLECTION FOR THE 3rd THURSDAY OF ADVENT, 2016
And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.—John 1:14

That a baby who could fit in your arms is the maker of space and time is the most audacious claim made by any faith ever. So why do we believe it? Because Jesus taught us who he was, and he verified his claims with the most amazing miracle of all time.

Jesus wasn’t put to death for being a political activist. He was put to death for “blasphemy.” By his words and actions, he taught people that he was divine. From the very first days of the Church, the early Christians worshipped him as God.

How do we know those early Christians were right?

Because Jesus rose from the dead.Harvard law professor Dr. Simon Greenleaf set out to debunk Christianity. He thought “everything these people believe rests on their claim that Jesus rose from the dead, but that wouldn’t even hold up in court!”

But the more he researched, the more he ran into a problem. Jesus’ Resurrection would hold up in court. If someone is tried for a crime, if there are eyewitnesses, he’s going to jail. And if every eyewitness is willing to die rather than retract his claim, the person on trial has no hope of staying out of jail! That’s what we have with the Resurrection. Jesus’ first followers didn’t die for a vague “belief.” They died gruesome deaths, from an upside-down crucifixion to being flayed alive, because they had seen Jesus risen from the dead. They wouldn’t have done that for a lie.

Dr. Greenleaf became a Christian.

The love story that is Christianity is the best news imaginable, and the best part about it is that it’s real. Really real. There is a God. And although the story of faith is usually the story of man seeking God, what happened in Bethlehem two thousand years ago is God looking for us. Looking for you.

Let Go and Let God!

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The Presence of God
Jesus, help me to be fully alive to your Holy Presence. Enfold me in your love. Let my heart become one with yours.

Freedom
I will ask God’s help, to be free from my own preoccupations, to be open to God in this time of prayer, to come to know, love, and serve God more.

Consciousness
I ask how I am within myself today. Am I particularly tired, stressed, or off form? If any of these characteristics apply, can I try to let go of the concerns that disturb me?

The Word
God speaks to each of us individually. I listen attentively to hear what God is saying to me. Read the text a few times, then listen.

Luke 7:18b–23
At that time, John summoned two of his disciples and sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” When the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?’” Jesus had just then cured many people of diseases, plagues, and evil spirits, and had given sight to many who were blind. And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offence at me.”
The Jews wanted a political Messiah who would dramatically terminate their oppression under Roman rule. But Jesus’ good news was not about war or politics. His message was meant especially for the blind, the lame, the lepers, the deaf, the dead, and the poor. I ask Jesus for the wisdom to avoid getting lost in political issues. I pray for the grace to share my love with those who are marginalized and unwanted by the world.

John has been tossed into prison. As he languishes there, the oil of John’s lamp is flickering. He wonders, did he get it right? Was his ministry a waste? Was Jesus the one he believed him to be? Lord, I can identify with John. I find that the wick of my lamp can quiver and splutter when things don’t go my way. My desire for a world of peace and justice is met by a world of violence and injustice. This Advent day, refill my inner lamp and let me walk in faith and trust.

Conversation
Sometimes I wonder what I might say if I were to meet you in person, Lord. I think I might say, “Thank you, Lord” for always being there for me.

Conclusion
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be,
World without end. Amen.


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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Advent: Kissing St. Joseph
Dec 14, 2016 10:25 am



TODAY’S ADVENT REFLECTION FOR THE 3RD WEDNESDAY OF ADVENT, 2016
When my mother’s cousin, Mary, was twelve, she and her friend went to church every day after school during Lent to pray for the souls in Purgatory in front of the statue of St. Joseph. One day, in an excess of zeal, Mary decided that a kiss would encourage the saint to intercede more effectively. She had to stand on tiptoe to reach his lips, but she kissed him. As she let go, however, St. Joseph began to lean precipitously toward her. She called to her friend, but the church was empty. In a panic, she gently lowered the statue to the ground, and running to the rectory next door, rang for the housekeeper. “St. Joseph is on the ground,” she reported earnestly, ”and he needs help.”

Nearly every Catholic church in the world has an image of Joseph, son of Heli, somewhere near the altar. The beloved saint, a sincere and prudent man, who was the protector of Christ and Mary, belongs there because he was chosen by God to be the foster-father of Jesus, and because he is a model of genuine authority.

We know that Joseph exerted familial influence in ways that discharged legal, personal, and religious responsibility: he accompanied Mary to Bethlehem to register for the census as required by law (Matt. 2:4); he oversaw Christ’s birth (Luke 2:7), named him (Matt. 1:25), took Mary and the child to Egypt (Matt. 2:14), and brought them back to Israel (Matt. 2:21); he presented the child to be circumsized (Luke 2:22), and, when Jesus was twelve, brought his family on pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the religious feast of Passover (Luke 2:42). His fatherly care was shared by Mary, who said, “Your father and I have been looking for you,” and recognized by Jesus, who “lived under their authority” (Luke 2: 48-51). And it is certain, we are reminded by Pope John Paul II in Redemptoris Custos, that his professional direction as a master carpenter was honored in the house at Nazareth.

Joseph’s authority finds its prototype in the Trinity. God the Father holds authority for the three persons. We know this because Jesus refers to the Father on several occasions where we see him submitting his will: discovered in the temple, he says, “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49); in the garden of Gethsemane, he prays, “‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by. Nevertheless, let it be as you, not I, would have it’” (Matt. 26:39); and appearing to the disciples in Galilee, he explains, “All authority in heaven and on the earth has been given to me” (Matt. 28:18). The authority that the Father shared with the Son is mirrored in the Holy Family and in the Church.

Like Joseph, head of the family, Peter was the head of the Church, an analogic reality recognized by Dante in Paradiso XXXII, when he placed al maggior padre di famiglia (136), “the greatest father of a family,” contr’ a Pietro (133), “opposite Peter.” Neither Joseph nor Peter ever affected grinding dominance, because authentic authority is not oppressive: it is open, loving, creative, and sacrificial, and like cousin Mary, knows that it “needs help.”

Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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12/13/16 9:21 P

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The Presence of God
Jesus, help me to be fully alive to your Holy Presence. Enfold me in your love. Let my heart become one with yours.

Freedom
I will ask God’s help, to be free from my own preoccupations, to be open to God in this time of prayer, to come to know, love, and serve God more.

Consciousness
I ask how I am within myself today. Am I particularly tired, stressed, or off form? If any of these characteristics apply, can I try to let go of the concerns that disturb me?

The Word
God speaks to each of us individually. I listen attentively to hear what God is saying to me. Read the text a few times, then listen.

Matthew 21:28–32
Jesus said, “What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.”
Well, which person am I? The smooth but unreliable daddy-pleaser or the guy who, even with a bad attitude, does the job? The kingdom of heaven is not promised to the charmers but to those whose lives would make no sense if God did not exist.

I review the statements and declarations I may have made. I ask God to help me abide by them and to help me accept forgiveness for wherever I have fallen short. God continually invites me to fullness of life. I do not have to be downhearted because I’m aware that I don’t always accept the invitation. Rather, I can be encouraged that God puts trust in me by calling me to serve others.

Conversation
Sometimes I wonder what I might say if I were to meet you in person, Lord. I think I might say, “Thank you, Lord” for always being there for me.

Conclusion
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be,
World without end. Amen.


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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12/11/16 4:08 P

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The Presence of God
Jesus, help me to be fully alive to your Holy Presence. Enfold me in your love. Let my heart become one with yours.

Freedom
I will ask God’s help, to be free from my own preoccupations, to be open to God in this time of prayer, to come to know, love, and serve God more.

Consciousness
I ask how I am within myself today. Am I particularly tired, stressed, or off form? If any of these characteristics apply, can I try to let go of the concerns that disturb me?

The Word
God speaks to each of us individually. I listen attentively to hear what God is saying to me. Read the text a few times, then listen.

Matthew 11:2–11
When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offence at me.” As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written, ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”
There is real comfort in this story. John the Baptist, the powerful, austere man who held such a sway among the Jews, still had his moments of darkness. Imprisoned in Herod’s dungeon, he wondered: Am I a fool? Is this all there is? Was I wrong about Jesus? He does not just brood on the question; he sends messengers to Jesus. And Jesus does not send back reassurances; rather, he asks the messengers to open their eyes and see the evidence of Jesus’ life.

“Go and tell what you hear and see . . . the blind receive their sight . . .”! What do I see and hear? Do I see the signs of God’s kingdom breaking through in the world around me? What does it look like? If I don’t see any positive signs, why not? Do I need to look again, or look differently? Am I somehow looking for “soft robes and royal palaces” when God is offering me a prophet?

Conversation
Sometimes I wonder what I might say if I were to meet you in person, Lord. I think I might say, “Thank you, Lord” for always being there for me.

Conclusion
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be,
World without end. Amen.


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

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12/10/16 9:52 A

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The Presence of God
I pause for a moment and think of the love and the grace that God showers on me: I am created in the image and likeness of God; I am God’s dwelling place.

Freedom
Lord, you created me to live in freedom. May your Holy Spirit guide me to follow you freely. Instill in my heart a desire to know and love you more each day.

Consciousness
How am I really feeling? Lighthearted? Heavy hearted? I may be very much at peace, happy to be here. Equally, I may be frustrated, worried, or angry. I acknowledge how I really am. It is the real me that the Lord loves.

The Word
I read the Word of God slowly, a few times over, and I listen to what God is saying to me.

Matthew 17:9a, 10–13
The disciples asked Jesus, “Why, then, do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” He replied, “Elijah is indeed coming and will restore all things; but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but they did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man is about to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them about John the Baptist.
The disciples are bewildered. They believe that Elijah must return before the reign of God comes about. Jesus tries to move them on by telling them that the work of Elijah has already been done by John the Baptist. God moves at a pace that is different from ours. Do I also get stuck and miss the God of Surprises?

What is preventing me from living as if my savior—my Redeemer—has already come? The philosopher Nietzsche remarked that Jesus’ disciples “should look a little more redeemed”!

Conversation
I know with certainty there were times when you carried me, Lord. When it was through your strength I got through the dark times in my life.

Conclusion
I thank God for these moments we have spent together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


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12/9/16 7:33 A

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The Presence of God
I pause for a moment and think of the love and the grace that God showers on me: I am created in the image and likeness of God; I am God’s dwelling place.

Freedom
Lord, you created me to live in freedom. May your Holy Spirit guide me to follow you freely. Instill in my heart a desire to know and love you more each day.

Consciousness
How am I really feeling? Lighthearted? Heavy hearted? I may be very much at peace, happy to be here. Equally, I may be frustrated, worried, or angry. I acknowledge how I really am. It is the real me that the Lord loves.

The Word
I read the Word of God slowly, a few times over, and I listen to what God is saying to me.

Matthew 11:16–19
Jesus spoke to the crowds, “But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”
Both John and Jesus reveal what God is like, but they are misunderstood and cruelly rejected. I thank Jesus that he does not despair of humankind. He knows what we are like, yet he also sees what we can become. May I never despair over myself or others.

How much am I willing to put myself out for others, as John and Jesus did? I pray not to be imprisoned in my comfort zones.

Conversation
I know with certainty there were times when you carried me, Lord. When it was through your strength I got through the dark times in my life.

Conclusion
I thank God for these moments we have spent together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


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12/8/16 7:40 A

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The Presence of God
I pause for a moment and think of the love and the grace that God showers on me: I am created in the image and likeness of God; I am God’s dwelling place.

Freedom
Lord, you created me to live in freedom. May your Holy Spirit guide me to follow you freely. Instill in my heart a desire to know and love you more each day.

Consciousness
How am I really feeling? Lighthearted? Heavy hearted? I may be very much at peace, happy to be here. Equally, I may be frustrated, worried, or angry. I acknowledge how I really am. It is the real me that the Lord loves.

The Word
I read the Word of God slowly, a few times over, and I listen to what God is saying to me.

Matthew 11:28–30
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
Like Mary, I came into the world for a purpose. That purpose probably will not be revealed to me as dramatically as it was to her. Perhaps she heard God’s message so clearly because she was comfortable with silence. Too often I fear the emptiness, the darkness, the silence within me. Yet it is there that the Spirit lives and works, even when my prayer seems most arid. God, help me go daily into the quiet of my heart, to meet you there, in love and adoration.

Mary did not receive the angel’s message as a total surprise; she was ready to engage in conversation with God’s messenger. I turn to God in my prayer and try to see God’s finger at work in my life. I draw inspiration from Mary’s disposition.

Conversation
I know with certainty there were times when you carried me, Lord. When it was through your strength I got through the dark times in my life.

Conclusion
I thank God for these moments we have spent together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


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12/7/16 7:39 A

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The Presence of God
I pause for a moment and think of the love and the grace that God showers on me: I am created in the image and likeness of God; I am God’s dwelling place.

Freedom
Lord, you created me to live in freedom. May your Holy Spirit guide me to follow you freely. Instill in my heart a desire to know and love you more each day.

Consciousness
How am I really feeling? Lighthearted? Heavy hearted? I may be very much at peace, happy to be here. Equally, I may be frustrated, worried, or angry. I acknowledge how I really am. It is the real me that the Lord loves.

The Word
I read the Word of God slowly, a few times over, and I listen to what God is saying to me.

Matthew 11:28–30
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Jesus invites us to come to him just as we are. He recognizes the busyness of our lives, how we labor and are overburdened, and he draws us into his loving and gentle presence. He wants to listen to all our troubles, and he assures us that his yoke is easy and his burden is light. When we spend time with Jesus, we find rest for our souls. He speaks to us in the silence of our hearts and gives us inner peace.

Sometimes we carry heavy burdens because we want to figure things out on our own, believing there is no one to help us. I pray that people who are weighed down may hear the voice of Jesus. I pray that I may hear it, too, and have the humility I need to ask for and receive help.

Conversation
I know with certainty there were times when you carried me, Lord. When it was through your strength I got through the dark times in my life.

Conclusion
I thank God for these moments we have spent together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


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12/6/16 9:06 P

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The Presence of God
I pause for a moment and think of the love and the grace that God showers on me: I am created in the image and likeness of God; I am God’s dwelling place.

Freedom
Lord, you created me to live in freedom. May your Holy Spirit guide me to follow you freely. Instill in my heart a desire to know and love you more each day.

Consciousness
How am I really feeling? Lighthearted? Heavy hearted? I may be very much at peace, happy to be here. Equally, I may be frustrated, worried, or angry. I acknowledge how I really am. It is the real me that the Lord loves.

The Word
I read the Word of God slowly, a few times over, and I listen to what God is saying to me.

Matthew 18:12–14
Jesus said, “What do you think? If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety–nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety–nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.”
Every Gospel passage tells us something about God. Here I learn that God has a particular care for everyone, especially for those who have gone astray. This is a comfort to me because I often lose my way in life. God is watching out for me always.

I ask the Lord that I, too, may care for the “little ones”—those who are vulnerable and cannot cope with life’s demands.

Conversation
I know with certainty there were times when you carried me, Lord. When it was through your strength I got through the dark times in my life.

Conclusion
I thank God for these moments we have spent together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.



Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


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12/5/16 7:55 A

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The Presence of God
I pause for a moment and think of the love and the grace that God showers on me: I am created in the image and likeness of God; I am God’s dwelling place.

Freedom
Lord, you created me to live in freedom. May your Holy Spirit guide me to follow you freely. Instill in my heart a desire to know and love you more each day.

Consciousness
How am I really feeling? Lighthearted? Heavy hearted? I may be very much at peace, happy to be here. Equally, I may be frustrated, worried, or angry. I acknowledge how I really am. It is the real me that the Lord loves.

The Word
I read the Word of God slowly, a few times over, and I listen to what God is saying to me.

Luke 5:17–26
One day, while Jesus was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting nearby (they had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem); and the power of the Lord was with him to heal. Just then some men came, carrying a paralyzed man on a bed. They were trying to bring him in and lay him before Jesus; but finding no way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the middle of the crowd in front of Jesus. When he saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” Then the scribes and Pharisees began to ask themselves, “Who is this who is speaking blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” When Jesus perceived their questionings, he answered them, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed—“I say to you, stand up and take your bed and go to your home.” Immediately he stood up before them, picked up what he had been lying on, and went home, glorifying God. Amazement seized all of them, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen strange things today.”
What an interesting, colorful, humorous, and yet life-changing scene! The man’s friends are not easily put off. They use team effort and creativity to ensure that their paralyzed friend meets Jesus. An encounter happens that heals his body but also frees him from the paralysis of sin. Lord, forgiveness is a pressing need for all. Help me to do all I can to bring people to meet you and know your healing forgiveness in their lives. But help me do it sensitively!

In this miracle, Jesus performs both a spiritual and a physical healing. Am I a spiritual paralytic? What might be crippling me in following Jesus?

Conversation
I know with certainty there were times when you carried me, Lord. When it was through your strength I got through the dark times in my life.

Conclusion
I thank God for these moments we have spent together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


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12/4/16 3:04 P

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The Presence of God
I pause for a moment and think of the love and the grace that God showers on me: I am created in the image and likeness of God; I am God’s dwelling place.

Freedom
Lord, you created me to live in freedom. May your Holy Spirit guide me to follow you freely. Instill in my heart a desire to know and love you more each day.

Consciousness
How am I really feeling? Lighthearted? Heavy hearted? I may be very much at peace, happy to be here. Equally, I may be frustrated, worried, or angry. I acknowledge how I really am. It is the real me that the Lord loves.

The Word
I read the Word of God slowly, a few times over, and I listen to what God is saying to me.

Matthew 3:1–12
In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’” Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance. Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the axe is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
I may feel uncomfortable when confronted with John’s call to repentance, but I let myself listen, acknowledging that I am a sinner in need of God’s mercy. If I cannot admit this, then perhaps Advent is not for me.

God does not want me to receive the Word passively. I work with God, preparing the way in my life, expectant and hopefully watching for God’s approach.

Conversation
I know with certainty there were times when you carried me, Lord. When it was through your strength I got through the dark times in my life.

Conclusion
I thank God for these moments we have spent together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


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12/3/16 6:04 P

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Thank you for posting these!

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cj

What if we woke up tomorrow with only those things that we thanked God for today?


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The Presence of God
Be still and know that I am God. Lord, may your spirit guide me to seek your loving presence more and more. For it is there I find rest and refreshment from this busy world.

Freedom
By God’s grace I was born to live in freedom. Free to enjoy the pleasures He created for me. Dear Lord, grant that I may live as you intended, with complete confidence in your loving care.

Consciousness
In God’s loving presence I unwind the past day, starting from now and looking back, moment by moment. I gather in all the goodness and light, in gratitude. I attend to the shadows and what they say to me, seeking healing, courage, forgiveness.

The Word
The Word of God comes to us through the Scriptures. May the Holy Spirit enlighten my mind and heart to respond to the gospel teachings.

Matthew 9:35–10:1, 5a, 6–8
Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment.”
This seems to be a really outgoing Gospel reading: we are to look at the big harvest—the sick, the dead, the outcasts. All the needs of people are part of prayer. It is in care and compassion that the kingdom of heaven comes near.

Lord, the cries of the poor and brokenhearted are evident in the mass migrations daily beamed into my living room. Let me not forget that you summon me today to be your eyes, your ears, and your hands of compassion. May I respond with loving compassion to all who come to me.

Conversation
Jesus, you always welcomed little children when you walked on this earth. Teach me to have a childlike trust in you. To live in the knowledge that you will never abandon me.

Conclusion
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be,
World without end. Amen.


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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The Presence of God
Be still and know that I am God. Lord, may your spirit guide me to seek your loving presence more and more. For it is there I find rest and refreshment from this busy world.

Freedom
By God’s grace I was born to live in freedom. Free to enjoy the pleasures He created for me. Dear Lord, grant that I may live as you intended, with complete confidence in your loving care.

Consciousness
In God’s loving presence I unwind the past day, starting from now and looking back, moment by moment. I gather in all the goodness and light, in gratitude. I attend to the shadows and what they say to me, seeking healing, courage, forgiveness.

The Word
The Word of God comes to us through the Scriptures. May the Holy Spirit enlighten my mind and heart to respond to the gospel teachings.

Matthew 9:27–31
As Jesus went on his way, two blind men followed him, crying loudly, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!” When he entered the house, the blind men came to him; and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you.” And their eyes were opened. Then Jesus sternly ordered them, “See that no one knows of this.” But they went away and spread the news about him throughout that district.
How could these men follow Jesus if they could not see? By hearing his voice, perhaps. Or maybe others led them to him. How did they know what to ask for? They knew they needed physical and spiritual sight, so they asked for more than sight: they asked for mercy. Their faith in Jesus opened their hearts to appeal to him. Their faith touched power in Jesus, and they were healed. They knew their need for God and for others; they did not hide their need and thus were healed.

Lord, you do not meet me as one of a multitude, but face to face, on my own, where you can test the truth of my words. You meet me and listen to my desire when it is free from the illusions of mass emotion.

Conversation
Jesus, you always welcomed little children when you walked on this earth. Teach me to have a childlike trust in you. To live in the knowledge that you will never abandon me.

Conclusion
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be,
World without end. Amen.


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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12/1/16 7:34 A

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The Presence of God
Be still and know that I am God. Lord, may your spirit guide me to seek your loving presence more and more. For it is there I find rest and refreshment from this busy world.

Freedom
By God’s grace I was born to live in freedom. Free to enjoy the pleasures He created for me. Dear Lord, grant that I may live as you intended, with complete confidence in your loving care.

Consciousness
In God’s loving presence I unwind the past day, starting from now and looking back, moment by moment. I gather in all the goodness and light, in gratitude. I attend to the shadows and what they say to me, seeking healing, courage, forgiveness.

The Word
The Word of God comes to us through the Scriptures. May the Holy Spirit enlighten my mind and heart to respond to the gospel teachings.

Matthew 7:21, 24–27
Jesus said to the people, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. Everyone then who hears 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 beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!”
Saint Ignatius remarks that love is found in deeds rather than in words. Jesus praises good deeds over good intentions that are not carried out. I pray to be like a good servant who does the work God invites me to do.

Hearing or reading God’s Word is important, but it is not the end. I take time to let the Word of God settle into the shape of my life. I take care not to let it merely stay in my mind but to let it touch my heart and desires as well. I ask God to help me be present to the Word. My words are part of my response to God, but I realize that it is not just the saying of words that is important. I ask for sincerity and integrity, that my words will become actions that become my way of life.

Conversation
Jesus, you always welcomed little children when you walked on this earth. Teach me to have a childlike trust in you. To live in the knowledge that you will never abandon me.

Conclusion
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be,
World without end. Amen.


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


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11/30/16 6:49 P

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First Wednesday in Advent

The Days are Coming

The earliest Christian text we possess is 1 Thessalonians, written sometime in the early fifties of the first century. Paul tells this little church, which he had founded, to be ready for the coming of the Savior: “Now may God himself, our Father, and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we have for you, so as to strengthen your hearts, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones” (1 Th 3:11-13).

Paul had seen the risen Jesus, and everything else in his life fell away. Everything he had considered central—the law, his livelihood, his own tradition—now appeared to him as “rubbish.” Everything was re-arranged around this new massive reality of a crucified man having come back from the dead.

The Resurrection meant that God was truly the Lord of history, that all of the suffering, anxiety, and injustice of the world would be conquered and that a new, transformed life was held out to us. And so now the obligation was clear and simple: start living life in accord with the coming Christ.

Wait and watch for him, for a new world is undoubtedly coming. Paul almost certainly felt that this new world would fully emerge in his own lifetime, but though he was wrong about that detail, his recommendation is of permanent value.

As Paul tells the Thessalonians, in light of Christ, risen from the dead, the old world is marginalized, disempowered, and passing away. And therefore, those who live in accord with Christ are, in fact, on the winning side.


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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11/29/16 8:56 P

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TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 29
The Presence of God
Be still and know that I am God. Lord, may your spirit guide me to seek your loving presence more and more. For it is there I find rest and refreshment from this busy world.

Freedom
By God’s grace I was born to live in freedom. Free to enjoy the pleasures He created for me. Dear Lord, grant that I may live as you intended, with complete confidence in your loving care.

Consciousness
In God’s loving presence I unwind the past day, starting from now and looking back, moment by moment. I gather in all the goodness and light, in gratitude. I attend to the shadows and what they say to me, seeking healing, courage, forgiveness.

The Word
The Word of God comes to us through the Scriptures. May the Holy Spirit enlighten my mind and heart to respond to the gospel teachings.

Luke 10:21–24
Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Then turning to the disciples, Jesus said to them privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”
In this scene, Jesus seems to be rejoicing in his disciples, happy that they are with him. He is happy, too, in what God his Father has given to his followers. Jesus rejoices in us just as friends rejoice together and as parents rejoice in the talents and gifts of their children. Perhaps, then, can we rejoice in one another? In prayer we can allow ourselves to be grateful for the goodness, gifts, and faith of others, especially people who are significant in our lives.

I watch Jesus at his prayer. What is it like to see him rejoicing in the Holy Spirit and thanking his Father? At this moment as I pray, the three divine Persons are present with me, and the Spirit is praying in me. Awareness of this can transform my prayer.

Conversation
Jesus, you always welcomed little children when you walked on this earth. Teach me to have a childlike trust in you. To live in the knowledge that you will never abandon me.

Conclusion
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be,
World without end. Amen.



Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


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11/29/16 7:18 P

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First Tuesday in Advent

I’m Waiting, I’m Waiting

Advent is the liturgical season of vigilance or, to put it more mundanely, of waiting. During the four weeks prior to Christmas, we light the candles of our Advent wreaths and put ourselves in the spiritual space of the Israelite people who, through many long centuries, waited for the coming of the Messiah.

In the wonderful avant-garde German movie “Run Lola Run,” a young woman finds herself in a terrible bind: she needs to gather an enormous amount of money in a ridiculously short period of time. Throughout the movie she runs and runs, desperately trying through her own frantic efforts to make things right, but nothing works. Finally, at the moment when she finds herself at the absolute limit of her powers, she slows to a trot, looks up to heaven and says, "Ich warte, ich warte" (“I'm waiting, I'm waiting”).

Though she does not explicitly address God, and though there has been no hint throughout the movie that Lola is the least bit religious, this is undoubtedly a prayer. And in the immediate wake of her edgy request a rather improbable solution to her problem presents itself.

Lola's prayer has always reminded me of Simone Weil, that wonderful and mysterious twentieth-century French mystic whose entire spirituality is predicated upon the power of waiting, or, in her language, of expectation. In prayer, Weil taught, we open our souls, expecting God to act even when the content of that expectation remains unclear.

In their curious vigilance and hoping against hope, both Lola and Simone are beautiful Advent figures. “I’m waiting, I’m waiting,” they both exclaim. And so are we.


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

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11/28/16 8:44 A

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Take time to THINK...It is the source of power.Take Time to READ..It is the fountain of wisdom.
Take time to PRAY..It is the greatest power on earth. Take Time to LOVE and BE LOVED..It is a God-given privilege.
Be FRIENDLY, It is the road to happiness.. take time to LAUGH..it is the music of the soul.
Take time to Give it is too short a day to be selfish.. Take time to DO CHARITY..
it is the key to heaven.
I live in El Paso, TX


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11/28/16 7:48 A

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MONDAY, NOVEMBER 28
The Presence of God
Be still and know that I am God. Lord, may your spirit guide me to seek your loving presence more and more. For it is there I find rest and refreshment from this busy world.

Freedom
By God’s grace I was born to live in freedom. Free to enjoy the pleasures He created for me. Dear Lord, grant that I may live as you intended, with complete confidence in your loving care.

Consciousness
In God’s loving presence I unwind the past day, starting from now and looking back, moment by moment. I gather in all the goodness and light, in gratitude. I attend to the shadows and what they say to me, seeking healing, courage, forgiveness.

The Word
The Word of God comes to us through the Scriptures. May the Holy Spirit enlighten my mind and heart to respond to the gospel teachings.

Matthew 8:5–11
When Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, appealing to him and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, in terrible distress.” And he said to him, “I will come and cure him.” The centurion answered, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and the slave does it.” When Jesus heard him, he was amazed and said to those who followed him, “Truly I tell you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and will eat with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.”
The centurion was an officer of the imperial army, a man with power and status. He was begging a favor from a penniless itinerant teacher and declaring himself unworthy even to entertain Jesus in his house. Jesus was amazed, not merely at the trust of the man, but at the fact that his love for his servant led him to cut through all the barriers of rank and race. Lord, so much of my life is structured by social conventions and barriers. Give me the grace to listen to my heart and reach out to those that I can help.

This miracle is unusual for two reasons. Jesus was not actually present when the healing took place: he spoke the word, and the centurion’s servant was healed. The servant did not even have to hear Jesus speak the word: it was enough that the word was spoken. Do we realize that when we speak God’s word, someone, somewhere, may find healing?

Conversation
Jesus, you always welcomed little children when you walked on this earth. Teach me to have a childlike trust in you. To live in the knowledge that you will never abandon me.

Conclusion
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be,
World without end. Amen.



Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


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11/28/16 7:47 A

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MONDAY, NOVEMBER 28
The Presence of God
Be still and know that I am God. Lord, may your spirit guide me to seek your loving presence more and more. For it is there I find rest and refreshment from this busy world.

Freedom
By God’s grace I was born to live in freedom. Free to enjoy the pleasures He created for me. Dear Lord, grant that I may live as you intended, with complete confidence in your loving care.

Consciousness
In God’s loving presence I unwind the past day, starting from now and looking back, moment by moment. I gather in all the goodness and light, in gratitude. I attend to the shadows and what they say to me, seeking healing, courage, forgiveness.

The Word
The Word of God comes to us through the Scriptures. May the Holy Spirit enlighten my mind and heart to respond to the gospel teachings.

Matthew 8:5–11
When Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, appealing to him and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, in terrible distress.” And he said to him, “I will come and cure him.” The centurion answered, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed. For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and the slave does it.” When Jesus heard him, he was amazed and said to those who followed him, “Truly I tell you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and will eat with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.”
The centurion was an officer of the imperial army, a man with power and status. He was begging a favor from a penniless itinerant teacher and declaring himself unworthy even to entertain Jesus in his house. Jesus was amazed, not merely at the trust of the man, but at the fact that his love for his servant led him to cut through all the barriers of rank and race. Lord, so much of my life is structured by social conventions and barriers. Give me the grace to listen to my heart and reach out to those that I can help.

This miracle is unusual for two reasons. Jesus was not actually present when the healing took place: he spoke the word, and the centurion’s servant was healed. The servant did not even have to hear Jesus speak the word: it was enough that the word was spoken. Do we realize that when we speak God’s word, someone, somewhere, may find healing?

Conversation
Jesus, you always welcomed little children when you walked on this earth. Teach me to have a childlike trust in you. To live in the knowledge that you will never abandon me.

Conclusion
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be,
World without end. Amen.



Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


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11/27/16 5:48 P

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Take time to THINK...It is the source of power.Take Time to READ..It is the fountain of wisdom.
Take time to PRAY..It is the greatest power on earth. Take Time to LOVE and BE LOVED..It is a God-given privilege.
Be FRIENDLY, It is the road to happiness.. take time to LAUGH..it is the music of the soul.
Take time to Give it is too short a day to be selfish.. Take time to DO CHARITY..
it is the key to heaven.
I live in El Paso, TX


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11/27/16 2:49 P

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The Presence of God
Be still and know that I am God. Lord, may your spirit guide me to seek your loving presence more and more. For it is there I find rest and refreshment from this busy world.

Freedom
By God’s grace I was born to live in freedom. Free to enjoy the pleasures He created for me. Dear Lord, grant that I may live as you intended, with complete confidence in your loving care.

Consciousness
In God’s loving presence I unwind the past day, starting from now and looking back, moment by moment. I gather in all the goodness and light, in gratitude. I attend to the shadows and what they say to me, seeking healing, courage, forgiveness.

The Word
The Word of God comes to us through the Scriptures. May the Holy Spirit enlighten my mind and heart to respond to the gospel teachings.

Matthew 24:37–44
For as the days of Noah were, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and they knew nothing until the flood came and swept them all away, so too will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal together; one will be taken and one will be left. Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.
There are tough images here: floods, capture, thieving. These are frightening, life-changing events. We have one life, and it is precious and fragile. We need to be in tune with Jesus constantly, ready for whatever comes our way, not sleepwalking through life.

Lord, make me present to your daily appearances in my life. As the poet Tagore says: “He comes, comes, ever comes.” Lord, do not let me miss you, even in my ordinary routine.

Conversation
Jesus, you always welcomed little children when you walked on this earth. Teach me to have a childlike trust in you. To live in the knowledge that you will never abandon me.

Conclusion
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be,
World without end. Amen.


Let Go and Let God!

Bob Hook

Keep Walking With Jesus-Leader

Hopeful Hearts Breaking Free From Hurts - Leader

Gastric Sleevers - Leader

2018 Summer 5% Challenge for the Shooting Stars Team - EL Leader

Driven by Faith - Leader


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