The Joy of Jesus: A Word For Today

CALL ME “GRANDMA”

Call me “Grandma;” call me “Christian.”

Call me good and call me kind.

Call me full of the Holy Spirit,

Full of faith and full of fire!

Call me Catholic; call me holy,

One in faith and hope and love.

Call me servant of the Gospel,

With my eyes fixed up above.

Call me wife and call me mother.

Call me sister, aunt, cousin and friend.

Call me helper of the hopeless.

Call me faithful to the end.

Call me crazy; call me silly.

I am a sinner -- but now redeemed.

Call me naive; call me simple.

In the Word, I’m being steeped.

Call me narrow-minded one;

Single-hearted I remain.

Call me fool; in Him I live,

For Jesus Christ, no other Name.

____________________

Written by Valli Leone


Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man,

unconcerned about anyone’s opinion. Mark 12:14

Everyone shall be saved who calls on the name of the Lord. Acts 4:12

Come, share your Master’s joy! Matthew 25:21,23

 
 
FOR LENT:
 
HAPPY, HOLY LENT!  WE'RE ALMOST THERE (AT THE RESURRECTION CELEBRATION)!  FOR NOW, THOUGH, LET'S REMEMBER MOTHER TERESA OF CALCUTTA'S WORDS TO US ABOUT LENT:
 
"LENT IS THE TIME WHEN WE EMPTY OUR MINDS AND HEARTS OF ALL THAT IS NOT JESUS."  THAT'S A PRETTY SIMPLE UNDERSTANDING AND MAKES OUR PRAYING, FASTING AND GIVING MEANINGFUL.  IT'S ALL ABOUT YOU, LORD. 
 
JESUS, I LOVE YOU; YOUR PRESENCE CHANGES EVERYTHING.  CHANGE ME, OH LORD, BY THE POWER OF YOUR HOLY SPIRIT. GIVE ME YOUR MIND, YOUR EYES, YOUR MOUTH AND YOUR HANDS.  OPEN MY EARS TO HEAR YOUR WORD AND TO OBEY YOUR COMMANDS.  DRAW ME TO YOUR HEART, TO WORSHIP AND PRAISE, AND TO RECONCILIATION WITH YOU AND OTHERS.  IN JESUS' NAME, I PRAY.  AMEN.
 
John 11:25  (Jesus said)  “I am the resurrection and the life: whoever believes in me, though he should die, will come to life; and whoever is alive and believes in me will never die.”
 
 
JANUARY 24, 2011 --  JESUS IS OUR ONLY HOPE FOR  HEAVEN IN 2011!  ENJOY EVERY MOMENT WITH HIM, FOR HIM AND THROUGH HIM IN THE POWER OF THE  HOLY SPIRIT.  HIS LOVE IS EVERLASTING!  
 
 
SEPTEMBER 15, 2010
 
A poem offering from me to you.
 

GRACE ENOUGH!

 

 

There is grace enough for each new step.

There is joy for each tomorrow,

When I let go and let my God take all my fear and sorrow.

 

I will not fear; I will not fear, for Jesus Christ, my Lord, is here.

I will not fear; I will not fear, for Jesus Christ, my Lord, is here.

I will not fear; I will not fear, for Jesus Christ, my Lord, is here.

 

The past is gone; the moment now

Requires faith, hope and love.

With trust, I will depend on him, his bounty from above.

 

I will rejoice; this is my choice.

I will not shrink or hide.

His Holy Spirit lives in me; my needs will be supplied.

 

No matter what the world may think,

Or what some others say,

I know the Lord is at my side, to guide me all the way.

 

Through shadows and through darkness,

My light in him will shine,

The race I run, with peace and love, for blessed assurance is mine.

 

I will not fear; I will not fear, for Jesus Christ, my Lord, is here.

I will not fear; I will not fear, for Jesus Christ, my Lord, is here.

I will not fear; I will not fear, for Jesus Christ, my Lord, is here.

 

A better friend I could not have;

No better help than he is.

For I am his and he is mine—this brother and lord, Jesus.

 

There is grace enough for each new step

And joy along life’s path.

Come, Holy Spirit, fill me up,

Until I’m home at last!

 
 
 
 
BEING HOLY MEANS LIVNG IN PROFOUND COMMUNICATION WITH THE GOD OF JOY.  --  Pope John Paul II
Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the Spirit.  1 Peter 3:18
 
FOR PENTECOST:
 
 HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CHURCH!  SISTERS AND BROTHERS!  THE BODY OF CHRIST IS ALIVE AND KICKING -- AND RIPE FOR REVIVAL!  SOME REQUIRE A BLOOD TRANSFUSION --  THE BLOOD OF JESUS FLOWS, HEALS, DELIVERS AND SANCTIFIES!  YOUR BLOOD TYPE IS HIS BLOOD TYPE!  SHARE IT! DECREE, DECLARE AND DEMONSTRATE THE POWER OF OUR GOD.
 
"GO, THEREFORE, AND MAKE DISCIPLES OF ALL THE NATIONS.  BAPTIZE THEM IN THE NAME OFTHE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.  TEACH THEM TO CARRY OUT EVERYTHING I HAVE COMMANDED YOU.  AND KNOW THAT I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS, UNTL THE END OF THE WORLD!" 
 
THIS IS JESUS' COMMAND TO US, CHURCH, FROM MATTHEW 28:18-20 -- HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
 
EVERYDAY IS HIS BIRTHDAY WHEN HE IS BORN AGAIN INTO THE HEARTS OF HIS PEOPLE.  LORD, MAKE US INSTRUMENTS OF SALVATION, PEACE, LOVE AND JOY!  WHAT BETTER GIFT COULD WE GIVE TO THE KING!  ALLELUIA! 
 
MAY ALL THE CHARISMS, GIFTS AND THE FRUIT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT BE STIRRED INTO FURIOUS FLAME IN OUR LIVES AND HEARTS -- UNTIL WE SEE HIM FACE TO FACE!   REJOICE AND BE GLAD!   SIGNS, WONDERS AND MIRACLES WILL FOLLOW.  HE IS NOT FINISHED WITH ANY OF US YET, THANK GOD.
 
LIKE JESUS, WHO WAS PUT TO DEATH IN THE FLESH AND THREE DAYS LATER WAS BROUGHT BACK TO LIFE, SO WE HAVE THE SAME DESTINY, THE SAME FUTURE AS HIS.  NOT ONLY THAT!  BECAUSE OF THE FULFILLMENT OF THE PROMISE OF THE FATHER TO SEND HIS HOLY SPIRIT TO LIVE AND MOVE AND HAVE HIS BEING IN US, NOW WE ARE ABLE TO BE  HIS WITNESSES UNTO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH AND TO PROCLAIM WITH JOY THAT JESUS IS ALIVE!  ONLY THEN, IN A SPIRIT OF PRAISE AND OBEDIENCE, CAN WE SPEND ALL OF OUR DAYS FULLY ALIVE, LIVING THE THE ABUNDANT LIFE TO THE FULL.  AMEN.  ALLELUIA! 
 
HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED YOUR OWN PERSONAL PENTECOST?  NOT SURE?  ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE; SEEK AND YOU SHALL FIND; KNOCK AND IT SHALL BE OPENED TO YOU.  FOR, IF YOU WITH ALL YOUR SINS, KNOW HOW TO GIVE YOUR CHILDREN GOOD THINGS, HOW MUCH MORE WILL THE HEAVENLY FATHER GIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT TO THOSE WHO ASK HIM. (LUKE 11:9,13)
 
THE MEASURE OF LOVE IS TO LOVE WITHOUT MEASURE.  --  St. Bernard of Clairvaux
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.  Ephesians 4:32
 
ON MOTHER'S DAY:  HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!
 
It's really quite amazing that, created by God's love in his very own image, we are entrusted to continue this gift we call "life" by helping to birth and to train up other individuals; and the gift goes on.  The very best training I ever received from my parents was in how to be faithful,  how to be strong, and how to love.  They loved us without measure.  There's nothing much new under the sun for those of us who are striving to be more like the good parents we we blessed to have--and especially to become more like Jesus and our mother, Mary.  These were the two most perfect individuals every created, a mother and her Son, who light our way and show  us how to love and also how to suffer.  If I can pass on a measure of love like them, I will be glad to have passed through this life to share something of value.
 
One of my favorite "Casting Crowns" songs reminds me that:  "I am a flower  quickly fading, here today and gone tomorrow, a wave tossed in the ocean, a vapor in the wind; still He hears me when I'm calling.  Lord, you catch me when I'm falling; and you show me who I am --  I am Yours."  WOW!  We really are His; we belong to the Lord; we are not our own.  That says it all about this precious life I have been given and encourages me to make the most of every second I am permitted to live and breathe.  When I realize that my earthly existence is temporary, it's not a sad reality but an eternal joy to know that heaven awaits those of us who believe.  And I am reminded of all of the magnificent treasures I enjoy day by day; namely, my husband, my children, my grandchildren, all the family and friends whose faces and hearts I cannot even begin to express who bring me joy.  While we are here, we are here to love and to encourage one another.
 
I am lifted up to praise and worship through the holy Mass, to quiet reflection of God's presence in adoration, in the daily one-on-one time I spend with Jesus in his Word, thinking and comtemplating all of the wonders of this world which God created for my good pleasure.  I am free to run, to dance and to sing with brothers and sisters who, like me, know that we are FREE in Christ Jesus!  I have the Holy Spirit living inside of me, One who is closer to me than a brother.  Yes, I am only one bright flower, a splashing wave, a breath of creation--yet, by the grace of God I am determined to make a difference for Him and to persevere in the proclamation of the Good News, so that others might know the supernatural joy of being alive here on earth -- and the eternal hope that lies for each one of us the in glorious kingdom of heaven one day!
 
God is love; Jesus is His name; and the Holy Spirit is His life in us!  May we all live constantly in his love, forgive all those who have hurt us, pray without ceasing and love day by day without measure. 
 
THE SOUL OF ONE WHO LOVES GOD ALWAYS SWIMS IN JOY. --  St. John of the Cross
 
Look to him that you may be radiant with joy.  Psalm 34:6
 
RESURRECTION REFLECTION:
Jesus Christ is risen; he is risen indeed!  What truth, what love, what joy!  And who are we that the King of Kings reveals himself to us and the power of his Resurrection?  How could we ever repay him for all that he has done, is doing and will do for us all the days of or lives?  What can we give you, Lord?
 
The answer, we know from scripture, is simple yet complex, easy yet also hard to do.  He wants our "yes," our daily surrender, the totality of our hearts.  Wow!  As we ponder these things in the word of God, we come to understand that our Lord and Savior wants US not because he needs our love, our service, our time, but because He knows that He is really all we need to live a fully alive, joy-filled and successful life from now and forever. It's all because he loves us first and so much more than we could ever love Him.
 
Sometimes we seem to be sleeping, like the apostles were in the Garden of Gethsemani just before his crucifixion.  Out of weariness, confusion and pain, they were lulled into doing the only thing they could in the midst of such terrible circumstances--shut down.  It's no wonder in our own day and age that so many psychologists see too much sleep as a sign of depression.  There's nothing much new under the sun.  Comparing our helplessness response with the lukewarmness that too often seems to envelop our church, home, family and work lives, we come to realize that the Lord Jesus says the same thing to us today:  "Wake up!  Stay with me.  Don't fall into the depression trap."  This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad!
 
If only we can daily remember and know that everything passes away, except the Word of God.  We have the gift of knowing the miraculous ending to all of Jesus' suffering in the Garden.  We also have the promise of heaven and the hope for days here on earth filled with a personal intimacy with our Lord himself, who delivers us from all evil.  Hard situations, impossible tasks, failing relationships, sickness, and suffering of every kind will come and go.  And, of all people, St. John of the Cross, who experienced the dark night of the soul throughout torment and torture from his own spiritual family--he tells us that if we love God, we will always swim in joy.  Because our Redeemer lives, we can face each day with wholeness of mind, body and spirit.
 
The joy St. John speaks about is the joy of knowing, believing and trusting in the power of the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Because He lives and moves and has his being in us in the power of his Holy Spirit, we are containers for this joy, living vessels of Resurrection grace and power!  And it is our decision, day by day, to swim in this joy regardless of what happens around us.  We know the secret of true happiness--that it is not what "happens" around us that determines our happiness.  Knowing Jesus, loving Him and serving Him is what fulfills the brokenness and emptiness of every human life.  Because He lives, we too will live forever! 
 
So, let's all swim in the joy of the Lord, taking the time to stay awake and in touch with Jesus each and every day in his Word.  Who are we?  We are like flowers, quickly fading, here today and gone tomorrow, a wave tossed in the ocean, a vapor in the wind (the words of Casting Crowns' song recording).  Still, the Lord hears us each time we call and catches us every time we fall.  He shows us who we are:  WE ARE HIS!
 
Amen.  Alleuia!  We are an Easter people, and Alleluia is our song--forever!  May we praise him together in faith, hope, love and joy!
 
 
THE MEASURE OF LOVE IS TO LOVE WITHOUT MEASURE. -- St. Bernard of Clairvaux
 
In the end three things remain:  faith, hope and love; and the greatest of these is love.   I Corinthians 13:13 
 
A JOHN 3:16 REFLECTION:
This scripture, probably after John 3:16, is one of the best-known, recited and chosen for wedding celebrations.  Yet, how quickly we forget to love.  Each new day brings its own concerns and trials, tensions abound and our hearts begin to unravel.  We know that the battles begin in our minds, yet we often forget to allow our minds to be transformed by the Word of God by spending time with Jesus one-on-one.  How difficult--how impossible--it is to love others around us if we do not love the Lord with all our hearts, minds, souls and strength. 
 
As soon as we "remember" Him and His tremendous love for us, we are no longer scattered, DIS-membered, but we become whole and holy-centered once more. If today you're feeling less than together, remember Jesus; His presence changes everything!  Let's run to him each and every morning, not delaying the peace, the power, the joy and the love that awaits us in his embrace.  For Jesus truly is the Eternal Embrace.  In the power of his Holy Spirit, he teaches us everything we need to know in order to truly live; then he reminds us whenever we become unravelled again, to seek first the kingdom of God and his plan for each of our days.  What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and grief to bear; what a privilege to carry everything to Him in prayer.  Amazing grace!
 
Our Father, our Abba (Daddy), has provided everything we need.  His grace is sufficient for us in every situation.  As the King's kids, let's boldly approach his throne of mercy and reconciliation.  Only then will we be able to love as he loves, to forgive as he forgives and to pass on this great love to others.  I was noticing in Luke 15 the other day how the prodigal son, after he received his inheritance from his father, left quickly and casually, full of pride and excitement about the fun he would have.  But after he squandered everything, his return was quite different.  With the help of the Holy Spirit, he finally "came to his senses."  Humbly then, he approached his father and his home, not knowing what kind of a reception he would be given.  With open arms, his father received him back; his heart had never forgotten to love his son.  And our God never forgets about us, even when we forget about him.  This is the gift of our faith, the truth about his love.  We can RUN to him every time, knowing that he loves us without measure.  For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.  And joy right here and right now!  Amen.
 
UNDER THE CONSUMING POWER OF LOVE, WE EMBRACE THE CROSS WITH ARDOR.   St. Bernard of Clairvaux
 
Jesus, I love you; your presence changes everything!
 
MOURNING INTO DANCING REFLECTION:
I returned yesterday from Orlando after four days with the Body of Christ at Holy Family Church.  What joy, what grace and what blessings we enjoyed together, as the Holy Spirit filled the temple sanctuary and the temples of our hearts; he brought new life, new meaning, new purpose to so many of our lives! So many brothers and sisters received outpourings of his peace, his healing, his deliverance, many resting in the Spirit.  I could not but be amazed at the faithfulness of our God.  Whenever we invite him, he comes!  How many people can we say that about?  Have you ever planned, prepared, called, or sent messages to someone over your lifetime and had that person show up every time he or she was invited?  Jesus Christ is so remarkable.  He tells us to "Call out to him day and night."  Luke 18:7  He always r.s.v.p.'s "Yes, I'm coming."  Soon after, if not immediately after the call goes out, he answers:  "Here I am."
 
For HE IS always faithful, always right on time, always present to his people.  Even BEFORE we invite him, he waits for us to invite him!   Picture the Lord, waiting around for YOU!  Yes, He is around you, within you, above you, beneath you, at this very moment.  We cannot escape from his glorious presence.  There was a beautiful young lady on my return flight yesterday.  She started out doubtful.  After sharing the gospel and stories of each of our lives for the entire plane flight of about an hour, she said, "I think I'm getting the message.  The last flight I took, God sent a man with a bible to sit next to me and talk with me; now you!" I told her that his love for her would never leave her alone.  As the poet, Francis Thompson wrote, He is the "Hound of Heaven"--and may I add:  the "Blood" Hound who poured out his precious blood just for us.  Amen.
 
Whatever crosses you are carrying today, first off, ask the Lord if this is a cross that is in line with his will for your life.  If not, you might have created this cross all by yourself for no redeeming grace but to bring you down--sin and selfishness could be at the roots.  Repent and come back to him with all your heart.  Then, whatever cross you're left with, embrace it with ardor, passion and purpose.  Picture yourself handing it over to Him, under the Cross of Calvary.  He already died for all of it.  He will turn your mourning into dancing, your wonderings into gratefulness, and your sadness into total JOY.  As we pray, Come, Holy Spirit, change my heart into a heart of passion, ardor and joy for your glory, he will continue to heal us, sustain us and guide us all the days of our lives.  Jesus never fails!
 
 
LENT:  BOOT CAMP FOR THE BODY OF CHRIST!
 

Ephesians 1:3-4

God has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing… to be holy and without blemish before him.

 

Another description for Lent, the Lord is showing me, is that this forty-day period is like a "boot camp" for the Body of Christ.  I was praying after Mass in front of the Blessed Sacrament; and, as usual, the Lord put a song in my heart:  "Lord, I give you my heart; I give you my soul; I live for you alone.  Every breath that I take, every moment I'm awake, Lord, have you way in me......"  So there I am, loving the Lord, singing about giving him everything.  And then I hear his voice in my heart:  "Can you also give me your stomach?"  What!!??  That didn't seem to fit with the holy mood of my meditation. 

 

Knowing me better than I know myself--and reminding me of my difficulty in fasting and giving up the sweets I normally do during Lent--he spoke to me clearly and simply.  It was an eye-opener for me!  Can I give him my appetite, my stomach, my cravings for physical food as an offering of sacrifice and praise?  Going deeper, can I give him ALL the parts of my being?  What about my eyes--to read his Word daily, to see him in others, to avoid seeing whatever offends the Holy Spirit in me?  How about my mouth--to speak only blessings and not curses?  And my feet--to go only wherever he tells me to go, to serve his people, to dance for him?  If I could give him my hands--raised up high in praise and to hug the unlovable, to share what I have with the poor--what joy! And, lastly, the greatest facet that keeps me in bondage--my  mind.  Could I give him my mind, training it this Lent to cast out any negative, toxic thoughts that have control over my attitudes and actions?

 

Brothers and sisters, this just scratches the surface of the clean-up job and the training that the Lord can do in us during our Lenten boot camp!  What else does he have for us?  When we spend time with him, he shows us new and wonderful ways to train up in the ways we should go so that we will never depart from him.  Let's make the most of each of these forty days; for we know that the battle rages on.  Have you heard the expression:  "Fight fire with fire!"  We must learn to fight the fires of evil and temptation, of laziness and lukewarmness, with the fire of the Holy Spirit!  The bugle sounds early in the morning for the children of God:  Arise, awake, remain in me, says the Lord, and I will remain in you.  We are in the Lord's army--an army of faith, hope and love.  Fully clothed with the armor of God, we can learn to be the best we can be--for the glory of our King and Commander and for the salvation of souls.  Amen!

 

Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil.  Ephesians 6:11

 

 

LENT IS THE TIME WHEN WE EMPTY OUR HEARTS AND OUR MINDS OF ALL THAT IS NOT JESUS.   --  MOTHER TERESA
 

TREASURES OUT OF THE DARKNESS REFLECTION:

Today I was reading from the Book of Esther, totally amazed at her great faith and determination to do what the Lord, she was hopefully sure, would help her do in order to save the Jewish people from death and extinction.  Even in her human doubt, she uttered this prayer of surrender, "If I die, I die."  She rose up in splendor through these hair-raising circumstances.  In the midst of tremendous danger and hardship, one line in Esther C:29 caught my eye:  "From the day I was brought here 'til now, your handmaid has had no joy except in you, O Lord, God of Abraham." 

 

Have you ever felt like that?  When the Lord is our ONLY joy, still our joy is complete!  That's when He becomes our All in All, our strength when we are weak, our strong tower whose mighty right arm always picks us up out of the pit.  Too often our vision is blurred by the many blessings we have received in our lives.  And it's not until He is all we have that we realize He really is all we need.  If Jesus is your only joy, rejoice!  He is able to make all things new.

 

During this wonderful Lenten season of joy, as Bishop Esteves reminded us of this past Sunday, it's time to refocus, reflect and renew our vision of who God is for us.  At Mass yesterday morning, the Lord placed this little verse in my mind and heart:

 

Your grace is sufficient for me; your grace is sufficient for me.

Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Blessed Trinity.

 

Keep on keeping on with prayer, fasting and giving.  Begin today anew, if you must.  Seek new ways to pray, to deny yourself, to grow in faith, and to be present to those suffering and in need.  Yes, his grace is truly enough for us in every circumstance.  Just as St. Paul learned to be content in every circumstance of his life, so can we.   With our eyes fixed on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, we come to understand and to rejoice to know, like Queen Esther, that there is really NO JOY except in Him.  God wants to deliver us from all our fears, just as he delivered Esther.  Come, Holy Spirit, give us the vision of your prophets and preachers to see the truth and to act on the truth everyday.  Amen!

 

Isaiah 45:3

I will give you treasures out of the darkness and riches that have been hidden away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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