God has place this wonderful creation in our hands. As U2 sings, "It's a beautiful day, don't let it slip away." We have this one life to live on this beautiful planet so enjoy these reflections on God, faith, life, and music. "After the flood all of the colors came out. It's a beautiful day."

Monday, March 3, 2014

Knowing God's Will

The Call to Discipleship in The Gospel of Mark, Day 19

31 Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. 32A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, ‘Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.’33And he replied, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’34And looking at those who sat around him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! 35Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.’   Mark 3:31-32
       Was Jesus annoyed with his family, or is he trying to teach us about the coming kingdom? For his family had come to the door earlier and said, 'He's beside himself.' In that passage, Jesus' family are part of the critique of Jesus as not being ok. Jesus in the parables he tells has said if you blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, what you have done is unforgivable. Now his family has not said he is unclean or possessed, they said he is beside himself. Would that make their words unforgivable?  
       Jesus is providing us with a new way to think about what it means to be part of the family of God. When we experience life in the reign of God, family becomes those who do the will of God. So if his family is doing the will of God, they will be part of the new family. If they don't do the will of God, they won't be part of the new family. So Jesus isn't necessarily rejecting his family, he is just laying out a new criteria for what family will be. 
       So how do we know if we are following the will of God? This is one of the challenging parts of following God - knowing the difference between your will, desire, wishes, wants and the will of God. So one of the things we've been told is that God wishes for us to be bless us with the right job, the right spouse, the right ... God is there waiting to bless you. But Jesus is saying it is not about what God will bless you with, it is about how you follow God's will. So how do you know?  

Prayer Practice:

A great way to pray is to look for God's presence in your life. More than 400 years ago St. Ignatius of Loyola encouraged prayer-filled mindfulness by proposing what has been called the Daily Examen. It is a technique of prayerful reflection on the events of the day in order to detect God's presence and to discern his direction for us.  Try this version of St. Ignatius's prayer
  1. Become aware of the presence of God.
  2. Review the day with gratitude.
    Gratitude is the foundation of our relationship with God. Walk through your day in the presence of God and note its joys and delights.
  3. Pay attention to your emotions.
    Reflect on the feelings you experienced during the day. Ask what God is saying through these feelings.
  4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.
    Ask the Holy Spirit to direct you to something during the day that God thinks is particularly important. It may be a vivid moment or something that seems insignificant.
  5. Look toward tomorrow.
    Ask God to give you light for tomorrow's challenges.
St. Ignatius encouraged people to talk to Jesus like a friend. End the Daily Examen with a conversation with Jesus. Ask forgiveness for your sins. Ask for his protection and help. Ask for his wisdom about the questions you have and the problems you face. Do all this in the spirit of gratitude

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