Sunday, November 30, 2014

Focus – Finding Jesus’ Love in Everything and Everyone

Focus – November 20 – Finding Jesus’ Love in Everything and Everyone

Open with a silent pray that the Holy Spirit uses these words as He sees fitting for each one of us.

Ok, here I go being brave again.  I’m going to let you all into a little bit of the craziness that is Jennifer Dwyer.  You are going to find out something super silly about me.

Lately, I’ve been tossing around thoughts about the message that we are ALL the body of Christ.  We all make up His hand and feet.  I’ve heard this message repeated over and over again that we all have Jesus living inside of us.  I’ve made it a personal mission to try to find Jesus in everyone I encounter.  I must admit that at times it is difficult for me.  I am very human, and I often times let my human irritability and emotions take over and cloud my view of Jesus in the world in every human being. 

I have to frequently remind myself of something we studied this week (Lamentations 3:21-22), When my struggling is at its worst, I have to remember these words often.  They are some of the few highlighted and underlined verses in my bible. Every line of the bible is so special, I have trouble underlining and highlighting much, I reserve that for only the most special verses that I need to regularly be reminded about.

The LORD’s acts of mercy are not exhausted, his compassion is not spent;
They are renewed each morning—great is your faithfulness!

Just when I lose hope in myself, I look to my Lord and see his great and infinite mercy.  His inexhaustible mercy that is renewed each day in each and every one of us.  He works in us and through us, even when we aren’t paying any attention.  Sometimes, we do His work without even realizing it ourselves. 

Lately, I’ve been working on some techniques to keep Jesus in my view at all times.  One of the ways I love to do this is through music.  I spend special time in prayer conversing with Jesus through songs.  I enjoy almost all types of music, with only a few exceptions.  One of my favorite things to do, right in line with this year’s Cornerstone study, is to try to listen for prophetic messages in everyday things and everyday people.  To see Jesus shining through other’s words and actions.  Today, I’d like to share an example of this with you.  There is a pop song out right now, by Justin Timberlake, called “Not a Bad Thing.”  When this song comes on the radio, I imagine that my sweetest love is singing right to my heart and soul.  Just to clarify, I’m talking about Jesus, not Justin!    

I’m going to read you a couple verses of the song, then throw in some of my silly bantering commentary with Jesus that typically occurs in my head, and on rare occasions out loud, while I am listening to the song play on the radio.

 "Not A Bad Thing"

[Verse 1:]
Said all I want from you is to see you tomorrow
And every tomorrow, maybe you'll let me borrow your heart
And is it too much to ask for every Sunday
And while we're at it, throw in every other day to start

(Oh Jesus, I love that you want to see me everyday!  Sunday’s aren’t too much to ask, I’d love to see you every second of everyday, please give me the grace to keep my sights set on you)

I know people make promises all the time
Then they turn right around and break them
When someone cuts your heart open with a knife, now you're bleeding
But I could be that guy to heal it over time
And I won't stop until you believe it
'Cause baby you're worth it

(My Lord, you are always there for me, this world is so painful at times, your healing heart is so needed, please heal me of my brokenness, Lord.  Please help me believe I am worth it, thank you for not stopping loving me, healing me, and showering me with your mercy.)

So don't act like it's a bad thing to fall in love with me
'Cause you might look around and find your dreams come true, with me
Spent all your time and your money just to find out that my love was free
So don't act like it's a bad thing to fall in love with me, me
It's not a bad thing to fall in love with me, me

(Lord Jesus, you are making my dreams comes true, thank you for loving me so much!  The world at time acts like it is a bad thing to love you, help us all see the unfailing beauty of your love for us all.  Your love is free and your mercy is endless, help us to seek you out more and more each day)

[Verse 2:]
Now how about I'd be the last voice you hear tonight?
And every other night for the rest of the nights that there are
Every morning I just wanna see you staring back at me
'Cause I know that's a good place to start

(I seek to hear your voice everyday Lord in every way and in everyone I encounter.  Please give me the grace to keep my focus on you Lord, I want you to be the first voice I hear in the morning and the last voice I hear at night.  Help me see you in every face that stares back at me)

No I won't fill your mind
With broken promises and wasted time
And if you fall, you'll always land right in these arms
These arms of mine

(Lord, your promises are so good and so true.  You always catch me when I fall.  Thank you so much my sweet Jesus!  I love you!)

I feel like Justin is prophetically spreading Jesus message of continuous, true, unfailing, unconditional, and healing love.  I need to hear this message over and over again.  It seems the times when I need it the most the song plays on the radio.  Justin probably doesn’t realize how God is using him, but I can see it, and am so very thankful.

Thank you all for spending a few moments with me while I share my silly little pray technique with you.  

Focus – Divine Mercy – Prophecy for Our Times

Focus – October 2, 2014 – Divine Mercy – Prophecy for Our Times

What is our hope for today? Jesus has come to earth, died, and been resurrected, and heaven awaits for His faithful followers. But, we still have to live on earth until we die, we sill have to see all of the pain, suffering, and godlessness of this world. How do we get through these earthly challenges? Are our time really that different from Amos?

In Amos' times they were hoping for the messiah.  God's promise of a messiah has been fulfilled, we have been saved. Now what? 

We read this week, "on that day, I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen...behold, the days are coming, says The Lord when the plowsman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of the grapes, who sows the seed; the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it"

In my mind, Divine Mercy is our BIG prophesy. I imagine our time today, is similar to when Amos began prophesying about Jesus' first coming. When Amos began preaching, times were tough, things didn't look like they were getting any better, but then Jesus came and forever changed the world. Now, for us things look rough, it is hard to imagine things changing, but Divine Mercy is here, and more of it is to come, and I personally can't wait to see how the flooding will change the world.

Divine mercy in its simplest form is best portrayed by the image that Jesus gave Saint Faustina to disseminate throughout the world. It is a an image of Jesus standing with rays of blood and water flowing out of His sacred heart, essentially flooding the world with His endless mercy. St. Faustina received and recorded all of her divine messages about divine mercy in her Diary. Simply speaking, divine mercy, is the outpouring or flooding of the earth with God's graces. His mercy.

The key to His divine mercy, is that we must be "open" to receiving it. Our Heavenly Father, Jesus, and Mary are all ready to bestow it all onto the world, but are we ready?

How can we get ready?
  • Loving our God with our whole heart, our entire minds, and our full bodies.
  • Loving our neighbors, having care and concern for all, the rich, the poor, the hungry, the indulgent, the homeless, the prideful, and on and on. Loving everyone! 
  • Participating regularly in the Sacraments of the Church - participating in reconciliation and the Eucharist as often as possible.
  • Taking "time" to be Holy.
  • Going on retreats
  • Deeping our understanding of the our Catholic faith
  • Sharing our graces and gifts with others - evangelizing about our faith
  • Finally, praying for Divine Mercy - three options in my mind
    • Full chaplet - takes less than 10 minutes - very special graces for saying it during the 3 o'clock hour 
    • When you don't have enough time say "the Jesus prayer" - I'm not sure if that is its official name, but that is how I refer to it.  Is it simply "Jesus, have mercy on me"
    •  Then, if you don't have the energy or strength to do the Jesus prayer, just simply say "Jesus" - he'll know just what you mean

Focus - Great Love & Great Suffering

Great Love & Great Suffering 
Acts Chapter 7

I’d like to begin with a short prayer:

In the name of the Father, Son, Holy Spirit, Holy Spirit please fill me up and take over so that the words I speak may be your words and not my own.  Also, please hold off any possibility of me going into labor for the next 10 minutes! Amen

Great suffering and great love is what I would like to talk about today.  Two things that seems to be so far from each other, but the mystery is that they are so closely tied to each other.  I’d like to read a small section from a meditation from Richard Rohr, a contemplative priest who runs the Center for Action and Contemplation in Phoenix, AZ, that is entitled Great Love and Great Suffering.

“We must learn to be able to think and behave like Jesus, who is the archetypal human being.  This becomes a journey of great love and great suffering.  This journey leads us to a universal love where we don’t love just those who love us.  We must learn to participate in a larger love – divine love
Any journey of great love or great suffering makes us go deeper into our faith and eventually into what can only be called universal truth. Love and suffering are finally the same, because those who love deeply are committing themselves to eventual suffering, as we see in Jesus. And those who suffer often become the greatest lovers.”
This mystery of great suffering and great love is one that I have been drawn to for many reasons, Today, I would like to discuss briefly two areas where I see this great mystery displayed in my own life.  The first being motherhood, and the second being rejection/loss/death.

So, who better to stand up and talk to you about suffering than the 9 month pregnant woman who could go into labor at any minute!  I have spent the last nine months giving up control of everything in my body for the sake of a growing child.  I can’t sleep, I have heartburn, restless leg syndrome, back aches, headaches, dry mouth, back aches, leg cramps…..If you talked to me during my first three pregnancies, I would have complained about how much I disliked being pregnant and how I felt like it was an alien invasion and takeover of my body for nine months.  I’d say things like, “I really want more children, if only I could have them delivered by the stork and not have to be pregnant.”  “I love everything about being a mother, expect being pregnant”

I’m not sure what happened, but this all changed with my fourth/fifth pregnancy.  I now see pregnancy as a huge blessing, and a necessary prepping for motherhood.  I believe pregnancy, childbirth, and the first year of a baby’s life are necessary sacrifices and sufferings that must be endured to fully experience the great gift of love God has given to us through the blessing of a child.  I now feel so blessed to be involved with God and my husband as co-creators of the life that is growing inside of me.  I understand that through our cooperation, God is producing a life that will be a gift to the whole world.  It is only through some suffering that I experience this great love.

The second example is how we learn to love deeply by facing things we are most afraid of: rejection, loneliness, death, and broken hearts.  I’m sure we have all had to face these challenges over and over in daily life.  I began facing them when I was a child, when I was eleven years old my uncle Stevie was murdered.  He was my mother’s youngest brother.  She was the sixth child and he was the seventh.  She love him dearly, we all did, and this event had a huge impact on me and my family. This really was a turning point in my childhood and ultimately my life.  This was the first, of many untimely deaths that I would face. This event, among many others, has helped to form me into the person I am today.  I have continued to be challenged every day by new blessings and trials that God places in my life.  He is continually forming me and teaching me through these events.  I can see myself changing, and I am very thankful for everything God allows me to be a part of, even if it brings suffering, because in time, He has the power to turn great suffering into great joy. 

We are all continually asked to step out of our comfort zone.  I believe we must face, or be forced to face, our fears to experience deep change and growth.  God does not expect us to be it on our own, he has given us our past experiences and many examples of those who have suffered before us, such as Stephen in today’s lesson.  He very much pushes us to our limits, when we feel helpless and hopeless in our situation, that is the time to most rely on His strength and not our own.  That is what brings us closer to God, and makes us more like Jesus.  One thing I love about being Catholic is that I get the opportunity to see Jesus on the cross.  The crucifix is a continual reminder to me that I am not going through anything that Jesus himself did not have to face during his short life on earth.  I can go to him with anything and he will understand it fully and deeply. 

I’d like to end by reading a short writing by Henri Nouwen titled, Love Deeply:

Do not hesitate to love and to love deeply.

You might be afraid of the pain that deep love can cause. When those you love deeply reject you, leave you, or die, your heart will be broken. But that should not hold you back from loving deeply. The pain that comes from deep love makes your love ever more fruitful. It is like a plow that breaks the ground to allow the seed to take root and grow into a strong plant. Every time you experience the pain of rejection, absence, or death, you are faced with a choice. You can become bitter and decide not to love again, or you can stand straight in your pain and let the soil on which you stand become richer and more able to give life to new seeds.

The more you have loved and have allowed yourself to suffer because of your love, the more you will be able to let your heart grow wider and deeper. When your love is truly giving and receiving, those whom you love will not leave your heart even when they depart from you. They will become part of yourself and thus gradually build a community within you.
Those you have deeply loved become part of you. The longer you live, there will always be more people to be loved by you and to become part of your inner community. The wider your inner community becomes, the more easily you will recognize your own brothers and sisters in the strangers around you. Those who are alive within you will recognize those who are alive around you. The wider the community of your heart, the wider the community around you. Thus the pain of rejection, absence, and death can become fruitful. Yes, as you love deeply the ground of your heart will be broken more and more, but you will rejoice in the abundance of the fruit it will bear.

Focus – February 14th – Sweet Heart of Jesus!!

Focus – February 14th – Sweet Heart of Jesus!!

I would like to begin with a moment of silent prayer for the Holy Spirit to come to each of us wherever we are in our faith journey from the words of this focus.

Jesus is my truest love, my sweetheart, and this Valentine’s Day He has asked me to tell you all about it.

Why am I up here again!  Many of you may be thinking, I thought she said she hated public speaking.  Well, I did say that and I still do.  Jesus is asking me to step out of my comfort zone and expose my vulnerability, so that we all may grow in our faith.  He is asking me to trust him and gain confidence in sharing my faith.  After all, during this Year of Faith, we have all been called to just that.  So, here I am! 

After the first of the year I felt the “push” again to get up and give another focus.  After our Christmas break I looked at the five open spots that Stephanie mentioned in one of her talks.  I didn’t feel any special interest or calling to any particular one, so I decided to think, pray, and ask Catherine, who has helped me decided on my last two topics.  I got nothing for weeks, but I still felt the “push”. 

I went on a retreat to Our Sorrowful Mother’s Ministry (OSMM) in Vandalia, IL.  I was recently introduced to this beautiful slice of heaven on earth last fall, OSMM is a lay ministry focused on prayer, healing, reconciliation, and mercy.   They have monthly retreats, and I have been blessed to attend several retreats in past six months. I decided I would bring my feeling of being “pushed” to the January retreat to see if Our Blessed Mother or Jesus had anything to say about it there.  Well, much to my delight I got my answer. After the healing service on Saturday night, I went to the back of the sanctuary and knelt in silent adoration. I had a heartfelt moment with the Lord with my eyes closed, praying ever so hard about sharing my deep love of my Lord with others in this Year of Faith.  When I opened my eyes, I looked up and saw this statue, King of Love (on the projector).  I heard these words.  “You have my heart, share it with the world.”  Oddly enough after that message the date, February 14th popped into my head.  A few days later I emailed Stephanie to see if February 14th was still open for the focus and sure enough it was.  So here I am!!!!

My focus today is called, Sweet Heart of Jesus.  I see this two ways, Jesus is my sweetheart and Jesus has a sweet heart for the whole world.  Father Denis, at St. Joseph, has taught me a prayer that I love to say.  It is only a few words, and I repeat them often as a mantra.  “Sweet Heart of Jesus be Thou my Love.”  This is sweet, simple prayer that his mother taught him as a child that has stuck with him for over 80 years.  I too have fallen in love with it. 

So, just how did I fall so deeply in Love with Jesus?  I have very little bible knowledge, very little church experience, but I intimately know Jesus and Our Blessed Mother.  Over the last few years I have spent many, many hours of prayer discerning my deep and intimate love for Jesus and Mary.  Only recently, have the puzzle pieces started to be revealed to me, I would like to quickly share a snapshot of my faith journey with you. 

For the first eight years of my life, I grew up in a home full of love and Jesus.  We didn’t attend traditional church due to some complications with my parent’s faith walk.  My mother was raised Catholic, but was quickly pushed away by her family and community when she was seeking to marry a non-Catholic in 1970’s, Vatican II, hadn’t quite taken up roots in their community.  My father was raised a non-denominational Christian, exposed to many varieties of churches, with many broken souls.  After many difficult encounters with churches he turned to a more personal faith focused journey with very little church involvement.  My first exposure to Jesus was not in a church, but through my father reading the gospel stories to me in our family living room.  I remember vividly him reading bible stories to us directly from his well-loved bible.  

At eight years old, my seeming perfect life began to fall apart.  Over the next few years, my life as I knew eroded away until I was left completely alone.  The details are far too involved and tragic to discuss in this forum, but in these years as I child I had to face the passing of two of my grandparents, murder of an uncle, the loss of my mother and father due to the grief they had to endure from these deaths, the abandonment of an aunt who cared for me while my parents were grieving, loss of my brother from poor life choices, and marriage and moving away of my older sister.  I remember many, many nights alone in my room crying and praying with all my might.  I realize now, that during these times I was always being held by Jesus and comforted greatly by Our Blessed Mother.  My spirit was being filled with their deep love from within, without me even knowing it.

At the age of fifteen, I turned my focus on making my life better by working hard.  I got a job, did well in school, and just pushed forward.  Over the years the wounds closed, they didn’t heal completely, but they closed.  I was able to rebuild my relationships with my mother, father, sister, and brother and begin to not feel so alone.  I was blessed with many GMC, including meeting my husband Michael when I was eighteen, at the local DQ where I worked.  We feel in love and within a year we were married in the Catholic Church.  Jesus was leading me home! To the fullness of the faith He wanted me to have in my life.  Ten+ years pass, and I finally have my big day with Jesus! At the age of 30, I was baptized, received the Eucharist, and confirmed!  I often say, this was my wedding day with Jesus!

The last three years since coming into the church have received too many blessings to count, in many different forms, some trials and tribulations, others in the form of spiritual gifts, beautiful friendships, and increased faith. The greatest gift of all is that every day I am falling deeper and deeper in love with the Sweet Heart of Jesus.

One of the great mystery’s to me is that the Blessed Trinity has enough love to share with the whole world.  Every day I pray to be emptied of al that I am, and filled with this love to the max.  I feel Jesus fills me over every day, and with the excess He gives me, He wants me to share it with everyone I meet. In the form of smiles, hugs, prayers, random acts of kindness, and for some (mainly the teenagers in my life) tough love!

This Valentine’s Day I would like to offer up a special prayer for everyone, today I pray that as we all travel together on our various paths, we seek to fall deeper in love with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Also, that we can continually seek to share this love with every person we meet along the way.  In Jesus name I pray.  Amen!

Focus – The Call of Abraham

Focus – The Call of Abraham

I want to start with a short prayer, please pray along with me for the words I speak today in this focus to be the words of the Holy Spirit, and not my own.  Amen 

A theme that I have been thinking a lot about lately that relates to the passage we are studying today.  The theme is that, we are all called by our Lord, just as Abraham was today and Noah was a few weeks ago.  Through our baptism, we all become sons/daughters of the Lord.  He is calling each one of us to our mission, our personal calling, our part in His grand plan.

The Calling

God made each one of us for a special part in grand plan.  He calls us, and allows us to give him our “yes” or “no.”  He allows us to choose, by free will, if we want to step up to the challenge.  There are many examples of callings in the bible.  Today is the second calling we have studied.  The first being Noah’s call to build the ark.  Noah gave God his yes, and he obediently did the impossible with God’s help.  Noah wasn’t perfect, but God’s plan was.  Noah agreed to cooperate within God’s plan, and in turn he and his family were greatly blessed.  This week we have Abraham.  He is called by the Lord to leave the land of his kinsfolk and travel to an unknown destination.  Because of his love and trust of the Lord, he gives the Lord his yes.  He agrees to the task. 

In my own life, I am being called to be a mother as my vocation.  Not only to my four children, but also to two children that need a mother.  I have accepted this call and I am seeing that if I put my trust in the Lord, he will help and bless me along the way.  As we are blossoming as a blended family, I can see how our yes to this calling is opening up doors (and windows) to help others by our example:  through our neediness, our boldness in sharing our story, and the deepening of our faith, individually and as a family. 

I give the Lord my “yes” everyday!

The Help

So God call us, now what?  We are only humans, how can we do the impossible things he asks of us?  I often have to remember this verse -  Phil 4:13, 19 For You have supplied all my needs according to Your riches in glory and I can do all things through Christ, Who strengthens me. People often ask how I do you all that I do?  My answer is, through Christ!  It is only through super natural forces that I can achieve anything.  He started helping me before he even called me.

My husband is a cradle Catholic; I attended masses regularly with him for 13 years before I converted as a non-sacramental Catholic.  We baptized all of our children in the church.  Meanwhile, I heavily debated my conversion for years.  That is a story for another day, but I can’t tell you now I think the Lord planned for me to convert before all of our struggles began.  He knew what was to come, and He knew I would need the extra graces of the church, through the sacraments, to make it through the upcoming years.  I converted the year of 2009-2010.  I received the sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist, and Confirmation on April 3, 2010.  I became pregnant with my fourth child in July 2010, Astara, my oldest niece, came to live with us in September 2010, Liam was born March 9, 2011 (on Ash Wednesday!) and Cheyenne, my younger niece, joined our family in July 2011.  I got baptized, and within a little over a year our family expanded from a family of 5 to a family of 8.  The Lord knew I would need extra graces to achieve my part in His grand plan.

In last week’s study we had a verse that struck me in the area of the Lord’s help.  In Exodus chapter 4, God is calling Moses to lead His people out of Eygpt.  Moses doubts his ability to do the task the Lord is asking him to complete.  The conversation goes like this…”If you please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past, nor recently, nor now that you have spoken to your servant; but I am slow of speech and tongue.” The Lord said to him, “Who gives on man speech and makes another deaf and dumb? Or who gives sight to one and makes another bling?  It is not I, the Lord? Go, then, it is I who will assist you in speaking and will teach you what you are to say.”  I said this in my last focus; I want to restate it, because it fits perfectly.  He calls us, he listens to our needs, worries, and doubts, and he answers us, and supplies us with all we need to accomplish his work.

I give the Lord my “yes” every day, and he supplies the help!

The Sacrifice

The call is often a cross, it is often full of suffering and challenges.  In my calling, there are many days of challenges.  I want to give up often, and I fall often.  Just like Jesus fell three times on His way to Calvary.  We have to renew our “yes” all of the time because of the suffering.  It is trough suffering that we get the closet to our heavenly father, Jesus, and Our Blessed Mother.  

I give the Lord my “yes” every day, he supplies the help, and I bear the cross.

The Reward 

Sainthood will be our reward.  A perfect world with the Holy Trinity and Our Blessed Mother will be our reward.  Eternal perfect life!  If you have ever read, listened to, or watched: Heaven is for Real, it give a vivid picture of what Heaven is like through the eyes of a child.  There are glimpse of Heaven on earth, I see them occasional when I look at a drawing from Astara’s hand, listening to Cheyenne play her cello, reading a poem that Cora has written, getting a big bear hug from Henry, laughing at one of George’s silly jokes, or seeing my baby boy Liam smile his toothy grin.  In my heart I know this is the God’s calling for my life, and I am an overjoyed that he has trusted these children to me.

Every day, I answer the call; I talk with my Lord, bear the cross he has given me, and hope for the rewards to come in Heaven.  

Focus - Cain & Abel - October 18, 2012

Focus - Cain & Abel - October 18, 2012

By: Jennifer Dwyer

I would like to begin with a prayer:

Dear Lord,
 Thank you for the opportunity to be here today.  Thank you for the gathering and fellowship of my sisters in Christ.  Please send down Your Spirit today to guide me, give me the courage to speak, and wisdom in my words.  I seek to always do Your will for the furthering of the community of Christ.
Today, I would like to share a brief story about how I came to be in front of you today. I would like to share a poem I found on an internet blog, and I would like to share some personal thoughts and experiences regarding our reading today.

Why am I up here today?  I am not 100% sure, but I can tell you one thing, it is God's will.  Over the last few weeks, during the focus, many have encouraged us to get up and help out with the focus.  During these discussions, I had a little voice in my head saying, "You should do it."  Followed by my the voice of my fears, "I don't like getting up in front of people,"  "I am a new member, I don't have enough experience to talk to these women,"  "I will fail, and not convey the message I need to", and finally, "I don't know which focus would be right for me to sign up for."  Well, God heard all of my fears and worries and doubts, and he continued to call.  I negotiated with the Lord, in my typically strong willed nature.  I said, "Lord, if you lead me to which focus I should do, I will do it for you."  So, the next week, the assistant group leader of my small group, Catherine S., approached me while we were greeting together and asked, "Jennifer, do you have any siblings?"  I replied, "Yes, I have a brother and a sister".  Next, she asked, "You have six children living with you right?"  to which I replied, "Yes."  Next came the big questions, "You know a little about siblings don't you? Would you be interested in giving the focus before the Cain and Abel discussion?"  To which in my head I replied, "Yes, Lord!", and then I said to Catherine, "Sure."  Our Lord is awesome he calls us, listens to us, and answers our prayers.  

So, while preparing this focus, I called on the Spirit to help me prepare.  I am a natural introvert.  I like to sit back and watch, and talk to those who approach me first.  Many of you might have noticed that I seem to be off in my own world, until others engage me back into this world.  The Lord is calling me to learn new skills, and I am trying.  Thank you for bearing with me, as I nervously speak in front of you all today.  

Now, I would like to share with you a poem I found on an un-authored blog on  It spoke directly to me after reading the Cain & Abel passage for today.  It is entitled, My Brother’s Keeper.

My Brother’s Keeper
Am I my brother’s keeper?
Yes I am
I am his voice when he can not speak
I am his strength when he is weak
Am I my brother’s keeper?
Yes I am
I am his provider when he is in need
I am his arms when he can not reach
Am I my brother’s keeper?
Yes I am
I am his justice when he is wronged
I am his friend when he is alone
Am I my brother’s keeper?
Yes I am
I am his courage when he is afraid
I am his comforter when he is dismayed
Am I my brother’s keeper?
Yes I am
I am his hope when he does not believe
I am his truth when he is deceived
Am I my brother’s keeper
Yes I am
I am his guide when he has gone astray
I am his aide if he needs help along the way
Am I my brother’s keeper
The answer is yes
I am him, I am her
I am my brother’s keeper.

Cain spoke the words to God, “I am not my brother’s keeper.”  I would like to share some of my current personal journey and a few scriptures passages that I find speak to me on the topic of being my brother’s keeper.

I said earlier that I have a brother and sister; I have constant struggles with them both, but also try to love them fully as God commands me.  In scripture, John 13:34 Jesus states:

“I give you a new commandment: love one another.  As, I have loved you, so you also should love one another.  This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."  

My brother is currently homeless in Colorado.  He is a wanderer.  We believe he has an undiagnosed major mental illness, however, when we bring it up to him, he refuses to speak to us about the possibility and says that he is fine and the rest of the world is against him.  Despite his words and bad choices in his lifestyle, I love him as Jesus has commanded me.  I have had to learn to let go of trying to "help him" in his own struggle.  I have accepted that you cannot help someone who does not want to help themselves.  I do however, continue to actively "love him" in the action sense of the word.  I do still speak with him, accept him for who he is, and I pray for him often.  I also do what I can to help the people in his life who are most affected by his actions.  I am my brother's keeper.

I also stated earlier, that I have six children living with me.  This might sound funny, most people just say, "I have six children."  I have only given birth to four children, but I am helping to raise my brother's two daughters.  Again, I am my brother's keeper.  I help him when he is unable to do things on his own.  He is not able to raise these girls, so I am doing what I can to further the community of God by raising them with the help of my wonderful husband and my parents.  The work is challenging, but God never said the road would be easy.  He actually says quite the contrary in Matthew 7:14

"How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life" 

So, who are our brothers and sister? Who am I called to be the keeper of?  The lord answers this for me in Matthew 12:46-50 describes the True Family of Jesus

While he was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers appeared outside, wishing to speak with him.  Someone told him his mothers and his brothers are standing outside, asking to speak with you.  But he said in reply to the one who told him, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers? And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers.  For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, sister, and mother.

I believe in my heart that when we go before the Lord we will have to answer two questions, “How did you love Me? and “How did you love one another”  There is a direct connection between what we do for others and what we do for God.  In Matthew 25:40 Jesus says “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.”

I would like to close with a quote from St. Therese of Lisieux

“Jesus wills that we give alms to Him as to the poor and needy.  He puts Himself as it were at our mercy; He will take nothing but what we give Him from our heart, and the very least trifle is precious in His sight.  He stretches forth His Hand, this sweet Savior , to receive of us a little love, so that in the radiant Day of Judgment He may be able to address to us those infallible words: “Come ye blessed of my Father for I was hungry and you gave me eat, I was thirsty, and you gave me drink, I was a stranger, and you took me in, sick and you visited me; I was in prison, and you came to me.”