“The Pharisees came forward and began to argue with Jesus, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him.” (MK 8: 11)
We are tempted the same way; we would like to receive from Him a “sign from heaven,” to have a proof, to be absolutely sure what is His will. I can guarantee you that when we start writing daily our “gratitudes” for what we are grateful, we will need no “sign from heaven.” We will be overwhelmed; we will finish our list grinning from ear to ear. For those who are grateful, there is no proof needed. I don’t know why, but this is what happens to me early in the morning when I finish my list. Please try!
“I am the way and the truth and the life, says the Lord; no one comes to the Father except through me.”(Gospel Acclamation)
“You have heard that it was said, you shall not commit adultery. But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (MT 5: 27-28)
Our Lord loves us so much and He protects us from many kinds of sins; He is so concerned about what destroys our dignity and our relationships. He protects women in a very special way, seeing from the beginning of creation that devils attack women and our relationships with them. When we protect our relationships wisely, and when we observe our daily rituals, we are safe. Why? Because we chose to be united; we know what is important and how to express our love.
“Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth; you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the kingdom.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will collapse on the way, and some of them have come a great distance.” (MK 8: 2-3)
This is Our Lord and His love. He takes care of us in all our dimensions—for our souls and for our bodies, for our relationship with Our Father and with our relatives, where we live and no matter how far apart are our homes. He doesn’t want to see us praying for hours and leaving our spouses alone at home, being amazing apostles for others but having no time for our own children. If we really want to make Our Lord happy with us, we can show Him how much we respect our vocation, a vocation we have received from Him; we can show Him how gentle we are with our relatives and how much we are concerned to have good quality time with our spouses daily, weekly, monthly and yearly.
“One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him off by himself away from the crowd. He put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, ‘Ephphatha!’ (that is, ‘Be opened!’) And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly.” (MK 7: 32-35)
When we have problems with communication with our spouses, the solution is not to improve our speaking but rather to improve our listening. Our Lord “put his finger into the man’s ears” first, and later “spitting, touched his tongue.” We need always to remember that love is in listening first, with gentleness, respect, and understanding. How often we are misled by our mistaken patterns of interpretation in our inner dialog; when we don’t really listen, we can’t properly speak.
“Open our hearts, O Lord, to listen to the words of your Son.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“The woman was a Greek, a Syrophoenician by birth, and she begged him to drive the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, ‘Let the children be fed first. For it is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.’ She replied and said to him, ‘Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.’ Then he said to her, ‘For saying this, you may go. The demon has gone out of your daughter.’” (MK 7: 26-29)
When we love unconditionally, we are really creative; the mother didn’t stop when her request was rejected, she begged more and gave new arguments. When we have difficult days, and we feel rejected, it is good to remember that love is creative, and we can always find good words to relief the tension. We know this is not easy, but it is still doable.
“Humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you and is able to save your souls.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“Jesus summoned the crowd again and said to them, ‘Hear me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.’” (MK 7: 14-15)
This is what we present during Program 1 showing the difference between shaken Coca-cola and water. It is “nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person”—no difficult day, a bad boss, or horrible traffic, “but the things that come out from within are what defile.” When we remember this, we can be victorious over any situation which has provoked our bad actions.
“Your word, O Lord, is truth: consecrate us in the truth.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and ‘Whoever curses father or mother shall die.’ Yet you say, ‘If someone says to father or mother, “Any support you might have had from me is qorban”’ (meaning, dedicated to God), you allow him to do nothing more for his father or mother. You nullify the word of God in favor of your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many such things.” (MK 7: 10-13)
Being very religious doesn’t mean that that person is close to God. It only means that they know how to practice religion. The same could happen with married couples. I remember one husband who shared with me after the Program that he always wanted to have a very good marriage and family, close to God and he really took care of the family:
Today, the day after participating in the I + YOU = WE Program, I realized a common “lie” which had a great impact on my relationship with my wife. Namely, I always wanted my marriage to be good and the best. There is a lot of talk about it in churches – that marriages should be good and we should pray for “good marriages”. And I wanted it too. Making my marriage good and even perfect was my # 1 goal in my life. So everything looked ok. A moment ago I realized, however, that making sure that the marriage was well caused a lot of damage and pain in my marriage. I thought a lot and made a lot of effort to make my marriage and family good and happy: I worked reliably, built a house, cared for my husband’s best roles and worked hard at all of the things that I thought would make me a good husband. I did a lot to be a good husband and father. However, despite this, I felt that my wife did not understand my efforts, and I knew that she had other expectations (which implementation did not lead to my idea of a good marriage). It has enlightened me now: my goal is not a beautiful marriage but love for my wife. I am to love my wife and not think about whether our marriage is good or not. A good marriage is just a resultant love for a wife. Now I see that the name of the program also suggests this. We do not take direct action on the result, i.e. WE! We only take action on ME and WE are only the result of adding. You want a bigger WE – give more you 🙂 It turned out that for me the image of a perfect marriage had a similarly bad impact (and maybe even a bigger one) than the image of a perfect wife. Perhaps the stereotype of a good marriage not only misled me?
“Incline my heart, O God, to your decrees; and favor me with your law.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“Whatever villages or towns or countryside he entered, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak; and as many as touched it were healed.” (MK 6: 56)
Our Lord is still on His way to our homes, to our “villages or towns or countryside” with His love and compassion for our wounds. We can always “lay” our limits and weakness before Him and “beg Him that we may touch only the tassel on His cloak.” And the same will happen to us —“as many as touched it were healed,”- because He is always the same.
“Jesus preached the Gospel of the Kingdom and cured every disease among the people.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house.” (MT 5: 14-15)
“You are the light of the world,” even if limited only to our houses (which generally never happens, because we have many more “worlds” to live there). But even our house is a place where our light is so important for our children. The light coming from our love, from the respect we express to our spouses, from our daily/weekly/monthly and yearly rituals are the extremely important example we give to our children to inspire them to start one day their independent lives as givers of self, not demanders.
“I am the light of the world, says the Lord; whoever follows me will have the light of life.” (Gospel Acclamation)
“The Apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught. He said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.’ People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat.” (MK 6: 30-31)
It is Saturday and the beginning of the weekend, so God’s word perfectly reminds us about the importance of rest. But it also reminds us about the importance of “come away by yourself to a deserted place and rest a while,” because we need time to reflect, to make a good examination of our conscience, and learn from our mistakes what we can do to improve our love and relationship in this coming week. When we can reflect, when we can stop for a while, we can do things more consciously and more deeply.
“My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them, and they follow me.” (Gospel Acclamation)