This week's news:
- Reflection for Saturday: Is There Danger in Unintentional Idolatry?
- Inside the Ministry: Meet Blaise and Read His Story
- This Week's Video: What Are God's Dreams for You?
- Catholic Conference - Special Event: God Is Mercy
Saturday November 21, 2020
Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Some of the scribes said in reply, “Teacher, you have answered well.” And they no longer dared to ask him anything. (From Saturday's Gospel reading)
Reflection for Saturday:
Is There Danger in Unintentional Idolatry?
The scribes and Sadducees thought they had given Jesus a trick question in this Saturday's Gospel reading. He handled it with grace, though. Of course. Don’t we all wish we could do that as easily? An often over-looked but funny part of this scripture is near the end: “Teacher, you have answered well.” I mean, really guys? Who’s the teacher? The scribes gave their approval as if Jesus were the student. Clearly, they didn’t recognize Jesus’ superior wisdom, and certainly not his divinity. We see the same thing happening all around us today. It’s called the “idolatry of self”.
The idolatry of self reveals itself most often in moral relativism. People fail to recognize Jesus’ superior wisdom when deciding for themselves what’s right and what’s wrong, what’s a sin and what’s not a sin (if they even think of the word “sin” at all). What God says is evil is now considered good, and what God says is good is now considered evil and anyone who takes God’s side publicly is believed to be evil (we see this happening in the controversies about abortion and homosexual marriages).
But it’s not just the non-Christians who are caught up in the idolatry of self. We all need to examine our consciences about it. If we pray for God’s help and then tell him how he should help, getting angry or disappointed if he doesn’t do it our way, we’ve succumbed to the idolatry of self. If we disregard scripture-based Church teachings, because they are inconvenient (such as living in a marriage-type of relationship without the Sacrament of Marriage), we’ve succumbed to the idolatry of self.
The reason why we succumb is because we have failed to recognize Jesus’ superior wisdom on the topic. But this is easily remedied!
Someone once asked me: “I had my first marriage annulled, but my new wife never had her first marriage annulled. Therefore, we could not get married in the Church, but I was disappointed when I asked my pastor to bless the rings we were going to use for our wedding and he told me that he couldn’t bless them. Can you please explain to me why he was not able to do that?”
This is a good question! The man asking about it was humbly seeking greater understanding. He was standing on the bridge between the idolatry of self and the holiness of doing things God’s way even though it felt inconvenient.
Over the years, I’ve seen many similar situations in which loving couples lacked understanding of the path to holiness and the happier, deeper marriage that Jesus offers. Therefore, I’d like to share with you the answer I gave to this man’s question. Please click through to the WordByte "The Danger of Unintentional Idolatry in Marriage" @ wordbytes.org/marriage-and-family/the-danger-of-unintentional-idolatry-in-marriage.
Inside the Ministry:
Meet Blaise and Read His Story
Blaise Birungi Tumuhekyi is from Uganda. He joined Good News Ministries on WhatsApp a couple of years ago. We began to develop a friendship as he became one of my best prayer warriors covering Good News Ministries and my family. He's a wonderful example of boldly stepping out in faith to start a ministry of helping the poor.
His new ministry is called Loving Samaritans Uganda. I've been one of his mentors.
He heard the calling while giving a Catholic retreat. He said, "When I reached in this place, I discovered that there are challenges facing girl children: early school drop outs, early pregnancies and vulnerable children born to these young gals, forced early marriages which don't last. Parents harass girls, forcing them to get married early. Homes become hostile. Parents want a dowry. Poverty is the major cause.
"And when these girls are divorced they take their children; the mothers fear that if they leave their children behind they will be tortured by the incoming step-mothers. Within me I felt a ministry to start talking to these young people."
Blaise quickly began Loving Samaritans Uganda, "a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a better world for the girl child through efforts that promote economic empowerment and advocacy for their rights. The organization works closely with human rights agencies, activists, volunteers and the police to combat forced early child marriages, early pregnancies, teenage motherhood, early school drop outs, and gender-based violence."
Blaise's mission is to end child marriage and increase abstinence.
He depended heavily on God to make it happen. As a poor farmer himself, he needed God's involvement to move the ministry from a dream to real life with the blessing of his bishop. He says, "God directs our paths. I used to tell people that when I turn 50 years I will start a charitable organization and start helping the vulnerable communities, and I see it's getting fulfilled at 30 years!"
Through the Holy Spirit, he is on fire with wisdom to share: "We have passions in our hearts and these shall manifest, as long as these fit in the will of God. Our God is so loving and keeps approving what glorifies him despite our own timing."
One day he texted me to glorify God with this testimony:
"Today I witnessed the joy of evangelization. A lady whose daughter got pregnant and ran away from home -- she had failed to forgive her. They had spent a lot of time without communicating. We shared and I preached to her about love and forgiveness. We went deep into scripture. She cried. She kept quiet, she listened, and she appreciated. I told her I was asking forgiveness on behalf of her daughter. She became ready to welcome her daughter back home despite all the shame that she has gone through because of her."
On another day, he texted another testimony about glorifying God:
"Recently after planting in one of my gardens of 10 acres, I looked around and I saw a lady that I didn't know. I invited her to use all of the 10 acres for planting beans for herself, alongside my watermelon plants. She accepted but some people came asking me why I had given her that whole piece of land. A lot of people were not happy.
"I knew that her beans would help me fix the nitrogen in the soil to benefit my fruits. For me it was a 50-50 deal, but to her it meant a lot, and she wondered how a stranger could give her the use of all that land. Today she came to me thanking me because she never expected anyone on earth to love her and do such an offer to her. She had been rejected by her husband 20 years back and the whole society turned against her. Now she saw a miracle in her life: God had brought someone to show her love. She told me this has given her peace and joy this past month, simply because she feels God treated her special to have that whole free land instead of anyone else from her village."
This Week's Video
Note: While I'm writing the book 30 Days to the Father's Heart, I'm taking a hiatus from recording new podcasts. To be notified as soon as a new one is published, sign up at footstepstoheaven.com. Meanwhile, here's a video from 2012. (Whooooosh. That's the sound of me blowing the dust off of it as I pull it from the virtual shelf.)
What Are God's Dreams for You?
The key to successful Christian living is know the answer to: "How important am I, and why? What's my purpose?" What are your dreams? What are God's dreams for you? To figure that out, consider: What impassions you? What energizes you? You have been chosen by Christ to be empowered by the Spirit! But -- for what?
Watch the video @ gnm-media.org/what-are-gods-dreams-for-you.
Catholic Conference - Special Event
I've been given the awesome opportunity to be a part of this online conference. We are so excited! Featuring dozens of amazing Catholic speakers sharing their stories, the “GOD IS MERCY” conference will uplift your faith and offer much hope after a challenging year.
My 15-minute presentation will be on “How to Find God's Mercy in Your Sufferings“.
It’s free! To register, join the conference community on Smart Catholics. You’ll be able to make new friends, chat with speakers, and participate in live Q&A sessions and Panel discussions.
Get started now @ gnm.org/conference-god-is-mercy.
God bless you!
Thank you for reading this newsletter.
Your servant in Christ,
Terry Modica, Executive Director
Good News Ministries
Keep your eyes on Jesus!
And when you have to look at others, see them through his eyes.