“Lord, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, My God, my rock of refuge, my shield, my saving horn, my stronghold!” Psalm 18:2, NAB
And so begins our Psalm of thanksgiving for victory. Psalms of thanksgiving are in essence reports of divine rescue. What would we need divine rescue for? It could be a number of reasons. Here’s one: When I was of the ripe old age of 14, I got into some serious trouble. One night two friends (twins) and I were on our way home from the subway in the Bronx. (At this time, street gangs were rampant throughout the city. I lived in the Fort Apache area of the Bronx, where gang colors hung like trophies in the local precinct. As I mentioned many times, I wasn’t an angel growing up.) We decided to pull a prank on a stranger. Not a good idea. The stranger happened to be a gang member, and not just anyone…he was a Warlord. These guys were extremely dangerous. So we did what you normally do when you prank someone, we ran. Problem was, this guy could run, and he caught my friends. I had hid. Now mind you I looked a lot older than 14, and he thought the same too. I stepped out of hiding and offered myself for my friends. He let them go. He blindfolded me and took me down into a basement, where I was interrogated by other gang members. Although I was a little scared, I wasn’t afraid. They thought I had lied about my age, and that I was from a rival gang. They wanted me to beg for my life. They hit me and put a gun to my head, but I just couldn’t do it. I just wasn’t afraid of them. One of the guys joked, “Hey, he looks like he wants to pray. So pray little baby,” and I did. Since I wasn’t afraid, they decided to kill me. As they took me down to the Bronx River, my whole neighborhood showed up. It seemed God had softened the heart of the gang leader, and after a brief discussion with my parents, they let me go. Both groups left in peace. I asked my mom how they knew, and she said she felt something was wrong. She prayed and that’s when the twins banged on the door, screaming I was in trouble. To this day we talk about my “divine” rescue, for surely it was. All I can tell you is that throughout the rest of my life that calm and peace I experienced that night, has always been with me. God is all the things above, and much, much more. Until next time…please pray for deliverance for all those suffering under Satan’s oppression...Luv ya! Deacon Phil
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
I was 16 years old when I asked some Christian guys I knew what I needed to do to be saved. They said I needed to confess my sins to God, be baptized with water and the Holy Spirit. Well I was already baptized, but I had never gone to confession, nor had I ever experienced the Holy Spirit. Spiritually I was suffering and I knew I needed help. They told me I needed to confess my sins to Jesus, for He alone could forgive me. The next evening I went to Church. I did not feel comfortable confessing myself to a man. I mean, why did I need to do that? Why not go directly to the source? I did not understand yet about God or Jesus given authority. So, I stood outside the doors and I prayed to God. I confessed every single sin I had ever committed to him, the tears flowed. You may not think that there’s much a sixteen year old can confess, but when you’re growing up in the South Bronx and you’re sixteen, going on twenty five, well you can get into a lot of bad things. I waited, but I didn’t hear anything. I felt a little better, but where was the closure? I said the words, but now I wanted to hear His words. Nothing. I sighed, took a deep breath and went in. In the confessional I told the priest the same thing I said outside. You could hear a pin drop. After some time the priest asked, “Child, what’s your name?” “Phil,” I said. “Phil, I am not Jesus Christ, I’m a priest, a representative of Christ’s Church, but I truly believe if the Lord himself was sitting here He would forgive you, since you poured your heart out to Him, and so you are forgiven.” I got chills, how did HE know I poured my heart out to God? But I felt peace and the weight of the sins lifted. The surprise didn’t stop there though. “Phil?” “Yes father?” “I sense you have a desire to be baptized by the Holy Spirit, am I right?” “Yes,” I whispered. How did HE know I wanted baptism by the Holy Spirit? “Let’s see about getting you confirmed, and getting you invited to the supper table of the Lord.” Only Jesus can save us from the paralyzing power of sin, as we learned in last Sunday’s Gospel. We don’t have to go it alone, come, the Father is waiting.
Until next time…please take advantage of the sacrament of Reconciliation; that’s what mercy is all about, reconciling ourselves with the Father…luv ya! Deacon Phil
“The Lord will guard your coming and going both now and forever.” Psalm 121:8, NAB
We now come to the conclusion of our psalm, but not the conclusion of our journey. So let’s put it all together:
I raise my eyes to the mountains. From where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. God will not allow your foot to slip; your guardian does not sleep. Truly, the guardian of Israel never slumbers nor sleeps. The Lord is your guardian; the Lord is your shade at your right hand. By day the sun can’t harm you, nor the moon by night. The Lord will guard you from all evil; will always guard your life. The Lord will guard your coming and going both now and forever.
There you have it. So what about the last verse? How does God guard our coming and going? Deuteronomy 28:6 states: “May you be blessed in your coming in and going out!” So we are guarded through God’s blessings. As we continue our journey through life, let’s try to remember that God is willing to extend mercy to us and in that mercy, blessing. Not for a moment but forever. We have the Sacraments, especially, Reconciliation; we have prayer and we have each other. God’s blessings can come from even the most unlikely of sources; but they come…as we come and go. We can ensure that by repenting from sin and having faith in Him. Just remember, He guards every moment of our lives.
Until next time…the Lord guards us because He loves us, don’t get too wrapped up on how, just be grateful and say thanks ...luv ya! Deacon Phil
“The Lord will guard you from all evil; will always guard your life.” Psalm 121:7, NAB
I admit this verse is a toughie. With all the horrible things happening to people why would we believe this? The answer is complex and not the same for every individual. This time I must admit that it’s not quite that simple, nor “easy” to answer. We may or may not agree with today’s Beacon…all I ask is that we pray. Remember that this psalm is about a dangerous journey, or a trip to or from the temple in Jerusalem. OUR dangerous journey is this life and our destination is the everlasting presence of God. We need to try to understand what God will actually “guard”. Unfortunately, it’s not what we may think. Life, to God is every aspect of it. As I mentioned before, the soul is much more important to Him. Since it is what will live on forever. The body will eventually die. I would suggest reading Job. Sometimes things may happen to test our faith; other times it’s to bring glory to God, as with Jesus in the gospels. The “evil” here is Satan. We need to understand that Satan asks for children of faith to test, and God may allow it…as he did with Job, and Peter. And he will “take” others who reject God. Although He may “allow” Satan to test us, He will guard our lives by not allowing Satan to test us beyond our strength. We have hope in Jesus. I suggest also reading the Acts of the Apostles. We can see God guarding Paul’s life from all evil and then guarding his “life” for all eternity. If He can do all that for Job and Paul, He can certainly do it for us through Love. By the way, don’t forget about Jesus, He’s our best example, just read your bible.
Until next time…God guarded Jesus’ life and He’ll guard ours, just have faith...luv ya! Deacon Phil
“The Lord your guardian; the Lord is your shade at your right hand. By day the Sun can’t harm you nor the moon at night.” Psalm 121:5-6, NAB
As we travel this journey of Life we sometimes forget that God is by our side. Whether it is He himself, Jesus, the Holy Spirit or an angel…the Lord our guardian is with us. This image of our Father as shade is apt: God as shade protects us from the harmful effects caused by the sun and the moon. Effects of the sun can be deadly; we can be burned, dehydrated, or even get cancer. Being out in the open in the moon’s light can expose us to wild animals along our journey. But our guardian also shades us from the harmful effects of sin. Satan wanted to sift Peter like flour, but Jesus would not allow it. The thing is if we truly trust in God and believe in Him then He will shade us from the harmful effects of sin. But it’s not all on Him; we have to want to repent. He can shade us, but it’s us who have the choice. Just as going to the beach with sun screen or some type of protection can help against the harmful effects of the Sun; praying and fasting can help us against the harmful effects of sin. Oh, and don’t forget the sacrament of Reconciliation…it can provide some serious protection from the burden of sin. We all feel good after we get something off our chest, why not sin?
Until next time…Our guardian walks with us...luv ya!