Saturday, 5/28/16 – Mind Games

Jesus Smiling

Jesus Smiling

Do you ever play mind games with God?  The first persons to play mind games with God were Adam and Eve. We call it “Adam’s sin” because he was there right next to Eve when the Devil tempted her. Adam’s sin was one of not doing anything. He could have objected because he knew God’s one commandment.

In the Gospel of Mark for today’s reading we see the scribes and elders try to play a game with God. This all happened after Jesus triumphant entry into Jerusalem after Palm Sunday. Jesus had just cleared out the temple of money changers. Jesus was a threat to the status quo for the power Jewish leaders of the day.

By what authority are doing these things?” 

They debated amongst themselves. Is it of heavenly or human origin? Jesus must have laughed at their pathetic attempt and just said He wasn’t going to tell them.

How do we play mind games with God today? We bring home pencils or pens from work. We say it is a small thing and the company is so big, that they will never miss them. Or we have lunch with a women at work who is in a troubled marriage. We do not tell our wife because she would not understand. Nothing will happen.

Even today any of us can fall into a trap. Sometimes the temptation comes from the devil and sometimes from within us. The source is unimportant, what we do with the situation is.

The first reading is from the Book of Jude and is a strategy for us today . It is one of the shortest book of the New Testament because it is only a chapter in length. It was written as a result of a heresy of the time and basically encouraging the recipients of the letter to stay true to their faith and to “pray in the Holy Spirit”. This does not mean that everyone become a charismatic. I used to belong to a charismatic prayer group years ago and any charismatic will tell you it is not  for everyone and does not make you better than anyone else.It is a tool and not the answer.  Praying in the Spirit here means to listen to the word of God, follow the commandments and listen to the teachings of the Church.

Some of my fellow church goers are what I call “Cafeteria Catholics”. Abortion is okay in the case of rape or incest. Same sex marriage is okay because they love each other and it is a human right. I don’t like fish and eating meat on Friday in Lent is okay, because there is nothing else I can eat. How do we loving explain that while some things are legal that does not make them right. Certainly two wrongs don’t make a right.

Jude tells us what to do with these “Cafeteria Catholics”. He says,

“On those who waver, have mercy; save others by snatching them out of the fire; on others have mercy with fear, abhorring even the outer garments stained by the flesh.”

Our Pope Francis talks a lot about mercy this year. We this year as always show mercy because we have been shown mercy.  You don’t convince someone from the error of their ways by being judgmental or accusatory. We have to lovingly pray in the Spirit that they change their minds and all the while lovingly disagree with their choices or beliefs. Encourage them to do the right thing but the wrong thing is still the wrong choice.

My prayer for today is that we all remember that God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are God and we are not.  No games today.

God Bless you!


Readings for today:

Jude 17, 20B-25; Psalm 63:2, 3-4, 5-6; Mark 11-27-33

About the Author

My name is Bob Burford and am married to my lovely bride, Anna. I am a cradle Catholic and worship and serve at Saint Paul's Catholic Church in Saint Petersburg, Florida. I am active in the Knights of Columbus and a non denominational Cursillo movement called Via de Cristo. I meet every Thursday with this group and have done so for over thirty years. We discuss our walk with the Lord every week. College degrees in Economics and Accounting. I am semi-retired. I have six grandchildren and three great grandchildren. The last great grandchild, Assa, was born December 14th, 2017. That was a surprise! Love Pope Frances.

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  1. What a wonderful reflection its all over the world rich poor,and powerful praying games with our lord,fellow christians its time to change and live according to Gods ways, have a blessed sat

  2. The sharing is so touching and inspiring. I resonate a lot from what you have been shared to us. God bless u always.

  3. Dear Bob,

    I am not sure about the mind game but I am certain the scribes were snobbish and felt threatened by a young man like Jesus with unprecedentent biblical knowledge and wisdom. They thought Jesus was audacious and therefore must be kept in check. Sadly enough they were not aware of His divinity and it became an issue.

  4. Dear Bob, just now got a chance to read your reflection. Thank you for these wise words. I have found myself explaining to my very own self what I am doing simply because… well, because what I was doing was wrong. For example, sometimes I say to myself I will not pray on my knees at church because I’m holding a baby or whatever. Enough of excuses! Thank you again! God bless!

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