Next Step Practice

Day One

The Pharisee performs well and so believes he is acceptable to God because of his actions. While the tax collector knows that his actions do not endear him to God in any way. In total honesty, the tax collector acknowledges that he is a sinner. He asks to be accepted by God, not based on his performance,but instead based on God’s character of mercy.On our own, our actions will never be good enough to be acceptable to God. That’s the bad news.The good news is that God accepts us not because of who we are or what we have done,but because of his mercy and the work Jesus did on the cross.Today, pray the prayer of the tax collector and try to make his words your own.Remember that while all of us are sinners, we are also sinners who are heardand loved by a merciful God.

Day Two

Two thousand years ago, Jesus’ followers worried about money and were afraid they would not have enough to eat or clothes to wear. Jesus tells them not to make this the focus of their lives because life is more than food or clothing. Instead, they are to seek God and trust that their heavenly Father knows their needs.All these years later, we still share many of these same fears, even though we are much wealthier than his original followers. This is proof that more money will not alleviate our financial fears. Our attachment to wealth and possessions will be driven away only when we seek God’s kingdom first and trust our heavenly Father to provide for our needs. He knows what we need.Ask for the grace today to take your focus off the material possessions of this world, knowing that He will provide. Surrender to His Will.

Day Three

Jesus’ final answer puts an end to the question. The beautiful irony lies in the fact that the Sadducees are talking about the possibility of the next life with the one who in a matter of time will die on the cross and conquer death by his resurrection to reveal to the world that he, Jesus Christ, is truly the God of the living.Whatever fears we have about death, Jesus buries them by declaring that to God, “all are alive” in him. It’s not that our very real fears about death are misplaced. Rather, Jesus replaces the lies with a much better truth, that the last word is not death, but life in God.Today, in prayer, imagine placing all the people and things in your life into God’s hands, trusting that his plan for our future happiness is better than anything we could imagine or create for yourself.

Day Four

As human beings, from birth we look for stability and fear losing the source or sources of stability. Young children look to their parents for this stability, to know that everything is okay. As adults, we have different islands of stability. It can be a job, marriage and relationships, or government.In Jerusalem, Jesus encountered Romans and Jews alike who put great stock in their government and religious institutions. While these were not bad or evil things, what Jesus revealed in making his statement was how their trust in these systems exceeded their trust in God the Father. Predicting a day that the Jewish temple would no longer exist was an idea that struck fear in their hearts.Today in prayer, ask God to replace your fear of losing stability with trust in his love for you.

Day Five

Jesus warns the apostles that their whole way of life is about to be taken away. All they have ever known is going to change. The apostles and other early Christians lost not only the security of their city and their place of worship but also the security of their family and friends because they followed the person of Jesus Christ — but still, they persevered in following him.Under these trials, as well as the violence that did occur against the apostles, the Church did not collapse but instead grew. That’s because their persecution forced the apostles out of their comfort and complacency; they went to the end of the world as they knew it, spreading the Gospel.Is God challenging you to grow beyond a comfort zone in your faith? Ask God to increase your desire to overcome any obstacle or fear holding you back from taking the next step in your discipleship path.

Day Six

The first of our church’s core purposes is worship. Every person created in the image and likeness of God is created to give God thanks and praise. Rather than a rote duty, worship is an authentic expression of the joy and hope that overflow from our hearts. We recognize the goodness of God, acknowledge our difficulty and suffering, and pour it out to God in worship.When it comes to worship, the Eucharistic celebration is the source and summit of our faith, which we seek to live and serve with the whole of our lives in vibrant and creative ways. Excellence in our worship honors God. The result of stewardship helps us to continue to offer excellent worship that is an authentic expression of our joy every week.Today, reflect on the state of your life of worship. How can you continue to go deeper either in your participation on Sundays or in your personal prayer?

Day Seven

A third core purpose of our Church is evangelization. The Church exists to evangelize. Our Catholic Church proclaims this time as the “New Evangelization,” a call to awaken the heart of every Catholic to take upthe call to share the joy of their faith and bring others to Christ.We believe that Jesus came to seek and save the lost. As evangelists, we heed God’s command to share his name with the world and look for the opportunity to invite disconnected Catholics to join us. As a church,we want insiders to reach outsiders.How prepared are you to share your faith in Jesus with others? When is the last time you spoke about Jesus to someone new? Today, be aware of an opportunity to share with someone the joy or peace you haveas a result of knowing Christ.