which team

May 19, 2020

This week in New Zealand we are taking a significant step out of the lockdown restrictions that have become the pattern of our lives these past two months. 

For several years now Food for Faith has offered daily Advent and Lent email reflections. When the restrictions on the celebration of the sacraments were introduced in March I decided to continue the daily reflections beyond Easter as a way of journeying together with Christ through these difficult days.

Now that many of the routines of work, study and family life are resuming, Food For Faith will move from the daily emails to one email each week and two or three weekly posts on the website at www.foodforfaith.org.nz.  Save the homepage to your home-screen for easy access.

It is my hope as time and resources permit to develop a Food For Faith website and App enabling easier communication of regular reflections, audio Lectio Divina, other audio resources including interviews and reflections, and a more interactive prayer-intentions platform, Support for life and prayer for example where to find help in the scriptures in different life situations, and a space for readers to offer their own comments and reflections. Your ideas are always welcome.

These three months of daily reflections have become a healthy daily routine for me. Each morning I pray with the following day’s gospel, then keep it in mind as I go about the day, and usually by later in the day a thought or two worthy of sharing becomes a post for the following morning.

I will continue to post two or three times a week on the website and once or twice a week will send an email to those who have signed up. You can unsubscribe at any time at the footer of the email.

These weeks have been a retreat of sorts for us and often at the end of a retreat there is a desire to make new resolutions and choices. Perhaps the finish of the daily FFF reflections this week calls us to deepen our personal decision for Christ.

Today’s gospel reading with its emphasis on two different worlds: the world of faith and the world of sin, the world led by satan and the world led by Jesus Christ also invites us to make a choice.

In his Spiritual Exercises Ignatius of Loyola offers a choice meditation titled “The Two Standards.”

Pope Francis presented this meditation to young people in Paraguay a few years ago, and I’ll let him present it for us today (in blue below)

Saint Ignatius has a famous meditation on the two standards.  He describes the standard of the devil and then the standard of Christ.  It would be like the football jerseys of two different teams.  And he asks us which team we want to play for.

In this meditation, he has us imagine: What it would be like to belong to one or the other team.  As if he was saying to us: “In this life, which team do you want to play for?”

Saint Ignatius says that the devil, in order to recruit players, promises that those who play on his side will receive riches, honour, glory and power.  They will be famous.  Everyone will worship them.

Then, Ignatius tells us the way Jesus plays.  His game is not something fantastic.  Jesus doesn’t tell us that we will be stars, celebrities, in this life.  Instead, he tells us that playing with him is about humility, love, service to others.  Jesus does not lie to us; he takes us seriously.

In the Bible, the devil is called the father of lies.  What he promises, or better, what he makes you think, is that, if you do certain things, you will be happy.  And later, when you think about it, you realise that you weren’t happy at all.  That you were up against something which, far from giving you happiness, made you feel more empty, even sad.  Friends: the devil is a con artist.  He makes promises after promise, but he never delivers.  He’ll never really do anything he says.  He doesn’t make good on his promises.  He makes you want things which he can’t give, whether you get them or not.  He makes you put your hopes in things which will never make you happy.  That’s his game, his strategy.  He talks a lot, he offers a lot, but he doesn’t deliver.  He is a con artist because everything he promises us is divisive, it is about comparing ourselves to others, about stepping over them in order to get what we want.  He is a con artist because he tells us that we have to abandon our friends, and never to stand by anyone.  Everything is based on appearances.  He makes you think that your worth depends on how much you possess.

Then we have Jesus, who asks us to play on his team.  He doesn’t con us, nor does he promise us the world.  He doesn’t tell us that we will find happiness in wealth, power and pride.  Just the opposite.  He shows us a different way.  This coach tells his players: “Blessed, happy are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake”.  And he ends up by telling them: “Rejoice on account of all this!”.

Why?  Because Jesus doesn’t lie to us.  He shows us a path which is life and truth.  He is the great proof of this.  His style, his way of living, is friendship, relationship with his Father.  And that is what he offers us.  He makes us realise that we are sons and daughters.  Beloved children.

He does not trick you.  Because he knows that happiness, true happiness, the happiness which can fill our hearts, is not found in designer clothing, or expensive brand-name shoes.  He knows that real happiness is found in drawing near to others, learning how to weep with those who weep, being close to those who are feeling low or in trouble, giving them a shoulder to cry on, a hug.  If we don’t know how to weep, we don’t know how to laugh either, we don’t know how to live. 

Jesus knows that in this world filled with competition, envy and aggression true happiness comes from learning to be patient, from respecting others, from refusing to condemn or judge others.  As the saying goes: “When you get angry, you lose”.  Don’t let your heart give in to anger and resentment.  Happy are the merciful.  Happy are those who know how to put themselves in someone else’s shoes, those who are able to embrace, to forgive.  We have all experienced this at one time or another.  And how beautiful it is!  It is like getting our lives back, getting a new chance.  Nothing is more beautiful than to have a new chance.  It is as if life can start all over again.             Pope Francis 2015


An Invitation:

  • Take time to ponder the Two Standards reflection presented by Pope Francis above. You can read it in a different form at this link.  What encouragement do you feel when reading this exercise?
  • Pray to Sleep (a ten minute bedtime audio reflection) at this link.
  • Today’s readings at this link.
  • Send your prayer requests to john@fff.org.nz. Each day I will add the initials of those we pray for to this list. Take a moment, perhaps 15 seconds, to pray in whatever way you choose for those whose initials appear below, and don’t hesitate to send repeat requests for prayer. 


Let us pray today (Tuesday) especially for:   AS,  DD, BD,  WC,  KJ,  PG, CG,  PR,  SG,  PB.  FF,  JC,  BO,  PM,  MD,  

Praying for a job that give a healthy work-life balance. Daughter due to have surgery but delayed by lockdown. I need God to look after me so I can put my effort into caring for family and employees. Preparing for surgery and praying for success.  Struggling to get good school results having missed two months. Struggling to cope with a job making big demands on me.  Unable to pay mortgage.  Feeling called to make a life choice that family and friends will not like.  Spouse of 25 years left at same time last of children left home.  Needing to trust Christ more. Appointed to a new job that one of the current employees wanted.

Monday:  AL,  MM, SIM,  TP,  PB,  JL,  AP,  MM,  WP,  TEP,  LP,  JD,  MD,  SL,  PM,  JK,  SB,  BW,  LC,  RS,  EC,  KN,  JP,  IF,  TP,  TP,  MW,  JN,  SN,  

Sunday:  SP,  PB,  BH,  JJ,  KB,  DM,  GL (RIP last Tuesday)  JT,  

Saturday:   CM,  OP,  GC,  GS,  ES,  MLAH,  CS,  HC,  DC,  DU,   DMC,  FTM,  JS,  SD, MD, CM, TD. MM,   ZM,   LM,   SD,   JD,  LD,  AD. DC,  ME,, CE,  KC,  LC,  BC,  KC,  BC,

Friday:  LS (RIP),  AR,  TT,  BP,  MP,  PP,  GTD (RIP2015),  PB,  LM,  JK,  MK,  TJO, LB, DD, JRA,  FL, JU,   SLJ.  SLJ. JJJ.  MPJ,  JPM, MLFJ, MD,

Thursday:  SLJ,  JJJ,  RM,  SJ,  SF, SLJ,  JS,  FS,  MD,  GPD,  JMC,  AM & I,  MS,  MC, MR,  JCP,  MON,  SS,  MS, OD, ND, CD, JD, JD & KJ,  EJH,  ARO,  

Wednesday:   JS,  FS,  SF,  GJG (RIP),  JDG,  MD,  CGW,  SD,  TK,  JK,  RF,  GN,  OP,  GC, TN,  MC,  KJ,  SL,  AN, 

Last week:   JMT,  KJ,   MD,  PM, MC, DP,  KD, AD,  BA,  RF,  MC,  PR,  JH,  GPB,AD, NF, PR, GPB,  BA, MA (RIP), LM,  SB,  MO’D,  S&SW,  DMcA,  SS, VM, PM, NM, BB,  BR, RM, IW,  BL,  AM, JM, SM, JH, CSL, BS, AW,  MR, SR, JC, LR, JF, AB, AB, MB, CB, LJ, AF, JB, CB, SB, MB (RIP), MR, MH, SR, RS, MTM, OH, MM (RIP),  SGS.  MC,  EH,  MAC, NDM,  JG, SL, JD,   AJ,  MLJ,  SkJ, MS (RIP), LMP,  GRJP,  JF, IC, RF,  JC,  LHG, LKG, FMG, GMG,  GC, AW,  DM,  MM, PM, ML (RIP), JMC, PN, KM, JJ, MJ, AWS, HGTJ, JHWW, HJPM, MB (RIP), MD, DN, QRPTT, LTP, NVVO, PEGMW, MC, LM & JM, BM, BP, CP, PP, CH, NF, RJH, GOJ, JMC, LH, JS, RMc, MLJ, EL (RIP)AJ,  MLJ,  SkJ, MS (RIP), LMP,  GRJP,  JF, IC, RF,  JC,  LHG, LKG, FMG, GMG,  GC, AW,  DM,  MM, PM, ML (RIP), JMC, PN, KM, JJ, MJ, AWS, HGTJ, JHWW, HJPM, MB (RIP), MD, DN, QRPTT, LTP, NVVO, PEGMW, MC, LM & JM, BM, BP, CP, PP, CH, NF, RJH, GOJ, JMC, LH, JS, RMc, MLJ, EL (RIP),  SS, BK, JKBP, CP, PP, BW, HT (RIP), SL, AW, DM, MM, PM, LH, TN, SF, SC, FM, T&TT, AR, HF, RF, JM, R&B, MC, MD,BH, SGS, JJHB, SJB, BB, MD, MB,  JT,  RF,  SS,  SS,  PB,  SD,  JR,  SQ,  JL, MCSM,  PR,  MJ,  MD,  SM,  PR,  MJ,  MD,



Pictures received of any churches that have been significant in your faith journey will be included as the images on the daily Lectio Divina links. Send to john@fff.org.nz.

Today’s church:  Our Lady of Mt. Matutum Trappistine Monastery, Polomolok, South Cotabato, Philippines.  An inspiring community of around 30 Trappistine nuns, and a monastery where I have been privileged to lead several retreats.

Tuesday Easter Week VI (15 minutes) 

Tuesday Easter Week VI  (25 minutes)


  1. An appropriate Gospel:
    -we too are sad as FFF lessens
    -but maybe it needs to ‘go’, so the Spirit will help deepen our relationship to Jesus

    Many thanks for an oasis and centring point, John.

  2. Father John
    Very many thanks – I have really appreciated these daily reflections. They created a healthy daily routine for me also, and will be appreciated at whatever frequency becomes the new norm. Go well and God Bless.

  3. Dear Fr John
    Thank you so much for the daily reflections you gave given us during these last few weeks
    I have really savoured and enjoyed them and I will miss them. Good lick with your web site

  4. Thank you Father for all your efforts, sharing and wisdom. As this chapter of FFF ends I am sure there are many, like myself, who step into the world enriched and with a renewed sense of God in our lives. God bless.

  5. Thank you John. I have greatly appreciated these daily reflections. They are uplifting, thought provoking and so helpful in prayer time. A big commitment on your part. Thank you.

  6. Thankyou for all your efforts in extending the time for the daily entries. As a hospital chaplain , who had only me in my bubble, the encouragement and thoughtful encouragement prompted an internal daily dialogue that helped keep me healthy during the lockdown . I’m very grateful for such a grounded , discerning series of reflections.,

  7. Thank you John, I will miss the daily emails and the calling, the nudge, and the reminders they represent. But I will really miss the encouragement and positive enlightenment that you have been able to show exists in those words that I think I have heard many times before. As the writer above has pointed out, perhaps this is necessary in order for me to grow and find the next step on the journey.

  8. Such a good article. I totally agree with Jesus and want to be on His team

  9. These reflections have been a source of fresh inspiration for me each morning – “nourishment” for my day. In turn, I have shared them with others, who have also been blessed.

  10. Thank you, John, for the inspiration you have so generously shared with us during this uncertain time. You have given us a much needed spiritual boost each day and we really appreciate the additional commitment this must have been for you with your other responsibilities. God Bless

  11. Oh to be always on Team Jesus is my prayer.
    Well John I have to say you have made a huge difference in my experience of the Lockdown.
    Thank you for your inspirational and heartfelt sharing during this time. May God bless you and I look forward to much more over the time when you are able.

  12. Dear Father John ,
    Thank you for the inspirational reflections you have provided us during this difficult time of lockdown.
    They have definitely helped me to appreciate our wonderful faith and to have a closer personal relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ.
    I will keep you and all the people who send in their intentions, in my prayers.
    God bless you and thank you.
    Warm regards Annelies

  13. Thank you Fr John I too have enjoyed your daily reflections and have looked forward to reading them each morning.

  14. I’m sad! Thank you so much Father John. Totally endorse above comments. I too have shared your reflections with family and friends, and will miss commencing my day with your reflections. FFF has felt like family……which we are…..brother and sisters in Christ.
    Thank you and may God continue us to bless you abundantly.

  15. Dear Fr John
    You have been a loving shepherd all these weeks and I have woken up each morning eager to be led by you in my prayer and reflections. I will miss my daily food for faith but am grateful that I can still look forward to receiving sustenance via email once or twice a week.
    Thank you very much Fr John. May the Lord continue to bless you abundantly.


  16. Thank you, Fr. John. I am not a Catholic, but I have really enjoyed reading your inspirational reflections every day. You helped me greatly refocus on the relationship with God. I look forward to reading when you are able. May God bless.

  17. Sincere thanks Father John for your generous inspirational support through lock down. May God bless you and yours abundantly as we continue on our wonderful journey of life. Very much look forward to your future posts.

  18. My gratefulness too John for the ‘gift’ to focus throughout these challenging ‘lockdown’ days.
    I thank you for your generosity of spirit to us all.

  19. Dear Father John
    Thank you for your enriching commentary on the daily Gospel readings during these weeks when we have not had the privilege of our holy Mass. Your reflections have been shared with the Residents in our home and they have appreciated them very much. God bless you dear Father and the work that you do so lovingly for him.
    Sister Marguerite

  20. Thank you, John, for being in my “virtual bubble” during Lockdown. I live alone and your wise words and challenges have helped make the last two months a “virtual retreat!” Thank you for your huge commitment in continuing with FFF over the entire lockdown. FFF has kept me grounded and yet lifted me up! May you be richly blessed as you continue your important work!

  21. We have appreciated every day the encouragement to search a deeper meaning in our lives ,your own honesty of feelings as always help us not to be afraid to talk about similar situations in our own .this time has been a gift we will always treasure, a learning from a great teacher in yourself thank you so much .

  22. Thanks for all of your input Fr John. We have been very fortunate.
    I always thought this was a hectic routine to maintain. Last thing we need is for you to burnout.

  23. I too have appreciated your daily wisdom, food for faith and your sharing of your wide knowledge and reading. Although not a Catholic, I am a Christian, Presbyterian, very much want to be on Jesus’ team, and realise reading all the comments, that all denominations are on Jesus’ team as we all share a common faith and leader, Jesus. Thank you for all your work.

  24. Thank you for all your wisdom during Lockdown.

  25. Thank you, John, for being our generous Pilgrim Spirit on our eight-week journey through the lockdown.
    Your prescription for faith, hope and loving kindness has transformed and united the people on the pilgrimage of discovery. +

    Mate Atua Koutou e manaaki

  26. Thank you Fr John for all of your wonderful reflections.

  27. Thank you John. These daily reflections have become the heart of my prayer life. Now it is right that with them still as a foundation i must stand more on my own feet. But I go strengthened. Thank you with all my heart.

  28. Thank you, Fr John. FFF has been a daily reading for me during this time of Easter and the lockdown. What a wonderful connection it has been to deepen my faith and get me through this time. Thank you too for the link to the documentary on Sr Clare. I haven’t quit thinking about since watching about her. What a deep inspiration in what a living faith is. I will miss the daily inspiration you have given us but it has put me on a new path of faith. God bless and thank you for your prayers. I pray for you, too.

  29. Many thanks Father John for your FFF reflections each day through the lockdown. Your reflections have been a daily beacon guiding me through this dark period.

  30. Just so impressed with all that goes into presenting us with these lifelines everyday. I look forward to starting my day with them. They have provided anchor points inspiration and hope. Thank you so so much. Am quite sad they are ending so will need to find something else to fill the gap

  31. Thank you!

  32. Thank you Father John for your Inspiration & Guidance in this time of trial. I appreciate your time that you have given to these wonderful Reflections.
    God Bless


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