Saturday, August 19, 2017

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Daring Doggedness


At that time Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, "Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon." But he did not say a word in answer to her. His disciples came and asked him, "Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us." He said in reply, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." But the woman came and did him homage, saying, "Lord, help me." He said in reply, "It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs." She said, "Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters." Then Jesus said to her in reply, "O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish." And her daughter was healed from that hour.

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I believe you want me to have faith in you, faith that hearkens to your words without any second guessing. I hope in your words, not relying solely on my own strength or reasoning. I love you. You continue to astonish me by showing me that your ways are not my ways.

Petition: Lord, fill my heart with gratitude and trust even when those I love suffer.


  1. My daughter… “My daughter is tormented by a demon.” Sufferings of strangers stir our compassion. But when a son or daughter suffers, anguish can reach fever pitch. Imagine the agony of the mother in this Gospel passage. Imagine the near-physical pain she felt in the depths of her heart. However, her love nourished her hope and propelled her to seek out Christ. When those we love suffer, we need the same wisdom to seek the Lord.



  1. Unfathomed Dimensions: Only a mother or father knows the depths of his or her love for a child: “Words cannot express.…” We truly understand love when it involves people we know and love. Contemplate the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Imagine the false accusations, scourging, humiliations and the crucifixion. Now imagine your own son or daughter, or mom or dad or loved one, suffering the same fate. Christ’s passion takes on a new dimension.



  1. Our Title to God’s Grace: "Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters." Faith and humility move Christ’s heart. How easily we adopt a spoiled-child mentality, believing that we deserve more. “The earth doesn’t owe you a living,” a sage once said. “It was here before you.” How much happier we are when we acknowledge our littleness and unworthiness, when we recognize our status as creatures of God who gives us life, breath and every beat of our heart. All we possess is a gift of his creative love. How happy we are when we are grateful and let him know this a thousand times a day.


Conversation with Christ: Lord, I will praise and thank you a thousand times and in a thousand ways for all you do for me. Even sufferings, I know, come from your hand for my greater good, although I may not always perceive the good at that moment. Give me the gratitude, faith and trust to accept my cross and rejoice in your creative love for me.

Resolution: I will thank the Lord repeatedly throughout the day.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Saturday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time - The Parental Vocation

Children were brought to Jesus that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked them, but Jesus said, "Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." After he placed his hands on them, he went away.

Introductory Prayer: Lord God, I believe in your presence here with me as I begin this moment of prayer. I hope in you. I know that you will always take care of me. I want this time with you to be a sign of my love for you. I seek only to please you, without desiring any spiritual consolation for myself.

Petition: Lord, help me to be faithful in carrying out the commitments of my state of life.

1. Bringing the Children to Jesus: Being a parent is a lofty vocation. To be entrusted with the integral formation and eternal salvation of another human being is a task that is enough to make one dissolve into fear and trembling. Above all, parents have to show the good spiritual instincts of the people in today’s Gospel: They have to bring their children to Jesus. They need to teach them to pray, to go to Mass and above all, to learn that Jesus truly is their best friend with whom they can share everything. What a gift to give to children!

2. “Do Not Prevent Them”: There are many ways to hinder a child’s path to Christ. Our bad example is one of the main ones. Children pick up on the incoherence between our admonitions and our actual behavior. It’s particularly unnerving when a parent begins to see his own defects mirrored in his children. That can serve as a warning call that we need to be living the Christian life with more authenticity. Our example needs to be a catalyst towards the good.

3. The Kingdom of Heaven Belongs to Such as These: A good Catholic parent has only one true bottom-line aspiration for his kids: that they get to heaven! This is worth all the prayers, sacrifices and late nights. Precisely because the Kingdom is where they belong, parents should have immense confidence that the Lord will send them the graces they need to persevere and carry out their mission effectively. Christ is the parent’s biggest cheerleader! He wants nothing more than that happy reunion in heaven, where the parent will hear those wonderful words from his child, “Thanks for helping me to get here.”

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, thank you for my parents, and all they did to help me grow in the faith. I am sorry for the times I judged them harshly. Grant them your abundant blessing.

Resolution: I will say a special prayer for my parents (especially if deceased) and give them a call to thank them.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Friday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time - From the Beginning It Was Not So…

Some Pharisees approached Jesus, and tested him, saying, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?” He said in reply, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator made them male and female and said, For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh ? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” They said to him, “Then why did Moses command that the man give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss her?” He said to them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery.” His disciples said to him, “If that is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” He answered, “Not all can accept this word, but only those to whom that is granted. Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord God, I believe in your presence here with me as I begin this moment of prayer. I hope in you. I know that you will always take care of me. I want this time with you to be a sign of my love for you. I seek only to please you, without desiring any spiritual consolation for myself.

Petition: Lord God, fill me with your grace so I can meet your lofty expectations.

  1. Hardness of Their Hearts: The Pharisees heard Jesus’ teaching against divorce at the Sermon on the Mount, a teaching which contradicted the practice of the Jews. And so they sought to trap him in this instance into putting his teaching in opposition to Moses. They were hoping to discredit him. But Jesus knew their twisted intentions and grounded his teaching on God’s original plan for man and woman. He knows that they were looking to get around the will of God and carve exceptions. Jesus felt no need to pander to the crowd or offer an easier way out when challenged. His focus was on what God intended. Even today he challenges everyone to respond.
  1. A New Law: Jesus’ teaching seems so counter-cultural, no less today than in his own time. How can he be so bold and ask for so much, since we still labor under the same sin, imperfection and hardness of heart as the people of Moses’ time and his time? The key is that Jesus does not simply add new laws; he brings the grace to be able to live as God intended “from the beginning,” that is, before sin entered the world. Christ can ask more of us because he himself brings the grace for us to live our lives before God in a new way. By grace we are made “new men (and women) in Christ” and transformed into children of God who are empowered to live in holiness and the full truth.
  1. Never Give Up: The disciples seem to be discouraged at first, because the new teaching of Jesus is difficult to live: “then it is better not to marry.” They are seeing things through their own narrow experience and through the lens of popular opinion. Yet they must make the transforming encounter with the grace of Christ. We, too, need to believe in that grace and to communicate it to others, since it enables us to love others “as he loved us.” It is what brings the vitality and freshness to our Christian lives, and makes us able to offer something new and hopeful to the world around us.

Conversation with Christ: Jesus, give me the faith and confidence to believe with all my heart that your grace is enough for me. Teach me to believe that your commands are always supported by your grace and that I can live as a new man in you.

Resolution: I will ask for an unbreakable hope in the power of God’s grace acting in me.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Human Harshness vs. the Charity of a Saint

Peter approached Jesus and asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. That is why the Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount. Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt. At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’ Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan. When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a much smaller amount. He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ But he refused. Instead, he had him put in prison until he paid back the debt. Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master and reported the whole affair. His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?’ Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt. So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart.” When Jesus finished these words, he left Galilee and went to the district of Judea across the Jordan.

Introductory Prayer: Lord God, I believe you are present here with me as I begin this moment of prayer. I hope in you. I know that you will always take care of me. I want this time with you to be a sign of my love for you. I seek only to please you, without desiring any spiritual consolation for myself.

Petition: Lord, grant me a more forgiving heart!

  1. Human Harshness: “He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, ‘Pay back what you owe.’” The Gospel gives a startling example of human harshness. History recalls another one. In Auschwitz, the camp deputy commander, Karl Fritzch, decided that the most effective way to keep prisoners from trying to escape would be an overwhelming example of reprisal. Ten men in Block 13 were picked out for starvation. The thought of innocent men dying because of another’s escape would definitely make anyone think twice about it. The master of our Lord’s story is angry at the harshness of his servant. We can only imagine the Lord’s anger at the harshness of a place like Auschwitz, called by Pope-Emeritus Benedict, “a place of horror” and “unprecedented mass crimes” (May 28, 2006). Let us purge our own hearts of the evil of harshness, which brings down such misery on our own soul.
  1. St. Maximilian Steps Forward: The Lord’s answer to Peter in this Gospel, “not seven times but seventy-seven times,” points to a heroic living of the virtue of charity and forgiveness. St. Maximilian Kolbe, whose feast we celebrated this week, gives us an example of that kind of love. When the commander had picked out his ten victims, St. Maximilian had been passed over. No doubt the others who were spared were breathing intense sighs of relief. Instead, St. Maximilian stepped forward and offered to take the place of one of those chosen, Franciszek Gajowniczek, who cried out in anguish over his family. We can only shake our heads in amazement that the flame of love could burn so brightly in that “place of horror.”
  1. The Cross Sets the Standard: The examples of the saints challenge us. They don’t give us a “superhuman” example, but rather the testimony of what men and women are capable of doing when they allow the grace of God to work in their souls. We, too, have many occasions when we are called to live a higher degree of virtue, but so often we cut ourselves a little too much slack. When Peter asked about a seven-fold forgiveness, he was being quite generous. But the “seventy-seven times” that Jesus speaks about is measured against the Cross, the symbol of the Lord’s infinite love and forgiveness. Saints like Kolbe understood this. Let’s try to imitate it today, in ways both big and small.

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, I can only be amazed at your work through the soul of St. Maximilian Kolbe. You enabled him to lay down his life for another, in imitation of your own self-sacrificing love. Help me to embrace the same path of love and forgiveness.

Resolution: I will immediately forgive any wrongs I suffer today, and I will try to sacrifice myself in a hidden way for someone else.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Wednesday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time - Tough Moments

Jesus said to his disciples: "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ´every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.´ If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector. Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again, amen, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."

Introductory Prayer: Father, thank you for this time of prayer. Help me to be attentive to the inspirations of your Holy Spirit. This day may be filled with many challenges and activities but throughout them all I invite you to be with me.

Petition: Lord, help me to me an instrument of your peace.

1. If Your Brother Sins Against You: Catholic life is filled with many peaks and valleys. The Church’s soul is the Holy Spirit, but the body’s members can be less than saintly. At times, people can be scandalized by the “humanity” of the Church. “Isn’t he a Catholic? How can he do that?” Jesus, however, was not surprised, and we find him in the Gospel today outlining a procedure to deal with sinful behavior. Our love for the Church is realistic: Jesus came to save sinners; we can’t be surprised when we encounter sin. But realism isn’t cynical. We know that God is infinitely more powerful than our sinfulness. “Where sin has abounded, grace has abounded all the more” (Romans 5:20).

2. Fraternal Correction: Very often the sin that we encounter in the Church is right under our own roof. Fraternal correction can be a duty of charity; however, if we relish the thought, that’s a bad sign. We need to purify our intention of wounded pride or any thought of payback. Our motive must be to truly help the other person. Part of this is the desire to be effective, and this means doing things the right way. Going public is not the first step, as the Lord makes clear. By quietly seeking reconciliation we can do much to bring healing to our relationships.

3. The Power of Prayer: Interpersonal conflicts can be among the heaviest crosses that we bear. When the hurts and the slights have accumulated beyond counting and forgiveness is either hard to give or hard to obtain, what is there left to do? The Lord tells us: Pray! Get others to pray with us and for us. “Where two or three are gathered in my name.…” The Lord wants to act in and through our prayer. As Catholics who believe in the gospels, we know that miracles happen. Sometimes it may seem that only a miracle will bring about reconciliation. Miracles will come only to those who ask for them.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, you taught us to gather together in prayer. Grant your Church greater unity and charity. Help us to help each other. Give us the humility to be open to correction. I believe that your love will triumph!

Resolution: I will pray fervently before correcting anyone.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary - God Lifts Up the Lowly


In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary´s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord." And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever." And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe in your wondrous, shining glory, although this is hidden from my eyes. I hope in the peace and everlasting joy of the world to come, for this world is a valley of tears. I love you, even though I am not always able to discern the love in your intentions when you permit me to suffer. You are my God and my all.

Petition: Lord, help me to be humble!


  1. All Generations Will Call Me Blessed: When Pius XII defined the dogma of the Assumption, it was a cause of great joy throughout the Catholic world. Believed for centuries, it entered the realm of official Catholic dogma. Our Lady is brought to heaven to share in the glory and joy of her Son and our Lord. We have always looked to Mary as our mother, and so the feast of the Assumption continues to fill us with happiness. She is with Christ, and she is our mother more than ever. We entrust ourselves to her in the same way that Pope Saint John Paul the Great did, “Totus Tuus.”



  1. Scattering the Proud: Proud people are generally very focused on whatever serves their best interests. So “scattering” is a very good verb to use to indicate what happens to the proud when God goes into action. Mary rejoices in that “scattering,” but who are the proud? Maybe we don’t have to look any further than ourselves. How much we fight with that root sin of pride! Mary is happy when pride gets scattered and the perspective we have widens. Instead of just seeing things from our own myopic point of view, this scattering opens up the “thoughts of our hearts” to see others and their needs. Nothing is more Mary-like than that.



  1. Lifting Up the Lowly: This feast of the Assumption is proof that God literally lifts up the lowly. Like her Son and his Ascension, Mary is lifted up by God into the realm of eternal life. Sometimes we cling to our pride out of a sort of instinct of self-preservation—“If I don’t look out for number one, who will?” But Mary’s humility is a lesson for us. Our true self-fulfillment lies in becoming everyday more filled with God; We can only do that if we are not filled with ourselves. Let’s ask Mary to help us to live more like her and experience the true joy—the lifting up—that there is in humility.


Conversation with Christ: Lord, I thank you for giving us such a wonderful mother. She helps me to stay on the path of fulfilling your will. Help me to be able to sing a Magnificat in my own soul, “The Almighty has done great things for me!”

Resolution: I will be generous and joyful when I am asked to help out.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Memorial of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Priest and Martyr - Death and Taxes

As Jesus and his disciples were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, "The Son of Man is to be handed over to men, and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day." And they were overwhelmed with grief. When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax approached Peter and said, "Doesn´t your teacher pay the temple tax?" "Yes," he said. When he came into the house, before he had time to speak, Jesus asked him, "What is your opinion, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take tolls or census tax? From their subjects or from foreigners?" When he said, "From foreigners," Jesus said to him, "Then the subjects are exempt. But that we may not offend them, go to the sea, drop in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up. Open its mouth and you will find a coin worth twice the temple tax. Give that to them for me and for you."

Introductory Prayer: Lord God, I believe in your presence here with me as I begin this moment of prayer. I hope in you. I know that you will always take care of me. I want this time with you to be a sign of my love for you. I seek only to please you, without desiring any spiritual consolation for myself.

Petition: Lord, help me to acknowledge your greatness with my words and actions.

1. No Tax Loopholes, Not Even for Jesus: Jesus draws from Peter the admission that collectors of the Temple Tax did not consider him the Son of God, and that they did not consider the Temple the house of his Father. They therefore thought he was subject to the tax. In effect, by obliging him to pay the tax they implied that they considered him a subject or a foreigner. Joined with Jesus’ prediction of his Passion, the scene harkens back to the line from the opening of John’s Gospel, “He was in the world and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him” (John 1:10-11). How this must have broken the heart of Christ to find himself unwelcome among those he came to save. And how often we leave Christ alone in our churches and chapels, with no one to visit him or acknowledge his presence there. 

2. A Place Where Christ Is Welcome: What does it mean for us to welcome Christ into our life? It must be more than a warm emotion. Rather it must be opening ourselves to the presence of him who comes to make his home among us and share our lives. We have a God who is so close to us and wants a relationship with us. He wants our time and our attention. Welcoming Christ into our life means recognizing him not as a foreigner who comes from afar to impose himself, but as our personal Lord -- as our master, and our savior. It is his will that must rule in our life and direct our behavior. We must acknowledge that only he has the word of life and we must turn our lives to him in loving obedience. The fruit of this will be interior peace and profound joy. 

3. A Society Without Christ Is Empty and Confused:Today we see how frequently Christ is refused entry into the world, and how frequently he is marginalized by so many of those who have great influence in society and in our culture. He is deliberately excluded from the world of politics, from the world of science, the arts, of business, law, and medicine. Often he is treated in the media only when it chooses to ridicule him. As followers of Christ, we must bring him and his word of life back into every sphere of human activity, for a world without Christ is a world that knows neither its origin nor its destiny and will turn against man himself. 

Conversation with Christ: Jesus, give me courage to make your presence felt in the world around me. Let me not be afraid to show that my faith in you is the center of my life and gives meaning to all I do. Let me give witness of the joy I experience in living by your law in my life.

Resolution: I will find time to spend with Christ in the Blessed Sacrament today or find a way to give witness to Christ in the midst of my daily occupations, manifesting my faith publicly.