Monday, April 30, 2012

Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Easter

The feast of the Dedication was taking place in Jerusalem. It was winter. And Jesus walked about in the temple area on the Portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, "How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly." Jesus answered them, "I told you and you do not believe. The works I do in my Father´s name testify to me. But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father´s hand. The Father and I are one." (John 10: 22-30)
Introductory Prayer:Father as we celebrate the Resurrection, may we share with each other the joy the risen Christ has won for us. Free me, Lord, of questionings that lead me away from you to a life of cynical discontent. Grant me the faith that helps me accept the answers you give me in prayer.
Petition:Lord, help me to follow you by accepting the cross you want me to carry as a means of purifying my love for you and my neighbor.
1. Questions Born from Below“How long are you going to keep us in suspense?” Such is the interrogation of the Jews to Christ on this occasion. Their patience is wearing thin and at times our patience with God wears thin as well. At times, God can be for us the answer to all of our problems, with proofs of his love and mercy so clear and evident. We seem to race eagerly down the way of holiness, hurdling with a generous spirit every obstacle that comes along. At other times, we can take on the same attitude as the Jews had in today’s Gospel passage. Why? What happens to us? What Scripture makes clear to us is that at times we have doubts not just because of our inquisitive nature. They can arise because of the obstinacy of our hearts. We want God to bend to our ways. Even when we take it to prayer we may find ourselves getting mad at God because he continues to probe our hearts by withholding from us all the answers. Or worse, we don’t like the answers God gives us in prayer, as when he answers our prayers with "My grace is sufficient for you" (2 Corinthians 12:9). We begin to doubt our Lord because he fails to be for us whatever our selfish whims might dictate. With an attitude such as this, what can God show us if we refuse to see? What can God tell us if we deafen our ears to his pleas?
2. “You Are Not Among My Sheep”We might think our Lord was being a bit harsh on the Jews in today’s Gospel telling them that they are “not among my sheep.” After all, were they not somewhat excusable in not believing in Christ? Should they not put him to the test as they would anyone else? Or should we believe in everybody who comes along saying that they are from God? The problem wasn’t the fact that the Pharisees hadn’t the right to question those who came along making such claims––for they did in fact have this duty. Rather, the problem was that they refused to believe once the evidence of Christ’s divine sonship was made evident by the works he performed. They blocked the gift of faith from taking a foothold in their hearts. “You are not among my sheep.” Perhaps these interrogators were content to be rejected as a part of his flock. We too can find ourselves unrepentantly spurning Christ and his Church. We justify and excuse ourselves from personal reform because we feel others in the Church need to reform themselves to our liking. Do I realize that I must continue to seek and listen to Christ especially in the Scriptures and in the authentic teachings of the Church’s Magisterium? Scripture is very clear; we are among Christ sheep when we listen to Him.
3. My Sheep Hear My Voice; I Know Them, and They Follow Me Our Lord not only wants souls to love him, but he wants us to love his Father. Christ’s mission on earth was to bring about the reconciliation of mankind with his heavenly Father. By saving us, Christ returns us to the love we spurned when we preferred sin over the heavenly Father’s will. We can know once again that our Father in heaven is rich in mercy and have confidence to love him anew. Now to love the Father, we must imitate Christ, who once described his own action, attitude and relation to his Father with these words: “The one who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, because I always do what is pleasing to him” (John 8:29). Our Lord asks us to imitate him, then, in obeying the Father’s will. How the world around us would change and be reconciled with God if we would concentrate on imitating our Master, always doing what is pleasing to the Father!
Conversation with Christ:O Jesus, for love of You I want to do always what pleases the Father. Grant me, oh Lord, the faith I need to recognize that it is you behind every event of my life. You are there as my teacher and guide to lead me home to your Father, to be reconciled with him, to love him with my whole heart, mind, will and strength. Help me not fix my eyes on the suffering I must endure, on this valley of tears I must traverse to be purified of my vanity and self-love. Teach me rather to embrace my cross because it is from you, the source of all love. Teach me time and again that my cross is not to hurt me, but to heal me of such a wretched illness as sin. Lord, shepherd of my soul, consider me a part of your fold. Lead me then to do always what pleases your Father.
Resolution:I will hold back voicing the interior complaints I experience today, offering this effort with an act of love to our Lord in reparation for all the complaints selfish souls will voice against our Lord today

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Monday of the Fourth Week of Easter

Jesus said: "Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice. But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers." Although Jesus used this figure of speech, they did not realize what he was trying to tell them. So Jesus said again, "Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly." (John 10:1-10)
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe that you are here with me. This time with you now in prayer is the most important time in my day. I know that you have prepared many graces for me. I wish to take advantage of them with grateful fervor.
Petition: Lord, help me to go through the gate! May I hear no other voices but yours!
1. Jesus Is the Gate: We all want to be happy. There is no one on the face of the planet who would consciously choose to be frustrated and miserable. Yet how is it that so many people unconsciously choose to be, or are missing the boat on what really makes life worthwhile? Jesus is the gate! If we truly want to fulfill our deepest human aspirations, we have to know and love Jesus Christ. As long as Jesus is second to anything or anyone in our life, we have not fully passed through the gate. Taking the plunge and truly passing through the gate is the best decision we could ever make.
2. The Voice of Strangers: If we don’t go through the gate, we are vulnerable. Those who are not fully committed may find the offers of strangers quite enticing. But Christ’s sheep reject those voices out of fidelity to their Shepherd.
 Perseverance in our Catholic faith and our Catholic lifestyle requires a constant effort to refocus on the Lord. Even if we are besieged by a cacophony of competing voices, the voice of the Lord will always rise above that din. We must be faithful. Our prayer life is the privileged place to screen out the noise and truly hear Christ, which is why our prayer is the most important time of the day. How vibrant is my prayer life?
3. Abundant Life: The effort to go through the gate and to listen only to the voice of the Good Shepherd pays abundant dividends. “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” What is that life like? Put simply, there’s nothing like it. The abundant life that Christ gives us is the indwelling presence of the Holy Trinity in one’s soul. It is the love that envelops authentically Christian homes and communities. It is the peace that comes from a conscience that has experienced forgiveness and is committed to living in the truth. What could anyone give us that can possibly compare to all of this?
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, I thank you for this time we have spent together. Many times I have allowed other voices to distract me from yours. I pledge to walk the path of fidelity to you. Grant me the grace to persevere always and to give others an example to help them through the gate.
Resolution: I will reach out to a relative who is estranged from the Church, reflecting some of the love of Christ the Good Shepherd with hopes it will direct him or her to the gate.

Fourth Sunday of Easter, Good Shepherd Sunday: World Day of Prayer for Vocations

Jesus said: "I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd. This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father." (John 10:11-18)
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for this opportunity to be with you in prayer. My heart is ready to listen to your words of eternal life so that I may choose to follow you more closely on the path of true love.
Petition: Lord, may I be faithful to your will in my life.
1. I Lay It Down: The Father entrusted Christ with a mission: Christ was to bring about our salvation through a life of unlimited self-giving, even to the point of giving his own life. Being God he could repay the Father for our sins; being man he could identify with our fallen humanity and raise its dignity so that we might become the Father’s children. Christ was the perfect bridge between fallen man and an infinitely holy God. His mission of bridging this chasm came about through freely accepting the will of the Father. Our Lord would receive nothing in return, and yet he was faithful even to the point of death.
2. On My Own: Jesus was not ordered to give himself for our sins. He offered himself. Freedom is best used when it willingly embraces God’s will, whatever the cost might be. We have to remember that Jesus knew what lay beyond his preaching and his miracles: the road to Calvary. He spent many nights in prayer on the Mount of Olives in preparation for his hour. He foretold his fate to his disciples and continued forward towards this end despite their misunderstanding. And in the end, when the hour came, he proved faithful. When the hour of darkness sought him, he stepped forward to say, “I am he.” Christ never flinched in front of God’s will. He felt its weight. Sorrow flooded his heart. An easier path tugged at his humanity. But he proved that love is stronger than death, that true freedom can defeat sin and master it.
3. A Life of Love: Perhaps offering ourselves to God frightens us. What will he ask? What will I have to leave behind? Will I be able to do it? However, fear vanishes when we live out of love, like Christ. We need to remember that the Father asked him to die for us, and look at the fruits this bore! Taking on our humanity, he left behind the splendor of his divinity and raised us to a new level. He did the impossible by bearing the weight of all our sins. He trusted in the Father to give him strength. Today we might be asked to die more to our self-love, to leave behind a vice we have been struggling with or to trust that with grace we can live a truly Christian life in a world hostile to Christianity. In the end, if we love Christ, we will not be frightened because he has already shown us the way –– and he has already conquered.
Conversation with Christ: Lord, give me the courage to be a faithful Christian at all times and in all places, with whomever I meet and in whatever I say. Help me to give testimony to who you are.
Resolution: I will offer one concrete act of self-mastery for love of Christ today.
This is a video made by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Vocations and Priestly Formation in order to give people a look in on the life of a Roman Catholic Priest and invite young men to open their hearts to the call:
Another good video of Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan Ordains 5 new priests to the Archdiocese of New York:
                                                   A Prayer for Priests

O MY good Jesus! teach me always to see Thyself in the Priest. I know that he has been set over me to direct me and to help me to save my soul. I know that Thou wilt never find fault with me if I obey him in everything in order to do Thy Holy Will. Teach me to love him and to respect him always. Do Thou protect him and be near him in his great work of saving souls. Keep him from harm. Help him to bring many souls to Thee and thus to win for himself a glorious crown in Heaven. Amen.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Saturday of the Third Week of Easter

Then many of his disciples who were listening said, "This saying is hard; who an accept it?" Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, "Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe." Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. And he said, "For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father." As a result of this, many (of) his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, "Do you also want to leave?" Simon Peter answered him, "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God." (John 6: 60-69)

Introductory Prayer: O Lord, I seek the vigilance of one ready to fight for your Kingdom.I pray not to be lulled into a false peace of a faith that does not challenge my comfort and rationalistic thinking. “And you girded me with strength of war; you subdued my adversaries beneath me” (Psalm 18:40). How great it wuld be to find myself rising to meet a secular world, with its mundane and shallow way of living, with a robust and valiant faith in all you propose for my life, O Lord, who are seated victoriously at God’s right hand!

Petition: O Jesus, divine Master, you helped the disciples understand; help me understand the mystery of your heavenly Kingdom.

1. “Does this shock you?” The obedience of faith that Christ proposes is not always easy for us. We can at times be “shocked” by twists in his plan, or when being faithful to a given moral or doctrinal teaching becomes a very costly affair for me. And this happens all the more so when our interior life is carried by the rhythm of the things of the world. Without the constant deepening of the theological virtues of faith, hope and love we will often find much that God expects of us unacceptable. It is a reaction that tells us it is time to change and spend more time in prayer, getting to know Christ and those things that are pleasing to him. Only those who grow and fight through their moment of darkness will conquer and win through perseverance.

2. “It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail.” Often in facing the hard moments of life, we can seek human compensations that only postpone or even prevent the real cure from coming to my soul. Jesus invites us to follow him from a disciplined life of prayer that commits me to him everyday, and radically so. The temptation to set aside prayer in moments of fatigue and emotional weakness can come to me as it did for the disciples in Gethsemane. We claim that we need to take a break, that we need some special consideration, but such an excuse really is lowering the watchfulness of the spirit and leading us to succumb to the flesh. Would a soldier in combat lay down his weapons in the worst moment of the battle precisely when the enemy has his strongest advantage? I must have the perseverance of Christ, firm in the truths of God, firm in the prayer that reveals them to me.

3. “Master, to whom shall we go?” Jesus alone is our comfort and true friend, so to whom shall we go? Peter affirms his sincerity with Christ. When circumstances humble our hearts, mortify our ambition, and detach us from our wants, we feel the pinch and must remember the words of Peter. In the end one chooses well when one knows who they are before God. Christ reveals to us that he is the only one who can respond to my deepest needs, needs which can be met by no other person and nothing else in my life.

Dialogue with Christ: O Jesus, you would have me go by no other way than in your footprints guiding me ahead. Your words are eternal, your love is overwhelming. May I turn to you with all my needs.

Resolution: Get to know Christ’s teaching better by reading the Gospel

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Friday of the Third Week of Easter

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?" Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever." These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. (John 6: 52-59)

Introductory Prayer:Lord Jesus, thank you for these moments of prayer that are so important for my Christian life. Grant me faith in the midst of a world that thirsts for your presence. I trust in your love and your guidance in this time of prayer and throughout the day. I promise to give myself fully in this time of prayer, seeking to know you more deeply.

Petition:Lord, grant me the courage to live my life as an authentic Catholic.

1. The Jews Quarreled Among Themselves.
Picture the scene. Jesus has caused a great controversy among those who were listening to him, including many of his close followers. Why were they quarrelling? Jesus must have been so convinced about his teaching on the Eucharist that no one listening could remain neutral. He even repeats it again: “My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.” He is not talking about symbols. This is a challenging teaching for our times too. In this teaching, as in many others, the Church stands as a sign of contradiction just as Christ did. Do I truly believe in the Eucharist? Do I give testimony of my faith and know how to explain it to others? Jesus wants us to follow him in proclaiming this truth, even though it may cause a stir.

2. How Can He Do It?
With God all things are possible! The Jews in the Gospel asked how Jesus could give his flesh to eat. On a natural level, this is a pretty good question. As a supernatural reality the mystery of the Eucharist can only be understood by faith. We should not question so much how God does it. Rather we should believe that he has done it out of love for each one of us. Out of love, Jesus became a man for each of us. Out of love, Jesus spent 30 years hidden away in Nazareth.
Out of love, he suffered and died and remained with us in many ways, especially in the Eucharist. Let us pray for the Catholic Church so that the Holy Spirit will rekindle a Eucharistic “amazement” among all of the People of God.

3. Remain in My Love.
Jesus has promised to remain with us until the end of time. In today’s Gospel he renews with ardent enthusiasm –– even amidst rejection — that he is with us. He is the bread that came down from heaven. Have we experienced his powerful presence recently? Jesus promises that whoever eats his body and drinks his blood will remain in him. By receiving Christ in the Eucharist each Sunday we pledge to live lives of union with Jesus Christ that reflect his presence in the world. We receive the body of Christ with a commitment to remain in his love. The first way is to keep his commandments. Another way is to speak with Christ during the day. Yet another is to practice an ardent charity for those around us. What is Christ asking of me today?

Dialogue with Christ: Lord Jesus, I am not scared to follow you in the contemporary world even though you are a sign of contradiction. I truly believe in you and ask for the grace to remain in you. Renew in your Church a Eucharistic “amazement” so that we will value the treasure of the Bread of Life. Comfort those who suffer for you and give us the strength to bear witness to your limitless love. Show me the way to follow you today, even if you call me to be a sign of contradiction.

Resolution: I resolve to step out of my “comfort zone” and courageously speak to someone today about some teaching of the Church that is commonly misunderstood

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Thursday of the Third Week of Easter

Jesus said to the crowds: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him on the last day. It is written in the prophets: ‘They shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”  (John 6: 44-51)

Introductory Prayer: Lord I praise you for your goodness. You have given me life and grace. What can compare to the greatness of your love?

Petition: Lord, lead me to a greater understanding of your love for me in the Eucharist.

1. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him”

How easy it is for us to take our faith for granted! Many of us are cradle Catholics, born into a certain religious tradition. That can make it easy to see our faith more as a family inheritance than a gift from God. Yet Jesus clearly affirms that no one can come to him unless the Father draw him. To make a true act of supernatural faith, God is working in our soul. When we say to Jesus, as Thomas did, “My Lord and my God,” grace is definitely at work. We should constantly thank God for the gift of our faith.

2. “Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God”

Through faith, this wonderful gift of God, Jesus is leading us into the very heart of the ultimate mystery, the divine life of the Triune God. At the Last Supper Jesus will say to Philip, “He who has seen me has seen the Father.” Jesus’ human face reveals the invisible mystery of the Father. God is love (1 Jn 4:16). We are invited into this mystery of eternal, mutual love of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit. To speak of the Godhead is, I know, like trying to cross the ocean on a raft or trying to fly to the stars on a little bird’s wings (St. Gregory Nazianzen).

3. “Your ancestors ate manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die.”

This faith constantly needs nourishment. The Israelites during their desert sojourn ate manna. It provided physical nourishment, but our spiritual lives need an infinitely greater bread. Jesus provides it in the Eucharist. Let us go to him frequently and allow him to feed our famished and weary souls.

Dialogue with Christ: Lord, I thank you for the great gift of my faith, and thank you for nourishing it with the Eucharist. Help me to never grow cold or indifferent before the great mystery of your love.

Resolution: I will try to be more keenly aware of God’s presence.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Feast of Saint Mark, Evangelist

Jesus said to his disciples: "Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover." So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God. But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs. (Mark 16:15-20)
Introductory Prayer: Lord, allow me to give this moment of prayer priority over all my other concerns. Holy Mary, you remained with the apostles when Jesus went up to heaven; help me to raise my mind and heart to him.
Petition: Lord, help me to be an apostle of your kingdom.
1. God’s Paradoxical Plan of Salvation. Jesus ascends into heaven, but before he does, he leaves his disciples a mission. He assigns them the task of building up his Church. Maybe we are so accustomed to the story that it no longer astonishes us –– but it is truly incredible. These were the same men who just a few weeks earlier had abandoned Christ and locked themselves up in a room out of fear. Humanly speaking anyone would have bet a good deal that their mission was doomed to prompt and certain failure –– yet here we are two thousand years later! I too am called by Christ to spread my faith, and if I ever feel that I am not the best qualified for this mission, I just have to remember that my Captain is sitting at the right hand of the Father directing the whole operation.
2. Signs of God’s Providence. Time and time again throughout history, Our Lord has shown signs of his power at work in his Church to strengthen our faith. Extraordinary miracles have always accompanied the preaching of the Gospel right up to our own day. Devils are still driven out, and many sick are still being cured in the most extraordinarily unexplainable ways. The greatest miracle of all however is the miracle of Christ’s continued presence with us in the Eucharist and the conversion of heart that takes place in the sacrament of reconciliation. God is constantly at work for his people. Even when he doesn’t grant us astonishing signs, he does shower countless signs of his providence upon us every day.
3. The Lord at Work. The key to success in the mission of being a witness to Christ and his Gospel is found in letting God work. Like the first apostles we have to cast our nets where the Lord directs us. So many times pride and human ambition have stood in the way of God’s plan. We don’t have to be anything special to work for the Lord; all we need to do is to follow his direction. What great quality do we really possess anyway that is not a gift from God and his already? Am I confident that the Lord is already at work in me? Do I recognize the signs of his provident love in my life, and do I thank him for them?
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus help me to understand that being an apostle is not an option, but a demand of my baptism. It is the way I can respond to the immense love you have shown to me. Please continue to work in my life.
Resolution: I will pause before I go to bed and reflect on the signs of God’s providence in my life, thanking him for them.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Tuesday of the Third Week of Easter

The crowd said to Jesus: “What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do? Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” So Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” (John 6: 30-35)

So they said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, increase my faith. Help me to believe with an ardent, living faith.

Petition: That I might believe without asking for signs.

1. “What sign can you do?”

In yesterday’s meditation, we saw Jesus’ conversation in the synagogue of Capernaum get underway. The question is put to Jesus, “what sign can you do?” It would be legitimate to wonder what happened to the people’s short-term memory capacity. The reason they crossed over the Sea of Galilee in search of Jesus was because they had witnessed the multiplication of the loaves. But now they want something more, something more spectacular. They reminded Jesus of the manna in the desert. Perhaps they are trying to see if they can get a daily multiplication of bread, as their ancestors did the manna. They want to see if Jesus is up at least to the level of Moses. There is something of a taunt in this question. These are going to be tough people to satisfy! Am I like that, do I constantly need one more proof of the Lord’s providence in my life?

2. “It was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven”

Jesus tries to elevate the people’s thinking. He wants them to understand the “sign value” of every miracle that Israel ever experienced, lest they get stuck at the external level without going deeper. Failing to understand this can turn the person into a type of materialist who does not go beyond the visible realm to what really matters—communion with God, which certainly is not as tangible as having an all-you-can-eat loaves and fish session.
In the case of the manna, Moses simply points towards God. Do I get stuck in the externals or am I able to see God in all things? When I see a priest, for instance, do I think only of how his personality pleases or displeases me, or do I instead think of how God works through him for my salvation?

3. “I am the bread of life.”

Jesus’ speaking about bread from heaven gets the people excited. “Give us this bread always.” They sound very much like the Samaritan woman who would have loved for Jesus to given her a perpetual water supply. The Lord then speaks words that give us such hope, “I am the bread of life.” The miracle of the multiplication of loaves point to a bread that will satiate our hunger forever, Jesus himself in the Eucharist. We absolutely must relish this great gift of the Father, his Son who is with us forever. But we will only perceive Jesus if we have a vision of faith.

Dialogue with Christ: Lord, give me spiritual simplicity, so that I might always relish your presence in the Eucharist. Give me the faith to always go to you for my spiritual fulfillment. Help me not to seek any more sign than that of your love in the Eucharist!

Resolution: I will make a spiritual communion today, asking Jesus for greater faith in the Eucharist.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Monday of the Third Week of Easter

The next day, the crowd that remained across the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not gone along with his disciples in the boat, but only his disciples had left. Other boats came from Tiberias near the place where they had eaten the bread when the Lord gave thanks. When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into boats and came to Capernaum looking for Jesus. And when they found him across the sea they said to him, "Rabbi, when did you get here?" Jesus answered them and said, "Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal." So they said to him, "What can we do to accomplish the works of God?" Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent." (John 6: 22-29)

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, on the third day you rose again … may these words be enough to fill me with faith and hope today. You went about the world doing good, and so I pray to follow your example with a heart that is ready for what is good and right according to my Catholic faith.

Petition: Give me, O Lord, the grace to believe in you especially in those most difficult moments in my life in which I would rather turn to myself.

1. “You ate the loaves and were filled.” God versus the goods he bring to my life – have I learned to distinguish them in the order of what I seek in prayer? Do I seek God only for favors and benefits, or do I seek him for his own sake? Any material or spiritual good that is not God himself is but a creature and one that I sometimes permit myself almost imperceptibly to adore. Even my apostolic works can lead me away from God if I have not centered my heart in true devotion to him. God is first, absolutely so, and must come even before the work I do for him in my life.

2. “Do not work for food that perishes.” Seemingly good works done with the wrong intention can make an otherwise good work bad, or at least render it sterile for my spiritual life. Our hearts can drift into seeking out other purposes: our comfort, the appreciation of others, the desire to prove myself right or better than others. Such desires do not come from God but from our human weakness and egoism. Will such works last? Will they truly fill me? Will they endure into eternity? We must purify our hearts often, and let a more active prayer life give me the holy purposes and light from above that will reap an enduring spiritual fruit in my life.
St. Paul exhorts, “So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. … Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire and greed” (Colossians 3:1-5).

3. “What can we do to accomplish the works of God?” The authentic works of God in our life, done by us, are works of supernatural faith, hope and love. These virtues work by grace, a divine gift that we must fight for and strengthen in prayer often. “If the Lord does not build the house in vain do the builders labor”(Psalm 127:1). It was by grace that Peter realized that Jesus was the Son of God, and it was also by grace that Peter’s nets were bursting with the catch of fish. Is my faith vibrant enough that Christ can build on me as he built the Church on Peter’s faith?

Dialogue with Christ: O Jesus, you give me bread from heaven to eat, and this bread fills my life with good things. May your holy Body and Blood always teach me to believe in you more wholeheartedly and center my desires completely on you, until I come to meet you face to face.

Resolution: In addition to reading the Gospel daily, I will begin to read a good book on the life of Christ, the lives of the saints, or other holy books to keep our focus always on Jesus Christ

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Third Sunday of Easter

What a challenge to our intelligence when we are asked to see beyond Jesus’ tomb. Death could be arrogant and show its “victory” over anyone: Children, elders, men and women, people who see death as a desperate escape and people who never want to face death. One thing is for sure: everyone must face death.
That is what happened to the disciples. Their reaction in the presence of Jesus is astounding. The gospel says they “thought that they were seeing a ghost”. Resurrection is a reality that overwhelmed their senses and paralyzed the understanding and intellect of the disciples.
It is interesting to see that the Resurrected Lord’s presence, rather than helping the disciples to believe, instead causes them doubt and disbelief. Jesus understood this and He asked them: “"Why are you troubled? Why do questions arise in your hearts?” It is hard for us to understand the Resurrection of the Lord, but it happened and it is real.
What our Lord Jesus wants deep inside is to strengthen our faith by showing us himself in a way our minds can comprehend. He is helping us to see and acknowledge His great mercy. He came to visit and stay with us, like our Creed says: For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven. “Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.”
We need to believe in Love
In the second reading today we make another step. The fundamental phrase is: “The way we may be sure that we know him is to keep his commandments.” Faith is not just a fairytale that is sweet to our ears. Faith in the Resurrection is the foundation of our life.
The Apostle John talked in this way in the second reading because in his time there were people who pretended that faith was just “gnosis”, just about knowledge, or what our intelligence can understand. They thought that faith was tied only to our souls without any connection to our bodies or how we behave.We Catholics don't separate faith and works.
Against any distortion of our faith, we have received a very specific kind of Faith from the Apostles. As John said in the second reading: "But whoever keeps his word, the love of God is truly perfected in him". And that is the proof that we are in Him.
I believe in you Lord, that you are present in my life. Although I seldom feel your presence, I trust that you are there and will never abandon me. I love you Lord, with my efforts today to pray and experience more deeply your presence and love in my life. Though unworthy, I hope to give witness to your life and resurrection. Lord, increase my faith in you and your sacraments.

Dear Lord, help me to experience you in prayer so that I may become a credible witness of your life and resurrection. Increase my faith in The Eucharist so that I can touch and see you in your Body and Blood, and in your words of forgiveness. Eliminate all anxiety from my life with your simple presence. You are with me, and you have conquered the world.