Sunday, June 30, 2013

Monday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time "Determined Discipleship"

When Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side. A scribe approached and said to him, "Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go." Jesus answered him, "Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head." Another of his disciples said to him, "Lord, let me go first and bury my father." But Jesus answered him, "Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead." (Matthew 8:18-22)

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I come to you in this meditation ready to do whatever you ask. Left to myself I often take the easy and convenient path, yet I know the way of a Christian is through the narrow gate. In you I find the reason to abandon the easy path for a more perfect mission of love. I’m ready to learn the meaning of your command: “Follow me.”

Petition: Lord Jesus, help me to seek true holiness by following after you.

1. Follow His Footsteps: The transition to becoming a disciple is not an easy one. While a disciple generously hands over his own will to the Lord unconditionally, the scribe in today’s passage still seeks his own will, as noble as it may be. A disciple is born from an invitation: “Follow me.” This scribe does not yet have the total freedom of heart that life with Christ demands. Where do I stand? One becomes identified with Christ not through a mere accumulation of doctrine, principles and techniques, but by living a common life with Christ born from union with the Master’s will. May I hear Christ’s voice setting the pace of holiness in my life and inviting me to leave behind my own will for the new life he presents.

2. Choosing the Better Way: Christ does not coldly ignore the scribe, but seeks to attract him to a different way of life, a life of simple poverty. Our Lord’s own self-emptying poverty goes beyond the lot of the poorest of men. What Christ’s poverty shows, however, is not misery. Rather, it compels and attracts, for it is an infallible sign of the richness of God from whom Christ lives and moves. Christ’s living example empowers men to leave their world for something better, nobler and more worthy of the life they have been given. May my example also compel others to find a better way, a holier way.

3. Shunning Shoddy Sophisms: There is an almost ruthless quality to Christ’s response to the sophisms and excuses offered to avoid following him. Detachment from all personal wants and desires is the way to simplicity of heart. Simplicity of heart requires us to be brutally honest with ourselves. What comes first in our life? What is really moving our heart to make the choices we make? Is it God’s will? God’s will for us is never complicated; perhaps it may be difficult, but it is never complicated. Sometimes, under the pretext of doing good, we rationalize not doing what is better. We do not need sophisticated analyses assessing how many obstacles there are to doing God’s will. All we need to clear the path to its perfect fulfillment is a generous heart.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, I know you have called me; I ask for your strength to respond with simplicity and fortitude. I have heard your voice and I now answer.

Resolution: Today I will live better my vocation in life and, in particular, fulfill some obligation that I normally put off.


Saturday, June 29, 2013

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time "Choosing Between Two Goods"

When the days for his being taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem, and he sent messengers ahead of him. On the way they entered a Samaritan village to prepare for his reception there, but they would not welcome him because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, "Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?" Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village. As they were proceeding on their journey someone said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." Jesus answered him, "Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head." And to another he said, "Follow me." But he replied, "(Lord,) let me go first and bury my father." But he answered him, "Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." And another said, "I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home." (To him) Jesus said, "No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God." (Luke 9: 51-62)

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I wish to put aside all distractions and to give you my total focus. I will do nothing more important today than to meditate prayerfully on your goodness and your active role in my life. Though I am unworthy to be in your presence, I trust in your mercy and love. Through this moment of prayer I want to draw closer to you and learn to live more like you.

Petition: Lord, may the enticements of the world pale in comparison with you.

1. Only One Thing Is Necessary: Temptation is a choice between good and evil. But sometimes what is harder than making the choice between these two opposites is choosing between two goods. Such is the situation in which the would-be disciples in today’s Gospel passage find themselves. In such cases, we could say that a good occasionally becomes the enemy of what is best. Sometimes we need to say no to a good option in order to embrace the one thing necessary. In today’s Gospel, as well as in tomorrow’s, we encounter people who might have become Christ’s close followers, who might have even been chosen to be one of his Apostles, but who were held back by other concerns or motives. Is my own heart open to Christ and his ways or do I lack detachment in some area of my life?

2. Patriotism Must Come Second: The first incident is the encounter between the messengers of Jesus and the Samaritan villagers. It is likely that the Samaritan villagers had heard of Jesus the miracle worker and were anxious to see a sign or to hear him preach. But the concern that holds them back and keeps them from following Jesus is their patriotism. The Samaritans and the Jews had been bitter enemies for centuries and systematically avoided all unnecessary contact with each another. When they learned that Jesus and his disciples were Jews and were headed for Jerusalem, their interest became opposition. We would have to agree that patriotism and devotion to the national cause are both good things in themselves. But when nationalism or ethnic sentiments become the eyes through which one sees all reality, including spiritual and eternal reality, one is in danger of losing the proper perspective.

3. Once You Have Set Your Course, Don’t Look Back: Let us consider the man who wants to follow Jesus, but wants to go and say farewell to his family first. We cannot help but feel that we would have done the exact same thing as this would-be disciple. Didn’t our parents teach us when we were young to inform them about when we were leaving the house and when we would be back, and where we were going, and with whom? This man has high social and family values. One could only hope that all men could be this sensitive to let their families know their whereabouts at all times. Yet, before the urgent call of the Kingdom of God, social and family concerns take a back seat. “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).

Conversation with Christ: Lord, I am distracted by so many things in life. Even though many of them are legitimate, I must learn to keep my eyes focused on you and trust in you. Half-way surrenders do not interest you. You want all of my heart. Help me to give it to you willingly and joyfully.

Resolution: I will recommit to living wholeheartedly for God today, even though certain members of my family are likely to call me a “fanatic” or tell me that I’m “getting carried away.” 


Friday, June 28, 2013

Solemnity of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, apostles "Rock of Peter"

When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter said in reply, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." (Matthew 16:13-19)

Introductory Prayer: Jesus, I believe in you. I believe that you came into this world to suffer and die to give me a chance at eternal salvation. I want to draw close to you in this prayer. May this time I spend with you be an expression of my love.

Petition: Help me, Lord, to enter into a deeper, personal relationship with you.

1. Identity Crisis: Jesus isn´t interested in what "others" think of him. He wants to know what I think of him. The test of any relationship is how committed people are to each other. At some point a young woman will wonder, how serious is her boyfriend? After a few weeks of class, a professor wants to know, who are the serious students here? On the eve of battle a soldier might wonder, can I count on my buddies when the bullets start flying? Likewise, Our Lord wonders about us. What does Christ mean to me? Is he just a picture on a holy card? A dimly perceived do-gooder from the past? Or does he have a real place in my life? He is, after all, the Second Person of the Trinity who came into the world in order to save us. How does that truth affect my faith?

2. Heavenly Revelation: Peter professes that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah. And Jesus in turn tells him that this knowledge doesn´t come from the world. It comes from God the Father. Recognition of Jesus as the Christ involves an act of faith. Throughout history skeptics have tried to figure out Jesus, using just their reason and tools of research. But since when do we try to understand the totality of a person with reason? Learning about another person can often require personal contact, above all, listening to him or her. Do I try to listen to Jesus in prayer, in Scripture? Or do I simply try to "figure him out"?

3. Binding and Loosing: Keys were a symbol of authority. Our Lord had all authority on earth (see Matthew 28:18 and Mark 2:10). Authority implies the ability to delegate it; hence, Jesus gave Peter, as the first pope, the power to bind and loose, that is, to make disciplinary rules within the Church. A child who disobeys a licit command from its mother is committing a sin. Why? Not because Mom is God, but because Mom has authority from God. Authority, in this case papal authority, is not an imposition but rather a service. The Pope´s unique authority gives us a sure guide on moral questions. The Pope doesn´t have the power to make morality but rather to define authoritatively on issues at hand. How well do I know papal teaching? Do I make an effort to learn why he teaches as he teaches? When a difficulty arises, do I consult Church teaching? "Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me" (Luke 10:16).

Conversation with Christ: Lord, help me to love my faith as an expression of my personal relationship with you. Keep me from ever growing cold in my faith. Grant me a renewed appreciation for the gift of papal authority.

Resolution: I will read a few paragraphs of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, for example, a few about the papacy (880-887, 895, 1559). 


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Memorial of Saint Irenaeus, bishop and martyr "The Healing Power of Confession"

When Jesus came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. And then a leper approached, did him homage, and said, "Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean." He stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, "I will do it. Be made clean." His leprosy was cleansed immediately. Then Jesus said to him, "See that you tell no one, but go show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them." (Matthew 8:1-4)

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe in you and in your love. I trust in you as the way for me to live. I hope in the power of your cross to free me from all that is not you. I love you and want my love to be more real so that I may imitate your pure and total love.

Petition: Lord, help me to turn from my sins.

1. Lord, If You Wish, You Can Make Me Clean: Whenever we come to the sacrament of confession, we want the words of this humble leper to be on our lips: “Jesus, you can heal me from that which ails me, from my sin.” This leper’s act of faith is comparable to the Good Thief’s faith. While nailed to the cross next to Our Lord he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” In each case they see with eyes of faith beyond what the eyes of their body tell them. When we come to confess our sins with eyes of faith, we want to look beyond the priest to Jesus, the one who not only forgives our sins but heals our souls.

2. He Stretched Out His Hand, and Touched Him: The Pharisees once asked the disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (Matthew 9:11). Jesus is not afraid of my leprosy; he is not afraid of my sin. His love is simply more powerful than any person’s sin, no matter how grave. He is not afraid to be associated with sinners or to touch lepers. It was this same love that moved the Word to become “flesh and dwell among us” (John 1:14). By taking our human nature to himself he “stretched out his hand and touched us.” When we give Jesus our sins he nails them to the cross -- and it is precisely at the cross that we discover two things: the true nature of our sin and the infinite love the prompts Jesus to touch us.

3. I Do Will It. Be Made Clean: Jesus wants the leper to be healed; he likewise wants you and me to be healed, clean, whole. Through the hands of the priest, Jesus stretches out his own hand and bids us to be clean so that we may not remain in our sins. Sin knocks at the door of our lives, but thanks to Jesus we do not have to continue in it. When Jesus heals us, he also gives us the strength (grace) to stay healthy. He heals us so that we may freely walk with him and imitate him in our lives. But do I want to leave aside all my sin? What former leper would ever wish to return to his leprosy? Ultimately it is the heart that must be made clean by way of constant prayer, the sacraments and a genuine effort to do what we know is pleasing to God.

Conversation with Christ: Jesus, you know when I sit and when I stand. Before a word is on my lips you know the whole of it; with all my ways you are familiar (cf. Psalm 139). Help me to live in the light, correspond to your grace, and experience the healing joy that comes from friendship with you.

Resolution: This week I will go to confession, taking time to prepare myself well. 


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Thursday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time "Built Wisely"

Jesus said to his disciples: "Not everyone who says to me, ´Lord, Lord,´ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ´Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?´ Then I will declare to them, ´I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.´ Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell -- and great was its fall!" Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes. (Matthew 7:21-29)

Introductory Prayer: Lord, before I can produce anything lasting in my life, I need to be united to you in prayer. Aware of my weakness and inclination to sin, I trust all the more in your forgiveness and mercy. I believe in your presence in the Eucharist. It gives me the assurances that you really are with your Church until the end of time.

Petition: Lord, help me to improve one point of my life that has been neglected.

1. Lord, Lord: "Faith without works is useless" (James 2:20). Witnessing to our faith through our works is crucial. It´s not enough to go to Mass on Sunday, to have the Bible on the shelf, to hang a rosary on the rearview mirror. Faith in Christ means daily conversion, changing our lives in conformity to his will. "Not everyone who says to me, ´Lord, Lord,´ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven" (Matthew 7:21). Doing the will of the Father means works of charity, of patience, of disinterested service. Real expressions of our faith demand that we give of ourselves. Real faith doesn´t leave us feeling smug. Do I ever feel self-righteous because "I´m with the Pope"? Because I "never got caught" doing something wrong? Does my faith in Christ leave me complacent? Or does it drive me to works of charity?

2. Rock Solid: Listening to and following Christ means living as we should. There is a truth about our being human that demands a response. To know, love and serve God in this world, and to be happy with him forever in the next, sums up the purpose of our lives (see Catechism, No. 1). When we sin, we break not only with Christ but with ourselves. We feel divided interiorly by our passions, our anger, our vanity, our greed. Christ invites us to "come home," to be what we were meant to be. That is the surest foundation we can have when a crisis strikes. Where am I "building on sand"? Is my prayer life weak? Am I stingy with my possessions? Hardhearted toward a family member?

3. Façade: We can surmise that the house built on sand looked sturdy -- that is why no one thought to test its strength before the big storm arrived. Our lives can be the same way. In a time of calm everything seems OK. No cares, no fears. Everything looks good on the outside, like those old Hollywood movie sets: all façade, but no depth. Beneath the surface, however, there might lie decay, chronic problems, issues that aren´t resolved, emptiness -- all because Christ isn´t the center of our lives. Are there areas of my life where I´m living superficially? Am I just putting up appearances for the neighbors? My parents? My spouse? My sweetheart? My pastor? What problems do I need to weed out of my life?

Conversation with Christ: Lord, you love me too much to stand by and let me live my life on the surface. You know it is difficult for me to give up my mask, because it is never easy for me to face my weaknesses. Give me the strength to confront what I need to change in my life.

Resolution: I will note one area where I´m not living up to the public image I present. Then I will offer up a decade of the rosary to overcome that vice or weakness.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Wednesday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time "Rerun of Little Red Riding-Hood"

Jesus said to his disciples: "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep´s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. By their fruits you will know them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. So by their fruits you will know them." (Matthew 7:15-20)

Introductory Prayer: Lord, before I can produce anything lasting in my life, I need to be united to you in prayer. Aware of my weakness and inclination to sin, I trust all the more in your forgiveness and mercy. I believe in your presence in the Eucharist. It gives me the assurances that you really are with your Church until the end of time.

Petition: Lord, help me to see more easily the goodness in people around me.

1. Wolves in Sheepskins: Today we abound with information, but are short on guidance. The media tell us that abortion is OK, that stem-cell research on human embryos is compassionate, that same-sex marriage equals tolerance. Wayward faithful ignore or insult papal teachings. "The time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths" (2 Timothy 4:3-4). How do I judge what I hear day by day? How do I gauge what the media tell me? Do I absorb everything I hear like a sponge? Or do I try to find out what the Church says on issues? Am I aware of how much the media can steal my interior peace? That it can leave me thinking in a very worldly way?

2. See The Fruits: Our Lord gives us a good criterion for gauging the work of other people: We are to look at what they produce. The people we see daily on television -- do their lives seem peaceful and happy? Are their families stable? Often, the most stable among us are those who live low-key lives. God often chooses to work outside of the spotlight. He works in those families that quietly raise their children in the faith. What lasting fruits am I producing for God? If married, have I been open to new life? If single, do I dedicate a fair amount of time to serving others? Do I help my friends learn about Christ? Do I help worthwhile charities?

3. Misjudging: The problem of judging can go the other direction. We might think that someone isn´t a good person, or that he isn´t very talented. Yet we are surprised, sometimes years later, to find that same person living in a near-perfect marriage, raising a happy family, or producing a thriving work of charity. Was our initial judgment faulty? If so, why? Do we recognize and appreciate virtue in others? Or are we fixated on the externals: Their looks? Their wealth? Their bubbly personality? What does that say about myhierarchy of values?

Conversation with Christ: Lord, I am surrounded by views of the world -- so many opinions, so much information. I sometimes feel overwhelmed. Let me see in your vicar on earth, the Pope, the safe and sure path to follow in the midst of confusion.

Resolution: I will compliment someone for the hidden, but lasting, work they are doing for the Kingdom.


8th ANIVERSARY of my priestly Ordenation

Thank you for all you support in this 8 years as a priest. Forgive me if I didn't reflect The Lord as I should. Keep me in your prayers as I continue ministering The Mysteries of God 













I love You, O my God, 
and my only desire is to love You 
until the last breath of my life. 

I love You, O my infinitely lovable God, 
and I would rather die loving You, 
than live without loving You. 

I love You, Lord 
and the only grace I ask is to love You eternally...

My God, if my tongue cannot say in every moment that I love You, 
I want my heart to repeat it to You as often as I draw breath. Amen.
Saint John Maria Vianney, pray for us!



Monday, June 24, 2013

Tuesday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time "The Difficult Path"

Jesus said to his disciples: "Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces. Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the Law and the Prophets. Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few." (Matthew 7:6, 12-14)

Introductory Prayer: I believe in the power of prayer, Lord. This time spent with you is the most important time of my day. Let me be confident of your presence and your love, in order to take full advantage of these privileged moments.

Petition: Lord, help me appreciate better the beauty of the Christian faith.

1. Our True Values: We take great care to guard what is most valuable to us, right? The truth is, we often take great risks with what is most precious. We say we value life and limb, but think nothing of speeding in heavy traffic. We say we want to get to heaven, but we dabble in sin, even serious sin, almost daily. We surf racy Web sites. We cut down people in office gossip. We close our hearts to the needy. We habitually vote for politicians who defend abortion. We take sin oh-so-lightly. Likewise, we might let the holy things of our faith languish. We might neglect the sacrament of reconciliation. We receive Communion unworthily. We stay silent when a relative brags about using contraception. We do nothing when a child withdraws into the world of Internet for five hours a day. Is there something about which I should be speaking up?

2. Do unto Others: To decide what to do in any given situation, we can ask ourselves how we would like to be treated. "For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you" (Luke 6:38). The respect we have for ourselves is often reflected in the respect we show others. Rudeness, indifference and irritability toward others bespeak a problem in us. The Golden Rule isn´t just for others; it is also to guard our own dignity. Are there people toward whom I am routinely uncharitable? Do I realize that this lack of charity can hurt my character more than it hurts their feelings?

3. The Broad Road and the Narrow Gate: Modernity is like a 24/7 convenience store. We can get anything, anytime. We can end up thinking that everything about life should be easy, be it marriage, self-discipline or even our salvation. The illusion of ease shouldn´t fool us. Working toward our salvation is hard work. Original sin left a deep mark on all of us. Struggling toward salvation takes prayer, sacrifice and constant vigilance. Do I sense that the living of my faith in today´s world is easy? If so, I´m probably not living it well. Where have I avoided the narrow road of holiness? Am I too attached to food, clothes or the opinions of others?

Conversation with Christ: Help me to see, Lord, that my real dignity lies in treating others well, and in renouncing my disordered passions. Let me shake off mediocrity in my spiritual life and make the most of the time you give me.

Resolution: Today, I will make a special sacrifice for a loved one.


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Solemnity of the Nativity of John the Baptist "What´s in a Name?"

When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her. When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said in reply, "No. He will be called John." But they answered her, "There is no one among your relatives who has this name." So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called. He asked for a tablet and wrote, "John is his name," and all were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God. Then fear came upon all their neighbors, and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea. All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, "What, then, will this child be?" For surely the hand of the Lord was with him. The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel. (Luke 1:57-66, 80)

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I make this effort at prayer for the sake of my soul and the souls of my loved ones. I believe that you died for us and want us to be with you forever in heaven.

Petition: Grant me new respect, Lord, for parents.

1. Bundle of Joy: The arrival of a new baby has been a source of joy throughout the ages. Babies are God´s way of saying the world should go on. Each new child reflects a facet of the infinite beauty and mystery of God. And by teaching us patience and selflessness, the little ones help us grow in holiness. In their childlike simplicity they teach us to remain simple. Their neediness can, and should, soften our hearts. They don´t even have to be our own children; we can feel an obligation to help all kids, since their lives enrich all of us. What have I done lately to help the little ones, born and unborn? Is there a crisis-pregnancy center that could use help? Have I spoken well of parents who are open to large families?

2. God´s Choice: For the ancient Jews a name captured, even defined, a person´s identity. So for Elizabeth to name her son "John" was significant. It showed her recognition of God´s great plan for the child. John was in the Almighty´s special care from the start. Even today, each and every child is loved by God and has a destiny in the heavenly Father´s plan. Each has a vocation, a calling, in the Church. Do I appreciate the role that little ones have in God´s plans? Do I respect their dignity? Or do I try to impose my prejudices on them? They are tomorrow´s adults. How will I want them to remember my example? 


3. Loosened Lips: Zechariah had doubted God and was struck mute. He regains his speech only after publicly accepting God´s plan and allowing his newborn son to take the name John. We, too, might have a bit of Zechariah in us. We resist God, only to hit a dead end. Bad friendships, habits of serious sin, rising despair – all of these can eat away at us. Yet, repentance is slow to come. Why? "We think that evil is basically good," said Pope-Emeritus Benedict XVI (December 8, 2005). "We think that we need it, at least a little, in order to experience the fullness of being. … If we look, however, at the world that surrounds us we can see that this is not so; in other words, that evil is always poisonous, does not uplift human beings, but degrades and humiliates them." Am I resisting God´s plans? 


Conversation with Christ: Lord, you have put family members and other loved ones in my life for a reason. I´m to help them get to heaven, and they are to help me do the same. Remind me of this truth, and help me in a special way not to interfere with the plans you have for the children in my life.

Resolution: I will pray a decade of the rosary that all my family members reach heaven.


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time "The Real Christ"

Once when Jesus was praying in solitude, and the disciples were with him, he asked them, "Who do the crowds say that I am?" They said in reply, "John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, ´One of the ancient prophets has arisen.´" Then he said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter said in reply, "The Messiah of God." He rebuked them and directed them not to tell this to anyone. He said, "The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised." Then he said to all, "If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it." (Luke 9:18-24)

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe in you and in your love. I trust in you as the way for me to live. I hope in the power of your cross to free me from all that is not you. I love you and want my love to be more real so that I may imitate your pure and total love.

Petition: Lord Jesus, help me to know you so intimately that I will lose myself and follow you with a real love.

1. What People Say: Today more than ever we care what people say and think of us. However, human respect could find no place in the mind of Christ. He cared only for the Father’s will. How are we to understand, then, that precisely during a moment of quiet prayer we find Jesus inquiring about “what people say” of him? He wants to know what the thoughts and worries of his disciples are. Jesus makes them see that their awareness of and interest in what others say of him (and of them) is out of proportion with what counts. They need to recognize just how limited the opinions of the crowd are, how far short they fall. The disciples know better; more than a prophet, he is THE Messiah. What matters is not what people think, the “perception” that others have, but rather the truth of Jesus’ identity. This is what they believe in and have been following. Do I put too much importance in what people think and say?

2. “Who Do You Say I Am?” Not only do the opinions of the crowds leave much to be desired, but the disciples themselves are far from understanding who “the Messiah of God” is. The understanding of their faith is immature and shallow. So, Jesus insists that he must “suffer greatly and be rejected … and be killed.” How clouded and toned down is our understanding of Christ! Suffering and pain seem foreign to God’s goodness. If we are good we expect no cross, no contradictions, no conflict. Why does Jesus forbid them to spread the news that he is the Messiah? Would it be that others, even more than they, might fail to understand his cross?

3. “Whoever Loses His Life…” The question “Who is Christ?” is better answered by Jesus’ life than by the name “prophet” or “Messiah.” Likewise, my faith is better expressed by how I live than by what I say. “Who he is” determines who we are called to be. To know Christ is to know the way of his discipleship. To know him is to know God’s love expressed in human life. Practically speaking, “Messiah” means “giving oneself for others.” Salvation happens by self-giving, by giving away for others the life we have been given. So if I believe in him and wish to follow him, I must accept what only faith can grasp––that only by dying to self in this life can I know and share God’s truth and life. Do the little sacrifices of my daily life give testimony to my faith in who Christ really is?

Conversation with Christ: Dear Lord, help me not to worry about what others might think or say. May my only concern be to know and love you. Open my soul to embrace the real you, the Christ of the cross, of sacrifice and self-giving. Help me rid my life of a soft, unreal love, which reflects a false Christ. Grant me the grace to die to myself in the details of fulfilling your will each day with joy.

Resolution: Rather than complain the next time I encounter disappointment or contradiction in my life, I will try to offer it gladly to Christ as a testimony of my love for him. 


Friday, June 21, 2013

Saturday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time "Only One Master"

Jesus said to his disciples: "No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you - you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ´What will we eat?´ or ´What will we drink?´ or ´What will we wear?´ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today´s trouble is enough for today." (Matthew 6: 24-34)

Introductory Prayer: Lord, as I begin this day, I trust in your unfailing providence. You are the deepest desire of my heart. In this moment of prayer I want to please you alone. Even though I might be tired or uninspired, even though I might only experience dryness, may this be my prayer: I offer you all I am and all I have.

Petition: Lord, help me to trust more deeply in the loving providence of our heavenly Father.

1. Why Worry? What can be added to Christ’s beautiful images in the Gospel, urging us to trust in the loving providence of our heavenly Father? All that is necessary is to ponder how God feeds the birds of the air and clothes the lilies of the field and to let the reality of his fatherly care for these ephemeral creatures sink deeply into our soul. How much more will he not care for us, the crowning work of his hand, his sons and daughters, for whom he is willing to send his only begotten Son to die on the Cross? Christ penetrates to the real cause of our worries and anxieties, our anxious concern that often overwhelms us in life: we have little faith. Little faith and even less trust in the goodness of our heavenly Father. Let us thank him for his patience and allow his fatherly goodness to penetrate to the depths of our spirit.

2. Stay Focused: Our worries and concerns about the material needs of our daily life make us lose sight of the one thing that is truly necessary: striving for holiness, for the establishment of Christ’s kingdom in our own lives and the lives of those around us. If only we would allow Christ to set our hearts on fire with the consuming passion of zeal for souls, how our lives would change! We would become driven by the mission, constantly urged on by it — and all of our former worries and anxieties would fade into insignificance. Then we, too, could exclaim with Christ, “I have come to light a fire on the earth, and how I wish it were blazing already!” (Luke 12:49)

3. Simplicity of Heart: One virtue that helps us trust God more and grow in apostolic zeal is simplicity of heart. When you grow in simplicity of heart, you will never demand of God that he explain your vocation or your sufferings. Thanks to simplicity of heart, you will always see God’s holy will in everything, and everything, even pain, becomes wells and rivers of peace and joy. Thanks to simplicity of heart, you will be able to understand people and their misery and give them a helping hand. Thanks to simplicity of heart, you will never harbor hate, an evil wish, a grudge, or an evil thought in your heart. Everything brings you to God.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, help me through this prayer to grow in simplicity of heart, to recognize everything in my life as coming from your loving hand.

Resolution: I will renew my spirit of faith to see everything that happens to me today as part of God’s loving providence.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Memorial of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, religious "What is My Deepest Desire?"

Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. "The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Matthew 6: 19-23)

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe in you. I believe that you love me, that you are close by my side, and that you will be walking with me throughout this day. I trust in you, Lord. I trust you more than I trust myself, because you are infinitely good and all powerful. I love you, Jesus. I love you because you died on the cross for me, to save me.

Petition: Lord, help me to discover where you are most calling me to store up treasures in heaven.

1. Temporal or Eternal Treasures: Who does not long to discover a hidden treasure? The human heart was made for the happiness and security treasure promises, for the joy it brings. But one fundamental problem presents itself: to what kind of treasure should we entrust our heart, our inmost being, our very self? Christ alerts us to the false treasures which tug at our heart each day — earthly treasures of fine clothes, or possessions, or wealth. Each of these treasures can and will be taken from us. At the moment we most need help, the time of our passing to eternity, material belongings will betray us. As the realistic Spanish proverb puts it: “There are no pockets in a shroud.”

2. The Deep Longings of the Heart: Christ offers us the one treasure worthy of the human heart, the one treasure that will not betray us, the only one that can accompany us through the grave and across the threshold to eternal life. What is that treasure? It is the person of Christ himself and all of the good actions we do for his sake. Living for Christ alone, loving him above all else, giving up our lives, our very selves for him, constitutes the only treasure rich enough to satisfy the human heart — the only one capable of fulfilling our deepest aspirations. Only this treasure will remain for all eternity, immersing us in a joy that is ever beginning, ever new. “For where your treasure is, there also your heart will be.”

3. “The Lamp of the Body”: Christ’s teaching about the eye as the lamp of the body might at first glance seem obscure, unrelated to his previous exhortation to store up treasures in heaven. But a second look reveals an inner link. Exegetes have viewed the eye as the intentions which lie behind our actions. Christ exhorts us to childlike simplicity in all that we do and even in the way we view events and others. If we see Christ in others, if we are able to perceive the Father’s providential hand behind everything that happens to us in life, if all we do is done out of love for Christ, then truly our whole body will be flooded with light.

Conversation with Christ: Thank you, Lord, for the clear message of your Gospel. Thank you for showing me how to live my life with eternity ever in view. Thank you for being the one treasure that alone can satisfy the longings of my heart.

Resolution: I will do everything this day out of love for Christ and to help establish his Kingdom, renewing my conscious efforts to store up treasures in heaven.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Thursday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time "The School of Prayer"

Jesus said to his disciples: "In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. This is how you are to pray: ´Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.´ If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions." (Matthew 6: 7-15)

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe in you. I believe that you love me, that you are close by my side, and that you will be walking with me throughout this day. I trust in you, Lord. I trust you more than I trust myself, because you are infinitely good and all powerful. I love you, Jesus. I love you because you died on the cross for me, to save me.

Petition: Lord, teach me to pray.

1. Absolute Trust in God’s Providence: “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” Christ’s words are an inexhaustible source of consolation and hope as they encourage us to turn constantly to our Father in prayer. “True piety is not so much a matter of the amount of words as of the frequency and the love with which a Christian turns toward God in all the events, great or small, of his day” (St. Matthew, The Navarre Bible, p. 72). But if our Father already knows our needs, why should we even present them to him in prayer? St. Augustine assures us that while we pray, God is molding our heart and soul so that we will be prepared to receive the good things he desires to give us in answer to our prayers.

2. The Perfect Prayer: St. Augustine affirms that the Lord’s Prayer is so perfect that it sums up in a few words everything man needs to ask God for (cf. Sermon, 56). “It is usually seen as being made up of an invocation and seven petitions — three to do with praise of God and four with the needs of men” (St. Matthew, The Navarre Bible, p. 72). The first two petitions, that God’s name be sanctified among all people, and that his Kingdom may come, should touch us in the depth of our being. We are called to be apostles of that Kingdom, to spread love for Christ among our fellow men. Our apostolic zeal should be enkindled each time we pronounce those words of the Lord’s Prayer. Asking for God’s will to be done means that we seek to conform ourselves with his will in all of our thoughts and actions.

3. Our Spiritual and Human Needs: “Give us this day our daily bread.” Even though we work to earn our daily bread with the sweat of our brow, it is still a gift from God. We ask only for what we need each day. The Church Fathers also see in this petition a request for the Eucharist, the Bread of Life. We strive to live so as to be worthy to receive the Eucharist each day. Christ then instructs us that when we ask God for forgiveness, we, too, must be willing to forgive others in the same way we ourselves are forgiven by our Father. Do I live this teaching fully in my life as a follower of Christ? Finally, we ask to be freed from temptation that is beyond our strength, and to be delivered from evil — or the Evil One. The Father is much more powerful than any temptation the devil can send against us. With what confidence and trust does Christ ask us to conclude the “Our Father!”

Conversation with Christ: Thank you, Lord, for teaching us how to pray. Thank you for the confidence and trust in our Father that your words inspire. Help me, so that the words of your own prayer may always be on my lips and in my heart.

Resolution: I will pray the “Our Father” as a colloquy with God at different moments during the day.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Wednesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time "The Danger of Vanity"

Jesus said to his disciples: "Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you." (Matthew 6: 1-6, 16-18)

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe in you with a living faith. Though I am so inclined to sin and weakness, I trust in your mercy. I want to show my love for you in this meditation. I long for my recompense to come only from you, not from people’s applause.

Petition: Lord, help me to act with greater purity of intention in my life.

1. Who Do You Seek to Please: In today’s Gospel reading, Christ presents a difficult challenge and, at the same time, a great consolation. His teaching can be summed up with a simple phrase: In everything we do, act always before God alone. At the end of our life, all that will remain is what we have done for God and our brothers and sisters. Everything else, all of our vanities, our desires to be esteemed, loved or taken into account will vanish on the last day, like fog disappears under the rays of the sun. The challenge is clear: to act before God with absolute purity of intention. But where is the consolation? Our heavenly Father “sees in secret.” What might never be perceived or recognized or appreciated by the world will one day be rewarded in heaven.

2. Between You and God: Mother Theresa echoes the Gospel teaching in a brief poem entitled “It’s Between You and God.” 
People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies.
Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you.
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone may destroy overnight.
Build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, others may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough.
Give the world the best you have anyway.
Why?
Because in the final analysis, all of this is between you and God….
It was never between you and them anyway.

3. Our Everlasting Reward: Christ declares three times that hypocrites who act before others have already received their reward. One day each of us will stand alone before Christ. Our eternal destiny will depend upon the outcome of that moment. May we not discover to our chagrin that our hands are empty because we have secretly acted to win the applause of men. Rather, may we perform our good deeds in secret, not letting our left hand know what our right is doing. Then our heavenly Father, “who sees what is hidden” will repay us.

Conversation with Christ: Thank you, Lord, for always seeing what is hidden, for always being ready to reward what is done for you. Your words and the example of holy men and women inspire me on this point. I wish to live facing you and eternity and to give up all my vain ambitions and worries about what others think of my actions.

Resolution: I will renew my purity of intention in the different activities of the day, doing them out of love for Christ and to help establish his Kingdom.


Monday, June 17, 2013

Tuesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time "We Are All Brothers and Sisters, Children of Our Heavenly Father"

Jesus said to his disciples: "You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5: 43-48)

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you present a message that is not easy for my fallen nature to accept. However, I believe in your words, and I trust in you because you alone have the words of eternal life. As I begin this moment of prayer, I turn to you as one in need. I want only to please you in all I do.

Petition: Lord, help me to love my enemies and pray for those who persecute me.

1. True Love for Your Enemies: Nowhere does the radical newness of the Christian ethic stand out more clearly than in Christ’s simple phrase: “Love your enemies.” There are four words for “love” in Greek. Storge refers to the love between parents and children.Eros is the love of attraction between man and woman. Philia is the love of friendship. Finally, agape is love as goodwill, benevolent love that cannot be conquered, a love that wills only the good for the person loved. In his book, Love and Responsibility, Karol Wojtyla remarks that to love someone with truly benevolent love is to will God for them, since God is the supreme good of each human person. It is precisely love as agape that Christ asks from every one of his followers: “Pray for those who persecute you.”

2. “Children of Your Heavenly Father”: Why does Christ ask, even demand, of us such a radical form of love? Precisely because that is how God the Father loves each and every one of his sons and daughters, with no consideration of whether they are good or evil. “For he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.” How much the world around us would change if those with whom we came into contact perceived in us a love like that of the Father of mercies! His love is absolutely without self-interest. He continues to love and pour forth his gifts even when he is not loved in return. Christ calls us to a lofty and challenging ideal, but one that is capable of transforming lives. What joy could be greater than to be true sons and daughters of our heavenly Father?

3. Seeking True Perfection Through Love: Why is Christ almost relentless in insisting that we must be perfect — and not just a human perfection, but as our heavenly Father is perfect? He knows that is the Father’s original plan for mankind, from the dawn of creation. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). Christ is well aware that sin has darkened the divine image within us, that his call to perfect charity is not possible for our fallen human nature. But he is equally aware that by the power of his own death and resurrection, through the new life of the Holy Spirit whom he will send, God’s original plan for mankind will be restored. There can be no more powerful motive for hope, even in the midst of our own failures in charity and our human weaknesses.

Conversation with Christ: Thank you, Lord, for your radical message, for the constant challenge it is to me, never allowing me to become complacent or self-satisfied. Help me to be a better witness of Christian charity so that the world will believe in you.

Resolution: I will pray for those with whom I am experiencing difficulties and do an act of charity for them.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Monday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time "Something Radically New"

Jesus said to his disciples: "You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well. Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go with him for two miles. Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow." (Matthew 5: 38-42)

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you present a message that is not easy for my fallen nature to accept. However, I believe in your words, and I trust in you because you alone have the words of eternal life. As I begin this moment of prayer, I turn to you as one in need. I want only to please you in all I do.

Petition: Lord, help me to embrace your call to turn the other cheek.

1. The Leitmotif: Can we discover a unifying thread in this week’s Gospel readings? One that stands out is the radical newness of Christ’s Kingdom. It is new in its fundamental principle: a charity that must extend to loving one’s very enemies (Monday and Tuesday). It is new in the intentions which must motivate all our actions (Wednesday). It is new in the way we are to pray to our Father in heaven (Thursday). And, finally, it is new in the radical demands it places upon us as followers of Christ: We must make this Kingdom our only treasure (Friday) and seek it above everything else in life (Saturday). What a privilege to be called to the mission of helping to establish such a Kingdom! What a joy, what an honor, what a glory to be the subjects of such a King! Do people encounter a “newness”, a freshness, in my approach to life? Is it rooted in Christ’s new teaching?

2. A New Legislator: We find ourselves at the heart of Christ’s discourse in his Sermon on the Mount. Our Lord attributes to himself an authority that must have startled and even shocked his Jewish listeners. He claims the power to alter what has been proclaimed in the very Law of Moses and the prophets — the absolute source of authority for the Jewish faith. Remember that God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, and God put his word in the mouths of the prophets. So when Jesus says, “You have heard it said…. But I say to you...,” only two alternatives are possible: Either Christ is a madman, or he is truly the Son of God, the one who has come “not to abolish the law and the prophets, but to fulfill them.” I may agree that he is truly the Son of God, but do I embrace all of his teachings?

3. Turning the Other Cheek: It would certainly be hard to find words more radical than these. Who would dare to speak them, if not the Son of God himself? He would live them out fully in his own life, allowing himself to be nailed to the cross by evil men. But is it really possible for us to live them as his followers, as Christians? Do we really turn the other cheek when someone strikes us? If people demand something of us unjustly, do we give them even more than they ask? What could be the purpose of these commands from Christ, which seem to leave us vulnerable and defenseless? In the end, it is only such heroic charity that will be able to win over evil men to the cause of the Gospel. And that is precisely what Christ, our Savior, longs for. “God … desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4).

Conversation with Christ: Lord, I long to have a heart that is more like yours. Warm my selfish heart so that I will lovingly turn the other cheek as you ask of me. Help me to grow in zeal for all men to be saved and to come to know you in their lives.

Resolution: I will do an act of kindness for someone with whom it is difficult for me to get along.


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time "A Woman’s Love and Sorrow"

A Pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him, and he entered the Pharisee´s house and reclined at table. Now there was a sinful woman in the city who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee. Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment, she stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to bathe his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner." Jesus said to him in reply, "Simon, I have something to say to you." "Tell me, teacher," he said. "Two people were in debt to a certain creditor; one owed five hundred days´ wages and the other owed fifty. Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both. Which of them will love him more?" Simon said in reply, "The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven." He said to him, "You have judged rightly." Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet, but she has bathed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she anointed my feet with ointment. So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little." He said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." The others at table said to themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?" But he said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace." Afterward he journeyed from one town and village to another, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. Accompanying him were the Twelve and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Joanna, the wife of Herod´s steward Chuza, Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their resources. (Luke 7: 36 – 8:3)

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe in you. I believe that you love me, that you are close by my side, and that you will be walking with me throughout this day. I trust in you, Lord. I trust you more than I trust myself, because you are infinitely good and all powerful. I love you, Jesus. I love you because you died on the cross for me, to save me.

Petition: Lord, bring me to a true conversion of heart.

1. Tears of Love and Sorrow: How could the woman who was a sinner — and such a sinner — dare to enter the house of Simon the Pharisee when it was filled with distinguished guests? Two things moved her: She trusted Jesus, and she was overwhelmed by the guilt of her sins. She already knew Jesus, how he preached, how he had treated other sinners, others who were suffering inner anguish like she was. All her years of guilt, self-accusation, and near despair are released in a flood of silent tears that bathe Christ’s feet — tears of love and trusting sorrow. In an exquisitely feminine gesture, she wipes Christ’s feet with her hair and pours out all of her most precious ointment upon them. What heart could fail to be moved by the scene? What heart has not experienced Christ’s silent acceptance of its own poor tears of repentance, wrenched from a conscience laden down by sin?

2. “If This Man Were a Prophet”: Simon the Pharisee considers himself righteous before God and men. So the woman’s display causes him to doubt Jesus’ identity: “If this man were a prophet….” True righteousness, says St. Gregory the Great, is compassionate; whereas false righteousness is indignant. Simon feels no need for forgiveness. “The one thing which shuts a man off from God is self-sufficiency…. The better a man is, the more he feels his sin…. It is true to say that the greatest of sins is to be conscious of no sin; but a sense of need will open the door to the forgiveness of God, because God is love, and love’s greatest glory is to be needed” (The Gospel of Luke, William Barclay, p. 95). Besides the sinful woman, Jesus also seeks to win Simon to himself. And so he begins a gentle rebuke of Simon for his lack of hospitality, to try to make him aware that he, too, is in need of God’s forgiveness.

3. “Your Sins Are Forgiven”: After planting the seeds that he hopes will give rise to love, Jesus turns back to the woman. He pronounces those words which no one else can say, words that free her from her crushing burden, words that bring peace to her soul and an end to her tears, words that change her life forever, making her an ardent disciple of the Lord: “Your sins are forgiven.” A few other words follow, just as gentle, just as encouraging, just as able to change a life: “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” With what newfound dignity the woman slowly rises to her feet, faces the stunned and still hostile guests, and silently takes her leave of that company! Have our hearts and consciences been penetrated in the same way by those words of Christ we hear each time we receive the sacrament of reconciliation: “I absolve you from your sins”? Have our lives changed like hers did?

Conversation with Christ: Thank you, Lord, for your goodness of heart, for your insatiable zeal to reach every soul and win them over to you. Thank you for allowing me to express my love and sorrow to you in this meditation.

Resolution: I will strive to bring someone I know into contact with Christ’s mercy.