Monday, September 30, 2013

Memorial of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, virgin and doctor of the Church "Heavenly Helpers"

When the days for Jesus to be 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. (Luke 9: 51-56)

Introductory Prayer: In you, Lord, I find all my joy and happiness. How could I offend you by chasing after fleeting success and lifeless trophies? I believe in you because you are truth itself. I hope in you because you are faithful to your promises. I love you because you have loved me first. I am a sinner; nevertheless, you have given me so many blessings. I humbly thank you.

Petition: Lord Jesus, make me meek and humble of heart.

1. An Unpopular Strategy: Jesus was like the general of an army. His wasn’t a visible enemy, though; his enemy was the hidden forces of evil itself. Jesus waged war on the devil until the bitter end. “This was the purpose of the appearing of the Son of God, to undo the work of the devil” (1 John 3:8). Jesus marched on toward Jerusalem, and this Gospel described his march with a military term: “resolutely”. Nevertheless, even though he was engaged in fierce combat, Jesus didn’t show it in a way the world understood. Our Lord approached his battle in Jerusalem like a sheep being led to the slaughter. His strategy was humility. Humility was the atomic bomb that he would drop on Satan’s designs and plans. He thus undid the pride and arrogance of Lucifer.

2. A Lesson in Humility: St. John the Evangelist is an active participant in this passage. He himself knew that Jesus’ purpose was to wage war (see 1 John 3:8), and he and his brother dreamed of being well-decorated in Jesus’ battalion. They sought places at his right and left hand in the Kingdom (see Mark 10:35-37), and now they seek to use their rank as apostles to bring down revenge on their opponents. Jesus rebuked them, redefining for them the idea of kingship in his reign. They learned quickly that the weapons of attack were kindness, gentleness, charity and humility.

3. Mission Oriented: In military standards, a commander-in-chief might have considered the incident in Samaria a defeat. Christ was uprooted from their presence, so humanly speaking, he lost. This however, is not the case. Had Jesus complained or retaliated against the fanaticism of the Samaritans, that would have been a defeat. Instead, the Gospel tells us: “They journeyed to another village.” Simple as that! Christ won victory because he didn’t waste time on fickle, whimsical and capricious expectations; rather as a true soldier, he forgave, forgot and continued to the next town.

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, allow me to understand the bumps and bruises of your “boot camp.” It is hard to understand why life is so taxing for my weak nature, but I know that we are at war with the forces of evil. Seeing you die for this war and winning it gives me greater courage to commit my bit to the war effort. Help me to prefer the virtue of humility over my pride.

Resolution: Today, I will be to the one who does an everyday chore in my house. I will make the coffee for all or wash the dishes to demonstrate to the Lord (and myself) that I can be humble. 




Sunday, September 29, 2013

Memorial of Saint Jerome, Priest and doctor of the Church "The Greatest"

An argument arose among the disciples about which of them was the greatest. Jesus realized the intention of their hearts and took a child and placed it by his side and said to them, "Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is the greatest." Then John said in reply, "Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow in our company." Jesus said to him, "Do not prevent him, for whoever is not against you is for you." (Luke 9: 46-50)

Introductory Prayer: In you, Lord, I find all my joy and happiness. How could I offend you by chasing after fleeting success and lifeless trophies? I believe in you because you are truth itself. I hope in you because you are faithful to your promises. I love you because you have loved me first. I am a sinner; nevertheless, you have given me so many blessings. I humbly thank you.

Petition: Holy Spirit, teach me to see myself as the least of all, as one called to serve all.

1. Me-first Syndrome: Listening wasn´t the disciples´ strong suit. How could it be? If they had truly paid attention to the Master, they should have known that the Good News wasn´t about striving for prestige and recognition. It was about humility and service. We can only wonder why Jesus´ words didn´t sink in for his disciples. Yet, are we much better? We hear or read the same Gospel passages year after year, yet we still fall into sins of pride. We might think ourselves better or smarter or holier than the rest. But how does Christ see us?

2. The Corrupter: Jesus explains in what greatness consists: the acceptance of the weakest and most defenseless, in his name. This requires a humble heart. God gives us certain powers that he hopes will be used for good purposes. The history of mankind seethes with tales of people exploiting one another at every opportunity. Examples abound: ethnic groups that exploit minorities, employers who take advantage of poor immigrants, the road-rager who cuts off people in traffic. “Power corrupts,” says the ancient adage. Indeed it does. How do I treat the people over whom I have authority? Am I like a dictator? Do I always want to show them "who´s the boss"? Or is my attitude one of service?

3. Zealously Jealous: John explains that he and the other disciples tried to stop someone who was doing good in Jesus´ name. The person´s crime was that he didn´t follow "in our company." Christians have derailed more than a few good works over the centuries because they thought themselves appointed by God to police the Church. The Holy Spirit raises up all kinds of new works which need to be serenely discerned, not systematically squelched simply because they are new. "By their fruits you will know them," Jesus says (see Matthew 7:16). The lesson Our Lord wants to give is: Don´t be so quick to judge others´ motives. Give them the benefit of the doubt, and wait to see what their work produces. Is there anyone I´m keeping from doing good?

Conversation with Christ: Give me the grace to see people and actions through your eyes. Let me bring my standards in line with yours. Let me learn to look at a person´s heart rather than his appearance. And above all, give me the wisdom never to stand in the way of people doing good for your Church.

Resolution: I will do an act of charity for the pro-life movement or for a children´s group.


Saturday, September 28, 2013

Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time "Lax about Lazarus"

Jesus said to the Pharisees: "There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day. And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man´s table. Dogs even used to come and lick his sores. When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, and from the netherworld, where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he cried out, ´Father Abraham, have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.´ Abraham replied, ´My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented. Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go from our side to yours or from your side to ours.´ He said, ´Then I beg you, father, send him to my father´s house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they too come to this place of torment.´ But Abraham replied, ´They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.´ He said, ´Oh no, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.´ Then Abraham said, ´If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.´" (Luke 16: 19-31)

Introductory Prayer: In you, Lord, I find all my joy and happiness. How could I offend you by chasing after fleeting success and lifeless trophies? I believe in you because you are truth itself. I hope in you because you are faithful to your promises. I love you because you have loved me first. I am a sinner; nevertheless, you have given me so many blessings. I humbly thank you.

Petition: Lord, make me more aware of the people around me who need my help.

1. Nice Isn´t Enough: The rich man in today´s Gospel is the proverbial “nice guy.” His good qualities abound. He does, after all, accept his fate meekly. He doesn´t ask to be released from hell; he asks for only a drop of water to quench his thirst. And when he can´t get even that much relief, he begs for a special messenger in the hopes of sparing his own brothers a similar fate. He at least thinks of the welfare of others. Yet, all that niceness didn´t save him from eternal punishment. Do I ever think that just being a "nice" person will get me to heaven? Might I be using my own standards to judge my worthiness, rather than using God´s standards?

2. The “O” Word: The rich man never seemed to be bothered by Lazarus. The poor man was doubtlessly a pitiful sight to behold. Some people would have been quick to send servants to chase the beggar away. But not the rich man; no, he deliberately left the beggar alone. And that is where the rich man erred. His was a sin of omission. The rich man lost his soul not for what he did, but for what he failed to do. Am I much better? Is there someone in need, right under my nose, who I routinely ignore? Is there something I could be doing to end an evil? Do I help the pro-life effort? Do I contribute to the poor? Do I dedicate time to a needy child or sibling or in-law?

3. Late Love: The rich man, now condemned, shows concern for his five brothers. They, presumably, are living it up — and destined for the same end as their hapless sibling. The rich man´s concern is well-placed, but his timing is late. If only he had shown concern for his brothers´ souls when he was alive — then he might have made an impact. Caring for family members, helping them reach heaven, is the most loving thing we can do for them. Everything else will be meaningless if our own behavior (or omission) prevents others from attaining salvation. Does that prompt me to pray constantly for family members? To offer up sacrifices for them? Do I try to help others grow in their faith?

Conversation with Christ: Lord, my time in this world is short. Too many people suffer the unexpected death of loved ones and then regret that they didn´t do more for them. Let me not make that same mistake. Help me see that each day is a gift, and each encounter with another person is an opportunity to show your love to them.

Resolution: I will do an act of charity for someone whom I have been taking for granted.


Friday, September 27, 2013

Saturday of the Twenty-sixth Week of Ordinary time "The Majesty and the Cross"

And all were astonished by the majesty of God. While they were all amazed at his every deed, he said to his disciples, "Pay attention to what I am telling you." But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was hidden from them so that they should not understand it, and they were afraid to ask him about this saying. (Luke 9: 43-45)

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you know how easily I make promises in times of consolation and comfort and how readily I withdraw and lose faith in the face of the cross. Give me a faith, hope and love strong enough to weather any cross and embrace any task for your sake. 

Petition: Lord may my faith and trust in you not be shaken when I am faced with suffering and cross in my life. 

1. “And all were astonished by the majesty of God.” Jesus had just released a boy from a demon that was throwing him into convulsions and causing him to foam at the mouth. This should sound the alarm for all that the spiritual battle demands a rigorous response of prayer and sacrifice and great trust in Christ, who alone can give us the grace to conquer the devil, the world and the flesh. “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and the by the word of their testimony…” (Rev 12:10-11).

2. “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men…” The people who surrounded him were fascinated when Jesus cast out the demon. Still, his ensuing words were too much to swallow, mere folly to their minds. But “has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (1 Cor 1:20-25).

3. “But they did not understand this saying; its meaning was hidden from them…” They did not understand the saying because they were not yet willing to bear his cross: 
“Jesus has always many who love His heavenly kingdom, but few who bear His cross. He has many who desire consolation, but few who care for trial. He finds many to share His table, but few to take part in His fasting. All desire to be happy with Him; few wish to suffer anything for Him. Many follow Him to the breaking of bread, but few to the drinking of the chalice of His passion. Many revere His miracles; few approach the shame of the Cross. Many love Him as long as they encounter no hardship; many praise and bless Him as long as they receive some comfort from Him. But if Jesus hides Himself and leaves them for a while, they fall either into complaints or into deep dejection. Those, on the contrary, who love Him for His own sake and not for any comfort of their own, bless Him in all trial and anguish of heart as well as in the bliss of consolation. Even if He should never give them consolation, yet they would continue to praise Him and wish always to give Him thanks. What power there is in pure love for Jesus -- love that is flee from all self-interest and self-love!” (Imitation of Christ, Bk. II Ch.11) 

Dialogue with Christ: Lord, make me love you for who you are and inspite of the cross this implies for me. May I love you in good times and bad, without counting the cost. 

Resolution: Seek the cross in fulfilling my duty today, out of passionate love for Christ.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Friday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time "What Do You Say?"

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." (Luke 9:18-22)

Introductory Prayer:You are my God, my creator. All that I am and have comes from you. You have not only created me but wish to have constant and close friendship with me. Thank you for being with me during this time of prayer. Put the fire of your love in my heart. Let it burn away my unworthiness so I can bring the fire of your love to the world around me. 

Petition:Christ Jesus, let me witness to my belief in you, the Messiah, with my life.

1. And You? 
Jesus asks his disciples: "Who do they say that I am?" They respond that some people say he is John the Baptist raised from the dead. For others he is the return of Elijah or one of the other great prophets from of old. The people have great esteem for Jesus of Nazareth, the wonder-worker, the one with a message unlike any they have ever heard. They certainly have a high opinion of him. Many of them believe he has been “sent by God" but they still do not recognize him as the Messiah, the long-awaited one. Jesus responds to these various answers with another question. He forces them to take a personal position. He is no longer asking for statistics or impressions. Who am I to you? He asks us, too – he who calls us by name and knows the secrets of our heart.

2. Self-Defining. 
Who should I be if I belong to Christ? Christ puts this question to each of us. What does it mean to be a Christian? He is not John the Baptist or one of the prophets; he is something more. The apostles leave everything to follow him. He has not just added a bit of blessing to their lives. He is their savior, for they cannot save themselves. He is the redeemer of all who were lost in sin. He loved them even when they were lost. So if I too define myself as a Christian, what does it mean to me that God gives me his only Son?

3. Anointed. 
“Messiah” in Hebrew means “to be anointed” -- anointed and therefore consecrated to fulfill a mission of God. In the Old Testament it was the king, the priest and the prophet who were anointed to do God’s work. Jesus is all three: the perfect priest, prophet and king sent to redeem the lost people. The disciples had their ideas of what the Messiah had to be. They expected the Messiah to restore King David’s dynasty; they likely expected to take positions of political power. But Jesus the Messiah points out his path, the way to accomplish perfectly all the Father asks: the way of the cross. Suffering and rejection is the path he has come to walk. Being a Christian, therefore, means accepting the logic of the cross in my life; it means following Jesus as he carries the cross.

Dialogue with Christ: You, Christ, are the answer to my every desire. You are the heart from whose fullness I constantly draw. You are the fulfillment of all of God’s promises, the source of life and holiness. I am yours and you are mine. You gave yourself to be crushed for my sins. Open my heart to believe in your love for me; make my life a testimony to your love as yours is a testimony to the Father’s love for us. 

Resolution: I will speak well of someone today when I am tempted to be negative –– or when I hear someone else speak negatively –– about him or her, remembering that Christ shed his blood for every person, even this one.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Thursday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time "Conversion of the Heart"

Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening, and he was greatly perplexed because some were saying, "John has been raised from the dead"; others were saying, "Elijah has appeared"; still others, "One of the ancient prophets has arisen.” But Herod said, "John I beheaded. Who then is this about whom I hear such things?" And he kept trying to see him. (Luke 9:7-9)

Introductory Prayer: As I enter your presence today, Lord, I know that I am not worthy to be with you. “But you alone, Lord, have the words of eternal life and I believe; I have come to know that you are the Holy One of God.” I kneel before you in contrition, adoration and hope in your mercy.

Petition: Help me, Lord, to be converted to you more fully.

1. Our Daily Conversion to God: Herod’s desire to see Jesus is not precisely based on faith or on motives of conversion.  During the entire time of his imprisonment, John the Baptist had constantly invited Herod to conversion. Herod was in awe of John, knowing him to be a good and upright man, and gave him his protection. When he had heard him speak he was greatly perplexed, and yet he liked to listen to him” (Mark 6:20). Yet Herod continually postponed converting. We need to convert daily. It isn’t enough just to say that we have accepted Jesus as our personal lord and savior and have been “born again,” we have to start living that new life, renewing our option for Christ each day. Today I want to convert from my weaknesses and shortcomings. I want to draw closer to you, Lord.

2. What Is the Truth? There comes a moment in life when we have to look in the mirror and see ourselves as we truly are. It takes courage to look directly and ask, “Who are you really? What are you making of yourself and the talents God has given you? What is the truth?” Now, not everything in Herod’s life is relative; there is one truth he does accept: “John I beheaded.” This could have been the point of departure for true conversion and acceptance of God’s mercy in his life. He at least recognized he had made one mistake. All that he was hearing about Jesus made his conscience uneasy. He was afraid that his sin was coming back to haunt him. Conversion always begins with the acceptance of our failures and inclination to evil. It is said that St. Philip Neri used to look at himself in the mirror in the morning and say: “Lord, watch out for Philip today lest again he betray you.”

3. Blessed Are the Pure of Heart… Jesus himself taught us in the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God.” Explaining this beatitude a little more in detail St. Gregory of Nyssa says: “The man who sees God possesses in this act of seeing all there is of the things that are good. By this we understand life without end, eternal incorruption and undying beatitude. With these we shall enjoy the everlasting kingdom of unceasing happiness; we shall see the true light and hear the sweet voice of the Spirit; we shall exult perpetually in all that is good in the inaccessible glory.” Seeing and possessing God is the result of our daily conversion. It is the promise of peace of heart, true happiness and everlasting life. It is the fullness of everything man can desire in this life and in the life to come. It is the very meaning of our existence. What more could we ask for?

Conversation with Christ: Lord, I truly long to see your face. Do not hide your face from me. Help me to accept myself as I truly am and strive to overcome my weaknesses and my inclination to sin. Help me purify my heart so that I might see you in my everyday life and possess you forever in the life to come.

Resolution: I will seek true conversion today by reciting a sincere Act of Contrition and trying to attend Mass or at least make a visit to Christ in the Eucharist.



 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Wednesday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time "Take It or Leave It"

Jesus summoned the Twelve and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He said to them, "Take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, and let no one take a second tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there. And as for those who do not welcome you, when you leave that town, shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them." Then they set out and went from village to village proclaiming the Good News and curing diseases everywhere. (Luke 9: 1-6)

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you are the author of life and the giver of all that is good. You are the Prince of Peace and my mainstay. You are my healer and the cure itself. I need you, and I need to give you. I love you and commit myself to you entirely, knowing you could never let me down or deceive me. Thank you for giving me your very self. 

Petition: Lord, help me to rely on your grace and not on worldly things.

1. The Mission: Christ sends out his apostles to preach the good news with inadequate supplies. They are charged to trust in Providence. Jesus shrinks their suitcases to practically nothing. How could they touch people? Like St. Paul they were able to understand that Jesus was guiding their steps from a discreet distance: “I consider all as loss for the surpassing knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8). Jesus gave them restrictions to teach them that their strength in bearing fruit lies in their love for him rather than in their material possessions or management skills. Do I carry this same conviction in the home, in the office, or running the errands? Am I willing to go two miles if the local Church community presses me into service for one mile?

2. Detached from All Things: Christ warns us about hoarding possessions, not so much by what he says, but by what he does. He doesn’t send his friends out like sheep among wolves so he can retire to a comfortable sofa all weekend long. By giving them a good example first, Jesus has already demonstrated what is necessary for apostolic success. He was born in a musty cave. His first bed was an animal trough. His first apostolic success, at the age of twelve, was cut short by his parents who intimated to him that his timing was off. He sent Peter to pull coins out of a fish’s mouth because he had no money to pay the tax. He allowed simple things — a woman at a well, a funeral march in a village — to become moments remembered worldwide, for ages to come, by countless followers. Later, he would be laid in someone else’s grave. Material welfare alone cannot obtain what the Lord is sending us to accomplish!

3. A Free Choice: Jesus didn’t make the disciples go off to a survival camp. Nevertheless, the harder the conditions were, the more attraction they felt at being involved. These Galilean fishermen freely accepted an unknown trade. They had discovered a treasure that so filled them with enthusiasm they sold everything in order to get hold of it and share it. This treasure is Christ. The Gospel says, “Then they set out and went from village to village....” It didn’t take the apostles long to decide what they wanted to do, for within their vessels of clay they carried a treasure which needed to spread far and wide.

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, as wonderful as material things are, they do not amount to anything compared to possessing you and teaching others about you. See the efforts I so intensely perform for your sake and bless them. Lord, help me, as you helped St. Paul, to continue fighting for a heavenly crown that doesn’t fade or rust.

Resolution: Today I will find a moment to make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament and pray earnestly for the missionary intentions of the Holy Father for this month. 



 

Tuesday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time "We Too Wish to See Jesus"

The mother of Jesus and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. And he was told, "Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you." But he said to them, "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it." (Luke 8:19-21

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you are the author of life and the giver of all that is good. You are the Prince of Peace and my mainstay. You are my healer and the cure itself. I need you, and I need to give you. I love you and commit myself to you entirely, knowing you could never let me down or deceive me. Thank you for giving me your very self.

Petition: Lord, help me hear your word and do it.

1. “We Wish to See Jesus.” Today, as two thousand years ago, mankind longs to see the face of Jesus. Each one has his own reason: some are in need of healing –– like Bartimaeus, the blind man of Jericho who shouted after Jesus until he took pity and cured him (Mark 10:46-52); some out of curiosity –– like Zacchaeus, who climbed a tree to see Jesus because he was short in stature (Luke 19:2-10); some to hear his word –– like the crowd that pressed in on him to hear the word of God by the Lake of Gennesaret (Luke 5:1-10); some out of love and to look after him – like the Blessed Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene (Mark 15:41).

2. Christ Is Not Easily Conquered: “They could not reach him because of the crowd.” Though we may seek Christ with the purest of intentions, it is not always easy to achieve our goal. There are bound to be obstacles along the way, and we have to be prepared for them. Satan always tries to separate us from God through sin; even putting the fear of confession in our hearts so we don’t receive God’s healing grace. The world also attempts to keep us as far from God as possible, offering a thousand distractions and amusements to lead us away from prayer, reflection and conversion. And of course sometimes we ourselves are so little inclined to piety, service to others and a virtuous life. Laziness and indolence can overcome even the best of us. We need to let him know we are seeking him.

3. Jesus Rejects His Closest Friends? What counts for Jesus are “those who listen to the word of God and do it.” He came to preach to and save everyone. And contrary to the first impression given by his words, this does not exclude his mother and his relatives. Christ doesn’t lower them 

but rather elevates us –– and them –– to a degree of intimacy greater than blood ties. This is the beauty of God’s love: He calls us to an ever greater dignity and intimacy with him.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, I want to see your face in all the events and happenings of this day. Drive away all my enemies and spiritual tepidity. Cure my spiritual blindness, for you alone can help me. Without you I can do no good. Help me to live up to this dignity you have bestowed upon me.

Resolution: I will reserve five minutes this evening to do a thorough examination of conscience and perhaps prepare for confession. I will eliminate the obstacles I have to seeing God’s face and thank God for the graces he has given me.




 
 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Memorial of Saint Pius of Pietrelcina, priest "A Just Settlement"

Jesus said to the crowd: "No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lamp stand so that those who enter may see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible, and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light. Take care, then, how you hear. To anyone who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he seems to have will be taken away." (Luke 8: 16-18)

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you dwell in brightness, truth and love. Nothing makes sense without your love. Without you, Lord, insipidity invades people, things and events. I believe that you are my refuge and the source of my happiness now and forever. I am convinced that your promises will be fulfilled sooner or later; this is why I prefer a single day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere.

Petition: Lord, enlighten my mind and heart to follow your path that leads to the endless day.

1. Torch Bearers: There are advantages to carrying a torch in the dark. This common knowledge informed our Lord’s address and helped him propose it to his listeners. At night, a torchbearer sheds light so that all who are with him can walk confidently, without stumbling along a dark path. Time is not wasted stepping insecurely and hesitantly; rather, the whole group walks purposefully and goes quickly where it needs and wants to be. When a group has a torchbearer, all in it are relieved, including the torchbearer himself. This is the value of my faith to a highly secularized society. Do I nurture an appreciation for the gift of faith that I have received from God? Am I afraid to allow its light to shine?

2. Wisdom at its Best: Jesus affirms, “For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible, and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light.” When I am not praised and recognized by others, I might feel sad or forgotten. This is when I need to shine a lot of light to get out of that black hole. Do my good works seem to go unperceived? The Lord himself will expose them on the judgment day. The more they are hidden from others now, the more merits I will gain before God. All secrets will be cracked open in the future. My duty is not to crack them open now, but to keep them hidden and to be a torchbearer for the journey to that place of eternal reward.

3. A Rewarded Success: “To anyone who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he seems to have will be taken away.” Here Jesus plumbs deeper into what we have already reflected on.  “To anyone who has” obviously refers to the torchbearer who has successfully led his band of friends. He will be entrusted with more responsibility, or simply respected by the others. “And from the one who has not”: The torchbearer who can’t keep his flame alive will be ousted. He will be taken away. Do I staunchly live the fire of the faith, or do I hesitate in witnessing to his love?

Conversation with Christ: Lord, help me to be a wise torchbearer. Do not allow laziness and presumption to distract me from the basic task of keeping my lamp filled with oil at all times. Lord, give me a robust faith!

Resolution: In my conversations today, I will bear witness to the light by avoiding all slanderous talk, and I will elevate the topics of conversation by talking about things that could inspire others to praise God. 


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time "The Choice of Masters"

Jesus said to his disciples, "A rich man had a steward who was reported to him for squandering his property. He summoned him and said, ´What is this I hear about you? Prepare a full account of your stewardship, because you can no longer be my steward.´ The steward said to himself, ´What shall I do, now that my master is taking the position of steward away from me? I am not strong enough to dig and I am ashamed to beg. I know what I shall do so that, when I am removed from the stewardship, they may welcome me into their homes.´ He called in his master´s debtors one by one. To the first he said, ´How much do you owe my master?´ He replied, ´One hundred measures of olive oil.´ He said to him, ´Here is your promissory note. Sit down and quickly write one for fifty.´ Then to another he said, ´And you, how much do you owe?´ He replied, ´One hundred kors of wheat.´ He said to him, ´Here is your promissory note; write one for eighty.´ And the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently. For the children of this world are more prudent in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light. I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth, so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones. If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth, who will trust you with true wealth? If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another, who will give you what is yours? No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." (Luke 16: 1-13)

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you are the author of life and the giver of all that is good. You are the Prince of Peace and my mainstay. You are my healer and the cure itself. I need you, and I need to give you. I love you and commit myself to you entirely, knowing you could never let me down or deceive me. Thank you for giving me your very self.

Petition: Lord my Savior, today help me to exert my heart’s effort for your cause.

1. Two Faces: To say one thing and to do the opposite must be the hardest moral strife for the human heart to bear. Those who live with two faces indeed live in a restless state. Their conscience dictates one way, but their deeds are displayed conspicuously to the contrary. They bear a responsibility that they are obliged to fulfill, yet they waste time in peripheral nonsense. Thus they let down those who might reap the benefits had they been faithful to that responsibility. This rips the ethical peace in the two-faced individual.

2. A Worthy Solution: Having two faces creates suspicion in human relationships. Nevertheless, our Lord finds a redeeming mechanism in place – a worthy outcome to the deeds of this insincere steward. The steward, on learning that his time is limited, craftily conjures up friendships with the debtors he was doing business with from the start. His master praises the tactic used by the fired steward. The master even studies the prudence and creativity of this current, untrustworthy enemy so as to teach the incoming stewards how to deal trustworthily with customers and vendors. Such dedication in crunch times could be very useful and quite glorious – especially when it is performed by reliable stewards. What good could be truly achieved!

3. One-Sidedness: On one hand, there seems to appear a great blessedness when the steward implements skills like kindness and prudence, deals intelligently, and does more in less time. Yet, on the other hand, he still undermines the wishes and desires of the master. How do I see this in my life? In my relationship with Christ and his Church, do I recognize the great blessedness in possessing a love for God and in putting my skills, talents and gifts to use solely for God’s glory and the establishment of his Kingdom? Does everything I do, ranging from conducting a family activity to receiving a phone call in the office or going to a party, have this unifying drive for God’s glory and the establishment of his Kingdom?

Conversation with Christ: Thank you, Divine Master, for sharing with me briefly an important lesson in becoming a true follower of yours and becoming truly happy in the depths of my heart. Help me to raise my heart high, as I endeavor to praise you by my thoughts, words and deeds.

Resolution: Today, as I deal with someone, I will truly look for their benefit by helping them and being kind to them. 


Friday, September 20, 2013

Feast of Saint Matthew, Apostle and evangelist "With the Eyeglasses of Faith"

As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, "Follow me." And he got up and followed him. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?" He heard this and said, "Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ´I desire mercy, not sacrifice.´ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners." (Matthew 9:9-13)

Introductory Prayer: You are true goodness and life, Lord. Closeness to you brings peace and joy. You deserve all of my trust and my love. Thank you for the gift of life, my family and above all of my faith. I’m grateful too, for the gift of the Church which you founded on the Apostles.

Petition: Lord, help me to be simple and straightforward in my faith.

1. Simplicity Is Bliss: The tax collectors were considered traitors of the Jewish people since they were working for the Romans, the “oppressors” of God’s chosen people. The ordinary Jew would not even converse with one such as this. But Jesus says to him, “Follow me.” Matthew got up and followed him immediately, no questions asked, no conditions. What beautiful simplicity! He didn’t know that Christ was going to make him one of the Twelve. In a certain sense we might say that he signed a blank check and gave it to Jesus. Matthew doesn’t sit down to calculate, he only accepts. He then goes a step further: He invites Jesus to his house for dinner. A Jew generally invited only his true and closest friends and relatives to dinner. It was a sign of intimacy, friendship and love. Matthew goes overboard and lays out the red carpet for Christ in his life.

2. Complicated Calculations: In contrast to Matthew’s straightforwardness, we see the Pharisees’ “righteousness.” Jesus’ dining with a sinner like Matthew is a scandal for them. They really have to confront this Rabbi about his “shameful conduct.” The problem is that they haven’t understood the first thing about the Messiah. Their very point of departure is flawed. They are looking at Christ (and God) from a very rational perspective when the only valid outlook is faith and love. This happens frequently in our lives as we begin to judge events, circumstances and others without faith and charity. Before we realize it, we may have rejected and possibly even defamed our neighbor, a civil authority, or a priest or bishop. We are not looking at things from a supernatural vantage point but rather from our merely human standards.

3. Back to the Basics: Christ puts everything back into perspective. "Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ´I desire mercy, not sacrifice.´ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners." Once again Jesus invites us to elevate our thoughts to a supernatural plain. Why did God become man? We repeat it frequently, at least every Sunday in the Creed: “For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven.…” It is important to examine the degree to which I see and judge everything in my life through the prism of faith. A true believer, a real apostle, must form this “sixth sense” in all of his daily dealings. We form this habit through prayer, our frequent and intimate contact with God. We need to ask God for the gift of faith, which gives us a new perspective on life.

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, I want to be a simple person, one who accepts you and your demands without calculations and complications. Free me from all impediments and grant me your grace so that I might become a convinced, faithful and intrepid apostle of your kingdom, as was St Matthew.

Resolution: In prayerful dialogue with God, I will examine at least three moments or events of my day. (This I can do even at home, in the car or waiting in line, etc.)


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Memorial of Saint Andrew Kim Taegŏn, priest and martyr and Saint Paul Chŏng Hasang, martyr, and their companions, martyrs "Love Is Not Snobbish"

Jesus 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 8:1-3)

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I believe that you came into this world to redeem sinners. I hope in you and in your power to transform my soul, by your grace, from sinfulness to holiness. Lord, I love you and offer you the longings of my heart to put you truly first in my life. I want to love you with all my mind, heart, soul and strength.

Petition: Jesus, teach me to live universal charity.

1. “Accompanying Him Were the Twelve.” In this rather commonplace phrase from the Gospel, we perceive Jesus’ universal charity. He chose his twelve apostles from many different backgrounds. Most of them probably would not have been friends were it not for Christ. Matthew was a tax collector; Peter, James and John, fisherman. Judas was more “sophisticated” than the rest. Yet, Jesus called them all to be his closest collaborators. As a result, they would come to cooperate with and appreciate each other. When Christ is at the center of any relationship, differences can not only be overcome, they can become points of strength as well.

2. Mary, Called Magdalene: Not only did he choose men to be his close collaborators, but as the Gospel says there were also “women who provided for him out of their resources.” Jesus assigned them different roles, but he saved and transformed their lives all the same. We think of Mary Magdalene as a close friend of Christ, but we should also remember that he transformed her, with the power of God’s grace, by expelling seven demons from her.

3. The Wife of Herod’s Steward: Another of the women following Jesus was “Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward.” It is amazing to realize that the Gospel took root even in the midst of the fiefdom of Herod, a man who had absolutely no esteem for our Lord. We, then, should never ‘write someone off.’ Prayer, sacrifice, and charity can be effective means for the worst sinner’s conversion. Jesus’ message was capable of inspiring followers in all societal conditions and groupings. Similarly, we are called to build the Kingdom at all levels of our secularized world.

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus Christ, you give us the example of unconditional love for each and every person. You do not care what our background is or how many sins we have committed. Your mercy is infinite and everlasting! Thank you for your love. I beg you to teach me to love without limits.

Resolution: I promise to practice universal charity today by being kind to someone with whom I do not ordinarily associate.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Thursday of the Twenty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time "The Healing Power of Love"

A Pharisee invited him 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."

Introductory Prayer: Holy Trinity, I cannot see you, but you are with me. I cannot touch you, but I am in your hands. I cannot fully comprehend you, but I love you with all my heart.

Petition: Lord Jesus, help me to be humble and open to interior growth.

1. Ostensible Openness and Spiritual Pride: Simon the Pharisee has an apparent openness to the Lord. He invites him to dine. He observes him. And he engages him in cordial dialogue. Nonetheless, we see that Simon interiorly judges the Lord, dismisses him as a farce, and ultimately rejects him. The Pharisaical attitude consists essentially in trying to force God into our own preconceived notions of how he should operate. The Pharisees had the correct view of moral precepts (both Simon and Jesus agree that this woman is a sinner). But they fail in recognizing their own sins, which are rooted in pride. This pride manifested itself in that unspoken attitude that God must adjust himself to our way of being and acting.

2. Redemption: The Pharisee thinks he is sinless and does not admit that he needs a savior. His prideful attitude of “assessing” the Lord proceeds from a deeper pride that blinds him to who he really is before God: a simple creature in need of divine help and grace. Simon wants God to conform to his preconceptions, and winds up rejecting Christ. This is the paradigm of pride. It distorts reality and forges its own self-centered world that Christ cannot penetrate. The woman knows she is a sinner and recognizes the path to her salvation in the words and example of Jesus. She painfully realizes who she is and keenly longs for salvation. The words and example of mercy of Christ resonate deeply in her heart and invite her to repentance. This is the paradigm of humility. Its strength lies in a knowledge and serene acceptance of the truth and makes redemption possible.

3. Christ’s Goodness: Our Lord’s loving treatment of both the woman and Simon displays a remarkable balance of kindness. He carefully avoids the opposite extremes of condemnation and indifference to others’ sins. The reason Our Lord is able to offer hope and consolation to the repentant sinner as well as to invite the proud with a gentle call to repentance is that Christ will die for both. In this we see Christ’s goodness. He comes to save us all, but we must choose to accept his goodness.

Conversation with Christ: Jesus, help me to realize who I am and who you are. Teach me gratitude for your goodness and hope in your mercy. Help me to recognize my pride and strive to overcome it so that you can fill my life with your goodness.

Resolution: I will avoid judging others today.


Wednesday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time "Perpetually Dissatisfied"

"Then to what shall I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children who sit in the marketplace and call to one another, ´We played the flute for you, but you did not dance. We sang a dirge, but you did not weep.´ For John the Baptist came neither eating food nor drinking wine, and you said, ´He is possessed by a demon.´ The Son of Man came eating and drinking and you said, ´Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.´ But wisdom is vindicated by all her children."

Introductory Prayer: Eternal God, prayer is your gift to me. I believe that you give me complete and unlimited access to your power and mercy. I want to value this gift of prayer above all things. As I begin this meditation, I renew my faith, my hope and my love for you.

Petition: Lord, give me discernment and constancy in my efforts to follow you.

1. Endless Excuses: Some very good and religious people in Jesus’ day complained about John the Baptist, precursor of the Messiah, because of his austere lifestyle. “He must be crazy,” they said. They also complained about Jesus’ apparently excessive liberality with sinners and nonbelievers. The habit of constantly sifting reality through our own preconceptions can lead us to reject the things of God. This is the opposite of faith. It is even the opposite of the healthy exercise of reason and has become a limiting rationalism. Rather than seeking to place God neatly in our own self-created and prearranged world, we need to let ourselves be shaped by God’s criteria.

2. Fickleness: Spiritual fickleness inevitable leads us to reject God. The inability to follow through on a particular spiritual path necessarily leaves us midcourse, far from the goal. It does not matter whether we follow the austerity of the disciple John or the apparently liberality of the disciples of Jesus. What matters is that we follow through to completion whatever particular path God has given us. As long as we move, God can guide our steps. If we don’t move, there is nothing to guide. Waiting around for some mythical “perfect conditions” is in reality capriciousness and unwillingness to commit.

3. Wisdom: Wisdom is a gift of the Holy Spirit by which we are able to see and comprehend the divine and human realities from God’s perspective. Wisdom leads to equilibrium and balance in our judgments and assessments. We prepare for this gift by our effort to make good decisions and live by them. The supernatural gifts build upon the human virtues.

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, I am indebted to you for your teaching and for your example. Help me to learn from your life and your example, and keep me from ever dismissing them as irrelevant. Help me to be constant in my resolutions so that I will continue to grow closer to you and serve you better.

Resolution: I will avoid making excuses today. 


Monday, September 16, 2013

Tuesday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time "Do Not Weep!"

Jesus journeyed to a city called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd accompanied him. As he drew near to the gate of the city, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. A large crowd from the city was with her. When the Lord saw her, he was moved with pity for her and said to her, "Do not weep." He stepped forward and touched the coffin; at this the bearers halted, and he said, "Young man, I tell you, arise!" The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, exclaiming, "A great prophet has arisen in our midst," and "God has visited his people." This report about him spread through the whole of Judea and in all the surrounding region. (Luke 7: 11-17)

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe that my life is in your hands from the moment of my creation until my last day. Lord, I hope in you, because you have created me for a purpose. Lord, I love you, for the great love that you have for me.

Petition: Lord, help me place all of my hope in you!

1. “Do Not Weep.” There are many ‘reasons’ to despair. So many difficulties in life have no human solution. Especially when it comes to life and death, I find myself so powerless to help others.  Jesus, however, offers a different perspective: “Do not weep.” His infinite power frees us from tragic human limitations. Furthermore, “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). He acts, he intercedes, as Redeemer. “Do not weep,” bears the weight of a command. As apocalyptic as suffering and death might appear, ultimately Jesus reveals a life-giving love: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain” (Revelation 21:4). The widow of Nain is about to receive a grace inconceivable to her present sorrow. I, too, should hope in Christ’s kindness towards me and my loved-ones.

2. “Young Man, I Tell You, Arise!” Jesus does not console me simply by removing my emotion or by having me imagine that things are different than they really are. If I lose someone who is dear to me, I am truly sad. Instead, Christ comes to restore what was lost. He acts to remove the cause of pain and sorrow: “for I, the LORD, am your healer” (Exodus 15:26). When Jesus tells the widow of Nain, “Do not weep,” he does not accuse her of being an overly-emotional woman who takes things too seriously. Quite the contrary, Jesus is compassionate towards her because of the loss of her son. Therefore, with all my heart and soul I ought to be obedient to hope. My life is in God’s hands. The lives of my loved ones are in God’s hands. If I live, I live for Christ; if I die, I die for Christ (see Romans 14:8).

3. “God Has Visited His People.” Even at his birth, the Son of God who took on our human nature was named “Emmanuel”: “God-with-us.” Our Savior associates himself with us not only in life and grace, but also taking our sins upon himself and giving his very life in order to redeem us. “God has visited his people” even refers to sinners: those who suffer death as an ultimate consequence of original and personal sin. 

I can rejoice because God seeks me out wherever I am, heals me, and restores me for eternal life. If I have received such great love, I should repay love with love. I should bring the love of Christ to others just as I have experienced his visit to me.

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, I entrust my entire life and the lives of my loved ones to your care. Allow me to grow in your love so that I truly benefit from your grace, which leads to eternal life. Let me hope in your resurrection as I offer you my everyday burdens.

Resolution: In a conversation today, I will speak to someone about life as a journey meant to lead us and prepare us for heaven.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Memorial of Saints Cornelius, Pope, and Cyprian, Bishop, Martyrs "Lord, Say the Word…"

When Jesus had finished all his words to the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave who was ill and about to die, and he was valuable to him. When he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and save the life of his slave. They approached Jesus and strongly urged him to come, saying, "He deserves to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation and he built the synagogue for us." And Jesus went with them, but when he was only a short distance from the house, the centurion sent friends to tell him, "Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof. Therefore, I did not consider myself worthy to come to you; but say the word and let my servant be healed. For I too am a person subject to authority, with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, ´Go,´ and he goes; and to another, ´Come here,´ and he comes; and to my slave, ´Do this,´ and he does it." When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him and, turning, said to the crowd following him, "I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith." When the messengers returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I believe that you came into this world to redeem sinners. I hope in you and in your power to transform my soul, by your grace, from sinfulness to holiness. Lord, I love you and offer you the longings of my heart to put you truly first in my life. I want to love you with all my mind, heart, soul and strength.

Petition: Lord Jesus, grant me the gift of a deeper faith.

1. The Centurion: Frequently the people to whom God has given the most recognize him the least. For that reason, he extends the gift of faith to other men and women, especially the simple and humble of heart. The centurion exemplifies this dynamic of God´s grace in our lives. We should strive to be like him: simple, humble, and confident in the powerful action of Jesus in our daily lives.

2. Lord, I Am Not Worthy That You Should Enter Under My Roof: These words manifest the centurion’s humility. They should also manifest our humility and faith in Christ’s presence in the Eucharist, since they are the words we pray at every Mass just before receiving our Lord in Holy Communion. When we receive the Blessed Sacrament, we truly receive Christ — body, blood, soul and divinity. Our faith is the key to opening up our hearts to Christ’s healing grace.

3. Not Even in Israel Have I Found Such Faith: Don’t we want Jesus to say these words to us? Isn’t it much better than hearing those other words of Christ: “When the Son of Man returns will there be any faith on earth?” (see Luke 18:8). Christ calls us to be a fresh well of faith, hope and love so that even if he does not find it anywhere else, he can always be consoled by our undying faith.

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, I want to repeat these words of the centurion. I do believe in you and in your Real Presence in the Eucharist. In my times of doubt or weakness of faith, I will call out to you, “Only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”

Resolution: I resolve to pray these words with all my heart today at Mass, in a visit to the Eucharist or in a spiritual communion.


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time "Lost and Found"

The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them." So to them he addressed this parable. "What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it? And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, ´Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.´ I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance. "Or what woman having ten coins and losing one would not light a lamp and sweep the house, searching carefully until she finds it? And when she does find it, she calls together her friends and neighbors and says to them, ´Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.´ In just the same way, I tell you, there will be rejoicing among the angels of God over one sinner who repents." (Luke 15: 1-10)

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I believe that you came into this world to redeem sinners. I hope in you, and in your power to transform my soul, by your grace, from sinfulness to holiness. Lord, I love you and offer you the longings of my heart to put you truly first in my life. I want to love you with all my mind, heart, soul and strength.

Petition: Lord, save me from my sinful habits and help me grow in virtue.

1. “This Man Welcomes Sinners and Eats with Them”: Jesus is willing to sit down and share a meal with me. In other words, my Lord and Redeemer overlooks my unworthiness in order to speak with me. This attracts my attention. I know my guilt yet I do not feel judged, and so I draw near and listen to him. In so many of my misguided actions, I have sought personal benefits which I do not deserve. I accept, even demand favors from those around me, while hypocritically not respecting their needs or the common good. Often there is no difference between my lifestyle and that of a “tax collector” or “sinner.” Still, Jesus is willing to lower himself and share a meal at my table, despite the criticism and rebuke he receives on my account. I can connect with him at his level, since he has lowered himself to mine, in order to lift me up.

2. “Rejoice with Me Because I Have Found My Lost Sheep”:For Christ, every soul has value. Every soul has been created through him, in God’s image and likeness. No sin, while this time of mercy lasts, can escape the reach of the Redeemer’s infinite love. Christ has shed his blood and passed through death in order to save those souls who have died in their sins, and he restores them to life. All that I have to do is hear his shepherd’s voice that calls out to me and finds me where I am. I need only to let myself be found, let him take me up in his arms, let him dispel my darkness and fear by the warmth of his love, and let him return me to the fold. “Justification consists in both victory over the death caused by sin and a new participation in grace” (CCC, 654). Every sin confessed, and every new virtue acquired, is a triumph of God’s grace in my soul.

3. “Rejoice with Me Because I Have Found the Coin That I Lost”: In Christ, there is communion. No Christian is left to stand alone. God’s grace in a soul radiates out to others. This is one of the most beautiful fruits wrought by Christ’s redemption: A soul is brought into union with his Mystical Body. Communion between the members of Christ’s Body produces joy, and I am meant to proclaim it. In the same way that others rejoice whenever the light of God’s grace shines in my soul through good works (Cf. Matthew 5:16), so too, I should lift praise to God whenever I discover his goodness in others. “Jesus himself called his disciples after his Resurrection: ‘Go and tell my brethren.’ We are brethren not by nature, but by the gift of grace, because that adoptive filiation gains us a real share in the life of the only Son, which was fully revealed in his Resurrection” (CCC, 654)

Conversation with Christ: Lord, you do not judge or discriminate against me, so long as I am willing to listen to your voice and respond to your promptings. Please continue to grant me your merciful grace, so that your call to holiness will triumph in the life of my soul. Let me rejoice with others.

Resolution: Today I will consciously choose to exercise a virtue that will help me break one of my sinful habits.


Friday, September 13, 2013

Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross "God So Loves Me"

Jesus said to Nicodemus: "No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life." For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. (John 3: 13-17)

Introductory Prayer: Your word in the Gospel reveals to me the beauty of the mystery of the Cross. I open myself now to you with a believing heart. Your love for humanity is so present in what you say. You give me hope that the world can be changed by your message of love. I want to be more like you, a lover of the Father, a lover of my brothers and sisters to the point of giving my life for them.

Petition: Lord, exalt the cross in my mind and my heart, that I might see it as an instrument of love.

1. Jesus’ Identity: Nicodemus comes to Jesus to find out who this miracle worker is. Jesus tells him that he is the Son of Man and God’s Son. He has come down from heaven and will return there. Now that he has identified himself, he has gotten Nicodemus’ attention and mine. His answer to the first question does not satisfy us because it has brought up several other questions. How can he claim to be the Son of God when there is but one God? If he is truly God’s Son, why has he come down to earth? What does he want or expect from me?

2. A Savior Greater Than Moses: Moses had, at God’s command, led Israel out of slavery in Egypt. When the people rebelled in the desert, they were punished by fiery serpents that bit them with poisonous venom. Moses intervened on their behalf, making a bronze image of a serpent, placed on a post; those who looked at it were saved. Jesus saves humanity from its rebellion, not by a symbol raised on a stick, but by sacrificing himself as he was raised on a cross. He saves me not from temporal death, but from eternal death. He is indeed a Savior greater than Moses.

3. The Degree of God’s Love: How much does the Father love me? If we could measure love on a thermometer, God’s infinite love would send the mercury out the end. His love is boundless. What would he withhold from me if he has already given his son to save me? My sentiments upon contemplating the immensity of God’s love for me should be gratitude, praise and a reciprocating love towards him.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, I am moved when I discover how much you love me. You came down from heaven, becoming the Son of Man so that I could know, love and imitate you. You loved me to the extreme of offering yourself up on the cross to save me from sin and death. I want to love you in return to the point of giving my life for you.

Resolution: I will contemplate the cross as a symbol of love, making it a symbol that says something to me whenever I see it. I will try to bear my cross today with love.