Saturday, February 28, 2015

Second Sunday of Lent "Seeking the Face of God"



Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, "Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified. Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; then from the cloud came a voice, "This is my beloved Son. Listen to him." Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them. As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant.

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, you revealed to Peter, James and John a glimpse of your future glory in order to strengthen them for the cross. I know that you also wish to strengthen me with your presence so that I may carry my cross well and one day see you face-to-face. I entrust myself to you now through this prayer, seeking to love you with all my mind, heart, soul and strength.

Petition: Lord, show me your face.

1. Man’s Desire for God: Jesus spends much time in union with his Father through prayer. In the Gospel today he climbs the mountain to pray, as is his custom. It is an attitude that reflects man’s desire to be in contact and in union with the divine. There must have been something truly awesome in how Our Lord prayed, for his apostles ask him to teach them. They want the same intimacy they see that Jesus has with the Father. Can I truly say that I ardently long for a greater intimacy with Christ? Do I believe confidently that anyone who seeks God with a sincere heart will find him? How pleasing it is to God the Father when we, his children, turn to him in earnest, filial prayer.

2. Climbing the Mountain of Prayer: The image of the “holy mountain” is found throughout the Scriptures from Abraham to Moses, and it is often present in Jesus’ public ministry. A mountain is a physical place, but it also represents for us our seeking God’s face in prayer. Our prayer is the ascent of this “holy mountain” to an encounter with our Father. Are we prepared to make this ascent, knowing this involves setbacks and dryness along the way? The Catholic Catechism describes prayer as a battle: “Against whom? Against ourselves and against the wiles of the tempter who does all he can to turn man away from prayer, away from union with God. We pray as we live, because we live as we pray…” (CCC 2725).  Am I ready to make the effort of climbing ever upwards through prayer? Do I live as I pray, and am I satisfied with that kind of praying and living?

3. The Tools for Climbing: Every good mountain climber has the tools he needs to make the ascent. We, too, have the tools we need. First, we have the Gospels themselves, which give us a clear picture of Jesus. “He who has seen me has seen the Father…” (John 14:9). Let us meditate frequently on them and ask Our Lord to reveal himself to us through them. Second, we have the sacraments, especially Penance and the Eucharist. In the former, we encounter God’s merciful love lavished upon us, restoring us to our filial relationship with him. In the latter, we receive Love himself, Jesus Christ, who has remained in the sacrament so that we could be united with him. Is my prayer well-grounded in a fervent sacramental life?  

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, I thank you for remaining with us in the Eucharist. It is here especially that I can go to seek your face, to know you more intimately and to grow in my love for you. Increase my love for you; may I return love for love.

Resolution: Today I will take at least five minutes of my time to seek Our Lord in prayer, asking his grace for my needs and the needs of all my loved ones.


Friday, February 27, 2015

Saturday of the First Week of Lent "Be Perfect?"

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.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, you became a man in order to show me, in your own flesh and blood, the way to holiness. In every word and deed of yours recorded in the Gospel, you teach and reveal to me the secret of a life worthy of eternity. I believe that you are with me now, and that you will use these moments of prayer to increase my faith, hope and love. Here I am, Lord, to know, love and serve you with all my heart. Amen.

Petition: Lord, help me to seek holiness out of love for you and others. Amen.

1. “Be Perfect” Who is telling us to be perfect? Christ the Word, he through whom all things were made, through whom we came into being: our Lord, our Creator, who from all eternity longs to see each one of us be made perfect in love. This is not a suggestion; it is a command. He says it to his disciples with energy, even knowing that for them alone it is impossible. For God, though, nothing is impossible. We are reminded today that our saintliness is a possibility; it is God’s plan. Miracles happen when we believe. God is not through with any one of us yet. All God asks is that we be perfect – not a whole life in one fell swoop – but, rather, every present moment, one at a time. That is what I have – this present moment. This is what I have to perfect.

2. Why Does God Command Us to Become Perfect? God’s demand that we seek and strive after the perfection of holiness becomes more understandable when we contemplate the increasingly dire situation of our world. That world, so gravely in need of Christ’s salvation, is the starkest and most palpable reason why any one of us should pursue holiness. What is the value of Christian holiness in the world? One early Christian apologist put it in these terms:

To sum up all in one word –– what the soul is in the body, that are Christians in the world. The flesh hates the soul, and wars against it, though itself suffering no injury, because it is prevented from enjoying pleasures; the world also hates the Christians, though in nowise injured, because they abjure pleasures. The soul loves the flesh that hates it, and [loves also] the members; Christians likewise love those that hate them” (From the Letter to Diognetus).

3. Seeking Holiness is a Labor of Love: In a world of shifting sands, we can offer solid ground; in a world of blind forces of spiritual and material violence, we can offer the persuasive power of Christian goodness. Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta was heard to say that holiness is not the privilege of a few, but the obligation of all. When with simple and profound faith, we delve into that link between our striving for holiness and the salvation of souls, we can discover a new impetus and a new strength. The challenge of seeking holiness can become a labor of love, driven by a heart aflame with zeal for the salvation of all our brothers and sisters.

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, the world needs men and women of God; the world needs saints. I know this. I know you call me in a personal, urgent and insistent way to seek my holiness. For the sake of my brothers and sisters, for their salvation, Lord, make me holy. Amen.   

Resolution: I will dedicate some time today to pray to Our Lady and entrust to her, with living faith and childlike simplicity, the entire project of my personal sanctification.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

Friday of the First Week of Lent "Pretending to Be and Truly Being Holy"

"I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ´You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.´ But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, ´Raqa,´ will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ´You fool,´ will be liable to fiery Gehenna. Therefore, . Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court with him. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny."

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for this time I can now spend with you. You constantly fill my life with so many blessings. How ungrateful I am at times! I wish to collaborate more perfectly in establishing your Kingdom on earth. I love you Lord, and with the help of your grace I will strive to become someone to whom any soul can come in order to discover your truth, your life, your love. Take my life, take this day and make it yours. Amen.

Petition: Father, help me to shun hypocrisy and seek true holiness.

1. Subjective Impressions: How much righteousness would it take to surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees? Not much, we suspect. Theirs was holiness in appearance only, which is to say no holiness. And what would one discover on the “inside” of such a soul? Plenty of self-deception; plenty of self-indulgent complacency in a subjective impression of holiness; a repugnant holier-than-thou demeanor. It’s easy enough for us to read the Gospel and wrinkle our noses at those bad ol’ Pharisees. In fact, it’s about as easy as telling ourselves that we could never come under the spell of our own subjective impression of holiness. That is why we must always be ready to examine ourselves, before Christ and with an acute awareness of our misery and limitations. Do I live my life engaged in a genuine pursuit of holiness or in a genuine pursuit of my own vanity and self-glorification?

2. Humility is the True Test of Holiness: Pride and personal holiness mix about as well as oil and water. Where our ego is, little if any room is left for God. What does it mean to be a disciple of Christ but to be someone who fills himself totally with God in order to bring him within the reach of everyone. But what union, grace or friendship with God can there be in a proud soul? What fervor, what degree of holiness? There is no possible compromise between God and a proud soul – either the soul would have to let go of itself, or God would have to stop being God.

3. Integrity is the Heart of the Matter: At the heart of genuine holiness is the virtue of integrity, a virtue rich in nuances and meaning. Integrity means being a person with only one face, a person who is the same on the inside and on the outside: “what you see is what you get”. Indeed, integrity is foundational for holiness, because it constitutes the very essence of personal honesty and sincerity, which are fundamental for the moral life and the seedbeds for a host of other virtues. In our pursuit of holiness, we should never tolerate duplicity of any kind in our behavior. We should avoid like the plague the least hint of ambivalence in our motivations, or incongruity between our thoughts, judgments, choices and actions. There can be no holiness without integrity. In fact, there can be no genuine human happiness unless it lies on the bedrock virtue of integrity.

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, I want you to be the meaning and center of my entire life. Let me disappear and you appear more and more in my life so that, with a holiness that is genuine, humble and true, I will always be an instrument for the salvation of all people. Amen.

Resolution: I will take a hard look at my life to identify the areas where duplicity manifests itself and take a concrete step toward living with more integrity.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Thursday of the First Week of Lent "Never Stop Seeking Holiness"

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asks for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asks for a fish? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him. Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets.”

Introductory Prayer: Heavenly Father, I take these moments to adore you and to enter into your loving presence. I dare to tell you I believe in you, although you know how weak my faith is. You are the reason for all my hope in life. Lord, I count on you as I strive to love you more totally and to attain the holiness of life to which you have called me. Amen.

Petition: Lord, teach me how to pray.

1. The Shortcut to Holiness: Again we are confronted with that fundamental principle of our sanctification: “He must increase, and I must decrease” (Cf. John 3:30). Christ must become more and more in us. That’s what genuine prayer accomplishes, if that prayer consists of a one-on-one conversation with the Savior that engages heart, mind and will. Could it be the case that I am seeking holiness without having firmly decided to anchor each day, indeed my entire life, in prayer?

2. Trust Like Little Children: Why is it that the prospect of our personal holiness seems so outlandish to us? Why are we so inwardly reluctant to believe that God, the almighty, the all-powerful, who created us from nothing, can also sanctify us? Maybe the part that discourages us is our unwillingness to jump headlong into that part of our sanctification that depends on us. But even here, Christ urges us to pray with confidence: “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11). Is it too much to believe and trust that God will strengthen our will in the pursuit of holiness? Will his grace fail us if we ask for holiness with complete trust and childlike confidence?

3. What a Combination! Prayer, holiness and apostolic fruitfulness are intrinsically linked. If we, as lay apostles, wish to see fruit in all our apostolic endeavors, we know it will depend in large part on our degree of holiness: our degree of real union with God, the degree to which his divine life flows through us. That divine life, given to us in baptism and increased through our sacramental life, can be enhanced every day in personal prayer where our thirst for God is not quenched, but rather greatly increased. We should pray always, so that prayer will be the secret of our holiness and apostolic fruitfulness.

Prayer continues to be the greatest power on earth. It must be at the very center of our quest for holiness.

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, thank you for this time of prayer. Thank you for teaching me interiorly, little by little every day, how to pray more perfectly. For the sake of those men and women, my brothers and sisters, whose own salvation is somehow mysteriously linked to my life and to my fidelity to you, give me holiness! Amen.

Resolution: I will renew my determination to make a daily prayer time, and make sure that this becomes, or continues to be, a part of my daily routine.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Wednesday of the First Week of Lent "Forgotten Gifts"

The You While still more people gathered in the crowd, Jesus said to them, “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah. Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. At the judgment the queen of the south will rise with the men of this generation and she will condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and there is something greater than Solomon here. At the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because at the preaching of Jonah they repented, and there is something greater than Jonah here.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, in this Lenten season, I want to draw closer to you. I believe that you truly became one of us to save us as an act of love beyond all human understanding.  I know I can count on you to carry me through each day. I know that in all circumstances you are with me. I want to love you more than myself and say “yes” to your will in every moment. I trust totally in your grace. Thank you, Lord! This Lent, I want to learn to love you more, as you deserve. I want to be the person you want me to be.

Petition: Lord Jesus, help me to re-discover all the gifts you have given me and help me to use them to bear fruit.

1. Re-Discovering the Familiar: We all know the saying, “familiarity breeds contempt.” In today’s Gospel, Jesus’ contemporaries were in that situation regarding Jesus himself. He had already worked miracles, and his preaching and holiness of life were totally exceptional. Yet, some people were not satisfied, and Jesus rebukes them for seeking more signs. It’s all too easy for us to fall into this same attitude with our faith. Instead of appreciating the riches conserved in the tradition of the Church, many still look for extraordinary signs. The Beatitudes, or the Gospel accounts of Jesus raising people from the dead might seem boring, but private revelations and possible apparitions capture our imagination. Lent is a good time to go back to the basics, and re-encounter Our Lord in the Scripture and in the Mass, as if for the first time.

2. The “Sign of Jonah” Is a Sign for Me: Despite his harsh tone in the Gospel, Jesus actually does promise to give them a sign – “the sign of Jonah.” By this he means his death and resurrection, as he explains in the Gospel according to Matthew (12:40). There could, in fact, be no greater sign than this and the celebration of the Pascal Mystery  is the true climax to which the period of Lent is directed. The penitential character of these forty days can seem to belie their true meaning as a season of hope. Really, we’re purifying ourselves to participate in the death and resurrection of Christ!

3. Sharing Our Blessings: Jesus says to his listeners that they will be judged because they are not appreciating the gift they have before their eyes. It’s an invitation for us not only to appreciate all that we have received in the Church, but also to share it with others. The truths of our faith, which we commemorate and re-live in Lent and Easter, are not intended for us alone but for all humanity. Whether or not that message gets out depends on each one of us. What are we doing to share the true meaning of Lent and Easter with those around us?

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, help me to appreciate the great gifts you’ve given me in the Church – your presence in the Eucharist and in sacred Scripture, the sacraments, the testimony of the holy lives of so many saints – and in my own life through the work of your grace in my soul. I don’t need any more signs! Help me to share these gifts with the people I encounter by living what I profess – and by having the courage to speak about my faith.

Resolution: Today I will focus on what I am doing when I pray, read the Scripture, or participate in the liturgy. I will raise my level of awareness as if I were doing it for the first time.



Monday, February 23, 2015

Tuesday of the First Week of Lent "Master, Teach Us to Pray"

The 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 men their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions."


Introductory Prayer: Lord, I am aware that you know what is best for me, and that is why I believe in you. You are more interested in my spiritual well-being than I am, and that is why I trust in you. You always give me your loving forgiveness in spite of my sins, and that is why I love you.


Petition: Lord, teach me how to pray.


1. Prayer is the Fruit of Silence: Some people like to talk. They demand to be listened to, but they don’t have the same interest in listening. However, you usually can’t listen if you aren’t used to silence. St. Theresa of Calcutta once wrote that prayer is the fruit of silence. Jesus wants us to understand that prayer is more about listening than about talking. When you are with someone who knows much about a topic that interests you, you limit yourself to asking questions and dedicate yourself to listening. Jesus is the revealer of God the Father. That means our main interest in prayer should be asking Jesus, our Lord, about his Father and then dedicating ourselves to listening.


2. God is Our Loving Father: Jesus tells us that God the Father knows what we need before we ask him. Still, we should ask, because in asking we become aware that we have needs that only God our Father can grant us. We learn to ask God what we most need for our salvation. That is why Jesus taught us the “Our Father.” Praying the “Our Father” reminds us that he is the father of all, and therefore every human person is truly our brother. In praying the “Our Father,” we essentially ask for three things: that God have the first place in our lives, that he give us our material and spiritual sustenance, and that he grant us his forgiveness.


3. Forgive in Order to Be Forgiven: Jesus emphasizes the importance of forgiveness. As the First Letter of John reminds us, we are all sinners (cf. 1:8). One of the essential characteristics of Christian life is seeking to encounter Christ’s loving mercy. We can really experience it only when we put it into practice ourselves. We can admire a person who parachutes off a plane, but we won’t understand the experience until we skydive ourselves. We grasp the true meaning of mercy when we forgive others. Our mercy will not be the same as Christ’s: He never sinned, and therefore he forgives us even though we don’t deserve it. If Christ has forgiven us, how can we dare not to forgive others?


Conversation with Christ: Lord, I thank you for teaching me to pray to the Father. I don’t always pray as much as I should. Please help me to pray more and better. Please help me to want with all my heart to give God the first place in my life, preferring his will to mine. Help me to treat others as I would like them to treat me, forgiving them when they offend me.


Resolution: I will dedicate a specific time to prayer each day.





Sunday, February 22, 2015

onday of the First Week of Lent "Holiness and Community"

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ´Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.´ Then the righteous will answer him and say, ´Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?´ And the king will say to them in reply, ´Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.´ Then he will say to those on his left, ´Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.´ Then they will answer and say, ´Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?´ He will answer them, ´Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.´ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

Introductory Prayer:  Lord Jesus, you are my Savior and Redeemer. I place all my hope and trust in your divine heart. United to you, all things are possible — even my holiness. With childlike faith and trusting you without limits, I know that I will experience the triumph of your grace in my life. I wish to grow in holiness today, so that I will love you, my God, above all else. Amen.

Petition:  Lord, help me to appreciate that growth in holiness occurs within a Christian community.

1. Holiness is Essentially Seeking the Good of Others The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “charity is the soul of the holiness to which all are called: it ‘governs, shapes and perfects all the means of sanctification.’” And quoting St. Therese of Lisieux, it reminds us:

If the Church was a body composed of different members, it couldn´t lack the noblest of all; it must have a heart, and a heart burning with love. And I realized that this love alone was the true motive force which enabled the other members of the Church to act; if it ceased to function, the apostles would forget to preach the Gospel, the martyrs would refuse to shed their blood. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 826).

In today’s Gospel Jesus grants eternal life to those who did good to others, whom he identifies as his very self. Contrariwise, he sends to eternal damnation those who did nothing to help others, whom he identifies as his very self.

2. Holiness Necessarily Entails a Dedication to the Christian Mission  Hand-in-hand with genuine charity is our sense of Christian mission. There is no genuine holiness apart from a radical orientation toward the spiritual and material good of others. In a word: there is no holiness without mission. As Pope John Paul II reminds us:

The universal call to holiness is closely linked to the universal call to mission. Every member of the faithful is called to holiness and to mission. This was the earnest desire of the [Second Vatican] Council, which hoped to be able “to enlighten all people with the brightness of Christ, which gleams over the face of the Church, by preaching the Gospel to every creature.” The Church´s missionary spirituality is a journey toward holiness … (Encyclical Letter Redemptoris Missio, 90).

Our times cry out for this kind of holiness, one enflamed by the ardent determination to bring as many of our brothers and sisters as possible to Christ.

3. Holiness Occurs Within the Christian Community  This universal call to holiness and mission is meant to be fostered within the context of a Christian community. We are meant to spur each other on by our devotion, good example, generosity and encouragement.

Dear brothers and sisters: let us remember the missionary enthusiasm of the first Christian communities. Despite the limited means of travel and communication in those times, the proclamation of the Gospel quickly reached the ends of the earth. And this was the religion of a man who had died on a cross, ‘a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles’! (I Corinthians 1:23). Underlying this missionary dynamism was the holiness of the first Christians and the first communities (Encyclical Letter Redemptoris Missio, 90).

Do I strive to build up my family and Christian community with missionary awareness? Do I value the example and help I receive, and do I strive to help others along this same path of holiness?
Conversation with Christ:  Lord, make my holiness real. Let it be characterized by a heartfelt, growing and universal love for all people. Let my heart beat in unison with yours. Open my eyes to all the good that I can do for my brothers and sisters, and don’t allow me to walk away from any opportunity to show this world your love. Amen.

Resolution:  I will take some time today to examine my conscience and honestly assess the spontaneity, depth and extension of my charity towards others, especially those I supposedly love the most. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

First Sunday of Lent "Temptation’s Hour"

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for 40 days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him. After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the Gospel of God: "This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel."

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I believe that you are leading me and that when I go astray it’s because I take my eyes off you and cease to follow you. I know that you will never abandon me. Thank you for your unconditional and restoring love. I place all my trust in you, and I long to love you in return with all my mind, heart soul and strength.

Petition: Lord Jesus, help me to be steadfast in moments of temptation.

1. The Role of Temptation Jesus’ public life begins by a duel with Satan: Before working any miracles, before speaking any parables, before gathering any disciples, the Lord makes clear what his life and mission are to be about: they are to destroy the works of the devil and establish the kingdom of grace. To do this, Jesus confronts Satan’s greatest weapon against the human person: temptation. Satan seduces the human spirit into a life of sin, which involves focusing on oneself. Jesus meets the devil on his own terrain and — in the face of mysterious temptation — remains focused on the Father and his will. Temptation plays an important role in the plan of redemption. It helps us define ourselves: directing our lives either toward God by embracing grace or toward sin by turning in on oneself.

2. Wild Beasts and Angels: We bear within ourselves the potential to become either saints or sinners.  No one’s fate is predetermined. Even the angels had to make a free choice of good or evil and, by this choice, forge their personal destinies. The love and dedication of the angels that chose the good made them faithful instruments of God’s will and plan. The vicious self-centeredness of the demons made them into ravenous beasts endlessly looking for someone to devour. Our person and our most intimate, most secret choices are part of this ongoing and cosmic struggle between good and evil. The hour of temptation is the hour of both choice and decision. The stronger the temptation, the stronger the decision must be. A repeated choice for a good decision makes a habit of good. Many good habits build a good character. A good character, open to God’s grace, is holiness.

3. We need to Take a Position: Here and Now Christ’s appearance in Galilee was marked by a call to decision. No one remains indifferent before Jesus Christ; no one hears his message without some sort of subsequent decision. Jesus calls all men and women to his kingdom, and this call constantly brings people to choose either to draw ever closer to him, or to pull further away. The best time to choose is always now, and the best place is always here. If not now, when? If not here, then where?

The Church therefore understands her Lent as a special challenge to fight against evil, at its very roots. Temptation is not only an occasion of sin, but it is also a root of sin. Man is not only attracted by evil, but at times he is also surrounded by it. Christ makes man aware of all this right from the very beginning of that path which is Lent. At the same time he makes each one of us aware of the saving power of the Gospel (Homily of Pope John Paul II, Feb 24, 1985).

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, I want always to choose you, but I know that I am weak. Please give me strength in my hour of temptation. Please keep me steady, and inflame my heart with love so that I choose you and your ways even though it’s costly. May the temptations I overcome become the stepping-stones to a holy life.

Resolution: I will be attentive today to the subtle ways in which I am tempted to center my life around myself. When these temptations come, I firmly commit to following Christ instead of my own selfish path.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Saturday after Ash Wednesday "Forgiveness: The First Step to Love"


Jesus saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the customs post. He said to him, "Follow me." And leaving everything behind, he got up and followed him. Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were at table with them. The Pharisees and their scribes complained to his disciples, saying, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?" Jesus said to them in reply, "Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners."

Introductory Prayer: Sunny days, cloudy days and rainy days all come from you, Lord. You surprise us each day as you make each day different to bring us closer to your coming, in which we hope. Lord, your love explains everything and guides all things. I wish to respond to your infinite mercy and love by loving you more each day.

Petition: Lord you know how difficult it is for me to forgive. Help me to do so always.

1. The Doctor Who Cures the Sick:  What a great reply: “I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.” It is a statement open to all humanity in need of redemption. It is an affirmation that shows us that God is not exclusive. Christ has come for all sinners, and he extends to everyone his call to repent and be transformed by his grace. It shows us that Christ wants to reach everybody and forgive everybody. He is not like us, who discriminate and hold grudges. When someone sins more, God makes particular efforts to reach that person and offer his pardon and his elevating grace. What an example for us to follow when we have difficult moments in our dealings with others! Christ teaches us patience. Christ teaches us that we must love and build bridges whenever the opportunity arises.

2. We Must Evangelize the Sick: Christ sets the example and sends us to evangelize people who do not know him, or who offend him knowingly, half-knowingly, or even unknowingly. Interestingly enough, it is those who oppose Christ whom he calls the “righteous,” because they are inflexible, and their criteria cannot be bent. Christ calls us, on the other hand, to forgive, as often as is necessary (Luke 17:4). We need to learn how to forgive in a world that tells us to be tough and not to let anything get past us.

3. Forgiveness Can Only Come from Love and Lead to Love: This Gospel reminds us of the story of the adulterous woman who was brought before Jesus. The Law of Moses was clear, yet Jesus knew that something had to be changed in order for man to be able to reach heaven. He knew that only forgiveness and love for everyone would unite all men in paradise. He knew all men had sinned, and therefore they could not accuse someone else without indirectly accusing themselves. That is why Christ answered to those who accused the adulterous woman, “Let the one who is sinless cast the first stone” (John 8:7). We are all sinners. We all need to be forgiven and to forgive one another. We all need to allow love to invade our hearts so that it may be the bond that reunites us.

Conversation with Christ: Thank you, Lord, for giving me the solution to my life. Help me to forgive wholeheartedly those who have done me wrong. Help me to love them, pray for them and do good to them even though they hinder and harm me. Help me to strive tirelessly to bring to the world your solution to division, discrimination, hatred and war.

Resolution: I will think of the people I dislike or am indifferent to, and I will consider at least one of their good qualities. If the opportunity arises, I will speak well of them, and if I can, I will do a good deed for them.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Friday after Ash Wednesday "Time of Fasting"

The disciples of John approached Jesus and said, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast much, but your disciples do not fast?" Jesus answered them, "Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast."

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you know how much I need you and depend on you for everything. You know my weakness and my faults. I put all my confidence in your love and mercy. I wish to trust in your power, your promise, and your grace every day. Today I intend, with your help, to follow you along the way of the cross with love and generosity so as to draw close to you.

Petition: Lord, let me learn to embrace sacrifice as the way of reparation and purification.

1. These Are the Days: Jesus said the time would come when his disciples would fast. Now that the Lord has returned in glory to the Father, it is up to us to continue the work of salvation, “what is lacking in Christ´s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church” (Colossians 1:24), as St. Paul says. We join our sacrifice to that of Jesus in order to imitate him and bring grace to ourselves and to others. Every Christian life must incorporate a healthy spirit of sacrifice and self-denial. 

2. Feel the Hunger: The hunger we experience when we fast is a symbol of the deeper spiritual hunger we should feel for God and for heaven. This world often makes us all too comfortable, and we easily forget that this is not our true home. We are pilgrims traveling through a foreign land, far from our final resting place. Fasting reminds us of the longing a traveler has to reach his destination safely and finally to rejoice in being home for good. The true Christian looks forward with hope toward heaven, where he will rest with God forever in true happiness. He knows that all the good things this world offers are only shadows of the wonderful things God has planned for those who love him (cf. Romans 8:28).

3. Hunger for Souls: From the cross, Jesus said, “I thirst.” That thirst was for all people to be reconciled to the Father. It was a thirst for souls to return to the love of God and find their way to the heavenly Kingdom. Voluntary sacrifice and self-denial, if we offer it for the conversion of the hearts of others, brings them the grace they need to change and turn back to God. No one can convert himself, and no one in serious sin can merit his way to the grace of God. We need to intercede by means of our personal prayer and sacrifice to gain others the supernatural grace they need to overcome their obstacles. The greatest act of charity we can perform and the greatest joy we can experience is to bring a soul back to the Lord. How many souls are waiting for our prayer and sacrifice?

Conversation with Christ: Lord, make me generous and joyful in sacrifice, knowing that sacrifice unites me closer to you and wins the grace of conversion for so many souls you love and for whom you died.

Resolution: I will choose one person I know who needs God’s grace and offer all my sacrifices today for them.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Thursday after Ash Wednesday "Suffering: A Highway to God"

Jesus said to his disciples, "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. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, you did not flee before suffering, but did what your love for us told you to do. I trust in you. Lord Jesus, you went towards Jerusalem in the hope that we would return to the Father’s home. I hope in you, for you did not put a limit on your love. Even when you were rejected and put to death by your enemies, you prayed for them. Lord, I love you.

Petition: Lord, help me to see the redeeming power of the cross you have laid on my shoulders and embrace it.

1. Suffering is an Opportunity: Suffering is present at every turn of life. Our tendency is to flee from it, to avoid it. This holds true from the small scratch we get when we first fall off our bicycle to the profound sorrow we feel when a friend betrays us. When we feel pain, we take every means in our power to get rid of it. In today’s society, there is a medicine to alleviate any pain or suffering we might feel. Yet, in every suffering there is a lesson, and we remember the lesson better when we have suffered to learn it. Christ foresaw his rejection, suffering, and death, yet did not flee them. He embraced them as a way of showing his most profound love: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). It is what parents do when they give their children their time and attention. It is what real friends do when they serve without counting the cost. It is what we do when we help someone in need.

2. Love the Fight Not the Fall: Sometimes we may feel overwhelmed. Slowly but surely, we may tire of our defects and their effects. The constant, on-going battle to follow Christ may slowly wear us down. The path to perfection in the virtues is surely full of rewards, but it has its share of wear-and-tear. But it does not matter if we fall a thousand times, as long as we love the fight and not the fall. It therefore makes no sense to despair, especially when we fight with Christ on our side. The effort of a prolonged battle can please Christ more than an easy and comfortable victory. Christ reminds us: He will suffer greatly, be rejected and killed, and everyone who wants to be his disciple must take up his cross and follow him.

3. When I Am Weak, Then I Am Strong: With the coming of Christ on the earth, suffering took on a new meaning. He gave us the possibility to give to suffering, illness and pain—the consequences of sin—the redemptive and salvific meaning of love. When the apostles asked our Lord who was responsible for the misfortune of a man blind from birth, Christ answered: “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him” (John 9:3). Misfortune and weaknesses made St. Paul exclaim: “Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10). It is through denial of self, through the recognition of our weakness, through willfully embracing our trials and sufferings, that we can show the strength of God and the wonders of God in our life.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, help me to see all that happens to me, even pain, suffering and illness, as an opportunity to love, grow in love and offer you my love.

Resolution: Before doing something today I will pause to examine the motives for which I do it: is it for me or for God? If it is only for me, I will rectify my intentions or leave the deed aside, especially if I have the opportunity to do something else for God or to serve God in my neighbor.



Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Ash Wednesday "The Joy of Lent"

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 hand is doing, so that your almsgiving may be in 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 into 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 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.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord, you know how much I need you and depend on you. You know my weakness and my faults. I put all my confidence in your love and mercy in my daily actions. I hope to learn to trust more in your power, your promise, and your grace. Lord, I wish to start this season of Lent with a sincere desire to grow in love, preparing myself worthily to celebrate the mysteries of your passion, death and resurrection.

Petition: Lord, help me learn to change what needs to change in my life.

1. Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving: As we begin the Lenten season, we are reminded of the need to make reparation for our sins and be reconciled with God. Any attempt to build a spiritual life that neglects the pillars of prayer, fasting and almsgiving is building on sand. Prayer purifies our intentions and relates all we do to God. Fasting detaches us from our comfort and from ourselves. Almsgiving reflects our brotherhood with the poor of Jesus’ family and reminds us that our true wealth is not in things, but in the love of God. We all need to do a reality check on our spiritual lives to make sure we are committed to prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

 

2. Lose the Show: Jesus is severe in criticizing the hypocrites who parade their works before others to get attention. Such parades are of no use in pleasing God or making up for our sins; they only add to our sinfulness. He encourages us to pray in private, to fast and give alms in secret, without calling the attention of others to what we are doing. In this way we can be sure we are doing all for love of God and not for love of self. Those who make an outward show of piety or generosity “have already received their reward” in this world, and they store up no treasure in heaven. Let us work silently and discreetly, with no other intention but pleasing God alone.

3. Joyful Sacrifice: Nothing brings us closer to Christ than walking alongside him and doing the things he did for love of God the Father. During Lent, God invites us to purify our hearts and minds and to turn our intentions back to him. Christ’s public ministry was lived each day in loving obedience to the Father’s will. Our Lenten program should reflect that same simple, yet demanding, obedience and love. What can I do for God today? What sacrifice can I offer that will be pleasing to him? Once I decide on it, I will carry it out with no one else knowing.

Conversation with Christ: Jesus, give me the grace to begin this Lent with great enthusiasm and love. Help me live it with joy, knowing that I am living it in your presence to please you and you alone.

Resolution: I will make a Lenten program of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.



Monday, February 16, 2015

Tuesday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time "Having a Memory for God"

Now the disciples had forgotten to bring any bread; and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. And he cautioned them, saying, "Watch out--beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod." They said to one another, "It is because we have no bread." And becoming aware of it, Jesus said to them, "Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes, and fail to see? Do you have ears, and fail to hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?" They said to him, "Twelve." "And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?" And they said to him, "Seven." Then he said to them, "Do you not yet understand?"

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I know you have worked in my life, and yet I take so little account of it. Just knowing the truth of your presence in my past would be enough to convert my heart totally to a future of commitment to you. Knowing your history will make me long for you. I hunger for goodness that will make this day fruitful in ways that will last, that will not deceive me. I intend to not let my mundane passions leave me blind and crippled before the opportunity to be your apostle today.

Petition: Lord, grant me the grace to commit myself more to your will through a deeper trust in you.

1. Missing the Foundation: “Is it because we have no bread?” We can see how easy it is to miss the messages God wishes to send us in prayer, because we are preoccupied only with what is immediate. We can be hungry for success, want a friend or family member to make peace with us, or we become obsessed over the finances. The insecure heart is pulled away from a healthy vision of life because it is not founded on rock. The soul that lives from the true foundation knows that as long as it has Christ and is doing his will, all is well.

2. Remembering the Works of God:  “And do you not remember?” One of the worst sins of the people of Israel was to have forgotten God’s great works on their behalf. It is important to reflect often and with gratitude on the many benefits we have received from Our Lord. Each of us should remember: It is God who created us and who has begun the work of our holiness. If he has brought us this far with only a modest amount of cooperation on our part, how much further could we go if we were to give him our total dedication? How much more good would flourish in our lives? How many problems would find God’s hand shaping them for our benefit?

3. Wishing to See Again: On any given day, every follower of Christ should have a healthy mistrust of what he thinks is the absolute need for his life. Oftentimes, a spiritual “detox” is in order to free us from becoming obsessed over secondary goals. This detox is found in the school of prayer. St. Augustine notes prayer is where we exercise desire, where we let our heart purify itself from its distractions, and where we let affection and devotion for the Beloved expand. The fire of divine love can heal many divisions and complexes in our psychology, if we consistently open ourselves up to it.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, keep me from that spiritual anorexia that makes me lose the hunger for your presence in my life. I can let daily pressures and disordered passions block my ability to love you as I should. How I endanger myself; how I destroy my happiness in this world of illusion. Free me, Jesus, from my own folly! Give me back the hunger to love you again, as I promise never again to let myself be carried away by activism and pride.

Resolution: Today I will write down the things I have been seeking that could take me away from Christ. I will honestly renounce them in an attitude of holy indifference, wanting them only in as much as Jesus wants them in my life.


Monday of the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time "Loving Christ for Who He Is"

The The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, asking him for a sign from heaven, to test him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, "Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to this generation." And he left them, and getting into the boat again, he went across to the other side.

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I can be so cold to your salvific presence as I hurry about living the moment and becoming so sufficient unto myself. There is little wonder that I find it hard to bring myself to prayer—to use faith to know you, divine love to live in you, and theological hope to trust in you. I approach you now, wanting only to be a more faithful disciple of your Kingdom.

Petition: Lord, grant a faith that will console your heart.

1. Sending Christ Away: G. K. Chesterton once asserted, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.” Jesus truly loves us and would never refuse a humble soul the true goods he needs for fulfillment and salvation. If our wants, like those of the Pharisees, end up leaving God silent and our spiritual life cold, it may be a call for us to purify our hearts of the remaining dregs of our self-centeredness. We should carefully avoid the attitudes and words that repel Christ. Christ will not let himself be loved for who he is not, and he will not indulge the desires we have for who we are not. We can want our happiness to be many things, but Christ wants us to accept that his will is the heart of our fulfillment.

2. Prayer Is My Daily Breath of Air for the Soul: Jesus converses with our souls in a language that flows from supernatural attitudes of faith, hope and love. He will remain silent, however, if we drag him down to the small, narrow framework of our reason and calculations—wanting to “figure it out for ourselves” before we will act. Jesus does not want to be Superman, who comes into our lives only when things are really bad and all is lost. Rather, Christ intervenes because he wants a life of communion and grace day after day, sharing his life with each and every soul. He wants our living in fidelity and childlike trust to be like breathing the air.

3. The Signs That Bring Christ to Us: Christ did give us sure signs of his daily presence in our lives. The first is the sign of the cross. Only faith will unlock its mystery and bring us to the encounter between our sin and God’s mercy. Sin is at the heart of the worst that can go wrong with our life; the sign of the Crucified One is its cure. Faith will permit us, as it did the good thief, to see Christ’s love at the center of the universe and the world being drawn towards it as if into a vortex. Another sign he left us is the Eucharist. It is the most powerful sign because it contains the author of the sign himself. Christ humbles himself to stay with us at all costs. Under the appearance of bread and wine, he reveals what he wants to be for our souls; Under the veil of the sacrament, we learn to encounter Christ personally as pure love. “On the night he was betrayed he showed the depth of his love…” Let these signs be the “love language” by which we talk to Christ in the way he wants to be known, loved and adored.

Conversation with Christ: Christ, let my prideful demands melt away before a mature encounter with your divine love. Keep my immaturity from impeding the expansion of your Kingdom; rather, let me humbly accept my need to change the way I relate to your true plan for my life.

Resolution: I will spend some time today acknowledging and thanking Jesus for the signs he has given me to know, love and serve him better in my life.



Saturday, February 14, 2015

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time "I Do Will It!"

A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said, "If you wish, you can make me clean." Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, "I do will it. Be made clean." The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean. Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once. Then he said to him, "See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them." The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter. He spread the report abroad so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly. He remained outside in deserted places, and people kept coming to him from everywhere.

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for letting me begin this week contemplating your infinite mercy and love for me. I need your healing touch to become the saint you created me to be. I know you want to heal me because you gave me the gift of my faith: to know and love you and experience the intense joy in following you.

Petition: Lord, I want to be made clean. Touch my heart and heal me with your merciful love.

1. In Need of Healing: Like the leper in this Gospel, I, too, am in need of healing. He came humbly, as a beggar, for he had no way of repaying Jesus for such a great act of kindness. But his humility was founded on faith. Confident in the scriptural passage, “Do not reject a suppliant in distress, or turn your face away from the poor” (Sirach 4:4), he insisted reverently. He had no doubt that Jesus could cure him, that Jesus would take interest in an insignificant and anonymous leper. He was asking Our Lord for a miracle, and he knew Jesus would grant it. He also knew that he did not deserve or merit such a gesture of mercy. Even if Jesus refused his plea, he was ready to accept it.

2. Moved with Pity: Jesus was moved with pity. He stretched out his hand to touch the leper, revealing God the Father’s will in a tender way: “I do will it. Be made clean.” Jesus was moved more by the leper’s humble faith than by his leprosy. The leper’s plea struck at the very core of the mission of the Redeemer. Jesus desires nothing more than to remove sin and its effect in us. Jesus “came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15) and said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). The gesture of charity towards the leper foreshadows Christ’s redemptive death for all mankind. Jesus wants to reach out to touch our heart and heal us, too. We believe this to be true. All we need to do is let him, approaching him with humility and exercising our faith.

3. Changed Forever: The encounter with Jesus changed the leper’s life forever. Rather than an encounter with love, it was an encounter of love. Every encounter requires someone’s initiative. Although the leper is the one to approach Jesus, is it not Jesus who first makes himself accessible? In the same way, Jesus had initiated the encounter with his first disciples when he walked along the shores of Lake Tiberius, allowing Andrew and John to ask, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” (John 1:38). Lord Jesus, you enter into my life because you want to show me the way to everlasting life with you. Is it not you, kind and gentle Lord, who invites me: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28)?

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, you are so merciful to me! Thank you for loving me so much. How anxiously you wait to fill me with your love, to heal me from the leprosy of my sins. Help me to be open to your embrace of healing love, confident that each time I kneel before you to beg your forgiveness, you will be moved with pity to touch me and make me clean.

Resolution: Today, I will imitate God’s merciful love in my own life with everyone with whom I enter into contact: family, fellow employees, friends.


Friday, February 13, 2015

Memorial of Saints Cyril, Monk, and Methodius, Bishop "Goodness in Abundance"

In those days when there again was a great crowd without anything to eat, he summoned the disciples and said, "My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, because they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will collapse on the way, and some of them have come a great distance." His disciples answered him, "Where can anyone get enough bread to satisfy them here in this deserted place?" Still he asked them, "How many loaves do you have?" "Seven," they replied.  He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then, taking the seven loaves he gave thanks, broke them, and gave them to his disciples to distribute, and they distributed them to the crowd. They also had a few fish. He said the blessing over them and ordered them distributed also. They ate and were satisfied. They picked up the fragments left over -- seven baskets. There were about four thousand people. He dismissed them and got into the boat with his disciples and came to the region of Dalmanutha.


Introductory Prayer: Lord, how quickly I lose faith and begin to trust more in things that I can touch and see than in your promises and strength. But I do believe in you, that you are the Bread of Life, and that only you can satisfy the deepest longings of my heart. As you are my Creator, you know what I need and provide for me each day. As you are my Redeemer, you lead me along the pathway of the cross and forgiveness. I want to follow you more closely.



Petition: Lord, strengthen my faith, so that I can be magnanimous like you.



1. “I feel sorry for all these people.” Jesus shows compassion for the crowd, even for their temporal needs. He knows how earthly they can be, seeking only to satisfy their need for bread and water. In another passage he says, “Why worry about what you are to eat, or drink, or what you are to wear? … All these things the pagans seek” (Matthew 6:25-33) –– “pagans,” that is, those with no faith or trust in the heavenly Father. Our Lord does not worry about food and clothing for himself, although he does seek to provide them for others. But his charity doesn’t end there. He sincerely desires their greatest good, and for this reason gives them much more than a passing meal. Together with bread and water, he gives them the gift of faith. After all, man does not live on bread alone” (Luke 4:4).


2. “Where could anyone get bread to feed these people in a deserted place like this? The apostles ask a very human question, revealing the poverty of their faith in Jesus. Such a question, without faith, would become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Since the task seems impossible, why try at all? How often does this way of thinking rein us in from doing great things for God and expecting great things from him? How often do we resign ourselves to defeat, content to mourn and lament seemingly hopeless situations, as if God were not almighty and willing to help us? We need the faith of the Blessed Virgin, who believed the impossible and became the mother of all who believe.

3. “They ate as much as they wanted and they collected seven basketfuls of the scraps left over.” Jesus offers the fullness of life and love, an abundance of goodness and grace, to all who follow him. His ways are the ways of life. He allows us to suffer want in this life so that we will tap into the true source of abundance through faith, hope and love. Those who seek themselves by seeking purely material goods — which are limited by definition — will always be in want and will always feel the threat of losing what they have. Those who seek Christ and his grace — which is unlimited by definition — will never fear when they lose their earthly goods. That is why Jesus says that to anyone who has (faith, hope, love, grace, the gifts of the spiritual life), more will be given, and from the one who has not (none of these spiritual gifts), even what he seems to have (material possessions which are here today and gone tomorrow, always decaying and coming to an end) will be taken away (Luke 8:18).

Conversation with Christ: Lord, give me the gift of compassion, so that I may serve others with your heart. Give me the gifts of faith, hope and love so that I will understand that your goodness knows no bounds or limits, and that you wish to pour out your grace on all until our cups are overflowing.  

Resolution: I will be magnanimous in my charity towards others today.