Sunday, January 31, 2016

Monday of the Fourth Week in Ordinary Time "A Madman for Christ"


Jesus and his disciples came to the other side of the sea, to the territory of the Gerasenes. When he got out of the boat, at once a man from the tombs who had an unclean spirit met him. The man had been dwelling among the tombs, and no one could restrain him any longer, even with a chain. In fact, he had frequently been bound with shackles and chains, but the chains had been pulled apart by him and the shackles smashed, and no one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the hillsides he was always crying out and bruising himself with stones. Catching sight of Jesus from a distance, he ran up and prostrated himself before him, crying out in a loud voice, "What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me!" (He had been saying to him, "Unclean spirit, come out of the man!") He asked him, "What is your name?" He replied, "Legion is my name. There are many of us." And he pleaded earnestly with him not to drive them away from that territory. Now a large herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside. And they pleaded with him, "Send us into the swine. Let us enter them." And he let them, and the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine. The herd of about two thousand rushed down a steep bank into the sea, where they were drowned. The swineherds ran away and reported the incident in the town and throughout the countryside. And people came out to see what had happened. As they approached Jesus, they caught sight of the man who had been possessed by Legion, sitting there clothed and in his right mind. And they were seized with fear. Those who witnessed the incident explained to them what had happened to the possessed man and to the swine. Then they began to beg him to leave their district. As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed pleaded to remain with him. But he would not permit him but told him instead, "Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you." Then the man went off and began to proclaim in the Decapolis what Jesus had done for him; and all were amazed.

Introductory Prayer: Father in heaven, my heart is hungry for your word. I believe that you want to speak a word of hope to me today. How good it would be if I were to see myself and my future as you do, but at least I do trust in you. I wish to take up your challenge to be holy, whatever the cost, and I am confident that you will accompany me closely and help me with your grace.

Petition: Lord Jesus, help me to abandon myself to your healing power.


  1. A Hopeless Situation? The man possessed by a legion of demons seemed to the people around—and perhaps to himself—a hopeless case. Living there alone amidst the tombs, he could not help but harm himself, gashing himself against stones. Nobody could help him by restraining him. In our lives with God, some seemingly unsolvable situation may exist, perhaps some sinful state we got ourselves into, but from which we cannot seem to extract ourselves. Or we experience that we are always falling into the same sins, the same biting impatience, the same laziness, the same sensuality. Friends and family seek to help us, but we don’t have the will to change. Instead of rectifying the situation, we just make a pact with a kind of modus vivendi, saying to ourselves, “We can only live as best as we can.” But the result is that that one demon has multiplied in me and become a legion of demons.



  1. Jesus Has Power: Jesus encounters the possessed man. The scene is intriguing: the man runs to prostrate himself before Christ, while at the same time the demons show fear and beg Jesus not to be harsh with them. How consoling to know that no situation can escape Christ’s power to straighten it out. It is also consoling to know that Jesus wants to free us from the power of the devil, from any sinful state in which we find ourselves. We can always turn to Christ to ask to be healed because no one is ever so sinful or so possessed to be totally repugnant to God’s love. Certainly, we may fear that Christ’s medicine may hurt, but we need to trust that the spiritual “treatment” is worth it. The treatment may be an honest and thorough confession, a brutally sincere self-examination, or the breaking-up of an unhealthy relationship.



  1. Transformation into a Witness: Imagine the cured man, still with the scars of his gashes, but now in his full senses. What an amazing sight! It brings us to our knees in thanks to Christ for his power and mercy. Of course, the cured man is overwhelmed by the transformation. He gives no thought to going back to “ordinary” life. His thankfulness makes him want to accompany Jesus, his friend and savior. However, Jesus gives him a mission, sending him to his family and friends to tell the story of how Jesus cured him. Wherever the cured man goes, he will proclaim the marvels the Lord has done in him. When we experience absolution from our sins in confession, does our thanksgiving cause us to proclaim the power and love of Christ to our family and friends?


Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, you have set me free and kept me from so many vices and demons, addictions and grudges, materialism and indifference. You have given me the grace to know you and choose you. I want to thank you for your power and mercy towards me. I resolve to be a witness to your great love among my family and friends.

Resolution: I will witness to some healing that the Lord has worked in my life with a friend or family member.


Saturday, January 30, 2016

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time " To Believe or Not to Believe"


He said to them, "Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing." And all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They also asked, "Isn´t this the son of Joseph?" He said to them, "Surely you will quote me this proverb, ´Physician, cure yourself,´ and say, ´Do here in your native place the things that we heard were done in Capernaum.´" And he said, "Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place.  Indeed, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah when the sky was closed for three and a half years and a severe famine spread over the entire land.  It was to none of these that Elijah was sent, but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon. Again, there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian." When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. But he passed through the midst of them and went away.

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I do believe in you, and I long to open my heart completely to receive your Word in total faith and trust. I seek you ardently in this prayer so as to know you better. I want to know you so as to love you more completely as my Savior and Lord.

Petition: Lord, grant me the grace of active and total faith in you.


  1. Mixed Opinions and Emotions: There is a striking contrast between the question, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?” and its preceding line: “And all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.” It seems contradictory that at the same time as they are praising him, they are doubting him. But the Apostles also experienced mixed feelings, even during their last encounter with Jesus Christ before he ascended to heaven: “And when they saw him they worshiped him; but some doubted” (Matthew 28:17). Don’t we also sometimes find this same inner shakiness of our faith in Christ, even while we may be professing it with our lips? Christ knows the weakness of the human heart, but he will not force himself upon us nor work miracles without our sincere profession of faith in him. Nevertheless, he is willing to help us if we can only humbly recognize our weakness and implore his help. We have proof from the Gospel that he will not spurn the prayer “Lord I believe. Help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)



  1. He Only Seeks Our Happiness: When we look at the panorama that Christ offers us from the history of Israel, he describes God’s true motive for encountering man, for seeking him out. Is it to bring him into submission and lay upon him an unsupportable burden of ‘holiness’? God, rather, is the healer and has no other purpose than to make these privileged souls happy. He yearns to lift a burden from their souls. He is there to heal and to elevate their whole experience of life. Ultimately, all that Christ needs to make them happy is that they have faith: an active and all-embracing faith, a faith that is not diluted by rationalistic demands that condition their acceptance of God’s plan. Do I experience Christ only as trying to tighten the noose of responsibilities around my neck, or do I see that through what appears to me as difficult, he seeks only to bring out something more beautiful in me?



  1. Christ is the Alpha and the Omega: Faith is not just for the future, not just to recognize Christ as the Omega—the end point of my journey where I find an explanation for death. Nor is faith just for when my personal plans have gone awry and I need an explanation for my moral and spiritual failures. Christ is not simply the caboose, trailing my life to clean up the disorders that pull my train off the track. Our Lord is also the Alpha—the beginning point. He is the engine that drives the whole process and the place from which every new initiative for advancement must begin. I must acknowledge that he is not just one means among others to live a good life. He is the source and summit of true life itself, goodness incarnate, and no effort of mine can have value or merit unless it is done in total dependence on him. Let my faith reveal this truth to me, so that my heart may be open more and more to making Christ my reason for living, my foundation for giving myself day after day.


Conversation with Christ: Lord, I want to open myself to what you propose to me in prayer and to eliminate all pride and human calculation at work in my heart and mind. I trust in you, Lord, for you seek only to make me happy, never to hurt me. When my own reason becomes darkened and my natural enthusiasm wanes before the mystery of your design, help me confide in and walk by your holy power and wisdom.

Resolution: Today I will offer an act of faith and trust in some desire of Christ for me, one that I originally met with fear or indifference.


Friday, January 29, 2016

Saturday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time "On the Way There"

On that day, as evening drew on, he said to them, "Let us cross to the other side." Leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat just as he was. And other boats were with him. A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?" He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Quiet! Be still!" The wind ceased and there was great calm. Then he asked them, "Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?" They were filled with great awe and said to one another, "Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?"

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe that you are in my boat. I want a stronger faith in you. I trust that you will lead me, sinful though I am, to your good harbor. I love you for always accompanying me in this life.

Petition: Lord, help me to grow in faith.


  1. Crossing to the Other Side: We know that we will not remain on earth forever. There is another shore that is our home. Christ has come to remind us of this and show us how to get to that place. Do I take Christ into my boat and let him indicate what I must do in my life? Or do I hold myself back, not accepting the adventure of putting out into the deep with Christ? What is it that holds me back?



  1. Teacher, We Are Perishing! Christ allows our boat to be tossed by difficulties that sometimes seem insurmountable. Having him in our boat is not a guarantee that things will go smoothly. We need to discover that he is working in the midst of difficulties. We need to ask what he is teaching us. If in the midst of trials we are drawing closer to him, there can be a real grace working. Yet many times we find that we let our confidence in him slip when things get rough. We have not yet learned that “all things work together for good for those who love God” (Romans 8:28).



  1. The Lord of the Wind and the Sea: We need to keep in mind that Christ has the ultimate victory. He allows difficulties so that we can grow in abandoning ourselves to him. When life hurts and it makes no sense, we need to deepen our faith in the One who has conquered sin and death. He will write the final chapter in our life. He will bring us to the safe harbor. We can bolster our faith in him today by keeping our eyes on his promises and his presence. We can renew our confidence that he will not let our prayers go unanswered but will respond in his time with a power and efficacy beyond what we expect. In continuing to sail this boat in the midst of the storm, we are giving him the total control over our destiny. We can be in no safer hands.


Conversation with Christ: Lord, I know that when you allow difficulties in my life you are trying to strengthen my faith and make me see that I need to turn to you. Help me take advantage of these difficulties so I might abandon myself more totally to you. I want to learn to trust you as the Lord of my life. Bring me to safe harbor.

Resolution: I will analyze one of the greater difficulties in my life and see where I need to apply greater trust in God.


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Friday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time "The Fruit of the Kingdom"

He said, "This is how it is with the kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how. Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once, for the harvest has come." He said, "To what shall we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade." With many such parables he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it. Without parables he did not speak to them, but to his own disciples he explained everything in private.

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I come into your presence with openness of heart. I know that you want to plant your seed in me and help it to bear fruit. I trust that you will pour out your mercy on me as I spend this time with you. I want to love you more and become a better instrument of your love.

Petition: Lord, help me contemplate the action of your grace upon the world and fully cooperate with you.


  1. Steady Growth: Jesus reminds me that his grace is working in the world. His message carries an interior dynamism that affects souls and brings about change in them. I think of someone who has surprised me by a sudden conversion or steady growth in Christian living. I see many people who are working on projects of evangelization or are full of Christian charity. I see many other people who are trying in their secular occupations to do their part to make this world better. I contemplate the many families that are striving to be places of love in which each person is valued as a unique gift. This is the seed of the Gospel that grows silently without our knowing how.



  1. When the Grain Is Ripe: God, in his mercy, often adds years to our life so that we can learn wisdom and produce in our actions fruit that is worthy of eternity. How much do I value the opportunities I have each day to do simple acts of charity or leave messages that have a beneficial effect on others? How often do I pray for others? Each day I should be attentive to the small and big opportunities the Lord gives me to help establish his kingdom more deeply in my soul and in the souls of others.



  1. Disproportionate Strength: Like the image of the mustard tree in the parable, Christ’s grace sustains many men and women throughout the world. People discover in Christ’s friendship the true home their hearts seek and the communion with all men they intuitively desire. What a great gift we have in the Church! Let us try to make it a true home for all people. Let us partake deeply of its teachings and its grace and become more deeply a gift for others. The strength of love sustains us.


Conversation with Christ: Lord, thank you for the workings of your grace in so many souls. I want to be united with your grace throughout this day and throughout my life. Help me to use this day in such a way that I will be planting your love around me.

Resolution: Today I will take time to say a special prayer or make a special sacrifice for the conversion of sinners.



Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Memorial of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church "Let Christ’s Light Shine"

He said to them, "Is a lamp brought in to be placed under a bushel basket or under a bed, and not to be placed on a lampstand? For there is nothing hidden except to be made visible; nothing is secret except to come to light. Anyone who has ears to hear ought to hear." He also told them, "Take care what you hear. The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you, and still more will be given to you. To the one who has, more will be given; from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away."


Introductory Prayer: Lord, thank you for reminding me today of my dignity as a Christian. By your grace in baptism and by your teaching in the gospels and in the Church, you have put light in my soul. Lord, you are my light.

 

Petition: Christ, help me to be a sincere witness of your light.


  1. Transparency in Our Lives: God sees us. This is a simple truth—an extremely powerful truth. God looks at us with love. We cannot hide from God. We cannot hide from ourselves. We cannot even hide from others. We need to live in the presence of God. God lets light shine on our lives so that we can see the truth about ourselves, and so that we need not be ashamed that others see the truth about who we are. True happiness is preserved and increased by the tenacious living of sincerity.



  1. Light for the World: Our life is not just for ourselves. We are called to be a gift for others, a gift that leads them to God. This is the greatest thing about our life: We are called to give life. We are called to participate in the fruitfulness of God. We give life by enlightening others. We help other people come to the light by trying sincerely to go clearly towards the light and by not fearing to show people the truth. The light shed by our lives produces a real effect in souls. Vatican II reminds us that modern man needs reasons for hope. A Christian carries hope. Will I keep it hidden; perhaps even kill it by being afraid to share it? Or will I let the world receive hope? Will I let the world see that we all can be much greater than we think because our Father is greater than we think?



  1. Standing up for the Light of Truth to Be Lived: Moral relativism seems to be the norm for our times. Many people think that they can decide what principles they will live by, instead of seeking to form their consciences by principles in accordance with God’s loving design for the human person. Am I content merely to follow what I know to be right, or do I also look to enlighten the consciences of others, prudently and charitably? Have I ever given the impression of condoning actions that are wrong? Do I take an interest in promoting the value of life in all of its stages? Am I courageous in nobly defending others when people criticize them behind their backs?


Conversation with Christ: Lord, thank you for this calling. You have given light to my soul so that I can be a light for others. Lord, help me to have confidence in the power of your light: the power of your truth and grace. Let me be brave enough to allow this light to penetrate my soul even more today. Let me be brave enough to not hide from your light; let me be brave enough to give it to others.

Resolution: I will  enlighten my conscience better about a point of our faith or morals by looking it up in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (It can be found on-line at http://www.vatican.va if needed).



Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Wednesday of the Third Week of Ordinary Time "Work for the Harvest"


On another occasion he began to teach by the sea. A very large crowd gathered around him so that he got into a boat on the sea and sat down. And the whole crowd was beside the sea on land. And he taught them at length in parables, and in the course of his instruction he said to them, "Hear this! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep. And when the sun rose, it was scorched and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it and it produced no grain. And some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit. It came up and grew and yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold." He added, "Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear." And when he was alone, those present along with the Twelve questioned him about the parables. He answered them, "The mystery of the kingdom of God has been granted to you. But to those outside everything comes in parables, so that ´they may look and see but not perceive, and hear and listen but not understand, in order that they may not be converted and be forgiven.´" Jesus said to them, "Do you not understand this parable? Then how will you understand any of the parables? The sower sows the word. These are the ones on the path where the word is sown. As soon as they hear, Satan comes at once and takes away the word sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground who, when they hear the word, receive it at once with joy. But they have no root; they last only for a time. Then when tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Those sown among thorns are another sort. They are the people who hear the word, but worldly anxiety, the lure of riches, and the craving for other things intrude and choke the word, and it bears no fruit. But those sown on rich soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit thirty and sixty and a hundredfold."


Introductory Prayer: Lord, I want to spend these moments close to you. I believe that you are here with me. Take over my life more and more and make it what it was meant to be. Lord, I put my trust in you.

Petition: Jesus, make the soil of my heart open to your word, so that it will bear fruit for eternal life.


  1. Beware of the ThievesWhat the Father has planted in our lives is good. Goodness can bear fruit. But Christ has shown us that there is someone who does not want us to bear fruit. The devil tries to take goodness from our lives through enticing us with evil, filling our hearts with selfishness, and making us insensitive to the movements of grace in our soul. We need to renounce Satan every day by fixing our will on the goodness of Christ. This is done through sincere prayer and generosity of spirit.



  1. Dig Deep: The strength of our resolve is tested by the difficulties we face. If we go deeper in our prayer each day and build up the habit of letting go of our own ego, we can face the bad times with peace and trust. When our spiritual roots are not deep, we find ourselves disoriented, even defeated by the tribulations that are part of an authentic Christian life. Christ teaches us to dig deep. With him as our friend, difficulties become a way to show our love and to do something that has eternal value. If I don’t fight, how can I merit a crown of victory?



  1. Fruit in Docility: In order to bear fruit we must be docile to God’s word. But being docile does not mean being passive. For a Christian, docility to Christ and the Holy Spirit means willingness to work and serve. We are followers of the One who came to serve. The Spirit that is self-surrender moves us. To hear the Word of God and accept it means to make our lives an imitation of Christ’s total self-giving—day in and day out. God will grant fruit to our lives if we are willing to be other Christs in the here and now.


Conversation with Christ: Lord, thank you for showing me how to bear fruit in my life. I want to imitate your self-surrender to the Father and to souls. I know that this requires a constant effort to go deep in my life and be docile to the Holy Spirit. Help me to live as a giver, not a taker. Your love will always be there to accompany me.

Resolution: Today I will offer up a small sacrifice to ask God for the grace of acquiring the virtue that I need the most

.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Memorial of Saints Timothy and Titus, Bishops "Stronger Than Blood-Here is my Mother"

His mother and his brothers arrived. Standing outside they sent word to him and called him. A crowd seated around him told him, "Your mother and your brothers and your sisters are outside asking for you." But he said to them in reply, "Who are my mother and my brothers?" And looking around at those seated in the circle he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother."


 

Introductory Prayer: Today I want to encounter you as a friend and brother, Lord. I believe that you want to encounter me and transform me. Thank you for working in my heart, calling me to a deeper identification with you. I trust that you will lead me along paths of growth and fruitfulness.

Petition: Lord, help me to put my will in conformity with yours.


  1. Maybe He Needs a Break: Jesus was very busy. Perhaps he was tired. Perhaps his mother arrived to give him a bit of food or a word of encouragement. But we find in today’s Gospel a Christ who is strong. He has strengthened himself through intimate contact with the Father. He has filled his heart with a love for souls. He finds nourishment in doing the Father’s will. Surely his mother was encouraged by what she found. Do I let the will of God be my strength? Does prayer transform me to the point where charity and evangelization become my natural way of being?



  1. Closeness for the Right Reason: As Jesus taught and healed, people were naturally attracted to him. Yet simply being physically close to him did not count. One had to open one’s heart to receive his message of conversion. He was looking to transform people, to make them capable of living as sons and daughters of God. If I am willing to learn Jesus’ standards and act as he does, then I can be close to him. He will allow me into his intimacy if I make God’s will mine.



  1. Accompanying Christ: There is a mysterious reality here. I can actually bring consolation to Christ’s heart. I can accompany him on his divine mission. I must be willing to renounce my will and do only the will of the Father. Can Christ point to me and say, “He is my brother; she is my sister; she is my mother”? I must look at my life and see what is not in conformity to his will. I must make a firm resolution to show my faith and love in the very thing that is most difficult for me.


Conversation with Christ: Lord, you give me this short life in order to become part of your family. I want to make the Father’s will my own as you did. Help me to put God’s will above everything else, so that it becomes what I most deeply desire. Then I will truly be yours.

Resolution: Today I will make an act of charity towards someone with whom I find it difficult to get along.



Sunday, January 24, 2016

Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, apostle "Caught by the Mission"

Jesus appeared to the Eleven and said to them, "Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."

 

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I renew my faith in the power of your word. I come to you today to listen to you and allow you to lead me. I renew my trust in your mercy: You are constantly looking upon me and the world with love. I want to love you in return and lead others to love you.

 

Petition: Fill me with the power of your good news, Lord.


  1. The World Needs Messengers of Hope: Jesus Christ is the message that everyone vitally needs. He is God’s message to man, the message that tells people that God loves them deeply and offers them a way to true life and salvation. Our world often looks for love in the wrong places; it needs to find the answer to its deepest desires in Christ. But who will spread this message? Those like St. Paul who take Christ’s love seriously and see that they, too, can become messengers of hope. Am I meant to be a messenger of hope?



  1. God Acts Powerfully in Those Who Trust Him: St. Paul is an example of what God can do through someone who trusts in him. St. Paul valued the grace Christ gave him. He put his life totally in the hands of Christ and was not afraid to proclaim him to everyone he met. Even though Paul faced many difficulties, his work produced enormous fruit and helped extend the number of Christian communities. Do I believe that Christ can work through me as I participate in the New Evangelization? In what ways can I trust him more?



  1. Our Opportunity Is Now: St. Paul and the first apostles did not wait until all the circumstances were right before beginning evangelization. Once Christ had touched their lives and once he had given them the command to begin, they began right away. The Church has asked us to begin again today. Like St. Paul, we must feel that the fire of Christ’s love impels us (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:14). We cannot wait until the circumstances are favorable; we must do whatever we can now. We have already experienced Christ’s love. Why are we waiting to share it? What holds me back from a greater surrender to the work of evangelization?


Conversation with Christ: Lord, like Saint Paul I have been touched by your love, and I have heard your command to go out and spread the good news. I renew my trust in your companionship, and I resolve to do all I can to bring your Gospel to others. Help me to keep my eyes on you.

Resolution: Today I will share a thought from the Gospel or from the Holy Father’s teaching with at least two people whom I encounter.


Saturday, January 23, 2016

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time "Bringing Good News"


Since many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning and ministers of the word have handed them down to us, I too have decided, after investigating everything accurately anew, to write it down in an orderly sequence for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may realize the certainty of the teachings you have received. Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news of him spread throughout the whole region. He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all. He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord." Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, "Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing."

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I come to discover you more deeply today. I believe that you are really present in your word. I trust that you guide my life. I love you for taking the initiative to look for me by your Incarnation.

 Petition: Lord, fill me with the joy of your presence.


  1. Telling the Story: The Gospels tell us the truth about Jesus Christ: his life, teachings, death and resurrection. In Jesus Christ, God has personally become involved in human history. He has come to make a path to eternal union with the Father. We can thank Our Lord for becoming man and strengthening the relationship between God and man. We should read the Gospels with reverence and take seriously Christ’s invitation to become his followers.



  1. Glad Tidings to the Poor: All of us are poor in God’s eyes. We all need his grace, friendship and mercy. Our spiritual neediness is a source of blessings. Christ has come to enrich each of us with the presence of his love, the love of the Father for his children. When we are in need, we can turn with confidence to Christ. We can learn from him how to make our life fruitful. Do I turn to him in confidence in my needs? Do I allow the greatness of his presence in my heart to fill me with joy?



  1. A Year Acceptable to the Lord: For three short years Jesus walked among the people of Palestine. How many people really discovered him for who he was? We, too, have only a short time to come to know the Lord. Our human existence is short. Jesus gives us many ways to come into contact with him: his word in Scripture, the sacraments, the good example of other Christians, the providential circumstances of our life, etc. Christ is present for the asking. Do I attempt to discover him more deeply each day?


Conversation with Christ: Lord, thank you for singling me out. I know that you give me many ways to discover you. Help me to look for you more this day through the eyes of faith. I want to commit to following you.

Resolution: Today I will review my New Year’s resolutions and work on abiding by one in a particular way.


Friday, January 22, 2016

Saturday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time "Through the Eyes of Faith"


Jesus came with his disciples into the house. Again the crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat.  When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”

Introductory Prayer: Another week has passed in your company, in your service. What a joy, what an honor, what a glory to be the subject of a king like you! Lord, I know that you make all things new and that through this moment of prayer you can give me new vision of faith to see you more clearly.

Petition: Lord, help me to strive to be a source of happiness for others.


  1. Home life for Jesus Christ: We know that Jesus made his home in Capernaum. (“And leaving Nazareth he went and dwelt in Capernaum” Mt. 4:13.) Today’s short Gospel passage indicates that Our Lord did not find rest at home. From all over, the great crowds to whom he has been preaching have followed him to his doorstep. When we return home from a hard day’s work, we likely seek a well-deserved rest, but perhaps a spouse and children wait for us there. They need to be shown our love, which involves our time, service, compassion, and support. Members of our extended family, neighbors, friends and people in need also look to us for help and kindness. Those we love and those in need ought to pull us outside of ourselves, so that like Christ, we reach out and lovingly serve them throughout the entire day. When I come home, do I strive to be a source of happiness and support for the members of my family, or does my self-centeredness close me off to the needs of the others?



  1. A Man for Others: “Jesus was a man for others. Such a crowd gathered around Jesus and his disciples that they had no time even to eat. Nothing mattered more to Jesus than feeding the souls of his neighbor with the nourishment of his love and his truth, so much so that he neglected to feed himself. This self-sacrificing attitude permeated every moment of his earthly existence, culminating in the complete oblation of his life on the cross at Calvary” (John Bartunek, LC, The Better Part, p. 375). To what extent is my desire to serve those around me, even to the point of sacrifice, the thermometer of my love for them? Have I ever been accused by anyone of “madness” because of my dedication to others?



  1. Out of His Mind? Some of Jesus’ relatives, whose outlook was all too human, believed that Christ’s commitment to others was excessive. “The only explanation, they thought, was that he was out of his mind. On reading these words of the Gospel, we cannot help being moved, realizing what Jesus did for love of us: people even thought him mad. Many saints, following Christ’s example, have been taken for madmen — but they were mad with love, mad with love for Jesus Christ” (The Navarre Bible: St. Mark, p. 87). Do I long to love Christ in my heart and in my life, even to the point of madness? Is my one great ideal in life to be a saint — not for my own sake, but in order to be able to transmit Christ’s love to those around me, to help bring about his Kingdom in souls?


Conversation with Christ: Thank you, Lord, for the gift of faith. It is a gift more precious than life itself. Help me to see others with the eyes of faith, to pour myself out in loving and serving them, just like you did. Help me to love you with madness as I serve each of my brothers and sisters.

Resolution: At the end of the day, I will pay special attention to fulfilling the needs and desires of my family members.


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Friday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time "Christ Chooses Me"


He went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him. He appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach and to have authority to drive out demons: (he appointed the Twelve:) Simon, whom he named Peter; James, son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James, whom he named Boanerges, that is, sons of thunder; Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus; Thaddeus, Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe that through baptism you have invited me to share in your friendship. I trust in your Church, Lord. You have given us this institution as the guide to help us in our salvation. I love you, Lord, because you have loved me first. I love you, Lord, for calling me to be your friend and apostle. I may be a mere sinner, but with you, Lord, I believe that I can do great things.

Petition: Lord, help me to collaborate in your work of salvation. 


  1. Christ Summoned Those Whom He Wanted: Christ has chosen to need our assistance. He wants our help with the great work of the New Evangelization. As great and powerful as Christ is, he has willed that man collaborate with him in his plan of salvation. He wants to involve others in helping people to come to know, love and serve him. He makes use of man’s free and responsible collaboration in order to carry out his plans. Therefore, even though man is a creature of very limited possibilities, he can achieve truly unimaginable things when he lives and works for God.



  1. He Calls Me by Name: Christ does not haphazardly choose me to collaborate with him in the New Evangelization. He knows me. He knows me better than I know myself, and out of love he invites me to be with him. When he calls me by name, he reaches into the depths of my heart and soul. He delves into the depths of who I am, and he identifies with me. When he calls me by name, he calls me out of love; “he calls me to share in his own divine life” (Lumen Gentium, 2). He calls me by name because he knows how great the gift is that he wishes to share with me.



  1. He Gives Me a Mission: “He sent them to preach and to drive out demons” (Mark 3:14-15). Christ doesn’t call me just to enjoy the present life. He has created me for a purpose. He has given me a specific vocation that only I can fulfill. I am irreplaceable; there will never be another me. The opportunity that I have to share in this friendship with Our Lord is an invitation to do something with him and for him. Christ’s love for me invites and beckons me to collaborate with him. Who can resist an invitation to collaborate with someone so great, and with an offer so challenging and yet so fulfilling?


Conversation with Christ: Lord, you have wished for me to enter your friendship. You have called me by name to be your friend. You have invited me to help you in the New Evangelization. I want to help you and do my part. Give me the strength to be close to you and to collaborate with you in this great undertaking.

Resolution: I will bring up the faith in a conversation with someone.



Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Memorial of Saint Agnes, Virgin and Martyr "Touching the Lord"

Jesus withdrew toward the sea with his disciples. A large number of people followed from Galilee and from Judea. Hearing what he was doing, a large number of people came to him also from Jerusalem, from Idumea, from beyond the Jordan, and from the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon. He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him. He had cured many and, as a result, those who had diseases were pressing upon him to touch him.  And whenever unclean spirits saw him they would fall down before him and shout, "You are the Son of God." He warned them sternly not to make him known.

Introductory Prayer: Lord, this time of prayer should be everything for me: the moment that I long for, the food that sustains me, the comfort that strengthens me. I know that you are at work in me even when I don’t feel you and don’t even seem able to perceive your presence. I want to pray fervently and from the heart, not just with my mind.

Petition: Lord, help me to touch you in this moment of prayer. Help me to touch you in the Eucharist so that your presence will transform me.


  1. Was Jesus Afraid? In yesterday’s Gospel text, Jesus silenced the Pharisees in the synagogue. So incensed were they against the Lord that they began to plot with the Herodians to kill him. Now Jesus has retreated from the synagogues to the lakeshore and the open fields. Was Christ afraid? Was he running from his enemies? Hardly. The Lord was simply aware that his hour had not yet come. When it does approach, he will embrace it by marching resolutely to Jerusalem and his passion and death. The ones who really are afraid are the demons. They recognize that God is manifesting his power through Christ, and they tremble before him. The Son of God has come to win back what Satan’s lies have stolen. Does Christ’s power accompanying me in my life give me the courage I need to confront any situation as his witness?



  1. To Touch the Lord: In this vivid Gospel scene, the crowds of stricken humanity clamor around Jesus. Jews and gentiles journey from the far away regions of Idumea to the south, and Tyre and Sidon to the north, to catch a glimpse of the Master, to hear him speak words that no one has ever spoken before—to touch him and be healed of their infirmities. Oh, that we too had lived during the time of Christ in order to touch him and be cured of our sadness and selfishness, our heartache and egotism, our loneliness and lies, and even our physical ailments! Did Christ love those people who surrounded him by the lakeshore more than he loves us? No. He enables us to touch him more easily than they – every time we receive him in the Eucharist. Then why are we not yet healed? The disciples once cried out to Jesus, “Increase our faith!” And he replied, “If you had faith the size of a mustard seed….”



  1. The Person of Christ: Irresistible: How can we grow in our faith in Christ? How can we, too, experience the irresistible attraction of his person like the crowds in Mark’s Gospel did? Nothing fills our life as much as contemplating the figure of Christ and perceiving the irresistible power of attraction he exercises through the centuries. Draw close to him, and in the depths of your souls contemplate him in all of the beauty of his human and divine stature. Along with the Eucharist, it is through prayer that we can come to touch Christ. Prayer is the most solemn moment for confessing our love; it is the raison d’ĂȘtre of our life, the ideal of our apostolate, the nourishment of our whole existence.


Conversation with Christ: Thank you, Lord, for letting me catch a glimpse of who you are through this meditation. Help me to respond to the attraction of your person with my whole life and to hold nothing back from you.

Resolution: I will visit Christ in the Eucharist or make a spiritual communion to thank him for his love and to contemplate him in the beauty of his divine and human stature.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Wednesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time "To Do Good or Evil?"


Jesus entered the synagogue. There was a man there who had a withered hand. They watched him closely to see if he would cure him on the sabbath so that they might accuse him. He said to the man with the withered hand, "Come up here before us." Then he said to them, "Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?" But they remained silent. Looking around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart, he said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out and his hand was restored.  The Pharisees went out and immediately took counsel with the Herodians against him to put him to death.

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe in you. Thank you for the gift of faith, more precious than life itself. I hope in you. May the dark waters of doubt never break through my dike of hope. I love you. I want to let you purify me, so that my love for you may be more ardent and more courageous.

Petition: Lord, help me to bear witness to you even in adverse circumstances.


  1. “They Watched Him Closely”: At the beginning of his public ministry, Christ already incurs the bitter opposition of the Pharisees. Having reduced them to silence in a wheat field, Christ bravely enters the synagogue to confront them once again. There the Pharisees are in the first places of honor, and they watch his every move, hoping he will cure against the laws of the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. The Pharisees were right about one thing. They did well to observe Christ closely. If only they had done so with the right spirit: to learn from him and to glorify God for the wonders he did through him. How closely do we watch Christ in our own lives? How readily do we perceive his actions through the circumstances of the day? How often do we glorify God for the great things Christ does and longs to do in us?



  1. To Do Good or Evil? Christ obliges the Pharisees. With fearless courage he calls the man with the withered hand forward, so that no one can mistake what he is about to do. Then he puts his antagonists in a dilemma with two clear questions. First: “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil?” “They are bound to admit that it is lawful to do good; and it is a good thing he proposed to do. They are bound to deny that it is lawful to do evil; and, yet, surely it is an evil thing to leave a man in wretchedness when it is possible to help him.” (William Barclay, The Gospel of Mark, pp. 68-69) Then Christ asks the second question: “Is it lawful to save life rather than to destroy it?” “Here he is driving the thing home. He is taking steps to save this wretched man’s life; they are thinking out methods of killing Christ. On any reckoning it is surely a better thing to be thinking about helping a man than it is to be thinking of killing a man. No wonder they had nothing to say!” (Ibid.)



  1. Angered by Their Hardness of Heart: Seldom does the Gospel show Christ angry. Here his anger is provoked by the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and their hardness of heart. They close themselves off from his message of salvation. What happens when someone definitively closes his heart to Christ? The Pharisees, the defenders of the law and Jewish customs, were bitter enemies of the Herodians, who collaborated with King Herod and the Romans. Yet this Gospel relates the chilling fact that these two joined forces to plot to kill Jesus. They are united not by the intrinsic force of goodness, but by the malignant power of evil. Do I at times make small concessions to hypocrisy, envy or even hatred? These could slowly harden my heart toward Christ. Am I willing to be courageous like Christ and endure even bitter opposition for the sake of the Gospel?


Conversation with Christ: Thank you, Lord, for your goodness and courage. How small I feel when I compare myself with you in the Gospel. What an infinite distance separates us! Thank you for calling me — with all of my weakness, sins, and limitations — to be your apostle. Help me never to surrender to evil in my heart, but to grow in goodness of heart in order to be more like you.

Resolution: I will do a good deed for someone today, even if it is difficult, in order to bear witness to Christ.


Monday, January 18, 2016

Tuesday of the Second Week in Ordinary Time "Mankind in Dire Need"


As Jesus was passing through a field of grain on the sabbath, his disciples began to make a path while picking the heads of grain. At this the Pharisees said to him, "Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the sabbath?" He said to them, "Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry? How he went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest and ate the bread of offering that only the priests could lawfully eat, and shared it with his companions?" Then he said to them, "The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.  That is why the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath."

Introductory Prayer: Lord, the most important moment of my day has arrived. I am alone with you for a heart-to-heart talk. Who am I that you should want to spend this time with me; that you should want to pour yourself out to me? What a joy, what an honor, what a glory to be the follower of a king like you!

Petition: Lord, help me to pray for and serve those who persecute me and  to win them over to the Gospel through love, just like you did.


  1. “Unlawful on the Sabbath”: How dire was mankind’s need for a Savior! The Jews were God’s chosen people; they had received God’s own revelation in the Old Testament. The Pharisees were the religious leaders of the Jewish people. Yet they buried God’s law so deeply beneath layers of man-made precepts that hungry men were not allowed to pick grain in order to eat on the Sabbath. The law had become an end in itself and had taken precedence over persons in need. How could mankind ever be led safely along the true path to salvation without becoming hopelessly entangled in the thickets of false rituals and arbitrary precepts? The Son of God, the Eternal Word of the Father, humbled himself to become the Son of Man in order to bring us the fullness of truth. But Christ did much more than bring us the fullness of God’s revelation. He gave us the strength, through his own life of grace within us, to live out that truth in our lives. Am I sufficiently tapped into that source of grace in my life?



  1. Seeking to Win over Enemies: If we were in Christ’s place, what would have been our reaction to the Pharisees? Perhaps we would have yielded to their imposing presence. Maybe we would have summoned up our courage and dismissed their intransigence without even deigning to reply. Christ reveals both his fearlessness and his goodness of heart by seeking to win them over. He quotes the Scriptures that they believe in and cites 1 Samuel 21:1-6. David and his men, fleeing from Saul, eat the holy bread of the Presence: twelve loaves placed each morning on the table in the sanctuary, as homage to the Lord from the twelve tribes of Israel. When they were withdrawn to make room for fresh ones, these loaves were reserved for the Levitical priests. Christ seeks to reveal to the Pharisees, in a way they can accept, that they have gone astray from true religion, in which love of God and neighbor takes precedence over following rules. Christ sums up the nature of true religion and points out the Pharisees’ error in one sublime sentence: “The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.” Do I perceive the burden Christ has given me as light? That is what he intends and promises. If I do not, why not?



  1. Lord of the Sabbath: Christ does not stop with revealing the nature and purpose of true religion. He makes a bold proclamation, one which must have stunned the Pharisees, and perhaps even widened the eyes of his own disciples: “The Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.” Christ declares in no uncertain terms that his authority is equal to that of God himself, who instituted the Sabbath at the dawn of man’s creation. Christ wants from the Pharisees nothing less than an act of faith in his own divine person. His heart longs to save them. Christ yearns to bring to salvation everyone he encounters, including his enemies. Does my own zeal for souls bring me to reflect something of Christ’s courage and love when I am faced with opposition? Do I desire and seek what is good for everyone regardless of their attitude towards me?


Conversation with Christ: Thank you, Lord, for becoming a man to save us in our dire need for you. Thank you for loving even your enemies and seeking to win them over to your new life. Help me to love more like you did. Help me to realize the value of a single soul.

Resolution: I will pray and make sacrifices for someone who is persecuting me or the Church. Forgetting about myself, I will look for ways to bring them to experience the love of Christ