Monday, February 29, 2016

the Third Week of Lent "Forgiveness from the Heart"

Peter approached Jesus and asked him, "Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, "I . That is why the kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount. Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt. At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, ´Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.´ Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan. When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a much smaller amount. He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, ´Pay back what you owe.´ Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him, ´Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.´ But he refused. Instead, he had him put in prison until he paid back the debt. Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master and reported the whole affair. His master summoned him and said to him, ´You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?´ Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt. So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart."

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, as I prepare for the coming of Easter during this Lenten season, I turn to you in prayer. You have been merciful to me. Many times you have pardoned the great debt I owe. I trust in your merciful love and wish to transmit your love to many others faithfully. Here I am, Lord, ready to learn from your tender heart.

Petition: Lord, enlighten me to your gift of mercy.


  1. An Unpayable Debt: Peter asks Jesus how many times he should forgive his brother. Jesus gives a short answer, telling a parable to make sure his answer is understood. In the parable God is the king, and we are all the servants who owe the king a huge amount. We are all in debt to God. He created us and keeps us in existence and gives us every good thing we have, every talent and virtue. We owe God everything. He owes us nothing. Do my daily thoughts and actions reflect this truth?



  1. The Forgiving King: The servant, not being able to pay, falls to his knees and begs for more time so that he can pay back the debt. The king offers him more than just time – he pardons the entire debt. God is generous. When we turn to him and ask for forgiveness, he offers us much more than we could hope for – he pardons our entire debt. Then why, we might ask, does the king settle accounts with his servant if he is so generous? Why not pardon the debt from the beginning instead of ordering him along with his wife and children to be sold? He calls the servant to account so that the servant will realize how much he owes and in realizing this, he might imitate God when dealing with his fellow-worker. God does not want us to be punished for our sins. He desires to forgive us the great debt we owe him, but he calls us to account for our sins in the hope that we will recognize how much we have both received from him and owe to him and thus will ask for forgiveness.



  1. Unequal Treatment and Abuse of Freedom: After being pardoned, the servant does not treat his debtor in the same merciful manner. He sends him to prison. He had every right to do so. In justice, his fellow servant owed him money; but in doing so he abuses the liberty that he has just been given. He does not stop to reflect that in this moment he himself should rightly be in slavery, sold along with his wife and children in order to pay his debt. He does not reflect that he is able to confront his fellow servant only because the king has had pity on him in the first place, giving him liberty. The offenses we suffer from our fellow men are real offenses, but before we demand justice we must stop and reflect that it is only because God has forgiven us our sins that we have the liberty to demand reparation from our fellow men. That reflection must lead us to have the same mercy with our fellow men that God has had with us.


Conversation with Christ: Lord thank you for this time of prayer. I must recognize that you have been merciful with me and forgiven me the great debt I owe. Thank you for the many times you have given me a second chance. During this time of Lent, help me to practice mercy toward those who owe or offend me.

Resolution: I will think of someone who has offended me and say a prayer asking God to help me forgive them.


Sunday, February 28, 2016

Monday of the Third Week of Lent "Unwelcome Homecoming"

 Jesus said to the people in the synagogue at Nazareth: "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 Jesus, as I prepare for Easter during this Lenten season, I turn to you once again in prayer. I believe that you are my creator and that you have created me to know, love and serve you. I believe that you want to help me fulfill my purpose in life; that is why you came to earth to suffer and die. I offer you my prayer today as a small token of my gratitude, a small token of my desire to live my life for you. I know that sometimes I can let things get between us. Now, during this time of prayer, I want to give all my attention to you so that you – and not my egoism or passions – may govern my life choices.

Petition: Lord, help me to have the humility to accept your will for my life.


  1. No Special Privileges: Jesus’ fellow townsmen are upset with Jesus for pointing out that there were times in history that God showed his favor to Gentiles and not just Jews. They are upset because they had put their security in their Jewish heritage and the promises made to their people through the Patriarchs. They want to think that because they are Jews somehow God must show them more favor than the Gentiles. We, too, can make this mistake. We think that because we belong to this or that organization, or because we have this or that position, somehow God must give us more attention and special privileges. Isn’t this often the cause of indignation in our lives? We are upset when do not receive preferential treatment. We think that we are deserving of more. Does that indignation ever grow so strong that I try to rid myself of Christ?



  1. Seeking God’s Blessings: Why did God send Elijah to help the widow in Zarephath and Elisha to cleanse Naaman the Syrian? Surely it was not because they were more important or holier people. God chose them because they welcomed him. The widow in Zarephath happily went to fetch Elijah a drink of water when he asked for it and obediently gave him the last of the food she had. Naaman repented from his indignation and went to bathe in the Jordan as Elisha told him to do. God gives his gifts to those who welcome him.



  1. Willful Acceptance of Christ: Christ is perhaps too familiar to his townsmen. They are not able to recognize who he really is. They are upset with the way he speaks, and so they do not accept him. Will I accept Christ in my life? Perhaps he is too familiar to me. I think I know who he is. Perhaps I am unwilling to accept his teachings. Perhaps I am indignant that he has blessed others more than me. The people of Nazareth tried to throw Jesus over a cliff, but they could not get rid of him. Their assault was futile. Christ simply walked away. Christ cannot be gotten rid of. Perhaps there are times in my life when I want to get rid of Christ, but I can never destroy or blot him out of existence. He is always there waiting for me to accept him.


Conversation with Christ: Lord, please help me so that my ideas about how things should be will not cloud my vision of who you are. As I prepare for the approaching Easter, help me to purify myself of all egoism, sensuality, vanity and pride so that I can accept your love with an open heart.

Resolution: I will look for an instance during the day when I can welcome Christ’s teaching into my life.


Third Sunday of Lent "Finding Fruit"

At that time some people who were present there told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. He said to them in reply, "Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did! Or those eighteen people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them -- do you think they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!" And he told them this parable: "There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard, and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none, he said to the gardener, ´For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none. So cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil?´ He said to him in reply, ´Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.´"


 

Introductory Prayer: My Lord and my God! I believe that you came as my Savior. I know you wish to save me from everlasting harm. Thank you. I place all my trust in you. I love you, Lord, and I offer myself as an instrument for you to help others to know and love you, too.

 

Petition: Teach me, Lord, to repent, to turn to you and to spread your Good News.


  1. Scandalized by Evil: It can happen that people become scandalized or doubt God because of the evil and suffering they see in the world around them. Christ shows us that this attitude is mistaken because God says, “I swear I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked man, but rather in the wicked man´s conversion, that he may live. Turn, turn from your evil ways!” (Ezekiel 33:11). God does no evil. It is we, his creatures, who do evil, and God suffers the consequences twice: He suffers when we reject him through our sins, and he then takes our sins upon himself and suffers on the Cross so that we might be redeemed. If anyone has a right to complain about the evil in the world, it is God. However, it is through forgiveness that God shows his power and his love. We should not be scandalized by evil, but examine our souls and repent of our own sinful deeds.



  1. Wrath of God or Wrath of Man? “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). I am that tree which so far has given little or no fruit. Jesus is the gardener who sticks up for me and pleas to “fertilize me” instead of cutting me down. The fertilizer is Christ’s Body and Blood, which he sacrificed so that I might have life to the fullest. He wishes to give me his very self and to fill me with grace and thus “reconstruct” my weak, worn heart and person. What does he ask of me? I need to turn to him with both contrition for my sins and confidence in his healing love. I need to open myself to his saving grace. Am I fully aware of my need for Christ, and do I turn to him hungrily? If not, why not?



  1. Finding Figs: “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). After three years of public ministry, we see in today’s Gospel that Jesus is ready to put his life on the line for me – but does the Son of Man find any faith or love in my heart? “God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17). He will soon shed his blood under Pontius Pilate – for my sins. Will he find my tree barren and grant me this one last “year” of mercy? Or will he find my tree blooming with sweet-smelling fruits in good works performed out of love for him? He will hang from a dead tree on Good Friday, and his corpse, given out of love for me, will become real fruit, real moisture and fertilizer to my arid soul. Let him make of me a fruitful fig tree, so that others, too, may come to repentance on my account.


Conversation with Christ: Teach me, Lord, to repent, to turn to you, and to spread your Good News. I believe in your mission of saving souls, including mine. I hope in you because of the time of mercy that you grant me. I want to love by spreading the Good News of your salvation. Let me be a messenger of your love.

Resolution: I will serve others by voicing Christian hope in my conversations today.


Friday, February 26, 2016

Saturday of the Second Week of Lent "The Prodigal Father"


Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to him, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them." So to them he addressed this parable. Then he said, "A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father, ´Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me.´ So the father divided the property between them. After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation. When he had freely spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he found himself in dire need. So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens who sent him to his farm to tend the swine. And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed, but nobody gave him any. Coming to his senses he thought, ´How many of my father´s hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger. I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers."´ So he got up and went back to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him. His son said to him, ´Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.´ But his father ordered his servants, ´Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Then let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.´ Then the celebration began. Now the older son had been out in the field and, on his way back, as he neared the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean. The servant said to him, ´Your brother has returned and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.´ He became angry, and when he refused to enter the house, his father came out and pleaded with him. He said to his father in reply, ´Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. But when your son returns who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf.´ He said to him, ´My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.´"

Introductory Prayer: Lord, though I cannot see you with my eyes, I believe you are present to me now, in my innermost being, and that you know me far better than I know myself. I also know that you love me much more than I love my own self. Thank you for loving and watching over me, though I don’t deserve your love. In return, I offer you my sorrow for my sins and my hope to love you more each day.

Petition: Jesus, guide me to a complete rejection of sin in my life.


  1. Love: The Double-Edged Sword - Place yourself in the father´s shoes. He loves his sons, sacrifices himself for them, and has tremendous hope and fatherly pride in them. He intensely wants them to be happy and seeks what´s best for them. Above all, he wants them to respond to his love for them with the same generosity, the same intensity of self-giving. There is nothing more painful for a lover than unanswered, ignored or scorned love. Imagine how much God loves us: he sends his only begotten Son into the world, to become man––with all the limitations and suffering this entails––to die on a cross, in our place, because of our sins.



  1. Forgetting to Count Your Blessings: The minute the son begins to think about himself and turn his attention away from the father´s love is the minute he begins to have problems that will lead to spiritual and material bankruptcy. Asking for his inheritance was tantamount to wishing his father´s death, since an inheritance is bestowed only after the death of one’s parents. How many times have I asked God to die by choosing my own will over his? Self-centeredness leads to ingratitude: forgetting that I have received everything from God through no merit of my own and that it will all return to him. Self-centeredness also leads to trying to find happiness anywhere except the one place it truly is found: God.



  1. A Rude Awakening: Anytime we turn away from the love and grace of God and turn to sin, we lose our senses and leave God for a “distant country.” God´s will is our home, even if on the surface it may seem unpleasant. Sin blinds the intellect and weakens the will. Its every moment is a point of departure. But—every saint has a past and every sinner has a future. We can turn back to God right now. He is with us right here, right now, pouring out his grace. He ardently longs for us to respond to him, just as the father in the parable must have longed for the return of his son. I can stand up. I can return to my Father. I can bury my past in Christ. I can go to him for forgiveness.


Conversation with Christ: Heavenly Father, I clearly see the many times I have said “No” to you and chosen myself. I give thanks for having such a patient and forgiving father as you. I am sorry for my lack of love for you. Now I reject sin once more and turn back to you, confident of your mercy and forgiveness.

Resolution: I will say a heartfelt act of contrition, relishing God´s love and mercy for me.


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Friday of the Second Week of Lent "The Gift of Life"


Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people: "Hear another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a tower. Then he leased it to tenants and went on a journey. When vintage time drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce. But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat, another they killed, and a third they stoned. Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones, but they treated them in the same way. Finally, he sent his son to them, thinking, ´they will respect my son.´ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another, ´This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.´ They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?" They answered him, "He will put those wretched men to a wretched death and lease his vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the proper times.” Jesus said to them, "Did you never read in the scriptures: ´The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes´? Therefore, I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit." When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they knew that he was speaking about them. And although they were attempting to arrest him, they feared the crowds, for they regarded him as a prophet.

Introductory Prayer: Lord, though I cannot see you with my eyes, I believe you are present to me now, in my innermost being, and that you know me far better than I know myself. I also know that you love me much more than I love my own self. Thank you for loving and watching over me, though I don’t deserve your love. In return, I offer you my sorrow for my sins and my hopes to love you more each day.

Petition: Sanctify me in my work, Lord. May it bring me closer to you. 


  1. God Entrusts Us with What He Values: It’s one thing to purchase an already functional property. It’s quite another thing to purchase a rundown property and fix it up yourself. Once tidied up, the latter is worth much more to you. It has become the fruit of your sweat and blood. It is not simply a possession; it is a part of you. In today’s Gospel, the landowner purchased the land and did the work himself to set up the vineyard before he handed it over to the tenants. When he entrusted it to them, he was not simply looking for a profit, but for someone to manage his vineyard. He valued it greatly, greatly enough to risk the life of his son. Christ has established his vineyard—the Church—and put it into our hands. Christ pays us the compliment of entrusting us with his work, with what he values. He not only gives us a job to do, but mysteriously puts the eternal salvation of other souls in our hands.



  1. He Is Patient with Our Failures: The landowner did not stay around to supervise the tenants tightly. He did not even lay down rules or specify methods of cultivation. The master left the tenants to do their job as they saw fit. God is not a tyrannical taskmaster. He knows that laboring in his vineyard is hard work. At harvest time the master sent messenger after messenger. He did not become irate or condemn the tenants after one messenger had been abused and another mistreated. Rather, he sends them his son: he does everything possible to bear with their egotism and inspire them with his understanding and generosity.



  1. God Is Equally Repulsed by Our Inactivity as with Our Iniquity: “Because you are neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:15). The graver sin for the Pharisees was not what they decided, but rather their selfish and blind sterility in choosing not to decide. When Christ levies the sentence against the Pharisees, he does not say, “Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that respects life” (as serious as this is); rather, he chides them for not producing fruit. Note that the sentence is essentially equally severe: the one offense takes life, the other refuses to give it.


Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, your hands knew human labor, and you sanctified your life and the lives of those around you through your toil. Help me to see the virtue you teach. Help me to return all my talents to you by the work of my hands and mind. I want to be your working apostle.

Resolution: I will accomplish today an apostolic task that I have been putting off.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Thursday of the Second Week of Lent "Too Late for Change?"

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

Introductory Prayer: Lord, although I cannot see you with my eyes, I believe you are present to me now, in my innermost being, and that you know me far better than I know myself. I also know that you love me much more than I love my own self. Thank you for loving and watching over me, though I don’t deserve your love. In return, I offer you my sorrow for my sins and my hopes to love you more each day.

 

Petition: Lord, help me to be generous and serve the needs of my neighbor.


  1. Self-centeredness Is Useless and Sinful: The rich man lived in isolated luxury, absorbed with the latest in fashion and the finest in dining. He did not hurt anyone: He didn’t run Lazarus off his property. He didn’t mind Lazarus hanging around his table for the leftovers. He didn’t criticize him for not getting a job to earn a living. Then what was the rich man’s sin? He didn’t treat Lazarus as a person. To the rich man, Lazarus was simply a part of the landscape. How many people do I come in contact with, perhaps repeatedly, who are nothing more to me than part of the landscape?



  1. Suffering Helps Us Grow: Our words “compassion” and “sympathy” come from Latin and Greek roots that mean to “suffer with.” Our personal suffering makes us more humane and opens us up to the plight of others. Our vision becomes more perceptive of other’s hardships, and our hearts become quicker to respond compassionately. Yet suffering can be a double-edged sword. It can also push us into envy, hatred, bitterness and isolation if we are proud, or if we forget that God permits trials to purify our love. How have I responded to suffering in my life? Has it made me more compassionate or more bitter and self-centered?



  1. There Is More to Life Than Riches: Suffering also makes us more zealous for souls, more apostolic. Unfortunately for his brothers, the rich man’s zeal was a “zeal come lately.” Because he spent all his energy and fortune in avoiding suffering, he was totally absorbed in self. The meaning of his life was completely temporal, and in the end he had nothing to show for it. One of our greatest sufferings in purgatory will be the realization that we could have done so much more for the salvation of souls.


Conversation with Christ: Lord, I have had a chance to look more seriously at myself in this meditation and to examine if my heart is set on you, if you are my treasure. Perhaps in some areas I still cling to the treasures of this world. But now I want to get rid of them completely. I know that my heart can be set on only one thing and that it will radiate with whatever fills it. Fill me with yourself, so that I may radiate you. Anything that is not you cripples my efforts to give you to others. Rid me of my selfishness. Make me your apostle.

Resolution: I will pray for someone who is difficult for me to love, and I will be kind to a stranger.


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent "Put God at the Center"


As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside by themselves, and said to them on the way, "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death, and hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day." Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee approached him with her sons and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something. He said to her, "What do you wish?" She answered him, "Command that these two sons of mine sit, one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom." Jesus said in reply, "You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?" They said to him, "We can." He replied, "My chalice you will indeed drink, but to sit at my right and at my left, this is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father." When the ten heard this, they became indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus summoned them and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Introductory Prayer: Lord, though I cannot see you with my eyes, I believe you are present to me now, in my innermost being, and that you know me far better than I know myself. I also know that you love me much more than I love my own self. Thank you for loving and watching over me, though I don’t deserve your love. In return, I offer you my sorrow for my sins and my hopes to love you more each day.

 

Petition: Lord, wean me from dependence on human honors and approval.


  1. Seeking the Limelight: James and John rub shoulders with that temptation the devil puts before every apostle: “What’s in it for me, Lord?” We start out our apostolic work with purity of intention, but if we are careless, it soon becomes “purely attention.” That is why we should always be willing to submit our work to the approval of the proper ecclesiastical authorities. Christ steered clear from all power grabs and squabbles. John would alert Christ, “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.” Christ simply replied, “Do not prevent him … for whoever is not against us is for us” (Mark 9:38-9).



  1. Christ is Never Discouraged: Christ has just told his apostles of his passion, and it weighs heavily on his heart. Drowning in their own fascination for recognition, however, they are completely oblivious to Christ’s sufferings. He doesn’t let himself get discouraged. Rather, he gently helps them to look beyond themselves to follow his lead of self-giving to the point of death.



  1. Putting Others First: “Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you” (John 6:27). Human recognition is passing; it doesn’t even last a lifetime. Even in heaven human recognition will be useless—our eyes will be fixed on God, not on each other or ourselves. However, we do know by faith that God will reward us in heaven according to our merits. He will exalt us for serving others, especially when we bring others to love and serve him. Am I convinced of this? What ephemeral honors am I hankering after? How can I put Christ and serving him first in my life?


Conversation with Christ: Dear Jesus, too often I compare myself with others. It´s easy for me to find or imagine my superiority. I ignore you and your great goodness. I forget that everything I have comes from you and that I can´t claim credit for any of my qualities and virtues. Help me to keep this truth in mind so I may have an attitude of genuine humility in my heart.

Resolution: I will pray a special prayer for humility every day this week.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Tuesday of the Second Week of Lent "Actions Speak Louder Than Words"


Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses´ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father-- the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. All who exalt themselves will be humbled, and all who humble themselves will be exalted.”


Introductory Prayer: Lord, though I cannot see you with my eyes, I believe you are present to me now, in my innermost being, and that you know me far better than I know myself. I also know that you love me much more than I love my own self. Thank you for loving and watching over me, though I don’t deserve your love. In return, I offer you my sorrow for my sins and my hopes to love you more each day.

 

Petition: Lord, help me to be humble like you.


  1. Disinterested Charity: How do we know that we are truly working for God? When we are willing to work for him for nothing. God calls some missionaries to work with the poor, who can repay their benefactors with nothing more than smiles and gratitude. Other missionaries work with the humanly and spiritually poor, who neither recognize their neediness nor value the work of Christian evangelization. Parents put in long, hidden hours of service to sustain their families, often without receiving a simple “thank you.” Christ shunned human recognition not just with his words: when the people wanted to make him king, he hurried off to proclaim the Good News somewhere else. Do I value my charity towards others more than I value any position of authority? Do I seek the praise of others for the good deeds I do?



  1. Little Misunderstandings: Christian authority comes not from titles or positions, but from our faithful adherence to Christ’s commandment of charity and service. We should welcome misunderstanding in the face of our doing good. It means that God is inviting us to attain a higher level in our charity and Christian leadership. With his fidelity, Christ shows us that we have every reason to believe in the fulfillment of God’s promise. The book of Wisdom shows us that misunderstanding is part of God’s plan: “He calls blest the destiny of the just and boasts that God is his Father. Let us see whether his words be true; let us find out what will happen to him. For if the just one be the son of God, he will defend him and deliver him from the hand of his foes. With revilement and torture let us put him to the test that we may have proof of his gentleness and try his patience. Let us condemn him to a shameful death; for according to his own words, God will take care of him” (Wisdom 2: 16-20).



  1. The Cross is Our Claim to Glory: “And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself” (John 12:32). Christ did not lift himself up for others to notice; he refused to exalt himself. He refused the places of honor at banquets (he sat with the tax collectors), seats of honor in synagogues (they threw him out), and special greetings in marketplaces (“Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone” (Mark 10:18)). His silence infuriated Pilate: “Do you not speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you and I have power to crucify you?” (John 19:10). They asked Christ to exalt himself by coming down from the cross, and he refused. This is the real test of our trust and love: trusting that God really cares for us when he allows us to be crucified for being faithful, and loving that crucifixion by embracing it willingly for the good of souls.


Conversation with Christ: Dear Jesus, I know I will never be able to be as humble as you, but I want to desire and work for the greatest degree of humility possible for me. I want to leave behind the pride that has damaged so many areas of my life. I want to have your example always fresh in my mind so that I can keep advancing—not in order to glory in my own perfection, but in order to please you and do your will.

Resolution: I will think of the relationship in my life where my pride is most destructive. I will take concrete steps to deal with that person more positively and humbly.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, apostle "The Most Important Question"

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

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 in my daily actions. I trust in your power, your promise and your grace.

Petition:  Lord, let me acknowledge you with my words and actions.

1. Opinion Polls and Private Certitudes:  People give all sorts of answers to the question of who Jesus is. No figure in history has provoked more comment or more debate than Jesus Christ. And it is fair to say that in every case, how we answer the question of who Christ is determines how we live our lives: the values and moral convictions we will have, the hope we have for the life to come, the charity and service we live now in our daily lives. All of this is inspired by the stance we take on the person of Jesus. "Who do you say that I am?" is a question that necessarily involves a commitment on our part. The answer to this question requires a change in our attitudes and behavior.

2. The Life-changing Moment:  For Peter, this was a moment of true openness to the grace of the Holy Spirit. He grasped in a moment that Christ was no mere prophet or enlightened teacher of moral truths, but something much more. He was the Christ, that is, the Savior. And not only Messiah, he was the Son of the Living God-Jesus was equal to God in all things. This profession of faith would change Peter's life from that moment on. In the Creed, we profess the same faith as Peter did. Every time we receive the Eucharist, we join our response to that of Peter: We believe you are the Son of God, and there is no salvation by any other name. What changes does this faith require of me? Can I continue to be the same as before?

3. A New Name and a New Mission:  Peter's profession of faith was no simple intellectual response to a question. It was the taking of a position, a definitive stance before God and before the world. Peter embraced the truth about Christ, and in return, Christ entrusted him with the care of the Church. He would be "Rock," the foundation of his Church, and Christ offered him the guarantee that the Church would persevere forever. When we profess our faith, Christ gives us a task also. We are made "apostles" and sent out as "ambassadors of Christ" to the world. Our stance before this truth has consequences: We must be consistent with our faith each day.

Conversation with Christ:  Lord, teach me not only to acknowledge you with my mind, but to embrace the truth that you are the Son of the Living God with all my life, words, and actions. Let the conviction I have become a way of life, so that I can give witness to you before all men.

Resolution:   I will examine my life and evaluate what sort of witness I give to my faith that Christ is the Son of the Living God.


Second Sunday of Lent "The Father’s Son"


About eight days after he said this, Jesus took Peter, John, and James and went up the mountain to pray. While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem. Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep, but becoming fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As they were about to part from him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." But he did not know what he was saying.  While he was still speaking, a cloud came and cast a shadow over them, and they became frightened when they entered the cloud.  Then from the cloud came a voice that said, "This is my chosen Son; listen to him." After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. They fell silent and did not at that time tell anyone what they had seen.

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I come to you with great confidence, seeking to bask under your rejuvenating light. During this time of Lent I wish to leave aside the old man and become more like you.

 

Petition: Lord, grant me the grace to encounter you more intimately.


  1. Following the Master: The apostles Peter, James and John felt privileged that day. The Master has chosen them alone to accompany him up Mt. Tabor. The farther up the mountain they go, the more their attention is centered on Christ. They have already forgotten about the other apostles. They wonder when the Lord will stop, where he is taking them, what is the purpose of their journey. They do not understand, but they have learned to trust him and have followed him ever since he called them. He has always shown himself to be true, and so Peter, James and John stand firmly in their trust in him. This is a great lesson for us, too. We need to learn to follow Christ wherever he leads us. Although at times the going is tough and obstacles seem to be everywhere barring our path, like Peter, James and John we know for certain that the Lord is with us.



  1. The Master’s Light: They reach the summit of the mountain. The Lord begins to pray. The apostles are tired out with the climb, and although they try to pray, they soon fall fast asleep. Then the sound of voices invades their sleep, and they feel a bright light on their closed eyes. Waking up, they are overawed at what they see. Before them is the Master in his Glory. At his side stand Moses and Elijah, conversing with him in an unmistakable attitude of respect. He is dazzlingly white, almost too bright for their eyes. It is their Lord and Master. They are filled with the greatest joy. They are overcome by their experience of Christ in his glory. Peter says what comes to his mind—that he wants to remain there always. He has not fully understood, but he has grasped that to be with Christ, to live in the light of the Master, is to live in joy.



  1. My Beloved Son: Moses and Elijah appear in glory. They bear witness that their mission, and that of all those sent by God throughout the centuries of Israel’s history, was a preparation for the coming of Christ. They spoke in veiled language, in symbolic language, and though they perceived a Messiah would come, they did not fully know him. They did not know that he would be God’s only Son, born of a woman. Now the veil has been removed. The New Covenant is proclaimed by the Son himself. He speaks to the world as the Son of the Father. And it is the Father who calls on the apostles to listen to his Son, his beloved Son. Let us ask for the grace to listen to Christ. Let us ask for the grace to pick up the Gospel with renewed simplicity, with a generous and open heart, with faith and confidence in God, that we might hear the words of the Son of God.


Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, you so loved us that you came to show us the way to live our lives in the truth. You, the Eternal Word of the Father, lead us on the path of holiness. Do not let us grow weary, especially when the path is difficult. Give us your strength to stay the course.

Resolution: Today I’ll take up the Gospel and read a passage from it, exercising my faith in it as God’s own word, full of light and truth.

Friday, February 19, 2016

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.



  1. 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).



  1. 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 18, 2016

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, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 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?



  1. 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.



  1. 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.

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?



  1. 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?



  1. 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.