Sunday, July 31, 2016
Saturday, July 30, 2016
Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me." He replied to him, "Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?" Then he said to the crowd, "Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one´s life does not consist of possessions." Then he told them a parable. "There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest. He asked himself, ´What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?´ And he said, ´This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones. There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself, "Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years, rest, eat, drink, be merry!" But God said to him, ´You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?´ Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God."
Introductory Prayer: O God, I come to you today with all my human frailty. You know me better than I know myself. I am in your presence to accompany and console you, not to seek consolation or a nice feeling for myself. Even if I get distracted during our time together, I offer myself to you completely.
Petition: Lord, give me wisdom to understand what is truly important in this life.
1. The Scorecard of Life: Driving down the road, a bumper sticker is often seen: “The one who dies with the most toys wins.” This is a contemporary rendition of the mantra of Jesus’ rich fool: “Eat, drink and be merry.” Juggling credit cards and all kinds of financing schemes, many people live life like the rich fool in today’s Gospel. Is the drive for material pleasure, or security, impoverishing my soul?
2. A Bigger Barn vs. a Bigger Heart: What will truly make us happy? Glossy magazine ads are, for some, a source of inspiration on this point. Basically, they are about “bigger barns”: a hotter car, redder lipstick, spectacular vacations. The rich fool believes that by increasing his capacity for material pleasure, he will be happier. But it’s an illusion. Like the running wheel for a gerbil, it is lots of movement without getting anywhere. We invest energy and effort acquiring things, but the bigger barn brings us little joy. That’s because our hearts--not our barns--are what really need to be enlarged. Our heart longs for love. That Augustinian restlessness will never leave us in peace until we have encountered the Lord who loves us and discovered him in the relationships ordained by his providence.
3. When the Final Curtain Is Drawn: At the end of this parable, Jesus in essence says, “You can’t take it with you.” There’s a place in Rome in which this is graphically depicted. The Capuchin church of St Mary of the Immaculate Conception, on Via Veneto, is affectionately known as the “Bone Church.” Inside there is an amazingly designed and arranged display made completely out of the bones of four thousand Capuchin friars! While it may strike at modern sensitivities as somewhat morbid, like today’s Gospel it teaches an important lesson. All those bones look alike. Unless you are a forensic expert, you cannot tell who was fat or thin, smart or dull, handsome or homely. Death is the great leveler. Earthly advantages dissolve. Material goods stay in this world. We go to the Lord to render an account of our lives at death. As the little sign on the wall of the Capuchin ossarium says, “One day, we were like you. One day, you will be like us.”
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, so often I find my eyes looking on the good things of this world more as ends than means. I need to keep my priorities straight always: you first and then everything else, inasmuch as they lead me to you. Give me the wisdom to realize that life is short and it must be lived for you alone.
Resolution: I will live charity today as fervently as if I knew this day were my last.
Friday, July 29, 2016
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
Jesus said to his disciples: "The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the Kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it."
Introductory Prayer: Lord, you have made me for yourself, and my heart is restless until I rest in you. I want to encounter you more deeply today so that you can be my treasure. Thank you for the gift of this new day. I know you love me. I wish to discover your love more deeply and give it to others.
Petition: Lord, help me to treasure the gift of your friendship.
1. In Search of a Treasure: The restlessness in our hearts can be compared to a hunt for treasure. In different ways we all experience the desire for unconditional love, true goodness, the answer to our deepest questions. In Christ, God has come to give himself to us. He is the one we truly long for; he is our greatest treasure. During this time of prayer let us deepen our awareness of the greatness of his gift of friendship, and let us strengthen this friendship by our openness to his love.
2. The Priceless Treasure: In Christ we have experienced the overwhelming faithfulness of God’s love for us. In his mercy we discover that our life has infinite value in the Father’s eyes. In his teachings we discover the wisdom to build our life on solid ground. In his grace we receive the strength to grow in love and holiness. This is where we can build a true future. This is where we can live up to our calling to greatness. But we must be willing to leave aside all other concerns to really possess this treasure. We must leave aside anything that tries to give us a false sense of security outside of God. Am I making my friendship with Christ the one value that guides my heart and my decisions?
3. The Unopened Treasure Chest: Unpacking this treasure is the work of our spiritual life. We need to cooperate with Christ’s grace in order to truly possess this treasure. The cultivation of faith, hope and charity helps us discover and live this treasure more fully each day. Our sacrifices and renunciations done to put on the new man help us dig this treasure out of the earthy make-up of our lives. Living generous charity helps us make this treasure truly last and enrich our lives. Am I sincerely allowing Christ’s treasure to transform me?
Conversation with Christ: Lord, thank you for the gift of your love. You are the treasure I truly long for. Help me to enter more deeply into your heart this day by doing things your way no matter what the cost. Help me to value the gift of your friendship above everything else.
Resolution: I will make a small sacrifice of my time to do something extra for someone who needs God’s love.
Monday, July 25, 2016
Sunday, July 24, 2016
1. Called to Serve:
2. A Continuation of Christ:
3. What Service Means:
Conversation with Christ:
Saturday, July 23, 2016
1. Verdant Farm or Barren Wasteland?
2. A Tainted Field?
3. God Never Gives Up On Me:
Conversation with Christ:
Friday, July 22, 2016
Thursday, July 21, 2016
Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Tuesday, July 19, 2016
On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd stood along the shore. And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying: "A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up. Some 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. But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirty fold. Whoever has ears ought to hear."
Introductory Prayer: Lord, my prayer will “work” only if I have humility in your presence. So I am approaching you with meekness and humility of heart. I have an infinite need for you and your grace. Thinking about this helps me grow in humility. I trust in you and your grace. Thank you for the unfathomable gift of your love.
Petition: Lord, may I always respond to your grace in my heart with fervor and active love.
1. Tears of a Sower: Imagine Jesus preaching to the crowds, hoping for a positive response, but instead witnessing many people turning a deaf ear to his message of salvation. One day he is thinking about this as he watches a farmer sowing seed. He sees birds come immediately and take some away. He sees previously sown seed scorched by the sun. He sees some sprouts strangled by weeds. He then remembers the faces and perhaps even the names of people who heard his message, but who chose not to respond or whose response was short-lived. We are reminded of another Gospel passage: “As he drew near Jerusalem, he saw the city and wept over it, saying ‘If this day you only knew what makes for peace -- but now it is hidden from your eyes’” (Luke 19:41).
2. Rebellion or Rest: The admonition to heed the word of God is frequent in Scripture. In the Book of Hebrews the author warns us to “harden not your hearts as at the rebellion in the day of testing in the desert.” The people of Israel responded in this unfortunate way after the exodus from Egypt. “They have always been of erring heart, and they do not know my ways. As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter into my rest’” (Cf. Hebrews 3: 7-11). This helps us foster a healthy fear of the Lord, encouraging us to work hard to conquer all hardness of heart and remain close to Christ so as to enter into his rest.
3. Fruits of Virtue: “But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirty-fold.” The fruit that Our Lord wishes us to produce are virtues inspired by faith, hope and love. If we are growing in virtue each day in imitation of Christ and for love of him, we can be sure we are heeding his voice and are pleasing in his eyes. The greatest of all virtues is charity, a practical and effective love for our neighbor. We can contemplate the lives of the saints to see how these fruits are played out in a way truly pleasing to Christ.
Conversation with Christ: Lord, you know how easy it is for me to allow mediocrity to slip into my life. The cares and worries of life often push you and your kingdom to a secondary plane. Grant me the habit of carving out time for you in prayer each day, and carving out space for you in my life and the lives of those under my care.
Resolution: I will renew my effort with whatever prayer commitment I have allowed to waver or falter the most.