Thursday, August 31, 2017

Friday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time - Ready or Not!


Jesus told his disciples this parable: "The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight, there was a cry, ´Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!´ Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ´Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.´ But the wise ones replied, ´No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.´ While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked. Afterwards the other virgins came and said, ´Lord, Lord, open the door for us!´ But he said in reply, ´Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.´ Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour."

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I come to you again in prayer. Even though I cannot see you, I know through faith that you are present in my life. I hope in your promise to be with me. I love you, and I know you love me. Accept this prayer as a token of my love.

Petition: Lord, make me long for and strive to enter the kingdom of heaven.

1. A Severe Oil Shortage: The Gospel invites us to have oil for our lamps, that is, to be always ready for the coming of the Lord. He appears in moments and ways we do not expect and at all times throughout our day. The foolish virgins failed to anticipate when and how the Lord would come to them, and they were not prepared. So often we, too, get caught up in a thousand affairs and worries, and we can miss what is essential. We miss the presence of Christ in the people around us, in the circumstances in which we are living. Sometimes, Christ comes to us through some sacrifice or suffering; but we do not recognize him in it, and we reject it. We need to strengthen our faith and see how the Lord may appear in our lives.

2. The Door Closes: Over and over in the New Testament, Jesus makes clear that there is a real possibility some people, due to their own choices, may not be saved. The most terrible thing that could happen to any person would be to hear those words from the Lord who created us and died to save us: “I do not know you.” The Lord takes our freedom to choose very seriously. He never forces our will. He never imposes himself on us. Rather he invites us to make a free response of love and obedience to him and the way of life he taught us. We must choose to remain steadfast in the way of the Christian life. God cannot save us without our cooperation.

3. Stay Awake: Saint Augustine said, “Beware of the grace of God that passes and does not return.” We need to perceive God’s presence in the little things of each day and never let the opportunity to love and serve him pass us by. Our faith must be ready and watching for him. If we take him for granted, or presume that we are already saved, we can miss our chance to be with him.

Conversation with Christ: Jesus, thank you for teaching us so clearly about the seriousness of our choices. How terrible it would be to opt for death instead of eternal life with you! I want to choose you and your ways, but I am weak. Make me watch and wait always, ready to see you in all things and do your will.

Resolution: I will actively look for signs of Christ in others today.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Thursday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time - No Sleeping on the Job

Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come. Who, then, is the faithful and prudent servant, whom the master has put in charge of his household to distribute to them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master on his arrival finds doing so. Amen, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property. But if that wicked servant says to himself, ´My master is long delayed,´ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and eat and drink with drunkards, the servant´s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish him severely and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth."


Introductory Prayer: Lord, I come to you again in prayer. Even though I cannot see you, I know through faith that you are present in my life. I hope in your promise to be with me. I love you, and I know you love me. Accept this prayer as a token of my love. 


Petition:  Lord, help me to remain alert, keeping the goal of heaven always in mind.


1. Days and Hours  None of us knows how long we have to live, nor did Jesus reveal how long human history would continue before he came again for the Final Judgment. This should make us realize we need to be always ready to meet Our Lord, to have our actions true, and our conscience always clear. We need to be living as if each day were our last, as if our eternal happiness depended on the choices and actions of this very day. Every moment is precious and important in God’s eyes, and the one necessary thing is working to attain our salvation. This is more important than anything else we can accomplish in life. 


2. True Prudence The servant who is constant and steady, who does what he is supposed to do at each moment, is the truly prudent person. God wants us to be faithful and follow his will every single day. This is the path to holiness and union with God; there is no other way we can be close to God except by doing his will, out of love and gratitude. How do my actions today reflect loving obedience to God’s will? Am I putting God at the center of my life, or do I have him and his will relegated to the margins, paying attention to what he wants of me only from time to time? 


3. A Long Delay  Often it can seem that God is distant and not involved in our lives. It can seem that he is not coming back anytime soon, and this can lead us to become distracted with many other things. Every day we need to renew our spirit of faith in God and in his constant presence, living each day to please him, no matter how long the delay seems to be. We need to live in his presence through faith in him and his revelation, which guides us along the pathway to eternal life. We need to keep a lively, operative faith in God and in his presence every day. 


Conversation with Christ:  Lord, teach me to pray with real faith in you and in your word which gives life. Help me believe at every moment so that I can please you, do your will and grow in holiness. 


Resolution:  I will renew my faith each day, frequently making conscious and fervent acts of faith.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Wednesday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary - To Be or Not to Be - About Hypocrisy

Jesus said, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men´s bones and every kind of filth. Even so, on the outside you appear righteous, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the memorials of the righteous, and you say, ´If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have joined them in shedding the prophets´ blood.´ Thus you bear witness against yourselves that you are the children of those who murdered the prophets; now fill up what your ancestors measured out!"

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I believe that you are “the Way, the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6). I humbly come before you today. I trust completely in you, and therefore I want my life to be an open book where you write the pages of my life story.

Petition: Lord Jesus, grant me a sincere and humble heart.


  1. What You See Is Not What You Get! One of the sternest reprimands Jesus gave was against the hypocrisy of those charged with the grave task of leading God’s people. They were called to transmit the hope of God’s promise of deliverance: “I will be your God and you shall be my people” (Jeremiah 24:7). Yet their vain righteousness was nothing but self-indulgence that burdened the flock of Israel to the point of despair. Instead of helping the people of God to turn from sin to a life of fidelity to God’s love, they preyed upon the spiritual sensitivity of the people for their own sordid gain.



  1. Guillotine of Saints or Saints to the Guillotine? Human respect is the “guillotine of saints.” It has a suicidal effect and a deadly capacity to cut short the action of a zealous heart. Human respect renders love of God and souls sterile because it is nothing but pride disguised as fear, doubt, or the sophism of not wanting to hurt others’ feelings. True charity, on the other hand, gives testimony to the truth, regardless of the consequences this may bring – even persecution or the sword (cf. Romans 8:35). Shunning human respect may lead us to the “guillotine” of ridicule or persecution, but then we are on our way to becoming saints.



  1. Like Father, Like Son, Hypocrites All: The Pharisees’ ancestors killed the prophets for chastising the people in God’s name. Now, Jesus ironically urges the Pharisees to prove themselves worthy of their heritage. Jesus separated himself from the religious leaders of the time. Unlike the Pharisees and Temple priests, who had become like mercenaries for the flock of Israel, Jesus was the Good Shepherd. Jesus instituted a new priesthood, based on his own: that of the Suffering Servant, the Paschal Lamb, the Messiah, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. He made all things new and in truth set us free from sin.


Conversation with Christ: Oh Jesus, I thank you with all my heart for redeeming me. You let me hear your voice gently calling me. Strengthen me in faith, and fill me with your love so that I can one day join St Paul in saying, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).

Resolution: I will be an enemy of hypocrisy and insincerity in my dealings with others today.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Memorial of the Passion of Saint John the Baptist - Witness to the Truth

Herod was the one who had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married. John had said to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother´s wife." Herodias harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so. Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man, and kept him in custody. When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him. She had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday, gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee. Herodias´s own daughter came in and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, "Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you." He even swore many things to her, "I will grant you whatever you ask of me, even to half of my kingdom." She went out and said to her mother, "What shall I ask for?" She replied, "The head of John the Baptist." The girl hurried back to the king´s presence and made her request, "I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist." The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her. So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head. He went off and beheaded him in the prison. He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl. The girl in turn gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe in your wondrous shining glory, although this is hidden from my eyes. I hope in the peace and everlasting joy of the world to come, for this world is a valley of tears. I love you, even though I am not always able to discern the love in your intentions when you permit me to suffer. You are my God and my all.

Petition: Lord, let me never fear the consequences of speaking the truth.


  1. Speaking Truth to Power: Although Herod was a cruel tyrant, John the Baptist did not hesitate to condemn his adulterous conduct and to denounce his sin publicly. John was moved by the Holy Spirit to give witness and teach the people that no one can legitimately violate God’s commandments, not even a king. John did not fear the consequences of his actions, because he knew that if he were faithful, God would be at his side and never let him down, even if he had to suffer on account of the truth. We, too, need to give courageous witness to our family, friends and to the society at large. When we do, God will be with us and we will have nothing to fear.



  1. It Was Something That You Said: Mark tells us that Herod, although he resented what John said in accusing him of adultery, nonetheless “like[d] to listen to him,” and he was “much perplexed.” In his moral weakness, he persisted in his sin, yet the cries of the prophet to repent did reach his conscience. Herod was in confusion. Something was stirring in his conscience; the Holy Spirit was moving inside him to bring him to true repentance for his sin. God never abandons the sinner, but gives him grace to turn back to him. We should never lose hope for one who seems to be lost and wandering in sin. We should always continue to speak the truth with love and pray for a full conversion. God can change the heart of even the worst of sinners. He has forgiven us so much, and he can forgive others as well.



  1. A Conversion Cut Short: The Gospel tells how Herod, in an imprudent promise to Herodias’ daughter, found himself compromised and, for fear of losing face, had to order the beheading of John the Baptist. Here his moral weakness overcame the first stirrings of the grace of conversion. He closed his heart to God’s action due to his lust and vanity, and he committed the terrible crime of murder of an innocent man. How sin can darken the conscience and extinguish God’s grace in the heart of a person given over only to satisfying their passions.


Conversation with Christ: Lord, I want to be faithful to your teachings and to be frank with those I love who need to hear your word. I know that takes prudence, courage and steadfastness. Help me to be true to you. Give me the grace of a good conscience always to speak the truth with rectitude and love for your law.

Resolution: I will pray for the grace to witness to the truth, “in season and out of season,” no matter what the consequences.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Memorial of Saint Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church - Am I My Brother’s Keeper?

Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You lock the Kingdom of Heaven before human beings. You do not enter yourselves, nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter. "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You traverse sea and land to make one convert, and when that happens you make him a child of Gehenna twice as much as yourselves. "Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ´If one swears by the Temple, it means nothing, but if one swears by the gold of the Temple, one is obligated.´ Blind fools, which is greater, the gold, or the Temple that made the gold sacred? And you say, ´If one swears by the altar, it means nothing, but if one swears by the gift on the altar, one is obligated.´ You blind ones, which is greater, the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? One who swears by the altar swears by it and all that is upon it; one who swears by the Temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it; one who swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who is seated on it."

Introductory Prayer:  Lord, I come to you again in prayer. Even though I cannot see you, I know through faith that you are present in my life. I hope in your promise to be with me. I love you, and I know you love me. Accept this prayer as a token of my love. 

Petition: Lord, help me to be a person of great integrity – the same inside and out.

1. No Hypocrites Need Apply  The scribes and Pharisees lacked the authenticity and rectitude of conscience needed to please God. We need to let our behavior, our word and our conscience be in harmony and open before God. Conscience is that secret sanctuary where we are alone with God and we hear the voice of the Holy Spirit speak to us in the depths of our heart. To violate that conscience, that is, to go against what we know to be true, is to deny ourselves what is most important to our salvation. A good conscience is the greatest good thing we can possess in this life. It gives us peace, serenity and an assurance of our perseverance in good.

2. Misleading Others Has a Price  Christ is very harsh on those who lead others astray, especially those who have a responsibility to teach and guide others in the way of salvation. It is a great sin to give scandal and to lead others away from the path of truth. There are many examples of this: There are those entrusted to teach in the name of the Church but substitute their personal opinions, and those who give a testimony of disordered lifestyles, especially to the young and impressionable. The salvation of all of us is linked together; we need to build each other up and help each other on the way to Christ. Others have a right to our good example and to our speaking truth.

3. No Swearing Here!  Jesus warns against idle words, exaggerations and swearing in the name of God or by his altar. He wants us to be sincere in all we say and do, so that the integrity of our lives may be apparent to all who see us. If we live with a clear conscience and act before God in all things, we can then simply give our word and have it mean all we have inside us. What a wonderful thing it is to deal with people who are simple and transparent, who can be taken at face value, because to be devious or calculating never occurs to them, or to be in any way false or insincere. 

Conversation with Christ:  Lord, give me the grace of real sincerity of heart in dealing with you and with others. Teach me to give my word and mean it with all my heart.

Resolution:  I will review my examination of conscience to make sure I am going deep enough to know what God wants of me.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Twenty-First Sunday of Ordinary Time - How Did Peter Know?

Jesus went into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I come to you again in prayer. Even though I cannot see you, I know through faith that you are present in my life. I hope in your promise to be with me. I love you, and I know you love me. Accept this prayer as a token of my love. 

Petition: Lord Jesus, grant me an experiential knowledge of you.

1. Many People Say Many Things: When Jesus asks his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” he receives many answers. Everyone has his own opinion. Perhaps they are satisfied that their opinions are correct and have stopped seeking; perhaps they are too lazy to pursue the truth any deeper. It is easy to say something, to toss out an answer, to draw a superficial conclusion. We must be careful not to come to a hurried conclusion or be satisfied with what might only apparently be true. Many people say many things about Christ. We must have the tenacity to pursue the profound truth about who he is.

2. How Did Peter Know? How did Peter know that Christ was the Messiah, the Son of the living God? Peter did not say, “The heavenly Father told me that you are the Messiah.” He was probably not even aware that the Father has been working in him. Peter has been traveling with Christ, hearing him speak and seeing him work miracles. He reflected on all this and began to perceive that Christ is much more than just a brilliant teacher. Peter began to see Christ for who he truly is. In the same way God works in our mind and heart, helping us to see clearly the truth of supernatural things. We may not even be aware that the heavenly Father is present, but when we sincerely strive to know Christ and are open to the action of God’s grace in our soul, we, too, come to know Christ for who he really is.

3. Responsibility: Peter’s openness to the action of God’s grace and his recognition of Christ as God bring with them a responsibility – Peter is given the keys of the Kingdom. He is given the task of shepherding and building up the Church. Like Peter, my recognition of Christ comes with a responsibility. God gives me the gift of faith and along with it the responsibility to spread his Gospel. I must take this responsibility seriously. I need to make sure that the good news of the kingdom is proclaimed to all mankind.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, please help me to delve deep into the truth about who you are and not to be satisfied with simply having some vague idea. I want to know you intimately, the same way St. Peter and many holy saints have known you. Grant me this grace not just for my sake, but also for all those souls with whom I will come into contact.

Resolution: I will make a special effort in prayer to come to know Christ better.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Saturday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time - 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?

2. 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).

3. 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.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Friday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time - Being Like God

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them a scholar of the law tested him by asking, "Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?" He said to him, "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments."

Introductory Prayer:  Dear Lord, I believe in you, because you have a plan for me that will bring me to be like you. I hope in you, because your example and your grace give me the strength to be able to identify my will with yours. I love you, because only by loving you can I be transformed into you and be holy.

Petition:  Give me, Lord, the grace to practice charity faithfully.

1. Wanting What God Wants  What is true love? Quoting the Roman historian, Sallust, Pope Benedict shows us what the authentic content of love is: “To want the same thing, and to reject the same thing was recognized by antiquity as the authentic content of love: the one becomes similar to the other, and this leads to community of will and thought” (Deus Caritas Est, 17). This quote helps us understand that to love is to identify our will with God’s will. This leads us to be like God. This fact corrects the error of our first parents who disobeyed God.

2. Love Has Two Dimensions  True love has two dimensions: love for God and love for our neighbor. The first epistle of John, known as the “Magna Carta” of charity, expressess frequently and clearly the close relationship between them. One cannot exist without the other: “No one who fails to act in righteousness belongs to God, nor anyone who does not love his brother” (1 John 3:10); “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God” (1 John 4:7); “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another” (1 John 4:11); “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. This is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother” (1 John 4:20-21).

3. Loving Others  Loving God requires loving others. This is not easy, especially in a world that highly esteems individualism and permits stepping on others to get ahead. If loving others according to the Old Testament requirement, “as you love yourself” is difficult, we can imagine how difficult it is to love others according to Christ’s requirement, “as I have loved you” (cf. John 13:34), which is a true Christian’s hallmark: “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). How many times do we judge only from appearances, or judge people only by their physical traits or defects? It’s so easy to comment on peoples’ defects, imperfections, and ways of acting; yet, it is so difficult to praise constantly what is positive in them. One of the best ways to love our neighbor is to seek charity in speech.

Conversation with Christ:  Dear Jesus, give me the grace to love others with all my effort and good will. I want to contemplate you, Lord, so that I may learn from you how to love them to the point of giving my life for them.

Resolution:  I will practice charity towards others in a very concrete way.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

St. Bartholomew– Believing in the Signs


Philip found Nathaniel and told him, "We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth." But Nathaniel said to him, "Can anything good come from Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." Jesus saw Nathaniel coming toward him and said of him, "Here is a true Israelite. There is no duplicity in him.” Nathaniel said to him, "How do you know me?" Jesus answered and said to him, "Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree." Nathaniel answered him, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel." Jesus answered and said to him, "Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this." And he said to him, "Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see the sky opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."

Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe in your wondrous shining glory, although this is hidden from my eyes. I hope i the peace and everlasting joy of the world to come, for this world is a valley of tears. I love you, even though I am not always able to discern the love in your intentions when you permit me to suffer. You are my God and my all.

Petition: Lord, increase my intimacy with you.


  1. The Call: It is traditionally understood that the Nathaniel St. John refers to is St. Bartholomew the apostle. Nathaniel, like all of us, receives a call to be an apostle. In Nathaniel’s case, the call does not come directly from Jesus, but through a mediator, Philip, who testifies to him who Jesus is. At first Nathaniel doubts, but he does not totally reject the idea and goes to meet Jesus. Christ calls many of us through a mediator: a friend, relative, consecrated person, etc. Even though there may be doubts, as long as there is some opening in us, Christ is able to work and draw us closer to himself.



  1. The Profession of Faith: Nathaniel’s contact with Christ results in a profession of faith, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” Here there is no doubt or skepticism. The encounter with Christ produces a clear and firm affirmation. Philip, the intermediary, drops out of the picture and Nathaniel has a direct and strong personal relationship with Christ. Nathaniel becomes a convinced apostle. So too, even though we may have come to Christ through intermediaries, we gradually begin to base our faith on our own personal experience of Christ.



  1. Greater Things: Nathaniel – St. Bartholomew – went on to become one of the Twelve Apostles. Tradition has it that he preached the Gospel in India and Armenia where he died a martyr, flayed alive and beheaded. No doubt it was his insight of faith, his perception of the greater things that gave him the strength and fortitude to preach the Gospel and die a martyr. From his first simple encounter with Christ he became a great saint who lived his life in profound union with God.


Conversation with Christ: Lord, I know that sometimes I can be a skeptic, not trusting that you can transform my life. So often I have these simple prayerful dialogues with you; please help me so that these small conversations can blossom into a firm profession of faith and a tenacious apostolic zeal.

Resolution: I will pray the Creed sometime during the day to renew my faith in Christ.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Wednesday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time - Working for God

Jesus told his disciples this parable: "The Kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. Going out about nine o´clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and he said to them, ´You too go into my vineyard, and I will give you what is just.´ So they went off. And he went out again around noon, and around three o´clock, and did likewise. Going out about five o´clock, he found others standing around, and said to them, ´Why do you stand here idle all day?´ They answered, ´Because no one has hired us.´ He said to them, ´You too go into my vineyard.´ When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ´Summon the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and ending with the first.´ When those who had started about five o´clock came, each received the usual daily wage. So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more, but each of them also got the usual wage. And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ´These last ones worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us, who bore the day´s burden and the heat.´ He said to one of them in reply, ´My friend, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?´ Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last."

Introductory Prayer: Dear Jesus, I believe in you because you have revealed your plan of love to the Church. I hope in you because you are more interested in my happiness and salvation than I am. I love you because you have loved me without my deserving your love.

Petition: Lord, help me to appreciate and be grateful for your grace.


  1. There Is Always an Opportunity: One of the worst experiences is to accept that you have lost the last opportunity to do something you have always wanted to do. This can occur in any human situation: job opportunities, university acceptances, etc. In the spiritual life, on the other hand, there is always the opportunity to live only for God, the opportunity to be redeemed. There is always the possibility to start again. Why is this? It is because God has granted us our time on earth to walk towards him. Therefore, even if we fall, he continues to give us the strength to get up. That is why the sacrament of reconciliation is so important. When we lose grace, our spiritual strength, we can regain it in the sacraments, especially in confession.



  1. Expecting More Than You Deserve: Considered from a merely human point of view, this Gospel’s situation is an unjust one. Whoever works more should receive more than those who work less. We tend to forget, however, that in terms of the spiritual, everything is a gift. There is nothing in our nature that can demand grace. The demands of our faith are not “favors” we do for God, but existential obligations. That is why Christ reminds us, “When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ´We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do´” (Luke 17:10).



  1. The Generosity of God: God’s generosity is a manifestation of his love for us. He knows each and every person intimately and personally. He knows that the needs of some are bigger than those of others. To think that God loves some people more than others is an injustice to God. We owe love and respect to others because we are all human persons with the same dignity. We owe adoration and love to God because he is our creator and provident Father. But God owes nothing to his creatures. Everything he gives us is gratuitous and a fruit of his infinite love. It’s too easy to treat God in a human way, forgetting that he is God. The most beautiful gift he gives us is his grace.


Conversation with Christ: Dear Lord, I sometimes see things from a very human and selfish point of view. Sometimes I find myself getting angry because others may have more than I do. Help me understand that the most important thing to be truly happy in my life is to be aware of the need I have of your grace.

Resolution: I will thank Christ for his grace and love and will try to imitate him by being generous to others.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin - Getting to the Top

Jesus said to his disciples: "Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said, "Who then can be saved?" Jesus looked at them and said, "For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible." Then Peter said to him in reply, "We have given up everything and followed you. What will there be for us?" Jesus said to them, "Amen, I say to you that you who have followed me, in the new age, when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory, will yourselves sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first."

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

Petition: Lord, grant me a profound desire to reach heaven as shown by my proper use of material things.

1. Entering the Kingdom: We know from the Gospels that Christ spends most of his public ministry preaching about the Kingdom of heaven. God wants to be the King of our hearts. This is impossible if we are attached to things. When Christ says that it will be hard for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of heaven, he is speaking to every person. Christ is saying that to be attached to material things means not having room for God. It’s not a matter of riches. Just as a mountain climber doesn’t use heavy gear or take a weighty rucksack, in our spiritual climbing of the mountain (which is our intimate relationship with God), we need to be free of anything burdensome.

2. It Seems Impossible: The reaction of the disciples helps us to remember how easy it is for us to be attached to ourselves, to things, to pleasures and to desires. To leave all of these in order to get to heaven may seem impossible for us to do. In fact, it is. No one can overcome these attachments without the help of God’s grace. That is why Christ says, “For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” God will take us to heaven if we let him. An overloaded boat will sink not because it is incapable of floating, but because the weight is more than it can carry. We can reach God when we empty ourselves and allow his grace fill our hearts.

3. Having Nothing in Order to Have It All: We can usually give up something in order to receive something better. That is why the apostle Peter, not really sure of what “the prize” of his following Christ is, asks the Master, “What will there be for us?” The reward of our renunciation is to be with Christ, forever sharing in his glory. The awesome thing is that Christ tells us it’s not something we will receive in the future, but something we can already begin to receive here on earth. St. John of the Cross, who had a profound love for Christ, understood very well that “to come to the possession you have not, you must go by a way in which you possess not” (The Ascent of Mount Carmel, Book 1, Chapter 13).

Conversation with Christ: Lord, thank you for reminding me about what is necessary for me to do in order to reach heaven. It’s so easy to get caught up with the things of this world and forget that they are worthless when compared to heaven.

Resolution: I will offer up a concrete sacrifice: I will detach myself from something I like and reflect on heaven while doing it.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Memorial of Saint Pius X, Pope - Money Changes Everything


A young man approached Jesus and said, "Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?" He answered him, "Why do you ask me about the good? There is only One who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments." He asked him, "Which ones?" And Jesus replied, "You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; honor your father and your mother; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself." The young man said to him, "All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?" Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Introductory Prayer: Dear Lord, I believe in you because you know what is best for me and what I must do in order to reach heaven. I hope in you because you have called me to detach myself from worldly things in order to possess you. I love you because you are greater than any of the things you have created.

Petition: Lord, grant me spiritual detachment from material things.


  1. Are You Sure? Sometimes we ask for or desire something without really considering the conditions necessary to obtain it. We understand that most things cannot be obtained for free; nevertheless, in the spiritual life we easily forget this. What the rich young man asks for is the most valuable, the greatest possible achievement, but he thinks getting it will be easy. Maybe he was accustomed to being able to buy whatever he wanted with money. He probably didn’t even think that Christ might tell him to detach himself from his possessions. The fact that we could want something, but not want to do what is necessary to attain it, should raise a question: Do we really want it?



  1. A First Step to Eternity: Christ takes the young man’s question seriously. He doesn’t want to waste the young man’s time allowing him to think things are easier than they really are. Sadly, in today’s society people are used to seeking what requires the least effort. This is not the way of a true Christian. To get to heaven – and everybody should really want to – one thing is totally necessary: “Keep the commandments.” That means to avoid sin. God’s love for us precedes the commandments. When we love someone, we do not treat that person in any old way, but rather in a way that reflects the love we have for that person. So, we keep the commandments not just to follow a moral code, but to show in a specific way our love for God. This step is very important, but it is only a first step to heaven.



  1. Not So Sure: The rich young man had no trouble with living the commandments. Feeling confident, he asks for more, and Christ asks him to leave his possessions. He wasn’t expecting this. He went away sad, because he had many possessions. The problem is not having possessions, but that having many possessions makes us more preoccupied with material things than with “things of above,” as St. Paul would say (see Colossians 3:1). In the Gospel, Jesus says, “Where your treasure is there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21).


Conversation with Christ: Dear Lord, help me to love you above all things. I realize that I am attached to things that sometimes lead me to forget you. And yet, I can’t avoid hearing in the depths of my soul your words: “You cannot serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24). Help me understand that it is not worthwhile to have many things, but not have you.

Resolution: I will examine myself to see what commandments I am not living fully and detach myself from some concrete thing that prevents me from doing so.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Daring Doggedness


At that time Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, "Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon." But he did not say a word in answer to her. His disciples came and asked him, "Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us." He said in reply, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." But the woman came and did him homage, saying, "Lord, help me." He said in reply, "It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs." She said, "Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters." Then Jesus said to her in reply, "O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish." And her daughter was healed from that hour.

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I believe you want me to have faith in you, faith that hearkens to your words without any second guessing. I hope in your words, not relying solely on my own strength or reasoning. I love you. You continue to astonish me by showing me that your ways are not my ways.

Petition: Lord, fill my heart with gratitude and trust even when those I love suffer.


  1. My daughter… “My daughter is tormented by a demon.” Sufferings of strangers stir our compassion. But when a son or daughter suffers, anguish can reach fever pitch. Imagine the agony of the mother in this Gospel passage. Imagine the near-physical pain she felt in the depths of her heart. However, her love nourished her hope and propelled her to seek out Christ. When those we love suffer, we need the same wisdom to seek the Lord.



  1. Unfathomed Dimensions: Only a mother or father knows the depths of his or her love for a child: “Words cannot express.…” We truly understand love when it involves people we know and love. Contemplate the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Imagine the false accusations, scourging, humiliations and the crucifixion. Now imagine your own son or daughter, or mom or dad or loved one, suffering the same fate. Christ’s passion takes on a new dimension.



  1. Our Title to God’s Grace: "Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters." Faith and humility move Christ’s heart. How easily we adopt a spoiled-child mentality, believing that we deserve more. “The earth doesn’t owe you a living,” a sage once said. “It was here before you.” How much happier we are when we acknowledge our littleness and unworthiness, when we recognize our status as creatures of God who gives us life, breath and every beat of our heart. All we possess is a gift of his creative love. How happy we are when we are grateful and let him know this a thousand times a day.


Conversation with Christ: Lord, I will praise and thank you a thousand times and in a thousand ways for all you do for me. Even sufferings, I know, come from your hand for my greater good, although I may not always perceive the good at that moment. Give me the gratitude, faith and trust to accept my cross and rejoice in your creative love for me.

Resolution: I will thank the Lord repeatedly throughout the day.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Saturday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time - The Parental Vocation

Children were brought to Jesus that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked them, but Jesus said, "Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." After he placed his hands on them, he went away.

Introductory Prayer: Lord God, I believe in your presence here with me as I begin this moment of prayer. I hope in you. I know that you will always take care of me. I want this time with you to be a sign of my love for you. I seek only to please you, without desiring any spiritual consolation for myself.

Petition: Lord, help me to be faithful in carrying out the commitments of my state of life.

1. Bringing the Children to Jesus: Being a parent is a lofty vocation. To be entrusted with the integral formation and eternal salvation of another human being is a task that is enough to make one dissolve into fear and trembling. Above all, parents have to show the good spiritual instincts of the people in today’s Gospel: They have to bring their children to Jesus. They need to teach them to pray, to go to Mass and above all, to learn that Jesus truly is their best friend with whom they can share everything. What a gift to give to children!

2. “Do Not Prevent Them”: There are many ways to hinder a child’s path to Christ. Our bad example is one of the main ones. Children pick up on the incoherence between our admonitions and our actual behavior. It’s particularly unnerving when a parent begins to see his own defects mirrored in his children. That can serve as a warning call that we need to be living the Christian life with more authenticity. Our example needs to be a catalyst towards the good.

3. The Kingdom of Heaven Belongs to Such as These: A good Catholic parent has only one true bottom-line aspiration for his kids: that they get to heaven! This is worth all the prayers, sacrifices and late nights. Precisely because the Kingdom is where they belong, parents should have immense confidence that the Lord will send them the graces they need to persevere and carry out their mission effectively. Christ is the parent’s biggest cheerleader! He wants nothing more than that happy reunion in heaven, where the parent will hear those wonderful words from his child, “Thanks for helping me to get here.”

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, thank you for my parents, and all they did to help me grow in the faith. I am sorry for the times I judged them harshly. Grant them your abundant blessing.

Resolution: I will say a special prayer for my parents (especially if deceased) and give them a call to thank them.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Friday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time - From the Beginning It Was Not So…

Some Pharisees approached Jesus, and tested him, saying, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?” He said in reply, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator made them male and female and said, For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh ? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” They said to him, “Then why did Moses command that the man give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss her?” He said to them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery.” His disciples said to him, “If that is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” He answered, “Not all can accept this word, but only those to whom that is granted. Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord God, I believe in your presence here with me as I begin this moment of prayer. I hope in you. I know that you will always take care of me. I want this time with you to be a sign of my love for you. I seek only to please you, without desiring any spiritual consolation for myself.

Petition: Lord God, fill me with your grace so I can meet your lofty expectations.

  1. Hardness of Their Hearts: The Pharisees heard Jesus’ teaching against divorce at the Sermon on the Mount, a teaching which contradicted the practice of the Jews. And so they sought to trap him in this instance into putting his teaching in opposition to Moses. They were hoping to discredit him. But Jesus knew their twisted intentions and grounded his teaching on God’s original plan for man and woman. He knows that they were looking to get around the will of God and carve exceptions. Jesus felt no need to pander to the crowd or offer an easier way out when challenged. His focus was on what God intended. Even today he challenges everyone to respond.
  1. A New Law: Jesus’ teaching seems so counter-cultural, no less today than in his own time. How can he be so bold and ask for so much, since we still labor under the same sin, imperfection and hardness of heart as the people of Moses’ time and his time? The key is that Jesus does not simply add new laws; he brings the grace to be able to live as God intended “from the beginning,” that is, before sin entered the world. Christ can ask more of us because he himself brings the grace for us to live our lives before God in a new way. By grace we are made “new men (and women) in Christ” and transformed into children of God who are empowered to live in holiness and the full truth.
  1. Never Give Up: The disciples seem to be discouraged at first, because the new teaching of Jesus is difficult to live: “then it is better not to marry.” They are seeing things through their own narrow experience and through the lens of popular opinion. Yet they must make the transforming encounter with the grace of Christ. We, too, need to believe in that grace and to communicate it to others, since it enables us to love others “as he loved us.” It is what brings the vitality and freshness to our Christian lives, and makes us able to offer something new and hopeful to the world around us.

Conversation with Christ: Jesus, give me the faith and confidence to believe with all my heart that your grace is enough for me. Teach me to believe that your commands are always supported by your grace and that I can live as a new man in you.

Resolution: I will ask for an unbreakable hope in the power of God’s grace acting in me.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Human Harshness vs. the Charity of a Saint

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 say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. 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.” When Jesus finished these words, he left Galilee and went to the district of Judea across the Jordan.

Introductory Prayer: Lord God, I believe you are present here with me as I begin this moment of prayer. I hope in you. I know that you will always take care of me. I want this time with you to be a sign of my love for you. I seek only to please you, without desiring any spiritual consolation for myself.

Petition: Lord, grant me a more forgiving heart!

  1. Human Harshness: “He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, ‘Pay back what you owe.’” The Gospel gives a startling example of human harshness. History recalls another one. In Auschwitz, the camp deputy commander, Karl Fritzch, decided that the most effective way to keep prisoners from trying to escape would be an overwhelming example of reprisal. Ten men in Block 13 were picked out for starvation. The thought of innocent men dying because of another’s escape would definitely make anyone think twice about it. The master of our Lord’s story is angry at the harshness of his servant. We can only imagine the Lord’s anger at the harshness of a place like Auschwitz, called by Pope-Emeritus Benedict, “a place of horror” and “unprecedented mass crimes” (May 28, 2006). Let us purge our own hearts of the evil of harshness, which brings down such misery on our own soul.
  1. St. Maximilian Steps Forward: The Lord’s answer to Peter in this Gospel, “not seven times but seventy-seven times,” points to a heroic living of the virtue of charity and forgiveness. St. Maximilian Kolbe, whose feast we celebrated this week, gives us an example of that kind of love. When the commander had picked out his ten victims, St. Maximilian had been passed over. No doubt the others who were spared were breathing intense sighs of relief. Instead, St. Maximilian stepped forward and offered to take the place of one of those chosen, Franciszek Gajowniczek, who cried out in anguish over his family. We can only shake our heads in amazement that the flame of love could burn so brightly in that “place of horror.”
  1. The Cross Sets the Standard: The examples of the saints challenge us. They don’t give us a “superhuman” example, but rather the testimony of what men and women are capable of doing when they allow the grace of God to work in their souls. We, too, have many occasions when we are called to live a higher degree of virtue, but so often we cut ourselves a little too much slack. When Peter asked about a seven-fold forgiveness, he was being quite generous. But the “seventy-seven times” that Jesus speaks about is measured against the Cross, the symbol of the Lord’s infinite love and forgiveness. Saints like Kolbe understood this. Let’s try to imitate it today, in ways both big and small.

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, I can only be amazed at your work through the soul of St. Maximilian Kolbe. You enabled him to lay down his life for another, in imitation of your own self-sacrificing love. Help me to embrace the same path of love and forgiveness.

Resolution: I will immediately forgive any wrongs I suffer today, and I will try to sacrifice myself in a hidden way for someone else.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Wednesday of the Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time - Tough Moments

Jesus said to his disciples: "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that ´every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses.´ If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector. Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again, amen, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."

Introductory Prayer: Father, thank you for this time of prayer. Help me to be attentive to the inspirations of your Holy Spirit. This day may be filled with many challenges and activities but throughout them all I invite you to be with me.

Petition: Lord, help me to me an instrument of your peace.

1. If Your Brother Sins Against You: Catholic life is filled with many peaks and valleys. The Church’s soul is the Holy Spirit, but the body’s members can be less than saintly. At times, people can be scandalized by the “humanity” of the Church. “Isn’t he a Catholic? How can he do that?” Jesus, however, was not surprised, and we find him in the Gospel today outlining a procedure to deal with sinful behavior. Our love for the Church is realistic: Jesus came to save sinners; we can’t be surprised when we encounter sin. But realism isn’t cynical. We know that God is infinitely more powerful than our sinfulness. “Where sin has abounded, grace has abounded all the more” (Romans 5:20).

2. Fraternal Correction: Very often the sin that we encounter in the Church is right under our own roof. Fraternal correction can be a duty of charity; however, if we relish the thought, that’s a bad sign. We need to purify our intention of wounded pride or any thought of payback. Our motive must be to truly help the other person. Part of this is the desire to be effective, and this means doing things the right way. Going public is not the first step, as the Lord makes clear. By quietly seeking reconciliation we can do much to bring healing to our relationships.

3. The Power of Prayer: Interpersonal conflicts can be among the heaviest crosses that we bear. When the hurts and the slights have accumulated beyond counting and forgiveness is either hard to give or hard to obtain, what is there left to do? The Lord tells us: Pray! Get others to pray with us and for us. “Where two or three are gathered in my name.…” The Lord wants to act in and through our prayer. As Catholics who believe in the gospels, we know that miracles happen. Sometimes it may seem that only a miracle will bring about reconciliation. Miracles will come only to those who ask for them.

Conversation with Christ: Lord, you taught us to gather together in prayer. Grant your Church greater unity and charity. Help us to help each other. Give us the humility to be open to correction. I believe that your love will triumph!

Resolution: I will pray fervently before correcting anyone.