How are you using your talents?

First Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:26-31
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 33
Gospel: Matthew 24:14-30

In the gospel today we are told a parable. This parable is about a master who gave three of his servants each a certain number of "talents" each according to their ability. Back then a talent was a large sum of money, but when reflecting on this gospel I think it is okay to think of talents in our own terms as our abilities. After receiving the talents two of the servants go out and invest and gain even more money from this. These two servants were greatly rewarded. The master says to them, "Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you many responsibilities. Come and share in your master's joy." The third servant went out and buried his one talent, and when the master found out about this, he was very angry with the servant for wasting his talent. This slave was severely punished and thrown out.

For today, let us all reflect on how we are using our skills and abilities to give glory to God and to build up the body. God grants us each very special talents, we should not let them go to waste. If we have any ability, then we have a responsibility to use it. Then in the end, we can hear the words that we so long to hear after our lives here on earth; "Well done, my good and faithful servant."

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. Give us the courage to go out and serve you and use the talents that you have given us. Let us glorify you in all that we do. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.



Memorial of the Martyrdom of Saint John the Baptist

First Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:17-25
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 33
Mark 6:17-29

Today we remember and celebrate the martyrdom of Saint John the Baptist. John had a very significant role to play in our salvation history. His was to prepare the way for the ministry of Jesus. Today we learn of his last act on earth. In the gospel today, John was beheaded for speaking out against a wrongdoing of Herod and Herodias. Because of his witness to the truth, he paid with his life. But all was not in vain, for John suffered and died for the glory of God. John is considered a martyr.

So what exactly is a martyr? If we dust our catechism off the bookshelf and open it up, we find that the church in all her wisdom has a very clear definition. The following excerpt is taken out of our catechism:

"2473 Martyrdom is the supreme witness given to the truth of the faith: it means bearing witness even unto death. The martyr bears witness to Christ who died and rose, to whom he is united by charity...He endures death through an act of fortitude."

I believe that martyrs teach us about being completely selfless. They give of themselves without thinking and with complete love of God. One thing about the martyrs and the saints, is that they know their role. To often we think about what we want and how we want to live out our life. How often do we think about what God has planned for us and what our role in this world really should be?

John the baptist knew his role from the beginning. John the baptist teaches us about giving our lives to God, even until the end. He teaches us about living out our role. In the gospel of John (ch. 3), John the baptist made it a point to tell people that he was not the Messiah, and then knowing his role ever more John says about Jesus "He must increase; I must decrease." (John 3:30) This is a very short and simple verse, but it should mean so much to us. This verse speaks of how we need to live out our life of faith. We must let Jesus increase in us and in our lives, while we must decrease. I pray that like John the baptist, I can know my role and let Jesus take the lead.

He must increase; we must decrease.

Father above, we thank you for giving us the great witness of John the Baptist. We thank you for him and the the martyrs who courageously gave their life for the faith so that we might go forward. May we like them, give of ourselves totally and not hold back from you at all in our lives. Lord, increase our faith so that no matter what we can follow you. Lord, let us decrease in our lives, while you increase so that your will may be done. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


What will you be doing?

Memorial of St. Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

First Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:1-19
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 145
Gospel: Matthew 24:42-51

A thought came to me today, that had never really occurred before with this gospel. The gospel today is about the how we need to be prepared for when Jesus comes, and we are told of the parable of the faithful and unfaithful servant. The faithful servant does his work correctly when the master is away. When the master returns and finds that the servant has been a good steward, he is rewarded greatly. Now the unfaithful servant realizing that his master is gone begins to abuse his position and work. He mistreats the other servants and goes about partying. Now when the master comes back at an unknown hour and finds this servant, he is severely punished. Moral of the story: be prepared, for we don't know when Jesus is coming... just know that he is. When he does come back, what will you be doing?

As many times as I read this gospel I never thought about how I need to take this question of what I am doing and think about it during the day. Think about it, if before I did something I stopped to ask myself "If Jesus came back right now, is this what I would want Him to find me doing?" There is one of two answers: I am doing something to glorify God or I am not. I think that this is something that we should all be reflecting upon throughout the day. Say I am at work and I am slacking off and checking my email or making personal calls, what if Jesus came then? What if on Sunday mornings I decide to sleep in instead of go to mass? What if at night I neglect my wife and my responsibilities at home? If Jesus came at any of these moments, would these be the things I would want Him to find me doing? Of course not, I would want Him to find me working hard for His glory, going to mass, and thriving in my vocation as a married man!

I believe no matter what we are doing, if we stopped and asked ourselves this simple question, we can not only find ourselves coming closer to God and giving Him glory in all that we do, but we can protect ourselves from the many temptations of this world and of the evil one.

When Jesus comes back, what will you be doing?

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. We thank you for the gift of great church leaders and teachers such as St. Augustine. Like St. Augustine, may we be given the grace to cast off the things of this world and serve you with all that we are. We pray for all those who are struggling in their faith, may they be strengthened by your spirit. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Responsibility. Whats your policy

First Reading: 2 Thessalonians 3:6-10, 16-18
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 128
Gospel: Matthew 23:27-32

In the sports world today, there are many scandals of athletes taking performance enhancing drugs such as steroids. These acts of irresponsibility certainly put blemishes on sports stars and make us weary of who we call our heroes. Wouldn't it be great if all athletes took their position as a role model just as serious as they do their athletic career? Now please do not think that I am saying that there are no responsible athletes out there, believe me there are some and they are committed to their faith and to their job as a role model just as much as they are their careers; but I think that we all realize that the majority of athletes are not like this. Unfortunately most athletes and celebrities are me focused instead of others focused.

Jesus had the same problem with the the celebrities of His time as well, only these were not athletes, they were the religious leaders of the time. The scribes and Pharisees were described by Jesus as appearing righteous on the outside, but on the inside they were filled with "hypocrisy and evildoing." Jesus knew of how these leaders of the community were not living as they should, they were not modeling the behavior that they were teaching. They were being very irresponsible and selfish, only thinking of how they could better themselves.

Praise God that in the early church we were given doers and not just talkers. In the second letter to the church at Thessalonica, Paul talks about how hard Silvanus, Timothy, and he had worked around them and how they conducted themselves in a respectable and orderly way around them. Why did they do this? Paul says "we wanted to present ourselves as a model for you, so that you might imitate us. (v9)" So Paul isn't saying here do as we say, not as we do...what he is actually saying is do as we say AND as we do! I believe this is called integrity, which basically means walking your walk and talking your talk. St. Paul and his group knew that they could not just tell the church what to do, they had to actually show them. Paul and the early church fathers knew that they had a responsibility to share the gospel, and as we all know sharing the gospel does not just mean talking about it, it means living it. This is the responsibility that we each have. As St. Francis of Assisi said "Preach the gospel at all times; and if necessary use words."

The company Liberty Mutual has these great commercials that have all of these people doing random acts of kindness and other people seeing them. They always end with the question "Responsibility. What's your policy?" I think that we can all see what the policy of the early church fathers was. Responsibility.

So what's your policy?

Father above, we thank you for the gift of today. Lord take all of the feelings of selfishness and take them up, fill us with kindness and compassion. Help us to sacrifice for you and your glory and to serve you will all our heart, mind and soul. Lord we praise you and may we serve you completely today. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


The sky is falling!

First Reading: 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3a, 14-17
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 96
Gospel: Matthew 23:23-26

"The sky is falling!" This is the cry from the story of chicken little. This story is about a little chicken who is hit in the head by a falling acorn. Becoming very frightened, the little chicken concludes that the sky must be falling, what other logical explanation could there be? The little chicken decides to go and tell the king, but along the way runs into his friends and creates the same panic within them as well. This is an excellent children's story about jumping to conclusions and the consequences that can come with it.

In Paul's letter to the Thessalonians, Paul warns the church about this "chicken little" mentality. He instructs them to "not be shaken out of your minds suddenly, or to be alarmed either by a 'spirit' or by an oral statement...Let no one deceive you in any way." (2 Thes 2:2-3a) Paul warns against jumping to conclusions and goes on to tell the people to "stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught..." (2 Thes 2:15) Paul was aware of the dangers at the time and realized that the church needed encouragement. While the church at Thessalonica had earlier been praised for its endurance in the faith, Paul knew that it would only be a matter of time before they may be tempted to stray.

There has been, and always will be people against us telling us things that are different than what we are taught to believe by the church. I can humbly admit that before I came into the church, I had long been anti-catholic and had even sought to change the mind and attitude of my wife (girlfriend at the time) who was raised catholic. But thankfully by God's grace she "stood firm and held on to the traditions that she was taught." I now realize that God had a plan and a place for me in the church, but I had at the time a very hard heart towards the faith. As I have come into and grow in the Catholic faith, I am constantly realizing the abundant graces that begin to flow into our lives and how much closer I have come to Jesus and His church. I feel so blessed to be where I am at today, and it is partly because of those around me who stood firm.

We are going to be tested in our faith very often in our lives. There will be people (even those with good intentions) who will try to tear us away, perhaps from religion completely or to another faith; but in these times we must trust God, stand firm, and hold fast to the traditions that we were taught. If we do this, we can weather whatever is thrown at us, scandals, financial hardships, criticism, prejudices; it doesn't matter for God will always be there for us.

Today's pray will come from the scripture of 2 Thes 2:16-17.
May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting encouragement and good hope through his grace, encourage your hearts and strengthen them in every good deed and word.

We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.



First Reading: 2 Thessalonians 1:1-5, 11-12
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 96
Gospel: Matthew 23:13-22

May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all of us today!

One of my favorite movies is Remember the Titans. This is an amazing story of a football team who stands, and plays, together against the racial adversity of the culture at the time. During the movie we see a coach who is not only battling for a state title, but he battling to instil equality and community in his team. Obviously there are bumps in the road and they all take their licks along the way, but in the end they all come out on top...and still together. This story shows that when we come together for a good and common purpose and we persevere; then we can overcome whatever is in our path.

In the gospel today Jesus speaks of the scribes and the Pharisees as being hypocrites and obstacles to the Kingdom. Jesus tells them that they are blocking those who are trying to enter and that they are blind guides. Whoa, these are very harsh words for the main religious leaders of the community. Can you imagine what all the people of that community are thinking? They are probably wondering "well if the scribes and Pharisees are blocking our way and blindly leading, who can help us overcome this and show us the way?" I wonder how many of them knew that the answer was right in front of them...Jesus. Jesus can and will show us the way to His Kingdom, we just have to be willing to ask and trust Him.

Like the Titans, when we come together with a good leader to guide us, there is nothing that we cannot overcome. In the first reading today we are told of another "team" who has come together and persevered. In 2 Thessalonians, Paul is praising them for their faith. Look at why Paul praises them: "Accordingly, we ourselves boast of you in the churches of God regarding your endurance and faith in all your persecutions and the afflictions you endure. (v. 1:4)" As we all know many Christian communities throughout the church's history have undergone many trials and afflictions; while some have rose to the challenge others have not. But we see today that the people of the church of Thessalonica are doing us all proud and showing us how through adversity we should persevere so that "the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified. (v. 1:11)"

The Thessalonians like the Titans knew about adversity...in fact we all know about adversity. Jesus tells us about the adversity that the people of that time dealt with. We are all going to face things each day of our lives that will try and prevent us from reaching the Kingdom. May we be strengthened by each other so that together we may show our endurance and faith as those have before us. Let us give all glory to our Father in heaven and live out His calling for our lives.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of our lives. We thank you for the trials and afflictions that we go through, for through these we can come to know you better and to give you glory. We praise you for the many blessings in our lives and for the gift of each other. Lord, through you may we all come together to persevere and be strengthened in our communities and in the body. Lord let us help those who you call us to and pray for all those who are suffering. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Leave it all on the field

Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

First Reading: Ezekiel 37:1-14
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 107
Gospel: Matthew 22:34-40

Have you ever heard athletes talking about "leaving it all on the field?" When I played football we talked about this concept a lot. Leaving it all on the field means that while you are playing the sport, you play with all that you have; you play with all your heart and emotion, all your strength and energy, all your skills and abilities; and you play until the very end. This is so at the end of the game you can say that you put everything you had into that game, you didn't hold anything back and you left it all on the field. This concept has more than just athletic implications; imagine if we all approached our faith life like this.

We are told today that the greatest commandment is to "love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all you mind." What does this imply? God needs to be first in our lives; not just on Sundays, not only when it is convenient, not only when we are bored, and not only when we are in trouble. He needs to be number one, every minute of every day. When we do place Him first in our lives; it is simply amazing how everything else will fall into place and how things will be put into perspective more. It is not simply enough to just place Him first though. When we do follow Him and love Him we cannot just do it partially, we need to give of ourselves totally. We need to give it all to Him, all of our heart, all of our soul, and all of our mind. Place Him in your hearts, let His Spirit fill you, fixate your thoughts on Him at all times, love Him with everything you have and don't hold nothing back. When we give up everything for Him, this is called sacrifice. Our Lord Jesus knows all about sacrifice. It was He who gave all of who He was for us; so that we could have a way to the Father. Shouldn't we also sacrifice for Him, as he sacrificed for us?

Let us all play until the end, and leave it all on the field.

Father above, you give us this great gift of life. Let us use it to serve you with all that we are and to hold nothing back. Lord grant us the strength to persevere until the end so that when we reach you we might hear the words "well done good and faithful servant." Lord we pray for all those who are seeking you on their journey through this life. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Everbody's Invited!

Memorial of Saint Pius X

First Reading: Ezekiel 36: 23-28
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 51
Gospel: Matthew 22:1-14

The parable of the wedding feast. In the gospel today we are told that the Kingdom of heaven is likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and when he invited all of the original guests; none of them came. They found excuses not to come, such as work or business. He had dispatched his servants to tell them that all the food is ready and all they need to do is show up. Now some of the servants were mistreated and killed; to which the king sent out troops to destroy these men and their city. So what do you do when none of the people you had originally invited to your wedding don't show up? Simple, find other guests! The king then sent out his servants to find whoever they could and it didn't matter if they were bad or good, they were all invited!

This parable should speak loudly to all of us. We are all invited into God's kingdom, he has prepared a place for all of us. Good or bad, it doesn't matter; come one and come all! Now this is not to say that we are to just come as we are. As we see from the person who came to the wedding without a wedding garment on, he was binded and cast into the darkness. Although invited to the feast, he was not willing to "change." Now in the parable they speak of this as a physical change of clothes, but we should all understand it to mean an inward change of heart, mind, and soul.

The book of Colossians discusses this "change" that we should all go through. When we are called, St. Paul tells us that we are to: "put to death then, the parts of you that are earthly; immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry...but now you must put them all away: anger, fury, malice, slander, and obscene language out of your mouths. Stop lying to each one another, since you have taken off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed, for knowledge, in the image of its creator." (Col 3:5-10)

What an awesome God we serve, our God who does not care where we have been, as long as we are willing to surrender to Him and "put on our new self." We are all invited to the feast, let us make sure that we are continuously working to be "wearing the right garments."

Father above, we thank you and give you praise for this day. Let us do everything in word or in deed for you our Lord Jesus Christ. Grant us the courage and strength to shake off the old and put on the new. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


That's not fair!

Memorial of Saint Bernard

First Reading: Ezekiel 34:1-11
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 23
Gospel: Matthew 20:1-16

"That's not fair!" How many times a day do we hear this (or even say it ourselves)? Think about all the times that you might have said this during your life. Perhaps you said it while playing games in gym class, or while confronting a teacher on a grade they gave you on that term paper that you worked so hard on, or at work when someone less qualified was promoted ahead of you. We can all note many times in our lives when the tables have been turned on us and it seems as though we get the rotten end of the deal.

"That's not fair!" This must have been the credo of the first workers in the vineyard of today's gospel. In the gospel the workers who only worked part of the day received the same amount of pay as those who worked all day. Can you imagine the riots that would be going on in your workplace if you boss decided to do this? And why is this? Because we all know that this is not fair, it is not ensuring that everyone is being treated equally. But in our quest for fairness and equality it seems as though we forget about those very important virtues that should be governing our decisions and our judgement. The first workers, like many of us, were only focused on themselves and what they were not getting, instead of what they were getting. By thinking of themselves only and fairness, they had forgotten the importance of compassion, generosity, and mercy. I am sure that there was a time when these workers remember what it was like to stand outside and wait all day for work as the last worker had done. Wouldn't they have been thankful for a merciful master to offer them the same daily wage as everyone else, regardless of when they arrived? When we focus solely on fairness and equality, mercy tends to be forgotten about.

While we know the frustration of the first workers all too well, we must also remember what it is like to have someone be merciful to us. What if God was not a God of mercy, but a God of Fairness? How many of us would make it to heaven and receive our eternal prize? I don't think that any of us would want to get to the heavenly gates to hear that we were just a bit late coming to our faith. But how much more wonderful is it to know that God is a great God of mercy! He is not worried about fairness; He knows us all to well. The Lord knows that some will take longer than others to come to Him and to surrender their life to Him. Thankfully, He wants to be with us, and he is willing to wait however long that takes.

So let us not worry about fairness so much in our lives. Let us make room for God's mercy to work in us. Remember, it is never too late for anybody. We have a choice: we can be joyful for those seeking God's Kingdom no matter when in their lives they begin, or we can be on the side judging and noticing how late they are. I pray that we will all make the right choice.

Father above, we thank you for being so merciful to us. We thank you for each of our callings and we ask that you continue to guide us towards you. Lord we pray for the strength and courage to persevere through this life until the day the end. We pray for all those going through difficult times and pray that they turn to you in their time of need. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Threadin the Needle

First Reading: Ezekiel 28:1-10
Responsorial Psalm: Deuteronomy 32
Gospel: Matthew 19:23-30

Have you ever tried to thread a needle? I still remember the traumatic experiences from home economics class in middle school. If you ever want to watch something hilarious, take a look at a bunch of teenage boys trying to sew. I can tell you that it still takes me a long time to thread a needle. The difficulty of getting that little thread through that little hole; the frustration is just beyond words.

Today in the gospel we are given a good analogy of how difficult it is for a rich person to enter the Kingdom. Jesus tells us that "it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle that for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God." My first thoughts are "A camel! Are you serious? I can't even get a thread through the hole!" We are warned here and in the first reading of the dangers that wealth and money can bring. Now if you do have money and make a good living, does this automatically rule you out of getting to heaven? Probably not, I believe that what it comes down to is whether you are a good steward of your money. If you are simply storing up wealth all for yourself, then it is very possible for you to become what we understand in the first reading as "haughty of heart." And in the first reading today it appears as though wealth can cause a vicious cycle. Ezekiel tells warns the prince of Tyre "...you have heaped up your riches ; your heart has grown haughty from your riches..." So if we are not careful and we do not learn to be good stewards of our money,we may begin to make money the most important thing in our lives. It is not wealth or anything else that should be first in our lives, it is Christ and His Kingdom that we should seek first.

Let us not let our hearts grow haughty from our wealth, let us give to God first and remember to be good stewards with our money.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of another day. We pray that we will put our trust in you alone, for with you all things are possible. Amen.


Material World

First Reading: Ezekiel 24:15-23
Responsorial Psalm: Deuteronomy 32:18-19, 20, 21
Gospel: Matthew 19:16-22

Like many of you I have been watching the Olympic games and I have been greatly enjoying seeing all of the athletes striving and straining, and using the natural abilities that God has granted to them (whether they realize it or not). It has been especially exciting seeing our country represented so well and to see athletes break records and make history right before our eyes. But in between the high dives and gymnastics vaults, we are bombarded for several minutes by commercials. While some of them make us laugh, others tend to make us go "Huh? What was the point of that commercial?" No matter what their outcome, all these commercials are trying to do the same thing: sell. All of these commercials are telling us that we need the newest iPhone, or digital camera, the best insurance, the best cell phone service; it really never ends. Each day we are bombarded by these advertisements telling us that we really need all kinds of new stuff. We even get messages that say we may not need it, but we deserve it. It is just so unfortunate that many in our culture have this mindset of having lots of stuff, and many of us define ourselves by the stuff we have. There are actually many studies going on right now that are examining this issue of materialism in our society. Here is a quote by one researcher that talks about materialism with our children:

"Contemporary American tweens and teens have emerged as the most brand-oriented, consumer-involved, and materialistic generation in history. And they top the list globally. . . .More children here than anywhere else believe that their clothes and brands describe who they are and define their social status. (Schor 2004)"

Is this not just heartbreaking to hear?

In the gospel today we are told of a young man who wishes to gain eternal life, so he goes and asks Jesus what he needs to do. Jesus tells him to keep all of the commandments. The young man says that he does that and what else he must do. Jesus then tells 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.” The young man becomes very sad about this because of all the stuff that he owned. Does this sound like someone who is suffering from a materialistic mindset? It sure does to me. But are we all very different from the young man of this story? What if someone walked up to you and told you to sell all of your stuff and go work as a missionary the rest of your life, would you be jumping for joy? Probably not, we are all so attached to our lives and all the things in our lives. It is unfathomable for us to give away all of our stuff because then we wouldn't have anything...or would we? In the gospel we are told that if we sell all of our stuff and follow Christ then we will have treasure in heaven. I think that when we start to think of the outcomes; treasure in heaven should start to sound much better than a bunch of stuff that is lying around and collecting dust.

In our faith life, we are called to go out and do things that are so counter-cultural and according to society "not normal." But by detaching ourselves from this materialistic mindset and detaching ourselves from our stuff, we are gaining treasure in heaven. Not all of us are called to go and sell all of our stuff, but we should be ready to if we needed to. Detachment is a very powerful tool that can help us follow Christ better. We need to detach ourselves from all of our material possessions because although they may be really nice (and perhaps a lot of fun); they may be prohibiting us from a truly thriving relationship with our Lord and Savior.

I pray that from this gospel, we all seek to learn more lessons in detachment, and to rid ourselves of this materialist mindset.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of another day and we ask for your help in serving you this day. Lord by ourselves we cannot do as you will, but with your spirit we can follow where ever you lead us. Give us the strength and courage to follow you no matter what. Let us live in this world and not of it. Lord we pray for all those who are clinging to their things instead of you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Bring them to me

First Reading:  Ezekiel 18:1-10, 13b, 30-32  
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 51
Gospel:  Matthew 19:13-15

Today's gospel, although shorter,  has so much meaning.  In the first reading today we are told how the just man should act, and how they should not act.  It also make reference to where the unjust lead their children.  In the gospel today we see that Jesus makes time for the children.  He rebukes anyone who tries to prevent the children from coming to Him.  It reminds me of that classic children's' song "Jesus loves the little children."  There is a verse that says; "They are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world."  Wow, what a great verse!  I know that this is a simple children's' song, but sometimes some of the most insightful things are some of the most simple.  Like Jesus, all of God's children should be precious in our sight, and deserving of the respect and dignity that we should all be receiving.    

I think that this gospel and this song should put things in perspective when we prioritize things in our lives.  We should all be thinking about how we are making time for the children.  Whether we have kids or not, is there some way that we can help lead them to Christ?  What talents has the Lord given us that we might be able to serve His children?  Perhaps it might not be serving directly, but sometimes how we conduct ourselves in our lives is just as important.  Ever go to throw something away, miss, and then just walk away?  Ever just walk past someone who has dropped an armful of things?  Think no one is watching?  Well, God is always watching and seeing every thing that we do.  Along with God, it has been my experience that there is usually a kid around somewhere who is watching exactly what we are doing.  We have a responsibility to be good role models to the children, which can be just as powerful as directly working with them.  Remember, great role models are the ones who do the right thing even when no one is around.  

As Christ says;“Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Where will you lead those around you?  

Father above, we thank you and give you praise for this day.  We thank you for all the joys that you bless us with everyday.  Lord we thank you for the children who teach us to be humble and to live simply.  Help us to guide them to you and to never lead them away from you.  Lord we pray for all those who are working to turn back towards you in their lives.  We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.  


Mother May I...

Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

First Reading: Revelation 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 45
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:20-27
Gospel: Luke 1:39-56

Greetings to each of you on the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary! As you all know, Mary has a very special in our faith, and she should hold a very special place in our hearts. As hard as it is to admit, I was very against praying to Mary (and the Saints) and the rosary before I came into the church. In fact this attitude even continued for a while after I felt called into the Catholic faith. This is a very hard thing for anyone learning about the faith to understand. To anyone just learning, it appears that we are worshipping Mary and the Saints. I know that I felt this way, and even when I learned that it wasn't worshiping, that it was just asking for their intercessions, this did still not make sense to me. I think that a lot of times in my life I try to be as efficient as I can be, this probably spilled over to my prayer life at this time. I kept thinking, why would you pray to someone like Mary when you can just prayer directly to God? Why not just eliminate the middle man (or woman)? This was a question that I could never seem to get answered. I am sure that while I was one this quest to prove that we should just pray to God alone, He was up in heaven just looking down and smiling thinking "soon Jimmie, you will understand."

It wasn't until I started to let God work in me; that I finally began to understand Mary's role. I began to look at her role in the beginning. Which we see in the gospel of Luke today. After saying my first rosary, I began to understand the words that Elizabeth spoke when she said "And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" I started to understand that God had a plan from Mary from the very beginning (and in the end). We see in Paul's first letter to the Corinthians today that "For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life," So as Jesus is the new Adam, so Mary is the new Eve, our mother.

When I finally let God open my eyes and my heart, I realized that it wasn't Mary that I had an issue with, there was something else that I was letting block me from turning to our blessed mother. Once I realized what was blocking me from our blessed mother, I simply offered it up to God and asked for healing from this past hurt. Ever since then I have been able to turn to our Mother and rely on her intercessions.

Mary brings us closer to her Son Jesus. If you are having issues with this like I did, whatever the reason, I just ask that you think about doing two things. One is ask God to help you understand Mary and her role. The second is to find information about her. I will guarantee that you will be shocked at the information that you find. If you need some resources please feel free to email me, I will help you find some.

Blessed Mother, may we always turn to you with our intentions. Help bring us closer to your son Jesus, help us know how we might know Him and love Him more.

Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed are though amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Glory be to the Father, to the son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be a world without end. Amen.



Memorial of Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe

First Reading: 12:1-12
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 78
Gospel: Matthew 18:21-19:1

The parable of the unforgiving servant. This is one of my favorite parables in the gospels. I think that it is because there are so many different characters in the parable that I can relate to. I think that the one that I have often seen reflected in my own life is the role of the unforgiving servant. After you read this parable, stop and think....have I ever been like this guy? This servant is forgiven a huge debt from his master. Then this weasel goes out and chokes someone who owes him money and then has the other guy thrown in jail because he cannot pay. Perhaps we should blame this one on short term memory loss. We tend to read this parable and think wow, who would do such a thing? But how many times have we been guilty of not having the same compassion for others as someone may have had for us? What is the one thing that might have saved this servant from making this huge mistake? Forgiveness.

In the gospel today we are told of the importance of forgiving our fellow person as many times as it takes. This is a pretty tall order for us, dare I say that forgiveness is not something that comes easily or naturally to us. I think that when Peter first approached Jesus he was probably thinking; okay, what is the most amount of times that I have to forgive someone and still get to heaven. I am sure that the response that Jesus gave was not the one Peter was looking for. In fact from this gospel, we find out that we really need to stretch ourselves in the forgiveness department. Now we are talking about both small and large matters here. Forgive the person who accidentally bumps into you a few times...sure, easy as pie. Forgive the friend or family member who lies and betrays you time and time again causing lots of feelings of hurt and anger each time...not so easy now. How are we to do this forgiveness thing that we are called to? I mean, doesn't Jesus know human character? Doesn't he know that we are really fragile and this is hard for us? Why does he ask us to forgive and open ourselves up to the pain and hurt again?

Well, Jesus does know us all too well. He knows that this is not easy for us, but he knows that in order for us to heal and come closer to Him, then we must forgive first. Forgiveness for me has been a way of letting go of previous hurt and pain. It has allowed me to get past the issue or situation and heal from that. Now I am not saying that I always do this immediately or that I have the perfect system down, because I am far from being an expert in this area. I do speak from experience when I talk about the healing power that comes from Christ when we allow ourselves to forgive. I also know that we should not expect immediate results, some anger and bitterness we have been carrying around for many many years, this usually takes time to let go of. I pray that we all can offer up our pain and suffering to Christ and allow him to work in our lives to help us heal.

We are asked to forgive others as many times as it takes. The parable of the unforgiving servant shows us that we are to have compassion in our hearts for others, as the Father has had compassion for us. Let us let go of anything that is holding us back from serving Christ with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Father in heaven, we ask for your forgiveness for all our our sins. Help give us the strength to forgive our fellow brothers and sisters as you ahve forgiven us. We pray for all those struggling with past hurt and pain, and for all those who are struggling in their faith. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


The right things

First Reading: Ezekiel 9:1-7, 10:18-22
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 113
Gospel: Matthew 18:15-20

In one of my previous jobs, I used to have to supervise many people. While there were many aspects of this that I loved such as training and supporting the staff; there was always one aspect of supervision that I never did like. This was having to confront and reprimand my staff who did something wrong. While this was extremely difficult with my workers, it was even more difficult with my fellow colleagues. It is never easy to confront those we work with, or those we are friends and family with. I know that for many of us that when we do need to confront somebody, we are definitely stepping outside of our comfort zone. But as followers of Christ, we are called to confront those who sin against us no matter how comfortable we are.

In the gospel today, Jesus tells us "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone." So we are told, when someone sin against you confront them and do it discretely. I am a huge advocate of the rule "praise in public, criticize in private." One of the reasons that I think that this is a great rule in our professional and personal lives is that this is how we would like to be treated. I think that by treating people this way; we are then treating them with the dignity they deserve. The gospel also goes on today to tell us the process of how we should continue to confront this person. Then if going through all these steps is not working and the persons will still not listen or stop, then sometimes separation is necessary. I often wonder which is harder to deal with, the confrontation or the possible outcome?

When talking about confronting people in situations that we know are not right, things are always easier said than done. But in these situations, one thing that always gives me good insight is the following quote: "Doing what is right isn't always popular, doing what is popular isn't always right." Remember, we are not called to easy lives, we all have crosses that we must carry at times. Many times confrontations and the outcomes of those confrontations are crosses that we will have to carry often. Always remember to turn to Christ for the peace and healing that you need during these times.

He is always there for us, I pray that we will never forget this.

Father above, we thank you and give you praise for our lives and all that you call us to. We ask for guidance and wisdom in all our relationships, and pray that you use us how you will. Lord, we pray for all those who are struggling to find the courage to confront those individuals and situations that need faced. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


The faith of a child

First Reading: Ezekiel 2:8-3:4
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 119
Gospel: Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14

In the gospel today we are told that the greatest in heaven are those who are like children. What is it about the child that makes them the greatest? Is it their unshakable faith? Is it their complete trust and loyalty to people and things? Is it their amazing ability to believe without seeing? Maybe it is their joy and playfulness that makes them great. My guess is that it is not just one thing, in fact I believe that there are many things about our faith that we could learn from children.

Today I think that we all should reflect on what it means to have the faith of a child. I think that this can best be done by sharing a story. This is the story of Saint Tarcisius, taken from the book "The One Year Book of Saints" by Rev. Clifford Stevens. Here is the story of Saint Tarcisius.
Tarcisius was a twelve-year-old acolyte during one of the fierce Roman persecutions of the third century, probably during that of Valerian. Each day, from a secret meeting place in the catacombs where Christians gathered for Mass, a deacon would be sent to the prisons to carry the Eucharist to those Christians condemned to die. At one point, there was no deacon to send and so St. Tarcisius, an acolyte, was sent carrying the "Holy Mysteries" to those in prison.
On the way, he was stopped by boys his own age who were not Christians but knew him as a playmate and lover of games. He was asked to join their games, but this time he refused and the crowd of boys noticed that he was carrying something. Somehow, he was also recognized as a Christian, and the small gang of boys, anxious to view the Christian "Mysteries," became a mob and turned upon Tarcisius with fury. He went down under the blows, and it is believed that a fellow Christian drove off the mob and rescued the young acolyte.
The mangled body of Tarcisius was carried back to the catacombs, but the boy died on the way from his injuries. He was buried in the cemetery of St. Callistus, and his relics are claimed by the church of San Silvestro in Capite.

I have heard it say that Tarcisius never once let go of the "holy mysteries" and when the fellow christian came to rescue him, he immediately asked if the Eucharist is safe. Now I don't usually get too emotional during stories or movies, but I cannot help but get a little choked up when I hear or think about the story of St. Tarcisius.

Here is a twelve year old boy who shows us what it means to be a courageous christian. This boy gave his life for Christ and to protect one of the things that we hold most dear, which is the Holy Eucharist. This boy definitely got what being a follower of Christ is all about. St. Tarcisius shows us why those who are like children are the greatest in heaven. By being humble and believing without seeing, children show us every day how we can be better followers of Christ. Do you have the faith like a child?

Father in heaven, we thank you for the examples of your faithful followers like Saint Tarcisius. Lord, increase our faith so that we might follow you no matter what obstacles we might encounter. Lord, let your will be done in our lives, and let us praise you always. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.



First Reading: Ezekiel 1:2-5, 24-28c
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 148
Gospel: Matthew 17:22-27

Death and Taxes, we can't escape them. These are just two things in life that we all need to face. In the gospel today, it appears as though this was the case in the days of Jesus as well. In the gospel today Jesus and Peter are confronted with the scenario of whether to pay the temple tax. In order not to offend the tax collectors, Jesus and Peter pay the temple tax through a miraculous fishing event.

So, what do we take away from this reading? The first thing that came to my mind was a song by the "Queen of Soul", Aretha Franklin. The song as we all know it is called "R-E-S-P-E-C-T." There it is plain and simple, I believe this gospel speaks a lot about how we need to respect those in authority. Now hearing this may cause some of you to start seeing red, but before you click away, just hear me out. I am not saying that we need to agree and support all of our authority figures, but we do need to respect them and their positions. I don't think that it matters whether it is the president of the US, your boss at work, or your parents; everyone deserves respect, especially those who have a position of authority. Remember, the golden rule is to "do to others as you would have them do to you (Luke 6:31)."

Jesus not only taught truth and wisdom, but he lived it out. He was not sent here to be a law breaking heathen, he was sent here to fulfill the law and to save us. Jesus shows us to have respect for the law and for authority figures. The greatest leaders throughout history always lived out their message. If Jesus sought out to do this during His life here on earth, shouldn't we also be doing the same thing?

Father in Heaven, you gave us your Son to save us and guide us through this life. Fill us with your Spirit so that we might be better servants of you. Let us lead by your example so that others may see your goodness and love through us. Lord, we pray that your will be done in our lives, and we pray for all those who are struggling in their faith. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Sunday August 10, 2008

First Reading:  1 Kings 19:9a, 11-13a 
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 85
Second Reading:  Romans 9:1-5
Gospel:  14:22-33    

Have a blessed day!  Also, remember to pray for all the athletes competing in this years Olympics!  


Because of our faith

First Reading: Habakkuk 1:12-2:4
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 9
Gospel: Matthew 17:14-20

In the gospel today we have the story of a boy who is possessed with a demon. The father brings the boy to Jesus to have Him cure the boy. The father says that when he took the boy to the disciples, they could not cure him. Jesus then goes on to cure the boy, which causes the disciples to question Jesus. The following scenario plays out:

"Why could we not drive it out?"

Jesus answers; "Because of your little faith."

Ouch, what a blow that must of been to the disciples trying to do their good works. I think that the advice that Jesus gave is what we tend to call constructive criticism. Jesus identifies the problem and then gives them the instructions and inspiration that they need to hear. "if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."

Nothing will be impossible for you. What does it take? Faith the size of a mustard seed. Now this is not to say that we can drive to the grocery store and have the person behind the counter measure out a little bit of faith for us; but this analogy does provide some wonderful insight into they type of faith that we should have. I don't believe that we are given a specific size and shape for our faith, but we are being taught about the actual presence of our faith. If our faith is truly present, and we truly believe in our hearts in the power of Christ, then nothing will be impossible for us. It is because of our faith in Christ that we can do anything that God calls us to do. If we limit our faith, we limit God in our lives and therefore we cannot become all that we were created to be.

Do you want a full life? Do you want to do amazing things for God's glory? Do you want to find your life? Then all it takes is faith. The prophet Habakkuk was given this message by the Lord: "...the just man, because of his faith shall live." Jesus said yesterday in the gospel, "whoever loses his life for my sake will find it."

If we wish to find out life, then our faith must be present. May the Lord increase our faith so that we may serve Him with all that we are.

Lord Jesus, you are our savior and the giver of life. Help us to continue learning how we can be faithful followers of you and to serve you no matter what the costs. Increase our faith so that we will serve and follow you without hesitation. Help us to never limit your work in our lives and help us to trust in you completely. Lord we pray for all those who are wavering in their faith. Ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Take up your cross

Memorial of Saint Dominic

First Reading: Nahum 2:1, 3, 3:1-3, 6-7
Responsorial Psalm: Deuteronomy 32
Gospel: Matthew 16:24-28

Have you ever thought about why it is so hard to say "no" to something or someone? If you have, then you probably realize that it is really not the act of saying no that is difficult, it is usually the reaction to that word that we do not like. Think about the last time you said no to someone, what was the reaction? Was it anger, frustration, disappointment, pain, etc? Is it just as hard to say no to yourself? Think about a time when you had to say no to yourself, how difficult was this to do? I know that there are many times that I do not feel like working out, then I start thinking of other things to do such as taking a nap or sitting in front of the TV with a big bowl of ice cream. It is during these times that I need to say "no" to myself. Now it is not the act of saying no that is hard, it is the following through with that "no" that is difficult.

We are told in the gospel today that we must deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Jesus. We realize that these may seem like very simple instructions, but as simple as they are, following through on them is very difficult. These instructions are the conditions for discipleship. To be a good and faithful follower of Jesus Christ we are to lose our life to Him. This means saying no to ourselves when we want to act on things that we want instead of what God has planned for us. Then we have to follow through on this "no", and that means picking up our crosses and carrying them on our journey. We all have different struggles and different things that weigh us down and try to pull us away from God, but we must persevere during these times. How do we do this? St. Paul tells us in the book of Romans to "...endure in affliction, persevere in prayer.(Rom 12:12)" If we try to carry our crosses by ourselves we will fail. Now I am not trying to be negative here, just realistic. But if we trust in the Lord and pray for His help and guidance, we will carry our crosses through our journey. Trust in the Lord and trust in His power in you.

We all know firsthand how difficult it is to carry our crosses through life. It can be so overwhelming to think about having to carry something the rest of our lives. I have a simple (yet difficult) solution for that. Take one day at a time. In football when running or working out, we used to always encourage each other that "you can do anything for ____ minutes!" The same mentality helps in our faith journey, "you can do anything for one day!" Take one day at a time, things will not seem so overwhelming then. We are instructed to not worry about tomorrow, so let us only trust for today and prepare to take on whatever this day brings.

“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. (Mt 16:24)"

Heavenly Father we thank you for all that you give to us. Increase our faith and hope so that we might take up our crosses with courage and persevere though any hardships or struggles that we have. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.



First Reading: Jeremiah 31:31-34
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 51
Gospel: Matthew 16:13-23

Obstacles, they are all around us. No matter what we are doing or what our goal is, there always seems to be something in the way that tries to deter us from our goal. While at times we are prepared for these or see them coming; there are other times when obstacles seem to come out of nowhere or from the least expected places. Such was the case in the gospel today. One minute Jesus is telling Peter that he is blessed and that he is going to get the keys to the Kingdom of heaven, the next minute Jesus is telling Peter to get behind Him and that he is an obstacle. I mean really, what is going on here? Well, Peter shows us one of our natural tendencies which Jesus uses as a great teachable moment. Peter like all of us have a tendency to speak and act on things which seem like the right decision, I mean is Peter wrong for not wanting Jesus to die? Certainly not, but because he was "thinking not as God does, but as human beings do" (v.23), he was not in tune to what needed to happen.

I think that we can all relate to St. Peter; speaking without fully understanding. While Peter's intentions were good, he was not seeking out what the will of God was or what truly needed to be done. This thinking as a human being thing can really be a big obstacle in our lives and can be very hard to overcome. Many times in our Christian faith we are called to do things that are not easy or seem very impossible. When we think as we do, we may not reach our goal because getting to the end seems too hard or completely impossible. It is in these moments that we need to get ourselves out of this was of thinking, and tell it to "get behind us!" If we begin to seek out God's will for us, and get into the habit of thinking as God does and asking for His guidance for our lives, then we can begin to get through these obstacles. It will not matter if we see the obstacle coming or they completely blindside us, we will be able to get through it. It will not matter if this "human thinking" is coming from someone very close to us or from ourselves, if we focus on God's will, then we can get through any obstacle.

Obstacles are everywhere, constantly in our way as we work towards our goal. And you better believe that in your faith journey there are going to be so many obstacles trying to prevent you from getting close to God and to reaching the Kingdom. It is not easy, but we all know that in the end it will be worth it. My old football coach used to always say; "if this were easy, then everyone would do it!" Obstacles are always going to be there, how will you respond when you come across one?

One things that always helps me find peace when going through a difficult situation is to remember the scripture verse from proverbs 3:5: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, on your own intelligence rely not"

Remember, if it were easy, then everyone would do it.

Heavenly Father you bless us every day with your love and mercy. We thank you for the gift of our lives and pray for the strength and courage to overcome the obstacles that are keeping us from growing closer to you. Lord we pray for all those who are turning away from you and who are in need of healing. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


The Glory of God

Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord

First Reading: Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 97
Second Reading: 2 Peter 1:16-19
Gospel: Matthew 17:1-9

God bless you all on the feast day of the Transfiguration of our Lord!

I recently took a cruise about a month ago, and on our last night there, my wife and I went to out on one of the upper decks of the boat in order to see the sunset. Now we were running late since we had just finished dinner, but as we got outside and went to the railing, we looked out over the water and saw the tip of the sun set just beyond the horizon. I can't being to fully describe how amazing it was to be at that place at that time, and seeing something so beautiful take place.

On this Feast day, we celebrate another event in the life of our Lord in which three of the disciples were eye witnesses to this spectacular event. The gospel tells us that on the top of a high mountain Peter, James, and John all saw the Lord transfigured before their very eyes. We are told that "his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light." Can you imagine being Peter, James or John at this moment? I cannot even begin to imagine what it was like to see our Lord in all His glory. I am convinced that all the words in our language would not be able to fully describe how brilliant this event was. From this moment, Peter, James and John could not have been convinced otherwise that Jesus was really the Son of God. While this moment may have only lasted a short time, we all know that this memory stayed with these men forever. For this event is written of by St. Peter in the second reading today.

In the Second book of Peter, Peter recalls this event, and he notes that "You will do well to be attentive to it..." He is saying here, "hey wake up, I have something important to tell you about!" Peter is speaking to us about the power and majesty of our Lord and how as he was instructed to listen to Christ, so we should also be attentive to this message. Peter is trying to let us know that his message is reliable and that it is not something that was just "cleverly devised" but something that he had seen for himself. If you were going to visit a new country and you were looking for information, whose advice would you trust more; someone who read a book about that country or someone who has seen that country for themselves?

St. Peter gives us insight into something that he himself caught a glimpse of, the Glory of God. We are very blessed that he makes this account known to us. We can begin to get fabulous images of what it must have been like upon that mountain with Jesus and His disciples. This account should excite all of us about getting to heaven, because in there that we will be able to be in the presence of our Lord in all His glory for all eternity! I pray that we always keep this end prize in mind while here on earth.

Lord, we thank you and give you praise for this day and for the accounts of your faithful servants. We praise you for your glory and for your saving grace in our lives. We humbly acknowledge your majesty and power and ask for your continued guidance in our lives. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Sticks and Stones

First Reading: Jeremiah 30:1-2, 12-15, 18-22
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 102
Gospel: Matthew 15:1-2, 10-14

We have all heard the saying as a kid that "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." Well, we all know that physically words may not hurt us, but emotionally they do. And perhaps it is not always other's words that hurt us the most, but sometimes it is our own words that are causing our downfall.

In the gospel today Jesus tells the people that "It is not what enters one's mouth that defiles that person; but what comes out of the mouth is what defiles one." So we are lead to think here, what in the world do the words that I say have to do with who I am? And how is it that they defile me? Well, I have some thoughts in regards to this. If we are constantly speaking of things that are not good and of God, then the reason is most likely because we are not putting good and Holy things in our minds. I believe that "Garbage in = Garbage out!" We must always be aware of the things that we are surrounding ourselves with and who we are letting lead us. Think about a little child who is just learning to speak. Ever heard something surprising come out of the mouth of a little kid and then think to yourself, where did they learn that word from? All they are doing is repeating what they hear. We are not so different, except in the fact that we might start to take in things that we hear as truth, and depending on what things we are surrounding ourselves with, this can be very dangerous. Always be aware of what we are surrounding ourselves with and ask yourself, is this good and Holy or is this of the world? Remember, "Garbage In = Garbage Out."

I would like to share one of my favorite quotes with you for a reflection:
Watch your thoughts, they become your words
Watch your words, they become your actions
Watch your actions, they become your habits
Watch your habits, they become your character
Watch your character, it becomes your destiny
-Frank Outlaw

Heavenly Father above, you are the source of all that is good and Holy. We pray for the courage and the wisdom to take out the things that are leading us away from you and to replace those with things that build us and your kingdom up. Lord we pray for all those who are struggling with living of this world vs just in it. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.



Memorial of Saint John Mary Vianney

First Reading: Jeremiah 28:1-17
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 119
Gospel: Matthew 14:22-36

Distractions. They are everywhere, and they seem to be different for every person. We have so many things in our lives that distract us and cause us to take our focus off of what we are doing. Perhaps it is the TV, the newest weight loss regimen, a new get rich quick scheme, constant noise that we are usually surrounded with, a friend, etc. Think about it, what in your life distracts you? One thing that I am always distracted by and have a bad habit of is constantly checking my email. It doesn't matter where I am or what I am doing, the thought will just randomly come into my mind and I will go check my email. Many times this happens at work, and there are so many times that I stop what I am working on to check my email, and even though it is usually work related, I still get distracted by it. It then usually takes me several more minutes to get back to get re-focused on what I was working on before. I understand that email will constantly be a distraction in my life, that I must work through and balance out how much time I am spending doing this. We all have distractions in life that we have to work through, Jesus referred to things like distractions as crosses. Jesus says in the gospel of Luke; "Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot by my disciple." (Luke 14:27)

For me a distraction is email, but for Peter in the gospel today he was distracted by fear and doubt. As Peter was called to come out of the boat he also began to walk on the water towards Jesus, but he was quickly distracted by the strong winds and the waves. At this distraction, Peter began to sink into the water. Jesus then asked him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” I am sure that we can all think of times when Jesus probably asked us this very question. Jesus calls all of us out of the boat, but everyday we get distracted by other things, we turn away and take our focus off of following Him. It is when we turn away that we begin to sink, and many times like Peter we begin to panic. Why do we doubt? Why do we become afraid? These are questions for each of us to ask ourselves inside.

Fear and doubt. We all feel them and display them; these are major distractions in our lives and can many times prevent us from following our Lord. Fear and doubt are crosses that we must all carry, they are a part of our nature and to get past them we must look to the Lord. He is so mighty and powerful that there is nothing that He can't do. We need learn to trust Him at all times, no matter how great the distractions.

Lord Jesus we thank you and give you praise for each of our lives. We ask that you increase our faith so that we might be better followers of you. We ask that you help us each to work on our temperance and reverence for you. Lord we pray for those who are caught up in the many distractions of this world. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Sunday August 3, 2008

Good morning brothers and sisters. As stated before on Sundays, I will not be posting to this blog. I will be enjoying the Lords day and time with my new wife. Below are today's readings.

Enjoy and God bless!

First Reading: Isaiah 55:1-3
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 145
Second Reading: Romans: 8:35, 37-39
Gospel: Matthew 14:13-21


Courage under fire

First Reading: Jeremiah 26:11-16,24
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 69
Gospel: Matthew 14:1-12

Courage. A trait that all our great heroes of the past and present have. The dictionary defines this as: "the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear." (source: dictionary.com) Think about who some of your favorite heroes are. Perhaps its St. Paul, George Washington, Martin Luther King Jr, Joe Montana, etc. Didn't they all possess this trait of courage that we all admire so much. I will be the first to admit that courage is not exactly radiating from me all the time, but when it does I know that God is very present and is the source of this courage. I also realize that when I am not filled with courage, it is because I let fear get the better of me. Fear has a way of crippling us and causing us to not be able to act in situations when we are called to let the Lord lead us to courageous acts. I believe that it is in these moments that we are severely lacking in trust of the Lord and His power.

In the readings today, we have two examples of great courage. In the cases of Jeremiah and John the Baptist there are two very different outcomes, which are important to take note of. When the prophet Jeremiah was brought before the princes and the people, the priests and prophets of that time asked that he be put to death. Pretty scary situation if you are in Jeremiah's shoes (or sandals), so how does Jeremiah respond? With courage. He says “It was the LORD who sent me to prophesy against this house and city all that you have heard. Now, therefore, reform your ways and your deeds; listen to the voice of the LORD your God, so that the LORD will repent of the evil with which he threatens you. As for me, I am in your hands; do with me what you think good and right." Wow, listen to that! He does not cower, does not shrink away, doesn't say "oh, I was just kidding with you guys." No, he proclaims the Lord's message even more and says do whatever you want with me. Can you imagine the amount of trust that Jeremiah must have had in God during this time? I pray for that kind of trust every day.

Now in the gospel today we see a hero of mine, John the Baptist who is in prison for having the courage to speak against the union of Herod the tetrarch and Herodias. This statement by John does not sit well with Herodias and ultimately leads to his beheading. We are not told how John reacted during this time, but from hearing about him in other readings and knowing that he was "filled with the Holy Spirit", I have no doubts in my mind that even to the end John was courageous. John the Baptist was not afraid to serve the Lord and to give of himself totally to the glory of God.

I think that we see from these two examples that courage can have different outcomes on us, sometimes they are good, as was the case of Jeremiah who wasn't put to death in this instance; or sometimes they are bad, as in the case of John the Baptist. Good or bad, when acting courageously, we are serving the Lord and allowing His will to be done in us. As we see from both examples having courage takes a lot of trust in the Lord, I pray that we all have that trust and lack of fear when being called to be courageous for the glory of God.

Lord, we thank you for your word today and for the example of your great servants Jeremiah and John the Baptist. Let us learn from their example of being courageous and trusting for your glory. Lord, let us serve you in all that we do and let you will be done in our lives. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Getting nowhere

Memorial of Saint Alphonsus Liguori

First Reading: Jeremiah 26:1-9
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 69
Gospel: Matthew 13:54-58

Have you ever heard the term "I might as well be speaking to a brick wall?" I am sure that many of us have felt this way and said this many times; this being especially true when speaking to kids or family members. It can be very frustrating when trying to talk to a loved one who does not seem to want to listen to anything that you have to say. In both of the readings today we see that Jesus and Jeremiah are experiencing this same kind of frustration. In the first reading the prophet Jeremiah is told to tell the people that they need to obey God and listen to Him. But the people rebel against Jeremiah and seek to put him to death. Jesus is back in his hometown preaching to the people there and all they have to say is; "hey isn't this the carpenter's son? When did he get so smart and learn to do all these great deeds?" (not actual scripture reference, just paraphrasing) Because of the people's lack of faith, Jesus then did not work His mighty deeds there.

In each of these cases, Jesus and Jeremiah had important messages for the people, but they were unwilling to listen. Their messages where for the sake of saving the people from themselves, from their sin and wicked ways. They went to the people to try to help them because they loved them. I am sure that most of us have found ourselves in similar situations before; we have someone who we care about hurting themselves or going down a self destructive path. We try to talk to them, but they do not listen, they usually either doubt us or take the mentality of "shooting the messenger." We all know how frustrating it is, and it seems the more that they resist, the more that we want to persist. We want to save these people, but we are completely baffled that they do not see the concern that we have for them.

One thing that we have to remember in every situation is that we have no power to save anyone. If the person is going to be saved, it is through Christ and his great mercy. No I am not saying when you see someone hurting or doing something they shouldn't to just let them alone and say "oh its okay, Jesus will take care of it." He does use us, we are simply the vessels, and it is always important to remember our roles. I believe that when confronted with a situation or before you need to talk with someone, it is always important to pray to God for the strength and courage to confront the situation or person and to ask God, "God what is my role in this? What do you want me to do?" Remember, it all comes from Him!

Our lives are not meant to be easy, and being a Christian does not mean that we will never encounter problems or have to deal with people. We are meant to be spiritual warriors, fighting the good fight for Christ and for His glory. So the next time that you are confronted or you need to confront someone, "do not worry about what you are to say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say." (Luke 12:11-12). It may feel as though you are getting nowhere, but trust in the Lord and in His timing.

Lord Jesus, let us have open hearts and open minds to hear what it is you have to say. Let us be open to you working in our lives and in your plan for us. Lord we ask this all in your name. Amen.


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