Readings for Tuesday September 30, 2008

First Reading:  Job 3:1-3, 11-17, 20-23  
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 88 
Gospel:  Luke 9:51-56

Does it seem today that Jesus and  Job are both having a bad day?  Job is feeling rejected and doesn't even want to go on living, while Jesus is actually rejected from the Samaritans during His journey.  Rejection is a very hard feeling to deal with, think about the last time you were rejected, how did it feel?  It seems as though when we are rejected we want to feel angry, hurt, resentful, and vengeful.  

Today with Jesus and Job we see two different reactions to rejection.  Job goes about feeling lots of self pity, and goes on cursing his existence.  This is like when we go around telling everyone how rotten our luck is.  Jesus however takes a different approach, He doesn't get angry, or resentful, or vengeful (although His disciples became that way).  No, Jesus just shakes it off and continues about His journey.  Now which reaction would you guess is the better and healthier choice?  

The reality is, is that we are all going to go through difficult trials in our lives, and we are going to feel rejected by many people, we may even feel like God is punishing us and rejecting us at times.  But God is not like that, while others may reject and not accept us, He always does.  Just because we may go through times in our life where we feel alone and that our lives are full of chaos, He is still there loving us and being there for us.  There is always a reason for our suffering, it is just that we may never know that reason, or are not able to understand that reason.  

So our reaction to rejection and to all difficult challenges in our lives should be to simply shake it off and just keep on thanking and praising God for our lives.  Our merciful God loves us so much, and wants to see us be peaceful and joyful in Him.  It is not enough to just thank Him and praise Him when things are good, but we must give Him thanks and praise at all times!  

Father above, we thank you for the gift of our lives.  We ask that your will be done in our lives.  Give us the strength and courage to follow you no matter what challenges you bring in front of us.  Lord send your spirit to guide us and to help us in our lives.  Lord, we pray for all those who are suffering, help them to see the fruits of their suffering and help them to offer it up for others.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.     


Angels Among Us

Readings for Monday September 29, 2008

Feasts of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, archangels

First Reading:  Revelation 12:7-12
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 138
Gospel:  John 1:47-51

In today's gospel we are told that Nathanael was amazed that Jesus knew of him.  Nathanael was so astounded that he proclaimed Jesus as the Son of God.  Jesus then asks him, "Do you believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree?"  Jesus then goes on to tell Nathanael that he will see far greater things than this.  Jesus tells him that he will see "the sky opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."  

Nathanael is promised to see something great, and Jesus tells Nathanael that he will see another one of God's glorious creations, His angels.  As we honor Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael; let us think about the role angels play in our salvation.  St. Augustine makes an important point in regards to angels.  He says that " 'Angel' is the name of their office, not of their nature.  If you seek the name of their nature, it is 'spirit'; if you seek the name of their office it is 'angel'. "  St. Thomas Aquinas said "the angels work together for the benefit of us all." 

Throughout the scriptures we see many references to the angels.  We see how important they are in doing God's will and in serving Him.  While pure spiritual beings, the angels still have free will, and they like us, have the capability of accepting or rejecting God.  The angels provide us yet another example of being good faithful servants of God.  They show us that we should, like them, humble ourselves before our God and serve Him with all of our being.  

The archangels have all played very important roles throughout the scriptures and so we honor them today.  We thank God for sending His servants to help us  here on earth, so one day we might be with Him in heaven.  

Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, pray for us.         

 Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord we pray for your guidance throughout this day.  Lord, may we serve you and give you the glory through all that we do.  Let us humble ourselves and have no fear as we go through this life trusting in you.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.   Amen.  


A time for everything

Readings for Friday September 26, 2008

First Reading: Ecclesiastes 3:1-11
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 144
Gospel: Luke 9:18-22

"He has made everything appropriate to its time, and has put the timeless into their hearts, without man’s ever discovering, from beginning to end, the work which God has done." (Ecc 3:11)

When we read this passage from today's readings, it is really quite humbling when you think about it. There are so many times in our lives that we want things to happen instantly; perhaps it is a good grade on a paper, a job promotion, or our kids to pick up after themselves (they were told them 10 times already, shouldn't they learn now?). But we learn today that there is a time for everything, and it is really not our time at all; it is God's time, and His time is perfect. The passage above reminds us that His timing is perfect, and if we are not careful we can go our entire lives not realizing the work that God has done in our lives.

There is one line that really struck me from the reading today; "a time to be silent, and a time to speak." We are all caught up in these moment and it is very hard to know when to say something (and what for that matter) and when not to say something. In all of these situations there is a choice to be made, the author does not say that we should always be silent or that we should always speak up, no there is some discernment that we need to go through. Ultimately it comes down to what God is calling you to do at that moment. It takes great courage at these times, and it is in these moments that we need to pray for the Holy spirit to work in us, to give us the courage and guide our words, or to give us the courage and bite our tongue. We must remember that no matter the situation, we should not worry what to say or do because if we cooperate with God, the Holy spirit will guide us.

Timing ... I think this is something that we all have, do , and will struggle with in our lives. There is an appointed time for everything, and let us ask for the Lord's guidance in the timing of things in our lives. After all it is His timing and His plan that we are following...wouldn't it naturally make since to ask the Lord to steer us in the right direction?

"There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens." (Ecc 3:1)

Blessed be the Lord, our rock and our salvation! We thank you and give you praise for this day. Lord, help us to trust in your timing and give us the courage and strength to follow you without hesitation. Lord God we pray for the wisdom to discern the timing of things in our lives. Help lead us Lord where you want us to go. Let us give thanks and praise to you for all the work in our lives. We pray for all those who have fallen away from their faith, may they be brought back to you love and mercy. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Inner Reflection

Readings for Thursday September 25, 2008

First Reading: Ecclesiastes 1:2-11
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 90
Gospel: Luke 9:7-9

Today I think that it would be good if we all did a little inner reflection. Take some time and read the scriptures. Then, in a quiet, peaceful place reflect on these three questions (or as many or few as you want).

1. What is God saying to you through His word today?

2. What is God's plan for you now in your life or What are you being called to now?

3. Is there anything that that is preventing you from seeing Jesus in your life?

Today, let us spend some time with our creator, and listen to what He has to say to us. Take as much time as you need, just praying and being with God.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. Speak now Lord, for your servants are listening. Help us to see you in our lives, and help us to learn to stop in our busy world and take time to be with you. Lord, we pray for all those who are struggling in their journey. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Got Trust?

Readings for Wednesday September 24, 2008

First Reading: Proverbs 30:5-9
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 119
Gospel: Luke 9:1-6

I remember when I was a young boy and I started playing football. I remember how cool I thought all my pads and my helmet were. When I first suited up, I felt like a knight gearing up for battle. But then I remembered the part about how football involved a lot of hitting. I immediately went from knight in shining armor to safety inspector. Were these enough to protect me? I mean, some of those kids were pretty big (or at least they looked like it with their pads on). I came to quickly realize that the pads were more than adequate. My helmet and my pads protected me from every hit and shock that I came up against. That is not to say that it didn't hurt at times or that I didn't feel the effect of a hit, but my body was protected overall. Everything else that I felt helped to build my toughness and durability. I quickly came to trust in "my shields."

Today in the book of proverbs we are told that the Lord is a shield for all who take refuge in Him. The same mentality that I took with my pads is the same mentality that we take with "our shield". It takes us some time to trust in Him. But when we do, we realize that He will protect us, and that there is nothing to fear. Not to say that we will not feel pain or the after effects of some of the things that we go through, but all of these other things are just meant to build up our faith. We must always trust that the Lord will give us what we need in every situation, not what we want, but what we need. In the gospel today, Jesus sends out his disciples to the towns to preach the good news and to heal the people, but He tells them to take nothing with with. No food, money, extra clothes...nothing! Can you imagine the trust that this must have taken? I pray for that kind of faith in my life; to go out into the world, just me, and know that God will provide. Now that is faith!

The Lord is our shield. He will take care us of, and He will always give us the things that we need. But if we do not trust in Him at these times and cooperate with His grace, then we risk not seeing and experiencing the blessings that He has for us. The Lord will lead us to places that we would not usually venture and against things that we would not normally choose to face, but He calls us for a reason. It is during these times that we do not fully understand why, when we just need to put our trust in "our shield." When we feel God is calling us to something in our lives, we only have to ask ourselves one question...Got trust?

Father above, we trust in you and your plan for our lives. Increase our faith so that we might not hold back in serving you. Help us to give ourselves totally to you Lord. Lord, help us to let go of the things that are holding us back and tying us down to this world. We pray for your guidance in our lives, and for your will to be done. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Listen and act on His word

Readings for Tuesday September 23, 2008

Memorial of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, priets

First Reading:  Proverbs 2:1-6, 10-13
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 119
Gospel:  Luke 8:19-21

In today's gospel we hear that Jesus' family is outside trying to get to Him, but are unable to because of the crowd.  When told that His family is outside, Jesus says that; "My mother and brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it."  So...to be in Jesus' circle all you have to do is hear the word of God and act on it.  Sounds pretty easy huh?  Well, as I am sure we all know, it is not that easy.  There are two parts to these instruction.  The first is that we have to be listening to even hear God's word in the first place. It is very easy in our lives to be caught falling asleep or not paying attention to when God is speaking to us.  It happens to all of us, this is why it is important to, as we say in football terms, "constantly keep your head on a swivel."  We should constantly be striving to make sure that we are looking for God in our lives and how He is speaking to us.  The reality is is that we will all fall asleep or lose focus, but that does not give us a reason to stay like that.  Remember, as St. Paul says, we press on towards our goal.    

The second part involves application.  What good is hearing His word if we are not going to act on it?  How many times in our lives are we given great ideas and we get so excited about them but we do not act on them?  The easier way is always to not act or walk away ... but we all know that there is no fruit in that.  We know the joy that comes from doing God's will or acting on , we simply need to pray for the courage to act more.  Acting on God's will is never easy, but the more we do it, the more we see the fruits of our obedience.  I pray that all of us will always strive to act on the Lord's will in our lives.  

Today in from the first reading we are given great jewels of wisdom from the book of proverbs.  As you read these, reflect on God's word and the traits and virtues that stick out to you.  Think about how you can strive for such virtues and what in your life you would like the Lord to help you with.  God is speaking to you, are you listening?  Are you ready to act?   

Let us always pray as in today's psalm, Guide me, Lord, in the ways of your commands!  

Father above, we thank you for this day.  Lord we offer this day up to you for your glory.  Lord help us to seek first your kingdom and always listen for when you are speaking.  Lord we pray for the courage and strength to act on your word.  We pray for all those who are struggling in their journey, and for all those who do not know you.  We ask this all in Christ our Lord.  Amen.   


This little light of mine

Readings for Monday September 22, 2008

First Reading:  3:27-34  
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 15
Gospel:  Luke 8:16-18

Most of us are familiar with the children's song "This little light of mine."  In case you have never heard it or forget the words, here are some of the words to help jog your memory:  "This little light of mine, I'm gonna let it shine... Hide it under a bush. No!  I'm gonna let it shine...Don't let Satan blow it out, I'm gonna let it shine...Let it shine till Jesus comes, I'm gonna let it shine."  Obviously there aren't all of the lyrics, but it does give us a good feel for the song.  I believe that this is a great song to teach our children (as well as adults).  While it is a simple song, it really speaks to our roles as Christians.  One of our roles is to "let our light shine."  Who is the source of this light?  Jesus of course!  He is the source of all love and all that is good.  He is the light, the truth and the way.    If we have Christ in us, then His light is in us.  If we cooperate with His grace and allow Him to work in our lives, then not only will we be faithful servants, but His light will shine through us as an example for all to see and follow.  

But most of the time this is easier said than done.  Many times, we do not cooperate with the grace we are given, thereby not allowing our light to shine.  How many times do we turn our head to those in need?  How many times do we not stand up for people or things?  How many times do we hold back for fear of others might do or say to us?  Many times we are afraid to do the works that we should and to allow Christ's light to shine through us.  It is so difficult when we are out in the world and are constantly challenged to truly let our light shine, because we know that the world and the evil one are just waiting to blow it out.  

Jesus knew this would be a problem for us.  That is why when He speaks to us today in the gospel He tells us; “No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lamp stand so that those who enter may see the light."  We must remember this example always.  As Jesus said, when a lamp is lit, it doesn't make any since to hide it, you put it out for all to see.  As faithful Christians, we have a responsibility to let the light of our Lord and Savior shine through us.  In the first reading from proverbs today we are given great wisdom in how to let our light shine.  We are told to not delay or hold back the goodness that we can do each time we have the opportunity.  If we see someone who needs help, let us help them then and not say that we will definitely help the next people we see.  If we see trash laying around or a mess that needs cleaned up, then we should clean it up and not just wait for the next opportunity.  

Opportunities to let the light of Christ shine through pass us by constantly.  Are you being aware of these moments, or are you like most people so wrapped up in what is going on in your world that you are missing these opportunities?  I know that for me it is a constant struggle to keep my eyes and ears open, but I know that when I do I can help make a difference, and let the light of Jesus shine through.  

This little light of ours.  Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  We praise you for being the light in our lives that lead us to holiness.  Lord we pray for the strength and courage to live our lives for you.  Let us be the examples that you created us to be Lord, for your glory, not ours.  Lord we pray for all those who are hiding from you, we pray for them to have the courage to come to you and into your love and mercy.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.       


What's the point?

Readings for Friday September 19, 2008

First Reading:  1 Corinthians 15:12-20
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 17
Gospel:  Luke 8:1-3

What's the point?  Do you ever ask this question of your life or of your faith?  Does it seem as though this world is just overwhelming you, and that things are getting so twisted that nothing seems to make sense anymore?  It seems that when we begin questioning things so much and try to analyze and rationalize everything; it is in these moments where we begin to lose faith.  St. Paul refers to this as "falling asleep."  

In the first reading Paul addresses those who are questioning a very important aspect of our faith, the resurrection of Christ.  Paul begins to address their lack of belief by essentially asking this question what's the point?  If we do not believe in the resurrection, then our "faith is empty."  Paul reminds us that Christ has risen, and His resurrection involves ours as well.  It is through Christ's resurrection that we can have life after our physical death.  So we are granted hope through the resurrection.   

So, what's the point?  Why believe?  Why have faith in Christ?  Why follow Him?  I bet the women of the gospel today could tell you.  Christ saved them from their demons.  Christ healed them of their sicknesses.  He gives us life.  All we need to do is follow Him.  If we just let Him lead, and if we just trust in Him, He will give us eternal life.  That is the point.  

Father, we thank you for the gift of our lives.  Lord increase our faith so that we might trust in you with all of our lives.  Lord we pray that we might have the courage to follow you where ever you lead us to.  Lord we pray for all those on their journey.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.      


Amazing Grace

Readings for Thursday September 18, 2008

First Reading:  1 Corinthians 15:1-11
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 118
Gospel:  Luke 7:36-50

Most of us know the song "Amazing Grace" (on a side note check out the Chris Tomlinson version, it is fantastic!), and most of us probably just go about singing it on Sundays without thinking about the words.  I invite you to take a moment now to think about the some of the words of this song:  

"Amazing Grace how sweet the sound,  
That saved a wretch like me...
I once was lost but now am found.
Was blind, but now, I see.
Twas grace that taught...
my heart to fear
And grace, my fears relieved
How precious did, that grace appear...
the hour I first believed."
The words of this song scream out the message of today's readings.  Today's readings speak of the amazing grace that we are given by God.  But why are we given grace in the first place?  Why was the woman in the gospel today given grace?  Why was St. Paul who was originally a persecutor of Christians given grace?  To save them ... to lead them to God.  I believe that both St. Paul and the woman of today's gospel speak to us of God's grace and mercy in our lives.  

Grace is a free gift from God given to us for our salvation.  In Paul's letter, he tells the church of Corinth that; "by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been ineffective.  Indeed, I have toiled harder than all of them; not I, however, but the grace of God that is with me."  (1 Cor 15:10)  Paul recognizes and communicates to us that it is by God's grace he is who he is, as we all should recognize and communicate this.  God gives us the grace we need to serve Him in our lives.  God gives us grace so that way we can be drawn nearer to Him,  and so that we have what we need to be with Him at the end of our time here on earth.  The grace given by God has the power to save us from our old lives and old ways.  Grace was bestowed upon the woman today as Jesus forgave her of her sins.  Imagine how thankful she was at this moment.  Imagine how we all feel when we are touched by God's grace.  It is like the song, "How precious did, that grace appear...the hour I first believed."  

Grace is not something we can touch, taste, or smell.  But we know it is there when we believe.  It is sort of a mystery to us, and while we may not fully understand how exactly grace works; or we may not be able to give a good theological definition... we should simply understand that grace is meant to save us.  God gives us grace as a favor, as a gift, so that we can be saved.  I pray that we, like St. Paul and the woman of the gospel today, may accept God's grace in our lives, and allow Him to work in us.  For if we do that, then we can become the people that He created us to be.  

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound. 

Father above, we thank you for your grace in our lives.  We thank you for the grace that we received during our conversion.  We pray for your continued grace in our lives.  Lord help strengthen us as servants of you, increase our faith so that we can continue to carry our crosses and follow you.  Lord, we pray for all those who are not allowing your grace to flow in their lives.  We pray that their hearts may be softened and your love be able to flood in.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.     



Love is...

Readings for Wednesday September 17, 2008

First Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 33
Gospel: Luke 7:31-35

What is love? This is a popular question among many people today. In fact, this great question even sparked the still popular song "What is Love," by the artist Haddaway in 1993. Of course we do not find the answer to this question in any pop music. No, we must look to a source that is much wiser for the right answer.

In the reading today, St. Paul writes to the church of Corinth, and tells them (and us) how important love is. He tells them what love is, as well as what it is not. This is important because like the people of Paul's time, we tend to get confused about these sorts of things things. But God, knowing us all too well inspires Paul to write what love is and what it is not. He know that we need to hear examples of both. I am sure that when reading this scripture, many of you were reminded of a wedding that you might have been to. Why is this such a great reading for weddings? Because it tells the bride and groom what love is and what it is not. The bride and groom need to understand that the marriage will require great love in order for them to thrive, and we need the examples to help us understand. Many of us confuse the term love with that warm, squishy, butterflies in the stomach feeling that we get when we see that special somebody.  This is what many of us are lead to believe that love is, simply a feeling...but it is so much more. Read below of what St. Paul tells us love is and is not. I have also included some thoughts that came to me when reading each of these (underneath in italics).

Love is patient, love is kind.
(love takes its time, it is not in a rush)

It is not jealous, love is not pompous,
(it is not full of pride, and accepts all)

it is not inflated, it is not rude,
(it is genuine and real, from the heart)

it does not seek its own interests,
(it is completely selfless)

it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,
(remember it is patient, it seeks to heal not break)

it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.
(it isn't about who is right and who is wrong, it is about the truth and the way)

It bears all things, believes all things,
(through love we can get through anything in faith)

hopes all things, endures all things.
(with love we can look ahead, and persevere)

I realize that it seems as though we have been talking about love a lot on this blog, but I know it is for a reason. I know that the Lord has put it on my heart to reflect on it...not just to share, but because we all need to work on loving more and better. I don't know about you, but I am very far from the place of having mastered the art of loving everyone as God intends me to. This reading is important for us to remember when we are angry and want to hate, when we are hurt and want to blame, and when we are ashamed and want to hide.

"So faith, hope, love remain, these three;
but the greatest of these is love."

Father above, we thank you for your love and mercy. Even though we are not deserving, you love us without hesitation every second of our lives. Lord may we look to others with this same mercy, especially those who we find it most difficult to love. Lord we pray for all those filled with hate, that they may find the strength and courage to let go of this hate and open their hearts to you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


The greatest gift

Readings for Tuesday September 16, 2008

Memorial of Saint Cornelius, pope and martyr, and Saint Cyprian, bishop and martyr

First Reading:  1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 27-31a
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 100
Gospel:  Luke 7:11-17

Throughout our lives we receive many gifts and for many reasons; birthdays, Christmas, weddings, just because, etc.  Some gifts we receive have great meaning and become so precious to us.  While other gifts go onto the "re-gifting" shelf, or into storage only to be discovered a decade later when looking for garage sale items.  Regardless of how much thought or money was spent, no gift will ever be greater than those given to us from God.  

In Paul's letter to the Corinthians today Paul tells us of many spiritual gifts that we receive from God.  Some receive gifts of healing, mighty deeds, speaking in tongues, etc ... all of these gifts are very precious and truly show God's awesome power.  We would all be blessed to receive any number of the gifts of the Holy Spirit that Paul mentions.  Some gifts, however, may not be labeled as "spiritual gifts" or may not be as apparent as speaking in tongues.  Some gifts may be more private or more subtle, like an answered prayer or a financial gift during a tough time.  No matter the label or the multitude of the gifts, it is important for us to realize that God is the great giver of all the gifts in our lives, and each of the gifts we are given are all special.  

So why does God freely give us all of these gifts?  Because He loves us.  It is that simple.  I know that for me, when someone gives me a gift for no reason at all, I tend to question the motives behind the gift, but not with God.  God gives freely because He loves us.  And His love is one of the greatest gifts that we receive.  For without that love, He would not have sent His only Son to die for us so that way we could have a way to Him.  Because He loves us, He gives us life.  Look in the gospel today, if Jesus didn't love the people He wouldn't have had compassion for the woman in the gospel.  But He does, and because He was moved with compassion and love, He gave life to the young man and gave him to his mother.  

God shows us every day how much He loves us.  Sometimes it's clear and sometimes it's not.  Let us remember and be thankful today (and all days) for this love that God gives to us everyday.  Let us learn to not only accept this love, but to share it with others as well.  Love is the greatest gift, not just to receive ... but to give.

Today, how can you learn to love more and better?
Father above, we thank you for loving us so much and for sending your Son to die for our sins.  Our words are not enough to show you are gratitude, let us give you our lives.  Lord, help us to serve you always and without hesitation.  Lord, we pray for all those who are striving to know you, may you increase their faith.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.  



Christ be with you brothers and sisters! I apologize for the lack of blogging lately, but I have been away at a Matthew Kelly Retreat trying to work on "becoming the best version of myself." (for more information visit: http://www.matthewkelly.org).

Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows

First Reading: 1 Corinthians 11:17-26, 33
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 40
Gospel: John 19:25-27

In today's gospel we are given a glimpse of the great sorrow of our Blessed mother. We can only imagine what it was like for her to be there at the cross to witness what her son was going through. Mary knew that day would come, and there she stood at her sons feet during His suffering...all for us. in this moment, Jesus looks down at his mother and the disciple that he loved, he says to Mary, "Woman, here is your son." Then he says to the disciple, "Here is your mother." While many of us may not realize it, this passage has a lot of significance. It not only shows the importance of Mary in salvation history, but it also shows her importance in each of our lives.

I think the best interpretation of this passage comes from Father Oscar Lukefahr in his book "Christ's Mother and Our: A Catholic Guide to Mary." Here is the excerpt from this book:

"On the surface, this may appear to be an instance of a dying son looking after his mother. But because, in John's gospel, the disciple whom Jesus loves represents all believers, and because Jesus calls Mary "Woman," John clearly invites us to look for a deeper meaning...At this moment, Jesus assigns Mary a special relationship to those he has redeemed. The first woman was called Eve because she was "mother of all living." Mary now becomes the new Eve because she is the Mother of all believers. If we are Christ's beloved disciples, Mary is our Mother, and Jesus wants us to take her into our own home."

Here we are given our mother. A mother who loves us, and wants us to know and love her son as she does. She knows Jesus better than any of us, shouldn't we trust her perspective and insight? Shouldn't we allow the mother of Christ to help us know Him better?

Christ does not ever leave us out to dry or in a situation that we have to manage alone. Think about it here, while he was dying on the cross for us, for our sins; He was still thinking of us when He looked down to give us another way to Him. Let us constantly ask for our Mother Mary's intercessions in coming closer to and getting to know our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among 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, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit: as it was int eh beginning, is now and ever shall be a world without end. Amen.


It's All about Love

First Reading: 1 Corinthians 8:1b-7, 11-13
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 139
Gospel: Luke 6:27-38

Steven Curtis Chapman has a song called "It's All About Love." This is a very good song, and the title of that song sums up the readings today. It's all about love. We are told that there are three theological virtues: Faith, Hope, and Love...and the greatest of these is love (ref. 1 Cor13:13). Love is a great gift that we are given by God, just think about the sign that you see at most major sports games: John 3:16 ("For God so loved that world that He gave His only Son..."). God loves us so much, more than we could ever fully understand and more than we deserve. He wants us to join Him in heaven one day...but how do we get there? Love.

We are told in the gospel today that we should love everyone. If we only love those who love us or are nice to us, then that is no credit to us. If we only do good to those who do good to us, then how are we living out the gospel? Unfortunately we would just be taking the easy out. But we do need to go out and do the hard thing of loving everyone, not just those that it seems easier to love. We are called to love those that betray us, hurt us, plot against us, and mistreat us. This is certainly not easy to do, but it is what we are called to do. Believe it or not, it is really simple to go about loving everyone. There is no secret formula, no magic tricks, no special pill to take...you just do it. It is that simple. Remember love is a choice, it requires action. It is not just a feeling, it is a choice. If you are having trouble loving someone, then you must figure out what is getting in the way of you making that choice. once you figure it out, you just have to let go of whatever it is that is holding you back.

I understand that some situations are easier than others. I understand that loving someone and letting go of things from those who do you wrong is difficult. Believe me, I struggle with this daily. This is where we must be patient with ourselves. I do believe that the more that we get into this habit, the more willing we will be to chose to love all those around us. Like Paul says in the first reading today; "Knowledge inflates with pride, but love builds up." So the more we love, the more it builds up.

Let us ask Christ for His help in learning how we can love more, and love better. Let us follow His example.

Father above, we thank you for this day. Forgive us for holding back our love for others, forgive us for letting our pride and other things get in the way of our loving others. Lord help us to choose to love all of our brothers and sisters without holding back. Lord we pray for all those who are struggling with love in their life, we pray that they might let go of the things holding them back. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Worth the wait

First Reading: 1 Corinthians 7:25-31
Responsorial Psalm: Palm 45
Gospel: Luke 6:20-26

When I was a sophomore in college, I had decided to not play football anymore so I could concentrate on school. To stay active and competitive, I began getting into endurance sports such as running and triathlons. In the past couple of years, I have used these activities to not only compete for myself, but to compete for God. It is He who has given me the abilities that I have, and I need to use all of my talents to glorify Him. One thing that I have learned from competing in endurance sports is that the longer the distance, the harder it is. And the greater the distance of the race, the greater the training and preparation is. In each race, I always try to keep focused on two things: 1) I am competing for God's glory, not my own, and 2) That feeling of finishing the race. Some people compete for a medal, some to set a new record...don't get me wrong, I go out and do my best and perhaps one day might win a medal or set a new record , but for me finishing a race, and finishing strong is just such an amazing feeling of accomplishment. That feeling itself is reward enough for me.

In today's world, we are bombarded by a "have it now, no work, get your rewards without the work" mentality. I think that we can all look back though, and if we think about the greatest rewards that we have received we realize that these rewards were earned, not just freely given to us. What is/was your greatest reward? A high school or college diploma? Your marriage? A job promotion that you worked hard for? Community service? For each of us it is different, but for all of our greatest rewards, we had to work hard for. Hard work and earning things seem to be values that are slipping away from us and our young people.

Today in the gospel, we are given in the beatitudes ways of living. We are told that we do not need to worry about how hard things are right now because there will be a great reward in the end. We are told if you are poor, you will have the kingdom of God. If you are weeping, you will laugh again. If people hate you, exclude you and insult you; then be happy. Jesus tells us to "Rejoice and leap for joy on that day! Behold your reward will be great in heaven." (Lk 6:23) It is like in a race, we must work through the pain, the fatigue, the mental exhaustion, the lack of focus...all for finishing the race and claiming our prize. But like a race, in our faith lives we must always persevere and keep our thoughts on the end reward.

I think that this idea of living a hard life to gain a reward in the end is very hard for us to accept. I think it is hard because it takes a great amount of faith. Our faith teaches us to believe without seeing. It is hard for us to think about going to heaven after this life because we don't really have any idea what it is like. Yes, we have images and likenesses, but nothing solid like a picture or DVD. It is not like you can just go to your local vacation planner and request a brochure on heaven. Believeing wihtout seeing, is an important aspect of faith. This is where we just need to trust in God and think, "yeah, that's where I want to end up; and anything that I have to go through here on earth will be worth it. Heaven will be worth the wait."

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. Send your Spirit to us Lord so that we might have a stronger faith and sacrifice for you. Lord let us accept your love and mercy, humble ourselves and follow you so that in the end we might claim our reward in heaven. Lord we pray for all those who seek to know you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


He chooses us

Memorial of Saint Peter Claver, priest

First Reading: 1 Corinthians 6:1-11
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 149
Gospel: Luke 6:12-19

If you wish to observe an amazing journey of change and transformation, look no farther than the journey of the butterfly. At the early stage the butterfly is a larva known as a caterpillar. It is at this stage that it begins to eat quite a bit in preparation for its change. It eats a lot because it needs the proper nourishment in order to grow and develop. The butterfly then becomes a pupa, which we tend to think of as a cocoon. It is during this resting time that the butterfly nears the end of its transformation. After the pupa stage is complete, a beautiful butterfly emerges from the cocoon. It has been a long journey, but the change is now complete. The butterfly goes out into the world showing all of its beauty and God's glory to all. The butterfly naturally understands its role in the world and it does what God chose it to do.

Each of us has a story about our lives and our journey of faith. Many times we look back on our lives and we think about the things that we did wrong or think about all the things that we would do differently. It is hard for us to understand that the hard times and the past pains were all preparation for our lives now. During our lives we go through all sorts of things that equip and prepare us to serve God more fully today. He chooses each of us for a purpose in this world. In the gospel today, we are told that after Jesus finished prayer on the mountain, He chose twelve disciples. Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called a Zealot, and Judas the son of James ,and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. All, but the later, called to follow Jesus during His ministry, then to lead and grow the early church. He chose them.

When He chose them, they then became more than they were. In the first reading today, Paul reminds the church of Corinth that they are more than they were before. He reminds them of what some of them used to be, and goes on to tell them; "but now you have had yourselves washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God." (1 cor 6:11) Paul reminds them how much they have changed and why they should conduct themselves differently. They are, as we are, each called by God; not to be as we were, but to become more. We are meant to be all that God created us to be, but we cannot get there if we resort back to our old ways. Paul was made aware of this danger, and so he warned the church of Corinth, and us today, of this.

Many times in our lives, we want to look at ourselves and our situations and think that we are the reason for us being in a job, a career, position of authority, a parent, a friend, etc. But it is not so, in fact it is not our doing at all. God has chosen each of us for a purpose, and He is the reason that we are where we are, where we have been, and where we are going. We need to step back more often and ask God where He wants us to go and what he wants us to do, instead of telling Him what we want to do and where we want to go.

May we all let go of our pride, humble ourselves and open ourselves to the will of the Father. After all, it was He who chose us.

Father above, we thank you for this day that you have given us. We thank you for choosing each of us for a purpose and we praise you for all your many blessings. We pray for the strength and the courage to turn away from our old bad habits and to break away from all those things that hold us back from your love. Lord we pray for all those who wish to turn to you, but struggle in their journey. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Our Blessed Mother

Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

First Reading: Micah 5:1-4a or Romans 8:28-30
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 13
Gospel: Matthew 1:1-16, 18-23 or Matthew 1:18-23

Today we celebrate the nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Today we honor the birth of our Blessed Mother who came into this world free of sin; who shows us how to say yes to the Lord and who wishes to bring us closer to her son Jesus.

In case you somehow missed the Olympics several weeks ago, history was made in the sport of swimming. Michael Phelps, who is dominate in this sport, went on to win eight gold medals! This is certainly a feat that commands respect. For no one goes out and wins eight gold medals without a lot of hard work...and perhaps some natural abilities as well. They say that if you were to construct the perfect swimmer he would be built like Michael Phelps. It is said that his torso and long arms help him glide in the water, while his shorter legs and big feet help to generate powerful kicks. Not to mention his big hands which act like paddles and help to secure victories that come down to thousandths of a second (100 fly race). So not only did Micheal's willingness and "yes" to swimming play a big role in eight gold medals, but it was also the great genetics that he was given from the moment of conception.

Now please do not think that for any second that I am comparing the birth of Michael Phelps to our Blessed Mother, because there is no comparison. I am simply using him as an example to show that God has a plan for each of us. We are all given the gifts and the grace that we need, and we are each made for a purpose. Our Blessed Mother had the second most important role in this world, and that was to carry and care for our savior. I cannot imagine what it would take to find out that your role is to carry and care for the Son of God. It takes a very special person to accept and take on that role. That is why God chose Mary from the beginning and gave her the grace that she needed. We have much to be thankful for from the birth of Mary. For it is through her that we are given our Lord and Savior, and therefore given life.

Let us honor our Mother this day and follow her example of saying yes to the Lord. Let us also turn to our Blessed Mother through the Rosary so that we might draw closer to her Son Jesus.

Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed are thou among 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, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be world without end. Amen.



First Reading: 1 Corinthians 4:1-5
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 37
Gospel: Luke 5:33-39

New wine into old wineskins, and tearing an new cloak to patch an old one...why would Jesus share this parable with us? What is the point of it? The point is to share the importance of stewardship. A steward is someone who manages another person's property, finances, people, etc. In His parable today, Jesus teaches us that we are all stewards and that we must take care of what we are given here on earth. If we are given a new cloak, we should not tear it to fix an old one, but instead take care of that which we were given. And we should not be careless with new wine by putting it in old wineskins, risking the wine being ruined by busting out of the old skins.

St. Paul also talks today of being a good steward. He says we are stewards of the mysteries of God, and to be a good steward we must be trustworthy. We must also not let ourselves fall into the trap of judgement. How many times do we let our actions be ruled by the judgement of others? How many times do we fear what someone might think or say about how we are living or what we are doing. It can be easy to let how we judge or how others judge us get in the way of our role as a steward. St. Paul says not to worry about judgement, and to also not fall into the trap of judging others either. There is but one judge, and that is Jesus. He is the one that will judge us in the end, all we can do until then is be good trustworthy stewards.

If you want to see an amazing example of stewardship, then take a look at St. Joseph in the gospels (Luke 1-2; Matt 1-2). I would like to share an excerpt with you from "Steward Saints for Every Day" from the National Catholic Stewardship Council:

-Joseph, husband of Mary (Solemnity)
"For some of us, the first barrier to stewardship is understanding that all of what we think we own, really belongs instead to the Lord. That was not a problem for St. Joseph. From the very beginning, the words of an angel made clear that those special people who shared his life -- his beloved wife, Mary, and his adopted son, Jesus -- were "on loan" to him by the Lord and entrusted to his care. A man of great faith, he accepted the responsibility without hesitation. "Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife," the angel said. "Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt," the angel directed... And every time, St. Joseph obeyed without question. The carpenter of Nazareth patiently taught his foster son to practice his Jewish faith, passed on its laws and customs, and helped him to learn his trade. And he did it well, for Scripture tells us that "Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man" (Lk 2:52). It must have been difficult not to know how it would all turn out, for St. Joseph died before Jesus began his public ministry. But this just man of faith proved to be a conscientious steward of all that had been given him -- his traditions, his vocation, his relationships. "Whatever you do," Scripture says, "do from the heart, as for the Lord and not for others, knowing that you will receive from the Lord the due payment" (Col 3:23-24). St. Joseph unfailingly did exactly that. May his example inspire us to do the same."

May we all have the courage to be the stewards that Jesus desires us to be, and the stewards that St. Paul and St. Joseph were.

Lord God, we thank you for the gift of this day. We thank you for all that we have, may we use it all to glorify you every day. Lord all that we are and all that we have comes from you. We pray for the courage and the wisdom to be good stewards of all that you have given us. Lord help us and all those who seek to grow closer to you and grow in their faith. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.



First Reading: 1 Corinthians 3:18-23
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 24
Gospel: Luke 5:1-11

Reluctance. Do you ever feel called to do something but are very reluctant to do it? I know that we all feel this way at times, perhaps God is calling us to give more, love more, or to leave something. Peter felt this reluctance today in the gospel. He has just worked a long and hard day of fishing, when along comes Jesus who asks him to drop his nets into the deep water. Peter responds with; “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.” (Lk 5:5) There is an important conjunction thrown in here that makes Peter's response different than others response; it is the conjunction "but." Peter is obviously reluctant to do what Jesus says, I mean he makes a good point; he and his friends have been out all day and have caught nothing. This is a very logical thought. However, Peter shows us a different way. Even though it just didn't make sense to drop the nets for fishing, he does it anyway. Did Peter know who this was in the boat with him? Did he realize the power that was just a few feet away from him? Nobody can no for sure, but Peter realizes that there is something different here, and although he doesn't understand he follows the instructions regardless. Peter teaches us here an important lesson about trusting in God. For what seemed foolish in the eyes of Peter was actually the wiser choice.

St. Paul speaks of this foolishness and wisdom. Paul writes; "If anyone among you considers himself wise in this age, let him become a fool, so as to become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God..." (1 Cor 3:18-19). Paul speaks here about the dangers of trusting in our own wisdom. We must trust in the wisdom of God, for He alone is the source of all that is good and right. He will not ever lead us down the wrong path; it may not be the path that we had originally planned, but it will be the right one.

We are all asked to carry crosses that seem to heavy. And to the world, following God may seem foolish and illogical, it is during this that we must trust and keep our mind on the end prize; an eternity in heaven with our Lord. We are all going to be reluctant to follow at times, but let us remember the example of St. Peter and his trust in Jesus. Instead of just saying no or turning away, let us always use that important conjunction of "but."

Father above, you have blessed us each with another day. We thank you for your abundant blessings through good times and in tough times. Lord we pray for all those who go without and for those in great need. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Let us grow!

Memorial of Saint Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church

First Reading: 1 Corinthians 3:1-9
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 33
Gospel: Luke 4:38-44

I have never been much of a gardener, however I do have family members that could tell you all about it. I do however have a basic understanding of the process. I understand that it all starts with the seeds. The seeds are planted, watered, and then hopefully they grow. I also understand that there are many things in the world that may try to prevent the seeds from growing and bearing fruit.

In the first reading today, Paul talks about this basic process. Paul recognizes that the people of Corinth are like seeds. And although Paul and another minister (Apollos) have had a part in their lives, they are not responsible for the growth. Paul knows that while he may have planted the seeds and Apollo watered the the seeds; it was God who is responsible for the growth. Paul goes on to say that; "neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who causes the growth." (1 Cor 3:7) Paul takes the humble approach here and recognizes that everything that we have become in our lives comes from God.

Paul also addresses the fact that we need God to grow in our faith. We will not find the key to growing in another person or an object. No, it all comes from God. Even if other people along the way help to "plant" and "water" us, it is still up to God to let us grow. And if we are to grow, then we must open ourselves to Him. We must allow Him to work in us, help us cast off our old selves and let Him turn us into who He created us to be. Watermelon seeds were meant to be watermelons, and tomato seeds were meant to be tomatoes. God has a plan for us, we were created for a purpose. We need to let our Creator work in us so that we may become the people that He has planned us to be. If we don't, then we will just stay as seeds.

Father almighty, you created each of us for a purpose. We thank you for the people you have put in our lives that have helped lead us to you, but Lord we recognize that you are the only thing that can help us grow to become the people that you created us to be. Lord we lay down at your feet all the things of this world that are preventing us from coming to you. We pray for all those who are struggling in their faith and in their lives. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Spiritual Thesaurus

First Reading: 1 Corinthians 2:10b-16
Responsorial Psalm: 145
Gospel: Luke 4:31-37

Do you remember in school when you were first introduced to a thesaurus? I mean how great was this tool? Didn't it just take your writing to a new level? Before my papers had always just used the same boring words, but now with the thesaurus my papers almost sounded scholarly? In fact, they didn't just sound better they were better, I was using better words to describe things more fully than I was before. To this day, I am still a fan of this very useful tool; because lets face it, we don't always have the right words to describe something.

Today in the first reading today, Paul tells us that we have "put on the mind of Christ." After receiving the spirit, we are taking our lives up to a new level. By doing this, we are gaining greater understanding of our both the world and the spiritual realm. Paul says; "We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the things freely given us by God. And we speak to them not with words taught by human wisdom, but with words taught by the Spirit, describing spiritual realities in spiritual terms." (1 Cor 2:12-13) It seems as though from receiving the Spirit we not only realize where the source of who we are and all that we have is from, but we also seem to gain access to a type of "spiritual thesaurus." There seems to be much truth to this. I remember before my conversion, I would describe aspects of my life with terms such as; "I am so lucky," "This is what I am planning on doing,"or "I must be cursed or something." But now I use much different terms, such as; "I am so blessed, "This is what I am called to," "This is just a cross I am to carry for the glory of my Lord." I am sure as you have grown in your faith, you see the change in your thinking and in your descriptions of your life.

By changing our minds and our attitudes, we begin to change how we talk and act. This is why it is so important for us to keep "the mind of Christ." Let us ask the Spirit for access to our spiritual thesaurus so that we might gain greater understanding of our lives and that which is given to us by God. Let us use this access and the Spirit's guidance to describe our faith to all those around us and to tell of the glory of God.

Father in heaven, we thank you for the gift of our salvation and for calling us to something higher than what this world offers. Lord, let us always give you honor and glory for our lives and for calling us to you. Lord increase our faith so that we might gain greater understanding of how you wish to work in us. We pray for all those who are resisting you and pray that their hearts would grow softer to you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.



First Reading: 1 Corinthians 2:1-5
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 119
Gospel: Luke 4:16-30

Homecoming is always an exciting time for me. I get to go back to my old college and watch the football game, visit with friends who I haven't seen in a while, and walk around campus and think about the good memories that I have from there. It is always interesting to run into people who I knew before and to see how we have each changed.

Jesus' homecoming to Nazareth was similar in some aspects. When he spoke and taught in the synagogue, the people praised Him. They couldn't believe that Jesus, the guy they grew up with and knew His family, was referencing himself in the sacred scriptures. They were shocked, they said "Isn't this the son of Joseph?" (Lk 4:22) Where Jesus' homecoming was different, was the people became very angry at the things He was speaking of. If didn't sit well that He claimed to be the Son of God and that He was going to minister to the Gentiles. They always knew Him as the son of Joseph, a carpenters son and nothing more. Jesus knew their hearts and their minds; He knew that "No prophet is accepted in his own native place." (Lk 4: 24) If only the people of Nazareth had opened up their hearts to Christ they would have realized that they were witnessing their salvation being fulfilled. It is unfortunate that we tend to let ourselves be ruled by logic, instead of mystery.

It is this mystery that Paul speaks of as he writes the church of Corinth. Paul speaks to the church not with human wisdom, but with the wisdom from God. Paul speaks of Jesus Christ and His crucifixion. It is through Him and His sacrifice that we are saved. Paul goes to them not with persuasive words, "but with a demonstration of spirit and power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God." (1 Cor 2:4-5).

So that our faith might rest not on human wisdom, but on the power of God. How often do we let this happen? How many times do we think "I need to make this happen" or "I am going to save the day." How many times do we put things on ourselves and act as though we are in control? If we are to live out our faith lives, we must let go of this need for control. We must let God work in us so that we can recognize who Christ is and how He can work in our lives. We must, as St. Paul did, let our faith rest on the power of God and not on human wisdom.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. May we all continue to open ourselves up to your amazing power. Let our faith be increased so that we might go out and be better followers of you. May we serve and honor you with all that we do. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


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