The Right Perspective

Readings for Friday October 31, 2008

First Reading: Philippians 1:1-11
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 111
Gospel: Luke 14:1-6

How great are the works of the Lord! Creation of the heavens and the earth, delivering Israel out of Egypt, turning water into wine, feeding 5,000 men with a few loafs and some fish, His glory and resurrection; we could go on and on about His great works. Throughout the bible we are told of the great works of the Lord, and as well we know of and could tell of the great works that He has done in out lives and in others. Today we read of His greatest work in our lives and in history ... giving us the right perspective. Since the beginning God has provided for us, and all that He has asked from the beginning is for our love and loyalty. But as is out nature, we rebel, find ourselves in terrible situations and come crawling back to God; and how does God respond? He takes us back with open arms, and He tries to give us the same perspective that He has always tried to give us: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Jesus tells us that this is the greatest of commandments.

In today's gospel, Jesus reduces everyone around Him to silence by giving them a new perspective. He challenges their old way of thinking, into a new way of thinking, and thinking that puts God and others first. This new perspective provides freedom from the law of man, and freedom through Christ Jesus. This challenging of a new perspective is kind of what happens in our lives when God or someone else challenges us in a way that we are living or a direction we are headed; this is God's way of giving us a new perspective for our lives, and reminding us of our mission, which is to get to heaven. God puts things on our hearts, or events in our lives, or people around us to help us to refocus on Him. He uses these things to make sure that we are seeing things as we should, and that with every decision, there are thoughts of God's will.

To really have a good perspective on our lives, then we need to be seeking the Father's will. Saint Paul understood this need for the right perspective when he told the church of Philippi; "And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ ..." (Phil. 1:9-10)

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. We praise you for the many gifts in our lives and we ask for your forgiveness for all the times that we turn away from you. Lord, be on our hearts and minds at all times so that we may make every decision with thoughts of you and your will for us. Lord, increase our faith so that we may follow you no matter what. We pray for all those who are seeking you. We pray for all those who are suffering from addictions, may you deliver them from these dangerous habits that lead them away from you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


To be a good son

Readings for Wednesday October 29, 2008

First Reading:  Ephesians 6:1-9
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 145
Gospel:  Luke 13:22-30

Right now is a a very exciting time for my wife and I, as we are expecting our first child.  It is truly a joy to be blessed with such an amazing gift from God.  While our excitement is certainly at a high, we also realize the important role that God has given both of us.  In preparing for the arrival of our child (we are due this spring), I pray everyday for God's help.  I pray that He will help to prepare me to be the father that He created me to be.  I think that many men and women question the type of parents that they will become once they are expecting a child, and they should.  The truth is, that if we rely solely on ourselves to be the best parents we can be, we will fail ... but if we rely on God to help us be the parents that He created us to be, then we will succeed.  And in succeeding, we will pass onto our kids something that no one can ever take away from them ... their faith, hope, and love of God.  Saint Paul tells us today to how we should go about raising our children, to "bring them up with the training and instruction of the Lord."  

God calls each of us to many things in our lives; marriage, parenthood, a religious vocation, students, teachers, businessmen, "joe the plumbers," etc.  He calls us to many things in our lives, and we should try to give Him glory through all that we do.  In whatever we are called to we should strive to be the best that we can be to honor God.  In order for us to be the best that we can be while on this earth, we must first strive to be good sons and daughters of God.  If we cannot be the sons and daughters that we were created to be, then we cannot have any hope of being the best at what we are doing in other areas of our lives.  God asks that we put Him first, after all He is the one who gives us life, and offers us salvation.  

While I am preparing for fatherhood, while also trying to be the husband that I was created to be, I know in my heart that I cannot be any of these things to my family unless I am willing to be a humble, loving, obedient son.  

Are you putting God first in your life?  Are you asking God for help in becoming the son or daughter that you were created to be?  

"Slaves, be obedient to your human masters with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ, not only when being watched, as currying favor, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, willingly serving the Lord and not men..." (Eph 6:5-7)

Father above, we thank you for our lives.  We thank you for calling us to where we are at, and we pray for your guidance in our lives.  Lord, let only your will be done in us, and give us the strength and courage to persevere against all the things and people who would try to hold us back from you.  Lord, we praise you name as blessed children, and thank you for all that we have and all that we are.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen. 


Saying Yes to God

Readings for Tuesday October 28, 2008

Feast of Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles

First Reading: Ephesians 2:19-22
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 19
Gospel: Luke 6:12-16

"Members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone."

This is the message that we are sent today from Paul's letter to the Ephesians. Before I came home to the Church, I am still bewildered that like most protestants, I never questioned what the early church was like. What did the apostles do after the ascension? What did they do during the services of the early church? When was the new testament written? It is questions like this that I had never even thought of, I guess that I just kind of took it all for granted.

Today, we celebrate the Feast of Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles of the Church, men who literally followed and knew Jesus as He was on earth. I cannot being to imagine what this was like. I am sure that these men had questions racing through their heads constantly. We have much to be thankful for to these men, for their passing along the faith, for their helping to build the foundation for the Church today, but most of all we should be thankful for their saying "yes" to God. Not only did their saying yes help to provide the foundation for our faith, but it is their example of saying yes to God, and no to themselves, that gives us a powerful example of what it means to follow Christ. Following Christ means surrendering our lives to Him, picking up our cross and to follow where ever He leads and calls us to. Simon and Jude, while there is not much said in the scriptures about them, their titles as apostles speak loudly about who they were as servants of God.

May we have the faith and courage to say yes to God in our lives. Saints Simon and Jude, pray for us.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. Lord, we thank you for the examples of your apostles and for the foundation that you have set for our faith. Lord we praise you for the lives that we are called to and pray that through you we can continue to persevere. Lord, guide us and protect us on this journey. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Love and Thanksgiving

Readings for Monday October 27, 2008

First Reading: Ephesians 4:32 - 5:8
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 1
Gospel: Luke 13:10-17

How do you respond to misfortunes and adversity? With resentment? With self pity? With apathy? We all respond many different ways, but how many of us respond with thanksgiving? How many of us respond with love? I can tell you that the last several weeks have been a combination of joyous celebration and very trying times. I realized from the reading today that I need to not respond with anger, jealously, self-pity, or resentment ... I should be responding with love, thanksgiving, and humiliation. It is interesting how we as Christians are called to so much more. The ways that we should respond to situations and others are the ways that are often the most difficult for us. Jesus shows us in today's gospel how we should respond to others with love and compassion.

For today, let us reflect on the following passage from Saint Paul's letter to the Ephesians.

"Be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma. Immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be mentioned among you, as is fitting among holy ones, no obscenity or silly or suggestive talk, which is out of place, but instead, thanksgiving. Be sure of this, that no immoral or impure or greedy person, that is, an idolater, has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and of God."

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day and for the gift of our lives. Lord, increase our faith so that no matter what you bring us we can always respond with love and thanksgiving. Lord we pray for all of us on our journey to you, may we all keep focused and continue to grow deeper in love with you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Paying the debt

Readings for Friday October 24, 2008

First Reading:  Ephesians 4:1-6 
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 24
Gospel:  Luke 12:54-59

Debt.  This is a word that haunts most of us everyday.  It seems as though we are always owing something to someone.  Some to our mortgage, some to our credit card, some to our bills ... it seems as though we are always owing something.  And we should not dare be late in paying our debts due to the fact that those that we owe will certainly come after us for our lateness and inability or refusal to pay.  The consequences of not paying our debts can be very grave, this can have a negative impact in our lives.  Not only are our reputations tarnished, but our credit score drops, our interest rates may change, we can even lose the things that we are paying on. 

There is a great debt that we must constantly be striving to pay for, that is the debt for our lives.  Jesus payed the ultimate price for our lives ... He paid for our lives with His.  We need to remember this always and be eternally grateful and forever in His debt.  We need to remember to constantly be striving to serve Him and surrender to Him for the great price that He paid for us.  In the gospel today, Jesus speaks about before being taken to the judge, and how we should settle our debt peacefully with our opponent along the way; so that way we are not to pay the negative penalties for our refusal to pay.  If we settle the  matter along the way then we can avoid these negative consequences.  This gospel today reminds us to settle our debts while we are on our journey in this life.  Saint Paul tells us today to "live in a manner worthy of the call that your have received."  God calls us to live according to a higher purpose, not for our own selfish purposes, but for His glory and for His right and good purposes.  

Lord, forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.  

Father above, we thank you for the gift of our lives and of all that we are given.  We praise you for your glory.  Lord give us the strength to serve you with all that we are and to not hold anything back from you.  You are our God and we are your servants.  We pray for all those seeking you and all those struggling in their journey.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.    


The Earth is full of the Goodness of God!

Readings for Thursday October 23, 2008

First Reading:  Ephesians 3:14-21
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 33
Gospel:  Luke 12:49-53

I had an interesting conversation with a co-worker the other day.  She was telling me about her sister who recently passed away from a fight with cancer.  She was telling me how she just didn't understand how this could happen to her sister because her sister was such a religious person.  She told me how her sister was so kind and involved in her local church.  It seems that when tragedy of any sort befalls a person of faith, it is hard for others and us to understand.  Many people think that once you have a conversion and begin to follow the Lord that you are living on easy street and that your life will be filled complete peace and harmony, and that nothing tragic will ever happen to you.   

In today's gospel Jesus tells us that He has come "to set the earth on fire!"  Our lives of faith, not only bring us a life of joy and peace in the Lord, but it also brings us into many confrontations and even division amongst those who do not believe.  In fact, many times that division can even be amongst those who we are closest with.  Many of us know the pain that comes with feeling divided amongst family and friends.  While it is certainly not an easy situation, this is what we are called to ... not a life of ease, but a life of faith.  Jesus makes it very clear that we are to follow our Heavenly Father above only, and by following Him, we can earn our eternal life in heaven.    

Today's psalm reminds us that the earth is full of the goodness of God!  It is through Him that we are given life and all that we are blessed with.  Saint Paul tells us to know the love of Christ, so that we can "be filled with the fullness of God."  The fullness of God, I can only imagine how much different my life would be if I opened myself up to God every minute of every day in order to be completely filled with Him.  I pray that we all can have the courage and strength to surrender to Him and constantly seek to know the love of Christ, so that we too may be filled with the fullness of God, for God is good all the time.  

The earth is full of the goodness of God!

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  We praise your name and give you glory for all that we are and all that we do.  Lord Jesus we thank you for your great sacrifice for our lives, may we have the strength to sacrifice for you in our lives.  We pray for all the youth and families out there seeking holiness, may they be brought closer to you.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.    


Don't Forget God's Plan

Readings for Wednesday October 22, 2008

First Reading:  Ephesians 3:2-12
Responsorial Psalm:  Isaiah 12
Gospel:  Luke 12:39-48

I always enjoyed the diligence of the the dwarfs from the famous fairytale Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  They really took such a positive attitude towards their work (except for grumpy, he wasn't the most positive dwarf).  But they always went out doing very hard labor and singing along the way in perfect harmony.  Now how many of us do that on our way to the office?  I know that I do not exactly skip along the way to my desk.  But I imagine if more of us went about our work with the positive attitude and diligence, then we would actually find joy from our work and not think of it as such a burden.  

In today's gospel we are are challenged on the work we are doing in our faith journey.  We are told of two servants, one who does the work of his master, and is thereby rewarded.  The other abuses his lack of supervision, and when the master returns finds the servant abusing his role, he is thereby punished severely.  This parable teaches us that not only do we need to show up to do the work of God, but we need to stay active while working.  We do not ever know when the master will come, but we should be ready at all times from when he does come.  

What sort of work should we be doing?  Are we spending enough time in prayer?  Are we giving enough of our money to the church?  Are we giving enough of ourselves to others?  Are we at the right place of employment?  God has a plan for us, and He has things that He calls each of us to do.  The point is to ask God, He will always show you the way and the plan that He has for you.  It is during these times of discernment that we must have great patience and trust in our Lord.  Saint Paul tells us today that we have "access through faith in him," and it is through this access that we can have "boldness of speech and confidence."  

Many times in our lives, we get so consumed with our own plans, we tend to forget about the plans of God and the plans of those close to us.  God's plan is for us to reach Him one day in heaven ... but if at the time we are called we are not working, then we will not be granted the eternal blessing of our heavenly father, instead we will be like the servant who abused his role and greatly punished.  

Who's plan are you following ... yours or Gods?  

Hi ho, hi ho, its off to work we go!   

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day and the gift of our lives.  We praise you for your glory and we pray for your will to be done in our lives.  God, you are the make of all that is good, and we ray for that goodness in our lives.  Help us to cast off the things of this world that try to hold us back from you.  Lord, you are our God let us follow no others in our lives.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.  


Vigilant and Faithful Servants

Readings for Tuesday October 21, 2008

First Reading: Ephesians 2:12-22
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 85
Gospel: Luke 12:35-38

As a young boy one of my favorite things to play with was legos. Oh man ... the things that I would create; castles, forests, cameras, houses, etc. You name, I probably tried to make it. There were so many times my parents came in to check on me only to find me working so diligently on my project. I think that this idea of creating something from our imagination is something that tends to capture us all. We all have things that we like to "build." For one person it may be building a bookshelf, for another it may be building a stronger family. It seems as though we are always building.

Saint Paul tells us today that: "So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus as the capstone. Through Him the whole structure is held together and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord; in Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit." It seems as though even in our faith lives we should be trying to grow and build ourselves into the faithful children of God that we are all called to be. Praise Jesus for being our rock and our salvation!

At the end, what will God find you doing? Building, while being the vigilant and faithful servant that Christ talks about in today's gospel? Jesus tells us that those who are vigilant and faithful servants will be blessed. May God grant us the strength to continue in our faith journey ... vigilant and always building.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. Lord, increase our faith so that we might go out and serve you better, as you plan for us. Lord, help us to continue to surrender to you so that we might be built into the temples that you created us to be, so that your Spirit will dwell in us. Lord we pray for all those suffering, may they be brought ever closer to you through their experiences. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.



Readings for Monday October 20, 2008

First Reading: Ephesians 2:1-12
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 100
Gospel: Luke 12:13-21

It seems as though in these tough economic times, the political arena is capitalizing on the economic crisis. Our political leaders have been quick to point the finger at wall street and its greed. It seems as though greed is the root cause of our tough economic crisis, and in some ways I would agree with that statement. I do believe that greed has been a major factor in why our economy has been experiencing the turmoil that it is facing. I do not, however, believe that the greed that brought us to this point belongs solely to one group. I think the greed that has brought us to this point has come from power hungry politicians, money hungry lenders, and possession hungry, materialistic people. Unfortunately the greed that we see today comes from everywhere, and we ourselves are guilty of it at times. We tend to get very confused about the things that we need versus the things that we want. In this confusion we tend to lose focus of what God has planned for us and how He wants us to be good stewards of our money and our possessions.

Jesus warns us against greed today. He warns us to; "Take care of guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one's life does not consist of possessions." (Lk 12:15) I think that when we think about this, it helps us to put things into perspective. If possessions are not the most important thing, then why do we work so hard to "keep up with the Joneses?" It is really because we have our priorities mixed up. We do not put God first, and we rarely put what God wants for us ahead of what we want for us. At the end of the parable in today's gospel Jesus leaves us with this final thought; "Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God." Let us not be greedy with our money, our things, and ourselves. Let us use the gifts that God blesses us with to glorify Him. Let us give of ourselves to our Lord and saviour who seeks to not give us perishable things that will be of no use to us when we pass away, but seeks to give us life.

His plan for us is to have life, and to be dead no more. in the first reading today, Paul tells us that we are God's handiwork, "created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them." God has an amazing plan for you and for me, but we must be willing to cooperate with that plan and let the Holy Spirit work in us. Greed is an awful thing that will only take us away from Christ and His love for us. Greed is part of the works of the flesh, which do not lead us closer to Christ. Instead of letting greed flourish in our hearts, we should instead let the fruits of the Spirit flourish in our lives: love, joy, peace, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. If we let these fruits come alive in us, then we will not have to worry about a "crisis" or "turmoil" when the time of judgement comes.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day, which we offer up to you for your glory. We ask for your forgiveness for the times in our lives that we sought to be selfish and store up worldly treasures for us, instead of what matters to you. Lord, we pray for the strength to detach ourselves from the things of this world, and to only take the things that we need. Lord, let us be content and find joy in all that you bless us with. Lord, we pray for all those who are putting their faith in material possessions instead of you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Secret Identities

Readings for Friday October 17, 2008

Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and martyr

First Reading: Ephesians 1:11-14
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 98
Gospel: Luke 12:1-7

Clark Kent, Peter Parker, Bruce Wayne somewhat ordinary names ... but in actuality these were the secret identities of a few of my favorite superheroes as a kid. In case you are wondering who is who: Clark Kent is Superman, Peter Parker is Spider-Man, and Bruce Wayne is Batman. For these superheroes secret identities seem like a very trusty thing, hide one's identity so that way the bad guys cannot hurt those that they are close to. While secret identities may seem like a good thing for a superhero, it is not however the way of a Christian.

Do you know how many hairs are on your head? Well, our heavenly Father knows, He knows everything about you and me. He even knows us better than we know ourselves. Jesus warns us in today's gospel about secret identities. Jesus tells His disciples: "whatever you have said in the darkness will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed on the housetops." (Lk 12:3) We cannot be two different people, and do one thing out in public while doing a different thing behind closed doors. Some people get very confused about who they really are, this is especially a difficult thing for teenagers to deal with. Around one set of friends they may act one way, but around another set of friends they may act totally different. Sometimes we hide our faith for fear of people finding out, and risking ridicule and tough confrontations. But as Jesus continues today; "... do not be afraid of those who kill the body but after that can do no more. I shall show you whom to fear. Be afraid of the one who after killing has the power to cast in Gehenna (hell) ..." (Lk 12:4-5)

While it will be tough, we should always strive to be the same person no matter who we are with and where we are at. Let us make no mistakes about who we really are ... we are children of God, that is who we are here for and that is who we serve. God has been the same to us since the beginning, loving and merciful. Let us go out and continue to serve God with courage and without fear, for it is not other people that we should fear, but the consequences of not reaching God in heaven that we should fear.

Remember, secret identities may work out great for Superman, but not for us as Christians.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. Lord, we praise you and give you all the glory for our lives. Help us to serve you without reservation and with complete trust. Lord let your light shine through us no matter where we go and what we do. Help us to go where needed and help those who you call us to. Lord we pray for all those searching for meaning in their lives, may they be lead to you for peace and joy. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.



Readings for Thursday October 16, 2008

First Reading:  Ephesians 1:1-10
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 98
Gospel:  Luke 11:47-54

Did you know that you are special?  No, it's not your hair or your eyes ... no, it's not your fantastic fashion sense ... it's not even your athletic ability.  You are special because you are one of God's great creations and He wants you to join Him in heaven after this life on earth.  You are chosen, that is what makes you special.  

Saint Paul tells us today in Ephesians that we are chosen, and He speaks of God's great love for us.  Saint Paul tells us that, "as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him.  In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will ..." (Eph 1:4-5)  Paul tells us that it is through God's love, that He has chosen us through Christ.  He has a plan for each of us, and although we may not understand it at the time, we need to trust in God.  God's will is that we reach Him in heaven, knowing that, we must trust in the path that He sends us on, and believe that it is all a part of a plan to get us to Him.  

In the gospel today, Jesus brings some harsh truth to the pharisees and scholars of the law, for they have taken their positions and God for granted.  They forgot that they are on earth to serve God, and not themselves.  Let us always remember that we are chosen out of love, and to never take for granted what God gives us.  For it is not what we do that makes us special, but what we are given through Christ our Lord.     

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  We praise you for the many gifts in our lives, and thank you for all that we have and all that we are.  Lord, increase our faith and lead us deeper in love with you so that we may serve you with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength.  Lord, we pray for all those searching for you now, may they soon find the joy and peace that comes from a life with you.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.  



Readings for Wednesday October 15, 2008

Memorial of Saint Teresa of Jesus, virgin and doctor of the Church

First Reading: Galatians 5:18-25
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 1
Gospel: Luke 11:42-46

For those of you who are unaware today is Blog Action Day 08. This year's Blog Action Day theme is Poverty. Bloggers are invited to examine poverty from their own blog topics and perspectives, to look at it from the macro and micro, as a global condition and a local issue, and to bring their own ideas, views and opinions on the subject. So today we will look at the issue of poverty and how today's readings can speak to us about this subject.

A state of poverty is something that affects many Americans today. While the classification of poverty is up for debate as to what exactly defines a person as being in poverty, we can all agree that those in poverty typically struggle financially and with the things that they need. Many children and families today are greatly in need of help to meet their everyday needs. Many charitable organizations are becoming increasingly overwhelmed with the amount of people that need help with items such as clothing, food or money to pay bills. It is easy to assume that in these tough economic times that many more people, as well as organizations are struggling to make ends meat.

In today's first reading, Paul talks about the works of the flesh versus the fruits of the spirit. If we look at this list there are many works of the flesh that might prevent us from helping the fight against poverty. Some that immediately that stand out are idolatry, acts of selfishness, factions, etc. By giving in to these works of the flesh then we can do nothing to help our fellow brothers and sisters. However, if we call upon the Holy Spirit to guide us, then we can begin to make a difference. We see the fruits of the spirit can produce a good will and positive attitude that can make a difference. Think if more people gave in to love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control ... this world would be that much of a better place.

Now I am not asking for any of us to drop all that we have and dedicate ourselves to fighting poverty (unless that is what the Lord is calling you to), but I think that there are things that we each can do to make a difference. Ask yourself, what can I do today to make a difference? Perhaps it's volunteering at a local soup kitchen. Perhaps it's donating to a local charitable organization. Maybe it's giving the homeless man on the street that candybar you have lying around in your car. Perhaps it's praying for those who go without.

There are lots of ways that we can let the Holy Spirit work in us, let us all pray to Him and see how the Holy Spirit wants to work in our lives now, and let His glory shine to all.

Father above we thank you for the gift of this day. Send us your Spirit so that we can go out and serve you and others with all that we have. Lord, we pray for all those in poverty and that truly do without. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.



It's what's inside that counts

Readings for Tuesday October 14, 2008

First Reading:  Galatians 5:1-6
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 119
Gospel:  Luke 11:37-41

As a kid growing up, I was always told that I should not judge people on how they look because it is what's on the inside that counts.  This phrase is completely opposite to what our culture teaches.  Our culture teaches that if you are not pretty, thin and/or muscular, with stylish hair, or have the latest fashionable clothes; then something is not right with you.  Our culture tells us that we should hide what is on the inside and to be like everyone else.  

Our culture places little importance on the inside, but our Lord Jesus tells us that it is what's on the inside that counts.  In today's gospel Jesus sits down to eat with a pharisee, the pharisee notices that Jesus did not do the prescribed ritual washing before the meal.  Knowing their minds, Jesus sets them straight on what is important and what is not.  Jesus knows that although they may take care of the outsides of their bodies, or may pay tithes of herb' their hearts and minds are filled with judgement, pride, and selfishness.  Jesus knows that they are like this because they only take care of the outside, while what is inside their hearts and minds goes bad and rots away.  They don't realize it is what's on the inside that counts.  

St Paul reminds us that it is because of our faith we should not be bound to the law or to the the culture, we have freedom through Christ's selfless act of love for us.  Paul tells us that it is not the observance of the law that counts, "but only faith working through love."  (Gal 5:6)    

Let us today, ask God to take away all the things in our hearts and minds that prevent us from loving God, others and ourself as we should.  Let us ask Him to take away all the anger, judgement, bitterness, hate, pride, and selfishness that hold us back from Him, and to put in our hearts the Love of Christ.  Let our faith work through love, and let us always remember that it is what's on the inside that counts.  

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  We thank you for helping us see today what is important, and what you call us to do everyday.  Lord, we pray for increased faith so that we may do good works through love.  We pray for all those who are having trouble letting go of whatever is keeping them from you.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.  



Readings for Monday October 13, 2008

First Reading: Galatians 4:22-24, 26-27, 31-5:1
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 113
Gospel: Luke 11:29-32

My favorite movie for many years now has been "Braveheart." Ever since the first time I saw this movie, and even until this day, I am so inspired after I watch it. For those of you who have not seen it and are planning on it, a word of caution - the action and violence is not suitable for younger viewers. This movie is based on an actual historical figure, William Wallace, who was a Scottish Patriot who led a revolt against the tyranny of the English king. In the movie, Wallace fought for a higher purpose, for the freedom of his countrymen, and not only did he have to fight against the English, but he had to fight against the greed and the corruption of the Scottish Nobles. Wallace believed so strongly in Freedom, that he gave his life for it.

Throughout human history it seems as though we have been fighting for freedom. America was started under the idea of freedom, slavery was abolished in the name of freedom, tyranny is typically overthrown in the name of freedom. Freedom is something that we all want and desire. Nobody wishes to be bound and under the control of someone or something. Something that we do not think much about is that it is this fight for freedom that we will need to keep up the rest of our lives. Since the fall in the garden we have become slaves to sin and to ourselves. We fight our very nature every moment of every day. It is through Christ's great sacrifice and through Him that we can overcome our nature. As difficult as it may sound, if we surrender ourselves to Him, then we can find our freedom. If we give up our lives totally to Christ, then we will truly find our lives and ourselves.

Paul talks in great detail in Galatians about our freedom, and how "we are children not of the slave woman but of the freeborn woman." (Gal 4:31) Paul reminds us that through the promise of God we have life through Jesus Christ. Let us remember that because of our faith, we no longer have to live in slavery.

Let us pray to the Lord to increase our faith and for His will to be done in our life, so that we too may experience FREEDOM!

Our Father, the Lord of our lives, we give you thanks and praise for all the blessings that you bestow upon us. Lord, please increase our faith so that we can follow you without hesitation and with confidence. Lord, let your will be done in our lives and let us give glory to you in all that we do. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Readings for Friday October 10, 2008

First Reading:  Galatians 3:7-14
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 111
Gospel:  Luke 11:15-26

"Who ever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters."  

This is the message that Jesus makes clear in the gospel today.  After being accused of driving out demons in the devil's name and being hounded for a sign from heaven, Jesus sets the people straight and then concludes with this message.  It is very easy to find ourselves on the wrong side of an issue, a battle, or any sort of conflict.  It is in these moments that we must ask ourselves not whether we are for a person or group or not, but if we are on the side of Christ or not.  If we always strive to be on the side of Jesus, then we will always be on the right side.  

So how do we make sure that we are always on the side of Christ?  Two very simple ways.  The first is to ask Him through prayer.  Think about this; how often do you put your decisions in front of God and ask Him what to do.  Wouldn't this make since, since He knows us better than anyone (even ourselves) and He actually has a plan for our lives?  Many of us are guilty of not praying for guidance enough, we are more likely to tell God what we want than ask Him what we should do.  We need to get out of this mindset and start serving God, instead of trying to make God serve us.  If we put on a servants mindset and chose to do the Father's will instead of our own, then we will certainly see our lives change for the better.  

The other thing that we should be doing is asking ourselves that very popular question that is on so many bracelets:  WWJD?  WWJD = What would Jesus Do?  I think that this is a fantastic question that if we asked before each of our decisions we would see a significant drop in those behaviors that lead us away from God.  Cheating on taxes ... WWJD?  Littering ... WWJD?  Downloading music illegally ... WWJD?  Lying to a friend ... WWJD?  I think that we could spend all day naming examples, but I think that the point has been made.  If we are behaving in a way that our Lord would not, then what makes it okay for us to act this way?  

If we constantly ask for the Lord's help and keep Him in our minds throughout each day, then we will not veer off the path.  May the Lord use us all to help gather, and not be people who work against Him.  

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  We praise you for all the gifts in our lives, and we ask for your forgiveness of our sins.  Lord let us praise you this day with all that we do and give all the glory to you.  Lord, help us to be mindful of you at all times and to act as you would.  Send us your Spirit so that we may walk in this world with courage and confidence that comes from you.  We pray for all those seeking you.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.   Amen.  


Knock and the door will be opened

Readings for Thursday October 9, 2008

First Reading:  Galatians 3:1-5
Responsorial Psalm:  Luke
Gospel:  Luke 11:5-13

Today in the gospel we are told that if we ask, then we shall receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.  How many times do we lack the faith that God will provide for us?  How often are we unwilling to go to Him when we are in need?  Many times there seems to be something that keeps us from seeking His help.  Sometimes it is that we think that our problems are too small and that God doesn't care.  I believe that there is much danger when we think that God doesn't care or that He is too busy to deal with our problems. Because when we do this, we begin to put limits on God, and this is a dangerous mindset to be in.  Our God is so awesome, we should never think that He doesn't care or is too busy.  He loves us so much, and I am willing to bet that He is a pretty good at multitasking.  

When we put limits on God, then we put limits on His work in our life, and limits on our faith.  When we put limits on our faith, then we begin to hold back, this is not what God intends, He wants us to give of our self totally to Him, as He gives so abundantly to us.  God wants to give us the things that we ask for through prayer and wants to give us His Spirit to guide us, but we cannot receive if we do not ask or have faith.  Paul makes it clear to the Galatians today that it is through faith in Christ that we receive the Spirit. 

How is the Holy Spirit working in your life right now?  What things in your life are you struggling with now, that you need God's guidance?

Knock and the door will be opened.  

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  We thank you for giving us your love and mercy.  Lord, increase our faith so that we may be more willing to be led by you in our lives.  Show us you will for this day, and may all that we do glorify you.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.  



The right path

Readings for Wednesday October 8, 2008

First Reading:  Galatians 2:1-2, 7-14
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 117
Gospel:  11:1-4

Have you ever gone hiking and walking along a path only to find yourself in unfamiliar territory?  Or have you ever gone to the grocery store with the intent of only getting a loaf of bread, but find yourself getting sidetracked down the ice cream isle?  It is funny how when we are on a journey or a mission, how easy it is to get distracted and veer off the path we were on.  

Today Paul tells us of an example of someone who got a little sidetracked on his journey, and it was none other than Peter.  Even Peter still got a little sidetracked on his journey, and found himself going down the wrong path.  That is why Paul "opposed him to his face."  This is what being a part of the body of Christ entails, building each other up and helping each other back on the path when we veer.  When people challenge us or if we get caught doing something that we are not supposed to, we should be so thankful to God.  We should be thankful because He loves us enough to put someone around to help us off that path we are heading down.  I know that there were many events and people in my life who have helped straighten me out, and while at the time I was very bitter towards those people; I know realize that God put those people in my life to get me off of a path I was heading down, which was not the right path.  

It is often very difficult to navigate the waters of our life.  A lot of times we lose sense of direction and can look to other guides.  Many times these false guides lead us to places that are not the best for us, and ultimately down the wrong path.  We must, as Paul says; be "in line with the truth of the Gospel."  Let always look to Christ as our only guide in our lives, let us ask for His wisdom and guidance for us, so that we may go down the right path.  

In today's gospel Jesus teaches to to pray:  

Our Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.  Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us, and do not subject us to the final test.  Amen. 


Humble Pie

Readings for Tuesday October 7, 2008

Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary

First Reading:  Galatians 1:13-24  
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 139
Gospel:  Luke 10:38-42

In both of the readings today Paul and Martha both experience what I like to call "being served a nice slice of humble pie."  In the first reading Paul talks about the choices that he made before meeting the risen Christ.  Paul was a very zealous persecutor of Christians, and he had been very adamant about destroying the church.  God obviously had much bigger plans for Paul.  Paul at the time had very good intentions, and he actually thought that he was serving God through his dedication to Judaism, but as Dr. Samuel Johnson once said:  "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."  Paul learned a very hard lesson here, to which he rightly shared with the church in Galatia.    

In the gospel today, Martha likewise has very good intentions, but these intentions lead her instead to feeling betrayed and judgemental of her sister Mary.  When Martha complains to Jesus about her sister, Martha is instantly served a slice of humble pie.  Jesus leads us to see that it is Mary who has chose the better path ... to listen and to be with Christ.  I believe that this gospel leads us to see that we must have balance in our life.  There are times when we will need to work and do good works in order to serve the Lord, and there will also be times when we really need to "just be" with our Lord.  I think in these moments of being with the Lord we should simply say as the Psalmist says today "Guide me Lord, along the everlasting way."  

The choices that we make in our lives are so important ... from the smallest decision to some of our biggest, we must ask the Lord to guide us along the path He has planned for us.  Because even though we may think that we are doing the right thing or that we have good intentions, the truth may be that we are acting against God and His will for us.  But be sure that if we do find ourselves acting against His will, we can usually expect to find a fresh slice of humble pie waiting for us.  It is in these humbling moments that we should learn from our mistakes and ask for God's forgiveness and mercy through the Sacrament of reconciliation.  

Today think about the following questions:  How do you make your decisions?  Do you make all of them, or do you ask for guidance from your Creator?  

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  We thank you and give you praise for all that we have and all that we are, for without you our lives would not be possible.  Lord, even though it is hard, let us all take up our crosses and follow you every minute of every day of lives.  Lord God, we pray for all those who are struggling in making their decisions, may you bring them wisdom and guidance through prayer.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.      


Hold Nothing Back

Readings for Monday October 6, 2008

First Readings:  Galatians 1:6-12
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm  111
Gospel:  Luke 10:25-37

Before every football game that I ever played all of my coaches had one resounding message:  "hold nothing back."  I was always taught to go out every game and give it everything that I had.  We were always told to "leave it all on the field."  This meant that when we played a game we should play our hearts out; with all of our strength, courage, passion, energy, desire ... everything.  so by the end of the game when we walk off of the field, we had left everything that we had played with in that game, and therefore did not hold a single thing back.  We were told that if we did this, then we would be winners.  

The same is true with our faith life.  Today in the gospel we are told that in order to gain eternal life we must love God with all our heart, our being, our strength, and our mind; and we must love our neighbor as our self.  This requires us to love God with all that we are, and to not hold back anything from Him.  It is not enough to just say that we love God, we must show it.  In our faith life, we need to "leave it all on the field."  God does not hold back His love for us, he never stops loving or caring about us because He is too busy or too tired.  No, God opens Himself up to us to receive Him, but it is we who hold back and do not fully accept His love and grace.  If God never holds back on us, shouldn't we work to love Him the same?    

Let us pray for the holy Spirit's guidance in our lives to help lead us to heaven; and to help us remove any barriers that prevent us from loving God with our whole being and keep us from being loving and merciful to our neighbors.  For if we leave it all on the field with God and hold nothing back, then we too can inherit eternal life.  

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day and for all that you give to us.  Lord, help us to love you with all our heart, mind and strength from now until the end of our days on this earth.  Lord we pray for the compassion to love our neighbors as ourselves and pray for the strength to love.  Lord, be with all those who are struggling on their faith journey and all those seeking you.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.      



Our Guardian Angels

Readings for Thursday October 2, 2008

Memorial of the Guardian Angels

First Reading:  Job 19:21-27
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 27
Gospel:  Matthew 18: 1-5, 10

On Monday we honored the Archangels, today we honor our guardian angels.  Once again, it is important to remember the words of St. Augustine:  "Angel is the name of their office, not of their nature."  This is important for us to remember because it shows us once again how God looks after us.  He appoints each of us a guardian angel to help lead us to heaven.  While I have never actually met an angel (although I know they are around), I have no doubts in my mind that they take their "office" very seriously.  Our guardian angels seek to lead us to the Father, let us to remember to include them in our prayers and ask for their intercessions.  

In the gospel today Jesus makes it very clear that the angels are looking after us.  
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones,
for I say to you that their angels in heaven
always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.”

Let us praise the Lord for all of His great mercy, and always be thankful for the blessings He gives us in life.  The Lord will always give us a way to Him, we simply need to be open to receive the many gifts and graces that He gives so abundantly.  

Guardian Angels, pray for us.  

Father above, we thank you fro the gift of this day, and for sending your servants out to look after us.  Father help us to serve you with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength this day.  We praise you for all the blessings in our lives, and we thank you for all that you have made us and all that you give.  We pray for all those who are suffering in the world.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.  


God First

Readings for Wednesday October 1, 2008

Memorial of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, virgin and doctor of the Church

First Reading:  Job 9:1-12, 14-16
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 88
Gospel:  Luke 9:57-62

The Presidential candidate John McCain has a great slogan out now that says "Country First."  This is a great slogan as it addresses our societies selfish need to take care of "me first."  While this slogan is very important, and we should take our responsibilities as citizens of this great country very seriously; this phrase does not reflect how we should be living our lives.  Instead of country first...it should be "God First."  Many faithful throughout history have understood the importance of this calling, and today we honor Saint Therese of the Child Jesus who understands this calling as well as any. 

 Saint Therese (also known as the little flower) was a Carmelite nun in Lisieux, France.  Saint Therese devoted herself to love of Christ and love of others.  She knew exactly what it meant to put "God First."  The following excerpt comes from Rev. John F. Russell, O.Carm.: 

"St. Therese believed that love was everything. She recognized the centrality of love when she read I Corinthians 13; she wanted to embrace that call.  She translated this desire for love by developing her relationship to Jesus Christ. She gave each day to him as a way of manifesting her love for him. When she discovered that life was not easy in the convent of Lisieux, that some of the nuns were coarse and difficult to live with, she came to the conclusion that the condition would be chronic. It was not going to go away. Therefore she had to decide how she would live within this environment. She discovered her “little way”: to accept that each one came ultimately from the divine artist and thus each one is loved forever by God. Therefore she would love them as best she could…a kind word, a smile, an assist when she was able."

In the gospel today Jesus reminds those that He asks to follow Him to not worry about the other things first, that they need to put Him first.  This is often a difficult task for us, to put God first, even above family and friends.  But this is what we are called to do.  But like Saint Therese, we will see that when we surrender to God and chose to love Him first, we will find that we can better love others.  By putting God first in our lives, we will see that our other relationships will thrive better and that our lives and the things that we need to do will be put into a much clearer perspective.  

Let us all pray for the selfless and childlike love that we are called to love God and each other with.  Saint Therese, pray for us.  

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  We pray for the strength and courage to follow you no matter what comes before us in our lives.  Help us to humble ourselves and give of ourselves totally as your servant Saint Therese had.  Lord we pray for all those who are struggling in their journey now and all those in need.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.  


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