Because He loves us

Readings for Wednesday December 31, 2008

First Reading:  1 John 2:18-21
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 96
Gospel:  John 1:1-18

It is amazing how this Christmas time is a strong reminder of how much God loves us.  Think about the following verse from the gospel of John today:  

"And the Word became flesh
and made His dwelling among us,
and we saw His glory,
the glory as of the Father's only Son,
full of grace and truth."

When I look back on human history and of stories of the old testament, I am certain that we did not do anything special to receive this great gift of salvation.  In fact when I look back at the past and then reflect on the world today, I am certain that there is nothing that we have done that would merit such life saving grace.  So why were we so privileged?  Why were we given the amazing gift of salvation?  Why did we get to see and live with the Son of God and why was He revealed to us?  Why did God humble Himself and come down to earth as one of us?  Why do we get to have a chance to spend the rest of our lives with God?   The only and best answer that I can come up with is ... because He loves us.  It is only through love that you can give someone a gift that they are not deserving of.  It is only through love that you can continue to take some one back after every time they turn away from you.  It is only through love that you can humble yourself for the sake of others.  "And the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us."  
Thanks be to God for His love and mercy!  "Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!"

Father above, we thank you for this day.  Help us to serve you with all that we have and all that we are.  Lord we thank you for loving us so much and we thank you for all the blessings that you give.  Lord we pray for all those who do not know your love, may they be brought into the light.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.     


A simple choice

Readings for Tuesday December 30, 2008

First Reading:  1 John 2:12-17
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 96
Gospel:  Luke 2:36-40

In each of our lives, we have a very important choice to make; follow God or follow the world.  God offers eternal life, peace and joy; the world offers nothing but death and destruction.  Seems like a pretty simple choice, right?  Unfortunately along our journeys we get distracted and things get very confusing for us at times.  In Saint John's letter today, he recognizes those who are seeking the Father, and he warns them and us to love God only and to not love this world.  He reminds us all that "who ever does the will of God remains forever."  This is a very important thing to always keep in our hearts, because whenever things get confusing and we are not sure what decisions to make in our lives, we must always remember that we should be seeking to do the will of God and not of ourselves.  

I pray that we can all be devout followers of God, like Anna, that we read about in today's gospel.  She was a faithful servant of the Lord who spent her last years with God in prayer and fasting, and after meeting Jesus as a child, she proclaimed the glory of God to all, and spread the message of the great hope that we should have in God.  

May we all continue to follow God's will for our lives with complete faith and hope, and may God continue to be in us forever.  Remember, even though it is hard, it really is a simple choice.  
Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord, help us to serve you more fully and to not hold anything back from you.  Lord we pray for an increase in faith and hope so that we will not hesitate in following you.  Lord you are our God and our creator, you know what is best for us and you have a plan for our lives.  May we trust in you now and always.  We pray for all those seeking meaning and truth in their lives, may they be brought to you and your light.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.      


Walk this way

Readings for Monday December 29, 2008

First Reading:  1 John 2:3-11
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 96
Gospel:  Luke 2:22-35

In college I was blessed enough to go on a recreational trip to the smoky mountains.  We back packed for a week in the smokies, and let me tell you that I saw first hand some of the amazing work of the Divine creator.  Now most of us on the trip were beginner or novice back packers, but thankfully we had some great trip leaders who really knew their stuff.  They helped us with what to pack, things to wear, food to bring, everything.  Probably one of the most important things that they showed us was the way to go.  The trip leaders were our guides, they helped us on the trails and helped lead us to our final destination.  While that trip will never leave my memory, I certainly know that it would not have been possible without the help and leadership of the trip leaders.  

In the first reading today Saint John tells us that "to know Jesus is to keep His commandments," and that if we are going to abide in Him then we need "to walk as He walked."  Like my backpacking trip, in life we need a guide, some one to help us and lead us to our final destination.  Jesus is our guide in life, and He wants us to know Him, and for us to open ourselves to His love and help.  He wants to lead us to heaven, if we will only turn from this world and follow Him.  Saint John warns us that if we allow ourselves to be blinded by sin, then we cannot see Jesus in our lives, and we will not be able to walk as He did.  

Following Christ is not easy, it is a hard life, but it is also a life full of joy and peace.  Many of us want to be more holy and closer to Christ, but do not think that it is possible.  If we rely on ourselves in these situations, then we are right, it is not possible.  BUT, if we rely on Christ, then anything is possible.  Let us not lose sight of Christ in our lives, let us pray for focus and clarity of how God wants to use us and how He wants to work in us.  Let us never think that we are alone, God puts all kinds of other guides in our lives to show us how and where to walk.  In today's gospel Mary and Joseph show us the importance of following God's commandments.  Not only can we learn much from their great examples, but they are also in heaven ready and willing to pray for us and to help continue to guide us towards Christ, may we all seek their intercessions.  

Let us each walk as Christ did, and listen to Him when He tells us in life, to walk this way.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this way.  We thank you for the many blessings you have bestowed in our lives.  Lord, we pray for increased faith and hope in you so that we may be better and more worthy followers of you.  Lord, we pray for a heart full of your love, that will help us to love our neighbors as ourselves.  We pray for all those who serve the church, and all those who are being persecuted for their faith.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.     


Merry Christmas!

Hello All!  I wanted to take this time to let everyone know that I will not be blogging until next Monday (December 29).  I will be taking some time off and relaxing with family and friends during this Christmas time.  

I want to wish all of you all a very Merry and Holy Christmas.  May we all continue to remember God's great love and mercy in our lives.  

Thank you and God Bless!  


When the world doesn't understand, just follow God

Readings for Tuesday December 23, 2008

First Reading:  Malachi 3:1-4, 23-24
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 25
Gospel:  Luke 1:57-66

Many times when we tell people that we are going to do something that is counter cultural, we get puzzled looks and lots of questions.  For example, the parents who choose not let their son or daughter have a cell phone at the age of 12; or a family who chooses to give the little extra money they have to their favorite charity instead of owning the same things as everyone else on the block, may be looked at questionably by family and friends.  Elizabeth and John got similar reactions in today's gospel reading.  They knew that the Lord had given them this new beautiful child and that He had a plan for him.  They also knew that his name was to be John, as the Lord had said, but to everyone around them this made no sense.  "Why John," they asked, "No one else in your family has this name, it just doesn't make sense?"  When Zechariah wrote down that the child's name would be John, he then immediately was given his speech back, and he then praised God!  God's plan did not make sense to the rest of the people, but Zechariah and Elizabeth knew what they needed to do, and they knew what was right.    

Zechariah and Elizabeth were willing to go along with God's plan, even though it did not make sense to those around them, and may not of even made sense to them.  But they continued to follow God, no matter what everyone else around them thought and said.  They show us that it is not just important to say yes to God's plan for our lives, but we need to follow Him too.  I pray that we are all granted to courage to follow God even when questioned and pressured by the rest of the world.  

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  We thank you and give you praise for all the many gifts in our lives.  Lord, as we prepare for you this Christmas, help us to have the courage to follow you no matter where you lead.  Lord, we thank you for you love and mercy, and we pray for all those seeking you in their lives.  Amen.    


God never forgets

Readings for Monday December 22, 2008

First Reading: 1 Samuel 1:24-28
Responsorial Psalm: 1 Samuel 2:1
Gospel: Luke 1:46-56

There is an old saying that states "an elephant never forgets." While I do not know any elephants personally, nor am I an expert of elephant neurology, I do believe that God has endowed these animals with a certain type intellect that allows them to remember important things vital to their survival. While I am not really sure whether elephants do or do not forget things, one thing that I do know for sure is that "God never forgets."

Most of us have been through tough times in our lives, and have experienced some things that we thought that we never could make it through. And in these times, I am sure that we have felt as though God is not listening to us, and that He has forgotten us. However, we made it through those trials and tribulations and can live to tell about it today. Most of the time we even begin to see the blessings in disguise that come out of these situations. During good times and bad, we must realize that God is and has always been there, He knows you and He knows exactly where you are ... God never forgets.

Today let us remember the words spoken by our Blessed Mother in today's gospel reading: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. for he has looked upon his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name. He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm, and has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children for ever.”

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. Help us to stay strong in being humble servants of you. Amen.


Nothing is impossible for God

Readings for Friday December 19, 2008

First Reading:  Judges 13:2-7,24-25
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 71
Gospel:  Luke 1:5-25

How many times have you or someone you know said things like:  "God doesn't care about my problems," "This situation is too small for God to take care of," "That is impossible,"  "No one or no thing can help me now."  We have all at one time or another felt and expressed such complete despair.  We have all felt times where our hope was gone, and we just feel like nothing will be able to help us.  That is why it is so important to have faith, because when you have faith you trust in God.  When you have faith, you begin to become familiar with and to know God, and the more that you get to know God, the more you understand that nothing is impossible for God!

In today's readings we are shown two examples of God's mighty works.  For two women who have given up the hope of having children, who seem to have an impossible situation; God steps in and gives life to these women.  God does not just give them sons, but He gives them sons who have a very specific purpose to serve for God and they will be made great through the Lord.  God has amazing ways of turning seemingly impossible situations into ones that demonstrate His power and glory.  There have been many other examples of this throughout the bible; Abraham and Sarah (Gen.), Isaac and Rebekah (Gen.), Jacob and Rachel (Gen.), and of course our blessed Mother Mary.  Let us always remember that we serve a truly awesome God!
May we always remember the words of our Savior:  "For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible." (Matthew 19:26)  

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  We thank you for the lives that we have been called to and for the crosses that we are to bear.  Lord, we pray for the strength and courage to persevere through this life and onto our eternal life with you.  Lord, we pray for all those who are being tried and tested and persecuted for their faith, may you continue to strengthen them.  We pray for all those without hope, may they open their hearts to you and find the hope that is in you.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.  



Readings for Thursday December 18, 2008

First Reading:  Jeremiah 23:5-8
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 72
Gospel:  Matthew 1:18-25

For most people, when we hear the word justice, we may begin to think of a police or detective show, or we may begin to think about our favorite super hero bringing justice to the streets.  We tend to think about justice in terms of crime and criminals.  How often do we think of the virtue of justice that we are all called to?  

In the catechism the virtue of justice is described as:  "Justice is the moral virtue that consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbor.  Justice toward God is called the virtue of religion.  Justice towards men disposes one to respect the rights of each and to establish in human relationships the harmony that promotes equity with regard to persons and to the common good.  The just man, often mentioned in the Sacred Scriptures, is distinguished by habitual right thinking and the uprightness of his conduct toward his neighbor.  (Catechism 1807)"  

In today's gospel we read about a truly just man who never argued or second guessed God when called upon.  Joseph was truly a just man, and even though we are not told anything about what Joseph said during his life on earth, his actions speak volumes to his faith and his character.  Today, let us ask for Saint Joseph's intercessions in striving to become men and women of justice.  

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  We thank you and give you praise for all that we have been given by you.  Lord, we thank you for the example of your servant Joseph, and we pray for the strength to be men and women of justice in this life.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.       


Never Doubt

Readings for Wednesday December 17, 2008

First Reading:  Genesis 49:2, 8-10  
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 72
Gospel:  Matthew 1:1-17

Have you ever wondered if God has a plan for our lives?  If you have, then today's scriptures may provide some insight into God's ways.  In the reading from the book of Genesis, Jacob tells his son Judah that "the scepter shall never depart from Judah."  Jacob also makes reference to Judah as a lion.  Do you see the foreshadowing that is happening here?  If it is not quite clear, then think to the today's gospel reading about the genealogy of Jesus:  "Abraham became the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers.  Judah became the father of Perez and Zerah ...Matthan the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary.  Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ."  Today we read about the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Lion of Judah; the fulfillment of the promises made by God to Abraham and David.   

Since the fall, God has had a plan for our salvation, and for bringing us to Him.  The Lord had a plan for coming to earth as one of us, and sacrificing Himself for the sins of all.  From the genealogy today, we see God's promise through His servants Abraham and David fulfilled.  Let us never doubt that God has a plan for our lives.  Looking back on my life and all that I have been through, I know that all that I have done and all that I have been through has been for a reason.  Some things I can explain, some things I cannot; all I know that is that it is all a part of God's plan, and it is His plan that I should never doubt.     

Father above, we thank you for this day.  We thank you for all the blessings that you bestow upon us each day.  Lord, as we prepare for the coming of Christ, help us to turn away from the things of this world, and to turn and give of ourselves fully to you.  Lord, we pray for the strength and courage to persevere in this world.   Lord increase our faith, so that we can be the good faithful servants that you created us to be.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.    



Readings for Tuesday December 16, 2008

First Reading: Zephaniah 3:1-2, 9-13
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 34
Gospel: Matthew 21:28-32

"I will not." These are the words spoken of the first son in the parable that Jesus tells in today's gospel reading. These words are spoken after the son's father tells him to go out into the field to work today. The words spoken at first are a resounding "no," but later after some thought the son goes into the field and works. Who knows what really went through the son's mind during this time, all we know is that he had a change of heart, and did the will of his father.

How many times are we asked to do things in our lives, and we respond with the same "I will not" as the first son in today's parable? It is kind of a shame that our tongue can be quicker than our heart. Many times when we know what it is that we should do, we then change our minds and go on to do what was asked of us. I believe that one of the things that this parable teaches us is that actions speak louder than words. While the first son said no, and probably grumbled during the whole time, did what was asked. While his words did not show obedience, his actions did. The other son, was very pleasant, and his words showed much obedience, but his actions did not. When the Lord calls us to something, or challenges us in life, He doesn't want us to just tell Him that we will follow Him, He wants us to actually get up and do it. Even if we are resistant at first, the important thing is that we do His will, not just say yes.

Obedience to the Lord, is not just saying yes, it is doing it too.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. We thank you for all that we are, and all that we can do. Lord, you are our God and our Creator, you have a plan for each of us. Lord, help us to trust in you and to follow you where ever you lead us to. Lord, we pray for all those who are striving to be obedient to you and all those who seek to do your will, may their faith be increased. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Teach me your ways, O Lord

Readings for Monday December 15, 2008

First Reading:  Numbers 24:2-7, 15-17
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 25
Gospel:  Matthew 21:23-27

In today's gospel the religious leaders confront Jesus asking where His authority comes from.  Jesus then decides that He will tell them if they can answer His question.  Upon being asked, they tell Him that they do not know the answer, thereby showing that they cannot speak with authority.  Since they were unwilling to share their authority with Jesus, neither was He willing to share His with them.  Through all of the  many confrontations that Jesus had with the religious leaders, He always had a way of reducing them to silence or ask them questions to which they did not understand or couldn't answer.  When reading about situations like this, we might tend to be swelled with pride and say in our heads, "Wow Jesus!  You sure got em good with that one!"  While these situations certainly put the scribes and pharisees in their place, they are meant to show us that Jesus came with the authority of God.  

The religious leaders of the time did  not believe in who Jesus was, thereby they did not accept the authority that He had.  We are very blessed to have this special insight into the gospels and to see it from an outsiders perspective.  It is important for us to remember that Jesus was God in the flesh, and thereby came to teach, preach, heal, and save; all with God's authority!  There is no greater power to be found anywhere, and we should be striving to grow in His love and mercy each day of our lives.  Let us pray the words of the psalmists today, "Teach me your ways, O Lord."  May the Holy Spirit grant us the fruits that He desires to bring into our lives each day, and may we grow stronger each day in faith, hope, and love.  

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  We praise you for the many gifts in our lives, and for all that we are capable of.  Lord, we offer this day up for you, and for your glory.  Lord, you are the source of all that is good and all that is right, help guide us as we continue on our journey of faith in you.  We pray for all those who are are seeking you in their lives and all those looking for meaning and purpose, may they find it in you.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.   


Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Readings for Friday December 12, 2008

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

First Reading:  Zechariah 2:14-17
Responsorial Psalm:  Judith 13
Gospel:  1:26-38

In today's gospel reading we read about the Annunciation, where the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to tell her that she has been chosen by God to bear the Son of the Most High.  And as we all know, Mary's response was yes, for as she so beautifully tells the angel; "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.  May it be done according to your word."  Mary models for us what it means to be a true believer and servant of God.  Saying yes and trusting in God in even the most impossible situations.  

Today we celebrate the Feast of our Lady of Guadalupe, where Mary appeared before Saint Juan Diego almost 500 years ago.  We celebrate this feast day to honor our Blessed Mother who continues to draw us closer to her Son Jesus, and continues to tell us "Do whatever He tells you."  May our Blessed Mother continue to to hear our prayers and lay them before her Son in Heaven, and may we continue to be led by Mary closer to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  

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

Glory be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.  As it was and ever shall be, world without end, Amen.   



Readings for Thursday December 11, 2008

First Reading:  Isaiah 41:13-20
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 145
Gospel:  Matthew 11:11-15

As a child growing up, one of my favorite cartoons was the Smurfs.  For those of you not familiar with the show it was about a small village of these mythical tiny blue elf-like creatures called the smurfs.  Each one had a name that corresponded to his or her character.  For example, "hefty smurf" was really into lifting weights, "brainy smurf" was an intellectual, etc.  One smurf in particular came to mind from reading today's readings, and that is "vanity smurf."  Vanity smurf thought that he was just the best looking and best smurf in the entire village, and in fact he even carried a mirror around all the time so that he could admire himself.  I think that it is safe to say that vanity smurf is not exactly the best teacher of being humble. 

I believe that vanity can be a sin that we can sometimes overlook, because it can easily be confused with high self-esteem or confidence.  Vanity is "excessive pride in one's appearance, qualities, abilities, and achievements."  This type of pride can really prevent us from our calling of living a life of humility and of actions that help us to be humble.  Vanity is something that we should each take a look at ourselves and see if this pride in ourselves is something that is bringing us closer to God or further from God.  

In today's gospel, Jesus tells us of the greatness of John the Baptist, and certainly a great prophet he was, but ... Jesus also informs us that "among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he."  I think a statement like that should put anybody in there place, no matter how great they believe (or are told) that they are.  Jesus reminds us that even though we can have good lives and that we can do great things with God's help, we will still fall short of true greatness and the glory of God until we reach heaven.  Let us not forget, that as great as we may think that we have it here on earth, there is still something greater ahead which we should be striving for; and we must be striving with God's help.   

Vanity has no place in our lives, let us not forget this.  

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord, help us to put our faith in you, and not in ourselves.  Lord it is because of you that we have a means for salvation, let us always remember you love and mercy for us.  Lord, increase our faith, hope, and love so that we can follow you without worrying about the consequences of this world, but only the consequences of not following your will.  Lord, we pray for all those who do not know you, change their hearts so that they can come to accept the love that you offer.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.  



Wings of Eagles

Readings for Wednesday December 10, 2008

First Reading:  Isaiah 40:25-31
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 103
Gospel:  Matthew 11:28-30

Have you ever had a demanding job or a demanding teacher?  Did the work that you were given just seem so unbearable, and not realistic?  Many of us grow weary from things in our lives, or feel burdened from demanding situations.  The people of Jesus' time felt this exact way in their faith lives.  The scribes and pharisees seemed to put a lot of demands on the people, and the people were instructed to always observe every part of the law.  

When Jesus came to earth and began His public ministry, He knew how the people were burdened and how they grew weak from the religious laws set by the scribes and pharisees of the time.  That is why in today's gospel, He tells the people to come to Him, "all those who labor and are burdened."  He tells them (and us) to come to His yoke, for it is easy and His burden light.  Christ invites the burdened to take rest in Him and to not be bogged down by the strict yoke of the law, but rather take the yoke of obedience to His word.  Let us thank God that today, we are not bogged down by many religious laws that are unrealistic for us to carry out and that we are given many leaders in the church today who practice what they preach.  Christ came to preach to us with a simple message, and that the most important law that we should follow is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and to love our neighbor as our self.  

Today, let us all reflect on the words of the prophet Isaiah from today's first reading:  "They that hope in the LORD will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagles’ wings; They will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint."  

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord, thank you for your love and mercy and for calling each of us to you.  Lord, we know that there is nothing that you cannot do, and that nothing is impossible for you.  Lord, thank you for giving us rest from the labors and burdens of this world.  Lord, help us to come to you when we are weak and burdened and to rely on your strength and not that of ourselves.  Lord, we pray for all those who do not know your love and who are searching for meaning in their lives.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.       


Comfort in God

Readings for Tuesday December 9, 2008

First Reading:  Isaiah 40:1-11
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 96
Gospel:  Matthew 12:14-14

I remember that one time when I was younger, my mom and I was at the grocery store.  I began to wonder around by myself; and after a while of playing in the isles,  I realized that my mom was no longer with me and was no where to be found.  I immediately started searching all of the isles, but with no luck.  I started becoming very afraid that I would never find her and that I would stay lost in that store.  I then found my way to the service desk; alone and afraid with tears down my cheek I asked the clerk if they could page my mom to the desk.  When I heard them page her to the desk, I began to be comforted, because I knew that once the announcement was made, she would be on here way.  Sure enough, moments later, there was my mom coming towards the desk; with a rather angry look on her face for me having drifted off, but I didn't care how angry she was, I had been found.  You had better believe that for the rest of that trip she couldn't have lost me if she had tried.  

There is certainly a lot of joy when something is lost and then is found.  Jesus speaks of this in today's gospel, when He tells the parable of the lost sheep.  This type of joy is certainly the same type of joy that I found when I had my conversion experience.  I was so happy to have been found by God, that He took the time to find me; it still amazes me how much He loves me and all of us.  It is still amazing that no matter how low we seem to go in our life, or how far we veer; He always find us and is willing to bring us back.    

The prophet Isaiah tells us of the comfort that we can find from the Lord.  If we want to find true peace and comfort, then we need to put our faith and hope in Christ.  For if we do, He will carry us and lead us to everlasting life.  I pray that we may all turn to the Lord, and allow Him to carry us and lead us in our lives, and then we can find the comfort that we all seek.  

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord, we praise you and give you thanks for all that we have and all that we are.  Lord, help us to serve you with all our heart.  Lord, we pray for a humble heart, and a faith that is unbreakable.  Lord, be with all those who are striving to do your will.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.      

Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Readings for Monday December 8 ,2008

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

First Reading:  Genesis 3:9-15, 20
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 98
Second Reading:  Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12
Gospel:  Luke 1:26-38

Today we celebrate the Immaculate Conception of our Blessed Virgin Mary.  Our Mother Mary conceived and born free from the stain of original sin.  Born of humble origins for the greatest purpose this earth has ever known, to be the Mother of God.  In today's reading we learn about Mary's purpose.  In the first reading from Genesis, we get a foreshadowing of things to come.  While Eve (the mother of all living things) did not trust in God, and therefore turned from Him and disobeyed by eating of the fruit.  Eve said no to God's original plan, but Mary says yes to God and to His plan, truly becoming the "new Eve" and the new mother of all the living.  God's plan for salvation came to be by the yes of our Blessed Mother.  For by her cooperation and her yes to God, she was given a great purpose and gift in giving birth to and raising our Lord and Savior.  

Like Mary, God also has a plan and a purpose for us.  As St. Paul says in his letter to the Ephesians; "In him we were also chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the One who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will, so that we might exist for the praise of his glory, we who first hoped in Christ."  May we learn to model our Mother in our desire to do the Lord's will.   

Today we celebrate God's amazing gift that we are given through the Mother of Christ.  For in Heaven, we have a great advocate helping to bring us closer to her Son.  May we all turn to our Blessed Mother with our prayers and intentions, and in return be brought to closer and more fuller union with her Son, Jesus Christ.  

Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with thee.  Blessed art though amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus.  Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.  
Glory be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.    


The Lord is my Light and my salvation

Readings for Friday, December 5, 2008

First Reading:  Isaiah 29:17-24
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 27
Gospel:  Matthew 9:27-31

In today's first reading, Isaiah speaks of the great works of the Lord, and the impossible situations that the Lord can heal and take care of.  Making the deaf hear, the blind to see, and rising up the lowly ... these all seem like impossible situations, but not to God.  God has the power to rise us up from these worldly lives of sin, and to save us from the world and ourselves.  But this saving grace requires faith and trust.  If we are willing to follow our Lord, and to trust Him with all our hearts He will begin to work wonders in our lives.  

Today we see in the gospel reading the power of God.  When the blind men called out to Jesus, they called Him "Son of David", a term that was very significant, and a term that was reserved for the Messiah.  Although they could not see, they blind men were guided by their hearts, for they had no doubts about who Jesus really was.  In some ways, you could say that as blind men they "saw" better than most.  Jesus had mercy on them because of their faith in Him, and they were rewarded with the gift of physical sight.  These men teach us about the healing power of Jesus, and how if we call upon Him, He will give us sight in many situations.  There are many times in my life where I have problems or issues that do not have a clear answer.  It is in these times that I am blind to the situation; and I have recognized that the times in my life that I am thriving in my prayer life, that Jesus makes these answers very clear.  This is one of the reasons why it is so important for us to keep a good prayer life, or relationship, with our Lord.  We need His guidance, and for Him to light the way on our path.  If we commit to giving Him time each day to listen, then we will continue to thrive in this life, and not just survive. 

Today, let us remember the words of the psalmist:  The Lord is my light and my salvation.  

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord, increase our faith so that we can be better servants of you.  Lord, we are  nothing without you, may we always remember your saving power in our lives.  We pray for all those who are suffering, and all those who are lost.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.    


The Lord is an Eternal Rock!

Readings for Thursday December 4, 2008

First Reading:  Isaiah 26:1-6
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 118
Gospel:  Matthew 7:21, 24-27

In our parish bible study, we have just gotten done reading the book of 1 Samuel.  Contained in this old testament book is the famous story of David versus Goliath.  Most of us know this story about how this young shepherd defeated this gigantic Philistine warrior with nothing but a sling and a stone.  While this story certainly gives great hope to all the underdogs out there, it also teaches a great lesson about faith and trust.  When Goliath challenged the Israelites to a battle, all of the men took a look in the mirror, sized themselves up to Goliath and realized that they are not as big and strong as he was.  So because of this they became afraid.  Why were they afraid?  Because they relied more on themselves than they did on God.  Only one man trusted in God more than himself, and that was young David.  David knew that no matter how big or strong Goliath was, Goliath was no match for the living God!  David put all of his trust in God, and was therefore victorious.  

The readings today scream to us about trust in God.  Isaiah tells us to:  "Trust in the Lord Forever!  For the Lord is an eternal rock."  Jesus tells us the story of two men, one who built his house on sand and one who built his house on solid rock.  When the storms came, the house built on sand collapsed, but the one that built his house on rock withstood the storm.  During our lives, we will be faced with many giants and many storms, but if we continue to rely and trust in God, and build a solid foundation of faith on Him, then there is nothing that we cannot weather or be victorious over.  Our God is an eternal rock, as solid as anything, and more faithful and true to us than anything!     

During this season of advent, it is so important that we look at our lives and really reflect on how we are living.   Do we put our trust in ourselves, or do we put all of our trust in God?  Are we building our house on rock, or on sand?   

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord, we give ourselves up to you, help to let go of all the fears and doubts that we have.  Lord, help us to put our trust in you, and help us to follow you without hesitation.  Lord, you are the source of all that we have and all that we are, may we always remember you love and mercy for us.  Help us to serve you with all that we are, until the end of our days.  Amen.  

The greatness of God

Readings for Wednesday December 3, 2008

Memorial of Saint Francis Xavier, priest

First Reading:  Isaiah 25:6-10
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 23
Gospel:  Matthew 15:29-37

Today the prophet Isaiah speaks of the greatness of God and the promise of salvation.  He speaks about how God's people will one day rejoice; "Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us!  This is the Lord for whom we looked; let us rejoice and be glad that He has saved us!"  
I am sure that the people who came to Jesus in today's gospel shared this exact same thought.  Imagine being given your sight back if you are blind, or being able to walk if once crippled.  Not only did Christ cure many that day, but He also spoke and ministered to them and He used a few loafs of bread and some fish to feed all the people!  When they had all eaten, there was such an abundance left over.  These amazing acts truly speak to us about God's mercy and His greatness!  

We serve a truly awesome and great God.  He is greater than any person and more powerful than any force.  And we should always remember that He is with us, and with Him nothing is impossible!  Let us all serve the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and then one day we may be blessed enough to live in the house of the Lord all of our days!

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  We praise you for your many blessings that you bestow upon us Lord.  God, help us to become better servants for you, increase our faith, hope, and love so that we might be better servants.  We pray for all those suffering in the world, and all those seeking you.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.   


Being Humble

Readings for Tuesday December 2, 2008

First Reading: Isaiah 11:1-10
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 72
Gospel: Luke 10:21-24

Many times in our world we are judged solely on what we have and what we do. This can often determine the circles that we are let into. It can be a very crushing blow when we are rejected based on the fact that we don't wear the "right" clothes, make "enough" money, or drive the "right" car. As hard as these circumstances of acceptance can be, let us remember that we should not let ourselves be ruled by the things or people of this world. in today's gospel, Jesus did not praise the richest, smartest, or wisest persons ... no, He praised those who are childlike. Being childlike means having complete faith and being humble before everyone. Being humble is not often a trait that is celebrated in our culture, and in fact can often be seen as a sign of weakness. But let us always remember, that while being humble may not be celebrated on this earth, it is greatly celebrated in heaven, and it shows great strength and character to humble yourself before God and before everyone.

Let us reflect on the words of the prophet Isaiah in today's first reading: "Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide, But he shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted."

I pray that we can each gain the strength to humble ourselves, and to strive to be truly childlike.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day, for all that we are and all that we have. Lord, you are the source of all that is good, let your love and mercy flow into our hearts so that we might go out into this world to be the lights that shine for your glory. Lord, we pray for all those searching for you in their lives, and we pray for all of our brothers and sisters who are being persecuted for their faith. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Only say the word

Readings for Monday December 1, 2008

First Reading:  Isaiah 2:1-5  
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 122
Gospel:  Matthew 8:5-11

Does today's gospel reading sound strangely familiar?  Well it should since we reference the line of the centurion soldier at each mass.  At each mass, before we receive Jesus through the Eucharist, we say; "Lord I am not worthy to receive you, only say the word and I shall be healed."  These words almost echo those said by the centurion to Christ in today's gospel; "Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant shall be healed."  One of the things I love about the Church and about the mass is how much rich tradition and wisdom that has been passed to us over the years.  This example, is one of many that we have today.  

The centurion in today's gospel demonstrates a faith and a knowing in the power of Christ that seems to be uncommon.  This is why Jesus is so amazed at his faith!  The centurion understands that he has no power to save himself or his servant, but that saving grace comes from God alone.  Nothing that we can ever do or say is going to make us worthy of Christ's love, we must simply humble ourselves and ask Jesus to only say the word for us to be healed and to have everlasting life.  I pray that each of us can have the faith in Christ that the centurion soldier displays in today's gospel.  May the Lord increase our faith and hope along this journey.  

Reflection on Advent:  
Since we have entered into the season of advent, a time of great excitement and expectation.  I would like to share a reading that I came across recently in hopes that you will be inspired as I was:  

"Dearest Brothers and Sisters:  With today's first Sunday of Advent, a new liturgical year begins.  The Church takes up her journey again, and invites us to reflect more intensely on the mystery of Christ, a mystery that is always new and that time cannot exhaust.  Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.  Thanks to Him, the history of humanity proceeds as a pilgrimage toward the fulfillment of the Kingdom which He inaugurated with His incarnation and victory over sin and death.  
     -John Paul II, Angelus, December 2, 2001 


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