Choose Life

Readings for Thursday February 26, 2009

First Reading:  Deuteronomy 30:15-20
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 1
Gospel:  Luke 9:22-25

"Choose Life, then, that you and your descendants may live by loving the Lord, your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him."  (Deut 30:19-20)

"Then he said to all, "If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it."  (Lk 9:23-24)

So here we are on this second day of lent.  These readings seem to remind us for the reason of our fasting, prayer and alms giving.  By denying ourselves things and by adding positive things into our lives during this time, we continue to let go of the things of this world and look to hold tight to Christ.  Lent is an exciting time of spiritual growth, where we really seek to choose life for ourselves.  To the outside world, we must seem crazy for giving things up.  In our fast paced,self-centered, have it your way and have it now culture; there is a sever lack of discipline. 

People do not even begin to try and understand a practice such as fasting or alms giving.  It boggles peoples mind on why we would give something up, especially when we are taught to consumer and to have as much as we possibly can.  The reason why these people have a hard time understanding this is because their flesh and body has taken over, they have been in the practice of consuming and having for so long that they now cannot control their bodies.  That is why it is so  important for us to deny ourselves things and to pick up our crosses each day, so that way we can not only put our bodies in check, but we also feed and nourish our soul.  By saying no to ourselves and saying yes to God, we choose life, not just while here on earth, but for eternity.  Think about one of the most important yes' in our history ... Mary's yes to God at the annunciation.  Mary did not choose to do what she wanted, she chose God's will and so chose life.  Mary was rewarded greatly, as she is now Queen of Heaven and our blessed mother.    
Today let us look to all the examples of Mary and the martyrs who denied themselves and chose eternal life; may we ask for their intercessions and prayers and we persevere through this life.  

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord, help us to grow closer to you during this time of lent.  Lord, give us the strength to deny our bodies of the things that we think that we need, and help us to see that you are all that we need in life.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.  


Readings for Wednesday February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday

First Reading:  Joel 2:12-18
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 51
Gospel:  Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

Peace be with all of you on this Ash Wednesday and first day of lent!  

Today, I do not want to go into a longer reflection of the readings, but instead I just want all of us to stop and take a moment to think about how each of us will use this time of lent to grow closer to our Lord.  How will we all sacrifice for Him as He has sacrificed for us?  

Lent can be a great time of spiritual growth, if we really push ourselves and open ourselves up to God's grace.  Let us pray for all of our brothers and sisters who are seeking the Lord during this season of lent.  


Commit your life to the Lord, and He will help you

Readings for Wednesday February 24, 2009

First Reading:  Sirach 2:1-11
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 37
Gospel:  Mark 9:30-37

"Wait on God, with patience, cling to him, forsake him not;
thus will you be wise in all your ways.
Accept whatever befalls you,
when sorrowful, be steadfast,
and in crushing misfortune be patient;
For in fire gold and silver are tested,
and worthy people in the crucible of humiliation.
Trust God and God will help you;
trust in him, and he will direct your way;"  (Sir 2:3-6)

This passage from Sirach should really speak to us in these difficult times.  It seems today that we all have some reason or another to worry or to lose faith.  Tough economic times are hurting businesses and organizations everywhere, the unemployment rate seems to be rising higher and higher.  With companies forced to make drastic cuts to stay afloat, layoffs and downsizing seem to be hitting people and families nationwide.  Many people are out looking for jobs with no success.  The new administration brings in a very liberal ideology which threatens life and the dignity of the human person.  It is in troubling times such as these that we are naturally inclined to lose trust and hope and to simply worry much about all that is happening.  But for those who have faith, there should be no reason for anxiety at all, but only an opportunity to open ourselves up to God's mercy and to trust in Him even more.  

The above passage speaks of gold and silver tested in fire.  It is a funny thing about metals such as these; when they are first mined, they look like nothing but a hunk of rock with a few shiny pieces.  But after the ore is put through the fire and pressure, then it comes out better than it went in.  It is now purified, and only the precious metal is left.  We too are put through many fires and much pressure during our lives, it is in these times that we must trust in the Lord, and accept His will for us.  While these times may bring great stress and anxiety, we must remember that God's plan for us is perfect and that there is a reason for the fire.  Like the ore that goes through the fire, we too will come out better than when we went in, if we are willing to trust and cling to the Lord. 

Let us remember the words of the Psalmist:  "Commit your life to the Lord, and He will help you."  

Father above we thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord, help us to follow you without reserve and to serve you with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.  Lord, we know your will is perfect and we trust you with our lives.  Lord, thank you for all the gifts and blessings that you freely give to us, but most of all thank you for your love and mercy in our lives.  Amen.     


Help my unbelief

Readings for Monday February 23, 2009

Memorial of Saint Polycarp, bishop and martyr

First Reading:  Sirach 1:1-10
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 93
Gospel:  Mark 9:14-29

Then he questioned his father,
"How long has this been happening to him?" 
He replied, "Since childhood.
It has often thrown him into fire and into water to kill him.
But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us."
Jesus said to him,
"'If you can!' Everything is possible to one who has faith."
Then the boy's father cried out, "I do believe, help my unbelief!" (Mark 9:21-24)

"This scene from today's gospel, shows a dad who makes the same mistake that we all do, he used the the word "if."  Using the word if may be fine when asking your spouse if they can have time to mow the lawn today, or when asking if someone can help out with something at work; but when talking with God this word should not be in our vocabulary.  I know that I am guilty of asking God "if" He could help me out with something or "if" He can answer my prayers.  When doing this, we must all remember this gospel, and become humble as the father in today's gospel was, he lowered himself before Jesus and asked Him to "help his unbelief."  We all can certainly use an increase in faith in our Lord, when times are good, and especially when we are challenged.  I pray that the Lord help all of us in our unbelief.  

"There is but one, Most High all-powerful creator-king and truly awe-inspiring one, seated upon his throne and he is the God of dominion." (Sir 1:6)  Remember, with God all things are possible ... may we all be granted help with our unbelief.  

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord, help us with our unbelief, increase our faith so that we may rely and put all of our trust in you.  Lord, we thank you and praise you for your many blessings.  Lord, we are your people, weak and frail without you; strengthen us and give us courage so that we can serve you without reserve.  We pray for all those who are searching for meaning in their lives, may they find it in you.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.    


Give the glory to God

Readings for Friday February 20, 2009

First Reading:  Genesis 11:1-19 
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 33
Gospel:  Mark 8:34-9:1

It seems as though the people of Babel were blessed with the gift of ingenuity when they started learning to make bricks and mortar.  Unfortunately, there was one big issue with them building their city and the tower to the sky; they were doing it selfishly.  The people said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky, and so make a name for ourselves ..."  The people had no desire of acknowledging God or of giving Him any glory for the gifts they had been given; no, these people only sought to do things their way and to make a name for themselves, instead of praising God.  

Jesus warns us of this sort of selfish desire in today's gospel:  "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the Gospel will save it.  What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?"  Jesus doesn't say anything here about going out to make a name for yourself, He is speaking of self denial and of persevering through this world so that we can be with God in the next.  

We all have a big choice to make in life; will we seek to make a name for ourselves, or to praise and acknowledge God?  Either way we choose, there will be consequences to our actions.  Just remember, that when we follow God and give Him the glory, then He leads us to heaven ... much better than the alternative.  

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord, help us to always acknowledge you and to give you the glory for all that we do.  Lord, we are nothing without you, we thank you for all the blessings and gifts in our lives.  Lord, we pray for all those in need of conversion and all those who are seeking peace in their lives, may they find it in you.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.      


Think as God does

Readings for Thursday February 19, 2009

First Reading:  Genesis 9:1-13
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 102 
Gospel:  Mark 8:27-33

My brothers and sisters, peace be with you!

It is so hard to believe that we are almost towards the end of February.  It is also hard to believe that next Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, and so begins the liturgical season of Lent.  This season is a time of fasting, prayer and penitence before Easter.  I remember that during the last season of Lent, I was getting very excited because I was finally going to be able to come into the church and receive the sacraments of confirmation, reconciliation and Eucharist.  I remember it being a very exciting time and one that was a great lesson in preparation and patience.  The season of Lent really helped to further my journey by being a time that helped me to grow deeper with our Lord.

In today's gospel reading, Jesus begins to prepare His disciples for His passion that He must go through.  While they did not fully understand what He meant, they were regardless still being prepared for what He would suffer.  We too are approaching the time when we remember His passion and death for our sins, and like the disciples we celebrate His resurrection and triumph over death!  Easter is certainly one of the most exciting times for us as it is filled with so much spiritual richness and a time that can cause great renewal in us all.  That can certainly happen to all of us if we are really trying to prepare as we are called to.  

Lent is just around the corner, I hope that all of us are thinking about what it is that we can fast from, or a positive thing that we can add into our lives.  Are we trying to prepare through prayer; and how will we go deeper into prayer and reflection during this time?  Will we think about our sins and ask for forgiveness during this time?  During this time of preparation, we must really push and challenge ourselves.  Let us remember the words of Jesus when He rebuked Peter in today's gospel, "You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do."

Lent is a time to help us let go of the things of this world and to hold tight and draw closer to Jesus.  Let us challenge ourselves and grow deeper in our faith.  Let us not give in to our selfish desires and take the easy ways out; may we all put on the  mind of Christ and think not as humans do, but as God does.        

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord, we thank you for your many blessings that you have bestowed upon all of us.  Lord, thank you for always being there for us, and for loving us so much.  We praise you for your mercy, and for our lives.  Help us to be the servants that you created us to be, give us strength and wisdom to persevere through our days and to see and do your will in all things.  We pray for all those who are are seeking you, may they be brought to your abundant love and mercy.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.  


But now I see

Readings for Wednesday February 18, 2009

First Reading:  Genesis 8:6-13, 20-22
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 116
Gospel:  Mark 8:22-26

In today's gospel, we hear the story of Jesus curing a blind man.  Jesus obliged to cure the man when he was brought to Him, and after leading the blind man outside the village, Jesus laid His hands on the man and asked him if he saw anything.  While at first his vision was still a bit hazy, Jesus once more laid His hand hands on the man and his vision became clear.  What is important here is that the blind man was patient, he was not distressed when his vision was hazy, he didn't complain, he just waited while Jesus worked with him.  Jesus comes to heal all of us in this same say; helping us to see the things that we are blind to.    

How often in our own lives do we ask for the Lord's help, but when things still look dismal we panic and turn away, or lose trust?  We must always remember that there is a method to God's plans for our lives, and even if we do not understand fully, we must be patient and continue to trust and rely on our Lord.  

Today, let us read and reflect on the beginning verses of the following song, Amazing Grace.  

"Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me....
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord, send us your spirit so that we may face any challenge that comes our way with courage and strength.  Lord, help us to be your humble servants and to do everything for your glory.  Lord, we thank you for all your love and mercy, may we be loving and merciful to others in this same way.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.  


Spiritual Biology

Readings for Tuesday February 17, 2009

First Reading:  Genesis 6:5-8; 7:1-5, 10
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 29
Gospel:  Mark 8:14-21

Do you ever stop and wonder how amazing our bodies are?  I have always been fascinated with how the body works and how all of the complex organs work together to keep us alive and to do all the amazing processes that we are capable of.  I am learning more and more how amazing the body is as my wife and I are expecting our first child very soon.  

In our physical bodies, our hearts are very important.  They pump blood throughout our body taking oxygen to the cells that need it and taking away the carbon dioxide.  Our eyes and ears are very important as they allow us to experience certain sensations such as sight and hearing.  Our minds are one of the best computers in the world, as they help us to store and process information.   While the physical make up of our most of our body parts is important in helping us to live and function in the world, these parts also have a spiritual dimension to them.  

In today's gospel, Jesus gives His disciples a bit of a "spiritual biology" lesson.  He comments on their hearts, eyes, ears, and memory.  Jesus asks His disciples in the boat;  "Do you not yet understand or comprehend?  Are your hearts hardened?  Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear?  And do you not remember..."  This is all after their confusion about not having any bread and the instructions by Jesus warning the disciples of the "leaven of the pharisees and of Herod."  While the disciples mistake this saying for them not having any bread with them, Jesus then decides to lay on the lesson.  

Jesus is certainly not rebuking them for not having bread, but instead warning them of shutting Him out of their lives and turning away from Him.  He asks them if their hearts are hardened; a warning of not having an open heart to our Lord.  He asks them if they have eyes and do not see, and ears and do not hear; warning of not recognizing Jesus when He is working and speaking in our lives.  He also questions their memory; warning of not remembering the acts that Jesus has done in this world and in our lives.  

This spiritual biology lesson in an important one for us to remember as well.  Even though our bodies and organs have a real physical presence and function; they also have a spiritual presence and function as well.  We must remember to keep our hearts soft and open to Him, and to set our hearts upon the Lord.  We must not be blind and deaf to our Lord, but constantly seeking and listening to Him in our lives.  Lastly, may we always remember the works of the Lord, in ourselves and in others; and may we always be thankful and praise Him for His glory.  

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord, help to serve you this day with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength.  Lord, we pray for all those who are in need of conversion, may they be brought closer to your love and mercy.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.  


Faith and Works

Readings for Monday February 16, 2009

First Reading:  Genesis 4:1-15, 25
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 50
Gospel:  Mark 8:11-13

Before my conversion to the Catholic Faith, I bought heavily into the protestant battle cry of "Sola fide" which says that we are justified by faith alone.  I like many protestants believed that it my salvation was based upon my belief in God and that was it.  Fortunately when I came home to the Church, I realized that it was not simply faith alone that I was justified by, but my works were also an important component as well.  

In today's first reading we see that instead of doing things God's way, Cain decides that he is going to do what he wants to do, so when offering a sacrifice to the Lord, he brings his best produce instead of the animal offering.  His brother Abel does as God wishes and brings the best of his flock, and God looks with favor on Abel and not on Cain.  Cain becomes very resentful and down because of this episode, and even despite God's warning about sin, Cain goes and does something regrettable by killing his brother Abel.  

Now, when we look at this event from the book of Genesis, it appears as if the things that we do matter quite a bit to God.  I don't think that Cain had any trouble believing in God since he was talking right to him, but regardless God did not look with favor upon Cain because he was not doing good works.  In fact, because Cain gave into sin, he was severely punished by God because of his bad works.  

In today's gospel we see a great lack of faith by the Jewish religious leaders of the time.  We see that the only way that they would believe that Jesus was God was to have a great sign.  They were completely blinded by His many miracles that He was performing all around them.  They were not satisfied with what He came to offer, and they demanded a greater sign that He came to offer.  But I am sure to the blind He made see, the mute who could now talk, to the sinners whose sins were forgiven, that was all the sign that they needed.  They came to believe in Jesus through their interactions with Him and through His healing touch.  

There is constantly great debate over who is right, the Catholics or the Protestants in regards to faith and works.  What we must remember is that they are both important, and ultimately it all comes from God.  So let us ask Him this day and all days to increase our faith in Him and to seek to do what He wills each and every day of our lives. 

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  We pray that you may continue to guide us where you will.  Help us to give you thanks and praise in all that we do.  Lord, please increase our faith so that we may follow and trust in you more.  Lord, help us to be your light in this world of darkness.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.  


Not just well, but perfect

Readings for Friday February 13, 2009

First Reading:  Genesis 3:1-8
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 32
Gospel:  Mark 7:31-37

Peace to you all my brothers and sisters!

In today's genesis account of the fall of mankind, we see how Adam did not uphold his job of keeping and protecting the garden (the real garden, Eve).  Eve fell to the temptation of the serpent, and therefore Adam just went right along with what was going on.  Many people are very quick to judge our first ancestors, but we must ask ourselves, would we have acted any different?  I know myself well enough to say that I am not that good.  God knew that on our own, we cannot become what we were created to be, so in His wisdom, He sent us some help ... Himself.  

Today's gospel tells of Jesus curing a deaf and mute individual.  The people were so amazed at His power they said; "He has done all things well.  He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak."  This saying by the people was almost correct, Jesus did not just come and do things well, He did them perfectly.  Jesus is God in the flesh and He is perfect.  Jesus came to do what the first man did not do, and that is sacrifice Himself for His bride (the Church).  He came with a perfect yes and perfect obedience to the Father's will.  Saint Paul speaks of this in His letter to the Hebrews; "For by one offering he has made perfect forever those who are being consecrated." (Heb 10:14)  

Christ came to heal and help us, He comes to lead us to a higher purpose.  With Him, we can rise above any temptation, but without Him we will fall.  May we always rely on and trust in our Lord, and may our hope always be in Him.  

Father above we thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord, we thank you and give you praise for all the blessings in our life.  Lord, give us the strength and courage to overcome any temptation that the evil one and the world may throw at us.  Let us be full of love and zeal for you and for your law.  Lord, we pray for all those who are struggling with sin in their life, may they be brought out of the slavery that sin offers.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.  


Readings for Thursday February 12, 2009

First Reading:  Genesis 2:18-25
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 128
Gospel:  Mark 7:24-30

The garden of Eden, the perfect paradise in which Adam and Eve spent the first part of their lives.  After the creation, it is said that "the man and his wife were both naked, yet they felt no shame"  It is truly amazing the childlike innocence that they were both given, to just simply be as God had made them and to feel at peace about that.  Because of the fall, that is something that we will not be able to experience in our life here on earth.  It is so sad that we do not understand what our body's are for, and how they are a gift for our spouse.  Adam, even though no one had told him, had understood this completely, for the moment he first saw Eve; he said; "This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called 'woman,' for out of 'her man' this one has been taken."  Adam immediately understood the one flesh union of man and wife.  

It is sad that today, our marriages all around the world are in trouble.  In the US the divorce rate is just over 50%.  And even among the couples who do not get divorced, how many of them are having a thriving marriage?  While we have fallen far away from the garden of Eden and of the moment of feeling no shame, we can still honor this one flesh union in the sacrament of marriage in many ways.  We must all come together to ensure that the sanctity of marriage is always upheld.  Today we are in a fight against our culture in regards to faith and the family, and many groups out their, and even many in the new administration seek to defile this sacred sacrament.  We must not only be active in helping to ensure that marriage stays as between a man and woman; but we must also be active in praying for marriages worldwide.  

Let us uphold that things that God has made good and holy, let us persevere in this life, and then one day we too can reach a place in heaven where we will be able to be as we are and feel no shame.  

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord, give us the strength and courage to serve you this day and always.  Lord we pray for marriages worldwide, that all may see the grace and beauty of this sacrament.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.  


Garbage in equals garbage out

Readings for Wednesday February 11, 2009

First Reading:  Genesis 2:4-9, 15-17
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 104
Gospel:  Mark 7:14-23

A few years ago while attending a work conference, I heard a speaker say something that has stuck with me ever since.  He told us that "garbage in, equals garbage out."  Now this guy was not talking about if we eat garbage, then garbage will come out; what he was talking about was if we are surrounding ourselves with "garbage" or negative things/people, then that is what is going to come out of us.  

Jesus makes it a point today to tell us that it is not the food that we take in that defiles us, but it is what comes out of us that defiles us.  Jesus tells us that; "From within the man, from his heart, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.  All these evils come from within and they defile."  Which begs to ask the question, what are we allowing in our hearts?  Are we allowing God in our hearts, or the things of this world?  Are we opening ourselves to the Lord or to the garbage that is out there?  We must remember the things that we surround ourselves with and the things that we set our hearts upon are going to be the things that come out and shine through.    

I pray that we all can look to God for the strength and nourishment that we need to persevere in this life, and that only His love and goodness may dwell in our hearts.  May the light of Christ shine through us all.    

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day and for the gift of our lives.  Lord, we pray for soft hearts that are open to you and your will.  Help us to be the servants that you created us to be, and to have hearts that are set up on you.  Lord, we pray for all life in this world and for the conversion of those who do not cherish life as they should.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.       

In His image

Readings for Tuesday February 10, 2009

Memorial of Saint Scholastica, virgin

First Reading:  Genesis 1:20-2:4a 
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 8
Gospel:  Mark 7:1-13

Do you ever watch animal planet?  I am always amazed at the many creatures of this earth.  It is amazing how birds are made perfectly for flight, or how cheetahs are built with great speed.  One of my favorite animals are frogs, they spend the first part of their lives with gills, and then they grow and develop lungs so that they no longer need to live in the water.  In today's continuation of the creation story we read about the many animals that God made and blessed.  God in His great wisdom created some of the most diverse and amazing creatures that we just seem to look with awe at.  We also read of something even more amazing than the creatures that He created; we also read about the creation of man and woman.  It says in the book of Genesis, "God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them."  Does that just not make you feel so special and so loved?!    

If it doesn't, then let me share some interesting facts with you:  
-There are over 400,000 known plant species
-Over 750,000 species of insects have been described
-There are between 9,000 - 10,000 species of birds
-There are about 4,000 - 5,000 mammals

God created a great diversity of plants and animals, but He only created one thing in His likeness, and that is you and me.  Our God is truly and amazing and awesome God and is deserving of all our time and our worship.  Think about all that we are blessed with, we must remember that it is all a great gift of God and that we must have a heart of thanksgiving for our Lord and Savior.  

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord we thank you and give you praise for all that we have and all that we are.  Help us to serve you without growing weary and to surrender ourselves totally to you.  Lord we pray for all those in need of conversion and all those who are calling out to you.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.   


How good it is

Readings for Monday February 9, 2009

First Reading:  Genesis 1: 1-19 
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 104
Gospel:  Mark 6:53-56

In today's first reading, we hear the beginning of the creation story.  There is a common theme that stands out, after each thing that God made it is said that "God saw how good it was."  Isn't it interesting that everything that God makes is good?  How often do we think about how good all of God's creations are.  Now most of us will not doubt how amazing a sunset or sunrise is, most of us will never doubt the beauty of the mountains, and most of us will never call a wonderful blue summer sky a bad thing.  But remember, God did not just stop with the sea and the earth, God went on to create something else ... God went on to create man and woman, and God saw the goodness in this creation as well.  We must remember that God create us for good, and even if we and the rest of the world do not see the goodness in each other, God does.  God does not create bad things, everything that God creates is good.  So the question that we must ask ourselves is; are we trying to be the good person that God created us to be?  

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  We thank you and give you praise for all that we are.  Lord, please pass on your healing touch to all those who come to you, all those who are sick and in need of healing.  Lord we pray for all those who are in need of conversion, may they be brought to your truth and light.  Amen.  


What can anyone do to me?

Readings for Friday February 6, 2009

Memorial of Saint Paul Miki, martyr, and his companions, martyrs

First Reading:  Hebrews 13:1-8
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 27
Gospel:  Mark 6:14-29

In today's gospel reading we are told of the opposition that John the Baptist ran into while staying close to the faith and truth of God.  By speaking out and by living out the faith, John paid with his life because of the opposition from the worldly powers.  Like John, Saint Paul Miki and his companions also sacrificed with their lives for the faith.  Saint Paul Miki was a martyr of Japan, and was arrested for his practice and teaching of Christianity.  After being in prison, him and his fellow Christians were marched 600 miles and abused along the way as to be made an example of.  They were then all hung and died on the cross.  Saint Paul Miki gave his last sermon while hanging from the cross, telling the people of his love for God, of how God is the truth, of his thankfulness for his suffering, and of his forgiveness of his executioners.  I pray that the Lord grant each of us this same strength when faced with opposition from the world.  

John the baptist and Saint Paul Miki teach and remind us that we will all face opposition from the world, and that we must all sacrifice for the faith.  Sometimes they will be smaller sacrifices, while other times the sacrifice will be great.  Regardless of the consequence, we must always have no fear and just rely and trust in the Lord no matter what the world throws at us.  Always remember these words from Saint Paul:  "I will never forsake you or abandon you.  Thus we may say with confidence:  The Lord is my helper, and I will not be afraid.  What can anyone do to me?" (Heb 13:5-6).  

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord, we offer our lives to you and pray that only your will be done in our lives.  Lord, help us to be strong and faithful when challenged and when faced with opposition.  Lord, let us not fear anything that the world may do to us, instead let us fear an eternal life without you.  Lord, we pray for all those who are being persecuted in the world because of their faith, we pray that they may be given the strength of all your martyrs.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.  


Readings for Wednesday February 4, 2009

First Reading: Hebrews 12:4-7, 11-15
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 103
Gospel: Mark 6:1-6

"That's just my rotten luck!" or "Nothing good ever happens to me!"

Do you know people who this seems to be all they every think about or say? Most people who do not get their way tend to think that they have bad luck or that God really seems to have it in for them. To be honest, nothing could be further from the truth.

Saint Paul tells us today that "God disciplines those that He love." Our heavenly Father loves us so much that He even disciplines us and tries to teach us lessons. I mean, isn't that what parents are supposed to do for their children? Parents who truly love their children will discipline them, even though it may be extremely difficult for the parent; but because they love their child and want them to come out better, they discipline. It is by this discipline that we learn those tough lessons and come out stronger and more obedient.

So maybe next time we feel that we are being disciplined by God we will not say "that's just my rotten luck!" Perhaps instead we will say "thank you Father, for your love and mercy."

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. We thank you for our lives and for all that you give and teach us. Lord help us to be all that we were created to be so that we might serve you with all that we are. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Keep your eyes fixed

Readings for Tuesday February 3, 2009

First Reading:  Hebrews 12:1-4 
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 22
Gospel:  Mark 5:21-43

How many of you have ever tried to hit a target with something?  Perhaps it was aiming at a target with a bow and arrow.  Perhaps it was aiming for the bulls eye in a game of darts.  Perhaps it was hitting a tin can with a pellet gun.  Whatever it was that you were aiming at, think about this:  how important was it that you kept your eyes on the target?  If you had tried it blindfolded or looked away, would your chances of hitting the target been as successful?  Of course not, because we know that when trying to hit the mark, it is important that we always keep our eyes on the target, or else we will most likely miss.  

This is why Saint Paul tells us today to keep "our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith."  Saint Paul knows that if we are looking more to the things of this world, and not on Christ, then we will not hit the target.  Our goal is to persevere in our faith and to  make it to heaven, but how can we do this if our eyes are not fixed on the leader and perfecter of our faith?  The truth is that we can't do it, unless we are willing to take our eyes off all the distractions of this world and focus them solely on Jesus.  

The synagogue worker and the woman with the hemorrhages from today's gospel sought out Jesus and did not take their eyes off of Him.  By doing this, He came to them and answered their prayers.  He is there waiting for us ready to give us grace beyond measure, all we need to do is continue to keep our eyes and hearts fixed on Him.  

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  We thank you and give you praise for the many blessings in our lives.  Lord help us to persevere through the many trials and challenges that we will face.  Let us do everything for you and your glory, and may we always stay  humble at heart.  Lord God, we pray for all those who have taken their eyes off of you, may they be brought back to your love and mercy.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.  


Obedience to God

Readings for Monday February 2, 2009

Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

First Reading:  Malachi 3:1-4
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 24
Second Reading:  Hebrews 2:14-18
Gospel:  Luke 2:22-40 or Luke 2:22-32

Today we remember and celebrate the feast of the presentation of the our Lord.  Being devote Jews, Mary and Joseph obeyed the law of the Lord and took Jesus to the temple as was necessary by the law.  It is examples such as this that help us to see why Mary and Joseph were chosen to take care of the Son of God.  It is because of their obedience that Mary and Joseph were chosen.  They both had a heart that was set upon the will of God, and not their own interests and desires.  It is because of their deeper yes to God, that Jesus was born to the virgin Mary and became man. 

The Presentation of the Lord is the forth Joyful mystery of the Holy Rosary.  The next time you say the rosary and reflect on this mystery, be sure to think about Mary and Joseph's obedience to God, and the importance of obedience to God.  I pray that we can all follow the example of Mary and Joseph to have complete obedience to our Lord.  May His will be done in our lives, now and forever.  Mother Mary and Saint Joseph pray for us.    

Hail Mary, full of grace the Lord is with thee.  Blessed are thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus.  Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinner 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 a world without end.  Amen.  


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