Get in the wheelbarrow

Readings for Tuesday March 31, 2009

First Reading:  Number 21:4-9
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 102
Gospel:  John 8:21-30

"I belong to what is above.  You belong to this world, but I do not belong to this world.
That is why I told you that you will die in your sins.  For if you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins."
(John 23-24)

After completing a highly dangerous tightrope walk over Niagara Falls in appalling wind and rain, 'The Great Zumbrati' was met by an enthusiastic supporter, who urged him to make a return trip, this time pushing a wheelbarrow, which the spectator had thoughtfully brought along.  The Great Zumbrati was reluctant, given the terrible conditions, but the supporter pressed him, "You can do it - I know you can," he urged. You really believe I can do it?" asked Zumbrati. "Yes, definitely - you can do it," the supporter gushed.  "Okay," said Zumbrati, "Get in the wheelbarrow." 

"Get in the wheelbarrow."  How many of us believe in someone or something so much that we would be willing to risk our lives?  Isn't this what Christ is asking of us each and every day?  Is He not saying to us each moment to trust Him and to "get in the wheelbarrow?"  We all have many difficult choices to make every day, and many of them are not always the most clear and simple choices to make; but one choice should never be an issue for us and that is believing in Christ and what He wants to do in each of our lives.  I pray that each of us is given the trust and belief to "get in the wheelbarrow" with Christ leading the way.   

Ask yourself this day, what is preventing you from "getting in the wheelbarrow?"

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord, we thank you for the many blessings in our lives and for all that you continue to do.  Lord, never let us become blind to all that you do in our lives, and let us always give you the glory and honor.  Lord, let us trust and believe in you with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  Help us to follow you no matter what the world puts in our way.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.  


In someone else's shoes

Readings for Monday March 30, 2009

First Reading:  Daniel 13:1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 23
Gospel:  John 8:1-11

"Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her."
Again he bent down and wrote on the ground.
And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders.  So he was left alone with the woman before him.
Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, "Woman, where are they?  Has no one condemned you?"
She replied, "No one, sir."  Then Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you.  Go, and from now on do not sin any more."
 (John 8:7-11)

There is an old saying that goes, "Do not judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes."  It would appear that the scribes and pharisees in today's gospel had never heard that one.  They were quick to judge the woman caught in adultery and to deal with her swiftly.  The scribes and pharisees were not able to see much beyond their cause and effect rule book that dictated their actions.  Jesus however took a different approach, He began writing in the dirt, He didn't quickly decide or throw Himself into their anger and rage.  Instead after Jesus decided to address them, He stood up and said, "Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her."  While the scripture doesn't say, I imagine the silence in that area was deafening.  

Instead of judgement, even though Jesus is our king and our final judge, He decided to show the people another way.  He showed them the path that we should all be taking, and that is the path of mercy and forgiveness.  Now, I know this may seem like a "wishy washy," "warm fuzzy" type of thing, but it is true and it is what we are all called to.  The truth is, is that it is always easier for us to find fault in someone and to want to enact a penalty which we have a right to on a person, but that is actually the easier path.  The much harder path to follow is the one of letting go of our own judgement and showing someone who has done us wrong the same mercy and forgiveness that Christ has shown us in our own lives.  

Perhaps if we spent more time thinking about what it was like to be in someone else's shoes instead of judging them, we may be more likely to show the same type of mercy and forgiveness that Christ calls us to.   

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord we thank you and give you praise for all that you give and all that you do for us.  Lord, help us to be humble servants for you, servants who do not look at others with judgement, but with mercy and forgiveness.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.     


Loosen our stiff necks

Readings for Thursday March 26, 2009

First Reading:  Exodus 32:7-14
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 106
Gospel:  John 5:31-47

You search the Scriptures, because you think you have eternal life through them; even they testify on my behalf.
But you do not want to come to me to have life.
(John 5:39-40)

In the book of Exodus, once Moses was on the mountain with God, the early Jews had a golden calf made to worship.  They were called (and rightly so) a "stiff necked people."  These people were searching for life and fulfillment from things of this world.  They were searching for meaning and understanding from things and objects that they could make and conjure up in their minds.  The Jews from the gospel were not willing to believe Jesus because He was not what they expected, nor was He something that they could understand.  They too were a stiff necked people.  The Jews were so blinded from God that they were unable to hear or see Him, they were not willing to rely on Him for life, they were too stubborn and wanted to rely on themselves.  

How often are we like the Jews from the readings today?  We too are a stiff necked people, seeking life and fulfillment in other things instead of the Lord.  Jesus makes it very clear that in order to have everlasting life, then we must be good and faithful disciples carrying our crosses through this life with Him, and serving Him with all that we are.  We cannot be a stiff necked people, otherwise we too will be blind and deaf to the Lord.  We must detach ourselves from the things of this world, in order to rely totally on the Lord.  This season of Lent that we are in is an excellent time to begin this detachment and for letting go of the worldly things to which we think we need.  Is your lent the time of prayer and fasting that it should be?  If not, what can you do to change it now?  

Brothers and sisters, I pray that we can all loosen our stiff necks so that we may bow our heads before the one true God who gives us life.  

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord, we thank you for all you have given us and all the blessings we have received.  Lord, help soften our hearts so that we may be humble and trusting servants of you.  Lord, as you are always faithful to us, so may we be faithful to you in all that we do.  We pray for all those who are blind and deaf to you, may their ears and eyes be opened ready to listen and see you in their lives.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.  


Things will never be the same

Readings for Wednesday March 25, 2009

Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

First Reading:  Isaiah 7:10-14; 8:10
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 40
Second Reading:  Hebrews 10:4-10
Gospel:  Luke 1:26-38

Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.  May it be done to me according to your word."  Then the Angel departed from her.  (Luke 1:38)

With Mary's 'yes' to God, everything from that moment on would never be the same.  Things would never be the same for her, the former life that she knew so well would be so different now.  She was now to be the mother of our Lord, she was ready and willing to take on this great, and what seemed like an impossible task.  But she did not complain or question, she said yes and took each moment at a time.  Things would not be the same for her soon to be husband Joseph either, here he now had the task of caring and providing for the messiah and for the mother of our Lord.  But he said yes to God as well.  

After the birth of Jesus, He called twelve men specifically to be His disciples, and oh how their worlds would change too.  They would witness great miracles, be taught straight from the mouth of God, and they would see Jesus risen from the dead and ascend into heaven.  They would then be given the power of the Holy spirit to spread the good news in Jerusalem, Samaria, and all the way to the ends of the earth.  Saint Paul, a once strong persecutor of the early Christians, had his life turned upside down by Christ as well.  On his way to Damascus, Paul came into contact with the risen Christ and was asked why he was persecuting the Lord.  From that moment on, things would never be the same for Paul.  Paul and many of his fellow  disciples would be challenged, beaten, locked in jail, and face great adversity, all for the glory of our Lord.  

Today, we remember and celebrate the Annunciation of our Lord.  This is the moment where things would never be the same.  Once Christ came into our world, He changed things for all those who came in contact with Him.  He changed the state of the world by dying on the cross for our sins.  He changed things by tearing down the veil and by giving us a way to the Father through Him.  

From the moment Mary said yes, things would never be the same, for her, Joseph, the disciples, Paul, you, me and the  whole world.  Thanks be to God!

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

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


For God all things are possible

Readings for Tuesday March 24, 2009

First Reading:  Ezekiel 47:1-9
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 46
Gospel:  John 5:1-16

"Do you want to be well?"
The sick man answered him,  "Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; while I am on my way, someone else gets down there before me."
Jesus said to him, "Rise, take up your mat, and walk."
Immediately the man became well, took up his mat, and walked
. (John 5:6-9)

In this gospel reading, we have an interesting exchange between Jesus and the man who is ill.  It is clear that this man does not understand what he is being asked or who Jesus is.  When asked if he wants to be well, the man does not say yes or no, but only begins to give an excuse as to why he is not well.  This is a typical human response; cut straight to the point with the reason (or reasons) why we don't or cannot have something.  It seems that we are too reliant on our worldly circumstances rather than what is possible through God.  When will we stop making excuses and just go to God with what we need?  The truth is, God already knows what we need, He knows everything, but are we willing to humble ourselves and go to Him for help?  Going to God in prayer isn't so much as a daily session where we keep God up to date on our needs; prayer is for us to recognize our need for Him, and How weak and small that we truly are.  

God is asking us simple questions, are we truly listening, or are we just waiting to give an excuse?   

Jesus shows this man, and us, that He is stronger and more powerful than any circumstance or hardship that we have or will face on this earth.  Let us reflect on the words of our Lord; "For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible." (Matt 19:26)

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord, we are our great Lord, help us to remember that we are here because of your love and grace.   Lord, we pray for hearts and minds that are set upon you, and that we may seek to do your will each day.  Lord, help us to walk in faith and trust in you, not fearing the things of this world, but instead fearing an eternity without you.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.  


Trust in Him

Readings for Monday March 23, 2009

First Reading:  Isaiah 65:17-21
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 30
Gospel:  John 4:43-54

Jesus said to him, "You may go; your son will live."  The man believed what Jesus said to him and left.
While the man was on his way back, his slaves met him and told him that his boy would live.  He asked them when he began to recover.
He asked them when he began to recover.  They told him, "The fever left him yesterday, about one in the afternoon."
The father realized that just at that time Jesus had said to him, "Your son will live," and he and his whole household came to believe.
(John 4:50-53)

In today's gospel, we have a great story of a man who seeks out Christ in order to ask for mercy on his son, Jesus answers the mans prayer and tells him that his son will live.  When Jesus tells the man this, the man believes the words of Jesus.  After his household sees for their own eyes, they also begin to believe.  This gospel story tells us that we too must not only believe in the works of Christ but also trust in His words.  

Every day Christ gives us signs in our life, showing us that He is there and that He is with us.  Most of the time we are too occupied with our own things, that we fail to see Jesus working.  If we can continue to focus on Christ through prayer and to call upon the Holy Spirit, then I believe that we will be able to better see the works that He is doing in our lives.  We must always remember to give God the glory for these great works and for the miracles that He performs in our world.  This gospel story also teaches us about trusting in God's word for us.  Just as the royal official believed Jesus when He said that his son would live, we too must believe the things that Christ gives to us through prayer and to the things that He lays on our hearts.  This is perhaps one of the most difficult things for us, especially when it goes against what we want or what the world tells us.  But we must remember the words from the "Our Father"; "thy kingdom come, thy will be done."  Trusting in God's word for us actually shows that we believe Him, and not just saying it.  

Today, think and ask yourself this question:  Is there something that God is calling me to trust in Him more today?

With God, we have every reason to live for Him, and no reason not to trust in Him.  

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord, help us to trust in you with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.  Lord, open our eyes and our hearts to your works in our lives, and help us to always give thanks and glory to you.  Lord, we pray for all those whose hearts are hardened, may they come to let go of the things that are holding them back from your love.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.  


Man of obedience

Readings for Thursday March 19, 2009

Solemnity of Saint Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary

First Reading:  2 Samuel 7:4-5, 12-14, 16
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 89
Second Reading:  Romans 4:13, 16-18, 22
Gospel:  Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24

"Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.  For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.
 (Matt 1:20-21, 24)

I have often felt a special connection and admiration to Saint Joseph.  We often hear stories now days of men who are quick to abandon their families or to seek out their own pursuits.  It always brings joy to hear of this man who accepts the responsibility of a child who is not even his, but is willing to love and care for this special mother and child.  I have especially come to connect even more with Saint Joseph this past year as I find myself as a husband and an expectant father.  While not of the same magnitude, I find myself having thoughts that Saint Joseph must of had; very humbled and finding it hard to believe that God would bless me with a wife and child to love and care for.  

While Saint Joseph was described as a righteous man in the bible, there was one thing that I was always in admiration of.  It wasn't his long winded speeches, in fact there is not a single word by Saint Joseph in the bible.  It was not his ability as a carpenter or provider of his family.  It wasn't his status or his famous ancestor David (although that would be really cool to say that King David was an ancestor).  What really made me admire Joseph was his obedience.  Saint Joseph always did as God had commanded.  He never once put up an argument, or tried to debate with God, He always just obeyed the Lord.  These things that God had asked him to do were certainly not easy things, these things that Joseph was asked to do took a lot of trust and faith.   

 I believe that we all need to take after the example of Saint Joseph.  This man is a true man, and a man that we can all learn a great deal from in regards to obedience to the Lord.  Because of his obedience and dedication to God and the faith, it is no wonder God chose him to care for Jesus and Mary.  Even though he will not be remembered as a man of many words, he will always be remembered as a man of obedience.    

Saint Joseph, pray for us to all be obedient and grounded in humility as you were.       

Father above we thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord, help to be obedient to you in all that we do.  Lord, we thank you for all that you have entrusted to us, help us to remember that everything we have comes from you and that we are to be good stewards of all that you have given.  Lord, we pray for all parents, that they may seek to pass on the love of you and the faith in you.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.  


Being Great

Readings for Wednesday March 18, 2009

First Reading:  Deuteronomy 4:1, 5-9
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 147
Gospel:  Matthew 5:17-19

Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven.  But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven."  (Matt 5:19)

How does one become great?  In sports, many have thought the route to greatness was through having the winning record.  In politics, many have sought the highest positions in office to become great.  In science, many have sought to be the first to discover a new cure or a new species.  Most people will define greatness as the things that we have done and all of our accomplishments in life; but in heaven, these accomplishments will mean very little.  

Jesus tells us today that the path to greatness is about what we do, as well as the things that we don't do.  We too can become great in heaven if we are willing to be faithful servants of the Lord and follow the rules.  The ten commandments give us the parameters of the things that we are not do do.  Jesus came to fulfill those commandments by not doing away with them, but keeping them and by also taking them to another level.  Jesus came to tell us to still follow the commandments, but He also gave us a new way to live.  By following His word and His example, we will keep the commandments, and live the new life that we were meant to; and by doing this we too can be great in heaven.  

Being great is following the rules of God and the example of Christ.  

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  We praise you for all the many blessings in our lives.  Lord, help us to follow your example, and to carry the crosses that you have called each of us to.  Lord, help us to hold nothing back from you and to just give our whole lives to you.  Lord, you are our God, and we live to serve you.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen. 


How will you respond?

Readings for Tuesday March 17, 2009

First Reading:  Daniel 3:25, 34-43
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 25
Gospel:  Matthew 18:21-35

But with contrite heart and humble spirit let us be received;
As though it were burnt offerings of rams and bullocks, or thousands of fat lambs, So let our sacrifice be in your presence today as we follow you unreservedly; for those who trust in you cannot be put to shame.
And now we follow you with our whole heart, we fear you and we pray to you
. (Daniel 3:39-41)

In today's first reading from Daniel, Azariah (one of the three who were in the fiery furnace), begins saying this beautiful prayer.  He completely humbles himself and realizing that he has nothing to offer the Lord, and ends up offering himself.  Not only does he offer himself up during this difficult time, but he prays to God to follow Him with his whole heart.  In this story from the book of Daniel, Azariah and two others were thrown into the fiery furnace because they would not worship another God as the king had commanded.  When tested by the heat and the flames, Azariah responds in pray with humility and thanksgiving.  How do we respond when we too are tested by the heat and the flames that life often brings?  
In the gospel today, we are told that we must forgive others not just seven times, but seventy-seven times!  This is certainly not an easy thing for us to do.  While most of us are good about forgiving someone their mistakes the first few times, we seem to have a low tolerance when it comes to repeated mistakes.  But this is what we are called to do in life, be patient and forgive as many times as it takes.  This is what it means to be a disciple, to pick up our cross and to follow and imitate Christ.  We are to forgive others as many times as God continues to forgive us.  Are we not guilty of repeated mistakes against the Lord as well?  How many times do we neglect the Lord and fill our days with other things instead of time with Him?  How many times do we disobey His commandments?  How many times do we find ourselves going to reconciliation for the same things over and over?  If God is willing to show us mercy and forgive us each time, why do we think that we can treat anyone else any differently?  We must pray for hearts full of mercy and act with forgiveness and compassion towards those who wrong us, even when it is very difficult.    

We have a choice in life, we can be like Azariah and follow the Lord with humility, thankfulness, and trust; or we can be like the wicked servant and forget what has been done for us and continue to seek our own will?  How will we respond to the heat and the flames?   

Father above we thank you for this day.  Lord we praise you for all your blessings you continue to give us each day.  Lord, we pray that like your servant Azariah, we too will follow you with humility and with our entire heart.  Lord, you are the one true great God, help us to serve and show reverence for you as you deserve.  Lord we wish to hold nothing back from you, and to give ourselves totally to you.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.   


Are you listening?

Readings for Monday March 16, 2009

First Reading:  2 Kings 5:1-15
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 42; 43
Gospel:  Luke 4:24-30

He returned with his whole retinue to the man of God.  On his arrival he stood before him and said, "Now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel."  (2 Kings 5:15)

When Naaman the Syrian had been cured by Elisha the prophet, he became very humble and astounded.  He realized that no one else on earth that has the power to cure like God does.  This high ranking army commander, who had a lot of power and prestige,d humbled himself after being cured, and came back to the prophet Elisha to admit that there is no other God.  

When Naaman had first went to Elisha about his leprosy, he was told by the prophet to go wash seven times in the Jordan river.  Naaman was very confused by this and became angry because he thought that the prophet would come out and invoke God with some fancy and big hoopla type show.  Naaman expected what many of us all expect, for God to work in us a miracle through some big clear sign that may come in the form of a burning bush or an angel appearing to us.  Many times we fail to see the subtlety of God until after, it is then that we humble ourselves like Naaman and find how amazing God is.  

We must remember, God does not speak to us through giant neon signs that fall from heaven; He speaks to us in our everyday events, through the small whispers in life; and in order to hear Him, we must be listening.     

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord, we are your people, increase our faith so that we may serve you without wavering.  Lord, we love you and praise you for the many blessings in our life.  We pray for all those who are searching for you and searching for meaning in their life.  May they come to know your love and mercy.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.   


Blessed are they who hope in the Lord

Readings for Thursday March 12, 2009

First Reading:  Jeremiah 17:5-10
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 1
Gospel:  Luke 16:19-31

Thus says the LORD:  Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the LORD.
He is like a barren bush in the desert that enjoys no change of season, But stands in a lava waste, a salt and empty earth.
Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose hope is the LORD.
He is like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its roots to the stream:  It fears not the heat when it comes, its leaves stay green; In the year of drought it shows no distress, but still bears fruit.
More tortuous than all else is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it?
I, the LORD, alone probe the mind and test the heart, To reward everyone according to his ways, according to the merit of his deeds
.  (Jer. 17:5-10)

Today, let us reflect on the words of the prophet Jeremiah.  While these words were spoken to Israel, they still speak loudly to us today.  We face a great number of threats to life, human dignity, and our faith.  This is certainly a time when it can become easy to try and save ourselves or abandon our faith because we think that God is not listening to us.  Brothers and Sisters, God is here, and He always has been.  God knows what's in our hearts; is it full of trust, or has it turned away?  Are our hearts full of bitterness, hatred, lust, contempt, judgement, and other evils; or are our hearts open to God, ready to be filled with the fruits of the Holy Spirit?  

Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.  

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord, increase our faith so that we may trust in you with all of our hearts.  Lord, fill our hearts with things that are of you and things that seek to do good.  Lord, help us to serve you, and only you this day and all days.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.  


Hold nothing back

Readings for Wednesday March 11, 2009

First Reading:  Jeremiah 18:18-20
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 31
Gospel:  Matthew 20:17-28

"Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many."  (Matt 20:28)

A recurring theme in the readings this week is that we are called to be servants of Christ and of others, just as Jesus was.  But before we go on, let me pose this question; is a servant only as good as how much he or she gives?  Isn't the sign of a good and loyal servant that of one who gives their all, and does not hold anything back from their master?  

Jesus warns His disciples today of His upcoming passion which must take place in Jerusalem.  He tried to help them understand not only the great suffering that He will go through, but the costs of discipleship.  It is pretty clear that James and John, as well as their mother, did not really know what they were asking for when the asked to drink of the chalice that Christ would drink of.  The calling of the servant, and the responsibility of discipleship is to drink of this chalice as Christ did.  When Christ undertook the suffering and the cross, He did not hold anything back.  Christ emptied Himself so that we might be saved and have a way to the Father.  Christ did exactly what He expects of us, to give ourselves completely to Him and to hold nothing back.  That is why it is so important to let Christ be at the center of our life and to let Him into every area. 

God has prepared a great reward for us in heaven, but to get there we must be good and faithful servants, and hold nothing back.  

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord, we thank you and give you praise for our lives and all that we are called to.  Lord, in these difficult times, let us come even closer to you and to not worry about trying to save our lives in this world, but to only save our lives in heaven.  Lord, we pray for all those who are in need of conversion, may they come to know your love and peace in their lives.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.    


Serving the Lord

Readings for Tuesday March 10, 2009

First Reading:  Isaiah 1:10, 16-20
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 50
Gospel:  Matthew 23:1-12

"The greatest among you must be your servant.  Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted."  (Matt. 23:11-12)

When Christ came to earth, He preached something so radical to the people, something that even today seems so radical to us.  We are told often that we are to embrace the virtue of humility and to humble ourselves before God.  We are told to serve, and not be served as Christ did.  We are told that the meek shall inherit the earth, that the poor will be rich, and that the lowly will be raised up.  All of this teaching seems so strange to us, especially in a culture that tells us that being lowly, poor, or humble is a sign of weakness.  How are we to know what to listen to?  How are we to persevere against such a demanding and self-centered culture?  The only way that we can truly live as we are called to is through Faith.

A great example that we have of someone who truly lived their life out of faith and truly came to live out the virtue of humility was Saint Francis of Assisi.  While Saint Francis did not begin his life grounded in the virtue, Saint Francis lived a life of self-centeredness, a life without God.  In his youth, Saint Francis lived out a life of partying, wasting time, and of seeking glory for himself.  It wasn't until God got a hold of him, that Saint Francis began to live his life for the Lord.  Saint Francis is a great example of the exalted being humbled.  We all know that since the Lord got a hold of Saint Francis, that he later became one of the great Saint and reformers of the church.  Saint Francis lived by the gospel and by complete service and devotion to God.  We too would do well to follow his example and leave behind the things of this world and follow God.  

Saint Francis, pray for us.  

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  We thank you and give you praise for all that we are and all that we have.  Lord, help give us the strength and courage to follow you no matter what; and to detach ourselves from the things of this world.  Lord, help us to leave it all behind and to follow you, for you will always provide for your servants.  Lord, we trust in you and in your divine mercy.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.         


Eyes of mercy

Readings for March 8, 2009

First Reading:  Daniel 9:4b-10
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 79
Gospel:  Luke 6:36-38

Jesus said to His disciples:  "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."  (Luke 6:36)

Do you ever find yourself taking one look at someone and thinking that you know everything about person?  Perhaps it is the guy hold the 'will work for food' sign on the side of the road.  Perhaps it is the irate customer that just chewed you out and is now going straight to your boss.  Perhaps it is the scantly clad woman walking down the street.  When we see people who are different than ourselves or who have different values, our minds shift into doing something that we are all too good at ... judging.  It is amazing how after one look we think that we can tell everything about a person and we can also tell exactly how they are wrong.  When we do this, we look at these people and judge through a worldly perspective, instead of through God's.  

Jesus warns us of this type of behavior in the gospel today.  We are told to be merciful as the Father is to us.  We are told not to judge or condemn, and to forgive.  Because if we do these things, then we too will not be judged or condemned, and we will be forgiven.  It is interesting how we go through our lives forgetting how good God has been to us.  We tend to forget His mercy on us and all of His love for each one of us.  If we did a better job of remembering how merciful God has been to us, then we would not be so quick to judge or condemn, we would be quick to have the same type of mercy on others as God has for us.  

Let us all pray for a heart full of the love and mercy of God.  May our eyes be opened, so that we do not see each other as the world does, but see each other through eyes of mercy.  

Father above, we thank you for this day.  Lord, help us to have mercy on all those we meet and see.  Lord, you are a great God of love and mercy, and we thank you for always showing us this love and mercy throughout our lives.  Lord, we praise you for all of the blessings that you have given us and for the talents that you have given us.  Lord, we praise you for you are a great and amazing God.  Help us to stay strong on this journey towards you and help us to finish this race strong.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.  



Above and beyond

Readings for Friday March 6, 2009

First Reading:  Ezekiel 18:21-28
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 130
Gospel:  Matthew 5:20-26

Do I indeed derive any pleasure from the death of the wicked? says the Lord GOD.  Do I not rather rejoice when he turns from his evil way that he may live? (Ezek 18:23)

Have you ever heard anyone say, "God must really have it in for me?"  I am always puzzled when I hear expressions like this.  Some people really think that God is up in heaven just cooking up something disastrous for people just for giggles.  I would say that these people do not truly know or understand God (not that any of us have a complete understanding either).  But the person of faith, knows that God is not out to get them or to make their life miserable, they know that He is a loving God of mercy, who wishes to know and have all of His children join Him in heaven.  God wants to give us life, and not just here on earth, but an everlasting life in heaven.  But in order to achieve it, we must be willing to turn away from the things that are evil and that seek to separate us from God.

Jesus warns us today that we must go above and beyond in our faith lives.  He tells the people of the time that their righteousness must surpass the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees.  Jesus is telling us not to settle, and that we must continue to grow in our faith.  By growing, we can continue to let Him work in us and to follow Him more closely.  He also warns us of the dangers of not being reconciled to our family and neighbors.  We are called to a life of loving God above all things, and our neighbor as ourselves.  If we have done anything to those around us, we must make amends for our actions, and likewise, we must be willing to show mercy to those who come to us asking for it; just as our heavenly Father forgives us.  

Today, think about someone that you have wronged, either lately or in the past, and how can you be reconciled with this person?  

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord, we are so small and so human, give us the strength to follow you through any fire that we are put through.  Lord, hep us to remember that the issues and challenges that we face only help to strengthen us.  Lord, we trust in you and in your ways.  Amen.      


Knock and the door will be opened

Readings for Thursday March 5, 2009

First Reading:  Esther C:12, 14-16, 23-25
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 138
Gospel:  Matthew 7:7-12

Jesus said to his disciples:  "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.  (Matt 7:7-8) 

I remember during my youth that with each year of playing baseball also meant another year of selling candy bars.  Selling candy bars was a way for us to raise money for our baseball program.  Each spring after receiving my candy bars, I would proceed to go door to door in my neighborhood (this was of course after begging and pleading with my parents to enjoy a candy bar myself).  Never the less, I would hit the streets going door to door, and while I never did enjoy the rejection that I received many times, the moments where someone did buy a candy bar or two always seemed to brighten my spirits.  It was always such a joy to go to a door, ask for some help, and to have the person of the house grant your request.   

While I am thankful to the many people who helped out during my youth when I knocked, I realize today that we all have something even greater to be thankful about.  We are told in today's gospel, and even shown from the book of Esther, how God helps those who call upon Him.  We are told to ask and it will be given, seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be opened.  God is always looking out for us, and He is always willing to give us the things that we need.  Now our hearts and ideas may change over time, and the Lord really helps us work on those things.  For example, before my conversion, I used to play the lottery quite a bit.  It was during this time where I decided to pray about winning.  while I was not attending any sort of church at the time or a bit faithful, I still believed that there was a God and that He could help me win the lottery.  So I decided that I would try and make a deal with God; I would say, "God, if you can help me win this multi-million dollar jackpot, I will give half of it to some local churches and I will even start going to church on Sundays.  Seriously God, every Sunday, I promise!"  These were my ramblings after each ticket I would buy.  

Well, I never did win the money, but over time, God has made me a winner in other areas of life.  Today, I feel as though I have won the lottery.  I now have a life and relationship with the living God, each day I am getting to know the God who created me and who loves me so unconditionally.  The Lord has led me home to the Catholic Faith (where I now go to church every Sunday, and some weekdays too).  The Lord has also put a wonderful woman in my life, who I was blessed to be able to marry last year.  We are also expecting our first child in a month; in a way I really did hit the jackpot.  I didn't realize it at the time, but when I was asking for that money, I was asking for peace of mind and for happiness.  As most people do, I thought that the money would bring that, over time I realized that those things come from the Lord.  

So I can tell you from personal experience; ask and you shall receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened.  It may not be quite what you were expecting, but being a gift from God it will be exactly what you need and truly want.       

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.  Lord, you are our God, help us to be all that you created us to be.  Lord, we know that you will never abandon us and that you seek to build us up each day.  Lord, help us to serve you with all that we are; and to let go of the things that tie us down to this world.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.  



Readings for Wednesday March 4, 2009

First Reading:  Jonah 3:1-10
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 51
Gospel:  Luke 11:29-32

"When God saw by their actions how they turned from their evil way, He repented of the evil that He had threatened to do to them; He did not carry it out."  (Jonah 3:10)

The psalm from today says that "A heart contrite and humbled, O God, you will not spurn."  I would say that for the people of Nineveh, this certainly became true.  Upon hearing of their destruction, the people repented and turned away from their old ways and turned back to God.  This story certainly shows us the power of repentance and forgiveness.  While God is certainly a God of justice, and He does  bring about justice when evil is done (of course it is all in His time), He is also a God of great mercy.  God is so patient with us, and is willing to give us all chances and opportunities that we are not deserving of, but He gives because of His love for us.  
We must remember that there will be times in our lives that it will feel as though we have turned from God or that we have done something to really mess up.  We have a choice to make during these time:  keep turning away; or turn back, repent, and ask for God's forgiveness.  God is there waiting to give us His love and forgiveness, if you don't believe this, just look to the people of Nineveh.  Their story will certainly reveal the truth.  

When is the last time that you went to the Sacrament of reconciliation?  Make a commitment during this lent to visit this Sacrament, and to open yourself to the grace that comes from it.  

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord, forgive us for the things that make us turn away from you.  Lord, we do not long to be apart from you, but our desire is to be close to you and to know you.  Lord, you are our God and we are your people; help us to let go of the things of this world, so that we can serve you with all that we are.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.   


Prayer is for us

Readings for Tuesday March 3, 2009

First Reading:  Isaiah 55:10-11
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 34
Gospel:  Matthew 6:7-15

"Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him."  (Matt 6:8)

Have you ever stopped and wondered about the purpose of prayer?  I think sometimes that we tend to treat it more as a "to do" session for God instead of a relationship with Him.  It seems as we go about prayer as a way to remind or to inform God of all the things that we need or of all those we are praying for.  Which do not get me wrong, we should be praying for certain intentions; but what is our mindset when we prayer?  Do we think about the words of today's gospel, which tell us that God already knows what we need ever before we ask?  Do we acknowledge the awesomeness of God even before we begin to pray?  

When we enter prayer, we should remember that prayer is not instructions or a news flash for God, He already knows everything.  Prayer is more for us, to acknowledge God and to acknowledge how much we need Him in our lives.  Prayer allows us to humble ourselves and to tell God that we know how weak we are, and we know how strong He is.  It is a chance for us to tell Him we understand that for humans many things are impossible, but with God all is possible.  Prayer allows us that specific opportunity to recognize who God is.  Think about the Our Father prayer; it starts off with "Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed by thy name ..."  This prayer starts off with us acknowledging God as our Father in heaven who is so great and glorious that words cannot even fully describe.  The our Father is a beautiful prayer that was handed down to us straight from Christ; when we pray it let us pray it with all our heart and with complete reverence for God.  

Remember, prayer is for us.  

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed by thy name, thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  Amen.     


Come Holy Spirit

Readings for Monday March 2, 2009

First Reading:  Leviticus 19:1-2.11-18
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 19
Gospel:  Matthew 25:31-46

And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.'  (Matt 25:40)

For catholics, we believe that it is by faith and good works that we are able to make it to heaven.  However,  one of the key differences between protestants and catholics that emerged from the reformation, is the idea that we are saved by faith alone.  While having faith is certainly an important component of our salvation, we must remember, the things that we do matter as well.  For anyone who wishes to argue this point, I would refer them to today's gospel reading.  

So, since faith and works are both important in our lives, how do we go about having solid faith and go about doing good works?  It is certainly not always easy for us to take time in prayer and to be silent with God, or to snap out of the business of our daily lives to look to help people.  So how do we go about this?  First, we must stop relying on ourselves so much, we must begin to rely on God and look to Him for an increased faith and a heart that seeks to help those in need.  We must pray to the Holy Spirit to show us how to do the works that we are called to in our lives.  Praying for the Holy Spirit to work in us is an important step in allowing the fruits of the spirit to manifest in our lives.  The fruits of the Holy Spirit are:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, modesty, chastity, and generosity.  Now whose lives would not be better and more meaningful by allowing these fruits to take place in their lives?  I believe all of our lives would be.  

We are recognized and judged on the fruit that we bear in our lives.  We must be open to the Holy Spirit in our lives.  He wants to work in all of us, all we have to do is pray and open our heart to Him.  By doing this, we can truly help the least of our brothers and sisters that God puts along our path.  

Today, ask yourself and pray about the following question; how does the Holy Spirit want to work in your life?

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.  Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created and you will renew the face of the earth.  
Lord, by the light of the Holy Spirit you have taught the hearts of your faithful.  In the same Spirit help us to relish what is right and always rejoice in your consolation.  We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.   


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