Why He came

Readings for Monday August 31, 2009

First Reading: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 96
Gospel: Luke 4:16-30

Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.
Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:16-21)

Why did He come down to earth? Why did He come down from His thrown, take on the flesh of a person and allow Himself to suffer and die? The answer, while simple, is quite profound ... He did it all for us. Out of sheer love, He came down from heaven to be with us and to save us. He came down to bring "glad tidings to the poor ... to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free." He came to help us realize that true treasure and riches are found in the Lord and in heaven, not on material goods obtained here on earth. He shows us that freedom from the bondage of sin is found in Him and in His saving grace. Our vision has become distorted and dark, Christ comes to help restore our sight and to help us see our way more clearly. Because of Him, we are no longer in the dark, we have the light of Christ to illuminate our way.

By following His ways, we can live a life of freedom. We do not have to feel oppressed by sin or by those who seek to do us harm. We must remember that this life is just a temporary residence and that we should not fear death, for death is not the end, but it is rather the beginning of a new life ... an eternity with our Lord and Savior in paradise. Saint Paul tells us today in his letter to the Thessalonians: "We do not want to be unaware, brothers, about those who have fallen asleep, so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with Him those who have fallen asleep ... console one another with these words."

If we always keep in our hearts and our minds the reason why He came, then we will always have hope, and we will live a life of purpose and joy.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, we love you and thank you for your sacrifice and for the great gift of our lives. Lord, help us to not waste it and to always seek your will in our lives. Lord, you alone are good in this world and you know what is best for us. Lord help us to sacrifice for you as you have sacrificed for us. We pray for all those who are in need of conversion and for all those who have lost their hope, may they find it in you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


One shot

Readings for Friday, August 28, 2009

Memorial of Saint Augustine, bishop and doctor of the Church

First Reading: 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 97
Gospel: Matthew 25:1-13

Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise ones replied, ‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’ While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked. Afterwards the other virgins came and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’ But he said in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’ (Matt. 25:7-12)

Ask yourself this question: How many lives do each of us get to make it to heaven?

If your answer was one, then you are absolutely correct. The fact is that we only get one shot, only one life to live (sorry for the cheesy soap opera reference). What we do with each of our lives actually matters in respect to our eternity after our life on earth. We need to make sure that no matter where we are at in life, whether it is turned towards or away from the Lord, that we spend the rest of our days living for Him. It is never to late to turn towards God, but we must make that decision today, for we do not know when our time will be over. Saint Augustine is a great example of how God's grace can help us turn away from a worldly life and turn towards God. Saint Augustine shows us that it is never too late to turn away from sin and make the most of the rest of our life.

We must always keep in mind that while our lives are a true blessing, they are not meant to be our permanent home. This life is just a temporary residence and it is our one shot, our one chance to make it in to heaven. I pray that none of us waste this precious window of opportunity.

Saint Augustine, pray for us.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, you are so good to us and so merciful, much more than we deserve, and we thank you with all of our hearts for your generosity. Lord, we pray for all those in need of conversion, and for all of our constant conversions. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Not if, but when

Readings for Thursday August 27, 2009

Memorial of Saint Monica

First Reading: 1 Thessalonians 3:7-13
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm
Gospel: Matthew 24:42-51

Jesus said to his disciples: “Stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come. (Matt. 24:42-44)

I remember as a kid, I would often be told to go and clean my room. However, upon checking in on my progress, my mom would often find me not doing what I was originally told to do, but rather playing with my toys instead. It wasn't that I didn't start off trying to clean, it was just that I got distracted. Those toys on the floor just looked too tempting, like they were just begging to be played with. Now as you can guess, my mom was not too happy each time she found me like this. This is understandable that she was mad, it was because I was not doing the job that I had originally been given to do, I wasn't keeping focused on the task at hand.

In today's gospel, Jesus also warns us of being prepared for the time when He comes back. Of course we do not know this time, for if we did then we would all be prepared for this. The fact is that we do not know when He is coming back, and until He does we each have a purpose and a job to do while here on earth. We are each here to know, love, and serve God and to try and get to heaven. What we do here on earth matters, and we need to be constantly asking God for direction and guidance in our lives. We need to always be seeking His will, instead of our own will. If we are always doing this and standing strong in the faith, then we will be prepared for the time when Jesus comes back to judge the living and the dead.

We must remember it is not a question of if Jesus is coming back or not, but rather a question of when. When Christ comes, what will He find you doing?

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord help us to stand strong in our faith and to follow you without hesitation. Lord, you alone know the true purpose of each of our lives and you are the way to eternal life in heaven, help us to open ourselves to your will and your way. Lord we pray for all of our priests, deacons, and religious, that they may remain strong in their ministries and in their vows. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


At work in us

Readings for Wednesday August 26, 2009

First Reading: 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 139
Gospel: Matthew 23:27-32

And for this reason we too give thanks to God unceasingly, that, in receiving the word of God from hearing us, you received it not as the word of men, but as it truly is, the word of God, which is now at work in you who believe. (1 Thess. 2:13)

In his letter to the church at Thessalonica, Paul addresses the people by telling them of the example him and the others gave to the people there. He makes it clear that the word that they received was not from men, but rather the word of God. He reveals to them that this word is already at work in the ones who believe, and for their great thanks to God.

The word of God can also be at work in each of us, if we are willing to have faith and believe. If we are willing to believe in our heavenly Father who knows what is best for us and who's will is perfect. His word can be at work in us who believe in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ the only son of God. His word can be at work in us if we believe in the power of the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life who wishes to give us great gifts and blessings from God. If we are truly to allow God to work in us, then we must know who He is and recognize and surrender to His will.

The fact is that God wants to work in each of us, but sadly many of us are just not willing to let Him in. Brothers and sisters, we must open our hearts and minds to the Lord, to let Him in and to allow His great works to be performed through us. We must also pray for all those who are closed off to the Lord and in need of conversion, so that He may work through them as well.

Let us also not forget to give thanks to God unceasingly!

Father above, we give thanks and praise for the gift of this day. Lord, help to increase out faith so that we may always believe and trust in you without hesitation. Lord, we pray for all of us to have open hearts to your love and mercy. We pray for all those in need of conversion. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Pleasing to God

Readings for Tuesday August 25, 2009

First Reading: 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 139
Gospel: Matthew 23:23-26

But as we were judged worthy by God to be entrusted with the Gospel, that is how we speak, not as trying to please men, but rather God, who judges our hearts. (1 Thes 2:4)

As I was reading this passage from 1 Thessalonians, I began asking myself a very important question: how many times in my life am I doing this in order to please either someone else or myself? I may not be doing this purposefully all of the time and at times there may be the direct intention of trying to bring joy to someone's life. But overall how many times do we try and please ourselves and other people. Think about all the times that we have tried to please teachers, bosses, significant others, family, etc. How many times do we go out and intentionally try and please God in all of the things that we are doing?

I believe that we all need to change direction a little bit. I believe that we all need to be trying to please God and glorifying Him each day of our lives. If we go to work or school and seek to do a good job, it should be for God's glory, not that of the company or supervisors. If we are trying to be good husbands and wives, then we should be doing it for God's glory, not for what we may get out of it. If we are trying to be good family members, then it should be for God's glory, not for personal gain. We should strive and stain each day to bring glory to God and to always do what is pleasing to our Creator.

Saint Paul makes it very clear to the Thessalonians, that they should not do what is pleasing to other people, they should do what is pleasing to God. We too must not worry about doing what is pleasing to others, but rather seek first to please God, for it is He who judges our hearts and knows our true intentions.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, you are so rich in mercy and love, for which we are do thankful. Lord we know that you are the way to eternal life, help us to follow you more closely in this life and give us the strength to be your good and faithful servants. Lord, thank you for creating us and for giving us the lives that you call us to. We praise you for all that we are, for all that we can do, and for all that we will be. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


The best is yet to come

Readings for Monday August 24, 2009

Feast of Saint Bartholomew, apostle

First Reading: Revelation 21:9-14
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 145
Gospel: John 1:45-51

Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (John 1:48-51)

If there is one thing that my family has taught me, it is that the best is always yet to come. I remember after first meeting my wife, there were certain things that happened that I just thought that things couldn't get any better than this; the first kiss, proposing to her, our wedding, finding out we were pregnant. When our daughter was first born, once again I couldn't imagine things getting any better, but once again the best was (and still is) yet to come. While she is only five months old, I am still amazed at the changes that have taken place. She has gone from a newborn who really just ate, slept and looked precious all day to a five month old who smiles, laughs, reaches for everything to go into her mouth, and rolls around. I know that the best is certainly still yet to come in both my marriage and in my family.

And so this idea that the best is yet to come also holds true in our faith lives as well. In today's gospel, Nathanael tells Jesus that he believes that He is the true Son of God and that Jesus is the King of Israel. Jesus response is basically, "oh you believe this because I said I saw you under the tree? Oh just wait, you haven't seen anything yet!" Jesus tells Nathanael that the best is yet to come, and that there is so much in store for him in the future. We also read of the Saint John's vision of the New Jerusalem coming down from heaven, revealing to us all that God has much more in store for us in the future.

But of course if the best is yet to come, and if we do want to be made worthy of the promises of Christ, then we must be willing to follow Him in this life. We must be willing to sacrifice for Him who sacrificed for us. We must be willing to let go of the things of this world and cling to Christ and His ways. If we truly live a life of faith and a life devoted to our Lord then the best really is yet to come.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Thank you for the opportunity to go out to love, serve and honor you in all that we do Lord. Jesus, we know that you come to offer us life and that you always keep your promises, help us to follow you more closely. We pray for all of our priests, that they may be strengthened in their vows and in their ministries. We pray for all those discerning religious life, that your will may be made clear to them. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


The greatest commandmet

Readings for Friday August 21, 2009

Memorial of Saint Pius X, pope

First Reading: Ruth 1:1,3-6,14-16,22
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm
Gospel: Matthew 22:34-40

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a scholar of the law, tested him by asking, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” (Matt 22:34-40)

The greatest commandment; "Love the Lord, your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." This means that no other commandment is greater that this. This is first and foremost among the commandments. It seems as though this commandment needs to be given the highest priority. Now why do you think that is? Why not, thou shalt not steal? Or why not the warnings against adultery and fornication? Why love the Lord with all that we are? Because, unless we are willing to love God with all that we are, how else would we be able to follow the rest of His commandments? Think about it, if you truly love someone, then you are willing to do anything for them, no matter the sacrifice or inconvenience. If we love God with all that we are, and do not hold anything back from Him, then we will be able to do anything else that He asks. We will be able to follow Him where ever He leads us, because we love Him.

Today, we need to ask ourselves two questions: 1) Am I loving God first in my life, and building my life around this love of God? 2) What can I do differently in my life that can help me love and sacrifice more for Him?

The Lord loves us without holding back, shouldn't we show that same type of love?
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, you are our one true and loving God. Help us to follow you where ever you lead us to. Lord, help increase our faith, so that we can follow you without hesitation and without any doubt. God, we thank you for your love and mercy, and we pray for the strength to let go of the things of this world. We thank you and give you praise for all that we have and all that we are. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.



Readings for Thursday August 20, 2009

Memorial of Saint Bernard, abbot and doctor of the Church

First Reading: Judges 11:29-39
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 40
Gospel: Matthew 22:1-14

Then the king said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come. Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.’ The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests. (Matt 8-10)

For my family and I, this summer seems to be filled with weddings. For the past several months, we have gotten numerous invitations and have sent in all of our RSVP's. It is always such an honor to get an invitation in the mail, to think that someone wants you to share in their special day. Of course the really great thing is that we always have a choice on whether or not to accept the invitation.

In today's gospel reading, we read about the parable of the wedding feast. Many were invited, but refused to come, instead opting to go back to work, or worse yet, abuse the messengers. It is such a shame that these men did not realize the important feast that they were invited to. We too are invited to a great wedding feast, the Kingdom of heaven. But it is up to us as to whether or not we accept this invitation. It is very important that we recognize and understand how the Lord invites us into heaven, but we must be willing to accept His terms and conditions. We must be willing to sacrifice for Him, to dedicate ourselves to a life of holiness and to the Lord. If we are able to do this, and to persevere to the end, then we will be welcomed into the feast with open arms.

God has sent all of us His invitation ... have you RSVP'd?

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. Lord, help us to accept your invitation with an open heart and open mind. Lord we pray that your will be done in our lives and that we can sacrifice the things of this world in order to live for you and to join you one day in heaven. Lord, we pray for all those who are ill and who are suffering. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.



Readings for Wednesday August 19, 2009

First Reading: Judges 9:6-15
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 21
Gospel: Matthew 20:1-16

When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Summon the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and ending with the first.’ When those who had started about five o’clock came, each received the usual daily wage. So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more, but each of them also got the usual wage. And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last ones worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us, who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’ He said to one of them in reply, ‘My friend, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?’ Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.” (Matt. 20:8-16)

Out of all the parables that Jesus tells, this is the one that I have always related to the most. In thinking about how the workers who came later felt once they got the full days wage, I can certainly understand how these workers felt. They were probably blown away from the owner's generosity. They were probably just shocked that someone would invite them to work, and it didn't matter when and would still give the full days wages. This is the same type of generosity that I felt after my conversion, and it is something that I continue to feel even to this day.

I am also like the workers and am continuously just amazed at the Lord's generosity. He calls us all to follow Him, and it doesn't matter when you surrender to Him, He is still willing to give the same wages as those who have always been with Him. Now this is not to say that we should just go out and party it up until we are older and settle down and then begin following Jesus. For the sooner that we follow Christ, then the less destruction we can do in our lives and the lives of others. But if we are willing to turn towards Him and say yes to Him and His way, then there will be treasure in heaven waiting for us.

The great thing is that God in His abundant love and mercy is willing to take us anytime and at any place, all we have to do is accept His invitation and we will receive the wages that He has planned for us. I know that I will never forget His mercy and generosity, I pray that you will never forget as well.

Our God is so good, not just sometimes or once in a while, but all the time!

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. Lord we thank you and give you praise for your great love and mercy for us. Lord, we are not worthy of your blessings, but you choose to give them to us anyway, for this we are thankful. Lord, help us to follow you in this world and to be a witness to all those who have no hope. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.



Readings for Tuesday August 18, 2009

First Reading: Judges 6:11-24
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 85
Gospel: Matthew 19:23-30

“For men this is impossible, but for God all things are possible. ”Then Peter said to him in reply, “We have given up everything and followed you. What will there be for us?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you that you who have followed me, in the new age, when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory, will yourselves sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.” (Matt. 26-30)

I remember one summer when I was younger, we had this tree stump that needed removed from our back yard. I told my dad that I though that I could dig it up and take it out. My dad, playing the skeptic didn't think it was possible and that there was no way that I could dig it out. But regardless, he decided to up the ante, he told me that if I was able to get rid of the stump then he would give me twenty dollars. Well, needless to say with some money as motivation, I decided to get to work. Through that next week I worked hard in the summer heat, digging, chopping and hacking at those roots. It was very hard work, and it took me quite a bit of time. But then one day, after a week of sweat and toil, it finally came out. I was so excited, in my joy I heaved up the heavy stump into my arms and carried into out garage where my dad was standing, and I dropped it right at his feet. No words even had to be said as the astonished look in his face showed his disbelief. I stood there with a big grin on my face and my chest a little puffed out from pride. Needless to say, I did receive my reward of twenty dollars and a very good lesson in perseverance. This story reminds me of how it is not just great receiving the reward, but there is also that feeling of accomplishment from a job well done.

When I was working on the stump, I spent a lot of time on it, I sacrificed time with friends and even from my own interests. I had to work hard, sometimes not in the most favorable condition, and I even had limited resources (a shovel and a ax). But I was still able to persevere and see it through to the end. Jesus tells His disciples that they too will need to sacrifice a lot in order to make it to heaven. He tells them that if they are able to see this through to the end, then their reward will be great. We too must keep this in mind in our own faith journeys. It can be very easy to be bogged down in the challenges of trying to live a holy life, a life for Christ; but we must remember that we are not doing this for personal satisfaction or for instant rewards, we are doing this for the everlasting life that is offered to us if we are willing to sacrifice for Him here on earth.

May God grant us the faith and courage to continue to follow Him and to persevere through all the "stumps" in our lives.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord we thank you for preparing a place for us in heaven, thank you for your love and mercy. Help us to cling to you and to see this life that we are called to through the end. We pray for all those who are being persecuted and ridiculed for their faith. We pray for all of our priests and religious. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.



Readings for Monday August 17, 2009

First Reading: Judges 2:11-19
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 106
Gospel: Matthew 19:16-22

The young man said to him,“All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?”Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go,sell what you have and give to the poor,and you will have treasure in heaven.Then come, follow me.”When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad,for he had many possessions. (Matt. 19:20-22)

If I asked you walk around with a backpack full of hand grenades and other explosives, you would tell me to go take a hike. You would tell me that there is no way that you would attach yourself to something so destructive. In this instance there would be just too much risk associated with the thing that you would attach yourself to.

While none of us go around attaching ourselves to explosives, many of us do attach ourselves to other destructive things. Most of us have the bad tendency of attaching ourselves to the things of this world, which may not necessarily destroy us physically, but they do spiritually. How many of us attach ourselves to objects? We tend to highly cherish and put a lot of stock in worldly possessions. That is why the young man in today's gospel reading was so sad after talking to Jesus, because he was very entrenched in this worldly attachment. The Israelites from the first reading also became engulfed in this bad habit of attaching themselves to worldly things. Ask yourself today, is there anything that I am currently attached to that is preventing me from surrendering to the Lord completely?

I would like to offer this one last thought. Attachment does not necessarily have to be a bad thing. In the example I gave earlier, we certainly do not want to be physically attached to explosives, but what if the offer was to be attached to something good? I would say that while attaching ourselves to worldly things is not recommended if our ultimate goal is heaven, but rather, attaching ourselves to Christ is certainly the guaranteed way to get to heaven. After all Jesus says so himself; "go sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

Father above we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord help us to detach ourselves from the things of this world, and may we cling to you always. Lord you are our rock and our salvation, help us to store up treasure in heaven rather than on earth. Lord we pray for all those who are battling addictions, rather material, substance, or emotional addictions; may they be freed of these things that lead them away from you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.



Readings for Friday August 14, 2009

Memorial of Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe, priest and martyr

First Reading: Joshua 24:1-13
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 136
Gospel: Matthew 19:3-12

Some Pharisees approached Jesus, and tested him, saying, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?” He said in reply, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator made them male and female and said, For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, man must not separate.” They said to him, “Then why did Moses command that the man give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss her?” He said to them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery.” His disciples said to him, “If that is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” He answered, “Not all can accept this word, but only those to whom that is granted. Some are incapable of marriage because they were born so; some, because they were made so by others; some, because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven. Whoever can accept this ought to accept it.” (Matt. 19:3-12)

In the US the divorce rate is around 50%, which means that one out of every two marriages will end in divorce. I often wonder among those 50% that are still married, how many of those marriages are thriving? It is really kind sad to think about how weak most marriages are, either the couple splits apart or they remain unhappy in a marriage for the rest of their life. As Jesus shows us today, marriage is such an important thing and that in the beginning God had intended a great purpose for marriage. Unfortunately, a beautiful thing that God has created has become tainted and abused by all of us. It doesn't have to be this way though, we can still ask God to open our hearts to His true purpose for marriage and how we are called to live out this vocation.

Today let us pray for all marriages in our world and for all those preparing for marriage. Let us also pray for all of our priests who have "renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven."

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord we pray for marriages everywhere and for all those preparing for marriage. Lord thank you for this beautiful gift, and help us to see your true purpose for this Sacrament. Lord, we also pray for all of our priests, may you strengthen them in their ministry and in their vows. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Forgiveness...easy as pie

Readings for Thursday August 13, 2009

First Reading: Joshua 3:7-10,11,13-17
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 114
Gospel: Matthew 18:21-19:1

That is why the Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount. Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt. At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’ Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan.

How many times have you or someone you know said, "I want to forgive, but it is just to hard." It is true, that it is difficult to forgive others who have wronged us, but I don't think that forgiveness is supposed to be hard. I believe that forgiveness is hard because we make it hard for ourselves. For some strange reason we don't want to let go of the memories or the wrongdoing against us. Part of this is a protective measure to make sure that no one can hurt us like that again. Part of it is that we tend to like to play the victim, but we must be very cautious of self-pit for it is an emotion that can trap us and make us unable to forgive.

The reason I say that forgiveness really isn't that hard, and that it is we that make it hard is because God calls us to forgive. God doesn't give us anything that we cannot handle, and He certainly would not tell us to forgive someone who wrongs us seventy seven times, unless we can handle it. I think that today's parable is not to jut teach us that we need to forgive like the Father does, but to also tell us too that it is easy to forgive that it is just a choice that we all need to make. The servant was shown just how easy it was to be forgiven by the king, but he did not take that lesson to heart, he only had his own selfish interests in mind. If only the servant would have realized that it is so much easier to forgive than to hold onto his greed.

We must remember how easily our Father in heaven forgives us each day. Shouldn't we be able to make this choice as well? I think that the more that we keep in mind how quick God is to forgive us, and the more that we do it, then forgiveness can be an action that comes more easily for us.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord help us to choose love and to be able to forgive those around us easier, as you forgive us each day. Lord we are not worthy of your mercy and forgiveness, but you still give it to us. Lord we thank you for your abundant love and mercy, help us to let your light shine through us so that others may come to know your truth. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.
(Matt. 18:23-27)


Two or three

Readings for Wednesday August 12, 2009

First Reading: Deuteronomy 34:1-12
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 66
Gospel: Matthew 18:15-20

Again, amen, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matt. 19-20)

When it comes to sharing our problems and struggles, most of us are introverts. It seems as though most of the time we do not want to share our problems or issues with other people. There are many reasons why we do this; some do it out of fear of seeming weak, others keep these things in because they do not want to bother people. Still some others let their pride get in the way and think that they can just take on these problems and issues all by themselves without needing to rely on other people. I can say from personal experience that I tend to let my pride get in the way many times of letting people in on my struggles. But there really is no reason why we should keep all of this in, for we should not only be humbling ourselves before God and asking for forgiveness and help, but we should also be humbling ourselves and asking others for their prayers. After all God puts certain people in our lives for a reason, and some of these people really are meant to help build us up.

Jesus says very clearly today that where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them. So let us not be afraid of sharing our problems and struggles with others and asking for their prayers, for these truly do make a differences. For if we gather together to pray, then Jesus assures us that He will be there.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, you are our good God who knows us and loves us. Help us to let go of our pride and to not be afraid to share our struggles with the people that you put in our lives. Lord help us to see your will in our lives so that we may do what is pleasing to you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.



Readings for Tuesday August 11, 2009

Memorial of Saint Claire, virgin

First Reading: Deuteronomy 31:1-8
Responsorial Psalm: Deuteronomy 32
Gospel: Matthew 18:1-5,10,12-14

Be brave and steadfast; have no fear or dread of them, for it is the LORD, your God, who marches with you; he will never fail you or forsake you.” (Dt. 31:6)

“Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 18:3-4)

In some of his final words to the people, Moses told the people to trust in God when they go into the land which He promised. He told them to be "brave and steadfast" and to "have to fear or dread." These are words to which not only the people should have taken hold of, but words that we should always remember as well. We must not be afraid of any challenge, struggle, or obstacle in our lives, for the Lord is with us and with Him nothing is impossible. It is important that when the world challenges us that we remember that it is the Lord who marches with us, and He will never fail or forsake us.

So how do we keep these words close to our hearts and in our mind? By becoming like little children. Jesus tells us today that the greatest in the kingdom of heaven is the childlike. Now, Jesus is not saying that we should be acting out like children, I don't think that your boss would appreciate you going around hitting, kicking and calling people names. But it does mean that we need to humble ourselves like children and rely solely on God. This is what Moses was asking the Israelites to do, and it is what Christ is asking of us as well.

If we can humble ourselves and become totally reliant on our Father in heaven, like little children to their parents; then we will have no problems being brave and steadfast and marching with the Lord in confidence.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. Lord help us to humble ourselves like children and to follow you no matter where you lead us to. Lord, you are our God and creator, help us to rely on you who know us so well. Thank you for our family and friends which you have placed in our lives. We pray for all those who have fallen away from the church, may they be brought back to your love. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.



Readings for Monday August 10, 2009

Feast of Saint Lawrence, deacon and martyr

First Reading: 2 Corinthians 9:6-10
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 112
Gospel: John 12:24-26

“Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.” (John 12:24-26)

Complacency. Our world seems to be filled with it, and unfortunately, even many of those that are in our church are filled with it. There may even be times in our own lives when we seem to just be swimming in complacency. When we are complacent in our lives there is one big drawback that always happens ... nothing.

Jesus warns us today of being complacent. He tells us that unless we are willing to die to Him, then we will just stay the same. Jesus compares us to a grain of wheat, "unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, then it will remain just a grain of wheat." Like the grain of wheat, we too must be humble before our Lord, willing to fall to the ground for Him. We must then be willing to die to our old lives and grow into the new life that He has planned for all of us. We should not worry about our care either, because by following and sacrificing for Him, He will give us all the care and nourishment that we need.

Being complacent may work for us right now, but there is great danger in this mindset. If we choose to stay the same, if we choose to stay in our comfort zone only, then we will never grow, we will always just stay a "grain of wheat." Many times we think that we are where we need to be and that things can really get no better than they are, but the truth is that God always has much more than we could ever imagine in store for us. Like the grain of wheat, we could never imagine all that we could grow to be, and this can only occur by dying to our old self and letting the Lord raise us up.

Imagine if Jesus had been complacent in His life here on earth, what would have happened? My guess is nothing.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for this day. Lord, help us to not take our lives for granted and to never be complacent. Lord fuel the fire within us and help us to be the servants that you created us to be. Lord you are our rock and foundation, help us to rely on you in all things. Increase our faith so that we may grow and be the lights in this world. We pray for all of our priests and for all those seeking your will. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.



Readings for Friday August 7, 2009

First Reading: Deuteronomy 4:32-40
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 77
Gospel: Matthew 16:24-28

Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay each according to his conduct. Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.” (Matt. 16:24-28)

I don't know about you, but one of my favorite times of the month is payday. It's one of those days that you just can't help but feel good; for a little while your bank account looks good, and you have just received compensation for your hard work. It is always nice to have that feeling of accomplishment and to know that you have received what is due to you.

I believe that one day, our hard work and dedication to the Lord will result in the biggest payday ever! We see in the gospel today that we will each be repaid according to our conduct. If we are willing to sacrifice on earth and to carry the cross that we are called to, then in the end we will receive compensation beyond our wildest dreams.

Payday is coming, we must ask ourselves if our lives and our conduct reflect the type of life that it should in order to collect? Let us all ask God for the strength to pick up these crosses and to follow Him where ever He leads us.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, you are our rock and our shelter, may we always run to you in both good times and bad. Lord, we know that your plan for us is perfect and that your will is what is right, help us to abandon our own plans and to open our hearts and minds to you. We pray for all those in need of conversion and all of our brothers and sisters who have fallen away from the church. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Transfiguration of the Lord

Readings for Thursday August 6, 2009

Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord

First Reading: Daniel 7:9-10,13-14
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 97
Second Reading: 2 Peter 1:16-19
Gospel: Mark 9:2-10

Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother John, and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses, and they were conversing with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified. Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; from the cloud came a voice, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.” Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them. (Mark 9:2-8)

Peace be with you brothers and sisters as we celebrate this day, the Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus Christ. Today let us reflect on the wonders of God. Let us set our minds on His greatness and glory. Let us recall His wondrous deeds in this world. Let us have a heart that is overflowing with thanksgiving to our Lord for His life, death and resurrection. Let us say thank you for God with us, Jesus humbling himself and taking on human flesh and becoming one of us.

In today's first reading from Daniel, the prophet has a vision which points the way to Jesus. Daniel's vision shows us that all things point to Christ as it did in the bible, but how all things in our life should show us the way and lead us to Christ. In his vision ,Daniel describes what he sees: "The one like a Son of man received dominion, glory, and kingship; all peoples, nations, and languages serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away,
his kingship shall not be destroyed."

Jesus Christ, our Lord, has been given an everlasting dominion, for that we should all be praising the Lord, for one day if we are found worthy, we will be able to be a part of His kingdom for ever and ever.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for this day. Lord, thank you for your abundant love and mercy. Lord grant us the strength and courage to follow you with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength so that one day we can be with you in heaven. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Humility and Persistence

Readings for Wednesday August 5, 2009

First Reading: Numbers 13:1-2,25-14:1,26-29,34-35
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 106
Gospel: Matthew 15:21-28

But the woman came and did him homage, saying, “Lord, help me.” He said in reply, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed from that hour. (Matt. 15:25-28)

Humility and persistence. These are the two important character traits that we learn from the Canaanite woman in today's gospel. This women, who did believe in who Jesus was, was not concerned with her own welfare, but only that of her daughters. She was so moved by love for her daughter that she was willing to humble herself and even refer to herself as a dog. Her persistence also spoke highly to the Lord. At first Jesus did not initially answer her and then the disciples were insisting that she go away. This would have been very discouraging to most people, but this woman did not give up, she kept asking for the Lord to help. For through her persistence and her humility, she showed Jesus her true faith.

Many times we get discouraged because we think that Jesus is not answering our prayers or hearing our needs. He is there and He always knows what we need. We must remember that prayer is not a communication tool that simply helps us to inform God of the things that we need, prayer is for us to understand how much we need Him. Prayer is for us to trust and to rely on Him. Prayer is for us to let go of our own will and to see His will for us. We too must allow ourselves to embrace humility and be persistent in prayer as this Canaanite women was.

As a final though, let us reflect on the words of Saint Paul in his letter to the Romans; he states: "Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer." (Rom 12:12)

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, you are our Lord and God and it is only you who we follow and worship. Lord, help increase our faith so that we might be grounded in humility and seek you at all times. Let us always be joyful and to see you in each moment of our life. Lord we pray for all those who are in need of conversion, all of our church leaders and all of our political leaders. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Stand strong in the storm

Readings for Tuesday August 4, 2009

Memorial of Saint John Mary Vianney, priest

First Reading: Numbers 12:1-13
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 51
Gospel: Matthew 14:22-36

At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matt 14:27-31)

"O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" I am sure that after hearing this Peter had several excuses running through his head: "It was the wind, it looked so strong," "the storm looked like it was coming right for me," or "Last year I was in a storm like this and things didn't end up so well for me." We, like Peter, always seem to find something that makes us hold back and hesitate in trusting God completely. We are always eager to enthusiastically follow Christ at first, but when things get tough and push comes to shove, we begin to really doubt.

So, how do we deal with this pesky problem of doubting? I mean, there has to be a way to get beyond this right? Well, I think that we can take a good lesson from two different people. First, Saint Peter, who we read of in today's gospel. Even though his early years were spent fumbling around, He opened himself up to the Lord and let the spirit in so that he began to follow Christ courageously. Peter not only allowed Christ to lift him up physically (as in out of the water), but also spiritually. By coming to acknowledge and give in to his love for Christ, Peter was able to let go of his fear of the world and embrace the path which the Lord set for him.

The other person of which we can learn much from is Saint John Vianney (patron saint of all priests). Saint John Vianney was previously known as patron saint of parish priests, but as Pope Benedict proclaimed this the year of the priests, Saint John Vianney is now patron saint of allVianney had many storms to weather in his life as well. Although feeling a strong calling to the priesthood, he struggled through school and in his studies. I am sure that he doubted many times his vocation, but he must have had trust in the Lord to continue on. Saint John Vianney was finally ordained a priest and began to allow his passion and zeal for the Lord catch on with all those he came in contact with. John Vianney was also known as a great confessor, and people came from miles around just to spend time with him in the Sacrament of Confession. It is said that he spent up to 18 hours each day hearing confessions.

There are many stories of people both past and present who show us that we can and should trust in the Lord at all times. We can also take a look back on our lives whenever we are in doubt and see how the Lord has worked in our own lives. So the next time the storm hits, we can stand strong in the Lord, no matter where we are at.

Father above we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord we pray for forgiveness for the times in which we have doubted. Lord, we know that you always look after each of our needs, and we know that you can be trusted above all things. Lord, we pray for all of our priests, that they may stay strong in their ministries and in their vows. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.
priests. Saint John



Readings for Monday August 3, 2009

First Reading: Numbers 11:4-15
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 81
Gospel: Matthew 14:13-21

When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns. When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick. (Matthew 14:13-14)

In today's gospel reading we read of the spectacular miracle of Jesus feeding the five thousand with five loaves of bread and two fish. While this miracle certainly showcases the wonders of God, it also gives us great insight into something else. At the beginning of the reading, we are told that when Jesus saw the crowd, "his heart was moved with pity for them." We see here that Jesus is paying attention to the people and seeing their many needs, and He is also showing His great compassion for His children. Many times we think that our problems are too small or that God doesn't care about us and our issues. But when we read passages such as today's, we should see and understand that God is always there watching us; and when we hurt and ache, His heart is moved with pity for us. When we are in need and in distress, His heart is full of compassion for us. When we are lost and broken, He is there.

We should never think that God does not care about us or have time for us, because He always does; not just once in a while or sometimes ... but always! The question that we have to ask ourselves is that when we are in need, who do we run to? Is the first person we run to God, or is it someone/something else? While God is there waiting and wanting to help, He does not force Himself on us, He gave us each a free will to be able to choose Him. If we truly want the life that He offers, then we must turn to Him. If we want the precious bread of life that He offers to us each day, then we must run to Him.

Let us remember that God gives love and mercy abundantly, and He is always ready to reach out to you and me with a heart full of compassion.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord we praise you for always seeing our needs and for always taking care of us. Lord nothing on this earth compares to you, help us to put our trust in you instead of earthly things. You are our great God who love us unconditionally, help us to never take you for granted. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


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