Aha moments

Readings for Thursday April 30, 2009

First Reading:  Acts 8:26-40
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 66
Gospel:  John 6:44-51

As they traveled along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, "Look, there is water.  What is to prevent my being baptized?" 
Then he ordered the chariot to stop, and Philip and the eunuch both went down into the water,
and he baptized him. 
When they came out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, but continued on his way rejoicing
.  (Acts 8:36-39)

This story of the eunuch is one of my favorite stories from the book of Acts.  Here we have a man who is seeking God and trying to understand the scriptures, when all of a sudden God sends someone who helps him out and interprets the scriptures for him.  After having the word of God explained to him, what is the eunuch's reaction?  He immediately wants to be baptized and to receive the grace that comes with this.  I can only imagine as the eunuch was listening to Philip how excited he must have become and how much his heart was probably burning to be closer to the Lord.  Most of us would call this an "Aha moment," when you realize the importance of something.  The eunuch certainly had an "aha moment" here as he immediately wanted to stop and be baptized.  Then afterwards, it didn't even matter that Philip had disappeared, the eunuch had just received grace from God and a means into heaven, is it any wonder he kept on rejoicing?  

The eunuch teaches us here the importance of listening to God in our lives.  By listening to His word, the people He puts in our lives, and the signs that He gives; we can be more in tune with His will.  By following His perfect plan for us, we will be led down a path that leads to an everlasting life with Him in heaven.  Let us always remember that it is not how much money we make, the awards we win, or the number of friends that we have in life that is going to get us to heaven; it is by listening and following God in our lives that will get us to heaven.  

I pray that while listening to our Lord, each of us may be blessed with many "aha moments" where we just get it, and you can believe that when these moments come, there will be great rejoicing.  

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day.  Lord, we pray for your will to be done in our lives and not that of our own.  Lord, you are our God, and we love you and trust in your plan for us.  Give us the strength and courage to follow you where ever you lead us to and help us to always be looking for you in our lives.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.     


Do not worry about tomorrow

Readings for Wednesday April 29, 2009

Memorial of Saint Catherine of Sienna, virgin and doctor of the church

First Reading:  Acts 8:1-8
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 66
Gospel:  John 6:35-40  

And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it on the last day.
For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day."
 (John 6:39-40)

Have you ever wondered about the last days here on earth?  I find myself wondering if this is an event that I will actually be around to witness.  How will it happen?  Will it happen quickly or will we see everything unfold?  Will we even know what is happening?  I find myself at times speculating about this, but then I remember that it is really not for me to know.  In the gospels we are warned "Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.  Sufficient for a day is its own evil."  (Matt 6:34)  It is easy for us to think about and prepare too much for the future that we forget about what God has given us in the present.    

No one except for God knows when or how the last days will take place.  We must trust in His great plan and to not let ourselves worry too much about the things that we cannot control.  We must take each day at a time, giving thanks and persevering through each trial.  Let us always remember Jesus in the present, and if we do this, He will not forget us on the last day.  

Saint Catherine of Sienna, you sought God's will in your life at all times.  You sought to make peace with all those you could, pray for us that we too may seek God's will over our own and for peace in our lives, families, and communities.   

Father above, we thank you and give you all praise and glory for this day.  Lord, help us to know, love, and serve you better this day.  We know that you have a plan for each of us and for this world, and we trust in your perfect plan.  Lord, give us the strength and wisdom to do your will in our lives, so that we may be the sons and daughters that you created us to be.  Lord, we pray for all those in need of conversion.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen. 


Boldness and Courage

Readings for Tuesday April 28, 2009

First Reading:  Acts 7:51-8:1
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 31 
Gospel:  John 6:30-35

They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him.  The witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul. 
As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."
Then he fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them"; and when he said this, he fell asleep.
 (Acts 7:58-60)

In today's reading from the Book of Acts, we read about the first Christian Martyr, Stephen.  Upon being falsely judged and during his last few moments on earth while being stoned, Stephen does something so beautiful and so merciful, he asks God not to hold this sin against those who are stoning him.  This act of love should remind us of what our Lord did while on the cross, showing mercy towards His executioners.  In our world that is full of jealously, bitterness, and rivalry; where people are so much quicker to hold a grudge rather than forgive, we could certainly use more examples like Stephen in this world.  Stephen shows us what we should all be doing in this world, and that is modeling our Lord Jesus Christ.  Jesus showed compassion and forgiveness to those who did Him wrong, and that is what we are being called to do every day ... being bold and courageous.   

Brothers and sisters, we just went through the season of lent, a season that should lead us all to renewal and change.  We are now in the Easter season, the season where we should be going out in to the world triumphantly and boldly, filled with the Holy Spirit and giving all glory to God!  May God grant us the same boldness and courage that Stephen was against the world.  

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord, we love you and thank you for all that you bless us with.  Help us to be courageous soldiers for you and your glory.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.  



Readings for Monday April 27, 2009

First Reading:  Acts 6:8-15
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 119
Gospel:  John 6:22-29

Stephen, filled with grace and power, was working great wonders and signs among the people.
Certain members of the so-called Synagogue of Freedmen, Cyreneans, and Alexandrians, and people from Cilicia and Asia, came forward and debated with Stephen,
but they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke.
 (Acts 6:8-10)

Like Jesus and the rest of the apostles, Stephen is also challenged by the Jewish leaders because of his teaching about Christ.  Regardless of all of their challenges and attempts, the Jewish leaders couldn't seem to get the better of Stephen.  Now, why do you think that they were not able to find fault in his speaking or twist around what he was saying?  Do you think it was because Stephen was on a championship winning debate team in school?  Or perhaps it was because he went and took a few public speaking classes.  No, it wasn't any of Stephen's past experiences or personality traits that made him a strong and persuasive speaker and able to ward off the attacks by the Jews.  We are told in scripture that Stephen was "filled with grace and power" ... and that "they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke."  It is because of the gifts from God that Stephen was as effective at spreading the gospel as he was.  

Now, it says that they could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke.  So how does one become wise and with the Spirit?  To gain the Holy Spirit, we must ask this through prayer and by following, obeying, and trusting in God.  We must find out how the Holy Spirit wants to work in our lives, and this can only be accomplished through prayer.  Now, what about wisdom, how does one receive wisdom?  Once again this is something that is granted by God, and by asking Him to open your heart and mind to His truth.  Now our prayer life should not be spent asking God for wisdom, but it should mostly consist of us listening to God.  In prayer we cannot be the ones doing all of the talking, it might not be a bad idea to let the creator of us and the universe to give us some direction and clarity in our lives.    

Now along with praying for wisdom, we must also accompany this with reading of sacred scripture.  It is through reading and praying through God's word, that we can begin to see the truth that He has for us.  Reading of the word of God is a sure way to gain the wisdom that we are to gain in life.  Saint Jerome once said, "ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ."  Let us not be ignorant of our Lord and Savior, let us all open our bibles and begin to listen to God, and may we too be filled with wisdom and the Spirit.  

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord, we pray that you will continue to open our hearts and minds to your holy word.  Lord send us your Spirit so that we might gain the wisdom and the courage to follow you where ever you lead.  Lord, we know that you are all knowing and all wise, and the even the foolishness of you is greater than the wisdom of all mankind.  May we always seek your truth and not the lies of the world.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.  


Decisions, Decisions

Readings for Friday April 24, 2009

First Reading:  Acts 5:34-42
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 27
Gospel:  John 6:1-15

When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, "This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world." 
Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain alone.
(John 6:14-15)

Decisions, decisions ... life is always full of so many decisions.  Most decisions that we are faced with are very small; like should I have a turkey or ham sandwich for lunch?  Some decisions that we need to make are very hard and difficult.  Some decisions that we have to make do not really have a clear picture, meaning we are not really sure which to choose because either can seem right.  It is when we are facing these decisions that we tend to have anxiety and doubts about what we are to choose.  

In today's gospel, we are shown that Jesus too was faced with many difficult decisions in His life on earth.  Here He has just fed 5,000 people with a few loaves of bread and some fish.  The people were astonished, and sought to make Him king, but Jesus knowing this withdrew to the mountain alone.  Now let's think about this for a second, Jesus has a choice to make, let the people make him king or continue on with what He was sent to do.  Now for Jesus, I am sure that this was not a  hard decision, but for us it would be.  Our thoughts might lead us to begin thinking of all the good that we could do as a king, all the people we could help, the mouths we could feed, the justice we could bring to the land.  We start to get confused, thinking, well maybe God is calling me to this royalty thing.  It is for these reasons that prayer is so important in our lives.  Jesus shows us that the most important thing is not to make the decisions that we think will be best, but instead to go out and do God's will, instead of our own.  In doing God's will, Jesus did become the King of these people, only not by their way, but by God's way, and His way is perfect.  

Everyday we are faced with difficult decisions, ask the Lord to help make His path for you clear.  If we pray for God's will to be done (instead of our own) and seek first His kingdom, then we will all be on our way to being the people that He created us to be.  May God's grace be poured out on us through each decision and choice that we make in our lives, and may His will be done.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord, you are our rock and our salvation, help us to serve you will every thing that we are.  Lord, you know what is best for us, and you have a plan for our lives; help us to be patient through that plan and to trust in all that you have in store for us.  Lord, we love you and seek you first, and we pray for all those who do not know you.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.   


Power of the Holy Spirit

Readings for Thursday April 23, 2009

First Reading:  Acts 5:27-33
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 34
Gospel:  John 3:31-36

But Peter and the Apostles said in reply, "We must obey God rather than men. 
The God of our ancestors raised Jesus, though you had him killed by hanging him on a tree.
God exalted him at his right hand as leader and savior to grant Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins.
We are witnesses of these things, as is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him."
 (Acts 5:29-32)

The book of Acts always brings a sense of awe and amazement in regards to the power of the Holy Spirit.  I mean the disciples were probably the most unexpected and non-formally educated Jews in the area, but by God's grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, they became bold evangelists spreading to good news to Jerusalem and beyond.  Although before they may have ran when faced with adversity, now they are strong and their faith is unshakable.  They are more concerned with serving God than with what the Jewish leaders may think or do to them.  It is obvious that something is different now, they have opened themselves and allowed God to use them and work in them.  

We too can have this same type of boldness and courage if we so choose.  But we must be willing to humble ourselves and turn to God in order to receive the gifts that He wants to give us.  God has a plan for each of us, and it is not to sit around wasting the gifts that He has given or to stay inside and not go out and be a bold witness in the world.  God has a great plan for us, and if we are so willing to pray for His will to be done, rather than our own then He will make His plan clear.  And if we are willing to trust and obey God alone, He will give us the strength and courage that we need to go out and be faithful and obedient servants for His glory.   

Today, put into prayer this question; how does the Holy Spirit want to work in your life?  

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 can do.  Lord, send us your spirit so that we may be bold and faithful servants of you, and may we seek nothing more than to give you all the glory and honor.  Lord, we pray for all those who are afraid and all those who fear this world, may they be strengthened by your Spirit and fear nothing but a life without you.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.  



Readings for Wednesday April 22, 2009

First Reading:  Acts 5:17-26
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 34
Gospel:  John 3:16-21

For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.
Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God.
(John 3:16-18)

One of my favorite times of year is football season, especially college football.  I have grown up playing and watching this sport, and I just can't help but get fired up about the upcoming season.  Watching the sport on TV gives us a unique view, not only of the players and coaches, but also of the fans.  Many fans are very creative in the signs that they hold up during the game, such as someone who holds up a big letter "D" followed by holding up a picture of a fence when their team needs to make a big stop ("D" + "Fence" = Defense).  Or they might hold up signs asking their star player to stay for one more year.  While many of these signs are certainly entertaining and creative, there is one sign that will always receive top marks, not for creativity but for perspective.  Many times when the camera is zooming around the stadium or in on a fan we catch a glimpse of a sign that will read "John 3:16."  "John 3:16" and that is it, nothing else, just that verse.  Now I can tell you that just for a moment when that sign appears in front of the camera and on TV, the whole world is put into perspective for me.  I am no longer concerned if we are losing the game, if I ate too much food, or what games are on later; all that occurs to me is that God loves me and all of us.  Nothing else in the world matters more than this.  God loves this world and the people He gives life to, and He loves us so much that He sent His only Son to die for us so that it doesn't have to end with this world, we can have a way to spend the rest of our lives with Him in heaven if we are willing to follow Him.  

We may never know the exact reason that someone goes to a game and holds up the "John 3:16" sign, but we do know that during the loud cheers, the rowdy fans, and the bad calls; we can find God giving us a sign reminding us that His love is there and it is the most important thing in our lives.  This is one of the many signs and ways that God lets us know that it is He who created us, loved us first, and is calling us to an everlasting life with Him in paradise; let's make sure that we are all taking some time and thinking about the signs that He gives us.  

All glory be to God, and go Team Jesus!

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 do.  Lord, you are our creator and we thank you for the gifts of our life and your love for us.  Lord, help us to go out and love as you love and to give as you give.  We pray for all those in need of conversion and all of our brothers and sisters who have just come home to the catholic church.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.  


It is all from God

Readings for Tuesday April 21, 2009

First Reading:  Acts 4:32-37
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 93
Gospel:  John 3:7-15

The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common.
With great power the Apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all.
There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale,
and put them at the feet of the Apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need.
(Acts 4:32-35)

"Sharing is caring!"  Doesn't this sound like something that we have either learned in school or actually tried to teach to a young person that we know?  It really is a great phrase that really does speak to what we are called to do.  The early community not only believed this, but also acted on it.  Imagine if everyone in your parish went out and sold all of the extra stuff that they had and everyone only kept the things which they needed to live (house, clothes, food, etc).  Now imagine that all the people who simplified and sold their extra stuff went and gave the money to their parish and a few other local ministries; what kind of impact do you think that would make?  I believe that if something like this were to happen, we would see a similar trend as with the early community, "no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common."  (Acts 4:32)  

Now please do not think of me as trying to start some new trend in each of the parishes, all I am saying is that this early community made it a high priority to make sure that the community had what it needed, and if that meant selling their stuff, then so be it.  They did not make things about them, they made it about Christ and His church.  The early community was of one heart and mind not because of any special markings or privileges that they had; they were of one heart and mind because of their willingness to give up the things of this world and to cling to Christ.  They knew a truth that so few of us go about discovering:  everything that we have is not ours, it is all from God.  

I pray that we will not be so attached to our things that it makes us blind to the needs of our community.   

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 can do.  Lord, we know that everything is from you, help us to have the wisdom to realize this truth.  Lord, help us to rely more on you than the things of this world, for true joy and peace only come from knowing, loving, and serving you.  Lord we thank you for our lives and for all that you call us to.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.     


Born of the Spirit

Readings for Monday April 20, 2009

First Reading:  Acts 4:23-31
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 2
Gospel:  John 3:1-8

Jesus answered, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless one is born of water and Spirit
he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.
What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit.
Do not be amazed that I told you, 'You must be born from above.'
The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.
" (John 3:5-8)

In today's gospel, Jesus is telling Nicodemus how one must be born again.  This is obviously a hard concept for Nicodemus to understand from a biological standpoint.  But Jesus was not talking biologically, He was talking spiritually.  In order to make it to heaven and to reach the kingdom of God, we must be willing to enter into a new life.  We cannot continue to live a life according to the flesh and the things of this world and still expect to be with God in heaven.  We have to become more, we have to be willing to leave our old selves behind in order to become the new creation that we were meant to be.  Through our baptism and confirmation, we are born again of water and the spirit, and we are given the grace that we need in order to choose God.  

As Jesus said, "The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; is it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."  In the reading from Acts today, the disciples of Jesus began to find themselves in trouble with the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem, but that did not stop them from speaking boldly and performing great miracles in the name of Jesus.  How were they able to do this?  By the power of the Holy Spirit.  The disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, they did not know where it was going to take them, but they were willing to follow and to go without hesitation.  

The Holy Spirit wants to work in each of us today.  Are we allowing Him to lead us, or are we thinking too much of where we wants to go and our own plans?  Brothers and sisters, throw your plans out the window, let the Spirit lead you, you will not know where He is taking you here on earth, but you can be sure that by following Him it will certainly lead you to heaven.  

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord, send us your spirit so that we may go out and be courageous servants for you.  Lord, give us the strength to follow you without hesitation and without reserve.  May we hold nothing back, but pour ourselves out for you, as you did for us on the cross.  Jesus, our Lord and Saviour, we love and trust in you with all our hearts.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.    


The Cornerstone

Readings for Friday April 17, 2009

First Reading:  Acts 4:1-12  
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 118
Gospel:  John 21:1-14

If we are being examined today about a good deed done to a cripple, namely, by what means he was saved,
then all of you and all the people of Israel should know that it was in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead; in his name this man stands before you healed.
He is 
the stone rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 
There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved"
(Acts 4:9-12)

I remember as a kid, I used to play with legos a lot.   I built lots of stuff, cars, houses, tanks, robots ... with a child's imagination the sky was the limit!  I do remember that when I was building, any piece that do not fit where I wanted or matched the color scheme that I had wanted was quickly tossed to the side.  I only chose the pieces that worked with what I wanted, and anything that challenged that we cast aside.  

My mentality as a kid with legos was not far off from the Jewish leaders mindset when Jesus came about.  Jesus was not what they expected as the messiah, He did fit in where they wanted, He didn't match up with them or meet their standards, and He challenged what they did and said.  The Jews were probably thinking of how could they build with this stone that didn't fit what they wanted to create?  And that is exactly the problem right there, they were thinking of what they wanted, not what God wanted.  They were set in their own ideas of what they wanted to build, they did not think of what God wanted them to build and how God sent them the foundation of which to build off.  

Jesus is the cornerstone, and the foundation of which we should be building our lives.  We should not be trying to make Jesus fit into our plans, but instead we should be trying to fit into His and asking God how we can be a part of His kingdom.  Saint Peter warns us here that there is salvation through only one name, and that is Jesus Christ.  Let us not spend our lives trying to attain salvation on our own, but rather on building our lives on and around Christ, the cornerstone.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord, we thank you and give you praise for all that you bless us with.  Lord, you are our rock and our salvation, may we only build upon you and never reject you.  Lord, we pray for all those with hard hearts that are in need of conversion, may they come to you and humble themselves before you our Lord.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.         


His Name

Readings for Thursday April 16, 2009

First Reading:  Acts 3:11-26
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 8
Gospel:  Luke 24:35-48

When Peter saw this, he addressed the people, "You children of Israel, why are you amazed at this, and why do you look so intently at us as if we had made him walk by our own power or piety?
The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus whom you handed over and denied in Pilate's presence, when he had decided to release him.
You denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you.
The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses.
And by faith in his name, this man, whom you see and know, his name has made strong, and the faith that comes through it has given him this perfect health, in the presence of all of you
. (Acts 3:12-16)

Son of Man, Bread of life, Son of David, Emmanuel, Holy one of God, Son of the most High, the new Moses ... He has had many names throughout history.  No matter what He is called, there is great power in the name of Jesus Christ.  In today's reading from the book of Acts, Peter speaks rightly in not taking credit for the miracle healing of the man outside the temple.  Peter tells us that it is by the power of God that this man was healed and by faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.  Peter is doing what we should all be doing, helping others understand the power that comes through faith and by doing things in the name of Jesus.  Many times we are very blind to the miracles that are worked by God in our lives, and we are willing to attribute them to our own greatness of to just simple "good luck."  But we must start having a change of heart and a change in our thinking.  We must realize that all that we have and all that we are really comes from God, not by us or by luck.  We must realize that the power and the miracles come from Christ, and not from anything that we have done.  Peter recognized that the people were looking at him after the miracle healing, he wanted nothing to do with the credit however, he wanted to redirect them towards God, and he wanted to give glory where is was due.  

There is a great song called "Your Name" by Paul Baloche, and in this song it really speaks to the power of our Lord.  Read the chorus, and just think about the how just His name alone has power to work in our lives and in this world. 
Your Name is a strong and mighty tower
Your Name is a shelter like no other
Your Name, let the nations sing it louder
'Cause nothing has the power to save
But Your Name     

Everything that we do, everything that we say, should be in the name of Jesus Christ.  I pray that all that we do out in this world may honor and give glory to our Lord and Savior.  

Father above, we thank you and give you praise for this day.  Lord, we are nothing without you, help us to always recognize and be in awe of your mighty works in our lives.  Lord, everything that we have and everything that we are belongs to you, help us to be good stewards of all that you have given us.  Lord, it is through your name that we live, may we be granted the courage and strength to share this message.  Lord, we pray for all those seeking meaning in their lives, we pray that they may come to you soon.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.  


Breaking of the Bread

Readings for Wednesday April 15, 2009

First Reading:  Acts 3:1-10
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 105
Gospel:  Luke 24:13-35

Today, read and reflect on the gospel.  Does anything stand out to you?  Does anything seem familiar?  Anything remind you of the mass or of the Eucharist?  

That very day, the first day of the week,
two of Jesus' disciples were going
to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus,
and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.
And it happened that while they were conversing and debating,
Jesus himself drew near and walked with them,
but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.
He asked them, 
"What are you discussing as you walk along?"
They stopped, looking downcast.
One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply,
"Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem
who does not know of the things
that have taken place there in these days?"
And he replied to them, "What sort of things?"
They said to him, 
"The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene,
who was a prophet mighty in deed and word
before God and all the people,
how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over
to a sentence of death and crucified him.
But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel;
and besides all this,
it is now the third day since this took place.
Some women from our group, however, have astounded us:
they were at the tomb early in the morning 
and did not find his Body;
they came back and reported
that they had indeed seen a vision of angels
who announced that he was alive.
Then some of those with us went to the tomb
and found things just as the women had described,
but him they did not see."
And he said to them, "Oh, how foolish you are!
How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!
Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things
and enter into his glory?"
Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets,
he interpreted to them what referred to him
in all the Scriptures.
As they approached the village to which they were going,
he gave the impression that he was going on farther.
But they urged him, "Stay with us,
for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over."
So he went in to stay with them.
And it happened that, while he was with them at table,
he took bread, said the blessing,
broke it, and gave it to them.
With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him,
but he vanished from their sight.
Then they said to each other,
"Were not our hearts burning within us
while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?"
So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem
where they found gathered together
the Eleven and those with them who were saying,
"The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!"
Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way
and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread
(Luke 24:13-35)

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord, we praise you for giving us the sacraments, especially the Eucharist where we partake in this holy meal.  Lord, you are our God, we are your people, help us to serve you with all that we do and with all that we are.  Lord, we pray for the change of hearts that we all need to grow and to love you as your are worthy.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.  


Let Go

Readings for Tuesday April 14, 2009

First Reading:  Acts 2:36-41
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 33
Gospel:  John 20:11-18

Jesus said to her, "Mary!"  She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabbouni," which means Teacher.
Jesus said to her, "Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.  But go to my brothers and tell them, 'I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'"
 (John 20:16-17) 

In today's gospel reading, Mary Magdalene is guilty of something that we all do too often ... living in the past.  Many times we live in the past when something ends or is taken away from us.  In this instance, Mary was morning the loss of Jesus (and rightly so), but like all others, she did not understand that His suffering and death were necessary and all a part of God's plan.  She did not understand that by His dying and rising from the dead, He would then ascend into heaven and be glorified, and once this happens He is then able to give to all those who follow Him the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Not having this knowledge, however, Mary was simply holding on the Jesus as she knew Him, and did not think about the present or future.  

Many times when we hold on to the past, we are unable to become the new creations that God intends us to be.  The past has a way of anchoring us down and not letting us move forward, and many times we are anchored down because we are the ones holding on!  Jesus calls us all to let go and to move forward with Him.  One of the gifts that He gave us through the church is the sacrament of reconciliation.  This sacrament helps us to confess our sins, be forgiven from them, and to move on.  I believe that this sacrament is one of the most underestimated and underutilized in the church, and if you have not been in a while, I strongly suggest that you try and make it.  It is just amazing how you feel afterwards, it is like a massive weight has been lifted off of you shoulder.  

Today, ask yourselves, what is it that I am still holding on to?  What is keeping me from moving forward with Jesus?  Remember, just let go, and let God.    

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, help your servants this day be faithful and full of strength and courage to go out and do your will.  Lord, we praise you for all that you are and all that you give.  We thank you for the promise of new life, and may we always follow you on earth until we can be with you in heaven.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.  



Readings for Monday April 13, 2009

First Reading:  Acts 2:14, 22-33
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 16
Gospel:  Matthew 28:8-15

On the day of Pentecost, Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice, and proclaimed: "You who are Jews, indeed all of you staying in Jerusalem.  Let this be known to you, and listen to my words
"You who are children of Israel, hear these words.
Jesus the Nazorean was a man commended to you by God with mighty deeds, wonders, and signs, which God worked through him in your midst, as you yourselves know.
This man, delivered up by the set plan and foreknowledge of God, you killed, using lawless men to crucify him.
But God raised him up, releasing him from the throes of death, because it was impossible for him to be held by it.
 (Acts 2:14, 22-24)

Here it is Pentecost, and we have Peter preaching to many unbelieving jews in Jerusalem.  Wait a second, is this the same Peter that ran from the garden and denied Christ three times?  You bet, this former fisherman with no previous formal schooling, no leadership training, and no public speaking seminars is up in front of a stubborn group preaching the gospel; and not just preaching, but proclaiming the good news with boldness.  This is just one of the many examples of how God takes someone unexpected and uses them to proclaim the glory of His Son.  Peter would probably not been chosen by most people to be the first pope, but Christ saw something in him, something that He knew He could use.  God knows where our hearts are at, and if our hearts are right, there is nothing that He cannot do through us.  

God is ready to continue doing amazing things in our lives.  Perhaps you are thinking, "who am I" or "I am not good enough for God's work."  Expel those thoughts immediately!  We are all sons and daughters of God, and that alone makes us good enough to do the work that He calls us to.  Let us not ever limit God in our lives, for nothing is impossible with God.  If we open our hearts to Him, and let the Holy Spirit work, then bold actions will happen through us as well.  May we all be granted the courage and the change of hearts needed to allow the boldness of God to take  place in our lives.     

Father above, we thank you and praise you for this day.  Lord, send us your spirit so that we may go out and proclaim your glory with boldness and with love.  Lord, you are a mighty and awesome God, may we never try to limit you in our lives.  Lord, we pray for all those in need of conversion and all those seeking you.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.  


The gift of life

Brothers and Sisters, 

I pray that each of you are having a blessed holy week.  Many of you are probably wondering why there have not been any reflections for this week.  The reason for the absence is because my wife and I have recently experienced one of the greatest joys in our life; the birth of our first child.  This past Monday, God blessed us with a beautiful baby girl.  While the labor was long and hard, my wife was given the grace she needed to persevere to the end.  I cannot even begin to describe the emotions that ran through my body the moment she was born.  It was one of the most amazing and spiritual experiences I have ever witnessed or been apart of.  

I am currently home now and enjoying the new addition to our family.  I will be resuming blogging this upcoming Monday.  I pray that each of you have a blessed holy week, I know that mine has started off blessed and I look forward to Easter with my new family.  

May God bless you and your families during this holy week!

God Bless, 




Readings for Thursday April 2, 2009

First Reading:  Genesis 17:3-9
Responsorial Psalm:  Psalm 105
Gospel:  John 8:51-59

I will maintain my covenant with you and your descendants after you throughout the ages as an everlasting pact, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.
I will give to you and to your descendants after you the land in which you are now
staying, the whole land of Canaan, as a permanent possession; and I will be their God.God also said to Abraham:  "On your part, you and your descendants after you must keep my covenant throughout the ages." Genesis (17:7-9)

In today's old testament reading, we see God making a covenant with Abraham, but what exactly is a covenant?  Is it a contract that each party must sign, is it a formal agreement with lawyers present, is it merely a shaking of the hands and a mutual agreement?  No, a covenant is much more than all of these things, a covenant is a solemn vow by each party who promises to uphold their end, otherwise there will be severe consequence.  A covenant is much more than a contract or handshake, because it involves each party being active in the covenant and working to uphold and keep it.  Obviously for God, making and keeping a covenant is no problem, but for us it tends to be very difficult.  Because of our fallen nature, we tend to slip and fall many times in our lives, but we shouldn't stay down or turn away from God and the promises that He has made, it is in those moments that we must pray and ask for God's help and forgiveness in keeping up our end of the covenant.  

In the new covenant we are bound to God as His people, as well as bound to each other (body of Christ).  In this new covenant we have been given the promise of life and redemption.  This is why in today's gospel Jesus tells us, "Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever keeps my word will never see death."  If we are willing to do our part in this new covenant and continue to follow Christ with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, then we will surely live and not taste death.  

Today, reflect on the words of the psalmist, "The Lord remembers His covenant for ever." 

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  We thank you and give you praise for loving us so much and for giving us a way to you through your Son Jesus Christ.  Lord, help us to go out and serve you with all that we have and all that we are.  Help us to never lose faith or trust in your covenant, and in your promises.  Lord, we are your people who wish to be with you in heaven one day, help us persevere to the end.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.  


Courage against the Fire

Readings for Wednesday April 1, 2009

First Reading:  Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92, 95
Responsorial Psalm:  Daniel 3:52
Gospel:  John 8:31-42

King Nebuchadnezzar said:  "Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you will not serve my god, or worship the golden statue that I set up?
Be ready now to fall down and worship the statue I had made, whenever you hear the sound of the trumpet, flute, lyre, harp, psaltery, bagpipe, and all the other musical instruments; otherwise, you shall be instantly cast into the white-hot furnace; and who is the God who can deliver you out of my hands?"
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar,
"There is no need for us to defend ourselves before you in this matter.
If our God, whom we serve, can save us from the white-hot furnace and from your hands, O king, may he save us!
But even if he will not, know, O king, that we will not serve your god or worship the golden statue that you set up."

King Nebuchadnezzar's face became livid with utter rage against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  He ordered the furnace to be heated seven times more than usual and had some of the strongest men in his army bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and cast them into the white-hot furnace.

Nebuchadnezzar rose in haste and asked his nobles, "Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?"  "Assuredly, O king," they answered.
"But," he replied, "I see four men unfettered and unhurt, walking in the fire, and the fourth looks like a son of God." 

Nebuchadnezzar exclaimed,
"Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who sent his angel to deliver the servants who trusted in him; they disobeyed the royal command and yielded their bodies rather than serve or worship any god except their own God."
 (Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92, 95)

Today let us reflect on the courage of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  These three men were unwilling to worship anyone other than God, and they certainly were not worried about the consequences.  I pray that we may all be given their courage when tested in our lives.  

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day.  Lord, we thank you and give you praise for the many blessings in our lives.  Lord, give us the courage and the strength to stand up against any opposition that we may face, and may we always defend and protect the faith and all life in this world.  We pray for those who have fallen away, may they find their way back home through you.  We ask this all through Christ our Lord.  Amen.  


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