Straying from the path

Readings for Friday January 29, 2010

First Reading: 2 Samuel 11:1-4, 5-10, 13-17
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 51
Gospel: Mark 4:26-34

At the turn of the year, when kings go out on campaign, David sent out Joab along with his officers and the army of Israel, and they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. David, however, remained in Jerusalem. One evening David rose from his siesta and strolled about on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing, who was very beautiful. David had inquiries made about the woman and was told, “She is Bathsheba, daughter of Eliam, and wife of Joab’s armor bearer Uriah the Hittite.” Then David sent messengers and took her. When she came to him, he had relations with her. She then returned to her house. But the woman had conceived, and sent the information to David, “I am with child." (2 Sam 1-5)

In today's first reading, we read about David's sin. Now, we all know that David was a man after God's own heart, and that David was certainly a great king and a great man of faith, but even he was not without fault. David's sin against God involving Bathsheba and Uriah is certainly something that makes us cringe at the mere reading of, but as we look at this situation, let us ask how did David even get himself into this situation? The obvious answer is that he gave in to lust, but David's problem actually begins even before he sees Bathsheba. David's first problem is straying away from his routine. At the beginning of chapter 11 of 2 Samuel, we read, "at the turn of the year, when kings go out on campaign ... David, however, remained in Jerusalem." So David first mistake was to stray from his normal course of action and from his typical responsibilities. If David would have been out doing his normal duties, then he would have never even been in the situation to give in to his lust in the first place.

We too have a tendency to sin whenever we stray from our typical routine or normal responsibilities. It is when we are in unfamiliar territory that we often get the most distracted and the most likely to stray away from God. We each have a typical routine in our day, especially in regards to our faith (prayer, scripture, mass, etc); and we each have responsibilities as men and women of God. As soon as we move away from these things then we are more open to the temptation and pressure to give in to something else, just as David was. Perhaps it is going to a place you wouldn't normally go, watching a movie that you wouldn't normally watch, visiting a website that you wouldn't normally visit, etc. It is in these times when we stray that we are most likely to sin.

It is important to stay on the path that God has laid down for us. His path and His ways are perfect, and it is good for us to realize that He truly does have our best interests in mind. He is not calling us to a certain way of life or giving us rules in order to make our lives miserable, but in fact He is giving us a path in order that our lives will be full of peace and joy.

May God bless you in your day as you strive to do His will!

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you so much for all that you have given and blessed us with. You are so loving and merciful, much more than we deserve, but you still choose to give us the very best of you. Lord, help us to give the best of ourselves, and to hold nothing back. Help to keep us on the path that you have chosen for us, and help us to desire nothing else. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


This little light of mine

Readings for Thursday January 28, 2010

Memorial of Saint Thomas Aquinas, priest and doctor of the Church

First Reading: 2 Samuel 7:18-19, 24-29
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 132
Gospel: Mark 4:21-24

Jesus said to his disciples, “Is a lamp brought in to be placed under a bushel basket or under a bed, and not to be placed on a lampstand? For there is nothing hidden except to be made visible; nothing is secret except to come to light. Anyone who has ears to hear ought to hear.” (Mk 4:21-23)

This little light of mine,
I'm gonna let it shine
This little light of mine,
I'm gonna let it shine
This little light of mine,
I'm gonna let it shine
Let it shine,
Let it shine,
Let it shine.

Hide it under a bushel? No!
I'm gonna let it shine
Hide it under a bushel? No!
I'm gonna let it shine
Hide it under a bushel? No!
I'm gonna let it shine
Let it shine,
Let it shine,
Let it shine.

Most of us are familiar with the above song, "this little light of mine." While it is predominantly a children's song, I think that its message holds great meaning for both kids and adults alike. We are all called to let the light of Christ shine through us. In the gospel today, Jesus tells the parable of the lamp, and asks if would it make sense to place a lamp underneath a basket. The answer is of course not, and it is this message that we ought to hear. It is obvious that the writer of "this little light of mine" was inspired by this scripture passage. The writer realized that it makes no sense to hide the light of Christ that is in each of us, we must place it in the open and "let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!"

Today we remember one of the great doctors of the Church, Thomas Aquinas. This is a man who never failed to let his love of God shine forth to all. In fact, Thomas realized the gift of his own mind and wrote many things about God that helped to illuminate people's understanding of the Lord. We could all do well to take a lesson from Saint Thomas Aquinas and to use the gifts and abilities that God has given each of us to spread the hope of Christ in this world.

Today, reflect on what ways you can spread the light of Christ into a world that has many dark spots and so desperately needs it. May God bless you as you let your light shine!

Saint Thomas Aquinas, pray for us!

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, we thank you for all that you give and bless us with. Lord, help increase our faith, so that we can go and spread the faith in this world. Lord, we pray that we always have the courage to let our lights shine in this world and to never hold back from serving you. Lord, we pray for all of those in need of conversion, all of those in the dark. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Today is a gift

Readings for Wednesday January 27, 2010

First Reading: 2 Samuel 7:4-17
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 89
Gospel: Mark 4:1-20

On another occasion, Jesus began to teach by the sea. A very large crowd gathered around him so that he got into a boat on the sea and sat down. And the whole crowd was beside the sea on land. And he taught them at length in parables, and in the course of his instruction he said to them, “Hear this! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky ground where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep. And when the sun rose, it was scorched and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it and it produced no grain. And some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit. It came up and grew and yielded thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” He added, “Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear." (Mk 4:1-8)

Today is a gift. Today is an opportunity for us to grow in faith, hope, and love. If we are willing to let God in there isn't anything that He cannot do. Each and every day is a gift from God, a chance to grow into the men and women that God created us to be. The Lord wants us to experience joy and happiness here on earth, and this can only be done by following Him; and if we are willing to follow Him in this life, we will be rewarded with eternal life in heaven ... what a gift.

In today's parable, we here about the fates of different kinds of seeds. God has given us the gift of our lives, and the gift of each and every day. Let us pray that we may be like the seed that fall on good soil, that our life might bear fruit and have great meaning. Let us pray that we will have a strong foundation of faith and that our roots might run deep. Let us depend on God for light and nourishment, so that we may grow by the things that we needs. May the Lord protect us from the evil one, and may we not be be distracted or give in to the anxieties and temptations of this world. May we always rest in good soil, depending on the Lord and being fruitful in this life.

Today is a gift, may we never waste a single day, and may each day in our lives always bear fruit for His glory!

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you give us and for all that you do. Lord, we fall so short in our lives, help us to never give up and to never lose hope. With you anything is possible, help us to live courageously and never forgetting this fact. We pray for all of those in need of conversion and for all those who do not know you, may they be brought to your love and mercy. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Family Reunion

Readings for Tuesday January 26, 2010

Memorial of Saints Timothy and Titus, bishops

First Reading: 2 Timothy 1:1-8 or Titus 1:1-5
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 96
Gospel: Mark 3:31-35

The mother of Jesus and his brothers arrived at the house. Standing outside, they sent word to Jesus and called him. A crowd seated around him told him, “Your mother and your brothers and your sisters are outside asking for you.” But he said to them in reply, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking around at those seated in the circle he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother." (Mk 3:31-35)

Family reunions, you either love them or you hate them. Regardless of how good a time you have or what interesting event may happen that day, we must admit that it is always good to see family which we haven't seen in a while. I know that there is one family reunion that I am just looking forward to so much ... and that is our family reunion in heaven.

Jesus tells us today that "whoever does the will of God is His brother and sister and mother." And we also know that one day, is we are good faithful servants while here on this earth, then we are rewarded with eternal life in heaven. So that means that one day all of us in God's family is going to get together for one of the best family gatherings that we could ever imagine! There is one catch to this though, in order to be invited to this family reunion, we must be in the family. And thanks to God's grace, this is not a family that goes strictly by heredity, but it is a family that accepts all. All it takes to get in good with this family is a surrendering of one's life and their own will, and a openness and willingness to do God's will.

Today we remember two of God's faithful servants who bravely helped build the early church and lead the people towards Christ. May we follow their example, and may we each seek to do God's will in our own life. Saints Timothy and Titus, pray for us!

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you so much for giving us a way to you and for making each of us your adopted children. May we go out and spread the good news and your love with the rest of the world, as your servants Timothy and Titus did. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Conversion of Saint Paul

Readings for Monday January 25, 2010

Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, Apostle

First Reading: Acts 22:3-16 or 9:1-22
Responsorial Psalm: Mark 16:15
Gospel: Mark 16:15-18

Saul, still breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, that, if he should find any men or women who belonged to the Way, he might bring them back to Jerusalem in chains. On his journey, as he was nearing Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” He said, “Who are you, sir?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, for they heard the voice but could see no one. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him to Damascus. For three days he was unable to see, and he neither ate nor drank. (Acts 9:1-9)

Today we celebrate the feast of the conversion of Saint Paul, and I have no doubts that the early church is extremely grateful that this event came about. Saul (Paul) was a vicious persecutor of the church, and it was his mission to reprimand the early Christians because he felt that they were doing injustice to the Lord by worshiping Christ. Unfortunately, as much passion and zeal as Paul had for the Lord, his passion and energy were misguided. It was because of this zeal for the Lord, that God redirected Saul for His purposes, the purpose of spreading the good news into the world. But in order to do this, Saul had to fist be humbled, and it was at this low point in his life that God was able to lift him back up and begin using him for the great mission that the Lord has in store for him.

We must realize that God has a mission in life for each of us. And while He gives each of us great gifts and talents, those don't really mean much if we are not using them according to the purpose that we are meant to. If you have ever used a butter knife for a screwdriver, you know that while it works, that is not what that knife was meant for, it is not its purpose. We too must ask God to show us our gifts and talents, and pray that we can use those for the mission to which He calls each of us in life as He did for Saint Paul.

Saint Paul, pray for us.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, help us to glorify you in all that we say and do. Help us to mindful of you each and every moment, and that we only seek to do your will. Lord, we pray for guidance in life so that we can go about the mission to which you call each of us, spreading the good news and proclaiming your name in this world. WE pray for all of our priests and religious, that they may be strengthened in their vows and in their ministries. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


One prayer at a time

Readings for Friday January 22, 2010

First Reading: 1 Samuel 24:3-21
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 57
Gospel: Mark 3:13-19

Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him. He appointed Twelve, whom he also named Apostles, that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach and to have authority to drive out demons: He appointed the Twelve: Simon, whom he named Peter; James, son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James, whom he named Boanerges, that is, sons of thunder; Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus; Thaddeus, Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him. (Mk 3:13-19)

Today is the anniversary of the landmark US Supreme Court Case Roe versus Wade. This case allowed women to seek an abortion for any reason, instead of just cases of rape and incest. The US Bishops have declared today as a National Day of Penance, a day in which we should make sacrifices and offer up prayers for those contemplating abortion and for an end to abortion in our world.

In today's first gospel we read of the calling of the twelve disciples. We see that Jesus chose each of these twelve men for a specific purpose, to build up the church and to spread the gospel message. These twelve men were chose to bring Christ to others who did not have hope, and to share the love of God with all those in this world. There is certainly no doubt that these twelve men chose by God made an impact in this world, and to think it is all because they were given the gift of life and the chance to live out their purpose.

Since the decision of Roe v. Wade, there have been about 1.3 million abortions each year. This is over a million each year who will not be able to live out the purpose that God has for them, to live the life that He wants them to have. On this day and all days, it is so important that we offer prayers and sacrifices for an end to abortion, for our political leaders to respect the dignity of the human person at all stages of life, and for those who are contemplating abortion, that they may come to know and recognize the beautiful life inside them that God knows and has a specific purpose for. We must also pray hard for our youth, that they may come to recognize and value their own dignity, so that they are not ever in a position to begin thinking about abortion.

There is no doubt that our world needs help, and each of us can make a significant contribution ... on prayer at a time.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you so much for the many gifts in our life that you give to us. Lord, thank you for the gift of life, and for all that you bless us with. Lord, we ask for your help in ending abortion, this sin that hurts you so much. Lord, help us all to come to know and value life more in our world, please be with our political leaders and help guide them in their decisions to protect the health and dignity of the human person. Lord, please be with our youth, help them to realize the great gifts that they are and to make good decisions that respect their dignity and their bodies and to make choices that are pleasing to you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Healthy Jealousy

Readings for Thursday January 21, 2010

First Reading: 1 Samuel 18:6-9, 19:1-7
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 56
Gospel: Mark 3:7-12

When David and Saul approached (on David’s return after slaying the Philistine), women came out from each of the cities of Israel to meet King Saul, singing and dancing, with tambourines, joyful songs, and sistrums. The women played and sang: "Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands." Saul was very angry and resentful of the song, for he thought: “They give David ten thousands, but only thousands to me. All that remains for him is the kingship.” And from that day on, Saul was jealous of David. (1 Sam 18:6-9)

In today's first reading we see that due to his trust and faith in God, David has been having some great success. It seems as though he is gaining a lot of fans and admirers ... except for one person. King Saul has become very jealous of David, and in fact his jealously has become very unhealthy, so much so that Saul is now trying to kill David.

Saul does not realize that David's accomplishments and success is not due to him, but rather it is all because of God, the same God that gave Saul his kingship and kingdom. If Saul should be jealous about anything, he should be jealous of David's faith and trust, and he should be trying to model David in this area, that would then be a healthier form of jealously. I think that it is okay to be jealous of something good in that it motivates you to want to strive for that good thing. But if we let ourselves become jealous over things, people, or success; then that is unhealthy because we are then obsessing over worldly things, rather than things of God. I think that this is something that we should all examine in our lives, are we jealous of something that is good or something that is worldly?

If we are suffering from an unhealthy jealousy, then there is one remedy ... Jesus. We see in the gospels today that it is by Jesus that we can be cured of all the illnesses and sins that seem to plague our lives. If we truly want to be rid of any sin or vice in our lives, then we must turn to the master physician. If we are one of those people who tend to get jealous very quickly, then we must ask for the Lord's help in turning our unhealthy jealousy into a healthy one.

I once heard a priest say one time that if we are going to be jealous of someone, be jealous of the saints, because of their faith and holiness. Jealousy is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as we keep it in check and only allow ourselves to be jealous over the things that come from God and things that will get us to heaven. As long as we can do this, then we will have a healthy jealousy.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord thank you for the gifts in our lives and help us to live this life for you. Lord, help us to not give in to jealousy which can lead to envy, but rather help us to seek out the things that are of you and that will lead us closer to you. We pray for all the victims of the earthquake and for the souls of those who have passed away. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


No limits

Readings for Wednesday January 20, 2010

First Reading: 1 Samuel 17:32-33, 37, 40-51
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 144
Gospel: Mark 3:1-6

David spoke to Saul: “Let your majesty not lose courage. I am at your service to go and fight this Philistine.” But Saul answered David, “You cannot go up against this Philistine and fight with him, for you are only a youth, while he has been a warrior from his youth." David continued: “The LORD, who delivered me from the claws of the lion and the bear, will also keep me safe from the clutches of this Philistine.” Saul answered David, “Go! the LORD will be with you." (1 Sam 17:32-33, 37)

Today we read the infamous story of David versus Goliath. Most people are aware of this story, but while most people think that it is mostly just a story of the underdog winning the battle, it is really a story about faith. You see, David never doubted for a second that he would be able to beat Goliath. Everyone underestimated him, Saul and Goliath both, and in underestimating him, they underestimated the power of God. You see David was simply doing God's will in this scenario, and he had an unbreakable faith. David knew something that the rest of the people didn't seem to know, and that was that God was not only Creator of the heavens and the earth, but that with God there are no limits! David knew that under God that there wasn't anything that couldn't be done or anything that was too big.

Jesus shows us today in His healing miracle how there are no limits with God. We too must have the trust that David had, to know and believe that with God nothing is impossible. We must realize that with Christ, there are no limits and nothing that He can't bring us out of or help us through. Imagine the shock of the man with the withered hand who was healed today. I am sure that he got a first hand (no pun intended) lesson in the infinite power of God. While this miracle certainly is amazing, that is nothing compared to the amazing act of love that Jesus performed for all of us on the cross. No limits.

With people there are limits and only so much that we are capable of, but with God there are no limits. May we all learn to trust and rely on the Lord as David did before facing one of his biggest challenges.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you give and for all that you bless us with. We are not worthy of all that you give, but you still choose to love us and have great mercy on us, for this we are thankful with all of our hearts. Help increase our faith so that we may follow you more closely in this life, and then one day be with you in heaven. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Look to the heart

Readings for Tuesday January 19, 2010

First Reading: 1 Samuel 16:1-13
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 89
Gospel: Mark 2:23-28

But the LORD said to Samuel: “Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature, because I have rejected him. Not as man sees does God see, because he sees the appearance but the LORD looks into the heart.” (1 Sam 16:7)

How many times do we judge someone based on their shoes, their clothes, their weight, or any of their physical features? Sure, we may not go around gossiping about that person, but how many times do we do this in our mind? Samuel was caught in this same mistake of judging by physical appearance when looking to anoint the new king of Israel. The Lord reminded Samuel that it is not what's outside that is important, but rather it is what's inside the counts. Today we are reminded that the Lord is not concerned with how physically good looking we are or if we wear the latest fashions. The Lord sees each of us as His beautiful children, and He looks at the most important thing ... the heart. For it is what is in our hearts that is important, is it full of love for God and neighbor, or is it full of the world and of sin?

If the Lord finds it important to look to the heart, shouldn't we do the same?

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you bless us with and for always being our shelter and refuge. Help us to see others as you see us, help us to not judge by physical appearances but rather by the heart by which you judge. Lord, fill our hearts with your love so that we may be the men and women that you created us to be in this world. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Obedience, not excuses

Readings for Monday January 18, 2009

First Reading: 1 Samuel 15:16-23
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 50
Gospel: Mark 2:18-22

Samuel then said: “Though little in your own esteem, are you not leader of the tribes of Israel? The LORD anointed you king of Israel and sent you on a mission, saying, ‘Go and put the sinful Amalekites under a ban of destruction. Fight against them until you have exterminated them.’ Why then have you disobeyed the LORD? You have pounced on the spoil, thus displeasing the LORD.” Saul answered Samuel: “I did indeed obey the LORD and fulfill the mission on which the LORD sent me. I have brought back Agag, and I have destroyed Amalek under the ban. But from the spoil the men took sheep and oxen, the best of what had been banned, to sacrifice to the LORD their God in Gilgal.” But Samuel said: “Does the LORD so delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obedience to the command of the LORD? Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission than the fat of rams. For a sin like divination is rebellion, and presumption is the crime of idolatry. Because you have rejected the command of the LORD, he, too, has rejected you as ruler." (1 Sam 15:17-23)

Have you ever met someone who just seems to have an excuse for everything? Some people are pros at never owning up to what they have done, but are great at giving an explanation about the circumstances to which they are dealing with. These people also have a great way to spin the truth to make it look like everything is completely fine. We see that King Saul in today's first reading has done the same thing, he has given a perfectly good excuse as to how he has fulfilled the Lord's request.

Samuel seems to call him out here, because Samuel knows that if Saul had truly followed the Lord's command, then Saul would have followed every detail of the Lord's request. Instead, Saul has interpreted the Lord's will how he wanted, and instead of conforming to God's will, Saul has conformed God's will to his own. And when confronted about this, he gives Samuel a perfectly good excuse. The truth is that the Lord does not want excuses, long explanations, or interpretations ... He wants obedience. Samuel tells Saul (and us), "Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission than the fat of rams." (1 Sam 15:22) The truth is that there is no gray area when it comes to doing God's will, it is we have either done as He wants or we did it our way; we were either obedient or we weren't.

God loves us so much, and if we really want to show Him that we truly love Him too then we should be willing to surrender our lives to Him and be obedient to Him no matter what. It is obedience, not excuses that show our love to our Lord.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, help increase our faith so that we may be obedient to you through all that we do. Lord, we love you and praise you for all that you bless us with. Help us treat ourselves and others as the gifts that we are. We pray for all of those in need of conversion and all those who are distant from you, that they may find true peace and joy in you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


The world or the Lord?

Readings for Friday January 15, 2010

First Reading: 1 Samuel 8:4-7,10-22
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 89
Gospel: Mark 2:1-12

The people, however, refused to listen to Samuel’s warning and said, “Not so! There must be a king over us. We too must be like other nations, with a king to rule us and to lead us in warfare and fight our battles.” When Samuel had listened to all the people had to say, he repeated it to the LORD, who then said to him, “Grant their request and appoint a king to rule them." (1 Sam 8:19-22)

"We too must be like other nations ..." These are the words and feelings of the Israelites in today's first reading. In their quest to be like everyone else, they have rejecting what they have with God. The Israelites were so focused on being like the rest of the world, that they would not even hear Samuel's warning about how the king with get the best of what they have and that they will be the kings slaves. No, the Israelites were more worried about fitting in than they were with anything else. Because they were only seeking a worldly view, their hearts were hardened to God and to all that He wanted to give them.

How many times do we reject God all in order to fit in or just go with the flow. After all it is easier to try and be like everyone else rather than it is to live out our faith. But is it worth it? Does conforming to the world bring the peace and happiness that we all seek? Let's be realistic, living radically for Christ and carrying a cross is certainly not easy ... but it is worth it. And we know that if we are willing to live out of our comfort zone, and to try ad be like Christ instead of like everyone else then we know that there is a great reward for us in heaven.

We all have a choice to make in this life; try and follow the world and reject God ... or follow the Lord and accept life. The choice is yours.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that we have and all that we are. Lord you are so good to us, please never let us stray from you. Your way are right and good, and help us to conform to your will instead of our own. We pray for all of those in need of conversion right, that they may be lead back to you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Real Faith

Readings for Thursday January 14, 2009

First Reading: 1 Samuel 4:1-11
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 44
Gospel: Mark 1:40-45

The Philistines gathered for an attack on Israel. Israel went out to engage them in battle and camped at Ebenezer, while the Philistines camped at Aphek. The Philistines then drew up in battle formation against Israel. After a fierce struggle Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who slew about four thousand men on the battlefield. When the troops retired to the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the LORD permitted us to be defeated today by the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the Lord from Shiloh that it may go into battle among us and save us from the grasp of our enemies." (1 Sam 4:1-3)

How many of you have ever wished upon a star? Have you ever carried a lucky rabbits foot, threw salt over your shoulder, avoided opening an umbrella in the house, or found a four leaf clover? There are many myths and superstitions out there, and ones in which we may even be guilty of participating in. While these things may seem innocent, belief in these things are just another example of taking our trust out of God and putting it into something else. In today's first reading, the Israelites, after losing a battle, decided to bring in the Ark of the Covenant in a desperate attempt to bring a "luck" their way. The Israelites made the mistake of reducing the Ark of the Covenant to a simple good luck charm. This is most likely the reason that they lost the next battle as well, they just didn't have a real faith or trust in God. If they had, then the Ark of the Covenant would have been at the battle in the first place.

Like the Israelites, how many times to do go to God out of desperation hoping that our luck will change? We must realize that God knows our heart, and He knows when our faith is real. The Israelites did not truly believe in the power of the Lord, they first relied on their own power and then when in a pinch decided to pull in the Ark. They ended up losing the battle and many of them lost their lives. In today's gospel, we see a different story; we read of the leper who comes to Jesus and asks to be healed. But the leper, did not treat Jesus like He was some magical person blessed with good luck, but rather the leper treated Him like God. The leper came before Jesus with a faith and trust that was real, and he knelt before the Lord and said "If you wish, you can make me clean." Jesus, moved with pity, reached out and healed the man. We see a much different approach to God between the Israelite warriors and the leper.

We must remember that we will not find the things that we need in myths, superstitions, and other worldly things; but we will only find our life and true meaning in Christ.

May our hearts be full of love for the Lord, and may all of our faith and hope be in Him!

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for the love and mercy to which you show us each and every day. Lord, we are not deserving of all of the goodness and blessings that you give, but you choose to love us anyways. Lord, help increase our faith and give us the courage that we need to persevere in this world an to overcome any barriers that try to prevent us from you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Preach the Gospel at all times

Readings for Wednesday January 13, 2010

First Reading: 1 Samuel 3:1-10, 19-20
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 40
Gospel: Mark 1:29-39

Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. Simon and those who were with him pursued him and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you.” He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.” So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee. (Mk 1:35-39)

How many people go through life without ever realizing their purpose? How many people just go through the motions each day without ever finding out why they are here and what it is they are supposed to do. Such a hopeless life seems to have captured many people throughout time as well as in our world today. It is such a shame that so many people do not realize that they can find hope and meaning in Christ.

God has a plan for us, and that plan for each of us is specific to each individual. But there are some things in His plan for us that we all share. One of those things is that we are each called to preach the good news and share the hope found in Christ with this world. Now, that does not mean that we all enter into religious life or become missionaries, but it does mean that we should have the courage to go out and share Jesus in this world. There are many different ways in which we can share the good news. The most obvious one is through just talking and sharing what Christ means to us; and of course we should also learn about our faith so that we are more knowledgeable in our sharing. I also think that our actions and the things that we do are a great way to share the faith. Saint Francis of Assisi said it best when he said, "Preach the gospel at all times ... If necessary, use words." There are many different ways for us to share the hope and meaning that is found in Christ, with God's help we can discover how it is that we are to do that. Let the Holy Spirit reveal to you what it is that you can do in this world to help share God.

Even though there are a great deal of people who live lives without meaning and purpose, does not mean that they have to keep living that way. If we are willing to trust God and have the courage to share the good news to all those we come into contact with, then that is when we will truly find meaning and live out our purpose in this life.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord give us the faith and courage to go out and share yo in this world. Lord, you hold nothing back from us, may we not hold anything back from you. We pray for all of our priests and religious, that they may be strengthened in their ministries and in their vows. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.



Readings for Tuesday January 12, 2010

First Reading: 1 Samuel 1:9-20
Responsorial Psalm: 1 Samuel 2:1
Gospel: Mark 1:14-20

Hannah answered. “I am an unhappy woman. I have had neither wine nor liquor; I was only pouring out my troubles to the LORD. Do not think your handmaid a ne’er-do-well; my prayer has been prompted by my deep sorrow and misery.” Eli said, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.” She replied, “Think kindly of your maidservant,” and left. She went to her quarters, ate and drank with her husband, and no longer appeared downcast. Early the next morning they worshiped before the LORD, and then returned to their home in Ramah. When Elkanah had relations with his wife Hannah, the LORD remembered her. She conceived, and at the end of her term bore a son whom she called Samuel, since she had asked the LORD for him. (1 Sam 1:15-20)

In today's first reading we read the request of Hannah to have a child. As we read yesterday, Hannah was not able to conceive, and this inability to have children was causing her such sorrow and sadness in her life. At her lowest, Hannah humbly comes before the Lord and prays with all her heart to be able to have a child, and if the Lord would just grant her this, she would give the child back to the Lord and consecrate the child to Him.

How many of us have been in Hannah's shoes before? How many times at our lowest, or in our most difficult times have we dropped to our knees in prayer? In these moments when we are facing something so hard for us, it is good that we are going to the right source. The Lord wants us to rely and to trust in Him. Hannah trusted Him enough to pour out all of her trouble; she did not go to some friend or idol, no, she took her hardship and asked the Lord for help. We too, need to take up Hannah's example and take our troubles and hardships before the Lord, because in doing this there is something so wonderful to be found ... healing.

In Hannah's story, there is a happy ending, the Lord remembered her, and gave her the ability to conceive. In today's gospel reading, we read of Jesus healing the man possessed by a demon. In each of these cases God brought healing to those in need, and that is exactly what He wants to do is bring healing into our lives. Prayer is such an important part of this, because prayer reminds us who we go to for help, who we trust in and who we are willing to surrender everything that we have to. It is in prayer that we ask God for the help we need, and He will always answer our prayers; it may not be the way we expected, and we may not get the things that we wanted, but we will always get the things that we need for our healing.

So no matter what you are going through or what is troubling you, bring it before God. Let Him help as only we can and wants to. May we all have the strength to put our trust in the Lord, and may we all be granted the healing we need.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you have given us, thank you for all of the blessings in our lives. Lord, we bring to you all of our troubles and our worries, help us God, may your glory and might be shown through our healing. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Don't nobody give me no backtalk!

Readings for Monday January 11, 2010

First Reading: 1 Samuel 1:1-8
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 116
Gospel: Mark 1:14-20

As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Then they left their nets and followed him. He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him. (Mk 1:16-20)

If you have or have ever worked with children and teens, the one thing that will never cease to drive you crazy is backtalk. It is always a mystery why certain kids (especially teenagers) seem to always want to argue, debate, or make some snide comment when being asked to do something. It almost makes you want to preface each and every request or direction with a term frequently used by Mr. T, "and don't nobody give me no backtalk!"

In today's gospel reading, we read about the calling of the first disciples (Simon/Peter, Andrew, James and John). Now when Jesus called out to these men, there was no argument, they did not debate, they did not stop to analyze the situation, and there certainly was no backtalk. No, these men just got up, left all that they had and followed Jesus. In this situation, not a single word was spoken, but their actions were more powerful that any words could ever be. I think that the first disciples give us a powerful insight into what it means to listen and follow God. For all of their flaws, they certainly had the courage to do something that many of us could never do, and that is leave it all behind and follow Christ.

For the disciples, backtalk was not a problem. They actually listened and followed Jesus, sure they fumbled a little bit early on, but never ceased to follow and listen to Him. They certainly were not about giving God backtalk, they were more about action. Now, how about in your life? Are you one to give God backtalk? When He places something on your heart or a thought in your head, are you one to say, "I can't do that!" or "That would take too much effort." Perhaps you are really good and debating and making excuses of why your can't do something. I think that backtalk to God is something that we are all guilty of, whether it be very blatant or very subtle, we are all guilty of protesting and/or giving excuses of why we cannot do something for God.

Think about this, if we appreciate it when someone just simply does what we ask without any backtalk, how much more does God appreciate it when we too just do what we are asked without any backtalk? So let's all take a lesson from the first disciples and from Mr. T today "and don't nobody give no backtalk!"

Father above, thank you for the gift of our lives and the gift of this day. Lord, help us to conform to your will which is perfect. Help us to follow you with complete faith and trust and to hold nothing back from you who give us everything. Lord, your ways are perfect and please help us to be the lights in this world that we are called to be. We pray for all of our priests and all religious. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Importance of Prayer

Readings for Friday January 8, 2009

First Reading: 1 John 5:5-13
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 147
Gospel: Luke 5:12-16

The report about him spread all the more, and great crowds assembled to listen to him and to be cured of their ailments, but he would withdraw to deserted places to pray. (Lk 5:15-16)

In today's gospel reading, as in other readings as well, we see that the more popular Jesus becomes, the more He goes off to pray. I believe that one of the reasons for this is that Jesus is setting an example for all of us. He is showing us the importance of prayer, if He who is God made it a priority, shouldn't we be making it just as much of a priority?

Would you expect a good relationship with your parents, children, brothers, sisters, or friends if you hardly ever talked with them? Or what if you only called to ask for something. This seems to be how many of our own prayer lives go. Most people (if they do "pray") seem to only come to God when things are going wrong or to ask Him to do something. Unfortunately, if this is our approach to prayer and our relationship with our Father in heaven, then we should not expect that relationship to be fruitful.

Jesus made prayer a priority in His life here on earth, we should also be making it a priority in ours as well. In today's gospel, we read that Jesus went off to deserted places to pray. He went off to be alone with the Father, He went off to find a quiet area where He could focus and concentrate on prayer. Now, I am not suggesting that in order for us to pray we need to run off to a deserted place, but it is important for us to try and find a quiet area where we can focus and concentrate on prayer. I understand that it can be hard for us to find quiet areas or time for prayer. One of my favorite times for prayer and for quiet is in the morning, before my wife and little girl wake up. It is during the morning that I can just have quiet time alone with my Creator. Now, in order to have this time in the morning it does involved me getting up before everyone else and before I need to get ready for work, but I can tell you that it is so worth it. I have since come to really value my mornings and this time for prayer and reflection. I pray that each of you will be able to find that place of solitude each day where it can be just you and God.

Pray is very necessary if we are to have a good thriving relationship with God, may we never take for granted the importance of prayer.

Father above, we thank you for this day. Lord, help us to make you a priority each and every day. Lord, we thank you and praise you so much for our lives and for all that we are. Lord, you alone know what is best for us and we pray that your will be done. We pray for all those in need of conversion, that they may find their life in you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Network of Love

Readings for Thursday January 7, 2010

First Reading: 1 John 4:19-5:4
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 72
Gospel: Luke 4:14-22

Beloved, we love God because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. This is the commandment we have from him: Whoever loves God must also love his brother. (1 John 4:19-21)

This year, as one of my goals for 2010, I have decided on a few specific virtues that I want to work on in my life. One of the virtues that I have chosen is the virtue of love. So it has been a true blessing for me to start the year off reading about God's love for us and also how we should love in this life. I have been praying for God to show me what it means to love more, and He certainly shows me everyday what love is really all about with my wife and my daughter. Saint John gives us a great reflection on love in today's first reading: "We love because He first love us." We see here that God is the source of love and it is because of Him that we are given this truly amazing gift. He chooses to love us, and because our God has chosen to share this great gift of love with us, we should also choose not only to love Him back but to share this love with the world.

Now, if it's one thing that I do know, it is that as Christians we cannot become complacent. We are meant to grow and to stretch ourselves. It can be easy to only concentrate on loving those closest to us, Lord knows that we all need to work on all of our relationships; but we cannot simply just choose to work on loving those that love us and those who it is the easiest to love. This is where we are called to expand our "network of love." If you have ever seen the Verizon wireless commercials, then you have seen the people walking around with the maps over their heads. This map is supposed to represent the people that they have coverage to, and by being in their network you could easily reach out to those people. I could tell you that if we all had a coverage map over our heads that showed all the people that I have actively tried to show love to and to live out my call to love, then my map would be pretty small. As Catholics we are called to more, we are called to love as Christ loved, and He reaches out with His network to love each and every day. We too should be actively seeking to expand our love to those around us, not just the people that it is easy to, but to all those that we can.

"Whoever loves God must also love his brother." (1 Jn 4:21) May we spend the rest of our days here on earth expanding our network of love.

Lord, thank you for loving us so much. Help us to love more fully and as you call us to. Help us to share your love with the world and to not hold anything back. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Heart Condition

Readings for Wednesday January 6, 2010

First Reading: 1 John 4:11-18
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm
Gospel: Mark 6:45-52

When it was evening, the boat was far out on the sea and he was alone on shore. Then he saw that they were tossed about while rowing, for the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them. But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out. They had all seen him and were terrified. But at once he spoke with them, “Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!” He got into the boat with them and the wind died down. They were completely astounded. They had not understood the incident of the loaves. On the contrary, their hearts were hardened. (Mk 6:47-52)

According of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the leading cause of death in the United States is heart disease. Each year heart disease claims many lives. There is also another heart condition that is not only causing major issues in our country, but also in our world, and that heart condition is called the hardened heart.

In today's gospel we see that Jesus had just finished feeding five thousand people with just a few loaves and some fish. Now, while He was sending off the crowds, He had the disciples go ahead in the boat. While they were out there, the weather got kind of rough, and the boat started really rocking. While this was going on, they started to see this figure walking toward them on the water. Now, of course since this is not a typical sight out on the sea, it is understandable that they were frightened. But, while they were fearing the worst, Jesus calms their fears and telling them not to worry, that it is Him, and He proceeds to get on the boat. Now, the disciples were completely in awe; they could not comprehend what just happened, and it is because they were struck by the same heart condition that many people in our world are suffering form as well, a hardened heart.

You see a hardened heart prevented the disciples from understanding the miracle of feeding the five thousand and it preventing them from understanding this miracle as well. A hardened heart is a very serious thing, because if our hearts are hardened, then we will be preventing from seeing God's work in our lives and in the world. We cannot love God as we are called or have a strong faith if we are suffering from this heart condition.

Fixing this heart condition requires change in our lives. It requires surrendering our pride, asking God to send us His spirit and open our eyes to His love and His goodness. It requires a steady diet of pray and the Sacraments. Most of all, it requires faith. If we can work on this change of heart, then we do not have to find ourselves like many people in this world who's hearts are hardened toward God.

May we all be sure to take care of our hearts and of our lives, after all it's the only one we got!

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. Lord, help us not to waste these precious moments that you give us. Lord, our lives are a blessing and a miracle themselves, help us to treat them as the gift that they are. We praise you for all that you give and all that you do, help us to follow you no matter where you lead us to. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Say yes to love

Readings for Tuesday January 5, 2010

Memorial of Saint John Neumann, bishop

First Reading: 1 John 4:7-10
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 72
Gospel: Mark 6:34-44

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love. In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only-begotten Son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins. (1 John 4:7-10)

Each day we each have so many missed opportunities to love. There are all sorts of reasons for this, sometimes it is is just because we are so busy or distracted that we miss people and things going on around us. Other times we think that it just takes too much work, or that it would be too much of an inconvenience to show love or do an act of love. There are also times where our hearts are so hardened towards someone or something that we would rather do anything else besides show love. As I said before, each day we all have so many missed opportunities to love.

As I was reflecting on Saint John's words today, something struck me as interesting; if we say yes to love in our lives, then we are saying yes to God. As Saint John points out, God is love; and so by saying yes to love we are saying yes to Him. If we turn away from or shy away from love, then we are turning away from God.

As Christians, we are each called to follow and be like Christ; and Christ is God who is love. We are each called to choose love in our lives, and by doing this we are doing the work in this world that God calls us to. By choosing to love, we can bring Christ more fully into our lives and the lives of others. May we always remember that when we say yes to love, we are saying yes to God.

Today, reflect on how we can each love more fully and better in our lives; and how can we keep our eyes open for opportunities to love? This is our challenge and our calling.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for our lives; and for your great love and mercy. help us to love as you want us to, help us to be the men and women that you created us to be. We love you Lord, and praise you for all you bless us with. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


We belong to God

Readings for Monday January 4, 2010

Memorial of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, religious

First Reading: 1 John 3:22-4:6
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 2
Gospel: Matthew 4:12-17, 23-25

We receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And his commandment is this: we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded us. Those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them, and the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit whom he gave us. (1 John 3:22-24)

I remember that when I was in the fourth grade my family and I moved to a new town, which of course meant that I would be attending a new school. Now we had moved half-way through the school year, so I was entering into a class that had already had half of a year to get to know each other, and add to that this was a small town that we had moved to. I remember that those first several weeks were difficult because I was brand new, completely away from the school and friends that I had once previously knew. Those first several weeks I spent trying to find my place in the new town and the new school.

I think that this feeling of being lost and trying to find our place in this world is something that many people struggle with, not just as an adolescent, but even as adults. Many adults compromise and go on to lead lives that may be safe and comfortable. But so many people in this world are left unfulfilled and without hope because they do not know where their place is and what their purpose is.

In today's first reading, Saint John sheds some light on where our place is, and that is with Christ. Our purpose is to live out and keep His commandments, and our place is with Him. The truth is that we do not belong to this world; now of course we do live in it, but we do not belong to the world, we belong to God. So many people in this world would be happier and find true peace if they would just realize this truth. There would be so much more joy if people would realize that we have a loving and merciful God who wants to free us from the slavery of sin and to spend the rest of eternity with us in paradise.

May we always remember that our place in this world is with God, not with anyone or anything else. We belong to God, not to the world.

Father above we thank you for the gift of this day. Lord, we thank you for the gift of our lives. Help us to love as you call us to and to not waste a single moment of this life. We pray for all those who do not know you and who are in need of conversion, may they find their place in you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


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