First Reading: Ezekiel 18:21-28
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 130
Gospel: Matthew 5:20-26
“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, Raqa, will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna. Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny." (Mt 5:21-26)
Today we read in the gospel that whoever kills will be liable to judgment, but Jesus kicks it up a few notches and says that "whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment." Now I think that we would all agree that killing is very wrong, but getting angry with someone, we shouldn't even do that?!? I mean what is so wrong with getting angry with someone, especially if they did something wrong and deserve it? Why is it that Jesus is telling us to control our anger like this?
I think that the reason why we are told to control our anger is because we are called to be loving and merciful, not bitter and uncompassionate. If we think about this, letting anger live inside us can certainly can lead to resentment and other harsh feelings towards someone; who knows, if those feelings grow inside of us what they might lead us to do ... maybe even kill someone. Now, I know that that is an extreme example, but it does make a lot of sense. How often do you hear of murders or killings where one person was really happy with the victim? Unfortunately, many lives are taken out of anger and other feelings that can stem from anger. Now, the majority of people who get angry never let it get that far, but while anger may never lead someone to take a life, it can lead to feelings that block love and therefore block God in our lives. Jesus teaches us this about anger so that we can not only learn to forgive and love as God loves us, but to also learn how to humble ourselves and ask for forgiveness. If we are truly be the men and women that we are called to be, then we must learn how to give in to love, rather than anger.
Today let us reflect on this passage from Saint Paul: "Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never fails." (1 Cor 13:4-8)
May we all learn to love as we are called to.
Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. We thank you for the opportunity to go out and love others as you love us. Lord, help us to never let go of you, and to always follow your ways. Help us be slow to anger and quick to love. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.
First Reading: Ester C:12,14-16,23-25
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 138
Gospel: Matthew 7:7-12
Jesus said to his disciples: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asked for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asked for a fish? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him. “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets." (Lk 7:7-12)
I remember this one fall season when I was in elementary school, me and a friend decided to be entrepreneurs. We decided to have our own leaf raking business. Unfortunately being so young with a fledgling business and no client referrals meant that we needed to do some "cold calling." So we decided to do what many youths do in that situation, we went door to door asking people if we could rake their yards for a modest fee. So here we were, rakes on our hands, determination in our hearts, and money on our mind. When we were going door to door, the majority of the time the response that we got was no. We did however get one customer, and how sweet that was when we finally got a yes. And we made sure that we did a good job on that guys yard. But the whole process of going door to door, being rejected and then finally getting someone to say yes to us was quite an experience that will always stick out in my mind.
Isn't it great that as we read today's gospel, we serve a Lord who has an "open door policy?" God's door is always open to us, knock and come to Him with our needs and He will provide. What an amazing, loving Father that we have. May we always remember that God's door is always open to us, no matter when we knock He is always there ready to take us in and accept us just as we are, for we are His.
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for always being there for us and for never abandoning us. You are always so faithful to your servants, may we strive all of our life to be faithful to you. We pray for all those you are in need of conversion and who do not know you; may they find true joy and peace in your loving arms. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.
First Reading: Jonah 3:1-10
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 51
Gospel: Luke 11:29-32
While still more people gathered in the crowd, Jesus said to them, “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah. Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. At the judgment the queen of the south will rise with the men of this generation and she will condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and there is something greater than Solomon here. At the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because at the preaching of Jonah they repented, and there is something greater than Jonah here." (Lk 11:29-32)
"Take my word for it!" How many times have we heard people say that to us, many times it is because someone is trying to convince us of something that we are not totally buying. So many a people when unable to prove something they are saying or selling will end with the classic phrase "take my word for it." There probably wouldn't even be such a need for this phrase if people weren't always so skeptical. Often times instead of just words, we want proof. This is essentially a defense mechanism that helps to protect us from being fooled or hurt. In many instances there is nothing wrong with asking for more than someones word and asking them to prove something to you. While this approach may be fine with people, it is not with God.
When it comes to listening to God, we really just need to "take His word for it." We need to not only listen to what He is saying to us, but we also must be willing to believe and follow Him. In the gospel reading today, Jesus knows that the people want a sign, but they will not be given one. Jesus is telling them that they basically just need to listen to Him and take His word for it. This is much easier to do when there is trust. If we do not truly trust in God, then we will not be able to follow Him or believe in His word. If we are truly to not seek a sign, and to believe in His word, then we must be willing to put away our skepticism and disbelief and simply trust in our Heavenly Father.
When it comes to God, we need to listen and just "take His word for it." By doing this, we have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank yo for all that you have given us and for all that we are. Thank you for your love and mercy, help us to go out in this world and be loving and merciful ourselves. We pray for all of our priests and religious, that they may find renewed strength in their ministries and that they may stay faithful to their vows. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.
First Reading: Isaiah 55:10-11
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 34
Gospel: Matthew 6:7-15
Jesus said to his disciples: “In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him“This is how you are to pray:
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." (Mt 6:7-13)
There is an important part in the Lord's prayer that many of us fail to keep in mind. Many of us pray the Lord's prayer often, but still fail to remember this important part and to live it out in our lives. The part of the prayer is, "thy will be done." How many times do we ask that His will be done? Often in prayer in and in our lives we are saying do this or do that ... my will be done. Sadly, by only thinking about our own will, we are not giving in to the God's will which is perfect. Our will may bring temporary happiness or pleasure, but it does not bring everlasting peace and happiness.
Saint Polycarp, whose feast day we celebrate today, gives us a great example of what it means to say, and to live out, "thy will be done." Polycarp sought to live a good and holy life by modeling his life after Christ's. He wanted nothing more that for His will to be done, and he even said this until his martyrdom in the second century. May we follow Saint Polycarp's example of true devotion to Jesus and to always say "Lord, thy will be done, not mine, but yours."
Saint Polycarp, pray for us!
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, you are the source of all that is good, may we always follow you rather than the things of this world. Lord, help us to love more, to love you and our neighbor as we are called to. Lord, we pray that we will always give in to your will, for your will is perfect and what is best for us. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, Apostle
First Reading: 1 Peter 5:1-4
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 23
Gospel: Matthew 16:13-19
When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." (Mt 16:13-19)
Today we celebrate the feast of the Chair of Saint Peter, the chair which represents the authority left by Jesus to Peter ... and to whomever else has oversaw our Church as the Pope. I can still remember before I became Catholic, how I was one of those people who just thought that it was completely ridiculous and unnecessary that the Church had a Pope. Not to mention that the idea of Papal Infallibility seemed equally ridiculous and untrue. But it was a funny thing that once I really started looking into this matter, I came across the above reading from Matthew, and I really started realizing (and having to admit) that maybe there is something to this whole Pope thing. The more that I investigated, the more that I realized that not only was the Chair of Saint Peter a legitimate position, but also such a needed one as well. Since the beginning of the Church, we have been blessed to have a Pope who has helped to guide the people in matters relating to faith. Let's face it, while the bible is a complete, it does not specifically address every issue that we come across, so it is helpful that we have such a strong servant, inspired by the Holy Spirit, who will help guide us in the gray areas of life.
Take a moment to read from Isaiah 22:22; "I will place the key of the House of David on his shoulder, when he open, no one shall shut, when he shuts, no one shall open." Let us praise and thank God for giving us the Chair of Saint Peter so that we are never lost, and that we have yet another voice that says to us "listen to Him."
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you have given us in this life and for all that we are. Lord your love and mercy are so great, help us to never stray away from you. We pray for Pope Benedict XVI and for all of his intentions. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.
First Reading: Isaiah 58:1-9
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 51
Gospel: Matthew 9:14-15
Lo, on your fast day you carry out your own pursuits, and drive all your laborers. Yes, your fast ends in quarreling and fighting, striking with wicked claw. Would that today you might fast so as to make your voice heard on high! Is this the manner of fasting I wish, of keeping a day of penance: That a man bow his head like a reed and lie in sackcloth and ashes? Do you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD? This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; Setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; Sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own. Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed; Your vindication shall go before you, and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer, you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am! (Is 58:3-90
Have you ever heard the phrase, "you've made your bed, now lie in it"? This phrase basically means that however we do something (making our bed), we are going to have to deal with the consequences of our actions (lying in it). So if we make a bad bed, then we are going to have to lie in a bad bed; however if we make a good bed, then we will get to lie in a good bed. It is good for us to think about this phrase as we are in the beginning of lent.
This time of lent is a time of prayer and fasting; sadly many people look at fasting as something that is burdensome. As we read from Isaiah, the Lord does not want us to fast so that He can punish us or so that it ends with us in worse shape than before. This is not the type of fasting the Lord asks of us. The Lord wants us to cooperate in fruitful fasting; fasting that actually allows us to gain something. Fasting that actually brings about a deeper conversion, and love for the Lord and His ways. Our fasting is something that is supposed to help us realize that we don't need the things of this world, we have all we need with God. Fasting is one of the ways that we are able to come to this realization.
So the question to ask yourself as you go through this lent, is what kind of bed are you making for yourself? Are you really stretching yourself, really trying to grow and make this a fruitful time, or is it just another thing to do? At the end of lent, your prayer and fasting will have either made you a better son or daughter of God, or it will not. What kind of bed do you want to lie in?
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Thank you for your love and your mercy. Lord, help us to not never to stray from you. Lord, help us to not be tied down to things of this world, and cling only to you. Lord thank you for this time of lent, help us to each make ti fruitful and a time of growth. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.
First Reading: Deuteronomy 30:15-20
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 1
Gospel: Luke 9:22-25
Jesus said to his disciples: “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised." Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?" (Lk 9:22-25)
During this season of lent, we have an opportunity to grow in our faith and as God's people. This is a time to accept God and all that He gives us, rather than reject Him as the priests and scribes did. This is a time to embrace our own crosses in life, and realize that it is our cross that we carry during this faith journey that is going to lead to everlasting life in heaven. It is only by carrying our cross that we can follow Him who carried the cross for our sake. Let us never think of our cross as burdensome, but rather as something that we do out of love for God.
I came across the following story, and I really thought that it offered an interesting reflection for today's gospel reading. Take a few moments to reflect on the following story "Choose your Cross":
One day, a man went to the Lord and said, "Help me, Lord....I can't take this suffering anymore. Please give me a different cross to bare.” So, our gentle Lord said, "Come with me." All of a sudden, the man and the Lord were standing in a huge room with every kind of cross imaginable. Some were small, some large, others beautiful, some ugly, etc.....The Lord said to the man, "Now you look around and pick out another cross you'd like to carry." Happily, the man searched and searched and finally found one. He said to the Lord, "Lord, Lord, I will take this one."
The Lord just smiled and said, "My dear child, that is the same cross you came in with." In other words, we all have a custom-made cross, uniquely designed for us. The cross God gives you to bear is the very one He knows you can handle. It’s designed just for you, and you will be the one that becomes a better person because of it. (take from http://blog.beliefnet.com/beyondblue/2007/08/choose-your-cross.html)
First Reading: Joel 2:12-18
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 51
Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2
Gospel: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
Even now, says the LORD, return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning; Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God. For gracious and merciful is he, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment. Perhaps he will again relent and leave behind him a blessing, Offerings and libations for the LORD, your God. (Joel 2:12-14)
When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you." (Matt. 6:16-18)
Praise be to the Lord! Today is Ash Wednesday, which means we now begin the season of Lent. This is truly a blessed time of growth ... for those who choose it to be. This is a season where we fast from things of this world and turn to God with all our hearts. It is during this time when we learn and reflect on what it truly means to be a disciple of Christ. However, with the season of Lent, like many things in life, you will get out only what you put in. If you do not take advantage of this time and really try to grow, then nothing will happen. But, if you really take on this season with a humble and grateful heart, while really trying to sacrifice for the Lord with the fast, then you will find this to be a really fruitful time and you will surely get much out of it.
May the Lord bless each of us as we begin this journey towards our Lord.
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you have given, and all that your do. Lord, you are so good to us and you are so loving, help us to be more like you in our lives. Lord, we pray that during Lent we can let go of the world and learn to rely and trust in you even more. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.
First Reading: James 1:12-18
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 94
Gospel: Mark 8:14-21
The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. Jesus enjoined them, “Watch out, guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” They concluded among themselves that it was because they had no bread. When he became aware of this he said to them, “Why do you conclude that it is because you have no bread? Do you not yet understand or comprehend? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear? And do you not remember, when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many wicker baskets full of fragments you picked up?” They answered him, “Twelve.” “When I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many full baskets of fragments did you pick up?” They answered him, “Seven.” He said to them, “Do you still not understand?" (Mk 8:14-21)
I think that the majority of us have pessimistic tendencies. Now, I am not saying that we are always pessimistic, just that we are at many times in our lives. We get down when things seem hopeless and not going our way, and we just want to focus on the negative. The disciples in today's gospel began to do this when they realized that they only had one loaf of bread to eat. Jesus gave them a simple remedy for curing this negativity ... count your blessings.
Jesus, realizing that the disciples were not getting His message of watching out for the leaven of other authorities, had to go back to the basics because they were worried about food. Jesus had to remind them that they need to worry about food, look who they were with, the person who feeds thousands out of a few loafs of bread. Jesus had to remind them to count their blessings and to trust in God before they could begin to hear and understand the other important messages He had for them.
Saint James tells us today that, "all good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights." (Jas 1:17) Let us always remember that everything that we have in life and all that we are is not because of us, it is because of God. May we always seek to count our blessings rather than focus on the negative.
Father above we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, you are so good and so merciful to us, thank you for your great gifts. Lord, thank you for loving us and wanting us, help us to never hold back in giving ourselves to you. We pray for all of our priests and religious, and for all those in need of conversion. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.
First Reading: James 1:1-11
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 119
Gospel: Mark 8:11-13
Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)
Currently there is an exciting event going on worldwide. In case you have not noticed, the Winter Olympics are underway in Vancouver Canada. The Olympics are always an exciting event, because not only do you have athletes representing your country that you can cheer on, but we see people facing incredible challenges all in order to succeed and gain a great honor and reward and to make their country proud. The Olympics are always a mixed bag of emotions, as the are great come from behind victories as well as heartbreaking stories. Regardless of the outcome, everyone who take part in these sporting events grows, both the athletes and the spectators. We grow because we either experience, or witness, great hardships which must be overcome, and by persevering through these challenges we grow.
James tells us today that we should take a different attitude when encountering challenges. Instead of despair, we should be joyful to be endure hardships. Because if we are willing to do this, then there can be great growth that comes about. The key is to move forward by persevering through the challenges in life, not by running away. Running away from the things that are hard in life do not give us any chance for success; but if we are willing to take a chance, trust and persevere through, then we will become better people as a result. Our Lord never promised that the faith journey would be easy, in fact He promised us the opposite, that we would need to endure a great deal and that each of us would need to pick up our cross. While our Lord never promised that this would be easy, He did promise us a great reward in the end.
James and the other apostles knew a thing or two about hardship and challenges, but by God's grace, they experienced their trials and challenges they came across with joy, instead of despair. Because they knew that God was helping them grow, God was leading the closer to Him. Many times we will encounter various things in our lives, not because they are fun or easy, but because we need them and because they will help us grow. If we are willing to trust in God, then He will help us through these things and will help us see why it was important.
I once heard a deacon day, "God loves us just as we are. But He loves us too much to keep us that way." It is the trials and challenges in life that will help us change, and when we face them, may God grant each of us the grace to consider it a joy.
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Help us to love as you love and to hold nothing back. Lord, thank you for loving us so much and for your great mercy. Help us to be joyful when encountering trials, and that we might do all t hings with a servant's attitude. Lord, you are so good to us, much more than we deserve, may our hearts always be full of you and your love. We pray for all those who are suffering, and all those who are being persecuted, may they find their strength in you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.
First Reading: 1 Kings 11:29-32,12:19
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm
Gospel: Mark 7:31-37
Jesus left the district of Tyre and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, into the district of the Decapolis. And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him off by himself away from the crowd. He put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, “Ephphatha!” (that is, “Be opened!”) And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly. He ordered them not to tell anyone. But the more he ordered them not to, the more they proclaimed it. They were exceedingly astonished and they said, “He has done all things well. He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak." (Mk 7:31-37)
One of my favorite animated movie series is Disney and Pixar's Toy Story (and yes I am very excited about the third one coming out soon). In these movies we see a lot of camaraderie, and a great friendship that takes place among these toys. Even though you have a lot of different personalities and differences, they still have a friendship that keeps them together and makes them risk many things for each other. in fact the main theme song of the movies is called "You've got a friend in me." I think that this is a great song about friendship, about how no matter what friends are supposed to stick together.
When we read in today's gospel about the healing of the deaf man, we see that he certainly has some very good friends. Now, obviously the deaf man had not been able to hear about Jesus or what He has been doing, and so he was probably clueless about who Jesus was. But, thankfully, he had some friends who cared enough about him to bring him to the master physician. The deaf man's friends really display a great principle that we should be following to this day, and that is: good friends lead those around them to Christ. This is exactly what the people around the deaf man did, they saw how much he was suffering and how hard his life was, and they believed that he could find healing in Christ. These friends lead the deaf man to Christ, and in so doing they helped to change his life forever.
May we always remember real friends lead those around them to Christ. May God grant us the strength and courage to be real friends to all those around us.
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord you are so good and merciful to us, we thank you for healing us of all that we suffer from. Lord, help us to always seek you will and to never leave your care. Thank you for loving us so much, and may we share that love with the rest of the world. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.
First Reading: 1 Kings 11:4-13
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 106
Gospel: Mark 7:24-30
Jesus went to the district of Tyre. He entered a house and wanted no one to know about it, but he could not escape notice. Soon a woman whose daughter had an unclean spirit heard about him. She came and fell at his feet. The woman was a Greek, a Syrophoenician by birth, and she begged him to drive the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, “Let the children be fed first. For it is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” She replied and said to him, “Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.” Then he said to her, “For saying this, you may go. The demon has gone out of your daughter.” When the woman went home, she found the child lying in bed and the demon gone. (Mk 7:24-30)
I remember the first time that I read this gospel, I thought, "ouch, Jesus is being a little harsh here." But when you think about it, sometimes God asks us to go a little farther in our faith. Many times He doesn't just want us to tell Him, He wants us to show Him. In the gospel, it appeared that Jesus was unwilling to help, but this woman persisted and never lost faith in the power of Christ. Not only did she persist, but she even displayed a great humility before the Lord, she was willing to lower herself for love. This woman showed us that true love is willing to suffer ridicule and shame for the sake of another. Jesus brought this out in the woman, and not only did He grant her request, but He helped her grow in faith.
The woman from today's gospel was not afraid to to go farther in her faith, she was not afraid to prove it. Most people in this situation would have given up at what appeared to be rejection, but this woman kept going. So the question is, how far would you go? How far would you go to prove your faith? When faced with difficult circumstances will you continue to persist as this woman did? Will you display the kind of humility that this woman displayed? Will you let your love lead you, instead of your pride?
The story of this woman, gives us a great example of displaying one's faith. May God grant us all the strength to show our faith when called upon.
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you give and all that you do. Thank you for pouring out your love and mercy upon us freely, and for accepting us as we are. Lord, let us only follow you, and realize that you are the way, the truth, and the light and nothing else can compare to you. We pray for our priests and for all our religious. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Memorial of Saint Scholastica, virgin
First Reading: 1 Kings 10:1-10
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 37
Gospel: Mark 7:14-23
Jesus summoned the crowd again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile." When he got home away from the crowd his disciples questioned him about the parable. He said to them, “Are even you likewise without understanding? Do you not realize that everything that goes into a person from outside cannot defile, since it enters not the heart but the stomach and passes out into the latrine?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.) “But what comes out of the man, that is what defiles him. From within the man, from his heart, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile." (Mk 7:14-23)
For years we have been seeing infomercials that sell products that are supposedly guaranteed to give us the perfect midsection. The people on the commercials tell us that using their product only 10 minutes a day will give us perfect six pack abs. Of course they don't mention anything about needing to do cardio exercising and eating right as well. It seems to be the goal of most people wanting to get in shape to strive for the perfect middle, the perfect core. We seem to equate fitness with having a slim, defined midsection; if this weren't the case then these machines would not sell so well. In a way, I kind of agree with this mentality,I do believe that it is extremely important to have a good core, but I am not talking about abdominal muscles ... I am talking about the heart.
Jesus tell us today that it is not what goes into a person that defiles, but rather what's inside that defiles. This is because it is what's inside someones heart that shows in their lives. Jesus lists the things that can defile a person, things that do not belong in the heart. Unfortunately, because of the fall and because of sin in the world, we have opened our hearts to these things that defile, instead of things that build us up. Because of this, we need to get spiritually fit and begin doing some core work. Even though we are affected by our fallen nature, by the grace of God we can overcome that. God makes all things new, and even though we may have these things in our hearts, He can help us clean things out and work on that strong core.
Instead of filling our hearts with things that defile our lives; let us begin building a strong core through a daily regimen of prayer, scripture, building virtue, and spreading the good news of Christ.
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all you have blessed us with and all that you have given. Lord, your love and mercy are so great, greater than anything that we have done, help us to see your love and mercy in our lives and to share that with others. Lord, we do not deserve you, thank you for wanting us, and help us to dedicate our lives to you and to never stray. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.
First Reading: 1 Kings 8:22-23, 27-30
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm
Gospel: Mark 7:1-13
Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of the whole community of Israel, and stretching forth his hands toward heaven, he said, “LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below; you keep your covenant of mercy with your servants who are faithful to you with their whole heart. Can it indeed be that God dwells on earth? If the heavens and the highest heavens cannot contain you, how much less this temple which I have built! Look kindly on the prayer and petition of your servant, O LORD, my God, and listen to the cry of supplication which I, your servant, utter before you this day. May your eyes watch night and day over this temple, the place where you have decreed you shall be honored; may you heed the prayer which I, your servant, offer in this place. Listen to the petitions of your servant and of your people Israel which they offer in this place. Listen from your heavenly dwelling and grant pardon." (1 Kings 8:22-23,27-30)
King Solomon was mostly known for his wisdom and for how much he built up the cities, but one thing that I believe was his most defining characteristics was that the man really knew how to pray. When he first became king and God appeared to him in a dream and told him to ask for anything that he wanted and it would be granted. Solomon didn't ask for money or power, but rather he asked for the wisdom to govern God's people. But not only did Solomon know how to be selfless in pray and to ask for things for the greater good, but he also made it a point to acknowledge God in his prayers.
In today's first reading we read Solomon's prayer after the dedication of the temple. In the first part of his prayer, Solomon took to time to acknowledge who God was, he said that there is no other God like the God of Israel. He says that not even the heavens can contain God, and how much less the temple. Before even asking for anything, Solomon takes the time to think about and share just who God is. How many times in our own prayer lives do we do this? How many times do we begin prayer with a thank you for our lives and the things that we have? How many times do we take time to acknowledge the greatness of God? Part of prayer is to ask God for help (He knows that we all need it), but it is also a time for us to take and encounter God and to realize who He is and how wonderful He is. Our prayer time should be more than giving God a to do list, it should be a conversation, a chance to sit down with our Creator and learn.
May God bless each of us in our faith journeys.
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that have blessed us with. Lord, your love and mercy are so great and wonderful, let us never stray from your goodness. Lord, you are our God and we are your people, thank you for wanting us. We pray for all of our priests and religious, may they be blessed in their ministries. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.
First Reading: 1 Kings 8:1-7, 9-13
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm
Gospel: Mark 6:53-56
After making the crossing to the other side of the sea, Jesus and his disciples came to land at Gennesaret and tied up there. As they were leaving the boat, people immediately recognized him. They scurried about the surrounding country and began to bring in the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. Whatever villages or towns or countryside he entered, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak; and as many as touched it were healed. (Mk 6:53-56)
When is the last time that you went to mass on a day other than Christmas or Easter when you saw a tremendous amount of people piling into the doors of the church? Or are you like me, and you have never seen this? As I read today's gospel, it really struck me that the people were actually "scurrying about" to see Jesus and to be healed by Him. Sadly, we do not see this type of action today, when anybody can actually go and be with Jesus in His Church. Sadly, so many Catholics do not believe in the true presence in Jesus in the Eucharist. So many do not realize that they can be with and receive Him each and every day if they so choose.
Knowing where Jesus was used to send people "scurrying" and flocking to where He was at, but today that doesn't seem to be the mentality. These days is seems as though we are more likely to flock to see musicians, sports stars, politicians, and other celebrities more that we are willing to flock to church to be with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He is there, ready and waiting to help us and to heal us if we are willing to walk through the door.
Today, let us each think of how we can make going to see Jesus in His house more of a priority. Perhaps we can go to daily mass a few times a week. Or maybe going to Eucharistic Adoration once a week. Let us each pray about how we can spend more time with the Lord in His house, and may God bless us as we continue to seek time with Him.
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you have given and for all that you do. Lord, you are so good to us and so loving and merciful, help us to never stray from your ways and to always follow you not matter where you lead us to. Lord, you never disappoint us, and help us to make you more of a priority in our lives. We pray for all of those in need of conversion, and all those in need of meaning in their lives, may they find it in you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Memorial of Saint Agatha, virgin and martyr
First Reading: Sirach 47:2-11
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 18
Gospel: Mark 6:14-29
Herodias harbored a grudge against him and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so. Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man, and kept him in custody. When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed, yet he liked to listen to him. Herodias had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday, gave a banquet for his courtiers, his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee. His own daughter came in and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, “Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you.” He even swore many things to her, “I will grant you whatever you ask of me, even to half of my kingdom.” She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” Her mother replied, “The head of John the Baptist.” The girl hurried back to the king’s presence and made her request, “I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist.” The king was deeply distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests he did not wish to break his word to her. So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders to bring back his head. He went off and beheaded him in the prison. He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl. The girl in turn gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard about it, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb. (Mk 6:19-29)
In today's readings, we read about two people, who both happen to be kings as well. We read of King David and King Herod. Both are rulers in the same land and of the same people, and even though both of the them have the title of king, they couldn't be any more different. We read how David trusted in the Lord, and how David and strong and mighty but how his strength came from God. We also read of how David gave thanks to God in all things and did not seek to do the will of men, but rather the will of God. Herod on the other hand, was not at all like the man David was. Herod was not one of the Lord's anointed, he was not obedient to the Lord or seeking to do His will. Herod was a king who was looking out for himself. We see how easily Herod gave in to the pressures of the world, he had John the baptist killed all because he worried what people would think of him. Herod knew that there was something special about John and that even though he did quite understand what John was saying, Herod still liked to listen to him. It seems as though the Lord gave Herod a chance to turn things around by sending him a great prophet like John, but unfortunately Herod was too entrenched in his worldly ways.
Like David and Herod, we each need to make a choice in this life. Are we going to follow the Lord, or are we going to follow ourselves? It is a choice that we each must make, and we must be able to accept the consequences of our choice. One way leads to eternal life in paradise with God, the other leads to an eternity of misery and suffering without God. Choose wisely.
Saint Agatha, pray for us that we may not give in to the temptations of this world and that we may find courage and strength in the Lord as you did. Please pray for us.
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, you are so good to us, much more than we deserve, thank you for all of your love and mercy. We praise you for all that you give and all that you do, help us to be good and faithful servants of you in this life. We pray for all of our priests and for all of those who have fallen away from the church, that they ma come to know your love and mercy. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.
First Reading: 1 Kings 2:1-4, 10-12
Responsorial Psalm: 1 Chronicles 29:10
Gospel: Mark 6:7-13
Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick – no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic. He said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave from there. Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.” So they went off and preached repentance. The Twelve drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them. (Mk 6:7-13)
Do you remember in school when you would get ready to leave for a field trip and that teacher would say something to the effect of, "okay class, today we are going to be on the buddy system." This system for kids was used to keep track of everyone, and it was to help each "buddy" to keep their partner accountable. While many different groups and people use "the buddy system", this is not a new concept. In today's gospel reading, we see a version of the buddy system that Christ used with the disciples.
Christ sent out His disciples two by two, buddy by buddy. While He sent them out this way and gave them the mission of healing and curing people, it does not say exactly why He sent them out this way. Why two by two, I mean, couldn't they cover more ground if they all split up? Sure they could, but then we would have to ask the question; if they were alone, would they even finish their mission? You see, I think Christ used the buddy system with the disciples so that they could encourage and support each other. This was not only a lesson in the power that is given to them by God, but also a lesson in teamwork. When Jesus sent them out, He gave them some pretty hard instructions, they were not to take anything along. They didn't know where they would sleep each night, who would accept them, or how people would react; not exactly an easy task. But even though Christ did not permit them to take material things along, He did have them take along a friend who would be there to help support and encourage when things got really tough. Jesus was not only teaching them to trust rely on Him, but to also work together and to trust each other.
We all know that our faith journey is not always the easiest. Sometimes it can become very hard and discouraging, and this is why we too need to be on the buddy system. We need people in our lives who will help support and encourage us in our faith journeys. We need people who will remind us that we do not need the things of this world, but rather all we need is God.
So who would you consider to be your "buddy?" Is it your spouse, or significant other? Perhaps it's a family member or close friend. Whoever it is, realize the opportunity each of you have to help each other along your faith journeys. And if you aren't already, it's time to get on the buddy system.
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 thank you for putting people into our lives who help us through. Lord, you have never abandoned us and please help us never to stray from you. We pray for all of our priests, that they may be strengthened in their ministries and in their vows. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.
First Reading: 2 Samuel 24:2,9-17
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 32
Gospel: Mark 6:1-6
Jesus departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples. When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joseph and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?" And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith. (Mk 6:1-6)
I once heard someone say that God is a perfect gentleman. When we ask Him into our lives He is there, when we ask Him to leave, He leaves. He does not force Himself upon anybody, and He gives everyone free will with the power to choose or reject Him. In the gospel today, the people of Nazareth could not believe that "the carpenter" had come back to town and now all of a sudden had all this new knowledge and power. They were completely baffled and they were so blind as to who Jesus was. It says that He was not able to perform any mighty deeds there, and that He was amazed at their lack of faith. The reason why Jesus couldn't perform any mighty deeds was not that He lacked the ability, remember this is God we are talking about here, He could have done whatever He wanted. So it wasn't that He couldn't, instead He chose not to force Himself upon them. If they decide to reject Him, He isn't going to force them to believe by working mighty deeds on them ... gentlemanly behavior.
The same situation can happen in our lives as well. If we decide to reject God and choose not to have faith, He is not going to force Himself into our lives. He is not going to force us to have faith and to trust in Him, that is something that we must choose to do. We must always remember, that God does not need us, He wants us. If we want God to work miracles in our lives and to bless us with all of His gifts, then we must have faith. We must believe in Him, in His power and authority, and we must be willing to surrender our lives to Him who gives us life.
God, being the gentleman that He is does not force Himself into our lives ... He waits for acceptance first.
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Thank you for all that you give to us and for all that you bless us with. Lord, you are our one true God, help us to keep our faith strong so that we will never doubt or reject what you offer to us. Lord, thank you for your love and mercy in our lives and for always being there for us. We pray for all those in need of conversion and for all those who are furthest away from you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Feast of the Presentation of the Lord
First Reading: Malachi 3:1-4
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 24
Second Reading: Hebrews 2:14-18
Gospel: Luke 2:22-40
When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord, and to offer the sacrifice of a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons, in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord. (Lk 2:22-24)
Today we celebrate the feast of the presentation of our Lord in the temple. This act by Mary and Joseph, really speaks volumes to their humility and devotion to God. They could have easily been like, "yeah that presentation stuff is great for the rest of you people, but our child is God and doesn't need that." No, in fact I doubt that the thought ever even crossed their mind. They showed a great obedience to the Lord by following what the law says. They are a great example to us all, and it is something that we should always keep in mind that if the Holy Family though obedience to God was important, shouldn't we also think this way?
Along with the lesson in obedience, we also see that Jesus shared our experiences. It was custom at the time that every male should be consecrated to the Lord. And God saw it fit for His own Son to be consecrated as well, just like every other male at those times. I find this so amazing, because God doesn't have to be like one of us, He is far above us, but He still chose to share in all of our earthly experiences here on earth (except for sin of course). It is because He has shared in our experiences, He knows the things that we are going through. He knows the good and the bad, the pain and the joy, the suffering and the healing, He knows it all. I always find the best comfort by being with or talking with someone who has been through what I am going through. I know that whatever I am going through, I can turn to Him, because He knows exactly what I am going through. We read today from the book of Hebrews that, "Because he himself was tested through what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested." (Heb 2:18) The Lord is not a stranger to human experiences, in fact He is an expert.
As we celebrate the feast of the presentation of the Lord, let us always remember the importance of showing God obedience in our life, and in the comfort found in God through our shared experiences.
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 all that you give. Lord, thank you for your love and mercy, and thank you for always being there for us. You are our rock and our salvation, may we always come to you for the strength that we need. We pray for all those in need of conversion and all those furthest away from you, may they come to your loving arms. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.
First Reading: 2 Samuel 15:13-14, 30, 16:5-13
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 3
Gospel: Mark 5:1-20
And people came out to see what had happened. As they approached Jesus, they caught sight of the man who had been possessed by Legion, sitting there clothed and in his right mind. And they were seized with fear. Those who witnessed the incident explained to them what had happened to the possessed man and to the swine. Then they began to beg him to leave their district. As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed pleaded to remain with him. But Jesus would not permit him but told him instead, “Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you.” Then the man went off and began to proclaim in the Decapolis what Jesus had done for him; and all were amazed. (Mk 5:14-20)
Today we read the gospel story of the healing of the Gerasene demoniac. This man had been possessed and tormented by demons for so long, but all of that changed the moment Jesus came into this man's life. It is no wonder why the man didn't want to leave His side. But Jesus had a different plan for this man, just as He does for all of us. This man did as he was told and went back to his family and friends to preach the miracle that God has done for him. It says that all were amazed, and I am sure that even better than that, all began to believe in the name of Jesus. That man who was healed in today's gospel story teaches us that we need to listen to God when we are called to proclaim the good news and the miracles that God works in our lives, and we should never let these opportunities get away from us.
Today we read the story of the man who was possessed and healed, so we know his story, but what is yours? What miracles or blessings has God bestowed upon you? Are we actively sharing the grace God has given us with all those around us? If you have never taken the time to sit down and think about what your story is or about how God has worked in your life; take a few moments today or whenever you have free time to think and reflect on your life. I would also recommend writing this down. I think that it is amazing to look back and see how God has worked in our lives and to realize how different we are today than we were so many years ago. After doing this, don't be afraid to share your story with those around you. Friends, family whoever will listen, or who ever you think can benefit from your story. Regardless of how many people you share with, it is always a blessing to see how God has worked in your life and how much love and mercy He has poured out on all of us.
May the Lord continue to bless each of our lives and may we all realize how much we are loved and cherished through our own stories.
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, we praise you for blessing us in our lives and in our faith journeys. Lord, thank you for your abundant love and mercy, help us to have a hear that is always full of thanksgiving, and may we share your love with the world. We pray for all those in need of conversion and you are furthest away from you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.