Readings for Wednesday March 31, 2010

Wednesday of Holy Week

First Reading: Isaiah 50:4-9
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 69
Gospel: Matthew 26:14-25

One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver, and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over. When it was evening, he reclined at table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, “Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” Deeply distressed at this, they began to say to him one after another, “Surely it is not I, Lord?” He said in reply, “He who has dipped his hand into the dish with me is the one who will betray me. The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born.” Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” He answered, “You have said so.” (Matt. 26:14-16, 20-25)

When someone asks the question, which of the disciples betrayed Jesus, the majority of people know that it was Judas Iscariot. And we have lots of facts, such as how much silver he accepted, dipping his hands in the dish with Jesus, even betraying Jesus with a kiss. But despite all of these facts, there is one thing that we do not know ... why did he do it? Why did he betray Jesus, why did he turn him over to the chief priests? Why did he turn away from God, when he was so close? Was it pride or envy? Did he become greedy? While we do not know the exact reason why, we do know for sure that something caused his heart to become hardened, and from there he turned away from Jesus; and in doing so, he turned away from his life.

While we certainly should not strive to model our lives after Judas, there is something important that we can learn from him. We are either with Jesus or we are against Him; and at any time we can find ourselves on either side. I am sure that when Judas started out with Jesus he did not intend to betray him, and in fact he probably was on fire for a little while. But then something seized him and caused him to turn away. We must always be careful with sin and becoming too worldly, because it is these things that cause us to turn away from God. We must always be fighting and striving to serve the Lord with all of our heart. It is only by losing our self in Him that we will find our life.

Saint Peter gives us great advice in his first letter: "Be Sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings." (1 Pt. 5:8-9) Judas did not heed this warning, but we should.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you have blessed us with. Thank you for all of your gifts, help us to always be good stewards of all the things that you give us. Lord, even though you do not need us, you want us to share in your great love. Help us to always be faithful and loyal to you until our time on earth is through. Lord, we pray for all those who have turned away from you, may they come back to your love and mercy. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.



Readings for Tuesday March 30, 2010

Tuesday of Holy Week

First Reading: Isaiah 49:1-6
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 71
Gospel: John 13:21-33, 36-38

Though I thought I had toiled in vain, and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength, Yet my reward is with the Lord, my recompense is with my God. For now the Lord has spoken who formed me as his servant from the womb, That Jacob may be brought back to him and Israel gathered to him; And I am made glorious in the sight of the Lord, and my God is now my strength! It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and restore the survivors of Israel; I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth. (Is 49:4-6)

The prophet Isaiah today talks about some of the themes of work, reward, and purpose. He says, "though I thought I had toiled in vain, and for nothing." Don't we all feel like this at times, especially in our faith lives? Why do I go to mass on Sundays? Why am I spending time in prayer? Why serve others, or try to help the poor? I think that we all hit lows at times where we for whatever reason we are just not on fire. But what we must remember, is that not matter how we may "feel", the reason why we do all of these things for the Lord is because of love and the great reward awaiting us. We live a life of faith because there is no better way of living. A life surrendered to Him, is a life that is found. And what is our reward for "toiling", an eternal life in heaven with our Father. No more pain, no more suffering, no more crying, no more sin; only joy and happiness. Now isn't that worth the "toiling."

Serving the Lord is not toiling, it is our purpose. What may seem burdensome does not have to be, instead it can be looked at as a time of growth. The Lord has formed each of as a "servant in the womb." We were each meant for a specific purpose in this life, and it should be our goal to find out what this purpose is. We find this out by asking God, by asking the Creator of the heavens and the earth, who formed us what we are meant to do. It is only by finding our purpose that we can be happy, and to be the "light to the nations" that we are called to be.

God wants to use each and every one of us, for our sake and for His glory. Are you willing to say yes?

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, we thank you and praise you for the great gifts that you bring into our life. Lord, help us to discover our purpose and to do your will in this life. Lord, help us to love others as you call us to, and to persevere to the end so that one day we might receive the reward of eternal life. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Out from confinement

Readings for Monday March 29, 2020

Monday of Holy Week

First Reading: Isaiah 42:1-7
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 27
Gospel: John 12:1-11

I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice, I have grasped you by the hand; I formed you, and set you as a covenant of the people, a light for the nations, To open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness. (Is. 42:6-7)

Today begins Holy Week, one of the greatest weeks of our year. For it is this week that we grow in our faith by going deeper into Christ's passion, and we celebrate His victory over sin and death. What an amazing and blessed week this is. I can still remember beginning Holy Week two years ago as I was preparing to enter into the Church. I remember the excitement and anticipation that built up this week. I can still remember preparing to receive the Sacraments and to receive Jesus for the first time. To finally take part in the passover meal that Jesus instituted over 2000 years ago. This is truly a time that is special to all of us, because we have people who are coming into (or back) to the Church, and these new brothers and sisters should be welcomed home with open arms. This season is also a chance for us to rekindle our own faith and gratitude for the great gift of life that Jesus gave to us by His life, death, and resurrection.

Today's first reading by Isaiah reminds us exactly why Jesus gave His life for us; "to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness."(Is 42:7) God came in the flesh to die for us because His children were hurting. They were blinded by their own sin, and could not see clearly to turn away from their worldly life and turn to Him. They were lost and did not know the way. He came so that we would not need to be tied down by our sins, but rather can have the freedom that comes from a life with God. As once we lived in darkness, now we have to light of Christ to show us the way, and to lead us to the Father.

As any good parent, God did not want to see His children ache any more. He was prepared to do anything to save us from hell, even if that meant dying on a cross. This week, use this time to reflect on Christ's great sacrifice and on God's love for us. Take a few moments to thank Him, and then think how can we share God's love with others.

May God bless you this Holy Week.

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 you have done for us. Lord, help us to sacrifice in our own lives, as you have sacrificed for us. Lord, we thank you and praise you for the great gift of this life, may we never waste it on any worldly pursuits. Lord, help us to let you Spirit work in us, and that we may shine the light of Christ in this world. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen


God's got our back

Readings for Friday March 26, 2010

First Reading: Jeremiah 20:10-13
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 18
Gospel: John 10:31-42

I hear the whisperings of many: “Terror on every side! Denounce! let us denounce him!” All those who were my friends are on the watch for any misstep of mine. “Perhaps he will be trapped; then we can prevail, and take our vengeance on him.” But the LORD is with me, like a mighty champion: my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph. In their failure they will be put to utter shame, to lasting, unforgettable confusion. O LORD of hosts, you who test the just, who probe mind and heart, Let me witness the vengeance you take on them, for to you I have entrusted my cause. Sing to the LORD, praise the LORD, For he has rescued the life of the poor from the power of the wicked! (Jer 20:10-13)

What if you were to walk around by yourself one night in a very rough neighborhood of a big city, like Chicago or New York. Wouldn't you be kind of afraid? You would probably walk really fast, with your head constantly looking around for trouble. Needless to say, you would be walking with fear. Now let's say your in that same city at the same time of night, but instead of being by yourself, you are surrounded by an escort of Navy SEALS. You might start walking a little differently, in fact you might even start feeling so secure that you get a little strut going. Naturally even though you are still in that same rough neighborhood, you now have an entourage that makes you feel protected and secure.

It is this same feeling of being protected and of security that we should feel from God. Because we have a "mighty champion" that is more powerful than any military force or power here on earth. Having God by our side, means having the Creator of the Universe by our side looking out for us and helping us through all things. It is safe to say that God has always got our back. Like we see in the readings today, no matter what Jeremiah or Jesus were faced with, God was always there looking out for them. No matter who was plotting what, God is always there watching over and protecting His children. That is not to say that we will never go through hardship, but through it all God is there ready to bring a greater good out of any difficult situation that we go through.

There may be times when we feel alone or abandoned, and it is important to remember that through these trials we are never alone, but rather we are given a blessing to be able to trust and depend on God even more. Like any good Father, He never leaves His children, and He always has got our back.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you have blessed us with in our lives. Lord, we are not deserving of your great gifts, but you still pour them out to us. Help us to live our lives as you have planned so perfectly, and help us not to take things for granted. Lord, you are our God and we are your people. We love you adn thank you for always beign there for us. Please forgive us for all the times that we fall short, help us never to give up, and to persever until the end. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


The 'yes' heard round the world

Readings for Thursday March 25, 2010

Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

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

Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her. (Lk 1:30-38)

The phrase "the shot heard round the world" has been used to signify two important events in human history. One was the American Revolutionary War; the other was the Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which was the event that began World War I. This phrase is used to say that there was one moment, one decision that was the final breaking point, and after that moment, there would be chain reaction of events that would forever change the history of the world. If it was a simple shot that was the beginning of two very big historic wars, then I would like to propose another event that was is even more historic and has since forever changed all of our lives. It isn't a shot, a war, or a big bang ... it is a simple yes, the yes heard round the world.

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord; the moment the angel Gabriel came to Mary to let her in on God's amazing plan. She could have said anything that she wanted; "let me get back to you on that one", "how about next year, I think that will work out better for me", "are you sure that you go the right girl?" She could have talked about much responsibility that sounds like, or how hard it sounds; and she could have also just said no. But instead, she spoke those beautiful words that we read, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." It was here that Mary with complete trust and obedience in the Lord, humbly said "Yes." It was her answer, her yes that would forever change things; and from that moment on, our lives would never be the same.

Today, as she did then, Mary still says yes to God, and invites us to do the same and to follow her example.

Hail Mary, full of Grace. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Glory be to the Father, to the Son, to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be world without end. Amen.



Readings for Wednesday March 24, 2010

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

Jesus said to those Jews who believed in him, “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will become free’?” Jesus answered them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. A slave does not remain in a household forever, but a son always remains. So if the Son frees you, then you will truly be free. I know that you are descendants of Abraham. But you are trying to kill me, because my word has no room among you. (Jn 8:31-37)

This may come as a shock to you, but our world is kind of backwards. Our thinking towards God and sin are completely backwards. The standard thought among most people is that if they give into their desires and passions (committing sin), then that is what will liberate them. People think that by just doing whatever they want and giving in to things, that this is what will give them the freedom that they so desperately want. The truth is that this thinking is backwards. Because giving into sin, just leads to more sin, and before you know it you are a slave to that sin. When we give in to more and more sin, all we do is bring pain and destruction into our lives and the lives of others.

If we truly want to be liberated and to be free, then we must accept who we are. We are children of God, and as children we need to be obedient to our Father who loves us. While it is totally against everything the world tells us, if we give ourselves to Him and are obedient to Him; then that is how we will be liberated and find the freedom that we want. When we choose to follow God, instead of ourselves, then we are not bound to things that enslave us, but rather we find our purpose and the life that we were meant to have. It is His truth that will set us free, not our own version of the truth.

Jesus came to free us from sin, for this we need to be eternally grateful. Let us find our freedom as children of God by going against the worldview of freedom and giving into Christ's view of freedom.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you have blessed us with and all that you have given. Lord, we are not deserving of being called your sons and daughters, but you accept us and want us anyway. Help us to never stray from you, and help us persevere to the end. We pray for all of our priests and religious. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Opportunites for Growth

Readings for Tuesday March 23, 2010

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

From Mount Hor the children of Israel set out on the Red Sea road, to bypass the land of Edom. But with their patience worn out by the journey, the people complained against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert, where there is no food or water? We are disgusted with this wretched food!” In punishment the LORD sent among the people saraph serpents, which bit the people so that many of them died. (Nm 21:4-6)

In today's first reading, we see the Israelites complaining about their current conditions, apparently the standards are just not up to par. They just aren't thinking that even though they are being asked to rough it a little bit, things could be worse. Since they are not thinking this, the Lord gives them a little taste of just how worse it can be, He sends some snakes to punish the people. I think that was the reality check that the people of Israel needed.

This sparks the question, how do we handle conflict and inconvenience in our life? Do we see it as a curse or a blessing? The Israelites did not realize what God's plan was in taking them into the dessert wilderness for all those years. He was teaching them to be trusting and dependent on Him. Many of them missed this point, and only wished for more. This reminds me of a lesson that I took away from sports. I remember during football, after some long practices we would end with running some sprints. It is no surprise that after several sprints we would start getting very tired. We kept thinking that we should be done, that we had run enough, but our coach would just make us run more. We just couldn't believe that he was making us run more, we would start gripping and complaining out loud. As you can guess, this didn't help matters, in fact it only hurt them. Instead of saying, "you know what, you boys are right, we have done enough, let's go inside", he said "line up, we're doing more!" My heart and my body screamed of injustice, thankfully my mouth stayed closed. What I didn't realize at the time was that my coach was not only making us physically tough, but he was also making us mentally tough. If we are so willing to give up after a practice, when things are hard, then we would just as likely to do the same in a game ... or even later in life. I am thankful for those lessons instilled in me.

We each have a choice in life, we can choose to see trials and challenges as curses or bad luck; or we can see them as opportunities for growth. God is not trying to bully us or get His kicks out of tormenting us, He is giving us a chance to grow and depend on Him through hardship. We can spend our time complaining, or we can spend our time praising.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you have given to me and for all that you do. Lord help us to see things through your eyes, to see hardships as important lessons and important opportunities of growth and trust in you. Lord, may your light shine through us, and may we continue to be vessels for your glory. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


The Light of Jesus

Readings for Monday March 22, 2010

First Reading: Daniel 13:1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 23
Gospel: John 8:12-20

Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (Jn 8:12)

There are few more frustrating experiences than walking around in the dark. It is especially frustrating when you wake up in the middle of the night, stumble around perhaps on your way to the bathroom. When you are walking around in the dark you always seem to be able to find all the things that were left on the floor. It is like someone knew your path in the middle night and placed the object there just for you to step on. I have also had many banged shins due to not being able to see where I was going. I think that we can all generally agree that it is much better to see where we are at and where we are going, it is much better (and safer) to walk around in the light.

Jesus tells us today that He is the light of the world, and that whoever follows Him will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. As frustrating and dangerous as it can be to physically walk in the darkness, how much more so going around in this life spiritually in the darkness? I can tell you from my experience, walking spiritually in the darkness is certainly nothing to be desired. Before my conversion, I was living a worldly life, I was so deep into the darkness that I didn't know who I was, where I was at, or where I was going; but thanks be to God for shining His loving and merciful light into my heart and showing me my ways. It is all because of Him that I have life in me now, and that I strive for eternal life.

If you or someone you know is walking in the darkness, please know that it does not have to be this way. Christ died on the Cross so that each of God's sons and daughters could have the light of life inside them. We were not meant for the darkness, it does not suit us, we were meant for the light.

May the light of Jesus shine brightly in each of our lives.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you give and bless us with. Thank you for the gift of our lives and for loving us without holding back. Lord, you are our God and our rock, help us to open our hearts and minds to you, to let your light shine forth in this world for all to see. Lord, we love you, help us to do your will and to go out and love others as we are called to. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Take on a servant's heart

Readings for Friday March 19, 2010

Solemnity of Saint Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary

First Reading: 2 Samuel 7:4-5, 12-14, 16
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 89
Second Reading: Romans 4:13-22
Gospel: Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24 or Luke 2:41-51

Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. (Mt 1:18-21, 24)

What is it that makes a good husband? Is it loyalty? Perhaps it is being very honest and open. Maybe it is being romantic and sweet. Does the ability to kill a spider rank high up on the good husband list? The ability to fix household things has got to be a prerequisite for marriage right? As I read today's gospel, I realize that while all of the qualities that have just been listed might be very good in a marriage, they are certainly not the most important thing. I think that Saint Joseph shows that the most important quality for being a good husband is having a servant's heart.

Saint Joseph found himself in a particularly difficult situation when he found out that Mary was pregnant. Being a righteous man, he sought to divorce her secretly; but God had other plans. When God told Joseph His plan, Joseph didn't put up a fight or even argue, he simply listened to God and was obedient to Him. Joseph took Mary into his home, where he spent the remaining days of his life serving both the Lord and our Blessed Mother.

Having a servants heart means thinking more about others than yourself. Joseph served the Lord with complete and faithful obedience, this is why there is not a single word spoken by him in the bible, there wasn't any need. His actions spoke louder than any words ever could have. Joseph also served his wife faithfully, as he knew his responsibilities was to provide for and protect his family. Joseph wasn't afraid to take on the role of a servant, for he humbled himself and accepted God's calling for his life. Joseph found his true purpose in life by serving God and others.

Taking on a servant's heart isn't just something that husbands should embrace, but rather it is a quality that every man should seek to embrace and cultivate in their lives. The main purpose of each of our lives is to love and be loved; one of the ways in which we can fulfill this calling to love is to serve.

Saint Joseph, pray for us.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, build in us a servants heart, help form our heart to yours. Lord, help us to humble ourselves as your servant Joseph did. Lord, your will and plan is perfect, help us to let go of our own plans and to give in to the plans that you have for us. 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.


Source of Life

Readings for Thursday March 18, 2010

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

But I have testimony greater than John’s. The works that the Father gave me to accomplish, these works that I perform testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me. Moreover, the Father who sent me has testified on my behalf. But you have never heard his voice nor seen his form, and you do not have his word remaining in you, because you do not believe in the one whom he has sent. You search the Scriptures, because you think you have eternal life through them; even they testify on my behalf. But you do not want to come to me to have life. (Jn 5:36-40)

Would you go to the bakery to get a hammer? Would you go to the sporting goods store for a new designer dress? Could you find fresh baked bread in the hardware store? Of course not, you would not go to any of these stores looking for such things, you would go to these stores looking for the things that they are selling. So the question is, where do we go for life? Where do we go to find our purpose and destiny in this life?

In the gospel today, Jesus gives testimony about who He is. He tells us that the people do not want to come to Him to have life, even though He is God, the source of all life. It seems as though the people are not believing in who He is, even though many have testified on His behalf: John the Baptist, Moses, the scriptures, even God the Father. But the people seem to be "stiff necked", just like they were in the time of Moses. We have this same challenge today, there are many people in this world, who are seeking their life in other things. They do not realize that it is Jesus who is the source of all life on this Earth. If we really want to find ourselves and to find our purpose in this life and the next, then we have to turn to Him. We have to be willing to surrender our will to Gods. For it is not only this life that we should be concerned about, but also our eternal life.

Trying to find life in the world is as futile as trying to buy a hammer at a bakery store. We must always remember that Jesus is the source of all life. He is the way, the truth, and the light.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, we praise you for all the blessings that you bestow on us each and every day. Lord, help us to live our life as you had intended us, help us to never stray from the path that you have laid down before us. Lord, 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.


Children of God

Readings for Wednesday March 17, 2010

First Reading: Isaiah 49:8-15
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 145
Gospel: John 5:17-30

Sing out, O heavens, and rejoice, O earth, break forth into song, you mountains. For the LORD comforts his people and shows mercy to his afflicted. But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.” Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you. (Is 49:13-15)

As a parent I could not even imagine walking out of my home and not giving my daughter a second thought. I couldn't imagine just forgetting about her and never being in her life again. I guess that is why today's first reading really struck a cord with me today. I took a lot of comfort from the words of the prophet Isaiah, when he tell us how the Lord will bring salvation to His people. He tells us that our Father in heaven will never leave or forget us, He is with us always.

Sometimes it is hard to imagine or think about, but we do have a Father who loves us more than we can possibly imagine. He only wants what is best for us, and wants us to spend eternity with Him. Other people in our lives may have left us or forgotten us, but He never will; we should find a lot of joy and comfort in that. But in order to know God as our Father, we must first accept and realize that we are His sons and daughters. We are so precious in His eyes, just like any child is in the eyes of their parent. God our Father is the perfect parent; loving, patient, merciful, always there for you, and He has even prepared an eternal place with Him in heaven if we so desire.

I often see people with the coffee mug "World's Greatest Dad", and while that may have been a nice thought or gift, the truth is the world's greatest dad is in heaven. He is patiently waiting for the day when we can join Him in heaven.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you have blessed us with. Lord, you are so kind and merciful to us, much more than we deserve, help us to be kind and merciful to all those we meet. Lord, thank you for loving us so much, help us to love as you call us to in this world. Lord, we are your children, help us to follow you as children do, only wanting to be in your arms. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Get a taste

Readings for Monday March 15, 2010

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

Thus says the LORD: Lo, I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; The things of the past shall not be remembered or come to mind. Instead, there shall always be rejoicing and happiness in what I create; For I create Jerusalem to be a joy and its people to be a delight; I will rejoice in Jerusalem and exult in my people. No longer shall the sound of weeping be heard there, or the sound of crying; No longer shall there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not round out his full lifetime; He dies a mere youth who reaches but a hundred years, and he who fails of a hundred shall be thought accursed. They shall live in the houses they build, and eat the fruit of the vineyards they plant. (Is 65:17-21)

Do you remember as a kid when your mother would make a cake, brownies, or cookies and getting to lick the mixer beater? This was certainly my favorite part of baking ... to be honest with you it still is! Why is it that people of all ages like to get the beater and sample something that is not even complete? Well, one reason of course is because it is good, the other reason I think is because if we enjoy the beater, then we get a little taste of what is about to come. Getting a little sample of something good that is coming is always a fun and sometimes powerful thing. Think about it, if you get a little sample of cake batter, and begin thinking that you can't wait to taste the final product, are you going to go ahead and eat a bunch of other things that might spoil your appetite, or are you are much more likely to be focused on the cake? When we get just a small taste of something good, knowing that something even better is coming, that can be a powerful motivator.

After reading today's reading from Isaiah, I realized how beautiful what the prophet Isaiah was describing. He was describing a place with no more pain and suffering, a place where there is only happiness and rejoicing all the time. This place obviously was heaven, and when it is all said and done, those who are found worthy will be in heaven, a place with no sadness, but only being wrapped up in the love of God for eternity. As I read this, I realized how wonderful this all sounded to me, and then I realized that if heaven is a place where there is no more pain, suffering, or anything bad; then there is a way that we can each get a taste of heaven while here on earth. So many times in this life we experience pain and suffering, and there are times where we are meant to go through that, but there are also times when we hold on to negative emotions and vices; and it is only by letting these things go and giving in to love, that we can begin to get a taste of what heaven will be like. I know that there are many times in my life that I regret giving in to things like bitterness, anger, frustration, annoyance, envy, etc; but I have never once regretted giving in to love.

I believe that in heaven we will always be rejoicing in the Lord, basking in His love and glory forever and ever. The way we can get a taste of what heaven will be like is by letting go of the negative emotions that tie us to this world and by giving in to love.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, you are our God and we are your people, help us to love you and serve you while holding nothing back. Lord, thank you for your great love and mercy, help us to let your light shine through us and that we might go out courageously spreading the good news throughout the earth. We pray for all those in need of conversion, and we ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Grow in your faith!

Hello my brothers and sisters!

I hope that you are doing well and that this Lenten season is a fruitful one for you. I wanted to take this time to share with you a great opportunity to grow in your faith. This past week, I had the amazing chance to learn and grow in my catholic faith and hear talks by some fantastic catholic speakers. I got an overview and breakdown on the book of revelation, I learned the biblical basis for why we have a pope, I gained insight into stewardship, I also learned a great deal more about Christ's passion and how it applies to my life. Now, you might be thinking ... okay what conference did you attend, and how did you have time for that? Well, the truth is that I didn't attend any conference, in fact I heard all of these great talks on from home and in my car. These great talks that I have been listening to have come from Lighthouse Catholic Media. For those of you who have never heard of Lighthouse Catholic Media, they are a not for profit corporation that began in 2005. Their mission statement is:

Our mission is to answer the call for a New Evangelization by serving the Church in providing inspirational CDs and brochures that will enrich and strengthen people's relationship with Jesus Christ and understanding of their Catholic Faith.

I have recently had the opportunity to become a part of this great ministry, and to help spread word about Lighthouse Catholic Media (LCM) as well as help get these CDs out. LCM has over a hundred great inspirational CDs on many different topics, such as: The Holy Eucharist, Reconciliation, Increasing Stewardship, How to get more out of mass, understanding the bible, Marriage/Family life, teens and chastity, business leadership, and many more. Giving these inspiring talks are nationally known speakers such as Fr. John Corapi, Mother Theresa, Dr. Scott Hahn, Fr. Benedict Groeschel, Fr. Larry Richards, Archbishop Fulton Sheen, Jeff Cavins, Jesse Romero, Matthew Kelly, and many, many more. Now if you already know everything about the Catholic Faith and are living a life of complete and perfect virtue, then I would advise you to stop reading ... but if you are like me and could use a little help, and are also hard pressed for time, then I would encourage you to keep reading to find out how you can get some of the great Catholic CDs.

One great way to get some of these CDs is by joining Lighthouse Catholic Media's CD of the Month Club. The CD of the Month Club is an evangelization and apologetic Catholic CD Club. Each month, members receive an exciting talk by a great Catholic speaker, like the ones mentioned above. These CDs have been a big part of my own faith journey, and I know that they have brought huge blessings to me and my family as I believe they will continue to in the years to come. I strongly believe that these CDs are great tools to help you grow in your faith, and even to pass out to other people to help them. These CDs are also a great way to help bring back fallen away Catholics. I would ask that you prayerfully consider becoming a member of the CD of the Month Club with Lighthouse Catholic Media. To find out more information please click on the following link below, which will take you to LCMs website. There you can learn more about LCM and the CD of the Month Club.


I hope that you find the CDs as helpful as I have. May God bless you and your families!


Ask, listen, and understand

Readings for Friday March 12, 2010

First Reading: Hosea 14:2-10
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 81
Gospel: Mark 12:28-34

One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?” Jesus replied, “The first is this: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, He is One and there is no other than he. And to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding, he said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” And no one dared to ask him any more questions. (Mk 12:28-34)

Imagine that you are the scribe in today's gospel reading, and Jesus Himself says to you, "You are not far from the Kingdom of God", tell me how would this make you feel? I don't know about you, but to hear the Messiah, the Savior of the World, God in the Flesh to say that you are not far from the Kingdom would just certainly make my day ... in fact it would make my life! I wonder if this scribe had a clue as to how special, and how important that moment was for him.

In today's gospel, we see that that particular scribe was affirmed in his understanding of what Jesus had said was the greatest commandment. Think about what actually took place in this reading, we see the scribe ask Jesus what the greatest commandment is, then he listened Jesus' answer, and then he understood the answer given by Jesus. By doing these things, asking, listening, and understanding; Jesus told him that he is not far from the Kingdom, meaning he isn't that far from God. If you think about it, the steps taken by the scribe are very simple ones, asking, listening, and understanding.

In our own journey with God, are we following all the steps that the scribe did? Do we ask God the right questions? Do we simply ask for things, or do we ask for wisdom and understanding that can only come from Him? After we ask, are we listening to what God has to say? I imagine that this is the step that most people skip, and naturally since we are not listening to God, then there can be no way to understand what God is saying to us. These steps while very simple, are in a natural order, because they are meant to bring about growth and wisdom by forming a relationship with God. It is by asking, listening, and understanding God through faith and prayer that we can become the men and women that God created us to be.

May we all seek the wisdom that comes from the Lord by asking, listening, and understanding.

Father above we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, help us to know you better, help open our eyes and hearts to you. Help us to see you in everything that we do, and to know and believe that you are truly present with us every moment. Lord, we place all of our faith and our trust in you, for you are the rock of our faith. Lord, we love you, please always keep us close to you and in our loving arms at all times. We ask this all through Christ our Lord, Amen.


Gather or Scatter?

Readings for Thursday March 11, 2010

First Reading: Jeremiah 7:23-28
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 95
Gospel: Luke 11:14-23

When a strong man fully armed guards his palace, his possessions are safe. But when one stronger than he attacks and overcomes him, he takes away the armor on which he relied and distributes the spoils. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.” (Lk 11:21-23)

The recent disasters in Haiti and Chile have reminded us that in an emergency, there are essentially two types of people; those who help and those who harm. Those who harm seek not to help the situation, but rather to take advantage of it. After the earthquakes caused the devastation that they did, there were people who were looting and taking from others. There were even reports of kidnapping and other sorts of acts that would be considered terrible, crisis or not. There were also people who started to try and scam people out of money, by asking people worldwide for a donation, a donation that made it into someones wallet rather than to help the situations in these countries. There people did nothing to help the situation, all that they did was selfishly make things worse and cause more harm. On the other hand, due to the earthquakes, there was a huge response of help. There were people who gave generously without second thought, there were people and aid agencies who quickly made it down into the countries to help survivors get basic things that they needed. There were also selfless acts by people trying to help those who were trapped under crumbled structures. For all the negative that came out from these disasters, we know that a great loving response followed the tragedy and disaster.

So like the two types of people in a crisis, we see these same two types of people when it comes to Christ and His kingdom. There are people out there who are not helping the situation at all, they are doing nothing to lead people to Christ. In fact these people are living their lives selfishly and only thinking of their concerns. It is these people who are not helping, but rather they are as Jesus says "scattering." Jesus tells us that it is these types of people who are not with Him are against Him. While there are many people out there who are not helping the situation, there are also a great number of people who are helping. It is these people that Jesus mentions as those helping to "gather." There are people who work tirelessly to bring others to Christ and to build up His Church. There are people who are living counter cultural lives and providing powerful examples to those around them. There are people fervent in prayer for those they love and praying for an end to the injustices in our world. Yes, by God's grace, there are many people out there who are helping to gather, rather than scatter.

Remember there are two types of people, those who help and those who hurt ... those who are for God and those who are against God. Which one are you striving to be?

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you have blessed us with in our life. Lord, help us to not ever be apart from you and scattering, but rather close to you and always helping and seeking your will in each situation. Lord, you are so kind and merciful to us, help us to live in this world showing the same kindness and mercy to those we encounter. Lord, you are always near, help us to always stay close and live for you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.



Readings for Wednesday March 10, 2010

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

Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 5:17-19)

In the world of sports, there is always the debate of who is the best athlete of all time? There are many cases, and in fact perhaps an easier conversation is who is the best athlete in relation to their specific sport? There is probably little doubt that Michael Jordan is one of the best basketball players to ever play the game. In the world of cycling, no one has accomplished more than Lance Armstrong. While obviously needing some work on character and role modeling, Micheal Phelps holds the most gold medals for a swimmer, certainly putting him in talks for the greatest in his sport. For a 49ers fan like me, Joe Montana will always be the greatest quarterback, although I must give some respect to Peyton Manning. Wayne Gretzky was such an amazing hockey player that he was even given the title of "the Great One." Of course no conversation of great athletes would be complete without mentioning Muhammad Ali, you didn't even have to ask who was the greatest ... he told you himself! The world has a tendency to want to brand people with greatness, and there is certainly nothing wrong with receiving recognition by using the gifts given to us by God, but it is important to make sure that we are not striving for worldly recognition.

Jesus tells us today that "whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." So while worldly titles are nice, they are not the ultimate fulfillment. The title of greatest in the kingdom of heaven is the title that we should all be striving for. And what does it take to be great by God's standards ... love which brings about obedience. You see if we are to be truly obedient, and not just following God's directions because we feel we have to or else, but rather following God's commandments because we love Him, now that is what makes a Christian great. When you truly love someone, you want to do what is pleasing to them, you want to strive to keep the relationship perfect ... even if that means sacrificing what you want for the sake of the other. The Lord has already shown that He loves us this much shouldn't we show this same type of love back?

If we want to be great in God's book, let us love Him with all our hearts, be obedient to His commandments, and pass on the faith to all those we can.

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 all of our abilities, help us to use our gifts to glorify you in all that we do. Lord, you are so good and loving to us, help us to love you and others as we are called to. 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.


Say it like you mean it

Readings for Tuesday March 9, 2010

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

Peter approached Jesus and asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. That is why the Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount. Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt. At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’ Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan. When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a much smaller amount. He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back. But he refused. Instead, he had him put in prison until he paid back the debt. Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master and reported the whole affair. His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?’ Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt. So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.” (Mt 18:21-35)

Do you remember when you were a kid (or perhaps you see this with your own kids), and you would do something wrong to a sibling, and once you were caught you were forced to apologize. Typically you would give a snotty, quick "sorry" while you were looking down at the ground. Then you parent would say, "okay that was good, now say it like you mean it." Then you would look up, role your eyes, and say sarcastically, but slowly, "I'm sorry." Then your parent would say, "okay that was good, now say it with less attitude." This whole time of course the person who is being apologized to is simply loving the moment. So this whole saga goes on until a sincere, apology is said and meant.

As Christians, we are greatly challenged in the area of forgiveness. This is at the heart of our faith, for we are meant to forgive others as our heavenly Father forgives us. Jesus gives us some very hard instructions today. First, He tells Peter that we are not only meant to forgive those who do us wrong 7 times, but rather 77 times. Now, I don't know about you, but if someone does the same thing to me 77 times, that is going to be very challenging to forgive them. This is where we are called to let go, and just let God lead. We have the power to forgive, if we so choose, and if we are lacking courage to forgive, then look no further than the Holy Spirit who is there to provide us with courage. Forgiveness, much like love, is a choice, available to anyone who so chooses.

The other area that we are challenged on today, is that we are not just to forgive as many times as it takes, but we are also meant to "forgive from our hearts." This means that we need to "say it like we mean it." Just like we were broken down when we were kids, we need to let God break us down to so that we can not just say that we forgive, but that we truly forgive from the heart. Forgiveness is so powerful in our lives, if we hold on to bitterness and the pain caused by others; this has away of putting us into bondage. It is by the power of forgiveness that we can become free and allow other to be free as well. So no matter how many times it takes, let us make sure that our forgiveness comes from our heart, just as the Lord's does.

I would like to challenge each of you reading this to try and make time to go to confession this week or next. Do a good examination of conscience, and just lay everything out. It is a strong belief of mine that the Sacrament of Reconciliation is one of the most underused, and under appreciated Sacraments in the Church, but I can tell you from experience that it is one of the most grace filled and liberating.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you have blessed us with in this life. Lord, help us to forgive those that we are struggling to forgive and to do it from our hearts. Lord, help us to be as kind and as compassionate as you call us to be, and help us to see others through the eyes of love. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Don't miss the point

Readings for Monday March 8, 2010

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

Jesus said to the people in the synagogue at Nazareth: “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place. Indeed, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah when the sky was closed for three and a half years and a severe famine spread over the entire land. It was to none of these that Elijah was sent, but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon. Again, there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were all filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. But he passed through the midst of them and went away. (Lk 4:24-30)

Have you ever met someone who seems to always just "miss the point?" Perhaps you know someone in your life who you always find your self retelling a story, explaining something for the fifteenth time, or just find yourself thinking about this person, "they just don't get it." Most of us know someone who seems to "miss the point" of things often. Sometimes it may even be us who miss the point of something, and while this okay at times, it is important that we not "miss the point" in our own faith lives.

In today's gospel reading, we see Jesus addressing the people in his hometown of Nazareth. He reminded them of the fact that in the days of Elijah and Elisha, the prophets, that they were sent to, and cured, foreigners; instead of the Israelites. Jesus seemed to allude to the fact that this is one of the reasons that He was there as well, and this idea of helping foreigners instead of the only the Israelites enraged the people. This mad the crowd so angry because to them the foreigners were nothing, they were not worthy of God's plan. There was probably also a little arrogance there in thinking that they were the only people of God. Unfortunately, these people just "missed the point" They did not understand what Jesus was saying, they did not understand that what Jesus was talking about was that God's plan included everyone, not just the Israelites.

Because of His great love and mercy, the Lord wants all of His children with Him in heaven. Unfortunately there are those who miss this point, they do not understand, or in some cases want to understand, that God has a plan of them. God loves us so much, and all that He wants is for us to love and serve Him in this life, so that way we can be happy with Him in the next. Those who miss the point, are left with the alternative.

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 you bless us with. Lord, you are everything, help us to always keep you in the center of our lives, so that we can only do what is pleasing to you and to live this life out as you have planned for us. We pray for all of our brothers and sisters who have fallen away from the church, may they be brought back to your love and peace. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Good Stewardship

Readings for Friday March 5, 2010

First Reading: Genesis 37:3-4, 12-13, 17-28
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 105
Gospel: Matthew 21:33-43, 45-46

Therefore, I say to you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that will produce its fruit.” When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they knew that he was speaking about them. And although they were attempting to arrest him, they feared the crowds, for they regarded him as a prophet. (Mt 21:43,45-46)

In today's gospel reading, Jesus tells the parable of the tenants. In this parable we read about tenants who chose to abuse the responsibilities and the gifts that were entrusted in their care. They also chose to abuse anyone who would come along and try to set things right, even the owners own son. Needless to say that these guys made their bed, and were then going to have to lie in it.

One of the things that this parable is about is stewardship. Stewardship is essentially using the gifts given to us by God responsibly. According to the US Bishops, Catholic Stewardship also involves us: "Receiving the gifts of God with gratitude, Cultivating them responsibly, Sharing them lovingly in justice with others, Standing before the Lord in a spirit of accountability." (http://www.usccb.org/bishops/stewardship.shtml) Each of us has this awesome call to be good stewards of the the many gifts that God has given us. It is important that we not abuse these things or let them go unused. Each of us has these great gifts for a reason, and God has a purpose for each of us and our gifts.

Let us take a lesson today from the wicked tenants, and instead of abusing our gifts; let us practice good stewardship and allow our lives to be fruitful ... as they are meant to be.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, we praise you for all that you have given to us, help us to be good stewards of all that is entrusted to us. We pray for all of our priests and all of our religious, may they be strengthened in their ministries and in their vows. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Trust and hope in the Lord

Readings for Thursday March 4, 2010

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

Thus says the LORD: Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the LORD. He is like a barren bush in the desert that enjoys no change of season, But stands in a lava waste, a salt and empty earth. Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose hope is the LORD. He is like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its roots to the stream: It fears not the heat when it comes, its leaves stay green; In the year of drought it shows no distress, but still bears fruit. (Jer 17:5-8)

In today's first reading, the prophet Jeremiah gives us a great analogy comparing those who trust in God and those who trust in people. We see that trusting in people brings no good, and leaves our life in waste. While the person who trusts and hopes in the Lord, enjoys His blessings and will bear a life of good fruit, even in the most difficult of times. In the gospel reading today, we see the same comparison, but instead of using trees and bushes, we hear the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man only thought of himself during his life, he most likely put no trust in God, but rather all in himself. We can see that that mentality lead him to an eternal life of torment and suffering, kind of like the barren bush in the dessert. Lazarus however, had a hard and difficult life, but we never heard of him complaining or wallowing in self pity. The Lord saw it fit for Lazarus to be carried up into the "bosom of Abraham" where he finally had comfort and peace. It is no doubt that he became like the tree planted in by the cool stream.

These stories show us that without a life for the Lord, our life has no meaning, and will bear no fruit; not to mention what kind of an eternity it will lead us to. We each have a choice in this life, we can spend our years loving and serving the Lord, and not holding anything back; or we can spend this life loving and serving ourselves. If we choose to put our trust and hope in earthly things, we will be disappointed in the end, just as the rich man was. However, if we are willing to put our trust and hope in the Lord, then we will be able to make it through anything in this life and our lives will be blessed and always bearing good fruit.

Placing your hope in the world and trusting in yourself will lead to nothing, while trusting and hoping in the Lord will lead to everything.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for another day to go out and love and serve you, help us to hold nothing back from you, just as you hold nothing back from us. Lord, we love you , and we place our hope and trust in you; help us to do this even when it is the most challenging. We pray for all of those in need of conversion, we pray for all of our fallen away brothers and sisters, and we pray for all the souls in purgatory. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Glory to God!

Readings for Wednesday March 3, 2010

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

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something. He said to her, “What do you wish?” She answered him, “Command that these two sons of mine sit, one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom.” Jesus said in reply, “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?” They said to him, “We can.” He replied, “My chalice you will indeed drink, but to sit at my right and at my left, this is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” When the ten heard this, they became indignant at the two brothers. But Jesus summoned them and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matt 20:20-28)

In today's gospel reading, James and John are given a humbling lesson on why they are really there. You really cannot blame them, they were probably figuring; "hey, here we are at the feet of the master, I bet He could use two good men at His right and at His left." They were probably also thinking since nobody else had asked that this was up for grabs, and instead of jut asking themselves they bring in the big guns ... their mother. Now like I said, who can really blame them for asking, I mean that is really not such a bad thing to sit at the side Jesus, and when you think about it, that is something that we should all strive for. The only problem with what James and John wanted was that they did not have the right reason. You see, they were driven by power, position, and prestige (the three Ps); not by a servant's heart. Jesus quickly puts and end to their conversation and clarifies what He and the disciples are really there for. Jesus tells them the importance of not "lording their position" over others, and the importance of following His ways be seeking to serve, rather than be served.

We are not here to get all the glory and honor for ourselves, we are here to serve and to give God all the glory and honor. This is the model that we were given by Christ, and it is this example that we should follow in our own life. "the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mt 20:28)

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you bless us with. We praise you for all your love and mercy, help us to love and be merciful this day and all days. 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.


No mess is too big

Readings for Tuesday March 2, 2010

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

Come now, let us set things right, says the LORD: Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow; Though they be crimson red, they may become white as wool. If you are willing, and obey, you shall eat the good things of the land; But if you refuse and resist, the sword shall consume you: for the mouth of the LORD has spoken! (Is 1:18-20)

The other day I was trying very carefully to reach across our kitchen counter to pick up a hot pan, little did I know it that my sleeve was about ready to get caught on our wine rack. When it did get caught, it knocked over our wine rack sending one of the bottles (naturally my wife's favorite) sliding across the counter and onto the kitchen floor ... instant mess! I felt awful, not only did I ruin this bottle of wine, but I made a huge mess in the kitchen with glass and wine everywhere, and on top of that we were just getting ready to sit down to eat dinner. So instead of starting dinner, we decided to start the clean up. Once we got most of the big pieces picked up, we then proceeded to dinner. After we ate, came the job of doing the heavy duty cleaning. We swept and mopped, we pulled out appliances and cleaned under them and tried our best to make sure that every piece of glass was picked up and every drop of wine was mopped up. In the end, even though what had seemed like a huge disaster and massive mess, ended up being something that was very manageable to clean up.

As we read the first reading from Isaiah today, we see that God is also pretty good at cleaning up messes, and we are talking about big messes that we create in our lives. When reading from the prophet we see such beautiful words to tell the people that there is no mess that is too big for God. It says, "Come now, let us set things right ... though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow; though they may be crimson red, they may become white as wool." The Lord isn't interested in where we have been and what we have done, His love and mercy are so abundant, and He is a forgiving Father who just wants His children with Him. No matter what we have done, the Lord wants to help us clean up our mess. He wants to take this life that we have made a ruin of and help us pick up all the broken pieces, sweep it out, and make things new again ... "white as snow."

I can tell you from experience, that there truly is no mess that is too big for the Lord to clean up. I spent most of my life not knowing the Lord and following my own ways. I spent many years creating quite a mess, but by His wonderful grace I was made new and now the journey that I am on today is not about making messes but rather setting things right. Now matter what we have done, or where we have been, it is never too late to turn to Him and to let Him help you set things right.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you have blessed us with in our lives. Lord, you are so good to us, and we praise you for the great gifts in our lives. Thank you for your love and mercy, which you pour out freely to us. Lord, you always forgive us of our sins, help us to forgive others in this same way. Lord, you are our everlasting God, we place all of our hope and trust in you, for all that you offer is good. Help us stay on your path until the end when we can be with you in heaven. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Be merciful

Readings for March 1, 2010

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

Jesus said to his disciples: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. “Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.” (Lk 6:36-38)

During the winter and spring, millions of people tune into the popular TV show American Idol. During this hour or two of viewing, each person watching turns into a music judge. I myself have been guilty of tuning in and finding myself judging the contestants. You would think that I am sitting right there with the judges, and that my opinion actually matters during that time. It is funny how eager we are to judge, not just during American Idol, but each and every day of our lives.

In today's gospel readings, we are given warnings about judging people. This is certainly a hard temptation to resist; because when we see a person or situation, we have this desire to analyze that person or situation, form an opinion and then make a judgment. I think that this mostly stems from a desire to know things about the world around us and to have a grasp on reality. But while we are grasping, many times we let our judging get in the way of loving and living as we are meant to. How many times have we given our judgment upon someone, and because we were so busy judging, we never really took to time to help or to love the person as God would want us to? How many times have you passed a homeless person, and thought, "why doesn't that person just get a job?!" How many times have we heard of a kid in school who doesn't do their homework and just thought, "he is simply a lazy kid." How man times have we seen the woman who wears the really short skirts and revealing clothes and formed opinions about her?

Our Father in heaven is merciful beyond comprehension, why do we not do the same? I know that I have to remind myself of how merciful and forgiving God has been to me, and by reminding myself it really helps bring me down from the times that I get up on my high horse. We must always remember two very important things when it comes to judgement: 1) We are not God, it is not our place to judge, that is His responsibility; 2) If we do still insist on judging, then we will be judged by the same standards - "For the measure with which you measure will in return by measured out to you." (Lk 6:38)

May the Lord help each of us stop looking at each other through eyes of judgement, and help us look at each other through eyes of love.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for helping us see that we are not judges, but rather we are your children, who are meant to love you and love our neighbors as you call us to. Lord, please forgive us for all that times that we have judged, and not loved as we are called to. Help us to do better in our lives. We pray for all those in need of conversion, and for all those in the Church this lent, that we may all grow during this season of fasting and prayer. WE ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


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