A Simple Choice

Readings for Thursday December 30, 2010

First Reading: 1 John 2:12-17
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 96
Gospel: Luke 2:36-40

Do not love the world or the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, sensual lust, enticement for the eyes, and a pretentious life, is not from the Father but is from the world. Yet the world and its enticement are passing away. But whoever does the will of God remains forever. (1 Jn 2:15-17)

In each of our lives, we have a very important choice to make; follow God or follow the world. God offers eternal life, peace and joy; the world offers nothing but death and destruction. Seems like a pretty simple choice, right? Unfortunately along our journeys we get distracted and things get very confusing for us at times. In Saint John's letter today, he recognizes those who are seeking the Father, and he warns them and us to love God only and to not love this world. He reminds us all that "who ever does the will of God remains forever." This is a very important thing to always keep in our hearts, because whenever things get confusing and we are not sure what decisions to make in our lives, we must always remember that we should be seeking to do the will of God.

I pray that we can all be devout followers of God, like Anna, that we read about in today's gospel. She was a faithful servant of the Lord who spent her last years with God in prayer and fasting, and after meeting Jesus as a child, she proclaimed the glory of God to all, and spread the message of the great hope that we should have in God.

May we all continue to follow God's will for our lives with complete faith and hope, and may God continue to be in us forever. Remember, even though it is hard, it really is a simple choice.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. Lord, help us to serve you more fully and to not hold anything back from you. Lord we pray for an increase in faith and hope so that we will not hesitate in following you. Lord you are our God and our creator, you know what is best for us and you have a plan for our lives. May we trust in you now and always. We pray for all those seeking meaning and truth in their lives, may they be brought to you and your light. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Walk This Way

Readings for Wednesday December 29, 2010

First Reading: 1 John 2:3-11
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 96
Gospel: Luke 2:22-35

Beloved, I am writing no new commandment to you but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. And yet I do write a new commandment to you, which holds true in him and among you, for the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light, yet hates his brother, is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother remains in the light, and there is nothing in him to cause a fall. Whoever hates his brother is in darkness; he walks in darkness and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes. (1 Jn 2:7-11)

In college I was blessed enough to go on a recreational trip to the smoky mountains. We back packed for a week in the Smokey Mountains; and let me tell you that I saw first hand some of the amazing work our Divine creator. Now most of us on the trip were beginner or novice back packers, but thankfully we had some great trip leaders who really knew their stuff. They helped us with what to pack, things to wear, food to bring, everything. Probably one of the most important things that they showed us was the way to go. The trip leaders were our guides, they helped us on the trails and helped lead us to our final destination. While that trip will never leave my memory, I certainly know that it would not have been possible without the help and leadership of the trip leaders.

In the first reading today Saint John tells us that "to know Jesus is to keep His commandments," and that if we are going to abide in Him then we need "to walk as He walked." Like my backpacking trip, in life we need a guide, some one to help us and lead us to our final destination. Jesus is our guide in life, and He wants us to know Him, and for us to open ourselves to His love and help. He wants to lead us to heaven, if we will only turn from this world and follow Him. Saint John warns us that if we allow ourselves to be blinded by sin, then we cannot see Jesus in our lives, and we will not be able to walk as He did.

Following Christ is not easy, it is a hard life, but it is also a life full of joy and peace. Many of us want to be more holy and closer to Christ, but do not think that it is possible. If we rely on ourselves in these situations, then we are right, it is not possible. BUT, if we rely on Christ, then anything is possible. Let us not lose sight of Christ in our lives, let us pray for focus and clarity of how God wants to use us and how He wants to work in us. Let us never think that we are alone, God puts all kinds of other guides in our lives to show us how and where to walk. In today's gospel Mary and Joseph show us the importance of following God's commandments. Not only can we learn much from their great examples, but they are also in heaven ready and willing to pray for us and to help continue to guide us towards Christ, may we all seek their intercessions.

Let us each walk as Christ did, and listen to Him when He tells us in life, to walk this way.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this way. We thank you for the many blessings you have bestowed in our lives. Lord, we pray for increased faith and hope in you so that we may be better and more worthy followers of you. Lord, we pray for a heart full of your love, that will help us to love our neighbors as ourselves. We pray for all those who serve the church, and all those who are being persecuted for their faith. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Live in His Truth

Readings for Tuesday December 28, 2010

Feast of the Holy Innocents, martyrs

First Reading: 1 John 1:5-2:2
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm124
Gospel: Matthew 2:13-18

This is the message that we have heard from Jesus Christ and proclaim to you: God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say, “We have fellowship with him,” while we continue to walk in darkness, we lie and do not act in truth. But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another, and the Blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin. If we say, “We are without sin,” we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing. If we say, “We have not sinned,” we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
My children, I am writing this to you so that you may not commit sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one. He is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world. (1 Jn 1:5-2:2)

Have you ever known someone who told some pretty big "fish stories" about themselves? These are people who stretch the truth about accomplishments that they have had, abilities they possess, or things they have done. Usually when speaking to these types of people, I cannot help but wonder why they are deliberately lying all to make themselves look better. I often think that they should just tell the truth, sure it may not seem as exciting, but then at least you are not pretending to be someone you are not.

Saint John warns us of dangers of not being truthful, especially about our flaws. He tells us that if we say that we are without sin, then we "deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." As Christians we must constantly acknowledge our shortcomings and our failings; because in acknowledging when we fall, we allow God to pick us back up. We cannot continue to deceive ourselves, we just need to understand that we are human, and if we try to do things our way, then we will fail and we will fall short of reaching heaven. But if we choose to live in the truth, and acknowledge that by ourselves we fall short, but with God we can overcome anything; then we live in the truth. It is His truth that we should live in and that will lead us to heaven.

Today we celebrate the feast day of the Holy Innocents, the children who lost their lives because of a king who was paranoid and power hungry. These child martyrs were completely innocent, and had not even lived to commit a sin. We are far off from these Holy martyrs, and we must acknowledge the times that we fall short; but it is okay because we have hope. Today, reflect on the words of Saint John:
"My children, I am writing this to you so that you may not commit sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one. He is expiation for our sins, and not for our sins only but for those of the whole world."

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 for all that you do. Lord, you are our God and our rock, may we never veer from your will or your ways. Lord, teach us how to be better disciples, and to love as you love. We pray for all the Christians who are suffering and are being persecuted, may they persevere during what might seem like a dark time. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Faith That Moves Us

Readings for Monday December 27, 2010

Feast of Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist

First Reading: 1 John 1:1-4
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 97
Gospel: John 20:1a, 2-8

On the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we do not know where they put him.” So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in. When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. (Jn 20:1a, 2-8)

How is your faith? Is it so much that you believe in the resurrection? Does it make you want to go out and share the gospel with others? Does it move you to believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist?

Today we celebrate the feast day of Saint John, the "one whom Jesus loved." When Jesus had died, John, like the other apostles were grief stricken. They couldn't believe that He was gone, and I am sure that they were really questioning things. But once John stepped inside that empty tomb, all doubts and fear disappeared, because we are told "he saw and believed." In that instant John's faith moved him to believe and to trust in all that Christ had told them. This new found faith also moved him to spend the rest of his life spreading the good news about Christ and the hope that comes with serving Jesus. We read in the first reading today that this sharing the faith and fellowship is what made his joy complete.

Each of our lives has a purpose. Our most basic purpose is to love God and one another. We can show great love to each other by sharing the good news of Jesus Christ and by proclaiming His great love and mercy to all those we come into contact with. May our faith in God move each of us to share the good news as John and all the other apostles did.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, help us to serve you with all that we are. We praise you and thank you for the great gift of life, help us to be good stewards of the life you have entrusted to us. We pray for all those who have fallen away, may they be brought back to your safe and loving arms. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Christmas Eve

Readings for Friday December 24, 2010

First Reading: 2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 89
Gospel: Luke 1:67-79

Zechariah his father, filled with the Holy Spirit, prophesied, saying:

“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel;
for he has come to his people and set them free.
He has raised up for us a mighty Savior,
born of the house of his servant David.
Through his prophets he promised of old
that he would save us from our enemies,
from the hands of all who hate us.
He promised to show mercy to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant.
This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
to set us free from the hand of our enemies,
free to worship him without fear,
holy and righteous in his sight
all the days of our life.
You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High,
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,
to give his people knowledge of salvation
by the forgiveness of their sins.
In the tender compassion of our God
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Lk 1:67-79)

Father above, we thank you and praise for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for becoming one of us to save us from our sins, and for giving us a way back to you. Lord, your love and mercy are endless, help us to never leave or veer from your arms. Lord, you have plans for each of us, plans beyond our wildest dreams, helps us to submit to your perfect will. We pray for spiritual growth and renewal at the close of this Advent season and the start of this Christmas season. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


The Magnificat

Readings for Wednesday December 22, 2010

First Reading: 1 Samuel 1:24-28
Responsorial Psalm: 1 Samuel 2:1
Gospel: Luke 1:46-56

Today let us take time to read and reflect on the words of Mary in the Magnificat. Let us reflect on God's strength and might; and His faithfulness to those who serve Him. One final thought, if the blessed Mother took time to recognize and praise Him, shouldn't we do the same?

And Mary Said:
"My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
for he has looked upon his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever." (Lk 1:46-55)

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. 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.


Truth, Brought to You By the Holy Spirit

Readings for Tuesday December 21, 2010

First Reading: Song of Songs 2:8-14 or Zephaniah 3:14-18
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 33
Gospel: Luke 1:39-45

Mary set out in those days and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled." (Lk 1:39-45)

How refreshing Elizabeth's words must have been to Mary at this time. Here she was with the son of God in her womb, and she knew of course that no one would believe her. When she went to visit Elizabeth, however, Elizabeth filled with the Holy Spirit was given the special insight into who the child was in Mary's womb. Elizabeth knew that she was blessed that Mary came to visit and knew that Mary was special because of her belief and trust in God.

This scene that we read about in today's gospel reading is of course the visitation, the second joyful mystery that we meditate on during the Holy Rosary. I think that there are some key insights that we can take away from this mystery. One is that God will always send us signs that we are doing His will. They may be subtle or they may be quite obvious (as was the case for Mary), but He does send us these signs especially at times when we need them the most.

The other insight that we can take from this mystery is that it is the Holy Spirit who reveals truth about God and about our lives. In today's reading, Elizabeth had no prior knowledge about Mary and Jesus, but it was the Holy Spirit who revealed the truth about them to her. We too can benefit from the knowledge and wisdom that the Holy Spirit seeks to give each one of us. It is through the Holy Spirit that we can come to know Christ better in our lives and to know His truth.

As we come to the end of this Advent season, may we continue to grow closer to Jesus in both love and knowledge through the Holy Spirit. May we look to the great example of the Holy Family for the way in which we are to trust and follow God in our own lives.

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 please send your spirit so that we may be full of zeal and life, and that we may come to know the truth about you more fully in our lives. Lord, we pray that your will be done in our lives and that we can humble ourselves before your greatness. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Just Say 'Yes'

Readings for Monday December 20, 2010

First Reading: Isaiah 7:10-14
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 24
Gospel: Luke 1:26-38

In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 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. 1:26-38)

Has God ever asked anything that seemed impossible of you? Have you ever been afraid of something that God has put on your heart? I think that it is only natural to feel this way when we are called, but let us always remember to imitate our Blessed Mother in these situations, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." Mary trusted in what God was calling her to, and she knew that by following Him, she would not be abandoned. We are also never abandoned by God, for He is always here to help and love us no matter what.

Don't be afraid of saying yes to God, rather be afraid of not fully experiencing the peace and joy that come from knowing, loving, and serving the Lord.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, you are so good and merciful to us, so much more than we deserve. Lord, we praise you and thank you for the gift of our lives, help us always to be good stewards of this great gift. Lord, we pray that we can make room for you in our hearts this advent season, help us to cling to you ever more and to never veer from your path. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.



Readings for Thursday December 16, 2010

First Reading: Isaiah 54:1-10
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 30
Gospel: Luke 7:24-30

When the messengers of John the Baptist had left, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John. “What did you go out to the desert to see B a reed swayed by the wind? Then what did you go out to see? Someone dressed in fine garments? Those who dress luxuriously and live sumptuously are found in royal palaces. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom Scripture says: Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, he will prepare your way before you.
I tell you, among those born of women, no one is greater than John; yet the least in the Kingdom of God is greater than he.” (All the people who listened, including the tax collectors, who were baptized with the baptism of John, acknowledged the righteousness of God; but the Pharisees and scholars of the law, who were not baptized by him, rejected the plan of God for themselves.) (Lk 7:24-30)

In today's gospel Jesus speaks of John the Baptist. In the end, the sinners and tax collectors who were baptized by John acknowledge the "righteousness of God" and they believed in Jesus' words; but the Pharisees and scholars did not believe. Why did they not believe? Was it because they felt shunned for not being baptized? Did they think of themselves as more intellectual than sinners? Perhaps they just weren't listening. What is most likely the cause of their unbelief is pride. Their pride was so great that they would not believe or see God's beautiful plan for salvation, they were too wrapped up in their own beliefs and opinions. Pride has this dangerous way of leading us away from God and His plan for us. If we allow our hearts to become swelled with pride, then there is not room for God, and all we will believe in is ourselves.

Pride is one of the most dangerous of sins, in fact some believe that it is the most dangerous. Pride is what led to the fall of Lucifer, and it is the cause of the fall of many men and women. Let us ask God today for an increase in faith and trust in Him and in His plan. As we go about this Advent season, let us continue to make room in our hearts for Christ, not pride.

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 give. Lord, you are our God, and there is no other like you. May our lives be centered around you and may you fill our hearts with your love and mercy. Lord, we pray for all those who are struggling with pride, may they be released of this sin and come into your loving arms. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Teach Me Your Ways, O Lord

Readings for Monday December 13, 2010

Memorial of Saint Lucy, virgin and martyr

First Reading: Numbers 24:2-7, 15-17
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 25
Gospel: Matthew 21:23-27

When Jesus had come into the temple area, the chief priests and the elders of the people approached him as he was teaching and said, “By what authority are you doing these things? And who gave you this authority?” Jesus said to them in reply, “I shall ask you one question, and if you answer it for me, then I shall tell you by what authority I do these things. Where was John’s baptism from? Was it of heavenly or of human origin?” They discussed this among themselves and said, “If we say ‘Of heavenly origin,’ he will say to us, ‘Then why did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we fear the crowd, for they all regard John as a prophet.” So they said to Jesus in reply, “We do not know.” He himself said to them, “Neither shall I tell you by what authority I do these things.” (Mt. 21:23-27)

In today's gospel the religious leaders confront Jesus asking where His authority comes from. Jesus decides that He will tell them if they can answer His question. After being asked, they tell Him that they do not know the answer; showing that they cannot speak with authority. Since they were unwilling to share their authority with Jesus, neither was He willing to share His with them. Through all of the many confrontations that Jesus had with the religious leaders, He always had a way of reducing them to silence; or asking them questions they did not understand or couldn't answer. When reading about situations like this, we might tend to be swelled with pride and say in our heads, "Wow Jesus! You sure got em good with that one!" While these situations certainly put the scribes and pharisees in their place, they are meant to show us that Jesus came with the authority of God.

The religious leaders of the time did not believe in who Jesus was, therefore they did not accept the authority that He had. We are very blessed to have this special insight into the gospels and to see it from an outsiders perspective. It is important for us to remember that Jesus was God in the flesh, who came to teach, preach, heal, and save; all with God's authority! There is no greater power to be found anywhere, and we should be striving to grow in His love and mercy each day of our lives. Let us pray the words of the psalmists today, "Teach me your ways, O Lord." May the Holy Spirit grant us the fruits that He desires to bring into our lives each day, and may we grow stronger each day in faith, hope, and love.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. We praise you for the many gifts in our lives, and for all that we are capable of. Lord, we offer this day up for you, and for your glory. Lord, you are the source of all that is good and all that is right, help guide us as we continue on our journey of faith in you. We pray for all those who are are seeking you in their lives and all those looking for meaning and purpose, may they find it in you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Against the Current

Readings for Friday December 10, 2010

First Reading: Isaiah 48:17-19
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 1
Gospel: Matthew 11:16-19

Jesus said to the crowds: “To what shall I compare this generation? It is like children who sit in marketplaces and call to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance, we sang a dirge but you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they said, ‘He is possessed by a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they said, ‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is vindicated by her works.” (Mt. 11:16-19)

They played their flutes, but you did not dance, they sang a dirge but you did not mourn. These are some of the words that we hear in today's gospel. Jesus compares this generation to children at the market place. He then goes straight into the things that people were saying about John the Baptist and Jesus as well. At first glance this can be a very confusing passage; but what I immediately started thinking about was the demands of the world. There are so many times that we feel pressure from those around us to "dance" and "mourn." The world tells us to relax and join in the fun, and to just be like everyone else. John the Baptist did things God's way, and he was labeled as possessed. Jesus went about fulfilling His mission, and He was labeled as a glutton and drunkard. When we choose to go against the current of our culture, we can expect some resistance and some name calling. But if we hold tight to Christ, we can swim against any current the world throws at us.

In the first reading from Isaiah today, we are told; "I, the LORD, your God, teach you what is for your good, and lead you on the way you should go. If you would hearken to my commandments, your prosperity would be like a river, and your vindication like the waves of the sea." (Is. 48:17-18) It is God that we should strive to follow and listen to, not the world.

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 all that you do. Lord, help us to remember that all good things come from you, and that we are your children. Lord, even though it can be very difficult to run this race of life, we know with you that all things are possible. Give us the strength and perseverance to continue on not matter what the costs. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.



Readings for Thursday December 9, 2010

First Reading: Isaiah 41:13-20
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 145
Gospel: Matthew 11:11-15

I am the LORD, your God, who grasp your right hand; It is I who say to you, “Fear not, I will help you.” Fear not, O worm Jacob, O maggot Israel; I will help you, says the LORD; your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel. I will make of you a threshing sledge, sharp, new, and double-edged, To thresh the mountains and crush them, to make the hills like chaff. When you winnow them, the wind shall carry them off and the storm shall scatter them. But you shall rejoice in the LORD, and glory in the Holy One of Israel.
The afflicted and the needy seek water in vain, their tongues are parched with thirst. I, the LORD, will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will open up rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the broad valleys; I will turn the desert into a marshland, and the dry ground into springs of water. I will plant in the desert the cedar, acacia, myrtle, and olive; I will set in the wasteland the cypress, together with the plane tree and the pine, That all may see and know, observe and understand, That the hand of the LORD has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it. (Is 41:13-20)

Many times in this life, the world tells us that we must be great and successful. So many people strive to make themselves great, and sadly on their journey towards greatness they neglect so many other aspects of their life. The reality is that our job on this earth is not to be great, but rather to show God's greatness. I think that the Lord properly puts people in their place when using the descriptions of "worm" and "maggot" from today's first reading. Even Jesus talks about someone like John the Baptist being lower than the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. This kind of talk is not meant to lower our self esteem, but instead it is to help us realize that we are not as great as we think that we are.

Greatness come from the Lord. It is He who is the giver of life and all that we have. It is only through Him that greatness comes. The prophet Isaiah speaks of the impossible things that only God can do; such as turning desert into a marshland, or planting trees where no human could make them grow. He can do all things, and nothing is too big or too small for God to handle; "for nothing will be impossible for God." (Lk 1:37)

There is nothing wrong with achievements and success, but we must realize that greatness comes from God. Even though He may be dong great things in our life, we know that there are still more amazing things to come; because God is not through with us yet.

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. Help us never to take credit for your works, but rather to realize your love and mercy in allowing greatness into our lives. Lord, increase our faith so that we might trust in you so much more, and that we may have the courage to lay down our lives for you. We pray for all those who are unemployed, may they grow closer to you during this storm. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Immaculate Conception

Readings for Wednesday December 8, 2010

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

First Reading: Genesis 3:9-15
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 98
Second Reading: Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12
Gospel: Luke 1:26-38

Brothers and sisters: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will, for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved. In him we were also chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the One who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will, so that we might exist for the praise of his glory, we who first hoped in Christ. (Eph 1:3-6, 11-12)

Brothers and Sisters, today we celebrate the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Mother and Queen. In today's readings we see God's plan for Mary unfold, from the fall of our first parents Adam and Eve to the Annunciation, where Mary said her great yes to the Lord. We see that even from the beginning that God had a plan for us and that no matter what wrong our original parents did, the Lord had a plan for us to still have a way to Him. We read today from Paul's letter to the church at Ephesus, that from the beginning of time, God had a plan for our salvation, and for each one of us. From this letter, we should realize that each of us has a purpose in this life, that purpose is to love the Father with all our heart and to do His will in our lives. For we can only find fulfillment and happiness when we have conformed our will to His.

In Paul's letter, we realize that each of us has a purpose, and so did our Blessed Mother. Mary was given the grace by God to be born without sin so that she could fulfill her purpose of bringing the savior of all of us into this world. Her purpose was to love Him, and care for Him, and to be His greatest disciple while on earth. Yet, even having done all those things, God still has a purpose for Mary, and to this day her purpose is to lead each one of us to her son, Jesus.

Mary was called by God to be the mother of Christ, this was His plan from the beginning. On the cross, Jesus gave her to all of us to be our mother as well.

During this season of Advent, may we all ask for the blessed mother's intercessions and to be lead even closer to her son.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed are 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 a world without end. Amen.


Comfort In God

Readings for Tuesday December 7, 2010

Memorial of Saint Ambrose, bishop and doctor of the Church

First Reading: Isaiah 40:1-11
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 96
Gospel: Matthew 18:12-14

Jesus said to his disciples: “What is your opinion? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray? And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray. In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.” (Mt. 18:12-14)

I remember that one time when I was younger, my mom and I was at the grocery store. I began to wonder around by myself; and after a while of playing in the isles, I realized that my mom was no longer with me and was no where to be found. I immediately started searching all of the isles, but with no luck. I started becoming very afraid that I would never find her and that I would stay lost in that store. I then found my way to the service desk; alone and afraid with tears down my cheek I asked the clerk if they could page my mom to the desk. When I heard them page her to the desk, I began to be comforted, because I knew that once the announcement was made, she would be on here way. Sure enough, moments later, there was my mom coming towards the desk; with a rather angry look on her face for me having drifted off, but I didn't care how angry she was, I had been found. You had better believe that for the rest of that trip she couldn't have lost me if she had tried.

There is certainly a lot of joy when something is lost and then is found. Jesus speaks of this in today's gospel, when He tells the parable of the lost sheep. This type of joy is certainly the same type of joy that I found when I had my conversion. I was so happy to have been found by God, that He took the time to find me; it still amazes me how much He loves me and all of us. It is so awesome that no matter how low we seem to go in our life, or how far we veer; He always find us and is willing to bring us back.

The prophet Isaiah tells us of the comfort that we can find from the Lord. If we want to find true peace and comfort, then we need to put our faith and hope in Christ. For if we do, He will carry us and lead us to everlasting life. I pray that we may all turn to the Lord, and allow Him to carry us and lead us in our lives, and then we can find the comfort that we all seek.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. Lord, we praise you and give you thanks for all that we have and all that we are. Help us to serve you with all our heart. Lord, we pray for a humble heart, and a faith that is unbreakable. Lord, be with all those who are striving to do your will. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Readings for Monday December 6, 2010

First Reading: Isaiah 35:1-10
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 85
Gospel: Matthew 5:17-26

One day as Jesus was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there, and the power of the Lord was with him for healing. And some men brought on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed; they were trying to bring him in and set him in his presence. But not finding a way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on the stretcher through the tiles into the middle in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “As for you, your sins are forgiven.”

Then the scribes and Pharisees began to ask themselves, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who but God alone can forgive sins?” Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them in reply, “What are you thinking in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”– he said to the one who was paralyzed, “I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.”

He stood up immediately before them, picked up what he had been lying on, and went home, glorifying God. Then astonishment seized them all and they glorified God, and, struck with awe, they said, “We have seen incredible things today.” (Mt. 5:17-26)


The Lord is My Light and My Salvation

Readings for Friday December 3, 2010

Memorial of Saint Francis Xavier, priest

First Reading: Isaiah 29:17-24
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 27
Gospel: Matthew 9:27-31

As Jesus passed by, two blind men followed him, crying out, “Son of David, have pity on us!” When he entered the house, the blind men approached him and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I can do this?” “Yes, Lord,” they said to him. Then he touched their eyes and said, “Let it be done for you according to your faith.” And their eyes were opened. Jesus warned them sternly, “See that no one knows about this.” But they went out and spread word of him through all that land. (Mt. 9:27-31)

In today's first reading, Isaiah speaks of the great works of the Lord, and the impossible situations that the Lord can heal and take care of. Making the deaf hear, the blind to see, and rising up the lowly ... these all seem like impossible situations, but not to God. God has the power to rise us up from these worldly lives of sin, and to save us from the world and ourselves. But this saving grace requires faith and trust. If we are willing to follow our Lord, and to trust Him with all our hearts He will begin to work wonders in our lives.

Today we see in the gospel reading the power of God. When the blind men called out to Jesus, they called Him "Son of David", a term that was very significant, and a term that was reserved for the Messiah. Although they could not see, they blind men were guided by their hearts, for they had no doubts about who Jesus really was. In some ways, you could say that as blind men they "saw" better than most. Jesus had mercy on them because of their faith in Him, and they were rewarded with the gift of physical sight. These men teach us about the healing power of Jesus, and how if we call upon Him, He will give us sight in many situations. There are many times in my life where I have problems or issues that do not have a clear answer. It is in these times that I am blind to the situation; and I have recognized that the times that I am thriving in my prayer life, Jesus makes these answers very clear. This is one of the reasons why it is so important for us to keep a good prayer life, or relationship, with our Lord. We need His guidance, and for Him to light the way on our path. If we commit to giving Him time each day to listen, then we will continue to thrive in this life, and not just survive.

Today, let us remember the words of the psalmist: The Lord is my light and my salvation.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. Lord, increase our faith so that we can be better servants of you. Lord, we are nothing without you, may we always remember your saving power in our lives. We pray for all those who are suffering, and all those who are lost. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Be Prepared

Readings for Thursday December 2, 2010

First Reading: Isaiah 26:1-6
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 118
Gospel: Matthew 7:21, 24-27

“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.” (Mt. 7:24-27)

I remember over ten years ago when our world was obsessed with the Y2K scare. Everyone thought that the new millennium would be a complete catastrophe, or even worse the end of our civilization. Before the new millennium began, people began preparing for the worst; they were stocking up on food, water, generators, etc. I will have to admit that even I was a little curious and anxious to see what would happen when the clock struck midnight on New Years Eve. Much to many people's surprise nothing happened, except for the start of a new year.

It is funny how as people we try to be prepared for the worst. While many people try to prepare for disastrous things, how many of us are preparing for the typical challenges and hardships of our lives? The reality is that we all struggle with something (or many things). How do we respond to adversity? How do we get through the storms of life? In today's gospel, Jesus makes it clear to us that we have two choices in life: build our life upon a weak foundation of sand, or build it upon a strong foundation of solid rock. When we build our lives upon Christ, the strong foundation, then we create a stability in our life that prepares us for the worst. When we put all of our faith and trust into God, then we are never left disappointed. This does not mean that we will not experience the "rains and floods" of life, but when we do, we can be sure that we will still be standing strong with our Lord.

Many times in life we are told to prepare for the worst, and the worst is a life without God. Let us seek to grow closer to Him, to find the healing and comfort that only He can provide to us. Remember, this life will throw many things at us, but one thing that we can be sure of is that when our lives are built upon solid rock, we can survive and stand strong against anything.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you bless us with. Lord, you are so loving and merciful, please help us to share in this great love and mercy. Help us to be the disciples that we are called to be, trusting and always seeking your will. Lord, be our rock that we rely on at all times, and help us to never grow weary and veer from your path. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


The Greatness of God

Readings for Wednesday December 1, 2010

First Reading: Isaiah 25:6-10
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 23
Gospel: Matthew 15:29-37

At that time: Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, went up on the mountain, and sat down there. Great crowds came to him, having with them the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute, and many others. They placed them at his feet, and he cured them. The crowds were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the deformed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind able to see, and they glorified the God of Israel. (Mt. 15:29-31)

Today the prophet Isaiah speaks of the greatness of God and the promise of salvation. He speaks about how God's people will one day rejoice; "Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us! This is the Lord for whom we looked; let us rejoice and be glad that He has saved us!" I am sure that the people who came to Jesus in today's gospel shared this exact same thought. Imagine being given your sight back if you are blind, or being able to walk if once crippled. Not only did Christ cure many that day, but He also spoke and ministered to them and He used a few loafs of bread and some fish to feed all the people! Even still more amazing, after they had all eaten, there was such an abundance left over. These amazing acts truly speak to us about God's mercy and His greatness!

We serve a truly awesome and great God. He is greater than any person and more powerful than any force. And we should always remember that He is with us, and with Him nothing is impossible! Let us all serve the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and then one day we may be blessed enough to live in the house of the Lord all of our days!

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. We praise you for your many blessings that you bestow upon us Lord. God, help us to become better servants for you, increase our faith, hope, and love so that we might be better servants. We pray for all those suffering in the world, and all those seeking you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


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