Come to Him

Readings for Thursday July 14, 2011

Memorial of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, virgin

First Reading: Exodus 13:13-20
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 105
Gospel: Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus said: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light." (Mt 11:28-30)

I always enjoy reading today's gospel, because each time I do, I can feel Christ's compassion and love for us. He knows full well that this world has the ability to beat us down and just drain the life out of us, but His words tell us to come to Him during those times. So many of us are burdened, and it is Christ who wants to give us rest. He doesn't want us struggling and just trying to survive in this world, He wants us to learn from Him, to take His yoke and accept what He gives for free.

Take some time today and really reflect on this passage. What does this mean to you? Are you one of the burdened who needs to come to Jesus?

At any time, no matter what, the best thing we can always do is just come to Him.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all your have blessed us with. God, your love and mercy are more than we deserve, thank you for giving us all that you offer. Help us never to take this life for granted. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Turn to the Lord

Readings for Tuesday July 12, 2011

First Reading: Exodus 2:1-15
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 69
Gospel: Matthew 11:20-24

Pharaoh, too, heard of the affair and sought to put Moses to death. But Moses fled from him and stayed in the land of Midian. (Exodus 2:15)

In today's first reading we hear of Moses and how after slaying the Egyptian, became fearful of all those who knew. Moses, when confronted with such an accusation, did what most of us would do; he ran. Most of us are not good with conflict and in difficult times, the easiest thing to do is to just run away from your problems. But as that may seem like the easy situation at the time, our undealt with problems always seem to have a way of creeping back into our lives.

A wise decision to make when faced with conflict would be to heed the words of the psalmist, "Turn to the Lord in your time of need, and you will live." When faced with conflict or any sort of difficulties we must take them to the Lord, it is by doing this that we will be able to draw closer to Him and to truly find our life. In taking our problems to God, we will also gain greater clarity and direction on our issues. So many times we take our problems and issues to everyone else but God. We seem more than happy to take our problems to family, friends, neighbors, strangers off the street, various talk show hosts, reality TV, etc. While we will turn to everyone in the world, we seem to fail to realize that it is the creator of heaven and of earth that is really going to help us figure things out.

Like Moses, we can try to run away if we wish, but eventually we will find that there is nothing else that can save us except by turning to Him who waits for us; patiently waiting to give us the great gift of life.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, we praise you and thank you for all that we have and all that we are. Lord, help us to always turn to you in our time of need and surrender to you. Lord, help us also to always give you thanks at all times and for all that you bless us with. Lord Jesus, we praise you for your saving grace and for your great love and mercy for us. Help us to follow you no matter how big a cross we must carry and no matter where you lead us. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Job Description

Readings for Friday July 8, 2011

First Reading: Genesis 46:1-7,28-30
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 37
Gospel: Matthew 10:16-23

You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to another. Amen, I say to you, you will not finish the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes." (Matthew 10:22-23)

Imagine that you are in a job interview, and the interviewer begins telling you about the job. He begins telling you that in this job you will need to sacrifice a great deal, people will hate you, men will hand you over to authorities for punishment, you will be persecuted, scourging may be a regular part of your day, and the people closest to you may betray you all because of this job. Then the interviewer says, "how does this all sound to you, are you still interested in the job?" How many of us would be eager to accept such a task? I don't imagine many of us taking a job such as this; but this is just the task however that Christ has in store for us. Yes, it will be extremely hard, but if we will just trust in Him and endure to the end, then we know that the compensation for this job is well worth the risks that it will take.

In the first readings today, God asked Jacob to trust in Him and go to Egypt, and Jacob obeyed. Today, God is asking us to trust in Him and follow Him wherever He leads us. He is warning us ahead of time that things will be challenging and difficult, but if we can push through until the end, we will have an eternal reward in heaven.

So, are you still interested in the job?

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord Jesus, we know that following you is difficult, and we pray for the strength and courage to follow you wherever you lead. Lord, help increase our faith as we go out amongst the wolves of this world, help us to persevere and to live radically for you. Lord you are our God and we aer your people, help send you spirit down so that we might allow the fruits of the spirit to manifest in our lives. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Lost Sheep

Readings for Wednesday July 6, 2011

First Reading: Genesis 41:55-57,42:5-7,17-24
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 33
Gospel: Matthew 10:1-7

Jesus sent out these Twelve after instructing them thus, "Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town. Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, make this proclamation: 'The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.'" (Matthew 10:5-7)

In today's gospel we see a listing of the twelve disciples along with instructions from Christ for them to not go into pagan or Samaritan areas, but rather go after the "lost sheep of the house of Israel." Jesus' instructions make it clear that He has a strong interest in His own people, and that He wants them to hear the good news and to know that the Kingdom is at hand. While many of the Jews did not believe that He was the messiah; and while Christ knew of their hardness of heart and their stubbornness, He still felt it necessary to begin working on His own people first before spreading the gospel to the gentiles. Christ is the good shepherd, who goes and calls back all of His lost sheep and seeks to bring them back to His care.

These instructions are just as important for us today. While it is important for us to go out and spread the gospel to those who do not know Christ, it is just as important for us to make sure that we are helping and calling back the lost sheep within our own church. Think about in your parish, how many people are just going through the motions and are very lukewarm in their faith? We all know people who maybe come to Sunday mass once in a while, or maybe they don't even go at all. How many people do we know that are Catholic by association but live a very worldly life? It is these lost sheep that we need to somehow connect with and get them excited about their faith. We need to find someway to lead these people back to the faith that will give them new life and help them find their original purpose for living.

As followers of Christ, we have a duty and a mission just like the disciples did. We need to share the good news to all those we can, and we need to work to call back the lost sheep in our churches.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. Lord we thank you and praise you for our lives and all that we have. Lord, help us to spread your name and your word in this world, help us the be the light in the darkness. Lord, many of our brothers and sisters have fallen away, give us the wisdom and courage to help bring them back. We pray for all of our youth, for their dignity and for their formation in the faith. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


The Good Shepherd

Readings for Tuesday July 5, 2011

First Reading: Genesis 32:23-33
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 17
Gospel: Matthew 9:32-38

Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom, and curing every disease and illness. At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:35-36)

In today's gospel we see Jesus performing many miracles and proclaiming the gospel of the Kingdom. What is also amazing in today's gospel is seeing the love and mercy that Jesus has for us. It says, "at the sight of the crowds, His heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd." Jesus does not ignore the people or turn a deaf ear to them, instead He sees their struggles and their pains, He hears their prayers and knows their misfortunes. Christ also does the same with us. There are many times in life when we feel alone, abandoned, afraid, or that no one hears us; but this is not true. Christ is always there, rejoicing with us in our blessings, and sharing our tears in our pains and sorrows. Christ is the good shepherd, He has and will always step up when needed because of His great love and mercy.

Today, let us also reflect on the words of Psalm 23 to understand more of how God is our good and faithful shepherd, and how His love and mercy reign in our lives:
"The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.
In green pastures you let me graze; to safe waters you lead me;
you guide me me along the right path for the sake of your name.
Even when I walk through a dark valley, I fear no harm for you are at my side; your rod and staff give me courage.
You set a table before me as my enemies watch; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Only goodness and love will pursue me all the days of my life; I will dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come."

Father above, we thank you and praise you for this day. Lord, you are our rock and our strength, help us to put all of our trust in you and to rely on you at all times. Lord we are weak, but you are mighty and strong, Lord our strength lies in you. Lord, give us courage to face the obstacles in our day, help us to give you all glory and honor for all we do. We pray for all of our priests and for their ministries. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Readings for Friday July 1, 2011

Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

First Reading: Deuteronomy 7:6-11
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 103
Second Reading: 1 John 4:7-16
Gospel: Matthew 11:25-30

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love. In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.
God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him. (1 Jn 4:7-12, 16)

Today reflect on the readings, and ask yourself; what is leading you in your life? Is it love, or is it your own desires? Those who let love lead, are letting God lead.

May we always be mindful of one simple truth: God's love is endless and for everyone.

Lord, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day and for loving us so much more than we deserve. Amen.


God Sees Our Faith

Readings for Thursday June 30, 2011

First Reading: Genesis 22:1-19
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 115
Gospel: Matthew 9:1-8

After entering a boat, Jesus made the crossing, and came into his own town. And there people brought to him a paralytic lying on a stretcher. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Courage, child, your sins are forgiven." (Matthew 9:1-2)

We know how amazing and awesome God is. Although we are also aware that He knows and sees everything, do we always act and think as though He is watching? In today's gospel reading, Jesus heals a man who is paralyzed, but this is only after it says, "when Jesus saw their faith." We also see in the first reading Abraham was following God's instructions and was ready to sacrifice his son Isaac, but God seeing how devoted Abraham was stopped him and provided the sacrifice. In both of these cases, God saw the faith that man had and blessed them for their faith.

In the readings for today, we see men who were blessed for showing their faithfulness to God. Many times we think, "well I have been faithful and I have done good works, where are my blessings?" But we must understand and trust that God's blessings do not come in our time, they come in His time. The man who was paralyzed did receive physical healing, but it was his spiritual healing that was the true blessing. Abraham never did get to see his great number of descendants while on earth, but he still trusted in God enough to go along with His plan. We must remember, that we are not working for any sort of earthly rewards, we are working towards the great gift of eternal life in heaven, that is the true blessing. We must be sure that we are faithful in heart and in mind, as well in our good works. We should always be working towards His glory and not our own; and it should not be out of fear, but rather love of our Lord.

We must remember that God is not like some parent who turns their head or leaves the room giving us a window of opportunity to do wrong without their knowledge. God is everywhere, and He knows and sees everything. So the question that we must ask ourselves is, does God sees our faith in everything we are doing, or does He see us carrying out our own will?

Today, let us reflect on the words of St Paul to the Colossians, "Whatever you do, do from the heart, as for the Lord and not for others, knowing that you will receive from the Lord the due payment of the inheritance; be slaves of the Lord Christ." (Col 3:23-24)

Father above we thank you for the gift of this day. God, you are our Lord and master, increase our faith so that we may always do what is please to you. Please place in us a servants heart, so that we may always be faithful and obedient to you in all matters. Lord, we seek to know and love you more while in this earth. We pray for all our brothers and sisters who are blinded to your love and mercy, may their eyes be opened and may they find comfort in your love. We pray for all of our priest and for their ministries. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Finish Well

Readings for Wednesday June 29, 2011

Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles

First Reading: Acts 12:1-11
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 34
Second Reading: 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 17-18
Gospel: Matthew 16:13-19

I, Paul, am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance. The Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the proclamation might be completed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat and will bring me safe to his heavenly Kingdom. To him be glory forever and ever. Amen. (2 Tim. 4:6-8, 17-18)

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, apostles of the Church. But what exactly is it that makes these two men so special? One thing is that what we see from the readings today is that both of the came to the realization of who God is and who they are. They both realized that Jesus is the king of kings and the Lord of Lords. He is our Lord and redeemer, and we are each called to pick up our crosses daily and follow Him. What is interesting is that both of these men had a very rocky start with Christ. Peter was just a fisherman who followed Christ when it was convenient. Paul was a devout Jew who sought to persecute the early Church. I guess that you could say that both of them came a long way in their lives.

Even though they both had rough starts, they both had strong finishes. Both fought opposition, persecution, ailments, ridicule, imprisonment, and eventually martyrdom. But both saw their struggles as a blessing, not a curse. Both had , as Saint Paul put it, "competed well ... finished the race ... [and] kept the faith." This is the lesson that we can learn from each of these men. Even though we might get off to rocky starts in our own life, it is never too late to turn things around and turn towards the Lord. We are all in this race of life, and we are each called to compete well and finish the race. For it is by finishing the race well that we each receive the great reward of heaven.

Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us!

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, you are our Lord, help us to build our lives on your solid foundation. Lord, thank you for your great love and mercy, help us to go out into this world and show this same great love and mercy. Lord, we pray for all the persecuted, may they find their strength and comfort in you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Don't Rock The Boat

Readings for Tuesday June 28, 2011

Memorial of Saint Irenaeus, bishop and martyr

First Reading: Genesis 19:15-29
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 26
Gospel: Matthew 8:23-27

As Jesus got into a boat, his disciples followed him. Suddenly a violent storm came up on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by waves; but he was asleep. They came and woke him, saying, "Lord, save us! We are perishing!" He said to them, "Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?" Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm. The men were amazed and said, "What sort of man is this, whom even the winds and the sea obey?" (Matthew 8:23-27)

"He got into the boat and his disciples followed Him." We can only imagine how fond of Jesus the disciples were becoming. They were probably enjoying the attention that they were getting from the people, and they were feeling pretty important just being around Him. They were also probably enjoying his teachings and growing in their own faith lives. So up to this point, following Jesus has been a pretty good gig for these guys. When Jesus gets on the boat, they figure "why not, everything up to this point has been good", and so they follow. But then something happens while in the boat, a violent storm suddenly hits and all of the disciples begin freaking out and thinking that they are going to die. Jesus simply points out their lack of faith in this storm, and He immediately takes care of the situation. The disciples were amazed at this, and it was here that they really began questioning who this man was.

Our own faith journeys are much like that of the disciples. We hear about Jesus and things sound really good. We enjoy the stories and the lessons and everything seems to make sense. Then, all of a sudden, we hit a storm in our lives, something bad happens and we too begin to freak out. Sometimes we turn to Jesus and say "don't you even care that I am going through this? Sometimes we do not even turn to Him at all, and we just go back to our old ways. It is clear that our faith is never tested when things are going well, in fact this is a time when we usually take our faith and all the blessings from God for granted. But when a storm comes through our life, this is when we are truly tested. Will we be among those to ask God if He cares or not, or will we be among those to say; "God, I trust in you, let your will be done."

No one ever forces us to get in the boat with Christ, it is a choice that we all make ourselves. But if we get in the boat, let us never be fooled into thinking that there will not be challenges and storms along the way. We must remember to always have faith and to trust in the Lord, for He is always mindful of us.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, we praise you for all that you bless us with and all that we are. Lord, we offer this day up to you, help us to do your will this day and to be the lights in this world that we are called to be. God, we know that there will be many challenges that we will face in our lives, help us to weather these storms and to have faith in you throughout. We pray for all those who are struggling in their faith lives and for all those who do not know your love. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Knowing Our Purpose

Readings for Friday June 24, 2011

Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

First Reading: Isaiah 49:1-6
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 139
Second Reading: Acts 13:22-26
Gospel: Luke 1:57-66,80

The LORD called me from birth, from my mother's womb he gave me my name. He made of me a sharp-edged sword and concealed me in the shadow of his arm. He made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me. You are my servant, he said to me, Israel, through whom I show my glory. (Isaiah 49:1-3)

"What am I here for?" Most of us have certainly asked this question many times in our life. We ask this question because we all desire to find our purpose in life; without it we feel a void, an emptiness that is not filled until we find out what we were created to do. If we are truly searching for our purpose in life, we need to start by first asking the creator. It is God who created us, and it was not just so we could exist, but He created each of us with a specific purpose. We must first ask God to show us our purpose, it is only by giving into His will and finding out His plan for our lives that we can begin to fill the void.

As we celebrate the birth of Saint John the Baptist today, we recognize the greatness of God and the flawlessness of His plan. The birth of Saint John the Baptist would be considered what we typically call a miracle baby. Elizabeth, his mother, was older and unable to have kids, but God's greatness and mercy truly showed through to her and her husband. When John was born, the people knew that there was something different about this child, and they knew that the hand of the Lord was with him. John the Baptist grew up "strong in spirit" and went into the dessert to prepare the way of the Lord. John the Baptist knew his purpose. He was not concerned with social status, money, power, or greatness ... only doing the will of God. Saint John the Baptist teaches us many great lessons in humility and in keeping God first in our lives.

We must never lose hope and think that we have no purpose. God has a plan for each of us, just as He did for Saint John the Baptist. The Lord has called us each from birth, we are like the arrow hidden in His quiver, waiting for the right time to be used. We must make sure that we are always trusting and patiently waiting for that time in which the Lord will use us.

Saint John the Baptist, pray for us that we may follow and trust in the Lord as you did.

Father above, we thank you and give you praise for this day. Help us to to seek your plan for our lives, instead of giving into our own will. Lord, we know that from the very beginning you have had a plan for each of us, help us to trust in you and the things that you have in store for us. We know that some things will be hard and difficult and we thank you for it all. Lord, we thank you and praise you for your great love and mercy. We pray for all those who are lost and who do not know your love, we pray for their conversion to the life that you offer. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


From the Inside Out

Readings for Thursday June 23, 2011

First Reading: Genesis 16:1-12,15-16
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 106
Gospel: Matthew 7:21-29

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?' Then I will declare to them solemnly, 'I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.' (Matthew 7:21-23)

As Christians, we are often at odds with many non-believers in the world. Often, we are fighting against the injustices and the oppression from those who would like to see the downfall of the Church. It can be very challenging to be constantly defending the faith and our way of living. This challenge is of course not the only one we face, for our greatest opponents are not just on the outside, but we sadly must deal with internal foes as well. There have always been those Christians who are devout and faithful, and then there is also the phenomenon of those who say they believe but really have no sort of relationship with God. We typically call these people who are just stagnant in their faith "Sunday Catholics" or "Cultural Christians." It is kind of sad that we even have such names for these types of people, but it is a reality that we face.

Jesus warns us today of being just "Sunday Catholics" or "Cultural Christians", we really must be active in our faith. We cannot just go around saying that we believe in God, we must go out and show it. We are not called to be people who talk a good game, but we must be willing to walk our walk as well. If you are one of the people who has lost touch with your faith , then it is time to be reactivated, pray for the Holy Spirit to give you the fire and the zeal to get back in touch with God, to begin knowing and serving Him with everything you have. If you are among the faithful who are trying to get to heaven, then it is up to you to reach out to those who just show up to mass on Sunday. Perhaps invite them to a bible study, mens/womens group, church social, etc. I know that it is not enough for us to just evangelize the people outside of the Church, we must also do a good job of evangelizing inside of the Church as well. I know that this is something that I do not always do, but after reflecting on today's word, I realize that this is every bit our responsibility as well. For we are all the body of Christ, and when one part is weak or hurting, then we are all hurting.

I remember in a talk by Father John Corapi, he said "One day you and I will either be in heaven, or in hell ... period." It is as simple as that, we all have a choice to make every day; serve God and work towards heaven, or serve yourself and work towards hell. Jesus makes it very clear today that those who serve themselves and do not know Him will not be allowed into the kingdom.

May we all strive to do God's will in our lives and to help all those He puts in our path.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. Lord, help us to serve you with the strength and courage which we need. Lord, help us to be lights in this dark world, and help us to reach out and help all of our fellow brothers and sisters come to know and serve you better. Lord, we pray for all those who are stagnant in their faith and for all those who have fallen away. We pray for their fire to return by your Holy Spirit. We pray for our priests and for them to have the strength and zeal that they need in their ministries, help them to be faithful to their vows. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Love, Rather Than Judge

Readings for Monday June 20, 2011

First Reading: Genesis 12:1-9
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 33
Gospel: Matthew 7:1-5

"Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother's eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove that splinter from your eye,' while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother's eye." (Matthew 7:1-5)

I don't know about you, but I find that in our lives things like judgement and criticism are things that tend to have a one way streak. When it comes judging and criticizing each other, we are very good and usually are willing to offer this "advice" for free. It is however, a whole different story when it comes to us receiving judgement and criticism. When it comes to these things, we are much better at dishing it out, than taking it. We only seem to want to tell people what is wrong with them, instead of someone pointing out what is wrong with us. Which leads us to this question, why are we so willing to judge and label people? I would say that it is because of our own insecurities. We must remember however, that we are not called to judge one another, but rather, to love one another.

Christ provides us with an important warning in today's gospel. We must be very careful how we judge, for how we judge, we will also be judged. Christ tells us, "the measure with which we measure will be measured out to us." All of us are quick to notice the "splinter" in our neighbors eye, but we are not so quick to notice our own flaws, bad habits, and even sins.

There is certainly nothing wrong with pointing out what someone is doing wrong, especially if it can really help the person, but there are certainly right and wrong ways of doing this. We also must examine our motive in correcting someone. If our motive in correcting someone is to hurt them or to make them feel small, then we certainly still have a "log in our eye" and we cannot help the other person. But, if we are motivated out of love and to actually help the person and provide them with constructive criticism , then we have removed the "log from our eye" and can see clearly to help.

Today, let us choose to love our neighbors as ourselves. Let us all "measure with the measure which we would want measured out to us." If we must give feedback to someone, let us make sure that it is constructive and out of love. Remember, we are not called to judge one another, but rather to love one another as Christ loves us.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, help us to love as you love us. Fill our hearts with you, so that we may go out in this world and be the lights that we are called to be. Lord, you know what is best for us, and we trust you with all our heart. Lord, we pray for all those who seek to hurt and condemn with their words and actions, may they be brought to your truth and understand what it means to love. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Looks are Deceiving

Readings for Monday June 13, 2011

Memorial of Saint Anthony of Padua, priest and doctor of the Church

First Reading: 2 Corinthians 6:1-10
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 98
Gospel: Matthew 5:38-42

We cause no one to stumble in anything, in order that no fault may be found with our ministry; on the contrary, in everything we commend ourselves as ministers of God, through much endurance, in afflictions, hardships, constraints, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, vigils, fasts; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in unfeigned love, in truthful speech, in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness at the right and at the left; through glory and dishonor, insult and praise. We are treated as deceivers and yet are truthful; as unrecognized and yet acknowledged; as dying and behold we live; as chastised and yet not put to death; as sorrowful yet always rejoicing; as poor yet enriching many; as having nothing and yet possessing all things. (2 Cor 6:3-10)

Imagine that you are home one afternoon, when all of a sudden, hunger strikes. So you go into the kitchen and open the fridge to see what there is. Two things catch your eye, on one shelf is a delicious looking piece of chocolate cake; and on the other shelf is a salad, with fresh romaine lettuce and various fresh veggies. Now both things would do the job of satisfying your hunger, but the question is which one to choose. Now, we all know which one certainly tastes better, but one thing to remember is that looks are often times deceiving. Sure the chocolate cake will satisfy your hunger, and it will certainly taste good going down; but it is really not the best choice for you because that cake is loaded with unhealthy things like tons of calories, sugar and bad fats. Now the salad on the other hand, may not be the most exciting in the world, but if paired with a healthy dressing, can be the superior choice (sorry, but dressings like ranch and ceasar do not do much to enhance the healthy state of a salad). While it may seem bland, that salad is loaded with all kinds of good nutritional things like vitamins, minerals, low calories etc. It will satisfy your hunger, leave you feeling better (both physically and mentally), and it will give your body the things that it actually needs.

Like our chocolate cake versus the salad example, St. Paul touches upon this idea that looks are deceiving as well. In his second letter to the Corinthians, he tells of what things may look like to others and how they really are among Christians. He says they are treated as liars and deceivers, even though they are truthful. They are treated as sorrowful, yet they are always rejoicing. They are treated and seen as having nothing, yet possessing everything. Saint Paul knows that looks can be deceiving, especially in the faith life. He knows that to the world, our faith may be seen as a burden or something that is all in vain, but to those who believe and follow and truly allow Christ to be in their lives, nothing is in vain. To those who seek God's will, truly find their lives and find a joy that is indescribable.

Following Christ takes sacrifice, and this is something that Christ has told us Himself. But for those of us who are willing to follow and trust, we will experience something that most will never know, and we will gain a reward that we cannot even fully comprehend. Our Christian faith may not look the most appealing, but we must remember that it has everything we need and more.

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 the many gifts in our life. Lord, we thank you for hte gift of family and friends, and for all those who build us up in our lives. Help us to be a gift to each other and to be a good example of love in this world. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Consecrated to the Truth

Readings for Wednesday June 8, 2011

First Reading: Acts 20:28-38
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 68
Gospel: John 17:11b-19

They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world. And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth. (Jn 17:16-19)

If you were to look up the word 'consecrate' in the dictionary, you will come up with several definitions. One definition that I particularly like is the following one: "to devote or dedicate to some purpose." What a brilliant, yet simple definition of this word consecrate.

In today's gospel, Jesus is praying to the Father, and in His prayer He asks that the disciples be consecrated in truth. So what does this mean? If we think back to our definition of consecrate, it means that Jesus wants His disciples to be devoted or dedicated to the truth. And, as Pilate would say, what is truth? We also see in this gospel that God's "word is truth." Jesus wants all of His disciples (including us) dedicated to God's word, His truth. We should be living it, believing and trusting it, sharing it with others, just totally wrapped up in His truth. For if we are all truly consecrated to His truth, then nothing can ever stop of from reaching heaven.

But we must be weary, as Saint Paul tells members of the early church in today's first reading. Saint Paul says; "I know that after my departure savage wolves will come among you, and they will not spare the flock. And from your own group, men will come forward perverting the truth to draw the disciples away after them." (Acts 20:29-30) There will always be those who cannot stand God's truth, they are so wrapped up in their own ways that they will seek to destroy and disrupt anything that would threaten their own "truths." We must also be weary because the evil one, the prince of lies, seeks to break the Church and Her body apart. Satan seeks to twist God's truth to veer people away. He has done so since the beginning of time, and has since continued to warp God's truth. We see it greatly today in many forms, contraception, abortion, pornography, homosexuality, atheism, relativism, and many others.

As Christians, we must cling to the truth, we must be fully devoted to it. We must always remember to listen to and follow the Catholic Church, the Church established by Jesus to be "the pillar and foundation of truth." (1 Tim. 3:15) If we are to be truly consecrated in the truth, then we must always stay close to home, the Church. Let us always remember that, we were made for God, for His truth, not for the world.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, we praise you and thank you for all that you have blessed us with. Help us to stay grounded in your truth, and to never veer. Protect us from the evil one who only seeks to confuse and scatter your disciples away from the truth. Lord, give us the courage and strength to go out and share your truth with others, and to be the disciples that you created us to be. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.



Readings for Tuesday June 7, 2011

First Reading: Acts 20:17-27
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 68
Gospel: John 17:1-11

I served the Lord with all humility and with the tears and trials that came to me because of the plots of the Jews, and I did not at all shrink from telling you what was for your benefit, or from teaching you in public or in your homes. I earnestly bore witness for both Jews and Greeks to repentance before God and to faith in our Lord Jesus. But now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem. What will happen to me there I do not know, except that in one city after another the Holy Spirit has been warning me that imprisonment and hardships await me. Yet I consider life of no importance to me, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to bear witness to the Gospel of God’s grace. (Acts 20:19-24)

In the first reading from Acts today, we see Paul saying farewell to the disciples at Miletus. In a very bold and heartfelt speech, Paul discusses the example of his own life. He addresses the trials and challenges that he faced. He talked about his bold witness to both the Jews and the Greeks, and how he brought many people to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. And now, he is off to Jerusalem, completely unaware of what will happen there, only knowing that it will be very hard and difficult. Then Paul says a line of which we should all take to heart and remember: "Yet I consider life of no importance to me, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to bear witness to the Gospel of God's grace." In this line, Paul is telling of how his life is not the most important thing, but rather finishing the mission to which the Lord called him to is the most important thing.

For the past several years, I have been engaged in distance running. Each year I try and do one or two big races, like a marathon or half marathon. Through the training and the races themselves, I have learned one very important lesson about finishing what you started. Each race that I have done has been an amazing experience. Not only does it feel good to be able to run and be healthy, but also the people that I have gotten to work with and meet has been a blessing. Each race also is usually very scenic and has great views. But aside from all these really good things that are involved with running in a race, one thing is always a constant ... these races are hard! Running for longer distances is difficult, and certainly no easy task. There are many times when I realize that the most important thing for me to do is just simply to finish. Just persevere and finish no matter how much I am hurting. By taking on this attitude (and with a whole lot of help from God) I have been blessed enough to complete several races. The feeling of crossing that finish line is truly a thrilling and joyous experience that is difficult to describe with words. Although I have learned many lessons from running, one lesson that will always be of great value is: running the race is hard, but finishing is so worth it!

Each of us should have the goal of finishing. Saint Paul gave us a great example with his earthly life. He showed us and taught us that life is hard, that we are going to experience trials and hardships; but that is okay we are not trying to be happy on earth we are trying to finish the course that God has set before each of us so that we can finish and receive the reward of eternal peace and happiness. The race is not easy, but finishing will be so worth it.

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 that you give and for all that you do. Help us to persevere in this life until the very end, and all for your glory. Lord, give us the courage and the strength to live in this world and not of it. Help us to fight the battles that you call us to and to be a witness to all those you put in our lives. 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.


Finishing Touches

Readings for Monday June 6, 2011

First Reading: Acts 19:1-8
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 68
Gospel: John 16:29-33

While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior of the country and down to Ephesus where he found some disciples. He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?” They answered him, “We have never even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” He said, “How were you baptized?” They replied, “With the baptism of John.” Paul then said, “John baptized with a baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. Altogether there were about twelve men. (Acts 19:1-7)

In today's first reading, we read about Paul's travel to Ephesus and the believers that he came across. The disciples that he came across were off to a good start, but there still was more to be done. They had been baptized by John, but his was a baptism of repentance, and they still had farther to go with Christ. Paul came in and instructed them, teaching them about the Baptism in Christ and about the Holy Spirit. Paul came to these men to put the finishing touches of their faith.

If you have ever made anything, you know the importance of the final step in decorating that item. Whether it be putting the icing on the cake, the stain on the wood, the glaze on the ceramic pot, or the paint on the wall. The final touches are the smaller, but very important steps to have a complete item. These final touches are necessary before an item can be used. Before a cake is to be sold or given to someone, it is to be decorated with icing. Before a chair or table to be put on display, it must be either painted or treated with stain. A pot is just hardened clay until a glaze is put on it and gives it a brilliant look. A wall is just a board of drywall until it has been primed and painted to make it somebody's room. While the finishing touches are not the base, they are still very important steps. The disciples that we read about had already take the first step which is to believe in Jesus Christ, after that they just need the finishing touches of Baptism and Confirmation.

By being Baptized and Confirmed, we have a stronger connection with the Holy Spirit within us. By following God, seeking His will and saying 'yes' to Him each moment; we can begin to let the Holy Spirit work in us. God wants us to be happy and whole in Him; and He wants to give each of us gifts that can bring this about. God doesn't want to hide His plan from us, He wants each of us to be active in it and to be seeking His will. He sends each of the faithful His Spirit to help us align our lives with His divine, perfect plan. The Holy Spirit works in the hearts of the faithful giving us grace filled gifts. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. Experiencing these gifts are meant to lead us closer to the Lord and further down the path of which God has set before us.

Let us each pray for the gifts of the Holy Spirit, so that each of us may follow God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength.

Come, Holy Spirit. Fill the hearts of your faithful and make the fire of your love burn within them. Send forth your spirit and there shall be another creation. And you shall renew the face of the earth. O God, you have instructed the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit. Grant that through the same Holy Spirit we may always be truly wise and rejoice in his consolation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Anguish and Joy

Readings for Friday June 3, 2011

Memorial of Saint Charles Lwanga and his companions, martyrs

First Reading: Acts 18:9-18
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 47
Gospel: John 16:20-23

Jesus said to his disciples: "Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn,while the world rejoices;you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived;but when she has given birth to a child,she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world. So you also are now in anguish.But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice,and no one will take your joy away from you.On that day you will not question me about anything.Amen, amen, I say to you,whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you." (John 16:20-23)

In today's gospel, Jesus discusses His upcoming passion, death and resurrection. Jesus used an analogy of a woman giving birth to describe the joy that is brought about after the labor and birth. I can certainly relate to this analogy, as I can still remember when our first child was born a few years ago. I remember the anguish that my wife went through in going through a very long labor. She was up all night with no food or sleep, and finally the next afternoon God blessed us with a very healthy and beautiful baby girl. The moment we saw her, any tiredness or soreness went away; and at the moment we held her there was nothing but pure joy. It was one of the most memorable and spiritual moments that I have ever had the opportunity to witness.

I think Jesus used this analogy not only because of His hour coming, but also because we too go through much worrying and anguish in this world. We need to remember that Jesus is always here and providing for us. There is no need to worry or to be afraid, for if we are striving to follow Him and to serve Him in our lives, then we will certainly see Him again. And like the moment that a mother sees her newborn baby, there will be nothing but joy at that moment when we see Jesus.

During labor, I kept reminding my wife that with each labor pain and each thing that comes that is one step closer to seeing our child. We too need to remember that with each trial and each day, we are just one step closer to seeing and being with Christ in heaven.

Mother Mary, pray for us!

Hail Mary, full of grace the Lord is with thee. Blessed are you 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, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be world without end. Amen.


The Visitation

Readings for Tuesday May 31, 2011

Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

First Reading: Zephaniah 3:14-18 or Romans 12:9-16
Responsorial Psalm: Isaiah 12:2-3
Gospel: Luke 1:39-56

Mary set out 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)

Just imagine being in Mary's situation. You have just found out that you are the going to be the Mother of God, and so realizing your mission, you immediately set out to go and visit your cousin Elizabeth. I know that if this were me, I would have been doing a lot of thinking on that trip, I would have been thinking about how I would try and explain this to everyone. I would have begun to become fearful about all the things that people might do to me. I might have begun anticipating all the judgement that I was going to face. I don't know what was going through Mary's mind during that trip, but if there were any fears that crept in, we can be assured that they vanished the instant she reached her cousin Elizabeth.

God asks each of us to "cast out into the deep", just like He did with Mary. It can certainly be a scary thing to enter into the unknown, but we must remember that He is always with us and that He can be trusted. There is no need to fear or doubt, but to only trust. It is during these times of uncertainty that we must remember the words of the prophet Zephaniah: "The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst, you have no further misfortune to fear." I know in my own life, there are many times that I worry or become anxious about things, but then I am reminded that there is no need to worry, because the Lord is working, just like He has been all my life.

Today, let us praise the Lord for all He has done in our lives and for all that He has blessed us with. Let us praise the Lord as Mary did in her canticle. Today, let that be our prayer.

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on 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,
he 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 has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.”


Muddy Waters

Readings for Friday May 27, 2011

First Reading: Acts 15:22-31
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 57
Gospel: John 15:12-17

This is the letter delivered by them: “The Apostles and the presbyters, your brothers, to the brothers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia of Gentile origin: greetings. Since we have heard that some of our number who went out without any mandate from us have upset you with their teaching and disturbed your peace of mind, we have with one accord decided to choose representatives and to send them to you along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, who have dedicated their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. So we are sending Judas and Silas who will also convey this same message by word of mouth: ‘It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities, namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage. If you keep free of these, you will be doing what is right. Farewell.’“ And so they were sent on their journey. Upon their arrival in Antioch they called the assembly together and delivered the letter. When the people read it, they were delighted with the exhortation. (Acts 15:23-31)

Imagine that you are walking along and you come upon a beautiful brook. You are sitting there admiring it, you see the shiny rocks at the bottom, some little fish swimming around, and there is also the green plants swaying from the current. As you are admiring this brook and all that is in it, some kids come running through the brook and completely disturbing the peace. Now as you are sitting there looking at the brook you cannot see anything because the kids have muddied the waters. Now where you used to see all the things in the brook, all you see now is brownish colored water. Now you are starting to question whether or not there were all those shiny rocks on the bottom, perhaps there weren't fish in there but rather the sun playing tricks on you, and you are also thinking that those plants looked too pretty to be in a brook like this; it all must have been an illusion. Yes, because of the muddy waters, doubt has now entered your mind.

In today's first reading from Acts, we see the early Church had issues with other people muddying the waters as well. People, not just Gentiles or Jews, but even fellow Christians who would come in an make things unclear for the disciples. But thankfully, as Peter and the other Apostles cleared things up for all the Christians. The Catholic Church still benefits from this same blessing today, as we have a Pope that sits on the Chair of Peter, who (along with the Magisterium) helps to clear up any false teaching or doubts from those who only seek to muddy the water.

In the scenario of our muddy water incident at the brook, the Church would come along and tell us that there is not reason to doubt. Just because we cannot see the things in the brook, that does not mean that they are not there. The Church would remind us of the shiny rocks, the fish and the plants. The Church helps make clear the things that we are in doubt of or the things which are not clear to us.

No matter how muddy the waters get, the Church will always be "the pillar of our faith" (1 Tim 3:15). Praise God that He has blessed us with His Bride to be a light and a guide to us in this 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 all that you have given to us. Lord, we are not worthy of your love or attention, but you choose to freely pour it out to us at all times. Help us always to remain in your love and to never leave your faithful hands. Lord, we ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Remain in His Love

Readings for Thursday May 26, 2011

First Reading: Acts 15:7-21
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 96
Gospel: John 15:9-11

Jesus said to his disciples: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. “I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete.” (Jn 15:9-11)

Imagine that it is a Saturday morning, you are sleeping soundly in your bed. You are comfortably snuggled up in your blanket, you are in a dream like state, you feel so secure and rested. Then your alarm goes off, and while you do not have any where specific to be that morning, it is clear that you have a choice to make. You know that if you get up there are things to do and people to see, or you can stay right where you are and just give in to the peace and comfort that you are currently enjoying. Even though the outside world is calling, in your mind you know that there is no other place that you would rather be than where you are now.

Each of us has experienced this feeling of wanting to remain in bed where we feel great peace and comfort. We feel this way because as people, we know a good thing when it comes around. While we do not always have the luxury of staying in bed and sleeping in every morning, there is a good place that we can remain in every moment of every day; and that place is in God's love. Every day, we have the opportunity to surrender to God and say 'yes' to Him, and by doing so we can remain in the love of our Father. While we can all agree that sleeping in is a pretty nice thing once in a while, it is nothing compared to being in the love of our Creator. There is nothing that we can take more peace and comfort in than knowing that we have a God that loves us so much and only wants us to have the best. He is love Himself, the source of all love; and there is nothing greater in this world than loving and being loved. We have a chance to remain in the source of love, but we must choose to live by His rules, not our own. If we are obedient servants and choose to live by His commandments, then we can live in His love. If we choose to go it our own way, then we cut ourselves off from this life giving love that He offers us.

By remaining in Him and in His love, we experience a life like we have never known. This is because by remaining in His love, His "joy is in [us] and [our] joy may be complete." May the peace and joy of the Lord be with us all!

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 this life and for our families. Lord, help us to never stray and to always remain in your loving care. Lord, we are not deserving of you, but you choose to pour out your love and mercy on us no matter what, help us never to forget this. We pray for all of our priests and religious. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


The Vine and The Branches

Readings for Wednesday May 25, 2011

First Reading: Acts 15:1-6
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 122
Gospel: John 15:1-8

Jesus said to his disciples: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.” (Jn 15:1-8)

When my wife and I first started dating, she introduced me to the world of apple picking. Now growing up in a larger city, I had never experienced apple picking (beside the crab apple trees in my neighborhood, and you would always leave those alone after your first bite). I have to admit, ever since that first time I was hooked. It was quite an experience being able to go to the orchard and just simply be able to pick the fruit off of the tree. I know that each time we go, we only go to the trees that have the best apples, the trees with the best fruit.

In today's gospel, Jesus relates himself to that of a vine, and the Father as the vine grower. He makes it clear that the branches are useless and unable to produce good fruit unless they are on the vine. Those who choose to remain in Him will bear good fruit, while those who do not will be thrown out. I imagine that at the orchards that we go to, if a tree is not producing good fruit that it is thrown out as well. And so it seems as though each of us has a choice: remain in Christ and bear good fruit, or try and go it alone and be "thrown out" in the end. Seems like a no brainer to me, but sadly many people choose the later.

For those who choose to remain in Christ, there is something that we should keep in mind. Jesus said, "He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit." I would imagine that if a tree or vine could feel pain, that the pruning process would be awfully painful, but it is a necessary step for the plant. So too it is necessary for us when we go through challenges and difficulties, even though they may be hard and not feel good, it is necessary so that we too can bear more fruit.

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 to make this life fruitful, help us to say yes to you every moment of our day, and that we do not seek out will, but yours. Lord, thank you for your great love and mercy, help us to let your light shine through us in this world. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Necessary Hardship

Readings for Tuesday May 24, 2011

First Reading: Acts 14:19-28
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 145
Gospel: John 14:27-31

In those days, some Jews from Antioch and Iconium arrived and won over the crowds. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples gathered around him, he got up and entered the city. On the following day he left with Barnabas for Derbe. After they had proclaimed the good news to that city and made a considerable number of disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch. They strengthened the spirits of the disciples and exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying, “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.” They appointed presbyters for them in each Church and, with prayer and fasting, commended them to the Lord in whom they had put their faith. Then they traveled through Pisidia and reached Pamphylia. After proclaiming the word at Perga they went down to Attalia. From there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work they had now accomplished. And when they arrived, they called the Church together and reported what God had done with them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. Then they spent no little time with the disciples. (Acts 14:19-28)

In today's first reading, we see that Paul and Barnabas have not exactly had the easiest journey. Paul has been stoned and left for dead, they have covered a vast area (probably mostly on foot). They are facing a great deal of opposition from the Jews; they are most likely under slept and underfed, and add to all of that they are also working tirelessly to build up the Church. But Paul and Barnabas have something important going for them ... they understand how things work. In today's first reading from Acts, we share in both the hardship and in the joy that comes to Paul and Barnabas. One moment fighting for their lives, the next they are rejoicing with the other disciples about the successes that the Lord has brought to them. They tell the others during that visit something very important, something that we should all take notice of: “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.” Paul and Barnabas understand that as disciples of Christ, it will be necessary for us to go through hard times, but it is all necessary if we want to make it to heaven. This is why Paul and Barnabas went around telling the other Christians to persevere in their faith. I can just imagine their words, "Look guys, I know that it's hard, but trust us it will be worth it in the end."

How has your life been? Has it been easy? Has it been very difficult? The one thing for certain, is that everyone has been through hard times, the question is how do we respond to those trials? How do we bounce back from those hardships? Who is it we rely on in our time of need? It is necessary for each of us to go undergo many hardships in this life, but it will be worth it all just to be able to live the rest of our life 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, and for all that you give to us. Thank you for our lives, and help us not to waste one moment of our day. Lord, we know that we will go through difficult times, help us to rely on you and to see them as necessary, all for your glory. Lord, we pray for all of our youth, that they can come to grow in love of you and to know their dignity. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.



Readings for Monday May 23, 2011

First Reading: Acts 14:5-18
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 115
Gospel: John 14:21-26

When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they cried out in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in human form.” They called Barnabas “Zeus” and Paul “Hermes,” because he was the chief speaker. And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, for he together with the people intended to offer sacrifice.

The Apostles Barnabas and Paul tore their garments when they heard this and rushed out into the crowd, shouting, “Men, why are you doing this? We are of the same nature as you, human beings. We proclaim to you good news that you should turn from these idols to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and all that is in them. In past generations he allowed all Gentiles to go their own ways; yet, in bestowing his goodness, he did not leave himself without witness, for he gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, and filled you with nourishment and gladness for your hearts.” Even with these words, they scarcely restrained the crowds from offering sacrifice to them. (Acts 14:11-18)

My daughter is just over two years old, and like most two year olds, she is very curious about everything. She makes her rounds around the house, seeing what is in this box, what she can reach on this shelf, what is inside that cabinet. She is actually quite relentless when it comes to getting into things. My wife and I must make sure that nothing fragile or dangerous is left out, otherwise it may suffering the consequences of getting into my little toddler's hands. While at times her energy level is really a delight, there are also many times where it is quite challenging. When dealing with this energy and curiosity, I really have two choices. I can try and constrain her and break her spirit; or I can try and redirect her energy towards better things.

It is the same choice that each one of us faces in our lives. We all have passions, desires, and tendencies. Some are good, some are bad, and some just simply need redirected. A person's leadership ability can either lead those around him toward good things, or away from the goodness of the Lord. A person's love of talking and communicating with others can either be used to hurt someone by gossiping, or by using words of encouragement and hope. God gives each one of us gifts and abilities, and the question is are we using them for His purposes, or for our own.

The people of Lystra that Paul and Barnabas spoke to in today's first reading were not wrong in celebrating the miracle that God brought to them. However, their energies should have been redirected toward praising the one true God, instead of praising their gods. This is why Paul and Barnabas were so upset, while their intentions were good, their means were not. If our energies are not directed toward serving and praising Christ, then our energies are misdirected, and must be redirected and set on Jesus.

We are all God's children, and like most children, we lose focus, and many times we must be redirected towards the things that are truly the most important.

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 our Saviour and our King, help us to always keep you in our minds and our hearts. Lord, redirect us towards you during those times were we lose our focus and our way. We pray for all those who have fallen away from the Church, may they be brought back to your love and to your great mercy. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Our Purpose

Readings for Wednesday May 18, 2011

First Reading: Acts 12:24-13:5
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 67
Gospel: John 12:44-50

Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me believes not only in me but also in the one who sent me, and whoever sees me sees the one who sent me. I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness. And if anyone hears my words and does not observe them, I do not condemn him, for I did not come to condemn the world but to save the world. Whoever rejects me and does not accept my words has something to judge him: the word that I spoke, it will condemn him on the last day, because I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. So what I say, I say as the Father told me.” (Jn 12:44-50)

Why am I here? What is my purpose in life? These are questions that have perplexed humans for ages. While I am not going to pretend like I have all the answers to questions like this, today's readings have given me some good thoughts.

Why are we here? We are here because God loves us enough to give us life. As the Catechism says, we are here to know Him, love Him, and serve Him. This is our main goal in life, to try our best to love God and live for Him while we are on earth, so that by His grace we can spend eternity with Him in heaven. What is our purpose in life? Jesus tells us in today's gospel that He came into this world as light, so that whoever believes in Him may not remain in darkness. In the first reading from Acts, the Lord called Paul and Barnabas to a specific purpose, He wanted them to deliver His word and the good news of His love to other areas. This is our purpose as well, not only to live in the light of Christ, but also to let His light shine through us for all others to see. We are here because of Him and for Him. May each of us be given the courage to spread His word and let our lights shine on in the darkness.

May God bless you and the rest of your day!

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, we thank you for the gift of our lives, help us to never waste it, and to fulfill our purpose in this life, all for your glory. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Into His Hands

Readings for Tuesday May 17, 2011

First Reading: Acts 11:19-26
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 87
Gospel: John 10:22-30

So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you and you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify to me. But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.” (Jn 10:24-30)

Have you ever tried to wrestle something small away from someone else's hand? When I was little, I used to play this game with my dad and my friends a lot. Whenever I would play this game with my dad, I tried to pry his hand open to get what he was hiding, usually it was something like a quarter or a piece of candy. Unsuccessfully, and after many attempts to get his hand open, I would give up. Thankfully, he took pity and let me have what was in his hand. I learned as a kid that when someone much stronger has something in their hand, trying to get it out is pointless, because they are in control of what is in their hand.

Christ, our Good Shepherd, tells us today that those who listen to His voice are His sheep, and they are in the Father's hand. He also goes on to tell us that no one can take them out of the Father's hand, because like I said before; when someone much stronger has something in their hand, trying to get it out is pointless. There is no one or no thing more powerful than God, our Father. He is stronger than all, and when we are in His hands, you better believe that nothing else has the power to take us out. But we have to first get into His loving hands, into His loving care. And the only way that we can do that is through Jesus. We must have an open heart, and be willing to hear the voice of Jesus in our lives. We must believe in His power and in His life, death and resurrection. We must be willing to take up our cross daily and follow Him where ever He leads us. By doing this, we will all be able to take comfort in the Father's hands, which is the place where each of us belongs.

May each of us be lead to the open and loving hands of the Father, where nothing on earth can take us away.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you so much for all that you have given and for all that you bless us with. Lord, we are not worthy of your love, but you freely choose to give it to us anyway. Help us to always follow you, no matter what this life may bring. Lord, we are your people, may we all humble ourselves and come into your loving hands. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


No One is Rejected

Readings for Wednesday May 11, 2011

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

Jesus said to the crowds, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst. But I told you that although you have seen me, you do not believe. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me, because I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me. And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day.” (Jn 6:35-40)

Rejection, we have all felt it at one time or another. I remember last year when I was on the job hunt, I was applying for so many different types of jobs. Most of the time I never heard back from the companies but occasionally a good company would be considerate and keep me updated on the job ... with a rejection letter. The letters typically always said thank you for applying, I had great qualifications, but unfortunately they had selected someone else. While I appreciated the correspondence, it certainly never made the rejection any easier. I was very thankful that God was really teaching me to trust in Him during that time. I was also very thankful because even though I had lots of companies rejecting me, I knew that it was not the end of the world, because I would always be accepted by Christ; and that is all that truly matters in life.

The reality is that we will all be rejected by people and places in our lives. While this is certainly never easy to take, we must remember that it is all a part of God's plan, and there is a reason for the rejection. The great thing about our faith is that we can always take comfort in the fact that no matter who or what in this world rejects us, Christ never will. Jesus tells us today; "and I will not reject anyone who comes to me." Our Lord accepts everyone as they are, and He never rejects anyone who comes to Him ready to follow. No matter how many times the world rejects us, and no matter how many times we feel like nobody wants us, we must remember that we always have a friend in, and a place with our Lord.

Today let us reflect on the words of our Lord: "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light." (Mt 11:28-30)

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for your great love and forgiveness. Thank you for all that you have blessed us with in this life. Help us to follow you no matter what life brings, for your ways are perfect. Lord, our hearts truly are restless until they find rest in you; may we always understand how much you love and accept us as we are. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


The First Martyr

Readings for Tuesday May 10, 2011

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

Stephen said to the people, the elders, and the scribes: “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always oppose the Holy Spirit; you are just like your ancestors. Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute? They put to death those who foretold the coming of the righteous one, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become. You received the law as transmitted by angels, but you did not observe it.” When they heard this, they were infuriated, and they ground their teeth at him. But Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and Stephen said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out in a loud voice, covered their ears, and rushed upon him together. They threw him out of the city, and began to stone him. The witnesses laid down their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul. As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them”; and when he said this, he fell asleep. (Acts 7:51-60)

I have always been in awe of Saint Stephen, the first martyr of the Church. First of all, his bold words against the scribes and pharisees were certainly bold enough, but what is even more amazing is the courageous witness that he gives at the end of his life. While we do not read much of Stephen in the bible, what little we do read is certainly powerful enough. Stephen was clearly a man who loved God with all his heart, and because he loved God so much, he was able to love others ... even those who wanted to take his life.

Stephen shows us what it means to follow the Lord until the very end. His martyrdom is a powerful challenge to each one of us. Are we willing to follow Christ in all that we do? Are we willing to speak boldly to those who do not believe in Him? Are we willing to look to Jesus and trust in Him even when the world is persecuting us? Are we able to forgive those who intentionally hurt us and cause us pain? Stephen shows us that if we are willing to model our lives after Christ that there is a great reward waiting for us in heaven.

Living the Christian life is never easy, but it is worth it.

Saint Stephen, pray for us!

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 thank you for all that you do. Lord, you alone are the source of life and all goodness, help us never to be distracted by anything other than you. Lord, this life is not always easy, but let us never take the easy path, for that does not lead to you. Let us always choose your path, which is hard, but is worth it. Help us persevere to the very end, like your servant Stephen. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


It Cannot Be Stopped

Readings for Friday May 6, 2011

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

A Pharisee in the Sanhedrin named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, respected by all the people, stood up, ordered the Apostles to be put outside for a short time, and said to the Sanhedrin, “Fellow children of Israel, be careful what you are about to do to these men. Some time ago, Theudas appeared, claiming to be someone important, and about four hundred men joined him, but he was killed, and all those who were loyal to him were disbanded and came to nothing. After him came Judas the Galilean at the time of the census. He also drew people after him, but he too perished and all who were loyal to him were scattered. So now I tell you, have nothing to do with these men, and let them go. For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God.” (Acts 5:34-39)

Today's first reading reminds me of something that I once heard a priest say when speaking about the history of the Catholic Church. He said, "when God's grace is behind something, it cannot be stopped." These words are so true of our Church. Gamaliel was a very wise Pharisee who knew this, and that is why he advised the others not to put the apostles to death. Today we can see that the early church is certainly not of human origin, but rather it is from God. If the Catholic Church was of human origin, it would have disbanded many years ago. But the truth is that the one true Church established by Christ stands strong today, despite thousands of years of opposition, scandal, slander, and plots to destroy the Church; and yet it still stands. When God's grace is behind something it cannot be stopped.

Let us remember that we are Christians, and we are not called to a life of comfort and ease. Sometimes we shy away from doing things because they might be hard or seem impossible, but we must always remember that when God's grace is behind something, it cannot be stopped! Let us always trust in our Lord who is more powerful than anything!

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 give us. Lord, thank you for this faith, thank you for the Pope, may you continue to guide and lead Him, especially in his time of need. Lord, we pray that your truth will come out and that those who have been persecuting you and your Church may repent and come to know your love. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.



Readings for Thursday May 5, 2011

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

When the court officers had brought the Apostles in and made them stand before the Sanhedrin, the high priest questioned them, “We gave you strict orders did we not, to stop teaching in that name. Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and want to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the Apostles said in reply, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our ancestors raised Jesus, though you had him killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as leader and savior to grant Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins. We are witnesses of these things, as is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.” When they heard this, they became infuriated and wanted to put them to death. (Acts 5:27-33)

Firemen, policemen, soldiers, people who pray in front of abortion clinics, kids who stand up to bullies; each of these people have one thing in common ... courage. Courage is a virtue that I believe each of us should work on in our lives. To have courage means to have strength when faced with opposition. Our courage is based on the source of our strength, and that source should be God. The apostles today give us a great example of courage. They were faced with opposition from the religious leaders, and yet they spoke and acted boldly ... no matter what the cost. They were not concerned with their own lives or of what sort of earthly consequences they might face; they were only concerned with preaching the name of Jesus and serving God. This is an example of real courage.

To have and display courage does not mean that we have to go out looking for trouble. We can be courageous in our every day lives. We can be courageous by being bold for the Lord. We can stand up for a co-worker, even if it means we might be less popular. We can confront a fellow family member when they are doing wrong. We can proclaim the name of Jesus to any and all people that we might come into contact with. By being courageous in the little things in our life, we will be preparing for more challenging times.

Remember, courage means to have strength when faced with opposition. Let God be your strength in life, and if you do then you will have the courage to face anything.

**The Saints give us a great example of courage. Please check out http://catholic.org/saints/ for a list and information of popular Saints. Here are some of my favorite: Our Blessed Mother Mary, Saint Joseph, Saint Paul, Saint Maximilian Kolbe, Saint Tarcisius, Saint Augustine and Saint Monica, and Saint Patrick.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Thank you for all that you have blessed us with in our lives. Lord, help us to be courageous for you, help us to stand up to all the injustices of this world. Help us to be fearless for you, and may we always rely on your strength instead of our own. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Made for the Light

Readings for Wednesday May 4, 2011

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

For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God. And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God. (Jn 3:16-21)

As human beings we can adjust to many different situations for short durations. For example, if you are in the dark for too long, your body will adjust. Your eyes will adjust so that you can see better, you will move around more cautiously, you will rely more on other senses, etc. The fact is that we have the ability to adapt to our environment. Now even though we have this ability to adapt, this does not mean that the environment that we adapt to is the one that we were meant for.

In John's gospel, we read how Christ came into this world so that we might live in the light. He came not to condemn, but to give us new life in Him. Not everyone goes towards the light of Christ though, some stay in the darkness, where they have adjusted to "their environment." It is sad when people choose to live in the darkness; because that is not what we were meant for, we were meant to live a life of love, not a life of sin and evil.

The words of today's gospel are so beautiful and give us so much hope. We must remember that even though we can adjust and live of this world, it is not what we were meant for. We were meant to be of the light of Christ and only live in this world. God created us for more, He created us to live in the light. Today, let us reflect on the words from John's gospel: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life." (Jn 3:16)

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for your great love, and for sending your Son so that we might have a way to heaven. Lord, help us to be your vessels in this world, so that your light might shine through us. We pray for all of our priests and religious, that they may be strengthened in their ministries and in their vows. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


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