Choose a Side

Readings for Thursday March 31, 2011

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

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

Since our beginning, we have been asked to choose a side. In the garden, the serpent asked Eve to choose a side; trust God or don't trust Him. Unfortunately, we are all aware of what she chose. But Eve was certainly not the only person who was asked to choose between God's will or her own, and she will certainly not be the last. We are all asked to choose in this life. In today's gospel, Jesus tells the people that whoever is not with Him is against Him. He was asking the people, as well as us to choose a side. We can either be with Jesus, going about His work and following His will; or we can be about ourselves, doing what we want and only focusing on our wants.

Since the beginning, we have been given free will. God who is love, does not force anything upon us, it is all for our choosing. This is both the blessing and the curse of free will. A blessing because we are not confined to this world and the destruction in it, and we have the ability to choose a full life on earth with the promise of eternity in paradise with Christ. However it is a curse because it is also very hard. The reality is that there are many challenges and temptations that go along with following Christ. It is a life full of sacrifice, certainly not for the faint of heart. However, if we are willing to persevere and trust in this life, then we will certainly find true love and joy in this lifetime, and even greater things in the next.

We are each called to choose a side in this life, may we each choose the side that leads to eternal life in heaven.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. You are our God, and we are your people. Help us to never forget this. Amen.


Being Great

Readings for Wednesday March 30, 2011

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

Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven." (Matt 5:19)

How does one become great? In sports, many have thought the route to greatness was through having the winning record. In politics, many have sought the highest positions in office to become great. In science, many have sought to be the first to discover a new cure or a new species. Most people will define greatness as the things that we have done and all of our accomplishments in life; but in heaven, these accomplishments will mean very little.

Jesus tells us today that the path to greatness is about what we do, as well as the things that we don't do. We too can become great in heaven if we are willing to be faithful servants of the Lord and follow the rules. The ten commandments give us the parameters of the things that we are not do do. Jesus came to fulfill those commandments by not doing away with them, but keeping them and by also taking them to another level. Jesus came to tell us to still follow the commandments, but He also gave us a new way to live. By following His word and His example, we will keep the commandments, and live the new life that we were meant to; and by doing this we too can be great in heaven.

Being great is following the rules of God and the example of Christ.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. We praise you for all the many blessings in our lives. Lord, help us to follow your example, and to carry the crosses that you have called each of us to. Lord, help us to hold nothing back from you and to just give our whole lives to you. Lord, you are our God, and we live to serve you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


How Will You Respond?

Readings for Tuesday March 29, 2011

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

But with contrite heart and humble spirit let us be received; As though it were burnt offerings of rams and bullocks, or thousands of fat lambs, So let our sacrifice be in your presence today as we follow you unreservedly; for those who trust in you cannot be put to shame. And now we follow you with our whole heart, we fear you and we pray to you. (Daniel 3:39-41)

In today's first reading from Daniel, Azariah (one of the three who were in the fiery furnace), begins saying this beautiful prayer. Realizing that he has nothing to offer the Lord; Azariah responds with complete humility and offers up himself. Not only does he offer himself up during this difficult time, but he prays to God for the ability to follow Him with his whole heart. In this story from the book of Daniel, Azariah and two others were thrown into the fiery furnace because they would not worship another God as the king had commanded. When tested by the heat and the flames, Azariah responds in pray with humility and thanksgiving. How do we respond when we too are tested by the heat and the flames that life often brings?

In the gospel today, we are told that we must forgive others not just seven times, but seventy-seven times! This is certainly not an easy thing for us to do. While most of us are good about forgiving someone their mistakes the first few times, we seem to have a low tolerance when it comes to repeated mistakes. But this is what we are called to do in life, be patient and forgive as many times as it takes. This is what it means to be a disciple, to pick up our cross and to follow and imitate Christ. We are to forgive others as many times as God continues to forgive us. Are we not guilty of repeated mistakes against the Lord as well? How many times do we neglect the Lord and fill our days with other things instead of time with Him? How many times do we disobey His commandments? How many times do we find ourselves going to reconciliation for the same things over and over? If God is willing to show us mercy and forgive us each time, why do we think that we can treat anyone else any differently? We must pray for hearts full of mercy and act with forgiveness and compassion towards those who wrong us, even when it is very difficult.

We have a choice in life, we can be like Azariah and follow the Lord with humility, thankfulness, and trust; or we can be like the wicked servant and forget what has been done for us and continue to seek our own will? How will we respond to the heat and the flames?

Father above we thank you for this day. Lord we praise you for all your blessings you continue to give us each day. Lord, we pray that like your servant Azariah, we too will follow you with humility and with our entire heart. Lord, you are the one true great God, help us to serve and show reverence for you as you deserve. Lord we wish to hold nothing back from you, and to give ourselves totally to you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Are You Listening?

Readings for Monday March 28, 2011

First Reading: 2 Kings 5:1-15
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 42; 43
Gospel: Luke 4:24-30

He returned with his whole retinue to the man of God. On his arrival he stood before him and said, "Now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel." (2 Kings 5:15)

In today's first reading, we see how Naaman the Syrian had been cured by Elisha the prophet. We read about his process of conversion, and how he became very humble and astounded by the great works of the Lord. He came to realize that no one else on earth has the power to cure like God does. This high ranking army commander, who had a lot of power and prestige, humbled himself after being cured, and came back to the prophet Elisha to admit that there is no other God.

When Naaman had first went to Elisha about his leprosy, he was told by the prophet to go wash seven times in the Jordan river. Naaman was very confused by this and became angry because he thought that the prophet would come out and invoke God with some big fancy hoopla type of ceremony. Naaman expected what many of us all expect, for God to work a miracle through some big clear sign that may come in the form of a burning bush or an angel appearing. Many times we fail to see the subtlety of God until later, it is then that we humble ourselves like Naaman and recognize how amazing God is.

We must remember, God does not speak to us through giant neon signs that fall from heaven; He speaks to us in the everyday events, through the small whispers in life; and in order to hear Him, we must be listening.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. Lord, we are your people, increase our faith so that we may serve you without wavering. Lord, we love you and praise you for the many blessings in our life. We pray for all those who are searching for you and searching for meaning in their life. May they come to know your love and mercy. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Light Bulb

Readings for Monday March 21, 2011

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

O LORD, we are shamefaced, like our kings, our princes, and our fathers,for having sinned against you.But yours, O Lord, our God, are compassion and forgiveness!Yet we rebelled against you and paid no heed to your command, O LORD, our God,to live by the law you gave us through your servants the prophets. (Dn 4:8-10)

I have worked with youth for many years, and one of the best experiences to have with them is when "they get it." It doesn't matter what "it" is, whether it is math, a new play, or just a simple life lesson; it is always great to see that light bulb go off and to realize that your teaching or coaching isn't in vain.

In today's first reading, we see that Daniel is someone who "gets it." He realizes that the problem is not with God or with His commandments, but rather the problem is with the people. Daniel knows that it is the people who have broken the covenant relationship with God, and it is the people who have sinned and done wrong. But Daniel also gets one other thing, that God is a all about mercy and forgiveness. This is why we have hope, because the God that we serve is so loving that He is willing to forgive us no matter what and welcome us back into His loving and gentle arms.

During this season of Lent, let the light bulb go off in your heads as well. We all need to "get it", and understand that we fall short, but by the grace of God we can overcome our weaknesses and make it to Heaven. If we are willing to put our trust in God, and to rely on Him at all times; there is nothing we cannot get through.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. Lord, please forgive us for all the times that we fall short, help us to never veer from the path you have set before us, but rather cling to you always. Lord, we are your people, help us to never forget who we are. You are God, and we are not. Please be with all those who have fallen away from the Church, may they be brought back into your loving arms. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Choose Love, Not Anger

Readings for Friday March 18, 2011

First Reading: Ezekiel 18:21-28
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 130
Gospel: Matthew 5:20-26

“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, Raqa, will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna. Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny." (Mt 5:21-26)

Today we read in the gospel that whoever kills will be liable to judgment, but Jesus kicks it up a few notches and says that "whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment." Now I think that we would all agree that killing is very wrong, but getting angry with someone, we shouldn't even do that?!? I mean what is so wrong with getting angry with someone, especially if they did something wrong and deserve it? Why is it that Jesus is telling us to control our anger like this?

I think that the reason why we are told to control our anger is because we are called to be loving and merciful, not bitter and uncompassionate. If we think about this, letting anger live inside us can certainly can lead to resentment and other harsh feelings towards someone; who knows, if those feelings grow inside of us what they might lead us to do ... maybe even kill someone. Now, I know that that is an extreme example, but it does make a lot of sense. How often do you hear of murders or killings where one person was really happy with the victim? Unfortunately, many lives are taken out of anger and other feelings that can stem from anger. Now, the majority of people who get angry never let it get that far, but while anger may never lead someone to take a life, it can lead to feelings that block love and therefore block God in our lives. Jesus teaches us this about anger so that we can not only learn to forgive and love as God loves us, but to also learn how to humble ourselves and ask for forgiveness. If we are truly to be the men and women that we are called to be, then we must learn how to give in to love, rather than anger.

Today let us reflect on this passage from Saint Paul: "Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never fails." (1 Cor 13:4-8)

May we all learn to love as we are called to.

Father above, we thank you for the gift of this day. We thank you for the opportunity to go out and love others as you love us. Lord, help us to never let go of you, and to always follow your ways. Help us be slow to anger and quick to love. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Open Door Policy

Readings for Thursday March 17, 2011

First Reading: Ester C:12,14-16,23-25
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 138
Gospel: Matthew 7:7-12

Jesus said to his disciples: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which one of you would hand his son a stone when he asked for a loaf of bread, or a snake when he asked for a fish? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him. “Do to others whatever you would have them do to you. This is the law and the prophets." (Lk 7:7-12)

I remember this one fall season when I was in elementary school, me and a friend decided to be entrepreneurs. We decided to have our own leaf raking business. Unfortunately being so young with a fledgling business and no client referrals meant that we needed to do some "cold calling." So we decided to do what many youths do in that situation, we went door to door asking people if we could rake their yards for a modest fee. So here we were, rakes on our hands, determination in our hearts, and money on our mind. When we were going door to door, the majority of the time the response that we got was no. We did however get one customer, and how sweet that was when we finally got a yes. And we made sure that we did a good job on that guys yard. But the whole process of going door to door, being rejected and then finally getting someone to say yes to us was quite an experience that will always stick out in my mind.

Isn't it great that as we read today's gospel, we serve a Lord who has an "open door policy?" God's door is always open to us, knock and come to Him with our needs and He will provide. What an amazing, loving Father that we have. May we always remember that God's door is always open to us, no matter when we knock He is always there ready to take us in and accept us just as we are, for we are His.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for always being there for us and for never abandoning us. You are always so faithful to your servants, may we strive all of our life to be faithful to you. We pray for all those you are in need of conversion and who do not know you; may they find true joy and peace in your loving arms. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Take His Word For It

Readings for Wednesday March 16, 2011

First Reading: Jonah 3:1-10
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 51
Gospel: Luke 11:29-32

While still more people gathered in the crowd, Jesus said to them, “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah. Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. At the judgment the queen of the south will rise with the men of this generation and she will condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and there is something greater than Solomon here. At the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because at the preaching of Jonah they repented, and there is something greater than Jonah here." (Lk 11:29-32)

"Take my word for it!" How many times have we heard people say that to us? Many times it is because someone is trying to convince us of something that we are not totally buying. So many a people when unable to prove something they are saying or selling will end with the classic phrase "take my word for it." There probably wouldn't even be such a need for this phrase if people weren't always so skeptical. Often times instead of just words, we want proof. This is essentially a defense mechanism that helps to protect us from being fooled or hurt. In many instances there is nothing wrong with asking for more than someones word and asking them to prove something to you. While this approach may be fine with people, it is not with God.

When it comes to listening to God, we really just need to "take His word for it." We need to not only listen to what He is saying to us, but we also must be willing to believe and follow Him. In the gospel reading today, Jesus knows that the people want a sign, but they will not be given one. Jesus is telling them that they basically just need to listen to Him and take His word for it. This is much easier to do when there is trust. If we do not truly trust in God, then we will not be able to follow Him or believe in His word. If we are truly to not seek a sign, and to believe in His word, then we must be willing to put away our skepticism and disbelief and simply trust in our Heavenly Father.

When it comes to God, we need to listen and just "take His word for it." By doing this, we have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank yo for all that you have given us and for all that we are. Thank you for your love and mercy, help us to go out in this world and be loving and merciful ourselves. We pray for all of our priests and religious, that they may find renewed strength in their ministries and that they may stay faithful to their vows. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Come Holy Spirit

Readings for Monday March 14, 2011

First Reading: Leviticus 19:1-2.11-18
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 19
Gospel: Matthew 25:31-46

And the king will say to them in reply, 'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.' (Matt 25:40)

For Catholics, we believe that it is by faith and good works that we are able to make it to heaven. However, one of the key differences between protestants and Catholics that emerged from the reformation, is the idea that we are saved by faith alone. While having faith is certainly an important component of our salvation, we must remember, the things that we do matter as well. For anyone who wishes to argue this point, I would refer them to today's gospel reading.

So, since faith and works are both important in our lives, how do we go about having solid faith and go about doing good works? It is certainly not always easy for us to take time in prayer and to be silent with God, or to snap out of the business of our daily lives to look to help people. So how do we go about this? First, we must stop relying on ourselves so much, we must begin to rely on God and look to Him for an increased faith and a heart that seeks to help those in need. We must pray to the Holy Spirit to show us how to do the works that we are called to in our lives. Praying for the Holy Spirit to work in us is an important step in allowing the fruits of the spirit to manifest in our lives. The fruits of the Holy Spirit are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, modesty, chastity, and generosity. Now whose lives would not be better and more meaningful by allowing these fruits to take place in their lives? I believe all of our lives would be.

We are recognized and judged on the fruit that we bear in our lives. We must be open to the Holy Spirit in our lives. He wants to work in all of us, all we have to do is pray and open our heart to Him. By doing this, we can truly help the least of our brothers and sisters that God puts along our path.

Today, ask yourself and pray about the following question; how does the Holy Spirit want to work in your life?

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created and you will renew the face of the earth.
Lord, by the light of the Holy Spirit you have taught the hearts of your faithful. In the same Spirit help us to relish what is right and always rejoice in your consolation. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Making Your Bed

Readings for Friday March 11, 2011

First Reading: Isaiah 58:1-9
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 51
Gospel: Matthew 9:14-15

Lo, on your fast day you carry out your own pursuits, and drive all your laborers. Yes, your fast ends in quarreling and fighting, striking with wicked claw. Would that today you might fast so as to make your voice heard on high! Is this the manner of fasting I wish, of keeping a day of penance: That a man bow his head like a reed and lie in sackcloth and ashes? Do you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD? This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; Setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; Sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own. Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed; Your vindication shall go before you, and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer, you shall cry for help, and he will say: Here I am! (Is 58:3-9a)

Have you ever heard the phrase, "you've made your bed, now lie in it"? This phrase basically means that however we do something (making our bed), we are going to have to deal with the consequences of our actions (lying in it). So if we make a bad bed, then we are going to have to lie in a bad bed; however if we make a good bed, then we will get to lie in a good bed. It is good for us to think about this phrase as we are in the beginning of lent.

This time of lent is a time of prayer and fasting; sadly many people look at fasting as something that is burdensome. As we read from Isaiah, the Lord does not want us to fast so that He can punish us or so that it ends with us in worse shape than before. This is not the type of fasting the Lord asks of us. The Lord wants us to cooperate in fruitful fasting; fasting that actually allows us to gain something. Fasting that actually brings about a deeper conversion, and love for the Lord and His ways. Our fasting is something that is supposed to help us realize that we don't need the things of this world, we have all we need with God. Fasting is one of the ways that we are able to come to this realization.

So the question to ask yourself as you go through this lent, is what kind of bed are you making for yourself? Are you really stretching yourself, really trying to grow and make this a fruitful time, or is it just another thing to do? At the end of lent, your prayer and fasting will have either made you a better son or daughter of God, or it will not. What kind of bed do you want to lie in?

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Thank you for your love and your mercy. Lord, help us to not never to stray from you. Lord, help us to not be tied down to things of this world, and cling only to you. Lord thank you for this time of lent, help us to each make ti fruitful and a time of growth. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Choose Your Cross

Readings for Thursday March 10, 2011

First Reading: Deuteronomy 30:15-20
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 1
Gospel: Luke 9:22-25

Jesus said to his disciples: “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised." Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?" (Lk 9:22-25)

During this season of lent, we have an opportunity to grow in our faith and as God's people. This is a time to accept God and all that He gives us, rather than reject Him as the priests and scribes did. This is a time to embrace our own crosses in life, and realize that it is our cross that we carry during this faith journey that is going to lead to everlasting life in heaven. It is only by carrying our cross that we can follow Him who carried the cross for our sake. Let us never think of our cross as burdensome, but rather as something that we do out of love for God.

I came across the following story, and I really thought that it offered an interesting reflection for today's gospel reading. Take a few moments to reflect on the following story "Choose your Cross":
One day, a man went to the Lord and said, "Help me, Lord....I can't take this suffering anymore. Please give me a different cross to bare.” So, our gentle Lord said, "Come with me." All of a sudden, the man and the Lord were standing in a huge room with every kind of cross imaginable. Some were small, some large, others beautiful, some ugly, etc.....The Lord said to the man, "Now you look around and pick out another cross you'd like to carry." Happily, the man searched and searched and finally found one. He said to the Lord, "Lord, Lord, I will take this one." The Lord just smiled and said, "My dear child, that is the same cross you came in with." In other words, we all have a custom-made cross, uniquely designed for us. The cross God gives you to bear is the very one He knows you can handle. It’s designed just for you, and you will be the one that becomes a better person because of it. (take from http://blog.beliefnet.com/beyondblue/2007/08/choose-your-cross.html)

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, you are so good to us, thank you for your abundant love and mercy. Lord, we praise you for all that we have and all that we are, and we praise you for the gift of our lives. Lord, help us to have the courage to follow you no matter what, and may we never think of our crosses as burdensome, but rather as blessings. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Ash Wednesday

Readings for Wednesday March 9, 2011

Ash Wednesday

First Reading: Joel 2:12-18
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 51
Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2
Gospel: Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18

Jesus said to his disciples: “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance,
so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.” (Matt. 6:1-6, 16-18)

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten Season. This season of lent is preceded by Advent and Christmas; and I believe that this is certainly purposeful. In our faith journey, we are first called to fall in love with Christ, we need to fall in love with Him for we are called to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. So during Advent and Christmas we prepare and encounter the infant Christ, and how easy is it to fall in love with a child? But this is certainly not the end of our journey, as we are also called to follow the man. We must follow His way, His truth, and His light; there is no other path that will lead to heaven.

Following Christ is certainly a hard journey, and that is what this season of lent is all about. It is to help us learn to sacrifice, as Christ sacrificed for us. It is not just sacrifice to inconvenience us, but rather to help us grow in faith and love. Sacrifice is necessary in the Christian journey, and I would even argue that it is something that makes us better people, better sons and daughters, better husbands and wives, and better friends and neighbors. This season of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving can be very powerful, but only if we allow it to change us.

Let us all praise and thank God for this season of Lent and the graces that can come about from learning to sacrifice for His glory. May this Lenten journey be a time to growth for each and every one of us.

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, help us to grow in faith and love over these next forty days, and may we be brought even closer to you in our lives. Lord, you are our God and we are your people, may we never veer from the perfect path which you have set before us. Be our rock and our strength Lord Jesus. Amen.


Serving God

Readings for Tuesday March 8, 2011

First Reading: Tobit 2:9-14
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 112
Gospel: Mark 12:13-17

Some Pharisees and Herodians were sent to Jesus to ensnare him in his speech. They came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion. You do not regard a person’s status but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not? Should we pay or should we not pay?” Knowing their hypocrisy he said to them, “Why are you testing me? Bring me a denarius to look at.” They brought one to him and he said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” They replied to him, “Caesar’s.” So Jesus said to them, “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” They were utterly amazed at him. (Mk 12:13-17)

Today's gospel really asks us to reflect on what our priorities in life are. Are we being good stewards of everything that we have? The Pharisees and Herodians were simply trying to trap Jesus in saying something they could use against Him, but little did they know that He was going to hit them with some knowledge that they could not argue against. The reality is that Jesus put things in perspective for them and for us. We are certainly called to respect the authority figures that are over us, whether we fully agree with them or not; but that can never trump or take the focus off of what we are to give to God ... which is everything. God, the creator of the universe and us; ask us to hold nothing back from Him. He does not hold back any love or mercy from us, and we certainly should not hold any back from Him. If we say that we love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength; then we should be willing to go out and prove it. We must always seek to give God what belongs to God.

I heard a speaker once say; "The main 'thang', is to keep the main 'thang' the main 'thang'." The "main thang" is God, and He must always be at the center of our lives. Let us each pray for the courage and resolve to serve God with everything we have, and to not hold back one single thing.

Father above we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, we thank you for all that you bless us with in this life. We praise you for all that we are and for all that we have; may we always be good stewards of the many blessings that you give to us. Lord you are the way, the truth and the life; may we always stay on the path that you have laid before us. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


Servant Leader

Readings for Wednesday March 2, 2011

First Reading: Sirach 36:1, 4-5a, 10-17
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 79
Gospel: Mark 10:32-45

Jesus summoned them and said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mk 10:42-45)

In today's gospel, Jesus introduces the disciples to a new type of leadership model. He doesn't tell them to lead with an iron fist, or to be like rhinos and charge through anyone or anything that gets in their way. Jesus tells his disciples that they should lead as He does, through service.

In the past several years that have been many books written on the "servant leader", someone who is not so concerned with themselves, but rather with others. Jesus tells us today that as disciples, we are all called to be servant leaders, and that it is not our duty to seek positions of power and prestige, but rather we should seek to serve God and others with all that we have. This is our greatest calling, to love and serve, and it is the way that leads to our eternal reward. Throughout the years that have been many servant leaders who have followed the model that Jesus gave us. Saint Francis of Assisi, Saint Theresa of Lisieux, Mother Theresa, Padre Pio, John Paul II, and many more. These great men and women understand that we do not lead by our demands, we lead by our actions.

Today ask yourself, am I seeking to be a servant leader, or a selfish leader? Am I more concerned with my own place of power, or with loving others as I am called to?

Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, we praise you for all that we have and all that we are. You are the way, the light, and the truth; help us to always say no to the temptations of the world, and only follow you. Lord, may our heart only be for you, and may we find peace and joy in serving you and others in this life. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


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