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.


Feast of Saint Philip and Saint James

Readings for Tuesday May 3, 2011

Feast of Saint Philip and Saint James, Apostles

First Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:1-8
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 19
Gospel: John 14:6-14

Jesus said to Thomas, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said to him, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves. (Jn 14:6-11)

In his first letter to the Church at Corinth, Saint Paul describes who Jesus appeared to, Cephas, the twelve, and many other brothers. He also describes how Christ appeared to him as well, and he goes on in his letter to say that he is the "least of the apostles, not fit to be called an apostle." (v. 9) This begs the question, what did it take to be called an apostle? What qualities or characteristics were needed to have this designation?

Today we celebrate the feast day of Saint Philip and Saint James, both apostles. Both of these men demonstrate characteristics as apostles that each of us should be striving for in our lives. Obviously being an apostle meant that they actually had the gift of being with Jesus, knowing Him and spreading the good news to all. It is some of these qualities that we should be seeking in our own lives. We like Saint Philip and Saint James should be seeking every day to spend time with Jesus in prayer. We should be trying to know Him and like Him always seek the Father's will in our lives. We should take on the mission of Christ to spread the good news to all, because all are deserving of His endless love and mercy.

Philip and James did not have a walk in the park throughout their lives. They had to struggle and strive for Holiness each and every day of their lives. While the faith journey is not an easy one, it is one that we should all be striving for, because it is the only way to heaven.

Saint Philip and Saint James, 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. Help us to persevere through all that life brings, and help us to only seek your will. You are our God, and we are your people, help us to share the good news with all that we encounter. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.


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