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.


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