31 May 2010

31 May 2010, Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Reading 1
Zep 3:14-18a

Shout for joy, O daughter Zion!

Sing joyfully, O Israel!

Be glad and exult with all your heart,

O daughter Jerusalem!

The LORD has removed the judgment against you,

he has turned away your enemies;

The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst,

you have no further misfortune to fear.

On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem:

Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged!

The LORD, your God, is in your midst,

a mighty savior;

He will rejoice over you with gladness,

and renew you in his love,

He will sing joyfully because of you,

as one sings at festivals.

Lk 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.”

And Mary said:

“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.”

Mary remained with her about three months

and then returned to her home.

Meditation: Luke 1:39-56

The Visitation of Mary

Blessed are you who believed! (Luke 1:45)

Don’t you find it remarkable that God chose to bring about his work of redemption through two human babies and their mothers? Jesus was still in Mary’s womb, yet in his presence, Elizabeth and her own unborn son, John, were filled with the Holy Spirit the moment Mary arrived. This short but powerful scene gives us a glimpse of the forceful love of God, who simply can’t wait to pour out his life. What a foreshadowing this is of the glory of the risen Christ, who wants to pour out his Spirit on all people!

Elizabeth’s pure and humble response to the work of God in their lives must have brought great comfort to Mary. In Elizabeth, she finally found someone with whom she could share her joy and awe at what was happening in her. Who else at this time could understand the song welling up within Mary’s heart (Luke 1:46-56)? Rather than being jealous of her younger relative’s exalted position, Elizabeth rejoiced with Mary and embraced her own supportive role. For her part, Mary did not wait for Elizabeth to come to her but hastened to her side.

While this meeting between Mary and Elizabeth is unique, there is something here that we can all experience. As baptized believers, each of us is capable of bearing Christ to others. If our eyes were opened to the glory of this truth, we too would rejoice and be humbled in the presence of so holy a vessel as a sister or brother in Christ. Even nonbelievers would move us to great reverence because they too are created in God’s image and have just as much potential of being filled with the Holy Spirit. If God has so highly honored human beings this way, how can we fail to show them equal honor?

God used Jesus, even when he was just a fetus in the womb, to pour out divine life. Everyone, no matter how young or old, no matter how strong or weak, has been created as a dwelling place for God. So how can we long for God’s presence and yet disregard him in the people all around us?

“Lord Jesus, as you opened Elizabeth’s eyes in the presence of Mary, open our eyes to those who also bear Christ. Help us to honor the potential of each person to be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

30 May 2010

30 May 2010, The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Reading 1
Prv 8:22-31

Thus says the wisdom of God:

"The LORD possessed me, the beginning of his ways,

the forerunner of his prodigies of long ago;

from of old I was poured forth,

at the first, before the earth.

When there were no depths I was brought forth,

when there were no fountains or springs of water;

before the mountains were settled into place,

before the hills, I was brought forth;

while as yet the earth and fields were not made,

nor the first clods of the world.

"When the Lord established the heavens I was there,

when he marked out the vault over the face of the deep;

when he made firm the skies above,

when he fixed fast the foundations of the earth;

when he set for the sea its limit,

so that the waters should not transgress his command;

then was I beside him as his craftsman,

and I was his delight day by day,

playing before him all the while,

playing on the surface of his earth;

and I found delight in the human race."

Reading 2
Rom 5:1-5

Brothers and sisters:

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith,

we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

through whom we have gained access by faith

to this grace in which we stand,

and we boast in hope of the glory of God.

Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions,

knowing that affliction produces endurance,

and endurance, proven character,

and proven character, hope,

and hope does not disappoint,

because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts

through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

Jn 16:12-15

Jesus said to his disciples:

"I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.

But when he comes, the Spirit of truth,

he will guide you to all truth.

He will not speak on his own,

but he will speak what he hears,

and will declare to you the things that are coming.

He will glorify me,

because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.

Everything that the Father has is mine;

for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine

and declare it to you."

Meditation: John 16:12-15

The Holy Trinity

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Every time we make the Sign of the Cross, we acknowledge the central mystery of the Christian faith: that our God is not one but three—three divine Persons in one God. It is the one statement that separates us from all of the other religions in the world, and it is the foundation for everything else that we profess and believe as Catholics.

But the teaching of the Trinity really explains much more than mere metaphysical propositions. It tells us about the inner life of God—the intimate love and communion that is constantly flowing between the Father, Son, and Spirit. God is far from an isolated being or uninvolved deity. His very existence has to do with relationships.

If it is God’s nature to share himself, and if we are created in his image and likeness, it follows that we too are meant to share our lives with each other. As Paul reminds us, we are the body of Christ, and a body “is not a single part, but many.” (1 Corinthians 12:14). We were made to be in communion with one another, joining together to build the kingdom and to proclaim the gospel to all of creation. It’s a tall order, and anyone who has tried to do it alone knows that it just doesn’t work!

But the Trinity is more than just a model for togetherness: It also gives us the power to live it! We really can love one another as fully as Jesus loves us—if we draw from the love of God that has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). Jesus promises that as we deepen our relationship with one another, our lives will start to reflect the very life of the Trinity—and that’s how we can experience the joy we are meant to know as Christians!

“Holy Spirit, draw us all into the love that you share with the Father and the Son! Stir up your gifts within us, so that we may pour out that same love on one another!”


Questions for Individual Reflection or Group Discussion

Proverbs 8:22-31, Psalm 8:4-9, Romans 5:1-5, John 16:12-15

1. Reflect on the following verses in the First Reading: “the Lord possessed me, the beginning of his ways,” “from of old I was poured forth,” “then I was beside him as his craftsman, and I was his delight day by day, playing before him all the while, playing on the surface of the earth; and I found delight in the human race.” In what way do they give us a glimpse into the relationships and intimacy within the Trinity?

2. In the Responsorial Psalm, we see the primacy of man: “You have given him rule over the works of your hands, putting all things under his feet.” Why should this truth motivate us to be good stewards over God’s creation? How well would you rate your own stewardship? What steps can you take to improve it?

3. The Second Reading tells us that “the love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” Can you share a time in your life when you have “experienced” God’s love for you, not merely “known” about it?

4. In the Gospel, we also get another glimpse into the Trinity through these words of the Lord Jesus: “He (the Holy Spirit) will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.” What do these verses tell us about the relationships between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?

5. In the meditation, we hear these amazing words: “But the Trinity is more than just a model for togetherness: It also gives us the power to live it! We really can love one another as fully as Jesus loves us—if we draw from the love of God that has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). Jesus promises that as we deepen our relationship with one another, our lives will start to reflect the very life of the Trinity—and that’s how we can experience the joy we are meant to know as Christians!” What steps can you take to build or deepen your relationships with other men or women in your parish?

29 May 2010

29 May 2010, Saturday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
Jude 17, 20b-25

Beloved, remember the words spoken beforehand

by the Apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit.

Keep yourselves in the love of God

and wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ

that leads to eternal life.

On those who waver, have mercy;

save others by snatching them out of the fire;

on others have mercy with fear,

abhorring even the outer garment stained by the flesh.

To the one who is able to keep you from stumbling

and to present you unblemished and exultant,

in the presence of his glory,

to the only God, our savior,

through Jesus Christ our Lord

be glory, majesty, power, and authority

from ages past, now, and for ages to come. Amen.

Mk 11:27-33

Jesus and his disciples returned once more to Jerusalem.

As he was walking in the temple area,

the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders

approached him and said to him,

“By what authority are you doing these things?

Or who gave you this authority to do them?”

Jesus said to them, “I shall ask you one question.

Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things.

Was John’s baptism of heavenly or of human origin? Answer me.”

They discussed this among themselves and said,

“If we say, ‘Of heavenly origin,’ he will say,

‘Then why did you not believe him?’

But shall we say, ‘Of human origin’?”–

they feared the crowd,

for they all thought John really was a prophet.

So they said to Jesus in reply, “We do not know.”

Then Jesus said to them,

“Neither shall I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

Meditation: Mark 11:27-33

We do not know. (Mark 11:33)

Have you ever felt cornered by someone’s interrogations? You know that no matter how you answer, you’ll get yourself in trouble. Usually, this happens either because you really are guilty of the thing your questioner is pressing you about or because your questioner has so twisted the truth that there is no way out. Either way, you can’t salvage the situation, and you have to resign yourself to having lost a battle of wits.

Now imagine how the Jewish elders must have felt when Jesus asked them whether they believed in John the Baptist’s preaching. There was no way they could answer without placing themselves in a negative light. If they said they did believe, he would press them on the way they abandoned John to Herod. If they said they didn’t believe, they would appear to be on the wrong side of the people, who considered John to be a hero. So, they chose the path of least resistance and played dumb.

Mind you, Jesus wasn’t trying to make these leaders look bad. He just wanted them to confess that they had been wrong about John the Baptist. He hoped that reminding them about a shadowy part of their past would spur them to repentance and to change their position about John—and about Jesus himself.

Jesus may take a similar approach with us at times. He may bring to mind a situation where we mistreated someone. Or he may remind us of a long-standing grudge we have been holding or a sin from our past that we have not acknowledged—all in the hope that we will face it and turn to him in repentance.

The chief priests and scribes could have replied, “You’re right. John’s baptism was from heaven, and we didn’t believe him. We should have tried to defend him when Herod had him arrested. Even more importantly, we should have accepted his message.” Instead, they hardened their hearts.

Let’s not play dumb! If and when the Holy Spirit brings some past unpleasantness to the surface of our minds, let’s acknowledge it and deal with it. How else will we ever find freedom and peace?

“Jesus, thank you for giving me so many chances to repent and turn back to you. Give me the courage to listen to your Holy Spirit’s questions so that I can know even deeper freedom and a greater friendship with you.”

28 May 2010

28 May 2010, Friday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
1 Pt 4:7-13


The end of all things is at hand.

Therefore be serious and sober-minded

so that you will be able to pray.

Above all, let your love for one another be intense,

because love covers a multitude of sins.

Be hospitable to one another without complaining.

As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another

as good stewards of God’s varied grace.

Whoever preaches, let it be with the words of God;

whoever serves, let it be with the strength that God supplies,

so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ,

to whom belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Beloved, do not be surprised that a trial by fire is occurring among you,

as if something strange were happening to you.

But rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ,

so that when his glory is revealed

you may also rejoice exultantly.

Mk 11:11-26

Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple area.

He looked around at everything and, since it was already late,

went out to Bethany with the Twelve.

The next day as they were leaving Bethany he was hungry.

Seeing from a distance a fig tree in leaf,

he went over to see if he could find anything on it.

When he reached it he found nothing but leaves;

it was not the time for figs.

And he said to it in reply, “May no one ever eat of your fruit again!”

And his disciples heard it.

They came to Jerusalem,

and on entering the temple area

he began to drive out those selling and buying there.

He overturned the tables of the money changers

and the seats of those who were selling doves.

He did not permit anyone to carry anything through the temple area.

Then he taught them saying, “Is it not written:

My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples?

But you have made it a den of thieves.”

The chief priests and the scribes came to hear of it

and were seeking a way to put him to death,

yet they feared him

because the whole crowd was astonished at his teaching.

When evening came, they went out of the city.

Early in the morning, as they were walking along,

they saw the fig tree withered to its roots.

Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look!

The fig tree that you cursed has withered.”

Jesus said to them in reply, “Have faith in God.

Amen, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain,

‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’

and does not doubt in his heart

but believes that what he says will happen,

it shall be done for him.

Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer,

believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours.

When you stand to pray,

forgive anyone against whom you have a grievance,

so that your heavenly Father may in turn

forgive you your transgressions.”

Meditation: Mark 11:11-26

Have faith in God. (Mark 11:22)

The day after receiving a king’s welcome in Jerusalem, Jesus was leaving town on an empty stomach when he spotted a fig tree. Upon closer inspection, Jesus found the tree barren of fruit—but ripe with an opportunity to teach his disciples about the power of prayer. “May no one ever eat of your fruit again,” he commanded the tree (Mark 11:14).

His disciples may not have given that unusual declaration much thought because later that day they saw their Master drive merchants out of the Temple. But the next day, when they came across the same tree and saw it withered all the way down to its roots, the disciples were awe-struck! They might have wondered: “Who is this man who has authority even over the regular course of nature?”

Jesus’ response was simple: “Have faith in God” (Mark 11:22). It’s a theme repeated many times in the Scriptures: Have faith in God, because the One with power to create worlds in Genesis 1 is the same One who has the power to care for your every need.

Jesus wanted to breathe a sense of confidence into his disciples that morning, but through today’s readings, he wants to give us the same confidence and trust. He wants us to know that our heavenly Father hears every prayer we utter. He knows all our needs. Even when we don’t see the answers to a certain problem, we can come before him in prayer, confident that he will never abandon us.

Many times, though, our prayers aren’t answered the next morning with something as undeniable as a wilted tree. What should we do then? Keep on praying! God isn’t just working on the solution, he is working on us! Just as he cleared the Temple of things that didn’t belong there, he is clearing our minds and hearts of the clutter of sin and ungodly attitudes. So be confident in your prayer, knowing that your Father is rich in kindness. Be careful, too, to stay in touch with him so that you can detect his answer when he gives it.

“Thank you, Jesus, for the gift of prayer! I trust you today with every aspect of my life. Thank you for letting me share in your spiritual authority. Now help me to remain connected to you.”

27 May 2010

27 May 2010, Thursday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
1 Pt 2:2-5, 9-12


Like newborn infants, long for pure spiritual milk

so that through it you may grow into salvation,

for you have tasted that the Lord is good.

Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings

but chosen and precious in the sight of God,

and, like living stones,

let yourselves be built into a spiritual house

to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices

acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood,

a holy nation, a people of his own,

so that you may announce the praises of him

who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

Once you were no people

but now you are God’s people;

you had not received mercy

but now you have received mercy.

Beloved, I urge you as aliens and sojourners

to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against the soul.

Maintain good conduct among the Gentiles,

so that if they speak of you as evildoers,

they may observe your good works

and glorify God on the day of visitation.

Mk 10:46-52

What do you want me to do for you? (Mark 10:51)

Imagine that you are Bartimaeus. Everyone in Jericho knows you. You are the blind man, totally dependent on others. You can’t go anywhere unless someone leads you by the hand. The only way you can make money is by begging. Your life is dark and limited. You have no future. You are keenly aware of your need. If only you could see!

So there you are, in your usual spot on the road, holding your cup out for alms, when you hear a distant commotion. It sounds like a large crowd coming nearer and nearer. Someone says, “It’s Jesus of Nazareth!” You’ve heard of this fellow. You’ve never heard him preach, but the whole town is buzzing. They say he speaks with God’s authority and that he has healed people of many different diseases.

Hope stirs in you for the first time in a long time. “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me!” you cry out. People try to hush you up, but you’re determined to keep yelling until you get Jesus’ attention. Suddenly Jesus stops. He’s heard you! He calls you forward. Now the bystanders who were trying to silence you a minute ago are offering their hands to help you. He is waiting patiently while you make your way through the crowd.

You can’t see him, but you can tell his full attention is on you. He asks a pivotal question: “What do you want me to do for you?” You know exactly what you want, and you declare it: “Master, I want to see.” Jesus says, “Your faith has saved you,” and suddenly you can see! The brilliant colors in your peripheral vision amaze you, but you can’t tear your gaze away from Jesus. What love you see in his eyes!

“Go your way,” Jesus says gently. But instead, you go Jesus’ way, following him down the road. Nothing will ever be the same for you!

Like Bartimaeus, linger with Jesus’ question. You have the Master’s full, patient attention. What do you want him to do for you? What holds you back from following him down that road?

“Jesus, you know me, and you see right down to the deepest desire of my heart. Take that desire into your own heart, and let me be joined to you more deeply than ever before.”

26 May 2010

26 May 2010, Wednesday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
1 Pt 1:18-25


Realize that you were ransomed from your futile conduct,

handed on by your ancestors,

not with perishable things like silver or gold

but with the precious Blood of Christ

as of a spotless unblemished Lamb.

He was known before the foundation of the world

but revealed in the final time for you,

who through him believe in God

who raised him from the dead and gave him glory,

so that your faith and hope are in God.

Since you have purified yourselves

by obedience to the truth for sincere brotherly love,

love one another intensely from a pure heart.

You have been born anew,

not from perishable but from imperishable seed,

through the living and abiding word of God, for:

“All flesh is like grass,

and all its glory like the flower of the field;

the grass withers,

and the flower wilts;

but the word of the Lord remains forever.”

This is the word that has been proclaimed to you.

Mk 10:32-45

All flesh is like grass… . The grass withers, and the flower wilts. (1 Peter 1:24)

How depressing! Is this all our earthly existence is about? Nothing but a long, slow march to the grave? Not at all! God didn’t create us to die but to live with him for all eternity. As Peter wrote, we have been “born anew, not from perishable but from imperishable seed” (1 Peter 1:23). It’s true that in the grand scheme of things, our time on earth is fleeting. But during this tiny sliver of eternity, God has work for us to do: “Love one another intensely from a pure heart” (1:22).

The daily challenge that we all face is not to allow ourselves to become so wrapped up in our daily lives that we focus our vision only on this fleeting world. It’s always a good idea to stop ourselves a few times each day and ask: “What am I doing to give glory to God? How have I been his hands and feet today?”

Jesus has a plan for each of us and has given us all the gifts and talents we need to fulfill that plan. All we have to do is to carve out time each day to reflect on his calling and ask how we can best accomplish it. It doesn’t have to be a grandiose plan in which we perform countless miracles and lead thousands to Christ. It could be something as (seemingly) commonplace as raising a family. The key is in asking the Holy Spirit to give us his wisdom and his grace in whatever our calling is. That’s when we rise above the everyday and become instruments of heaven on earth!

You don’t have to be like the grass that withers and wilts. Your life can be suffused with God’s presence as you bring his love into this world. If you seek after the Lord, you will discover your calling with greater and greater clarity. And you will end up glorifying God and singing his praise—both here on earth and for all eternity in heaven.

“Lord Jesus, in this fleeting time I have, keep me from wilting into meaninglessness. I want to bear fruit for you to my very last breath.”

25 May 2010

25 May 2010, Tuesday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1

1 Pt 1:10-16


Concerning the salvation of your souls

the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours

searched and investigated it

investigating the time and circumstances

that the Spirit of Christ within them indicated

when it testified in advance

to the sufferings destined for Christ

and the glories to follow them.

It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you

with regard to the things that have now been announced to you

by those who preached the Good News to you

through the Holy Spirit sent from heaven,

things into which angels longed to look.

Therefore, gird up the loins of your mind, live soberly,

and set your hopes completely on the grace to be brought to you

at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Like obedient children,

do not act in compliance with the desires of your former ignorance

but, as he who called you is holy,

be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct,

for it is written, Be holy because I am holy.

Mk 10:28-31

Peter began to say to Jesus,

“We have given up everything and followed you.”

Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you,

there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters

or mother or father or children or lands

for my sake and for the sake of the Gospel

who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age:

houses and brothers and sisters

and mothers and children and lands,

with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come.

But many that are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

Meditation: Mark 10:28-31

Many that are first will be last, and the last will be first. (Mark 10:31)

After seeing the rich young man walk away sad and hearing how hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God, Jesus’ disciples were uneasy. If it was difficult for such a worthy person to attain eternal life, what hope did they have? Could anyone be saved? So Peter spoke up: “We have given up everything and followed you” (Mark 10:28).

Jesus was quick to reassure Peter that he saw every sacrifice he had made. Not only did he recognize all that Peter and the others had given up, he assured them of blessings in this life and eternal life in heaven. This promise doesn’t apply just to the big sacrifices—house, family, or land. There are times when small sacrifices cost us a lot, too. Jesus sees every time we hold back a sarcastic comment, every time we interrupt our day to help a neighbor in need, every time we offer a short prayer of intercession for our sick cousin. Not one of these acts of love, faith, and trust goes unnoticed.

But Jesus didn’t just reassure Peter and the others. He wanted them to see that they could go even further. As they turned from their old lives, the floodgates of heaven would open even wider and pour out more blessings! The further they went, the greater their reward! It wasn’t enough to rest on the knowledge of the promise of eternal life. They weren’t at risk of losing anything, but Jesus wanted them to see that there was more possible! God is always calling us deeper into his life, but we should never lose sight of the fact that he also sees everything we’ve already done, and it pleases him deeply. He won’t forget it at the last day, either.

So how far do you want to go with Jesus? To the ends of the earth? Do you want to be filled to overflowing? Then keep pursuing him! Stay open to him, and let him strip away more and more of the old nature—in his gentle, gradual way. Be assured: As much as he strips away, he will give back a hundredfold in blessings, clarity, peace, joy, and assurance.

“Jesus, your eyes never miss a step I take toward you. Thank you for your promise of eternal life!”

24 May 2010

24 May 2010, Monday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
1 Pt 1:3-9

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope

through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading,

kept in heaven for you

who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith,

to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time.

In this you rejoice, although now for a little while

you may have to suffer through various trials,

so that the genuineness of your faith,

more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire,

may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor

at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Although you have not seen him you love him;

even though you do not see him now yet you believe in him,

you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy,

as you attain the goal of faith, the salvation of your souls.

Mk 10:17-27

As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up,

knelt down before him, and asked him,

“Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good?

No one is good but God alone.

You know the commandments: You shall not kill;

you shall not commit adultery;

you shall not steal;

you shall not bear false witness;

you shall not defraud;

honor your father and your mother.”

He replied and said to him,

“Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.”

Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him,

“You are lacking in one thing.

Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor

and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”

At that statement, his face fell,

and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples,

“How hard it is for those who have wealth

to enter the Kingdom of God!”

The disciples were amazed at his words.

So Jesus again said to them in reply,

“Children, how hard it is to enter the Kingdom of God!

It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle

than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.”

They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves,

“Then who can be saved?”

Jesus looked at them and said,

“For men it is impossible, but not for God.

All things are possible for God.”

Meditation: Mark 10:17-27

Sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven. (Mark 10:21)

Jesus saw that this rich young man, while rigorous in his personal morality, was still lacking something vital if he wanted to be a disciple. Jesus didn’t seem to be concerned with the man’s wealth or social status. Rather, he saw that this fellow had amassed a good amount of fortune but didn’t have a heart for the needy around him. His money was his, and that was the end of the discussion.

How different is Jesus’ philosophy of life! He wants us to see that we are all members of each other, like one big family. We are all responsible for each other, regardless of our race, culture, religion, or social status because we are all creations of our heavenly Father. To use the teachings of Pope John Paul II, we could say that Jesus wants us to live in solidarity with each other. According to the pope, solidarity is “not a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of others. It is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good.”

On the day of judgment, God will not ask us how distressed we felt over the sufferings of the poor. He will ask what we concretely did to help them out: “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40). He will hold us accountable for the way we used the gifts—material as well as spiritual—that he gave us in this life.

The rich young man couldn’t bear the thought of parting with his money. But in reality, nothing is ultimately ours. We are stewards of the gifts God has given us, and it’s up to us to use these gifts in ways that establish his kingdom on the earth and bring blessings to others. He has been generous to us, and now he calls us to be just as generous to those around us. Jesus wants to see us living in a just and charitable balance between providing for ourselves and reaching out to those who have less than we do. Let’s examine ourselves and give to others as God calls us.

“Jesus, give me a heart of compassion and action for the poor. Pierce my heart with your love so that I can become more like you.”

23 May 2010

23 May 2010, Solemnity of Pentecost

Solemnity of Pentecost
Reading 1

Acts 2:1-11

When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled,

they were all in one place together.

And suddenly there came from the sky

a noise like a strong driving wind,

and it filled the entire house in which they were.

Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire,

which parted and came to rest on each one of them.

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit

and began to speak in different tongues,

as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven

staying in Jerusalem.

At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd,

but they were confused

because each one heard them speaking in his own language.

They were astounded, and in amazement they asked,

“Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans?

Then how does each of us hear them in his native language?

We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites,

inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia,

Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia,

Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene,

as well as travelers from Rome,

both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs,

yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues

of the mighty acts of God.”

Reading 2
1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13

Brothers and sisters:

No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit;

there are different forms of service but the same Lord;

there are different workings but the same God

who produces all of them in everyone.

To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit

is given for some benefit.

As a body is one though it has many parts,

and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body,

so also Christ.

For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body,

whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons,

and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.

Jn 20:19-23

On the evening of that first day of the week,

when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,

for fear of the Jews,

Jesus came and stood in their midst

and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.

The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.

As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,

“Receive the Holy Spirit.

Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,

and whose sins you retain are retained.”

Meditation: John 20:19-23


Receive the Holy Spirit. (John 20:22)

On this day of celebration, we are brought back to the upper room to be with the disciples when they first met the risen Lord. John tells us that when Jesus came to them, he showed them his hands and side. There was something about seeing Jesus’ wounds—now glorified—that thrilled their hearts.

We don’t have to look too hard to identify the work of the Holy Spirit here. It was the Spirit who showed the disciples that Jesus didn’t just come back from the dead but that he had actually defeated death and had been declared Lord of heaven and earth. By the Spirit, they realized that because of Jesus’ wounds they too could be filled with divine life, just as their Master was. And this revelation filled them with excitement.

Brothers and sisters, the Holy Spirit wants to give all of us the same revelation. After all, this is what Pentecost is all about—seeing Jesus in a whole new way. Whenever we pray, whenever we go to Mass, the Spirit wants to reveal Jesus to our hearts—his love, his mercy, and his power. He wants to break down the walls that keep us trapped in a narrow, shallow understanding of God’s plan. He wants to do this so that he can form us into a people on fire with love for him, willing to surrender our lives to him, and eager to bring his good news to a wounded world.

We don’t have to fear the Holy Spirit. He may come in fire, but only to burn away the things that keep us from Jesus. We can carry so much “baggage” in our hearts—fears, anxieties, and resentments. But by the power of the cross, the Holy Spirit wants to lighten our load so that we can embrace Jesus as our just and loving Savior who wants the very best for us.

“Jesus, I want to rejoice in you just as the apostles did. Holy Spirit, burn away everything that keeps me from your presence. Come, Spirit, and give me a new revelation of Jesus.”


Questions for Individual Reflection or Group Discussion

Acts 2:1-11; Psalm 104:1,24,29-31,34; 1 Corinthians 12:3-7,12-13; John 20:19-23

1. Many of us are disconnected from the reality of God’s astonishing and overpowering gift of himself to us in the Holy Spirit. He is not a namby-pamby Spirit, but one of energy and joy that inspires love and confidence. What steps can you take to open yourself to this gift?

2. In the first reading, we recall the events of the day of Pentecost, the descent of the Holy Spirit and the phenomena accompanying it. Through this miraculous work, we see the Holy Spirit becoming the unifier of all of us. How can you use the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life and others to strengthen the unity of your parish?

3. The responsorial psalm speaks of God renewing the face of the earth. This renewal begins with each one of us. What renewal does God want to make in your life?

4. The second reading reminds us that the Holy Spirit works in each of us differently in order to benefit the whole Church. What gifts do you have that can be used to build up the Church? How can you use them for the benefit of others in your family?

5. Pope John Paul II has reminded us over and over again that the commission Christ gave the Church in today’s Gospel – “as the Father has sent me, so I send you” – was not meant just for the Apostles, but rather for each of us believers. We all share in the responsibility to tell the world of the great news of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ! What can you do in the upcoming weeks to share this Good News with others?

6. The meditation speaks of the baggage (“fears, anxieties, and resentments”) in our hearts that keeps us from Jesus. It also speaks of the power of the Cross, the Holy Spirit, and God’s love. How can these graces, which are so readily available through prayer and in the Church’s sacraments, help you deal with this baggage? Take some time to pray, individually, or with other parishioners for a deeper infilling of the Holy Spirit in your life.

22 May 2010

22 May 2010, Saturday of the Seventh Week of Easter

Reading 1
Acts 28:16-20, 30-31

When he entered Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself,

with the soldier who was guarding him.

Three days later he called together the leaders of the Jews.

When they had gathered he said to them, “My brothers,

although I had done nothing against our people

or our ancestral customs,

I was handed over to the Romans as a prisoner from Jerusalem.

After trying my case the Romans wanted to release me,

because they found nothing against me deserving the death penalty.

But when the Jews objected, I was obliged to appeal to Caesar,

even though I had no accusation to make against my own nation.

This is the reason, then, I have requested to see you

and to speak with you, for it is on account of the hope of Israel

that I wear these chains.”

He remained for two full years in his lodgings.

He received all who came to him, and with complete assurance

and without hindrance he proclaimed the Kingdom of God

and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jn 21:20-25

Peter turned and saw the disciple following whom Jesus loved,

the one who had also reclined upon his chest during the supper

and had said, “Master, who is the one who will betray you?”

When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about him?”

Jesus said to him, “What if I want him to remain until I come?

What concern is it of yours?

You follow me.”

So the word spread among the brothers that that disciple would not die.

But Jesus had not told him that he would not die,

just “What if I want him to remain until I come?

What concern is it of yours?”

It is this disciple who testifies to these things

and has written them, and we know that his testimony is true.

There are also many other things that Jesus did,

but if these were to be described individually,

I do not think the whole world would contain the books

that would be written.

Meditation: John 21:20-25

Lord, what about him? (John 21:21)

Told that the love he has just declared for Jesus will lead to his martyrdom, Peter is stunned. Perhaps he feels responsible for the other disciples, or he fears that John may be too timid to speak up. “What about him?” he asks. Jesus says John’s fate is none of his business. Peter’s only task—like John’s—is to follow Jesus.

If both Peter and John are doing what Jesus calls them to do, their work will be complementary; each will help the other see his own task more clearly.

At one point or another, we are all tempted to ask, “What about him?” Sometimes we feel like someone is getting off too easy. Why isn’t he fasting, praying long hours, being ridiculed or corrected, being asked to serve—when so much is being demanded of me? Sometimes we feel like someone else is doing great, anointed things for God, while we’re being ignored and overlooked.

Whenever you feel this way, stop and ask yourself the one question that really matters: “Do I love Jesus?” Only then can you ask, “What does God want me to do?” If you spend quality time with Jesus and try to get to know him better, you won’t be as anxious about your specific vocation. The closer you get to Jesus, the clearer your calling will become—and the less worried you’ll be about the details—or about someone else’s experience.

Tomorrow is Pentecost, when the disciples were anointed with power to carry out the mission Jesus had entrusted to them. Spend some time today asking God what his call to you is. It may be using your imagination to get into the gospel stories and let Jesus speak to you through them. It may be dying to yourself in a particular way. It may be reaching out in love to a specific individual. It may even be carrying the gospel to the ends of the earth, as Paul did. It may be lingering prayerfully for a long time without really understanding why. Whatever it is, beg God to pour out his Spirit with the specific gifts you need to answer his call.

“Spirit of the living God, I want to grow closer to Jesus. Help me to put aside worrying and simply follow the One who loves me.”

21 May 2010

21 May 2010, Friday of the Seventh Week of Easter

Reading 1
Acts 25:13b-21

King Agrippa and Bernice arrived in Caesarea

on a visit to Festus.

Since they spent several days there,

Festus referred Paul’s case to the king, saying,

“There is a man here left in custody by Felix.

When I was in Jerusalem the chief priests and the elders of the Jews

brought charges against him and demanded his condemnation.

I answered them that it was not Roman practice

to hand over an accused person before he has faced his accusers

and had the opportunity to defend himself against their charge.

So when they came together here, I made no delay;

the next day I took my seat on the tribunal

and ordered the man to be brought in.

His accusers stood around him,

but did not charge him with any of the crimes I suspected.

Instead they had some issues with him about their own religion

and about a certain Jesus who had died

but who Paul claimed was alive.

Since I was at a loss how to investigate this controversy,

I asked if he were willing to go to Jerusalem

and there stand trial on these charges.

And when Paul appealed that he be held in custody

for the Emperor’s decision,

I ordered him held until I could send him to Caesar.”

Jn 21:15-19

After Jesus had revealed himself to his disciples and eaten breakfast with them,

he said to Simon Peter,

“Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”

Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.”

He then said to Simon Peter a second time,

“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”

He said to him the third time,

“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time,

“Do you love me?” and he said to him,

“Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.

Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger,

you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted;

but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands,

and someone else will dress you

and lead you where you do not want to go.”

He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.

And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”

Meditation: Acts 25:13-21

They had some issues with him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus who had died but who Paul claimed was alive. (Acts 25:19)

You’ve heard the adage: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” That’s because most of our successes involve failings along the way. Babe Ruth was known for his home-run hitting prowess, but he also struck out 1,330 times in his Major League career—twice as often as the average batter of his time. And Thomas Edison tried thousands of times before inventing a light bulb that worked. “I have not failed,” he once remarked. “I’ve just found ten thousand ways that won’t work.”

In Acts chapters 25-26, Paul must have been frustrated to find that his evangelistic efforts before king and court were fruitless. No one was convinced by his preaching, and Paul remained a prisoner bound for Rome. But he didn’t give up. And like Paul, we too should never give up. After all, we have been called to announce the same good news of Christ’s love and salvation that he proclaimed.

So how do we get the word out? We can start by not being afraid of temporary setbacks. If someone seems turned off, don’t worry. Just pray that God will continue to work in that person’s heart. Try your best to be honest, authentic, and transparent, just as Paul was in his effort to “become all things to all people” (1 Corinthians 9:22). If you persist humbly and gently, if you remain conversational rather than confrontational, if you let the Spirit work through you, then you can leave the rest up to God!

Not all of your efforts will meet with success, but that’s okay. Remember Mother Teresa’s remark: “God did not call me to be successful. He called me to be faithful.” Not everyone is going to get it, but don’t let that dissuade you from planting seeds whenever you can. You never know when someone will respond. And who knows? What you consider a failure may well bear fruit later. Or it may teach you something about God’s mysterious ways. Whatever happens, don’t give up!

“Holy Spirit, give me the courage and perseverance I need to share the good news of Christ. Take away my fears, and replace them with your love for the world!”

20 May 2010

20 May 2010, Thursday of the Seventh Week of Easter

Reading 1
Acts 22:30; 23:6-11

Wishing to determine the truth

about why Paul was being accused by the Jews,

the commander freed him

and ordered the chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin to convene.

Then he brought Paul down and made him stand before them.

Paul was aware that some were Sadducees and some Pharisees,

so he called out before the Sanhedrin,

“My brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of Pharisees;

I am on trial for hope in the resurrection of the dead.”

When he said this,

a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and Sadducees,

and the group became divided.

For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection

or angels or spirits,

while the Pharisees acknowledge all three.

A great uproar occurred,

and some scribes belonging to the Pharisee party

stood up and sharply argued,

“We find nothing wrong with this man.

Suppose a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?”

The dispute was so serious that the commander,

afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them,

ordered his troops to go down and rescue Paul from their midst

and take him into the compound.

The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage.

For just as you have borne witness to my cause in Jerusalem,

so you must also bear witness in Rome.”

Jn 17:20-26

Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying:

“I pray not only for these,

but also for those who will believe in me through their word,

so that they may all be one,

as you, Father, are in me and I in you,

that they also may be in us,

that the world may believe that you sent me.

And I have given them the glory you gave me,

so that they may be one, as we are one,

I in them and you in me,

that they may be brought to perfection as one,

that the world may know that you sent me,

and that you loved them even as you loved me.

Father, they are your gift to me.

I wish that where I am they also may be with me,

that they may see my glory that you gave me,

because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

Righteous Father, the world also does not know you,

but I know you, and they know that you sent me.

I made known to them your name and I will make it known,

that the love with which you loved me

may be in them and I in them.”

Meditation: Acts 22:30; 23:6-11

A dispute broke out. (Acts 23:7)

What a dispute it was! With one remark, Paul distracted the Jewish leaders who were interrogating him by plunging them into a theological debate. He knew what would happen when he said he was being tried for believing in the resurrection: The Pharisees, who also held this belief, would rise to his defense; the Sadducees, who rejected it, would cry, “Heresy!”

Sure enough, like a spark igniting a heap of dry leaves, the situation roared into a blazing fire, moving quickly from a “dispute” to a “great uproar” to something like mob violence. In the end, the Roman commander who had escorted Paul to his hearing had to whisk him back to jail for his own protection (Acts 23:10).

Were those religious leaders wrong to be passionate about their beliefs and traditions? To their credit, they weren’t lukewarm! One reason they reacted so strongly is that they valued their faith. But when tempers are running high, how quickly religious zeal can turn into intolerance and overwhelm reason.

Have you ever been part of a conversation where people expressed conflicting views on issues like abortion, immigration, or same-sex unions? How did you do? How do you react when a celebrity makes an outrageous statement, like “God is dead”?

Of course, we don’t resort to physical violence! But what about the way we use our tongues? Do our words bring clarity and healing, or are they “sword thrusts” for cutting people down (Proverbs 12:18)? And even if we never say a word, do we harbor demeaning and hateful thoughts about them in our hearts?

It’s true that Jesus calls us to understand, proclaim, and defend the truth. But we aren’t obeying him if in the process we violate his great command to love our enemies. As the Catechism says, quoting Pope Paul VI, each of us is called “to treat with love, prudence, and patience those who are in error or ignorance with regard to the faith” (CCC, 2104). In the end, the way we love our adversaries may be a more convincing testimony than any words we speak.

“Lord Jesus, you know my heart. You hear my every word. Keep me in your peace, Lord, and in all my thoughts, words, and interactions with other people, let your love be my guide.”

19 May 2010

19 May 2010, Wednesday of the Seventh Week of Easter

Reading 1
Acts 20:28-38

At Miletus, Paul spoke to the presbyters of the Church of Ephesus:

“Keep watch over yourselves and over the whole flock

of which the Holy Spirit has appointed you overseers,

in which you tend the Church of God

that he acquired with his own Blood.

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.

So be vigilant and remember that for three years, night and day,

I unceasingly admonished each of you with tears.

And now I commend you to God

and to that gracious word of his that can build you up

and give you the inheritance among all who are consecrated.

I have never wanted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing.

You know well that these very hands

have served my needs and my companions.

In every way I have shown you that by hard work of that sort

we must help the weak,

and keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus who himself said,

‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

When he had finished speaking

he knelt down and prayed with them all.

They were all weeping loudly

as they threw their arms around Paul and kissed him,

for they were deeply distressed that he had said

that they would never see his face again.

Then they escorted him to the ship.

Jn 17:11b-19

Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed, saying:

“Holy Father, keep them in your name

that you have given me,

so that they may be one just as we are one.

When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me,

and I guarded them, and none of them was lost

except the son of destruction,

in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

But now I am coming to you.

I speak this in the world

so that they may share my joy completely.

I gave them your word, and the world hated them,

because they do not belong to the world

any more than I belong to the world.

I do not ask that you take them out of the world

but that you keep them from the Evil One.

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.”

Meditation: John 17:11-19

They do not belong to the world. (John 17:16)

It’s natural for us to regard God as outside of this world. After all, he created it. He breathed life into everything that lives. He sent his Son, Jesus, into the world, where he showed that he had power over all the forces in the world: He calmed storms, healed the sick, raised the dead, and multiplied bread and fish. And to top it all off, he showed that not even death had sway over him. He simply rose again, and then ascended out of this world back to heaven, where he came from.

So if Jesus is outside of this world, does that mean that we are not? Are we, mere creatures, meant to remain bound by the limitations of this fallen world? No! Twice in today’s Gospel, Jesus told his Father: “They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world” (John 17:14,16). What an amazing statement! Even though we are still part of this world and we still need to be protected from the evil one, we are also one with Christ.

Think of it: The lives we now live, we live by faith in Christ who died for us (Galatians 2:20). That faith is the belief that our old selves did die on the cross. It’s faith that we can live a new life and that he who began a good work in us will see it to completion (Philippians 1:6). Faith that we will never lack the power, energy, and resources we need to live in union with Christ. Faith that the love of the Father will always be available to fill us and overflow from us, just as it did Jesus’ life.

You do not belong to this world any more than Jesus does. Though you are not impervious to the evils that are part of life in this world, you can say no to them and not submit to their attraction. You can say no to greed and avarice. You can be freed from anger and lust. You no longer have to overeat or drink irresponsibly. You belong to God. Declare that this is true today, and look for all the opportunities God will give you to choose to live his new life. Remember: You belong to Jesus!

“Thank you, Jesus, for rescuing me from this fallen world. Show me today how to live as a citizen of heaven.”

18 May 2010

18 May 2010, Tuesday of the Seventh Week of Easter

Reading 1

Acts 20:17-27

From Miletus Paul had the presbyters

of the Church at Ephesus summoned.

When they came to him, he addressed them,

“You know how I lived among you

the whole time from the day I first came to the province of Asia.

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.

“But now I know that none of you

to whom I preached the kingdom during my travels

will ever see my face again.

And so I solemnly declare to you this day

that I am not responsible for the blood of any of you,

for I did not shrink from proclaiming to you the entire plan of God.”

Jn 17:1-11a

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said,

“Father, the hour has come.

Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you,

just as you gave him authority over all people,

so that your son may give eternal life to all you gave him.

Now this is eternal life,

that they should know you, the only true God,

and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.

I glorified you on earth

by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do.

Now glorify me, Father, with you,

with the glory that I had with you before the world began.

“I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world.

They belonged to you, and you gave them to me,

and they have kept your word.

Now they know that everything you gave me is from you,

because the words you gave to me I have given to them,

and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you,

and they have believed that you sent me.

I pray for them.

I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me,

because they are yours, and everything of mine is yours

and everything of yours is mine,

and I have been glorified in them.

And now I will no longer be in the world,

but they are in the world, while I am coming to you.”

Meditation: John 17:1-11

Father, the hour has come. (John 17:1)

If you find Jesus’ prayer here difficult to understand at first, perhaps it is because what we have here is an exchange between two divine persons. The language of love between humans is hard enough to grasp at times, so it makes sense that we would have to read this expression of divine love slowly and carefully!

Jesus’ first thoughts are for his Father. While he was on earth, he sought to obey his Father in every way possible and so “vindicate” his Father’s power, authority, and goodness. And what glory does Jesus ask for himself? Only to be with his Father once again. He didn’t ask for a great throne or for the unerring worship of all peoples. He simply wanted to be with his Father.

But Jesus’ prayer doesn’t remain focused on his Father. The consuming love between them spills over into Jesus’ love for his disciples. Imagine all the pressure that he must have been feeling. He knew that the weight of all our sins was about to be placed upon him. He knew that the devil was about to batter him with unspeakable hatred and temptation. He knew that all it took was one slip, one little sin, and all would be lost. But what was Jesus concerned about? His Father’s plan. His disciples. Each and every one of us. Now that’s love.

We all know how this story ends. Jesus triumphed! By dying in complete submission to God’s plan, he both glorified his Father and redeemed us from sin. His love for his Father and his love for us carried the day.

This is the love that Jesus is offering us today: a love strong enough to repel every temptation, heal every wound, and repair every broken relationship. It is a love that doesn’t discriminate and never grows tired or jaded. And what’s more, it is a love that we are meant to experience, not just learn about. Today in prayer, let Jesus shower that love upon you. Then throughout the day, look for signs that his love is still out there. He never stops caring for his people!

“Lord, I marvel at the amazing love that you have for me and for your Father. Help me to open my arms ever wider to receive all that you have for me.”

17 May 2010

17 May 2010, Monday of the Seventh Week of Easter

Reading 1
Acts 19:1-8

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.

He entered the synagogue, and for three months debated boldly

with persuasive arguments about the Kingdom of God.

Jn 16:29-33

The disciples said to Jesus,

“Now you are talking plainly, and not in any figure of speech.

Now we realize that you know everything

and that you do not need to have anyone question you.

Because of this we believe that you came from God.”

Jesus answered them, “Do you believe now?

Behold, the hour is coming and has arrived

when each of you will be scattered to his own home

and you will leave me alone.

But I am not alone, because the Father is with me.

I have told you this so that you might have peace in me.

In the world you will have trouble,

but take courage, I have conquered the world.”

Meditation: Acts 19:1-8

Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers? (Acts 19:2)

That’s a key question, isn’t it? Have you ever stopped to consider what an amazing gift you’ve been given through your baptism? Many people think of baptism simply as the sacrament that wipes away original sin and brings us into the church. It is that, but it is so much more.

Before Jesus came on the scene, his cousin John was baptizing people for the forgiveness of sins. But he also said that someone would come after him who would baptize in the Holy Spirit. And that someone is Jesus, who commanded his followers to baptize people in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it: “The Most Holy Trinity gives the baptized sanctifying grace, the grace of justification, [and] … the power to live and act under the prompting of the Holy Spirit” (CCC, 1266).

Baptism is meant to be just the beginning of a life lived under the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit. At its core, baptism is all about coming to know Jesus and experiencing the power of his resurrection in our lives—something only the Spirit can give to us. Only he can bring us to a living encounter with the Lord Jesus. Only he can make us a new creation, adopted children of God, partakers in the divine nature, members of Christ, coheirs with him and temples of the Holy Spirit (CCC, 1265).

That’s something worth celebrating! If we want to experience these blessings in our lives—and not just be informed about them—we need the Holy Spirit and the gifts that he freely pours out. So today, ask yourself the same question that St. Paul asked the Ephesians: “How were you baptized?” (Acts 19:3). Ask the Spirit to unveil for you the enormous treasure you received on the day of your baptism. You really did receive the Spirit. So ask that Spirit to reveal Jesus to you today in a life-changing way.

“Jesus, your love is amazing! Thank you for giving me your Holy Spirit and giving me a share in the power of your resurrection. Thank you for making me a partaker of your divine life. I love you, Lord, and I want to know you more.”

16 May 2010

16 May 2010, The Ascension of the Lord

Reading 1
Acts 1:1-11

In the first book, Theophilus,

I dealt with all that Jesus did and taught

until the day he was taken up,

after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit

to the apostles whom he had chosen.

He presented himself alive to them

by many proofs after he had suffered,

appearing to them during forty days

and speaking about the kingdom of God.

While meeting with them,

he enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem,

but to wait for “the promise of the Father

about which you have heard me speak;

for John baptized with water,

but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

When they had gathered together they asked him,

“Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

He answered them, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons

that the Father has established by his own authority.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you,

and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,

throughout Judea and Samaria,

and to the ends of the earth.”

When he had said this, as they were looking on,

he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight.

While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going,

suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them.

They said, “Men of Galilee,

why are you standing there looking at the sky?

This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven

will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.”

Reading 2
Eph 1:17-23

Brothers and sisters:

May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory,

give you a Spirit of wisdom and revelation

resulting in knowledge of him.

May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened,

that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call,

what are the riches of glory

in his inheritance among the holy ones,

and what is the surpassing greatness of his power

for us who believe,

in accord with the exercise of his great might:

which he worked in Christ,

raising him from the dead

and seating him at his right hand in the heavens,

far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion,

and every name that is named

not only in this age but also in the one to come.

And he put all things beneath his feet

and gave him as head over all things to the church,

which is his body,

the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way.

Lk 24:46-53

Jesus said to his disciples:

“Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer

and rise from the dead on the third day

and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins,

would be preached in his name

to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

You are witnesses of these things.

And behold I am sending the promise of my Father upon you;

but stay in the city

until you are clothed with power from on high.”

Then he led them out as far as Bethany,

raised his hands, and blessed them.

As he blessed them he parted from them

and was taken up to heaven.

They did him homage

and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy,

and they were continually in the temple praising God.

Meditation: Ephesians 1:17-23

The Ascension of the Lord

… far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion, and every name that is named not only in this age but also in the one to come. (Ephesians 1:21)

Lord Jesus, we praise you on this feast of hope and triumph! We adore you, Lord, raised up to heaven and seated at the Father’s right hand! You have taken your place of glory and authority—the place reserved for you, the eternal Son of God. You left it for a short time when you came to earth to redeem us, but now you are enthroned in the heavens. And we have been raised up with you!

We praise you, Lord, for every principality, every power falls under your authority. No matter how strong or terrifying, everything in this created world must bow down to you. No matter what we face, nothing can remove us from your loving protection!

We exult in you, Jesus, for you rule over history itself. Past, present, and future—nothing is outside your loving gaze and your powerful intervention. From your glorious throne, you hold all of our lives in your hands.

Jesus, you are worthy of praise! Every enemy has been placed beneath your feet. This means that nothing can overpower you—not Satan, not death, not suffering, not sin. You have defeated them all! You are above all things, and in you all things hold together.

Jesus, now exalted to the Father’s right hand, you are the head of the body, the church! No matter what human imperfections exist in your church, we can be confident that you will continue to purify us. You intercede for us every day, asking your Father to pour out immeasurable grace to help us overcome our sin and live in love. Jesus, we believe that your victory is ours, and we place our trust in your love!

“Jesus, today is a day to celebrate! You are enthroned, you are powerful, you have all authority, and you love us! What greater hope can we have but to gaze on your glory and know that all things are in your hands!”


Questions for Individual Reflection or Group Discussion

Acts 1:1-11; Psalm 47:2-3,6-9; Ephesians 1:17-23; Luke 24:46-53

1. The first reading describes the ascension of the Lord. After Jesus ascends, we hear these words from what are obviously angels: “This Jesus who has been taken up into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.” How important to you is Jesus’ second coming? How important should it be? Why?

2. The responsorial psalm provides a foreshadowing of the joy and celebration that may have occurred in heaven upon Jesus’ return. Spend a minute or so in quiet reflection and try to imagine what your first day in heaven would be like. Is there someone close to you that you can share your reflection with?

3. In the second reading, St. Paul prays a powerful prayer for the believers in Ephesus, and for us. The resurrection and ascension of Jesus to the right hand of the Father is part of this prayer. Pray this prayer together slowly and meditate on the words as you do. What does this prayer mean to you? Continue praying this prayer share the fruits of doing so with a brother or sister in the Lord from your parish.

4. In the Gospel, we read that the disciples, after Jesus’ ascension, “did him homage and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and they were continually in the temple praising God.” The Ascension of Jesus should be a day of great rejoicing and hope for us as well, as we look forward to our own ascension. Why is this so?

5. The meditation is a prayer to Jesus, now ascended and exulted at the Father’s right hand. Take a few minutes to slowly pray this prayer, individually, or with others. As you do, pray also that you would experience in a deeper way the joy and hope that flows from knowing that we like Jesus will one day be raised and ascend to our Father in Heaven.

15 May 2010, Saturday of the Sixth Week of Easter

Reading 1
Acts 18:23-28

After staying in Antioch some time,

Paul left and traveled in orderly sequence

through the Galatian country and Phrygia,

bringing strength to all the disciples.

A Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria,

an eloquent speaker, arrived in Ephesus.

He was an authority on the Scriptures.

He had been instructed in the Way of the Lord and,

with ardent spirit, spoke and taught accurately about Jesus,

although he knew only the baptism of John.

He began to speak boldly in the synagogue;

but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him,

they took him aside

and explained to him the Way of God more accurately.

And when he wanted to cross to Achaia,

the brothers encouraged him

and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him.

After his arrival he gave great assistance

to those who had come to believe through grace.

He vigorously refuted the Jews in public,

establishing from the Scriptures that the Christ is Jesus.

Jn 16:23b-28

Jesus said to his disciples:

“Amen, amen, I say to you,

whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.

Until now you have not asked anything in my name;

ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.

“I have told you this in figures of speech.

The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures

but I will tell you clearly about the Father.

On that day you will ask in my name,

and I do not tell you that I will ask the Father for you.

For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me

and have come to believe that I came from God.

I came from the Father and have come into the world.

Now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”

Meditation: Acts 18:23-28

The brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. (Acts 18:27)

Can you imagine belonging to the early church? Your “parish” would have been a small group of believers who met in someone’s home to celebrate the Eucharist behind closed doors. Perhaps you would have seen or heard about powerful conversions and astounding miracles in other places like Philippi, Antioch, or Lyconium. Maybe you yourself experienced such a miracle, too, and shared it with the members of your own house church.

Today’s reading shows us just how much the believers in the early church felt connected to one another. Paul “traveled in orderly sequence,” bringing “strength to all the disciples” (Acts 18:23). Surely his presence would have bolstered the church communities he visited.

We also see Priscilla and Aquila reaching out to the newly converted Apollos. This married couple, who hosted Paul in Corinth and worked with him as tentmakers, realized that Apollos didn’t know the whole story about Jesus, even though he was an eloquent speaker and well educated in the Hebrew scriptures. They “took him aside” to complete his instruction, and he became an important part of their common mission to spread the good news.

Though the church has changed in many ways over the centuries, we still need one another. Maybe, like Priscilla and Aquila, we need to help someone understand their faith better. Who knows? That very person may one day be the one sharing Christ with others—just as Apollos did! Or perhaps, like Paul, we need to strengthen a brother or sister in Christ. We may, for example, need to encourage our spouse to develop a daily prayer time—and then give him or her the time and space to do so. Or we could offer to watch a friend’s children while she attends a retreat.

These may seem like small actions, but they can make a great difference in another person’s life. The church flourishes when its members are committed to one another. Just as Apollos became a more effective disciple because of his encounter with Priscilla and Aquila, so we will all benefit when we turn to one another for strength, encouragement, wisdom, and love.

“Lord, help me to see how much I need my brothers and sisters, and how much they need me. Give me a generous heart to meet those needs.”

14 May 2010 Friday, Feast of Saint Matthias, Apostle

Reading 1
Acts 1:15-17, 20-26

Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers and sisters

(there was a group of about one hundred and twenty persons

in the one place).

He said, “My brothers and sisters,

the Scripture had to be fulfilled

which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand

through the mouth of David, concerning Judas,

who was the guide for those who arrested Jesus.

Judas was numbered among us

and was allotted a share in this ministry.

For it is written in the Book of Psalms:

Let his encampment become desolate,

and may no one dwell in it.


May another take his office.

Therefore, it is necessary that one of the men

who accompanied us the whole time

the Lord Jesus came and went among us,

beginning from the baptism of John

until the day on which he was taken up from us,

become with us a witness to his resurrection.”

So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas,

who was also known as Justus, and Matthias.

Then they prayed,

“You, Lord, who know the hearts of all,

show which one of these two you have chosen

to take the place in this apostolic ministry

from which Judas turned away to go to his own place.”

Then they gave lots to them, and the lot fell upon Matthias,

and he was counted with the Eleven Apostles.

Jn 15:9-17

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.

This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.

No one has greater love than this,

to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

You are my friends if you do what I command you.

I no longer call you slaves,

because a slave does not know what his master is doing.

I have called you friends,

because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.

It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you

and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain,

so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.

This I command you: love one another.”

Meditation: Acts 1:15-17,20-26

St. Matthias

You, Lord, who know the hearts of all. (Acts 1:24)

Have you ever anguished over an important decision, wanting to follow God but unsure just how to know if you’re making the right choice? Decision-making can be especially challenging when several doors are open before us—and many of them seem good. How much easier it would be if God would simply text us a message or send us an e-mail telling us exactly what to do!

The disciples were faced with just such a difficult decision regarding which of two well-qualified candidates should fill Judas’ spot as the twelfth member of their group. To our modern minds, drawing lots—the method they decided upon—may seem disconcerting, illogical, unsound, or downright weird. Why leave such a crucial matter seemingly up to the luck of the draw?

The disciples recognized that the matter transcended their natural wisdom. They didn’t know the mind of God, so they prayed to the one “who knows the hearts of all” (Acts 1:24). They reasoned that God had already made the choice, and drawing lots would make it clear. Biblical scholar Maureen Duffy explained it this way: “They choose not to choose—or exclude. According to the practice of the time, they cast lots, for an outcome unbiased by human ignorance. Perhaps, in secular language, they leave the decision to chance. In their language of faith, they leave it to God.”

In our own lives, many situations are clear-cut with straightforward decisions. But what about those times when we’re trying to choose between things that seem equally appealing, equally advantageous—or equally risky?

First, ask yourself: “Does my choice conform to God’s law? Will it bring me closer to Christ?” Then, rather than trying to control things yourself, seek the Lord for guidance and some sign of direction or confirmation. Give God a chance to show his hand! Even if you make a wrong decision, he’ll find a way to bring good out of it. All God asks is that you try your best. So like the apostles, take a chance, and leave the rest up to the Lord. Isn’t that a really faith-filled way to act?

“Father, I trust you! ‘Make known to me your ways, Lord; teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my savior’ (Psalm 25:4-5).”

13 May 2010

13 May 2010, Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter

Reading 1
Acts 18:1-8

Paul left Athens and went to Corinth.
There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus,
who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla
because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome.
He went to visit them and, because he practiced the same trade,
stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade.
Every sabbath, he entered into discussions in the synagogue,
attempting to convince both Jews and Greeks.

When Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia,
Paul began to occupy himself totally with preaching the word,
testifying to the Jews that the Christ was Jesus.
When they opposed him and reviled him,
he shook out his garments and said to them,
“Your blood be on your heads!
I am clear of responsibility.
From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”
So he left there and went to a house
belonging to a man named Titus Justus, a worshiper of God;
his house was next to a synagogue.
Crispus, the synagogue official, came to believe in the Lord
along with his entire household, and many of the Corinthians
who heard believed and were baptized.

Jn 16:16-20

Jesus said to his disciples:
“A little while and you will no longer see me,
and again a little while later and you will see me.”
So some of his disciples said to one another,
“What does this mean that he is saying to us,
‘A little while and you will not see me,
and again a little while and you will see me,’
and ‘Because I am going to the Father’?”
So they said, “What is this ‘little while’ of which he speaks?
We do not know what he means.”
Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them,
“Are you discussing with one another what I said,
‘A little while and you will not see me,
and again a little while and you will see me’?
Amen, amen, I say to you,
you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices;
you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.”

Meditation: John 16:16-20

A little while and you will no longer see me. (John 16:16)

In each of our lives, there are people we miss terribly. Some have moved away, some have died, and some have just lost touch with us. In each case, losing their friendship can be painful. So we do what we can to recall them: We look at their pictures, we read their letters, and we try to remember all the great times we had with them. But there’s no substitute for actually being with them. At times we would give anything to have them beside us once again.

The apostles would feel a similar pain when Jesus was taken away from them. After seeing him die on the cross, they would weep and mourn, just as Jesus prophesied (John 16:20). But they would have much more than memories to get them by. They would be eyewitnesses to his resurrection! Their joy would indeed be complete once they had seen him risen from the dead and understood their mission to proclaim his gospel to the ends of the earth!

As the spiritual descendants of the apostles, we can have the same joy they did. But we’re also human, and we can’t hide from reality. When some great misfortune occurs, Jesus can seem very distant, almost as distant as he did to the apostles after the crucifixion. The Lord has promised us he will return again, but what about the challenges and trials we face right now? And what about the evil that is in the world? All these things can cause us to wonder whether God has abandoned us.

The answer is, he’s never left us! Jesus is not only with us, he’s within us, by the power of his Holy Spirit. If you are struggling right now, call on the Spirit for whatever you need: healing, peace, wisdom, even joy! Cast your burdens on the Lord, and remember the words of St. Paul: “Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

“Lord, may I see your face, especially in the midst of my trials. When the world tells me to give up, may I hear your voice speaking words of hope and encouragement!”

12 May 2010

12 May 2010, Wednesday of the Sixth Week of Easter

Reading 1
Acts 17:15, 22—18:1

After Paul’s escorts had taken him to Athens,

they came away with instructions for Silas and Timothy

to join him as soon as possible.

Then Paul stood up at the Areopagus and said:

“You Athenians, I see that in every respect

you are very religious.

For as I walked around looking carefully at your shrines,

I even discovered an altar inscribed, ‘To an Unknown God.’

What therefore you unknowingly worship, I proclaim to you.

The God who made the world and all that is in it,

the Lord of heaven and earth,

does not dwell in sanctuaries made by human hands,

nor is he served by human hands because he needs anything.

Rather it is he who gives to everyone life and breath and everything.

He made from one the whole human race

to dwell on the entire surface of the earth,

and he fixed the ordered seasons and the boundaries of their regions,

so that people might seek God,

even perhaps grope for him and find him,

though indeed he is not far from any one of us.

For ‘In him we live and move and have our being,’

as even some of your poets have said,

‘For we too are his offspring.’

Since therefore we are the offspring of God,

we ought not to think that the divinity is like an image

fashioned from gold, silver, or stone by human art and imagination.

God has overlooked the times of ignorance,

but now he demands that all people everywhere repent

because he has established a day on which he will ‘judge the world

with justice’ through a man he has appointed,

and he has provided confirmation for all

by raising him from the dead.”

When they heard about resurrection of the dead,

some began to scoff, but others said,

“We should like to hear you on this some other time.”

And so Paul left them.

But some did join him, and became believers.

Among them were Dionysius,

a member of the Court of the Areopagus,

a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

After this he left Athens and went to Corinth.

Jn 16:12-15

Jesus said to his disciples:

“I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.

But when he comes, the Spirit of truth,

he will guide you to all truth.

He will not speak on his own,

but he will speak what he hears,

and will declare to you the things that are coming.

He will glorify me,

because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.

Everything that the Father has is mine;

for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine

and declare it to you.”

Meditation: John 16:12-15

I have much more to tell you. (John 16:12)

Don’t you sometimes wish that Jesus had just said all those things he promised that the Holy Spirit would tell us after he was gone? We have all experienced the frustration of seeking the Lord’s guidance in a situation but coming out of our prayer unsure of whether that “voice” in our mind was God or our own imagination. If only the Spirit would talk to us as clearly as Jesus spoke with his disciples! It would be so much easier if he would just use plain words that we could never second guess!

So why did Jesus think it was better that he return to the Father? Because then he could send the Holy Spirit to sanctify us as well as lead us. It’s not always about getting the right answer, after all. It’s about growing closer to the Lord and becoming more like him. We should remember that having Jesus right there with them didn’t prevent the disciples from fearing for their lives and running away when Jesus was arrested.

Clearly, being close to Jesus physically does not guarantee being close to him spiritually. So just how can we get closer to Jesus? Well, one way is to be as open as we can when we receive the Eucharist. It’s in those quiet moments just after we receive his body and blood that we can open our hearts the widest and receive the wisdom Jesus wants to give us.

Every time you go to Mass, go with expectation. Ask Jesus to send his Holy Spirit to you to teach you everything he wants you to know. Decide that you won’t go home until you have received a blessing from the Lord—whether it be a new insight, a sense of direction, or just a deeper touch of his love and presence.

Don’t let these moments of union with God slip away. You may not come out with a document dictated by the Spirit that spells out your destiny. But you will be closer to the Lord—and that’s your highest, greatest calling!

“Lord, speak living words to me this day—words that will lodge deep within me and help direct my thoughts, words, and actions. By the power of your Spirit, lead me more deeply into your truth.”