30 June 2010

30 June 2010, Wednesday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
Am 5:14-15, 21-24

Seek good and not evil,

that you may live;

Then truly will the LORD, the God of hosts,

be with you as you claim!

Hate evil and love good,

and let justice prevail at the gate;

Then it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts,

will have pity on the remnant of Joseph.

I hate, I spurn your feasts, says the LORD,

I take no pleasure in your solemnities;

Your cereal offerings I will not accept,

nor consider your stall-fed peace offerings.

Away with your noisy songs!

I will not listen to the melodies of your harps.

But if you would offer me burnt offerings,

then let justice surge like water,

and goodness like an unfailing stream.

Mt 8:28-34

When Jesus came to the territory of the Gadarenes,

two demoniacs who were coming from the tombs met him.

They were so savage that no one could travel by that road.

They cried out, “What have you to do with us, Son of God?

Have you come here to torment us before the appointed time?”

Some distance away a herd of many swine was feeding.

The demons pleaded with him,

“If you drive us out, send us into the herd of swine.”

And he said to them, “Go then!”

They came out and entered the swine,

and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea

where they drowned.

The swineherds ran away,

and when they came to the town they reported everything,

including what had happened to the demoniacs.

Thereupon the whole town came out to meet Jesus,

and when they saw him they begged him to leave their district.

Meditation: Matthew 8:28-34

They were so savage that no one could travel by that road. (Matthew 8:28)

Can you imagine what it must have been like to live in the area of the Gadarenes while these two demoniacs were on the loose? Perhaps some townsfolk had already been molested by them, and word had gotten out. “Stay away from that area! There are a couple of violent lunatics just waiting to pounce!” Imagine how their presence must have interrupted the flow of trade, made family visits difficult, and given people pause before going to visit the tombs of their beloved relatives.

But with just one word from Jesus, the two men were delivered. Their demonic tormentors were cast out of them, and their violent rampage came to an end. Not only were they set free but everyone around them was able to come and go once again. Life returned to normal—even better than normal!

Let’s take this image and apply it to the way our minds work. Think about what happens when someone says something hurtful to you or when someone does something that disappoints you greatly. If you don’t turn to the Lord for help, the thoughts that arise from this situation could fester inside and become an occasion for the devil to harass you with anger, resentment, guilt, or fear. The memory of the hurt could become so strong that you find it hard to think of anything else. It’s as if all other “travelers” have been held hostage to these thoughts.

It’s in these situations that we can ask Jesus to break the thoughts just as he set these demoniacs free. Jesus can break the cycle of recrimination and put our minds at ease. He can help us calm our minds and bring peace where there was torment. He can show us the way to forgiveness. He can even suggest an action step or two that we can take to set ourselves free.

We don’t have to be caught up in past hurts! We don’t have to be subject to them! Jesus has the power to teach us how to think with him so that we are no longer tossed around by our emotions. All we have to do is cry out to him, and he will set us free.

“Lord, please set me free from my wounded memories. I want nothing to block the path that leads to you!”

29 June 2010

29 June 2010, Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles

Reading 1
Acts 12:1-11

In those days, King Herod laid hands upon some members of the Church to harm them.

He had James, the brother of John, killed by the sword,

and when he saw that this was pleasing to the Jews

he proceeded to arrest Peter also.

–It was the feast of Unleavened Bread.–

He had him taken into custody and put in prison

under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each.

He intended to bring him before the people after Passover.

Peter thus was being kept in prison,

but prayer by the Church was fervently being made

to God on his behalf.

On the very night before Herod was to bring him to trial,

Peter, secured by double chains,

was sleeping between two soldiers,

while outside the door guards kept watch on the prison.

Suddenly the angel of the Lord stood by him

and a light shone in the cell.

He tapped Peter on the side and awakened him, saying,

“Get up quickly.”

The chains fell from his wrists.

The angel said to him, “Put on your belt and your sandals.”

He did so.

Then he said to him, “Put on your cloak and follow me.”

So he followed him out,

not realizing that what was happening through the angel was real;

he thought he was seeing a vision.

They passed the first guard, then the second,

and came to the iron gate leading out to the city,

which opened for them by itself.

They emerged and made their way down an alley,

and suddenly the angel left him.

Then Peter recovered his senses and said,

“Now I know for certain

that the Lord sent his angel

and rescued me from the hand of Herod

and from all that the Jewish people had been expecting.”

Reading 2
2 Tm 4:6-8, 17-18

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.

Mt 16:13-19

When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi

he asked his disciples,

“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,

still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

Simon Peter said in reply,

“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.

For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.

And so I say to you, you are Peter,

and upon this rock I will build my Church,

and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.

I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.

Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;

and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Meditation: Matthew 16:13-19
Sts. Peter and Paul

I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 16:19)

If Jesus had recruited his apostles the way major corporations recruit their employees, would Peter and Paul have gotten the job?

It’s true that Simon Peter had the qualities of a natural leader. He was a man of action, self-confident and enthusiastic, daring and outgoing. On the other hand, he could be impulsive, imprudent, and erratic. Today’s Gospel is one of Peter’s shining moments: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God,” he proclaims (Matthew 16:16). But read on! Only six verses later, he expresses such opposition to God’s plans that Jesus calls him not “a rock” but “an obstacle” and even “Satan” (16:22-23).

And was Saul any more promising when the risen Lord appeared to him on the road to Damascus? The young man surely stood out for his fervor, learning, and single-minded commitment. But he was using all his talents to destroy the church, even though his former teacher, the respected Rabbi Gamaliel, had urged a wait-and-see approach (Acts 5:34-35; 22:3). But Saul was too zealous to follow such prudent advice. He was dedicated and effective, all right. But the “achievements” on Saul’s résumé fit the job description of a persecutor, not an apostle.

But Jesus never needed a personnel advisor to inform him about which workers to pick. He understood human nature. Jesus could see the capacity for heroic holiness that lies hidden—sometimes very hidden—beneath a person’s exterior strengths and weaknesses. Jesus saw that potential in Peter and Paul and he took a risk: Peter wavered and denied him. And as for Paul, who would have guessed that someone who was so unswervingly headed in one direction could do a complete turnaround? Yet in the end, both men accepted the grace of conversion and became the dedicated apostles Jesus knew they could be.

Jesus sees the potential in each of us as well. Every minute of every day, Jesus is inviting us: Come a little closer. Open yourself to my love and my grace. Let me help you become who you really are! Are we listening?

“Holy Spirit, I am a mystery to myself, but you know me inside and out. Help me to surrender and to follow you today. Lead me to become the person I was created to be.”

28 June 2010

28 June 2010, Memorial of Saint Irenaeus, bishop and martyr

Reading 1
Am 2:6-10, 13-16

Thus says the LORD:

For three crimes of Israel, and for four,

I will not revoke my word;

Because they sell the just man for silver,

and the poor man for a pair of sandals.

They trample the heads of the weak

into the dust of the earth,

and force the lowly out of the way.

Son and father go to the same prostitute,

profaning my holy name.

Upon garments taken in pledge

they recline beside any altar;

And the wine of those who have been fined

they drink in the house of their god.

Yet it was I who destroyed the Amorites before them,

who were as tall as the cedars,

and as strong as the oak trees.

I destroyed their fruit above,

and their roots beneath.

It was I who brought you up from the land of Egypt,

and who led you through the desert for forty years,

to occupy the land of the Amorites.

Beware, I will crush you into the ground

as a wagon crushes when laden with sheaves.

Flight shall perish from the swift,

and the strong man shall not retain his strength;

The warrior shall not save his life,

nor the bowman stand his ground;

The swift of foot shall not escape,

nor the horseman save his life.

And the most stouthearted of warriors

shall flee naked on that day, says the LORD.

Mt 8:18-22

When Jesus saw a crowd around him,

he gave orders to cross to the other shore.

A scribe approached and said to him,

“Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”

Jesus answered him, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests,

but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.”

Another of his disciples said to him,

“Lord, let me go first and bury my father.”

But Jesus answered him, “Follow me,

and let the dead bury their dead.”

Meditation: Matthew 8:18-22

Let the dead bury their dead. (Matthew 8:22)

Jesus sure had a way of getting to the heart of the matter! When those two followers came up to him as he was preparing to cross the sea with his disciples, he spoke words that cut right through them. It can sound as if Jesus was sending them away, telling them that they weren’t good enough to follow him. But in fact, Jesus was shining a light on the shortcomings in the way they saw discipleship. He wanted them to overcome their objections so that they could be with him fully.

As harsh as his words may sound, Jesus was actually speaking with compassion and wisdom. He wanted to get them on the right track. He wasn’t looking for a qualified surrender or a halfhearted discipleship. He knew that those men would not have been content following him under their predetermined conditions. There would always be something holding them back from giving everything to him—and receiving everything he wanted to give them. He had so much more for them if they could just overcome the limits they were putting on themselves and on him!

We are not so far removed from those two believers. Jesus continues to call us to a closer and deeper discipleship. Maybe we have hesitations about what it means to follow him. Maybe we have drawn lines in the sand. But Jesus is always trying to find ways to get us to step over those lines. He sees far more clearly than we can how fear or comfort or lack of understanding can limit our expectations and our hopes. And he knows how to help us move beyond these limits.

Jesus wants us to see that there really is no limit to how far we can go with him. Even if we have tried to fence off some areas of our lives, his love will find a way to draw us out. He will make the hope of a new and deeper life with him more and more desirable until we finally give in. And when we do, we will find even more joy and contentment than we ever thought possible!

“Lord, I want more of you! Shine your light into my heart and show me where I can go further and open myself to receive your life even more fully.”

27 June 2010

27 June 2010, Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
1 Kgs 19:16b, 19-21

The LORD said to Elijah:

“You shall anoint Elisha, son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah,

as prophet to succeed you.”

Elijah set out and came upon Elisha, son of Shaphat,

as he was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen;

he was following the twelfth.

Elijah went over to him and threw his cloak over him.

Elisha left the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said,

“Please, let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,

and I will follow you.”

Elijah answered, “Go back!

Have I done anything to you?”

Elisha left him, and taking the yoke of oxen, slaughtered them;

he used the plowing equipment for fuel to boil their flesh,

and gave it to his people to eat.

Then Elisha left and followed Elijah as his attendant.

Reading 2
Gal 5:1, 13-18

Brothers and sisters:

For freedom Christ set us free;

so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.

For you were called for freedom, brothers and sisters.

But do not use this freedom

as an opportunity for the flesh;

rather, serve one another through love.

For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement,

namely, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

But if you go on biting and devouring one another,

beware that you are not consumed by one another.

I say, then: live by the Spirit

and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh.

For the flesh has desires against the Spirit,

and the Spirit against the flesh;

these are opposed to each other,

so that you may not do what you want.

But if you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Lk 9:51-62

When the days for Jesus’ being taken up were fulfilled,

he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem,

and he sent messengers ahead of him.

On the way they entered a Samaritan village

to prepare for his reception there,

but they would not welcome him

because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem.

When the disciples James and John saw this they asked,

“Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven

to consume them?”

Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village.

As they were proceeding on their journey someone said to him,

“I will follow you wherever you go.”

Jesus answered him,

“Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests,

but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.”

And to another he said, “Follow me.”

But he replied, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.”

But he answered him, “Let the dead bury their dead.

But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

And another said, “I will follow you, Lord,

but first let me say farewell to my family at home.”

To him Jesus said, “No one who sets a hand to the plow

and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Meditation: Galatians 5:1,13-18

For freedom Christ set us free. (Galatians 5:1)

What have we been set free from? And what are we free for? And even more important, how can we experience this freedom?

Jesus has set us free from selfishness. Especially with those we know best, it’s easy to get stuck in self-?centered patterns that inhibit the flow of his love. This can only lead to sniping and resentment because we feel that we are underappreciated. But Jesus can teach us to go out of our way for each other and not stand on what we think we deserve.

Jesus has set us free to love and serve each other—and to do it in new and creative ways. Think of how creative God has been in setting his people free. Who would have imagined city walls falling down with a trumpet blast or God coming to earth as a baby? Who can imagine as well the unexpected ways he can inspire us to reach out to each other?

Now look at the creativity of his servants over the years. Think of Elijah pouring water on the sacrifice to heighten the drama when God set it on fire (1 Kings 18:30-38). Imagine the man whose friends let him down through the roof or the Philippian jailer treating his prisoners to a meal (Acts 16:23-34).

Christians are still exercising creative freedom today. A group of young people have moved into a rundown neighborhood and won the trust of their neighbors by offering to do projects to help them improve their homes. Two families tore down the fence between their houses so that they could share life more easily. A family decided to help deliver Christmas food baskets rather than just donating canned goods.

These are just a few examples of the creative freedom Jesus can pour out when we move away from selfishness and seek instead to “serve one another through love” (Galatians 5:13). How free do you want to be?

“Jesus, you have set me free. Show me how to use that freedom to serve others so that they can experience you more fully.”

26 June 2010

26 June 2010, Saturday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
Lam 2:2, 10-14, 18-19

The Lord has consumed without pity

all the dwellings of Jacob;

He has torn down in his anger

the fortresses of daughter Judah;

He has brought to the ground in dishonor

her king and her princes.

On the ground in silence sit

the old men of daughter Zion;

They strew dust on their heads

and gird themselves with sackcloth;

The maidens of Jerusalem

bow their heads to the ground.

Worn out from weeping are my eyes,

within me all is in ferment;

My gall is poured out on the ground

because of the downfall of the daughter of my people,

As child and infant faint away

in the open spaces of the town.

In vain they ask their mothers,

“Where is the grain?”

As they faint away like the wounded

in the streets of the city,

And breathe their last

in their mothers’ arms.

To what can I liken or compare you,

O daughter Jerusalem?

What example can I show you for your comfort,

virgin daughter Zion?

For great as the sea is your downfall;

who can heal you?

Your prophets had for you

false and specious visions;

They did not lay bare your guilt,

to avert your fate;

They beheld for you in vision

false and misleading portents.

Cry out to the Lord;

moan, O daughter Zion!

Let your tears flow like a torrent

day and night;

Let there be no respite for you,

no repose for your eyes.

Rise up, shrill in the night,

at the beginning of every watch;

Pour out your heart like water

in the presence of the Lord;

Lift up your hands to him

for the lives of your little ones

Who faint from hunger

at the corner of every street.

Mt 8:5-17

When Jesus entered Capernaum,

a centurion approached him and appealed to him, saying,

“Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.”

He said to him, “I will come and cure him.”

The centurion said in reply,

“Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof;

only say the word and my servant will be healed.

For I too am a man subject to authority,

with soldiers subject to me.

And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes;

and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes;

and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him,

“Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith.

I say to you, many will come from the east and the west,

and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

at the banquet in the Kingdom of heaven,

but the children of the Kingdom

will be driven out into the outer darkness,

where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”

And Jesus said to the centurion,

“You may go; as you have believed, let it be done for you.”

And at that very hour his servant was healed.

Jesus entered the house of Peter,

and saw his mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever.

He touched her hand, the fever left her,

and she rose and waited on him.

When it was evening, they brought him many

who were possessed by demons,

and he drove out the spirits by a word and cured all the sick,

to fulfill what had been said by Isaiah the prophet:

He took away our infirmities and bore our diseases.

Meditation: Matthew 8:5-17

In no one in Israel have I found such faith. (Matthew 8:10)

This pagan centurion certainly had a lot of faith! He loved his servant as a son and was willing to go outside his comfort zone and ask a Jewish rabbi for help. And it was his love and his faith that moved Jesus to commend him so highly.

This man took a very bold step in coming to Jesus. He probably knew there was a good chance he could be rebuffed because he was a Gentile and a member of Rome’s occupying army. But he pushed through his doubts and inner objections, and came to a position of confidence in Jesus’ power: He trusted that Jesus only had to speak the word and his servant would be healed.

This is a good example of living, active faith. Every household, every family, every community has some need for Jesus’ healing touch, but it seems so rare that we hear of people praying with the confidence that this centurion had. Somehow, we have accepted the false premise that we should just take life as it comes—the bad with the good—and not expect that Jesus can intervene to change a difficult situation.

Nothing could be further from the truth! Jesus wants to give us good gifts. Over and over again, Jesus tells us to ask, seek, and knock. God’s ways may not always be our ways, but whether we can see it or not, he will act. His response to our prayers may be to use a challenging situation to bring about a healing of relationships or even a dramatic conversion. It may move us to be more compassionate or generous toward others who are sick.

This question of why we don’t always see the healing we ask for is a mystery we will never fully understand. But as mysterious as it can be, we should never let it keep us from praying for his intervention, whether it be spiritual, emotional, or even physical. We have a good and generous God, and we can be sure that he will act!

“Jesus, I ask for a miracle today. I trust that you want to do great things because you love us and want only the best for us.”

25 June 2010

25 June 2010, Friday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
2 Kgs 25:1-12

In the tenth month of the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign,

on the tenth day of the month,

Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and his whole army

advanced against Jerusalem, encamped around it,

and built siege walls on every side.

The siege of the city continued until the eleventh year of Zedekiah.

On the ninth day of the fourth month,

when famine had gripped the city,

and the people had no more bread,

the city walls were breached.

Then the king and all the soldiers left the city by night

through the gate between the two walls

that was near the king’s garden.

Since the Chaldeans had the city surrounded,

they went in the direction of the Arabah.

But the Chaldean army pursued the king

and overtook him in the desert near Jericho,

abandoned by his whole army.

The king was therefore arrested and brought to Riblah

to the king of Babylon, who pronounced sentence on him.

He had Zedekiah’s sons slain before his eyes.

Then he blinded Zedekiah, bound him with fetters,

and had him brought to Babylon.

On the seventh day of the fifth month

(this was in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar,

king of Babylon),

Nebuzaradan, captain of the bodyguard,

came to Jerusalem as the representative

of the king of Babylon.

He burned the house of the LORD,

the palace of the king, and all the houses of Jerusalem;

every large building was destroyed by fire.

Then the Chaldean troops who were with the captain of the guard

tore down the walls that surrounded Jerusalem.

Then Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard,

led into exile the last of the people remaining in the city,

and those who had deserted to the king of Babylon,

and the last of the artisans.

But some of the country’s poor, Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard,

left behind as vinedressers and farmers.

Mt 8:1-4

When Jesus came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him.

And then a leper approached, did him homage, and said,

“Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.”

He stretched out his hand, touched him, and said,

“I will do it. Be made clean.”

His leprosy was cleansed immediately.

Then Jesus said to him, “See that you tell no one,

but go show yourself to the priest,

and offer the gift that Moses prescribed;

that will be proof for them.”

Meditation: Matthew 8:1-4

I will do it. Be made clean. (Matthew 8:3)

The leper whom Jesus healed showed great faith. He was convinced that Jesus could help him if he wanted to. But knowing that wasn’t enough; he had to do something about it as well. Despite his disfigurement and illness, he made his way through the crowd and walked up to Jesus. It took all the courage he had to declare: “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean” (Matthew 8:2). Jesus rewarded his confidence: In an instant, his leprosy was gone. But that wasn’t the end of the story.

After healing him, Jesus asked the leper to show himself to the priest. That was another test of faith, for this man had no reason to expect that a priest would believe him. In Israel, leprosy was seen as more than a disease. It was a punishment from God for sin, either in the leper’s life or his family’s. The priest might scoff at him, saying that Jesus was a heretic and couldn’t heal anyone. He might question the leper’s faithfulness to Judaism for even listening to Jesus. But how could he keep it a secret? Jesus had healed him!

Are you like this leper? Even if you haven’t been healed of a terrible disease, you have received God’s overflowing grace. You have entered into a new life in Christ, and he is asking you to let people know about it. Jesus has commissioned all of us to “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).

Every time you celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation, you relive this gospel story. You enter the confessional like the leper, afflicted with sin but turning to Jesus for help and healing. And every time you confess your sins, he responds by cleansing you and lifting you up. Now it’s up to you to “go show yourself”—through your witness of humility, joy, and peace—to the people around you. Don’t spend a lot of time talking about it, either. Just let them see what Jesus has done for you, and they will be moved to seek out the Lord for themselves!

“Lord, thank you for cleansing me of my sin—and for promising to cleanse me every time I confess to you. Teach me, Father, how to share your love with the people around me so that they too can know your healing, merciful presence.”

24 June 2010

24 June 2010, Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

Reading 1
Is 49:1-6

Hear me, O coastlands,

listen, O distant peoples.

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.

Though I thought I had toiled in vain,

and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength,

yet my reward is with the LORD,

my recompense is with my God.

For now the LORD has spoken

who formed me as his servant from the womb,

that Jacob may be brought back to him

and Israel gathered to him;

and I am made glorious in the sight of the LORD,

and my God is now my strength!

It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant,

to raise up the tribes of Jacob,

and restore the survivors of Israel;

I will make you a light to the nations,

that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.

Reading 2
Acts 13:22-26

In those days, Paul said:

“God raised up David as king;

of him God testified,

I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart;

he will carry out my every wish.

From this man’s descendants God, according to his promise,

has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus.

John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance

to all the people of Israel;

and as John was completing his course, he would say,

‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he.

Behold, one is coming after me;

I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.’

“My brothers, sons of the family of Abraham,

and those others among you who are God-fearing,

to us this word of salvation has been sent.”

Lk 1:57-66, 80

When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child

she gave birth to a son.

Her neighbors and relatives heard

that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her,

and they rejoiced with her.

When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child,

they were going to call him Zechariah after his father,

but his mother said in reply,

“No. He will be called John.”

But they answered her,

“There is no one among your relatives who has this name.”

So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called.

He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,”

and all were amazed.

Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed,

and he spoke blessing God.

Then fear came upon all their neighbors,

and all these matters were discussed

throughout the hill country of Judea.

All who heard these things took them to heart, saying,

“What, then, will this child be?”

For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.

The child grew and became strong in spirit,

and he was in the desert until the day

of his manifestation to Israel.

Meditation: Acts 13:22-26

The Birth of John the Baptist

John heralded his coming. (Acts 13:24)

Today, we honor John the Baptist, the “hinge prophet” of God’s plan of salvation. His birth heralded both the culmination of the Old Testament era and the beginning of the New Testament, the age of the church. It is as if with the coming of John, the whole of human history turned a corner from promise to fulfillment.

God had spoken in many different ways throughout the Old Testament. He gave us the Law and the prophets. He gave signs like the burning bush and the fire that consumed Elijah’s sacrifice. He spoke through angels, in visions, and even through barnyard animals. In each instance, it was his voice speaking, and it bore marvelous fruit. For centuries, God let his voice be heard in these many, glorious, and often unexpected ways. Finally, John was God’s voice, too—the voice of a roughly-clad seer crying out in the desert: “Make straight the way of the Lord” (John 1:23).

As the hinge between the old and the new, John was the last voice to be heard before Jesus appeared on the scene. The time of preparation was over. Now, finally, had come the time of fulfillment!

St. Augustine once said that while John the Baptist was born of an “aged, barren woman,” Jesus was born of “a young virgin.” John’s birth to the elderly Elizabeth shows us how deeply God honors all the heroes and heroines of the Old Testament. It also shows us that, as beautiful and honorable as the Old Testament era was, the coming of Christ and the age of the church are even more marvelous.

Just as the New Testament fulfilled the Old Testament, John the Baptist’s witness tells us that God wants to bring every aspect of our lives to fulfillment in Christ. We all have so many gifts and talents, and our Father wants to fill all of them with his divine grace and blessing. He wants to take all that is good and honorable in us and teach us how to use it for his glory and his kingdom.

“Father, thank you for the birth of John, the hinge between the old and the new. Help me to find you today, as you lead me into a new life of grace and favor.”

23 June 2010

23 June 2010, Wednesday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
2 Kgs 22:8-13; 23:1-3

The high priest Hilkiah informed the scribe Shaphan,

“I have found the book of the law in the temple of the LORD.”

Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, who read it.

Then the scribe Shaphan went to the king and reported,

“Your servants have smelted down the metals available in the temple

and have consigned them to the master workmen

in the temple of the LORD.”

The scribe Shaphan also informed the king

that the priest Hilkiah had given him a book,

and then read it aloud to the king.

When the king heard the contents of the book of the law,

he tore his garments and issued this command to Hilkiah the priest,

Ahikam, son of Shaphan,

Achbor, son of Micaiah, the scribe Shaphan,

and the king’s servant Asaiah:

“Go, consult the LORD for me, for the people, for all Judah,

about the stipulations of this book that has been found,

for the anger of the LORD has been set furiously ablaze against us,

because our fathers did not obey the stipulations of this book,

nor fulfill our written obligations.”

The king then had all the elders of Judah

and of Jerusalem summoned together before him.

The king went up to the temple of the LORD with all the men of Judah

and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem:

priests, prophets, and all the people, small and great.

He had the entire contents of the book of the covenant

that had been found in the temple of the LORD, read out to them.

Standing by the column, the king made a covenant before the LORD

that they would follow him

and observe his ordinances, statutes and decrees

with their whole hearts and souls,

thus reviving the terms of the covenant

which were written in this book.

And all the people stood as participants in the covenant.

Mt 7:15-20

Jesus said to his disciples:

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing,

but underneath are ravenous wolves.

By their fruits you will know them.

Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?

Just so, every good tree bears good fruit,

and a rotten tree bears bad fruit.

A good tree cannot bear bad fruit,

nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit.

Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down

and thrown into the fire.

So by their fruits you will know them.”

Meditation: Matthew 7:15-20

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves. (Matthew 7:15)

False prophets? Today? Let’s take a look at how the Bible describes a false prophet. Moses warned the people against a “prophet or a dreamer” who tries to lure them away from the God of Israel—even with miraculous signs and wonders (Deuteronomy 13:1-4). It’s not often that we will meet someone who fits that description exactly. But at the same time, we do face a daily torrent of ideas, information, and philosophies in this world that serve to distract us from the call to love the Lord with all our hearts.

Think of the way that materialism and consumerism can overpower all other considerations—especially when these philosophies make hollow promises of personal happiness. We can very easily end up spending all our time serving only our leisure, our entertainment, and our ambitions. By contrast, Jesus—the true prophet of God—tells us that true happiness is found in being poor in spirit, showing mercy, and striving for purity of heart.

While the contrast between these two “prophetic” voices seems obvious, in reality, the false voices can be very subtle. Work, recreation, downloading, uploading, and updating can all vie for our attention, and it can be difficult to hear the still, small voice of the Lord. We can lose track of the state of our hearts and find ourselves lost in a spiritual haze—and not even know how we got there!

It’s only as we spend time every day cultivating our relationship with God that we can become adept at discerning his voice from the many other voices in the world. But it is worth the effort. Why? Because the Holy Spirit can give us the right perspective. He can alert us when we have listened to these other voices too much and allowed them to drown out the voice of the Lord.

So be sure to spend time with the Lord every day. Let him open your eyes to his beauty and perfection. As you do, you will find yourself fulfilled in ways the world cannot even imagine. Nothing can even come close to the joy and peace that come from knowing God!

“Father, I want to see through your eyes today. Give me a discerning spirit so I can recognize your voice and obey your word.”

22 June 2010

22 June 2010, Tuesday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
2 Kgs 19:9b-11, 14-21, 31-35a, 36

Sennacherib, king of Assyria, sent envoys to Hezekiah

with this message:

“Thus shall you say to Hezekiah, king of Judah:

‘Do not let your God on whom you rely deceive you

by saying that Jerusalem will not be handed over

to the king of Assyria.

You have heard what the kings of Assyria have done

to all other countries: they doomed them!

Will you, then, be saved?’”

Hezekiah took the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it;

then he went up to the temple of the LORD,

and spreading it out before him,

he prayed in the LORD’s presence:

“O LORD, God of Israel, enthroned upon the cherubim!

You alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth.

You have made the heavens and the earth.

Incline your ear, O LORD, and listen!

Open your eyes, O LORD, and see!

Hear the words of Sennacherib which he sent to taunt the living God.

Truly, O LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations

and their lands, and cast their gods into the fire;

they destroyed them because they were not gods,

but the work of human hands, wood and stone.

Therefore, O LORD, our God, save us from the power of this man,

that all the kingdoms of the earth may know

that you alone, O LORD, are God.”

Then Isaiah, son of Amoz, sent this message to Hezekiah:

“Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel,

in answer to your prayer for help against Sennacherib, king of Assyria:

I have listened!

This is the word the LORD has spoken concerning him:

“‘She despises you, laughs you to scorn,

the virgin daughter Zion!

Behind you she wags her head,

daughter Jerusalem.

“‘For out of Jerusalem shall come a remnant,

and from Mount Zion, survivors.

The zeal of the LORD of hosts shall do this.’

“Therefore, thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria:

‘He shall not reach this city, nor shoot an arrow at it,

nor come before it with a shield,

nor cast up siege-works against it.

He shall return by the same way he came,

without entering the city, says the LORD.

I will shield and save this city for my own sake,

and for the sake of my servant David.’”

That night the angel of the LORD went forth and struck down

one hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp.

So Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, broke camp,

and went back home to Nineveh.

Mt 7:6, 12-14

Jesus said to his disciples:

“Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine,

lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces.

“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.

This is the Law and the Prophets.

“Enter through the narrow gate;

for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction,

and those who enter through it are many.

How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life.

And those who find it are few.”

Meditation: Matthew 7:6,12-14

How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few. (Matthew 7:14)

Let’s face it. Jesus never promised that the Christian life would be easy. He never said we’d have a problem-free existence if we chose to follow him through that narrow gate. And we don’t! Every day we encounter temptations of all kinds: choices to love or to hate our neighbor, to help someone out or to pass them by, to obey God’s commands or to ignore them, to be instruments of peace and reconciliation or to promote division and separation. Some of us even face outright persecution because we have chosen the “narrow way” of Christ.

What should we do? How should we think about Jesus and the life he has given to us? Is it really worth it? If we were to ask this question of all the generations of Christians who have come before us, they would respond with a loud and grateful “Yes!” Many of them have walked the hard road and persisted through sufferings far greater than our own.

Why so great a response? Because they knew that Jesus was walking with them. This one fact makes all the difference between hopeless frustration and comfort, between defeat and victory.

Do you know that at every step you take, you are walking with Jesus? Can you believe that the Son of God has paved the way for you and gives you everything you need to follow him? As you walk the road that God has laid out for you, your life can be filled with meaning and purpose—if only because you are becoming an ever more powerful ambassador of Jesus and vessel of the Holy Spirit! Try living without Jesus and see if you have a greater sense of dignity and value. It doesn’t work, does it?

Jesus has promised that he will never leave you. Never! Even if you mess up terribly, he will stick with you. His mercy will cover you, and his strength will empower you. That’s how much he loves you!

“Thank you, Jesus, for promising to be with me to the end of time. Thank you for laying down your life for me. Help me to be faithful to you today, as you are faithful to me.”

21 June 2010

21 June 2010, Memorial of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, religious

Reading 1
2 Kgs 17:5-8, 13-15a, 18

Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, occupied the whole land

and attacked Samaria, which he besieged for three years.

In the ninth year of Hoshea, king of Israel

the king of Assyria took Samaria,

and deported the children of Israel to Assyria,

setting them in Halah, at the Habor, a river of Gozan,

and the cities of the Medes.

This came about because the children of Israel sinned against the LORD,

their God, who had brought them up from the land of Egypt,

from under the domination of Pharaoh, king of Egypt,

and because they venerated other gods.

They followed the rites of the nations

whom the Lord had cleared out of the way of the children of Israel

and the kings of Israel whom they set up.

And though the LORD warned Israel and Judah

by every prophet and seer,

“Give up your evil ways and keep my commandments and statutes,

in accordance with the entire law which I enjoined on your fathers

and which I sent you by my servants the prophets,”

they did not listen, but were as stiff-necked as their fathers,

who had not believed in the LORD, their God.

They rejected his statutes,

the covenant which he had made with their fathers,

and the warnings which he had given them, till,

in his great anger against Israel,

the LORD put them away out of his sight.

Only the tribe of Judah was left.

Mt 7:1-5

Jesus said to his disciples:

“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.”

Meditation: Matthew 7:1-5

Stop judging, that you may not be judged. (Matthew 7:1)

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to pinpoint in someone else the same sins that you are prone to? If we tend to talk too much, we get impatient when someone won’t let us get a word in edgewise. If overeating is a temptation, we notice when a friend puts on extra pounds or accepts a second helping. If we tend toward laziness, we quickly fault a family member who doesn’t seem to be doing his share of the work.

That’s why today’s Gospel reading is so important. When we are tempted to criticize or judge someone else, Jesus invites us to shine the same light on ourselves. This is not so that we will condemn ourselves but so that we will grow in charity. After all, we should have compassion on people who experience the same weaknesses that we do. Focusing on our own failings can also show us where we need to repent. We all need to call on God’s power to help us change.

It’s important to learn how to see ourselves and each other in the light of God’s deep love. This person isn’t—and you are not—a gossip, a glutton, or a slacker. This person is—and you are—a beloved child of God, called into his family, graced and greatly gifted.

Often, the same traits that lead us to sin can be transformed into tools to build God’s kingdom. You may be stubborn in holding onto your own will—or you can be determined to stick to what God has called you to do. You can be passive when action is called for—or you can be trusting in God’s power, waiting to see how he will work out things that look unredeemable to you.

The key is to let God’s love penetrate your mind each day so that his thoughts flow into your mind and his love flows into your heart. If you hold onto him, he can purify you and prepare you for his service. If you focus on him instead of other people’s shortcomings, you can become a powerful instrument in his hands.

“Lord, you created me to love you as no one else can. You know me inside and out. Thank you for loving me and calling me to follow you.”

20 June 2010

20 June 2010, Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
Zec 12:10-11; 13:1

Thus says the LORD:

I will pour out on the house of David

and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem

a spirit of grace and petition;

and they shall look on him whom they have pierced,

and they shall mourn for him as one mourns for an only son,

and they shall grieve over him as one grieves over a firstborn.

On that day the mourning in Jerusalem shall be as great

as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the plain of Megiddo.

On that day there shall be open to the house of David

and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem,

a fountain to purify from sin and uncleanness.

Reading 2
Gal 3:26-29

Brothers and sisters:

Through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus.

For all of you who were baptized into Christ

have clothed yourselves with Christ.

There is neither Jew nor Greek,

there is neither slave nor free person,

there is not male and female;

for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

And if you belong to Christ,

then you are Abraham’s descendant,

heirs according to the promise.

Lk 9:18-24

Once when Jesus was praying in solitude,

and the disciples were with him,

he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”

They said in reply, “John the Baptist;

others, Elijah;

still others, ‘One of the ancient prophets has arisen.’”

Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

Peter said in reply, “The Christ of God.”

He rebuked them

and directed them not to tell this to anyone.

He said, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly

and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,

and be killed and on the third day be raised.”

Then he said to all,

“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself

and take up his cross daily and follow me.

For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,

but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”

Meditation: Luke 9:18-24

Who do the crowds say that I am? (Luke 9:18)

“The results are in,” the apostles told Jesus. “The most recent poll shows that many see you as John the Baptist. You’re firm on the issues, but you are a real people person. You show love, but you aren’t afraid to confront the status quo. On the other hand, you’re a bit heavy-handed on repentance issues, and some people don’t like that. Another sector of people sees you as the prophet Elijah. They see in you a possible return to the glory days, when our people lived in peace and free from oppression.”

Then Jesus looked at his staff and asked, “What about you?” Peter smiled broadly and said: “You are the Messiah of God.”

If the apostles were to take a similar poll today, the answers would be very different. A percentage would say that Jesus was a great and inspiring man. Others would say: “I am spiritual; I don’t belong to any one religion.” And still others would say that Jesus was a prophet of social justice. And, of course, some would echo Peter and say that he really is the Messiah, the Son of God.

So who is Jesus? This is probably the most important question we could ever answer. Maybe he is a new John the Baptist, teaching us about repentance, or a new Elijah, bringing liberation to the poor and oppressed. Perhaps he is a great prophet, comforting us and walking with us in dark times.

Yes, Jesus is all of these—and he is so much more. He is our Savior. He died for our sins, and he was raised up three days later. He saved us from eternal death. He now reigns in glory and he wants us to share in his glory every day. As today’s reading implies, if we lose ourselves in Jesus, that is, if we surrender to him, we will be able to share his life and share in his glory. We will be just like Peter, smiling because we know who Jesus is.

“Jesus, show me your glory. I want to know you more!”


Questions for Individual Reflection or Group Discussion

(Zechariah 12:10-11; 13:1; Psalm 63:2-6,8-9; Galatians 3:26-29; Luke 9:18-24)

1. In the first reading, God says that he will pour out “a spirit of grace and petition.” What do you think this means? How important is it to ask God for “a spirit of grace and petition” during your times of prayer and even throughout the day? Experiment with doing this and see what happens.

2. The first reading also promises a “fountain to purify from sin and uncleanness.” How important is the Sacrament of Reconciliation to you? What can you do to make your reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation more frequent and fruitful?

3. The responsorial psalm speaks of someone who is continually seeking, thirsting for, gazing at, glorifying, blessing, and calling upon the Lord. In what way does (or doesn’t) this describe your relationship with the Lord? How important to you is having a deeper relationship with Christ? What steps can you take to deepen this relationship?

4. The second reading speaks of our unity in Christ. In Christ all our differences disappear. After prayerful consideration about your attitude towards certain people, classes, races, and nationalities are there any that God may be asking you to change? What steps can you take to do so?

5. In the Gospel, Christ tells us “to deny” ourselves, take up our cross, and follow him. What do you think this means? What are some areas of your life that you struggle to “deny yourself?” Take some time this week to pray that you, all members of your family, and all members of the parish would experience more deeply God’s unconditional love. Pray also that you would have the grace and strength to overcome weaknesses that keep you from loving God and others in the ways you know God is asking.

6. In the meditation, we hear these words: “So who is Jesus? This is probably the most important question we could ever answer.” How would you answer if Jesus were to ask you, as he did his disciples: “Who do you say that I am?”

19 June 2010

19 June 2010, Saturday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
2 Chr 24:17-25

After the death of Jehoiada,

the princes of Judah came and paid homage to King Joash,

and the king then listened to them.

They forsook the temple of the LORD, the God of their fathers,

and began to serve the sacred poles and the idols;

and because of this crime of theirs,

wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem.

Although prophets were sent to them to convert them to the LORD,

the people would not listen to their warnings.

Then the Spirit of God possessed Zechariah,

son of Jehoiada the priest.

He took his stand above the people and said to them:

“God says, ‘Why are you transgressing the LORD’s commands,

so that you cannot prosper?

Because you have abandoned the LORD, he has abandoned you.’”

But they conspired against him,

and at the king’s order they stoned him to death

in the court of the LORD’s temple.

Thus King Joash was unmindful of the devotion shown him

by Jehoiada, Zechariah’s father, and slew his son.

And as Zechariah was dying, he said, “May the LORD see and avenge.”

At the turn of the year a force of Arameans came up against Joash.

They invaded Judah and Jerusalem,

did away with all the princes of the people,

and sent all their spoil to the king of Damascus.

Though the Aramean force came with few men,

the Lord surrendered a very large force into their power,

because Judah had abandoned the LORD, the God of their fathers.

So punishment was meted out to Joash.

After the Arameans had departed from him,

leaving him in grievous suffering,

his servants conspired against him

because of the murder of the son of Jehoiada the priest.

He was buried in the City of David,

but not in the tombs of the kings.

Mt 6:24-34

Jesus said to his disciples:

“No one can serve two masters.

He will either hate one and love the other,

or be devoted to one and despise the other.

You cannot serve God and mammon.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life,

what you will eat or drink,

or about your body, what you will wear.

Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?

Look at the birds in the sky;

they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns,

yet your heavenly Father feeds them.

Are not you more important than they?

Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?

Why are you anxious about clothes?

Learn from the way the wild flowers grow.

They do not work or spin.

But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor

was clothed like one of them.

If God so clothes the grass of the field,

which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow,

will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?

So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’

or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’

All these things the pagans seek.

Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.

But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness,

and all these things will be given you besides.

Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.

Sufficient for a day is its own evil.”

Meditation: Matthew 6:24-34

Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. (Matthew 6:33)

At first glance, this passage can make it seem that Jesus is expecting us to rise so far above the mundane realities of life that we don’t get involved in them. Or it may seem that he is giving us a proven formula for material wealth. But neither of these is accurate. Jesus does want to take care of our needs, even the material ones, and he does want us to keep our earthly blessings in their proper perspective. But seeking first his kingdom is really about letting God mold our outlook.

When you get up in the morning and your heart is already worn out with worries and a to-do list several pages long, you have a choice. You can start chipping away at that to-do list right away, or you can begin by spending time with God. Even spending just ten minutes with the Lord can change your perspective. You will find yourself able to look at your to-do list correctly. Not only will you be able to approach your duties effectively, you will be inspired by the Holy Spirit as well. Who knows? You might even end up being more efficient!

Other times, you may wish there were a guaranteed way to win God’s favor. You may look for a surefire promise that if you just seek God’s kingdom, he will give you everything you lack. But the truth is, as we put aside our own plans and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit, he can make our outlook more like his. Maybe that new job we want isn’t the best thing for us; maybe as much as we want to see a situation turn around, it really isn’t the right time.

In short, putting God’s kingdom first helps us order our lives correctly. All the needs or problems that weigh so heavily on us are put in proper perspective. Over time, we learn that choosing to give God first place makes us more content with all the other aspects of our lives.

“Father, I place you first in my life. Renew my mind so that I can share your vision. Show me my place in your kingdom.”

18 June 2010

18 June 2010, Friday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
2 Kgs 11:1-4, 9-18, 20

When Athaliah, the mother of Ahaziah,

saw that her son was dead,

she began to kill off the whole royal family.

But Jehosheba, daughter of King Jehoram and sister of Ahaziah,

took Joash, his son, and spirited him away, along with his nurse,

from the bedroom where the princes were about to be slain.

She concealed him from Athaliah, and so he did not die.

For six years he remained hidden in the temple of the LORD,

while Athaliah ruled the land.

But in the seventh year,

Jehoiada summoned the captains of the Carians

and of the guards.

He had them come to him in the temple of the LORD,

exacted from them a sworn commitment,

and then showed them the king’s son.

The captains did just as Jehoiada the priest commanded.

Each one with his men, both those going on duty for the sabbath

and those going off duty that week,

came to Jehoiada the priest.

He gave the captains King David’s spears and shields,

which were in the temple of the LORD.

And the guards, with drawn weapons,

lined up from the southern to the northern limit of the enclosure,

surrounding the altar and the temple on the king’s behalf.

Then Jehoiada led out the king’s son

and put the crown and the insignia upon him.

They proclaimed him king and anointed him,

clapping their hands and shouting, “Long live the king!”

Athaliah heard the noise made by the people,

and appeared before them in the temple of the LORD.

When she saw the king standing by the pillar, as was the custom,

and the captains and trumpeters near him,

with all the people of the land rejoicing and blowing trumpets,

she tore her garments and cried out, “Treason, treason!”

Then Jehoiada the priest instructed the captains

in command of the force:

“Bring her outside through the ranks.

If anyone follows her,” he added, “let him die by the sword.”

He had given orders that she

should not be slain in the temple of the LORD.

She was led out forcibly to the horse gate of the royal palace,

where she was put to death.

Then Jehoiada made a covenant between the LORD as one party

and the king and the people as the other,

by which they would be the LORD’s people;

and another covenant, between the king and the people.

Thereupon all the people of the land went to the temple of Baal

and demolished it.

They shattered its altars and images completely,

and slew Mattan, the priest of Baal, before the altars.

Jehoiada appointed a detachment for the temple of the LORD.

All the people of the land rejoiced and the city was quiet,

now that Athaliah had been slain with the sword

at the royal palace.

Mt 6:19-23

Jesus said to his disciples:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,

where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal.

But store up treasures in heaven,

where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal.

For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.

“The lamp of the body is the eye.

If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light;

but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness.

And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be.”

Meditation: Matthew 6:19-23

If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light. (Matthew 6:22)

Most of us know the difference between seeing well and seeing poorly, especially if we recall wearing glasses or contact lenses for the first time. Before we used them, things were blurry and out of focus. When we put them on, the world was instantly transformed. We had to squint because everything was so bright. Colors jumped out at us, and we could pick out details we hadn’t noticed before. We might have even wondered how we could have gotten along without them!

That’s the sort of contrast Jesus is talking about here. But he’s referring to spiritual vision, not physical vision. It doesn’t matter so much that we have eyes—it’s how we use them that’s important. If our eyes are “bad,” that is, if we put all our attention on this world, things get darker. We are consumed by short-term wants and desires rather than the long-term goals Jesus has for us—to build his kingdom and to be deeply united with him.

When we make Jesus our priority, it’s as if he gives us a new pair of eyes. We find the dark areas of sin getting smaller. We start to appreciate this world more—not for itself alone but as a reflection of God’s glory. Our power to resist temptation increases, and we’re able to pray more and to love more. We have a serenity we didn’t have before. Like Simeon, we can say, “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace … for my eyes have seen your salvation” (Luke 2:29-30).

However, this “vision correction” doesn’t take place only once but throughout our lives. Even now, the Lord may be drawing your attention to something you hadn’t noticed before. It could be something you’re supposed to get rid of, such as a habit or thought pattern that’s dragging you down. Or it could be something you’re supposed to respond to, such as a new opportunity for evangelization or friendship. So keep your heart open to God’s grace so that your conversion will go deeper still. Remember your goal: to see Jesus more and more clearly until you behold him face-to-face in heaven!

“Lord, I want to see you! Reveal yourself to me, and help me to grow more into your image each day.”

17 June 2010

17 June 2010, Thursday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
Sir 48:1-14

Like a fire there appeared the prophet Elijah

whose words were as a flaming furnace.

Their staff of bread he shattered,

in his zeal he reduced them to straits;

By the Lord’s word he shut up the heavens

and three times brought down fire.

How awesome are you, Elijah, in your wondrous deeds!

Whose glory is equal to yours?

You brought a dead man back to life

from the nether world, by the will of the LORD.

You sent kings down to destruction,

and easily broke their power into pieces.

You brought down nobles, from their beds of sickness.

You heard threats at Sinai,

at Horeb avenging judgments.

You anointed kings who should inflict vengeance,

and a prophet as your successor.

You were taken aloft in a whirlwind of fire,

in a chariot with fiery horses.

You were destined, it is written, in time to come

to put an end to wrath before the day of the LORD,

To turn back the hearts of fathers toward their sons,

and to re-establish the tribes of Jacob.

Blessed is he who shall have seen you

And who falls asleep in your friendship.

For we live only in our life,

but after death our name will not be such.

O Elijah, enveloped in the whirlwind!

Then Elisha, filled with the twofold portion of his spirit,

wrought many marvels by his mere word.

During his lifetime he feared no one,

nor was any man able to intimidate his will.

Nothing was beyond his power;

beneath him flesh was brought back into life.

In life he performed wonders,

and after death, marvelous deeds.

Mt 6:7-15

Jesus said to his disciples:

“In praying, do not babble like the pagans,

who think that they will be heard because of their many words.

Do not be like them.

Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“This is how you are to pray:

‘Our Father who art in heaven,

hallowed be thy name,

thy Kingdom come,

thy will be done,

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread;

and forgive us our trespasses,

as we forgive those who trespass against us;

and lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.’

“If you forgive others their transgressions,

your heavenly Father will forgive you.

But if you do not forgive others,

neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”

Meditation: Matthew 6:7-15

If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. (Matthew 6:14)

Jesus’ teaching is clear: To be forgiven, we must first forgive. Of course, we all know how difficult it can be to forgive when we or our loved ones have been hurt or betrayed. But at the same time, we know that nothing is impossible with God. He is more than able to give us the grace we need to forgive.

The story of Immaculée Ilibagiza is one modern-day demonstration of this truth. In 1994, Immaculée was a twenty-four-year-old Rwandan college student home on Easter vacation when she and her family were forced to flee from mobs of ethnic Hutus on a killing rampage. The killers, who were hunting down ethnic Tutsis, were neighbors and friends with whom she had grown up. Immaculée hid for three months with seven other Tutsi women in a cramped bathroom. Most of her time was spent in prayer, fingering her father’s rosary, praying the Our Father. She knew that God did not want her to harbor the hatred and anger that she felt against her would-be killers—even as she heard them searching for her on the other side of the bathroom wall.

She begged the Lord to help her to forgive. But how could she possibly forgive people who would do such things? Immaculée put that question to the Lord, and after several days of intense prayer, she heard God say to her: “You are all my children.” These words, as well as her experience of God’s overwhelming love, allowed Immaculée to pray for the killers and ask God to forgive them. After the genocide, Immaculée traveled to her home village and personally forgave the man in prison who had slaughtered her mother, father, and two brothers.

If you have a hard time forgiving someone, go ahead and pray Immaculée’s prayer. Ask God to show you how to forgive. And don’t stop praying until he does! Remember that we will heal only to the extent that we are able to forgive. As we open ourselves to God’s infinite love, we can let his light shine on the most wounded parts of our soul—and then we are able to reflect God’s light back into a darkened world.

“Lord, I want to be as forgiving as you are. Only you can show me how. Touch my heart with your healing love.”

16 June 2010

16 June 2010, Wednesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
1 Kgs 2:1, 6-14

When the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind,

he and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal.

Elijah said to Elisha, “Please stay here;

the LORD has sent me on to the Jordan.”

“As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live,

I will not leave you,” Elisha replied.

And so the two went on together.

Fifty of the guild prophets followed and

when the two stopped at the Jordan,

they stood facing them at a distance.

Elijah took his mantle, rolled it up

and struck the water, which divided,

and both crossed over on dry ground.

When they had crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha,

“Ask for whatever I may do for you, before I am taken from you.”

Elisha answered, “May I receive a double portion of your spirit.”

“You have asked something that is not easy,” Elijah replied.

“Still, if you see me taken up from you,

your wish will be granted; otherwise not.”

As they walked on conversing,

a flaming chariot and flaming horses came between them,

and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.

When Elisha saw it happen he cried out,

“My father! my father! Israel’s chariots and drivers!”

But when he could no longer see him,

Elisha gripped his own garment and tore it in two.

Then he picked up Elijah’s mantle that had fallen from him,

and went back and stood at the bank of the Jordan.

Wielding the mantle that had fallen from Elijah,

Elisha struck the water in his turn and said,

“Where is the LORD, the God of Elijah?”

When Elisha struck the water it divided and he crossed over.

Mt 6:1-6, 16-18

Jesus said to his disciples:

“Take care not to perform righteous deeds

in order that people may see them;

otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.

When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you,

as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets

to win the praise of others.

Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.

But when you give alms,

do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,

so that your almsgiving may be secret.

And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites,

who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners

so that others may see them.

Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.

But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door,

and pray to your Father in secret.

And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.

They neglect their appearance,

so that they may appear to others to be fasting.

Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.

But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,

so that you may not appear to others to be fasting,

except to your Father who is hidden.

And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”

Meditation: Matthew 6:1-6,16-18

When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you. (Matthew 6:2)

When trying to master a foreign language, it’s important to listen for the accents on words. Without them, you may not understand what you’re hearing. That principle applies to these words of Jesus. When you read them, you may hear him saying only: “Don’t be a show-off.” It’s true that he was warning against outward displays of piety. But as people who were seeking to know God, his disciples would have been aware of this danger already.

Why shouldn’t we make a big show of our Sunday offering? Or make a point of praying loudly when we go to have our daily prayer time? Or let others know how much we are giving up during Lent? Not because it’s bad form but because they aren’t really meant to be public actions at all. They are meant to be part of a personal relationship with God, a God who wants to be our Father. And just as we keep many things “within the family” at home, so should we when it comes to our spiritual lives.

How often do you look at yourself in the mirror and see a son or daughter of God looking back at you? How much of your prayer is devoted to talking to God in the way a child would talk to his or her dad? It may sound a bit super-spiritual, but it is at the heart of who we are in Christ. It was for this very reason—to bring us back to our Father—that Jesus died and rose again.

Very often, we look at our spiritual lives in terms of how we are doing—Are we praying enough? Are we being successful in the fight against sin? Are we serving God enough? These are all good questions, but they are only one aspect of what it means to be a follower of Christ. Today’s Gospel reading tells us that we have a heavenly Father who loves to share secrets with us—and who loves it when we share secrets with him. He loves it when we partner with him in trying to bring his justice, his holiness, and his righteousness into this world.

“Father, thank you for your love! Lead me deeper into communion with you, so that I can take on the family resemblance more and more.”

15 June 2010

15 June 2010, Tuesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
1 Kgs 21:17-29

After the death of Naboth the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite:

“Start down to meet Ahab, king of Israel,

who rules in Samaria.

He will be in the vineyard of Naboth,

of which he has come to take possession.

This is what you shall tell him,

‘The LORD says: After murdering, do you also take possession?

For this, the LORD says:

In the place where the dogs licked up the blood of Naboth,

the dogs shall lick up your blood, too.’”

Ahab said to Elijah, “Have you found me out, my enemy?”

“Yes,” he answered.

“Because you have given yourself up to doing evil in the LORD’s sight,

I am bringing evil upon you: I will destroy you

and will cut off every male in Ahab’s line,

whether slave or freeman, in Israel.

I will make your house like that of Jeroboam, son of Nebat,

and like that of Baasha, son of Ahijah,

because of how you have provoked me by leading Israel into sin.”

(Against Jezebel, too, the LORD declared,

“The dogs shall devour Jezebel in the district of Jezreel.”)

“When one of Ahab’s line dies in the city,

dogs will devour him;

when one of them dies in the field,

the birds of the sky will devour him.”

Indeed, no one gave himself up to the doing of evil

in the sight of the LORD as did Ahab,

urged on by his wife Jezebel.

He became completely abominable by following idols,

just as the Amorites had done,

whom the LORD drove out before the children of Israel.

When Ahab heard these words, he tore his garments

and put on sackcloth over his bare flesh.

He fasted, slept in the sackcloth, and went about subdued.

Then the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite,

“Have you seen that Ahab has humbled himself before me?

Since he has humbled himself before me,

I will not bring the evil in his time.

I will bring the evil upon his house during the reign of his son.”

Mt 5:43-48

Jesus said to his disciples:

“You have heard that it was said,

You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.

But I say to you, love your enemies

and pray for those who persecute you,

that you may be children of your heavenly Father,

for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good,

and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.

For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?

Do not the tax collectors do the same?

And if you greet your brothers only,

what is unusual about that?

Do not the pagans do the same?

So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Meditation: 1 Kings 21:17-29

Have you seen that Ahab has humbled himself before me? (1 Kings 21:29)

Ahab was one of Israel’s most wicked kings, and the prophet Elijah spent much of his ministry battling the idolatry of Ahab and his wife, Jezebel. One of Ahab’s most treacherous actions, in fact, happened in concert with his wife, Jezebel. Their neighbor, Naboth, owned a very valuable and fruitful vineyard, and Ahab coveted it so deeply that he let Jezebel falsely accuse Naboth so that he would be executed. With Naboth out of the way, Ahab was free to take possession of his vineyard. Once again, the wicked and strong triumphed over the weak and vulnerable—until God sent in Elijah.

We might expect Ahab and Jezebel to be punished severely for such a cold-blooded crime. But that’s not what happened. When Elijah pronounced God’s judgment, Ahab repented. And God forgave him!

According to the story, Ahab showed his repentance when he “tore his garments and put on sackcloth” (1 Kings 21:27). These outward signs of his inner sorrow were very important. God used them as evidence to convince Elijah that Ahab’s heart really had changed. And on the basis of this evidence, the prophet felt confident enough to speak words of divine mercy to the king.

We don’t usually rip our clothes or dress in sackcloth before we go to Confession. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do something to express our sorrow and to emphasize the gravity of our sins. Spending extra time in prayer can help us draw closer to God so he can continue to transform us. Performing an act of charity can help put us in touch with the sufferings of others—sufferings that oftentimes come about because of other people’s sinfulness. And fasting from a favorite food or even meal or two can reveal our spiritual emptiness and show us how deeply we need the Lord.

Of course, none of these actions can win God’s mercy. That is a gift that he freely gives. But they can teach us self-control, humility, and openness to the Lord. If Ahab can repent, so can we. There’s nothing like working with the Lord in order to experience his healing and restoration!

“Lord Jesus, thank you for having mercy on me and welcoming me back when I stray from your ways.”

14 June 2010

14 June 2010, Monday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
1 Kgs 21:1-16

Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard in Jezreel

next to the palace of Ahab, king of Samaria.

Ahab said to Naboth, “Give me your vineyard to be my vegetable garden,

since it is close by, next to my house.

I will give you a better vineyard in exchange, or,

if you prefer, I will give you its value in money.”

Naboth answered him, “The LORD forbid

that I should give you my ancestral heritage.”

Ahab went home disturbed and angry at the answer

Naboth the Jezreelite had made to him:

“I will not give you my ancestral heritage.”

Lying down on his bed, he turned away from food and would not eat.

His wife Jezebel came to him and said to him,

“Why are you so angry that you will not eat?”

He answered her, “Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite

and said to him, ‘Sell me your vineyard, or,

if you prefer, I will give you a vineyard in exchange.’

But he refused to let me have his vineyard.”

His wife Jezebel said to him,

“A fine ruler over Israel you are indeed!

Get up

Eat and be cheerful.

I will obtain the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite for you.”

So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name and,

having sealed them with his seal,

sent them to the elders and to the nobles

who lived in the same city with Naboth.

This is what she wrote in the letters:

“Proclaim a fast and set Naboth at the head of the people.

Next, get two scoundrels to face him

and accuse him of having cursed God and king.

Then take him out and stone him to death.”

His fellow citizens—the elders and nobles who dwelt in his city—

did as Jezebel had ordered them in writing,

through the letters she had sent them.

They proclaimed a fast and placed Naboth at the head of the people.

Two scoundrels came in and confronted him with the accusation,

“Naboth has cursed God and king.”

And they led him out of the city and stoned him to death.

Then they sent the information to Jezebel

that Naboth had been stoned to death.

When Jezebel learned that Naboth had been stoned to death,

she said to Ahab,

“Go on, take possession of the vineyard

of Naboth the Jezreelite that he refused to sell you,

because Naboth is not alive, but dead.”

On hearing that Naboth was dead, Ahab started off on his way

down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite,

to take possession of it.

Mt 5:38-42

Jesus said to his disciples:

“You have heard that it was said,

An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.

But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.

When someone strikes you on your right cheek,

turn the other one to him as well.

If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic,

hand him your cloak as well.

Should anyone press you into service for one mile,

go with him for two miles.

Give to the one who asks of you,

and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.”

Meditation: Matthew 5:38-42

An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. (Matthew 5:38)

That equation can sound vindictive and gruesome to our modern ears. But in early Israel, this law was actually considered progressive and gentler than the common way of dealing with injustices. In fact, it was one of the greatest contributions that Old Testament law made to the culture of the Middle East.

Among many ancient civilizations, it was common, even expected, to avenge an injury or injustice committed against oneself or one’s kin—and often with a vengeance that exceeded the original crime. So when excessive forms of retribution threatened to tear apart the fabric of society, the law of retaliation—known in Latin as lex talionis—developed. The Mesopotamian Code of Hammurabi and Mosaic laws, such as those in Exodus 21:18-25 and Leviticus 24:17-21, reflected the principle of proportionate justice. These laws allowed for a kind of vengeance, but they also set restrictions so that no punishment could exceed the crime.

Jesus confronted head-on the mentality that abused this law. Overruling those who reasoned, “If someone knocks out your teeth, knock his out to even the score,” he introduced a new standard of behavior: Jesus’ followers are to live under the reign of God, showing to all—even antagonists and enemies—goodness and love.

Like any good first-century rabbi, Jesus made his point through over-statement when he taught, “When someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other one to him as well” (Matthew 5:39). He doesn’t expect a woman in an abusive relationship to passively endure her husband’s beatings. But neither does he want her to beat up her husband in return. Rather, Jesus offers each of us grace so that we can deal with the challenges we face—whether great or small—and the daily demands of life with a spirit of charity and a heart of generosity. It’s when we go out of our way to run an errand for an irritating neighbor, forgive an injury without getting back at the offender, give generously to those in need, refuse to snipe back at the co-worker who is provoking us—that’s when we reflect the glory of Jesus and the light of his kingdom to everyone around us.

“Jesus, reign as Lord over my heart and all my actions. Give me your grace so that I can live by the standards of your kingdom.”

13 June 2010

13 June 2010, Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
2 Sm 12:7-10, 13

Nathan said to David:

“Thus says the LORD God of Israel:

‘I anointed you king of Israel.

I rescued you from the hand of Saul.

I gave you your lord’s house and your lord’s wives for your own.

I gave you the house of Israel and of Judah.

And if this were not enough, I could count up for you still more.

Why have you spurned the Lord and done evil in his sight?

You have cut down Uriah the Hittite with the sword;

you took his wife as your own,

and him you killed with the sword of the Ammonites.

Now, therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house,

because you have despised me

and have taken the wife of Uriah to be your wife.’

Then David said to Nathan,

“I have sinned against the LORD.”

Nathan answered David:

“The LORD on his part has forgiven your sin:

you shall not die.”

Reading 2
Gal 2:16, 19-21

Brothers and sisters:

We who know that a person is not justified by works of the law

but through faith in Jesus Christ,

even we have believed in Christ Jesus

that we may be justified by faith in Christ

and not by works of the law,

because by works of the law no one will be justified.

For through the law I died to the law,

that I might live for God.

I have been crucified with Christ;

yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me;

insofar as I now live in the flesh,

I live by faith in the Son of God

who has loved me and given himself up for me.

I do not nullify the grace of God;

for if justification comes through the law,

then Christ died for nothing.

Lk 7:36—8:3

A Pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him,

and he entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table.

Now there was a sinful woman in the city

who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee.

Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment,

she stood behind him at his feet weeping

and began to bathe his feet with her tears.

Then she wiped them with her hair,

kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment.

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself,

“If this man were a prophet,

he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him,

that she is a sinner.”

Jesus said to him in reply,

“Simon, I have something to say to you.”

“Tell me, teacher, ” he said.

“Two people were in debt to a certain creditor;

one owed five hundred days’ wages and the other owed fifty.

Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both.

Which of them will love him more?”

Simon said in reply,

“The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven.”

He said to him, “You have judged rightly.”

Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon,

“Do you see this woman?

When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet,

but she has bathed them with her tears

and wiped them with her hair.

You did not give me a kiss,

but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered.

You did not anoint my head with oil,

but she anointed my feet with ointment.

So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven

because she has shown great love.

But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.”

He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

The others at table said to themselves,

“Who is this who even forgives sins?”

But he said to the woman,

“Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Afterward he journeyed from one town and village to another,

preaching and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God.

Accompanying him were the Twelve

and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities,

Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out,

Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza,

Susanna, and many others who provided for them

out of their resources.

Meditation: Luke 7:36–8:3

Your faith has saved you; go in peace. (Luke 7:50)

Ignoring the gasps that must have been uttered by the guests, the woman burst into Simon’s house with her eyes fixed on Jesus. His earlier acts of kindness and compassion had stirred her heart and filled her with courage. A seed of faith was growing in her, and she was compelled to worship Jesus for the love she was beginning to experience.

Surely the guests were disgusted. Didn’t Jesus know who this woman was? She didn’t deserve to speak to him, let alone touch him. Sensing their discomfort, Jesus told Simon a story about two men who owed money to a moneylender. In a sweeping move of undeserved kindness, the moneylender forgave their debts completely. Perhaps all the guests felt that their observance of the law had earned them the right to be with Jesus. And here is Jesus, commending this woman for her faith! What kind of faith did she have? Weren’t they better than her?

Simon’s guests seem to have had a different understanding of faith. For them, it had something to do with their religious standing or their outward appearance. None of them was caught up in obvious sin, after all. But the faith Jesus saw in this “sinful” woman was different. He saw an open heart and a willingness to change her ways. He saw a heart that was pierced with love. And for that, heaven’s doors were opened to her.

What a generous God we have! He always welcomes us. He is always ready to forgive us, to deliver us, and to teach us. He hears our every cry for help, and it delights him when we run to him. Today, let’s all take on the faith that this woman had by simply turning to Jesus and telling him that we want to be with him. He will take care of the rest.

“Thank you, Jesus, for the seed of faith that you have given me. I come to you today, with all my sins and failings, and lay them at your feet. I know you can heal me and save me!”


Questions for Individual Reflection or Group Discussion

(2 Samuel 12:7-10,13; Psalm 32:1-2,5,7,11; Galatians 2:16,19-21; Luke 7:36–8:3)

1. In the first reading, Nathan reveals to David the consequences of his murder of Uriah. Why do you think David is still called a “man after God’s heart” (1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22), in spite of this horrible sin?

2. The responsorial psalm speaks of the fruit of repentance in the psalmist’s life? How would you describe the fruits of repentance in your life?

3. In the second reading, Paul says that he has been “crucified with Christ.” What does this mean? In what ways have you been “crucified with Christ”?

4. In the Gospel, the woman with the alabaster jar performs a great deed out of love for Jesus. Then Jesus proclaims these amazing words, “So I tell you her many sins have been forgiven, because she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” What do these words mean to you, and how do they apply to your life?

5. The meditation speaks eloquently of the graces that are ours each time we receive the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist. How would you describe the importance in your life of receiving Jesus’ body and blood in the Eucharist? Discuss some steps that you can take to deepen the impact of the Eucharist on your life.