30 September 2010

30 Sep 2010, Memorial of Saint Jerome, priest and doctor of the Church

Reading 1
Jb 19:21-27

Job said:

Pity me, pity me, O you my friends,
for the hand of God has struck me!
Why do you hound me as though you were divine,
and insatiably prey upon me?

Oh, would that my words were written down!
Would that they were inscribed in a record:
That with an iron chisel and with lead
they were cut in the rock forever!
But as for me, I know that my Vindicator lives,
and that he will at last stand forth upon the dust;
Whom I myself shall see:
my own eyes, not another's, shall behold him,
And from my flesh I shall see God;
my inmost being is consumed with longing.

Ps 27:7-8a, 8b-9abc, 13-14
Responsorial PsalmR.

(13) I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.
Hear, O LORD, the sound of my call;
have pity on me, and answer me.
Of you my heart speaks; you my glance seeks.
R. I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.
Your presence, O LORD, I seek.
Hide not your face from me;
do not in anger repel your servant.
You are my helper: cast me not off.
R. I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.
I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD with courage;
be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.
R. I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.

Lk 10:1-12

Jesus appointed seventy-two other disciples
whom he sent ahead of him in pairs
to every town and place he intended to visit.
He said to them,
"The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest
to send out laborers for his harvest.
Go on your way;
behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.
Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals;
and greet no one along the way.
Into whatever house you enter, first say,
'Peace to this household.'
If a peaceful person lives there,
your peace will rest on him;
but if not, it will return to you.
Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you,
for the laborer deserves his payment.
Do not move about from one house to another.
Whatever town you enter and they welcome you,
eat what is set before you,
cure the sick in it and say to them,
'The Kingdom of God is at hand for you.'
Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you,
go out into the streets and say,
'The dust of your town that clings to our feet,
even that we shake off against you.'
Yet know this: the Kingdom of God is at hand.
I tell you,
it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day
than for that town."

Meditation: Job 19:19-26

“I know that my Vindicator lives.” (Job 19:25)

Job has lost everything he has. So just where does this faith of his come from? Who is this “Vindicator” he speaks of? Actually, the term is go’el in Hebrew, and in Scripture, it’s all about family ties. Go’el refers to a relative who would help out another relative. He might buy back property that you had lost. He might ransom a slave and give him freedom. He might avenge the murder of a kinsman. A go’el was someone who set things right. But Job’s family was all gone—so who would set things right for him?

Of course, Job is talking about God—but not in some impersonal way. Job believes that he is a part of God’s family—the family God established when he made a covenant with Abraham. It was God who redeemed the Israelites from slavery, and it is God who would surely vindicate Job. Even if he died of his illness, God would see to it that Job was remembered as a righteous man. Most importantly, Job would be rewarded with his heart’s longing—to see God at last.

What are we to take from this? It’s not really that Job was a great example of someone who suffered well. It’s that Job’s lifeline was his relationship to God. That’s the model God wants us to follow. And we should have even more hope because we know Christ. We should be able to say with Paul: “I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need.” (Philippians 4:12).

How can we say this? Because Jesus is our go’el. He is our Redeemer who has set things right for us. So take some time in prayer today to rejoice in God’s goodness to you. Put your circumstances aside, both good and bad, and just thank the Lord for making you part of his family. Thank him for dying on the cross for you. Let him tell you how much he loves you. Enter into fellowship with Jesus—for that is the key to receiving his peace, the peace that “surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).

“Lord, help me to put all my distractions away and simply seek you for who you are. Teach me to worship you in spirit and truth so that I can experience your saving love.”

29 September 2010

29 Sep 2010, Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, archangels

Reading 1
Dn 7:9-10, 13-14

As I watched:

Thrones were set up
and the Ancient One took his throne.
His clothing was bright as snow,
and the hair on his head as white as wool;
His throne was flames of fire,
with wheels of burning fire.
A surging stream of fire
flowed out from where he sat;
Thousands upon thousands were ministering to him,
and myriads upon myriads attended him.

The court was convened, and the books were opened.
As the visions during the night continued, I saw

One like a son of man coming,
on the clouds of heaven;
When he reached the Ancient One
and was presented before him,
He received dominion, glory, and kingship;
nations and peoples of every language serve him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
that shall not be taken away,
his kingship shall not be destroyed.

Responsorial PsalmR
Ps 138:1-2ab, 2cde-3, 4-5

(1) In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord.
I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with all my heart,
for you have heard the words of my mouth;
in the presence of the angels I will sing your praise;
I will worship at your holy temple
and give thanks to your name.
R. In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord.
Because of your kindness and your truth;
for you have made great above all things
your name and your promise.
When I called, you answered me;
you built up strength within me.
R. In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord.
All the kings of the earth shall give thanks to you, O LORD
when they hear the words of your mouth;
And they shall sing of the ways of the LORD
"Great is the glory of the LORD
R. In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord.

Jn 1:47-51

Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him,
"Here is a true child of Israel.
There is no duplicity in him."
Nathanael said to him, "How do you know me?"
Jesus answered and said to him,
"Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree."
Nathanael answered him,
"Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel."
Jesus answered and said to him,
"Do you believe
because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree?
You will see greater things than this."
And he said to him, "Amen, amen, I say to you,
you will see heaven opened
and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man."

Meditation: Psalm 138

The Archangels

I praise your name for your fidelity and love. (Psalm 138:2)

Have you ever thought about what it’s like to praise God with all of his angels? We know that the Archangels we celebrate today act as God’s messengers to his people, and there are many biblical examples of their work in salvation history. But did you realize that the most important role of the angels of God is to praise him before his throne?

So what is heavenly worship like? Today’s readings give us a glimpse. Imagine God, the “Ancient One,” on his throne, surrounded by myriads of heavenly beings, with glory shining all around him (Daniel 7:9-10). Imagine “the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man” (John 1:51). The descriptions of angelic worship in the Book of Revelation provide a window for our imagination as well. And let’s not forget the heavenly chorus that announced the birth of Jesus with joyful songs of praise and glory!

But how do we enter into this joyous celebration? While our times of personal prayer lay an essential foundation, they aren’t the only opportunity. Honestly, any time we lift our hearts to the Lord is a chance to enter into this heavenly worship. When we go to Mass, heaven touches earth, and we are lifted up into worship. Our hearts can be raised up to heaven just as easily when we are walking down a busy street as when we are kneeling in a quiet church. Opportunities can come when we are cooking dinner or driving to work. And there’s nothing to stop us from putting on some praise music and dancing around the living room with our children!

The angels rejoice when heaven touches earth and when we mortal beings are lifted up to join them in their chorus of praise! So don’t miss out on the many opportunities you will have today! Instead, ask the Holy Spirit to open the heavens for you so that you can sing and dance and praise and worship the Lord.

“Holy Spirit, even though my feet are on the ground, raise my mind and heart to heaven so that I can join in with all the angels praising and worshipping God!”

28 September 2010

28 Sep 2010, Tuesday of the Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
Jb 3:1-3, 11-17, 20-23

Job opened his mouth and cursed his day.
Job spoke out and said:

Perish the day on which I was born,
the night when they said, "The child is a boy!"

Why did I not perish at birth,
come forth from the womb and expire?
Or why was I not buried away like an untimely birth,
like babes that have never seen the light?
Wherefore did the knees receive me?
or why did I suck at the breasts?

For then I should have lain down and been tranquil;
had I slept, I should then have been at rest
With kings and counselors of the earth
who built where now there are ruins
Or with princes who had gold
and filled their houses with silver.

There the wicked cease from troubling,
there the weary are at rest.

Why is light given to the toilers,
and life to the bitter in spirit?
They wait for death and it comes not;
they search for it rather than for hidden treasures,
Rejoice in it exultingly,
and are glad when they reach the grave:
Those whose path is hidden from them,
and whom God has hemmed in!

Lk 9:51-56

When the days for Jesus to be 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.

Meditation: Job 3:1-3,11-17,20-23

“Perish the day on which I was born!” (Job 3:3)

With these words, Job begins his journey of discovery. Having lost everything that his culture would view as a sign of God’s blessing—his wealth, his family, even his health—Job now must ask who God really is. On one level, you can read his story and be filled with pity for the poor man. But a closer reading shows us that as he travels this difficult road, Job becomes someone we can all identify with.

At first, Job’s understanding of God is very limited. Job, a humble and righteous man, sees God as the one who blesses him for his goodness. His friends come to comfort him in his illness and loss, but theirs is a cold comfort indeed. “You must have done something to deserve this,” says one. Another suggests that Job has some secret sins hidden away for which God is punishing him. But all the while, Job protests that he is innocent and that God should not be treating him this way.

And where is God? For much of the book, he remains silent, giving Job and his friends plenty of time to think and argue and debate about how just—or rather, how unjust—God appears to be.

Most of us can identify with Job at this stage of his journey. We have all had to deal with sicknesses, death, wounded relationships, or family strife. Challenges like these can shake the foundations of our faith. But this kind of shaking can be a good thing. After all, it’s the hard times that test and strengthen our faith. There’s no real challenge when life is good. Knowing this truth may not make the situation go away, but it can give us comfort. God is always at work in us, calling us to a deeper surrender to him.

God has set each one of us on our own journey of faith, and that journey will not always be an easy or happy one. But when we hold onto the Lord no matter what the situation, the journey will make us more alive, more hopeful, even more human. God knows how to make something beautiful out of something broken.

“Dear Jesus, I know you walk with me every step of the way. Shine a light in every corner of my being so that I can trust you in every situation.”

27 September 2010

27 Sep 2010, Memorial of Saint Vincent de Paul, priest

Reading 1
Jb 1:6-22

One day, when the angels of God came to present themselves before the LORD,
Satan also came among them.
And the LORD said to Satan, "Whence do you come?"
Then Satan answered the LORD and said,
"From roaming the earth and patrolling it."
And the LORD said to Satan, "Have you noticed my servant Job,
and that there is no one on earth like him,
blameless and upright, fearing God and avoiding evil?"
But Satan answered the LORD and said,
"Is it for nothing that Job is God-fearing?
Have you not surrounded him and his family
and all that he has with your protection?
You have blessed the work of his hands,
and his livestock are spread over the land.
But now put forth your hand and touch anything that he has,
and surely he will blaspheme you to your face."
And the LORD said to Satan,
"Behold, all that he has is in your power;
only do not lay a hand upon his person."
So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.

And so one day, while his sons and his daughters
were eating and drinking wine
in the house of their eldest brother,
a messenger came to Job and said,
"The oxen were ploughing and the asses grazing beside them,
and the Sabeans carried them off in a raid.
They put the herdsmen to the sword,
and I alone have escaped to tell you."
While he was yet speaking, another came and said,
"Lightning has fallen from heaven
and struck the sheep and their shepherds and consumed them;
and I alone have escaped to tell you."
While he was yet speaking, another messenger came and said,
"The Chaldeans formed three columns,
seized the camels, carried them off,
and put those tending them to the sword,
and I alone have escaped to tell you."
While he was yet speaking, another came and said,
"Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine
in the house of their eldest brother,
when suddenly a great wind came across the desert
and smote the four corners of the house.
It fell upon the young people and they are dead;
and I alone have escaped to tell you."
Then Job began to tear his cloak and cut off his hair.
He cast himself prostrate upon the ground, and said,

"Naked I came forth from my mother's womb,
and naked shall I go back again.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
blessed be the name of the LORD!"

In all this Job did not sin,
nor did he say anything disrespectful of God.

Lk 9:46-50

An argument arose among the disciples
about which of them was the greatest.
Jesus realized the intention of their hearts and took a child
and placed it by his side and said to them,
"Whoever receives this child in my name receives me,
and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.
For the one who is least among all of you
is the one who is the greatest."

Then John said in reply,
"Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name
and we tried to prevent him
because he does not follow in our company."
Jesus said to him,
"Do not prevent him, for whoever is not against you is for you."

Meditation: Job 1:6-22

Have you noticed my servant Job? (Job 1:8)

As soon as the Book of Job opens, we learn two crucial facts about the main character: He is incredibly wealthy and uncommonly righteous. He is so righteous, in fact, that God even brags about him during a conversation with Satan. Job is blameless, upright, God-fearing, and sin-avoiding. Satan, of course, contends that if the Lord ceased to bless Job, he would rebel.

“Okay, go ahead and test him; but spare his life.” So God allowed Satan to take away Job’s possessions, his servants, his children, and finally, his health. Job’s life was absolutely devastated with catastrophe, but still he maintained his integrity! Nonetheless, it was a time of great confusion for Job. As any of us would, he desperately questioned providence, perhaps wondering if God had abandoned him. But as the story unfolds, we discover God was right beside him the whole time. And what was his ultimate answer to Job’s probing questions? “Trust me. I am strong and wise. Even though you can’t comprehend my ways, I am just. You’re going to have to trust me.”

Certainly one of the major themes in Job is justice. Many of us have wondered why God lets bad things happen to good people. But the book doesn’t seem to give a direct answer. Instead, it reminds us of the awesomeness of God, as if to say: “I know you have questions, but God is beside you and he is still in control. What he’s really after, what he really loves is faith.”

Make no mistake: God will always defend those who love him. While our life circumstances may range from blessed to broken, we can trust that the God of our salvation is near. He may not rescue us right away, but he will never leave our side. When we put our faith in him and exercise it through obedience, he will release powerful grace that may not change our circumstances but will definitely transform us into the likeness of Jesus. In the end, he is the “Vindicator” Job was longing for (Job 19:25).

“Lord, I surrender to your plan for my life. Help me to love you in seasons of blessing and brokenness.”

25 September 2010

26 Sep 2010, Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
Am 6:1a, 4-7

Thus says the LORD the God of hosts:
Woe to the complacent in Zion!
Lying upon beds of ivory,
stretched comfortably on their couches,
they eat lambs taken from the flock,
and calves from the stall!
Improvising to the music of the harp,
like David, they devise their own accompaniment.
They drink wine from bowls
and anoint themselves with the best oils;
yet they are not made ill by the collapse of Joseph!
Therefore, now they shall be the first to go into exile,
and their wanton revelry shall be done away with.

Reading 2
1 Tm 6:11-16

But you, man of God, pursue righteousness,
devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness.
Compete well for the faith.
Lay hold of eternal life, to which you were called
when you made the noble confession in the presence of many witnesses.
I charge you before God, who gives life to all things,
and before Christ Jesus,
who gave testimony under Pontius Pilate for the noble confession,
to keep the commandment without stain or reproach
until the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ
that the blessed and only ruler
will make manifest at the proper time,
the King of kings and Lord of lords,
who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light,
and whom no human being has seen or can see.
To him be honor and eternal power. Amen.

Lk 16:19-31

Jesus said to the Pharisees:
"There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen
and dined sumptuously each day.
And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores,
who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps
that fell from the rich man's table.
Dogs even used to come and lick his sores.
When the poor man died,
he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham.
The rich man also died and was buried,
and from the netherworld, where he was in torment,
he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off
and Lazarus at his side.
And he cried out, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me.
Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue,
for I am suffering torment in these flames.'
Abraham replied,
'My child, remember that you received
what was good during your lifetime
while Lazarus likewise received what was bad;
but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented.
Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established
to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go
from our side to yours or from your side to ours.'
He said, 'Then I beg you, father,
send him to my father's house, for I have five brothers,
so that he may warn them,
lest they too come to this place of torment.'
But Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the prophets.
Let them listen to them.'
He said, 'Oh no, father Abraham,
but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.'
Then Abraham said, 'If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets,
neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.'"

Meditation: Amos 6:1,4-7

“Woe to the complacent in Zion!” (Amos 6:1)

What a life for Israel’s upper class! They sleep on “beds of ivory.” They feast on “lambs” and “calves.” They “drink wine from bowls and anoint themselves with the best oils” (Amos 6:4,6). Of course, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with all of this, and Amos knows it. The real problem that the prophet points to is that these privileged folk “are not made ill by the collapse of Joseph” (6:6). In other words, the needs of the poor among them fail to pierce their hearts or affect their behavior.

How about us? We live in an information-heavy age, when news hits our computer screens and televisions immediately as it is happening. All the tragedies and catastrophes of life can fill us with a sense of fear, frustration, and even sadness. And after a while, we can become hardened to it all, so accustomed to it that it no longer registers in our minds.

Don’t let that happen! Instead, take hold of the emotional energy you feel in the face of bad news and redirect it. Don’t withdraw from it all. Let it move you out into the world, eager to take action. Remember: These are your brothers and sisters—Jesus’ own brothers and sisters—who are suffering and crying out for help.

If a particular situation is laying heavy on your heart, commit to interceding for it. Ask God to help you find someone who is involved in that issue so that you can get involved yourself. Consider becoming a regular donor to a cause that is dear to your heart. There is no lack of opportunity!

None of us should feel helpless or inept when it comes to the needy of the world. And we certainly should not allow ourselves to become complacent in the face of suffering and hardship. We are all Jesus’ hands and feet in this world. Connected to him, we really can move mountains!

“Father, give me your heart of love toward the least of your brothers and sisters. Show me how to hold them up to you in prayer—and how to reach out to them with your love.”


Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion

(Amos 6:1,4-7, Psalm 146:7-10, 1 Timothy 6:11-16, Luke 16:19-31)

1. In the first reading, we hear of the fate of those who are “complacent,” “stretched comfortably on their couches,” “devise their own accomplishments,” and “anoint themselves with the best oils.” In what ways can we fall into these same selfish and self-centered actions in our own lives? What steps can we take to overcome them?

2. In the responsorial psalm, the fate of the selfish and self-centered person from the first reading is contrasted with God’s compassion and mercy on those who “keeps faith forever, secures justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry” (Psalm 146:7). How can you respond to this reading - individually, as a family, or with a group?

3. In the second reading from the first letter to Timothy, what are some of the actions that Paul lists as actions to be taken by a man or women of God? How does the way you live out your own life each day stack up against this list? How important to you is living your life as a man or women of God?

4. In the Gospel, again we are faced with a contrast – this time it is between the fate of a selfish and self-centered man and a lowly poor man. What do you think is the main message of this parable? How does it apply to your own life?

5. The meditation ends with these words: “None of us should feel helpless or inept when it comes to the needy of the world. And we certainly should not allow ourselves to become complacent in the face of suffering and hardship. We are all Jesus’ hands and feet in this world. Connected to him, we really can move mountains!” Can you identify groups or individuals to whom you can be “Jesus’ hands and feet”? Spend some time praying that you would have the grace to reach out to the “least of your brothers and sisters.” Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as a starting point.

25 Sep 2010, Saturday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
Eccl 11:9—12:8

Rejoice, O young man, while you are young
and let your heart be glad in the days of your youth.
Follow the ways of your heart,
the vision of your eyes;
Yet understand that as regards all this
God will bring you to judgment.
Ward off grief from your heart
and put away trouble from your presence,
though the dawn of youth is fleeting.

Remember your Creator in the days of your youth,
before the evil days come
And the years approach of which you will say,
I have no pleasure in them;
Before the sun is darkened,
and the light, and the moon, and the stars,
while the clouds return after the rain;
When the guardians of the house tremble,
and the strong men are bent,
And the grinders are idle because they are few,
and they who look through the windows grow blind;
When the doors to the street are shut,
and the sound of the mill is low;
When one waits for the chirp of a bird,
but all the daughters of song are suppressed;
And one fears heights,
and perils in the street;
When the almond tree blooms,
and the locust grows sluggish
and the caper berry is without effect,
Because man goes to his lasting home,
and mourners go about the streets;
Before the silver cord is snapped
and the golden bowl is broken,
And the pitcher is shattered at the spring,
and the broken pulley falls into the well,
And the dust returns to the earth as it once was,
and the life breath returns to God who gave it.

Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth,
all things are vanity!

Lk 9:43b-45

While they were all amazed at his every deed,
Jesus said to his disciples,
"Pay attention to what I am telling you.
The Son of Man is to be handed over to men."
But they did not understand this saying;
its meaning was hidden from them
so that they should not understand it,
and they were afraid to ask him about this saying.

Meditation: Luke 9:43-45

“Pay attention to what I am telling you.” (Luke 9:44)

The disciples were “all amazed,” and with good reason (Luke 9:43)! Jesus had done some astounding things: He calmed the wind and sea. He healed an epileptic child. He raised a young girl from the dead. Then he commissioned the disciples, empowering them to do miraculous things themselves. Then some of them saw Jesus’ transfiguration along with Moses and Elijah! No wonder the disciples were astonished and enthused: These were exciting times!

But Jesus was too good to leave the twelve in this state of awe. So he shook them, saying in effect: “Pay attention! This is going to end badly for me.” He wanted to protect his disciples from misperceptions—about his mission, about the power he was teaching them to wield for the kingdom of God, about who they were in that kingdom, and about the disappointment that was sure to result when the end of his mission collided with their expectations.

God is so good! He knows us. He reads the fine print written deep in our hearts, and he understands it all. Nothing in our lives escapes his attention. Nothing escapes his concern. He loves us enough to warn us, to correct us, and yes, even to shake us up sometimes. But the shaking is usually gentle and “little by little,” so that we can become more freed up to put our trust in him (Wisdom 12:2).

So pay attention to the Lord! When things are going amazingly well, trust him. And if it feels as if he is shaking you up a bit, trust him all the more. Try to find out what he’s doing and where he wants to grab your attention so that you can respond to him. And even if you can’t figure it out, trust that Jesus knows what he’s doing. He knows your past and he knows what lies ahead for you. He alone has the wisdom and power to guide your steps. He will fill you with his love and kindness. He will care for you, just as he did his disciples.

“Father, I want to trust you in a deeper, closer way today. I open my heart to receive your goodness. Open my eyes to see your kindness and my ears to hear your guidance.”

24 Sep 2010, Friday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
Eccl 3:1-11

There is an appointed time for everything,
and a time for every thing under the heavens.
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant.
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to tear down, and a time to build.
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them;
a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces.
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away.
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to be silent, and a time to speak.
A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time of war, and a time of peace.

What advantage has the worker from his toil?
I have considered the task that God has appointed
for the sons of men to be busied about.
He has made everything appropriate to its time,
and has put the timeless into their hearts,
without man's ever discovering,
from beginning to end, the work which God has done.

Lk 9:18-22

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."

Meditation: Luke 9:18-22

“Who do you say that I am?” (Luke 9:20)

How would you answer this question? Of course we can repeat words that we learned from our catechism, but Jesus wants us to know him and not just know facts about him.

For one thing, Jesus wants you to know him as your friend and companion. He once told his disciples that there is no greater love than “to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). Do you have a friend would die for you? Absolutely! His name is Jesus. So come to him today, and let him show you that he is a friend you can truly depend on. He will never turn you away. He will never abandon you.

Jesus is also the Good Shepherd, guiding and directing you through the Holy Spirit. Did you know that you can learn to hear Jesus’ voice—not in your ears but in your heart? It takes practice and a bit of discipline, but you really can learn how to quiet your heart, focus on Jesus, and begin to sense his comfort, his guidance, and his direction. Then, when you are lost, you can experience him giving you light for your path. When you are fearful, you can turn to him for comfort and strength. When you are confused, you can listen for an answer in his still, small voice.

Jesus is the Divine Healer. Scripture says: “Upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed” (Isaiah 53:5). On the cross, Jesus bore our sin and our brokenness. Although he was God, he was fully human and experienced everything that we’ve experienced. He knows what disappointment and loneliness feel like. He knows what it is like to lose a loved one to sickness and death. So let him tend to your wounds and pour his grace onto you. Remember: By his resurrection, Jesus has given you the hope of your own resurrection—and the resurrection of those dear to you.

Brothers and sisters, Jesus doesn’t want us just to know him by his titles. He wants us to know him in our hearts. So draw near to him and ask him to show himself to you.

“Thank you, Jesus, for being my Lord and Savior. I exalt you! Inflame my heart with a desire to know you more intimately.”

23 September 2010

23 Sep 2010, Memorial of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, priest

Reading 1
Eccl 1:2-11

Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth,
vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!
What profit has man from all the labor
which he toils at under the sun?
One generation passes and another comes,
but the world forever stays.
The sun rises and the sun goes down;
then it presses on to the place where it rises.
Blowing now toward the south, then toward the north,
the wind turns again and again, resuming its rounds.
All rivers go to the sea,
yet never does the sea become full.
To the place where they go,
the rivers keep on going.
All speech is labored;
there is nothing one can say.
The eye is not satisfied with seeing
nor is the ear satisfied with hearing.

What has been, that will be;
what has been done, that will be done.
Nothing is new under the sun.
Even the thing of which we say, "See, this is new!"
has already existed in the ages that preceded us.
There is no remembrance of the men of old;
nor of those to come will there be any remembrance
among those who come after them.

Lk 9:7-9

Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening,
and he was greatly perplexed because some were saying,
"John has been raised from the dead";
others were saying, "Elijah has appeared";
still others, "One of the ancient prophets has arisen."
But Herod said, "John I beheaded.
Who then is this about whom I hear such things?"
And he kept trying to see him.

Meditation: Ecclesiastes 1:2-11

“Vanity of vanities!” (Ecclesiastes 1:2)

Busy lives and hectic schedules can make us feel trapped on the treadmill of life. We all know what it feels like to put our time and effort into daily tasks but still feel as if we’re never really moving forward. This is why it is vital that we stop from time to time to try to regain the “big picture” of our lives, asking the Lord to give us a sense of awe and wonder over the beauty of life in this world.

When the daily grind shortens your horizon, you lose sight not only of the wonders of life in the world but of Jesus as well. He wants to pour out new blessings every day, if only we have the eyes to see them and the heart to receive them!

When we feel tempted to consider, like Qoheleth, that all our work and striving is useless vanity, we should remember that we now live in the light of the resurrection. The endless cycle of the seasons, days, and years has given way to the promise of eternity. It has yielded to the promise of a time when everything will be made new. Now, because Jesus has marked us for heaven, every year, every day, every hour of our life is filled with divine potential. Quoting from the Book of Revelation, Pope Benedict XVI once said: “ ‘He who sits upon the throne says: Behold, I make all things new’ (21:5). The first absolutely new thing realized by God was Jesus’ resurrection, his heavenly glorification. It is the beginning of a whole series of ‘new things’ in which we also have a share.”

Even the most mundane, routine tasks can take on new meaning when we do them in union with Jesus and in service to his people. No act of love or generosity is too small to escape the eyes of the Lord. No simple prayer whispered from the heart is too quiet or insignificant. That’s because there is no “ordinary” in Christ. God always has something new waiting for us. So let’s discover what it is! And as we do, we’ll become more effective instruments in his world and help other people to see the wonder and beauty that is all around them as well.

“Come, Holy Spirit, enkindle in me the fire of your love, and you will renew the face of the earth!”

22 September 2010

22 Sep 2010, Wednesday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
Prv 30:5-9

Every word of God is tested;
he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
Add nothing to his words,
lest he reprove you, and you will be exposed as a deceiver.

Two things I ask of you,
deny them not to me before I die:
Put falsehood and lying far from me,
give me neither poverty nor riches;
provide me only with the food I need;
Lest, being full, I deny you,
saying, "Who is the LORD?"
Or, being in want, I steal,
and profane the name of my God.

Lk 9:1-6

Jesus summoned the Twelve and gave them power and authority
over all demons and to cure diseases,
and he sent them to proclaim the Kingdom of God
and to heal the sick.
He said to them, "Take nothing for the journey,
neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money,
and let no one take a second tunic.
Whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there.
And as for those who do not welcome you,
when you leave that town,
shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them."
Then they set out and went from village to village
proclaiming the Good News and curing diseases everywhere.

Meditation: Luke 9:1-6

“Take nothing for the journey.” (Luke 9:3)

Jesus was not naïve about the hardships of traveling. Having walked many miles proclaiming God’s kingdom, he understood perfectly well what was needed for long journeys. Yet as he sent the apostles out, Jesus told them not to bother about the very things that made traveling possible. They were to take “nothing” for their journey: “neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money” (Luke 9:3). There is an inconsistency here that just doesn’t make sense! Why would Jesus tell them to take nothing with them when he knew how demanding the journey would be?

When you think about it, though, what sense does it make at all for Almighty God to work his miraculous, healing power through mere human beings? Why would he depend on us to preach his kingdom and do his supernatural work? Because in the end, it’s not really us doing the work at all—just as it wasn’t their reliance on walking sticks, food, or money that sustained the disciples in their missionary work. Jesus wants us to learn how to depend not only on our earthly skills and possessions but also—and even more so—on his power and grace.

Incredible as it seems, God wants to make you an instrument through which his power is manifested to the world. Your part is to respond with the kind of faith that allows him to work. Jesus promised: “Whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these” (John 14:12). As Jesus told the apostles before sending them out, it is trust in God that makes this possible. When we look to our heavenly Father, he supplies everything we need.

So have confidence in God! When someone tells you about an illness, pray in faith that they will be healed. If family relationships are strained, pray and expect miracles in Jesus’ name! God wants his wonders to be a normal part of life. If you do, too, then start praying with anticipation and watch for God to work. The journey of life can be very hard at times, but Jesus wants us to know that he is with us to help us along the way.

“Holy Spirit, empower all your people to be witnesses to the kingdom. Help us to take you at your word and to receive all the grace you offer. Make us ambassadors of your love.”

21 September 2010

21 Sep 2010, Feast of Saint Matthew, Apostle and evangelist

Reading 1
Eph 4:1-7, 11-13

Brothers and sisters:
I, a prisoner for the Lord,
urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received,
with all humility and gentleness, with patience,
bearing with one another through love,
striving to preserve the unity of the Spirit
through the bond of peace:
one Body and one Spirit,
as you were also called to the one hope of your call;
one Lord, one faith, one baptism;
one God and Father of all,
who is over all and through all and in all.

But grace was given to each of us
according to the measure of Christ's gift.

And he gave some as Apostles, others as prophets,
others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers,
to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry,
for building up the Body of Christ,
until we all attain to the unity of faith
and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,
to the extent of the full stature of Christ.

Mt 9:9-13

As Jesus passed by,
he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post.
He said to him, "Follow me."
And he got up and followed him.
While he was at table in his house,
many tax collectors and sinners came
and sat with Jesus and his disciples.
The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples,
"Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?"
He heard this and said,
"Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.
Go and learn the meaning of the words,
I desire mercy, not sacrifice.
I did not come to call the righteous but sinners."

Meditation: Matthew 9:9-13

“Follow me.” (Matthew 9:9)

There you were, Matthew, sitting at your customs post, just as you did every other day of the week. But how your life would change this day! Jesus, the rabbi you had heard so much about, passed by—and singled you out! He wanted you, a tax collector and a “sinner,” to follow him.

How your heart must have leapt as you looked into that kind and compassionate face! It was an invitation you could not turn down. You did not waste any time but got up and invited him into your home. Pray for us, Matthew, to have the grace to respond to Jesus’ invitation to follow him as you did.

You invited all your friends to your home for a dinner. They were public sinners like you, the only people who would associate with you. You wanted them to know how your life had changed and how theirs could too: Jesus loved them, and all their sins—no matter how big—could be forgiven. Pray for us, Matthew, that we may be eager to tell our friends and family about Jesus and the change he has brought about in our lives.

What an honor it was for you to be called by Jesus to be one of the twelve! Were you surprised that he would invite you into his inner circle? Surely you must have felt unworthy. And yet you had been healed by this great Physician, so you happily left the past behind you and took up your new calling. Pray for us, Matthew, that we too will be quick to seek God’s healing love.

You proclaimed the good news far and wide—not only in your lifetime but in the words you left for us in the Gospel that bears your name. We thank you for this life-giving message that shows how Jesus is the fulfillment of all God’s promises, the fulfillment of all our dreams. Pray for us, Matthew, that we will embrace all of these promises and let them change our lives.

“Jesus, like Matthew, I too need your mercy. Heal me of my sin. Through your word, shine your light through me so that with my whole being I proclaim the good news of your mercy and love.”

20 September 2010

20 Sep 2010, Memorial of Saint Andrew Kim Taegŏn, priest and martyr, and Saint Paul Chŏng Hasang, martyr, and their companions, martyrs

Reading 1
Prv 3:27-34

Refuse no one the good on which he has a claim
when it is in your power to do it for him.
Say not to your neighbor, "Go, and come again,
tomorrow I will give," when you can give at once.

Plot no evil against your neighbor,
against one who lives at peace with you.
Quarrel not with a man without cause,
with one who has done you no harm.

Envy not the lawless man
and choose none of his ways:
To the LORD the perverse one is an abomination,
but with the upright is his friendship.

The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked,
but the dwelling of the just he blesses;
When dealing with the arrogant, he is stern,
but to the humble he shows kindness.

Lk 8:16-18

Jesus said to the crowd:
"No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel
or sets it under a bed;
rather, he places it on a lampstand
so that those who enter may see the light.
For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible,
and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light.
Take care, then, how you hear.
To anyone who has, more will be given,
and from the one who has not,
even what he seems to have will be taken away."

Meditation: Luke 8:16-18

“Take care, then, how you hear.” (Luke 8:18)

The words of Scripture are like seeds. Given the right environment, they can grow and bear fruit far beyond expectations. Putting this together with Jesus’ promise that God will multiply what he has given (Luke 8:18), we glimpse what can happen if we take in even a little bit of Scripture: As we nourish it and act on it, it will grow and grow.

One Sunday at Mass, a wealthy twenty-year-old was struck by one verse from Matthew’s Gospel: “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Matthew 19:21). Moved to take this command literally, the young man promptly gave his property and money to the local people and the poor, retaining only a little to support himself and his sister.

The next time he went to church, another verse spoke to him: “Do not worry about tomorrow” (Matthew 6:34). With that, he took a leap of faith. After making provision for his sister, he gave everything left to the poor, moved into an isolated hut where he could devote himself to prayer, and supported himself by making simple household items.

For many years, the man lived alone and in poverty. Yet he continued to receive more and more of God’s life. In time, his reputation attracted others, and they joined him in his way of life. By the time he died, eighty-five years after acting on that first life-changing word of Scripture, his work had renewed the entire church. In fact, his impact on the church continues to be immeasurable. Today we honor this man as St. Anthony of the Desert (a.d. 251-356), the father of monasticism, one of Christianity’s most effective guides to the prayer life and probably our greatest example of humble love for Jesus.

St. Anthony took just a little of the Scriptures to heart, and more was given to him. With childlike faith and simple trust, he gave the Lord an ounce of his heart, and God gave him tons of his heart in return. Let even a little of the Scriptures take root in you, and more will be given to you as well.

“Holy Spirit, thank you for speaking to me through Scripture. May you bring your word to life in more and more people.”

18 September 2010

19 Sep 2010, Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
Am 8:4-7

Hear this, you who trample upon the needy
and destroy the poor of the land!
"When will the new moon be over," you ask,
"that we may sell our grain,
and the sabbath, that we may display the wheat?
We will diminish the ephah,
add to the shekel,
and fix our scales for cheating!
We will buy the lowly for silver,
and the poor for a pair of sandals;
even the refuse of the wheat we will sell!"
The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob:
Never will I forget a thing they have done!

Reading 2
1 Tm 2:1-8

First of all, I ask that supplications, prayers,
petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone,
for kings and for all in authority,
that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life
in all devotion and dignity.
This is good and pleasing to God our savior,
who wills everyone to be saved
and to come to knowledge of the truth.
For there is one God.
There is also one mediator between God and men,
the man Christ Jesus,
who gave himself as ransom for all.
This was the testimony at the proper time.
For this I was appointed preacher and apostle
— I am speaking the truth, I am not lying —,
teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

It is my wish, then, that in every place the men should pray,
lifting up holy hands, without anger or argument.

Lk 16:1-13

Jesus said to his disciples,
"A rich man had a steward
who was reported to him for squandering his property.
He summoned him and said,
'What is this I hear about you?
Prepare a full account of your stewardship,
because you can no longer be my steward.'
The steward said to himself, 'What shall I do,
now that my master is taking the position of steward away from me?
I am not strong enough to dig and I am ashamed to beg.
I know what I shall do so that,
when I am removed from the stewardship,
they may welcome me into their homes.'
He called in his master's debtors one by one.
To the first he said,
'How much do you owe my master?'
He replied, 'One hundred measures of olive oil.'
He said to him, 'Here is your promissory note.
Sit down and quickly write one for fifty.'
Then to another the steward said, 'And you, how much do you owe?'
He replied, 'One hundred kors of wheat.'
The steward said to him, 'Here is your promissory note;
write one for eighty.'
And the master commended that dishonest steward for acting prudently.
"For the children of this world
are more prudent in dealing with their own generation
than are the children of light.
I tell you, make friends for yourselves with dishonest wealth,
so that when it fails, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.
The person who is trustworthy in very small matters
is also trustworthy in great ones;
and the person who is dishonest in very small matters
is also dishonest in great ones.
If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth,
who will trust you with true wealth?
If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another,
who will give you what is yours?
No servant 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 both God and mammon."

Meditation: 1 Timothy 2:1-8

“I ask that … prayers … be offered for everyone.” (1 Timothy 2:1)

There are many forms of prayer, and as Paul says, they are all “good and pleasing to God” (1 Timothy 2:3). Let’s look at two forms of prayer that can help us lead a “quiet and tranquil life,” even in the midst of today’s rushing, anxious world (2:2).

One is the Lord’s Prayer. It’s perfect. The Lord’s Prayer proclaims the truths of our faith—that we were born to know, love, and serve our Father. It pleads for Jesus to come again in glory. It teaches us to pray that God’s plan, not ours, will be fulfilled in our lives and in the world. It asks God for his grace (“daily bread”) to help us make it through each day. It begs God for forgiveness and it urges us to forgive. It closes with a request for protection. The Lord’s Prayer contains all the ingredients that God wants us to live by.

Another way to pray is through the psalms—as Jesus did. Read them slowly as you begin your prayer, and agree—both in your heart and mind—to the words you read. The psalms contain both the words God wants to say to us and the words he wants us to say to him. It’s helpful to enter into the mind of the psalmist, and you can do that by asking three “R” questions as you read: Why and how is the psalmist rejoicing, repenting, and requesting?

Great saints like Gregory of Nyssa, Hilary, Chrysostom, Ambrose, and Augustine all preached on the psalms. St. Jerome also tells us that farmers prayed the psalms while they ploughed their fields, and workmen sang them in their shops. For so many people, the psalms provided a kind of spiritual rhythm to their day. And the same can happen for us. All it takes us that we learn to pray every day, “lifting up holy hands” to the Lord (1 Timothy 2:8).

“Lord Jesus, give me a heart of prayer. Teach me to stay close to you as I lift up my heart to your throne.”

18 Sep 2010, Saturday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
1 Cor 15:35-37, 42-49

Brothers and sisters:
Someone may say, "How are the dead raised?
With what kind of body will they come back?"

You fool!
What you sow is not brought to life unless it dies.
And what you sow is not the body that is to be
but a bare kernel of wheat, perhaps, or of some other kind.

So also is the resurrection of the dead.
It is sown corruptible; it is raised incorruptible.
It is sown dishonorable; it is raised glorious.
It is sown weak; it is raised powerful.
It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.
If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual one.

So, too, it is written,
"The first man, Adam, became a living being,"
the last Adam a life-giving spirit.
But the spiritual was not first;
rather the natural and then the spiritual.
The first man was from the earth, earthly;
the second man, from heaven.
As was the earthly one, so also are the earthly,
and as is the heavenly one, so also are the heavenly.
Just as we have borne the image of the earthly one,
we shall also bear the image of the heavenly one.

Lk 8:4-15

When a large crowd gathered, with people from one town after another
journeying to Jesus, he spoke in a parable.
"A sower went out to sow his seed.
And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path and was trampled,
and the birds of the sky ate it up.
Some seed fell on rocky ground, and when it grew,
it withered for lack of moisture.
Some seed fell among thorns,
and the thorns grew with it and choked it.
And some seed fell on good soil, and when it grew,
it produced fruit a hundredfold."
After saying this, he called out,
"Whoever has ears to hear ought to hear."

Then his disciples asked him
what the meaning of this parable might be.
He answered,
"Knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God
has been granted to you;
but to the rest, they are made known through parables
so that they may look but not see, and hear but not understand.

"This is the meaning of the parable.
The seed is the word of God.
Those on the path are the ones who have heard,
but the Devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts
that they may not believe and be saved.
Those on rocky ground are the ones who, when they hear,
receive the word with joy, but they have no root;
they believe only for a time and fall away in time of temptation.
As for the seed that fell among thorns,
they are the ones who have heard, but as they go along,
they are choked by the anxieties and riches and pleasures of life,
and they fail to produce mature fruit.
But as for the seed that fell on rich soil,
they are the ones who, when they have heard the word,
embrace it with a generous and good heart,
and bear fruit through perseverance."

Meditation: 1 Corinthians 15:35-37, 42-49

“It is sown weak; it is raised powerful.” (1 Corinthians 15:43)

On top of all the other problems that were besetting the church in Corinth, some of the believers were beginning to dispute the resurrection. No one could describe just how it came about, they reasoned, or what a resurrected body looked like. Lacking such proof, they challenged the concept of resurrection and tried to discredit Paul’s claim that Jesus was raised from the dead. But Paul reminded them that the gospel is not simply doctrine; it is “a demonstration of spirit and power” (1 Corinthians 2:4).

We don’t have to rely on visual evidence for the resurrection, or even on indisputable arguments. Each of us can know personally that it is real and that our bodies will one day be transformed to mirror Jesus’ glorified body. We can know it as we see the Holy Spirit at work in us: cleansing our conscience after Confession, giving us peace as we receive the Eucharist, and giving us a sense of closeness with our Father in our prayer lives.

We should never doubt that God is doing something wonderful in each of us! He is always at work, changing us more and more into his likeness. What might some of these changes look like? People may notice a difference in our attitudes, as we become more joyful, peaceful, humble, wise, and gentle. Sometimes we notice changes in ourselves, as we grow less fearful, more compassionate and understanding, or more generous with our time. And sometimes physical changes occur: Our worry lines relax, we stand taller, and begin to look others in the eye, or we smile more often.

These changes are only a foretaste, however, of the eternal life we will experience with the Father. But we can be confident that he already sees in us the emergence of the marvelous person he has created each of us to be. Daily, he who raised Jesus from the dead is giving us new life through his Holy Spirit. Resurrection? Absolutely! The small evidences we see of it now can convince us that we will one day be raised by the glory of the Father as surely as Jesus was!

“Father, thank you that I am becoming the person you made me to be! Continue to renew me in your Spirit, that my life may reveal the reality of your resurrection.”

17 September 2010

17 Sep 2010, Friday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
1 Cor 15:12-20

Brothers and sisters:
If Christ is preached as raised from the dead,
how can some among you say there is no resurrection of the dead?
If there is no resurrection of the dead,
then neither has Christ been raised.
And if Christ has not been raised, then empty too is our preaching;
empty, too, your faith.
Then we are also false witnesses to God,
because we testified against God that he raised Christ,
whom he did not raise if in fact the dead are not raised.
For if the dead are not raised, neither has Christ been raised,
and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain;
you are still in your sins.
Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
If for this life only we have hoped in Christ,
we are the most pitiable people of all.

But now Christ has been raised from the dead,
the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

Lk 8:1-3

Jesus 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: 1 Corinthians 15:12-20

“Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:20)

It is a sad fact that many people today don’t believe in Jesus’ resurrection and even ridicule the idea that human beings will experience a resurrection of their own bodies. But that’s nothing new. Many people in Paul’s time denied, debated, and scoffed at the idea as well.

One prominent group of Jewish teachers, the Sadducees, didn’t believe in the resurrection (Matthew 22:29). And Greek philosophers reasoned that since death liberated a person’s spirit from the prison of the mortal body, why would anyone want their bodies back again? Even some of the believers in Corinth doubted that the dead would rise again. So Paul taught them that “Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:20)—and he logically explained the consequences of this.

The “first fruits” of a crop are the first portion harvested, which ancient Jews were expected to offer to God (Exodus 23:19). That a part of the crop was ripe implied that the rest of the harvest would inevitably follow. Similarly, since Jesus has been raised as the “first fruits” and as a sacrifice to God, it follows that all the dead will also rise in due time.

In your prayer today, let this image of Jesus as the first fruits fill your imagination. Picture him, the risen Lord, leading a triumphant parade of all the people he has redeemed—the “second fruits,” so to speak. Imagine the millions and millions of people who are now risen with him and enjoying the glory of heaven. The Virgin Mary is in that parade, of course, and so is Joseph. But so too is the sinful woman who anointed Jesus’ feet. Zacchaeus, the once-greedy tax collector, is there, too, along with every other sinner who has been redeemed by the Lord. And so are you!

Brothers and sisters, death doesn’t have to have the last word! What’s more, the resurrection doesn’t just have to begin at our deaths. Jesus has already made us a new creation. He has already freed us from sin and guilt, darkness and fear! Today—right now—we can experience our own first fruits of Jesus’ victory!

“Thank you, Jesus, for triumphing over death. Thank you for rising from the dead so that we can rise to new life with you.”

16 September 2010

16 Sep 2010, Memorial of Saint Cornelius, pope and martyr, and Saint Cyprian, bishop and martyr

Reading 1
1 Cor 15:1-11

I am reminding you, brothers and sisters,
of the Gospel I preached to you,
which you indeed received and in which you also stand.
Through it you are also being saved,
if you hold fast to the word I preached to you,
unless you believed in vain.
For I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received:
that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures;
that he was buried;
that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures;
that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve.
After that, he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at once,
most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.
After that he appeared to James,
then to all the Apostles.
Last of all, as to one born abnormally,
he appeared to me.
For I am the least of the Apostles,
not fit to be called an Apostle,
because I persecuted the Church of God.
But by the grace of God I am what I am,
and his grace to me has not been ineffective.
Indeed, I have toiled harder than all of them;
not I, however, but the grace of God that is with me.
Therefore, whether it be I or they,
so we preach and so you believed.

Lk 7:36-50

A certain 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;
hence, 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."

Meditation: Luke 7:36-50

“Her many sins have been forgiven.” (Luke 7:47)

The fact that Jesus forgave the woman who came to the Pharisee’s house is worth taking note of—not just because Jesus forgives sins but because this woman never asked for forgiveness! She never spoke a word: Instead, she cried at Jesus’ feet, kissed them, and anointed them with oil. But noting these actions, Jesus told the Pharisee that her sins were already forgiven (Luke 7:47). Before he said any words of pardon over her, her sins were wiped clean. Was she perhaps a special case?

Certainly, this woman showed a lot of guts. Never having seen Jesus before, she burst into a stranger’s home and knelt at Jesus’ feet. But Jesus wasn’t giving her special treatment. Rather, he was like the father in the story of the prodigal son. Seeing his son returning to him, that father ran to him “while he was still a long way off” (Luke 15:20) and welcomed him home. Knowing what was in the woman’s heart, Jesus forgave her before she had a chance to open her mouth. He didn’t need a speech!

When we go to confession, it’s a great comfort to know that Jesus treats us the same way. We should certainly make our best effort to state our sins clearly and honestly. But Jesus isn’t looking for eloquence; he wants sincerity. He knows that we’re sorry, even if we feel no emotion and stumble over our words. He never fails to extend his arms toward us even before we’ve finished our confession.

You may want to pray with this passage before your next confession. Think about how this woman encountered the Lord, as you’re about to do. Before she met him, she was burdened with sin and guilt. But she was a different person afterward. Jesus not only forgave her but filled her with the grace and strength she needed to live as his disciple. He wants to do no less for you. The blood he shed on the cross can indeed set you free from sin. The power of his resurrection can change your life!

“Lord, help me to be as transparent before you as this woman was. May I look into my heart with the eyes of your Spirit and bring to you all that needs cleansing and healing.”

15 September 2010

15 Sep 2010, Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows

Reading 1
1 Cor 12:31-13:13

Brothers and sisters:
Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts.

But I shall show you a still more excellent way.

If I speak in human and angelic tongues
but do not have love,
I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.
And if I have the gift of prophecy
and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge;
if I have all faith so as to move mountains,
but do not have love, I am nothing.
If I give away everything I own,
and if I hand my body over so that I may boast
but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind.
It is not jealous, love is not pompous,
it is not inflated, it is not rude,
it does not seek its own interests,
it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,
it does not rejoice over wrongdoing
but rejoices with the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails.
If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing;
if tongues, they will cease;
if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing.
For we know partially and we prophesy partially,
but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
When I was a child, I used to talk as a child,
think as a child, reason as a child;
when I became a man, I put aside childish things.
At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror,
but then face to face.
At present I know partially;
then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.
So faith, hope, love remain, these three;
but the greatest of these is love.

Jn 19:25-27

Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother
and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas,
and Mary Magdalene.
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved
he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son."
Then he said to the disciple,
"Behold, your mother."
And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.

Meditation: John 19:25-27

Our Lady of Sorrows

Behold, your mother. (John 19:27)

It would not be an exaggeration to say that Mary is the most blessed, privileged person to come from the hand of God. She was, after all, chosen to be the mother of his only-begotten Son. Imagine her delight in raising the Savior of the world, challenging though the job must have been! Throughout her life, Mary pondered and treasured the work of God and rejoiced to see his plan unfold through her.

Yet Mary also knew the deepest of human sorrows. Just days after her son was born, the prophet Simeon told her, “A sword will pierce your own soul” (Luke 2:35). These words certainly could have discouraged Mary from embracing the role that God had laid out for her—or at least drained her of all enthusiasm for her calling. But they didn’t. Instead, Mary embraced them, pondered them, and continued to live by faith in Yahweh.

Mary certainly suffered, but she was also a woman of joy and hope. Her intimacy with God was a source of consolation and trust that could withstand any tragedy. Mary is called Our Lady of Sorrows not because of the bad things that happened to her but because of the way she joined her heart to the heart of God. She saw her son endure the hatred of some of Israel’s religious leaders. She saw his disciples abandon him in his moment of need. She saw him arrested, tried, and put to death. And in all these things, Mary grasped how deeply the Father’s heart was aching with love for a wayward people. Hers were the sorrows of an intercessor who knew the suffering in the world and longed to see all people turn to Jesus for healing and salvation.

As she stood at the foot of the cross, Mary’s heart was indeed pierced—not only by the sight of Jesus’ suffering but also by all the suffering in the world. Even now, as she intercedes with her Son in heaven, she is the Mother of all those who suffer in any way. Even today, she continues to weep over all the crushing needs in this world. Like Mary, let us lift up our hearts in intercession for all those who are lost or hurting.

“Father, pierce our hearts so that we might intercede for a suffering world. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners.”

14 September 2010

14 Sep 2010, Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Reading 1
Nm 21:4b-9

With their patience worn out by the journey,
the people complained against God and Moses,
"Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert,
where there is no food or water?
We are disgusted with this wretched food!"

In punishment the LORD sent among the people saraph serpents,
which bit the people so that many of them died.
Then the people came to Moses and said,
"We have sinned in complaining against the LORD and you.
Pray the LORD to take the serpents from us."
So Moses prayed for the people, and the LORD said to Moses,
"Make a saraph and mount it on a pole,
and if any who have been bitten look at it, they will live."
Moses accordingly made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole,
and whenever anyone who had been bitten by a serpent
looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.

Reading 2
Phil 2:6-11

Brothers and sisters:
Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Jn 3:13-17

Jesus said to Nicodemus:
"No one has gone up to heaven
except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man.
And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,
so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life."

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through him.

Meditation: Philippians 2:6-11

The Exaltation of the Holy Cross

He emptied himself. (Philippians 2:7)

Lord Jesus, what did we do that you would treat us with such mercy and love? What could we ever do to merit an act of kindness as great as your sacrifice on the cross? Absolutely nothing—and this is why we celebrate your cross and glory in its triumph.

What an amazing God you are, that in the midst of our sorrow—a sorrow we brought upon ourselves through sin and rebellion—you decided to empty yourself for us. We deserved condemnation, but you decided to save us. We deserved to be separated from you, but you couldn’t bear the thought of losing us. And so in humility and love, you took up the cross. You embraced this wretched symbol of shame and turned it into a symbol of victory and triumph—our victory as much as yours! Our triumph as much as yours!

All praise belongs to you, Jesus! You took on our greatest enemies—Satan, sin, and death—and defeated all of them. Not only have you won the victory, you have given each of us a share in it as well. Sin has lost its power! Death has lost its sting! The devil has been disarmed! Because of your cross, we can all walk with our heads held high, unafraid of anything, so long as we stay close to you. Because of your cross, we can live in peace, even as the world continues to walk in anxiety and fear. Because of your cross, we can rise above every temptation and live in your triumph.

Jesus, we rejoice in your cross, even as we embrace it as our hope and our glory. We honor you, because you have won our freedom. Forgiveness is ours! Not just the forgiveness that pardons but the forgiveness that transforms. Crucified with you in baptism, we can be raised with you to new life. Citizens of this earth, we can also taste the joys of our heavenly home. For you have blazed a path that every one of us can now walk—a path that takes us right into the throne room of God and keeps us there for all eternity!

“Lord Jesus, we revel in the victory of your cross! Because you have triumphed, we are set free. Praise and honor and glory to you forever, Lamb of God!”

13 September 2010

13 Sep 2010, Memorial of Saint John Chrysostom, bishop and doctor of the Church

Reading 1
1 Cor 11:17-26, 33

Brothers and sisters:
In giving this instruction, I do not praise the fact
that your meetings are doing more harm than good.
First of all, I hear that when you meet as a Church
there are divisions among you,
and to a degree I believe it;
there have to be factions among you
in order that also those who are approved among you
may become known.
When you meet in one place, then,
it is not to eat the Lord's supper,
for in eating, each one goes ahead with his own supper,
and one goes hungry while another gets drunk.
Do you not have houses in which you can eat and drink?
Or do you show contempt for the Church of God
and make those who have nothing feel ashamed?
What can I say to you? Shall I praise you?
In this matter I do not praise you.

For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you,
that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over,
took bread and, after he had given thanks,
broke it and said, "This is my Body that is for you.
Do this in remembrance of me."
In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying,
"This cup is the new covenant in my Blood.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me."
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup,
you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters,
when you come together to eat, wait for one another.

Lk 7:1-10

When Jesus had finished all his words to the people,
he entered Capernaum.
A centurion there had a slave who was ill and about to die,
and he was valuable to him.
When he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to him,
asking him to come and save the life of his slave.
They approached Jesus and strongly urged him to come, saying,
"He deserves to have you do this for him,
for he loves our nation and he built the synagogue for us."
And Jesus went with them,
but when he was only a short distance from the house,
the centurion sent friends to tell him,
"Lord, do not trouble yourself,
for I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof.
Therefore, I did not consider myself worthy to come to you;
but say the word and let my servant be healed.
For I too am a person 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 at him
and, turning, said to the crowd following him,
"I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith."
When the messengers returned to the house,
they found the slave in good health.

Meditation: Luke 7:1-10

“Lord … I am not worthy.” (Luke 7:6)

What faith! This centurion—a Gentile—makes a humble confession to Jesus, admitting that he is not worthy to have Jesus enter his home. He even sends Jewish elders to plead his case for him, because he feels it would be inappropriate for him to approach so holy a man!

Now contrast the centurion’s words with the words of the elders who spoke up for him: “He deserves to have you do this for him,” they urge, because of his generosity toward the Jews (Luke 7:4).

Which of these two approaches is right? Is the centurion unworthy or deserving? Should he seek healing for his servant on the basis of his previous acts of kindness? Or should he throw himself at Jesus’ feet and beg for mercy—for undeserved grace and favor?

As in so many other situations, the answer isn’t either-or. It’s both-and. And that’s good news for us! It can be easy to forget that we depend on God’s mercy for every breath we take. Every good attribute we have is a gift from his generous hand. It can be easy to think that Jesus “owes” us a favor because of our faithfulness. But in reality, we owe him for everything we are and everything we have. He is our Savior, not our business partner; he is our Lord, not our next-door neighbor.

At the same time, God wants us to know that he sees every good thing that we do, and it pleases him. He sees every act of kindness. He hears every prayer of repentance and trust. He feels all the compassion we have for the people around us. And all of these actions move him to respond with love, healing, forgiveness, and grace.

As we get closer to the Lord, we become both humble and bold at the same time. We know we are not worthy, but we also know how merciful our God is. The church helps us learn this balance by placing the centurion’s words on our lips at every Mass, just before we take the bold step of approaching the altar and receiving Jesus in communion. May we all become like this centurion, filled with the humble confidence of faith!

“Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof. Only say the word, and my soul will be healed.”

11 September 2010

12 Sep 2010, Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
Ex 32:7-11, 13-14

The LORD said to Moses,
"Go down at once to your people,
whom you brought out of the land of Egypt,
for they have become depraved.
They have soon turned aside from the way I pointed out to them,
making for themselves a molten calf and worshiping it,
sacrificing to it and crying out,
'This is your God, O Israel,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt!'
"I see how stiff-necked this people is, " continued the LORD to Moses.
Let me alone, then,
that my wrath may blaze up against them to consume them.
Then I will make of you a great nation."

But Moses implored the LORD, his God, saying,
"Why, O LORD, should your wrath blaze up against your own people,
whom you brought out of the land of Egypt
with such great power and with so strong a hand?
Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac, and Israel,
and how you swore to them by your own self, saying,
'I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky;
and all this land that I promised,
I will give your descendants as their perpetual heritage.'"
So the LORD relented in the punishment
he had threatened to inflict on his people.

Reading 2
1 Tm 1:12-17

I am grateful to him who has strengthened me, Christ Jesus our Lord,
because he considered me trustworthy
in appointing me to the ministry.
I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and arrogant,
but I have been mercifully treated
because I acted out of ignorance in my unbelief.
Indeed, the grace of our Lord has been abundant,
along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance:
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.
Of these I am the foremost.
But for that reason I was mercifully treated,
so that in me, as the foremost,
Christ Jesus might display all his patience as an example
for those who would come to believe in him for everlasting life.
To the king of ages, incorruptible, invisible, the only God,
honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Lk 15:1-32

Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
"This man welcomes sinners and eats with them."
So to them he addressed this parable.
"What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them
would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert
and go after the lost one until he finds it?
And when he does find it,
he sets it on his shoulders with great joy
and, upon his arrival home,
he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them,
'Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.'
I tell you, in just the same way
there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents
than over ninety-nine righteous people
who have no need of repentance.

"Or what woman having ten coins and losing one
would not light a lamp and sweep the house,
searching carefully until she finds it?
And when she does find it,
she calls together her friends and neighbors
and says to them,
'Rejoice with me because I have found the coin that I lost.'
In just the same way, I tell you,
there will be rejoicing among the angels of God
over one sinner who repents."

Then he said,
"A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father,
'Father give me the share of your estate that should come to me.'
So the father divided the property between them.
After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings
and set off to a distant country
where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.
When he had freely spent everything,
a severe famine struck that country,
and he found himself in dire need.
So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens
who sent him to his farm to tend the swine.
And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed,
but nobody gave him any.
Coming to his senses he thought,
'How many of my father's hired workers
have more than enough food to eat,
but here am I, dying from hunger.
I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him,
"Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
I no longer deserve to be called your son;
treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers."'
So he got up and went back to his father.
While he was still a long way off,
his father caught sight of him,
and was filled with compassion.
He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.
His son said to him,
'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you;
I no longer deserve to be called your son.'
But his father ordered his servants,
'Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him;
put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
Take the fattened calf and slaughter it.
Then let us celebrate with a feast,
because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again;
he was lost, and has been found.'
Then the celebration began.
Now the older son had been out in the field
and, on his way back, as he neared the house,
he heard the sound of music and dancing.
He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean.
The servant said to him,
'Your brother has returned
and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf
because he has him back safe and sound.'
He became angry,
and when he refused to enter the house,
his father came out and pleaded with him.
He said to his father in reply,
'Look, all these years I served you
and not once did I disobey your orders;
yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. But when your son returns,
who swallowed up your property with prostitutes,
for him you slaughter the fattened calf.'
He said to him,
'My son, you are here with me always;
everything I have is yours.
But now we must celebrate and rejoice,
because your brother was dead and has come to life again;
he was lost and has been found.'"

Meditation: Luke 15:1-32

“There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.” (Luke 15:7)

All three of today’s stories—the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son—have two central themes. The first theme focuses on God’s desire that all of his children who are lost will be found and come home to him. The second theme focuses on our own calling to go out in search of the lost and bring them home.

These three parables all speak of the great joy that God has whenever a “lost sheep” returns to him. Of course, our Father treasures all of us who are faithful and loyal to him. He loves us more deeply than the most devoted father loves his children. But God rejoices even more when a brother or sister who has been in danger is rescued and brought home safe and sound. The danger is past, and another child has been redeemed!

These parables also tell us about the lengths to which God is willing to go in order to rescue us. Jesus said that a shepherd would be willing to risk ninety-nine sheep just to retrieve one sheep that had wandered away. He would be willing to brave the wolves and the hazards of the wilderness—and leave the other sheep unprotected—just to save the one. That’s how important lost souls are to him. They are worth all the risk.

Similarly, the woman who lost her coin dropped everything to search her whole house. She left nothing unturned until she found that missing coin. And finally, the father of the prodigal son kept vigil, waiting for his son to come home. He left the running of his estate to others while he stood and watched for his son’s return.

Evangelization brings great joy to our Father. In fact, it is sometimes better to neglect some areas of our lives when we find an opportunity to help someone come back to the Lord. There is nothing greater than seeing all heaven rejoice when we do!

“Father, give me the courage to join you in seeking out the lost!”


Questions for Individual Reflection or Group Discussion

(Exodus 32:7-11,13-14, Psalm 51:3-4,12-13,17,19, 1 Timothy 1:12-17, Luke 15:1-32)

1. The first reading today speaks of the idol erected by the Israelites after they left Egypt. It also describes God’s wrath against those who would put created things above him. We, as Catholic men, can put the things of this world ahead of our worship and obedience to God. We too often have a tendency to return to familiar patterns of behavior or even sin when confronted with difficulties. What areas of your life have the potential to be (or are) “idols”?

2. The responsorial psalm speaks of David’s cry for the forgiveness and the mercy of God. It is also a cry for a “clean heart” and a “steadfast spirit.” How might you take better advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation to receive a “clean heart” and a “steadfast spirit”?

3. In the letter to Timothy, Paul tells how he himself, once “the foremost” of sinners, received God’s mercy and came to serve the Lord. He went on to say that he was “mercifully treated” so that in him, “Christ Jesus might display all his patience as an example for all those who would come to believe in him for everlasting life” (1Timothy 1:16). How might your service to God and the Church be seen as an example to others of God’s love and mercy? How willing are you to tell others of God’s love and mercy?

4. In the Gospel, we read of the complaints being made against Jesus; that he “welcomes” sinners. How well are you reaching out to others, especially those less fortunate than you? How might you go the “extra mile” to serve your spouse, your family, your parish, your co-workers?

5. The Gospel also recounts the parable of the prodigal son. Like the son, how have you valued what God could do for you more than you valued your relationship of love and intimacy with him? How might you use the example of the father in the parable as an inspiration in your own life? What is your level of hope and trust in your heavenly Father’s love for your family, especially those who may be far from the Lord right now?

6. The meditation ends with this short, but powerful prayer: “Father, give me the courage to join you in seeking out the lost!” Evangelizing those who need to hear the Gospel message does indeed takes courage, but as the meditation states, it “brings great joy to our Father.” If you are in a small group, take some time to pray for one another for the grace and courage to reach out to the lost. Also, spend some time praying together for the members of your families that need to turn back to the Lord.

11 Sep 2010, Saturday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
1 Cor 10:14-22

My beloved ones, avoid idolatry.
I am speaking as to sensible people;
judge for yourselves what I am saying.
The cup of blessing that we bless,
is it not a participation in the Blood of Christ?
The bread that we break,
is it not a participation in the Body of Christ?
Because the loaf of bread is one,
we, though many, are one Body,
for we all partake of the one loaf.

Look at Israel according to the flesh;
are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar?
So what am I saying?
That meat sacrificed to idols is anything?
Or that an idol is anything?
No, I mean that what they sacrifice,
they sacrifice to demons, not to God,
and I do not want you to become participants with demons.
You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and also the cup of demons.
You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and of the table of demons.
Or are we provoking the Lord to jealous anger?
Are we stronger than him?

Lk 6:43-49

Jesus said to his disciples:
"A good tree does not bear rotten fruit,
nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit.
For every tree is known by its own fruit.
For people do not pick figs from thornbushes,
nor do they gather grapes from brambles.
A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good,
but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil;
for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks.

"Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' but not do what I command?
I will show you what someone is like who comes to me,
listens to my words, and acts on them.
That one is like a man building a house,
who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock;
when the flood came, the river burst against that house
but could not shake it because it had been well built.
But the one who listens and does not act
is like a person who built a house on the ground
without a foundation.
When the river burst against it,
it collapsed at once and was completely destroyed."

Meditation: Luke 6:43-49

“That one is like a person building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock.” (Luke 6:48)

The planners of the World Trade Center in New York knew something about building on rock. When construction began in 1966, they took great pains to set the whole complex on a solid foundation. Workers dug down seventy feet to the bedrock to build a seven-story-high foundation wall of reinforced steel and concrete. Anchored on this base, the Twin Towers were about as firmly rooted as buildings can get.

But nine years ago today, those solid towers came down in a cataclysm of dust and debris. In just a few horrific hours, more than three thousand people met an unexpected, violent death—some in New York, others near Washington, D.C., and others in a Pennsylvania field. Today, we remember these victims—each one unique and irreplaceable, each one infinitely precious. We pray for their families and friends, who bear the wounds of this tremendous loss.

As we remember, the Holy Spirit gently invites us to consider a deeply challenging, often avoided reality: The world as we know it is passing away. None of it—no matter how solidly based—can sustain our lives forever.

This is the truth that Jesus addresses in today’s reading, using images from the construction trade he learned from Joseph. The house that collapses can stand for everything in life, and in us, that is built on earthly things: It will not endure.

But Jesus doesn’t leave us woefully contemplating the ruins. He came to open up the way to eternal life, and he tells us how to build for it: Come to me, listen to my words, and act on them (Luke 6:47).

This invitation comes at the very end of what is often called Jesus’ “sermon on the plain.” Reading this short sermon attentively would be an especially appropriate way to mark today’s sober anniversary.

Jesus assured us that “heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Luke 21:33). If we build on him, we can be sure that our lives—fragile, frail, and fleeting as they are—will endure forever.

“Lord Jesus, to whom shall we go in our sorrows and our joys? You alone have the words of eternal life. Help us this day to hear, to believe, and to obey.”