30 June 2011

30 Jun 2011, Thursday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
Gn 22:1b-19

God put Abraham to the test.
He called to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
Then God said: “Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love,
and go to the land of Moriah.
There you shall offer him up as a burnt offering
on a height that I will point out to you.”
Early the next morning Abraham saddled his donkey,
took with him his son Isaac, and two of his servants as well,
and with the wood that he had cut for the burnt offering,
set out for the place of which God had told him.

On the third day Abraham got sight of the place from afar.
Then he said to his servants: “Both of you stay here with the donkey,
while the boy and I go on over yonder.
We will worship and then come back to you.”
Thereupon Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering
and laid it on his son Isaac’s shoulders,
while he himself carried the fire and the knife.
As the two walked on together, Isaac spoke to his father Abraham:
“Father!” he said.
“Yes, son,” he replied.
Isaac continued, “Here are the fire and the wood,
but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?”
“Son,” Abraham answered,
“God himself will provide the sheep for the burnt offering.”
Then the two continued going forward.

When they came to the place of which God had told him,
Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it.
Next he tied up his son Isaac,
and put him on top of the wood on the altar.
Then he reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son.
But the LORD’s messenger called to him from heaven,
“Abraham, Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he answered.
“Do not lay your hand on the boy,” said the messenger.
“Do not do the least thing to him.
I know now how devoted you are to God,
since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son.”
As Abraham looked about,
he spied a ram caught by its horns in the thicket.
So he went and took the ram
and offered it up as a burnt offering in place of his son.
Abraham named the site Yahweh-yireh;
hence people now say, “On the mountain the LORD will see.”
Again the LORD’s messenger called to Abraham from heaven and said:
“I swear by myself, declares the LORD,
that because you acted as you did
in not withholding from me your beloved son,
I will bless you abundantly
and make your descendants as countless
as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore;
your descendants shall take possession
of the gates of their enemies,
and in your descendants all the nations of the earth
shall find blessingBall this because you obeyed my command.”

Abraham then returned to his servants,
and they set out together for Beer-sheba,
where Abraham made his home.

115:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9
Responsorial PsalmR. (9)

I will walk in the presence of the Lord, in the land of the living.
R. Alleluia.
Not to us, O LORD, not to us
but to your name give glory
because of your kindness, because of your truth.
Why should the pagans say,
“Where is their God?”
R. I will walk in the presence of the Lord, in the land of the living.
R. Alleluia.
Our God is in heaven;
whatever he wills, he does.
Their idols are silver and gold,
the handiwork of men.
R. I will walk in the presence of the Lord, in the land of the living.
R. Alleluia.
They have mouths but speak not;
they have eyes but see not;
They have ears but hear not;
they have noses but smell not.
R. I will walk in the presence of the Lord, in the land of the living.
R. Alleluia.
Their makers shall be like them,
everyone who trusts in them.
The house of Israel trusts in the LORD;
he is their help and their shield.
R. I will walk in the presence of the Lord, in the land of the living.
R. Alleluia.

Mt 9:1-8

After entering a boat, Jesus made the crossing, and came into his own town.
And there people brought to him a paralytic lying on a stretcher.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic,
“Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.”
At that, some of the scribes said to themselves,
“This man is blaspheming.”
Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said,
:Why do you harbor evil thoughts?
Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’
or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?
But that you may know that the Son of Man
has authority on earth to forgive sins”–
he then said to the paralytic,
“Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.”
He rose and went home.
When the crowds saw this they were struck with awe
and glorified God who had given such authority to men.

Meditation: Matthew 9:1-8

“The Son of Man has authority.” (Matthew 9:6)

Matthew tells us that when Jesus healed a man who was paralyzed, the crowd “glorified God who had given such authority to human beings” (Matthew 9:8). While witnessing a miracle was amazing in its own right, the people were equally amazed at the authority and dignity that Jesus manifested. They were amazed at the sight of a man so filled with God that sickness and sin submitted to him.

This passage shows us that God has tremendous plans for all his children. Ever since he created our first parents and gave them authority over all other living things, our Father destined us to walk with great dignity. Not even sin changed God’s intention. He sent his Son not only to forgive us but also to restore to us our rightful inheritance as his children.

How do we recapture this sense of dignity and honor? By giving our whole hearts to God in trust and obedience. Remember how Abraham waited many long years to receive his son, Isaac? In spite of the fact that Isaac was so precious to him, Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son if God so commanded him. Because of Abraham’s trust and submission, God made his descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky, and declared that they would have authority over every enemy (Genesis 22:17).

Brothers and sisters, God wants us to walk in freedom. As we give our lives to Jesus, the floodgates of heaven will open to us. He will give us wisdom in our daily decisions and power to love others. Let’s not allow the devil to convince us that God doesn’t love us or has removed his blessings from us. Nothing can be further from the truth! Let’s not be afraid to pray for healing, for ourselves or for other people. Let’s take up our God-given authority and ask him to fill us with the dignity that is rightfully ours—the dignity of sons and daughters of God.

“Jesus, I give you my life. I welcome your blessings, your teaching, and your authority over me. As I submit to you, let me know the dignity that you give to all of your people. Jesus, make me like you.”

29 June 2011

29 Jun 2011, Solemnity of Saint Peter and Saint Paul,Mass during the Day

Reading 1
Acts 12:1-11

In those days, King Herod laid hands upon some members of the Church to harm them.
He had James, the brother of John, killed by the sword,
and when he saw that this was pleasing to the Jews
he proceeded to arrest Peter also.
–It was the feast of Unleavened Bread.–
He had him taken into custody and put in prison
under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each.
He intended to bring him before the people after Passover.
Peter thus was being kept in prison,
but prayer by the Church was fervently being made
to God on his behalf.

On the very night before Herod was to bring him to trial,
Peter, secured by double chains,
was sleeping between two soldiers,
while outside the door guards kept watch on the prison.
Suddenly the angel of the Lord stood by him
and a light shone in the cell.
He tapped Peter on the side and awakened him, saying,
“Get up quickly.”
The chains fell from his wrists.
The angel said to him, “Put on your belt and your sandals.”
He did so.
Then he said to him, “Put on your cloak and follow me.”
So he followed him out,
not realizing that what was happening through the angel was real;
he thought he was seeing a vision.
They passed the first guard, then the second,
and came to the iron gate leading out to the city,
which opened for them by itself.
They emerged and made their way down an alley,
and suddenly the angel left him.
Then Peter recovered his senses and said,
“Now I know for certain
that the Lord sent his angel
and rescued me from the hand of Herod
and from all that the Jewish people had been expecting.”

34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9
Responsorial Psalm R. (5)

The angel of the Lord will rescue those who fear him.
I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
the lowly will hear me and be glad.
R. The angel of the Lord will rescue those who fear him.
Glorify the LORD with me,
let us together extol his name.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
R. The angel of the Lord will rescue those who fear him.
Look to him that you may be radiant with joy,
and your faces may not blush with shame.
When the poor one called out, the LORD heard,
and from all his distress he saved him.
R. The angel of the Lord will rescue those who fear him.
The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Taste and see how good the LORD is;
blessed the man who takes refuge in him.
R. The angel of the Lord will rescue those who fear him.

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

I, Paul, am already being poured out like a libation,
and the time of my departure is at hand.
I have competed well; I have finished the race;
I have kept the faith.
From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me,
which the Lord, the just judge,
will award to me on that day, and not only to me,
but to all who have longed for his appearance.

The Lord stood by me and gave me strength,
so that through me the proclamation might be completed
and all the Gentiles might hear it.
And I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.
The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat
and will bring me safe to his heavenly Kingdom.
To him be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Mt 16:13-19

When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi
he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter said in reply,
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my Church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Meditation: Acts 12:1-11

Sts. Peter and Paul

Peter was being kept in prison, but prayer by the church was fervently being made to God on his behalf. (Acts 12:5)

In this wonderful story, we read how God answered the prayers of the early church by sending an angel to release Peter from prison. So astonished is Peter that at first he thinks he is dreaming or having a vision. This can’t really be happening! In the same way, when he knocks at the door of the house where the community is praying for his release, the young woman who answers can’t believe her eyes. She is so excited that she rushes off to tell everyone without even letting Peter in!

From the earliest days of the church, Christians have been praying for their leaders. And from the earliest days, those leaders have relied on their prayers. The author of Hebrews urges: “I especially ask for your prayers that I may be restored to you very soon” (Hebrews 13:19). Paul tells the Philippians: “I know that this will result in deliverance for me through your prayers” (Philippians 1:19).

So how faithful are you in praying for our leaders? We should regularly be lifting up our “Peters” (Pope Benedict XVI, our local bishop, our pastor, and all our shepherds) and our “Pauls” (the evangelists and missionaries we know, and even those we don’t know). It’s an important enough ministry that we should be setting aside regular time to do this. You can even join the Holy Father in his monthly intercessions by offering up the prayers that appear on the back cover of this magazine every month. Check with your diocesan office to see if your bishop has similar monthly prayer requests.

When you hear of a natural disaster or a world crisis, find out what Christian organizations are on the scene to help the people who are affected—and pray for them. If a fund appeal captures your interest, find out more about the needs of the people that are pouring out their lives to lift up the needy, and add them to your list. Never stop praying— so many people depend on it!

“Father, thank you for calling pastors to serve your church and evangelists to take your good news to the world. Make their hearts joyful and their work fruitful for your kingdom.”

28 June 2011

28 Jun 2011, Memorial of Saint Irenaeus, bishop and martyr

Reading 1
Gn 19:15-29

As dawn was breaking, the angels urged Lot on, saying, “On your way!
Take with you your wife and your two daughters who are here,
or you will be swept away in the punishment of Sodom.”
When he hesitated, the men, by the LORD’s mercy,
seized his hand and the hands of his wife and his two daughters
and led them to safety outside the city.
As soon as they had been brought outside, he was told:
“Flee for your life!
Don’t look back or stop anywhere on the Plain.
Get off to the hills at once, or you will be swept away.”
“Oh, no, my lord!” Lot replied,
“You have already thought enough of your servant
to do me the great kindness of intervening to save my life.
But I cannot flee to the hills to keep the disaster from overtaking me,
and so I shall die.
Look, this town ahead is near enough to escape to.
It’s only a small place.
Let me flee there–it’s a small place, is it not?–
that my life may be saved.”
“Well, then,” he replied,
“I will also grant you the favor you now ask.
I will not overthrow the town you speak of.
Hurry, escape there!
I cannot do anything until you arrive there.”
That is why the town is called Zoar.

The sun was just rising over the earth as Lot arrived in Zoar;
at the same time the LORD rained down sulphurous fire
upon Sodom and Gomorrah
from the LORD out of heaven.
He overthrew those cities and the whole Plain,
together with the inhabitants of the cities
and the produce of the soil.
But Lot’s wife looked back, and she was turned into a pillar of salt.

Early the next morning Abraham went to the place
where he had stood in the LORD’s presence.
As he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah
and the whole region of the Plain,
he saw dense smoke over the land rising like fumes from a furnace.

Thus it came to pass: when God destroyed the Cities of the Plain,
he was mindful of Abraham by sending Lot away from the upheaval
by which God overthrew the cities where Lot had been living.

26:2-3, 9-10, 11-12
Responsorial Psalm R. (3a)

O Lord, your mercy is before my eyes.
Search me, O LORD, and try me;
test my soul and my heart.
For your mercy is before my eyes,
and I walk in your truth.
R. O Lord, your mercy is before my eyes.
Gather not my soul with those of sinners,
nor with men of blood my life.
On their hands are crimes,
and their right hands are full of bribes.
R. O Lord, your mercy is before my eyes.
But I walk in integrity;
redeem me, and have mercy on me.
My foot stands on level ground;
in the assemblies I will bless the LORD.
R. O Lord, your mercy is before my eyes.

Mt 8:23-27

As Jesus got into a boat, his disciples followed him.
Suddenly a violent storm came up on the sea,
so that the boat was being swamped by waves;
but he was asleep.
They came and woke him, saying,
“Lord, save us! We are perishing!”
He said to them, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?”
Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea,
and there was great calm.
The men were amazed and said, “What sort of man is this,
whom even the winds and the sea obey?”

Meditation: Matthew 8:23-27

“Lord, save us!” (Matthew 8:25)

The disciples were astounded: Jesus created calm. “What sort of man is this,” they wondered in awe, “whom even the winds and the sea obey?” (Matthew 8:27)

What sort of man indeed! They hadn’t come to realize yet that Jesus, whom they knew as a man, was also fully God. He was born of woman, but was also “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” (Colossians 1:15). He was a man in whom all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell (1:19), who possessed not merely God’s attributes but his divine nature. He was God Incarnate!

What sort of man is he? He is the One through whom all things were created, and for whom all things exist (Colossians 1:16). He is the One whose immeasurably great power is at work in and through us who believe (Ephesians 1:19). He can command healing—of cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and every other disease. He can order fever and infection, rashes and hives to cease. He can bring wholeness to broken bones and to broken hearts.

Jesus is the One who desires wholeness for all whom he created. He can release us from the grip of alcoholism or drug addiction. He can command calm amid the storms of life: divorce, the loss of a job or loved one, calamity of every sort. He can bring peace to raging emotions and imaginations, to relationships fraught with anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness. He can order, “Be still!” to wrath and lust and the desire for revenge. With authority and gentleness, he can tell the worried or anxious heart: “Do not be afraid. It is I!”

Jesus can do all things. That’s who he is. Maybe you’ve never seen an illness or disability healed, a broken relationship restored, or a hopeless situation resolved. But Jesus can do it. Perhaps you long for it with all your heart. Begin today declaring: “I believe you can, Jesus.” Then ask the Holy Spirit to lead you to the place where you can honestly say: “I believe you want to, Jesus.” Then watch to see the wonders he will perform.

“Jesus, I believe you can—and want to—heal. You are Lord and Savior, and I trust in you!”

27 June 2011

27 Jun 2011, Monday of the Thirteenth Week

Reading 1
Gn 18:16-33

Abraham and the men who had visited him by the Terebinth of Mamre
set out from there and looked down toward Sodom;
Abraham was walking with them, to see them on their way.
The LORD reflected: “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do,
now that he is to become a great and populous nation,
and all the nations of the earth are to find blessing in him?
Indeed, I have singled him out
that he may direct his children and his household after him
to keep the way of the LORD
by doing what is right and just,
so that the LORD may carry into effect for Abraham
the promises he made about him.”
Then the LORD said:
“The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great,
and their sin so grave,
that I must go down and see whether or not their actions
fully correspond to the cry against them that comes to me.
I mean to find out.”

While the two men walked on farther toward Sodom,
the LORD remained standing before Abraham.
Then Abraham drew nearer to him and said:
“Will you sweep away the innocent with the guilty?
Suppose there were fifty innocent people in the city;
would you wipe out the place, rather than spare it
for the sake of the fifty innocent people within it?
Far be it from you to do such a thing,
to make the innocent die with the guilty,
so that the innocent and the guilty would be treated alike!
Should not the judge of all the world act with justice?”
The LORD replied,
“If I find fifty innocent people in the city of Sodom,
I will spare the whole place for their sake.”
Abraham spoke up again:
“See how I am presuming to speak to my Lord,
though I am but dust and ashes!
What if there are five less than fifty innocent people?
Will you destroy the whole city because of those five?”
He answered, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.”
But Abraham persisted, saying, “What if only forty are found there?”
He replied, “I will forbear doing it for the sake of forty.”
Then Abraham said, “Let not my Lord grow impatient if I go on.
What if only thirty are found there?”
He replied, “I will forbear doing it if I can find but thirty there.”
Still Abraham went on,
“Since I have thus dared to speak to my Lord,
what if there are no more than twenty?”
He answered, “I will not destroy it for the sake of the twenty.”
But he still persisted:
“Please, let not my Lord grow angry if I speak up this last time.
What if there are at least ten there?”
He replied, “For the sake of those ten, I will not destroy it.”

The LORD departed as soon as he had finished speaking with Abraham,
and Abraham returned home.

103:1b-2, 3-4, 8-9, 10-11
Responsorial Psalm R. (8a)

The Lord is kind and merciful.
Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
He pardons all your iniquities,
he heals all your ills.
He redeems your life from destruction,
he crowns you with kindness and compassion.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
Merciful and gracious is the LORD,
slow to anger and abounding in kindness.
He will not always chide,
nor does he keep his wrath forever.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.
Not according to our sins does he deal with us,
nor does he requite us according to our crimes.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so surpassing is his kindness toward those who fear him.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful.

Mt 8:18-22

When Jesus saw a crowd around him,
he gave orders to cross to the other shore.
A scribe approached and said to him,
“Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”
Jesus answered him, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests,
but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.”
Another of his disciples said to him,
“Lord, let me go first and bury my father.”
But Jesus answered him, “Follow me,
and let the dead bury their dead.”

Meditation: Genesis 18:16-33

“Then Abraham drew nearer to him and said: ‘Will you …’” (Genesis 18:23)

Abraham sure knew how to drive a hard bargain, didn’t he? Reading this passage, you may feel the urge to take him aside and say: “Don’t you know who you’re talking to? This is the Lord, not a sales clerk!” To his credit, Abraham did acknowledge that he was but “dust and ashes” presuming to counsel the Most High God.

Perhaps what is more surprising than Abraham’s boldness is God’s flexibility. With amazing patience, he considered each new petition Abraham brought to him. He listened thoughtfully and openly, never cutting him off or rebuking him for being impertinent. Together, they sound like two friends making plans together.

If you look at prayers of intercession as attempts to bend the iron will of God, Abraham has something to teach you. He shows us all that God likes to invite us into his inner circle of counsel. He shows us that God wants to hear about the desires of our hearts. He wants us to share our concerns with him. He wants us to be open about our hopes for healing, our need to find employment, our longing for reconciliation. He wants us to know that he is a loving God who always gives us what is good.

This isn’t to say that we should come to God on our terms or that he will always agree with us. He is still the Lord of the universe whose ways and thoughts are above ours. But it does give us confidence that we can come to him with a sense of trust and assurance. It shows us that as we persevere in prayer, we will begin to reflect God’s own desires, and our prayers will have serious influence in the lives of the people we are praying for.

So never give up on your prayers! They have the potential to change your life and the lives of those around you! Like Abraham, keep drawing near to God. Keep on asking and asking: “Lord, will you …”

“Father, thank you for calling me your friend. I want to come boldly into your presence today and share with you my prayers and dreams

25 June 2011

26 Jun 2011, Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Reading 1
Dt 8:2-3, 14b-16a

Moses said to the people:
"Remember how for forty years now the LORD, your God,
has directed all your journeying in the desert,
so as to test you by affliction
and find out whether or not it was your intention
to keep his commandments.
He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger,
and then fed you with manna,
a food unknown to you and your fathers,
in order to show you that not by bread alone does one live,
but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the LORD.

"Do not forget the LORD, your God,
who brought you out of the land of Egypt,
that place of slavery;
who guided you through the vast and terrible desert
with its saraph serpents and scorpions,
its parched and waterless ground;
who brought forth water for you from the flinty rock
and fed you in the desert with manna,
a food unknown to your fathers."

147:12-13, 14-15, 19-20
Responsorial PsalmR. (12)

Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
R. Alleluia.
Glorify the LORD, O Jerusalem;
praise your God, O Zion.
For he has strengthened the bars of your gates;
he has blessed your children within you.
R. Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
R. Alleluia.
He has granted peace in your borders;
with the best of wheat he fills you.
He sends forth his command to the earth;
swiftly runs his word!
R. Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
R. Alleluia.
He has proclaimed his word to Jacob,
his statutes and his ordinances to Israel.
He has not done thus for any other nation;
his ordinances he has not made known to them. Alleluia.
R. Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.
R. Alleluia.

Reading II
1 Cor 10:16-17

Brothers and sisters:
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.

Jn 6:51-58

Jesus said to the Jewish crowds:
"I am the living bread that came down from heaven;
whoever eats this bread will live forever;
and the bread that I will give
is my flesh for the life of the world."

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying,
"How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"
Jesus said to them,
"Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you do not have life within you.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
has eternal life,
and I will raise him on the last day.
For my flesh is true food,
and my blood is true drink.
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood
remains in me and I in him.
Just as the living Father sent me
and I have life because of the Father,
so also the one who feeds on me
will have life because of me.
This is the bread that came down from heaven.
Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died,
whoever eats this bread will live forever."

Not by bread alone does man live. (Deuteronomy 8:3)

Imagine entering a restaurant where the owner promises: “Our food will give you so much vitality that you’ll never go hungry again. Not only that, you’ll never weaken, get sick, or even die!” Wouldn’t you think that the owner was either a con artist or deranged? Yet in a spiritual sense, this is the claim that Jesus made when he said that he was “the bread that came down from heaven. … Whoever eats this bread will live forever” (John 6:58).

“This bread” that Jesus is talking about is the life that he offers to us every time we celebrate the Eucharist. He is the food that makes us immortal, the drink that quenches our thirst forever. Sound impossible? Not for anyone who believes that “all things are possible for God” (Mark 10:27)!

Have you ever noticed how much of an emphasis Jesus placed on his promise that those who ate of him in faith will live forever: “I will raise him on the last day” (John 6:54)? Imagine: We will have a glorified body that will radiate the very holiness and power of our God!

This promise of the Second Coming pervades the celebration of the Mass. The Nicene Creed, for instance, states that Jesus will “come again in glory.” In the Sanctus, we proclaim: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” Even the Memorial Acclamation is emphatic: “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.” This short prayer, in fact, sums up the entire gospel message—and one-third of that prayer is the Second Coming!

At every Mass, we are reminded that Jesus will return. The exact hour is hidden in God’s design, yet we can be certain that he will come again as the King of Love. For this, we should always give praise!

“Lord Jesus, we await your coming. You will come in power, yet in tenderness. May we prepare for your coming by our faith, hope, and love.”

25 Jun 2011, Saturday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
Gn 18:1-15

The LORD appeared to Abraham by the Terebinth of Mamre,
as Abraham sat in the entrance of his tent,
while the day was growing hot.
Looking up, he saw three men standing nearby.
When he saw them, he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them;
and bowing to the ground, he said:
“Sir, if I may ask you this favor,
please do not go on past your servant.
Let some water be brought, that you may bathe your feet,
and then rest yourselves under the tree.
Now that you have come this close to your servant,
let me bring you a little food, that you may refresh yourselves;
and afterward you may go on your way.”
The men replied, “Very well, do as you have said.”

Abraham hastened into the tent and told Sarah,
“Quick, three measures of fine flour!
Knead it and make rolls.”
He ran to the herd, picked out a tender, choice steer,
and gave it to a servant, who quickly prepared it.
Then Abraham got some curds and milk,
as well as the steer that had been prepared,
and set these before them;
and he waited on them under the tree while they ate.

They asked him, “Where is your wife Sarah?”
He replied, “There in the tent.”
One of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year,
and Sarah will then have a son.”
Sarah was listening at the entrance of the tent, just behind him.
Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years,
and Sarah had stopped having her womanly periods.
So Sarah laughed to herself and said,
“Now that I am so withered and my husband is so old,
am I still to have sexual pleasure?”
But the LORD said to Abraham: “Why did Sarah laugh and say,
‘Shall I really bear a child, old as I am?’
Is anything too marvelous for the LORD to do?
At the appointed time, about this time next year, I will return to you,
and Sarah will have a son.”
Because she was afraid, Sarah dissembled, saying, “I didn’t laugh.”
But he replied, “Yes you did.”

Luke 1:46-47, 48-49, 50 and 53, 54-5
Responsorial PsalmR. (see 54b)

The Lord has remembered his mercy.
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”
R. The Lord has remembered his mercy.
“For he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.”
R. The Lord has remembered his mercy.
“He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.”
R. The Lord has remembered his mercy.
“He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
The promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.”
R. The Lord has remembered his mercy.

Mt 8:5-17

When Jesus entered Capernaum,
a centurion approached him and appealed to him, saying,
“Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.”
He said to him, “I will come and cure him.”
The centurion said in reply,
“Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof;
only say the word and my servant will be healed.
For I too am a man subject to authority,
with soldiers subject to me.
And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes;
and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes;
and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him,
“Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith.
I say to you, many will come from the east and the west,
and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
at the banquet in the Kingdom of heaven,
but the children of the Kingdom
will be driven out into the outer darkness,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”
And Jesus said to the centurion,
“You may go; as you have believed, let it be done for you.”
And at that very hour his servant was healed.

Jesus entered the house of Peter,
and saw his mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever.
He touched her hand, the fever left her,
and she rose and waited on him.

When it was evening, they brought him many
who were possessed by demons,
and he drove out the spirits by a word and cured all the sick,
to fulfill what had been said by Isaiah the prophet:

He took away our infirmities
and bore our diseases.

Meditation: Matthew 8:5-17

“He took away our infirmities and bore our diseases.” (Matthew 8:17)

If we took a poll, we’d probably find that most Christians believe that Jesus’ miracles were real. But if we asked them if miracles still occurred, some might say no. They might claim that miracles happened only in the time of Jesus and his apostles, as a way to proclaim his authority and power as the Son of God. Now that the church is established, God has dispensed with miracles—except perhaps when he works through a few extraordinary saints.

But if we read about the healing of the centurion’s servant, Peter’s mother-in-law, and the many people whom Jesus delivered of evil spirits, we get a different picture. Jesus was not about demonstrating his authority as much as his love. When he said that God’s kingdom was at hand, he was talking about more than another church building going up. He was announcing the Father’s desire to pour his mercy and compassion on his children.

If there’s one thing we know about God, it’s that he is very much alive! He has never stopped trying to get through to us and show us who he is. These miracle accounts are Jesus’ invitation to us—right now, in the midst of our day-to-day concerns— to embrace the salvation he came to bring us. Although we may be used to thinking small, he wants us to think big. The only limit to what he can do in our lives is how much—or how little—faith we have in him.

Just as the centurion sought Jesus’ help so long ago, we too can reach out to him now. Jesus is eager to respond to us with signs of his presence, love, and healing power. We can’t predict exactly what kinds of healings we will receive. We may not see the physical cure we are asking for. But this is certain: No one who turns to Jesus is ever turned away. Each and every one of us receives a healing touch—maybe in surprising areas of our lives—and that touch is enough to fill us with hope and joy that the world simply cannot give.

“Jesus, I surrender. I give you all of my sickness, all of my wounds, all of my grief: You are my only hope, Lord. Stretch out your hand and touch me with your love.”

24 June 2011

24 Jun 2011, Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist Mass during the Day

Reading 1
Is 49:1-6

Hear me, O coastlands,
listen, O distant peoples.
The LORD called me from birth,
from my mother’s womb he gave me my name.
He made of me a sharp-edged sword
and concealed me in the shadow of his arm.
He made me a polished arrow,
in his quiver he hid me.
You are my servant, he said to me,
Israel, through whom I show my glory.

Though I thought I had toiled in vain,
and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength,
yet my reward is with the LORD,
my recompense is with my God.
For now the LORD has spoken
who formed me as his servant from the womb,
that Jacob may be brought back to him
and Israel gathered to him;
and I am made glorious in the sight of the LORD,
and my God is now my strength!
It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant,
to raise up the tribes of Jacob,
and restore the survivors of Israel;
I will make you a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.

139:1b-3, 13-14ab, 14c-15
Responsorial PsalmR. (14)

I praise you, for I am wonderfully made.
O LORD, you have probed me, you know me:
you know when I sit and when I stand;
you understand my thoughts from afar.
My journeys and my rest you scrutinize,
with all my ways you are familiar.
R. I praise you for I am wonderfully made.
Truly you have formed my inmost being;
you knit me in my mother’s womb.
I give you thanks that I am fearfully, wonderfully made;
wonderful are your works.
R. I praise you, for I am wonderfully made.
My soul also you knew full well;
nor was my frame unknown to you
When I was made in secret,
when I was fashioned in the depths of the earth.
R. I praise you, for I am wonderfully made.

Reading II
Acts 13:22-26

In those days, Paul said:
“God raised up David as king;
of him God testified,
I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart;
he will carry out my every wish.
From this man’s descendants God, according to his promise,
has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus.
John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance
to all the people of Israel;
and as John was completing his course, he would say,
‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he.
Behold, one is coming after me;
I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.’

“My brothers, sons of the family of Abraham,
and those others among you who are God-fearing,
to us this word of salvation has been sent.”

Lk 1:57-66, 80

When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child
she gave birth to a son.
Her neighbors and relatives heard
that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her,
and they rejoiced with her.
When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child,
they were going to call him Zechariah after his father,
but his mother said in reply,
“No. He will be called John.”
But they answered her,
“There is no one among your relatives who has this name.”
So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called.
He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,”
and all were amazed.
Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed,
and he spoke blessing God.
Then fear came upon all their neighbors,
and all these matters were discussed
throughout the hill country of Judea.
All who heard these things took them to heart, saying,
“What, then, will this child be?”
For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.
The child grew and became strong in spirit,
and he was in the desert until the day
of his manifestation to Israel.

Meditation: Luke 1:57-66,80

The Birth of John the Baptist

He will be called John. (Luke 1:60)

Zechariah and Elizabeth wanted so much to have a child, especially as they watched their neighbors’ families grow. But as deep as their desire was, God’s desire was even deeper— his desire that their faith grow so strong that it could be an example to believers throughout the centuries.

Day by day, as Elizabeth and Zechariah prayed for a child, they were challenged to continue to hope in God. Every day, they asked, “Is God trustworthy? Does he love us? Will he provide for us?” Then, finally, Gabriel appeared and assured them that their prayers were answered. But God still hadn’t gotten the desire of his heart. Zechariah initially scoffed at the angel’s news. He couldn’t believe that God had finally come through. He still needed more training in faith so that his light could shine brightly.

Struck mute by the angel, Zechariah entered an unexpected, even unorthodox time of blessing from the Lord. God used these months of silence to teach Zechariah so that he could in turn teach his son—and all of us—what it means to rely on God. When John was born, Zechariah’s response bore witness to the fruit of this time of grace. Filled with the Holy Spirit, he proclaimed God’s faithfulness and prophesied great blessings over his son.

How important this time was for Zechariah—and for the whole of salvation history! John was destined to spend years alone in the desert, listening to God and awaiting the time when he should appear and announce the Messiah’s coming. Then, when he was imprisoned by Herod and awaiting his fate, John again needed to be sustained by all that God had promised. Surely he leaned on the witness of his parents’ own patience and trust as he faced these challenges.

We all have unfulfilled desires and hopes. As beloved children of God, we should never give up. We can place our full confidence in the One who hears every prayer in our hearts. As we wait on the Lord, we can ask him to mold our characters, just as he did for Zechariah. In the end, we will find that his plan is far better than our own!

“Father, how wonderful are your ways! You know everything about me. You never stop surrounding me with your love. Lord, I trust in you.”

23 June 2011

23 Jun 2011, Thursday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
Gn 16:1-12, 15-16 or 16:6b-12, 15-16

Abram’s wife Sarai had borne him no children.
She had, however, an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar.
Sarai said to Abram:
“The LORD has kept me from bearing children.
Have intercourse, then, with my maid;
perhaps I shall have sons through her.”
Abram heeded Sarai’s request.
Thus, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan,
his wife Sarai took her maid, Hagar the Egyptian,
and gave her to her husband Abram to be his concubine.
He had intercourse with her, and she became pregnant.
When she became aware of her pregnancy,
she looked on her mistress with disdain.
So Sarai said to Abram:
“You are responsible for this outrage against me.
I myself gave my maid to your embrace;
but ever since she became aware of her pregnancy,
she has been looking on me with disdain.
May the LORD decide between you and me!”
Abram told Sarai: “Your maid is in your power.
Do to her whatever you please.”
Sarai then abused her so much that Hagar ran away from her.

The LORD’s messenger found her by a spring in the wilderness,
the spring on the road to Shur, and he asked,
“Hagar, maid of Sarai, where have you come from
and where are you going?”
She answered, “I am running away from my mistress, Sarai.”
But the LORD’s messenger told her:
“Go back to your mistress and submit to her abusive treatment.
I will make your descendants so numerous,” added the LORD’s messenger,
“that they will be too many to count.
Besides,” the LORD’s messenger said to her:

“You are now pregnant and shall bear a son;
you shall name him Ishmael,
For the LORD has heard you,
God has answered you.

This one shall be a wild ass of a man,
his hand against everyone,
and everyone’s hand against him;
In opposition to all his kin
shall he encamp.”

Hagar bore Abram a son,
and Abram named the son whom Hagar bore him Ishmael.
Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.


Abram told Sarai: “Your maid is in your power.
Do to her whatever you please.”
Sarai then abused her so much that Hagar ran away from her.

The LORD’s messenger found her by a spring in the wilderness,
the spring on the road to Shur, and he asked,
“Hagar, maid of Sarai, where have you come from
and where are you going?”
She answered, “I am running away from my mistress, Sarai.”
But the LORD’s messenger told her:
“Go back to your mistress and submit to her abusive treatment.
I will make your descendants so numerous,” added the LORD’s messenger,
“that they will be too many to count.
Besides,” the LORD’s messenger said to her:

“You are now pregnant and shall bear a son;
you shall name him Ishmael,
For the LORD has heard you,
God has answered you.

This one shall be a wild ass of a man,
his hand against everyone,
and everyone’s hand against him;
In opposition to all his kin
shall he encamp.”

Hagar bore Abram a son,
and Abram named the son whom Hagar bore him Ishmael.
Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.

106:1b-2, 3-4a, 4b-5
Responsorial PsalmR. (1b)

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
R. Alleluia.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
for his mercy endures forever.
Who can tell the mighty deeds of the LORD,
or proclaim all his praises?
R. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
R. Alleluia.
Blessed are they who observe what is right,
who do always what is just.
Remember us, O LORD, as you favor your people.
R. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
R. Alleluia.
Visit me with your saving help,
that I may see the prosperity of your chosen ones,
rejoice in the joy of your people,
and glory with your inheritance.
R. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
R. Alleluia.

Mt 7:21-29

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’
will enter the Kingdom of heaven,
but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.
Many will say to me on that day,
‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name?
Did we not drive out demons in your name?
Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’
Then I will declare to them solemnly,
‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’

“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them
will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.
The rain fell, the floods came,
and the winds blew and buffeted the house.
But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock.
And everyone who listens to these words of mine
but does not act on them
will be like a fool who built his house on sand.
The rain fell, the floods came,
and the winds blew and buffeted the house.
And it collapsed and was completely ruined.”

When Jesus finished these words,
the crowds were astonished at his teaching,
for he taught them as one having authority,
and not as their scribes.

Meditation: Matthew 7:21-29

“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock.” (Matthew 7:24)

Aurelius seemed to have everything— a great education, a great job, a lover, and political power at his fingertips. But despite having more than most dream of, he was restless. Then came the day when he opened up Paul’s Letter to the Romans and read the first verse that caught his eye: “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh” (Romans 13:14). His heart began to burn as divine light came rushing in. Because of this encounter with God’s word, Aurelius, also known as Augustine, took one big step toward his transformation from sinner to saint.

St. Augustine would probably identify closely with today’s reading. It’s a parable about God’s word with this central message: Building your life on the word of God is like building your home on a solid foundation. It helps you withstand any storm of life. The Bible contains keys to right living that we can apply immediately: Do unto others what you would have them do unto you, turn the other cheek, and honor your father and mother. But it’s more than just a self-help book. The most important aspect of God’s word is its ability to bring us face-to-face with Jesus, who is the living Word of God.

Augustine was raised by a Christian mother and was probably familiar with many of the stories and teachings in the Bible. But it wasn’t until he had a personal experience of God speaking to him through Scripture that his life turned around. And what happened for Augustine can happen for us. If we spend time with the word of God every day—not just reading it but pondering it, praying through it, and listening to it—we’ll begin to find Jesus. Our heart will be stirred by what we read, and the words will begin to come alive for us, as if they were written just for us. We’ll hear Jesus speaking them to us, showing us how they apply to our own situations and filling our hearts with freedom and hope.

Do you want to build your life on a solid foundation? Then dive into Scripture!

“Holy Spirit, help me to build my life on your word. Write your word on my heart today.”

22 June 2011

22 Jun 2011, Wednesday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
Gn 15:1-12, 17-18

The word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision:

“Fear not, Abram!
I am your shield;
I will make your reward very great.”

But Abram said,
“O Lord GOD, what good will your gifts be,
if I keep on being childless
and have as my heir the steward of my house, Eliezer?”
Abram continued,
“See, you have given me no offspring,
and so one of my servants will be my heir.”
Then the word of the LORD came to him:
“No, that one shall not be your heir;
your own issue shall be your heir.”
He took him outside and said:
“Look up at the sky and count the stars, if you can.
Just so,” he added, “shall your descendants be.”
Abram put his faith in the LORD,
who credited it to him as an act of righteousness.

He then said to him,
“I am the LORD who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans
to give you this land as a possession.”
“O Lord GOD,” he asked,
“how am I to know that I shall possess it?”
He answered him,
“Bring me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old she-goat,
a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.”
Abram brought him all these, split them in two,
and placed each half opposite the other;
but the birds he did not cut up.
Birds of prey swooped down on the carcasses,
but Abram stayed with them.
As the sun was about to set, a trance fell upon Abram,
and a deep, terrifying darkness enveloped him.

When the sun had set and it was dark,
there appeared a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch,
which passed between those pieces.
It was on that occasion that the LORD made a covenant with Abram,
saying: “To your descendants I give this land,
from the Wadi of Egypt to the Great River the Euphrates.”

105:1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8-9
Responsorial PsalmR. (8a)

The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
R. Alleluia.
Give thanks to the LORD, invoke his name;
make known among the nations his deeds.
Sing to him, sing his praise,
proclaim all his wondrous deeds.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
R. Alleluia.
Glory in his holy name;
rejoice, O hearts that seek the LORD!
Look to the LORD in his strength;
seek to serve him constantly.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
R. Alleluia.
You descendants of Abraham, his servants,
sons of Jacob, his chosen ones!
He, the LORD, is our God;
throughout the earth his judgments prevail.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
R. Alleluia.
He remembers forever his covenant
which he made binding for a thousand generations—
Which he entered into with Abraham
and by his oath to Isaac.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
R. Alleluia.

Mt 7:15-20

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing,
but underneath are ravenous wolves.
By their fruits you will know them.
Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
Just so, every good tree bears good fruit,
and a rotten tree bears bad fruit.
A good tree cannot bear bad fruit,
nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit.
Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down
and thrown into the fire.

So by their fruits you will know them.”

Meditation: Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18

“O Lord God, what good will your gifts be?” (Genesis 15:2)

Sometimes we look at the Old Testament patriarchs as being impossibly heroic—perfect almost to a fault. But today’s first reading shows us how human they really were. After the Lord promises him a great reward, Abram’s first reaction is to complain. He says in effect, “What good are all these promises? You still haven’t given me a son.” Little did Abram realize that God was just about to address this issue. He was too caught up in what he didn’t have, and he couldn’t see the big picture about who God is and how faithful he had been so far.

Abram wasn’t the only one in Scripture to complain to the Lord. There is also Job, who spent days bemoaning his sorry state and challenging God to justify himself. Then there’s Jeremiah, who got so frustrated at one point that he cried out: “You duped me, O Lord!” (Jeremiah 20:7). There’s even Peter—the prince of apostles—who asked Jesus: “We have given up everything and followed you. What will there be for us?” (Matthew 19:27). Each time, God showed that he wasn’t bothered by the pointed questions. He also showed that he was utterly faithful and reliable: None of these people was ever left abandoned.

We too may feel the need to ask God tough questions and even complain about the way we feel he is treating us. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. God wants us to feel free enough to tell him what’s on our hearts, even when we think he has let us down. He knows it’s better for us to be open with him than to keep all our complaints bottled up until they sour our faith. Only as we open up to him as Abram did will we find the real answers we are looking for.

Sometimes, faith does require us to keep pressing on with the Lord, even if we are disappointed. At other times, it means simply living every day while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the “perfecter” of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). He will get us through, despite our doubts and frustrations.

“Lord, you are my hope! I give you all my circumstances, good and bad, and I look beyond them to your merciful gaze. I trust that your love will make me more than a conqueror today!”

21 June 2011

21 Jun 2011, Memorial of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, religious

Reading 1
Gn 13:2, 5-18

Abram was very rich in livestock, silver, and gold.

Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents,
so that the land could not support them if they stayed together;
their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together.
There were quarrels between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock
and those of Lot’s.
(At this time the Canaanites and the Perizzites
were occupying the land.)

So Abram said to Lot:
“Let there be no strife between you and me,
or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are kinsmen.
Is not the whole land at your disposal?
Please separate from me.
If you prefer the left, I will go to the right;
if you prefer the right, I will go to the left.”
Lot looked about and saw how well watered
the whole Jordan Plain was as far as Zoar,
like the LORD’s own garden, or like Egypt.
(This was before the LORD had destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.)
Lot, therefore, chose for himself the whole Jordan Plain
and set out eastward.
Thus they separated from each other;
Abram stayed in the land of Canaan,
while Lot settled among the cities of the Plain,
pitching his tents near Sodom.
Now the inhabitants of Sodom were very wicked
in the sins they committed against the LORD.

After Lot had left, the LORD said to Abram:
“Look about you, and from where you are,
gaze to the north and south, east and west;
all the land that you see I will give to you
and your descendants forever.
I will make your descendants like the dust of the earth;
if anyone could count the dust of the earth,
your descendants too might be counted.
Set forth and walk about in the land, through its length and breadth,
for to you I will give it.”
Abram moved his tents and went on to settle
near the terebinth of Mamre, which is at Hebron.
There he built an altar to the LORD.

15:2-3a, 3bc-4ab, 5
Responsorial PsalmR. (1b)

He who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.
He who walks blamelessly and does justice;
who thinks the truth in his heart
and slanders not with his tongue.
R. He who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.
Who harms not his fellow man,
nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor;
By whom the reprobate is despised,
while he honors those who fear the LORD.
R. He who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.
Who lends not his money at usury
and accepts no bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things
shall never be disturbed.
R. He who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.

Mt 7:6, 12-14

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine,
lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces.

“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.
This is the Law and the Prophets.

“Enter through the narrow gate;
for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction,
and those who enter through it are many.
How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life.
And those who find it are few.”

Meditation: Matthew 7:6,12-14

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus has promised that he will never leave you. Never! Even if you mess up terribly, he will stick with you. His mercy will cover you, and his strength will empower you. Today, let’s all decide to trust in Jesus’ power to keep transforming us into powerful servants of the gospel.

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

20 June 2011

20 Jun 2011, Monday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
Gn 12:1-9

The LORD said to Abram:
“Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk
and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you.

“I will make of you a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
so that you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you
and curse those who curse you.
All the communities of the earth
shall find blessing in you.”

Abram went as the LORD directed him, and Lot went with him.
Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran.
Abram took his wife, Sarai, his brother’s son Lot,
all the possessions that they had accumulated,
and the persons they had acquired in Haran,
and they set out for the land of Canaan.
When they came to the land of Canaan, Abram passed through the land
as far as the sacred place at Shechem,
by the terebinth of Moreh.
(The Canaanites were then in the land.)

The LORD appeared to Abram and said,
“To your descendants I will give this land.”
So Abram built an altar there to the LORD who had appeared to him.
From there he moved on to the hill country east of Bethel,
pitching his tent with Bethel to the west and Ai to the east.
He built an altar there to the LORD and invoked the LORD by name.
Then Abram journeyed on by stages to the Negeb.

33:12-13, 18-19, 20 and 22
Responsorial PsalmR. (12)

Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
Blessed the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people he has chosen for his own inheritance.
From heaven the LORD looks down;
he sees all mankind.
R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
See, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him,
upon those who hope for his kindness,
To deliver them from death
and preserve them in spite of famine.
R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
Our soul waits for the LORD,
who is our help and our shield.
May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us
who have put our hope in you.
R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.

Mt 7:1-5

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Stop judging, that you may not be judged.
For as you judge, so will you be judged,
and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.
Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye,
but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye?
How can you say to your brother,
‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’
while the wooden beam is in your eye?
You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first;
then you will see clearly
to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.”

Meditation: Matthew 7:1-5

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

Even a superficial review of history can remind us that people have done some really evil things. Think of names like Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, or Charles Manson. Is Jesus saying that we shouldn’t judge their crimes as evil? Is he telling us to ignore what they have done and practice an extreme form of tolerance instead?

Of course not. We need to make moral judgments. We need to stand up and say that certain actions are wrong. What Jesus challenges us about in this verse is whether we are passing personal judgments against individual people—judgments that tear them down or puff us up, judgments that are based on selfrighteousness and not love. So, let’s ask today: How do I view the people who I am in contact with on a regular basis? Is it with a personal rating scale based on how they treat me, or is it with love and their best interest at heart?

Jesus judged people and situations every day, but he never held hatred or resentment; he never tried to get revenge. Instead, he measured each situation based on the way his Father wanted him to act.

But there is more than a command in these verses. There is a promise as well: If we put an end to self-centered and self-righteous judgments, we ourselves will not be judged. God will not judge us because he will see in us a heart like his own, a heart of mercy, compassion, and understanding. Such a disposition shows that we have mastered our pride and self-centered ways of thinking. So there is nothing left for God to judge! Neither will other people judge us, for the witness of our kindness will melt their hearts. Even those of a suspicious nature will gradually come to trust and respect us, for we will have become living witnesses to the kingdom of God.

Of course, none of us will get this command completely right—at least not in this life! But isn’t it good to know that the more we try, the closer to the Lord we will become? And the closer God himself will draw to us!

“Lord, today I renounce my judgments of others. Please help me to see everyone through your merciful eyes.”

18 June 2011

19 Jun 2011, The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Reading 1
Ex 34:4b-6, 8-9

Early in the morning Moses went up Mount Sinai
as the LORD had commanded him,
taking along the two stone tablets.

Having come down in a cloud, the LORD stood with Moses there
and proclaimed his name, "LORD."
Thus the LORD passed before him and cried out,
"The LORD, the LORD, a merciful and gracious God,
slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity."
Moses at once bowed down to the ground in worship.
Then he said, "If I find favor with you, O Lord,
do come along in our company.
This is indeed a stiff-necked people; yet pardon our wickedness and sins,
and receive us as your own."

Dn 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56
Responsorial PsalmR. (52b)

Glory and praise for ever!
Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever;
And blessed is your holy and glorious name,
praiseworthy and exalted above all for all ages.
R. Glory and praise for ever!
Blessed are you in the temple of your holy glory,
praiseworthy and glorious above all forever.
R. Glory and praise for ever!
Blessed are you on the throne of your kingdom,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.
R. Glory and praise for ever!
Blessed are you who look into the depths
from your throne upon the cherubim,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.
R. Glory and praise for ever!

Reading II
2 Cor 13:11-13

Brothers and sisters, rejoice.
Mend your ways, encourage one another,
agree with one another, live in peace,
and the God of love and peace will be with you.
Greet one another with a holy kiss.
All the holy ones greet you.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ
and the love of God
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.

Jn 3:16-18

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.
Whoever believes in him will not be condemned,
but whoever does not believe has already been condemned,
because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

Meditation: John 3:16-18

“God so loved the world that he gave …” (John 3:16)

Let’s stop right there. Sometimes these words can become so familiar that they roll by on the page without eliciting any new thought. But the greatest mystery of the universe is that God gave—and he gave and he gave some more. In fact, he gave everything so that we could be with him. That’s how much he loves us!

This is the real mystery that we celebrate today. This is a day to rejoice in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit who love us! It’s a day to rejoice in the very personal love that God has for each one of us—a love that will never abandon us. God has held nothing back. He invites us, weak and sinful human beings, to share completely in his divine life. And he has moved heaven and earth to make it possible!

John tells us that God has given us the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth by revealing the mysteries of the gospel to our hearts. The Holy Spirit takes what he hears from the Father and the Son and reveals it to us in a personal, life-giving way (John 16:12-15). And this is not just a passing on of information. The Spirit works in such a way as to bring us into an experience of the Trinity. His revelation always lifts our hearts, fills us with joy, and gives us confidence that we are God’s beloved children.

At Mass today, ask for a deeper revelation of the Trinity, a revelation of the love that gave everything so that we could be with him. Expect God to fill you with his divine life and give you a deeper taste of his love.

“Thank you, heavenly Father, beloved Lord Jesus and gracious Holy Spirit, for your amazing love. How incredible that you would give so much just for us. We praise you for revealing yourself to us and for filling us with your grace. Lord, we praise and glorify you!”

Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
(Exodus 34:4-6,8-9; (Psalm) Daniel 3:52-56; 2 Corinthians 13:11-13; John 3:16-18)

1. In the first reading, God describes himself as “merciful and gracious,” and “slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.” If this is the way that God treats you, then why is it important for us to treat others in the same way?

2. In the Responsorial Psalm from the book of Daniel, we hear words of blessing and praise to God from Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego — after they were thrown into the fiery furnace on orders from King Nebuchadnezzar. What are the things that God has done in your life that make him worthy of your blessing and praise?

3. Paul encourages us in the letter to the Corinthians to “encourage one another.” How can you better reach out to others in order to provide deeper support and friendship? What about you - what are some of the things that keep you from asking a brother or sister in Christ for help?

4. Paul also tells us to “live in peace.” What are the stress areas in your life that cause you to lose your peace? How do you think God want you to deal with these areas so that you would experience greater peace?

5. We are all familiar with John 3:16 from the Gospel reading. Jesus came not to condemn the world but to save it. He reached out in love to each one of us in order to reconcile us to his Father. Who are the people in your life with whom you must still be reconciled? If reconciliation requires you to forgive those who have hurt you or wronged you, are you willing to do this out of gratitude for the forgiveness and love you have received from God? Why or why not? What would be the next step for you in this reconciliation after forgiveness?

6. The meditation asks us to seek a deeper revelation and experience of the Trinity, including a deeper experience of his love. What practical steps can you take to open yourself to that deeper revelation and experience of God’s love? Do you think the forgiveness (or unforgiveness), mentioned in the previous question, has a part to play in this?

7. Take some time now to pray that you would experience a deeper revelation and a deeper experience of God’s love for you. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.

18 Jun 2011, Saturday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
2 Cor 12:1-10

Brothers and sisters:
I must boast; not that it is profitable,
but I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord.
I know a man in Christ who, fourteen years ago
(whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows),
was caught up to the third heaven.
And I know that this man
(whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows)
was caught up into Paradise and heard ineffable things,
which no one may utter.
About this man I will boast,
but about myself I will not boast, except about my weaknesses.
Although if I should wish to boast, I would not be foolish,
for I would be telling the truth.
But I refrain, so that no one may think more of me
than what he sees in me or hears from me
because of the abundance of the revelations.
Therefore, that I might not become too elated,
a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan,
to beat me, to keep me from being too elated.
Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me,
but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you,
for power is made perfect in weakness.”
I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses,
in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.
Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults,
hardships, persecutions, and constraints,
for the sake of Christ;
for when I am weak, then I am strong.

34:8-9, 10-11, 12-13
Responsorial PsalmR. (9a)

Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Taste and see how good the LORD is;
blessed the man who takes refuge in him.
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Fear the LORD, you his holy ones,
for nought is lacking to those who fear him.
The great grow poor and hungry;
but those who seek the LORD want for no good thing.
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Come, children, hear me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
Which of you desires life,
and takes delight in prosperous days?
R. Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

Mt 6:24-34

Jesus said to his disciples:
“No one can serve two masters.
He will either hate one and love the other,
or be devoted to one and despise the other.
You cannot serve God and mammon.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life,
what you will eat or drink,
or about your body, what you will wear.
Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
Look at the birds in the sky;
they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns,
yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are not you more important than they?
Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?
Why are you anxious about clothes?
Learn from the way the wild flowers grow.
They do not work or spin.
But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor
was clothed like one of them.
If God so clothes the grass of the field,
which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow,
will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?
So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’
or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’
All these things the pagans seek.
Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given you besides.
Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.
Sufficient for a day is its own evil.”

Meditation: Matthew 6:24-34

Is not life more than food? (Matthew 6:25)

Do you remember Seinfeld, the TV sitcom that was wildly popular in the 1990s? Nine seasons, numerous awards, huge audiences—and, having earned almost three billion dollars in reruns, the most profitable thirty minutes in television history. All for “a show about nothing,” as the program billed itself—with episodes about trivial realities and annoyances, like shopping, waiting in line, and an unflattering shirt; with self-absorbed characters who never learn from their experiences or ask, “What’s life all about?”

Of course, there’s comedy in life’s ordinary moments and concerns. And because they can feel futile, it can be refreshing to laugh at them. But let’s not forget the big picture. “Is not life more than food?”—more than drink, clothing, and waiting for a seat at a restaurant? More than “nothing”? Jesus assures us that it is.

Our life, in fact, is about something so big that it’s hard to wrap our minds around it. God created us to know him, to share his life, and to be transformed into the image of his Son. It’s a destiny—an inheritance, a “weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17)—beyond anything we can imagine.

And the way to receive it, Jesus says, is simply this: “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). Try not to get too distracted by trivial stuff. Do your best to keep God’s heavenly plan in the forefront of your mind. Set your heart on receiving God’s love. Spend time every day returning that love to him and growing closer to him through prayer, service, and faithfulness to his calling.

The more determined you are in seeking first the kingdom, the more you will see the true value in all those “nothing” moments. As you offer them to God, doing them or even enduring them with love for him, you move his grand plan forward— even when it doesn’t feel so grand.

So today, as you do your errands, balance the checkbook, or wipe runny noses, lift up your head and remember: It’s not about nothing. It’s about the greatest “something”

of all!

“Father, I offer you this day. Help me to put you first as I move through it. May every minute become something beautiful for you.”

17 June 2011

17 Jun 2011, Friday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
2 Cor 11:18, 21-30

Brothers and sisters:
Since many boast according to the flesh, I too will boast.
To my shame I say that we were too weak!

But what anyone dares to boast of
(I am speaking in foolishness)
I also dare.
Are they Hebrews? So am I.
Are they children of Israel? So am I.
Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I.
Are they ministers of Christ?
(I am talking like an insane person).
I am still more, with far greater labors,
far more imprisonments, far worse beatings,
and numerous brushes with death.
Five times at the hands of the Jews
I received forty lashes minus one.
Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned,
three times I was shipwrecked,
I passed a night and a day on the deep;
on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers,
dangers from robbers, dangers from my own race,
dangers from Gentiles, dangers in the city,
dangers in the wilderness, dangers at sea,
dangers among false brothers;
in toil and hardship, through many sleepless nights,
through hunger and thirst, through frequent fastings,
through cold and exposure.
And apart from these things, there is the daily pressure upon me
of my anxiety for all the churches.
Who is weak, and I am not weak?
Who is led to sin, and I am not indignant?

If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.

34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7
Responsorial PsalmR. (see 18b)

From all their distress God rescues the just.
I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
the lowly will hear me and be glad.
R. From all their distress God rescues the just.
Glorify the LORD with me,
let us together extol his name.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
R. From all their distress God rescues the just.
Look to him that you may be radiant with joy,
and your faces may not blush with shame.
When the poor one called out, the LORD heard,
and from all his distress he saved him.
R. From all their distress God rescues the just.

Mt 6:19-23

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,
where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal.
But store up treasures in heaven,
where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal.
For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.

“The lamp of the body is the eye.
If your eye is sound, your whole body will be filled with light;
but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be in darkness.
And if the light in you is darkness, how great will the darkness be.”

Meditation: Matthew 6:19-23

“Store up treasures in heaven.” (Matthew 6:20)

Earthly treasures—we all know what those are. We can see and touch the shiny sports car, the elegant evening dress, the big new home, and all the other creature comforts that money can buy. Compared to vague and elusive heavenly treasures, these things seem so real and attractive, especially when a neighbor has them.

Why would Jesus warn us about these earthly treasures that seem to make so many people happy? The answer to this may be summed up in two words: “temporary” and “shortsighted.” We are destined for eternity, but the treasures of the world are not. It’s shortsighted to set our hearts on things that will fade away. What will last forever, Jesus says, is the treasure of heaven. This treasure really is worth seeking, because it’s the only one that will truly satisfy and will last forever.

The heavenly treasure Jesus promises has two aspects. First, there are the rewards waiting for us at the end of time. At the last judgment, we will each receive our recompense for every act of love and obedience to Christ—every cup of water for the thirsty, every sinful thought brought captive to Christ, every moment submitted to his will. Jesus has prepared a place for us in the beautiful new Jerusalem, where there is no darkness, sickness, or pain. He will reign there as Lord, and we will see him face-to-face!

The second aspect of heavenly treasure is what we can experience here and now. For those who submit to Christ, life on earth is filled with glimpses of heaven: freedom from guilt. Power over persistent sin. A dynamic, personal relationship with the Creator of the universe. Clarity and purpose for living. Deep friendships with brothers and sisters in the Lord. Conviction of the truth and clarity about right and wrong. The ability to forgive. Strength in weakness. Peace in times of trial. Joy in the knowledge of salvation. Hope for the future. Divine wisdom for everyday situations. Healing and miracles. When you stop to think about it, no luxury car or mansion can possibly compare!

“Jesus, thank you for so extravagantly lavishing on me the good gifts of your kingdom.”

16 June 2011

16 Jun 2011, Thursday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
2 Cor 11:1-11

Brothers and sisters:
If only you would put up with a little foolishness from me!
Please put up with me.
For I am jealous of you with the jealousy of God,
since I betrothed you to one husband
to present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning,
your thoughts may be corrupted
from a sincere and pure commitment to Christ.
For if someone comes and preaches another Jesus than the one we preached,
or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received
or a different gospel from the one you accepted,
you put up with it well enough.
For I think that I am not in any way inferior to these “superapostles.”
Even if I am untrained in speaking, I am not so in knowledge;
in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.

Did I make a mistake when I humbled myself so that you might be exalted,
because I preached the Gospel of God to you without charge?
I plundered other churches by accepting from them
in order to minister to you.
And when I was with you and in need, I did not burden anyone,
for the brothers who came from Macedonia
supplied my needs.
So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way.
By the truth of Christ in me,
this boast of mine shall not be silenced
in the regions of Achaia.
And why? Because I do not love you?
God knows I do!

111:1b-2, 3-4, 7-8
Responsorial PsalmR. (7a)

Your works, O Lord, are justice and truth.
R. Alleluia.
I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart
in the company and assembly of the just.
Great are the works of the LORD,
exquisite in all their delights.
R. Your works, O Lord, are justice and truth.
R. Alleluia.
Majesty and glory are his work,
and his justice endures forever.
He has won renown for his wondrous deeds;
gracious and merciful is the LORD.
R. Your works, O Lord, are justice and truth.
R. Alleluia.
The works of his hands are faithful and just;
sure are all his precepts,
Reliable forever and ever,
wrought in truth and equity.
R. Your works, O Lord, are justice and truth.
R. Alleluia.

Mt 6:7-15

Jesus said to his disciples:
“In praying, do not babble like the pagans,
who think that they will be heard because of their many words.
Do not be like them.
Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“This is how you are to pray:

‘Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.’
“If you forgive others their transgressions,
your heavenly Father will forgive you.
But if you do not forgive others,
neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.”

Meditation: 2 Corinthians 11:1-11

“I am afraid that … your thoughts may be corrupted from a sincere and pure commitment to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:3)

Paul was afraid that the Corinthians’ faith—their conviction about Jesus and his salvation—was being watered down by his opponents. By calling into question Paul’s integrity, these opponents also cast doubt on his message. And by casting doubt on Paul’s message, they were chipping away at his call for purity, honesty, and righteousness.

Not much has changed, has it? Let’s face it. It’s hard to live the Christian life! Not only do we struggle with our own internal weaknesses and sins but we also face a barrage of temptations from the devil and from the world around us. If our appetites aren’t being attacked with temptations toward gluttony or lust, you can be sure that our intellects are being weakened through fuzzy logic or questionable philosophies.

So what should we do? Protect ourselves by living like hermits closed off from the world? Stick our fingers in our ears and cover our eyes whenever we go out?

Not at all! Giving up like that is almost as bad as giving in to temptation. Why? Because when we try to hide from the world, we are telling ourselves that Jesus isn’t big enough to handle our challenges. Not to mention, it’s next to impossible to silence all these opposing voices, since so many of them originate in our own hearts.

Rather than trying to wall yourself off from the world, go on the offensive. In faith and confidence, stand up to all these voices and tell them that Christ is in you and that you are in Christ. Tell them that they are only shadows, weak whispers when compared to the power of the Holy Spirit and the divine life that he has placed in your heart.

It really is possible to live a life of “sincere and pure commitment to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3). You may not be perfect at it, but daily practice—and daily surrender to Jesus—can go a long way in building up your faith. So stand tall and stay close to Jesus. Then watch as the devil flees!

“Jesus, I know that without you I am nothing. But I also know that with you I have everything. Give me confidence to fight the good fight of faith today.”

15 June 2011

15 June 2011, “The abundance of their joy and their profound poverty overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.” (2 Corinthians 8:2) If some

Reading 1
2 Cor 9:6-11

Brothers and sisters, consider this:
whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly,
and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
Each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion,
for God loves a cheerful giver.
Moreover, God is able to make every grace abundant for you,
so that in all things, always having all you need,
you may have an abundance for every good work.
As it is written:

He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever.

The one who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food
will supply and multiply your seed
and increase the harvest of your righteousness.

You are being enriched in every way for all generosity,
which through us produces thanksgiving to God.

112:1bc-2, 3-4, 9
Responsorial PsalmR. (1b)

Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
R. Alleluia.
Blessed the man who fears the LORD,
who greatly delights in his commands.
His posterity shall be mighty upon the earth;
the upright generation shall be blessed.
R. Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
R. Alleluia.
Wealth and riches shall be in his house;
his generosity shall endure forever.
Light shines through the darkness for the upright;
he is gracious and merciful and just.
R. Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
R. Alleluia.
Lavishly he gives to the poor;
his generosity shall endure forever;
his horn shall be exalted in glory.
R. Blessed the man who fears the Lord.
R. Alleluia.

Mt 6:1-6, 16-18

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Take care not to perform righteous deeds
in order that people may see them;
otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.
When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you,
as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets
to win the praise of others.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you give alms,
do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,
so that your almsgiving may be secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites,
who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners
so that others may see them.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door,
and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

“When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.
They neglect their appearance,
so that they may appear to others to be fasting.
Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward.
But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,
so that you may not appear to others to be fasting,
except to your Father who is hidden.
And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”

Meditation: 2 Corinthians 9:6-11

“Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” (2 Corinthians 9:6)

Most of us know at least one or two people who really exemplify the spirit of generosity. They always seem to be giving things away. When they have something they can’t use anymore, instead of having a yard sale, they will go to their friends and see who needs it. They’ll buy extra clothes for the homeless or cook extra food for a neighbor in crisis. What’s amazing about these people is that the more they give, the more they seem to have—and they give even more away!

This is the kind of attitude Paul wanted to encourage in the Corinthians. He reminded them that God, who gives us everything, is more than able to take care of our needs. And when we imitate him by helping provide for others, he makes sure that we are taken care of (2 Corinthians 9:10).

One of the best examples of this spirit of generosity is found in the Gospel of Luke. In just a few short verses, we learn that not only did the twelve apostles travel with Jesus but also “some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities.” Chief among these was Mary Magdalene, “from whom seven demons had gone out” (Luke 8:2). These women, along with some others, “provided for” Jesus and his disciples out of their own resources (8:3). It seems that they were all so grateful for Jesus’ work in their lives that they were willing to supply whatever he needed so that he could keep traveling, preaching, and healing people as deeply as they had been healed. Jesus’ love, at work in their hearts, produced a compassion for other people and moved them to be just as generous as Jesus.

Jesus had sowed generously into these women’s lives, and he was reaping the harvest of their own devotion to him and generosity for his mission. They, in turn, began to sow generously and reaped from Jesus a harvest of ongoing transformation— and the promise of eternal life. We can all follow their example by receiving generously from Jesus— and then giving it away.

“Lord, may the love you showed on the cross fill my heart, so that I can share it with my brothers and sisters. May I always be able to see you in them!”