31 August 2011

31 Aug 2011, Wednesday of the Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
Col 1:1-8

Paul, an Apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
and Timothy our brother,
to the holy ones and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ in Colossae:
grace to you and peace from God our Father.

We always give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
when we pray for you,
for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus
and the love that you have for all the holy ones
because of the hope reserved for you in heaven.
Of this you have already heard
through the word of truth, the Gospel, that has come to you.
Just as in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing,
so also among you,
from the day you heard it and came to know the grace of God in truth,
as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow slave,
who is a trustworthy minister of Christ on your behalf
and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 52:10, 11R. (10)

I trust in the mercy of God for ever.
I, like a green olive tree
in the house of God,
Trust in the mercy of God
forever and ever.
R. I trust in the mercy of God for ever.
I will thank you always for what you have done,
and proclaim the goodness of your name
before your faithful ones.
R. I trust in the mercy of God for ever.

Lk 4:38-44

After Jesus left the synagogue, he entered the house of Simon.
Simon's mother-in-law was afflicted with a severe fever,
and they interceded with him about her.
He stood over her, rebuked the fever, and it left her.
She got up immediately and waited on them.

At sunset, all who had people sick with various diseases brought them to him.
He laid his hands on each of them and cured them.
And demons also came out from many, shouting, "You are the Son of God."
But he rebuked them and did not allow them to speak
because they knew that he was the Christ.

At daybreak, Jesus left and went to a deserted place.
The crowds went looking for him, and when they came to him,
they tried to prevent him from leaving them.
But he said to them, "To the other towns also
I must proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God,
because for this purpose I have been sent."
And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea.

Meditation: Colossians 1:1-8

We always give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you.” (Colossians 1:3)

What confidence Paul exudes as he begins his letter to the believers in Colossae! He knows that God will continue to work in their lives, and he tells them as much—even if he must later give them some strong corrections. Paul knows that this church has its troubles, but he has more confidence in the Holy Spirit’s power to transform than in the power of sin to distort. In the end, Paul knows that God will work through their weakness and confusion to bring them closer to Christ and to make them more fruitful for the gospel.

We can take a cue from Paul’s optimistic opening here. It is easy to dwell on our weaknesses and shortcomings and think that we will never do much for the Lord. But God wants us to be confident, even in the face of our failings, that he will work through us. He wants to remind us that he also called an impetuous tradesman named Peter and a proud intellectual named Paul. So surely he can use us!

It can be even easier to look at the weaknesses or faults of other people and conclude that they will never amount to much in God’s kingdom. How surprising it can be, then, to see God using them—sometimes in very dramatic ways! Remember how he used a poor, sickly girl like Bernadette Soubirous in nineteenth- century France. Remember, too, how he used a party-boy, Francis Bernadone, in twelfth-century Assisi. Elsewhere, Paul writes how God chooses the weak, lowly, and despised things of the world to shame the strong and wise (1 Corinthians 1:27-29). It seems to be his standard way of operating!

We should never think that our weaknesses or those of others pose insurmountable obstacles to God. We can always be confident, like Paul, that God can fill every single person—rich or poor, strong or weak, healthy or frail—with his goodness and grace. He is our loving Father, and nothing can get in the way of his plans, his love, and his power.

“Lord, give me a bigger vision of you and your power to transform. I want to help spread your kingdom in this world!”

30 August 2011

30 Aug 2011, Tuesday of the Twenty-Second Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
1 Thes 5:1-6, 9-11

Concerning times and seasons, brothers and sisters,
you have no need for anything to be written to you.
For you yourselves know very well
that the day of the Lord will come like a thief at night.
When people are saying, "Peace and security,"
then sudden disaster comes upon them,
like labor pains upon a pregnant woman,
and they will not escape.

But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness,
for that day to overtake you like a thief.
For all of you are children of the light
and children of the day.
We are not of the night or of darkness.
Therefore, let us not sleep as the rest do,
but let us stay alert and sober.
For God did not destine us for wrath,
but to gain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,
who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep
we may live together with him.
Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up,
as indeed you do.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 27:1, 4, 13-14R. (13)

I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.
The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life's refuge;
of whom should I be afraid?
R. I believe that I shall see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.
One thing I ask of the LORD;
this I seek:
To dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
That I may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD
and contemplate his temple.
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 4:31-37

Jesus went down to Capernaum, a town of Galilee.
He taught them on the sabbath,
and they were astonished at his teaching
because he spoke with authority.
In the synagogue there was a man with the spirit of an unclean demon,
and he cried out in a loud voice,
"What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth"
Have you come to destroy us?
I know who you are"the Holy One of God!"
Jesus rebuked him and said, "Be quiet! Come out of him!"
Then the demon threw the man down in front of them
and came out of him without doing him any harm.
They were all amazed and said to one another,
"What is there about his word?
For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits,
and they come out."
And news of him spread everywhere in the surrounding region.

Meditation: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6, 9-11

All of you are children of the light and children of the day.” (1 Thessalonians 5:5)

Isn’t that amazing? You were once in darkness, but now you have been brought into the light of Christ. And because of this, you are uniquely qualified to declare his praises to the world (1 Peter 2:9). You have every reason to be a minister of Jesus’ love and mercy. In a world that has grown jaded, positive and encouraging people are exceptional—and deeply needed!

So go ahead and encourage one another. Build one another up (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Talk about what God is doing in your life. Comment on the good things you see him doing in someone else’s life. Be positive, supportive, and appreciative. Look for ways to strengthen someone who seems weary, to embolden someone who is timid or fearful, or to empower someone who seems weak. If you don’t think you see anything worth talking about, ask the Holy Spirit to show you where he is at work, and keep your eyes open.

Even when you think that what you see is a fault, ask God to help you see what he sees. Ask him to help you to love as he loves. God is always at work in every person’s life. You just have to get used to looking for it so that you can offer words of encouragement. Make it a point to acknowledge what you see God doing. Compliment and affirm his goodness as you see it in the people around you. Find ways to share your knowledge of God with them so that they can see God’s hand in their lives as well.

And while you’re at it, don’t restrict yourself only to “godly” topics. Complimenting someone on a natural level—their looks, talents, kindness, hopes, and dreams—can be just as heartening and stimulating. It may also open the door for further and deeper conversations. Over time, you will find more and more opportunities to talk about God’s life and goodness, and you will find people more accepting.

God has made you a child of the light. Will you let that light shine?

“Holy Spirit, give me words of affirmation today that I can use to encourage my loved ones. Show me how I can bring your light into this world of shadows.”

29 August 2011

29 Aug 2011, The Memorial of the Martyrdom of Saint John the Baptist

Reading 1
1 Thes 4:13-18

We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters,
about those who have fallen asleep,
so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope.
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose,
so too will God, through Jesus,
bring with him those who have fallen asleep.
Indeed, we tell you this, on the word of the Lord,
that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord,
will surely not precede those who have fallen asleep.
For the Lord himself, with a word of command,
with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God,
will come down from heaven,
and the dead in Christ will rise first.
Then we who are alive, who are left,
will be caught up together with them in the clouds
to meet the Lord in the air.
Thus we shall always be with the Lord.
Therefore, console one another with these words.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 96:1 and 3, 4-5, 11-12, 13R. (13b)

The Lord comes to judge the earth.
Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Tell his glory among the nations;
among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.
R. The Lord comes to judge the earth.
For great is the LORD and highly to be praised;
awesome is he, beyond all gods.
For all the gods of the nations are things of nought,
but the LORD made the heavens.
R. The Lord comes to judge the earth.
Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice;
let the sea and what fills it resound;
let the plains be joyful and all that is in them!
Then shall all the trees of the forest exult.
R. The Lord comes to judge the earth.
Before the LORD, for he comes;
for he comes to rule the earth.
He shall rule the world with justice
and the peoples with his constancy.
R. The Lord comes to judge the earth.

Mk 6:17-29

Herod was the one who had John the Baptist arrested and bound in prison
on account of Herodias,
the wife of his brother Philip, whom he had married.
John had said to Herod,
“It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”
Herodias harbored a grudge against him
and wanted to kill him but was unable to do so.
Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man,
and kept him in custody.
When he heard him speak he was very much perplexed,
yet he liked to listen to him.
She had an opportunity one day when Herod, on his birthday,
gave a banquet for his courtiers,
his military officers, and the leading men of Galilee.
Herodias’ own daughter came in
and performed a dance that delighted Herod and his guests.
The king said to the girl,
“Ask of me whatever you wish and I will grant it to you.”
He even swore many things to her,
“I will grant you whatever you ask of me,
even to half of my kingdom.”
She went out and said to her mother,
“What shall I ask for?”
She replied, “The head of John the Baptist.”
The girl hurried back to the king’s presence and made her request,
“I want you to give me at once
on a platter the head of John the Baptist.”
The king was deeply distressed,
but because of his oaths and the guests
he did not wish to break his word to her.
So he promptly dispatched an executioner with orders
to bring back his head.
He went off and beheaded him in the prison.
He brought in the head on a platter and gave it to the girl.
The girl in turn gave it to her mother.
When his disciples heard about it,
they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.

Meditation: Mark 6:17-29

The Martyrdom of John the Baptist

Give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist. (Mark 6:25)

We probably have many questions about the end of the world or the end of our own lives. When will the end come? How will it happen? What will heaven be like?

John the Baptist had questions like these as well. He had spent years preparing people for the coming Messiah, and all the signs pointed toward nothing but hope and promise. The kingdom was at hand! God was coming to rule! A new era of peace was on the horizon! And yet, for all his preaching and dedication, he ended up alone in prison. Was Jesus really the one? Then where was the kingdom? Was it really just around the corner, or had John been wrong all along?

John even sent messengers to ask Jesus these questions, but the answers he got back were not altogether clear-cut. In the end, John was beheaded before he saw the fulfillment. The last prophet of the Old Testament, he sensed that a new age was dawning, but he didn’t live to see it.

Stories like John’s can be unsettling. Why would God let John die before seeing his dreams fulfilled? Hadn’t he suffered enough out there in the desert and then in prison? Couldn’t God have given him some reward for all his faithfulness?

While we may never know the full answer, today’s first reading gives us a few glimpses. Paul assures us that death isn’t the final word. He promises that those who have died in faith will arise at the Second Coming. And he tells us that we can find consolation, hope, and even joy as we let these truths sink into our hearts.

We can be sure that, despite his unanswered questions, John the Baptist died a heroic, faith-filled death. He trusted that death wasn’t the final word for himself. He believed, even when he couldn’t see. And because of his faith, he remains a shining example to all of us as we face our own unanswered questions.

“Lord Jesus, thank you for defeating death. I want to be united with you forever!”

28 August 2011

28 Aug 2011, Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
Jer 20:7-9

You duped me, O LORD, and I let myself be duped;
you were too strong for me, and you triumphed.
All the day I am an object of laughter;
everyone mocks me.

Whenever I speak, I must cry out,
violence and outrage is my message;
the word of the LORD has brought me
derision and reproach all the day.

I say to myself, I will not mention him,
I will speak in his name no more.
But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart,
imprisoned in my bones;
I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9R. (2b)

My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
O God, you are my God whom I seek;
for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts
like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
Thus have I gazed toward you in the sanctuary
to see your power and your glory,
For your kindness is a greater good than life;
my lips shall glorify you.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
Thus will I bless you while I live;
lifting up my hands, I will call upon your name.
As with the riches of a banquet shall my soul be satisfied,
and with exultant lips my mouth shall praise you.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.
You are my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I shout for joy.
My soul clings fast to you;
your right hand upholds me.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.

Reading 2
Rom 12:1-2

I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God,
to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice,
holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship.
Do not conform yourselves to this age
but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
that you may discern what is the will of God,
what is good and pleasing and perfect.

Mt 16:21-27

Jesus began to show his disciples
that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly
from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed and on the third day be raised.
Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him,
"God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you."
He turned and said to Peter,
"Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me.
You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do."

Then Jesus said to his disciples,
"Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit his life"
Or what can one give in exchange for his life?
For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father's glory,
and then he will repay all according to his conduct."

Meditation: Matthew 16:21-27

You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” (Matthew 16:23)

Can you imagine being in Peter’s position? Jesus just called you the rock on which he would build his church, and then, seconds later, he is chastising you and calling you “Satan.” What happened?

What we are seeing here is the real-time working of the Holy Spirit. Through Jesus’ teaching, Peter was laying new foundations for the way he would think and act—but those foundations took time to build. And today’s reading shows him at a point when he grasped that Jesus was the promised Messiah, but not that this Messiah was destined to be a suffering servant.

How hard it must have been for Peter to hear Jesus speak so abruptly! But ultimately, how freeing it proved to be! Peter didn’t have to remain thinking only as an ordinary human being, with just a few flashes of revelation here and there. This encounter showed him that he could learn how to think with God all the time. It showed that he could always ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom—and that the Spirit would answer him.

Ultimately, Peter was able to preach the gospel, heal the sick, and lead the church because he let his mind be renewed. He learned how to hear God’s voice and receive direction from God, and that enabled him to remain strong and peaceful in times of tribulation. He wasn’t doing it all on his own; he had divine help to guide him and reassure him every step of the way.

Peter is a wonderful example of what the Holy Spirit can do when we let him work in us. Sometimes it is hard to submit our thoughts and attitudes to the Lord, but the rewards are well worth the effort. After all, what could be better than being transformed into a beloved—and loving—servant of Christ!

“Holy Spirit, come and renew my way of thinking. I want to become a vessel of your grace and power, and I know I cannot do this on my own. Spirit, make your thoughts my thoughts and your desires my desires!”

Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion

(Jeremiah 20:7-9; Psalm 63:2-6,8-9; Romans 12:1-2; Matthew 16:21-27)

1. In the first reading, Jeremiah is so in tune with the Lord that he cannot hold back from speaking of him to others. Could that be said of your faith? What are the obstacles that keep you from talking to someone about your faith in Christ? Take some time now to pray that you would be able to overcome them.

2. The responsorial psalm talks of the soul “thirsting” for God. Do you feel your soul is thirsty for the Lord? Why or why not? What can you do this week to water your soul even more?

3. The letter to the Romans asks us not to be conformed to the world. What has the biggest influence on your mind: television, newspapers, and what others think - or is it the Scriptures and prayer? What specifically can you do to reduce the influence of the first three and increase the influence of Scriptures and prayer?

4. In the Gospel, Jesus had to rebuke Peter because Peter wanted to tell Christ what he needed to do. How can you increase your receptivity to Christ’s leading, rather than telling him what he needs to do for you?

5. Jesus also spoke of the need to deny ourselves and take up our cross? What cross is the Lord asking you to bear? If you are part of a small group, how can you help one another in bearing this cross?

6. The meditation speaks of the Peter’s ongoing transformation, and the renewal of his mind, which enabled him to lead the early church. It also challenges us with these words: “Peter is a wonderful example of what the Holy Spirit can do when we let him work in us. Sometimes it is hard to submit our thoughts and attitudes to the Lord, but the rewards are well worth the effort. After all, what could be better than being transformed into a beloved—and loving—servant of Christ!” How well do you do at submitting your thoughts and attitudes to the Lord? What are some of the obstacles that keep you from dong this? What steps cn you take to overcome them?

7. Take some time now and pray for a renewal of your mind and your way of thinking, especially in difficult situations or times of crisis. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.

27 August 2011

27 Aug 2011, Memorial of Saint Monica

Reading 1
1 Thes 4:9-11

Brothers and sisters:
On the subject of fraternal charity
you have no need for anyone to write you,
for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another.
Indeed, you do this for all the brothers throughout Macedonia.
Nevertheless we urge you, brothers and sisters, to progress even more,
and to aspire to live a tranquil life,
to mind your own affairs,
and to work with your own hands,
as we instructed you.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 98:1, 7-8, 9R. (9)

The Lord comes to rule the earth with justice.
Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done wondrous deeds;
His right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm.
R. The Lord comes to rule the earth with justice.
Let the sea and what fills it resound,
the world and those who dwell in it;
Let the rivers clap their hands,
the mountains shout with them for joy.
R. The Lord comes to rule the earth with justice.
Before the LORD, for he comes,
for he comes to rule the earth;
He will rule the world with justice
and the peoples with equity.
R. The Lord comes to rule the earth with justice.

Mt 25:14-30

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“A man going on a journey
called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them.
To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one–
to each according to his ability.
Then he went away.
Immediately the one who received five talents went and traded with them,
and made another five.
Likewise, the one who received two made another two.
But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground
and buried his master’s money.
After a long time
the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them.
The one who had received five talents
came forward bringing the additional five.
He said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents.
See, I have made five more.’
His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.
Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities.
Come, share your master’s joy.’
Then the one who had received two talents also came forward and said,
‘Master, you gave me two talents.
See, I have made two more.’
His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.
Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities.
Come, share your master’s joy.’
Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said,
‘Master, I knew you were a demanding person,
harvesting where you did not plant
and gathering where you did not scatter;
so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground.
Here it is back.’
His master said to him in reply, ‘You wicked, lazy servant!
So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant
and gather where I did not scatter?
Should you not then have put my money in the bank
so that I could have got it back with interest on my return?
Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten.
For to everyone who has,
more will be given and he will grow rich;
but from the one who has not,
even what he has will be taken away.
And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’'

Meditation: Matthew 25:14-30

Well done, my good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21)

Let’s take a slightly different approach to this parable today. We often look at ourselves in terms of the one-talent servant—and our only talent is “church!” To use this talent means to pray, evangelize, and be involved in ministry. If we’re not doing enough of these things, it means we’re shirking our responsibility, and we stand a good chance of ending up like this unfortunate man, who was so scared of making a mistake that he did nothing.

But instead of thinking of ourselves this way, let’s imagine we are the five- and two-talent servants. We do have more than one talent, after all—and they are not all spiritual ones. As a loving Father, God gives his children many gifts. He created us with a body and mind as well as a spirit, and he has given us talents in all of these areas. He wants us to have an “abundant life”(John 10:10), and that means developing our full potential and being involved in the world in every good and wholesome way.

When God created the world, he looked at what he had made and saw that it was “very good” (Genesis 1:31). He sent Jesus to save our whole being, not just our souls, and to bring “all things” to himself (Colossians 1:20). God loves his creation so much that he wants to give it new life—and that means all of it. Anything we do in Christ, provided it is done in love, can be redeemed for his kingdom. And if we focus only on the spiritual and ignore everything else, our spiritual life will suffer—much like a car with plenty of gas but no air in the tires!

What talents do you have? Remember: Something as ordinary as improving your golf game, becoming a better cook or artist, or being the absolute best at your job can draw you closer to God. Accept these skills as gifts from a loving God. Develop them in a way that glorifies the Lord. Keep working at them. Keep offering them to God, even as you enjoy them. And know that God is very pleased with you.

“Father, thank you for giving me so many wonderful gifts! Help me to develop them to their greatest potential, and to use them all for your glory."

26 August 2011

26 Aug 2011, Friday of the Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
1 Thes 4:1-8

Brothers and sisters,
we earnestly ask and exhort you in the Lord Jesus that,
as you received from us
how you should conduct yourselves to please God?
and as you are conducting yourselves?
you do so even more.
For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.

This is the will of God, your holiness:
that you refrain from immorality,
that each of you know how to acquire a wife for himself
in holiness and honor, not in lustful passion
as do the Gentiles who do not know God;
not to take advantage of or exploit a brother or sister in this matter,
for the Lord is an avenger in all these things,
as we told you before and solemnly affirmed.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 97:1 and 2b, 5-6, 10, 11-12R. (12a)

Rejoice in the Lord, you just!
The LORD is king; let the earth rejoice;
let the many isles be glad.
Justice and judgment are the foundation of his throne.
R. Rejoice in the Lord, you just!
The mountains melt like wax before the LORD,
before the LORD of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his justice,
and all peoples see his glory.
R. Rejoice in the Lord, you just!
The LORD loves those who hate evil;
he guards the lives of his faithful ones;
from the hand of the wicked he delivers them.
R. Rejoice in the Lord, you just!
Light dawns for the just;
and gladness, for the upright of heart.
Be glad in the LORD, you just,
and give thanks to his holy name.
R. Rejoice in the Lord, you just!

Mt 25:1-13

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
"The Kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins
who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
Five of them were foolish and five were wise.
The foolish ones, when taking their lamps,
brought no oil with them,
but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps.
Since the bridegroom was long delayed,
they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
At midnight, there was a cry,
"Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!"
Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps.
The foolish ones said to the wise,
"Give us some of your oil,
for our lamps are going out."
But the wise ones replied,
"No, for there may not be enough for us and you.
Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves."
While they went off to buy it,
the bridegroom came
and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him.
Then the door was locked.
Afterwards the other virgins came and said,
"Lord, Lord, open the door for us!"
But he said in reply,
"Amen, I say to you, I do not know you."

Meditation: 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8

God did not call us to impurity but to holiness.” (1 Thessalonians 4:7)

Moved by his affection for them, Paul urged the Thessalonians to hold fast to all that he had told them. Judging from this passage, it seems that he didn’t tell them only about faith in Jesus Christ but also about personal issues as well. It seems that Paul had been forced to leave Thessalonica hastily while still in the early stages of establishing the community there (Acts 17:1-14). He knew that the new believers— most of whom came from a pagan background—lacked much basic teaching. So he tried to fill in some of the missing pieces through his letter.

Though strong in their faith and love, some of these new converts had not fully understood that the message of salvation carried with it practical implications for everyday life, including such matters as sexual conduct. So Paul reminded them of God’s design for human sexuality and exhorted them to avoid immoral behavior. God is holy, and he wants his people to be holy too!

This wasn’t always easy. Thessalonica was the most cosmopolitan city in the province of Macedonia. Every day the believers there faced temptations against the purity and holiness God called them to. And it’s not so different today. Sex outside of marriage is widely accepted. Pornography has become commonplace. Contraceptive “medicine” that causes abortions is gaining acceptance. In such an environment, we can find it very difficult to remain pure and chaste.

All is not lost. God has given us his Spirit to empower us against sin and safeguard our purity. And even if we should fall, we can receive mercy and healing, as well as the grace to try harder next time. It can be so tempting to give in to the culture and dismiss sexual sin as “not so bad.” But God knows that such sins can strike at the heart of who we are, whittling away at our self-worth and self-esteem. So never stop fighting the good fight. We really can live in the freedom and dignity of a chaste life.

“Holy Spirit, purify my heart so that I can live a life pleasing to God. Help me to turn aside from sin, and strengthen all that is good in me. Give me grace to live in your purity now, so that I may live forever with you.”

25 August 2011

25 Aug 2011, Thursday of the Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
1 Thes 3:7-13

We have been reassured about you, brothers and sisters,
in our every distress and affliction, through your faith.
For we now live, if you stand firm in the Lord.

What thanksgiving, then, can we render to God for you,
for all the joy we feel on your account before our God?
Night and day we pray beyond measure to see you in person
and to remedy the deficiencies of your faith.
Now may God himself, our Father, and our Lord Jesus
direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase
and abound in love for one another and for all,
just as we have for you,
so as to strengthen your hearts,
to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father
at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones. Amen.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 90:3-5a, 12-13, 14 and 17R. (14)

Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy!
You turn man back to dust,
saying, "Return, O children of men."
For a thousand years in your sight
are as yesterday, now that it is past,
or as a watch of the night.
R. Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy!
Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain wisdom of heart.
Return, O LORD! How long?
Have pity on your servants!
R. Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy!
Fill us at daybreak with your kindness,
that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days.
And may the gracious care of the LORD our God be ours;
prosper the work of our hands for us!
Prosper the work of our hands!
R. Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy!

Mt 24:42-51

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Stay awake!
For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.
Be sure of this: if the master of the house
had known the hour of night when the thief was coming,
he would have stayed awake
and not let his house be broken into.
So too, you also must be prepared,
for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.

"Who, then, is the faithful and prudent servant,
whom the master has put in charge of his household
to distribute to them their food at the proper time"
Blessed is that servant whom his master on his arrival finds doing so.
Amen, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property.
But if that wicked servant says to himself, 'My master is long delayed,'
and begins to beat his fellow servants,
and eat and drink with drunkards,
the servant's master will come on an unexpected day
and at an unknown hour and will punish him severely
and assign him a place with the hypocrites,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth."

Meditation: Matthew 24:42-51

You do not know on which day your Lord will come.” (Matthew 24:42)

No wonder Jesus warns us to stay awake! The end could come at any time, and he wants all of us to be ready to greet him when he does come back. This is not just some vague warning. It’s a practical approach to life that we all should adopt.

So stay awake! Remember who you are: a child of God, close to his heart. You are loved, precious, and unique, and he delights in you. You are not just the subject of a distant God. You are his own child, and he cares about you! He rejoices when you do, and he wants to comfort you when you’ve been hurt. Spend some time, daily, alone with the One who is always on your side. “Father, awaken in me the truth that I am your child so that I can live in your love today.”

Stay awake! God has plans for your life, plans for your good, plans to give you a future full of hope (Jeremiah 29:11). He wants to involve you deeply in his plans, even when it looks like the same old job, the same old school routine, or the same old schedule of housework. Ask him! He loves to share his intentions with you. “Father, what are your plans for me today? How do you want to draw me to your side today? How do you want me to build your kingdom today?”

Stay awake! Satan would like nothing better than to catch you asleep. Be wary of his lies, especially when he tries to tell you that you are worthless, unloved, or all alone. Be alert, for the devil wants to bind you with cords of anger, bitterness, and grudges. Don’t fall for it! Forgive. Ask forgiveness. Strife, anxiety, and fear are his territory. Run to your Father when you find yourself there. “Father, open my eyes and ears to perceive and flee the works of the devil.”

Stay awake! God has poured out his love in your heart, a love that can flow out to others. When challenges come, don’t panic. Ask the Father to help you see what he sees, and to love as he does.

“Father, fill my heart with more of your love. Help me to move in your peace and patience today, alert to what you want to do.”

24 August 2011

24 Aug 2011, Feast of Saint Bartholomew, Apostle

Reading 1
Rv 21:9b-14

The angel spoke to me, saying,
"Come here.
I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb."
He took me in spirit to a great, high mountain
and showed me the holy city Jerusalem
coming down out of heaven from God.
It gleamed with the splendor of God.
Its radiance was like that of a precious stone,
like jasper, clear as crystal.
It had a massive, high wall,
with twelve gates where twelve angels were stationed
and on which names were inscribed,
the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel.
There were three gates facing east,
three north, three south, and three west.
The wall of the city had twelve courses of stones as its foundation,
on which were inscribed the twelve names
of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 145:10-11, 12-13, 17-18R. (12)

Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.
Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your Kingdom
and speak of your might.
R. Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.
Making known to men your might
and the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.
Your Kingdom is a Kingdom for all ages,
and your dominion endures through all generations.
R. Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.
The LORD is just in all his ways
and holy in all his works.
The LORD is near to all who call upon him,
to all who call upon him in truth.
R. Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your Kingdom.

Jn 1:45-51

Philip found Nathanael and told him,
"We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law,
and also the prophets, Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth."
But Nathanael said to him,
"Can anything good come from Nazareth?"
Philip said to him, "Come and see."
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: John 1:45-51

St. Bartholomew<

You will see heaven opened. (John 1:51)

Under a fig tree. That’s where Nathanael (Bartholomew) was when Jesus “saw” him (John 1:48). What was he doing there? Eating lunch? Thinking about his to-do list? Daydreaming? Some have speculated that because it was traditional to study the Scriptures under a fig tree, Nathanael may have been meditating on God’s promises. If so, it was the perfect prelude to meeting Jesus.

For centuries, God’s promises had sustained Israel with powerful visions of hope. A radiant bride, a city and temple shimmering with the glory of the Lord—the images pointed to a peaceful future when God would live among his people and make them into a light to the other nations. Nathanael must have drawn strength from reflecting on this life to come, even as he suffered under Roman occupation. Perhaps this gave him eyes to recognize Jesus as the “Son of God” and “King of Israel” who would set things right (John 1:49). And Jesus replied, in essence: Keep watching. Have faith. You haven’t seen anything yet!

That’s what Jesus tells us, too. Like Nathanael, we have wonderful images of the life to come. And we even know that this life has already begun. Baptized into Christ, we have been saved, made into God’s people and citizens of heaven. Now, as St. Catherine of Siena said: “All the way to heaven is heaven.” Just as Nathanael sat under a fig tree contemplating God’s promises, we too can set aside time for quiet, hopeful contemplation. We can try to imagine what heaven will be like. We can imagine Jesus surrounded by the angels and saints. We can even think about our loved ones who have gone before us and picture them with Jesus, praying for us, cheering us on, and rejoicing every time we act in faith.

Today, then, go and sit under your fig tree, wherever that may be—an armchair, your prayer corner, the Adoration chapel. If you don’t have one, find the place wherever prayer comes easiest. Lift your heart to the Lord and let his promises fill your mind. Then be still, and listen for his voice.

“Jesus, by your cross and resurrection, you have thrown heaven wide open. Let me see your glory and follow your gospel!”

23 August 2011

23 Aug 2011, Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Reading 1
1 Thes 2:1-8

You yourselves know, brothers and sisters,
that our reception among you was not without effect.
Rather, after we had suffered and been insolently treated,
as you know, in Philippi,
we drew courage through our God
to speak to you the Gospel of God with much struggle.
Our exhortation was not from delusion or impure motives,
nor did it work through deception.
But as we were judged worthy by God to be entrusted with the Gospel,
that is how we speak,
not as trying to please men,
but rather God, who judges our hearts.
Nor, indeed, did we ever appear with flattering speech, as you know,
or with a pretext for greed"God is witness"
nor did we seek praise from men,
either from you or from others,
although we were able to impose our weight as Apostles of Christ.
Rather, we were gentle among you,
as a nursing mother cares for her children.
With such affection for you, we were determined to share with you
not only the Gospel of God, but our very selves as well,
so dearly beloved had you become to us.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 139:1-3, 4-6R. (1)

You have searched me and you know me, Lord.
O LORD, you have probed me and 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. You have searched me and you know me, Lord.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O LORD, you know the whole of it.
Behind me and before, you hem me in
and rest your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
too lofty for me to attain.
R. You have searched me and you know me, Lord.

Mt 23:23-26

Jesus said:
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You pay tithes of mint and dill and cummin,
and have neglected the weightier things of the law:
judgment and mercy and fidelity.
But these you should have done, without neglecting the others.
Blind guides, who strain out the gnat and swallow the camel!

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You cleanse the outside of cup and dish,
but inside they are full of plunder and self-indulgence.
Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup,
so that the outside also may be clean."

Meditation: 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8

We were determined to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our very selves as well.” (1 Thessalonians 2:8)

How tenderly Paul addresses the Thessalonians! He says he cared for them like a nursing mother, reminiscent of the prophet’s reminder that even if a mother could forget her baby, our God will never forget us (Isaiah 49:15). What Paul gave the members of this church couldn’t be boiled down to a set of logical or even theological propositions. He shared his life with them, showing them by word and example how to live in all circumstances with the power of the Spirit.

Each of us has had many teachers and bosses who told us exactly what to do and what to believe. After a few years, we tend to forget their names and even their lessons. But we have all had at least one teacher who was a true mentor— someone who embodied the principles he or she was teaching, someone whose example we wanted to follow. A mentor like that makes truth come alive and inspires us with a bigger, broader, and deeper vision for our lives. This is what Paul was for the people of Thessalonica.

Think of at least one person who has served as such a mentor for you. Was it a parent or other relative who saw you through a difficult, challenging time? Maybe it was a school counselor or a coach who believed in you and took the time to help you achieve your dreams. Perhaps it was someone in your parish who helped you while you were on a retreat and moved you to dedicate your life to the Lord in a new way. Or maybe it was a friend who just let you talk during a time when you were hurt and confused.

If the opportunity still exists, why not try to reach out and thank whoever it was who inspired you? And make it a point as well to try to “pay it forward” by serving as a mentor to someone else. You might be surprised how much you can help someone just by taking an interest in him or her and sharing a part of your life.

“Holy Spirit, I am grateful for the godly men and women you have brought into my life. Help me to reach out to others with the same love.”

22 August 2011

22 Aug 2011, Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Reading 1
1 Thes 1:1-5, 8b-10

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy to the Church of the Thessalonians
in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
grace to you and peace.

We give thanks to God always for all of you,
remembering you in our prayers,
unceasingly calling to mind your work of faith and labor of love
and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ,
before our God and Father,
knowing, brothers and sisters loved by God, how you were chosen.
For our Gospel did not come to you in word alone,
but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction.
You know what sort of people we were among you for your sake.
In every place your faith in God has gone forth,
so that we have no need to say anything.
For they themselves openly declare about us
what sort of reception we had among you,
and how you turned to God from idols
to serve the living and true God and to await his Son from heaven,
whom he raised from the dead, Jesus,
who delivers us from the coming wrath.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 149:1b-2, 3-4, 5-6a and 9bR. (see 4a)

The Lord takes delight in his people.
R. Alleluia.
Sing to the LORD a new song
of praise in the assembly of the faithful.
Let Israel be glad in their maker,
let the children of Zion rejoice in their king.
R. The Lord takes delight in his people.
R. Alleluia.
Let them praise his name in the festive dance,
let them sing praise to him with timbrel and harp.
For the LORD loves his people,
and he adorns the lowly with victory.
R. The Lord takes delight in his people.
R. Alleluia.
Let the faithful exult in glory;
let them sing for joy upon their couches;
Let the high praises of God be in their throats.
This is the glory of all his faithful. Alleluia!
R. The Lord takes delight in his people.
R. Alleluia.

Mt 23:13-22

Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples:
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You lock the Kingdom of heaven before men.
You do not enter yourselves,
nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You traverse sea and land to make one convert,
and when that happens you make him a child of Gehenna
twice as much as yourselves.

"Woe to you, blind guides, who say,
'If one swears by the temple, it means nothing,
but if one swears by the gold of the temple, one is obligated.'
Blind fools, which is greater, the gold,
or the temple that made the gold sacred?
And you say, 'If one swears by the altar, it means nothing,
but if one swears by the gift on the altar, one is obligated.'
You blind ones, which is greater, the gift,
or the altar that makes the gift sacred?
One who swears by the altar swears by it and all that is upon it;
one who swears by the temple swears by it
and by him who dwells in it;
one who swears by heaven swears by the throne of God
and by him who is seated on it."

Meditation: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5, 8-10

We give thanks to God always for all of you.” (1 Thessalonians 1:2)

Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians is divided almost equally between words of praise and gratitude for the witness of these new Christians and words of teaching and warning to them as they face new challenges. Paul begins by applauding their faith and speaking fondly of the time he spent with them. He recounts how he first proclaimed the gospel to them. He recalls how hard he and his companions worked on their behalf. And he reminds them of how joyfully they accepted the gospel. Only then does he begin to teach them, warning them against idleness and clarifying his teachings about the Second Coming.

While Paul is undoubtedly sincere in all he writes here, he is also using a very shrewd strategy—an approach that we all should imitate. Sometimes we launch into teaching, exhortation, or intercession without remembering to begin with thanksgiving. We lecture our children about what they should do as if they had never done anything good in the past. Instead of appealing to the goodness we have seen motivate them before, we lay down the law forcefully and immediately. We forget that they really do want to do the right thing, and that they just need some extra guidance and coaching.

The same can be said about marriages. Nobody knows our spouse’s flaws better than we do—if only because we spend so much time together! It can be very easy to focus on these flaws as inconvenient burdens that we have to put up with. But God’s way is the way of love, forgiveness, and affirmation. It’s the way of gratitude and other-centeredness. Just as Jesus came not to condemn but to save, so husbands and wives should make sure that love and patience prevail over criticism and every other motivation.

Today, devote your prayer time simply to thanking God. Thank him for your spouse. Thank him for your children. Thank him for your parents and your friends. Spend time dwelling on all the good that God has done—and all the good that we can see in the people closest to us.

“Father, you have always done what is best for all of us. Teach me to love as you love.”

21 Aug 2011, Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
Is 22:19-23

Thus says the LORD to Shebna, master of the palace:
"I will thrust you from your office
and pull you down from your station.
On that day I will summon my servant
Eliakim, son of Hilkiah;
I will clothe him with your robe,
and gird him with your sash,
and give over to him your authority.
He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem,
and to the house of Judah.
I will place the key of the House of David on Eliakim's shoulder;
when he opens, no one shall shut
when he shuts, no one shall open.
I will fix him like a peg in a sure spot,
to be a place of honor for his family."

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 138:1-2, 2-3, 6, 8R. (8bc)

Lord, your love is eternal; do not forsake the work of your hands.
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.
R. Lord, your love is eternal; do not forsake the work of your hands.
I will give thanks to your name,
because of your kindness and your truth:
When I called, you answered me;
you built up strength within me.
R. Lord, your love is eternal; do not forsake the work of your hands.
The LORD is exalted, yet the lowly he sees,
and the proud he knows from afar.
Your kindness, O LORD, endures forever;
forsake not the work of your hands.
R. Lord, your love is eternal; do not forsake the work of your hands.

Reading 2
Rom 11:33-36

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!
How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!
For who has known the mind of the Lord
or who has been his counselor?
Or who has given the Lord anything
that he may be repaid?
For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be glory forever. Amen.

Mt 16:13-20

Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi and
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."
Then he strictly ordered his disciples
to tell no one that he was the Christ.

Meditation: Romans 11:33-36

Oh, the depth!” (Romans 11:33)

Some remarkable humans have demonstrated the ability to free-dive to the depth of almost one hundred meters underwater—with no oxygen tank, fins, or weights. It’s an astounding feat. But that depth only scratches the surface of the deepest part of the ocean—the Challenger Deep in the Western Pacific, which is nearly eleven thousand meters. The human body is no match for the immense pressures found there!

In today’s second reading, Paul reflects on the extraordinary depths of the wisdom and knowledge of God. Just as an unaided diver can’t get to the Challenger Deep, neither can the unaided human heart grasp the “unsearchable” depths of God.

“For who has known the mind of the Lord?” (Romans 11:34). Curiously, Paul quotes the very same verse from Isaiah in his First Letter to the Corinthians. Only there, he adds: “But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). Amazing: We can explore the thoughts of the eternal, immortal, invisible, almighty Creator!

Today’s Gospel illustrates this point when Peter calls Jesus the Messiah. Immediately, Jesus praises him—but not for his powers of deduction. “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father” (Matthew 16:17). Jesus knew that Peter had to have received this gift from God.

That’s the key word: receive. Revelation is a gift. It isn’t something we can produce on our own. It’s a gift that God wants us to receive with open hearts and quiet minds. It’s God’s words coming alive in our hearts and filling us with his wisdom, his insights, and his peace.

Today at Mass, try to focus your heart on Jesus. Quiet your mind and tell Jesus that you want to receive whatever he wants to give you. Put your worries and cares aside and simply listen. You’ll know that what you heard is from God when your own heart starts echoing Paul’s prayer: To God be glory forever!

“Glory to you, Father, for the mysteries of your plan! Show me the depths of your love.”


Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion

(Isaiah 22:19-23; Psalm 138:1-3,6,8; Romans 11:33-36; Matthew 16:13-20)

1. In the first reading from Isaiah, the Lord tells us that Eliakim “shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah,” and the Lord will “fix him as a peg in a sure spot, to be a place of honor for his family.” Whether you are a father or not, what can you do to bring greater honor to your family? If you are a father, how would you need to change to be the kind of father to your family that is described in the first reading?

2. When the responsorial psalm asks the Lord not to forsake the work of his hands, it suggests we are a “work in progress.” What specifically can you do to make yourself more available to the Lord for some additional tweaking?

3. In the second reading, St. Paul is almost bowled over just thinking of God’s greatness. Does reflecting on God’s greatness make him more or less approachable to you? Take some time in the upcoming weeks to reflect on God’s greatness and ask him to draw you closer to him?

4. In the Gospel today, Jesus assures Peter and the Apostles that Satan will never prevail against the Church, no matter what happens. This same confidence should inspire you as well, since you are a member of his Church. What steps can you take to increase your confidence in this reality, both in the Church and in your own life?

5. How would you respond to Jesus’ question: “But who do you say that I am?” In particular, what role does Jesus have in your life?

6. The meditation challenges us with these words: “Revelation is a gift. It isn’t something we can produce on our own. It’s a gift that God wants us to receive with open hearts and quiet minds. It’s God’s words coming alive in our hearts and filling us with his wisdom, his insights, and his peace.” What are some revelations you have received from God during prayer and Scripture reading, or at Mass? In what ways has God revealed to you his “inscrutable” plan of salvation and the “depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God”? What steps can you take to open your heart and mind even more to God’s revelation?

7. Take some time now to pray that the Lord would open your heart and mind more deeply to his revelation as you pray, read Scripture, and attend Mass - and also during the course of your day. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.

20 Aug 2011, Memorial of Saint Bernard,abbot and doctor of the Church

Reading 1
Ru 2:1-3, 8-11; 4:13-17

Naomi had a prominent kinsman named Boaz,
of the clan of her husband Elimelech.
Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi,
"Let me go and glean ears of grain in the field
of anyone who will allow me that favor."
Naomi said to her, "Go, my daughter," and she went.
The field she entered to glean after the harvesters
happened to be the section belonging to Boaz
of the clan of Elimelech.

Boaz said to Ruth, "Listen, my daughter!
Do not go to glean in anyone else's field;
you are not to leave here.
Stay here with my women servants.
Watch to see which field is to be harvested, and follow them;
I have commanded the young men to do you no harm.
When you are thirsty, you may go and drink from the vessels
the young men have filled."
Casting herself prostrate upon the ground, Ruth said to him,
"Why should I, a foreigner, be favored with your notice?"
Boaz answered her:
"I have had a complete account of what you have done
for your mother-in-law after your husband's death;
you have left your father and your mother and the land of your birth,
and have come to a people whom you did not know previously."

Boaz took Ruth.
When they came together as man and wife,
the LORD enabled her to conceive and she bore a son.
Then the women said to Naomi,
"Blessed is the LORD who has not failed
to provide you today with an heir!
May he become famous in Israel!
He will be your comfort and the support of your old age,
for his mother is the daughter-in-law who loves you.
She is worth more to you than seven sons!"
Naomi took the child, placed him on her lap, and became his nurse.
And the neighbor women gave him his name,
at the news that a grandson had been born to Naomi.
They called him Obed.
He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 128:1b-2, 3, 4, 5R. (4)

See how the Lord blesses those who fear him.
Blessed are you who fear the LORD,
who walk in his ways!
For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork;
blessed shall you be, and favored.
R. See how the Lord blesses those who fear him.
You wife shall be like a fruitful vine
in the recesses of your home;
Your children like olive plants
around your table.
R. See how the Lord blesses those who fear him.
Behold, thus is the man blessed
who fears the LORD.
R. See how the Lord blesses those who fear him.
The LORD bless you from Zion:
may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life.
R. See how the Lord blesses those who fear him.

Mt 23:1-12

Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying,
“The scribes and the Pharisees
have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.
Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you,
but do not follow their example.
For they preach but they do not practice.
They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry
and lay them on people’s shoulders,
but they will not lift a finger to move them.
All their works are performed to be seen.
They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels.
They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues,
greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’
As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’
You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers.
Call no one on earth your father;
you have but one Father in heaven.
Do not be called ‘Master’;
you have but one master, the Christ.
The greatest among you must be your servant.
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled;
but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

Meditation: Ruth 2:1-3,8-11; 4:13-17

I have had a complete account of what you have done.” (Ruth 2:11)

Ruth has a lot in common with another famous young woman— Cinderella. How so? Both find themselves in desperate straits after a death in the family—three deaths in Ruth’s case. Both exemplify the virtues of generosity and kindness. And both are rescued by a prince of sorts! But while Cinderella is a fairy tale, Ruth is a Spirit-inspired story of how God honored one of the kindest women in the Old Testament.

When tragedy forced Naomi to return to Bethlehem, her daughter- in-law Ruth resolved to leave her own country and follow. Even though Naomi couldn’t offer anything in the way of protection, money, or a husband, Ruth stayed by her side in Naomi’s time of need. This kindness wasn’t lost on the “prince” in this story, Boaz.

Ruth’s kindness wasn’t lost on the Lord, either. God honored Ruth for her kindness by blessing her with Boaz, giving her a son, and extending grace to her family for generations to come. From Ruth’s lineage came David and the King of all kings, Jesus. In a sense, we are still being blessed today because of Ruth’s kindness!

God sees everything we do. And if you are sincerely trying to follow him, this can be a very encouraging truth. God sees all the good that you do, not just the bad! He sees every act of kindness and mercy. He sees the warmth in your heart toward someone in need. He sees the smile you share with the person who looks lonely. He sees every single sacrifice, big or small, you are making for his kingdom. And his heart is deeply moved! He actually delights in all of these gestures of kindness, and he is very quick to reward them.

This isn’t to say we can earn our salvation. But we must not think that God overlooks the good fruit of our love and kindness—especially toward those who are less fortunate than us. He has promised to fulfill his word: “Let not kindness and fidelity leave you… . Then you will win favor and good esteem before God” (Proverbs 3:3-4).

“Lord Jesus, I ask for a heart like Ruth’s, full of kindness and faithfulness.”

19 Aug 2011, Friday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
Ru 1:1, 3-6, 14b-16, 22

Once in the time of the judges there was a famine in the land;
so a man from Bethlehem of Judah
departed with his wife and two sons
to reside on the plateau of Moab.
Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died,
and she was left with her two sons, who married Moabite women,
one named Orpah, the other Ruth.
When they had lived there about ten years,
both Mahlon and Chilion died also,
and the woman was left with neither her two sons nor her husband.
She then made ready to go back from the plateau of Moab
because word reached her there
that the LORD had visited his people and given them food.

Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-bye, but Ruth stayed with her.

Naomi said, "See now!
Your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and her god.
Go back after your sister-in-law!"
But Ruth said, "Do not ask me to abandon or forsake you!
For wherever you go, I will go, wherever you lodge I will lodge,
your people shall be my people, and your God my God."

Thus it was that Naomi returned
with the Moabite daughter-in-law, Ruth,
who accompanied her back from the plateau of Moab.
They arrived in Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 146:5-6ab, 6c-7, 8-9a, 9bc-10R. (1b)

Praise the Lord, my soul!
Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD, his God,
Who made heaven and earth,
the sea and all that is in them.
R. Praise the Lord, my soul!
The LORD keeps faith forever,
secures justice for the oppressed,
gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets captives free.
R. Praise the Lord, my soul!
The LORD gives sight to the blind.
The LORD raises up those who were bowed down;
The LORD loves the just.
The LORD protects strangers.
R. Praise the Lord, my soul!
The fatherless and the widow he sustains,
but the way of the wicked he thwarts.
The LORD shall reign forever;
your God, O Zion, through all generations. Alleluia.
R. Praise the Lord, my soul!

Gospel Mt

When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees,
they gathered together, and one of them,
a scholar of the law, tested him by asking,
"Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?"
He said to him,
"You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart,
with all your soul, and with all your mind.
This is the greatest and the first commandment.
The second is like it:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments."

Meditation: Ruth 1:1,3-6,14-16,22

Wherever you go I will go.” (Ruth 1:16)

One of the truths about God that we learn in Scripture is that he is eager to protect the stranger, the orphan, and the widow. He favors those in distress. But how does he do this? He doesn’t just reach down from heaven and pluck them out of their problems. He uses people, often people who are struggling themselves or who have experienced past trials, to accomplish his will. For who better to help someone in need than someone who knows what it’s like to be alone or downtrodden?

We see this principle at work in the lives of Ruth and Naomi. Naomi is a childless widow, crushed in spirit. She even changes her name to “Mara,” which means “bitter” (Ruth 1:20). Her daughter-in-law, Ruth, has also been widowed and has no children of her own. But Ruth’s heart goes out to Naomi, and so rather than return to her father’s house, she decides to accompany Naomi when she opts to return to Israel. In the process of rescuing Naomi, Ruth ends up marrying Boaz, a wealthy and upright landowner. Not only is Naomi rescued but so is Ruth—and she is brought closer to God!

The story of Ruth tells us that we don’t have to be perfect ourselves before we can minister God’s love. We simply have to be willing to offer ourselves as best we can. We may feel inadequate because we are facing our own challenges, but that may be just as God wants it. After all, the very word “compassion” means “to suffer with.”

When we give of ourselves to help another person, something wonderful happens. We meet God in a powerful way. Not only is Ruth proof of that; she foreshadows Jesus, whose whole life was one of service. Just as he was raised up to the Father’s right hand because he emptied himself, we can be, too.

“Lord, you ask us to bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill your law of love. Fill me with your Spirit, so that I can bring that love to the people you’ve called me to serve!”

18 Aug 2011, Thursday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
Jgs 11:29-39a

The Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah.
He passed through Gilead and Manasseh,
and through Mizpah-Gilead as well,
and from there he went on to the Ammonites.
Jephthah made a vow to the LORD.
"If you deliver the Ammonites into my power," he said,
"whoever comes out of the doors of my house
to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites
shall belong to the LORD.
I shall offer him up as a burnt offering."

Jephthah then went on to the Ammonites to fight against them,
and the LORD delivered them into his power,
so that he inflicted a severe defeat on them,
from Aroer to the approach of Minnith (twenty cities in all)
and as far as Abel-keramim.
Thus were the Ammonites brought into subjection
by the children of Israel.
When Jephthah returned to his house in Mizpah,
it was his daughter who came forth,
playing the tambourines and dancing.
She was an only child: he had neither son nor daughter besides her.
When he saw her, he rent his garments and said,
"Alas, daughter, you have struck me down
and brought calamity upon me.
For I have made a vow to the LORD and I cannot retract."
She replied, "Father, you have made a vow to the LORD.
Do with me as you have vowed,
because the LORD has wrought vengeance for you
on your enemies the Ammonites."
Then she said to her father, "Let me have this favor.
Spare me for two months, that I may go off down the mountains
to mourn my virginity with my companions."
"Go," he replied, and sent her away for two months.
So she departed with her companions
and mourned her virginity on the mountains.
At the end of the two months she returned to her father,
who did to her as he had vowed.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 40:5, 7-8a, 8b-9, 10R. (8a and 9a)

Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
Blessed the man who makes the LORD his trust;
who turns not to idolatry
or to those who stray after falsehood.
R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
Sacrifice or oblation you wished not,
but ears open to obedience you gave me.
Burnt offerings or sin-offerings you sought not;
then said I, "Behold I come."
R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
"In the written scroll it is prescribed for me.
To do your will, O my God, is my delight,
and your law is within my heart!"
R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.
I announced your justice in the vast assembly;
I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.
R. Here I am, Lord; I come to do your will.

Mt 22:1-14

Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and the elders of the people in parables
saying, “The Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who gave a wedding feast for his son.
He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast,
but they refused to come.
A second time he sent other servants, saying,
‘Tell those invited: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet,
my calves and fattened cattle are killed,
and everything is ready; come to the feast.”’
Some ignored the invitation and went away,
one to his farm, another to his business.
The rest laid hold of his servants,
mistreated them, and killed them.
The king was enraged and sent his troops,
destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.
Then the king said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready,
but those who were invited were not worthy to come.
Go out, therefore, into the main roads
and invite to the feast whomever you find.’
The servants went out into the streets
and gathered all they found, bad and good alike,
and the hall was filled with guests.
But when the king came in to meet the guests
he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment.
He said to him, ‘My friend, how is it
that you came in here without a wedding garment?’
But he was reduced to silence.
Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet,
and cast him into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’
Many are invited, but few are chosen.”

Meditation: Matthew 22:1-14

Come to the feast. (Matthew 22:4)

It’s clear from today’s Gospel reading that God wants as many of his children as possible to join him in heaven. At the same time, we see in today’s parable that many ignored the Master’s invitation entirely. Even among those who accepted the invitation, one was found unworthy and was cast into the darkness. Jesus ended his parable with a somber warning: “Many are invited, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14).

Though it is not a topic we like to dwell on, Jesus made it clear that hell does exist, and those who don’t accept him risk ending up there. Among believers, there are various opinions as to whether hell will be crowded, or whether God will be merciful to many in the end. Rather than focusing on this question, though, we may find it more helpful to ask how we can work toward making that number as low as possible!

In the end, it’s a question of evangelization, of sharing God’s love with other people through our words and deeds. It’s a question of loving one another as Jesus has loved us.

If the thought of sharing your faith makes you nervous, you’re not alone. But ask yourself what is worse: risking a little embarrassment for the kingdom or possibly seeing a friend or loved one separated from God?

So what to say? The heart of Jesus’ message is quite simple: God loves us so deeply that he gave up his only Son to save us from sin and death. Messages like this can go a long way. They can help people grasp that the Christian life is a relationship with God, not a matter of rules and regulations. Tell them that God is good. Tell them about his compassion and mercy, about his desire to bring us all to heaven. And finally, tell them that God wants to show them his love personally. All they have to do is listen, and they’ll hear him.

It’s not a complex gospel, and it’s not a hard message. God just wants to throw a big party—a big feast—for all of us. So let’s make sure that the banquet room is filled to overflowing!

“Jesus, send me out into the fields to help bring in your harvest. I don’t want to see anyone separated from you.”

17 Aug 2011, Wednesday of the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
Jgs 9:6-15

All the citizens of Shechem and all Beth-millo came together
and proceeded to make Abimelech king
by the terebinth at the memorial pillar in Shechem.

When this was reported to him,
Jotham went to the top of Mount Gerizim and, standing there,
cried out to them in a loud voice:
"Hear me, citizens of Shechem, that God may then hear you!
Once the trees went to anoint a king over themselves.
So they said to the olive tree, 'Reign over us.'
But the olive tree answered them, 'Must I give up my rich oil,
whereby men and gods are honored,
and go to wave over the trees?'
Then the trees said to the fig tree, 'Come; you reign over us!'
But the fig tree answered them,
'Must I give up my sweetness and my good fruit,
and go to wave over the trees?'
Then the trees said to the vine, 'Come you, and reign over us.'
But the vine answered them,
'Must I give up my wine that cheers gods and men,
and go to wave over the trees?'
Then all the trees said to the buckthorn, 'Come; you reign over us!'
But the buckthorn replied to the trees,
'If you wish to anoint me king over you in good faith,
come and take refuge in my shadow.
Otherwise, let fire come from the buckthorn
and devour the cedars of Lebanon.'

"Responsorial Psalm
Ps 21:2-3, 4-5, 6-7R. (2a)

Lord, in your strength the king is glad.
O LORD, in your strength the king is glad;
in your victory how greatly he rejoices!
You have granted him his heart's desire;
you refused not the wish of his lips.
R. Lord, in your strength the king is glad.
For you welcomed him with goodly blessings,
you placed on his head a crown of pure gold.
He asked life of you: you gave him
length of days forever and ever.
R. Lord, in your strength the king is glad.
Great is his glory in your victory;
majesty and splendor you conferred upon him.
You made him a blessing forever,
you gladdened him with the joy of your face.
R. Lord, in your strength the king is glad.

Mt 20:1-16

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“The Kingdom of heaven is like a landowner
who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard.
After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage,
he sent them into his vineyard.
Going out about nine o’clock,
he saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
and he said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard,
and I will give you what is just.’
So they went off.
And he went out again around noon,
and around three o’clock, and did likewise.
Going out about five o’clock,
he found others standing around, and said to them,
‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’
They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’
He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard.’
When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman,
‘Summon the laborers and give them their pay,
beginning with the last and ending with the first.’
When those who had started about five o’clock came,
each received the usual daily wage.
So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more,
but each of them also got the usual wage.
And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying,
‘These last ones worked only one hour,
and you have made them equal to us,
who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’
He said to one of them in reply,
‘My friend, I am not cheating you.
Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage?
Take what is yours and go.
What if I wish to give this last one the same as you?
Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money?
Are you envious because I am generous?’
Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Meditation: Matthew 20:1-16

“Are you envious because I am generous?” (Matthew 20:15)

The parable of the laborers in the vineyard can seem like a paradox, can’t it? Why would the owner hire people at different times of the day, yet pay everyone the same amount of money? In the world’s eyes this might be considered an unjust labor practice or at the very least employee favoritism.

But Jesus had a different economic model in mind. He was asking his disciples to think the way God thinks. As owner of the “vineyard” that is his kingdom, God is not concerned with pay equity as much as he is with mercy. In the parable, everyone who worked a full day received a just compensation for their labors. But the owner’s heart broke to see others go without enough to feed their families, and so he gave them what they needed as well. The early-morning hires began to complain only when they saw his generosity. They knew deep down that they were being treated fairly; they just weren’t used to seeing someone be as merciful and generous as this man!

God indeed is great in his mercy! Consider how many times in the course of a day you fall short of the calling God has for you. Consider how often you fail to reach the ideal not just in terms of your behavior but your thoughts, your desires, and your attitudes. And still, all you need is one good Confession, and it’s all wiped away. Heaven is still yours, just as it is for those who have lived more perfect, nearly sinless lives.

God overlooks so much in our lives. At the same time, he smiles on every small act of kindness; he rewards every little sign of love; and he rejoices in every godly decision. He can’t bear the thought of our living apart from him, and so he is extremely generous with us!

So celebrate God’s generosity today. Rejoice in his kindness toward you. While you were lost in sin, he gave up his only Son to bring you back. And even today, should you lose your way, he will take you back in a heartbeat. He knows your weaknesses. He knows your needs. He sees into the darkest places that even you can’t see—and still he loves you. Still he pours his blessings upon you. Still he welcomes you!

“Lord, may I never lose sight of your great mercy!”

Sorry for the delay

Sorry for the delay in the posting of Daily Scripture reading as the source of the blog has been down over the past week.

19 August 2011

16 Aug 2011, Tuesday

First Reading
Judges 6:11-24

11 Now the angel of the LORD came and sat under the oak at Ophrah, which belonged to Jo'ash the Abiez'rite, as his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press, to hide it from the Mid'ianites.
12 And the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, "The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valor."
13 And Gideon said to him, "Pray, sir, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this befallen us? And where are all his wonderful deeds which our fathers recounted to us, saying, `Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?' But now the LORD has cast us off, and given us into the hand of Mid'ian."
14 And the LORD turned to him and said, "Go in this might of yours and deliver Israel from the hand of Mid'ian; do not I send you?"
15 And he said to him, "Pray, Lord, how can I deliver Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manas'seh, and I am the least in my family."
16 And the LORD said to him, "But I will be with you, and you shall smite the Mid'ianites as one man."
17 And he said to him, "If now I have found favor with thee, then show me a sign that it is thou who speakest with me.
18 Do not depart from here, I pray thee, until I come to thee, and bring out my present, and set it before thee." And he said, "I will stay till you return."
19 So Gideon went into his house and prepared a kid, and unleavened cakes from an ephah of flour; the meat he put in a basket, and the broth he put in a pot, and brought them to him under the oak and presented them.
20 And the angel of God said to him, "Take the meat and the unleavened cakes, and put them on this rock, and pour the broth over them." And he did so.
21 Then the angel of the LORD reached out the tip of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the meat and the unleavened cakes; and there sprang up fire from the rock and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and the angel of the LORD vanished from his sight.
22 Then Gideon perceived that he was the angel of the LORD; and Gideon said, "Alas, O Lord GOD! For now I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face."
23 But the LORD said to him, "Peace be to you; do not fear, you shall not die."
24 Then Gideon built an altar there to the LORD, and called it, The LORD is peace. To this day it still stands at Ophrah, which belongs to the Abiez'rites.

Psalms 85: 9, 11 - 14

9 Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land.
11 Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky.
12 Yea, the LORD will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase.
13 Righteousness will go before him, and make his footsteps a way

Gospel Reading
Matthew 19: 23 - 30

23 And Jesus said to his disciples, "Truly, I say to you, it will be hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.
24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
25 When the disciples heard this they were greatly astonished, saying, "Who then can be saved?"
26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
27 Then Peter said in reply, "Lo, we have left everything and followed you. What then shall we have?"
28 Jesus said to them, "Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of man shall sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
29 And every one who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life.
30 But many that are first will be last, and the last first.

Meditation: Matthew 19:23-30

“It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24)

Why do you think Jesus made such a strange, disquieting statement about the wealthy? Did he disdain the prosperous and abhor their affluence? No! Jesus had wealthy friends like Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, along with a group of wealthy women from Galilee (Luke 8:1-3). And it wasn’t because the rich are inherently more sinful, either. Rather, Jesus was warning that money and possessions can be significant obstacles to living life in his kingdom.

Jesus never said that wealth was evil. But he did know that having a wrong mind-set toward money and possessions can deny God his rightful place as Lord. We may become self-serving, thinking only of our comfort and our perceived need for financial security. Or we may be easily distracted by the cares and responsibilities that come with greater wealth. For instance, we may spend all our time and energy worrying about our investments and trying to protect all that we have. Or we can get a false sense of security that gives rise to a greater sense of pride and self-sufficiency. No wonder Jesus gave such a strong word of warning!

If you’re well-off financially, take Jesus’ caution to heart, but don’t worry. Remember: “For God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). Be grateful for all he has blessed you with, and make sure that you are being a good steward of these blessings. Remember, too, that where much is given, much is expected. So use your resources wisely, not only for your own good but for the good of others. Be generous to the church and those in need. Set your heart on the Lord— and seek to give him glory with everything you own.

On the other hand, if you’re struggling just to make ends meet, don’t let anxiety or cares weigh you down. Keep following the Lord! Trust his love and provision for you. Ask him to give you a generous heart as well, so you can give to others in a way that’s in line with your means. The Lord will shower blessings on you according to his unlimited resources!

“Jesus, give me a generous heart that is free from worldly attachments. I want you to be my greatest treasure.”

15 August 2011

15 Aug 2011, Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary - Mass during the Day Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
Rv 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab

God’s temple in heaven was opened,
and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple.

A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun,
with the moon under her feet,
and on her head a crown of twelve stars.
She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth.
Then another sign appeared in the sky;
it was a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns,
and on its heads were seven diadems.
Its tail swept away a third of the stars in the sky
and hurled them down to the earth.
Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth,
to devour her child when she gave birth.
She gave birth to a son, a male child,
destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod.
Her child was caught up to God and his throne.
The woman herself fled into the desert
where she had a place prepared by God.

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
“Now have salvation and power come,
and the Kingdom of our God
and the authority of his Anointed One.”

45:10, 11, 12, 16
Responsorial PsalmR. (10bc)

The queen stands at your right hand, arrayed in gold.
The queen takes her place at your right hand in gold of Ophir.
R. The queen stands at your right hand, arrayed in gold.
Hear, O daughter, and see; turn your ear,
forget your people and your father’s house.
R. The queen stands at your right hand, arrayed in gold.
So shall the king desire your beauty;
for he is your lord.
R. The queen stands at your right hand, arrayed in gold.
They are borne in with gladness and joy;
they enter the palace of the king.
R. The queen stands at your right hand, arrayed in gold.

Reading II
1 Cor 15:20-27

Brothers and sisters:
Christ has been raised from the dead,
the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
For since death came through man,
the resurrection of the dead came also through man.
For just as in Adam all die,
so too in Christ shall all be brought to life,
but each one in proper order:
Christ the firstfruits;
then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ;
then comes the end,
when he hands over the Kingdom to his God and Father,
when he has destroyed every sovereignty
and every authority and power.
For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.
The last enemy to be destroyed is death,
for “he subjected everything under his feet.”

Lk 1:39-56

Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”

And Mary said:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever.”

Mary remained with her about three months

and then returned to her home.
Meditation: Luke 1:39-56

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

He has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness. (Luke 1:48)

What is humility? When we think of a humble person, we often picture a quiet, unassuming person. Maybe we think of a “shrinking violet”—someone who doesn’t take risks because he or she lacks confidence. We may think of someone who, when complimented, protests that they are no good. But is this true humility?

Let’s look at the Virgin Mary. It’s true that when the spotlight was on her, she pointed to God. It’s also true that she knew all blessings come from God. But none of this made her shrink into the shadows!

Imagine a young woman, early in her pregnancy, making a trip by herself—most likely on foot and definitely without any of the conveniences of modern-day travel—to visit her cousin in the rugged hill country of Judah. Now that’s gutsy!

The Gospels are full of examples of Mary’s active humility: saying yes to becoming pregnant even before she and Joseph came together as husband and wife; traveling as an older widow to Jerusalem to be with Jesus during his ministry and at his crucifixion; risking arrest by associating with the other disciples after Jesus had ascended into heaven.

Mary was decisive, active, and bold, but this didn’t mean she was proud! She simply chose to do what God called her to do. She knew her strength wasn’t enough to carry out God’s plan, but that didn’t stop her. She didn’t try to back out because she was too weak or lowly. She didn’t disqualify herself out of a false sense of modesty. No, she forged ahead and staked her life on God’s faithfulness.

God is calling you to help build his kingdom, so don’t let false humility be an excuse! A humble person doesn’t shrink in fear but takes action, trusting in God. As we celebrate Mary’s Assumption today, let’s see her entrance into heaven as the crowning jewel of her humility. Yes, God truly has “lifted up the lowly” (Luke 1:52). She who chose to step forward in faith is now exalted as queen of heaven and earth!

“Jesus, you have raised up your mother to sit with you in heaven because of her humble yet decisive ‘yes’ to the Father. Help me to embrace her humility. Deepen my confidence in your power.”