30 September 2011

30 Sep 2011, Memorial of Saint Jerome, priest and doctor of the Church

Reading 1 
Bar 1:15-22

During the Babylonian captivity, the exiles prayed:
"Justice is with the Lord, our God;
and we today are flushed with shame,
we men of Judah and citizens of Jerusalem,
that we, with our kings and rulers
and priests and prophets, and with our ancestors,
have sinned in the Lord's sight and disobeyed him.
We have neither heeded the voice of the Lord, our God,
nor followed the precepts which the Lord set before us.
From the time the Lord led our ancestors out of the land of Egypt
until the present day,
we have been disobedient to the Lord, our God,
and only too ready to disregard his voice.
And the evils and the curse that the Lord enjoined upon Moses, his servant,
at the time he led our ancestors forth from the land of Egypt
to give us the land flowing with milk and honey,
cling to us even today.
For we did not heed the voice of the Lord, our God,
in all the words of the prophets whom he sent us,
but each one of us went off
after the devices of his own wicked heart,
served other gods,
and did evil in the sight of the Lord, our God."

Responsorial Psalm 
Ps 79:1b-2, 3-5, 8, 9

R. (9) For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.
O God, the nations have come into your inheritance;
they have defiled your holy temple,
they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.
They have given the corpses of your servants
as food to the birds of heaven,
the flesh of your faithful ones to the beasts of the earth.
R. For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.
They have poured out their blood like water
round about Jerusalem,
and there is no one to bury them.
We have become the reproach of our neighbors,
the scorn and derision of those around us.
O LORD, how long? Will you be angry forever?
Will your jealousy burn like fire?
R. For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.
Remember not against us the iniquities of the past;
may your compassion quickly come to us,
for we are brought very low.
R. For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.
Help us, O God our savior,
because of the glory of your name;
Deliver us and pardon our sins
for your name's sake.
R. For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.

Lk 10:13-16

Jesus said to them,
"Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida!
For if the mighty deeds done in your midst
had been done in Tyre and Sidon,
they would long ago have repented,
sitting in sackcloth and ashes.
But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon
at the judgment than for you.
And as for you, Capernaum, "Will you be exalted to heaven?
You will go down to the netherworld."
Whoever listens to you listens to me.
Whoever rejects you rejects me.
And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me."

Meditation: Luke 10:13-16

“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida!” (Luke 10:13)

Why was Jesus so upset with these towns? Essentially, because they didn’t do anything. Many of the people liked this miracle-worker from Nazareth, but it seems that they resisted his call to repentance. Through all the miracles he had done there, Jesus showed that he was offering them freedom from sin, healing, and new life. But they let this grace pass them by. How unfortunate— and how tragic.

Six hundred years before Jesus made this pronouncement, a man named Baruch, who was the prophet Jeremiah’s personal secretary, offered a prayer of repentance on behalf of all the people of Israel: “We have been disobedient to the Lord, our God, and only too ready to disregard his voice” (Baruch 1:19). Apparently, God’s call to repentance has a history of falling on deaf ears!

It is one thing to hear Scripture at Mass or to read it in our daily prayer time, but it is another thing to let Jesus write his words on our hearts and transform our minds to be like his. Just to hear God’s word is an activity of our intellects alone. But to let his word pierce us and change us—that also calls for an openness to the Holy Spirit and a willingness to be changed.

God wants to soften our hearts. He wants to make us more and more like Jesus. This is the only reason why he calls us to repentance; the only reason why he invites us to join him on an ongoing journey of conversion, change, and transformation.

Day in and day out, God offers us the grace of repentance: the assurance that our sins are forgiven and the grace to be transformed into Christ. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Jesus comes to us as the physician of our souls. Just as he forgave the sins of the man who was paralyzed and restored him to bodily health, so he continues his work of healing and salvation today through this wonderful sacrament. He invites us to search our hearts and examine our consciences so that we can experience in ever-increasing depth his healing love and grace. So don’t be like Chorazin and Bethsaida. Instead, rejoice in God’s mercy, and open yourself to his transforming power.

“Lord Jesus, your mercies are new every day. Draw me ever closer to your throne of grace.”

29 September 2011

29 Sep 2011, Feast of Saint Michael, Saint Gabriel and Saint Raphael, archangels

Reading 1 
Dn 7:9-10, 13-14

As I watched:

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

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

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


Rv 12:7-12ab

War broke out in heaven;
Michael and his angels battled against the dragon.
The dragon and its angels fought back,
but they did not prevail
and there was no longer any place for them in heaven.
The huge dragon, the ancient serpent,
who is called the Devil and Satan,
who deceived the whole world,
was thrown down to earth,
and its angels were thrown down with it.

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.
For the accuser of our brothers is cast out,
who accuses them before our God day and night.
They conquered him by the Blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
love for life did not deter them from death.
Therefore, rejoice, you heavens,
and you who dwell in them."

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

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

Jn 1:47-51

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

Meditation: John 1:47-51

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The Archangels

You will see greater things than this. (John 1:50)

Nathanael was impressed. Jesus had seen him from afar and made an insightful assessment of his personality. In fact, he may have even been pleased that Jesus called him a true son of Israel. But Jesus tells him not to stop there. He had something even greater in mind: Nathanael would see heaven itself open up!

We have all had those moments when heaven seems to break into our everyday existence. Maybe we got a phone call from a long-lost friend, or had a solution to a problem present itself out of the blue. We might have felt the presence of the Lord at Mass, or had a particular Scripture passage touch our hearts deeply. We may have felt the Holy Spirit using us to help a coworker just when he or she needed encouragement. God was truly moving in our lives.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg! The heavenly realities that Jesus wants us to experience, the “greater things” that he promised, are all about the reshaping of our hearts and minds. It’s no good seeing heaven opened if we aren’t changed so that we can begin to live a heavenly life on earth! The “flashes of heaven” we experience are meant to draw us toward Jesus. They are meant to give us glimpses of the intimacy God wants to have with us. God uses them to urge us to spend more time with Jesus, reflect on our priorities, and put aside whatever gets in his way.

It isn’t always easy to make these changes. The angels “ascending and descending” recalls the story of Jacob seeing angels going up and down a ladder in a dream, and shortly thereafter wrestling with God’s representative before receiving the name “Israel,” which means “one who strives with God” (Genesis 32:23-31). So a true child of Israel like Nathanael—or us—may end up struggling from time to time in order to let go of his plans and accept God’s will. But that’s okay. Because when the struggle is over and heaven breaks through, we end up much closer to Jesus. And we end up much more like him!

“Father, open my eyes to the ways that you are drawing me closer to you, so that I can be more like you. I want my life to reflect heaven here on earth!”

28 September 2011

28 Sep 2011, Wednesday of the Twenty-Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 
Neh 2:1-8

In the month Nisan of the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes,
when the wine was in my charge,
I took some and offered it to the king.
As I had never before been sad in his presence,
the king asked me, "Why do you look sad?
If you are not sick, you must be sad at heart."
Though I was seized with great fear, I answered the king:
"May the king live forever!
How could I not look sad
when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins,
and its gates have been eaten out by fire?"
The king asked me, "What is it, then, that you wish?"
I prayed to the God of heaven and then answered the king:
"If it please the king,
and if your servant is deserving of your favor,
send me to Judah, to the city of my ancestors? graves,
to rebuild it."
Then the king, and the queen seated beside him,
asked me how long my journey would take
and when I would return.
I set a date that was acceptable to him,
and the king agreed that I might go.

I asked the king further: "If it please the king,
let letters be given to me for the governors
of West-of-Euphrates,
that they may afford me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah;
also a letter for Asaph, the keeper of the royal park,
that he may give me wood for timbering the gates
of the temple-citadel and for the city wall
and the house that I shall occupy."
The king granted my requests,
for the favoring hand of my God was upon me.

Responsorial Psalm 
Ps 137:1-2, 3, 4-5, 6

R. (6ab)  Let my tongue be silenced if I ever forget you!
By the streams of Babylon
we sat and wept
when we remembered Zion.
On the aspens of that land
we hung up our harps.
R. Let my tongue be silenced if I ever forget you!
Though there our captors asked of us
the lyrics of our songs,
And our despoilers urged us to be joyous:
"Sing for us the songs of Zion!"
R. Let my tongue be silenced if I ever forget you!
How could we sing a song of the LORD
in a foreign land?
If I forget you, Jerusalem,
may my right hand be forgotten!
R. Let my tongue be silenced if I ever forget you!
May my tongue cleave to my palate
if I remember you not,
If I place not Jerusalem
ahead of my joy.
R. Let my tongue be silenced if I ever forget you!

Lk 9:57-62

As Jesus and his disciples were proceeding
on their journey, someone said to him,
"I will follow you wherever you go."
Jesus answered him,
"Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests,
but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head."
And to another he said, "Follow me."
But he replied, "Lord, let me go first and bury my father."
But he answered him, "Let the dead bury their dead.
But you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God."
And another said, "I will follow you, Lord,
but first let me say farewell to my family at home."
Jesus answered him, "No one who sets a hand to the plow
and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God."

Meditation: Luke 9:57-62

“Let the dead bury their dead.” (Luke 9:60)

Jesus sounds pretty extreme here, doesn’t he? Surely he would want a man to attend his own father’s funeral! Everything we know about him tells us that he wants us all to be prudent and wise in the way we live our lives. So what is Jesus really saying here?

As he so often does, Jesus is exaggerating his answers in order to make a point. Just as he doesn’t really want us to chop off our hands or gouge out our eyes, he doesn’t really want us to abandon all our responsibilities in the name of discipleship. What he does want us to do is take seriously his call to follow him. So he uses extreme language to get our attention and prompt us to do a bit of self-examination.

How easy it can be to tell ourselves that we are too busy to pray today! How tempting to put down the Bible and go outside to rake the leaves or mow the lawn! But each decision we make adds up, until we begin to think that Jesus really isn’t so very important in our lives. Of course, we would never say it so bluntly, but our actions often speak more honestly than our words.

Don’t let that happen! Let Jesus’ words—shocking as they are—provoke a few questions. To make sure that you’re being as objective as possible, try the following exercise: Take out a piece of paper and write down the two or three biggest obstacles that you face in your life with the Lord. Next, take a few moments of quiet and see if you can detect the Spirit giving you ideas of how you can chip away at these obstacles. Write down a few ideas, and try to come up with a plan to help yourself.

The key here is to start small. Don’t try to conquer everything all at once. Just take it a step at a time. And remember that Jesus is always walking with you, even if you are not walking with him perfectly every day. He is faithful, and he will help you become a more dedicated follower.

“Jesus, I want to follow you, but you know how easily I can get distracted or discouraged. Help me to be a better disciple.”

27 September 2011

27 Sep 2011, Memorial of Saint Vincent de Paul, priest

Reading 1 
Zec 8:20-23

Thus says the LORD of hosts:
There shall yet come peoples,
the inhabitants of many cities;
and the inhabitants of one city shall approach those of another,
and say, "Come! let us go to implore the favor of the LORD;
and, "I too will go to seek the LORD."
Many peoples and strong nations shall come
to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem
and to implore the favor of the LORD.
Thus says the LORD of hosts:
In those days ten men of every nationality,
speaking different tongues, shall take hold,
yes, take hold of every Jew by the edge of his garment and say,

"Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you."

Responsorial Psalm 
Ps 87:1b-3, 4-5, 6-7

R. (Zec 8:23) God is with us.
His foundation upon the holy mountains
the LORD loves:
The gates of Zion,
more than any dwelling of Jacob.
Glorious things are said of you,
O city of God!
R. God is with us.
I tell of Egypt and Babylon
among those that know the LORD;
Of Philistia, Tyre, Ethiopia:
"This man was born there."
And of Zion they shall say:
"One and all were born in her;
And he who has established her
is the Most High LORD."
R. God is with us.
They shall note, when the peoples are enrolled:
"This man was born there."
And all shall sing, in their festive dance:
"My home is within you."
R. God is with us.

Lk 9:51-56

When the days for Jesus to be taken up were fulfilled,
he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem,
and he sent messengers ahead of him.
On the way they entered a Samaritan village
to prepare for his reception there,
but they would not welcome him
because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem.
When the disciples James and John saw this they asked,
"Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven
to consume them?"
Jesus turned and rebuked them,
and they journeyed to another village.

Meditation: Luke 9:51-56

“Do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” (Luke 9:54)

There can be no doubt that religion and politics have fueled some of the most terrible conflicts in human history. Northern Ireland, the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda—in each of these regions, ideological disagreements escalated into deadly violence. Participants on both sides claimed to be the “real” patriots, and some have even said that God was with them in their massacres. While some of the combatants may have been acting in self-defense, others used their understanding of the truth as an excuse for aggression.

A similar attitude comes through in this statement of James and John. They felt justified in seeking to punish the Samaritans because they knew that Jesus was from God. Elijah had called down fire on those who doubted him (2 Kings 2:10-12), so why couldn’t they? Besides, Samaritans had always been hostile to Israel, even claiming to be the “true” worshippers of Yahweh. Maybe they needed to learn a lesson! James and John apparently thought that Jesus was going to Jerusalem to conquer a kingdom, not to lay down his life for it.

Sometimes we can view other people through the wrong prism, too. This is especially easy to do when we believe that “our side” is in the right, and “their side” is wrong. They’re not welcoming the kingdom of God to our society, and they’re even acting against godly values. Perhaps in an excess of zeal, we start to label these people in our heads, and sometimes, even out loud. We can see them as enemies instead of ordinary people like ourselves.

So how can we free ourselves from this slanted view? Our best answer is to look to Jesus’ example. He could have trounced his enemies, but he chose to die for them instead. Likewise, we can ask God to change our hearts toward those who misunderstand us—and those we misunderstand. We can choose to bless instead of curse them (Romans 12:14). We can ask God to send his wisdom to their hearts as well as to our own. That’s how you start a spiritual revolution that will really make the world a better place!

“Lord, open my eyes to see your presence in everyone—even those I disagree with. Shower them with your blessings today, Father!”

26 September 2011

26 Sep 2011, Monday of the Twenty-Sixth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 
Zec 8:1-8

This word of the LORD of hosts came:

Thus says the LORD of hosts:

I am intensely jealous for Zion,
stirred to jealous wrath for her.
Thus says the LORD:
I will return to Zion,
and I will dwell within Jerusalem;
Jerusalem shall be called the faithful city,
and the mountain of the LORD of hosts,
the holy mountain.

Thus says the LORD of hosts:  Old men and old women,
each with staff in hand because of old age,
shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem.
The city shall be filled with boys and girls playing in its streets.
Thus says the LORD of hosts:
Even if this should seem impossible
in the eyes of the remnant of this people,
shall it in those days be impossible in my eyes also,
says the LORD of hosts?
Thus says the LORD of hosts:
Lo, I will rescue my people from the land of the rising sun,
and from the land of the setting sun.
I will bring them back to dwell within Jerusalem.
They shall be my people, and I will be their God,
with faithfulness and justice.

Responsorial Psalm 
Ps 102:16-18, 19-21, 29 And 22-23

R. (17) The Lord will build up Zion again, and appear in all his glory.
The nations shall revere your name, O LORD,
and all the kings of the earth your glory,
When the LORD has rebuilt Zion
and appeared in his glory;
When he has regarded the prayer of the destitute,
and not despised their prayer.
R. The Lord will build up Zion again, and appear in all his glory.
Let this be written for the generation to come,
and let his future creatures praise the LORD:
"The LORD looked down from his holy height,
from heaven he beheld the earth,
To hear the groaning of the prisoners,
to release those doomed to die."
R. The Lord will build up Zion again, and appear in all his glory.
The children of your servants shall abide,
and their posterity shall continue in your presence.
That the name of the LORD may be declared in Zion;
and his praise, in Jerusalem,
When the peoples gather together,
and the kingdoms, to serve the LORD.
R. The Lord will build up Zion again, and appear in all his glory.

Lk 9:46-50

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

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

Meditation: Luke 9:46-50

“The one who is least among all of you is the one who is the greatest.” (Luke 9:48)

The disciples were people just like us. Some craved respect and esteem from others. Some sought power and glory. Some presumed exclusive rights to Jesus’ power. After three years of being taught and directed and ministered to by Jesus—more than a thousand days of close, personal contact with him—they still didn’t always understand. “Show us the Father” (John 14:8). “What does he mean, ‘in a little while’?” (16:17). And, ultimately, “Who’s the greatest?”

Jesus makes it plain: Jesus doesn’t want his followers to think of themselves as the powerful, respected few or an elite assembly. Rather, they are supposed to be like little children. No expectations, no desire for greatness— just simple, trusting, loving people. He wants followers who are open and teachable. He wants them to accept the work of the Holy Spirit in other people.

Nowhere in this passage does Jesus mention being flawless. He doesn’t hold up a mistake-free life as the goal for his disciples. And how could he? The Gospels are full of instances where the disciples’ shortcomings are on full display: “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?” they asked (Mark 4:41), even though they had seen healing and deliverance time and again. Even when Jesus told them that he was the Messiah and that he had to die, Peter’s immediate be mistaken (Matthew 16:16-23)!

The disciples needed to learn. They needed to trust. They needed to live simply and contentedly, leaning on the One who is all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving. It took time: years with Jesus, and even more years after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Becoming like a little child doesn’t happen overnight. But it does happen. Ask, seek, knock! Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you. Seek the Father’s love to humble you. Knock at the gates of heaven for the grace to become quiet and trusting.

“Jesus, teach me to be like a little child. Give me the wisdom and understanding I need to be contented with my life and to lean on you for strength and comfort.”

25 September 2011

25 Sep 2011, Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
Ez 18:25-28

Thus says the LORD:
You say, "The LORD's way is not fair!"
Hear now, house of Israel:
Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair?
When someone virtuous turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies,
it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die.
But if he turns from the wickedness he has committed,
he does what is right and just,
he shall preserve his life;
since he has turned away from all the sins that he has committed,
he shall surely live, he shall not die.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 25:4-5, 8-9, 10, 14.

R. (6a) Remember your mercies, O Lord.
Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
teach me your paths,
guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my savior.
R. Remember your mercies, O Lord.
Remember that your compassion, O LORD,
and your love are from of old.
The sins of my youth and my frailties remember not;
in your kindness remember me,
because of your goodness, O LORD.
R. Remember your mercies, O Lord.
Good and upright is the LORD;
thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice,
and teaches the humble his way.
R. Remember your mercies, O Lord.

Reading 2
Phil 2:1-11

Brothers and sisters:
If there is any encouragement in Christ,
any solace in love,
any participation in the Spirit,
any compassion and mercy,
complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love,
united in heart, thinking one thing.
Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory;
rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves,
each looking out not for his own interests,
but also for those of others.

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

or Phil 2:1-5

Brothers and sisters:
If there is any encouragement in Christ,
any solace in love,
any participation in the Spirit,
any compassion and mercy,
complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love,
united in heart, thinking one thing.
Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory;
rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves,
each looking out not for his own interests,
but also for those of others.

Have in you the same attitude
that is also in Christ Jesus.

Mt 21:28-32

Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people:
"What is your opinion?
A man had two sons.
He came to the first and said,
'Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.'
He said in reply, 'I will not, '
but afterwards changed his mind and went.
The man came to the other son and gave the same order.
He said in reply, 'Yes, sir, 'but did not go.
Which of the two did his father's will?"
They answered, "The first."
Jesus said to them, "Amen, I say to you,
tax collectors and prostitutes
are entering the kingdom of God before you.
When John came to you in the way of righteousness,
you did not believe him;
but tax collectors and prostitutes did.
Yet even when you saw that,
you did not later change your minds and believe him."

Meditation: Matthew 21:28-32

Which of the two did his father’s will?” (Matthew 21:31)

This is a familiar story. A father sends each of his two sons to work in his vineyard. The first says no, but later changes his mind and goes. The second readily agrees to go, but never follows through. We don’t know if he was just giving the expected answer and never intended to go, or if he started out in the right direction but got distracted. Of course, it was the first son who did his father’s will.

Think about the father. Perhaps getting his grapes harvested wasn’t his only objective, or even the most important one he had in mind. Perhaps he knew his sons could easily get in trouble if they didn’t have something productive to do. Maybe he hoped it would be an occasion to help them learn more about the family business they would inherit one day.

What is our Father’s intent for us? Perhaps there is more to it than meets the eye. God urges us to avoid sin not because he wants to make things tough for us but because he knows how much sin hurts us and those we love. Perhaps what we may see as a burdensome church rule is intended as a doorway into a closer relationship with God, who longs to spend time with us but knows we may need the rule to make sure we spend time with him. Maybe changing the wording of the prayers and responses at Mass can be an occasion for entering more mindfully into those prayers, as well as uniting us with those throughout the world who pray them in words and phrases more like the ones we are now using.

We may start out with a minimalist attitude: What is the least I can do and still be saved? But if we linger in our Father’s presence, we will discover that it is a delightful place to be!

“Father, thank you for inviting me to work alongside you to build your kingdom in this world. Help me be more attentive to your purposes for me.”


Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion

(Ezekiel 18:25-28; Psalm 25:4-9; Philippians 2:1-11; Matthew 21:28-32)

1. In the first reading, God cautions us against accusing him of being unfair, without first examining our own lives. How often do you do an examination of conscience and repent of (and turn away from) your sins? Are there times in your life when you are prone to blame God for your difficulties, rather than your own behavior? What can you do to be more accountable for the consequences of your decisions?

2. In the responsorial psalm, we ask God to “guide” and “teach” us. How often do you turn to God during the day to ask for guidance? What steps can you take to be more alert to and open to God’s presence during the day?

3. In the second reading, St. Paul urges us to be of one “mind” and “heart”. What can you do this week to restore bonds of love and unity between individuals who have become estranged? Maybe there is someone in your own life.

4. St. Paul goes further and also says an astonishing thing. We are told to regard others as more important than ourselves! How do you honestly regard others relative to yourself? What specifically do you need to do to begin adopting the attitude described by St. Paul?

5. In the Gospel, Christ admonishes the chief priests and elders for giving lip service to their faith, but not really living it. They claim to follow God, but actually do nothing. Can that be said of you? What can you do to make your faith have a greater impact on how you live out your life (i.e., be not just a hearer of the Word, but a “doer”)?

6. The meditation challenges us with this question: “What is our Father’s intent for us?” How would you answer this? What steps can you take to be more faithful to “our Father’s intent”?

7. Take some time now to pray that the Lord would give you the grace to know and do God’s will and to be more attentive to his plan for your life. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.

24 September 2011

24 Sep 2011, Saturday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
Zec 2:5-9, 14-15a

I, Zechariah, raised my eyes and looked:
there was a man with a measuring line in his hand.
I asked, "Where are you going?"
He answered, "To measure Jerusalem,
to see how great is its width and how great its length."

Then the angel who spoke with me advanced,
and another angel came out to meet him and said to him,
"Run, tell this to that young man:
People will live in Jerusalem as though in open country,
because of the multitude of men and beasts in her midst.
But I will be for her an encircling wall of fire, says the LORD,
and I will be the glory in her midst."

Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion!
See, I am coming to dwell among you, says the LORD.
Many nations shall join themselves to the LORD on that day,
and they shall be his people and he will dwell among you.

Responsorial Psalm
Jer 31:10, 11-12ab, 13

R. (see 10d) The Lord will guard us as a shepherd guards his flock.
Hear the word of the LORD, O nations,
proclaim it on distant isles, and say:
He who scattered Israel, now gathers them together,
he guards them as a shepherd guards his flock.
R. The Lord will guard us as a shepherd guards his flock.
The LORD shall ransom Jacob,
he shall redeem him from the hand of his conqueror.
Shouting, they shall mount the heights of Zion,
they shall come streaming to the LORD's blessings.
R. The Lord will guard us as a shepherd guards his flock.
Then the virgins shall make merry and dance,
and young men and old as well.
I will turn their mourning into joy,
I will console and gladden them after their sorrows.
R. The Lord will guard us as a shepherd guards his flock.

Lk 9:43b-45

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

Meditation: Luke 9:43-45

Pay attention.” (Luke 9:44)

You’re watching six people—three in white shirts and three in black— pass a basketball around. You’ve been told to count the number of passes made by the white shirts. As you do, you fail to see a large, hairy creature stroll in, thump his chest, and leave.

Impossible? Not at all. Half the viewers don’t notice the intruder, say psychologists Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons, who created the test. Click here to view a video of the experiment. Their twofold conclusion: “We are missing a lot of what goes on around us,” and “We have no idea that we are missing so much.”

The disciples in today’s reading also have a “selective attention” problem: They keep missing the message of the cross and have no idea that an instrument of death can lead to life. Already, they have heard Jesus foretell his passion and death and say that every follower must take up his or her own cross. Three of them have seen Jesus discussing his death with Moses and Elijah. And now the message comes like a neon sign: “Pay attention to what I am telling you. The Son of Man is to be handed over to men.” But the disciples still don’t get it. Soon they will be wrangling over their rank (Luke 9:22-23, 30-31,44,46).

Are we so different? In our own lives, can’t we remember instances where it took forever to see what Jesus was showing us—especially when it didn’t fit our expectations? “Pay attention!” should be our watchword, too.

Today, then, think about what you can do to become more attentive to the Lord and his teaching. Maybe you can think of ways to fight the “pious coma” syndrome and be more present to God as you pray, read Scripture, and attend Mass. You can decide to “pay attention” by learning more— about the lives of the saints, church history, and the doctrines of the faith. Why not read a spiritual classic like St. Augustine’s Confessions, Thérèse of Lisieux’s Autobiography of a Soul, or Francis de Sales’ Introduction to the Devout Life? And see the Catechism, which has a wonderfully prayerful final section about prayer. Using all these helps, let’s allow the Lord to show us every “invisible gorilla” he wants us to see!

“Holy Spirit, make me attentive to your every word and leading. Enlighten my mind as I keep watch for you.”

Zechariah 2:5-9,14-15;

23 September 2011

23 Sep 2011, Memorial of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, priest

Reading 1
Hg 2:1-9

In the second year of King Darius,
on the twenty-first day of the seventh month,
the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai:
Tell this to the governor of Judah,
Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel,
and to the high priest Joshua, son of Jehozadak,
and to the remnant of the people:

Who is left among you
that saw this house in its former glory?
And how do you see it now?
Does it not seem like nothing in your eyes?
But now take courage, Zerubbabel, says the LORD,
and take courage, Joshua, high priest, son of Jehozadak,
And take courage, all you people of the land,
says the LORD, and work!
For I am with you, says the LORD of hosts.
This is the pact that I made with you
when you came out of Egypt,
And my spirit continues in your midst;
do not fear!
For thus says the LORD of hosts:
One moment yet, a little while,
and I will shake the heavens and the earth,
the sea and the dry land.
I will shake all the nations,
and the treasures of all the nations will come in,
And I will fill this house with glory,
says the LORD of hosts.
Mine is the silver and mine the gold,
says the LORD of hosts.
Greater will be the future glory of this house
than the former, says the LORD of hosts;
And in this place I will give you peace,
says the LORD of hosts!

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 43:1, 2, 3, 4

R. (5) Hope in God; I will praise him, my savior and my God.
Do me justice, O God, and fight my fight
against a faithless people;
from the deceitful and impious man rescue me.
R. Hope in God; I will praise him, my savior and my God.
For you, O God, are my strength.
Why do you keep me so far away?
Why must I go about in mourning,
with the enemy oppressing me?
R. Hope in God; I will praise him, my savior and my God.
Send forth your light and your fidelity;
they shall lead me on
And bring me to your holy mountain,
to your dwelling place.
R. Hope in God; I will praise him, my savior and my God.
Then will I go in to the altar of God,
the God of my gladness and joy;
Then will I give you thanks upon the harp,
O God, my God!
R. Hope in God; I will praise him, my savior and my God.

Lk 9:18-22

Once when Jesus was praying in solitude,
and the disciples were with him,
he asked them, "Who do the crowds say that I am?"
They said in reply, "John the Baptist; others, Elijah;
still others, "One of the ancient prophets has arisen.""
Then he said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"
Peter said in reply, "The Christ of God."
He rebuked them and directed them not to tell this to anyone.

He said, "The Son of Man must suffer greatly
and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed and on the third day be raised."

Meditation: Luke 9:18-22

But who do you say that I am?” (Luke 9:20)

We can all answer this question to some degree or another. Maybe we have been taught our catechism and learned that Jesus is the Son of God, the Savior, and the Messiah. Maybe we have searched the Scriptures and can point to stories where he taught and healed and died and rose again. Or maybe we have had a personal encounter with him and can say that he is our Lord, our brother, and our friend who is intimately involved in our lives.

But apart from the words you speak, there are other ways of “saying” who Jesus is. Every compassionate thought, every decision to do good is another way of telling yourself, the Lord, and the world around you that you have faith in Jesus and that you want to honor him. Impulses like these come from a heart that wants to please the Lord.

What’s more, when you hold your tongue instead of saying an angry word, or when you catch an unkind thought, or when you choose to let go of a bad memory, you are also proclaiming who Jesus is—and who he is in your life. When you spot a temptation and choose to avoid it, or make the effort to counteract evil with good, you are proclaiming Jesus.

Let’s go even further! Your entire life can be conformed to Jesus so that your every word, gesture, and response to situations speaks volumes about who he is. You yourself can become a living statement of faith, a breathing revelation of Jesus and his love. What a motivation this can be as you face areas of your life that aren’t yet surrendered to Jesus! Today, let him into those areas just a little more. Ask him to help you overcome them. That way, your life can give a clearer answer to the most important question Jesus will ever ask: “Who do you say that I am?”

“Jesus, I want my life to be a living statement of who you are and what you have done in my life. I don’t want to hold anything back from you. I want to be like you in every way, so that I can clearly proclaim you to the world.”

22 September 2011

22 Sep 2011, Thursday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
Hg 1:1-8

On the first day of the sixth month in the second year of King Darius,
The word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai
to the governor of Judah, Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel,
and to the high priest Joshua, son of Jehozadak:

Thus says the LORD of hosts:
This people says:
"The time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the LORD."
(Then this word of the LORD came through Haggai, the prophet:)
Is it time for you to dwell in your own paneled houses,
while this house lies in ruins?

Now thus says the LORD of hosts:
Consider your ways!
You have sown much, but have brought in little;
you have eaten, but have not been satisfied;
You have drunk, but have not been exhilarated;
have clothed yourselves, but not been warmed;
And whoever earned wages
earned them for a bag with holes in it.

Thus says the LORD of hosts:
Consider your ways!
Go up into the hill country;
bring timber, and build the house
That I may take pleasure in it
and receive my glory, says the LORD.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 149:1b-2, 3-4, 5-6a and 9b

R. (see 4a) The Lord takes delight in his people.
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.
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.
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.

Lk 9:7-9

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

Meditation: Luke 9:7-9

Herod…was perplexed.” (Luke 9:7)

Herod was interested in Jesus. He had heard lots about him, quite possibly through his steward’s wife, Joanna (Luke 8:3). But even if Joanna stayed quiet, word would probably have made its way to his court. After all, Galilee was filled with rumors of storms miraculously calmed, the sick healed, demons expelled, and the dead raised!

With all of this data, Herod clearly decided who Jesus wasn’t. He wasn’t John the Baptist, whom he had beheaded, or Elijah, or another of the ancient prophets back from the dead. But Herod was having trouble deciding who Jesus was. He “kept trying to see him,” hoping that more and more exposure would help him solve the puzzle of this popular preacher from Galilee (Luke 9:9). In effect, Herod was saying, “Prove yourself to me,” even though he wasn’t willing to admit the truth that all the rumors about Jesus should have led him to.

So who is Jesus? Every time we recite the Creed, we profess to believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son and our Lord. Are you ready to take a stand based on that profession? Every day we face situations in which we must decide not to gossip; to avoid TV shows, movies, or Internet sites that incite greed, envy, laziness, or lust; to eat and drink in moderation; to give employers an honest day’s work; to keep anger in check, even when our teenager goes to school with our car keys in his pocket!

We don’t want to be people who merely know about Jesus. We want to be those who have eliminated doubt, who are willing to take a stand for godly things. Rather than continually asking God to prove himself and convince us, let us be those who hold fast to godly truths in our hearts and minds. And, on those days when our lives go against our profession of faith, we can declare, “Thank you, Jesus, for dying on the cross and rising from the dead for my forgiveness.”

So what will your decision be?

“Jesus, I don’t need any more convincing. I believe you are the Son of God, and I want my words and actions to declare that. Help me today to live my faith in you.”

21 September 2011

21 Sep 2011, Feast of Saint Matthew, Apostle and evangelist

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

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

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

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

Psalm Ps 19:2-3, 4-5

R. (5) Their message goes out through all the earth.
The heavens declare the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day pours out the word to day,
and night to night imparts knowledge.
R. Their message goes out through all the earth.
Not a word nor a discourse
whose voice is not heard;
Through all the earth their voice resounds,
and to the ends of the world, their message.
R. Their message goes out through all the earth.

Mt 9:9-13

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

Meditation: Matthew 9:9-13

St. Matthew

I did not come to call the righteous but sinners. (Matthew 9:13)

You can probably come up with your own list of careers with bad reputations, but if you were a Jew in Matthew’s day, tax collector would be near the top. They were notorious for overcharging people on their taxes, and pocketing the difference. If Jesus came to call sinners, then Matthew definitely qualified! Among the twelve, he likely had the roughest past. You can just imagine him presiding over rowdy parties, enjoying the money he had extorted from other people, and exercising his office as tax gatherer with the callous disregard for his fellow Jews that comes from a hardened, selfish heart.

But when Jesus called, Matthew rose and followed. He left his old ways far behind, becoming one of Jesus’ twelve closest disciples. What a turnaround! He even became so open to the Spirit that his Gospel bears the seal of divine inspiration, and he was martyred for his faith in the One who had called him so many years earlier. Matthew is an example of a dramatic conversion.

Let’s take today’s Gospel reading as an invitation to pray for dramatic conversions—just like Matthew’s. And to help us, let’s do something practical. Try to put together a list of five names of people you know who need a turnaround, and devote a portion of your daily prayer for the next few months to praying for them. Your intercession doesn’t have to be lengthy or elegant. Simply releasing these people into God’s hands is all you need to do. Know that your prayers will help prepare their hearts to hear the gospel—maybe even from you. Persevere in prayer. Don’t lose hope. It is very possible that you will see firsthand some dramatic conversions!

You don’t have to be alone as you pray for these people, either. Visit our Web site at wau.org, and send us your prayer intentions so that we can join you in your intercession. And be sure to send any conversion stories, too!

“Lord, I trust that you hear my prayers for the lost and that you are working to bring them into your kingdom. Come quickly into the lives of those I pray for!”

20 September 2011

20 Sep 2011, Memorial of Saint Andrew Kim Taegõn, priest and martyr and Saint Paul Chõng Hasang, martyr and their companions, martyrs

Reading 1
Ez 6:7-8, 12b, 14-20

King Darius issued an order to the officials
of West-of-Euphrates:
"Let the governor and the elders of the Jews
continue the work on that house of God;
they are to rebuild it on its former site.
I also issue this decree
concerning your dealing with these elders of the Jews
in the rebuilding of that house of God:
From the royal revenue, the taxes of West-of-Euphrates,
let these men be repaid for their expenses, in full and without delay.
I, Darius, have issued this decree;
let it be carefully executed."

The elders of the Jews continued to make progress in the building,
supported by the message of the prophets,
Haggai and Zechariah, son of Iddo.
They finished the building according to the command
of the God of Israel
and the decrees of Cyrus and Darius
and of Artaxerxes, king of Persia.
They completed this house on the third day of the month Adar,
in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius.
The children of Israel'priests, Levites,
and the other returned exiles?
celebrated the dedication of this house of God with joy.
For the dedication of this house of God,
they offered one hundred bulls,
two hundred rams, and four hundred lambs,
together with twelve he-goats as a sin-offering for all Israel,
in keeping with the number of the tribes of Israel.
Finally, they set up the priests in their classes
and the Levites in their divisions
for the service of God in Jerusalem,
as is prescribed in the book of Moses.

The exiles kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the first month.
The Levites, every one of whom had purified himself for the occasion,
sacrificed the Passover for the rest of the exiles,
for their brethren the priests, and for themselves.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 122:1-2, 3-4ab, 4cd-5

R. (1) Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
I rejoiced because they said to me,
"We will go up to the house of the LORD."
And now we have set foot
within your gates, O Jerusalem.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
Jerusalem, built as a city
with compact unity.
To it the tribes go up,
the tribes of the LORD.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
According to the decree for Israel,
to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
In it are set up judgment seats,
seats for the house of David.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.

Lk 8:19-21

The mother of Jesus and his brothers came to him
but were unable to join him because of the crowd.
He was told, "Your mother and your brothers are standing outside
and they wish to see you."
He said to them in reply, "My mother and my brothers
are those who hear the word of God and act on it."

Meditation: Luke 8:19-21

Your mother and your brothers are standing outside.” (Luke 8:20)

What do you think the reaction of this crowd was to Jesus? Some had traveled miles to see him, and they were straining to hear his every word. Then they heard that Jesus’ mother and his relatives were outside. Surely, they thought, he was going to leave the crowd to visit with them. But Jesus did something unexpected. He looked out at the crowd and said, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it” (Luke 8:21). Did they understand what he was getting at?

It’s likely that many didn’t understand Jesus right away. But they must have known that he was serious. He wasn’t just trying to make friends with them. He was trying to teach them a concept that would revolutionize their understanding of God. They knew that God was good and that he would stand by them if they followed his commands. But the idea that he could be as close to them as a brother, sister, or mother was quite new. It might even have scared them a little!

The fact is, the kind of relationship Jesus wants to have with us is closer than anyone in that crowd could have imagined. For a few hours, they had the privilege of beholding Jesus in the flesh. But because he died, rose, and sent us his Holy Spirit, we can have Jesus with us all the time! What he promised to his disciples, he promises to us: “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him” (John 14:23).

With that kind of promise, we have every reason to be encouraged. It is an awesome gift, to be able to share in God’s divine life! So why not renew your commitment to follow Jesus today with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength? If there’s anything standing in the way of your relationship with him, he will show you—and give you the power to overcome it!

“Jesus, help me to know you better than before. Let no stumbling block come between me and your will for my life. Lord, let my desires become your desires!”

19 September 2011

19 Sep 2011, Monday of the Twenty-Fifth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
Ez 1:1-6

In the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia,
in order to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah,
the LORD inspired King Cyrus of Persia
to issue this proclamation throughout his kingdom,
both by word of mouth and in writing:
"Thus says Cyrus, king of Persia:
'All the kingdoms of the earth
the LORD, the God of heaven, has given to me,
and he has also charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem,
which is in Judah.
Therefore, whoever among you belongs to any part of his people,
let him go up, and may his God be with him!
Let everyone who has survived, in whatever place he may have dwelt,
be assisted by the people of that place
with silver, gold, goods, and cattle,
together with free-will offerings
for the house of God in Jerusalem.'"

Then the family heads of Judah and Benjamin
and the priests and Levites-
everyone, that is, whom God had inspired to do so-
prepared to go up to build the house of the LORD in Jerusalem.
All their neighbors gave them help in every way,
with silver, gold, goods, and cattle,
and with many precious gifts
besides all their free-will offerings.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 126:1b-2ab, 2cd-3, 4-5, 6

R. (3) The Lord has done marvels for us.
When the LORD brought back the captives of Zion,
we were like men dreaming.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with rejoicing.
R. The Lord has done marvels for us.
Then they said among the nations,
"The LORD has done great things for them."
The LORD has done great things for us;
we are glad indeed.
R. The Lord has done marvels for us.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like the torrents in the southern desert.
Those that sow in tears
shall reap rejoicing.
R. The Lord has done marvels for us.
Although they go forth weeping,
carrying the seed to be sown,
They shall come back rejoicing,
carrying their sheaves.
R. The Lord has done marvels for us.

Lk 8:16-18

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

Meditation: Luke 8:16-18

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

What matters most to Jesus is not how much we hear but what we do with the truths that we do hear. He doesn’t want his words to go in one ear and out the other. He wants to see us putting them into action in our daily lives!

Of course we hear many things from Scripture and the church that we do not fully comprehend. Like Mary, it is appropriate for us to store these away and pull them out from time to time, turning them over and asking the Holy Spirit to give us new insights and further understanding.

But much of what we hear is not all that difficult to understand. In many cases, we do know what God expects of us, but we find ourselves reluctant to do it. We know we should set aside time to pray and read Scripture daily. We know we should receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation regularly. We know we should forgive that person who hurt us so long ago. We know we should intercede for our sick neighbor. We know that even the smallest task in our daily life can be done with love for the glory of God. Yet we can find these things very difficult to do.

In today’s first reading from the Book of Ezra, the pagan ruler Cyrus invites God’s people, who have been living in exile, to return to Jerusalem and rebuild their Temple. Some accept this invitation, having kept alive the hope that they would someday be able to return home. But others are not interested. They have settled into a comfortable lifestyle where they are, and they don’t want to venture into the unknown with no guarantee of success.

Like them, we may find it easy to turn away from God’s invitation to hear his word and to put it into practice. However, our patient Father continues to invite us back. Let’s lean on his chest so that we can hear not only the words he speaks to us but also the beat of his heart. It is filled with love for us—and for everyone he sends our way.

“Father, your words are spirit and life. Bring to my mind the loving word you are longing to speak to me and through me today. Then give me the courage to act on what I hear.”

18 September 2011

18 Sep 2011, Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 
Is 55:6-9

Seek the LORD while he may be found,
call him while he is near.
Let the scoundrel forsake his way,
and the wicked his thoughts;
let him turn to the LORD for mercy;
to our God, who is generous in forgiving.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD.
As high as the heavens are above the earth,
so high are my ways above your ways
and my thoughts above your thoughts.

Responsorial Psalm 
Ps 145:2-3, 8-9, 17-18

R. (18a) The Lord is near to all who call upon him.
Every day will I bless you,
and I will praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the LORD and highly to be praised;
his greatness is unsearchable.
R. The Lord is near to all who call upon him.
The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and of great kindness.
The LORD is good to all
and compassionate toward all his works.
R. The Lord is near to all who call upon him.
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. The Lord is near to all who call upon him.

Reading 2 
Phil 1:20c-24, 27a

Brothers and sisters:
Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.
For to me life is Christ, and death is gain.
If I go on living in the flesh,
that means fruitful labor for me.
And I do not know which I shall choose.
I am caught between the two.
I long to depart this life and be with Christ,
for that is far better.
Yet that I remain in the flesh
is more necessary for your benefit.

Only, conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ.

Mt 20:1-16a

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,
the landowner 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,
the landowner 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

The last will be first, and the first will be last.” (Matthew 20:16)

These words can have a number of different meanings. For instance, we look at “first and last” as referring to those who are important in this world and those who are marginal. In heaven, the lowly, the “weak of the world,” will be given the highest place (1 Corinthians 1:27).

But we could also apply these words to the Jews and the Gentiles. The Jews were the first ones to hear the gospel, but many did not accept it. On the other hand, many Gentiles accepted Jesus’ message and became disciples. So even though the Gentiles were the “last” to receive the gospel, many were among the “first” to enter heaven.

Today’s parable of the laborers in the vineyard gives us another view of this paradox—one that is just as compelling as the previous two.

To help us grasp this last view, let’s recall the last few lines of the previous chapter in Matthew. There, Jesus promises: “Everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more” (Matthew 19:29). So it’s clear that the rewards given in heaven will be based, to some degree, on the degree of our service to God.

But then in today’s parable, we get the sense that it doesn’t matter how long you have worked in the “vineyard of the Lord.” Everyone gets the same reward.

Jesus’ point here is that reward is not based on seniority; it’s based on grace. The last to enter the kingdom will receive the same amount of grace as the one who arrived first.

Putting these two passages together, we can see that it is a privilege to come early and work for the Lord, but we shouldn’t think that these early birds are special or more beloved by the Lord. Everyone is precious to God, and he delights in giving all of us a full share in his kingdom and his glory.

“Jesus, help us to love one another as you love us.”


Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion

(Isaiah 55:6-9; Psalm 145: 2-3,8-9,17-18; Philippians 1:20-24,27; Matthew 20:1-16)

1. The first reading and responsorial psalm both encourage us to “seek” and “call” upon the Lord. We are assured he is “near” and “may be found.” He is so near in fact that in the Eucharist, the very God who created the universe let’s us partake of himself! How would you describe your preparation to receive Christ in the Eucharist? How could you improve it?

2. Again, both of these reading assure us that God is “compassionate” and “forgiving.” How often do you avail yourself of Christ kindness and mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation? What keeps you from taking advantage of God’s love and forgiveness more often?

3. In the second reading, St. Paul states his desire that “Christ will be magnified in my body” and exhorts us to live a life “worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Specifically, how do these statements apply to how you live your life as a Catholic man or women? What can we do individually, and together as brothers and sisters in Christ, to make these a greater reality in our lives?

4. In the gospel, we hear Jesus saying to the laborers, “you too go into my vineyard.” Pope John Paul II said that this was addressed not just to the apostles but also “to all who desire to be authentic disciples of the Lord.” In what ways can you become a more active laborer in the Lord’s vineyard? For example, are there some steps you can take to be a more active part of the life of your parish?

5. Jesus turns our human sense of justice and generosity on its head when he says, “Are you envious because I am generous? Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.” Does your own human sense of justice and generosity keep you from seeing the love and mercy of God toward you and in the lives of others? In what specific ways do you need to change in order to have God’s heart of mercy and forgiveness toward others?

6. In the referring to the parable of the “Laborers in the Vineyard” the meditation states the following: “Jesus’ point here is that reward is not based on seniority; it’s based on grace. The last to enter the kingdom will receive the same amount of grace as the one who arrived first.” How important in your life is knowing and experiencing the grace of God? Can you share some examples from your life when you did?

7. The prayer at the end of the meditation reminds us of Jesus’ “new commandment” in John 13:34-35: “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Take some time now to pray for the grace to “love one another” as Jesus has loved you. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.

17 September 2011

17 Sep 2011, Saturday of the Twenty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 
1 Tm 6:13-16

I charge you before God, who gives life to all things,
and before Christ Jesus,
who gave testimony under Pontius Pilate
for the noble confession,
to keep the commandment without stain or reproach
until the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ
that the blessed and only ruler
will make manifest at the proper time,
the King of kings and Lord of lords,
who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light,
and whom no human being has seen or can see.
To him be honor and eternal power. Amen.

Responsorial Psalm
 Ps 100:1b-2, 3, 4, 5

R. (2) Come with joy into the presence of the Lord.
Sing joyfully to the LORD all you lands;
serve the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful song.
R. Come with joy into the presence of the Lord.
Know that the LORD is God;
he made us, his we are;
his people, the flock he tends.
R. Come with joy into the presence of the Lord.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
his courts with praise;
Give thanks to him; bless his name.
R. Come with joy into the presence of the Lord.
For he is good:
the LORD, whose kindness endures forever,
and his faithfulness, to all generations.
R. Come with joy into the presence of the Lord.

Lk 8:4-15

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

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

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

Meditation: Luke 8:4-15

“A sower went out to sow.” (Luke 8:5)

We have all heard this parable so many times that we can probably recite it by heart. We have all been trained to ask what kind of “soil” we are and whether the seed of our faith is in a fertile enough environment. But have you ever thought about the sower? Here he is, flinging his seeds all over the ground—in briar patches, on rocks, in the open air. He’s lucky some made it onto the good soil! And what was he sowing? The word of God!

Jesus didn’t fault the sower for having bad aim. He speaks no word of reproach because some of the precious seed landed on unsuitable ground. He seems satisfied with how the seed was spread, and with where it went. If you think about it, Jesus is just satisfied that the seed had been sown in the first place!

Just so, Jesus wants us to sow every day, no matter where we are or what our environment is like. Being a sower is not a highly specialized occupation, reserved for an elite and specially trained few. We can all do it. We don’t have to get stressed about the ground the seed falls on; we don’t have to wait until we find the “perfect” soil to receive the seed.

Just sow! Talk simply, normally, about the things you know about who God is and what he’s done in your life. Tell of his goodness, in whatever ways you have experienced it: through healing, or forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation; in the pleasure of hearing his voice or feeling his presence in your prayer time; through understanding some passage in a new way as you read Scripture.

Fling it wide! Perhaps you’ve received the grace to know joy even on the anniversary of the death of a loved one, or the power to “lose the mood” and ask forgiveness from someone when you’ve lashed out in anger. Go ahead and share these blessings! Spread the seed, and let God worry about the soil that receives it.

“Holy Spirit, help me to sow God’s word today. Remind me of the times I have seen you at work, healing, strengthening, or teaching me. Help me to scatter these seeds all around me.”

16 September 2011

16 Sep 2011, Memorial of Saint Cornelius, pope and martyr and Saint Cyprian, bishop and martyr

Reading 1
1 Tm 6:2c-12

Teach and urge these things.
Whoever teaches something different
and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ
and the religious teaching
is conceited, understanding nothing,
and has a morbid disposition for arguments and verbal disputes.
From these come envy, rivalry, insults, evil suspicions,
and mutual friction among people with corrupted minds,
who are deprived of the truth,
supposing religion to be a means of gain.
Indeed, religion with contentment is a great gain.
For we brought nothing into the world,
just as we shall not be able to take anything out of it.
If we have food and clothing, we shall be content with that.
Those who want to be rich are falling into temptation and into a trap
and into many foolish and harmful desires,
which plunge them into ruin and destruction.
For the love of money is the root of all evils,
and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith
and have pierced themselves with many pains.

But you, man of God, avoid all this.
Instead, pursue righteousness, devotion,
faith, love, patience, and gentleness.
Compete well for the faith.
Lay hold of eternal life,
to which you were called when you made the noble confession
in the presence of many witnesses.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 49:6-7, 8-10, 17-18, 19-20

R. Blessed the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!
Why should I fear in evil days
when my wicked ensnarers ring me round?
They trust in their wealth;
the abundance of their riches is their boast.
R. Blessed the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!
Yet in no way can a man redeem himself,
or pay his own ransom to God;
Too high is the price to redeem one's life; he would never have enough
to remain alive always and not see destruction.
R. Blessed the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!
Fear not when a man grows rich,
when the wealth of his house becomes great,
For when he dies, he shall take none of it;
his wealth shall not follow him down.
R. Blessed the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!
Though in his lifetime he counted himself blessed,
"They will praise you for doing well for yourself,"
He shall join the circle of his forebears
who shall never more see light.
R. Blessed the poor in spirit; the Kingdom of heaven is theirs!

Lk 8:1-3

Jesus journeyed from one town and village to another,
preaching and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God.
Accompanying him were the Twelve
and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities,
Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out,
Joanna, the wife of Herod's steward Chuza,
Susanna, and many others
who provided for them out of their resources.

Meditation: 1 Timothy 6:2-12

The love of money is the root of all evils.” (1 Timothy 6:10)

We all know that money can be a source of temptation. But how can it be “the root of all evils”—especially these days, when it seems to be so scarce? In his Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius of Loyola gives us an answer. His meditation on the kingdom of Satan reveals how the devil seeks to enslave us through riches. In fact, riches are his very first temptation, followed by the false prestige that comes from them. From there, it’s not a big step to pride, which is the mother of all sins. The issue isn’t really our wallets—it’s our hearts.

By design, we are made to worship something. And if we get too focused on our possessions, they can become idols. If we’re blessed with abundance, we can start thinking, “I have it all!” But the problem is that we always seem to want more, because our hearts are made for an infinite God, not finite wealth. The same can be true if we are very poor or just going through hard times. We can become overwhelmed with our lack, to the point of envying those who have more. We can lose sight of the loving Father who holds us in his hands.

The antidote to the false pride that can come from riches—and the antidote to the envy and covetousness that can come from lack—is what Ignatius called “spiritual poverty.” It’s the humility to accept the fact that everything we have comes from God. It’s the same poverty that Jesus showed: Though he was God’s Son, he “emptied himself, taking the form of a slave” (Philippians 2:7). When we follow Jesus and surrender everything to God, we find that we are truly free to serve him.

In prayer today, focus on how absolutely rich you are spiritually. Think about how God has blessed you with “every spiritual blessing in the heavens” (Ephesians 1:3). You are his child! By the cross, you have been forgiven and made whole. You are in the care of a loving Father. Nothing that this world offers can ever take his place!

“Lord, thank you for your goodness! I want to follow you and to serve you with everything that I have. May I regard all as worthless compared to knowing you!”

15 September 2011

15 Sep 2011, Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows

Reading 1
1 Tm 4:12-16

Let no one have contempt for your youth,
but set an example for those who believe,
in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity.
Until I arrive, attend to the reading, exhortation, and teaching.
Do not neglect the gift you have,
which was conferred on you through the prophetic word
with the imposition of hands by the presbyterate.
Be diligent in these matters, be absorbed in them,
so that your progress may be evident to everyone.
Attend to yourself and to your teaching;
persevere in both tasks,
for by doing so you will save
both yourself and those who listen to you.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 111:7-8, 9, 10R. (2)

How great are the works of the Lord!
The works of his hands are faithful and just;
sure are all his precepts,
Reliable forever and ever,
wrought in truth and equity.
R. How great are the works of the Lord!
He has sent deliverance to his people;
he has ratified his covenant forever;
holy and awesome is his name.
R. How great are the works of the Lord!
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
prudent are all who live by it.
His praise endures forever.
R. How great are the works of the Lord!

Jn 19:25-27

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


Lk 2:33-35

Jesus' father and mother were amazed at what was said about him;
and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother,
"Behold, this child is destined
for the fall and rise of many in Israel,
and to be a sign that will be contradicted
and you yourself a sword will pierce
so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."

Meditation: John 19:25-27

Our Lady of Sorrows

Behold, your mother. (John 19:27)

It is a longstanding tradition in our church to wear a medal of Our Lady of Sorrows. Many people, in fact, have been wearing this particular sacramental for years, and would never be parted from it. When they experience difficulties, they gaze on Mary’s sorrowful image. Almost instinctively, they knew that she would understand, help them, and give them peace. They would all testify that it was never a waste to flee to her protection, implore her help, or seek her intercession.

What do these people know? That disciples of Christ are not immune to sorrow, and that they can always look to Mary for help. Whether they are caused by the natural course of life or have their roots in our own fallen nature, our sorrows do cause us pain. Wounded relationships, broken promises, financial difficulties— so many things can make us feel sad, betrayed, or hurt. But Mary shows us that the real question is not how often, 1r how much, we suffer. The real question is how we should respond when we are visited by suffering. And this is where Our Lady of Sorrows can help us the most.

Whenever you are experiencing any kind of sorrow, Mary can help you. Let her teach you how to react to trying, painful circumstances— what types of things to ponder, what to pray for, and how to persevere as a disciple of her son. Let her teach you never to jump ahead of the Lord or try to figure everything out on your own. Let her quiet, surrendered heart move you to trust in God’s providence and in his ability to work in your life.

Pope Benedict XVI once said: “The Virgin Mary, who believed in the word of the Lord, did not lose her faith in God when she saw her son rejected, abused and crucified. Rather she remained beside Jesus, suffering and praying until the end. And she saw the radiant dawn of his resurrection. Let us learn from her to witness to our faith with a life of humble service, ready to pay the price of staying faithful to the gospel of love and truth, certain that nothing that we do will be lost.”

“O Mary, Lady of Sorrows, help us to be courageous and faithful to Jesus. Teach us by your witness to be overcomers. Help us believe that our Father can turn our sorrows into joy.”

14 September 2011

14 Sep 2011, Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Reading 1 
Nm 21:4b-9

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

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

Responsorial Psalm 
Ps 78:1bc-2, 34-35, 36-37, 38

R. (see 7b) Do not forget the works of the Lord!
Hearken, my people, to my teaching;
incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in a parable,
I will utter mysteries from of old.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!
While he slew them they sought him
and inquired after God again,
Remembering that God was their rock
and the Most High God, their redeemer.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!
But they flattered him with their mouths
and lied to him with their tongues,
Though their hearts were not steadfast toward him,
nor were they faithful to his covenant.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!
But he, being merciful, forgave their sin
and destroyed them not;
Often he turned back his anger
and let none of his wrath be roused.
R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!

Reading 2 
Phil 2:6-11

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

Jn 3:13-17

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

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

Meditation: Philippians 2:6-11

The Triumph of the Cross

He humbled himself becoming obedient to death. (Philippians 2:8)

Today, God invites us to meditate on the beauty of the cross. It may seem inappropriate to consider this instrument of torture and death as something attractive, but this is often the way God works. He loves creating holy reversals that turn our thinking upside down.

So where is the beauty of the cross? It’s in the humility that it signifies. There it stands on Golgotha, two simple, plain beams of wood. There is nothing glorious or majestic about it. No jewels, no gold, no mystical heavenly glow. And yet it was this crude weapon that Jesus chose as his throne.

The One who once sat on a throne of pure gold in heaven opted to be fastened by cold, iron spikes to a splintering branch stained with blood and smeared with sweat. The eternal Son, whom angels surrounded with songs of praise and adoration, chose instead to hear people cry: “Crucify him!” and “We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:6,15). The eternal Word of God, who spoke worlds into existence, uttered no grand decrees from that throne. The few words that he did dare to speak—words of comfort and mercy—only drained him of his life even more quickly.

Brothers and sisters, this is the triumph of the cross! At every turn, Jesus drained sin of its power—not through violent combat but through humble surrender. Where sin would have expected him to curse his tormentors, he blessed them. Where sin would have pushed him to come down from the cross and prove his divinity, he remained there, as helpless as any other man. Because he did not give in to pride, anger, or vengeance, Jesus starved sin of its energy. There was nothing left to feed it. In the end, all that remained was Jesus, still fixed to the cross, noble and triumphant in silence.

Today, set aside some time to kneel before a crucifix. Gaze on Jesus’ wounds and see there the victory of humility. Behold the man who gave you eternal life by giving up his own life. Rejoice in his victory—for it is yours as well!

“Thank you, Jesus, for leaving your throne in heaven and taking up the earthly throne of your cross! Thank you for destroying death once and for all!”

13 September 2011

13 Sep 2011, Memorial of Saint John Chrysostom, bishop and doctor of the Church

Reading 1
1 Tm 3:1-13

Beloved, this saying is trustworthy:
whoever aspires to the office of bishop desires a noble task.
Therefore, a bishop must be irreproachable,
married only once, temperate, self-controlled,
decent, hospitable, able to teach,
not a drunkard, not aggressive, but gentle,
not contentious, not a lover of money.
He must manage his own household well,
keeping his children under control with perfect dignity;
for if a man does not know how to manage his own household,
how can he take care of the Church of God?
He should not be a recent convert,
so that he may not become conceited
and thus incur the Devil's punishment.
He must also have a good reputation among outsiders,
so that he may not fall into disgrace, the Devil's trap.

Similarly, deacons must be dignified, not deceitful,
not addicted to drink, not greedy for sordid gain,
holding fast to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.
Moreover, they should be tested first;
then, if there is nothing against them,
let them serve as deacons.
Women, similarly, should be dignified, not slanderers,
but temperate and faithful in everything.
Deacons may be married only once
and must manage their children and their households well.
Thus those who serve well as deacons gain good standing
and much confidence in their faith in Christ Jesus.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 101:1b-2ab, 2cd-3ab, 5, 6R. (2)

I will walk with blameless heart.
Of mercy and judgment I will sing;
to you, O LORD, I will sing praise.
I will persevere in the way of integrity;
when will you come to me?
R. I will walk with blameless heart.
I will walk with blameless heart,
within my house;
I will not set before my eyes
any base thing.
R. I will walk with blameless heart.
Whoever slanders his neighbor in secret,
him will I destroy.
The man of haughty eyes and puffed up heart
I will not endure.
R. I will walk with blameless heart.
My eyes are upon the faithful of the land,
that they may dwell with me.
He who walks in the way of integrity
shall be in my service.
R. I will walk with blameless heart.

Lk 7:11-17

Jesus journeyed to a city called Nain,
and his disciples and a large crowd accompanied him.
As he drew near to the gate of the city,
a man who had died was being carried out,
the only son of his mother, and she was a widow.
A large crowd from the city was with her.
When the Lord saw her,
he was moved with pity for her and said to her,
"Do not weep."
He stepped forward and touched the coffin;
at this the bearers halted,
and he said, "Young man, I tell you, arise!"
The dead man sat up and began to speak,
and Jesus gave him to his mother.
Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, exclaiming,
"A great prophet has arisen in our midst,"
and "God has visited his people."
This report about him spread through the whole of Judea
and in all the surrounding region.

Meditation: Luke 7:11-17

I tell you, arise!” (Luke 7:14)

One of the priceless gifts of praying with Scripture is that we come to know Jesus better. The Gospels portray him in a variety of situations, and when we read these passages slowly and prayerfully, we discover new facets of his personality. So what can today’s Gospel teach us?

Here we see Jesus encountering a distraught widow as she is coming out of the city gates to bury her only son. He could have passed her by, but something made him stop. Perhaps one of the bystanders told him that this woman had already lost her husband, and that this was her only son. That meant that she was suffering both the emotional pain of losing her child and the fear and anxiety of knowing that she was now all alone and had no means of financial support. Whether it was the knowledge of her plight or the look on her face, Jesus was moved. At his word and touch, her dead son came back to life and sat up!

What does this mean for us today? First, just as he encountered this widow, Jesus wants to meet us in our comings and goings—in every moment of our lives. Second, this story tells us that our trials and difficulties move Jesus’ heart. He knows our needs and wants to fill them. Third, Jesus is the Word who gives life. Through him, we have eternal life in heaven and a richer, fuller life here and now.

Like the widow of Nain, let Jesus encounter you in this Scripture passage today. Look into his eyes and tell him what’s on your heart. Know that he is moved by your burdens and worries. Maybe there’s a sin you can’t overcome or a past hurt you can’t let go of. Maybe you’re exhausted by a difficult situation or have given up hope. Believe that whatever has “died” in you, Jesus can bring back to life. With expectant faith, ask him to pour his life into you—a life of love, joy, and peace that comes from knowing him. He wants nothing less for each of his beloved children.

“Jesus, your compassion knows no bounds! You meet us where we are and then fill us with what we need. Just as you said to the dead man, say to me, ‘Arise!’ I want to be fully alive in you.”