31 October 2011

31 Oct 2011, Monday of the Thirty-First Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Rom 11:29-36

Brothers and sisters:
The gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.

Just as you once disobeyed God
but have now received mercy
because of their disobedience,
so they have now disobeyed in order that,
by virtue of the mercy shown to you,
they too may now receive mercy.
For God delivered all to disobedience,
that he might have mercy upon all.

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 him anything
that he may be repaid?

For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To God be glory forever. Amen.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 69:30-31, 33-34, 36

R. (14c) Lord, in your great love, answer me.
But I am afflicted and in pain;
let your saving help, O God, protect me.
I will praise the name of God in song,
and I will glorify him with thanksgiving.
R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.
"See, you lowly ones, and be glad;
you who seek God, may your hearts revive!
For the LORD hears the poor,
and his own who are in bonds he spurns not."
R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.
For God will save Zion
and rebuild the cities of Judah.
They shall dwell in the land and own it,
and the descendants of his servants shall inherit it,
and those who love his name shall inhabit it.
R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.

Gospel Lk 14:12-14

On a sabbath Jesus went to dine
at the home of one of the leading Pharisees.
He said to the host who invited him,
"When you hold a lunch or a dinner,
do not invite your friends or your brothers or sisters
or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors,
in case they may invite you back and you have repayment.
Rather, when you hold a banquet,
invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind;
blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you.
For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

Meditation: Romans 11:29-36

“God delivered all to disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all.” (Romans 11:32)

If you’ve ever hoped for something with all your heart, then you can understand how Paul felt when he was writing his letter to the Romans. He longed for his fellow Jews to accept Jesus as their Messiah. He even stated his hope that the mercy God has shown the Gentiles—the mercy of their own conversions to Christ—will prompt more Jews to embrace Jesus as well. All have been disobedient, Paul says: first the Gentiles by not believing in the one true God; then the Jewish people for not believing in God’s Son, Jesus. And so all now stand in need of God’s mercy.

What was true back then is just as true today. No matter where we find ourselves in life—no matter what stage our faith is at, no matter if we are in comfortable or dire circumstances— we all stand in need of God’s mercy.

Understanding this truth can be life-changing. Imagine how liberating it is to know that we don’t have to be perfect! All our efforts to win other people’s approval, all our attempts at convincing ourselves that we are “good enough”—they can never match the glory of knowing that Almighty God has chosen us, called us, cleansed us, and empowered us to live as a new creation. Yes, we are sinners. Yes, we are disobedient. But we have a Father in heaven who accepts us as we are and who is constantly pouring his grace upon us, transforming our hearts and reforming our minds. This is the mercy of God—a mercy that never fails!

Today in prayer, ask your heavenly Father to open your eyes to his mercy and love. Let yourself stand in awe of every gift God has ever given you. It’s true that you can never repay God for all that he has done for you. But that’s okay, because he’s not asking you to pay him back. All he wants is for you to turn to him with love and gratitude, and to share the good news of his mercy with everyone you can.

“Father, I want to join my prayer with that of St. Catherine of Siena, who once cried out: ‘Oh, Divine Mercy! … On every side to which I turn my thought, I find nothing but mercy!’ ”

30 October 2011

30 Oct 2011, Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Mal 1:14b-2:2b, 8-10

A great King am I, says the LORD of hosts,
and my name will be feared among the nations.
And now, O priests, this commandment is for you:
If you do not listen,
if you do not lay it to heart,
to give glory to my name, says the LORD of hosts,
I will send a curse upon you
and of your blessing I will make a curse.
You have turned aside from the way,
and have caused many to falter by your instruction;
you have made void the covenant of Levi,
says the LORD of hosts.
I, therefore, have made you contemptible
and base before all the people,
since you do not keep my ways,
but show partiality in your decisions.
Have we not all the one father?
Has not the one God created us?
Why then do we break faith with one another,
violating the covenant of our fathers?

Responsorial Psalm Ps 131:1, 2, 3

R. In you, Lord, I have found my peace.
O LORD, my heart is not proud,
nor are my eyes haughty;
I busy not myself with great things,
nor with things too sublime for me.
R. In you, Lord, I have found my peace.
Nay rather, I have stilled and quieted
my soul like a weaned child.
Like a weaned child on its mother's lap,
so is my soul within me.
R. In you, Lord, I have found my peace.
O Israel, hope in the LORD,
both now and forever.
R. In you, Lord, I have found my peace.

Reading 2 1 Thes 2:7b-9, 13

Brothers and sisters:
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.
You recall, brothers and sisters, our toil and drudgery.
Working night and day in order not to burden any of you,
we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.

And for this reason we too give thanks to God unceasingly,
that, in receiving the word of God from hearing us,
you received not a human word but, as it truly is, the word of God,
which is now at work in you who believe.

Gospel 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: Malachi 1:14–2:2,8-10

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“Have we not all the one father?” (Malachi 2:10)

With one simple question, the prophet Malachi gets to the heart of who we are. Since we all come from the same Father, we are all equal in dignity. We all have an equal claim to the gift of life, and we all deserve the same respect and the same level of care as everyone else.

Malachi was speaking here to the priests of Jerusalem, who were abusing their role as leaders. They were showing partiality and taking advantage of their positions. Because of their scandalous behavior and lopsided teachings, many of the people under their care began to “falter” (Malachi 2:8). The situation got so bad that Malachi accused these priests of making void the covenant God made with their spiritual ancestor Levi!

Contrast their behavior with Paul’s description of his ministry to the people of Thessalonica: “We were gentle among you… . We were determined to share with you … our very selves” (1 Thessalonians 2:7,8). Paul understood the dignity that every child of God shares. He was clearly aware of the one Father we all share, the one God who created each of us.

Today’s readings invite us to examine our thoughts and behavior. Are there groups of people whom we look down upon? Perhaps people from a different social or economic background. Maybe we look suspiciously at people who follow a different religion or who have different political convictions. Of course, we should hold on to the truth as God has revealed it, but we should also treat everyone with the utmost respect. If Jesus valued them enough to die for them, shouldn’t we treat them—and everyone we meet—with honor?

“Heavenly Father, help me to treat other people with dignity. In every way that my life touches another, let that touch be soaked in your love for that person as your child!”

29 October 2011

29 Oct 2011, Saturday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Rom 11:1-2a, 11-12, 25-29

Brothers and sisters:
I ask, then, has God rejected his people? 
Of course not!
For I too am a child of Israel, a descendant of Abraham,
of the tribe of Benjamin.
God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew.
Do you not know what the Scripture says about Elijah,
how he pleads with God against Israel?

Hence I ask, did they stumble so as to fall?
Of course not!
But through their transgression
salvation has come to the Gentiles,
so as to make them jealous.
Now if their transgression is enrichment for the world,
and if their diminished number is enrichment for the Gentiles,
how much more their full number.

I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers and sisters,
so that you will not become wise in your own estimation:
a hardening has come upon Israel in part,
until the full number of the Gentiles comes in,
and thus all Israel will be saved, as it is written:

The deliverer will come out of Zion,
he will turn away godlessness from Jacob;
and this is my covenant with them
when I take away their sins.

In respect to the Gospel, they are enemies on your account;
but in respect to election,
they are beloved because of the patriarch.
For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 94:12-13a, 14-15, 17-18

R. (14a) The Lord will not abandon his people.
Blessed the man whom you instruct, O LORD,
whom by your law you teach,
Giving him rest from evil days.
R. The Lord will not abandon his people.
For the LORD will not cast off his people,
nor abandon his inheritance;
But judgment shall again be with justice,
and all the upright of heart shall follow it.
R. The Lord will not abandon his people.
Were not the LORD my help,
my soul would soon dwell in the silent grave.
When I say, "My foot is slipping,"
your mercy, O LORD, sustains me.
R. The Lord will not abandon his people.

Gospel Lk 14:1, 7-11

On a sabbath Jesus went to dine
at the home of one of the leading Pharisees,
and the people there were observing him carefully.

He told a parable to those who had been invited,
noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table.
"When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet,
do not recline at table in the place of honor.
A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him,
and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say,
"Give your place to this man,"
and then you would proceed with embarrassment
to take the lowest place.
Rather, when you are invited,
go and take the lowest place
so that when the host comes to you he may say,
"My friend, move up to a higher position."
Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table.
For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled,
but the one who humbles himself will be exalted."

Meditation: Luke 14:1,7-11

“When you are invited, go and take the lowest place.” (Luke 14:10)

Just before giving this little discourse, Jesus modeled the behavior he recommended here. When he came in, he didn’t take the place of honor at the banquet table. Rather, he put aside his own concerns and took care of someone else. He zeroed in on the one guest most in need of healing and acceptance: a man suffering from dropsy. Jesus knew that he would be criticized for healing the man on the Sabbath, but he couldn’t pass up an opportunity to relieve someone’s suffering— or to give a living example of his teaching.

Although “the people there were observing him carefully,” eager to catch any misstep, Jesus shows himself to be the true observer of human behavior. He is aware of this man’s need and the others’ hostility. He also notices the guests jockeying for position, choosing places of honor at the table. So he offers a bit of practical advice: Take the lowest place.

Jesus isn’t recommending the kind of false humility where you take a lower place in order to look better when someone important escorts you to a higher one. No, he wants his followers to put other people first, welcoming them with the Father’s own love. He knows that if our first thought is for others, we will have no time—and no need—to worry about our own status.

This is the same principle that St. Paul taught the Philippians when he told them: “Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3). We can do this by deciding each day to try to help just one person who seems to be in need. Perhaps it is a coworker whose job is on the line and who needs words of encouragement. Perhaps it is a neighbor who is struggling with a long-term illness and needs someone to pick up her medicine. Or maybe one of your children is struggling in school and needs a little extra attention to build up his confidence. Whatever the situation, ask the Father to help you feel the great love he has for this individual. Then reach out. Bring Christ to that person, and watch how the Spirit works in both of your hearts.

“Lord Jesus, help me discern in today’s awkward situations your invitation to reach out in love.”

28 October 2011

28 Oct 2011, Feast of Saint Simon and Saint Jude, Apostles

Reading 1 Eph 2:19-22

Brothers and sisters:
You are no longer strangers and sojourners,
but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones
and members of the household of God,
built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets,
with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone.
Through him the whole structure is held together
and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord;
in him you also are being built together
into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 19:2-3, 4-5

R. (5a) 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.

Gospel Lk 6:12-16

Jesus went up to the mountain to pray,
and he spent the night in prayer to God.

When day came, he called his disciples to himself,
and from them he chose Twelve, whom he also named Apostles:
Simon, whom he named Peter, and his brother Andrew,
James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew,
Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus,
Simon who was called a Zealot,
and Judas the son of James,
and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

Meditation: Ephesians 2:19-22

“You are fellow citizens with the holy ones.” (Ephesians 2:19)

Who me? Equal to the great saints of the church? Impossible! No, not at all.

Simon and Jude, whose feast we celebrate today, probably had similar questions. They were not the most prominent of the apostles. Unlike Peter, James, and John, they weren’t there at the transfiguration. They didn’t get to see Jesus raise Jairus’ daughter from the dead. They weren’t witnesses to Jesus’ agony in the garden. Surely these two felt like tagalongs every now and then!

Simon and Jude may not have received a lot of attention in the Gospels, but their lives after Pentecost were far from ordinary. Oral traditions surrounding Simon abound, placing him in locales as far flung as Galstonbury and Persia. And though Jude is not said to have traveled as far, he is credited with bringing the gospel to Armenia before being martyred in Beirut.

This is the beauty of the life we have inherited from the apostles. Simon and Jude show us that while we all have a vital role to play in God’s plan, none of us can play every role all the time. That doesn’t make any of us less valuable or less important. It just makes us all members of the same family. St. Paul once used the analogy of a human body to illustrate this truth: A hand cannot do what a foot can do, but both are necessary. Just as every vein and every capillary is vital to our proper functioning, so are we vital to the growth and health of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-27).

The fact that so many places lay claim to these two lesser-known apostles shows that they had an influence far beyond what the gospels tell us. It also shows that anyone can make a difference, no matter how obscure or insignificant he or she may appear to be. Whether we are preaching from the pulpit, changing diapers at home, or fixing cars in the local repair shop, we are all vital to the Lord and to his church. No one can ever replace the unique witness you give!

“Jesus, help me to embrace my role and my dignity as a citizen of your kingdom. Show me how I can make a difference today.”

27 October 2011

27 Oct 2011, Thursday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Rom 8:31b-39

Brothers and sisters:
If God is for us, who can be against us?
He did not spare his own Son
but handed him over for us all,
how will he not also give us everything else along with him?
Who will bring a charge against God's chosen ones?
It is God who acquits us.
Who will condemn?
It is Christ Jesus who died, rather, was raised,
who also is at the right hand of God,
who indeed intercedes for us.
What will separate us from the love of Christ?
Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine,
or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?
As it is written:

For your sake we are being slain all the day;
we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered.

No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly
through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life,
nor angels, nor principalities,
nor present things, nor future things,
nor powers, nor height, nor depth,
nor any other creature will be able to separate us
from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 109:21-22, 26-27, 30-31

R. (26b) Save me, O Lord, in your mercy.
Do you, O GOD, my Lord, deal kindly with me for your name's sake;
in your generous mercy rescue me;
For I am wretched and poor,
and my heart is pierced within me.
R. Save me, O Lord, in your mercy.
Help me, O LORD, my God;
save me, in your mercy,
And let them know that this is your hand;
that you, O LORD, have done this.
R. Save me, O Lord, in your mercy.
I will speak my thanks earnestly to the LORD,
and in the midst of the throng I will praise him,
For he stood at the right hand of the poor man,
to save him from those who would condemn his soul.
R. Save me, O Lord, in your kindness.

Gospel Lk 13:31-35

Some Pharisees came to Jesus and said,
"Go away, leave this area because Herod wants to kill you."
He replied, "Go and tell that fox,
"Behold, I cast out demons and I perform healings today and tomorrow,
and on the third day I accomplish my purpose.
Yet I must continue on my way today, tomorrow, and the following day,
for it is impossible that a prophet should die
outside of Jerusalem."

"Jerusalem, Jerusalem,
you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you,
how many times I yearned to gather your children together
as a hen gathers her brood under her wings,
but you were unwilling!
Behold, your house will be abandoned.
But I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say,
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord."

Meditation: Romans 8:31-39

“If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)

Paul certainly had to deal with more than his fair share of hardships. But no matter what he faced—be it a shipwreck, imprisonment, a mob attack, or a public scourging—he always managed to hold on to his sense of contentment and, at times, even joy. How on earth did he do it?

Not by earthly means, that’s how! Paul was able to remain peaceful because he kept his eyes fixed on Jesus and on his own witness of joy and peace. Just look at today’s Gospel reading, and you’ll see one example of the stories that inspired Paul and all the apostles. Jesus is warned that Herod is after him, but it doesn’t deter Jesus from preaching and teaching and healing. He knows what God has called him to do, and he trusts that his Father will take care of him no matter what.

It’s this kind of trust in God’s goodness and provision that sustained Paul. And it can sustain us as well. God is for all of us! He is on our side! His plan and his power are so much bigger than the challenges we may be facing right now, whether it be a financial hardship, a wounded relationship, or a sudden illness.

But how do we get to this point of trust in the Lord? How can we be so sure that God is for us? The answer is simple, and it’s something we can never emphasize enough— through prayer. Every day, we need to refresh ourselves by resting in God’s presence, immersing ourselves in his word, and soaking in the Holy Spirit. All it takes is twenty minutes a day, and we will find ourselves more trusting, more peaceful, and less anxious when tough times come our way.

There is no substitute for daily prayer. Even when life is going well, we need to touch the presence of God so that we don’t wander away from him. Our Father wants to give us so many good gifts, not just help us in tough times. He wants to convince us every day that he is for us, and that nothing can overcome us if we are rooted in him!

“Jesus, I place my hope in your words and your ways. Help me stay close to you in good times and in bad times.”

26 October 2011

26 Oct 2011, Wednesday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Rom 8:26-30

Brothers and sisters:
The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness;
for we do not know how to pray as we ought,
but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.
And the one who searches hearts
knows what is the intention of the Spirit,
because he intercedes for the holy ones
according to God's will.

We know that all things work for good for those who love God,
who are called according to his purpose.
For those he foreknew he also predestined
to be conformed to the image of his Son,
so that he might be the firstborn
among many brothers. 
And those he predestined he also called;
and those he called he also justified;
and those he justified he also glorified.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 13:4-5, 6

R. (6a) My hope, O Lord, is in your mercy.
Look, answer me, O LORD, my God!
Give light to my eyes that I may not sleep in death
lest my enemy say, "I have overcome him;
lest my foes rejoice at my downfall.
R. All my hope, O Lord, is in your loving kindness.
Though I trusted in your mercy,
Let my heart rejoice in your salvation;
let me sing of the LORD, "He has been good to me."
R. All my hope, O Lord, is in your loving kindness.

Gospel Lk 13:22-30

Jesus passed through towns and villages,
teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem.
Someone asked him,
"Lord, will only a few people be saved?"
He answered them,
"Strive to enter through the narrow gate,
for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter
but will not be strong enough.
After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door,
then will you stand outside knocking and saying,
"Lord, open the door for us."
He will say to you in reply,
"I do not know where you are from."
And you will say,
"We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets."
Then he will say to you,
"I do not know where you are from.
Depart from me, all you evildoers!"
And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth
when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God
and you yourselves cast out.
And people will come from the east and the west
and from the north and the south
and will recline at table in the Kingdom of God.
For behold, some are last who will be first,
and some are first who will be last."

Meditation: Romans 8:26-30

“The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness.” (Romans 8:26)

If, as St. Paul wrote, “we do not know how to pray as we ought” (Romans 8:26), how can we ever hope to reach God’s ear? Paul himself gives the answer: The Spirit intercedes for us “with inexpressible groanings … according to God’s will” (8:26,27). It is the Spirit—the life and power of God active within human hearts—who can lead us and teach us to pray.

It is no coincidence that Paul’s teaching on prayer comes in the middle of a letter devoted to the power of Jesus’ death and resurrection. As in all other things, Jesus is our model for prayer, and his cross is the source of our prayer. Just as Jesus put aside his own will, even his own life, and relied fully on his Father’s will, the same applies to us. Prayer that touches the Father’s heart is prayer that puts aside our own ideas and presuppositions, so that we can learn to pray in a new and more powerful way.

Do you know that the Spirit of God is within you? Can you trust that many of your desires to love God, pray for people’s healing and conversion, and offer forgiveness come from God himself through the Spirit inside you? When Jesus left the world, he sent his Holy Spirit to speak to us and prompt us on a level that far surpasses human words.

Even when we feel out of touch with the Holy Spirit, that doesn’t mean he has left us. It only means that we need to reach out to him. Look for ways that he may be prompting you to pray, to worship, and to intercede beyond what you might normally do on your own. Quiet your mind in prayer and let it rest on a passage from Scripture. Ask the Spirit to give you a deeper love for God or a knowledge of his love that goes beyond the power of words to express. Place your trust in the Holy Spirit. He has far more glorious plans for you than you ever could imagine.

“Holy Spirit, teach me to pray today. Enkindle in my heart a desire that the Father’s will be done in my life and in the life of your church.”


25 October 2011

24 Oct 2011, Tuesday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Rom 8:18-25

Brothers and sisters:
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing
compared with the glory to be revealed for us.
For creation awaits with eager expectation
the revelation of the children of God;
for creation was made subject to futility,
not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it,
in hope that creation itself
would be set free from slavery to corruption
and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God.
We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now;
and not only that, but we ourselves,
who have the firstfruits of the Spirit,
we also groan within ourselves
as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.
For in hope we were saved.
Now hope that sees for itself is not hope. 
For who hopes for what one sees?
But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance.

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

R. (3a) 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.

Gospel Lk 13:18-21

Jesus said, "What is the Kingdom of God like?
To what can I compare it?
It is like a mustard seed that a man took and planted in the garden.
When it was fully grown, it became a large bush
and the birds of the sky dwelt in its branches."

Again he said, "To what shall I compare the Kingdom of God?
It is like yeast that a woman took
and mixed in with three measures of wheat flour
until the whole batch of dough was leavened."

Meditation: Romans 8:18-25

“Creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God.” (Romans 8:19)

Picture in your mind’s eye a sunrise on a quiet beach. Imagine the first rays of dawn spilling over the water, illuminating it with streaks of golden light. Hear the seabirds’ cries echoing in the air as they skim over the surf. Watch the waves hitting the sand, exploding in plumes of white spray, then rolling gently back into the ocean. It’s so glorious, so peaceful, that you think you could sit there forever.

In his meditation on the glory that awaits us as believers, Paul reminds us that all creation will share in that glory. It’s the longing for this perfection that we feel as we see a beautiful sunrise, look at a snowcapped mountain, or gaze on any natural wonder. Our spirits are “hardwired” to know that as beautiful as nature is, something even more beautiful is coming. The natural world is but a reflection of heaven—and of the awesome, majestic God who will share it with us!

This hope of glory is something we need to be reminded of every day. We all face times when we are tempted to focus on the negative— on our sinfulness, on our struggles, or on the staggering problems facing the world. While we shouldn’t ignore these things, neither can we be effective Christian witnesses if we lose our eternal perspective. The most convincing testimony to Jesus that we can ever give is a life lived in freedom and joy—a life that points other people to the promise of heaven.

Do you want to be “heavenly minded” while still keeping your feet on earth? Then make sure to take time every day to praise God. Lift your heart up to heaven, and fix your mind on the promises that Jesus has made to you. Make it a point to “bless the Lord at all times,” and you will find yourself growing in confidence in your heavenly destiny (Psalm 34:2). Know, too, that as you lift up the Lord in worship, you will draw near to him—and he will draw near to you!

“Thank you, Jesus! I know you are standing by me in the midst of all my challenges. To be in your presence is all I need. Lord, I praise you with all my heart!”


24 October 2011

24 Oct 2011, Monday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Rom 8:12-17

Brothers and sisters,
we are not debtors to the flesh,
to live according to the flesh.
For if you live according to the flesh, you will die,
but if by the spirit you put to death the deeds of the body,
you will live.

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear,
but you received a spirit of adoption,
through which we cry, "Abba, Father!"
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit
that we are children of God,
and if children, then heirs,
heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ,
if only we suffer with him
so that we may also be glorified with him.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 68:2 And 4, 6-7ab, 20-21

R. (21a) Our God is the God of salvation.
God arises; his enemies are scattered,
and those who hate him flee before him.
But the just rejoice and exult before God;
they are glad and rejoice.
R. Our God is the God of salvation.
The father of orphans and the defender of widows
is God in his holy dwelling.
God gives a home to the forsaken;
he leads forth prisoners to prosperity.
R. Our God is the God of salvation.
Blessed day by day be the Lord,
who bears our burdens; God, who is our salvation.
God is a saving God for us;
the LORD, my Lord, controls the passageways of death.
R. Our God is the God of salvation.

Gospel Lk 13:10-17

Jesus was teaching in a synagogue on the sabbath.
And a woman was there who for eighteen years
had been crippled by a spirit;
she was bent over, completely incapable of standing erect.
When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said,
"Woman, you are set free of your infirmity."
He laid his hands on her,
and she at once stood up straight and glorified God.
But the leader of the synagogue,
indignant that Jesus had cured on the sabbath,
said to the crowd in reply,
"There are six days when work should be done.
Come on those days to be cured, not on the sabbath day."
The Lord said to him in reply, "Hypocrites!
Does not each one of you on the sabbath
untie his ox or his ass from the manger
and lead it out for watering?
This daughter of Abraham,
whom Satan has bound for eighteen years now,
ought she not to have been set free on the sabbath day
from this bondage?"
When he said this, all his adversaries were humiliated;
and the whole crowd rejoiced at all the splendid deeds done by him.

Meditation: Romans 8:12-17

Those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. (Romans 8:14)

So often, we read passages like this one and focus on what we have to do: “I really need to work harder at being led by the Spirit.” While it’s always a good idea to make sure you’re being responsible to your calling, how often do you simply rejoice in the fact that you are a child of God?

It’s true: You have a Father in heaven who loves you immensely. And just to make sure that you know this, he put his Spirit in your heart—the Spirit who confirms this truth by crying out: “Abba, Father!” (Romans 8:15).

As if that isn’t amazing enough, the news gets even better. Not only are you God’s child, you are also his heir (Romans 8:17). Think about Britain’s Prince William. Someday he will inherit the kingdom from his father, Prince Charles, and his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II. All the riches and rights of the crown will be his.

Now if William is looking forward to that day, how much more should you look forward to the day when you will inherit the kingdom of God? Keep in mind that your inheritance is infinitely greater! You will receive a “crown of righteousness” (2 Timothy 4:8). You will live forever in a place of pure beauty where every tear will be wiped away and where there will be no sorrow or crying or pain or death any more (Revelation 21:4). It boggles the mind—and it’s all yours!

Did you know that you can start to draw on your inheritance right now? In fact, God has given you his Spirit as kind of a “first installment” of all the treasures that await you (2 Corinthians 1:22). So ask the Spirit to show you how to take hold of your heavenly inheritance. Ask him to give you a taste of your Father’s goodness now. Prayers can be answered, hurts healed, and relationships restored. All it takes is a little faith and the courage to step forward and claim your inheritance.

“Lord, I stand in awe of the inheritance you have given me! Help me to avail myself of all the grace, mercy, and love that you have set aside for me today.”

23 October 2011

23 Oct 2011, Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Ex 22:20-26

Thus says the LORD:
"You shall not molest or oppress an alien,
for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt.
You shall not wrong any widow or orphan.
If ever you wrong them and they cry out to me,
I will surely hear their cry.
My wrath will flare up, and I will kill you with the sword;
then your own wives will be widows, and your children orphans.

"If you lend money to one of your poor neighbors among my people,
you shall not act like an extortioner toward him
by demanding interest from him.
If you take your neighbor's cloak as a pledge,
you shall return it to him before sunset;
for this cloak of his is the only covering he has for his body.
What else has he to sleep in?
If he cries out to me, I will hear him; for I am compassionate."

Responsorial Psalm Ps 18:2-3, 3-4, 47, 51

R. (2) I love you, Lord, my strength.
I love you, O LORD, my strength,
O LORD, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer.
R. I love you, Lord, my strength.
My God, my rock of refuge,
my shield, the horn of my salvation, my stronghold!
Praised be the LORD, I exclaim,
and I am safe from my enemies.
R. I love you, Lord, my strength.
The LORD lives and blessed be my rock!
Extolled be God my savior.
You who gave great victories to your king
and showed kindness to your anointed.
R. I love you, Lord, my strength.

Reading 2 1 Thes 1:5c-10

Brothers and sisters:
You know what sort of people we were among you for your sake.
And you became imitators of us and of the Lord,
receiving the word in great affliction, with joy from the Holy Spirit,
so that you became a model for all the believers
in Macedonia and in Achaia.
For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth
not only in Macedonia and in Achaia,
but 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.

Gospel Mt 22:34-40

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: 1 thessalonians 1:5-10

“You became a model for all the believers.” (1 Thessalonians 1:7)

Paul really liked the Thessalonians! It seems that their faith and their joy in the Lord gave him a lot of comfort. So let’s take a look at the witness of these early believers to get a glimpse of how we too can live the Christian life and share our faith with those around us.

First, Paul says that they received the word with joy (1 Thessalonians 1:6). The Thessalonians heard about the gospel, they experienced the power of God, and they welcomed Jesus into their lives. The Holy Spirit has given us the same power. So let us, like them, welcome Jesus and embrace him more each day.

Second, Paul says that they received his message “in great affliction, with joy” (1 Thessalonians 1:6). Life wasn’t always easy for them. But their witness tells us that we don’t have to let the hardships of life take away our joy. As we persevere in faith, we will find ourselves surrounded and supported by Jesus’ love, just as they were.

Third, the Thessalonians wasted no time in proclaiming their newfound faith (1 Thessalonians 1:8-9). They mustered up the courage to tell other people about Jesus. News of their dramatic conversion to Christ seems to have traveled far and wide. Like them, we are called to share the gospel, with love and kindness (1 Peter 3:15-16).

Finally, they lived out the early church’s rallying cry: “Come, Lord Jesus!” Filled with the Holy Spirit, they fixed their eyes on heaven. Their longing for Jesus’ second coming can teach us to have a similar focus in our lives. We should all look forward to the end of time, when heaven will be ours!

The Thessalonians have left us a powerful example. May we all decide to work on these four simple points so that we too can become noble examples of faith.

“Jesus, fill me with your joy and your power today.”

22 October 2011

22 Oct 2011, Saturday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Rom 8:1-11

Brothers and sisters:
Now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus
has freed you from the law of sin and death.
For what the law, weakened by the flesh, was powerless to do,
this God has done:
by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh
and for the sake of sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,
so that the righteous decree of the law might be fulfilled in us,
who live not according to the flesh but according to the spirit.
For those who live according to the flesh
are concerned with the things of the flesh,
but those who live according to the spirit
with the things of the spirit.
The concern of the flesh is death,
but the concern of the spirit is life and peace.
For the concern of the flesh is hostility toward God;
it does not submit to the law of God, nor can it;
and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
But you are not in the flesh;
on the contrary, you are in the spirit,
if only the Spirit of God dwells in you.
Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
But if Christ is in you,
although the body is dead because of sin,
the spirit is alive because of righteousness.
If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you,
the one who raised Christ from the dead
will give life to your mortal bodies also,
through his Spirit that dwells in you.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 24:1b-2, 3-4ab, 5-6

R. (see 6) Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
The LORD's are the earth and its fullness;
the world and those who dwell in it.
For he founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD?
or who may stand in his holy place?
He whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,
who desires not what is vain.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
He shall receive a blessing from the LORD,
a reward from God his savior.
Such is the race that seeks for him,
that seeks the face of the God of Jacob.
R. Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.

Gospel Lk 13:1-9

Some people told Jesus about the Galileans
whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices.
He said to them in reply,
"Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way
they were greater sinners than all other Galileans?
By no means!
But I tell you, if you do not repent,
you will all perish as they did!
Or those eighteen people who were killed
when the tower at Siloam fell on them?
do you think they were more guilty
than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem?
By no means!
But I tell you, if you do not repent,
you will all perish as they did!"

And he told them this parable:
"There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard,
and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none,
he said to the gardener,
"For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree
but have found none.
So cut it down.
Why should it exhaust the soil?"
He said to him in reply,
"Sir, leave it for this year also,
and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it;
it may bear fruit in the future.
If not you can cut it down.'"

Meditation: Romans 8:1-11

“If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also.” (Romans 8:11)

St. Irenaeus once said that the glory of God is men and women who are “fully alive.” And in a sense, this is exactly what St. Paul is telling us in today’s first reading. He tells us that the Holy Spirit wants to “give life” to our “mortal bodies”—that God wants us to enjoy life in this world, even as we live in hope for the next one. He doesn’t want us to think that we can please him through acts of harsh self-denial. We do need to live in moderation and not become enslaved to our appetites. But at the same time, God wants us to be as fully alive in our human bodies as Jesus was.

Remember: Jesus himself lived on earth in a body like ours, and he certainly experienced the limitations of his body. He knew hunger, fatigue, and pain. What’s more, he embraced this situation willingly, because it gave him more in common with his companions. It made him better equipped to “sympathize with our weaknesses” (Hebrews 4:15).

Remember, too, that it was in his human body that Jesus experienced the comfort of camaraderie, the joy of being able to liberate people from illness, and the inspiration of being given just the right thing to say at the right time. He must have laughed heartily and easily. He gladly shared meals with people— sometimes formal banquets, sometimes just bread and dried fish. He took care of his friends, cleaning off their dirty feet and urging them to take a much-needed break after a mission trip. The beloved disciple lay his head on Jesus’ breast, and Jesus wept human tears at the death of his close friend, Lazarus.

It may be a little tricky at times as we try to find the right balance between enjoying our lives and overdoing it. But that’s why we have the Spirit. With his guidance, we can learn how to live full lives here on earth: spirit, soul, and body.

“Jesus, thank you for your witness of a joy-filled life in the body. Teach me how to live like you.”

21 October 2011

21 Oct 2011, Friday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Rom 7:18-25a

Brothers and sisters:
I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh.
The willing is ready at hand, but doing the good is not.
For I do not do the good I want,
but I do the evil I do not want.
Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it,
but sin that dwells in me.
So, then, I discover the principle
that when I want to do right, evil is at hand.
For I take delight in the law of God, in my inner self,
but I see in my members another principle
at war with the law of my mind,
taking me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.
Miserable one that I am!
Who will deliver me from this mortal body?
Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 119:66, 68, 76, 77, 93, 94

R. (68b) Lord, teach me your statutes.
Teach me wisdom and knowledge,
for in your commands I trust.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.
You are good and bountiful;
teach me your statutes.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.
Let your kindness comfort me
according to your promise to your servants.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.
Let your compassion come to me that I may live,
for your law is my delight.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.
Never will I forget your precepts,
for through them you give me life.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.
I am yours; save me,
for I have sought your precepts.
R. Lord, teach me your statutes.

Gospel Lk 12:54-59

Jesus said to the crowds,
"When you see a cloud rising in the west
you say immediately that it is going to rain'and so it does;
and when you notice that the wind is blowing from the south
you say that it is going to be hot'and so it is.
You hypocrites!
You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky;
why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

"Why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?
If you are to go with your opponent before a magistrate,
make an effort to settle the matter on the way;
otherwise your opponent will turn you over to the judge,
and the judge hand you over to the constable,
and the constable throw you into prison.
I say to you, you will not be released
until you have paid the last penny."

Meditation: Romans 7:18-25

“Who will deliver me from this mortal body?” (Romans 7:24)

How many times have we said it: “I am never doing that again! I am never drinking (or eating) too much; yelling at the kids; looking at pornography; swearing or lying or gossiping.” Each of us struggles with sin. With the best intentions and all the willpower we can summon, we set out, determined to do better. We long to master and be done with a particular stronghold—only to fall again.

We know what is good and what is sinful. Deep in our hearts, we want to please God. But how can we change if our most strenuous efforts aren’t enough? With Paul, we all cry out: “Who will deliver me?” (Romans 7:24). To know the answer, we must admit: “I can’t do it on my own.” This is the first verse of the glad shout that disarms the enemy. But it must be followed up by the chorus: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (7:25).

Yes, thanks be to God! Even when you feel defeated yet again by the same old sins, know that Jesus has redeemed you. Even when you feel powerless against temptation, rejoice in your salvation. There may still be areas in your life that need to be conquered. There may still be attitudes that need to be corrected. But sin does not have the final say. You are still a child of God, chosen and beloved of the Father.

God sees your struggles. He knows your anxieties. He sees how hard you are trying, and he honors every effort you make. When you fall, he does not turn away. No, he comes closer, offering you his mercy and his healing. Hour by hour, minute by minute, he stands by you, pouring out grace and comfort.

So live as a victor today. It may not make logical sense to the world. But to anyone who has tasted the goodness of the Lord, it makes perfect sense. Turn to Jesus. Keep his victory in sight. Declare it: Jesus’ death is enough; there is no more condemnation; love has triumphed. Let that love sweep away any thought that you will never change. Turn away from self-condemnation and toward his unfailing love. Let him fill you up, and sin will slink away.

“Thanks be to God through our Lord Jesus Christ! Lord, you are my hope and my salvation!”

20 October 2011

20 Oct 2011, Thursday of the Twenty-Ninth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Rom 6:19-23

Brothers and sisters:
I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your nature.
For just as you presented the parts of your bodies as slaves to impurity
and to lawlessness for lawlessness,
so now present them as slaves to righteousness for sanctification.
For when you were slaves of sin, you were free from righteousness.
But what profit did you get then
from the things of which you are now ashamed?
For the end of those things is death.
But now that you have been freed from sin and have become slaves of God,
the benefit that you have leads to sanctification,
and its end is eternal life.
For the wages of sin is death,
but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 1:1-2, 3, 4 And 6

R. (Ps 40:5) Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Blessed the man who follows not
the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD
and meditates on his law day and night.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
He is like a tree
planted near running water,
That yields its fruit in due season,
and whose leaves never fade.
Whatever he does, prospers.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.
Not so the wicked, not so;
they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
For the LORD watches over the way of the just,
but the way of the wicked vanishes.
R. Blessed are they who hope in the Lord.

Gospel Lk 12:49-53

Jesus said to his disciples:
"I have come to set the earth on fire,
and how I wish it were already blazing!
There is a baptism with which I must be baptized,
and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!
Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?
No, I tell you, but rather division.
From now on a household of five will be divided,
three against two and two against three;
a father will be divided against his son
and a son against his father,
a mother against her daughter
and a daughter against her mother,
a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law."

Meditation: Luke 12:49-53

“Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” (Luke 12:51)

Wait a minute. Isn’t Jesus the Prince of Peace? Didn’t he come to bring reconciliation and not division? Then why is he telling his disciples something that sounds altogether different?

Jesus wasn’t saying that he was on a mission of division and disintegration. Rather, he was describing a natural consequence of his coming. He knew that not everyone would accept the good news and that this rejection could cause conflicts. So he wanted to warn his disciples ahead of time, so that they would not become disillusioned or frustrated when the inevitable divisions did occur.

Jesus also wanted to make it clear that the coming of the Messiah did not mean instant and universal peace. A new age has dawned, to be sure, but it isn’t the final age of harmony and tranquility that we all long for. No, we live in the age of the church, an era marked by the ongoing struggle between light and darkness that we all know so well.

It’s important for us to know that divisions over issues of faith and morality will happen on their own. God isn’t asking us to become confrontational zealots. He doesn’t want us preaching a gospel of harsh condemnation to those who disagree with us. Rather, he wants us to try our best to respond to his call in our lives. And if our words or our witness causes conflicts, he wants us to learn how to lighten up, refine our approach, and look for another opportunity to share the gospel in a less argumentative way. In bad times as well as good, we need to be openhearted to everyone we meet, sowing seeds of the love that God has poured into our hearts.

Remember: Not all divisions have to be permanent. St. Paul tells us that the kingdom of God is a matter of “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). If we can keep this promise in the forefront of our minds, we just might be able to help bridge whatever divisions occur and help someone else invite the Lord into his or her life.

“Father, fill me with your joy and peace today. Help me to be an agent of unity and reconciliation in a world of isolation and division.”

19 October 2011

19 Oct 2011, Memorial of Saint John de Brébeuf and Saint Isaac Jogues, priests and martyrs, and their companions, martyrs

Reading 1 Rom 6:12-18

Brothers and sisters:
Sin must not reign over your mortal bodies
so that you obey their desires.
And do not present the parts of your bodies to sin
as weapons for wickedness,
but present yourselves to God as raised from the dead to life
and the parts of your bodies to God
as weapons for righteousness.
For sin is not to have any power over you,
since you are not under the law but under grace.

What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law
but under grace? 
Of course not!
Do you not know that if you present yourselves
to someone as obedient slaves,
you are slaves of the one you obey,
either of sin, which leads to death,
or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?
But thanks be to God that, although you were once slaves of sin,
you have become obedient from the heart
to the pattern of teaching to which you were entrusted.
Freed from sin, you have become slaves of righteousness.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 124:1b-3, 4-6, 7-8

R. (8a) Our help is in the name of the Lord.
Had not the LORD been with us,
let Israel say, had not the LORD been with us?
When men rose up against us,
then would they have swallowed us alive;
When their fury was inflamed against us.
R. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
Then would the waters have overwhelmed us;
The torrent would have swept over us;
over us then would have swept the raging waters.
Blessed be the LORD, who did not leave us
a prey to their teeth.
R. Our help is in the name of the Lord.
We were rescued like a bird
from the fowlers? snare;
Broken was the snare,
and we were freed.
Our help is in the name of the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.
R. Our help is in the name of the Lord.

Gospel Lk 12:39-48

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Be sure of this:
if the master of the house had known the hour
when the thief was coming,
he would not have let his house be broken into.
You also must be prepared,
for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come."

Then Peter said,
"Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?"
And the Lord replied,
"Who, then, is the faithful and prudent steward
whom the master will put in charge of his servants
to distribute the food allowance at the proper time?
Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so.
Truly, I say to you, he will put him
in charge of all his property.
But if that servant says to himself,
"My master is delayed in coming,"
and begins to beat the menservants and the maidservants,
to eat and drink and get drunk,
then that servant's master will come
on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour
and will punish the servant severely
and assign him a place with the unfaithful.
That servant who knew his master's will
but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will
shall be beaten severely;
and the servant who was ignorant of his master's will
but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating
shall be beaten only lightly.
Much will be required of the person entrusted with much,
and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more."

Meditation: Luke 12:39-48

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“You also must be prepared.” (Luke 12:40)

Many of us think of this parable in terms of the word “final.” We picture the final hour when Jesus will come back to judge the world. Once that hour comes, we’ll have no more time to get ready. Or we imagine him coming in our final hour, when we will give him an account of our lives. It’s rather sobering to realize that there will be a time when we will stand before the Lord, warts and all, and endure his piercing gaze. How can we ever prepare for such a day?

The answer is that Jesus himself prepares us, by coming to us over and over again during our lives. Think of the many unexpected events, good and bad, that can happen to you: You rush to the hospital because your wife is ready to deliver your first child. You get a call in the middle of the night because a loved one is dying. You get a promotion out of nowhere—or you are told to clean out your desk. In all of these situations, Jesus is with you, saying: “Here I am. Are you ready for me?”

To get ready for Jesus’ return means to welcome him into our hearts at every opportunity. It means looking at every situation through the eyes of faith, trying our best to find Jesus’ presence and his will. It means assessing every circumstance in our lives according to the commands and promises of the gospel. In short, it means living with our eyes fixed on heaven as we go about our lives here on earth.

God wants to open your eyes today. He wants to give you a heavenly perspective. Let him expand your vision so that you can see his hand in every situation, and so that you can surrender your life to him more fully. Take a few moments right now, and ask the Holy Spirit to open heaven for you. That’s the best way to get ready for the final day when heaven comes to earth—and when we creatures of earth are lifted up to heaven.

“Lord, I want to be ready for your return. Help me to give up anything that is not of you. Make me a pure vessel so that I can live for your glory alone.”

18 October 2011

18 Oct 2011, Feast of Saint Luke, evangelist

Reading 1 2 Tm 4:10-17b

Demas, enamored of the present world,
deserted me and went to Thessalonica,
Crescens to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia.
Luke is the only one with me.
Get Mark and bring him with you,
for he is helpful to me in the ministry.
I have sent Tychicus to Ephesus.
When you come, bring the cloak I left with Carpus in Troas,
the papyrus rolls, and especially the parchments.

Alexander the coppersmith did me a great deal of harm;
the Lord will repay him according to his deeds.
You too be on guard against him,
for he has strongly resisted our preaching.

At my first defense no one appeared on my behalf,
but everyone deserted me.
May it not be held against them!
But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength,
so that through me the proclamation might be completed
and all the Gentiles might hear it.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 145:10-11, 12-13, 17-18

R. (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.

Gospel Lk 10:1-9

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

Meditation: 2 Timothy 4:10-17

Luke is the only one with me. (2 Timothy 4:11)

Today, imagine yourself at an elegant banquet—it’s a celebration for St. Luke. The table is set with polished silverware, a floral centerpiece, and a lavish feast. Many distinguished guests are seated—Peter, John, Mary, and Martha. One glass chimes, and then another. Before you know it, everyone is calling for a speech. Then Luke, a distinguished-looking gentleman, rises and begins to speak.

“Brothers and sisters, I’m honored to be with you. I’d like to tell you why I’m here. You see, I was a physician. I gave my life to treating illness and easing suffering. I liked what I did, and I was good at it.

“But then I learned about Jesus. These apostles gathered here today spoke his words of love and mercy. I saw them heal hopeless medical cases in his name. I saw them change people’s lives with his message of forgiveness. And their message and their witness touched me deeply. In the end, I decided to be baptized and follow Jesus as well.

“When I decided to write my own account of Jesus’ life, I couldn’t help but talk about how merciful he was. I had to include all those wonderful conversion stories: Zacchaeus, Peter, and the thief on the cross. I couldn’t leave out all those healings: the man with the withered hand, the widow from Nain, and so many others. And then there were all those parables like the lost coin, lost sheep, and the prodigal son!

“Jesus has always been faithful to me, and that’s what helped me stay faithful to Paul when everyone else had left. I wanted to be a friend to the end, just like Jesus. All I want is to share the mercy that God has shown me—the kindness that has changed my life. Thank you all. I couldn’t have done it without you.”

How about you? Have you come to know the mercy of the Lord? This isn’t just Luke’s slant on Christianity; it’s gospel truth. Jesus is the most faithful friend you could ever have. If you are hurting today, ask him to show you that his grace is deeper than the ocean. Believe that no matter what, he will never leave you. As Luke learned, when we have Jesus, we have all that we need.

“Lord Jesus, I love you with all my heart.”

17 October 2011

17 Oct 2011, Memorial of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and martyr

Reading 1 Rom 4:20-25

Brothers and sisters:
Abraham did not doubt God's promise in unbelief;
rather, he was empowered by faith and gave glory to God
and was fully convinced that what God had promised
he was also able to do.
That is why it was credited to him as righteousness.
But it was not for him alone that it was written
that it was credited to him;
it was also for us, to whom it will be credited,
who believe in the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead,
who was handed over for our transgressions
and was raised for our justification.

Responsorial Psalm Luke 1:69-70, 71-72, 73-75

R. (see 68) Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; he has come to his people.
He has come to his people and set them free.
He has raised up for us a mighty savior,
born of the house of his servant David.
R. Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; he has come to his people.
Through his holy prophets he promised of old
that he would save us from our enemies,
from the hands of all who hate us.
He promised to show mercy to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant.
R. Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; he has come to his people.
This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
to set us free from the hands of our enemies,
free to worship him without fear,
holy and righteous in his sight all the days of our life.
R. Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; he has come to his people.

Gospel Lk 12:13-21

Someone in the crowd said to Jesus,
"Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me."
He replied to him,
"Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?"
Then he said to the crowd,
"Take care to guard against all greed,
for though one may be rich,
one's life does not consist of possessions."

Then he told them a parable.
"There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest.
He asked himself, "What shall I do,
for I do not have space to store my harvest?"
And he said, "This is what I shall do:
I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones.
There I shall store all my grain and other goods
and I shall say to myself, "Now as for you,
you have so many good things stored up for many years,
rest, eat, drink, be merry!""
But God said to him,
"You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you;
and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?"
Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself
but is not rich in what matters to God."

Meditation: Romans 4:20-25

“He was empowered by faith.” (Romans 4:20)

When you think of the great men and women in the Bible, surely Abraham shines above them all. Our forefather in faith, he pioneered a path that millions upon millions have followed ever since. With simple, unwavering faith, he pulled up stakes and moved from his comfortable life in Ur to the Land of Canaan, a place he had never seen before. And he did it simply because a God he had never heard of before spoke to him and made some outlandish promises. Abraham didn’t have any precedent to follow. He didn’t have the stories of previous holy men and women. He didn’t have a Bible or Sacred Tradition. All he had was God and his faith. And that was enough for him.

Quoting Genesis, St. Paul tells us that this faith of Abraham’s “was credited to him as righteousness” (Romans 4:22). That’s all Abraham needed to be considered righteous before God—faith. There was no Temple ritual. There were no dietary restrictions. There was no canon law or church discipline. There was only faith. There was only trust and surrender.

Today, let the story of Abraham sink into your heart. Let his witness show you how much you can accomplish with just a simple act of faith. In the end, that’s all you need. Yes, we have sacraments and liturgies. Yes, we have laws and traditions. But every single thing that we do in church, every single aspect of our lives as Catholics, is founded on this one word: faith.

It is as we choose to believe the unbelievable that we find the power we need to live in obedience to the Lord. It is as we trust in an unseen God that we find the comfort and hope that are woven into our liturgy. It is as we embrace the absurd message of a crucified and resurrected Messiah that we find freedom from sin and power over temptation.

We don’t know what awaits us today or tomorrow or next year. We don’t know when the next tragedy will strike or when the next windfall will come our way. We have so little control over the world. But we have a secret weapon: faith. And with faith, we can move mountains, just as Abraham, our father in faith, did.

16 October 2011

16 Oct 2011, Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Is 45:1, 4-6

Thus says the LORD to his anointed, Cyrus,
whose right hand I grasp,
subduing nations before him,
and making kings run in his service,
opening doors before him
and leaving the gates unbarred:
For the sake of Jacob, my servant,
of Israel, my chosen one,
I have called you by your name,
giving you a title, though you knew me not.
I am the LORD and there is no other,
there is no God besides me.
It is I who arm you, though you know me not,
so that toward the rising and the setting of the sun
people may know that there is none besides me.
I am the LORD, there is no other.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 96:1, 3, 4-5, 7-8, 9-10

R. (7b) Give the Lord glory and honor.
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. Give the Lord glory and honor.
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. Give the Lord glory and honor.
Give to the LORD, you families of nations,
give to the LORD glory and praise;
give to the LORD the glory due his name!
Bring gifts, and enter his courts.
R. Give the Lord glory and honor.
Worship the LORD, in holy attire;
tremble before him, all the earth;
say among the nations: The LORD is king,
he governs the peoples with equity.
R. Give the Lord glory and honor.

Reading 2 1 Thes 1:1-5b

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.

Gospel Mt 22:15-21

The Pharisees went off
and plotted how they might entrap Jesus in speech.
They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, saying,
"Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man
and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.
And you are not concerned with anyone's opinion,
for you do not regard a person's status.
Tell us, then, what is your opinion:
Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?"
Knowing their malice, Jesus said,
"Why are you testing me, you hypocrites?
Show me the coin that pays the census tax."
Then they handed him the Roman coin.
He said to them, "Whose image is this and whose inscription?"
They replied, "Caesar's."
At that he said to them,
"Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar

Meditation: Matthew 22:15-21

Meditation: Matthew 22:15-21
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“Whose image is this and whose inscription?” (Matthew 22:20)

Let’s talk about coins. Have you ever held a coin that was so dirty you could hardly tell what it was? Maybe it was a penny that had so much buildup on it that it looked nearly black. It was still a penny. It still bore the image of Abraham Lincoln and the year of its minting. It was just hard to see it. And it might be so obscured that some merchants may be reluctant to accept it as legal tender.

Did you know that with just a little bit of vinegar and salt you can make a dirty penny shine like new? It may look like magic, but it’s just a chemical reaction rearranging atoms and dissolving impurities. And once it is cleaned up, it can be used again in commerce.

What can you do when the image of God, engraved on your soul, is covered over? What will make you shine like new? The Sacrament of Reconciliation! God sees through our impurities. He knows who we are, and he loves us. That’s why he has given us this sacrament: so that we can show more clearly who we really are!

But a penny was made to do more than just shine. It may be a small part of our economy, but it has an important role to play. Just so for us. We are all created in God’s image and likeness, but we are meant to do more than just glow with heavenly goodness. You may feel as small as a penny at times, but you should never sell yourself short. In the day-to-day interchange of ideas, relationships, and feelings, you have a vital role to play. You can give a living witness to the joy and promise of a life lived under Jesus’ authority. Yes, you may need to be cleaned up, but don’t stop there. Now that you shine, go out and reflect the light that has filled your soul!

“Lord, I want to render to you what is yours – my entire self! Cleanse me and help me to radiate your life to everyone around me!”

Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
(Isaiah 45:1,4-6; Psalm 96:1,3-5,7-10; 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5; Matthew 22:15-21)

1. The first reading today describes how God uses (anoints) the pagan King Cyrus as a vehicle for caring for his people. Do we see ourselves, God’s people, as the only ones he blesses and uses? Are we open to seeing that God can use anyone with a heart open to him to further his purposes?

2. In the responsorial psalm, each of us is called to tell of God’s “glory among the nations; among all peoples, his wondrous deeds.” What can you do to tell others of God’s love?

3. St. Paul tells the Thessalonians that they are constantly in his thoughts and prayers. How often to you pray for others, particularly those who labor in faith, hope, and love for God’s kingdom? What steps can you take to increase your prayers for your pastor and other priests? What are some additional ways you can practically assist your pastor and parish?

4. In the Gospel reading, the Herodians tried to test Jesus. In what ways do you test God with your words: “if God really cared for me then …”; “if God will do this for me then…”? Are there times when you try to manipulate God for you own purposes? Did it work? What can you do to make your relationship with God more one of faith and trust then of trying to get God to do what you want him to do?

5. The meditation ends with these words: “In the day-to-day interchange of ideas, relationships, and feelings, you have a vital role to play. You can give a living witness to the joy and promise of a life lived under Jesus’ authority. Yes, you may need to be cleaned up, but don’t stop there. Now that you shine, go out and reflect the light that has filled your soul!” We all struggle at times to let the Lord’s light shine through us. What are some of the obstacles that keep the Lord’s light in you from shining to others? What steps can you take to overcome these obstacles?

6. Reflect on these words from John 5:14-16: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” Then take some time now to pray for the grace to be let your light shine before others so that “they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.


15 October 2011

15 Oct 2011, Memorial of Saint Teresa of Jesus, virgin and doctor of the Church

Reading 1 
Rom 4:13, 16-18

Brothers and sisters:
It was not through the law
that the promise was made to Abraham and his descendants
that he would inherit the world,
but through the righteousness that comes from faith.
For this reason, it depends on faith,
so that it may be a gift,
and the promise may be guaranteed to all his descendants,
not to those who only adhere to the law
but to those who follow the faith of Abraham,
who is the father of all of us, as it is written,
I have made you father of many nations.
He is our father in the sight of God,
in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead
and calls into being what does not exist.
He believed, hoping against hope,
that he would become the father of many nations,
according to what was said, Thus shall your descendants be.

Reposorial Psalm 
Ps 105:6-7, 8-9, 42-43

R. (8a) The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
You descendants of Abraham, his servants,
sons of Jacob, his chosen ones!
He, the LORD, is our God;
throughout the earth his judgments prevail.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
He remembers forever his covenant
which he made binding for a thousand generations ?
Which he entered into with Abraham
and by his oath to Isaac.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
For he remembered his holy word
to his servant Abraham.
And he led forth his people with joy;
with shouts of joy, his chosen ones.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.

Lk 12:8-12

Jesus said to his disciples:
"I tell you,
everyone who acknowledges me before others
the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God.
But whoever denies me before others
will be denied before the angels of God.

"Everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven,
but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit
will not be forgiven.
When they take you before synagogues and before rulers and authorities,
do not worry about how or what your defense will be
or about what you are to say.
For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say."

Meditation: Romans 4:13,16-18

It depends on faith, so that it may be a gift. (Romans 4:16)

It’s amazing how much fun small children can have with a gift. Sometimes they will stare at it for a while before opening it, guessing at what might be inside. Then they’ll quiver with anticipation as they pull off the wrapping paper. When they’ve finally opened their gift, you may hear “Wow!” or “Cool!” or they may say nothing and just start enjoying it right away. They still have the ability to find wonder at things that we adults may take for granted.

It’s interesting that Paul uses the word “gift” to describe the faith of Abraham in today’s first reading. Why? Because God’s promise that Abraham would be “the father of a host of nations” wasn’t dependent on Abraham’s goodness. It was a pure gift from the Lord. Circumcision wasn’t the key to Abraham’s inheritance. In fact, the requirement for circumcision came after Abraham had already believed in God (Genesis 17:5,10). It was Abraham’s trust in what God had already worked out that brought God’s amazing promise to fulfillment.

How does this apply to us as Christians? It’s not that our faith doesn’t ask anything of us. Jesus tells us to seek the lost, care for the poor and wounded, and live righteously so that we’ll be fit for heaven. But in its essence, our faith comes to us as a free gift. We can’t possibly repay God for what he has done for us through Jesus Christ. We may do good works out of gratitude for God’s goodness, but he has already done the real work! Our sins have been paid for, in full!

Think about the gift of your own faith. Within that gift are several other gifts—most importantly, your redemption. There is also the gift of the Holy Spirit, who fills you with hope and charity. You may want to draw up a list, but be careful. You may run out of room on the paper! Now imagine you’re receiving these gifts for the first time, and look at each one in your mind’s eye. Think about how much each one means to you and what life would be like without it. Then be sure to thank the One who gave you those awesome gifts!

“Lord, show me that you desire my love and trust more than anything I can do for you. Thank you for never forgetting your promises!”

14 October 2011

14 Oct 2011, Friday of the Twenty-Eighth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
Rom 4:1-8

Brothers and sisters:
What can we say that Abraham found,
our ancestor according to the flesh?
Indeed, if Abraham was justified on the basis of his works,
he has reason to boast;
but this was not so in the sight of God.
For what does the Scripture say?
Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.
A worker's wage is credited not as a gift, but as something due.
But when one does not work,
yet believes in the one who justifies the ungodly,
his faith is credited as righteousness.
So also David declares the blessedness of the person
to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven
and whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not record.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 32:1b-2, 5, 11

R. (see 7) I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation.
Blessed is he whose fault is taken away,
whose sin is covered.
Blessed the man to whom the LORD imputes not guilt,
in whose spirit there is no guile.
R. I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you,
my guilt I covered not.
I said, "I confess my faults to the LORD,"
and you took away the guilt of my sin.
R. I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation.
Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you just;
exult, all you upright of heart.
R. I turn to you, Lord, in time of trouble, and you fill me with the joy of salvation.

Lk 12:1-7

At that time:
So many people were crowding together
that they were trampling one another underfoot.
Jesus began to speak, first to his disciples,
"Beware of the leaven'that is, the hypocrisy'of the Pharisees.

"There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed,
nor secret that will not be known.
Therefore whatever you have said in the darkness
will be heard in the light,
and what you have whispered behind closed doors
will be proclaimed on the housetops.
I tell you, my friends,
do not be afraid of those who kill the body
but after that can do no more.
I shall show you whom to fear.
Be afraid of the one who after killing
has the power to cast into Gehenna;
yes, I tell you, be afraid of that one.
Are not five sparrows sold for two small coins?
Yet not one of them has escaped the notice of God.
Even the hairs of your head have all been counted.
Do not be afraid.
You are worth more than many sparrows."

Meditation: Luke 12:1-7

Beware.” (Luke 12:1)

Hypocrisy, unbelief, unspoken judgments, hatred, resentment, lust, every kind of base desire—all will be brought to light and shouted from the rooftops (Luke 12:3). (Have a nice day!) It’s enough to ruin your day just thinking about it. But the truth is, we all carry around secrets, hoping that they will never be revealed. Like Adam and Eve, we all try to hide the things that make us feel ashamed and guilty.

But Jesus, the Good Shepherd, came bringing good news, not bad. And today’s good news is this: You are precious in God’s sight. “You are worth more than many sparrows” (Luke 12:7). If God knows and values every single sparrow, sold five for roughly one cent each, how much more does he know and care for you! He loves you so much, and values you so dearly, that you never need to keep your “hidden” self from him. He knows you through and through— and still he loves you with an everlasting love.

So don’t be afraid of God. Never. Instead, get to know him. Spend time with him. When you are at Mass, thank him for welcoming you into his house and into his presence. Listen eagerly to his word in Scripture. If you don’t understand it, ask his Spirit to help you. In the quiet time after Communion, ask the Father to give you a taste of his love. He delights in answering those requests, because he delights in you.

As you come to know God and

his love for you more and more deeply, that love will drive out fear (1 John 4:18). You will still “beware,” but not with the anxiety of one who is living a hidden life. Instead, you will be wary, on the lookout for anything in your heart that threatens your relationship with him. And when you find something, you will want to bring it into his light immediately rather than try to keep it hidden. You will want to deal with it now, in the light of his love, rather than have it published abroad at the end.

So let God show you how much he can do for you—and how gently and lovingly he will do it. You have great worth in his eyes!

“Father, replace my shame and fear with your great love for me.”

13 October 2011

13 Oct 2011, Thursday of the Twenty-Eighth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
Rom 3:21-30

Brothers and sisters:
Now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law,
though testified to by the law and the prophets,
the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ
for all who believe.
For there is no distinction;
all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God.
They are justified freely by his grace
through the redemption in Christ Jesus,
whom God set forth as an expiation,
through faith, by his Blood, to prove his righteousness
because of the forgiveness of sins previously committed,
through the forbearance of God?
to prove his righteousness in the present time,
that he might be righteous
and justify the one who has faith in Jesus.

What occasion is there then for boasting? It is ruled out.
On what principle, that of works?
No, rather on the principle of faith.
For we consider that a person is justified by faith
apart from works of the law.
Does God belong to Jews alone?
Does he not belong to Gentiles, too?
Yes, also to Gentiles, for God is one
and will justify the circumcised on the basis of faith
and the uncircumcised through faith.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 130:1b-2, 3-4, 5-6ab

R. (7) With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.
Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD;
LORD, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to my voice in supplication.
R. With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.
If you, O LORD, mark iniquities,
Lord, who can stand?
But with you is forgiveness,
that you may be revered.
R. With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.
I trust in the LORD;
my soul trusts in his word.
My soul waits for the LORD
more than sentinels wait for the dawn.
R. With the Lord there is mercy, and fullness of redemption.

Lk 11:47-54

The Lord said:
"Woe to you who build the memorials of the prophets
whom your fathers killed.
Consequently, you bear witness and give consent
to the deeds of your ancestors,
for they killed them and you do the building.
Therefore, the wisdom of God said,
'I will send to them prophets and Apostles;
some of them they will kill and persecute'
in order that this generation might be charged
with the blood of all the prophets
shed since the foundation of the world,
from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah
who died between the altar and the temple building.
Yes, I tell you, this generation will be charged with their blood!
Woe to you, scholars of the law!
You have taken away the key of knowledge.
You yourselves did not enter and you stopped those trying to enter."
When Jesus left, the scribes and Pharisees
began to act with hostility toward him
and to interrogate him about many things,
for they were plotting to catch him at something he might say.

Meditation: Psalm 130:1-6

I wait with longing for the Lord, my soul waits for his word.” (Psalm 130:5)

In today’s first reading, St. Paul gives us a lot of words filled with theological depth and truth. He tells us that we have all sinned “and are deprived of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). But he also tells us that we are “justified freely by his grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus” (3:24). God has extended his mercy to each of us, freely forgiving our sins and reconciling us to his heart.

With good news like this, we should all rejoice in the Lord and honor him for the grace he has poured upon us. We should also join the psalmist, waiting with eager longing for God’s word to be spoken to us personally. It’s one thing to hear a word from Scripture or at Mass that expresses universal truths about God and his commands. But it’s another thing entirely to hear God speak that word to us, applying these truths to our lives and our very specific situations. For instance, if his word tells us that all are sinners, we should listen carefully to hear where God is inviting us to change. And if his word tells us about our redemption, we should keep our eyes open for new ways to enjoy and celebrate our freedom in Christ.

Whatever God wants to tell us, we can trust that his word will come from the depths of the Father’s love. It will be an expression of his kindness, and it will show us a way toward the “full redemption” he wants all of us to receive (Psalm 130:7). Even if it seems like a challenging word at the time, we can rest assured that this word is filled with compassion and promise.

How will you hear God’s word today? Will it be in the quiet of your heart as you ponder his Scriptures or sit quietly in eucharistic adoration? Or will he speak through another person, such as a priest preaching a homily or a friend’s casual remark? Listen attentively and humbly today. God wants to speak to you!

“Thank you, Lord, that you are kindness and compassion. Let your light shine on me, and let your word set me free.”

12 Oct 2011, Wednesday of the Twenty-Eighth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1
Rom 2:1-11

You, O man, are without excuse, every one of you who passes judgment.
For by the standard by which you judge another you condemn yourself,
since you, the judge, do the very same things.
We know that the judgment of God on those who do such things is true.
Do you suppose, then, you who judge those who engage in such things
and yet do them yourself,
that you will escape the judgment of God?
Or do you hold his priceless kindness, forbearance, and patience
in low esteem, unaware that the kindness of God
would lead you to repentance?
By your stubbornness and impenitent heart,
you are storing up wrath for yourself
for the day of wrath and revelation
of the just judgment of God,
who will repay everyone according to his works,
eternal life to those who seek glory, honor, and immortality
through perseverance in good works,
but wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth
and obey wickedness.
Yes, affliction and distress will come upon everyone
who does evil, Jew first and then Greek.
But there will be glory, honor, and peace for everyone
who does good, Jew first and then Greek.
There is no partiality with God.

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 62:2-3, 6-7, 9

R. (13b) Lord, you give back to everyone according to his works.
Only in God is my soul at rest;
from him comes my salvation.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my stronghold; I shall not be disturbed at all.
R. Lord, you give back to everyone according to his works.
Only in God be at rest, my soul,
for from him comes my hope.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my stronghold; I shall not be disturbed.
R. Lord, you give back to everyone according to his works.
Trust in him at all times, O my people!
Pour out your hearts before him;
God is our refuge!
R. Lord, you give back to everyone according to his works.

Lk 11:42-46

The Lord said:
"Woe to you Pharisees!
You pay tithes of mint and of rue and of every garden herb,
but you pay no attention to judgment and to love for God.
These you should have done, without overlooking the others.
Woe to you Pharisees!
You love the seat of honor in synagogues
and greetings in marketplaces.
Woe to you!
You are like unseen graves over which people unknowingly walk."

Then one of the scholars of the law said to him in reply,
"Teacher, by saying this you are insulting us too."
And he said, "Woe also to you scholars of the law!
You impose on people burdens hard to carry,
but you yourselves do not lift one finger to touch them."