30 November 2011

30 Nov 2011, Feast of Saint Andrew, apostle

Reading 1 Rom 10:9-18

Brothers and sisters:
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord
and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead,
you will be saved.
For one believes with the heart and so is justified,
and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.
The Scripture says,
No one who believes in him will be put to shame.
There is no distinction between Jew and Greek;
the same Lord is Lord of all,
enriching all who call upon him.
For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

But how can they call on him in whom they have not believed?
And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard?
And how can they hear without someone to preach?
And how can people preach unless they are sent?
As it is written,
How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news!
But not everyone has heeded the good news;
for Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed what was heard from us?
Thus faith comes from what is heard,
and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.
But I ask, did they not hear?
Certainly they did; for

Their voice has gone forth to all the earth,
and their words to the ends of the world.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 19:8, 9, 10, 11

R. (10) The judgments of the Lord are true, and all of them are just.
R. (John 6:63) Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul;
The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.
R. The judgments of the Lord are true, and all of them are just.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
The command of the LORD is clear,
enlightening the eye.
R. The judgments of the Lord are true, and all of them are just.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever;
The ordinances of the LORD are true,
all of them just.
R. The judgments of the Lord are true, and all of them are just.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.
They are more precious than gold,
than a heap of purest gold;
Sweeter also than syrup
or honey from the comb.
R. The judgments of the Lord are true, and all of them are just.
R. Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.

Gospel Mt 4:18-22

As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers,
Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew,
casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen.
He said to them,
"Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men."
At once they left their nets and followed him.
He walked along from there and saw two other brothers,
James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John.
They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets.
He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father
and followed him.

Meditation: Romans 10:9-18

Saint Andrew

How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news! (Romans 10:15)

With these words, taken from the Book of Isaiah, St. Paul paints a picture of someone dedicated to preaching the good news of the kingdom of God. His focus on “feet” only emphasizes the way those com­mitted to evangelization are always on the move, always walking, or even running, to spread the gospel. Paul’s words also show how beau­tiful it is to see someone standing firm with the dignity of a child of God. How beautiful to God is the one who preaches, the one who walks with him, and the one who endures to the end!

What a perfect description of the apostle Andrew! A disciple of John the Baptist, Andrew heard John tes­tify to Jesus (John 1:36). He accepted Jesus’ invitation to stay with him and then went into action right away. He ran to bring the good news—“We have found the Messiah”—to his brother Peter (1:41). For three years, Andrew traveled with Jesus, watching him perform miracles and learning about the kingdom from him. Even after Jesus died and rose, Andrew stayed on the move, just like his Master. He took the good news into the world, traveling as far as Con­stantinople until he finally gave his life for the Lord in the city of Patras (in modern-day Greece).

It’s inspiring to think of how beautiful, how good and pleasing, Andrew’s faithful endurance was to the Father. But did you know that you are created for that beauty too? No matter how far along you are in your journey with Jesus, you can do more for him and his church.

It doesn’t have to be hard to tell other people about the Lord. All you have to do is share your own expe­riences of Jesus: how he has healed you, perhaps, or how you began to know his love. You can start sim­ply, by sharing with your family or friends. You don’t need a theology degree. You don’t need to have all the answers. You just need to speak from the heart. The Holy Spirit will take care of the rest.

“Jesus, I don’t want to stand still. Teach me how to keep moving forward, just as Andrew did, bringing your good news to everyone I know.”

29 November 2011

29 Nov 2011, Tuesday of the First Week of Advent

Reading 1 Is 11:1-10

On that day,
A shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse,
and from his roots a bud shall blossom.
The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him:
a Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
A Spirit of counsel and of strength,
a Spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD,
and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD.
Not by appearance shall he judge,
nor by hearsay shall he decide,
But he shall judge the poor with justice,
and decide aright for the land's afflicted.
He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.
Justice shall be the band around his waist,
and faithfulness a belt upon his hips.

Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the kid;
The calf and the young lion shall browse together,
with a little child to guide them.
The cow and the bear shall be neighbors,
together their young shall rest;
the lion shall eat hay like the ox.
The baby shall play by the cobra's den,
and the child lay his hand on the adder's lair.
There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD,
as water covers the sea.

On that day,
The root of Jesse,
set up as a signal for the nations,
The Gentiles shall seek out,
for his dwelling shall be glorious.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 72:1-2, 7-8, 12-13, 17

R. (see 7) Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
O God, with your judgment endow the king,
and with your justice, the king's son;
He shall govern your people with justice
and your afflicted ones with judgment.
R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
Justice shall flower in his days,
and profound peace, till the moon be no more.
May he rule from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
He shall rescue the poor when he cries out,
and the afflicted when he has no one to help him.
He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor;
the lives of the poor he shall save.
R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
May his name be blessed forever;
as long as the sun his name shall remain.
In him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed;
all the nations shall proclaim his happiness.
R. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.

Gospel Lk 10:21-24

Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said,
"I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to the childlike.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father.
No one knows who the Son is except the Father,
and who the Father is except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him."

Turning to the disciples in private he said,
"Blessed are the eyes that see what you see.
For I say to you,
many prophets and kings desired to see what you see,
but did not see it,
and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it."

Meditation: Luke 10:21-24

Blessed are the eyes that see what you see.” (Luke 10:23)

Throughout history, God has always resisted the proud and wel­comed the humble. Those who learn to rely on his grace can testify to this fact. They all know that there is no greater happiness than having a per­sonal relationship with the God of all creation. They know that there is no greater privilege than knowing that this almighty, ever-living God is also a loving Father.

This promise is at the heart of to­day’s Gospel reading. Those who come to God in humility and trust enter into a relationship with him that is far more intimate than any other relationship they have ever known.

Think about the apostles, the ones Jesus referred to as “childlike.” One was a political activist, another a jaded tax collector, and still others rough-hewn fishermen. This was no naïve group! Yet these worldly-wise men learned how to trust in God the same way children instinctively trust their parents. Their hearts became softened as they learned a new inno­cence and openness with God and toward each other.

Like the apostles, most of us have experienced enough disappointment and betrayal to make us cautious about trusting anyone—especially a faraway God. But our heavenly Fa­ther continues to ask us to come to him without pretense. He invites us to be honest with him, to tell him plainly who we are and what we want out of life. He wants us to know that no matter what we say, his love for us can’t be shaken.

Take some time today to tell your heavenly Father about your fears, your struggles, your worries, and your sins—even the ones you’re not ready to let go of. He can han­dle it. Most important, tell him that you love him as a child loves his or her dad. You’ll be surprised at how comforting and encouraging your Fa­ther can be. Then, when Christmas comes, you won’t just be remember­ing the incarnation of his Son as a historical event. You’ll be celebrating the greatest gift your Father has ever given to you!

“Father, I have nothing to hide from you. I want to come to you today as a child. Please make me like your Son.”

28 November 2011

28 Nov 2011, Monday of the First Week of Advent

Reading 1 Is 2:1-5

This is what Isaiah, son of Amoz,
saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

In days to come,
The mountain of the LORD's house
shall be established as the highest mountain
and raised above the hills.
All nations shall stream toward it;
many peoples shall come and say:
"Come, let us climb the LORD's mountain,
to the house of the God of Jacob,
That he may instruct us in his ways,
and we may walk in his paths."
For from Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
and impose terms on many peoples.
They shall beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks;
One nation shall not raise the sword against another,
nor shall they train for war again.

O house of Jacob, come,
let us walk in the light of the LORD!

Responsorial Psalm Ps 122:1-2, 3-4b, 4cd-5, 6-7, 8-9

R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
I rejoiced because they said to me,
"We will go up to the house of the LORD."
And now we have set foot
within your gates, O Jerusalem.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
Jerusalem, built as a city
with compact unity.
To it the tribes go up,
the tribes of the LORD.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
According to the decree for Israel,
to give thanks to the name of the LORD.
In it are set up judgment seats,
seats for the house of David.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!
May those who love you prosper!
May peace be within your walls,
prosperity in your buildings.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.
Because of my relatives and friends
I will say, "Peace be within you!"
Because of the house of the LORD, our God,
I will pray for your good.
R. Let us go rejoicing to the house of the Lord.

Gospel Mt 8:5-11

When Jesus entered Capernaum,
a centurion approached him and appealed to him, saying,
"Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully."
He said to him, "I will come and cure him."
The centurion said in reply,
"Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof;
only say the word and my servant will be healed.
For I too am a man subject to authority,
with soldiers subject to me.
And I say to one, "Go," and he goes;
and to another, "Come here," and he comes;
and to my slave, "Do this," and he does it."
When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him,
"Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith.
I say to you, many will come from the east and the west,
and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
at the banquet in the Kingdom of heaven."

Meditation: Isaiah 2:1-5

Come, let us climb … to the house of the God of Jacob.” (Isaiah 2:3)

Have you ever seen a building so massive that it took up your whole field of vision? Well, picture one even bigger than that, and you can imagine what Isaiah saw. In a vision, he described the house of the Lord as being so big that it could shelter entire populations. “Many peoples” were streaming toward this house, where they would receive counsel and instruction. Here they could find peace. It may not have been an easy road, but they were willing to take the journey.

God is extending this same invitation to you this Advent: “Come to my house!” He wants you to go out and meet him—in prayer, in the Scriptures, in the Blessed Sacra­ment, and in your community.

Yes, your heavenly Father wants to help you mold your “swords” into plowshares. He wants to help you put aside any weapons you may resort to when tension or con­flict arise: bitterness, sarcasm, isolation, and accusation. He wants you to take all the energy you once spent on these and use it instead to sow seeds of peace and unity. So come to his house, and let him help you.

Now think about today’s Gos­pel reading, and put yourself in the shoes of this noble centurion. Jesus is listening intently to you as you bring your needs to him. Don’t hes­itate to tell him what you want; you have his full attention! And what does he say in response? “I will come” (Matthew 8:7). In this Gospel reading, Jesus isn’t waiting for you to climb to his lofty home; he is coming to yours! He comes to bring healing and peace.

These contrasting images of God reveal a beautiful truth. God is invit­ing you to be with him where he is, even as he offers to come into your heart. In other words, he is promis­ing that as you take one step toward him, he will take a thousand steps toward you. That’s how committed he is to you. That’s how deeply he wants to pour his grace and peace into your heart.

So what do you want Jesus to do for you this Advent? Just ask, and he will come!

“Lord, I accept your invitation. Come closer!”

26 November 2011

27 Nov 2011, First Sunday of Advent

Reading 1 Is 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7

You, LORD, are our father,
our redeemer you are named forever.
Why do you let us wander, O LORD, from your ways,
and harden our hearts so that we fear you not?
Return for the sake of your servants,
the tribes of your heritage.
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,
with the mountains quaking before you,
while you wrought awesome deeds we could not hope for,
such as they had not heard of from of old.
No ear has ever heard, no eye ever seen, any God but you
doing such deeds for those who wait for him.
Would that you might meet us doing right,
that we were mindful of you in our ways!
Behold, you are angry, and we are sinful;
all of us have become like unclean people,
all our good deeds are like polluted rags;
we have all withered like leaves,
and our guilt carries us away like the wind.
There is none who calls upon your name,
who rouses himself to cling to you;
for you have hidden your face from us
and have delivered us up to our guilt.
Yet, O LORD, you are our father;
we are the clay and you the potter:
we are all the work of your hands.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19

R. (4) Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.
O shepherd of Israel, hearken,
from your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth.
Rouse your power,
and come to save us.
R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.
Once again, O LORD of hosts,
look down from heaven, and see;
take care of this vine,
and protect what your right hand has planted
the son of man whom you yourself made strong.
R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.
May your help be with the man of your right hand,
with the son of man whom you yourself made strong.
Then we will no more withdraw from you;
give us new life, and we will call upon your name.
R. Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved.

Reading 2 1 Cor 1:3-9

Brothers and sisters:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I give thanks to my God always on your account
for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus,
that in him you were enriched in every way,
with all discourse and all knowledge,
as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you,
so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift
as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He will keep you firm to the end,
irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God is faithful,
and by him you were called to fellowship with his Son,
Jesus Christ our Lord.

Gospel Mk 13:33-37

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Be watchful! Be alert!
You do not know when the time will come.
It is like a man traveling abroad.
He leaves home and places his servants in charge,
each with his own work,
and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch.
Watch, therefore;
you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming,
whether in the evening, or at midnight,
or at cockcrow, or in the morning.
May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.
What I say to you, I say to all: 'Watch!'"

Meditation: Mark 13:33-37

Be watchful! Be alert!” (Mark 13:33)

Announcement: The Most High God requests the honor of your presence at the entry of his Son into the world. The unprecedented event will be followed by a joyous celebration in two locations: heaven and earth. The event will take place on December 25, and you are encouraged to spend the next four weeks in preparation for the festivities.

Welcome to Advent—a season of hope and expectation! Over the course of the next month, many of us will be part of family gatherings. We will reenact time-honored traditions. Gifts will be bought. Homes will be decorated. Special meals will be prepared.

And to crown all these observances, Jesus himself will come and visit us. As today’s Gospel reading tells us, we may not know when he will come, but he promises he will come. Right now, he is looking for new ways to touch our hearts. Right now, he is preparing special gifts of grace and blessing for us—Advent and Christmas presents that he will give to those who open their hearts to him.

What kind of gifts will he give? Reminders of his Father’s love for us. A sense of hope as you face the challenges of life. New insights and wisdom that you can share with your loved ones. Freedom from guilt as you lay your sins and failings at his feet. And above all, peace and joy as he tells you that he has you in the palm of his hand.

So take up the invitation today! Do everything you can to be alert and ready to receive Jesus and his gifts. Try to spend a little more time in daily prayer and Scripture reading. Go to confession so that you can get rid of anything that blocks you from receiving his love and his gifts.

Jesus wants to celebrate with you. And he’s given you a whole month to get ready. Step by step, day by day, you can draw closer to the Lord— and feel him draw closer to you!

“Jesus, I accept your invitation. By your Spirit and your grace, help me to get ready for your coming on Christmas Day.”


Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion

(Isaiah 63:16-17,19; 64:2-7; Psalm 80:2-3,15-16,18-19; 1 Corinthians 1:3-9; Mark 13:33-37)

1. In the first reading, we hear these words: “All of us have become like unclean people, all our good deeds are like polluted rags” (Isaiah 64:5). Why do you think the people’s so-called “good deeds” were so offensive to God? In what ways can our own good deeds be offensive to God? What is the difference between good deeds and Godly deeds?

2. In the responsorial psalm, we cry out to the Lord along with the psalmist to come and save us, so that he will “give us new life and we will call upon his name.” What areas of your life do you need to cry out to the Lord for “new life”? Do you believe as you cry out, he will answer you? Why or why not?

3. In the second reading, St. Paul states that the Corinthians have been “enriched in Him in all speech and all knowledge” (1 Corinthians 1:5) and that they “are not lacking in any spiritual gift” (1:7). Yet, later on in this letter, Paul is quite critical of their immaturity, tolerance of open sin, and their own sinfulness. Why do you think that in spite of the great outpouring of the Spirit upon the Corinthians, they had so much difficulty living holy and righteous lives? In what way is this also a warning to us as well?

4. In the Gospel reading, Jesus uses such words as “beware,” “keep alert,” “watch,” “stay awake,” and “be on guard” as he describes the events leading up to his second coming. What message was Jesus trying to convey with these words? How do they apply to each of us today during this Advent season? How do they apply to the Church?

5. The meditation ends with these words: “Jesus wants to celebrate with you. And he’s given you a whole month to get ready. Step by step, day by day, you can draw closer to the Lord— and feel him draw closer to you!” During Advent, we celebrate the coming of Jesus in three ways: 1) His first coming as a baby at Christmas, 2) His coming into our hearts as our Lord and Savior, and 3) His Second Coming at the end of time. What steps can you take in the next four weeks of Advent to prepare yourself to celebrate these three comings in a deeper way?

6. Take some time now to pray for the grace, during this Advent Season, to prepare your heart and mind for the celebration of Jesus’ coming. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.

26 Nov 2011, Saturday of the Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Dn 7:15-27

I, Daniel, found my spirit anguished within its covering of flesh,
and I was terrified by the visions of my mind.
I approached one of those present
and asked him what all this meant in truth;
in answer, he made known to me the meaning of the things:
"These four great beasts stand for four kingdoms
which shall arise on the earth.
But the holy ones of the Most High shall receive the kingship,
to possess it forever and ever."

But I wished to make certain about the fourth beast,
so very terrible and different from the others,
devouring and crushing with its iron teeth and bronze claws,
and trampling with its feet what was left;
about the ten horns on its head, and the other one that sprang up,
before which three horns fell;
about the horn with the eyes and the mouth that spoke arrogantly,
which appeared greater than its fellows.
For, as I watched, that horn made war against the holy ones
and was victorious until the Ancient One arrived;
judgment was pronounced in favor of the holy ones of the Most High,
and the time came when the holy ones possessed the kingdom.
He answered me thus:

"The fourth beast shall be a fourth kingdom on earth
different from all the others;
It shall devour the whole earth,
beat it down, and crush it.
The ten horns shall be ten kings
rising out of that kingdom;
another shall rise up after them,
Different from those before him,
who shall lay low three kings.
He shall speak against the Most High
and oppress the holy ones of the Most High,
thinking to change the feast days and the law.
They shall be handed over to him
for a year, two years, and a half-year.
But when the court is convened,
and his power is taken away
by final and absolute destruction,
Then the kingship and dominion and majesty
of all the kingdoms under the heavens
shall be given to the holy people of the Most High,
Whose Kingdom shall be everlasting:
all dominions shall serve and obey him."

Responsorial Psalm Dn 3:82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87

R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.
"You sons of men, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever."
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.
"O Israel, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever."
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.
"Priests of the Lord, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever."
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.
"Servants of the Lord, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever."
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.
"Spirits and souls of the just, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever."
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.
"Holy men of humble heart, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever."
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.

Gospel Lk 21:34-36

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy
from carousing and drunkenness
and the anxieties of daily life,
and that day catch you by surprise like a trap.
For that day will assault everyone
who lives on the face of the earth.
Be vigilant at all times
and pray that you have the strength
to escape the tribulations that are imminent
and to stand before the Son of Man."

Meditation: Daniel 7:15-27

Bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever.” (Daniel 3:82)

Today is the last day of our church year. Tomorrow we celebrate the First Sunday of Advent. So as we look back on the past year and look ahead to the year to come, let’s think about the popular saying of the philosopher, George Santayana: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Santayana was commenting on how our inability to learn from past mistakes can lead to even greater division or destruction. But Santayana could just as easily have stated this principle in a positive light: “Those who remember the good things of the past will be empowered to repeat them.” If we look at it from this angle, we can see that all of our acts of kindness and generosity can build up a godly character in us. They have the potential to make us kind, generous people —and this pleases Jesus.

So why not take a practical approach to the way you close out this year and open a new one? Begin by listing two areas —your relationship with the Lord and your key relationships in this world.

For the first area, ask yourself: “How have I grown closer to Jesus this year, and what can I do to grow closer to him next year?” And for the second area, ask yourself: “What were the two or three highlights in my family relationships in the past year? What can I do to strengthen these ties even more in the coming year? How can I become kinder or more merciful or more selfless next year?” Write down your answers in your prayer journal, and keep them close, so that you can refer to them as the next year unfolds.

New beginnings always have a sense of excitement about them. It’s as if the whole slate were wiped clean, and you can start afresh. How much more exciting is the promise that if you remember the good things that God has done in the past, your new year can be even better!

“Jesus, I want to give you my heart even more this Advent. Teach me how to love you and serve my family more deeply.”

25 November 2011

25 Nov 2011, Friday of the Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Dn 7:2-14

In a vision I, Daniel, saw during the night,
the four winds of heaven stirred up the great sea,
from which emerged four immense beasts,
each different from the others.
The first was like a lion, but with eagle's wings.
While I watched, the wings were plucked;
it was raised from the ground to stand on two feet
like a man, and given a human mind.
The second was like a bear; it was raised up on one side,
and among the teeth in its mouth were three tusks.
It was given the order, "Up, devour much flesh."
After this I looked and saw another beast, like a leopard;
on its back were four wings like those of a bird,
and it had four heads.
To this beast dominion was given.
After this, in the visions of the night I saw the fourth beast,
different from all the others,
terrifying, horrible, and of extraordinary strength;
it had great iron teeth with which it devoured and crushed,
and what was left it trampled with its feet.
I was considering the ten horns it had,
when suddenly another, a little horn, sprang out of their midst,
and three of the previous horns were torn away to make room for it.
This horn had eyes like a man,
and a mouth that spoke arrogantly.
As I watched,

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

The court was convened, and the books were opened.
I watched, then, from the first of the arrogant words
which the horn spoke, until the beast was slain
and its body thrown into the fire to be burnt up.
The other beasts, which also lost their dominion,
were granted a prolongation of life for a time and a season.
As the visions during the night continued, I saw

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

Responsorial Psalm Daniel 3:75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80, 81

R. Give glory and eternal praise to him!
"Mountains and hills, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever."
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him!
"Everything growing from the earth, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever.
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him!
"You springs, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever."
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him!
"Seas and rivers, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever."
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him!
"You dolphins and all water creatures, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever."
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him!
"All you birds of the air, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever."
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him!
"All you beasts, wild and tame, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever."
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him!

Gospel Lk 21:29-33

Jesus told his disciples a parable.
"Consider the fig tree and all the other trees.
When their buds burst open,
you see for yourselves and know that summer is now near;
in the same way, when you see these things happening,
know that the Kingdom of God is near.
Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away
until all these things have taken place.
Heaven and earth will pass away,
but my words will not pass away."

Meditation: Daniel 7:2-14

“I saw One like a son of man coming, on the clouds of heaven.” (Daniel 7:13)

Who is the holiest person you can think of? Francis of Assisi? The Virgin Mary? Or maybe it’s someone not as well known, but who radiated God’s love in a very powerful way. Most likely, meeting this person was an experience you will never forget. If you were lucky enough to shake that person’s hand or hear him or her speak, you would probably feel the Holy Spirit touching you. When you saw that person, you would almost feel as if you were seeing the Lord.

But that “almost” can’t compare with the real thing, can it? In each of our hearts there is a desire to see “the Ancient One,” as Daniel did in his vision. Like David, we all cry out, “My being thirsts for God, the living God. When can I go and see the face of God?” (Psalm 42:3). No matter how many great people we meet, and no matter how many blessings this life brings us, we know deep down that only one thing will fully satisfy us: knowing God intimately and seeing him face to face.

Our God is a loving, generous Father. He wouldn’t have given us this longing to see him if he didn’t also give us a way to fulfill that desire. Paul tells us that even though we now see God as in a dusty mirror, in heaven we will behold him fully (1 Corinthians 13:12). And John promises that if we keep ourselves in God’s love, we will “see him as he is.” We will even become “like him” (1 John 3:2)!

Could anything in this world be more marvelous than seeing the face of Jesus, the Word who was “in the beginning with God” (John 1:2)?

In prayer today, spend a few moments contemplating the joy of being in God’s presence and worshipping him for all eternity. Think about the fact that the entire goal of your life is eternal life, to know “the only true God, and the one whom [he has] sent, Jesus Christ” (John 17:3). Put all your distractions aside and just praise and glorify him for being your Father, and for giving his Son so that you can know complete happiness with him forever!

“Father, thank you for your promise of eternal life. This is the one true desire of my heart!”

24 November 2011

24 Nov 2011, Memorial of Saint Andrew Düng-Lac, priest and martyr, and his companions, martyrs

Reading 1 Dn 6:12-28

Some men rushed into the upper chamber of Daniel's home
and found him praying and pleading before his God.
Then they went to remind the king about the prohibition:
"Did you not decree, O king,
that no one is to address a petition to god or man
for thirty days, except to you, O king;
otherwise he shall be cast into a den of lions?"
The king answered them, "The decree is absolute,
irrevocable under the Mede and Persian law."
To this they replied, "Daniel, the Jewish exile,
has paid no attention to you, O king,
or to the decree you issued;
three times a day he offers his prayer."
The king was deeply grieved at this news
and he made up his mind to save Daniel;
he worked till sunset to rescue him.
But these men insisted.
They said, "Keep in mind, O king,
that under the Mede and Persian law
every royal prohibition or decree is irrevocable."
So the king ordered Daniel to be brought and cast into the lions' den.
To Daniel he said,
"May your God, whom you serve so constantly, save you."
To forestall any tampering,
the king sealed with his own ring and the rings of the lords
the stone that had been brought to block the opening of the den.

Then the king returned to his palace for the night;
he refused to eat and he dismissed the entertainers.
Since sleep was impossible for him,
the king rose very early the next morning
and hastened to the lions' den.
As he drew near, he cried out to Daniel sorrowfully,
"O Daniel, servant of the living God,
has the God whom you serve so constantly
been able to save you from the lions?"
Daniel answered the king: "O king, live forever!
My God has sent his angel and closed the lions' mouths
so that they have not hurt me.
For I have been found innocent before him;
neither to you have I done any harm, O king!"
This gave the king great joy.
At his order Daniel was removed from the den,
unhurt because he trusted in his God.
The king then ordered the men who had accused Daniel,
along with their children and their wives,
to be cast into the lions' den.
Before they reached the bottom of the den,
the lions overpowered them and crushed all their bones.

Then King Darius wrote to the nations and peoples of every language,
wherever they dwell on the earth: "All peace to you!
I decree that throughout my royal domain
the God of Daniel is to be reverenced and feared:

"For he is the living God, enduring forever;
his Kingdom shall not be destroyed,
and his dominion shall be without end.
He is a deliverer and savior,
working signs and wonders in heaven and on earth,
and he delivered Daniel from the lions' power."

Responsorial Psalm Dn 3:68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74

R. (59b) Give glory and eternal praise to him.
"Dew and rain, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever."
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.
"Frost and chill, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever."
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.
"Ice and snow, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever."
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.
"Nights and days, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever."
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.
"Light and darkness, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever."
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.
"Lightnings and clouds, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever."
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.
"Let the earth bless the Lord,
praise and exalt him above all forever."
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.

Gospel Lk 21:20-28

Jesus said to his disciples:
"When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies,
know that its desolation is at hand.
Then those in Judea must flee to the mountains.
Let those within the city escape from it,
and let those in the countryside not enter the city,
for these days are the time of punishment
when all the Scriptures are fulfilled.
Woe to pregnant women and nursing mothers in those days,
for a terrible calamity will come upon the earth
and a wrathful judgment upon this people.
They will fall by the edge of the sword
and be taken as captives to all the Gentiles;
and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles
until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

"There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars,
and on earth nations will be in dismay,
perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves.
People will die of fright
in anticipation of what is coming upon the world,
for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
And then they will see the Son of Man
coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
But when these signs begin to happen,
stand erect and raise your heads
because your redemption is at hand."

Meditation: Luke 21:20-28

“Your redemption is at hand.” (Luke 21:28)

A young, inquisitive student asks his religion teacher a difficult question. Unable to give an adequate answer, the teacher replies: “It’s a mystery of the faith.”

What is a mystery, anyway? A mystery is not something we can’t know anything about. It’s something we can’t know everything about. The Second Coming, which we read about today, is one of those mysteries. We cannot know everything about Jesus’ return, such as the date and time, the actual events preceding his arrival, and how the final judgment will take place. But we can know some things, and one of them can be a bit unsettling: “The triumph of Christ’s kingdom will not come about without one last assault by the powers of evil” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 681).

Scripture tells us that Jesus’ return will be preceded by a time of dramatic upheaval and chaos, both in the world and in the church. Nation will rise against nation. Famine, plague, and persecution will multiply. And finally, people will no longer adhere to the truth but begin to embrace fables and falsehoods at an alarming rate.

By talking like this, Jesus doesn’t want to scare us; he wants to prepare us. He came with a message of love and mercy, not doom and gloom. He came to help us get ready for the end of time. He never said it would be easy. We won’t just slip from one kingdom to another. But if we prepare well by taking steps to grow in love for God and for each other, we can anticipate an eternity filled with wonder and joy! As Scripture tells us: No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no human mind has conceived all that God has prepared for those who love him (1 Corinthians 2:9).

So don’t focus on anxiously preparing for the tumultuous end of the world. Rather, be confident in Jesus’ victory. Prepare for the glorious beginning of eternal life. Walk in faith, not doubt. Be full of hope, not anxiety. Seek to grow in love, not fear. Jesus has overcome the world. He has defeated sin and death. And now he’s waiting for just the right time to come back and take you home!

“Lord, help me to prepare with great anticipation for eternal life. I want to spend all of eternity with you and the family you have gathered.”

23 November 2011

23 Nov 2011, Wednesday of the Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Dn 5:1-6, 13-14, 16-17, 23-28

King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his lords,
with whom he drank.
Under the influence of the wine,
he ordered the gold and silver vessels
which Nebuchadnezzar, his father,
had taken from the temple in Jerusalem,
to be brought in so that the king, his lords,
his wives and his entertainers might drink from them.
When the gold and silver vessels
taken from the house of God in Jerusalem had been brought in,
and while the king, his lords, his wives and his entertainers
were drinking wine from them,
they praised their gods of gold and silver,
bronze and iron, wood and stone.

Suddenly, opposite the lampstand,
the fingers of a human hand appeared,
writing on the plaster of the wall in the king's palace.
When the king saw the wrist and hand that wrote, his face blanched;
his thoughts terrified him, his hip joints shook,
and his knees knocked.

Then Daniel was brought into the presence of the king.
The king asked him, "Are you the Daniel, the Jewish exile,
whom my father, the king, brought from Judah?
I have heard that the Spirit of God is in you,
that you possess brilliant knowledge and extraordinary wisdom.
I have heard that you can interpret dreams and solve difficulties;
if you are able to read the writing and tell me what it means,
you shall be clothed in purple,
wear a gold collar about your neck,
and be third in the government of the kingdom."

Daniel answered the king:
"You may keep your gifts, or give your presents to someone else;
but the writing I will read for you, O king,
and tell you what it means.
You have rebelled against the Lord of heaven.
You had the vessels of his temple brought before you,
so that you and your nobles, your wives and your entertainers,
might drink wine from them;
and you praised the gods of silver and gold,
bronze and iron, wood and stone,
that neither see nor hear nor have intelligence.
But the God in whose hand is your life breath
and the whole course of your life, you did not glorify.
By him were the wrist and hand sent, and the writing set down.

"This is the writing that was inscribed:
These words mean:
MENE, God has numbered your kingdom and put an end to it;
TEKEL, you have been weighed on the scales and found wanting;
PERES, your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians."

Responsorial Psalm Dn 3:62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67

R. (59b) Give glory and eternal praise to him.
"Sun and moon, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever."
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.
"Stars of heaven, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever."
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.
"Every shower and dew, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever."
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.
"All you winds, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever."
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.
"Fire and heat, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever."
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.
"Cold and chill, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever."
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.

Gospel Lk 21:12-19

Jesus said to the crowd:
"They will seize and persecute you,
they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons,
and they will have you led before kings and governors
because of my name.
It will lead to your giving testimony.
Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand,
for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking
that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.
You will even be handed over by parents,
brothers, relatives, and friends,
and they will put some of you to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.
By your perseverance you will secure your lives."

Meditation: Luke 21:12-19

“They will seize and persecute you.” (Luke 21:12)

Persecution. The mere word evokes a sense of dread in our hearts. When Jesus spoke these words, he knew that we would all face some form of persecution for our faith. Of course, we are familiar with the tales of persecution from the early church. But in many countries today, people are being displaced, arrested, tortured, and even executed because of their faith in Jesus.

For many of us, especially those of us who live in the “comfortable” West, persecution is a far-off reality. Very few of us have had our human rights denied or been imprisoned for our faith. But that is only one form of persecution. No matter who we are or where we live, we all face the inner persecution of temptation. More often than not, these kinds of inner persecutions, these spiritual harassments, come from the devil.

So how do we deal with these evil efforts? By being alert. Satan is always on the prowl, and we need to be aware of his different disguises and strategies. Day after day, the devil is at work, whispering his negative, condemning messages into our minds. He is always trying to weaken our faith, divide us from our friends, or tell us that we would be much better off if we just forgot about the Lord. That’s why we need to weigh our thoughts carefully to discern whether they are coming from the devil or not.

But it’s not enough just to stay on guard. In addition to this defensive posture, we need to go on the offense by filling our minds with the truth: “The one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). “The accuser of our brothers and sisters is cast out” (Revelation 12:10). “I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). We can keep passages like these in the forefront of our minds as weapons against the devil’s harassment. Jesus is on our side! In him, we can overcome everything!

“Lord, you are my strength in times of trouble. Be with all of us as we fight the good fight of faith. May your mighty arm bring us deliverance and peace.”

22 November 2011

22 Nov 2011, Memorial of Saint Cecilia, virgin and martyr

Reading 1 Dn 2:31-45

Daniel said to Nebuchadnezzar:
"In your vision, O king, you saw a statue,
very large and exceedingly bright,
terrifying in appearance as it stood before you.
The head of the statue was pure gold,
its chest and arms were silver,
its belly and thighs bronze, the legs iron,
its feet partly iron and partly tile.
While you looked at the statue,
a stone which was hewn from a mountain
without a hand being put to it,
struck its iron and tile feet, breaking them in pieces.
The iron, tile, bronze, silver, and gold all crumbled at once,
fine as the chaff on the threshing floor in summer,
and the wind blew them away without leaving a trace.
But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain
and filled the whole earth.

"This was the dream;
the interpretation we shall also give in the king's presence.
You, O king, are the king of kings;
to you the God of heaven
has given dominion and strength, power and glory;
men, wild beasts, and birds of the air, wherever they may dwell,
he has handed over to you, making you ruler over them all;
you are the head of gold.
Another kingdom shall take your place, inferior to yours,
then a third kingdom, of bronze,
which shall rule over the whole earth.
There shall be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron;
it shall break in pieces and subdue all these others,
just as iron breaks in pieces and crushes everything else.
The feet and toes you saw, partly of potter's tile and partly of iron,
mean that it shall be a divided kingdom,
but yet have some of the hardness of iron.
As you saw the iron mixed with clay tile,
and the toes partly iron and partly tile,
the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile.
The iron mixed with clay tile
means that they shall seal their alliances by intermarriage,
but they shall not stay united, any more than iron mixes with clay.
In the lifetime of those kings
the God of heaven will set up a kingdom
that shall never be destroyed or delivered up to another people;
rather, it shall break in pieces all these kingdoms
and put an end to them, and it shall stand forever.
That is the meaning of the stone you saw hewn from the mountain
without a hand being put to it,
which broke in pieces the tile, iron, bronze, silver, and gold.
The great God has revealed to the king what shall be in the future;
this is exactly what you dreamed, and its meaning is sure."

Responsorial Psalm Dn 3:57, 58, 59, 60, 61

R. (59b) Give glory and eternal praise to him.
"Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord,
praise and exalt him above all forever."
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.
"Angels of the Lord, bless the Lord,
praise and exalt him above all forever."
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.
"You heavens, bless the Lord,
praise and exalt him above all forever."
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.
"All you waters above the heavens, bless the Lord,
praise and exalt him above all forever."
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.
"All you hosts of the Lord, bless the Lord;
praise and exalt him above all forever."
R. Give glory and eternal praise to him.

Gospel Lk 21:5-11

While some people were speaking about
how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings,
Jesus said, "All that you see here?
the days will come when there will not be left
a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down."

Then they asked him,
"Teacher, when will this happen?
And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?"
He answered,
"See that you not be deceived,
for many will come in my name, saying,
"I am he," and "The time has come."
Do not follow them!
When you hear of wars and insurrections,
do not be terrified; for such things must happen first,
but it will not immediately be the end."
Then he said to them,
"Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues
from place to place;
and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky."

Meditation: Daniel 2:31-45

“The God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed.” (Daniel 2:44)

The early chapters of the Book of Daniel present several stories of bravery and wisdom on the part of loyal followers of God during the Babylonian exile. In today’s episode, Daniel’s God-given wisdom is highlighted as he interprets a mysterious dream for King Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel foretells that the king’s reign will be succeeded by weaker and weaker kingdoms, and finally overthrown when God himself establishes his everlasting kingdom.

This story makes a point of tremendous importance: God is the Lord of history. He is in charge, no matter what governments rule on earth. Ultimately, God will establish his own kingdom, no matter how strong other regimes seem to be. In the end, his justice, holiness, and love will prevail.

This truth should give us confidence when we look at situations in our lives and when we consider the needs and crises of the world at large. No matter how difficult a given situation may seem, the kingdom of God will triumph. God certainly will win in the end! That’s why we can intercede boldly, confident that our prayers are directed to the King of kings.

If you have difficulty embracing this truth, you may find it helpful to recall the outcome of difficulties in the past. As the saying goes: “Hindsight is 20/20.” Look back over your life and think about ways that God helped you navigate challenging situations, even if his victory didn’t come immediately. Let your own experience of “sacred history” prove that God will ultimately win in whatever challenges you may be facing right now. The wisdom of God is so much higher than our wisdom. His power is so much greater than the power of evil. Even if we don’t understand his ways, we can still trust in him.

So be persistent in your faith. The Lord of history is with you. He will work things out according to his all encompassing wisdom. Holding fast to your confidence in Christ, you can snatch victory out of the jaws of defeat!

“Lord Jesus, you reign over everything! How can I fail to trust you, who are the Lord of all? My confidence is in you. I know that you work out all things according to the wisdom and mercy of your plan!”

21 November 2011

21 Nov 2011, Memorial of The Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Reading 1 Dn 1:1-6, 8-20

In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim, king of Judah,
King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came
and laid siege to Jerusalem.
The Lord handed over to him Jehoiakim, king of Judah,
and some of the vessels of the temple of God;
he carried them off to the land of Shinar,
and placed the vessels in the temple treasury of his god.

The king told Ashpenaz, his chief chamberlain,
to bring in some of the children of Israel of royal blood
and of the nobility, young men without any defect,
handsome, intelligent and wise,
quick to learn, and prudent in judgment,
such as could take their place in the king's palace;
they were to be taught the language and literature of the Chaldeans;
after three years? training they were to enter the king's service.
The king allotted them a daily portion of food and wine
from the royal table.
Among these were men of Judah: Daniel, Hananiah,
Mishael, and Azariah.

But Daniel was resolved not to defile himself
with the king's food or wine;
so he begged the chief chamberlain to spare him this defilement.
Though God had given Daniel the favor and sympathy
of the chief chamberlain, he nevertheless said to Daniel,
"I am afraid of my lord the king;
it is he who allotted your food and drink.
If he sees that you look wretched
by comparison with the other young men of your age,
you will endanger my life with the king."
Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief chamberlain
had put in charge of Daniel, Hananiah,
Mishael, and Azariah,
"Please test your servants for ten days.
Give us vegetables to eat and water to drink.
Then see how we look in comparison with the other young men
who eat from the royal table,
and treat your servants according to what you see."
He acceded to this request, and tested them for ten days;
after ten days they looked healthier and better fed
than any of the young men who ate from the royal table.
So the steward continued to take away
the food and wine they were to receive, and gave them vegetables.
To these four young men God gave knowledge and proficiency
in all literature and science,
and to Daniel the understanding of all visions and dreams.
At the end of the time the king had specified for their preparation,
the chief chamberlain brought them before Nebuchadnezzar.
When the king had spoken with all of them,
none was found equal to Daniel, Hananiah,
Mishael, and Azariah;
and so they entered the king's service.
In any question of wisdom or prudence which the king put to them,
he found them ten times better
than all the magicians and enchanters in his kingdom.

Responsorial Psalm Dn 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56

R. (52b) Glory and praise for ever!
"Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever;
And blessed is your holy and glorious name,
praiseworthy and exalted above all for all ages."
R. Glory and praise for ever!
"Blessed are you in the temple of your holy glory,
praiseworthy and glorious above all forever."
R. Glory and praise for ever!
"Blessed are you on the throne of your Kingdom,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever."
R. Glory and praise for ever!
"Blessed are you who look into the depths
from your throne upon the cherubim,
praiseworthy and exalted above all forever."
R. Glory and praise for ever!
"Blessed are you in the firmament of heaven,
praiseworthy and glorious forever."
R. Glory and praise for ever!

Gospel Lk 21:1-4

When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people
putting their offerings into the treasury
and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins.
He said, "I tell you truly,
this poor widow put in more than all the rest;
for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth,
but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood."

Meditation: Luke 21:1-4

This poor widow put in more than all the rest.” (Luke 21:3)

Wow! Such extravagant, abundant giving —and all wrapped up in just two small coins! It wasn’t much, but it was everything she had. So it was a lavish gift indeed. This widow made herself literally dependent on God’s care and provision for her life. Her offering probably seemed inconsequential to most of the people at the Temple that day. But somehow Jesus noticed it, and it delighted his heart immensely. He could see that this was the absolute best she could do, and that always pleases the Lord.

What have you given the Lord lately? Don’t worry if it’s not a lot. Remember: None of us could adequately repay him for the gift of our lives, our salvation, and his indwelling Holy Spirit. Nothing, that is, but our love and adoration, offered to him in whatever ways we can. God isn’t looking for massive amounts of time that we don’t have. He isn’t keeping an account of our cash to see if we are giving all that we have. What he really wants is our hearts.

So even if you can’t get out of the house or if you’re locked up in prison, even if you’re deployed to the remotest Afghan outpost or working two jobs to make ends meet, don’t fret! Give what you can to the Lord. If it’s five uninterrupted minutes for prayer, give it to him. If you have only a couple of minutes to read Scripture or only a trifle for the collection basket, give it to him. If it’s simply lifting your thoughts to him as you go through your demanding day, give it to him.

It may look like two small coins, but God rejoices over everything we give from the heart. We are created to love God with everything we have. The rest —what we do and what we give —flows from that love. For each of us, every day, what it looks like is different. A little bit, given with love, delights the Lord and is far better in his sight than a lot given begrudgingly.

“Jesus, I love you. Take my heart today, despite all its shortcomings. It’s the best thing I have to offer you.”

20 November 2011

20 Nov 2011, Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ The King

Reading 1 Ez 34:11-12, 15-17

Thus says the Lord GOD:
I myself will look after and tend my sheep.
As a shepherd tends his flock
when he finds himself among his scattered sheep,
so will I tend my sheep.
I will rescue them from every place where they were scattered
when it was cloudy and dark.
I myself will pasture my sheep;
I myself will give them rest, says the Lord GOD.
The lost I will seek out,
the strayed I will bring back,
the injured I will bind up,
the sick I will heal,
but the sleek and the strong I will destroy,
shepherding them rightly.

As for you, my sheep, says the Lord GOD,
I will judge between one sheep and another,
between rams and goats.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 23:1-2, 2-3, 5-6

R. (1) The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
Beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me in right paths
for his name's sake.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

Reading 2 1 Cor 15:20-26, 28

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

Gospel Mt 25:31-46

Jesus said to his disciples:
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory,
and all the angels with him,
he will sit upon his glorious throne,
and all the nations will be assembled before him.
And he will separate them one from another,
as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Then the king will say to those on his right,
'Come, you who are blessed by my Father.
Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
For I was hungry and you gave me food,
I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
a stranger and you welcomed me,
naked and you clothed me,
ill and you cared for me,
in prison and you visited me.'
Then the righteous will answer him and say,
'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you drink?
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you,
or naked and clothe you?
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?'
And the king will say to them in reply,
'Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.'
Then he will say to those on his left,
'Depart from me, you accursed,
into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
For I was hungry and you gave me no food,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
a stranger and you gave me no welcome,
naked and you gave me no clothing,
ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.'
Then they will answer and say,
'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty
or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison,
and not minister to your needs?'
He will answer them, 'Amen, I say to you,
what you did not do for one of these least ones,
you did not do for me.'
And these will go off to eternal punishment,
but the righteous to eternal life."

Meditation: Matthew 25:31-46

Christ the King

When the Son of Man comes in his glory … (Matthew 25:31)

Today is the last Sunday in the church year. So it’s appropriate to reflect on the end of time, on judgment, and on the life to come. These topics can fill us with a number of positive thoughts and a few fearful ones. In our anxious moments, we may worry about whether we or our loved ones will get into heaven. We may worry about death itself or what we will actually be doing for all eternity in heaven.

In our more positive moments, we are probably filled with hope and expectation. We trust that the Second Coming will be great. We can’t wait to live in a place where there are no wars, poverty, or sickness. We believe that heaven is a far better place than this world, and we greatly look forward to a life filled with peace and happiness.

Thinking about the Second Coming can also help remind us of a key truth of our faith: We cannot save ourselves. Only Jesus can do that —and he did, when he died on the cross for us. But isn’t it ironic that while we cannot save ourselves, God will still judge us based on how we have loved one another and cared for the poor and needy around us? How is that possible?

The truth is, our acts of love and charity should be a direct consequence of our realization that Jesus, our King, loves us. The experience of Jesus’ love should send us to our knees in worship, and it should send us out into the world, eager to spread that love to everyone we come in contact with —our loved ones, the needy, and even our enemies.

So as we contemplate our loving, merciful King today, let’s ask him to inspire us to serve his kingdom. And whenever we perform acts of charity, let’s see them as a way that we can give our hearts back to Jesus, who gave himself for us.

“Jesus, give me a generous heart. Teach me how to open my heart — and my hands —to everyone around me.”

19 November 2011

19 Nov 2011, Saturday of the Thirty-Third Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 1 Mc 6:1-13

As King Antiochus was traversing the inland provinces,
he heard that in Persia there was a city called Elymais,
famous for its wealth in silver and gold,
and that its temple was very rich,
containing gold helmets, breastplates, and weapons
left there by Alexander, son of Philip,
king of Macedon, the first king of the Greeks.
He went therefore and tried to capture and pillage the city.
But he could not do so,
because his plan became known to the people of the city
who rose up in battle against him.
So he retreated and in great dismay withdrew from there
to return to Babylon.

While he was in Persia, a messenger brought him news
that the armies sent into the land of Judah had been put to flight;
that Lysias had gone at first with a strong army
and been driven back by the children of Israel;
that they had grown strong
by reason of the arms, men, and abundant possessions
taken from the armies they had destroyed;
that they had pulled down the Abomination
which he had built upon the altar in Jerusalem;
and that they had surrounded with high walls
both the sanctuary, as it had been before,
and his city of Beth-zur.

When the king heard this news,
he was struck with fear and very much shaken.
Sick with grief because his designs had failed, he took to his bed.
There he remained many days, overwhelmed with sorrow,
for he knew he was going to die.

So he called in all his Friends and said to them:
"Sleep has departed from my eyes,
for my heart is sinking with anxiety.
I said to myself: "Into what tribulation have I come,
and in what floods of sorrow am I now!
Yet I was kindly and beloved in my rule."
But I now recall the evils I did in Jerusalem,
when I carried away all the vessels of gold and silver
that were in it, and for no cause
gave orders that the inhabitants of Judah be destroyed.
I know that this is why these evils have overtaken me;
and now I am dying, in bitter grief, in a foreign land."

Responsorial Psalm Ps 9:2-3, 4 and 6, 16 and 19

R. (see 16a) I will rejoice in your salvation, O Lord.
I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with all my heart;
I will declare all your wondrous deeds.
I will be glad and exult in you;
I will sing praise to your name, Most High.
R. I will rejoice in your salvation, O Lord.
Because my enemies are turned back,
overthrown and destroyed before you.
You rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked;
their name you blotted out forever and ever.
R. I will rejoice in your salvation, O Lord.
The nations are sunk in the pit they have made;
in the snare they set, their foot is caught.
For the needy shall not always be forgotten,
nor shall the hope of the afflicted forever perish.
R. I will rejoice in your salvation, O Lord.

Gospel Lk 20:27-40

Some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection,
came forward and put this question to Jesus, saying,
"Teacher, Moses wrote for us,
If someone's brother dies leaving a wife but no child,
his brother must take the wife
and raise up descendants for his brother.
Now there were seven brothers;
the first married a woman but died childless.
Then the second and the third married her,
and likewise all the seven died childless.
Finally the woman also died.
Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be?
For all seven had been married to her."
Jesus said to them,
"The children of this age marry and remarry;
but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age
and to the resurrection of the dead
neither marry nor are given in marriage.
They can no longer die,
for they are like angels;
and they are the children of God
because they are the ones who will rise.
That the dead will rise
even Moses made known in the passage about the bush,
when he called "Lord,
the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob;
and he is not God of the dead, but of the living,
for to him all are alive."
Some of the scribes said in reply,
"Teacher, you have answered well."
And they no longer dared to ask him anything.

Meditation: Luke 20:27-40

They no longer dared to ask him anything.” (Luke 20:40)

Why did these scribes lose their fighting spirit? There were probably two reasons. First, these men were plotting his ruin, but thanks to Jesus’ profound response, their scheme backfired. Surely, “You have answered well” was an understatement! They probably feared that if they challenged him again and got similar results, they would have no chance at swaying the crowd’s opinion against him.

There’s another reason that isn’t as plain to see, but may have been equally as important: They just didn’t want to hear anything else from Jesus that might confront them with their own need to repent. So they backed out of the match for a while.

What about us? Of course, none of us is out to hurt Jesus’ reputation. But we can probably relate with the second, deeper reason. After all, it’s only human to shrink away from the holiness and majesty of God! It’s not easy to stand in his light when you know there’s still darkness lurking in your heart. And so, afraid of what Jesus may say to us, we avoid asking him any serious questions. We avoid looking into his eyes, for fear that he will look into our eyes —and not like what he sees.

Don’t be afraid! Don’t back away! Jesus knows you inside and out. He sees the darkness in you —but he also sees the light. He sees your sincerity. He sees your desire to do what is right. And believe it or not, he even sees the goodness in you that you can’t see! It is never a bad idea to ask God questions, and it is never a bad idea to let him look into your heart.

Who knows? Maybe if those who were questioning Jesus had persisted and not given up, they might have had a change of heart. Maybe just one more parable, or one more keen answer would have been all they needed to see that Jesus really was the Messiah. Maybe just one more question could have unlocked the key of faith in their hearts.

So keep on asking. Press in, like the woman with the flow of blood, until you touch Jesus. Then, let him look you in the eye. Your heart will melt, and your spirit will soar!

“Lord, let me see your face!”

18 November 2011

18 Nov 2011, Friday of the Thirty-Third Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 1 Mc 4:36-37, 52-59

Judas and his brothers said,
"Now that our enemies have been crushed,
let us go up to purify the sanctuary and rededicate it."
So the whole army assembled, and went up to Mount Zion.

Early in the morning on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month,
that is, the month of Chislev,
in the year one hundred and forty-eight,
they arose and offered sacrifice according to the law
on the new altar of burnt offerings that they had made.
On the anniversary of the day on which the Gentiles had defiled it,
on that very day it was reconsecrated
with songs, harps, flutes, and cymbals.
All the people prostrated themselves and adored and praised Heaven,
who had given them success.

For eight days they celebrated the dedication of the altar
and joyfully offered burnt offerings and sacrifices
of deliverance and praise.
They ornamented the facade of the temple with gold crowns and shields;
they repaired the gates and the priests' chambers
and furnished them with doors.
There was great joy among the people
now that the disgrace of the Gentiles was removed.
Then Judas and his brothers and the entire congregation of Israel
decreed that the days of the dedication of the altar
should be observed with joy and gladness
on the anniversary every year for eight days,
from the twenty-fifth day of the month Chislev.

Responsorial Psalm 1 Chronicles 29:10bcd, 11abc, 11d-12a, 12bcd

R. (13b) We praise your glorious name, O mighty God.
"Blessed may you be, O LORD,
God of Israel our father,
from eternity to eternity."
R. We praise your glorious name, O mighty God.
"Yours, O LORD, are grandeur and power,
majesty, splendor, and glory.
For all in heaven and on earth is yours."
R. We praise your glorious name, O mighty God.
"Yours, O LORD, is the sovereignty;
you are exalted as head over all.
Riches and honor are from you."
R. We praise your glorious name, O mighty God.
"You have dominion over all,
In your hand are power and might;
it is yours to give grandeur and strength to all."
R. We praise your glorious name, O mighty God.

Gospel Lk 19:45-48

Jesus entered the temple area and proceeded to drive out
those who were selling things, saying to them,
"It is written, My house shall be a house of prayer,
but you have made it a den of thieves."
And every day he was teaching in the temple area.
The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people, meanwhile,
were seeking to put him to death,
but they could find no way to accomplish their purpose
because all the people were hanging on his words.

Meditation: Luke 19:45-48

“Every day he was teaching in the temple area.” (Luke 19:47)

Jesus’ enemies were hunting him like hawks circling their prey, but they couldn’t find an opportunity to strike because of his many followers. So many people were listening intently to him, “hanging on his words” (Luke 19:48).

People weren’t spellbound by Jesus’ words because he was a great orator or politically savvy. His magnetism came from the authority with which he spoke. It came from the power of the word of God itself, the power of something “living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12). Jesus often relied on the word of God in Hebrew Scripture to refute his enemies. Just think of all the different times he began a saying with, “It is written” (Luke 19:46; Matthew 4:4,7,10; Mark 7:6; John 8:17).

Don’t we all have “enemies” lurking in our hearts and minds, trying to overpower and banish Jesus from our lives? Don’t we all have interior closets filled with doubts, resentments, and powerful temptations that would prefer to stay locked up rather than face Jesus? Fortunately, we have a weapon that can defeat these enemies: Scripture overcomes the lies of the devil and the tug of our fallen nature.

This is why reading the Bible on a daily basis can be a powerful tool. Committing a few lines to memory and recalling them at key moments of anxiety, anger, or doubt can help us overcome these enemies. Recalling prayers of confidence from the Psalms or words of comfort from the Gospels can help us build our lives on a secure foundation. It can create a shield around us, protecting us from the negative emotions and reactions that the world can throw at us.

Do you have a plan for reading Scripture? Perhaps this very magazine, with our emphasis on the daily Mass readings, can offer you some structure. Whatever you do, make sure that you are immersing yourself in God’s word. Let it captivate your heart, as Jesus captured the hearts of his listeners in the Temple. Over time, your enemies will all fall away!

“Jesus, I marvel at the power of your word! Grant me a deeper thirst for Scripture, so that I can grow in wisdom and confidence.”

17 November 2011

17 Nov 2011, Memorial of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, religious

Reading 1 1 Mc 2:15-29

The officers of the king in charge of enforcing the apostasy
came to the city of Modein to organize the sacrifices.
Many of Israel joined them,
but Mattathias and his sons gathered in a group apart.
Then the officers of the king addressed Mattathias:
"You are a leader, an honorable and great man in this city,
supported by sons and kin.
Come now, be the first to obey the king's command,
as all the Gentiles and the men of Judah
and those who are left in Jerusalem have done.
Then you and your sons shall be numbered among the King's Friends,
and shall be enriched with silver and gold and many gifts."
But Mattathias answered in a loud voice:
"Although all the Gentiles in the king's realm obey him,
so that each forsakes the religion of his fathers
and consents to the king's orders,
yet I and my sons and my kin
will keep to the covenant of our fathers.
God forbid that we should forsake the law and the commandments.
We will not obey the words of the king
nor depart from our religion in the slightest degree."

As he finished saying these words,
a certain Jew came forward in the sight of all
to offer sacrifice on the altar in Modein
according to the king's order.
When Mattathias saw him, he was filled with zeal;
his heart was moved and his just fury was aroused;
he sprang forward and killed him upon the altar.
At the same time, he also killed the messenger of the king
who was forcing them to sacrifice,
and he tore down the altar.
Thus he showed his zeal for the law,
just as Phinehas did with Zimri, son of Salu.

Then Mattathias went through the city shouting,
"Let everyone who is zealous for the law
and who stands by the covenant follow after me!"
Thereupon he fled to the mountains with his sons,
leaving behind in the city all their possessions.
Many who sought to live according to righteousness and religious custom
went out into the desert to settle there.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 50:1b-2, 5-6, 14-15

R. (23b) To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
God the LORD has spoken and summoned the earth,
from the rising of the sun to its setting.
From Zion, perfect in beauty,
God shines forth.
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
"Gather my faithful ones before me,
those who have made a covenant with me by sacrifice."
And the heavens proclaim his justice;
for God himself is the judge.
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
"Offer to God praise as your sacrifice
and fulfill your vows to the Most High;
Then call upon me in time of distress;
I will rescue you, and you shall glorify me."
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.

Gospel Lk 19:41-44

As Jesus drew near Jerusalem,
he saw the city and wept over it, saying,
"If this day you only knew what makes for peace?
but now it is hidden from your eyes.
For the days are coming upon you
when your enemies will raise a palisade against you;
they will encircle you and hem you in on all sides.
They will smash you to the ground and your children within you,
and they will not leave one stone upon another within you
because you did not recognize the time of your visitation."

Meditation: 1 Maccabees 2:15-29

Mattathias and his sons gathered in a group apart.” (1 Maccabees 2:16)

To say that Mattathias lived in difficult times is an understatement. In 168 b.c., after having conquered Israel, the Seleucid king Antiochus forbade the practice of the Jewish religion. Everything that the people held sacred was defiled: The Temple sanctuary was desecrated, the holy scrolls were burned, and the sabbath observance and practice of circumcision were prohibited. Tragically, some Jews were willing to go along with these prohibitions and join in the pagan sacrifices.

But when the king’s officers came to enforce these laws, Mattathias and his sons stood apart. Refusing to comply, they began a rebellion that led to the restoration of the Jewish faith.

As Christians, it’s important at times that we also stand apart from trends in our culture, difficult though that may be. And if it’s difficult for us, it’s even harder for young people. How do we encourage our children and grandchildren to be strong when the situation calls for it?

The best thing we can do is set a good example. We earn our children’s respect when they see that we base our decisions on God’s commands — especially his command to love. It’s also important that we nurture close relationships with our children. If they know that we really do care about their well-being, they will be more willing to trust us when we try to steer them away from destructive behaviors, even when they see their peers doing these things.

In addition, we need to be continually communicating with our young people. We need to find ways to tell them about our love for God and our desire to follow his authority in our lives. And just as important, we need to listen attentively to them, respecting them and staying open to what they have to say. Finally, like the father in the parable of the prodigal son, we should always be ready to forgive them with open arms.

As our children experience God’s mercy and love through us, they will grow strong in their own faith. And that’s the best way to help them stand apart and stand up for the principles that they —and the Lord —hold dear.

“Father, help me to please only you. Strengthen me to stand apart when necessary, and to encourage my children to do the same.”

16 November 2011

16 Nov 2011, Wednesday of the Thirty-Third Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 2 Mc 7:1, 20-31

It happened that seven brothers with their mother were arrested
and tortured with whips and scourges by the king,
to force them to eat pork in violation of God's law.

Most admirable and worthy of everlasting remembrance was the mother,
who saw her seven sons perish in a single day,
yet bore it courageously because of her hope in the Lord.
Filled with a noble spirit that stirred her womanly heart with manly courage,
she exhorted each of them
in the language of their ancestors with these words:
"I do not know how you came into existence in my womb;
it was not I who gave you the breath of life,
nor was it I who set in order
the elements of which each of you is composed.
Therefore, since it is the Creator of the universe
who shapes each man's beginning,
as he brings about the origin of everything,
he, in his mercy,
will give you back both breath and life,
because you now disregard yourselves for the sake of his law."

Antiochus, suspecting insult in her words,
thought he was being ridiculed.
As the youngest brother was still alive, the king appealed to him,
not with mere words, but with promises on oath,
to make him rich and happy if he would abandon his ancestral customs:
he would make him his Friend
and entrust him with high office.
When the youth paid no attention to him at all,
the king appealed to the mother,
urging her to advise her boy to save his life.
After he had urged her for a long time,
she went through the motions of persuading her son.
In derision of the cruel tyrant,
she leaned over close to her son and said in their native language:
"Son, have pity on me, who carried you in my womb for nine months,
nursed you for three years, brought you up,
educated and supported you to your present age.
I beg you, child, to look at the heavens and the earth
and see all that is in them;
then you will know that God did not make them out of existing things;
and in the same way the human race came into existence.
Do not be afraid of this executioner,
but be worthy of your brothers and accept death,
so that in the time of mercy I may receive you again with them."

She had scarcely finished speaking when the youth said:
"What are you waiting for?
I will not obey the king's command.
I obey the command of the law given to our fathers through Moses.
But you, who have contrived every kind of affliction for the Hebrews,
will not escape the hands of God."

Responsorial Psalm Ps 17:1bcd, 5-6, 8b and 15

R. (15b) Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.
Hear, O LORD, a just suit;
attend to my outcry;
hearken to my prayer from lips without deceit.
R. Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.
My steps have been steadfast in your paths,
my feet have not faltered.
I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
incline your ear to me; hear my word.
R. Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.
Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings.
But I in justice shall behold your face;
on waking, I shall be content in your presence.
R. Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.

Gospel Lk 19:11-28

While people were listening to Jesus speak,
he proceeded to tell a parable because he was near Jerusalem
and they thought that the Kingdom of God
would appear there immediately.
So he said,
"A nobleman went off to a distant country
to obtain the kingship for himself and then to return.
He called ten of his servants and gave them ten gold coins
and told them, 'Engage in trade with these until I return.'
His fellow citizens, however, despised him
and sent a delegation after him to announce,
'"We do not want this man to be our king.'
But when he returned after obtaining the kingship,
he had the servants called, to whom he had given the money,
to learn what they had gained by trading.
The first came forward and said,
'Sir, your gold coin has earned ten additional ones.'
He replied, 'Well done, good servant!
You have been faithful in this very small matter;
take charge of ten cities.'
Then the second came and reported,
'Your gold coin, sir, has earned five more.'
And to this servant too he said,
'You, take charge of five cities.'
Then the other servant came and said,
'Sir, here is your gold coin;
I kept it stored away in a handkerchief,
for I was afraid of you, because you are a demanding man;
you take up what you did not lay down
and you harvest what you did not plant.'
He said to him,
'With your own words I shall condemn you,
you wicked servant.
You knew I was a demanding man,
taking up what I did not lay down
and harvesting what I did not plant;
why did you not put my money in a bank?
Then on my return I would have collected it with interest.'
And to those standing by he said,
'Take the gold coin from him
and give it to the servant who has ten.'
But they said to him,
'Sir, he has ten gold coins.'
He replied, 'I tell you,
to everyone who has, more will be given,
but from the one who has not,
even what he has will be taken away.
Now as for those enemies of mine who did not want me as their king,
bring them here and slay them before me.'"

After he had said this,
he proceeded on his journey up to Jerusalem.

Meditation: Luke 19:11-28

He proceeded to tell a parable because he was near Jerusalem and they thought that the kingdom of God would appear there immediately.” (Luke 19:11)

Excitement was building. Jesus was headed to Jerusalem, the political and spiritual center of Israel. Like the nobleman in today’s parable, Jesus was on a journey “to obtain kingship” (Luke 19:12). And like this nobleman, Jesus faced strong opposition from those who did not want to acknowledge his reign (19:14).

But this parable isn’t about the intrigue surrounding whether the nobleman would be successful in his bid for kingship. It’s about the people who were already loyal to him, the servants who maintained his household. How would they spend the time while awaiting their master’s return? Would they invest in the coming kingdom, confident in their master’s claim and in his authority as king? Or would they hedge their bets, not sure whether their master would triumph? In other words, did they believe in him, and did their faith translate into action?

Like the nobleman in the parable, Jesus is still awaiting kingship. He is still waiting for every knee to bow to him and for everyone to accept his rule and reign at the end of time (Philippians 2:10). And like the servants awaiting their master’s return, each of us faces the same set of questions: “Will I invest in the coming kingdom? Do I believe in Jesus? Does my faith translate into action?”

The two servants who multiplied what was given to them invested their whole lives in the kingdom. They chose to live as if that kingdom were already fully present. They chose to take risks, and in so doing, they gained tremendous profits for the master.

This is how God wants us to live. We can double what God has given to us by treating everyone with mercy and generosity. We can even triple the profit as we devote ourselves to telling people about Jesus in the hope that they too will embrace him as their king. Let’s take some risks for this kingdom. Jesus promises great rewards for all who do!

“Jesus, I want to follow you, whatever the cost. Help me to live today as a citizen of your coming kingdom.”

15 November 2011

15 Nov 2011, Tuesday of the Thirty-Third Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 2 Mc 6:18-31

Eleazar, one of the foremost scribes,
a man of advanced age and noble appearance,
was being forced to open his mouth to eat pork.
But preferring a glorious death to a life of defilement,
he spat out the meat,
and went forward of his own accord to the instrument of torture,
as people ought to do who have the courage to reject the food
which it is unlawful to taste even for love of life.
Those in charge of that unlawful ritual meal took the man aside privately,
because of their long acquaintance with him,
and urged him to bring meat of his own providing,
such as he could legitimately eat,
and to pretend to be eating some of the meat of the sacrifice
prescribed by the king;
in this way he would escape the death penalty,
and be treated kindly because of their old friendship with him.
But Eleazar made up his mind in a noble manner,
worthy of his years, the dignity of his advanced age,
the merited distinction of his gray hair,
and of the admirable life he had lived from childhood;
and so he declared that above all
he would be loyal to the holy laws given by God.

He told them to send him at once
to the abode of the dead, explaining:
"At our age it would be unbecoming to make such a pretense;
many young people would think the ninety-year-old Eleazar
had gone over to an alien religion.
Should I thus pretend for the sake of a brief moment of life,
they would be led astray by me,
while I would bring shame and dishonor on my old age.
Even if, for the time being, I avoid the punishment of men,
I shall never, whether alive or dead,
escape the hands of the Almighty.
Therefore, by manfully giving up my life now,
I will prove myself worthy of my old age,
and I will leave to the young a noble example
of how to die willingly and generously
for the revered and holy laws."

Eleazar spoke thus,
and went immediately to the instrument of torture.
Those who shortly before had been kindly disposed,
now became hostile toward him because what he had said
seemed to them utter madness.
When he was about to die under the blows,
he groaned and said:
"The Lord in his holy knowledge knows full well that,
although I could have escaped death,
I am not only enduring terrible pain in my body from this scourging,
but also suffering it with joy in my soul
because of my devotion to him."
This is how he died,
leaving in his death a model of courage
and an unforgettable example of virtue
not only for the young but for the whole nation.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 3:2-3, 4-5, 6-7

R. (6b) The Lord upholds me.
O LORD, how many are my adversaries!
Many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me,
"There is no salvation for him in God."
R. The Lord upholds me.
But you, O LORD, are my shield;
my glory, you lift up my head!
When I call out to the LORD,
he answers me from his holy mountain.
R. The Lord upholds me.
When I lie down in sleep,
I wake again, for the LORD sustains me.
I fear not the myriads of people
arrayed against me on every side.
R. The Lord upholds me.

Gospel Lk 19:1-10

At that time Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town.
Now a man there named Zacchaeus,
who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man,
was seeking to see who Jesus was;
but he could not see him because of the crowd,
for he was short in stature.
So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus,
who was about to pass that way.
When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said,
"Zacchaeus, come down quickly,
for today I must stay at your house."
And he came down quickly and received him with joy.
When they saw this, they began to grumble, saying,
"He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner."
But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord,
"Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor,
and if I have extorted anything from anyone
I shall repay it four times over."
And Jesus said to him,
"Today salvation has come to this house
because this man too is a descendant of Abraham.
For the Son of Man has come to seek
and to save what was lost."

Meditation: Luke 19:1-10

Today salvation has come to this house.” (Luke 19:9)

The story of Zacchaeus is a touching story of conversion and redemption. Here is a man who, by the world’s standards, was successful, but who still felt empty. So when Jesus came to town, something stirred in his heart. This rabbi was different. He didn’t condemn. He welcomed tax collectors and “sinners.” He healed the sick and brokenhearted. Zacchaeus must have wondered: “Could he help me, too?”

Zacchaeus had two strikes against him. Not only was he small in physical stature, he was big in social stature. Had he been an everyday member of the town, he could have easily joined the crowd. What if Jesus rejected him? What if the townsfolk tried to discredit him? How could he possibly live there anymore? Maybe if he could just get a glimpse of Jesus. Maybe if Jesus could just see the need etched in his face, he had a chance.

So he climbed a tree! Imagine this important government agent, well dressed and well groomed, scrabbling up the sycamore to find a suitable perch. Picture him, with leaves in his hair and scratches on his legs, desperately peering through the branches. Having taken this step of faith, it didn’t matter anymore if someone saw him. Zacchaeus was willing to risk the humiliation. Jesus was more important than his reputation.

And what a reward for his efforts! Jesus not only saw him, he invited himself over for dinner. After what must have been a very long and lifechanging conversation, Zacchaeus sealed his heavenly fate: “Half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone, I shall repay it four times over” (Luke 19:8).

The story of Zacchaeus tells us that it’s worth taking a risk —even if it’s just one step of faith —if it brings us closer to the Lord. So run, don’t just walk, when you see an opportunity to be with Jesus. Try to find him, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly, and how powerfully, he finds you.

“Lord, help me to imitate Zacchaeus’ humble determination. I believe that you are my healer, and I want to give my life to you today.”