30 September 2012

30 Sep 2012, 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time; St. Jerome

Numbers 11:25–29

The LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to Moses. Taking some of the spirit that was on Moses, the LORD bestowed it on the seventy elders; and as the spirit came to rest on them, they prophesied.

Now two men, one named Eldad and the other Medad, were not in the gathering but had been left in the camp. They too had been on the list, but had not gone out to the tent; yet the spirit came to rest on them also, and they prophesied in the camp. So, when a young man quickly told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp,” Joshua, son of Nun, who from his youth had been Moses’ aide, said, “Moses, my lord, stop them.” But Moses answered him, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the people of the LORD were prophets! Would that the LORD might bestow his spirit on them all!”

Psalm 19:8, 10, 12–13, 14 (9a)

R. The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.

The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul; the decree of the Lord is trustworthy, giving wisdom to the simple.

R. The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.

The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever; the ordinances of the LORD are true, all of them just.

R. The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.

Though your servant is careful of them, very diligent in keeping them, yet who can detect failings? Cleanse me from my unknown faults!

R. The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.

From wanton sin especially, restrain your servant; let it not rule over me. Then shall I be blameless and innocent of serious sin.

R. The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.

James 5:1–6

Come now, you rich, weep and wail over your impending miseries. Your wealth has rotted away, your clothes have become moth-eaten, your gold and silver have corroded, and that corrosion will be a testimony against you; it will devour your flesh like a fire. You have stored up treasure for the last days. Behold, the wages you withheld from the workers who harvested your fields are crying aloud; and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on earth in luxury and pleasure; you have fattened your hearts for the day of slaughter. You have condemned; you have murdered the righteous one; he offers you no resistance.

see John 17:17b, 17a

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Your word, O Lord, is truth; consecrate us in the truth.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Mark 9:38–43, 45, 47–48

At that time, John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.” Jesus replied, “Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us. Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off. It is better for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna, where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.’”


Meditation: Do you rejoice in the good that others do? Jesus reprimands his disciples for their jealousy and suspicion. They were upset that someone who was not of their company was performing a spiritual work in the name of Jesus. They even "forbade" the man "because he was not following us". Jesus' reply is filled with wisdom: "No one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon after to speak evil of me." Are we not like the disciples when we get upset at the good deeds of others who seem to shine more than us? Paul says that "love is not jealous... but rejoices in the right" (1 Corinthians 13:4,6). Envy and jealousy, its counterpart, are sinful because they lead us to sorrow over what should make us rejoice – namely, our neighbor's good. The reason we may grieve over our another's good is that somehow we see that good as lessening our own value or excellence. Envy forms when we believe that the other person's advantage or possession diminishes or brings disgrace on us. Envy is contrary to love. Both the object of love and the object of envy is our neighbor's good, but by contrary movements, since love rejoices in our neighbor's good, while envy grieves over it.
How can we overcome envy? With the love that God has put into our hearts through the gift of the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). The Holy Spirit purifies our heart and frees us from our disordered passions, such as envy, jealously, greed, and bitterness. God's love is a generous and selfless love which is wholly oriented towards our good. The love that God places in our hearts seeks the highest good of our neighbor. God's love purifies and frees us from all envy and jealousy – and it compels us to give generously, especially to those who lack what they need. Every one in need has a claim on us because they are dear to God who created them in his own image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27). God created us in love for love. We are most free and happy when we love as he loves. The love and charitable help we show to our neighbor also expresses the gratitude we have for the abundant mercy and kindness of God towards us. Jesus declared that any kindness shown and any help given to those in need would not lose its reward. Jesus never refused to give to anyone in need who asked for his help. As his disciples we are called to be kind and generous as he is. Are you grateful for God’s mercy and kindness towards you and are you ready to show that same kindness and generosity towards your neighbor?

Gregory of Nyssa, an early church father (330-395 AD), comments on this passage: “God never asks his servants to do what is impossible. The love and goodness of his Godhead is revealed as richly available. It is poured out like water upon all. God furnished to each person according to his will the ability to do something good. None of those seeking to be saved will be lacking in this ability, given by the one who said: ‘whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ, will by no means lose his reward.’” Ask the Lord to increase your generosity in doing good for others.

Do you rejoice in the good that others do? Jesus reprimands his disciples for their jealousy and suspicion. They were upset that someone who was not of the same company of disciples as themselves was casting out a demon in the name of Jesus. They even "forbade" the man "because he was not following us". Jesus' reply is filled with wisdom: "No one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon after to speak evil of me." Are we not like the disciples when we get upset at the good others do because of jealousy or fear? Paul says that "love is not jealous... but rejoices in the right" (1 Corinthians 13:4,6).

Was Jesus’ exaggerating when he urged his followers to use drastic measures to avoid evil and its harmful consequences (Mark 9:42-47)? Jesus set before his disciples the one supreme goal in life that is worth any sacrifice, and that goal is God himself and his will for our lives which leads to everlasting peace and happiness. Just as a doctor might remove a limb or some part of the body in order to preserve the life of the whole body, so we must be ready to part with anything that causes us to sin and which leads to spiritual death. Jesus warns his disciples of the terrible responsibility that they must set no stumbling block in the way of another, that is, not give offense or bad example that might lead another to sin. The Greek word for temptation (scandalon) is exactly the same as the English word scandal. The original meaning of scandal is a trap or a stumbling block which causes one to trip and fall. The Jews held that it was an unforgivable sin to teach another to sin. If we teach another to sin, he in turn may teach still another, until a train of sin is set in motion with no foreseeable end. The young in faith are especially vulnerable to the bad example of those who should be passing on the faith. Do you set a good example for others to follow, especially the young?

"Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may radiate the joy of the gospel to others. May your light and truth shine through me that others may find new life and freedom from sin and the corruption of evil."

29 September 2012

29 Sep 2012, Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, Archangels - Feast

Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14

As I watched:

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

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

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


Revelation 12:7-12ab

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

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

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

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

R. In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord.

I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with all my heart, for you have heard the words of my mouth; in the presence of the angels I will sing your praise; I will worship at your holy temple and give thanks to your name.

R. In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord.

Because of your kindness and your truth; for you have made great above all things your name and your promise. When I called, you answered me; you built up strength within me.

R. In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord.

All the kings of the earth shall give thanks to you, O LORD, when they hear the words of your mouth; And they shall sing of the ways of the LORD: “Great is the glory of the LORD.”

R. In the sight of the angels I will sing your praises, Lord.

Psalm 103:21

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Bless the LORD, all you angels, you ministers, who do his will.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

John 1:47-51

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


What would you give to see beyond the visible – to "see heaven opened and to behold the angels" who stand in God's presence? When Philip brought his friend Nathaniel to see Jesus, Jesus did the unthinkable! He brought revelation to Nathaniel – revelation of how God looks at each one of us in the very depths of our hearts and invites us into intimate communion with him in his heavenly court. Nathaniel was very startled that Jesus could know him and understand what was in his heart even before Nathaniel had the opportunity to speak with Jesus.

What is the significance of Jesus' revelation of seeing Nathanial "under the fig tree"? For the people of Israel, the fig tree was a symbol of God's peace and blessing (1 Kings 4:24b-25, Micah 4:4). It provided shade from the midday sun and a cool place to retreat and pray. It is very likely that Nathanial had been thinking about God "under his fig tree" and reflecting on God's promise to give his people Israel a savior who would free them from oppression. Perhaps he dozed off for a midday nap and dreamt of God's kindgom like Jacob had dreamt when God gave him a vision of a great ladder which united earth with heaven (see Genesis 28:12-17). Nathaniel recognized that Jesus truly was the Messiah and Lord of heaven and earth because Jesus offered him the greatest gift which only God can give – the gift of friendship with God and free access to God's throne in heaven.

What does Jesus mean when he says "you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man"? One of the most remarkable revelations recorded in the bible is the dream of Jacob (Genesis 28:12-17). God had opened a door for Jacob that brought him and his people into a new relationship with the living God. In Jacob's dream God revealed his angelic host and showed him the throne of heaven and promised Jacob that he and his descendants would dwell with the living God. Who are the angels and why do they intervene between heaven and earth? The scriptures tell us the angels are God's servants and messengers. "They are the mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word" (Psalm 103:20). The angels belong to Christ and were created for and through him (Colossians 1:16). The Letter to the Hebrews speaks of the role of the angels in God's plan of salvation: "Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation?" (Hebrews 1:14) The angels are not only messengers but protectors and guardians as well. “For he will give his angels charge of you to guard you in all yours ways” (Psalm 91:11). We are not alone in our struggle against sin and evil in the world. The armies of heaven fight for us and with us in the spiritual battle for our hearts, minds, and wills. Do you know the peace and security of a life submitted to God and to his way of peace and happiness?

Jesus' response to Nathanial's new faith is the promise that Jesus himself will be the "ladder which unites earth with heaven". Jesus proclaims that he is the fulfillment of the promise made to the Patriarch Jacob and his descendants. Jesus is the true ladder or stairway to heaven. In Jesus' incarnation, the divine Son of God taking on human flesh for our sake, we see the union of heaven and earth – God making his dwelling with us and bringing us into the heavenly reality of his kingdom. Jesus' death on the cross where he defeated sin and won new life for us through his resurrection opens the way for each of us to come into a new relationship with God as his sons and daughters. The Lord Jesus opens the way for each of us to "ascend to heaven" and to bring "heaven to earth" in the daily circumstances of our lives. God's kingdom is present in those who seek him and who do his will. Through the gift of faith God opens a door for each one of us to the heavenly reality of his kingdom. Do you see and believe the heavenly reality with the "eyes of faith"?

"Heavenly Father, through your Son Jesus Christ, you have opened the way to heaven for us. As you revealed yourself to your beloved patriarchs and apostles, so reveal yourself to me that I may glorify you in my daily life. May I always find joy in your presence and never lose sight of the kingdom of heaven."

28 September 2012

28 Sep 2012, Friday of Week 25; St. Lawrence Ruiz and Companions

Ecclesiastes 3:1-11

There is an appointed time for everything,
and a time for every thing under the heavens.
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant.
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to tear down, and a time to build.
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them;
a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces.
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away.
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to be silent, and a time to speak.
A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time of war, and a time of peace.

What advantage has the worker from his toil? I have considered the task that God has appointed for the sons of men to be busied about. He has made everything appropriate to its time, and has put the timeless into their hearts, without man’s ever discovering, from beginning to end, the work which God has done.

Psalm 144:1b and 2abc, 3-4

R. (1) Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!

Blessed be the LORD, my rock, my mercy and my fortress, my stronghold, my deliverer, My shield, in whom I trust.

R. Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!

LORD, what is man, that you notice him; the son of man, that you take thought of him? Man is like a breath; his days, like a passing shadow.

R. Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!

Mark 10:45

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

The Son of Man came to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Luke 9:18-22

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

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


Who is Jesus for you – and what difference does he make in your life? Many in Israel recognized Jesus as a mighty man of God, even comparing him with the greatest of the prophets. Peter, always quick to respond whenever Jesus spoke, professed that Jesus was truly the "Christ of God". No mortal being could have revealed this to Peter, but only God. Through the "eyes of faith" Peter discovered who Jesus truly was. Peter recognized that Jesus was much more than a great teacher, prophet, and miracle worker. Peter was the first apostle to publicly declare that Jesus was the Anointed One consecrated by the Father and sent into the world to redeem a fallen human race enslaved to sin and cut off from eternal life with God (Luke 9:20, Acts 2:14-36). The word for "Christ" in Greek is a translation of the Hebrew word for "Messiah" – both words literally mean the Anointed One.

Why did Jesus command his disciples to be silent about his identity as the anointed Son of God? They were, afterall, appointed to proclaim the good news to everyone. Jesus knew that they did not yet fully understand his mission and how he would accomplish it. Cyril of Alexandria (376-444 AD), an early chuch father, explains the reason for this silence:

There were things yet unfulfilled which must also be included in their preaching about him. They must also proclaim the cross, the passion, and the death in the flesh. They must preach the resurrection of the dead, that great and truly glorious sign by which testimony is borne him that the Emmanuel is truly God and by nature the Son of God the Father. He utterly abolished death and wiped out destruction. He robbed hell, and overthrew the tyranny of the enemy. He took away the sin of the world, opened the gates above to the dwellers upon earth, and united earth to heaven. These things proved him to be, as I said, in truth God. He commanded them, therefore, to guard the mystery by a seasonable silence until the whole plan of the dispensation should arrive at a suitable conclusion. (Commentary on Luke, Homily 49)

Jesus told his disciples that it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer and die in order that God's work of redemption might be accomplished. How startled the disciples were when they heard this word. How different are God's thoughts and ways from our thoughts and ways (Isaiah 55:8). Through humiliation, suffering, and death on the cross Jesus broke the powers of sin and death and won for us eternal life and freedom from the slavery of sin and from the oppression of our enemy, Satan, the father of lies and the deceiver of humankind.
If we want to share in the victory of the Lord Jesus, then we must also take up our cross and follow where he leads us. What is the "cross" that you and I must take up each day? When my will crosses with God's will, then his will must be done. To know Jesus Christ is to know the power of his victory on the cross where he defeated sin and conquered death through his resurrection. The Holy Spirit gives each of us the gifts and strenth we need to live as sons and daughters of God. The Holy Spirit gives us faith to know the Lord Jesus personally as our Redeemer, and the power to live the gospel faithfully, and the courage to witness to others the joy, truth, and freedom of the gospel. Who do you say that Jesus is?

"Lord Jesus, I believe and I profess that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Take my life, my will, and all that I have, that I may be wholly yours now and forever."

27 September 2012

27 Sep 2012, Thursday of Week 25; St. Vincent de Paul

Ecclesiastes 1:2-11

Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth, vanity of vanities! All things are vanity! What profit has man from all the labor which he toils at under the sun? One generation passes and another comes, but the world forever stays. The sun rises and the sun goes down; then it presses on to the place where it rises. Blowing now toward the south, then toward the north, the wind turns again and again, resuming its rounds. All rivers go to the sea, yet never does the sea become full. To the place where they go, the rivers keep on going. All speech is labored; there is nothing one can say. The eye is not satisfied with seeing nor is the ear satisfied with hearing.

What has been, that will be; what has been done, that will be done. Nothing is new under the sun. Even the thing of which we say, “See, this is new!” has already existed in the ages that preceded us. There is no remembrance of the men of old; nor of those to come will there be any remembrance among those who come after them.

Psalm 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14 and 17bc

R. (1) In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.

You turn man back to dust, saying, “Return, O children of men.” For a thousand years in your sight are as yesterday, now that it is past, or as a watch of the night.

R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.

You make an end of them in their sleep; the next morning they are like the changing grass, Which at dawn springs up anew, but by evening wilts and fades. R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.

Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart. Return, O LORD! How long? Have pity on your servants!

R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.

Fill us at daybreak with your kindness, that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days. Prosper the work of our hands for us! Prosper the work of our hands!

R. In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.

John 14:6

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

I am the way and the truth and the life, says the Lord; no one comes to the Father except through me.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Luke 9:7-9

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


Who do you most admire? People with power, influence, fame, or wealth? Scripture warns us of such danger (see Proverbs 23:1-2). King Herod had respected and feared John the Baptist as a great prophet and servant of God. John, however did not fear to rebuke Herod for his adulterous affair with his brother's wife. Herod, however, was more of a people pleaser than a God pleaser. Herod not only imprisoned John to silence him, but he also beheaded him simply to please his family and friends. Now when reports of Jesus' miracles and teaching reach Herod's court, Herod becomes very troubled in conscience. He thinks that John the Baptist has risen from the dead! Herod sought to meet Jesus more out of curiosity and fear than out of a sincere desire to know God's wisdom and truth.

Who is most influential in your life? And who do you most want to be like? We naturally look up to other people we want to imitate. If we truly want to be like God and to live as his sons and daughters, then it greatly helps us to have good models and examples of godly people who show us how to live in the power of God's love and holiness.God's grace frees us from the tyranny of fear and the pressure to please others rather than to please God. Do you allow God's grace to fill you with faith and courage to choose what is good and pleasing to him and to reject whatever would keep you from embracing his love and will for your daily life?

"Heavenly Father, form in me the likeness of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and deepen his life within me that I may be like him in word and in deed. Increase my eagerness to do your will and help me to grow in the knowledge of your love and truth."

26 September 2012

26 Sep 2012, Wednesday of Week 25; St. Cosmas and St. Damian

Proverbs 30:5-9

Every word of God is tested;
he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Add nothing to his words, lest he reprove you, and you will be exposed as a deceiver.

Two things I ask of you, deny them not to me before I die: Put falsehood and lying far from me, give me neither poverty nor riches; provide me only with the food I need; Lest, being full, I deny you, saying, “Who is the LORD?” Or, being in want, I steal, and profane the name of my God.

Psalm 119:29, 72, 89, 101, 104, 163

R. (105) Your word, O Lord, is a lamp for my feet.

Remove from me the way of falsehood, and favor me with your law.

R. Your word, O Lord, is a lamp for my feet.

The law of your mouth is to me more precious than thousands of gold and silver pieces.

R. Your word, O Lord, is a lamp for my feet.

Your word, O LORD, endures forever; it is firm as the heavens.

R. Your word, O Lord, is a lamp for my feet.

From every evil way I withhold my feet, that I may keep your words.

R. Your word, O Lord, is a lamp for my feet.

Through your precepts I gain discernment; therefore I hate every false way.

R. Your word, O Lord, is a lamp for my feet.

Falsehood I hate and abhor; your law I love.

R. Your word, O Lord, is a lamp for my feet.

Mark 1:15

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

The Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the Gospel.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Luke 9:1-6

Jesus summoned the Twelve and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He said to them, “Take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, and let no one take a second tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there. And as for those who do not welcome you, when you leave that town, shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them.” Then they set out and went from village to village proclaiming the good news and curing diseases everywhere.


What kind of power and authority does God want you
to exercise in your personal life and in your service of others? God's
word has power to change and transform our lives. Jesus gave his apostles
both power and authority to speak and to act in his name to cast out
evil spirits, to heal, and to speak the word of God. When Jesus spoke of
power and authority he did something unheard of. He wedded power and authority
with love and humility. The world
and the style="font-style: italic;">sinful flesh seek
power for selfish gain. Jesus teaches us to use it for the good of our
Why does Jesus tell the apostles to travel
light with little or no provision? Poverty
of spirit frees us from greed and preoccupation with possessions
and makes ample room for God's provision. The Lord wants his disciples
to be dependent on him and not on themselves. He wills to work in and through
each of us for his glory. Are you ready to handle the power and authority
which God wishes you to exercise on his behalf? The Lord entrusts us with
his gifts and talents. Are you eager to place yourself at his service,
to do whatever he bids you, and to witness his truth and saving power to
whomever he sends you?

"Lord Jesus, make me a channel of your grace and healing love that others
may find life and freedom in you. Free me from all other attachments that
I may joyfully pursue the things of heaven. May I witness to others the
joy of the gospel both in word and deed."

25 September 2012

25 Sep 2012, Tuesday of Week 25; St. Sergius

Proverbs 21:1-6, 10-13

Like a stream is the king’s heart in the hand of the LORD; wherever it pleases him, he directs it.

All the ways of a man may be right in his own eyes, but it is the LORD who proves hearts.

To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.

Haughty eyes and a proud heart– the tillage of the wicked is sin.

The plans of the diligent are sure of profit, but all rash haste leads certainly to poverty.

Whoever makes a fortune by a lying tongue is chasing a bubble over deadly snares.

The soul of the wicked man desires evil; his neighbor finds no pity in his eyes.

When the arrogant man is punished, the simple are the wiser; when the wise man is instructed, he gains knowledge.

The just man appraises the house of the wicked: there is one who brings down the wicked to ruin.

He who shuts his ear to the cry of the poor will himself also call and not be heard.

Psalm 119:1, 27, 30, 34, 35, 44

R. (35) Guide me, Lord, in the way of your commands.

Blessed are they whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD.

R. Guide me, Lord, in the way of your commands.

Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous deeds.

R. Guide me, Lord, in the way of your commands.

The way of truth I have chosen; I have set your ordinances before me.

R. Guide me, Lord, in the way of your commands.

Give me discernment, that I may observe your law and keep it with all my heart.

R. Guide me, Lord, in the way of your commands.

Lead me in the path of your commands, for in it I delight.

R. Guide me, Lord, in the way of your commands.

And I will keep your law continually, forever and ever.

R. Guide me, Lord, in the way of your commands.

Luke 11:28

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Luke 8:19-21

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


Who do you love and cherish the most? God did not
intend for us to be alone, but to be with others. He gives us many opportunities
for developing relationships with family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers.
Why does Jesus seem to ignore his own relatives when they pressed to see
him? His love and respect for his mother and his relatives is unquestionable.
Jesus never lost an opportunity to teach his disciples a spiritual lesson
and truth about the kingdom of God. On this occasion when many gathered
to hear Jesus he pointed to another higher reality of relationships, namely
our relationship with God and with those who belong to God.
What is the essence of being a Christian? It is certainly more than
doctrine, precepts, and commandments. It is first and foremost a relationship
a relationship of trust, affection, commitment, loyalty, faithfulness,
kindness, thoughtfulness, compassion, mercy, helpfulness, encouragement,
support, strength, protection, and so many other qualities that bind people
together in mutual love and unity. God offers us the greatest of relationships
union of heart, mind, and spirit with himself, the very author and source
of love (1 John 4:8,16). God's love never fails, never forgets, never compromises,
never lies, never lets us down nor disappoints us. His love is consistent,
unwavering, unconditional, and unstopable. Nothing can deter him from ever
leaving us, ignoring us, or treating us unkindly. He will love us no matter
what. It is his nature to love. That is why he created us to be united
with him and to share in his love and unity of persons (1 John 3:1). God
is a trinity of persons Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and a community
of love. That is why Jesus challenged his followers and even his own earthly
relatives to recognize that God is the true source of all relationships.
God wants all of our relationships to be rooted in his love.

Jesus is God's love incarnate God's love made visible in human flesh
(1 John 4:9-10). That is why Jesus describes himself as the good shepherd
who lays down his life for his sheep and the shepherd who seeks out the
sheep who have strayed and lost their way. God is like the father who yearns
for his prodigal son to return home and then throws a great party for his
son when he has a change of heart and comes back (Luke 15:11-32). Jesus
offered up his life on the cross for our sake, so that we could be forgiven
and restored to unity and friendship with God. It is through Jesus that
we become the adopted children of God his own sons and daughters. That
is why Jesus told his disciples that they would have many new friends and
family relationships in his kingdom. Whoever does the will of God is a
friend of God and a member of his family his sons and daughters who have
been ransomed by the precious blood of Christ.

Lucian of Antioch (240-312 AD), an early Christian martyr once said
that "a Christian's only relatives are the saints" namely those who have
been redeemed by the blood of Christ and adopted as sons and daughters
of God. Those who have been baptized into Jesus Christ and who live as
his disciples enter into a new family, a family of "saints" here on earth
and in heaven. Jesus changes the order of relationships and shows that
true kinship is not just a matter of flesh and blood. Our adoption as sons
and daughters of God transforms all of our relationships and requires a
new order of loyalty to God first and to his kingdom of righteousness and
peace. Do you want to grow in love and friendship? Allow God's Holy Spirit
to transform your heart, mind, and will to enable you to love freely and
generously as he loves.

"Heavenly Father, you are the source of all true friendship and love.
In all my relationships, may your love be my constant guide for choosing
what is good and for rejecting what is contrary to your will."

24 September 2012

24 Sep 2012, Monday of Week 25; St. Thecla

Proverbs 3:27-34

Refuse no one the good on which he has a claim when it is in your power to do it for him. Say not to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give,” when you can give at once.

Plot no evil against your neighbor, against one who lives at peace with you. Quarrel not with a man without cause, with one who has done you no harm.

Envy not the lawless man and choose none of his ways: To the LORD the perverse one is an abomination, but with the upright is his friendship.

The curse of the LORD is on the house of the wicked, but the dwelling of the just he blesses; When dealing with the arrogant, he is stern, but to the humble he shows kindness.

Psalm 15:2-3a, 3bc-4ab, 5

R. (1) The just one shall live on your holy mountain, O Lord.

He who walks blamelessly and does justice; who thinks the truth in his heart and slanders not with his tongue.

R. The just one shall live on your holy mountain, O Lord.

Who harms not his fellow man, nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor; By whom the reprobate is despised, while he honors those who fear the LORD.

R. The just one shall live on your holy mountain, O Lord.

Who lends not his money at usury and accepts no bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be disturbed.

R. The just one shall live on your holy mountain, O Lord.

Matthew 5:16

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Luke 8:16-18

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


What does the image of light and a lamp tell us about
God's kingdom? Lamps in the ancient world served a vital function, much
like they do today. They enable people to see and work in the dark and
to avoid stumbling. The Jews also understood "light" as an expression of
the inner beauty, truth, and goodness of God. In his light we see light
( Psalm 36:9). His word is a lamp that guides our steps (Psalm 119:105).
God's grace not only illumines the darkness in our lives, but it also fills
us with spiritual light, joy, and peace. Jesus used the image of a lamp
to describe how his disciples are to live in the light of his truth and
love. Just as natural light illumines the darkness and enables one to see
visually, so the light of Christ shines in the hearts of believers
and enables us to see the heavenly reality of God's kingdom. In fact, our
mission is to be light-bearers of Christ so that others may see
the truth of the gospel and be freed from the blindness of sin and deception.
Jesus remarks that nothing can remain hidden or secret. We can try to
hide things from others, from ourselves, and from God. How tempting to
shut our eyes from the consequences of our sinful ways and bad habits,
even when we know what those consequences are. And how tempting to hide
them from others and even from God. But, nonetheless, everything is known
to God who sees all. There is great freedom and joy for those who live
in God's light and who seek his truth. Those who listen to God and heed
his voice will receive more from him abundance of wisdom, guidance, peace,
and blessing. Do you know the joy and freedom of living in God's light?

"Lord Jesus, you guide me by the light of your saving truth. Fill my
heart and mind with your light and truth and free me from the blindness
of sin and deception that I may see your ways clearly and understand your
will for my life. May I radiate your light and truth to others in word and deed."

23 September 2012

23 Sep 2012, 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time; St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Wisdom 2:12, 17–20

The wicked say:
Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us; he sets himself against our doings, reproaches us for transgressions of the law and charges us with violations of our training. Let us see whether his words be true; let us find out what will happen to him. For if the just one be the son of God, God will defend him and deliver him from the hand of his foes. With revilement and torture let us put the just one to the test that we may have proof of his gentleness and try his patience. Let us condemn him to a shameful death; for according to his own words, God will take care of him.

Psalm 54:3–4, 5, 6–8 (6b)

R. The Lord upholds my life.

O God, by your name save me, and by your might defend my cause. O God, hear my prayer; hearken to the words of my mouth.

R. The Lord upholds my life.

For the haughty have risen up against me, the ruthless seek my life; they set not God before their eyes.

R. The Lord upholds my life.

Behold, God is my helper; the Lord sustains my life. Freely will I offer you sacrifice; I will praise your name, O LORD, for its goodness.

R. The Lord upholds my life.

James 3:16—4:3

Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace.

Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from? Is it not from your passions that make war within your members? You covet but do not possess. You kill and envy but you cannot obtain; you fight and wage war. You do not possess because you do not ask. You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

see 2 Thessalonians 2:14

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

God has called us through the Gospel to possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Mark 9:30–37

Jesus and his disciples left from there and began a journey through Galilee, but he did not wish anyone to know about it. He was teaching his disciples and telling them, “The Son of Man is to be handed over to men and they will kill him, and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise.” But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to question him.

They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house, he began to ask them, “What were you arguing about on the way?” But they remained silent. They had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest. Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” Taking a child, he placed it in their midst, and putting his arms around it, he said to them, “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.”


Whose glory do you seek? There can be no share in
God's glory without the cross. When Jesus prophesied his own betrayal and
crucifixion, it did not make any sense to his disciples because it did
not fit their understanding of what the Messiah came to do. And they were
afraid to ask further questions! Like a person who might receive a bad
verdict from the doctor and then refuse to ask further questions, they,
too, didn't want to know any more. How often do we reject what we do not
wish to see? We have heard the good news of God's word and we know the
consequences of accepting it or rejecting it. But do we give it our full
allegiance and mold our lives according to it? Ask the Lord to fill you
with his Holy Spirit and to inspire within you a reverence for his word
and a readiness to obey it.
How ashamed the disciples must have been when Jesus overheard them arguing
about who among them was the greatest! But arent we like the disciples?
We compare ourselves with others and desire their praise. The appetite
for glory and greatness seems to be inbred in us. Who doesn't cherish the
ambition to be "somebody" whom others admire rather than a "nobody"? Even
the psalms speak about the glory God has destined for us. You have made
them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor
(Psalm 8:5). Jesus made a dramatic gesture by embracing a child to show
his disciples who really is the greatest in the kingdom of God. What
can a little child possibly teach us about greatness? Children in the ancient
world had no rights, position, or privileges of their own. They were socially
at the "bottom of the rung" and at the service of their parents, much like
the household staff and domestic servants. What is the significance of
Jesus' gesture? Jesus elevated a little child in the presence of his disciples
by placing the child in a privileged position of honor. It is customary,
even today, to seat the guest of honor at the right side of the host. Who
is the greatest in God's kingdom? The one who is humble and lowly of heart
who instead of asserting their rights willingly empty themselves of pride
and self-seeking glory by taking the lowly position of a servant or child.

Jesus, himself, is our model. He came not to be served, but to serve
(Matthew 20:28). Paul the Apostle states that Jesus emptied himself and
took the form of a servant (Philippians 2:7). Jesus lowered himself (he
whose place is at the right hand of God the Father) and took on our lowly
nature that he might raise us up and clothe us in his divine nature.
opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). If we
want to be filled with God's life and power, then we need to empty ourselves
of everything which stands in the way pride, self-seeking glory, vanity,
etc. God wants empty vessels so he can fill them with his own glory, power,
and love (2 Corinthians 4:7). Are you ready to humble yourself and to serve
as Jesus did?

"Lord Jesus, by your cross you have redeemed the world and revealed
your glory and triumph over sin and death. May I never fail to see your
glory and victory in the cross. Help me to conform my life to your
will and to follow in your way of holiness."

22 September 2012

22 Sep 2012, Saturday of Week 24; St. Thomas of Villanova

1 Corinthians 15:35-37, 42-49

Brothers and sisters:
Someone may say, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come back?”

You fool!
What you sow is not brought to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body that is to be but a bare kernel of wheat, perhaps, or of some other kind.

So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown corruptible; it is raised incorruptible. It is sown dishonorable; it is raised glorious. It is sown weak; it is raised powerful. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual one.

So, too, it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living being,” the last Adam a life-giving spirit. But the spiritual was not first; rather the natural and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, earthly; the second man, from heaven. As was the earthly one, so also are the earthly, and as is the heavenly one, so also are the heavenly. Just as we have borne the image of the earthly one, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly one.

Psalm 56:10c-12, 13-14

R. (14) I will walk in the presence of God, in the light of the living.

Now I know that God is with me. In God, in whose promise I glory, in God I trust without fear; what can flesh do against me?

R. I will walk in the presence of God, in the light of the living.

I am bound, O God, by vows to you; your thank offerings I will fulfill. For you have rescued me from death, my feet, too, from stumbling; that I may walk before God in the light of the living.

R. I will walk in the presence of God, in the light of the living.

See Luke 8:15

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart and yield a harvest through perseverance.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Luke 8:4-15

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

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

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


How good are you at listening, especially for the
word of God? God is always ready to speak to each of us and to give us
understanding of his word. Jesus' parable of the sower is aimed at the
hearers of his word. There are different ways of accepting God's word and
they produce different kinds of fruit accordingly. There is the prejudiced
hearer who has a shut mind. Such a person is unteachable and blind to the
things of God. Then there is the shallow hearer who fails to think things
out or think them through; such a person lacks spiritual depth. They may
initially respond with an emotional fervor; but when it wears off their
mind wanders to something else.
Another type of hearer is the person who has many interests or cares,
but who lacks the ability to hear or comprehend what is truly important.
Such a person is for ever too busy to pray or too preoccupied to study
and meditate on God's word. He or she may work so hard that they are too
tired to even think of anything else but their work. Then there is the
one whose mind is open. Such a person is at all times willing to listen
and to learn. He or she is never too proud or too busy to learn. They listen
in order to understand. God gives grace to those who hunger for his word
that they may understand his will and have the strength to live according
to it. Do you hunger for God's word?

"Lord Jesus, faith in your word is the way to wisdom, and to ponder
your divine plan is to grow in the truth. Open my eyes to your deeds, and
my ears to the sound of your call, that I may understand your will for
my life and live according to it."

21 September 2012

21 Sep 2012, Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist - Feast

Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-13

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

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

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

Psalm 19:2-3, 4-5

R. Their message goes out through all the earth.

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day pours out the word to day, and night to night imparts knowledge.

R. Their message goes out through all the earth.

Not a word nor a discourse whose voice is not heard; Through all the earth their voice resounds, and to the ends of the world, their message.

R. Their message goes out through all the earth.

See Te Deum

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

We praise you, O God, we acclaim you as Lord; the glorious company of Apostles praise you.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Matthew 9:9-13

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


What is God's call on your life? Jesus chose Matthew
to be his follower and friend, not because Matthew was religious or learned,
popular or saintly. Matthew appeared to be none of those. He chose to live
a life of wealth and ease. His profession was probably the most corrupted
and despised by everyone because tax collectors made themselves wealthy
by over-charging and threatening people if they did not hand over their
money to them. What did Jesus see in Matthew that others did not see? When
the prophet Samuel came to the house of Jesse to anoint the future heir
to the throne of Israel, he bypassed all the first seven sons and chose
the last! "God looks at the heart and not at the appearance of a man" he
declared. David's heart was like a compass looking for true north it
pointed to God. Matthew's heart must have yearned for God, even though
he dare not show his face in a synagogue the Jewish house of prayer and
the study of Torah God's law. When Jesus saw Matthew sitting at his tax
office no doubt counting his day's profit Jesus spoke only two words
"follow me". Those two words changed Matthew from a self-serving profiteer
to a God-serving apostle who would bring the treasures of God's kingdom
to the poor and needy.
John Chrysostom, the great 5th century church father, describes Matthew's
calling: "Why did Jesus not call Matthew at the same time as he called
Peter and John and the rest? He came to each one at a particular time when
he knew that they would respond to him. He came at a different time to
call Matthew when he was assured that Matthew would surrender to his call.
Similarly, he called Paul at a different time when he was vulnerable, after
the resurrection, something like a hunter going after his quarry. for he
who is acquainted with our inmost hearts and knows the secrets of our minds
knows when each one of us is ready to respond fully. Therefore he did not
call them all together at the beginning, when Matthew was still in a hardened
condition. Rather, only after countless miracles, after his fame spread
abroad, did he call Matthew. He knew Matthew had been softened for full

When the Pharisees challenged Jesus' unorthodox behavior in eating with
public sinners, Jesus defense was quite simple. A doctor doesnt need
to visit healthy people; instead he goes to those who are sick. Jesus likewise
sought out those in the greatest need. A true physician seeks healing of
the whole person body, mind, and spirit. Jesus came as the divine physician
and good shepherd to care for his people and to restore them to wholeness
of life. The orthodox were so preoccupied with their own practice of religion
that they neglected to help the very people who needed spiritual care.
Their religion was selfish because they didnt want to have anything to
do with people not like themselves. Jesus stated his mission in unequivocal
I came not to call the righteous, but to call sinners.
the orthodox were as needy as those they despised. All have sinned and
fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

On more than one occasion Jesus quoted the saying from the prophet Hosea: For
I desire mercy and not sacrifice (Hosea 6:6). Do you thank the Lord
for the great mercy he has shown to you? And do you show mercy to
your neighbor as well?

"Lord Jesus, our Savior, let us now come to you: Our hearts are cold;
Lord, warm them with your selfless love. Our hearts are sinful; cleanse
them with your precious blood. Our hearts are weak; strengthen them with
your joyous Spirit. Our hearts are empty; fill them with your divine presence.
Lord Jesus, our hearts are yours; possess them always and only for yourself.
of Augustine, 354-430)

20 September 2012

20 Sep 2012, Thursday of Week 24; St. Andrew Kim Daegeon and St. PaulCho˘ng Hasang

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

I am reminding you, brothers and sisters, of the Gospel I preached to you, which you indeed received and in which you also stand. Through it you are also being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures; that he was buried; that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures; that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at once, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. After that he appeared to James, then to all the Apostles. Last of all, as to one born abnormally, he appeared to me. For I am the least of the Apostles, not fit to be called an Apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been ineffective. Indeed, I have toiled harder than all of them; not I, however, but the grace of God that is with me. Therefore, whether it be I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

Psalm 118:1b-2, 16ab-17, 28

R. (1) Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his mercy endures forever. Let the house of Israel say, “His mercy endures forever.”

R. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.

“The right hand of the LORD is exalted; the right hand of the LORD has struck with power.” I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD.

R. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.

You are my God, and I give thanks to you; O my God, I extol you.

R. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.

Matthew 11:28

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest, says the Lord.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Luke 7:36-50

A certain Pharisee invited Jesus to dine with him, and he entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. Now there was a sinful woman in the city who learned that he was at table in the house of the Pharisee. Bringing an alabaster flask of ointment, she stood behind him at his feet weeping and began to bathe his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the ointment. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said. “Two people were in debt to a certain creditor; one owed five hundred days’ wages and the other owed fifty. Since they were unable to repay the debt, he forgave it for both. Which of them will love him more?” Simon said in reply, “The one, I suppose, whose larger debt was forgiven.” He said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet, but she has bathed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but she has not ceased kissing my feet since the time I entered. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she anointed my feet with ointment. So I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” The others at table said to themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” But he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”


What fuels extravagant love? Unbounding gratitude
for sure! No one who met Jesus could do so with indifference. They were
either attracted to him or repeled by him. Why did a rabbi invite Jesus
to a nice dinner and then treat him discourteously by neglecting to give
him the customary signs of respect and honor? Simon was very likely a collector
of celebrities. He patronized Jesus because of his popularity with the
crowds. Why did he criticize Jesus' compassionate treatment of a woman
of ill repute most likely a prostitute? The Pharisees shunned the company
of public sinners and in so doing they neglected to give them the help
they needed to find healing and wholeness.
Why did a woman with a bad reputation approach Jesus and anoint him
at the risk of ridicule and abuse by others? The woman's action was motivated
by one thing, and one thing only, namely, her love for Jesus and her gratitude
for forgiveness. She did something, however, a Jewish woman would never
do in public. She loosed her hair and anointed Jesus with her tears. It
was customary for a woman on her wedding day to bound her hair. For a married
woman to loosen her hair in public was a sign of grave immodesty.
This woman was oblivious to all around her, except for Jesus. She also
did something which only love can do. She took the most precious thing
she had and spent it all on Jesus. Her love was not calculated but extravagant.
In a spirit of humility and heart-felt repentance, she lavishly served
the one who showed her the mercy and kindness of God. Jesus, in his customary
fashion, never lost the opportunity to draw a lesson from such an incident.

Why did Jesus put the parable of the two debtors before his learned
host, a rabbi and teacher of the people? This parable is similar to the
parable of the unforgiving
official (see Matthew 18:23-35) in which the man who was forgiven much
showed himself merciless and unforgiving. Jesus makes clear that great
love springs from a heart forgiven and cleansed. "Love covers a multitude
of sins" (1 Peter 4:8), "for love is of God" (1 John 4:7). The woman's
lavish expression of love was proof that she had found favor with God.
The stark contrast of attitudes between Simon and the woman of ill-repute,
demonstrate how we can either accept or reject God's mercy. Simon, who
regarded himself as an upright Pharisee, felt no need for love or mercy.
His self-sufficiency kept him for acknowledging his need for God's grace.
Are you grateful for God's mercy and grace?

"Lord Jesus, your grace is sufficient for me. Fill my heart with love
and gratitude for the mercy you have shown to me and give me joy and freedom
to love and serve others with kindness and respect."

19 September 2012

19 Sep 2012, Wednesday of Week 24; St. Januarius

1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13

Brothers and sisters:
Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts.

But I shall show you a still more excellent way.

If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, love is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails.
If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing. For we know partially and we prophesy partially, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things. At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known. So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Psalm 33:2-3, 4-5, 12 and 22

R. (12) Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.

Give thanks to the LORD on the harp; with the ten‑stringed lyre chant his praises. Sing to him a new song; pluck the strings skillfully, with shouts of gladness.

R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.

For upright is the word of the LORD, and all his works are trustworthy. He loves justice and right; of the kindness of the LORD the earth is full.

R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.

Blessed the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he has chosen for his own inheritance. May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us who have put our hope in you.

R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.

See John 6:63c, 68c

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life, you have the words of everlasting life.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Luke 7:31-35

Jesus said to the crowds:
“To what shall I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children who sit in the marketplace and call to one another,

‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance. We sang a dirge, but you did not weep.’

For John the Baptist came neither eating food nor drinking wine, and you said, ‘He is possessed by a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking and you said, ‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”


What do childrens' games have to do with the kingdom
of God? Games are the favorite pastime of children who play until their
energy is spent. The more interaction the merrier the game. The children
in Jesus' parable react with disappointment because they cannot convince
others to join in their musical play. They complain that when they make
merry music such as played at weddings, no one dances or sings along; and
when they play mournful tunes for sad occassions such as funerals,
it is the same dead response. This refrain echoes the words of Ecclesiastes
3:4, there is a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and
a time to dance. Both joyful and sad occassions such as the birth
of a child and the homecoming of a hero or the loss of a loved one and
the destruction of a community or nation demand a response. To show indifference,
lack of interest or support , or disdain, is unfitting and unkind.
Jesus' message of the kingdom of God is a proclamation of good news
that produces great joy and hope for those who will listen; but it is also
a warning of disaster for those who refuse to accept God's gracious offer.
Why did the message of John the Baptist and the message of Jesus meet with
resistance and deaf ears? It was out of jealously and spiritual blindness
that the scribes and Pharisees attributed John the Baptist's austerities
to the devil and they attributed Jesus' table fellowship as evidence for
messianic pretense. They succeeded in frustrating God's plan for their
lives because they had closed their hearts to the message of John
the Baptist and now they close their ears to Jesus.

What can make us spiritually dull and slow to hear God's voice? Like
the generation of Jesus' time, our age is marked by indifference and contempt,
especially in regards to the things of God's kingdom. Indifference dulls
our ears to God's voice and to the good news of the gospel. Only the humble
of heart who are hungry for God can find true joy and happiness. Do you
listen to God's word with expectant faith and the willingness to trust
and obey?

"Lord Jesus, open my ears to hear the good news of your kingdom and
set my heart free to love and serve you joyfully. May nothing keep me from
following you wholeheartedly."

18 September 2012

18 Sep 2012, Tuesday of Week 24; St. Joseph of Cupertino

1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 27-31a

Brothers and sisters:
As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one Body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.

Now the body is not a single part, but many.

Now you are Christ’s Body, and individually parts of it. Some people God has designated in the Church to be, first, Apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers; then, mighty deeds; then gifts of healing, assistance, administration, and varieties of tongues. Are all Apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work mighty deeds? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts.

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

R. (3) We are his people: the sheep of his flock.

Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands; serve the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful song.

R. We are his people: the sheep of his flock.

Know that the LORD is God; he made us, his we are; his people, the flock he tends.

R. We are his people: the sheep of his flock.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving, his courts with praise; Give thanks to him; bless his name.

R. We are his people: the sheep of his flock.

For he is good, the LORD, whose kindness endures forever, and his faithfulness, to all generations.

R. We are his people: the sheep of his flock.

Luke 7:16

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

A great prophet has arisen in our midst and God has visited his people.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Luke 7:11-17

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


How do you respond to the misfortunes of others?
In a number of places the gospel records that Jesus was "moved to the depths
of his heart" when he met with individuals and with groups of people. The
English word "compassion" doesn't fully convey the deeper meaning of the
original Hebrew word which expresses heart-felt "sympathy" and personal
identification with the suffering person's grief and physical condition.
Why was Jesus so moved on this occasion when he met a widow and a crowded
funeral procession on their way to the cemetery? Jesus not only grieved
the untimely death of a young man, but he showed the depth of his concern
for the woman who lost not only her husband, but here only child as well.
The scriptures make clear that God takes no pleasure in the death of
anyone (see Ezekiel 33:11); he desires life, not death. Jesus not only
had heart-felt compassion for the widow who lost her only son, he also
had extraordinary supernatural power the ability to restore life and
to make whole again. Jesus, however, as an observant Jew incurred grave
risk by approaching the bier, since the Jews understood that contact with
a dead body made oneself ritually impure. His physical touch, however,
not only restored life but brought freedom and wholeness to soul as well
as body. This miracle took place near the spot where the prophet Elisha
raised another mother's son back to life again (see 2 Kings 4:18-37). Jesus
claimed as his own one whom death had seized as its prey. By his word of
power he restored life for a lad marked for death. Jesus is Lord not only
of the living but of the dead as well. Jesus triumphed over the grave and
he promises that because he lives (and will never die again), we also shall
have abundant life with and in him both now and forever (John 14:19). Do
you trust in the Lord Jesus to give you abundant life and everlasting hope
in the face of life's trials, misfortunes, and moments of despair?

"Lord Jesus, your presence brings life and restores us to wholeness
of mind, body, and spirit. Speak your word to me and give me renewed hope,
strength and courage to follow you in all things and to eagerly serve others
with a glad and generous heart."

17 September 2012

17 Sep 2012, Monday of Week 24; St. Robert Bellarmine

1 Corinthians 11:17-26, 33

Brothers and sisters:
In giving this instruction, I do not praise the fact that your meetings are doing more harm than good. First of all, I hear that when you meet as a Church there are divisions among you, and to a degree I believe it; there have to be factions among you in order that also those who are approved among you may become known. When you meet in one place, then, it is not to eat the Lord’s supper, for in eating, each one goes ahead with his own supper, and one goes hungry while another gets drunk. Do you not have houses in which you can eat and drink? Or do you show contempt for the Church of God and make those who have nothing feel ashamed? What can I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this matter I do not praise you.

For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, “This is my Body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my Blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, when you come together to eat, wait for one another.

Psalm 40:7-8a, 8b-9, 10, 17

R. (1 Cor 11:26b) Proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes again.

Sacrifice or oblation you wished not, but ears open to obedience you gave me. Burnt offerings or sin‑offerings you sought not; then said I, “Behold I come.”

R. Proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes again.

“In the written scroll it is prescribed for me, To do your will, O my God, is my delight, and your law is within my heart!”

R. Proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes again.

I announced your justice in the vast assembly; I did not restrain my lips, as you, O LORD, know.

R. Proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes again.

May all who seek you exult and be glad in you And may those who love your salvation say ever, “The LORD be glorified.”

R. Proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes again.

John 3:16

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Luke 7:1-10

When Jesus had finished all his words to the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave who was ill and about to die, and he was valuable to him. When he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and save the life of his slave. They approached Jesus and strongly urged him to come, saying, “He deserves to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation and he built the synagogue for us.” And Jesus went with them, but when he was only a short distance from the house, the centurion sent friends to tell him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof. Therefore, I did not consider myself worthy to come to you; but say the word and let my servant be healed. For I too am a person 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 at him and, turning, said to the crowd following him, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” When the messengers returned to the house, they found the slave in good health.


Do you seek God with confidence and pray with expectant
faith? A Roman official boldly sought Jesus with a daring request. What
made him confident that Jesus would receive his request and act favorably
towards him? Like a true soldier, he knew the power of command. And he
saw in Jesus both the power and the mercy of God to heal and restore life.
In the Roman world the position of centurion was very important. He was
an officer in charge of a hundred soldiers. In a certain sense, he was
the backbone of the Roman army, the cement which held the army together.
Polybius, an ancient write, describes what a centurion should be: "They
must not be so much venturesome seekers after danger as men who can command,
steady in action, and reliable; they ought not to be over-anxious to rush
into the fight, but when hard pressed, they must be ready to hold their
ground, and die at their posts."
The centurion who approached Jesus was not only courageous, but faith-filled
as well. He risked the ridicule of his Roman companions by seeking help
from a Jewish preacher from Galilee, as well as mockery from the Jews who
despised Roman occupation of their land. Nonetheless, this centurion approached
Jesus with confidence and humility. Augustine notes that the centurion
regarded himself as unworthy to receive the Lord into his house: "Humility
was the door through which the Lord entered to take full possession of
one whom he already possessed." The centurion was an extraordinary man
because he loved his slave. In the Roman world slaves were treated like
animals rather than people. The centurion was also an extraordinary man
of faith. He believed that Jesus had the power to heal his beloved
slave. Jesus commends him for his faith and immediately grants him his
request. Are you willing to suffer ridicule in the practice of your faith?
And when you need help, do you approach the Lord Jesus with expectant faith?

"Heavenly Father, you sent us your Son Jesus Christ that we might be
freed from the tyranny of sin and death. Increase my faith in the power
of your saving word and give me freedom to love and serve others with generosity
and mercy as you have loved me."

15 September 2012

16 Sep 2012, 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time; St. Cornelius and St. Cyprian

Isaiah 50:4c–9a

The Lord GOD opens my ear that I may hear; and I have not rebelled, have not turned back. I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting.

The Lord GOD is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame. He is near who upholds my right; if anyone wishes to oppose me, let us appear together. Who disputes my right? Let that man confront me. See, the Lord GOD is my help; who will prove me wrong?

Psalm 116:1–2, 3–4, 5–6, 8–9 (9)

R. I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living. or R. Alleluia.

I love the LORD because he has heard my voice in supplication, because he has inclined his ear to me the day I called.

R. I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living. or R. Alleluia.

The cords of death encompassed me; the snares of the netherworld seized upon me; I fell into distress and sorrow, and I called upon the name of the LORD, “O LORD, save my life!”

R. I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living. or R. Alleluia.

Gracious is the LORD and just; yes, our God is merciful. The LORD keeps the little ones; I was brought low, and he saved me.

R. I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living. or R. Alleluia.

For he has freed my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling. I shall walk before the LORD in the land of the living.

R. I will walk before the Lord, in the land of the living. or R. Alleluia.

James 2:14–18

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

Indeed someone might say, “You have faith and I have works.” Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.

Galatians 6:14

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord through which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Mark 8:27–35

Jesus and his disciples set out for the villages of Caesarea Philippi. Along the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” They said in reply, “John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said to him in reply, “You are the Christ.” Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him.

He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days. He spoke this openly. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples, rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.”


Who is Jesus for you? At an opportune time Jesus tests his disciples with a crucial question: Who do men say that I am and who do you say that I am? He was widely recognized in Israel as a mighty man of God, even being compared with the greatest of the prophets, John the Baptist, Elijah, and Jeremiah. Peter, always quick to respond, professes that Jesus is truly the Christ. No mortal being could have revealed this to Peter; but only God.Through faith Peter grasped who Jesus truly was. He was the first apostle to recognize Jesus as the Anointed One (Messiah and Christ). Christ is the Greek word for the Hebrew word Messiah, which means Anointed One. Peter's faith, however was sorely tested when Jesus explained that it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer and die in order that God's work of redemption may be accomplished. How startled the disciples were when they heard these words! How different are God's thoughts and ways from our thoughts and ways! Through humiliation, suffering, and death on the cross Jesus broke the powers of sin and death and won for us our salvation. The Lord Jesus tests each of us personally with the same question: Who do you say that I am?

The Lord Jesus explained to all who would listen what it would personally cost them to follow him as their Lord and Messiah – it would cost them everything, even their very lives! How can anyone make such a demand? God the Father freely gave us his Son, the Lord Jesus, to save us from sin and death – not just physical death but spiritual death as well. When we exchange our life for his we receive far more that we give up. We receive pardon, peace, and the abundant life of God's kingdom now, and the promise of the resurrection and unending life with God in the age to come. When we discover the treasure of God's kingdom – God himself – we gladly give up all that we have in exchange for the life of joy and happiness God offers us. God gives without measure. The joy he offers no sadness or loss can diminish. The cross of Christ leads to victory and freedom from sin and death. What is the cross which Jesus Christ commands me to take up each day? When my will crosses with his will, then his will must be done. Are you ready to lose all for Jesus Christ in order to gain all with Jesus Christ?

"Lord Jesus, I profess and believe that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God. You are my Lord and my Savior. Make my faith strong and help me to live in the victory of the cross by rejecting sin and by accepting your will."

15 Sep 2012, Our Lady of Sorrows


In the days when Christ was in the flesh, he offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.

Psalm 31:2 and 3b, 3cd-4, 5-6, 15-16, 20

R. Save me, O Lord, in your kindness.

In you, O LORD, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your justice rescue me, make haste to deliver me!

R. Save me, O Lord, in your kindness.

Be my rock of refuge, a stronghold to give me safety. You are my rock and my fortress; for your name’s sake you will lead and guide me.

R. Save me, O Lord, in your kindness.

You will free me from the snare they set for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hands I commend my spirit; you will redeem me, O LORD, O faithful God.

R. Save me, O Lord, in your kindness.

But my trust is in you, O LORD, I say, “You are my God.” In your hands is my destiny; rescue me from the clutches of my enemies and my persecutors.

R. Save me, O Lord, in your kindness.

How great is your goodness, O LORD, which you have in store for those who fear you, And which, toward those who take refuge in you, you show in the sight of the children of men.

R. Save me, O Lord, in your kindness.


R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Blessed are you, O Virgin Mary; without dying you won the martyr’s crown beneath the Cross of the Lord.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

John 19:25-27

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


Luke 2:33-35

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


Does suffering or sorrow weigh you down? The cross brings us face to face with Jesus' suffering. He was alone. All his disciples had deserted him except for his mother and three women along with John, the beloved disciple. The apostles had fled in fear. But Mary, the mother of Jesus and three other women who loved him were present at the cross. They demonstrate the power of love for overcoming fear (1 John 4:18).

At the beginning of Jesus' birth, when he was presented in the temple, Simeon had predicted that Mary would suffer greatly – a sword will pierce through your own soul (see Luke 2:33-35). Many have called Mary a martyr in spirit. Bernard of Clairvaux said: Jesus "died in body through a love greater than anyone had known. She died in spirit through a love unlike any other since his." Mary did not despair in her sorrow and loss, since her faith and hope were sustained by her trust in God and the love she had for her Son. Jesus, in his grief and suffering, did not forget his mother. He entrusted her care to John, as well as John to her. No loss, no suffering can keep us from the love of Christ (Romans 8:35-39). Paul the Apostle says that love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (1 Corinthians 13:3). We can find no greater proof of God's love for us than the willing sacrifice of his Son on the cross. Do you know the love that enables you to bear your cross and to endure trial and difficulties with faith and hope in God?

"Lord Jesus Christ, by your death on the cross you have won pardon for us and freedom from the tyranny of sin and death. May I live in the joy and freedom of your victory over sin and death."

14 September 2012

14 Sep 2012, The Exaltation of the Holy Cross - Feast

Numbers 21:4b–9

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

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

Psalm 78:1bc–2, 34–35, 36–37, 38 (see 7b)

R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!

Hearken, my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable, I will utter mysteries from of old.

R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!

While he slew them they sought him and inquired after God again, Remembering that God was their rock and the Most High God, their redeemer.

R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!

But they flattered him with their mouths and lied to him with their tongues, Though their hearts were not steadfast toward him, nor were they faithful to his covenant.

R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!

But he, being merciful, forgave their sin and destroyed them not; Often he turned back his anger and let none of his wrath be roused.

R. Do not forget the works of the Lord!

Philippians 2:6–11

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

John 10:27

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, because by your Cross you have redeemed the world.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

John 3:13–17

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

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


Do you know the healing power of the cross of Christ? Jesus explained to Nicodemus the necessity of his impending crucifixion and resurrection by analogy with Moses and the bronze serpent in the desert.When the people of Israel were afflicted with serpents in the wilderness because of their rebellion and sin, God instructed Moses: "Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and every one who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live" (Numbers 21:8). The bronze serpent points to the cross of Christ which defeats sin and death and obtains everlasting life for those who believe in Jesus and in his victory on the cross. The result of Jesus "being lifted up on the cross" and his rising and exaltation to the Father's right hand in heaven, is our "new birth in the Spirit" and adoption as sons and daughters of God. God not only redeems us, but he fills us with his own divine life and power that we might share in his glory.

There is no greater proof of God's love for his fallen creatures. "To ransom a slave God gave his Son" (an ancient prayer from the Easter vigil liturgy). God sent his Son to free us from the worst of tyrannies – slavery to sin and the curse of death. Jesus' sacrificial death was an act of total love in self-giving. Jesus gave himself completely out of love for his Father. And he willing layed down his life out of selfless love for our sake and for our salvation. His death on the cross was both a total offering to God and the perfect sacrifice of atonement for our sin and the sin of the world.

John tells us that God's love has no bounds or limits (John 3:16). His love is not limited to one people or a few chosen friends. His love is limitless because it embraces the whole world and every individual created in "his image and likeness". God is a persistent loving Father who cannot rest until all of his wandering children have returned home to him. Saint Augustine says, God loves each one of us as if there were only one of us to love. God gives us the freedom to choose whom and what we will love and not love. Jesus shows us the paradox of love and forgiveness and judgment and condemnation. We can love the darkness of sin and unbelief or we can love the light of God's truth, goodness, and mercy. If our love is guided by truth, goodness, and that which is truly beautiful, then we will choose for God and love him above all else. What we love shows what we prefer. Do you love God who is the supreme good above all else? And do you seek to put him first in all your thoughts, cares, choices, and actions?

God's love has been poured into our hearts through the gift of the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). Do you allow God's love to purify your heart and the way your treat others? Do you allow God's love to transform your mind and the way you think of others? Do you allow God's love to conquer every unruly passion and addiction that would enslave you to sin and harmful behavior? The Holy Spirit gives us his seven-fold gifts of wisdom and understanding, right judgment and courage, knowledge and reverence for God and his ways, and a holy fear in God's presence (see Isaiah 11) that we may live God's way of life and serve in the power and strength of his enduring love and mercy. Do you thirst for new life in the Spirit?

"Lord Jesus Christ, your death brought life for us. Fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may walk in freedom and joy as a child of God and as an heir with Christ of an eternal inheritance."