Archive for “2015”

Lectio Divina 8/28/2015

Friday, August 28 ~ Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time

Saint Augustine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

 

Holy Gospel: Matthew 25:1-13  Jesus told his disciples this parable: “The Kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight, there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise ones replied, ‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’  While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him.  Then the door was locked. Afterwards the other virgins came and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’ But he said in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

 

Meditation: Jesus warns us that there are consequences for being unprepared. There are certain things you cannot obtain at the last moment. For example, students cannot prepare for their exams when the day of testing is already upon them. A person cannot get the right kind of character, strength, and skill required for a task at hand unless they already possess it, such as a captain with courage and nautical skills who must steer a ship through a dangerous storm at sea. When the Lord Jesus comes to lead you to his heavenly banquet will you be ready to hear his voice and follow? Our eternal welfare depends on our hearing his voice, the call of the Good Shepherd, above all others.  How can we meet the Lord, face to face, when he calls us on the day of judgment, unless we listen to him today. The Lord invites us to feast at his heavenly banquet table. Are you ready?

 

Prayer: Renew in your Church, we pray, O Lord, that spirit with which you endowed your Bishop Saint Augustine that, filled with the same spirit, we may thirst for you, the sole fount of true wisdom, and seek you, the author of heavenly love. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Contemplation: What is your ultimate goal, and what are you doing to attain it?  If your ultimate goal is to graduate from Harvard, have a six-figure salary, live in a mansion and drive an expensive car, you’ve missed the boat.  Those might be short-term goals, but our ultimate goal should be to get to heaven; there is only one way to get there, and that is through Jesus Christ. Knowing this, now, what are you going to change in your life in order to achieve this ultimate goal?  There is no time like the present to change from our former ways of life to newness of life in Christ.  Start now!

 

Scripture passages (NAB translation) courtesy of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops;

prayers are from The Roman Missal, Catholic Book Publishing, 2011;

information about saints, solemnities, feasts and memorials courtesy of Catholic Culture.

frlumpe:2015

Lectio Divina 8/27/2015

Thursday, August 27 ~ Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time

Saint Monica

 

Holy Gospel: Matthew 24:42-51 Jesus said to his disciples: “Stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come. “Who, then, is the faithful and prudent servant, whom the master has put in charge of his household to distribute to them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master on his arrival finds doing so. Amen, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all his property. But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is long delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and eat and drink with drunkards, the servant’s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish him severely and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”

 

Meditation: When God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, into the world it was to rescue us from ourselves, from the tyranny of sin, Satan, and death. Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross and his triumphant victory over the grave won pardon for us and reconciliation with our heavenly Father, and the promise of everlasting life and joy in his kingdom. The Lord Jesus told his disciples on a number of occasions that he would return again at the end of this present age, not simply to rescue us again from our enemies, but as a victor King and Lord who will vindicate all who have believed in him,  How? By releasing us from the curse of death and condemnation and restoring for us the plan he had from the beginning of creation – a new heaven and a new earth for a people perfectly united with God in peace, joy, and harmony forever. This is the background to Jesus parable in today’s Gospel about the householder and the thief in the night.  When the Lord Jesus returns, he doesn’t want to find us flirting with the enemy or worse joining forces with enemies who are opposed to God and his kingdom.  He wants to see us fully aligned with him, and invites us constantly to do so when Jesus says “follow me.”

 

Prayer: O God, who console the sorrowful and who mercifully accepted the motherly tears of Saint Monica for the conversion of her son Augustine, grant us, through the intercession of them both, that we may bitterly regret our sins and find the grace of your pardon. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Contemplation: And so Jesus invites us to follow him, time and time again.  But ask yourself: Do I take up Jesus on his invitation? If I do follow him, I am truly attentive to his teachings by embracing them and living them, so that I am ready to meet him when he calls each of us to himself. The Lord gives us his Holy Spirit so that we may have the wisdom, help, and strength we need to turn away from sin to embrace God’s way of love, justice, and holiness. The Lord’s warning of judgment causes dismay for those who are unprepared, but it brings joyful hope to those who eagerly wait for his return in glory.  God’s judgment is good news for those who are ready to meet him. Their reward is God himself, the source of all truth, beauty, goodness, love and everlasting life.

Lectio Divina 8/26/2015

Wednesday, August 26 ~ Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time

 

Holy Gospel: Matthew 23:27-32 Jesus said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of filth. Even so, on the outside you appear righteous, but inside you are filled with hypocrisy and evildoing. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the memorials of the righteous, and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have joined them in shedding the prophets’ blood.’ Thus you bear witness against yourselves that you are the children of those who murdered the prophets; now fill up what your ancestors measured out!”

 

Meditation: Outward appearances can be deceptive. Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth (Isaiah 11:3-4). The heart reveals the true intentions and attitudes that form the way we think of others and treat them. Jesus used strong language to warn the religious leaders and teachers about the vanity of outward appearance and pretense – wearing a mask that hides the true intentions and thoughts of the heart. This warning applies to all persons who identify themselves as disciples and followers of Christ, and so we must meditate on what authentic discipleship in Christ really means.  It is not mere show, but an authentic way of life, in all aspects of life, day in and day out.

 

Prayer: O God, who cause the minds of the faithful to unite in a single purpose, grant your people to love what you command and to desire what you promise, that, amid the uncertainties of this world, our hearts may be fixed on that place where true gladness is found. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Contemplation: Jesus warns that what truly corrupts a person is not external ritual impurity but the impurity of wrong and sinful attitudes that come from within a person’s mind and heart – pride, greed, sloth, envy, hatred, gluttony, and lust.  These are what produce sinful habits (vices) and ways of speaking, acting, judging, and treating others. That is why every good deed is beautiful in God’s sight and every wrong or sinful deed is ugly in his sight. The scribes and Pharisees were intensely religious in their outward observances, but their outward show didn’t match the inner reality of the state of their minds and hearts. True beauty, goodness, and piety come from within, an interior motivation from a heart that is set on pleasing God and a mind that is set on hearing and obeying God’s word, and thus the importance of having an authentic interior life rooted in Christ. Jesus came to set us free from slavery to sin and harmful habits and addictions that lead us into wrong and sinful ways of thinking, acting, and relating to others. Only the humble of heart can receive from God true wisdom and understanding, pardon and healing. The Holy Spirit is ever ready to renew our minds and hearts and to lead us in God’s way of love and holiness. Pray that the Holy Spirit will purify your heart and mind and to fill you with the power of God’s love and goodness, and thus integrate this wisdom and love into your daily life.  Such integration will lead to a balanced way of life. Therefore, cultivating our interior life is a means of finding that balance. Trappist monk Fr. Thomas Merton, OCSO, contextualizes this more richly in his book New Seeds of Contemplation: “This then is what it means to seek God perfectly: to withdraw from illusion and pleasure, from worldly anxieties and desires, from the works that God does not want, from a glory that is only human display; to keep my mind free from confusion in order that my liberty may be always at the disposal of His will; to entertain silence in my heart and listen for the voice of God; to cultivate an intellectual freedom from the images of created things in order to receive the secret contact of God in obscure love; to love all men as myself.”  This book is a must read for those who wish to cultivate their interior life so that one may enter into a more fruitful, prayerful dialogue with God.

Lectio Divina 8/25/2015

Tuesday, August 25 ~ Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time

Saint Louis of France, King; Saint Joseph Calasanz, Priest

 

Holy Gospel: Matthew 23:23-26 Jesus said: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You pay tithes of mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier things of the law: judgment and mercy and fidelity. But these you should have done, without neglecting the others. Blind guides, who strain out the gnat and swallow the camel! “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You cleanse the outside of cup and dish, but inside they are full of plunder and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup, so that the outside also may be clean.”

 

Meditation: Jesus went to the heart of the matter when he called the religious leaders of his day blind Pharisees and hypocrites! A hypocrite is an actor or imposter who says one thing but does the opposite or who puts on an outward appearance of doing good while inwardly clinging to wrong attitudes, selfish desires and ambitions, or bad intentions. Many scribes and Pharisees had made it a regular practice to publicly put on a good show of outward zeal and piety with the intention of winning greater honors, privileges, and favors among the people. Jesus had a very good reason for severely rebuking the scribes and Pharisees, the religious teachers and leaders, for misleading people and neglecting the heart and essence of God’s law – love God above all things, and love your neighbor as yourself.

 

Prayer ~ Saint Louis: O God, who brought Saint Louis from the cares of earthly rule to the glory of a heavenly realm, grant, we pray, through his intercession, that, by fulfilling our duties on earth, we may seek out your eternal Kingdom. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Prayer ~ Saint Joseph Calasanz: O God, who adorned the Priest Saint Joseph Calasanz with such charity and patience that he labored tirelessly to educate children and endow them with every virtue, grant, we pray, that we, who venerate him as a teacher of wisdom, may constantly imitate him, for he was a co-worker of your truth. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Contemplation: The essence of God’s commandments is rooted in love – love God above all things, and love your neighbor as yourself – righteousness (justice and goodness), and mercy. God is love and everything he does, including his justice and goodness, flows from his love for us. True love is costly and sacrificial – it both embraces and lifts the burdens of others. And so we might ask ourselves today: Do you allow the love of God to shape and transform the way you live your daily life, especially in the way you think of others, speak of them, and treat them?  If not, now is an opportunity to let the transformative grace of God work in and through you so that you may imitate Christ in thought, word and deed.

Lectio Divina 8/24/2015

“What page, what passage of the inspired books of the Old and New Testaments

is not the truest of guides for human life?” ~Saint Benedict, from the Rule of Saint Benedict (73:3)
“A Christian is: a mind through which Christ thinks, a heart through which Christ loves, a voice through which Christ speaks, and a hand through which Christ helps.”

~ Saint Augustine

 

Monday, August 24, 2015 ~ Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time

Saint Bartholomew, Apostle

 

Holy Gospel: John 1:45-51 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.” But Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him.” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

 

Meditation: What is the significance of Jesus’ revelation of seeing Nathanael (known as Bartholomew in Matthew 10:3 and Luke 6:14) “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 refreshing place to retreat, pray, meditate and reflect on God’s word. Rabbis often gathered their disciples under the shade of the fig to teach them the wisdom and revelation of God from the Scriptures. The rabbis had an expression for comparing the fig tree to being nourished with God’s word in Scripture, “He who tends the fig tree will eat its fruit.”  And thus we see the importance of meditating on Sacred Scripture, but then “living” what we have learned as “doers of the word, not hearers only” (James 1:22) so that these sacred teachings can bear fruit in our daily lives.

 

Prayer: Strengthen in us, O Lord, the faith, by which the blessed Apostle Bartholomew clung wholeheartedly to your Son, and grant that through the help of his prayers your Church may become for all the nations the sacrament of salvation. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Contemplation: 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 adopted sons and daughters. The Lord Jesus opens the way for each one 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 strive to do his will. Through the gift of faith God opens a door for each one of us to the heavenly reality of his kingdom. And so we might contemplate on asking ourselves: Do you see with the “eyes of faith” what the Lord Jesus has done for us?

 

About Saint Bartholomew: In St. John’s Gospel, Bartholomew is known by the name Nathaniel (the liturgy does not always seem aware of this identity). He hailed from Cana in Galilee, was one of the first disciples called by the Lord. On that initial meeting Jesus uttered the glorious compliment: “Behold, an Israelite indeed in whom there is no guile!” After the Resurrection he was favored by becoming one of the few apostles who witnessed the appearance of the risen Savior on the sea of Galilee (John 21:2). Following the Ascension he is said to have preached in Greater Armenia and to have been martyred there. While still alive, his skin was torn from his body. The Armenians honor him as the apostle of their nation. Concerning the fate of his relics, the Martyrology says: “His holy body was first taken to the island of Lipari (north of Sicily), then to Benevento, and finally to Rome on an island in the Tiber where it is honored by the faithful with pious devotion.” The Church of Armenia has a national tradition that St. Jude Thaddeus and St. Bartholomew visited the Armenians early in the first century and introduced Christianity among the worshippers of the god Ahura Mazda. The new faith spread throughout the land, and in 302 A.D., St. Gregory the Illuminator baptized the king of Armenia, Dertad the Great, along with many of his followers. Since Dertad was probably the first ruler to embrace Christianity for his nation, the Armenians proudly claim they were the first Christian State.

Lectio Divina 8/21/2015

Friday, August 21 ~ Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time

Our Lady of Knock

 

Holy Gospel: Matthew 22:34-40 When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a scholar of the law, tested him by asking, “Teacher, which  commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

 

Meditation: Jesus summarized the whole of the law in two great commandments found in Deuteronomy  6:5 – “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” – and Leviticus 19:18 – “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” God’s love directs all that he does – His love is holy, just, and pure because it seeks only what is good, beneficial, and life-giving – rather than what is destructive, evil, or deadly. That is why he commands us to love – to accept and to give only what is good, lovely, just, and pure and to reject whatever is contrary.

 

Prayer: O God, who give hope to your people in a time of distress, grant that we who keep the memorial

of the Blessed Virgin, Our Lady of Knock may, through her intercession, be steadfast in the faith during our earthly pilgrimage to heaven, and so come to eternal glory with all the angels and the Saints. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Contemplation: Love is the gift of giving oneself for the good of others – it is wholly other oriented and directed to the welfare and benefit of others. Love which is rooted in pleasing myself is self-centered and possessive – it is a selfish love that takes from others rather than gives to others. It is a stunted and disordered love which leads to many hurtful and sinful desires – such as jealousy, greed, envy, and lust. The root of all sin is disordered love and pride which is fundamentally putting myself above God and my neighbor – it is loving and serving me, myself and I rather than God and neighbor. True love, which is wholly directed and oriented to what is good rather than evil, is rooted in God’s truth and moral goodness. How can we possibly love God above all else and obey his commandments willingly and joyfully, and how can we love our neighbor and willing lay down our life for their sake? Paul the Apostle tells us that “hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us” (Romans 5:5). We do not earn God’s love – it is freely given to those who open their heart to God and who freely accept the gift of the Holy Spirit. Ask the Lord Jesus to flood your heart with his love through the gift of the Holy Spirit.

 

About Our Lady of Knock: On August 21, 1879, Margaret Beirne, a resident of Cnoc Mhuire, was sent by her brother to lock up the church for the evening. When she was ready to leave, she noticed a strange brightness hovering over the church. Margaret had other things on her mind, and didn’t tell anyone what she saw. Around the same time, another member of the Beirne family, Mary, was leaving from a visit to the church’s housekeeper, and stopped with the housekeeper at the gables, where they could see the church. Mary replied: “Oh look at the statues! Why didn’t you tell me the priest got new statues for the chapel?” The housekeeper responded that she knew nothing of the priest getting new statues. So, they both went for a closer look, and Mary Beirne said: “But they are not statues, they’re moving. It’s the Blessed Virgin!” Thirteen others also came and saw the beautiful woman, clothed in white garments, wearing a brilliant crown. Her hands were raised as if in prayer. All knew that it was Mary, the Mother of Jesus, Queen of Angels. On the right of Our Lady stood St. Joseph, his head inclined toward her. On her left stood St. John the Evangelist, dressed as a bishop. To the left of St. John stood an altar which had a lamb and a cross surrounded by angels on it. The vision lasted about two hours. People who were not at the apparition site reported that they saw a bright light illuminating the area where the church was. Many of the sick were healed upon visiting the church at Knock.

 

Scripture passages (NAB translation) courtesy of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops;

prayers are from The Roman Missal, Catholic Book Publishing, 2011;

information about saints, solemnities, feasts and memorials courtesy of Catholic Culture.

frlumpe:2015

Lectio Divina 8/20/2015

Thursday, August 20 ~ Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Abbot and Doctor of the Church

 

Holy Gospel: Matthew 22:1-14 Jesus again in reply spoke to the chief priests and the elders of the people in parables saying, “The Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast, but they refused to come. A second time he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those invited: “Behold, I have prepared my banquet, my calves and fattened cattle are killed, and everything is ready; come to the feast.”’ Some ignored the invitation and went away, one to his farm, another to his business. The rest laid hold of his servants, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged and sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then the king said to his servants, ‘The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come. Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find.’ The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests. But when the king came in to meet the guests he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment. He said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’ But he was reduced to silence. Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’ Many are invited, but few are chosen.”

 

Meditation: Jesus’ parable contains two stories. The first has to do with the original guests invited to the marriage feast. The king had sent out invitations well in advance to his subjects, so they would have plenty of time to prepare for coming to the feast. How insulting for the invited guests to then refuse when the time for celebrating came! They made light of the King’s request because they put their own interests above his. They not only insulted the King but the heir to the throne as well. The king’s anger is justified because they openly refused to give the king the honor he was due. Jesus directed this warning to the Jews of his day, both to convey how much God wanted them to share in the joy of his kingdom, but also to give a warning about the consequences of refusing his Son, their Messiah and Savior. The second part of the story focuses on those who had no claim on the king and who would never have considered getting such an invitation. The good and the bad along the highways certainly referred to the Gentiles and to sinners. This is certainly an invitation of grace – undeserved, unmerited favor and kindness! But this invitation also contains a warning for those who refuse it or who approach the wedding feast unworthily. God’s grace is a free gift, but it is also an awesome responsibility.

 

Prayer: O God, who made the Abbot Saint Bernard a man consumed with zeal for your house and a light shining and burning in your Church, grant, through his intercession, that we may be on fire with the same spirit and walk always as children of light. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Contemplation: Saint John Chrysostom provides some words to contemplate on pertaining to today’s parable: “But since you have already come into the house of the marriage feast, our holy church, as a result of God’s generosity, be careful, my friends, lest when the King enters he find fault with some aspect of your heart’s clothing. We must consider what comes next with great fear in our hearts. But the king came in to look at the guests and saw there a person not clothed in a wedding garment. What do we think is meant by the wedding garment, dearly beloved? For if we say it is baptism or faith, is there anyone who has entered this marriage feast without them? A person is outside because he has not yet come to believe. What then must we understand by the wedding garment but love? That person enters the marriage feast, but without wearing a wedding garment, who is present in the holy church. He may have faith, but he does not have love. We are correct when we say that love is the wedding garment because this is what our Creator himself possessed when he came to the marriage feast to join the church to himself. Only God’s love brought it about that his only begotten Son united the hearts of his chosen to himself. John says that ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son for us’ ” (John 3:16).

Lectio Divina 8/19/2015

Wednesday, August 19 ~ Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time

Saint John Eudes, Priest

 

Holy Gospel: Mathew 20:1-16 Jesus told his disciples this parable: “The Kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. Going out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and he said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard, and I will give you what is just.’ So they went off. And he went out again around noon, and around three o’clock, and did likewise. Going out about five o’clock, he found others standing around, and said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’ They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard.’ When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Summon the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and ending with the first.’ When those who had started about five o’clock came, each received the usual daily wage. So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more, but each of them also got the usual wage. And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last ones worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us, who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’ He said to one of them in reply, ‘My friend, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?’ Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

 

Meditation: In the parable of the laborers in the vineyard we see the extraordinary generosity and compassion of God (Matthew 20:1-16). There is great tragedy in underemployment, unemployment, the loss of work, and the inability to earn enough to live and support oneself or one’s family. In Jesus’ times laborers had to wait each day in the marketplace until someone hired them for a day’s job. No work that day usually meant no food on the family table. The laborers who worked all day and received their payment complain that the master pays the late afternoon laborers the same wage. The master, undoubtedly, hired them in the late afternoon so they wouldn’t go home payless and hungry. God is generous in opening the doors of his kingdom to all who will enter, both those who have labored a life-time for him and those who come at the last hour. While the reward is the same, the motive for one’s labor can make all the difference. Some work only for reward. They will only put in as much effort as they think they will get back. Others labor out of love and joy for the opportunity to work and to serve others. The Lord Jesus calls each one of us to serve God and his kingdom with joy and zeal and to serve our neighbor with a generous spirit as well.

 

Prayer: O God, who wonderfully chose the Priest Saint John Eudes to proclaim the unfathomable riches of Christ, grant us, by his example and teachings, that, growing in knowledge of you, we may live faithfully by the light of the Gospel. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Contemplation: Today’s Gospel should make us think about whether or not we labor for God’s kingdom here on earth, whether or not we live our lives in witness to Christ, and asking if we labor for Christ in order to attain eternal life with Him. What motivates us? What is our intent? What is our ultimate goal in life? If our ultimate goal is not focused on attaining eternal life with Christ, then today is a perfect time to make a course correction in order to get a clear understanding of what our earthly life should be about in order to attain eternal life.

Lectio Divina 8/18/2015

Tuesday, August 18, 2015 ~ Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time

 

Holy Gospel: Matthew 19:23-30 Jesus said to his disciples: “Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of heaven. Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For men this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” Then Peter said to him in reply, “We have given up everything and followed you. What will there be for us?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you that you who have followed me, in the new age, when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory, will yourselves sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

 

Meditation: One might wonder if Jesus was against wealth, and persons who had wealth. We know that Jesus was not opposed to wealth per se, nor was he opposed to the wealthy. He had many friends who were well-to-do, including some notorious tax collectors! One (Matthew, who wrote this Gospel) even became an apostle. Jesus’ is concerned that wealth can make us falsely independent. The church at Laodicea was warned about their attitude towards wealth and a false sense of security: “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing” (Revelations 3:17). Wealth can also lead us into hurtful desires and selfishness (see 1 Timothy 6:9-10). Look at the lesson Jesus gave about the rich man and his sons who refused to aid the poor man Lazarus (see Luke 16:19ff). They neglected to serve God. Only those who put their trust in God and who depend on him, and who share what they have with those in need, will find true peace, security, and happiness which lead to everlasting life and joy in God’s kingdom.

 

Prayer: O God, who have prepared for those who love you good things which no eye can see, fill our hearts, we pray, with the warmth of your love, so that, loving you in all things and above all things, we may attain your promises, which surpass every human desire. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Contemplation: Do you recognize and acknowledge our total need and dependence on God? If you do not, now is the time to recognize this truth, for only through the Lord will we find true peace, security, and happiness that can sustain us now and forever. Only God alone can satisfy our deepest need and longing – everything else is fleeting at best.

Lectio Divina 8/17/2015

“There are those who seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge; that is Curiosity. There are those who seek knowledge to be known by others; that is Vanity. There are those who seek knowledge in order to serve; that is Love.” ~Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

 

Monday, August 17, 2015 ~ Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time

 

Holy Gospel: Matthew 19:16-22 A young man approached Jesus and said, “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?” He answered him, “Why do you ask me about the good? There is only One who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He asked him, “Which ones?” And Jesus replied, “You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; honor your father and your mother; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

 

Meditation: The young man who apparently had the best the world could offer – money, property, a position in society – came to Jesus because lacked one thing. He wanted the kind of lasting peace and happiness which his possessions could not buy. The answer he got, however, was not what he wanted to hear. He claims to have kept all of the commandments, so he must be an honest person in worldly dealings, and he obviously was a man of faith because he approached Jesus with a legitimate question. But based on the young man’s reaction to Jesus’ response, it becomes quite obvious that there is one thing that impeded the young man from giving himself wholeheartedly to God – his love of his possessions. While he lacked nothing in terms of material goods, he was possessive of what he had, and  placed his hope and security in his possessions. That is why he became sad when Jesus challenged him to make God his one true possession and treasure, instead of his earthly possessions. Which begs the question – are you willing to part with your possessions in order to seek and attain everlasting joy with Jesus?

 

Prayer: O God, who have prepared for those who love you good things which no eye can see, fill our hearts, we pray, with the warmth of your love, so that, loving you in all things and above all things, we may attain your promises, which surpass every human desire. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Contemplation: A very wise, faithful and holy priest I came to know in seminary once told us that one measure of our love for Christ, in comparison to anything else, is our attitude – do I want to spend time with Christ, do I desire from the heart to spend time with Christ, versus do I have to spend my time with Christ. The latter being the negative approach, like a child told to clean his or her room when they want to go out and play – “do I have to do this” versus wanting to do it. Apply this to Sunday Mass – do you desire to go to Mass, or do you go to Mass simply because you have to? Treasure has a special connection to the heart, the place of desire and longing, the place of personal will, desire and focus. The thing we most set our heart on is our highest treasure. Jesus himself is the greatest treasure we can possibly have. Giving up everything else to have the Lord as our treasure is not sorrowful, but the greatest joy.