Archive for “2015”

Lectio Divina 12/11/2015

Friday, December 11, 2015 ~ Second Week in the Season of Advent

Saint Damasus I, Pope

 

Holy Gospel: Matthew 11:16-19 Jesus said to the crowds: “To what shall I compare this generation? It is like children who sit in marketplaces and call to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance, we sang a dirge but you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they said, ‘He is possessed by a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they said, ‘Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is vindicated by her works.”

 

Meditation: Jesus parable about a group of disappointed musicians and their stubborn friends who refuse to sing or dance at the appropriate occasion challenge us to examine whether we are selective to only hear and do what we want to hear. The young music players in Jesus’ parable react with great dismay because they cannot get anyone to follow their instruction. They complain that if they play their music at weddings, no one will join in their festive song and dance; and if they play mournful tunes and songs at funerals, no one will join in at all. This parable echoes the wisdom of Ecclesiastes 3:4 – “there is a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance.” And so are you in tune with the message of God’s kingdom? Do you heed God’s words of wisdom and truth and those of Jesus Christ as if your life depended on it? Your very life does depend on it, in case you forgot!

 

Prayer: Grant, we pray, O Lord, that we may constantly exalt the merits of your Martyrs, whom Pope Saint Damasus so venerated and loved. 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 can make us spiritually dull and slow to hear God’s voice? Anything that we let get in-between our relationship with God and his son, Jesus Christ. What is the definition of a noun? A person, place or thing.  Do you let any person, place or thing take a place of prominence in your life over God or Jesus? Your job? Your politicals? Your personal relationships? Any advocacy groups you may belong to or support? Do you have friends or family members who actually lead you away from following Christ and living a life in witness to Christ? Like the generation of Jesus’ time, there are many aspects of our age and time that are marked by indifference and contempt, especially in regards to God, Jesus, and the things of heaven. Indifference dulls our ears to God’s voice and to the Good News of the Gospel. Only the humble of heart can find joy and favor in God’s sight. And so ask yourself – and be honest in your answer – is your life in tune with Jesus’ message of hope and salvation? In this Season of Advent, now is the time to undertake radical conversion of mind and heart, turn away from the ways of the world, and turn back to Christ.  This first step usually begins with making a good confession. In this Year of Mercy, do it!

 

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.

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Lectio Divina 12/10/2015

Thursday, December 10, 2015 ~ Second Week in the Season of Advent

 

Holy Gospel: Matthew 11:11-15 Jesus said to the crowds: “Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the Kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent are taking it by force. All the prophets and the law prophesied up to the time of John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah, the one who is to come. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

 

Meditation: Throughout the history of the Church we have seen where God certain persons to be martyrs – some we know of, some we do not – to be witnesses to their faith in Jesus Christ.  We see this taking place even in our own time in the Middle East with the radical group ISIS beheading Christians who choose to be steadfast in their faith rather to renounce is and embrace the Muslim faith.  We pray for those modern martyrs who have been steadfast in their faith. But day-in and day-out most of us our called to be “dry martyrs” – bloodless martyrs who bear witness to the teachings of Christ versus falling prey to the way of the world, for instance following the Wisdom (capital “W”) of God the supreme being instead of the wisdom (small ‘w’) of the human beings who make up our U.S. Supreme Court (whose rulings often are in conflict with God’s teachings and commands and the teachings of Jesus Christ). We are called to live in testimony to the joy of the Gospel in the midst of daily challenges, contradictions, temptations and adversities which come our way as we follow the Lord Jesus. What attracts others to the Gospel of Jesus Christ?  When they see Christians loving their enemies, being joyful in suffering, patient in adversity, pardoning injuries, and showing comfort and compassion to the hopeless and the helpless. Jesus tells us that we do not need to fear our adversaries. He will fill us with the power of his Holy Spirit and give us sufficient grace, strength, and wisdom to face any trial and to answer any challenge to our faith. Are you eager to live your life in witness to the teaching and commands of God and to the teachings of Jesus Christ, illustrating the joy and freedom of the Gospel?

 

Prayer: Stir up our hearts, O Lord, to make ready the paths of your Only Begotten Son, that through his coming, we may be found worthy to serve you with minds made pure. 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: John the Baptist suffered violence for announcing that the kingdom of God was near. He was thrown into prison and later beheaded as a “gift.” Since John’s martyrdom to the present times there has been violence and persecution at the hands of violent persons who, basically, feel threated by his teachings. The blood of the martyrs throughout the ages bears witness to this fact. The martyrs witness to the truth – the truth and love of Jesus Christ who shed his blood to redeem us from slavery to sin and Satan and the fear of death. The Lord Jesus gives us the power of his Holy Spirit to overcome fear with faith, despair with hope, and every form of hatred, violence, jealousy, and prejudice with love and charity towards all – even those who seek to destroy and kill.

 

Lectio Divina 12/9/2015

Wednesday, December 9, 2015 ~ Second Week in the Season of Advent

Saint Juan Diego

 

Holy Gospel: Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus said to the crowds: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

 

Meditation: What kind of yoke does the Lord Jesus have in mind for each one of us? And how can it be good for us? The Jewish people used the image of a yoke to express their submission to God. They spoke of the yoke of the law, the yoke of the commandments, the yoke of the kingdom, the yoke of God. Jesus says his yoke is “easy.” The Greek word for “easy” can also mean “well-fitting.” Yokes – the collar worn around oxen used for labor – were tailor-made to fit the oxen well. We are commanded to put on the “sweet yoke of Jesus” and to live the “heavenly way of life and happiness.” Oxen were yoked two by two. Jesus invites each one of us to be yoked with him, to unite our life with him, conform our will with his will, our desires with his desires, our heart with his sacred heart, our lives with his life. Jesus also says his “burden is light.” No burden is too heavy when it’s given in love and carried in love. When we yoke our lives with Jesus, he also carries our burdens with us and gives us his strength to follow in his way of love.

 

Prayer: O God, who by means of Saint Juan Diego showed the love of the most holy Virgin Mary for your people, grant, through his intercession, that, by following the counsels our Mother gave at Guadalupe, we may be ever constant in fulfilling your will. 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: During this Season of Advent we celebrate the coming of the Messiah King who ushers in the reign of God. The Old Testament prophets foretold that the Messiah would establish God’s kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy. Those who put their trust in God and in the coming of his kingdom receive the blessings of that kingdom – peace with God and strength for living his way of love, truth, and holiness (Isaiah 40). Jesus fulfills all the Messianic hopes and promises of God’s kingdom. That is why he taught his disciples to pray, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).  In his kingdom our sins are not only forgiven but removed sacramentally with mercy and compassion, and eternal life is poured out for all its citizens. This is not a political kingdom, but a spiritual one.  Sometimes we get caught up in politics and the rhetoric of our political parties and affiliations – none of which will get us to heaven.  There is only one Savior, the son of God, who was sent into this world out of love by God to save us from ourselves and to redeem us from our sins. Take the yoke of Christ upon you, let Jesus guide you as only he, our Good Shepherd, can, and let his light illuminate the one path that leads to eternal life with him in heaven.

Lectio Divina 12/8/2015

Tuesday, December 8, 2015 ~ Second Week in the Season of Advent

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Patronal Feast Day of the United States of America

~ A Holy Day of Obligation ~

 

Holy Gospel: Luke 1: 26-38 The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

 

Meditation: The angel Gabriel salutes Mary as “full of grace.” To become the mother of the Savior, Mary was enriched by God with gifts to enable her to assume this awesome role. There is a venerable tradition among many Christians, dating back to the early church, for honoring Mary as the spotless virgin who bore the Son of God in her womb. A number of early church fathers link Mary’s obedience to this singular grace of God, including Saint Irenaeus who said: “Being obedient she became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race… The knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by Mary’s obedience: what the virgin Eve bound through her disbelief, Mary loosened by her faith.”

 

Prayer: O God, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin prepared a worthy dwelling for your Son, grant, we pray, that, as you preserved her from every stain by virtue of the Death of your Son, which you foresaw, so, through her intercession, we, too, may be cleansed and admitted to your presence. 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: God gives us grace and he expects us to respond with the same willingness, obedience, and heart-felt trust as Mary did. When God commands us he also gives us the grace, strength, and means to respond to him. And so we might ask ourselves, when God commands us to do something, or when his son, Jesus Christ, teaches us to do something, do we respond with love, willingness, faith and obedience as Mary did? Or do we push back in way or another, on one level or another, because we think we know better, or think that “I have a better way.”  Really?  A better way than God or Jesus?  If we really love God above all things, then our faith and our obedience to God and to Jesus Christ will prove this to be the case day-in and day-out, in every situation, before all people. Is this true for you?  If the ways of the world have slowly crept into your life that, upon an introspective examination, you now see that the ways of the world have taken over your life, this Season of Advent is the perfect time to undergo a radical transformation of mind and heart so that, like Mary, you can say “May it be done to me according to your word” – according to God’s word and according to Jesus’ word, where we fine true joy, peace and happiness.

Lectio Divina 12/7/2015

 

The secret of spiritual fortitude is for us to abandon ourselves to Christ, the power of God, and then He Himself will overcome evil and deliver us from forces that we would never be capable of resisting by ourselves. This is the fortitude of faith. Christ lives in the world in those who take Him for their light, their strength and their protection. It is for them that He came into the world in His Incarnation.”

~Excerpted from “Seasons of Celebration” by Fr. Thomas Merton, OCSO

 

Monday, December 7, 2015 ~ Second Week in the Season of Advent

Saint Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor of the Church

 

Holy Gospel: Luke 5:17-26 One day as Jesus was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there, and the power of the Lord was with him for healing. And some men brought on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed; they were trying to bring him in and set him in his presence. But not finding a way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on the stretcher through the tiles into the middle in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “As for you, your sins are forgiven.” Then the scribes and Pharisees began to ask themselves, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who but God alone can forgive sins?” Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them in reply, “What are you thinking in your hearts?
Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”– he said to the one who was paralyzed, “I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.”  He stood up immediately before them, picked up what he had been lying on, and went home, glorifying God. Then astonishment seized them all and they glorified God,
and, struck with awe, they said, “We have seen incredible things today.”

 

Meditation: Jesus’ treatment of sinners upset the religious teachers of the day. When a cripple was brought to Jesus because of the faith of his friends, Jesus did the unthinkable. He first forgave the man his sins. The scribes regarded this as blasphemy because they understood that only God had authority to forgive sins and to unbind a man or woman from their burden of guilt. Jesus claimed an authority which only God could rightfully give. Jesus not only proved that his authority came from God, he showed the great power of God’s redeeming love and mercy by healing the cripple of his physical ailment. This man had been crippled not only physically, but spiritually as well. Jesus freed him from his burden of guilt and restored his body as well. The Lord is ever ready to bring us healing of body, mind, and soul. His grace brings us freedom from the power of sin and from bondage to harmful desires and addictions. Do you allow anything to keep you from Jesus’ healing power?

 

Prayer: O God, who made the Bishop Saint Ambrose a teacher of the Catholic faith and a model of apostolic courage, raise up in your Church men after your own heart to govern her with courage and wisdom. 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 Old Testament prophets foretold that when the Messiah came to usher in God’s kingdom the blind would see, the deaf hear, and the lame walk (Isaiah 35:5-6). Jesus not only brought physical healing, but healing of mind, heart, and soul as well. Jesus came to bring us the abundant life of God’s kingdom (John 10:10). Do you know someone who is in need of healing physically or spiritually? The next bi-monthly Healing Mass and Healing Service at Saint Joseph Cathedral will take place on Monday, January 18, at 6:30 p.m. All are invited. Looking at this on another level, that new life and transformation that we all seek can be stifled by unbelief, indifference, and sinful pride. Sin can cripple us far more than any physical ailment can. Sin is the work of the kingdom of darkness and holds us in captivity and bondage. There is only one solution and that is the healing, cleansing power of Jesus’ mercy, compassion and forgiveness available to us through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. As we begin tomorrow the Extraordinary Year of Mercy promulgated by Pope Francis, and in our preparation for the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, let’s make sure that we make a good confession in the Season of Advent.  And whenever we are in a state of serious sin, let’s not wait for a penance service in Advent or Lent, as Christ’s mercy and compassion and forgiveness are available to us whenever we have a contrite heart and approach a priest working in persona Christi – in the person of Christ – in the confessional and say, “Bless me father, for I have sinned…”

 

Lectio Divina 12/4/2015

Friday, December 4, 2015 ~ First Week in the Season of Advent

Saint John Damascene, Priest and Doctor of the Church

 

Holy Gospel: Matthew 9:27-31 As Jesus passed by, two blind men followed him, crying out, “Son of David, have pity on us!” When he entered the house, the blind men approached him and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I can do this?” “Yes, Lord,” they said to him. Then he touched their eyes and said, “Let it be done for you according to your faith.” And their eyes were opened. Jesus warned them sternly, “See that no one knows about this.” But they went out and spread word of him through all that land.

 

Meditation: God wants to change and transform our lives to set us free to live as his sons and daughters and citizens of his kingdom. Faith is key to this transformation. How can we grow in faith? Faith is a gift freely given by God to help us know God personally, to understand his truth, and to live in the power of his love. For faith to be effective it must be linked with trust and obedience – an active submission to God and a willingness to do whatever he commands. The Lord Jesus wants us to live in the confident expectation that he will fulfill his promises to us and bring us into the fullness of his kingdom – a kingdom of  righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17).

 

Prayer: Grant, we pray, O Lord, that we may be helped by the prayers of the Priest Saint John Damascene, so that the true faith, which he excelled in teaching, may always be our light and our strength. 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: Are there any blind-spots in your life that keep you from recognizing God’s power and mercy? When two blind men heard that Jesus was passing their way, they followed him and begged for his mercy. The word mercy literally means “sorrowful at heart”. But mercy is something more than compassion, or heartfelt sorrow at another person’s misfortune. Compassion empathizes with the sufferer. But mercy goes further; it removes suffering. A merciful person shares in another person’s misfortune and suffering as if it were their own. Note also that when the two blind men approached Jesus, he questioned their earnestness. “Do you believe that I can do this?” Jesus put them to the test, not to rebuff them, but to strengthen their faith and trust in God’s mercy. He touched their eyes, both to identify with their affliction and to awaken faith in them. Their faith grew as they responded to his word with confident hope. Jesus restored their sight – both physically and spiritually to the reality of God’s kingdom. Faith opens the way for us to see the power of God’s kingdom and to experience his healing presence in our lives.

 

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.

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DURING THIS ADVENT SEASON…

The Advent Season is filled with preparation and expectation. Everyone is getting ready for Christmas — shopping and decorating, baking and cleaning. Too often, however, we are so busy with the material preparations that we lose sight of the real reason for our activity: the Word made flesh coming to dwell among us. Christians are urged to preserve the spiritual focus of Christmas amidst the prevailingly secular and consumer-driven society. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of the season, let us strive to keep Advent a season of waiting and longing, of conversion and hope, meditating often on the incredible love and humility of our God in taking on flesh of the Virgin Mary.

 

In our shopping and baking, let us remember to purchase through our CATHEDRAL GIVING TREE  something for the poor and less fortunate in residence at Bryden House, and for the clients served by JOIN. Always remember, too, people where we live – perhaps an older neighbor or single person down the street who doesn’t have family nearby. When we clean our homes, let us distribute some of our possessions to those who lack many necessities. While we are decking the halls of our homes, let us not forget to prepare a peaceful place in our hearts wherein our Savior may come to dwell.

 

 

 

Lectio Divina 12/3/2015

Thursday, December 3, 2015 ~ First Week in the Season of Advent

Saint Francis Xavier, Priest

 

Holy Gospel: Matthew 7:21, 24-27 Jesus said to his disciples: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them
will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.”

 

Meditation: Since most of us are not in the construction business, some might ask what the significance is of this story? The kind of foundation we build our lives upon will determine whether we can survive the storms and challenges of life that are sure to come. Builders usually lay their foundations when the weather and soil conditions are at their best. It takes foresight to know how a foundation will stand up against adverse conditions. Building a house on a flood plain, such as a dry river-bed, is a sure bet for disaster; same with building them on ground level next to the beach, versus up on stilts. Jesus prefaced his story with a warning: We may fool humans with our speech, but God cannot be deceived. He sees each of our hearts as they truly are – with all of our motives, intentions, desires, and choices (Psalm 139:2).

 

Prayer: O God, who through the preaching of Saint Francis Xavier won many peoples to yourself, grant that the hearts of the faithful may burn with the same zeal for the faith and that Holy Church may everywhere rejoice in an abundance of offspring. 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: There is sure way in which a person’s sincerity can be proved, and that is by the way one lives one’s life – their habits, their practices, the choices they make. Talk is cheap; words can never replace good deeds. And so looking back on our lives we can ask: Did I cheat on an exam or on my income taxes?  Did I lie, or cover-up, when disclosing the truth would have caused me injury or embarrassment? A true person is honest and reliable before God, one’s neighbor and oneself – all of the time, not just when it is convenient.  His or her word can be counted on – his or her word is a bond that can be trusted. If we heed God’s word and live according to it then we need not fear when storms assail us. God will be our rock and our refuge.  Two more questions to think about: Is my life built upon the sure “rock” of Jesus Christ?  Do I listen to his word as if my very life (and eternal life) life depended on it?

Lectio Divina 12/2/2015

Wednesday, December 2, 2015 ~ First Week in the Season of Advent

 

Holy Gospel: Matthew 15:29-37 At that time: Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, went up on the mountain, and sat down there. Great crowds came to him, having with them the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute, and many others. They placed them at his feet, and he cured them. The crowds were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the deformed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind able to see, and they glorified the God of Israel. Jesus summoned his disciples and said, “My heart is moved with pity for the crowd, for they have been with me now for three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, for fear they may collapse on the way.” The disciples said to him,
“Where could we ever get enough bread in this deserted place to satisfy such a crowd?” Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” “Seven,” they replied, “and a few fish.”  He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, gave thanks, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied. They picked up the fragments left over–seven baskets full.

 

Meditation: When the disciples were confronted by Jesus with the task of feeding four thousand people many miles away from any source of food, they exclaimed: “Where could we ever get enough bread in this deserted place to satisfy such a crowd?” Jesus, himself provides bread in abundance for the hungry crowd who came out into the desert to seek him. The gospel records that all were satisfied and they took up what was leftover. In the multiplication of the loaves and fishes we see a sign and a symbol of what God always does. God knows our needs better than we do, and he cares to provide for what we “need” versus what we “want” – there is a difference. When God gives, he gives in abundance. The gospel account records that the leftovers from the miraculous meal was more than seven times the amount they began with. Seven is a symbol of completion and wholeness. When God gives, he gives until we are satisfied. When God works for his people he gives abundantly – more than we could deserve and more than we need. He nourishes us with his life-giving word and with the bread of heaven. In the kingdom of heaven God will feast us at his banquet table. Are you satisfied with what God provides for you? If not, wh not?

 

Prayer: Look with favor, Lord God, on our petitions, and in our trials grant us your compassionate help, that, consoled by the presence of your Son, whose coming we now await, we may be tainted no longer by the corruption of former ways. 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: Who can satisfy the deepest hunger and longing of our human hearts? Isaiah prophesied that God would provide a heavenly banquet for all peoples and would destroy death once and for all (Isaiah 25:6-8). Jesus came to fulfill that promise. Jesus’ miracles are both a sign of God’s kingdom and a demonstration of God’s power. They also show the magnitude of God’s love, mercy and compassion for us. Challenging as it may be for some of us during this Christmas shopping season, let’s look at what we really need – and perhaps shifting our focus toward the needs of others, and less on what “I want.”

Lectio Divina 12/1/2015

Tuesday, December 1, 2015 ~ First Week in the Season of Advent

 

Holy Gospel: Luke 10:21-24 Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.” Turning to the disciples in private he said,
“Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.”

 

Meditation: We would do well to read and meditation on this most wonderful prayer that Jesus reveals to us in today’s Gospel (Luke 10:21-22). Notice that this prayer tells us that God is both Father and Lord of earth as well as heaven. He is both Creator and Author of all that he has made, the first origin of everything, giving goodness and loving care for all of his children. All fatherhood and motherhood are derived from him (Ephesians 3:14-15). Jesus’ prayer also contains a warning that pride can keep us from the love and knowledge of God. Pride closes the mind to God’s truth and wisdom for our lives. Jesus contrasts pride with child-like simplicity and humility. The simple of heart are not “simpletons” – they are not wearing rose-colored glasses calling themselves Pollyannas – rather they see purely without pretense and acknowledge their dependence and trust in God who is the source of all wisdom and strength. They seek one thing – the “summum bonum” or the “greatest good” which is God himself. Simplicity of heart is wedded with humility – the queen of virtues – because humility inclines our human hearts towards grace and truth. Just as pride is the root of every sin and evil we can conceive, so humility is the only soil in which the grace of God can take root. It alone takes the right attitude before God and allows him as God to do all. Recall that “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (Proverbs 3:34, James 4:6). The grace of Christ-like humility inclines us towards God and disposes us to receive God’s wisdom, grace, and help. Nothing can give us greater joy than the knowledge that we are God’s beloved and that our names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20).

 

Prayer: Keep us alert, we pray, O Lord our God, as we await the advent of Christ your Son, so that, when he comes and knocks, he may find us watchful in prayer and exultant in his praise. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Contemplation: Our knowledge of God is not limited simply to knowing something about God – who he is and what he is like. As we are called to know, love and serve God, each of us can come to know God personally – on an intimate level – and be united with him in a relationship of love, trust, and friendship. Jesus makes it possible for each of us to personally know God as our Father. To see Jesus is to see what God is like. In Jesus we see the perfect love of God – a Father who cares genuinely and intensely for each of us, his children, and who yearns over men and women, loving them to the point of laying down his life for them upon the cross. Contemplating on God’s love for us should fill us with great joy and confidence knowing the extremes (by our human standards) he has gone to in order for us to share eternal life in Heaven.

Lectio Divina 11/30/2015

“Advent is the ‘sacrament’ of the presence of God in His world, in the Mystery of Christ at work in history… This mystery is the revelation of God Himself in His Incarnate Son. But it is not merely a manifestation of the Divine Perfections, it is the concrete plan of God for the salvation of men and the restoration of the whole world in Christ.”

~Fr. Thomas Merton, OCSO

 

Monday, November 30, 2015 ~ First Week in the Season of Advent

Saint Andrew, Apostle

 

Holy Gospel: Matthew 4:18-22 As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him.

 

Meditation: Notice that when Jesus began his public ministry he went everywhere he could to speak to those who would listen to him about the kingdom of God. He chose as his closest friends and coworkers those who were ready to follow as his disciples and he gave them an unusual mission – “to catch people for the kingdom of God.” And what kind of disciples did Jesus choose? He starts by choosing hard working, hard playing, everyday people, beginning with fishermen. In the choice of the first apostles we see a characteristic feature of Jesus’ work by choosing ordinary, everyday people like you and me. They were non-professionals, had no wealth or position of power or fame in society. They were chosen from the common people who did ordinary things, had no special marks of education, and no social advantages. Jesus wanted ordinary people who could take an assignment and do it extraordinarily well. He chose these individuals, not for what they were, but for what they would be capable of becoming under his direction and guidance. So when the Lord calls each of us to be his disciples, we must not think we have nothing to offer him in exchange. The Lord takes what ordinary people like us can offer, and uses it for greatness in his kingdom.  So don’t shortchange yourself – we all have something to offer by following Christ and taking life’s cues from him.

 

Prayer: We humbly implore your majesty, O Lord, that, just as the blessed Apostle Andrew was for your Church a preacher and pastor, so he may be for us a constant intercessor before you. 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: God wants others to see the light of Christ in us in the way we live, speak, and witness the joy of the gospel. Paul the Apostles says, “But thanks be to God, who in Christ Jesus always leads us in triumph, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 2:15). And so we might ask ourselves today: Do I show others around me the joy of the gospel by living my life in witness to Christ’s teachings? Do I pray for my neighbors, co-workers, and relatives that they may come to personally know the Lord Jesus Christ and grow in the knowledge of his love?