NOVEMBER 15, 2015 – WEEK THIRTY THREE – THIRD SUNDAY (B) – ALERT TO HIS COMING

(Mark 13:24-32)

Prayer: O Jesus, prepare me for your coming.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus teaching his disciples).

Context:

As we arrive at the end of the Church’s liturgical year, the gospels concern Jesus’ Second Coming. The first part of this text describes the cosmic signs that will accompany Jesus’ coming at the end of the world. The second part shows Jesus preparing the disciples for that event. Their value is perennial.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Jesus said to his disciples, “In those days, after the tribulation, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light. The stars of heaven will fall and the heavenly powers will be shaken. Then, men will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. He shall send his angels and they shall gather his elect from the farthest ends of the sea and sky.

Now learn from the fig tree. When the branch is tender and the leaves come forth, you know that summer is near. So, when you see these things happen, you know that he is near, even at the door. Amen I say to you. This generation shall not pass away until all these things are accomplished. Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will not pass away.

As to the exact day and hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son. Only the Father.

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder the ones that attract you.)

  1. Jesus describes the great tribulation.       After that happens, Jesus will return.
  2. His coming ends the world. The sun, moon and stars no longer function.       Their tasks are over.
  3. People will see Jesus, the Son of Man, coming toward the earth. The angels will gather the elect.
  4. Jesus has given many hints and signs. He even draws conclusions.
  5. People must take a hint from the fig tree, which blossoms quickly.
  6. All must prepare to meet Jesus.
  7. “No one knows”, means that people cannot prepare by some secret knowledge. They must be good disciples.
  8. Everyone can be ready if they live by Jesus’ teaching. Otherwise, they will not want Jesus coming back.

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  1. O Jesus, whenever you come, I will be ready.       I await you.
  2. O Jesus, I choose your Kingdom because this world will certainly end.
  3. I will see you, Jesus. You will come for me and reveal yourself to me.
  4. Your word does not pass away. It is my sure light.
  5. You are near, Jesus. You are at the door. No time is left. I choose you now.
  6. Gather me in. Send your angels.

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

  1. I will see the world as passing away.
  2. I will think of the moment when I will see Jesus.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation)

Men will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds.

NOVEMBER 8, 2015 – WEEK THIRTY TWO – SUNDAY (B) – THE WIDOW’S MITE

(Mark 12:38-44)

Prayer – O Jesus, to you I give all I have.

Imagination – (Picture Jesus in the temple with his disciples.)

Context:

This gospel joins two different scenes which describe two contrasting groups. In the first story, the scribes want everyone to see their goodness while secretly they steal widows’ money. In the second, the widow gives her money in secret. She is the saving hope of Israel.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Jesus said to the disciples, “Beware of the scribes who like to walk in long robes and to be saluted in the market-places. They want to sit in the first chairs in the synagogue and to have the places of honor at banquets. They devour the savings of widows and recite long prayers for appearance sake. They will receive the greatest judgment.

Taking a seat opposite the treasury, Jesus saw the people putting their money into the treasury. The wealthy put in sizeable amounts. A poor widow came and put in two mites, worth about a penny. Calling his disciples, Jesus said, “Amen I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all the others. The others put in from their abundance, but she gave from her want, all that she had to live on.”

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder the ones that attract you.)

  1. Jesus’ criticism of the temple authorities reaches a high point. There is no hope for their repentance.
  2. Jesus wants to make sure that his disciples do not imitate their practices.
  3. They are hypocrites, wanting to look devout yet with rapacious hearts.
  4. This temple scene involves rich people, who give their money but their hearts are still attached to their wealth.
  5. The widow is different. Her gift comes from her heart. She despoils herself, and trusts in God.
  6. She is an image of Jesus, Who in a few days will lay down his life for the world.

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  1. Jesus, do not let my heart grow hardened.
  2. Never abandon me, Jesus.
  3. I will not imitate the world’s selfishness.
  4. Jesus, give me an inner truth, always loyal to you and generous to your people.
  5. Detach my heart from my wealth. Let me not cling to my possessions. Empty me.
  6. I will give you everything, until I have nothing left. Then, we will walk together.

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own)

  1. I will examine my use of money.
  2. I will be totally honest and sincere in all my dealings.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

She has given from her need. All she had to live on.

NOVEMBER 1, 2015 – WEEK THIRTY ONE – SUNDAY (B) – FEAST OF ALL SAINTS

(Matthew 5:1-12) 

Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit. Form my heart according to Jesus’ teaching.

Imagination:   (Picture Jesus teaching the crowds.)

Context:

Jesus calls various groups “blessed”. However, anyone can choose to belong to these groups. A person can be poor in spirit, meek, mourning over the world’s sins, and hungering for justice. So, the door is open to everyone. In all four situations, the person is promised heaven (under different figures of speech).

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

Seeing the crowd, Jesus went up the mountain. When he sat down, his disciples came to him and he taught them, saying:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the land.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice.

They shall have their fill.

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder the ones that attract you.)

  1. When Jesus speaks to the crowds, he invites them into the Kingdom.       Here, he speaks to disciples who are already members of his Kingdom.
  2. Because their hearts are set upon the Kingdom, they can understand Jesus’ teaching.
  3. A person is “Blessed” by being a member of the Kingdom.
  4. A person becomes a member by a personal decision to be poor in spirit, to mourn for the Kingdom, to be merciful, and to hunger for justice.
  5. If they persevere in these dispositions, they will receive the full reward of blessedness, an eternal kingdom.

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  1. O Jesus, you invite me into your Kingdom.
  2. O Lord, I accept your offer.
  3. Reveal to me the Kingdom’s secrets, so I can embrace them.
  4. O Jesus, if I persevere in my decision, I will be blessed eternally.
  5. Right now, I give you my heart, my choices, and all my decisions.
  6. O Spirit of Jesus, form me. Form me in poverty of spirit, meekness, sorrow for the Kingdom and mercy for all.

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

  1. I will allow these teachings to form my thinking.
  2. I will rejoice that Jesus calls me “Blessed.”

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

The disciples came to Jesus and he taught them.

OCTOBER 25, 2015 – WEEK THIRTY – SUNDAY (B) – THE BLIND BEGGAR

(Mark 10:46-52)

Prayer: O Jesus, I cry out to you in great hope.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus with the crowd and a beggar by the roadside.)

Context:

This journey to Jerusalem began with Jesus healing a blind man and culminates with another healing of blindness. This contrasts with the disciples’ growing blindness about Jesus’ death in Jerusalem. They do not grasp his predictions of his passion. This blind man became a true disciple. He saw and followed Jesus to Jerusalem.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

As Jesus was leaving Jericho with his disciples, a blind man, Bartimaeus (son of Timaeus) was sitting by the wayside, begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he cried out, “Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me”. The crowd told him to be silent but he cried out even more, “Son of David, have mercy on me.”

Jesus commanded that he be brought near. The crowd said, “Take comfort. Arise. He is calling you.” He threw off his cloak, leaped up and came to Jesus.

“What do you want me to do for you?” asked Jesus. “Rabboni, that I may see” said the blind man. Jesus said, “Go your way, your faith has saved you.” He saw immediately and followed Jesus on the way.

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder those that attract you.)

  1. This beggar is at a severe disadvantage. He is blind, sits by the wayside, and does not even know what is happening.
  2. However, his blindness prepares him for this moment. He sees that Jesus is his only ray of hope.
  3. The crowd becomes his enemy, the wall between Jesus and himself.
  4. He refuses to stop. He won’t surrender his hope.
  5. When Jesus responds to his cries, the crowd changes its opinion. His crying out was the right thing to do.
  6. With his sight restored, he sees the face of Jesus and can follow him “up the road” to Jerusalem.
  7. What a day for Bartimaeus! A marginal, begging blind man becomes a disciple who follows Jesus.

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  1. Lord, you will walk near to me this day.
  2. O Holy Spirit, whisper within my soul, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”
  3. O Jesus, I will continue to cry out to you, O Lord.
  4. You will hear me, and call me to your side.
  5. You will ask, “What is it that I can do for you?”
  6. Do everything for me, Lord! Bless me and I will “follow you on the way.”

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

  1. I will be attentive today to the Spirit speaking in my heart.
  2. I will have great hope that Jesus will hear my every cry.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation)

He saw immediately and followed Jesus on the way.

OCTOBER 18, 2015 – WEEK TWENTY NINE – SUNDAY (B) AMBITIONS JAMES AND JOHN

(Mark 10:35-40)

Prayer – Come, Holy Spirit. Reveal the glory you have prepared.

Imagination – (Picture James and John seeking favors from Jesus.)

Context:

Jesus has just told the apostles that he would suffer. James and John, however, want Jesus’ glory. Jesus speaks about drinking from the chalice, meaning both the chalice of his suffering and the Eucharistic chalice celebrated in Mark’s church. Before granting any glory, Jesus must drink the cup.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus. “Master, we want you to do whatever we ask.” Jesus responded, “What do you want me to do for you?”

“Grant that we may sit, one on your right hand and the other on your left hand in glory”. Jesus replied, “You do not know what you are seeking. Can you drink of the chalice that I will drink of or be baptized with the baptism with which I will be baptized?

They said, “We can.” Jesus said, “You shall indeed drink of the chalice that I drink of, and be baptized with my baptism. However, to sit on my right hand or my left hand, is not mine to give you. It is for those for whom it is prepared.”

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder the ones that attract you.)

  1. These apostles have no idea of the cost of the Kingdom’s glory.
  2. Jesus tells them that they seek what they do not understand.
  3. Even with Jesus’ warning, they glibly say that they can drink the chalice.
  4. Jesus sees the future. They will abandon him in the Garden.
  5. However, after many failures, they will drink the chalice and will be martyred.
  6. Such is the Kingdom! God has already prepared each one’s place. His decisions are beyond our comprehension.

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  1. Jesus, enlighten me about the greatness of your Kingdom.
  2. O Jesus, I want a place, any place, at your side.
  3. Pull me into the great mystery of your will.
  4. Help me to drink your chalice.
  5. I will be baptized with your baptism of suffering!
  6. O Jesus, You have already prepared my place in glory.
  7. I will persevere until the end.

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own)

  1. I will find time for mental prayer so God can reveal the Kingdom to me.
  2. I will cherish God’s will, so I gain heavenly glory.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

To sit at my right and my left is for those for whom it is prepared.

OCTOBER 11, 2015 – WEEK TWENTY EIGHT – SUNDAY (B) – THE RICH YOUNG MAN

(Mark 10:17)

Prayer – Come, Holy Spirit. Let me sacrifice everything to follow Jesus.

Imagination: (Picture the young man asking Jesus about eternal life.)

Context:

The gospel begins “As Jesus set out”. This sets the scene. Jesus is on a journey. A man “kneels down.” This shows great piety and he truly wants eternal life. Jesus makes the goal more definite. To gain eternal life, Jesus invites him “to follow”. Since Jesus is on a journey, worldly possessions are an obstacle. To follow, he “must sell what you have.”

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

As Jesus set out, a certain man ran up, knelt before Jesus and asked him, “Good Master, what shall I do to gain everlasting life?” Jesus answered, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” You know the commandments, “Do not commit adultery. Do not kill. Do not steal. Do not bear false witness. Do not defraud. Honor your father and your mother.” He answered, “Master, I have observed all these things since my youth.”

Jesus, looking on him, loved him and said, “One thing is lacking to you. Go, sell whatever your have and give to the poor and you shall have treasure in heaven. Then, come follow me.” Upon hearing this, the man grew sad and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder the ones that attract you.)

  1. The story begins with great hope. The man asks a fervent question, recounts a history of good moral behavior and seeks eternal life.
  2. Seeing all this, Jesus looks upon him with love.
  3. Jesus goes further and offers his greatest gift. He invites the man to follow.
  4. Jesus even motivates the man. He will have treasure in heaven.
  5. Instead of following Jesus, he turns back. His possessions are his stumbling block.
  6. We will all meet him at the Last Judgment and discover the end of the story.

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  1. Jesus, what more do I need to do to gain eternal life?
  2. Jesus, you love all my efforts. You do not want me to fail.
  3. You bless me and invite me higher. You stir within and lead me further.
  4. O Jesus, what are my possessions compared to the treasures in heaven?
  5. What do you want me to set aside?
  6. Jesus, to turn away from you is emptiness. To follow you is fullness.
  7. I will leave all behind. Wait for me, Jesus!

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own)

  1. Today, I will ask Jesus, ‘Lord, what must I do to gain eternal life/”
  2. I will help the poor.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Sell all and give to the poor. Your treasure in heaven will be great.

SEPTEMBER 20, 2015 – WEEK TWENTY FIVE – SUNDAY (B) – DISPUTING ABOUT IMPORTANCE

(Mark 9:30-37)

Prayer: O Jesus, I want to serve you and your friends.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus with a child in the middle of his disciples.)

 Context

In the second half of Mark’s gospel, Jesus deliberately withdraws from the crowds to teach his disciples about his suffering and death, and about their difficult duties as disciples. The more he explains, the less they seem to grasp, (as in this story).

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud).

Jesus said to his disciples, “The son of Man will be betrayed into the hands of men and they shall kill him. After his death, he will rise again on the third day. However, they did not understand a word and were afraid to ask him.

When they came to the house, Jesus asked them, “What were you discussing on the way? They were silent because they had discussed which of them was the most important.

Sitting down, Jesus called the twelve and said, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all. Taking a child, he put him in their midst, and embracing him, said, “Whoever receives such a child in my name receives me and whoever receives me, does not receive just me but him who sent me.”

Thoughts (Read all. Ponder the ones that attract you.)

  1. What a contrast. Jesus talks about his death. The disciples talk about their importance.
  2. They go inside the house. The disciples are so important that Jesus leaves the crowds behind. This is private teaching.
  3. When confronted, the disciples know that they were wrong. They grow silent, not trying to defend themselves.
  4. Jesus makes the application easy to understand. Within the Christian community, the disciple must sacrifice and serve.
  5. The child represents the newcomer, the new believer. Serving and teaching new believers is the apostles’ primary task.

Affections (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  1. O Jesus, you paid a great price to redeem me.
  2. You saved me. You died for me when I was a sinner.
  3. Now, others must be saved and I must pay the price.
  4. Help me to set aside my selfish desires. I will sacrifice for the Kingdom.
  5. O Jesus, I fall silent before you. You have done so much and I have done so little.
  6. Help me to serve, to bring your gospel to those who have never heard.

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

  1. I will look for chances today to evangelize.
  2. In all my relationships, I will try to serve others.

Thought for the Day (To recall your meditation)

They did not understand a word and were afraid to ask him.

SEPTEMBER 13, 2015 – WEEK TWENTY FOUR -SUNDAY (B) – THE RISE AND FALL OF PETER

(Mark 8:27-33)

Prayer – Lord Jesus, lift me up and I will be secure in your arms.

Imagination- (Picture Jesus with his apostles.)

Context:

This text is central to Mark’s gospel (exactly the midpoint) and contains the two themes of the gospel, Jesus is the Messiah and he is a suffering Messiah. For many chapters, the people have been wondering, “Who is this Jesus”. Peter answers that Jesus is the Messiah (Theme one). Then Jesus predicts his suffering and shows that he will be a suffering Messiah (Theme two). However, Peter uses his human intellect and fails miserably to understand the second mystery.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

Jesus and his disciples set out for Caesarea Philippi. On the way, he asked them, “Whom do people say I am?” They answered, “Some say John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, one of the prophets.”

He said to them, “Whom do you say that I am?” Peter replied, “You are the Christ”. Jesus ordered them not to tell anyone.   He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, be rejected by the elders, the high priests and the scribes and be killed. After three days, he would rise again.

Peter took Jesus aside and disagreed with him. Jesus turned back to the disciples and rebuked Peter, “Get out of my sight, Satan. You are not judging by God’s standards but by man’s.”

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder the ones that attract you.)

  1. The people’s opinions about Jesus are confused. They represent the confused thinking of the world.
  2. Jesus asks for the disciples’ opinion.
  3. Peter’s response is true. He has been shown that Jesus is the Messiah.
  4. Quickly, Jesus tells his disciples that he will be a suffering Messiah.
  5. Peter responds in an all too human way. He refuses to accept a Messiah who will suffer.
  6. He has become a Satan, an obstacle, a stumbling block to the others.
  7. So Jesus must publicly reprimand him. His limited intellect does not grasp God’s plan.

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  1. Jesus, the world is so confused about You. They refuse to acknowledge you.
  2. You are deeply interested in my opinion, what I believe about you.
  3. For me, You are the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God, the Savior and Redeemer.
  4. You are a suffering Messiah and I need faith to follow you.
  5. Shatter my human thinking. Destroy the limits that I would put upon you.
  6. “Come” you say. “Let us walk together to Calvary”. I am coming, Jesus.

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

  1. Today, I will pray often, “Jesus, you are my Messiah.”
  2. I will ponder this mystery.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation)

Peter replied, “You are the Christ” (the anointed one).

SEPTEMBER 6 , 2015 – WEEK TWENTY THREE – SUNDAY (B) – THE ENTHUSIASTIC CROWD

(Mark 7:3-37)

Prayer – O Jesus, open my ears to hear your gospel, and my tongue to speak your word.

Imagination (Picture Jesus healing the deaf and dumb man.)

Context:

Since the Ten Cities are outside of Israel, Jesus becomes a preacher to the Gentiles. Because the Gentile crowd might not understand, he takes the man aside and performs a healing ritual (almost like a sacrament.) As usual, the crowd disobeys Jesus’ command and tells everyone. As a result, many are in awe.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

When Jesus came into the district of the Ten Cities, they brought to him a man who was deaf and dumb, and asked him to lay hands on the man.

Taking him apart from the crowd, he put his fingers into his ears, and spitting, he touched his tongue. Looking up to heaven, he sighed and said, “Be thou open.” Immediately his ears were opened. His tongue was loosed and he spoke.

Jesus told them that they should tell no one. But the more he told them, so much more did they proclaim it. And they were in great wonder, “He has done all things well. He has made the deaf hear and the dumb to speak.”

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder the ones that attract you.)

  1. The crowd initiates this healing. They bring the man to Jesus.
  2. They believe that Jesus can heal by the laying on of hands.
  3. The man himself is passive, so Jesus needs to take him away from the crowd.
  4. Jesus’ power comes through two actions. Placing his hands in his ears and spittle on his tongue.
  5. The results are full and immediate. All this power comes from Jesus.
  6. The wonderful crowd sees their faith in Jesus fulfilled, and tells everyone.
  7. They have the highest esteem for Jesus. He does all things well.

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)

  1. Jesus, I come to you in faith. Lay your hands of power upon me.
  2. Take me aside. Teach me. Instruct me. Work your wonders in me.
  3. Let me receive your sacraments often. These contain all your power.
  4. Open my ears. Let me hear your words. Let me understand your mysteries.
  5. Loosen my tongue. I will proclaim your mighty deeds.
  6. You do all things well, Jesus. Your actions on my behalf are perfect.

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)

  1. Today, I will have great faith in what Jesus will do for me.
  2. I will speak of Jesus to my friends. They, too, can receive.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Immediately his ears were opened and he began to speak.