SUNDAY JANUARY 1, 2017 SOLEMNITY OF MARY THE SHEPHERDS’ RESPONSE (LK 2:16-21)

Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit. Give me the shepherds’ faith.

Imagination: (Picture the shepherds adoring Jesus with Mary and Joseph).

Context:

The gospel stories are filled with people. Some respond to Jesus and others do not. Those who respond are always blessed. Here, the shepherds glorify God for all they saw and heard.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

After the angels departed into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this word that has come to pass.”

They went with haste and found Mary and Joseph together with the infant who was lying in the manger. When they saw, they understood what had been spoken to them about this child. All who heard, wondered at these things which the shepherds told them. Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart.

The shepherds returned, glorifying God for all the things that they had heard and seen, just as it was told them. When the eighth day arrived for his circumcision, the name Jesus was given the child, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.

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

  1. Seeing the angels deeply affects the shepherds.
  2. They encourage one another. They grow bold and do not fear the journey to Bethlehem.
  3. They waste no time. Like Mary visiting Elizabeth, they go in haste.
  4. When they see the child, they fully understand the angel’s words.
  5. They are excellent witnesses, recounting to Mary and Joseph exactly what had happened.
  6. Mary meditates on these events, cherishing God’s words and pondering their meaning.
  7. Afterwards, the shepherds proclaim their experiences and glorify God who sent his angels.
  8. Mary obeys Gabriel’s command and names her son, Jesus, the name that brings salvation to all.

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

  1. O Lord, fill me with religious experiences.
  2. I will respond to your heavenly words and go in haste.
  3. O Mary, give me your inner stillness.
  4. Share with me your gift of pondering God’s word.
  5. O Jesus, I will tell everyone of your wonders and your name will always be on my lips and in my heart.

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

  1. I will keep watch like the shepherds, ready to experience God’s manifestation.
  2. When God tells me where to find Jesus, I will go in haste.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart.

SUNDAY JANUARY 1, 2017 SOLEMNITY OF MARY THE SHEPHERDS’ RESPONSE (LK 2:16-21)

Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit. Give me the shepherds’ faith.

Imagination: (Picture the shepherds adoring Jesus with Mary and Joseph).

Context:

The gospel stories are filled with people. Some respond to Jesus and others do not. Those who respond are always blessed. Here, the shepherds glorify God for all they saw and heard.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

After the angels departed into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this word that has come to pass.”

They went with haste and found Mary and Joseph together with the infant who was lying in the manger. When they saw, they understood what had been spoken to them about this child. All who heard, wondered at these things which the shepherds told them. Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart.

The shepherds returned, glorifying God for all the things that they had heard and seen, just as it was told them. When the eighth day arrived for his circumcision, the name Jesus was given the child, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.

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

  1. Seeing the angels deeply affects the shepherds.
  2. They encourage one another. They grow bold and do not fear the journey to Bethlehem.
  3. They waste no time. Like Mary visiting Elizabeth, they go in haste.
  4. When they see the child, they fully understand the angel’s words.
  5. They are excellent witnesses, recounting to Mary and Joseph exactly what had happened.
  6. Mary meditates on these events, cherishing God’s words and pondering their meaning.
  7. Afterwards, the shepherds proclaim their experiences and glorify God who sent his angels.
  8. Mary obeys Gabriel’s command and names her son, Jesus, the name that brings salvation to all.

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

  1. O Lord, fill me with religious experiences.
  2. I will respond to your heavenly words and go in haste.
  3. O Mary, give me your inner stillness.
  4. Share with me your gift of pondering God’s word.
  5. O Jesus, I will tell everyone of your wonders and your name will always be on my lips and in my heart.

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

  1. I will keep watch like the shepherds, ready to experience God’s manifestation.
  2. When God tells me where to find Jesus, I will go in haste.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart.

JANUARY 1, 2017 – SOLEMNITY OF MARY – THE SHEPHERDS’ RESPONSE

(Luke 2:16-21)                                                    

Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit. Give me the shepherds’ faith.

Imagination: (Picture the shepherds adoring Jesus with Mary and Joseph).

Context:

The gospel stories are filled with people. Some respond to Jesus and others do not. Those who respond are always blessed. Here, the shepherds glorify God for all they saw and heard.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

After the angels departed into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this word that has come to pass.”

They went with haste and found Mary and Joseph together with the infant who was lying in the manger. When they saw, they understood what had been spoken to them about this child. All who heard, wondered at these things which the shepherds told them. Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart.

The shepherds returned, glorifying God for all the things that they had heard and seen, just as it was told them. When the eighth day arrived for his circumcision, the name Jesus was given the child, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.

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

  1. Seeing the angels deeply affects the shepherds.
  2. They encourage one another. They grow bold and do not fear the journey to Bethlehem.
  3. They waste no time. Like Mary visiting Elizabeth, they go in haste.
  4. When they see the child, they fully understand the angel’s words.
  5. They are excellent witnesses, recounting to Mary and Joseph exactly what had happened.
  6. Mary meditates on these events, cherishing God’s words and pondering their meaning.
  7. Afterwards, the shepherds proclaim their experiences and glorify God who sent his angels.
  8. Mary obeys Gabriel’s command and names her son, Jesus, the name that brings salvation to all.

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

  1. O Lord, fill me with religious experiences.
  2. I will respond to your heavenly words and go in haste.
  3. O Mary, give me your inner stillness.
  4. Share with me your gift of pondering God’s word.
  5. O Jesus, I will tell everyone of your wonders and your name will always be on my lips and in my heart.

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

  1. I will keep watch like the shepherds, ready to experience God’s manifestation.
  2. When God tells me where to find Jesus, I will go in haste.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart.

DECEMBER 30, 2016 – FRIDAY, CHRISTMAS WEEK – THE WOMAN PROPHETESS

(Luke 2:36-40)

Prayer: O Lord, teach me to fast, to pray and to listen to your word.

Imagination: (Picture Joseph and Mary holding the Christ Child in the presence of Simeon and Anna.)

Context:

Luke likes to portray both men and women ministering. So, he added Anna, a prophetess, to Simeon’s story. She is a widow who serves in the temple by prayer and fasting. In this text, she says no specific words. She believes in Jesus and alerts all to his saving power for Jerusalem (which symbolizes all the elect).

Gospel text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

There was a prophetess named Anna, the daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Asher. She was far advanced in years, having lived with her husband for seven years and then, as a widow until she was 84. She never left the temple but served night and day by prayer and fasting. Now, at this same moment, she came on the scene. She gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.

After the couple had performed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their city, Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom and God’s favor was upon him.

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

  1. God has everything planned. At just the right moment, Anna comes on the scene.
  2. She is the perfect person. Everyone knows her because she is always in the temple, praying, fasting and serving needs.
  3. She understands immediately and believes that Jesus is the Messiah.
  4. She becomes an evangelist, telling everyone in the temple that she had seen the Messiah who would deliver Jerusalem.
  5. The family’s responsibilities are complete. They return ninety miles to Nazareth in Galilee.
  6. The years in Nazareth are so important. The child Jesus will experience all the natural phases of human maturing.

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

  1. O God, all is planned for your glory and our happiness.
  2. Each of us is the perfect person, exactly the one needed to spread your word in our culture.
  3. O Jesus I must prepare for my task in your Kingdom.
  4. Help me to fast and pray. Give me a spirit of service.
  5. O Jesus, you are the Deliverer. You will free me and bring redemption to our land.
  6. Teach me your plan. Where am I to go? Where am I to settle?
  7. Help me to mature – to grow in wisdom and favor. This is my deepest request.

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

  1. I will believe that God has a task for me to do.
  2. Every day, I will pray and sacrifice so I can be ready.

Thought for today: (To recall your meditation)

At this very moment, she came on the scene.

DECEMBER 29, 2016 – THURSDAY, CHRISTMAS WEEK – SIMEON’S INSPIRED WORDS

(Luke 2:25-27)

Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit. Lead me this day to your divine appointment.

Imagination:  (Picture Simeon praising God with Jesus in his arms.)

Context:

After forty days, Mary and Joseph fulfill the Mosaic Law by presenting Jesus in the temple. Surprisingly, Simeon appears on the scene. Luke says that the Holy Spirit was with Simeon, revealed the future to him and led him into the temple.

Gospel text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

In Jerusalem was a man named Simeon. He was just, devout and waited for the consolation of Israel. The Holy Spirit was with him. The Spirit had told him that he would not see death until he had seen the anointed one of the Lord.

On this day, the Spirit led him to the temple. When his parents brought in the child Jesus, according to the custom of the law, he took him in his arms and blessed God.

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

  1. Simeon totally dedicated his life to God.
  2. He is just, devout and awaiting the consolation of Israel.
  3. Even more important, the Spirit of God is upon him.
  4. The Spirit had spoken to him, promising that he would see the Messiah.
  5. Simeon is not a priest and has no duty to remain in the temple. He is guided by the Spirit.
  6. The Spirit says, “Go quickly to the temple, Simeon. Today is the day.”
  7. He keeps his divine appointment. He is at the right place at the right time, the very moment when the parents bring in the child.
  8. He receives his promised gift, seeing and holding the Messiah.

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

  1. O God, I will be devout and await your kingdom.
  2. O Jesus, let your Spirit anoint me.
  3. Help me to believe your promises to me.
  4. When your Spirit speaks, I will listen. When he leads, I will follow.
  5. O God, let your inner stirrings move me to the right place at the right time.
  6. Jesus, someday I will see you and hold you.

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

  1. With God’s help, I will be just and devout today.
  2. Today, I will open my heart to the Spirit’s promptings.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation)

On this day, the Spirit led Simeon to the temple.

DECEMBER 24, 2016 – SATURDAY – ZECHARIAH’S SONG

(Luke 1:67-79)

Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit. Teach me to praise the Father.

Imagination: (Picture Zechariah prophesying by God’s Spirit)

Context:

This canticle has two parts. The first half praises God for his blessings to Israel. The second half prophecies the effects of John the Baptist’s ministry.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

Zechariah, his father, was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied saying,

Part One

“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has visited and brought redemption to his people. He has raised up a horn of salvation within the house of David, his servant, just as he promised through the prophets from of old. He has shown salvation from our enemies and from all who hate us. He shows mercy to our fathers and remembers his holy covenant.

This is the oath which he swore to Abraham, our father, to rescue us from the hands of our enemies, so we might worship him without fear, all the days of our life.”

Part Two

“You, child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High for you shall go before the Lord to prepare his way. To give his people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins.In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us. To shine on those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death. To direct our feet into the way of peace.”

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

  1. The Holy Spirit falls upon Zechariah like he did upon Elizabeth.
  2. Zechariah foresees the whole plan of God being fulfilled.
  3. The Holy Spirit reveals a future divine visitation of Israel.
  4. Israel will be free to worship God without any fear.
  5. This child will be “the prophet of the Most High”, greater than any other.
  6. He is the final prophet, going before the “face of the Lord”.
  7. He will provide “knowledge of salvation”, so people can seek “forgiveness of their sins.”
  8. Jesus, the “Dawn from on high”, will enter a human race which lives “in the shadow of death.”
  9. Everyone’s feet will be directed toward the fullness of God’s blessings.

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

  1. O Jesus, save me from my enemies, from temptations, trials, hardships and discouragement.
  2. Let me worship you without fear!
  3. Who am I, Lord? Why did you create me? What is my call?
  4. Jesus, you always go before me and you are with me until the end.
  5. Fill me with knowledge of salvation and forgiveness of my sins.
  6. Jesus, you are the Dawn.
  7. When you come to me, night will end and death will have no power.

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

  1. I will recall the dreams of my youth.
  2. I will bless God who does not disappoint.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation)

Filled with the Spirit, Zechariah cried out in joy.

DECEMBER 23, 2016 – FRIDAY – THE BIRTH OF JOHN THE BAPTIST

(Luke 1:57-63)

Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit. Teach me to obey your word.

Imagination: (Picture Elizabeth and Zechariah surrounded by their neighbors.)

Context:

Luke’s gospel describes the miracles that surround the conceptions and births of both John and Jesus. These numerous miracles proclaim that both are very special to God’s plan. In this text, Zechariah is healed and can speak again.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

When Elizabeth’s time came, she gave birth to a son. When her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his mercy towards her, they all rejoiced with her. On the eighth day, as they were to circumcise the child, they were going to call him by his father’s name, “Zachariah”. However, his mother said, “No. He will be called John.” They responded, “None of your relatives is called by that name.”

So, they asked the father what name he would want. Demanding a writing tablet, he wrote, “John is his name.” At that moment, his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed and he began to praise God. Fear came upon all their neighbors, and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea. They all wondered, saying, “What will this child be?” And “Was not the hand of the Lord upon him?”

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

  1. The neighbors don’t know the full mystery, that Elizabeth’s child was made holy in her womb.
  2. Bestowing the wrong name would lessen God’s gift.
  3. Elizabeth’s faith confronts their wisdom. The angel revealed the name, John, and she acts on that word.
  4. The neighbors are not satisfied. They refuse to accept God’s decision.
  5. Zechariah, however, has come to believe. He unites his faith with Elizabeth’s, and writes, ‘His name is John.”
  6. Having acted in faith, Zechariah experiences a reversal of his misfortune. His tongue is ready to bless God.
  7. In their deeply religious spirit, the crowd is filled with awe, wonder and fear of God.
  8. They become God’s witnesses.   Their tongues, too, are loosed to tell everyone of these events.
  9. All in that hill country treasure these words in their hearts.
  10. They see that God’s hand is upon John.

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

  1. O Jesus, give me Elizabeth’s staunch faith.
  2. Make me ready to oppose those who are obstacles to God’s will.
  3. Make my inner spirit, Lord, sensitive to your inspirations.
  4. How powerful, O Jesus, are two hearts united in faith. Let me find others who share my call.
  5. You have chosen a name for me, O Lord. Let me cherish the saint whose name I bear.
  6. Loosen my tongue and I will exalt you before others.
  7. O Jesus, fill me with awe, wonder and childlike faith.
  8. I am your mystery, O Lord. Your hand is upon me.

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

  1. I will examine the mystery of God’s call upon my life.
  2. I will join my heart to someone else who also believes.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Elizabeth said, “He shall be called John.” Zechariah wrote, “John is his name.”

DECEMBER 22, 2016 – THURSDAY – MARY’S MAGNIFICAT

(Luke 1:46-55)

Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit. Inspire your prayer in my heart.

Imagination: (Picture Mary praising God in Elizabeth’s presence)

Context:

Mary knows the Old Testament song of Hannah, mother of Samuel (1Sam 2:1-10). Hannah rejoiced that she conceived by God’s power after years of hopelessness. Mary enters into an even greater joy of conceiving God made man.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Mary prayed, “My soul magnifies the Lord and my Spirit rejoices in God my Saviour. For he who is mighty has done great things for me and holy is his name. His mercy is from generation to generation on those who fear him. He has shown the might of his arm. He has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has put down the mighty from their thrones and has exalted the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things and has sent the rich away empty. He has blessed Israel, his servant, being mindful of his mercy. Just as he promised Abraham and his descendants forever.”

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

  1. Mary is immersed in the greatest of all mysteries.
  2. The angel told her the mystery and Elizabeth further explained it.
  3. In her mystical vision, Mary sees herself guiding all of history.
  4. Mary prophesies about the Kingdom. The rich will become poor and the poor, rich. The powerful will grow helpless and the little ones gain strength.
  5. Mary is the center of this total, worldwide upheaval.
  6. Each generation will enjoy Mary’s favors, but only when they call her “blessed.”

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

  1. You, Mary are the easy way, the short way, the sure way into the Kingdom.
  2. Guide my steps. Enlighten my mind. You always safeguard the little ones.
  3. O Mary, flood my heart with God’s favors.
  4. Let me be poor, little, empty and hungry in this life, so I can be blessed in the age to come.
  5. Mary, share with me your mystical visions. Let me see the Kingdom, and all that God is doing.

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

  1. I will renew my devotion to Mary.
  2. I will read St. Louis de Montfort’s book “True Devotion to Our Blessed Mother.”

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

He who is mighty has done great things for me.

DECEMBER 21, 2016 – WEDNESDAY – MARY VISITS ELIZABETH

(Luke 1:39-45)

Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit. Fill me with your joy.

Imagination: (Picture Mary entering Zechariah’s house).

Context:

This story contains many truths. First, Jesus begins his sanctifying ministry. Second, John begins his ministry, pointing out Jesus to his mother. Third, this is an early picture of Pentecost. All are filled with the Holy Spirit.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Mary went quickly into the hill country of Judea, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and cried out in a loud voice: “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”

Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For the moment that your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you, for you have believed that the Lord’s words to you would be fulfilled.”

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

  1. Jesus begins immediately to sanctify the world. Mary is his first missionary.
  2. John the Baptist begins his ministry, pointing out the Christ to his mother.
  3. Pentecost comes early. All are filled with the Holy Spirit.
  4. Many years later, the apostles will gather with Mary and receive the Spirit at Pentecost.
  5. By prophetic revelation, Elizabeth knows that Mary is the mother of God.
  6. These two women hold all of history in their wombs.
  7. Elizabeth has the Precursor and Mary has the Saviour.

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

  1. Jesus, you begin immediately to save the world.
  2. Mary, bring Jesus quickly to me.
  3. Holy Spirit, fill me with joy.
  4. Mary, invite me into your womb, the new garden of Eden, where Jesus has placed every treasure.
  5. Mary, help me to believe God’s word.
  6. Mary, share with me the Spirit of Pentecost.

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

  1. Today, I will use Elizabeth’s words to praise Mary, “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”
  2. I will ponder the mystery that God placed all human history in Mary’s womb.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Blessed are you who believed that the Lord’s words to you would be fulfilled.

DECEMBER 20, 2016 – TUESDAY – MARY’S QUESTIONING AND ACCEPTANCE

(Luke 1:34-38)

Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit. Help me to say “Yes” to God’s plan.

Imagination: (Picture Mary speaking with the Angel).

Context:

Luke records the greatest moment in human history, when God becomes flesh in Mary’s womb. This text highlights Mary’s struggle to understand the mystery. Once all is clear, she quickly consents.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin named Mary. The angel said, “Do not fear, Mary. You have found favor with God. You shall conceive and bear a son and give him the name Jesus. Great will be his dignity and he will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of David, his father. He will rule over the house of Jacob forever and his reign will be without end.

Mary said to the angel, “How can this be because I do not know man?” The angel explained, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High shall overshadow you. The child will be called holy, the Son of God. Know that Elizabeth, your relative, has conceived a son in her old age. She who was called barren, is now in her sixth month because nothing is impossible to God.”

Mary said, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to your word.” At this, the angel left her.

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

  1. Mary knew that God called her to be a virgin. Now, the angel speaks of her becoming a mother.
  2. The angel explains how both are true. The Holy Spirit will overshadow her, making her both mother and virgin.
  3. This message overwhelms Mary.
  4. Because Mary must accept her privilege, the angel describes God’s miracle in Elizabeth.
  5. The angel concludes, “Nothing is impossible to God.”
  6. Mary’s human mind quickly understands that God will do the impossible.
  7. She surrenders completely, “Let it be done to me according to your word.”

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

  1. Father, what is your plan for me?
  2. Jesus, I cannot always understand your favors.
  3. Mary, teach me how to search for answers.
  4. Spirit, reveal God’s mysteries in my life.
  5. God, nothing is impossible for you.
  6. Mary, engrave your response on my heart, “Let I be done to me according to your word.”

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

  1. This day, I will surrender to God’s plan.
  2. I will believe that nothing is impossible for God.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Let it be done to me according to your word.

DECEMBER 19, 2016 – MONDAY – ZECHARIAH’S DOUBTING FAITH

(Luke 1:5-20)

Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit. Teach me to believe in God’s word to me.

Imagination: (Picture the Angel appearing to Zechariah).

Context

In these early stories, Luke speaks of two couples, Zechariah with Elizabeth and Joseph with Mary. Zechariah fails this test of faith. His lack of belief is later reversed when he names the child, John.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

In the days of King Herod, there was a priest named Zechariah. His wife’s name was Elizabeth. Both were just before God, walking blamelessly in all his commandments and laws. They had no son, because Elizabeth was barren and they were well advanced in years.

According to the custom of the priestly office, it was Zechariah’s turn to offer incense. As he went into the temple of the Lord, an angel appeared to Zechariah. Upon seeing him, Zechariah was troubled and fear came upon him. The angel said, “Zechariah, fear not. Your prayer is heard. Your wife Elizabeth shall conceive a son, and you will call him John”.

Zechariah answered, “How am I to know this? I and my wife are advanced in years.” The angel said, “I am Gabriel who stands before God and was sent to bring you this good news. You will not be able to speak until these things happen because you have not believed my words. Yet, they shall be fulfilled in their time.”

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

  1. God prepares everything. He sends his special angel, Gabriel, at the very moment when Zechariah is offering incense.
  2. God chooses John’s name and has gigantic plans for him.
  3. Even though he sees an angel, Zechariah cannot believe what he hears.
  4. In spite of Zechariah’s disbelief, God does not withdraw the gift. The promises will be fulfilled in their time.
  5. God purifies Zechariah by making him mute until the child is born.
  6. For now, his lack of faith disqualifies him from being a good witness.

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

  1. O God, you prepare everything. Let me trust you.
  2. O God, your plans for me are beyond all my imagination. Your thoughts are beyond my thoughts.
  3. O Lord, purge me of any lack of faith which would destroy your plans.
  4. O Lord, even when I did not believe, you did not withdraw your gifts.
  5. Help me, Jesus to believe even before I see.
  6. O Lord, your promises to me can still be accomplished! I am not too old.

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

  1. I will live by trust in God’s plans for me.
  2. I will be confident that God’s power can bring about everything.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

These things will still be fulfilled in their time.

DECEMBER 15, 2016 – WEEK THREE OF ADVENT – THURSDAY

(Luke 7:24-30) 

Prayer: O Jesus, let me rejoice that I was born into your Kingdom.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus speaking to the crowds.)

Context:

Jesus has answered John’s messengers about being the Messiah. Now Jesus praises John, saying he is an angel preparing the way. Even though John is the greatest of the prophets, he did not live to see the glory of Jesus’ Kingdom. The final paragraph is interesting. Luke states that the crowds received Jesus because they were baptized by John and the others rejected Jesus because they rejected John’s ministry.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

When the messengers of John departed, Jesus spoke to the crowds about John, “What did you go out to the desert to see? A reed shaken by the wind? What really did you go out to see – a man clothed in soft garments? Those who eat well and are dressed in costly garments live in the houses of kings.

What did you go out to see – a prophet? Yes, and more than a prophet. He is the one of whom it is written, “Behold, I send my angel before your face to prepare the way before you.” I say to you that among those born of woman, there is no greater than John the Baptist. Yet, the least in the Kingdom of God is greater than he.

All the crowds that heard Jesus, even the tax collectors, gave praise to God because they had received from John the baptismal bath which he administered. The Pharisees and the lawyers, by failing to receive his baptism, defeated God’s plan in their regard.

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

  1. Many in the crowd had heard John. So, Jesus’ words awaken memories of their repentance.
  2. The people went into the desert because of their religious searchings.
  3. John fulfilled all their hopes. Even more, he led them to Jesus.
  4. John was God’s angel preparing for the Messiah.
  5. Even so, the least in Jesus’ Kingdom would be greater than John.
  6. This gospel describes two groups. The crowds rejoiced because John baptized them. The Pharisees missed God’s plan because they refused John’s Baptism and were not prepared.

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

  1. O Jesus, I will search for you.
  2. O Jesus, I will find you in the quiet desert of prayer.
  3. All my hopes are fulfilled in your presence.
  4. You prepare me for your greatest blessings.
  5. I want to be the least in your Kingdom.
  6. Send your angels to guide my path.

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

  1. Today, I will search spiritually, leaving behind what I can see and feel.
  2. I will rejoice in being baptized into Jesus’ kingdom.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

What did you go out to see?

DECEMBER 14, 2016 – WEEK THREE OF ADVENT – WEDNESDAY – MESSENGERS FROM JOHN

(Matthew 1:1-17)

Prayer: O Lord, I thank you that you have created me.

Imagination: (Picture Joseph and Mary at Bethlehem with the child, Jesus).

Context:

            Matthew traces the genealogy of Jesus through St. Joseph back to Abraham. He divides these ancestors into three groups, from Abraham to David (1000 BC), from David to the Babylon Captivity (587 BC), and from the Captivity to Joseph. The purpose is to show that Jesus is from the line of King David.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

A family record of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham (and the following) Isaac, Jacob, Judah, Perez, Hezron, Ram, Anminadab, Nahshon, Salmon, Boaz, (whose mother was Rahab), Obed (whose mother was Ruth), Jesse, King David, Solomon (whose mother was the wife of Uriah), Rehoboam, Abijah, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Joram, Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Amos, Josiah, Jechoniah (at the time of the exile). After the Exile, Shealtiel, Zerubbabel, Abiud, Eliakim, Azor, Zadok, Achim, Eluid, Eleazar, Matthan, Jacob.

Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. It was of her that Jesus who is called the Messiah was born.   Thus, the total number of generations is: From Abraham to David, fourteen generations. From David to the Babylonian captivity, fourteen generations. From the Babylonian captivity to the Messiah, fourteen generations.

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

  1. The genealogy shows God’s guiding hand over many centuries.
  2. God wanted to bring forth Joseph, the husband of Mary and foster father of Jesus.
  3. The Babylonian captivity shows God’s special care. After seventy years, God led the exiles to return to Jerusalem and prepare for the Messiah.
  4. To highlight God’s special care, Matthew deliberately divides the groups into 14 ancestors, twice the special biblical number of seven.
  5. The list suddenly stops, because Joseph is not the father of Jesus. He is called “the husband of Mary”.
  6. The Virgin Mary, alone, brings forth the Messiah.
  7. Having given the ancestry, Matthew can now tell the story.
  8. His infancy stories will focus on Joseph, the person most deeply affected by his fiancé’s surprising pregnancy.

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

  1. Jesus, you were born at the right moment.
  2. Heavenly Father, I, too, was born at the right moment.
  3. How marvelous are your works. How wonderfully you have made me.
  4. All history is in your hands and I am in your hands.
  5. O Jesus, You will come again, at the end of time. I will be there waiting for you.
  6. O Lord, let me fulfill my purpose in your Kingdom.
  7. You are the Lord of all the ages. If I love you, I cannot fail.

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

  1. I will think today of my parents and grandparents, thanking God for their lives of faith.
  2. I will ask God to reveal his purpose for my life.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Joseph was the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus, who is called the Messiah.

DECEMBER 11, 2016 – WEEK THREE OF ADVENT – SUNDAY C – THE BAPTIST’S MESSAGE

(Luke 3:7-16)

Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit. Help me to accept the demands of the Kingdom.

Imagination: (Picture John preaching at the Jordan River.)

Context:

The people are anxious for the Kingdom and are filled with many questions. John has excellent answers. He, also, clearly define his relationship to Jesus.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

People asked John, “Master, what are we to do?” He said, ‘If you have two coats, give to him who has none. Whoever has food, should do likewise.” To the tax collectors who came to be baptized he said, “Do not collect more than is legal.” To the soldiers, he said, “Do not take any money by force and accuse no one unjustly. Be content with your pay.”

John said, “I am baptizing you with water, but there is one coming who is mightier than I. I am not fit to loosen his sandal strap. He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and in fire. Using exhortations like this, he preached the good news to the people.

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

  1. Filled with holy desires, the people want to know what is required of them to enter the Kingdom.
  2. John’s instructions are very simple.       “Share your coat” and “Share your food.”
  3. John even interprets God’s will for tax collectors. “Do not collect too much”.
  4. To the soldiers, he says, “Do no violence.       Act justly. Be content with your pay.”
  5. Since these demands are reasonable, they gain great hope.
  6. John gives even greater hope. He speaks of someone who will baptize in the Holy Spirit and fire.
  7. John’s message was good news to a despairing Israel.

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

  1. O Jesus, I am filled with holy desires.
  2. Show me what to do to enter your Kingdom.
  3. Your demands are reasonable and easy to obey.
  4. I will do the simple tasks of my state in life.
  5. Your word is good news for my soul.
  6. You fill me with great hope. I can be your disciple.
  7. You even pour out your Spirit of divine fire.

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

  1. I will seek to know what God demands of me.
  2. I will take hope. God never demands the impossible.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Using exhortations like these, he preached the good news to the people.

DECEMBER 5, 2016 – WEEK TWO OF ADVENT – MONDAY – FORGIVING SINS

(Luke 5:17-26)

Prayer – Come, Holy Spirit. Give me friends with great faith.

Imagination- (Picture Jesus healing the paralyzed man.)

Context:

These stories in Mark’s gospel are controversy stories. Each dispute allows Jesus to make some pronouncement. In this story, Jesus says that he is the Son of Man with divine authority.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

When Jesus was at Capernaum, a crowd gathered around the house. Four men arrived, carrying a paralyzed man. Because of the crowd, they could not get him to Jesus. So, they uncovered the roof and lowered the man to Jesus. Seeing how much faith they had, Jesus said, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

Some thought, “This is blasphemy. Only God can forgive sins.” Jesus asked them, “Which is easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven’, or ‘arise and walk?’ So that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins, I say, “Arise, take up your bed and walk.”

He got up, took his bed and went away in the sight of all. The crowd was amazed and said, “We have never seen anything like this.”

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

  1. The heroes of this story are the four friends who love the paralytic.
  2. Against all odds, they do everything to bring him to Jesus.
  3. Because of their faith, Jesus forgives the man’s sins.
  4. Jesus then heals the paralyzed man to prove that he could forgive sins.
  5. As yet, the paralytic has done nothing.
  6. However, when Jesus tells him to get up, he shows great faith. He arises and picks up his mat.
  7. The event confounds the learned critics and delights the simple believers. They believe even more in Jesus’ powers.

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

  1. Lord, send me friends who believe in you.
  2. I will respond to their efforts to bring me to you.
  3. O Jesus, I want my sins to be forgiven. This is your greatest gift, (which I often do not seek.)
  4. Jesus, you have all power and authority in heaven and on earth.
  5. You heal everything – soul, mind, feelings, senses, intellect and will.
  6. Speak to me, Jesus. Tell me to rise from my sins.
  7. Lord, I will be a sign to others, so they also come to believe.

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

  1. I will choose my friends from those who believe in Jesus.
  2. I will let their faith bless me.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Four men uncovered the roof and lowered the man to Jesus, who said, “Your sins are forgiven.”

NOVEMBER 29, 2016 – WEEK ONE OF ADVENT – TUESDAY – REVEALED TO THE CHILDREN

(Luke 10:21-24)

Prayer – Lord Jesus, give me a humble and accepting heart.

Imagination: (Imagine Jesus reprimanding his disciples.)

Context:

Jesus sent out 72 disciples to proclaim the Kingdom. They have just returned with all the good news of their successes. This text is filled with rejoicing. Advent, unlike Lent, is a time to rejoice because “The Lord is near.”

Gospel Text (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Jesus cried out, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and prudent, you have revealed them to the little ones. This has seemed good in your sight.

All things have been given over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son, but the Father. And no one knows the Father, except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”

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

  1. Jesus rejoices because the disciples are understanding the Kingdom.
  2. This understanding is withheld from the worldly wise and prudent.
  3. Jesus credits his heavenly Father, who has revealed these mysteries to the little ones.
  4. Jesus has the power to reveal even the Father himself.
  5. Jesus will reveal these mysteries to all. First, they must become his disciple.

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

  1. Jesus, reveal to me the mysteries of the Kingdom.
  2. Even more, reveal the Father himself.
  3. As my heart is caught up with the Father, You will rejoice in me.
  4. When I was wise and prudent, you could not do this. Now, I am your little one.
  5. O Jesus, all that is yours is to become mine. What a mystery!

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

  1. I will find time for solitude, so Jesus can reveal the Father.
  2. I will cherish the mysteries of Jesus’ Kingdom.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

The Son reveals the Father to whomever he wishes.

NOVEMBER 26, 2016 – WEEK THIRTY-FOUR – SATURDAY – FINAL WORDS OF ADVICE

(Luke 21:34-36)

Prayer: O Jesus, teach me to watch and to pray constantly.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus in the temple teaching his disciples.)

Context:

Jesus is worried. He will not be returning to earth soon and the disciples will wonder why he delays. So, he exhorts them not to grow indulgent, not to give up prayer or their high moral standards. These final words before the Last Supper are an important reminder. Whether it is sooner or later, all the world will stand before him.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Jesus said to his disciples, “Be on guard, lest your spirits become bloated with indulgence and drunkenness and worldly cares, and that day come upon you suddenly, like a trap. That day will come upon the whole earth.

Watch, therefore. Pray at all times, so you may have the strength to escape what will happen and to stand secure before the Son of Man.

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

  1. “That day”, means the moment when all will be judged by Jesus.
  2. Because Jesus’ Second Coming didn’t happen right away, some disciples abandoned their devout life and their watchfulness.
  3. They became indifferent, drunk and involved with worldly cares.
  4. They fell into a trap which entangles everyone who abandons Jesus’ Kingdom. Inevitably they will be trapped by something.
  5. Jesus explains the remedy. They must watch their conduct and pray constantly.
  6. Jesus’ coming is inevitable. History will end in this way. All must seek one thing – to stand secure before the Son of Man.
  7. These are Jesus’ final words. Remember them.

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

  1. O Jesus, what a day that will be, when every human person will stand before you.
  2. O Lord, how quickly my life will pass.       Do not let me fall into indulgence or give my heart to worldly cares.
  3. I will watch with you. That is what you ask of me.
  4. Teach me to pray. Teach me to pray constantly.
  5. How will I be secure on that day, Jesus?       I know. I will live always in your hands.

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

  1. When am I indulgent and entangled in worldly cares? I will take action.
  2. I will pray mentally every day.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Pray constantly for the strength to stand before the Son of Man.

NOVEMBER 25, 2016 – WEEK THIRTY-FOUR – FRIDAY – THE EVENTS ARE NEAR

(Luke 21:29-33)

Prayer: O Jesus, help me to act now. So much is about to happen.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus teaching his disciples.)

Context:

Jesus has just predicted the fall of Jerusalem and declared that, at a given moment, he will come on clouds of glory. Because people think that this cosmic event is far off, they push the warning aside. So, Jesus must add this image of the fig tree which says that summer is near.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Jesus told his disciples a parable, “Look at the fig tree and all the other trees. When you see them sending forth their shoots, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things happen, know that the Kingdom of God is at hand. Amen I say to you, the present generation will not pass away until all these things take place. The heavens and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

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

  1. Jesus knows that delay wears down his disciples. His words lose their effectiveness.
  2. The fig tree is a perfect example. In winter, no tree looks more dead.       Yet, so quickly, it comes alive, surprising everyone.
  3. No one needs special knowledge. When trees blossom, everyone knows that summer is close.
  4. Jesus has an important conclusion. When persecution comes and when the Kingdom seems to have lost its power, that is the moment of closeness.
  5. The Kingdom is always near. God’s reign is always at hand. Suddenly and surprisingly, the moment of Jesus’ presence comes upon those gathered in faith.
  6. Someday the whole world will disappear but Jesus’ words will never lose their power.

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

  1. O Jesus, when I grow tired, weary and discouraged, give me new life.
  2. Let your Spirit breathe upon me and his fire leap up.
  3. You are always coming to me. Your Kingdom is always at hand.
  4. Just when I am losing life, you surprise me.       Your Spirit suddenly stirs within.
  5. You whisper to me, “I am never far away.       I am always near”.
  6. You are my hope. You will never pass away. Never fail me. Never abandon me.

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

  1. I will live in great hope today that the Kingdom is at hand.
  2. I will recall my favorite words of Jesus.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Know that the Kingdom of God is at hand.

NOVEMBER 24, 2016 – WEEK THIRTY-FOUR – THURSDAY – THE JERUSALEM DESTRUCTION

(Luke 21:20-28)

Prayer: O Jesus, be with us in times of disasters.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus explaining to his disciples the fall of Jerusalem)

Context:

Jesus prophesied that the Romans would destroy Jerusalem, which they did in 70 A.D. Luke wrote his gospel fifteen years after this destruction. However, these words were very important to the earlier believers. They heeded Jesus’ advice to “flee to the mountains” and were saved from death.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Jesus said to his disciples, “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by an army, then know that the desolation is near. Those in Judea should flee to the mountains. Those in the middle of the city must escape. Those in the country must not return. These are the days of vengeance when all that is written will be fulfilled.

Woe to the women who are with child or are nursing at the breast. There will be great distress in the land and great wrath upon the people. People will fall beneath the sword and they will be led captive to the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled by the Gentiles, until the time of the Gentiles is fulfilled.

There will be signs in the sun, the moon and the stars. On the earth, nature will be in anguish due to the roaring of the waves and the sea. Men will die of fear in anticipation of what is coming upon the earth, for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.

Then, men will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud, with great power and majesty. When these things begin to happen, look up. Lift up your heads because your redemption is near at hand.”

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

  1. What powerful verses and gigantic prophecies!       Jesus prophesies of two different events, the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and his Second Coming at the end of the world.
  2. The believers could escape Jerusalem if they knew, believed and acted on Jesus’ words. Thousands did just that.
  3. Jesus’ words were totally fulfilled.       People either died by the sword or were taken into captivity. Only the believers were saved.
  4. The Second Coming is different. No one can escape. However, those without Jesus will die of fright.
  5. Those with Jesus will rejoice.
  6. They will see Jesus coming, the One whom they preached and suffered for.

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

  1. O Jesus, how important are your words.       Place them in my heart.
  2. O Jesus, save me from the disasters and catastrophes. Otherwise, I will be overwhelmed.
  3. Jesus, without you I would die by the sword of afflictions.
  4. Some day soon, you will come for me.
  5. Come, Lord Jesus. I will lift up my head and welcome you.
  6. For you I live. For you I will toil until you come.

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

  1. In all my difficulties, I will listen for Jesus’ advice.
  2. Each day, I will prepare for the moment of my death.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Lift up your heads. Your redemption is near at hand.

NOVEMBER 23, 2016 – WEEK THIRTY-FOUR – WEDNESDAY – THE TRIALS OF A DISCIPLE

(Luke 21:12-19)

Prayer: O Jesus, help me in the moments of my trials.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus explaining to the disciples their future difficulties)

Context:

After discussing all the wars and famines and earthquakes that will occur, Jesus turns to two other difficulties. The disciples will find themselves hauled into court. Also, their family and friends will turn on them.   Only patient endurance will win the victory.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Jesus said to his disciples, “Before all these things happen, they will lay hands on you. They will persecute you, bringing you to synagogues and prisons, dragging you before kings and governors for my name’s sake. You will be brought there so you can give witness.

Do not think ahead of time what you are to say for I will give you words and a wisdom which your adversaries cannot resist or refute.

You will be betrayed by your parents and your brothers, relatives and friends. Some of you will be put to death and you shall be hated by all for my name’s sake. By patient endurance you shall save your lives.”

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

  1. The problems will begin when the disciples witness to Jesus.
  2. The synagogue will reject them and this will lead to prison.
  3. They will be brought before the highest authorities – governors and kings.
  4. These arrests serve God’s purpose. The disciples will speak of Jesus to all who attend their trial.
  5. Jesus, himself, promises to be there, prompting them what to say.
  6. Even family members will not want the disciple to join this new Jesus Movement.
  7. The consequence will be dire. Some will die. Jesus will not miraculously save them.
  8. By dying, they will “save their life”, their eternal life that really matters.

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

  1. Jesus, to be persecuted for you is my greatest privilege.
  2. I will not be silent. I will speak about your name.
  3. Many need to hear the gospel. At least, some will listen.
  4. Kings and governors have limited power.       You, Jesus, and your disciples hold all authority.
  5. You will be there. You will give me the words. You will be my lawyer.
  6. No one will intimidate me or change my decision.       You are my king and my governor.
  7. Jesus, give me patient endurance.

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

  1. I will ask for the gift of Fortitude.
  2. I will not let hatred and anger of others to silence me.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

By patient endurance, you will save your lives.