JULY 19, 2016 – WEEK SIXTEEN – TUESDAY – HAVING A NEW FAMILY

(Matthew 12:46-50)

Prayer – O Jesus, I will be your brother (sister).

Imagination:(Picture yourself in the crowd with Jesus saying “These are my brother and sister”

Context:

Often, Mark begins a story, tells another story and then completes the first story. In this text, Mark concludes the story of Jesus’ family. Mark uses the key words, “outside” (to refer to the family) and “inside” (to refer to those who do God’s will). Don’t get upset by this story. It doesn’t mean that Mary complains. (Mark never uses Mary’s name. She is entirely absent in his gospel.) He wants to say that the disciples is Jesus’ mother, or brother or sister.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Jesus was speaking to the crowds when his mother and his brothers came. They stood outside and sent someone to say, “Your mother and your brothers are outside and they wish to speak with you.”

Jesus responded, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers”? Extending his hand to those seated around him, Jesus said, ”These are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does the will of my heavenly father is brother and sister and mother to me.”

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

  1. People can be related to Jesus by nature and not by faith.
  2. They are still outside the Kingdom.
  3. Jesus uses this occasion to announce a new truth. He is forming a new family of God.
  4. His disciples have the unique opportunity of belonging to Jesus’ family.
  5. If they just do God’s will, they will be a brother or a sister, or even a mother to Jesus.

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

  1. Jesus, to know you is not enough. I must see you with the eyes of faith.
  2. I will place no obstacle to your work.
  3. Form me into your family.
  4. Oh, to be a child of God! Nothing. Nothing is a greater blessing.
  5. Jesus, your invitation overwhelms me. I can be your brother or sister.
  6. Whose heart could imagine such a blessing?
  7. Jesus, I will always do God’s will. Then, I will remain in your family forever.

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

  1. I will ponder the great privilege of being a child of God.
  2. I will seek God’s will at every moment.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Whoever does the will of God is brother, sister and mother to me.

EASTER WEEK – MONDAY – APRIL 17, 2017 THE GOOD NEWS (Mt 28:8-15)

Prayer: O Jesus, I will carry the good news to the whole world.

Imagination: (Picture the two women meeting Jesus).

Context:

This gospel has 2 quite different scenes. The women meet Jesus and he tells them to bring the good news to his disciples.
In the second scene, a cover-up takes place. Bribes are paid so this good news remains hidden from the people. This battle 
will go on until the end of time. Only then will all see that Jesus is truly risen from the dead.

Gospel text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

The women left the tomb quickly, filled with both fear and great joy, running to 
tell the disciples. Then, Jesus stood before them and said, “Peace.” They came up, took hold of his feet and adored him. Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers that they are to 
go to Galilee. There they shall see me.”

As they were going, some of the guards came into the city and told the chief priests 
all that had happened. They assembled with the elders to decide what to do. 
They gave a great sum of money 
to the soldiers and said, “You are to say that the disciples came at night 
and stole the body while we were asleep. If the Procurator should hear of this, we will settle it and keep you out of trouble.” They took the money and did as they were told. This is the story that circulates 
among the Jews even to this day.

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

  1. The women are overwhelmed with joy.
  2. They see an angel and then they experience the Risen Jesus.
  3. They are prepared to be messengers, the first to know and to tell the story.
  4. Many more visions will follow. Jesus will appear for forty days to prepare the disciples.
  5. The guards, too, had this experience. They could have become evangelists.
  6. They sell out. They take the money and close the door to truth.
  7. How many did they deprive of eternal life, themselves included?
  8. Lies can blunt the power of the gospel.

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

  1. O Jesus, I experience great joy at this story.
  2. Prepare me to be your evangelist. Come to me often.
  3. Remove all fear so I can follow you.
  4. O Jesus, you called even the guards to preach you, but the soldiers lost their vocation.
  5. Do not let me sell you out, no matter what the cost.
  6. O Jesus, I will tell your story to everyone.

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

  1. I will try to find moments of quiet, so Jesus can come to me.
  2. I will be totally committed to the truth.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation)

They took the money and did as they were told.

WEEK EIGHT – SUNDAY (A) – FEBRUARY 26, 2017 TRUSTING THE FATHER (MT 6:30-34)

Prayer: Come, Holy Ghost. Help me to seek first the Kingdom of heaven.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus teaching His disciples about the Father’s care for them.)

Context:

In this text, Jesus concludes his teaching about having confidence in God. He cites the universal anxieties that people have about what to eat, to drink and to wear.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

“Oh, you of little faith. Do not worry and say “What are we to eat?” or
“What are we to drink?”
or “What are we to wear?” All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father
knows that you need them all. Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness,
and all these things will
be given you besides.

Do not worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow will take care of itself.
Sufficient for each day is the evil thereof.

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

  1. Everyone worries about food, drink and clothing. However,
    every disciple has a special relationship to the Father.
  2. Jesus explains that the heavenly Father has total concern for the disciple,
    even for our human needs.
  3. Because of God’s concern, Jesus demands a total faith in God’s Providence.
  4. He asks one thing. The disciple must seek first the Kingdom. Then, he will have all the needed food, drink and clothing.
  5. The disciple must avoid one thing. He cannot worry about a tomorrow (which never comes). The Father provides for each day’s needs.

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

  1. O Jesus, when I have little faith, I am anxious. When I have great faith, I am at peace.
  2. O Lord, calm my inner stirrings.
  3. O Father, why do I not trust you? Did you not create me? Will you not provide for me?
  4. Jesus, your teaching is clear. I must seek first your Kingdom.
  5. Jesus, make me a child. To trust. To live one day at a time. To believe that God will provide my daily bread.

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

  1. I will examine my anxieties and why I grow fearful.
  2. I will place greater trust in my heavenly Father.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Your heavenly Father knows that you need all of these.

WEEK SEVEN – WEDNESDAY – FEBRUARY 22, 2017 Feast of the Chair of St. Peter the Apostle PETER’S REVELATION (Mt 16:13-20)

Prayer: O Jesus, You are the Messiah, the son of God.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus with Peter and the apostles.)

Context:
Who is Jesus Christ? Many people still do not know. Peter, by a divine revelation of the Father, answers that question. Jesus calls him “Peter” (meaning rock) and makes him the foundation of his Church. This part of Matthew’s gospel focuses on Jesus forming his Church.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)
Jesus asked the apostles, “Who do people say I am?” They responded, “Some say John the Baptist. Others say Elijah. Others say Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He then asked, “Who do you say that I am.” Peter said, “You are the Christ, Son of the Living God.”
Jesus exclaimed, “Blessed are you, Simon, son of John, because flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. I say to you, “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven. Whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder those that attract you.)
1. Jesus wants to reveal his identity. So, he begins the questioning.
2. Peter has the right answer and can think of nothing else to say.
3. By the light of a heavenly revelation, Peter says words far beyond his own understanding.
4. Peter can now receive a greater power – the Keys of the Kingdom.
5. Jesus will build his Church and uses Peter as his foundation.
6. The Church on earth has all the powers of heaven.

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)
1. O Lord, you ask me the same question, “Who do you say I am?”
2. “You are the Christ”, I exclaim and you call me “blessed”.
3. O Jesus, may your Spirit reveal the Kingdom.
4. Give me your power and I will serve others.
5. Enlighten me by inner revelation. Show me the Kingdom’s mysteries.
6. With your powers, I can touch even heaven.

Resolution: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)
1. I will seek to know Jesus.
2. I will ask God to reveal my task in his Church.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation.)
And you, who do you say I am? You are the Christ, Son of the living God.

WEEK SEVEN – SUNDAY- A (PART 1) – FEBRUARY 19, 2017 RELATIONSHIPS (MT 5-38-42)

Prayer – Come, Holy Spirit. Teach me how to love as a disciple should.

Imagination- (Picture Jesus teaching kindness to his disciples.)

Context:

“An eye for an eye” actually was a merciful regulation because in Jesus’
time this meant that all revenge must be limited. Jesus goes
beyond this legal mercy. He speaks of moments of physical violence,
lawsuits and forced labor. In these situations, the disciple must
respond with extreme thoughtfulness,
hoping to lead his opponent to faith in Jesus.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Jesus said to his disciples, “You have heard it said, ‘An eye for an eye
and a tooth for a tooth’. But I say to you, ‘Offer no resistance to evil. If someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other to him. If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand him your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, then go two miles.

Give to him who asks and do not turn your back on the borrower.”

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

  1. 1. Jesus wants his Kingdom to spread. If his disciples act with kindness and forgiveness, people will listen to them.
  2. 2. Does not retaliation just continue the circle of violence? Only when a person refuses to retaliate, does violence end.
  3. 3. Jesus asks the disciple to be patient, so others can see how the Kingdom changes lives.
  4. 4. Why invoke the law? Let the person have both your tunic and cloak.
  5. 5. The extra generosity in going “the second mile” witnesses to Jesus’ Kingdom.
  6. 6. After experiencing the disciple’s charity, hopefully, the person will listen to Jesus’ message.

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

  1. 1. O Jesus, change me. Make my heart like your heart.
  2. 2. Help me to bring everyone into your Kingdom, no matter what the cost!
  3. 3. Jesus, I will set aside my interests for your interests. I will forget myself for your gospel.
  4. 4. I will use every situation to bring the Kingdom to others.
  5. 5. Jesus, if I never turn my back on anyone, you will not turn your back on me.

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

  1. 1. I will examine my relationships to others. Are they according to the Kingdom?
  2. 2. By my changed life, I will be a herald of the Kingdom.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Offer no resistance. Go a second mile. Hand him your tunic. Give to him who asks.

WEEK SIX – SUNDAY (A) – FEBRUARY 12, 2017 THE GREATER HOLINESS (MT 5:17-37)

Prayer: O Lord Jesus, by your Holy Spirit, guide me to the heights of holiness.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus teaching his disciples.)

Context:

Matthew wrote his gospel in 85 A.D. when the early fervor of the
believers was cooling down. He tries to enkindle the fire by setting a
high standard of holiness for his church. In this text, he contrasts the new level of holiness with the former level.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Unless your holiness surpasses that of the scribes and the
Pharisees, you shall not enter the Kingdom of heaven.

You have heard the commandment “You shall not commit murder and every murderer
will be liable to judgment. What I say to you is: Everyone who grows angry with his brother
shall be liable to judgment.

You have heard the commandment, “You shall not commit adultery. What I say to you is:
‘Anyone who looks lustfully at a woman has already committed
adultery with her in his thoughts.’

You have heard the commandment, Do not take a false oath but make
good to the Lord all your pledges. What I tell you is, ‘Do not swear at all. Say “Yes” when you mean “Yes” and “No” when you mean “No”.
Anything beyond that is from the Evil One.’

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

  1. The Pharisees were seen as the holiest of Jews. Jesus goes beyond their
    teaching and presents a gigantic challenge to his new disciples.
  2. Since murder results from anger, Jesus demands that the sources of this violence be removed.
  3. Adultery comes from lustful thoughts. Even these must be purified.
  4. Jesus demands truth. No need to take an oath over little things. Just speak plainly and simply.
  5. The list of demands is endless, but if the disciple has a willing heart,
    he will do all these and more.

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

  1. O Jesus, lift me to the highest purity and holiness of life.
  2. Calm my anger. Remove my resentment. Give me inner stillness.
  3. Cool down the fires of lust. Let me not feed those desires.
  4. Touch my lips with the burning coal of your Spirit. Then, my tongue will speak truth.
  5. Jesus, help me to change so I can be your disciple.

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

  1. I will not compromise. I will seek a true life of holiness.
  2. I will purify the interior sources of my sins.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Unless your holiness surpasses that of the scribes and the Pharisees, you will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

WEEK FIVE – SUNDAY (A) – FEBRUARY 5, 2017 SALT AND LIGHT (MT 5:13-16)

Prayer – Lord Jesus, bless me so I can bless others. Enlighten me so I can show others the way.

Imagination – (Picture Jesus teaching his disciples).

Context:

Jesus uses 2 images, (salt and light) to describe the good works of a true disciple. These works will manifest the Father’s goodness. Then others, who have no faith,
will thank God. The images can also be negative. What if the salt loses its flavor
or the light is hidden.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

You are the salt of the earth. However, if the salt loses its taste, how will it be salted? It is good only to be cast out and trampled underfoot.

You are the light of the world. Men do not light a candle and put it under a basket, but upon the lampstand so that it can
shine for all in the house.

So your light must shine before men that they can see your good works and glorify your
Father who is in heaven.

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

  1. Jesus calls the disciples to a higher level of moral ideals.
    If they live this way, all human life will be different.
  2. If they do not, then they are useless and of no help to the world.
  3. Jesus is the light of the world but he shares this power with the disciples.
    They, too, must be a light in the darkness.
  4. They must not hide their light. Others must see their new lifestyle and embrace higher ideals.
  5. If they truly live as disciples, people will glimpse how the Father loves them.
    Then, the whole world will glorify God.

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

  1. O Jesus, help me live up to the demands of being your disciple.
  2. Change me. Make me new. Then, others will change.
  3. Let me live in the light. Make me a child of the light.
  4. I will not hide my goodness. I will not fear what others think.
  5. Let my goodness be a good example to those who walk in darkness.
  6. Let all the earth glorify God. This is my goal.

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

  1. I will read chapters five and six in Matthew’s gospel to discover what Jesus expects of me.
  2. By my deeds and words, I will try to bring light to others.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Put your light on the lampstand to shine for all in the house.

DECEMBER 28, 2016 – (THE HOLY INNOCENTS) – HEROD’S MASSACRE

(Matthew 2:13-18)

Prayer: O Lord Jesus, I would love to shed my blood for you.

Imagination: (Picture Mary, Joseph and the Child fleeing into Egypt.)

Context:

In Matthew’s gospel, Joseph is the central person in the infancy stories and God’s usual way of communicating with him is by an angel in his dreams. Historically, Herod was an insane man who killed many of his wives and relatives. The Church honors as martyrs the children whom he killed. The text mentions Rachel, who was Jacob’s wife. Two tribes of Israel were named after her two sons. They were slaughtered 700 years before Jesus.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

After the Magi departed, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in sleep saying, “Arise and take the child and his mother and go to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you. Because it will happen that Herod will seek to destroy the child.” He arose and took the child and his mother and went to Egypt until the death of Herod. Thus the word the Lord spoke to the prophet might be fulfilled, “Out of Egypt, I have called my Son”.

When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the Magi, he was exceedingly angry. He ordered that all the boys in Bethlehem and the surrounding regions who were two years old or less be killed. This was according to the time which he had learned from the Magi. What was said through the prophet Jeremiah was thus fulfilled, “A voice was heard in Rama, sobbing and loud lamentation. Rachel bewailing her children. There was no comfort for her because they were no more.” (Jer 31:15)

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

  1. Joseph has great spiritual gifts. He receives angelic messages that others would have missed.
  2. Despite all the difficulties, he immediately obeys the angel’s message.
  3. He will stay in Egypt until he receives another message.
  4. How much we owe to Joseph. He spared Mary’s life when she was pregnant and saved Jesus’ life from Herod.
  5. By this slaughter, the shadow of the cross appears early in the gospel.
  6. Satan uses Herod to kill these children. Later, he will use Judas and Pilate to kill Jesus.
  7. Without knowing it, these children become Jesus’ disciples and share in his cross.

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

  1. O Lord, help me to hear your directions for my life.
  2. O Jesus, speak and I will listen. Guide me and I will follow.
  3. O Lord, protect me in a world so filled with dangers.
  4. Keep me in your hiding place, O Lord. I live to be hidden in your hands.
  5. O Jesus, I accept whatever suffering comes to me as your disciple.
  6. Destroy my plans for my life. Reveal your plans.
  7. Help me to avoid those whom Satan controls.

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

  1. I will be sensitive this day to God’s promptings.
  2. I will not endanger my body or my soul, my human life or my eternal life.

Thought for the today: (To recall your meditation)

Herod will seek to destroy the child.

DECEMBER 26, 2016 – (ST. STEPHEN, MARTYR) PERSECUTIONS

(Matthew 10:17-22)

Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit, Strengthen me in moments of trial.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus preparing His disciples for persecution.)

Context:

Jesus has just commissioned his apostles and sent them out to preach. He warns them of difficulties. Matthew’s Church also sent out missionaries who faced the same persecutions, both from Jews and Romans.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Beware of men. They will hand you over to courts, and they will scourge you in the synagogues. You will be led before governors and kings for my sake, so you can give testimony to them and the pagans. When they hand you over, do not think about what you will say. The Spirit of your Father will speak within you.

Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child. You shall be hated by all because of my name, but whoever perseveres to the end, shall be saved. The disciple is not above his master. If they have called me Beelzebub, what will they call you?

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

  1. Because the disciples preach Jesus, many will oppose them.
  2. Jesus tries to prepare them for what they will face.
  3. Even this opposition has a purpose. The disciples will have an audience to whom they can preach.
  4. The Spirit will give them the words that touch hearts.
  5. They must rejoice. If they persecuted the Master, they will certainly persecute the disciples.

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

  1. Jesus, prepare me for the opposition I will meet in my devout life.
  2. Send me your Spirit so my opponents can be won over.
  3. Teach me the costs of discipleship. I will pay any price.
  4. When the opposition continues, let me stand firm.
  5. What more could I ask for? You invite me to suffer persecution with you.
  6. I will persevere and enjoy eternal glory.

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

  1. I will try to explain my conversion to all who question me.
  2. I will ask the Spirit to guide my words.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

The Spirit of your Father will speak within you.

DECEMBER 24, 2016 – SATURDAY, CHRISTMAS VIGIL – JOSEPH’S DILEMMA

(Matthew 1:18-25)

Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit. Give to me Joseph’s fidelity to God’s plan.

Imagination: (Picture Joseph receiving the angel’s message).

Context:

Luke tells us about Mary accepting her role as Mother of God. In Matthew’s gospel, the infancy stories focus on Joseph’s dilemma. How does an upright Jewish man resolve the dilemma of a pregnant fiancé? Joseph is a just man.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child by the Holy Spirit. Joseph, an upright man, unwilling to expose her to the law, decided to divorce her quietly.

Such was his intention, when an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in sleep. “Joseph, Son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, because the child has been conceived by the Holy Spirit. She shall have a son whom you will call Jesus. He will save many from their sins. All this happened to fulfill what the Lord said, “A virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall call him Emmanuel, meaning, ‘God is with us.’ Joseph did as the angel commanded and took Mary as his wife.

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

  1. By his human attraction for Mary, Joseph gets immersed in a divine mystery.
  2. Both Mary and Joseph had a dilemma.
  3. Mary could not explain to him what happened and Joseph had to live according to his beliefs.
  4. Joseph decides to take the most gentle action and divorce Mary quietly.
  5. Realize the greatness of Joseph. He could have had Mary killed.
  6. If he did, the Messiah would not have been born and the world would be in total darkness.
  7. An angel resolves the problem.
  8. In his darkest hour, Joseph always followed God’s light.

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

  1. Jesus, in my dilemmas, send me your angel of light.
  2. Give me the faith of Mary and Joseph.
  3. Let all my decisions be gentle and thoughtful.
  4. Reveal my role in your Kingdom.
  5. Thank you, Joseph, for preserving the life of the Messiah.
  6. Jesus, you take away my sins.
  7. You are Emmanuel, God with us. How much I owe to you!

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

  1. I will enkindle a devotion to Joseph (a favorite patron of St. Teresa of Avila)
  2. I will seek God’s help in my dilemmas.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Joseph did as he angel commanded.

DECEMBER 18, 2016 – WEEK FOUR OF ADVENT – SUNDAY (A) – JOSEPH’S DILEMMA

(Matthew 1:18-25)

Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit. Give to me Joseph’s fidelity to God’s plan.

Imagination: (Picture Joseph receiving the angel’s message).

Context:

Luke tells us about Mary accepting her role as Mother of God. In Matthew’s gospel, the stories focus on Joseph’s dilemma. How does an upright Jewish man resolve the dilemma of a pregnant fiancé? Joseph is a just man.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child by the Holy Spirit. Joseph, an upright man, unwilling to expose her to the law, decided to divorce her quietly.

Such was his intention, when an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in sleep. “Joseph, Son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, because the child has been conceived by the Holy Spirit. She shall have a son whom you will call Jesus. He will save many from their sins.” All this happened to fulfill what the Lord said, “A virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall call him Emmanuel, meaning, ‘God is with us.’” Joseph did as the angel commanded and took Mary as his wife.

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

  1. By his human attraction for Mary, Joseph gets immersed in a divine mystery.
  2. Both Mary and Joseph had a dilemma.
  3. Mary could not explain to him what happened and Joseph had to live according to his beliefs.
  4. Realize the greatness of Joseph. He could have had Mary killed.
  5. If he did, the Messiah would not have been born and the world would be in total darkness.
  6. An angel resolves the problem.
  7. In his darkest hour, Joseph always followed God’s light.

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

  1. O Jesus, in my dilemmas, send me your angel of light.
  2. Give me the faith of Mary and Joseph.
  3. Let all my decisions be gentle and thoughtful.
  4. Reveal my role in your Kingdom.
  5. Thank you, Joseph, for preserving the life of the Messiah.
  6. O Jesus, you take away my sins.
  7. You are Emmanuel, God with us. How much I owe to you!

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

  1. I will enkindle a devotion to Joseph (a favorite patron of St. Teresa of Avila)
  2. I will seek God’s help in my dilemmas.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Joseph did as the angel commanded.

DECEMBER 17, 2016 – SATURDAY – THE GENEALOGY OF JESUS

(Matthew 1:1-17)

(Note: Except for the fourth Sunday, the final eight days before Christmas use these readings.)

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 13, 2016 – WEEK THREE OF ADVENT – TUESDAY – THE PARABLE OF THE TWO SONS

(Matthew 21:28-32)

Prayer- O Jesus, give to me the grace of conversion.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus confronting his critics)

Context:

This is a parable of God’s mercy which explains the decisive moments of the Final Judgment. What a surprise! Publicans and prostitutes enter Jesus’ Kingdom. Why? Because they realized the need for conversion. They changed their “no” into a “yes”. The Jerusalem leaders, however, change their “yes” into a “no”.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

When Jesus was questioned about his authority, he told a parable. “What do you think? A certain man had two sons. Coming to the first, he said, “Son, work today in my vineyard.” He replied, “I will not go.” Afterwards, he was moved to repentance and went. Going to the second in a similar way, he asked the same question. He said, “I will go”. However, he did not go. Which of the two did the Father’s will?

They said, “The first”. Jesus replied, “I say to you that the publicans and prostitutes shall go first into the kingdom. When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him. However, the publicans and prostitutes did. When you saw them repent, you did not repent and believe him.”

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

  1. The first son represents a sinner who sees his own disobedience and feels guilty.
  2. When repentance is preached, he changes his “No” to a “Yes”.
  3. He takes advantage of God’s mercy.
  4. The second son represents people who think they have no sins.
  5. They fool themselves and feel no need for repentance.
  6. They reject the favor of forgiveness. Their superficial yes becomes an unchangeable “No”.
  7. The result is obvious. The sinners enter the Kingdom because they took advantage of forgiveness. Others are excluded because they see no need to change their lives. 

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

  1. God, your forgiveness is everywhere, like rain falling from the sky.
  2. O Jesus, I shout from the housetops, “I am a sinner.”
  3. O God, I will change every “No” that I have said into a “Yes.”
  4. By your mercy, my second state will be much better than my first.
  5. O Jesus, your power to forgive is far greater than my power to sin.
  6. O God, why should I hide my sins from myself when they are so evident to you?

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

  1. I will write down all my sins (so they become evident to me) and I will confess these sins to a priest.
  2. I will trust totally in God’s mercy.

Thought for the day (To recall your meditation)

Publicans and prostitutes shall go first into the Kingdom.

DECEMBER 12, 2016 – WEEK THREE OF ADVENT – MONDAY – WHAT ABOUT JOHN’S BAPTISM?

(Matthew 21:23-27)

Prayer: O Jesus, you have all authority in heaven and earth.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus teaching in the temple, confronted by the temple authorities.)

Context:

The day before, Jesus had cleansed the temple. As he comes back, the temple authorities want to know by what authority he took that action. Jesus avoids answering this question. Instead, he shames the leaders. They are embarrassed by their mistakes concerning the Baptist’s authority.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

When Jesus came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders asked, “By what authority do you do these things? Who has given you the authority?”

Jesus responded, “I have a question. If you answer it, I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Where did the Baptism of John come from? Did it come from man or from heaven?

They thought within, “If we say from heaven, he will ask ‘Then, why did you not believe?’ But if we say, ‘From men’, we are afraid of the crowds because all believed that John was a prophet.” So they said to Jesus, “We do not know”. Jesus said to them, “Then, neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

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

  1. The temple authorities also strenuously resisted Jesus’ message.
  2. The temple needed a cleansing and the leaders resented Jesus’ purifying action.
  3. They attack the messenger, trying to discredit Jesus.
  4. However, they had foolishly resisted John the Baptist whom the people had accepted.
  5. Jesus’ reply catches them off-guard. They know they were wrong the first time.
  6. If they were mistaken about John, they are probably mistaken about Jesus.
  7. Jesus does not need to reply. They are discredited.

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

  1. Cleanse my temple, Lord. I will not object at all.
  2. Jesus, I will not resist your message.
  3. Jesus, you have all authority. Your every word is eternal life.
  4. Lord, do not let me repeat past mistakes.
  5. My choosing you is no mistake. You are Messiah and Lord.
  6. Your message is from heaven, where you will take me soon.

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

I will admit my past mistakes so I do not repeat them.

I will give Jesus total authority over my life.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Did John’s message come from men or from heaven?

DECEMBER 10, 2016 – WEEK TWO OF ADVENT – SATURDAY – THE NEW ELIJAH

(Matthew 17:10-13)

Prayer:   O Jesus, help me to see the Father’s saving plan.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus coming down the mountain with Peter, James and John.).

Context:

These three apostles have just seen the transfigured Jesus speaking with Moses and Elijah on the mountaintop. This experience leads them to bring up a popular religious question about Elijah, namely that he will return before the Messiah. Jesus’ answer is startling.

Gospel Text (Read slowly, possibly aloud).

As they were coming down the mountain, his disciples asked Jesus, “Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first? “ Jesus answered them, ‘Indeed, Elijah must come first and restore all things. However, I say to you that Elijah has already come and they did not recognize him. They did to him whatever they pleased.”

The disciples understood that Jesus was talking about John the Baptist.

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

  1. John the Baptist begins the timetable for Jesus’ ministry.
  2. The three apostles, as devout Jews, know the prophecy about Elijah returning before the coming of the Messiah.
  3. This mysterious figure “Elijah”, the greatest of the Old Testament prophets, was to proclaim the Messiah.
  4. By sending John the Baptist, the Father fulfilled this prophecy.
  5. The Jews made a mistake. They did not recognize John as the new Elijah.
  6. They will also fail to see Jesus as the Messiah.
  7. The disciples do not miss the point.       John was Elijah and Jesus is certainly the Messiah.

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

  1. O Father, all of my life is according to your timetable.
  2. You send messengers to me. These turn my heart to your spiritual world.
  3. Having heard them, my heart must receive Jesus.
  4. You leave no doubt. You make me certain. Jesus, you are the Messiah.
  5. O Jesus, I recognize you. I know who you are. I have full certainty. You are my Lord and God.
  6. I give myself to you in full confidence.

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

  1. I will use each day well because God has his divine plan.
  2. I will accept those whom God sends me to prepare my heart.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Elijah has already come and they did not recognize him!

DECEMBER 9, 2016 – WEEK TWO OF ADVENT – FRIDAY – THE CHILDREN SINGING AND DANCING IN THE MARKETPLACE

(Matthew 11:16-19)

Prayer:   O Jesus, open my heart to all the messengers you send to me.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus with His disciples).

Context:

This parable shows hostility toward Jesus. The children cannot agree, so their quarrels end their playtime. The cause is laziness. Some children expect others to do the strenuous part of dancing while they just sit around playing instruments. The Jews treated John and Jesus in the same way, complaining about their quite different ministries. This parable has a cutting edge of urgency.

Gospel Text (Read slowly, possibly aloud).

Jesus said to the crowds, “To what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplace, complaining against other children. “We have piped you a tune and you have not danced. We have sung a sorrowful song and you have not mourned.”

In other words, John came fasting and you said, “He has a devil.” The Son of Man came eating and drinking and you said, ‘Behold, a glutton and a wine-drinker, a friend of tax collectors and those outside the law’. Time will prove where wisdom lies.”

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

  1. God sends his messengers. He uses various personalities, trying to appeal to all.
  2. The lazy listeners do not respond. Instead, they criticize the messenger.
  3. Time runs out. Opportunities for repentance are lost.
  4. The decisive moment arrives, but no one is prepared.
  5. Jesus, God’s final messenger has come. The end is near and time is short.
  6. Time will prove who has acted wisely.

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

  1. O Lord, give me ears that are attentive to your gospel.
  2. Give me a listening heart so I hear your inner inspirations.
  3. The time is short, O Lord. Let me respond today, right now.
  4. If I repent, you will make me your disciple.
  5. Do not let me ruin my life and waste my years.

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

  1. God will send his messengers today. I will respond.
  2. I will see the fruits of repentance and ask for simplicity of heart.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Children sitting in the marketplace calling to their playmates.

DECEMBER 8, 2016 – WEEK TWO OF ADVENT – THURSDAY – THE GREATNESS OF JOHN

(Matthew 11:11-15)

Prayer:   O Jesus, prepare me for the greatness of your Kingdom.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus talking to his disciples about John.)

Context:

John is the greatest of the Old Testament prophets. Yet, because he did not live to see Jesus’ Kingdom, the least in Jesus’ Kingdom is greater than John. An extraordinary proclamation! Just as extraordinary is Jesus saying that he fulfills the prophecies about Elijah.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

Jesus said, “I solemnly assure you, history has not known a man born of woman greater than John the Baptist. Yet the least born into 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 take it away. All of the prophets as well as the law spoke prophetically until John. If you are prepared to accept this, he is the Elijah who was certain to come. Heed carefully what you hear.”

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

  1. Jesus benefitted greatly from the preaching of John who stirred the crowds to religious fervor.
  2. Jesus sees all of Israel’s history and declares that John is the greatest “born of woman.”
  3. Jesus also sees the future Kingdom.       Surprisingly, even the least in that new Kingdom will surpass John.
  4. The Kingdom is yours. Don’t let the world use violence to steal it from you.
  5. God’s prophecies are fulfilled.
  6. Since John is the new Elijah, the forerunner, Jesus is the Messiah of Israel.

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

  1. Thank you, Lord, that I was born after you established your kingdom.
  2. O Jesus, how many prepared the way for me to know you.
  3. O Jesus, what is my place in history? Show me my role in your Kingdom.
  4. Do not let the world steal the Kingdom from my heart.
  5. Make me the least in your Kingdom. This is my greatest desire.
  6. All the prophecies are fulfilled. You are the true Messiah.

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

  1. I will thank God today for all who have prepared me for my Catholic faith.
  2. I will cherish being a member of the kingdom of heaven.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

The least born into the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

DECEMBER 7, 2016 – WEEK TWO OF ADVENT – WEDNESDAY – THE EASY YOKE

(Matthew 11:28-30)

Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit. Help me to take up Jesus’ easy yoke and light burden.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus inviting all his disciples to come to him.)

Context:

The burdened are those who cannot seem to get out from under. Jesus is one of them. He carries the whole world on his shoulders. Jesus’ yoke is his submission to God’s will. This is the lightest possible burden. Why carry any other?

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Come to me all you who labor and are burdened and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn of me, for I am meek and humble of heart and you shall find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

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

  1. How many labors and burdens do you carry?
  2. Jesus invites you. He promises you rest. Come to him.
  3. Put aside your other burdens. Then, you can take up Jesus’ yoke. This is your true task in life.
  4. If you know Jesus, you will think and feel like Jesus.
  5. You will find Him gentle and humble, and will experience peace.

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

  1. O Jesus, I have so many labors and so many burdens!
  2. Jesus, you say, “Come to me.” I am coming. I am coming quickly.
  3. Jesus, you are totally intent on helping me.
  4. Jesus, I will gladly carry your yoke and your burden.
  5. Your burdens are so much easier than what I now carry.
  6. In the world, I find restlessness. In your Kingdom I discover peace.
  7. You always speak the truth. You fulfill all your promises. I can trust your words.

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

  1. I will examine any worldly burdens which I have foolishly assumed.
  2. I will choose the tasks that Jesus has for me.       For these, I was created.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Come to me for my yoke is easy and my burden light.

DECEMBER 6, 2016 – WEEK TWO OF ADVENT – TUESDAY – THE LOST SHEEP

(Matthew 18:12-14)

Prayer: O Jesus, come and find me.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus with His disciples.)

Context:

This parable is closely connected to the prodigal Son parable. A hundred sheep was a medium sized flock. The shepherd must have been poor and unable to pay a helper. Matthew’s gospel stresses the shepherd’s unwearied search and his great joy.

Gospel text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Jesus said to his disciples, “What do you think of this? A man had a hundred sheep and one of them went astray. Does he not leave the ninety-nine and go in search of the one? When he finds it, he rejoices more for the one than for the ninety-nine who did not go astray.

Even so, it is not my Father’s will. My Father in heaven does not want even one of the little ones to perish.”

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

  1. To leave ninety nine sheep in the desert is not a rational act. The shepherd thinks with his heart not his head.
  2. He is alone and does not want to lose the sheep.
  3. His joy is greater than having the others.
  4. This is not a temporary finding. The sheep is a symbol of heaven and an eternal union.
  5. This is exactly the Father’s plan, what he always wanted.

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

  1. God, I am precious to you. Your saints called you “mad”, in your unreasonable love for me.
  2. Search for me, Jesus, even as I keep wandering.
  3. I will stop running away and let you find me.
  4. O God, your joy will not be complete until our union is forever.
  5. You want me with you. That is your plan.

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

  1. I will stop running from God so he can find me more quickly.
  2. I will recall those special moments when God found me.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation)

There will be rejoicing among the angels.

DECEMBER 4, 2016 – WEEK TWO OF ADVENT – SUNDAY (A) – THE ADVENT PREACHER

(Matthew 3:1-12)

Prayer: O Jesus, awaken me. Your Kingdom is at hand.

Imagination: (Picture John preaching at the Jordan.)

Context:

John the Baptist is the Advent preacher. He shows up every year at this time and stays for two Sundays. He has one task – “to prepare the way of the Lord.” Then, he will step aside for Mary and Joseph who usher in the great Christmas mystery.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

When John the Baptist made his appearance as a preacher in the desert, this was his theme, “Reform your lives. The reign of God is at hand.” Isaiah had spoken about John when he said, “A voice of one crying in the desert. Prepare ye the way of the Lord. Make straight his paths.”

John wore a garment of camel hair with a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. People from Jerusalem and Judea and all the country around the Jordan went out to him. They were baptized in the Jordan, confessing their sins.

He said, “I baptize you in water for the sake of reform but the one who will follow me is stronger than I. His shoes I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire.”

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

  1. John was prepared by a life of prayer and fasting.
  2. When God’s word filled him, he knew exactly what to say.
  3. The people had to be made ready because the King was coming.
  4. They needed to repent, to be cleansed, to confess their sins and be baptized.
  5. His garments and his food show his total dedication to the Kingdom.
  6. The people easily believed when he said, “The reign of God is at hand.”
  7. Another preacher would come. Even stronger. He would baptize in the fire of the Holy Spirit.
  8. He would be so holy that even John would be unworthy.

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

  1. O Jesus, help me to prepare.
  2. Teach me to pray and fast, and to set aside the little comforts.
  3. You are the King. You are coming. You will not delay.
  4. O Jesus, I need to repent and to confess my sins. Let me do that now.
  5. Make me like John the Baptist, totally dedicated to the coming of your Kingdom.
  6. Jesus, you are the Strong One, able to send the Spirit’s fire upon me.
  7. Jesus, you are the Holy One who would make me holy.

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

  1. I will make this a prayerful Advent, especially in my home.
  2. I will bring faith to others, awakening them in his holy season.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation)

A voice crying in the desert, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord.”