DECEMBER 3, 2016 – WEEK ONE OF ADVENT – SATURDAY – THE GOOD NEWS OF GOD’S REIGN

(Matthew 9:35-10:8)

Prayer: O Jesus, your goodness is everywhere.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus with his disciples, healing the crowds).

Context:

The advent gospels are filled with Jesus’ compassion and power. That compassion brings forth physical healings and makes Jesus a shepherd to the poor. Unable to do all by himself, he shares his powers with the twelve.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

When Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were prostrate from exhaustion, like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great but the laborers are few. Pray, therefore, that the Lord of the harvest would send laborers into his harvest.”

Calling his twelve disciples together, he gave them power to cast out unclean spirits and to heal all kinds of sickness and disease. He gave these instructions, “Do not go to pagan territory and do not enter a Samaritan town. Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, make the announcement, “The reign of God is at hand”. Cure the sick. Raise the dead. Heal the lepers. Expel demons. The gift you have received, give as a gift.”

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

  1. Jesus is indefatigable. He is everywhere – towns, villages, synagogues and street corners. He does everything. He heals, raises from the dead, and expels demons.
  2. The gospel reveals his inner thoughts. He is filled with compassion because the people are worn out.
  3. He will be their shepherd, taking up a difficult and thankless task.
  4. His heart conceives a new plan. He will multiply this work by sharing his powers with the faithful apostles.
  5. Jesus loves Israel, his people. The disciples must go there first. Time is limited.
  6. They must preach his message that the Kingdom of God is at hand. This alone prepares for his coming.
  7. He gives them the Kingdom’s powers – to heal and expel demons.

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

  1. Jesus, you are everywhere. You do all things. You seek me out. You speak in my heart.
  2. You reveal your heart. You are filled with compassion. Every action is for my benefit.
  3. You see me worn out. You see me burdened. “ I will make you my sheep”, you say.
  4. You have sent others for me. You have given me a Church to preach your Kingdom and a Eucharistic table to nourish me.
  5. You love your people. You love those who are baptized and believe in you.
  6. Your gifts are freely given and freely received. Your abundance is everywhere.

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

  1. I will be aware that Jesus is everywhere.
  2. I will think of his great love for me.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Make the announcement, “The reign of God is at hand.”

DECEMBER 2, 2016 – WEEK ONE OF ADVENT – FRIDAY – HEALING THE BLIND

(Matthew 9:27-31)

Prayer: O Jesus, make me confident that you can make me see.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus with his disciples.)

Context:

After raising the little girl to life, Jesus encounters two blind men. They give him the Messianic title, “Son of David” and proclaim that they have confidence that he can heal them Filled with joy after being healed, they disobey Jesus and tell everyone the good news. That is Advent – a time to tell everyone that the Lord is coming.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Two blind men cried out, saying, “Son of David, have mercy on us”. When Jesus got to the house, they caught up with him. Jesus said, “Do you believe that I can do this for you?” They said, “Yes, Lord”.

Then he touched their eyes saying, ‘Let it be done to you according to your faith”. Their eyes were opened and Jesus strictly told them, “See that no one knows of this.” But they went and spread his fame all over the countryside.

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

  1. The men are determined. First, they meet Jesus. Then, they follow him to the house. They will not be put off.
  2. They know he is the Messiah. He is the “Son of David”, the promised one.
  3. How fortunate that he came to their village.
  4. Jesus questions them directly. Do they believe he can do this?
  5. He is their Lord, certainly he can heal them.
  6. Jesus’ creating hand touches them. Power pours out “according to their faith.”
  7. The healing proves that they did have faith.
  8. Jesus wants to remain unknown but their joy is too great. They tell everyone. It is like Christmas.

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

  1. O Jesus, I will follow you. I will pursue you, no matter where you go.
  2. You are the Messiah. The fullness of Davidic power resides in you.
  3. Jesus, how fortunate I am when faith stirs within me!
  4. Have mercy on me, Jesus. Have mercy on me.
  5. “Do I believe?” you ask. How can I not believe”? I know your power.
  6. Fill me with Advent expectancy.
  7. Bless me and I will tell the whole world.

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

  1. During Advent, I will try to speak of Jesus.
  2. I will be a person of faith, believing in Jesus’ power to help me.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Let it be done to you according to your faith.

DECEMBER 1, 2016 – WEEK ONE OF ADVENT – THURSDAY – THE PARABLE OF THE TWO HOUSES

(Matthew 7:24-27) 

Prayer – O Jesus, I will put your word into practice so my house will always stand.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus with His disciples.)

Context:

Jesus chooses an example from the people’s daily experiences. In Israel, the rains come suddenly. A dry canal becomes quickly a raging stream. This parable is an excellent example of the sudden, unexpected moment of trial or judgment.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud).

Everyone who hears my words and acts on them is like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rains fell. The floods came. The winds blew against that house, but it did not fall for it was founded on rock.

Everyone who hears my words and does not act on them is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rains fell. The floods came. The winds blew against that house. It collapsed and its fall was total.

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

  1. Jesus speaks this parable to believers who have heard his words.
  2. Some are wise enough to put the words into practice. Others are foolish and do not live out the words.
  3. Both houses are the same. The difference lies in their foundations on strong rock or on weak sand.
  4. The wind, the rains and the floodings are the moment of truth, the time of reckoning. Both houses experience the same destructive powers.
  5. The results are completely opposite. One remains unharmed. The other collapses.
  6. Jesus warning is stark and evident. You must build your life on God’s word.

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

  1. Jesus, I have your word. I know your teaching. I will act. I will put into practice.
  2. Jesus, your word is abundant. I will act on it and put it into practice.
  3. O Lord, what do I build my life on? The rock of your teaching or the sand of my desires?
  4. Let your word, O Lord, penetrate my heart!
  5. How can I build my life on your word, unless I meditate on it daily.
  6. O Lord, if I live by your word, my life will not collapse.

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

  1. I will apply these meditations to my daily way of acting.
  2. I will honestly examine the parts of my life built upon sand.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

The wise man built his house upon rock.

NOVEMBER 30, 2016 – WEEK ONE OF ADVENT – WEDNESDAY – MULTIPLIED BLESSINGS

(Matthew 15:29-37)

Prayer: O Jesus, let me hunger for your food.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus and his disciples with the hungry crowds.)

Context:

The multiplication of food is the only miracle told in all four gospels. It is preceded by multiple healings. These stories highlight the Advent season when we await the Lord who comes with countless blessings, distributed freely to those who await him.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Large crowds came to Jesus, bringing with them the cripples, the deformed, the blind, the mute and many others besides. They laid them at his feet and he cured them. The crowds marveled to see the mute speaking and the deformed made whole, cripples walking about and the blind seeing. They glorified the God of Israel.

Jesus called together his disciples, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me three days with nothing to eat. I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint on the way. The disciples answered, “Where can we find so many loaves in this deserted place to feed so many? Jesus asked, “How many loaves do you have? They said, “Seven and a few little fishes.”

He commanded the crowd to sit down, and taking the seven loaves and the fishes, giving thanks, he broke and gave to his disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and had their fill, and seven baskets of fragments were left over.

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

  1. Each person has a need. Some are sick. Some are hungry. Jesus takes care of them all.
  2. The crowds show great faith. They take extraordinary efforts to bring the crippled and the blind to this deserted place.
  3. They know the source of the healings.       They place their sick at Jesus’ feet.
  4. The crowds do not complain of their hunger.       They have freely chosen to stay three days.
  5. Seeing their fatigue, Jesus initiates the multiplication. The scene is like the Last Supper. Jesus takes bread, blesses, breaks and gives to the disciples.
  6. An abundance results. All are satisfied. The seven baskets left over are meant for us.

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

  1. O Jesus, when will I learn to place all my needs at your feet?
  2. My faith draws me to you. Nothing will keep me back.
  3. Your power is unlimited, going forth to whomever draws near.
  4. You are thoughtful, Jesus. Even when I do not ask, you provide.
  5. Your Eucharist is every day. I will come to the table.
  6. Jesus, I will gather up all your blessings.       None will go to waste.

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

  1. Today, I will bring my greatest need to Jesus.       It is Advent and I must believe.
  2. I will receive Holy Communion as often as possible during this season.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

The crowd marveled to see the mute speaking and the cripples walking.

NOVEMBER 28, 2016 – WEEK ONE OF ADVENT – MONDAY – A CENTURION WITH GREAT FAITH

(Matthew 8:5-11)

Prayer: O Jesus, fill me with faith in your power.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus with the Centurion.)

Context:

Advent is a time of faith and the church selects the Gentile centurion as the first model. He believed that Jesus could heal at a distance (unheard of in Judaism). Even Jesus proclaims his extraordinary faith.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

When Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him saying, “Lord, my servant is at home in bed paralyzed suffering painfully.” Jesus said, “I will come and heal him. The centurion answered, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but say but the word and my servant shall be healed. I also am a man subject to authority, having soldiers under me. I say to this one, “Go” and he goes. To another, “Come” and he comes. To my servant “Do this” and he does it.”

Hearing this, Jesus was amazed and said to the crowd who followed him. “Amen I say to you that I have not found such great faith in Israel. Many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the Kingdom of heaven, while the natural heirs will be cast out into the dark.”

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

  1. The centurion has complete and total faith in Jesus’ power to heal.
  2. Jesus is totally aware of his own powers. He proclaims “I will come and heal him.”
  3. The centurion is extraordinary for his great humility (I am not worthy) and for his faith (that Jesus could heal at a distance).
  4. Jesus proclaims that he has never seen Jewish people with that level of belief.
  5. Jesus predicts that many Gentiles will enter the Kingdom by having the same faith.

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

  1. Jesus, I will come to you in all my needs.
  2. O Jesus, your power can accomplish all things, anywhere and anytime.
  3. Nothing limits your power.
  4. Jesus, I am not worthy but you will act in my soul.
  5. Your Kingdom is open to all. The whole world is invited.
  6. Just speak your word, Jesus and I will be healed.
  7. O Jesus, place great faith in my heart.

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

  1. Today I will bring to Jesus all that needs to be healed – my body, my soul, my relationships, my memories.
  2. I will have great desires to be at Jesus’ banquet.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

I have not found such great faith in all of Israel.

NOVEMBER 27, 2016 – WEEK ONE OF ADVENT – SUNDAY (A) – NOT PREPARED FOR THE COMING

(Matthew 24:36-41)

Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit, prepare for Jesus’ coming.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus warning His disciples to be alert.)

Context:

Strangely enough, we begin the liturgical year with Jesus speaking about how to prepare for the end of the world. He uses Noah as an example. He prepared for the sudden flood, and we, too, will be taken suddenly from our daily situation.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Jesus said to his disciples, “The coming of the Son of Man will repeat what happened in Noah’s time. In the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and being married, right up to the day that Noah entered the ark. They were totally unconcerned until the flood came and destroyed them.

So will it be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field. One will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal. One will be taken and another left. Stay awake, therefore, you cannot know the day that the Lord is coming.

Be sure of this: if the owner of the house knew when the thief was coming, he would watch and not allow his house to be broken into. You, also, must be ready, because at the hour you do not know, the Son of Man will come.

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

  1. Eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage are daily activities of normal life.
  2. Unfortunately, a flood was coming. Noah alone knew how to prepare.
  3. Noah symbolizes the suddenness of Jesus’ return and the need to watch.
  4. The person taken is the disciple who enters the Kingdom.
  5. The person left behind will not get in.
  6. Since no one knows when the thief comes, the owner must keep watch.

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

  1. O Jesus, when will you come for me?
  2. I must watch for you.
  3. O Jesus, too much buying and selling, eating and drinking, fill my day.
  4. I must set them aside.
  5. Teach me to prepare today for your coming.
  6. Can I not find time for you?
  7. Help me, Jesus. I treasure your kingdom.
  8. Come soon, while I am still watching.

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

  1. I will make time every day for mental prayer.
  2. I will not be absorbed in buying, selling, eating and drinking.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation)

You must be ready.

WEEK TWENTY FIVE – WEDNESDAY September 21, 2016 Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle MATTHEW, THE TAX COLLECTOR (MT 9:9-13)

Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit. Let me respond quickly to Jesus’ call.
Imagination: (Picture Jesus at table in Matthew’s house).

Context:
This text has 2 parts. First, Matthew responds to Jesus’ call and then he invites Jesus to his house. Since Matthew is a sinner (collecting taxes for Romans) his friends are also “sinners”, so the dinner becomes a controversy story. This leads to the pronouncement that Jesus came to call sinners, not the righteous.

Gospel Text (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)
Jesus saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s post. He said to him, “Follow me.” He got up and followed him.
Later, while Jesus was at table in Matthew’s house, many tax collectors came and sat with Jesus. Some Pharisees saw this and asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such people?” Jesus heard them and said, “Those who are well do not need the doctor. The sick do. Learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ I came to call sinners, not the righteous.”

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder the ones that attract you.)
1. Matthew never searched for Jesus. He just went to work one day and Jesus found him.
2. What a special day! Matthew began as a tax collector (working for the Roman Empire). He ends the day as Jesus’ disciple (working for the Kingdom.)
3. Everything happened so quickly. Jesus saw him and invited him. Matthew left his post and followed.
4. If he had hesitated or doubted, he would have missed his call.
5. He accepts Jesus completely, opening his home and inviting the other sinners.
6. The Pharisees try to exclude Matthew and his friends from the Kingdom. Jesus would have none of that.
7. Jesus proclaims that they are the very ones he is calling.

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)
1. O Jesus, today is so important! You will come. You will pass by. You will say, “Follow me.”
2. Do not let me say “tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” (like St. Augustine)
3. When you call, I will follow.
4. Come for me! I am a sinner and your Father sent you to sinners.
5. Why do I wait? Why do I continue to sit at my tax collector’s post? Why am I afraid? Who do I not “get up and follow you?”
6. In the quiet of this prayer, I hear your voice. I respond, “Wait, Jesus, I am coming.”

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)
1. I will be vigilant today.
2. I will open my whole house to Jesus.

Thought for the Day (To recall your meditation)
Seeing Matthew at his post, Jesus said, “Follow me.”

SEPTEMBER 19, 2016 – WEEK TWENTY-FIVE – MONDAY – MATTHEW THE TAX COLLECTOR

(Matthew 9:9-13)

Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit. Let me respond quickly to Jesus’ call.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus at table in Matthew’s house).

Context:

This text has 2 parts. First, Matthew responds to Jesus’ call and then he invites Jesus to his house. Since Matthew is a sinner (collecting taxes for Romans) his friends are also “sinners”, so the dinner becomes a controversy story, which shows us that Jesus came to call sinners, not the righteous.

Gospel Text (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Jesus saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s post. He said to him, “Follow me.” He got up and followed him.

Later, while Jesus was at table in Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and those known as sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. Some Pharisees saw this and asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and those who disobey the law?” Jesus heard them and said, “People who are well do not need the doctor. Sick people do. Learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ I have come to call sinners, not the self-righteous.”

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

  1. Matthew never searched for Jesus. He went to work one day and Jesus found him.
  2. What a special day! Matthew began as a tax collector (working for the Roman Empire). He ends the day as Jesus’ disciple (working for the Kingdom.)
  3. Everything happened so quickly. Jesus saw him and invited him. Matthew left his post and followed.
  4. If he had hesitated or doubted, he would have missed his call.
  5. He accepts Jesus completely, opening his home and inviting the other sinners.
  6. The Pharisees try to exclude Matthew and his friends from the Kingdom. Jesus would have none of that.
  7. Jesus proclaims that they are the very ones he is calling.

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

  1. Jesus, today is so important! You will come. You will pass by. You will say, “Follow me.”
  2. Do not let me say “tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow” (like St. Augustine)
  3. When you call, I will follow.
  4. Come for me! I am a sinner and your Father sent you to sinners.
  5. Why do I wait? Why do I continue to sit at my tax collector’s post? Why am I afraid? Why do I not “get up and follow you?”
  6. As I hear your voice in the quiet of this prayer, I respond, “Wait, Jesus, I am coming.”

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

  1. I will be vigilant today.
  2. I will open my whole house to Jesus.

Thought for the Day (To recall your meditation)

Seeing Matthew at his post, Jesus said, “Follow me.”

SEPTEMBER 6, 2016 – WEEK TWENTY-THREE – TUESDAY – NATIVITY OF OUR LADY

(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. 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. 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.

 

AUGUST 27, 2016 – WEEK TWENTY-ONE – SATURDAY – THE SERVANTS ENTRUSTED WITH MONEY

(Matthew 25:14-30)

Prayer: O Jesus, make me your faithful servant to whom you can entrust your blessings.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus teaching His disciples.)

Context:

This parable is directed to the scribes. Surprisingly, the emphasis is upon the third servant (a symbol of the scribes). He has received the word of God but has neglected the gift. This is a crisis parable. Jesus attempts to awaken us to the importance of each moment and the suddenness of his unexpected return.

Gospel text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

A man going on a journey called in his three servants. To one he gave five talents, to another two and to another, one. Each received according to his ability. The first man traded and gained five more. The second traded and gained two more. The third hid his one talent in the earth.

After a long time, the master returned and asked for an accounting. Hearing that the first had gained five more, he said, “Well done, good and faithful servant. I will place you over many things because you have been faithful with the few. Enter into the Lord’s joy.” The same thing happened with the second servant who had gained two more. He also was placed over many things.

However, the servant with one talent said, “I know you are a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you did not scatter. Being afraid, I hid my talent. Now I return it to you.”

The man said, “Wicked and lazy servant. You should have put my money in the bank and, on my return, I would have received my money back with interest. Take away this talent away from him and give it to the others.”

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

  1. The center of the parable is the day of accounting. (The Final Judgment)
  2. Each is asked to produce “according to their ability”. (God does not expect extraordinary accomplishments.)
  3. The two servants who worked hard enter into the Master’s joy.
  4. The third servant is “worthless and lazy” and does not share his master’s joy.
  5. The contrast is stark. Two have overwhelming blessings. The third is cast out into the darkness.

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

  1. O Lord, I must use every day for your Kingdom.
  2. O Lord, You give me talents. I will use them for you.
  3. You give me time and ask me not to be lazy.
  4. You want to reward me with your joy and glory.
  5. O Jesus, I will work for your kingdom and welcome your return.
  6. O Lord, return soon. I await you.

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

  1. I will ask, “What talents has the Lord given me?”
  2. I will use today for the Lord.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation)

Enter into the joy of your Lord.

AUGUST 26, 2016 – WEEK TWENTY-ONE – FRIDAY – THE TEN VIRGINS

(Matthew 25:1-13)

Prayer: O Jesus, I will go out to meet you.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus with His disciples.)

Context:

In Jesus’ time, because marriages were delayed for hours until all the arrangements were worked out. Therefore, there were many midnight processions by torchlight with the bridegroom arriving unexpectedly. In this parable, all ten virgin fall asleep. However, some are prepared and others are not. This results in a separation. The foolish are cut off from the wise.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Scene 1

The Kingdom of heaven is like ten virgins who awaited the coming of the bridegroom. Because his coming was delayed, they all slept. Finally, at midnight, they heard a cry, “The bridegroom is coming, go out to meet him.”

As they arose, the five foolish virgins (who had no oil) said to the others, “Give us some of yours.” The wise virgins responded, “Since there might not be enough for you and us, you must go and buy some.”

So, the foolish virgins went off to buy the oil. The wise virgins met the bridegroom and went to the marriage. Then the door was shut.

Scene 2

When the foolish virgins arrived, they wanted to enter. They cried out, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us.” The Lord answered, “I do not know you.” Jesus said, “Watch, therefore, because you do not know the day or the hour.”

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

  1. All ten virgins fell asleep and all have brought their lamps. Only the wise have brought oil.
  2. All hear the same invitation. “Go out to meet the Bridegroom.”
  3. At this point, some virgins realize they were foolish.
  4. They need oil to meet the bridegroom and go into the marriage banquet.
  5. The wise always knew the value of the oil.       They were careful to bring it and wise enough not to share it.
  6. The foolish lose out. They awaken too late to their spiritual situation.

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

  1. At Baptism, you gave me the oil of the Kingdom. I must value it.
  2. O Jesus, at my death, your angel will say, “Go out to meet the Bridegroom.”
  3. Will I still have oil for my lamp, or will I have lost my oil?
  4. O Lord, I will buy oil again by repentance and a good confession.
  5. What is it like to see you? How greatly I will rejoice to “go out and meet the bridegroom.”
  6. O God, heaven is forever. Once I enter, you will never throw me out.

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

  1. I will always treasure my Baptismal grace.
  2. If I have lost my oil, I will regain it immediately by Confession, (my “second Baptism”).

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation)

Some day, I will hear the words, “Go out and meet the Bridegroom.”

AUGUST 25, 2016 – WEEK TWENTY-ONE – THURSDAY – NEED FOR WATCHFULNESS

(Matthew 24:42-51)

Prayer: O Jesus, I will watch for your return.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus in the Jerusalem Temple with his disciples.)

Context:

This text contains two parables. The first likens God to a thief who breaks in at an unexpected time. The second is a servant. He can be faithful to his work or he can get drunk because the master delays his return.

Gospel text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

Jesus said to his disciples, “Stay awake because you do not know the hour in which the Lord will return. Know this. If the owner of the house knew at what hour the thief would come, he would certainly watch and not allow his house to be broken into. In the same way, you must be ready, for you do not know when the Son of Man will come.

Who is the faithful, far-sighted servant whom the Lord will appoint over his family to give them food at the right time? Blessed is that servant whom the Lord shall find at work when he returns. “Amen”, I say to you, “he will place him over all his property.

But if the evil servant says in his heart, “My master is delayed in coming”, and begins to beat his fellow servants and eat and get drunk, the master of that servant shall return on a day when he is not ready and when he least expects him. The master will punish him severely and assign him a place with the hypocrites where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

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

  1. We do not know when Jesus will return for us. Time is very uncertain.
  2. The disciple must always watch and pray.
  3. One servant faithfully serves the meals. The other gets drunk.
  4. For both, Jesus will come, to reward the first and to punish the second.
  5. The faithful servant will be exalted and placed over the whole household.
  6. The other will be totally cast outside, always lamenting the position that he lost.

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

  1. O Jesus, I will watch faithfully.
  2. For you, I will stay awake.
  3. You come like a thief in the night. I will catch you and you will be mine forever.
  4. I will not count the hours of service. I will not think “My master delays”.
  5. If I had to serve you for 1,000 years, it would be as one day.
  6. O Jesus, never let me be separated from you, or cast out of the Father’s house.

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

  1. I will be faithful to my daily devotions.
  2. Today, I will do the works intended by my heavenly Father.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation)

You must be ready, because you do not know when the Son of Man will come.

AUGUST 24, 2016 – WEEK TWENTY-ONE – WEDNESDAY – THE CULTURAL EVIL

(Matthew 23:29-36)

Prayer: O Jesus, free me from my blindness. Let me see the truth.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus confronting his contemporaries.)

Context:

This is the longest of seven woes pronounced by Jesus. He prophesies his own death and the persecution of the Early Church.

Gospel Text (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites. You build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the just. You say, “Had we lived in our ancestors’ time, we would not have shed the prophets’ blood.” You witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. You fill up what your ancestors measured out.

You generation of vipers, how will you flee from the judgment of hell? I send you prophets and wise men and scribes. Some you put to death and crucify. Others you scourge in your synagogues. Others you persecute from city to city.

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

  1. Jesus challenges the present generation which claimed they were more enlightened than their ancestors.
  2. In reality, nothing had changed. They and their ancestors have the same hatred for God’s messengers.
  3. The killing will continue. Both Jesus and all who preach his name will suffer.
  4. They are a blind, perverse generation, totally unaware of their evil culture.
  5. Jesus would save them from this evil, but they reject him.

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

  1. O Jesus, I share in the guilt of my culture and participate in its sins.
  2. Only you can save me. Open my eyes!
  3. Only you point out a different road and say, “Follow me.”
  4. I am coming, Jesus. I will flee the coming judgment.
  5. Snatch me out of the pervasive evil. You are my Saviour.

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

  1. I will bring a repentant heart.
  2. I will accept radical changes in my attitudes.

Thought for the Day (To recall your meditation)

You witness against yourselves. You fill up the evil of your ancestors.

AUGUST 23, 2016 – WEEK TWENTY-ONE – TUESDAY – CLEANSING THE INSIDE

(Matthew 23:35-37)

Prayer: O Jesus, send your Holy Spirit, the fire of true repentance.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus teaching inner holiness.)

Context:

Jesus continues to confront his opponents about their false teachings which lead many astray. “The cup and the dish” are people who follow the Pharisees. They are not taught to purify their hearts. In Jesus’ time, tombs were whitewashed so people could avoid them and not contract ritual impurity. Inside, however, there were decaying bodies, a symbol of outward religious practice that does not cleanse the heart.

Gospel Text (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Jesus said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but within you are full of plunder and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisees, first make clean the inside of the cup so that the outside might also be clean.

You are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful to men but within are full of dead men’s bones and all kinds of filth. Outwardly, you appear just to men, but inwardly are full of hypocrisy and evil.”

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

  1. A hypocrite is someone who is evil and has no desire to change but wants people to think that he is a good person.
  2. The Pharisees stress external religious devotions, but have no desire to cleanse their hearts.
  3. Cleansing thoughts, feelings and actions is the difficult religious task.
  4. To “plunder” is to take advantage of others.
  5. To “self-indulge” is to place no restraint on inner desires.
  6. To “whitewash” is to cover over the real problem.
  7. Outwardly the person seems alive. Inwardly, they are dead.
  8. Jesus challenges the disciples to make serious, inner changes.

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

  1. Change me completely, Lord. I give you my permission.
  2. Send your Spirit of truth so I do not fool myself.
  3. Jesus, I will not take advantage of others.
  4. O Lord, help me to restrain my desires.
  5. Send your inner fire down from heaven.
  6. Burn away all that is evil, so I might live in you.

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

  1. I will ask for light to know all my faults.
  2. I will seek to restrain my sinful desires.

Thought for the Day (To recall your meditation)

Clean first the inside of the cup, that the outside might also be clean.

AUGUST 22, 2016 – WEEK TWENTY-ONE – MONDAY – THE PHARISEES’ FALSE ZEAL

(Matthew 23:13-23)

Prayer: O Jesus, enlighten my path and lead my steps.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus denouncing hypocrisy.)

Context:

Jesus is preaching in the temple during Holy Week. There, he meets severe opposition and must denounce false religious practices (which only increases the crowd’s anger). Jesus had given Peter the keys to open the Kingdom. Jesus’ opponents use their keys to close the Kingdom.

Gospel Text (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees because you shut the kingdom of heaven to others. You yourselves do not enter and you do not allow others to enter.

You devour the fortunes of widows, and as a pretext, recite lengthy prayers. You will receive a severe judgment.

You go by land and sea to make one convert. When this happens, you make him a child of Gehenna, twice as much as yourselves.

You pay tithes, but neglect the more important parts of the law, like judgment, mercy and faith. These things you should have done without neglecting the others.

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

  1. Jesus highlights four problems of the Pharisees.
  2. They teach about heaven but actually block the entrance.
  3. They use religion as a pretext to gain people’s money.
  4. They bring a convert into a way of life that doesn’t lead to heaven but to hell.
  5. They stress the small commandments, and forget about the important obligations.
  6. They are a fast-moving train on the wrong tracks to the wrong goals.

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

  1. O Jesus, bathe my life in your truth.
  2. Only you open heaven to me.
  3. O Lord, pour out your religious experiences. I will use them well.
  4. Guide me by the Church’s wisdom and my spiritual director.
  5. O Lord, I will obey all the commandments, big and small.
  6. Purify my inner motives.
  7. Enlighten my zeal so I lead everyone to you.

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

  1. I will study all the aspects of the Church’s Devout Life.
  2. I will lead my friends to Jesus and to the Church.

Thought for the Day (To recall your meditation)

You do not enter and you do not allow others to enter.

AUGUST 20, 2016 – WEEK TWENTY – SATURDAY – THE HYPOCRISY OF THE PHARISEES

(Matthew 23:1-12)

Prayer: O Jesus, give me the heart of a servant.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus instructing His disciples in humility.)

Context:

Jesus does not criticize the teaching of the scribes and Pharisees (although he alludes to moral rigorism). Instead, he attacks their practices of seeking honor and gaining title. This conflicts with Jesus’ teaching that disciples must serve others and take the last place.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Jesus told the crowds and his disciples, “The scribes and Pharisees have succeeded Moses as teacher. Therefore, do all that they say, but do not follow their example. For they bind heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they do not lift a finger to help them.

They do their works to be seen by men. They widen their phylacteries and wear huge tassels. They love first place at feasts and first place in the synagogues. They like to be greeted in the marketplace and be called “Rabbi”. You are to avoid the title “Rabbi”. Only one among you is the teacher. The rest are learners.

Do not call anyone on earth “Father”. Only one is your Father, the One in heaven. Avoid being called “Teacher”. Only one is your teacher, the Messiah. The greatest among you is the one who serves the rest. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

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

  1. A hypocrite wants to be seen as good without being good.
  2. Jesus despises this false devotion.
  3. He does not want the disciples to seek the praise of others.
  4. He does not want them to seek honors.
  5. He wants them to love each other as equals.
  6. He expects them to serve and to take the lowest place.
  7. For the disciples, Jesus, alone, is the Master and Messiah.

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

  1. O Jesus, I will live my devout life in truth.
  2. Remove everything that is false in me.
  3. Jesus, place everyone in my heart. I will be a servant to all.
  4. Make me your disciple and I will be a true sign to the world.
  5. I will seek no worldly praise, only your glory.
  6. You alone, are my Christ, my Master, my Lord.
  7. Do not let me ruin your work by my pride.

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

  1. Today, I will serve others.
  2. I will avoid all ostentatious behavior so the gospel can spread.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation)

The greatest among you must be the servant of all.

AUGUST 19, 2016 – WEEK TWENTY – FRIDAY – THE GREATEST COMMANDMENT

(Matthew 22:34-40) 

Prayer – O Holy Spirit, send your divine fire to help me love God and my neighbor.

Imagination: (Pictures Jesus speaking to the Pharisees and the crowds.)

Context:

The Rabbis had 613 commandments, and a common question was, “Which is the greatest?” The Pharisees approach Jesus in a hostile way, testing him because he claimed the power to interpret and even to change laws.

Gospel Text (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

The Pharisees, seeing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, came to him. A scholar of the law tested him by asking “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”

Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.

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

  1. The Pharisees delight that Jesus has silenced their enemies, the Sadducees.
  2. Unfortunately, the Pharisees test Jesus instead of following him.
  3. Their question is a good one and Jesus has the perfect answer.
  4. Love is the very heart of Jesus’ Kingdom.
  5. Our first love is for God and it must be total.
  6. Our love for God must embrace everyone else.
  7. Remember these words, and write them on your heart.

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

  1. O Jesus, I surrender my heart, my will, my affections, my desires.
  2. Jesus, you give total love and you expect total love.
  3. My eternity will be love! I must begin now.
  4. Jesus, help me to love you.
  5. I cannot love just you. Give me a tender heart, open to others.
  6. Jesus, everything depends on these commands.

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

  1. I will allow no sin in my heart.
  2. I will be consciously aware of loving my neighbor.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation)

On these two commandments, depend the whole law and the prophets.

AUGUST 18, 2016 – WEEK TWENTY – THURSDAY – THE INVITED GUESTS

(Matthew 22:1-14)

Prayer – O Jesus, may I always respond to your invitations.

Imagination – (Picture Jesus confronting his enemies.)

Context:

The time is Holy Week. In the days before his capture, Jesus confronts his opponents in Jerusalem. In this parable, the invited guests are the Jerusalem leaders who refuse to come, even when the servants invite them a second time. The banquet is filled but those initially invited are excluded.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

Jesus spoke to the chief priests and elders by using parables. “The Kingdom of heaven is like a king who had a wedding feast for his son. He sent his servants to call the invited but they would not come. He sent other servants who said, “Behold, I have prepared my dinner. My bullocks and cattle are killed. All is ready. Come to the feast.

But some ignored the invitation and went on their way, to their farm or to their business. Others insulted the servants and killed them. When the king heard this, he was angry and sent his army to destroy those murderers and burn their city.

Then he said to his servants, “The banquet is ready but those invited to come are not worthy. Go into the byroads and invite to the wedding whomever you might find. The servants went into the byroads and drew in all whom they found, the bad as well as the good. This filled the wedding hall with banqueters.

When the king came in to greet the guests, he saw a man not properly dressed for the wedding. He said, “My friend, how is it that you came not properly dressed?” The man had nothing to say. The king said, “Put him out into the night”. The invited are many. The elect are few.

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

  1. The invited guests were the Jewish leaders who rejected Jesus’ invitation to the Kingdom.
  2. The King destroying their city (Jerusalem) is the Roman army (70 A.D.)
  3. The leader’s rejection opens the banquet to the whole world.
  4. God uses every possible means to bring people into his banquet.
  5. The owner is like God, who wants his churches filled with believers.
  6. The man without a wedding garment is a baptized person who does not keep God’s commandments.
  7. All are freely invited but they must clothe themselves in virtue.

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

  1. O Jesus, how many invitations you give me.
  2. I will set aside everything else. Nothing will come before your Kingdom.
  3. O Jesus, you invite all. You want heaven to be filled to overflowing. I will be there with you.
  4. O Jesus, thank you for my Catholic faith, which invites me to your Kingdom.
  5. Only one thing do I fear – that I would miss out on the banquet of heaven.

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

  1. I will listen carefully today to God’s many invitations – in my heart and through others.
  2. I will thank God for my Catholic faith.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

They went everywhere to fill the wedding hall with banqueters.

AUGUST 17, 2016 – WEEK TWENTY – WEDNESDAY – THE GOOD EMPLOYER

(Matthew 20:1-16)

Prayer: O Jesus, You are a generous employer. Let me serve you faithfully.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus with his disciples.)

Context:

This parable is about the Kingdom. As the day goes on, the men grow discouraged. They stop seeking work and “sit around idle.” The owner’s constant going to the marketplace shows the importance of the Kingdom.

Paying the last workers first, reveals the parable’s meaning – the unbelievable generosity of God. The important sentence is, “Are you envious because I am generous?” (20:15) Notice that all the workers, first and last, are present at the final scene. This is the final Judgment when the undeserving (but repentant) people are admitted to the kingdom. The parable reveals how God acts.

Gospel Text (Read slowly, possibly aloud).

The kingdom of heaven is like an owner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. After agreeing upon the daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. He went out at the sixth hour and the ninth hour and did likewise. At the eleventh hour, he found others. “Why are you standing idle?” They said, “No one has hired us.” He said, “You also, go into my vineyard.”

When evening came he told the steward to call the workers and pay them, beginning with the last ones. These received a full day’s wages. The first also received a day’s wages but felt they should receive more. So, they murmured against the owner, saying that they had suffered the heat of the day.

The owner replied, “Friend, I do you no wrong because I agreed on a day’s wages. Cannot I give to the last what I give to you? Or, are you jealous because I am generous?”

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

  1. The owner continually goes to the marketplace. He wants everyone to have a chance to work in the vineyard.
  2. He surprises everyone by the generous gift of a full day’s pay.
  3. He has no interest in making a profit. The vineyard exists to bless the unemployed and helpless.
  4. Should not all rejoice that every worker had money for his family?
  5. This parable portrays Judgment Day, when all come before the Master of the Vineyard and each will realize how little they have worked.
  6. All the elect will hear Jesus’ words, “Enter into the Kingdom.”
  7. The parable reveals heaven. At the Final Judgment all will see the generosity of God.

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

  1. You search for me, Lord, all day and every day.
  2. In my youth, in my middle years and even in my final days, you say, “Go into my vineyard.”
  3. Jesus, why are you so zealous for me? What do you see in me that I do not see?
  4. You arrange everything for my salvation. Nothing is left to chance.
  5. At the end of my life, You will say, “You have done enough.” (when really I have done so little).
  6. O Jesus, you will reward me beyond all my expectations.
  7. “Who is like to you, O Lord?”
  8. You search for me because you want me to be with you.

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

  1. I will listen for God’s special words, “Go into my vineyard.”
  2. I will imitate God’s generosity, rewarding others beyond what I owe them.

Thought for the Day (To recall your meditation)

Am I not free to be generous with my money?

AUGUST 16, 2016 – WEEK TWENTY – TUESDAY – RECEIVING THE HUNDRED-FOLD

(Matthew 19:23-30)

Prayer – O Jesus, teach me to set aside everything for love of you.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus surrounded by his disciples.)

Context:

After the rich young man walked away, Jesus commented on the difficulty of the rich entering the Kingdom of God. In today’s text, Peter is a model disciple and Jesus spells out the rewards for all who follow.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

Peter said to Jesus, “We have put everything aside to follow you. What can we expect? “ Jesus responded, “I give you my solemn word, in the new age when the Son of Man takes his seat upon a throne befitting his glory, you who have followed me shall likewise take your places on twelve thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel.

Moreover, everyone who has left brothers or sisters, or fathers or mothers or children or lands for my sake will receive many times more and will inherit everlasting life. Many who are first shall be last and the last shall come first.

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

  1. Peter states the truth. He and the other apostles have left everything behind.
  2. Jesus proclaims a new age, when he will come in glory.
  3. The new believers were already experiencing these blessings. By sharing their properties, they had access to many homes.
  4. Leaving behind their natural family, they discover so many others in God’s family.
  5. The great rewards would be “in the age to come”, everlasting life with Jesus and a sharing in his resurrection.

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

  1. Jesus, teach me how to leave everything behind and follow you.
  2. You give peace of soul and freedom from sins.
  3. Other believers become my brothers and sisters, the great blessing of faith relationships.
  4. Teach me to be a brother and sister to others.
  5. What will my life be “in the age to come?”
  6. Jesus, what is it like to live with you forever? Don’t let me lose your eternal gift.

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

  1. I will make a sincere effort to detach myself today from some material goods.
  2. I will think about Jesus’ promises. (He always keeps his word.)

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

And in the age to come, everlasting life.