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

(Luke 1:5-20)

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

Imagination: (Picture the Angel appearing to Zechariah).

Context

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

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

These things will still be fulfilled in their time.

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

(Luke 5:17-26)

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

Imagination- (Picture Jesus healing the paralyzed man.)

Context:

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

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

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

NOVEMBER 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 21, 2016 – WEEK THIRTY-FOUR – MONDAY – THE WIDOW’S MITE

(Mark 12:38-44)

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

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

Context:

This gospel joins two different people, linked by the word widow.   The scribes want everyone to see their goodness while secretly they steal widow’s money. The widow, on the contrary, gives her money in secret. She is the saving hope of Israel.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Looking up, Jesus saw rich men putting their gifts into the treasury. He also saw a poor widow putting in two coins. He said, “Truly, I tell you that this widow has put in more than all the others. The others have given from their abundance but she has given all that she had to live on.”

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

  1. Jesus sees deeper than the surface actions.
  2. He knows what happens in each one’s heart.
  3. The rich give from abundance. Their hearts are still attached to their wealth.
  4. The widow is different. She is attached only to God. She empties herself, and trusts in God.
  5. She is an image of Jesus. In a few days, he will lay down his life for the world.

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

  1. Jesus, do not let my heart grow hardened.
  2. Do not allow money to rob me of your Kingdom.
  3. Remove my hypocrisy. Purify my inmost desires.
  4. Give me an inner truth, always loyal and generous to you.
  5. Detach me from my wealth. Let me not cling to my possessions. Empty me.
  6. I give you everything. Nothing will come between us.

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

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

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

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

NOVEMBER 14, 2016 – WEEK THIRTY-THREE – MONDAY – THE BLIND BEGGAR

(Luke 18:35-43)

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

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

Context:

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

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

As Jesus drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the wayside, begging. Hearing the crowd go by, the man asked, “What is that?” When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he cried out, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me”. The crowd told him to be silent but he cried out even more, “Son of David, have mercy on me.”

Jesus halted and commanded that he be brought near. When he had come close, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord, I want to see” said the blind man. Jesus said, “Receive your sight, your faith has healed you.” He saw immediately and followed Jesus on the way, giving God the glory. All the people saw this and they, too, gave glory to God.

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

  1. This beggar is at a severe disadvantage. He is blind, sits by the wayside, and does not even know what is happening.
  2. However, his blindness prepares him for this moment.
  3. He grasps quickly that Jesus is his only ray of hope.
  4. When Jesus summons him, the crowd changes its opinion. His crying out was the right thing to do.
  5. He knows the desire of his heart – to see again.
  6. With his sight restored, he sees the face of Jesus.
  7. His heart tells him to follow Jesus “up the road” to Jerusalem.
  8. What a day for the beggar! He becomes a disciple who gains the Kingdom.

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

  1. Jesus, my limitations are really favors. My heart stays with you.
  2. Lord, come close to me today.
  3. O Spirit of Jesus, whisper within my soul, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”
  4. Fill me with hope and I will cry out to you, Lord.
  5. Jesus, You will hear and you will ask “What is it that I can do for you?”
  6. Everything, Lord! Bless me and I will “follow you on the way.”

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

  1. I will be attentive today to Jesus’ presence.
  2. I will have great hope that Jesus hears my every prayer.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation)

What do you want me to do for you?

NOVEMBER 7, 2016 – WEEK THIRTY-TWO – MONDAY – COMMANDS FOR THE DISCIPLES

(Luke 17:1-6)

Prayer – O Jesus, make me your faithful disciple.

Imagination – (Picture Jesus instructing his disciples.)

Context:

This gospel contains three separate sayings of Jesus concerning discipleship. First, a disciple should never give scandal. Second, a disciple should correct another and forgive him whenever he is sorry. Third, the disciple must pray in faith.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Jesus said to his disciples, “It is inevitable that scandals will come but woe to those through whom they come. It would be better that he be thrown into the sea with a millstone around his neck than give scandal to one of these little ones.

Be on guard. If your brother sins against you, correct him and if he repents, then forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in one day and seven times he is sorry, forgive him.

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” The Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and transplanted into the sea” and it would obey”.

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

  1. In the gospels, Jesus takes time to form his disciples. They are very important to him.
  2. A “little one” is a beginner in the faith.       A disciple’s laxity will harm that new faith.
  3. The disciple must never give scandal, even allowing himself to be cast into the sea.
  4. Charity will correct another’s faults in the community.
  5. After repentance for wrongdoing, forgiveness must flow abundantly.
  6. What a perfect request! Lord, increase our faith.
  7. Faith is a tiny power which is released by even the smallest prayer.

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

  1. O Jesus, how much time you spend forming me into your disciple.
  2. Let me die rather than lead others astray into sin.
  3. Jesus, give me a spirit of forgiveness which sets aside all my grievances.
  4. Increase my faith, Jesus. Then I will be your disciple.
  5. What power you give me! My prayer can remove every obstacle.

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

  1. I will be careful of my words and actions, not wanting to lead anyone into sin.
  2. I will begin right now to pray with faith, asking for all I need to be Jesus’ disciple.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

If you had faith like a mustard seed, the mulberry tree would obey you.

OCTOBER 31, 2016 – WEEK THIRTY-ONE – MONDAY – FEAST OF ALL SOULS

(John 6:37-40)

Prayer – O Jesus, prepare me for the moment when you come to me.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus with his disciples)

Context:

Besides proclaiming salvation, the parables warn us of judgment and call us to repentance. This parable has the cutting edge of urgency.

This parable shows hostility toward Jesus. Because the children cannot agree, 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.

Gospel text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

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.”

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 sinners.” Wisdom is vindicated by her children.

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

  1. God sends his messengers, using various personalities to appeal to everyone.
  2. The people are lazy and do not respond. Instead, they criticize both John and Jesus.
  3. Opportunities to accept the Kingdom are lost, and time runs out.
  4. The decisive moment arrives, but no one is prepared.
  5. Jesus is God’s final messenger. The Father has sent his only Son.

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

  1. How many opportunities will you give me, O Lord?
  2. Speak now and give me a listening heart.
  3. Jesus, the time is short. Let me respond right now.
  4. I will repent, change my life and walk a new path.
  5. Do not let me ruin my life.
  6. Send your messengers. I will listen

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

  1. I believe God will send his messengers today. I will respond.
  2. I will seek the fruits of repentance.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation)

Children complaining in the marketplace about God’s anointed messengers.

OCTOBER 24, 2016 – WEEK THIRTY – MONDAY – THE DAUGHTER OF ABRAHAM

(Luke 13: 10-17)

Prayer – O Jesus, stretch out your hand. With your power set me free.

Imagination 🙁Picture Jesus in the synagogue.)

Context:

In Luke’s gospel, Jesus is about to proclaim that God’s Kingdom is open to all. He starts with the most humble, curing a stooped woman in a synagogue. The controversy that follows shows Jesus’ great regard for her. She is a daughter of Abraham.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Jesus was teaching in their synagogue on a sabbath. There was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity for eighteen years. She was stooped and incapable of standing erect. When Jesus saw her, he called her to himself and said, “Woman, you are free from your infirmity.” He laid his hands on her. She stood straight up and began thanking God.

The ruler of the synagogue, being angry that Jesus healed on the sabbath, said to the crowds, “There are six days for you to work. On those days, come to be healed but not on the sabbath.”

The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites, does not every one of you on the Sabbath day loose his ox or his ass from the manger and lead them to water? Ought not this daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this illness on the sabbath day?” When he said this, all his adversaries grew ashamed and all the people rejoiced.

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

  1. Our needs get Jesus’ attention. Our afflictions call him close.
  2. Jesus is sure of his powers. He performs this total and immediate healing in everyone’s sight.
  3. The ruler does not confront Jesus. Instead, he turns to the crowd to support his position.
  4. Jesus reveals his feelings. This woman has a special dignity. She is a daughter of Abraham.
  5. Comparing the woman to an ox or an ass destroys the ruler’s reasoning.
  6. The crowd decides the winner. Jesus has won their hearts and their minds. They all rejoice.

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

  1. O Jesus, I present to you all my needs.
  2. You call me. You say, “Come here, close by me.”
  3. You stretch out your hand. You touch me.
  4. Your gift is immediate. You do not wait. You do not put me off.
  5. Even on the sabbath, you heal. You set aside everything for my benefit.
  6. O Jesus, I too am a child of Abraham, the dignity of my Baptism.
  7. I am precious to you. When I am with you, I rejoice.

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

  1. I will see my illnesses as doors to Jesus’ help.
  2. I will ponder this question, “How does Jesus see me?”

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Ought not this daughter of Abraham be loosed from her illness?

WEEK TWENTY NINE – MONDAY October 17, 2016 THE RICH FOOL (LK 12:16-20)

Prayer – O Lord, do not allow my material possessions to ruin my faith.

Imagination – (Picture Jesus with His disciples.)

Context:
A person asked Jesus to gain him his rightful inheritance. Jesus refuses to accept this task. Jesus wants people to avoid greed. Owning property is irrelevant in the new Age. This parable explains why Jesus sees earthly wealth as unimportant.
Because of his gigantic harvest, the farmer need not fear if future years bring bad crops. His security makes him into a fool (in the biblical sense). He does not need God and does not realize God’s impending judgment.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)
Jesus said to the crowd, “Avoid greed in all its forms. A man may be wealthy but his possessions do not guarantee him life.” He told them a parable:
“A rich man had land which produced a gigantic harvest. He thought within himself, “What shall I do? I have no room for this harvest. This is what I will do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones. I will store all my grain and all my goods. I will say to myself, I have enough grain for many years to come. I will eat, drink and make merry.”
But God said to him, “You fool. This night your soul is required of you. Who will inherit all that you have stored up?”
Thus it will be for one who stores up treasures for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder the ones that attract you.)
1. Greed tries to guarantee an abundant future.
2. Jesus’ future goal is heavenly life, not earthly abundance.
3. The great harvest gets the farmer thinking.
4. His riches make him into a “biblical fool”, blinding him to spiritual realities.
5. The barns filled with grain make him forgot God’s coming judgment.
6. His vision is false. His soul will be judged this very night.
7. Jesus warns that nothing can put off the judgment.

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)
1. Jesus, help me to avoid greed.
2. I entrust my future into your hands.
3. Your judgments are inevitable, Jesus. Nothing can postpone them.
4. Give me a repentant heart. In this way, I am prepared.
5. Remove all my foolish reasoning. Destroy all my illusions.
6. Come close to me, O Lord. You alone are my security.
7. Soon, so very soon, the whole cosmos will fold up. History will be over. In that moment, I will be with you.

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own)
1. I will live today as if I will come before God this night.
2. I will honestly face my own “foolishness”, my pushing God to the background.

OCTOBER 16, 2016 – WEEK TWENTY-NINE – MONDAY – THE RICH FOOL

(Luke 12:16-20)

Prayer – O Lord, do not allow my material possessions to ruin my faith.

Imagination – (Picture Jesus with His disciples.)

Context:

A person asked Jesus to gain him his rightful inheritance. Jesus refuses to accept this task.   Jesus wants people to avoid greed. Owning property is irrelevant in the new Age. This parable explains why Jesus sees earthly wealth as unimportant.

Because of his gigantic harvest, the farmer need not fear if future years bring bad crops. His security makes him into a fool (in the biblical sense). He does not need God and does not realize God’s impending judgment.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

Jesus said to the crowd, “Avoid greed in all its forms. A man may be wealthy but his possessions do not guarantee him life.” He told them a parable:

“A rich man had land which produced a gigantic harvest. He thought within himself, “What shall I do? I have no room for this harvest. This is what I will do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones. I will store all my grain and all my goods. I will say to myself, I have enough grain for many years to come. I will eat, drink and make merry.”

But God said to him, “You fool. This night your soul is required of you. Who will inherit all that you have stored up?”

Thus it will be for one who stores up treasures for himself but is not rich in what matters to God.

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

  1. Greed tries to guarantee an abundant future.
  2. Jesus’ future goal is heavenly life, not earthly abundance.
  3. The great harvest gets the farmer thinking.
  4. His riches make him into a “biblical fool”, blinding him to spiritual realities.
  5. The barns filled with grain make him forgot God’s coming judgment.
  6. His vision is false. His soul will be judged this very night.
  7. Jesus warns that nothing can put off the judgment.

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

  1. Jesus, help me to avoid greed.
  2. I entrust my future into your hands.
  3. Your judgments are inevitable, Jesus. Nothing can postpone them.
  4. Give me a repentant heart. In this way, I am prepared.
  5. Remove all my foolish reasoning. Destroy all my illusions.
  6. Come close to me, O Lord. You alone are my security.
  7. Soon, so very soon, the whole cosmos will fold up. History will be over. In that moment, I will be with you.

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

  1. I will live today as if I will come before God this night.
  2. I will honestly face my own “foolishness”, my pushing God to the background.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

You fool! Tonight your soul is required of you.

OCTOBER 10, 2016 – WEEK TWENTY-EIGHT – MONDAY – A GREATER THAN JONAH OR SOLOMON

(Luke 11:29-32)

Prayer – O Lord, I seek no sign or wonder. I seek only you.

Imagination – (Picture Jesus speaking to the crowds.)

Context:

Although Jesus’ enemies asked for the sign, Jesus addresses this teaching to the crowds. He cites two Old Testament examples of foreigners having a change of heart. When Jonah preached in Nineveh (a perennial enemy of Israel) the people repented. When the Queen of Ethiopia came to see Solomon, she was totally impressed with his wisdom and the glory of the temple.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

Jesus said to the crowd, “This is a wicked generation because it looks for a sign. No sign shall be given except the sign of Jonah, the prophet. As Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so shall the Son of Man be to this generation.

The Queen of the South shall rise in judgment upon the men of this generation and shall condemn them because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon. Behold, a greater than Solomon is here.

At the judgment, the citizens of Nineveh will rise along with this generation and shall condemn it. At the preaching of Jonah they did penance, but you have a greater than Jonah here.

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

  1. People want signs to satisfy their intellect. Really, they should be surrendering their heart.
  2. A sign satisfies curiosity. It does not get people to repent.
  3. Jesus gives the whole world the greatest sign, his rising from the dead.
  4. Jesus cites the Queen’s change of heart. She repented just by hearing Solomon speak. What is Solomon compared with Jesus?
  5. The hated Ninevites repented when Jonah spoke. Who is Jonah compared to Jesus?
  6. Jesus speaks about the most important moment of all. Every person in history will come before him in judgment.
  7. On that day, the Queen and the Ninevites (both non-Jewish) will condemn those who did not repent.

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

  1. Jesus, give me no sign. Just give me yourself.
  2. You are risen from the dead and I will rise with you. Alleluia!
  3. Change my heart, Jesus. Turn me totally to Your way of life.
  4. They repented when Jonah preached. I will repent at your word.
  5. Send me your Spirit of repentance.
  6. Only the moment of judgment is unchangeable. When I come to you after my death, let me be your friend.

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

  1. I will think today about this Sign of Jonah – the miracle of Jesus’ rising.
  2. I will ponder Jesus’ claim that he is greater than all other teachers.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

A greater than Jonah or Solomon is here.

OCTOBER 3, 2016 – WEEK TWENTY-SEVEN – MONDAY – THE GOOD SAMARITAN

(Luke 10:25-37)

Prayer – Give me a loving heart, O Lord, like your own.

Imagination (Picture Jesus with His disciples)

Context
            The lawyer’s question was common in Judaism, ‘How far must my charity extend? Who is within that circle?”

Jesus’ parable uses the usual set of three persons. Logically, after the priest and Levite, the third person should be a Jewish layperson. The story’s impact comes from the identity of the caregiver – a Samaritan, an enemy of Israel. He is the model disciple because love must embrace the whole world.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

A lawyer asked Jesus, “What must I do to gain eternal life?” Jesus replied, “What is written in the law?”

He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”

Jesus said, “You have answered correctly. Do this and you shall live.” But, he, wishing to justify himself asked, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus answered, “A man going down from Jerusalem to Jericho fell among robbers who stripped him, wounded him and left him half dead.

A certain priest going the same way, saw him and passed by. Also, a Levite came near, saw him and passed by. However, a Samaritan on his journey came near, saw him and was moved with compassion.

Approaching, he bound up his wounds, poured on oil and wine, put him on his beast, brought him to the inn and took care of him.        The next day he gave the host two pence and said, “Take care of him and I will repay you on my return”.

Which of these, in your opinion, was neighbor to the man?” He replied, “The one who showed mercy”. Jesus said, “Go and do likewise’.

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

  1. The lawyer wanted a theoretical answer for his intellect.
  2. Instead, Jesus tells a story which pierces the heart. In the parable, the actions of the priest and Levite are unacceptable.
  3. The parable describes a disciple’s love – total, personal and with no reservations.
  4. His love embraces everyone – the poor, despised, helpless and even enemies.
  5. The example is highly vivid because the Samaritans received no love from the Israelites.
  6. This love is very practical. Jesus says, “Go and do likewise.”

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

  1. O Lord, flood my heart with love and I will accept this river.
  2. Limitless – that is your love for me and it should be my love for you.
  3. All-embracing, that should be my willingness to serve the needy.
  4. O Jesus, change my heart. Change my heart. Change my heart.
  5. O Jesus, let me “go and do likewise”. Action, not theory makes me your disciple.

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

  1. I will open my eyes and see how limited is my present love.
  2. I will see Christ in all those who have needs.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

“Take care of him and I will repay you.”

SEPTEMBER 26, 2016 – WEEK TWENTY-SIX – MONDAY – AMBITIOUS AND ARROGANT

(Luke 9:46-50)

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

Imagination: (Imagine Jesus reprimanding his disciples.)

Context:

These two stories reveal two sins of disciples – ambition and exclusivity. Ambition seeks prominence within the community. Exclusivity excludes those outside the community. Jesus quickly corrects both.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

The disciple discussed among themselves who was the greater. Jesus, seeing their thoughts, placed a child by himself and said, “Whoever shall receive this child in my name, receives me, and whoever receives me, receives him who sent me. Whoever is least among you is the greatest.

John said, “Master, we saw a man casting out devils in your name and we tried to stop him because he is not of our company. Jesus told him in reply, “Do not stop him. Whoever is not against you, is on your side.”

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

  1. The apostles have much to learn. They have not yet witnessed Jesus lowering himself and accepting death on the cross.
  2. By placing a helpless child in their midst, Jesus demands service instead of ambition.
  3. The reward for Christian service is great. Receiving the helpless is to receive Jesus and the Kingdom.
  4. John manifests human selfishness. He wants to exclude others and not allow them to use the powers of the Kingdom.
  5. Jesus’ heart is much more open. Everyone is to be accepted unless they line up against you.

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

  1. O Jesus, destroy my ambitious spirit that serves only me.
  2. Give me a new heart, open to all.
  3. Give me your Holy Spirit of service that cares for the helpless.
  4. Where can I find you, Jesus? In all who need my help.
  5. Take down my walls. Remove my prejudices. Give me a heart open to all.
  6. In your name, I will embrace the whole world and invite them into the Christian community.

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

  1. I will not tolerate my own pride.
  2. I will welcome everyone and tear down my walls of exclusivity.

Thought for the Day (To recall your meditation)

Whoever is least among you is the greatest.

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 12, 2016 – WEEK TWENTY-FOUR – MONDAY – EXALTATION OF THE HOLY CROSS

(John 3:16-21)

Prayer: O Jesus, you were lifted up on the cross to save me.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus teaching Nicodemus)

Context:

This gospel contains the famous John 3:16 verse about God so loving the world. It explains that god’s motive was to save, not to condemn. However, anyone who rejects this light is subject to God’s judgment.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up so that whoever believes in him may not perish, but may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in him may not perish but may have everlasting life.   God did not send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved by him.

Whoever believes in him, will not be condemned but whoever does not believe in him is already condemned because he does not believe in the name of God’s only Son.

The Judgment is this. The light came into the world and men loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil.       Everyone who practices evil hates the light. He does not come near it so his deeds are not exposed. But whoever acts in truth comes into the light so his works can be clearly seen as done in the light.

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

  1. When the Israelites in the desert disobeyed God, they grew sick from a serpent’s bite.
  2. God provided the remedy. When Moses nailed a bronze serpent to a cross, whoever gazed on it was saved. (Numbers C21)
  3. This story prefigured Jesus being lifted up on the cross to save us.
  4. God sent Jesus because “he so loved the world”.
  5. Through faith in Jesus, all can be saved.
  6. Jesus is the eternal light.
  7. Evil people do not want this light. It reveals their deeds.
  8. Good people rejoice to have their deeds revealed. They act in truth.

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

  1. Jesus, you were lifted up on the cross for me.
  2. Only your cross can save me from eternal death.
  3. Father, loving me so much, you sacrificed your Son to save me.
  4. I believe. I accept you, Jesus. You are the Father’s only begotten Son.
  5. Come Jesus. Reveal my heart. Make me a child of light.
  6. Open my heart to light and truth.

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

  1. I will thank Jesus for dying on the cross.
  2. I will bring all my sins into Jesus’ light.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation)

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.

SEPTEMBER 5, 2016 – WEEK TWENTY-THREE – MONDAY – A HEALING ON THE SABBATH

(Luke 6:6-11)

Prayer – O Jesus, you have come that I might have life.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus in the synagogue curing the man’s withered hand.)

Context:

Although Jesus heals the man’s withered hand, the healing seems secondary to the confrontation. This reveals the unbelievable lack of compassion of many hearts.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud).

On another sabbath, Jesus entered the synagogue and taught. A man with a withered right hand was there. The scribes and Pharisees watched to see if Jesus would heal on the Sabbath so they could find a charge against him. Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said to the man, “Arise and stand here in front.” He rose and stood.

Jesus said to them, “I ask you if it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath or to do evil, preserve life or to destroy it?” Looking around at all of them, he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out and his hand was perfectly restored.

They became enraged and discussed together what they might do to Jesus.

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

  1. This story involves Jesus, the sick man, and Jesus’ opponents. All have different feelings.
  2. Jesus is filled with compassion, knowing that he has God’s power to heal.
  3. The man is filled with hope and expectation. The long years of his illness might come to an end.
  4. The opponents are filled with hardness of heart. They do not share Jesus’ compassion for the sick man’s suffering.
  5. Jesus works his miracle. The sick man experiences God’s healing. The opponents’ hearts are hardened even more.

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

  1. O Jesus make my feelings like yours.
  2. Fill me with compassion for all who suffer.
  3. Fill me with hope. You will do great wonders in me.
  4. You call me. You tell me to stand before you. I will stand there in faith.
  5. Break open my hardened heart. Too often I close my heart to others.
  6. When I am healed, what will I do for you? I will bring everyone to be healed.

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

  1. I will live in the deepest faith in Jesus’ powers.
  2. I will not harden my heart to those who are suffering.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

“Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out and it was restored.

AUGUST 29, 2016 – WEEK TWENTY-TWO – MONDAY – THOSE WHO REJECTED JESUS

(Luke 4:14-30)

Prayer: O Jesus, never let me reject you and lose your blessing.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus teaching in the synagogue of Nazareth.)

Context:

In Luke’s gospel, Jesus works some early miracles in Capernaum. Then, He returns to Nazareth and goes to the synagogue. He gives his inaugural speech, outlining all he hopes to accomplish. The reception is violent but Jesus escapes.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

After preaching in Capernaum, Jesus returned to Nazareth where He was raised. He entered the synagogue and was given the book of Isaiah to read. He unrolled the scroll and read, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. He has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; to heal the brokenhearted; to deliver the captives, to give sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed, and to declare a year acceptable to the Lord.”

Sitting down, he said, “Today, this scripture passage is fulfilled in your ears.” The hearers were impressed. However, some said, “Is this not the son of Joseph?” Jesus replied, “I am sure you are saying, ‘Do here all the things that you have done in Capernaum’. A prophet is never welcomed in his own town.”

The hearers were filled with anger and they tried to throw him off the hill. He, however, passed through their midst.

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

  1. Jesus explains the source of his divine power, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.”
  2. He helps the marginal people – the poor, the sick, the captives, the oppressed.
  3. His ministry will bring about “a time of favor to the Lord.”
  4. Unfortunately, his hearers refuse to accept Jesus’ claim that God has anointed him.
  5. They lose all his blessings. They have no faith and he can do nothing for them.
  6. They attempt to kill Jesus, but only the heavenly Father will determine the hour of his death.

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

  1. Jesus, you are the anointed one of God. The Father sent you. Let me not reject you.
  2. Lord, you love me because I am poor, sick, oppressed, blind and captive to my sins.
  3. Your powers change me permanently. They give me a life which is “acceptable to the Father.”
  4. If I accept you, I will receive all of your blessings and favors.
  5. Jesus, come to my synagogue, today. Proclaim your word in my heart. Work your wonders in my soul.

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

  1. I will not lose Jesus’ blessings today.
  2. I will ask Jesus to anoint me with his Holy Spirit.

Thought for Today: (To recall your meditation)

“The spirit of the Lord is upon me. He has anointed me.”

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.