DECEMBER 24, 2016 – SATURDAY – ZECHARIAH’S SONG

(Luke 1:67-79)

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

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

Context:

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

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

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

Part One

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

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

Part Two

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation)

Filled with the Spirit, Zechariah cried out in joy.

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

(Matthew 1:18-25)

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

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

Context:

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

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Joseph did as he angel commanded.

DECEMBER 17, 2016 – SATURDAY – THE GENEALOGY OF JESUS

(Matthew 1:1-17)

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

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

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

Context:

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

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

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

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

(Matthew 17:10-13)

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

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

Context:

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

Gospel Text (Read slowly, possibly aloud).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Elijah has already come and they did not recognize him!

DECEMBER 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.”

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

(Luke 21:34-36)

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

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

Context:

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

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

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

NOVEMBER 19, 2016 – WEEK THIRTY-THREE – SATURDAY – LIVING LIKE ANGELS

(Luke 20:34-38)

Prayer – O Lord, fill me with strong desires to live like the angels.

Imagination – (Picture Jesus in confrontation with the Sadducees.)

Context:

The Sadducees (unlike the Pharisees) did not believe in the immortality of the soul nor the resurrection of the dead. They bring to Jesus what seems to us like a foolish problem. A woman marries seven times, (after each previous husband dies). They want to know whose wife she will be in heaven. Jesus refutes their argument.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Some Sadducees confronted Jesus (the ones who do not believe in the resurrection). “If a woman married seven brothers, whose wife will she be at the resurrection?” Jesus said to them, “The children of this world marry and are given on marriage, but those judged worthy of a place in the age to come and of the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. Nor can they die any more because they are like the angels and are the children of God, sons of the resurrection. Moses in the passage about the bush showed that the dead rise again when he called the Lord, the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. God is not the God of the dead but of the living. All are alive for him.

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

  1. The Sadducees could not conceive of a different existence. They did not realize that God brings about the glorified, risen body.
  2. Marriage is of earth. A person has a partner and brings forth children.
  3. In heaven, Jesus is the Bridegroom and all are united in him.
  4. The risen body cannot die. It enjoys the privileges of angels.
  5. This gift comes to “all judged worthy of the age to come”. This is the Kingdom which Jesus preaches.
  6. The person is totally changed into a son of the resurrection and a son of God.
  7. Certainly, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob have gained this status, as will all who believe in Jesus.

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

  1. Jesus, someday I hope to have a glorified, risen body, just like yours. This is your gift.
  2. In heaven, my heart will be united with you and with others. We will be one.
  3. I will no longer suffer or die. I will live forever, with you, Jesus.
  4. Help me, Lord to be judged worthy of this “age to come”.
  5. Change me, Jesus. I will be a son of glory and a son of the eternal Father.
  6. Give me life in abundance. Let me not fail you.

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

  1. Today, I will think often of my heavenly home.
  2. I will think of what steps I can take to be found worthy.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

They cannot die because they live like the angels.

NOVEMBER 12, 2016 – WEEK THIRTY-TWO – SATURDAY – THE UNJUST JUDGE

(Luke 18:2-8)

Prayer – O Jesus, let me cry out to you day and night.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus with his disciples.)

Context:

The real focus in this parable is the unjust judge. Although he is a complete opposite of God, he still grants the widow’s request. In the middle of trials, the destitute must believe that God hears their prayers and will intervene for their deliverance. The final sentence about “finding faith on the earth” is very important. In trials, will we persevere in trusting God?

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity of praying always and not losing heart.

A judge in a certain city did not fear God or man. A widow in that city begged him “Give me a just decision against my adversary.” For a long time, he would not do so. However, he eventually thought, “I do not fear God or man. However, this widow bothers me. I will give her a just decision lest she wear me out.”

Jesus said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. Will not God vindicate his elect who cry out to him day and night, even if he seems slow to answer them” I say that he will avenge them unexpectedly. But, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

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

  1. The dishonest judge has every bad quality.       He has no fear of God, no fear of man and is totally corrupt.
  2. He is the total opposite of the compassionate Jesus who wept over human suffering. Yet, he grants the request.
  3. This parable describes the loving God who brings about a surprising reversal.
  4. The suffering and the persecuted must do one thing. They must “cry out to God day and night.”
  5. Their deliverance is assured. Justice will come quite unexpectedly.
  6. The question is, “Does the person persevere in trusting God even when the trial continues?”

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

  1. O Jesus, to whom else shall I go?
  2. Jesus, teach me to pray without ceasing.       Let me lift my heart to you “day and night.”
  3. You will come. You will not delay. You will give me “unexpected justice.”
  4. Let me gather with others. We will “cry out” together.
  5. O Jesus, even if you delay, I will persevere in faith.
  6. You will find me watching.

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

  1. Trials will not discourage me. They will cause me to cry out “day and night.”
  2. In faith, I will await God’s “surprising answer.”

Thought for the Day. (To recall your meditation)

Will God be slow to answer those who call out to him day and night?

NOVEMBER 5, 2016 – WEEK THIRTY-ONE – SATURDAY – SERVING GOD OR MONEY?

(Luke 16:9-15)

Prayer: O Jesus, let my heart be totally set upon you.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus instructing his disciples.)

Context:

Jesus has just told the parable of the dishonest steward. Now, he speaks of how a believer should use his money to gain God’s blessings. The second part contains a serious warning. No one can serve God and money.

Gospel text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

I say to you, “Make friends for yourselves through your use of this world’s goods, so that when they fail you, a lasting reception will be yours. If you can trust a man in little things, you can also trust him in greater. Anyone who is unjust in little things is also unjust in greater. If you have not been faithful with unjust wealth, who will trust you with what is true? If you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s money, who will give you your own?

No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be attentive to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. The Pharisees, who were avaricious, heard this and derided him. Jesus said, “You justify yourselves in the eyes of men but God reads your hearts. What man sees as important, God holds in contempt.

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

  1. Money always fails to secure true life. Disciples must use their money to gain eternal life.
  2. Jesus compares earthly money (little things) to heavenly riches (greater things). A person trustworthy with earthly money can be trusted with heavenly powers.
  3. This leads up to the great teaching “No man can serve two masters.”
  4. The human heart cannot go in two directions.       To love money is to turn away from God.
  5. These words cut the hearts of the Pharisees. They pretend to serve God but they really serve money.
  6. Jesus declares that God sees where their hearts are.

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

  1. O Jesus, all my money belongs to you.       I will use it to gain everlasting life.
  2. Make me faithful in the little things of earthly life.
  3. Trust me, Jesus, with heavenly powers and I will bring others to your Kingdom.
  4. Jesus, I renounce a divided heart that seeks anything else but you.
  5. Free me of greed, O Lord. Bestow upon me a generous spirit which blesses others.
  6. Search my heart, O God. Cleanse whatever must be purified.

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

  1. I will always use ten percent of my income for God.
  2. I will be consistently generous.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation).

You cannot serve two masters.

OCTOBER 29, 2016 – WEEK THIRTY – SATURDAY – THE PLACES AT TABLE

(Luke 14:7-11)

Prayer: Dear Jesus, let me see suffering as a part of your saving plan for me.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus trying to explain his future suffering to his disciples.)

Context:

Peter has just proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah. Because of his faith, Jesus has given to Peter the keys of the Kingdom of God. Now, Jesus explains that he will be a suffering Messiah. Peter cannot accept this. Jesus rebukes him for his all-too-human thinking.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud).

From that time on, Jesus began to show the disciples that he must go to Jerusalem, to suffer many things from the elders, the scribes, the chief priests and to be put to death and raised up on the third day.

Peter, taking him aside, began to rebuke him, saying, “Lord, no such thing will ever happen to you.” Turning to Peter, Jesus said, “Get behind me, Satan, you are a scandal to me. You are not thinking as God does, but as human beings do.”

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

  1. Having revealed his identity as the Messiah, Jesus must also reveal his sufferings.
  2. None of the disciples believe that Jesus will suffer.
  3. Peter goes even further, claiming that these events just won’t happen. He even rebukes Jesus.
  4. Peter does not grasp the Kingdom. He becomes a scandal and an obstacle.
  5. Peter totally overlooks Jesus’ promise that he would be raised on the third day.
  6. Jesus wanted his disciples “to think as God does”. They all fail this test.

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

  1. Jesus, you want to reveal everything to me, even the secrets of your heart.
  2. I claim to be your disciple, but I reject suffering, the cross and persecution.
  3. I grasp so little. Help me to understand.
  4. Prepare me, Jesus. Teach me the mystery of suffering for you.
  5. I will accept the cross. In this way, I will rise with you.
  6. Open my eyes. Even your crosses are blessings planned for me.

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

  1. I will try to think as God does.
  2. I will unite today’s hardships with Jesus’ sufferings.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Jesus showed the disciples that he must suffer many things.

OCTOBER 22, 2016 – WEEK TWENTY-NINE – SATURDAY – THE FIG TREE

(Luke 13:6-9)

Prayer – O Lord Jesus, let me use my time to repent and receive the Kingdom.

Imagination – (Picture Jesus speaking to the crowds.)

Context:

Although the judgment is inevitable, God marvelously extends the time for repentance. This is the gift of the Fig Tree Parable. In Palestine, the first three years of a fig tree’s growth were allowed to elapse without the owner seeking fruit. In the parable, another three years has passed, a total of six years.

The fig tree absorbs large amounts of nourishment, thus depriving surrounding vines of their needed sustenance. Fertilizing a fig tree is highly unusual. This tree, therefore, will receive special, unmerited care.

The owner’s patience is past its limits, yet his mercy grants a stay of execution. When this extra year is over, no human power can prolong the time of salvation.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

A man planted a fig tree in his vineyard and came to gather its fruit. He said to the gardener, “For three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and have found none. So, cut it down. Why should it continue to exhaust the soil?”

The gardener answered him, “Lord, let it alone for one year more. I will dig around it and put manure on it. Hopefully, it will bear fruit. If not, then you can cut it down.”

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

  1. The vineyard represents all of creation. The fig tree is each person.
  2. Three years represents a fullness of time, certainly enough for the fig tree to blossom.
  3. The owner’s expectations are reasonable. A fig tree should produce figs. His decision is just. He has sought fruit for three years.
  4. Even so, the tree will be given more time. It will even receive the special care of fertilizer to nourish it.
  5. However, the farmer’s mercy cannot totally excuse the fig tree.       It must respond to all these helps and produce life.

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

  1. O God, you have given me so much, for such a long time.
  2. You ask only that I produce virtues according to my state in life.
  3. Jesus, how patient you have been with me. Year after year you came looking for virtues.
  4. You even use your choicest graces, surrounding me with every possible help.
  5. Jesus, I will delay no longer. I will choose a devout life and bring forth virtues.
  6. When you come next year, I will have fruit for you.

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

  1. I will look at my whole life and see all that God has provided.
  2. I will no longer delay. I will no longer put off my decision. I know what God is calling me to do.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

“Lord, give it another year. If it bears no fruit, then cut it down.”

OCTOBER 15, 2016 – WEEK TWENTY-EIGHT – SATURDAY – ACKNOWLEDGING JESUS

(Luke 12:8-12)

Prayer: O Jesus, You are my Lord.

Imagination: – (Picture Jesus teaching his disciples).

Context
            This text has three separate teachings. If the disciple acknowledges Jesus, Jesus will acknowledge him before the Father. If not, then Jesus cannot acknowledge him. The second teaching speaks of people who rejected Jesus in his earthly ministry. They will be given a second chance. This happened to the crowd at Pentecost. (Blaspheming against the Holy Spirit means ascribing Jesus’ powers to the demons). The final scene is the disciple being helped by the Holy Spirit to defend himself in court.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God. But whoever denies me before men shall be denied before the angels of God.

Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man shall be forgiven but whoever blasphemes the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.

When they bring you into synagogues and before rulers and authorities, do not be anxious about what you are to say because the Holy Spirit will each you in that hour what to say.

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

  1. Jesus wants you to always think of the moment when you will come before him.
  2. That is the all-important moment. All that you have done will be manifested.
  3. This is fair. If you told others that Jesus was your friend, Jesus will tell the Father that you are his friend.
  4. If you have failed to do this, how can Jesus honestly say that you are his friend?
  5. You can always change. God gives you another chance to be Jesus’ friend.
  6. The gospel describes an earthly court room, a disciple on trial for his faith.
  7. How do you speak the truth in that difficult situation? Don’t worry. The Spirit of Jesus will do the talking.

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

  1. Jesus, lift my heart to heaven.
  2. O Jesus, after death, I will come before you. Prepare me for that eternal moment.
  3. Tell the Father that I am your friend. This is my life’s goal.
  4. If I have rejected you, I repent and choose you as my Lord.
  5. O Spirit of truth. Help me to speak the truth always. Sanctify my lips. Purify my desires.
  6. Come, Lord Jesus. I will await you.

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

  1. I will make my friendship with Jesus known to others.
  2. When confronted, I will ask the Spirit to put words in my heart.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God.

OCTOBER 8, 2016 – WEEK TWENTY-SEVEN – SATURDAY – THE GREATER BLESSING

(Luke 11:27-28) 

Prayer – O Lord, help me to hear your word and keep it.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus speaking to the crowds when a woman shouts out).

Context

This spontaneous cry of a woman praises motherhood. Jesus uses this to reveal true holiness, which comes when the mature disciple hears and keeps God’s word.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

As Jesus was saying these things, a certain woman from the crowd lifted up her voice and said to Jesus, “Blessed is the womb that gave you birth and blessed are the breasts which nourished you.” Jesus said, “Rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it.”

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

  1. The woman was totally touched by Jesus’ preaching and caught up in admiration.
  2. She voices her affections, praising Jesus by praising his mother, who gave birth.
  3. Jesus points the woman’s gaze away from the physical relationship of mother to son.
  4. He turns her eyes to a relationship that the whole world can have (and which Mary possesses more than any other).
  5. Everyone on earth can hear God’s word and act upon it.
  6. God’s word forms their life and shapes their decisions.

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

  1. O Jesus, let my heart be caught up in awe and wonder at your deeds.
  2. Let me express my feeling for you by affections of the heart.
  3. Let words of praise flow from my lips.
  4. O Jesus, you invite me to know you. How blessed I am!
  5. O Mary, you perfectly heard God’s word and kept it.
  6. O Jesus, I will accept your word, take it into my heart and live according to its light.

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

  1. Today, I will have praises for Jesus always on my lips.
  2. I will read Jesus’ words each day in the gospels.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it.

OCTOBER 1, 2016 – WEEK TWENTY-SIX – SATURDAY – THE JOYFUL RETURN

(Luke 10:17-24)

Prayer – O Jesus, I will serve you and I will rejoice with you.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus with his 72 disciples, all filled with joy.)

Context:

In this scene, Jesus speaks of the great blessings when the disciples fulfill their mission. Satan falls. The disciples gain eternal life. Seeing all of this, Jesus sings a hymn of praise. The disciples are more blessed than kings and prophets. This is an astounding list of rewards for being a disciple.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

The seventy two returned in joy, saying “Lord, the devils are subject to us in your name.” Jesus said, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightening from the heavens. I have given you power to tread on serpents and scorpions and upon all the power of the enemy and nothing shall hurt you. Yet, do not rejoice that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in the book of heaven.”

In that hour, Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the prudent and you have revealed them to the little ones.

Yes, Father, you have graciously willed it so. Everything has been given over to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father and no one knows the Father except the Son – and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”

Turning to his disciples he said, “Blessed are the eyes which see what you see. I say to you that many prophets and kings have desired to see and have not seen them, and to hear what you have heard and not heard them.”

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

  1. The disciples’ joy is true. The devils have been subject to them. Satan has fallen from heaven at their commands.
  2. This dignity is great, but even greater is having their name in the Book of Life and living forever in heaven.
  3. Jesus, too, rejoices. These disciples will preach the Kingdom to all the world, even when he is no longer with them.
  4. These disciples experience divine revelation. They are seeing and hearing the mysteries of the Kingdom.
  5. The fullness of revelation is to know Jesus and the heavenly Father who sent him. Blessed are their eyes and ears.

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

  1. Jesus, teach me to rejoice. Teach me to see all the blessings of heaven.
  2. Place in my soul a love for my heavenly home. That is my only goal – to live with you forever.
  3. O Jesus, rejoice in me and in my efforts to spread your Kingdom.
  4. To know you, Jesus, and to know the heavenly Father, is your greatest gift to me.
  5. Blest are my eyes to see you. Blest are my ears to hear the gospel message. You have blessed me, Jesus.

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

  1. I will rejoice today in the riches of my Catholic faith.
  2. I will think about my heavenly home.

Thought for the Day (To recall your meditation)

Rejoice, instead, that your names are written in the Book of Heaven.

SEPTEMBER 24, 2016 – WEEK TWENTY-FIVE – SATURDAY – A SECOND WARNING

(Luke 9:43-45)

Prayer – O Holy Spirit, reveal to me the mystery of Jesus.

Imagination – (Picture Jesus with his disciples.)

Context:

Jesus has just healed the boy with a demon. While the disciples are still amazed at this, Jesus shifts the focus to his death. The warning falls on deaf ears. They have no idea of the mystery that lies ahead.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud).

In the middle of the disciples’ astonishment at all that Jesus did, he said to his disciples, “Place in your hearts my words. The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of men.”

They failed to understand his words. It was so concealed from them that they did not grasp it at all and they were afraid to question him about this matter.

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

  1. Jesus’ display of powerful healings overwhelms the disciples. They cannot grasp the mystery of suffering.
  2. The disciples do not place Jesus’ words in their hearts. They want only his glory.
  3. Jesus reveals the hardest truth. He will be delivered over as a prisoner.
  4. The full impact of his words is lost. The disciples grasp nothing.
  5. The matter seems so unimportant that they do not bother to ask.

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

  1. O Jesus, I will be a true disciple, always giving you my heart.
  2. Place your words in my heart and I will cherish them.
  3. Even when you speak to me of trials and sufferings. I will not walk away.
  4. Remove the veil that covers my mind so your words give me life.
  5. O Jesus, I will live by every word that comes from your lips.

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

  1. I will ask Jesus to speak to my heart.
  2. I will take to heart his gospel teachings.

Thought for the Day (To recall your meditation)

Place my words in your hearts.

SEPTEMBER 17, 2016 – WEEK TWENTY-FOUR – SATURDAY – THE SOWER

(Luke 8:4-15)

Prayer – Jesus, plant the powerful seed of your Kingdom in my heart.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus preaching to the crowds).

Context:

This parable contrasts the difficult beginning of the Kingdom and its glorious fulfillment. The beginning has multiple frustrations. The end has a gigantic harvest.

Jesus’ ministry is experiencing many obstacles. The disciples see failures, desertions and hostility. Jesus, however, sees that God’s work is doing quite well.

Gospel text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

“A farmer went out to plant seeds. Some seed fell by the wayside and the birds of the air ate it.

Some seed fell on rocky ground and grew quickly because the soil was not deep. When the sun rose, it was scorched for lack of roots.

Some fell among thorns. The thorns grew and choked it and it did not yield grain.

Some fell upon good ground and brought forth abundant fruit that yielded thirty, sixty or a hundred fold. He who has ears, let him hear.

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

  1. God scatters these abundant seeds of his power in your heart.
  2. Some seeds you miss entirely. These invitations fall “by the wayside”.
  3. Other seeds you resist by the hardness of your heart. They do not take root.
  4. You mix some seeds with your other worldly concerns. Unfortunately, these never produce any worthwhile fruit.
  5. But some seeds you receive without compromise. You give them fertile soil. They produce abundant fruit and you rejoice.

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

  1. Lord, sow the seeds of your kingdom and of eternal life in my heart.
  2. O God, I see those times when I was not receptive to your Kingdom.
  3. Jesus, why did I resist your kingdom? Why was my heart like rocky ground?
  4. O Lord, when I mix your seeds with my human desires, they bring forth no fruit.
  5. Jesus, my life can still be glorious. There is still time for an abundant harvest.

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

  1. I will believe that the seeds of God’s Kingdom are abundant and powerful within me.
  2. I will clear the soil, so the seeds can grow.

Thought for the day (To recall your meditation)

The harvest was thirty, sixty and a hundredfold.

SEPTEMBER 10, 2016 – WEEK TWENTY-THREE – SATURDAY – THE PARABLE OF THE TWO HOUSES

(Luke 6:47-49)

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. All of these 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 of strong rock or of 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. Jesus warning is stark and evident. You must build your life on God’s word.
  6. O Jesus, I have your word. I know your teaching. I will act. I will put into practice.

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

  1. Jesus, your word is abundant. I must act on it.
  2. O Lord, what do I build my life on? The rock of your teaching or the sand of my desires?
  3. Let your word, O Lord, penetrate my heart!
  4. How can I build my life on your word, unless I meditate on it daily!
  5. 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.

SEPTEMBER 3, 2016 – WEEK TWENTY-TWO – SATURDAY – LORD OF THE SABBATH

(Luke 6:1-5) 

Prayer – O Jesus, you are God, Lord even of the sabbath.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus with his disciples being confronted by the Pharisees).

Context:

These confrontation stories highlight Jesus’ authority, bring out new aspects of Christian life and most important, reveal Jesus’ identity. This story uses the powerful Sabbath regulation to reveal Jesus’ divinity and the disciples’ freedom.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

On the sabbath, Jesus and his disciples went through a field of standing grain. The disciples picked the grain and ate it. Some Pharisees saw them and said, “Why do you do what is not awful on the sabbath?”

Jesus answered them, “Have you not read what David did when he and his men were hungry? He entered God’s house and took and ate the holy bread and gave it to his men, even though only the priests are allowed to eat it. Then, he said to them, “The Son of Man is Lord even of the sabbath.”

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

  1. Jewish law permits the disciples to pick the grain. The Pharisees object to their doing this on the Sabbath.
  2. In the Old Testament, King David assumed a new freedom to help his soldiers.
  3. David acted correctly. His men’s welfare was more important than the law.
  4. Jesus invokes the same freedom for his disciples. God always puts man’s welfare first.
  5. Jesus goes much further. He reveals that He is the Son of Man. He is Lord and has divine power which is greater than the sabbath law.

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

  1. Jesus, when I walk with you, all creation serves my needs.
  2. You give me new freedom and lead me to joy.
  3. You always place me first, Jesus. I am always the center of your attention.
  4. I know who you are. You are God. You are Lord. You are the Son of Man, with all power and authority.
  5. You love me, call me, and want me to be with you forever.

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

  1. By faith in Jesus, I will try to experience true freedom.
  2. In my heart this day, I will constantly proclaim Jesus as Lord.

Thought for Today: (To recall your Meditation)

The Son of Man is Lord, even of the sabbath.

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 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.