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

(Matthew 1:18-25)

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

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

Context:

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

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Joseph did as the angel commanded.

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

(Luke 3:7-16)

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

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

Context:

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

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

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

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

(Matthew 3:1-12)

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

Imagination: (Picture John preaching at the Jordan.)

Context:

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

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation)

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

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

(Matthew 24:36-41)

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

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

Context:

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

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation)

You must be ready.

WEEK THIRTY FOUR – SUNDAY SOLEMNITY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, KING THE GOOD THIEF (LK 23:39-43)

(Luke 23:39-43)

Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit. Teach me to ask for heaven.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus crucified with two thieves)

Context:

Luke portrays this special moment of faith. A thief looks at the crucified Jesus and sees a king. He even believes he has a kingdom. Jesus rewards his faith. “Today” means “before the sun sets”. Originally, “paradise” meant a walled garden for exclusive use of the owner. Now, it is used for heaven.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

One of the crucified thieves blasphemed Jesus, saying “If you are the Christ, save yourself and us.” The other thief rebuked him. “Do you not fear God, for you are under the same condemnation? We suffer justly and receive the due reward for our deeds, but this man has done no evil.”

Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus said to him, “Amen, I say to you, this day you shall be with me in paradise.”

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

  1. The good thief sees the situation clearly.       He is guilty. Jesus is innocent.
  2. This humility leads to faith. He believes that Jesus is the king.
  3. His faith leads to hope. If Jesus is a king, then he must have a kingdom.
  4. Hope leads to a request, “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
  5. A request leads to eternal salvation.       This very day, he will be with Jesus in the kingdom.
  6. The good thief offers hope to everyone.       The doors of Jesus’ kingdom remain open until the very last moment!

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

  1. O Jesus, you are the innocent lamb sacrificed for my sins.
  2. O Jesus, you were born for me. You died for me.
  3. You are a king and you have a kingdom.
  4. Fill my soul with hope.
  5. It is not too late. All my sins can be forgiven.
  6. Remember me, Jesus. Just remember me. That is enough.
  7. O Jesus, speak those words on my deathbed, “Today you will be with me.”

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

  1. This day, I will pray often, “Lord, remember me.”
  2. I will acknowledge my sins and seek forgiveness in the sacrament of confession.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

This day you shall be with me in paradise.

NOVEMBER 13, 2016 – WEEK THIRTY THREE – SUNDAY (C) – NOT YET THE END

(Luke 21:5-19)

Prayer: O Jesus, let me persevere until the end.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus teaching his disciples).

Context:

In teaching about his Second Coming, Jesus keeps putting it off, always speaking of events that must happen first. The “coming” is always “later”. He stresses perseverance. The disciple must not think that the road is short.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Some were speaking about the temple, which was adorned with precious stones and offerings. Jesus said, “These things which you see – the days will come when one stone will not be left upon another. All will be torn down. They asked him, “Master, when will this be?” and “What shall be the sign that it is going to happen?”

He said, “Be careful not to be led astray. Many will come in my name, saying, “I am he” and “the time is at hand” but do not follow them. And when you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be disturbed. These things must first happen but the end is not yet. Nations shall rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. There shall be earthquakes, plagues and famines in various places. Even in the sky, there will be portents and signs.

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

  1. Nothing seemed more lasting than the newly built temple.
  2. Forty years after Jesus, the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the temple (just as Jesus predicted).
  3. In asking for a sign, the disciples are misguided. Jesus’ word is their daily guide.
  4. Jesus lists so many happenings (wars, earthquakes, plagues and famines), yet none is a sign.
  5. Jesus wants the disciples to stay on course (even if there are cosmic events).
  6. They have his true teaching. They must just be good disciples.

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

  1. O Jesus, nothing remains. Only you are eternal.
  2. Lord, I need no sign, only your presence guiding me.
  3. Your teaching is in my heart. I will cling to that.
  4. I know you will come for me. I await you in faith.
  5. O Jesus, what a world! We live with wars and famines and earthquakes!       Stay with me!
  6. Help me to stay on course, Jesus. The end is not near. I have many miles to go.

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

  1. I will use Jesus’ words to guide my day.
  2. I will detach myself from material possessions by little sacrifices.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation)

These things will happen but the end will not follow immediately.

NOVEMBER 6, 2016 – WEEK THIRTY TWO – SUNDAY (C) – LIVING LIKE ANGELS

(Luke 20:27-38)

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 present to Jesus what seems to us 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 (who do not believe in the resurrection), confronted Jesus. “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 bodily existence.
  2. They did not realize that God profoundly changes the glorified, risen body.
  3. Marriage is of earth. A person has a partner and brings forth children.
  4. Jesus sees the reality of heaven where God is the center. No one is lonely. All are united.
  5. The risen body cannot die. It enjoys the privileges of angels.
  6. This gift comes to “all judged worthy of the age to come”, the Kingdom which Jesus preaches.
  7. The person is totally changed into a son of the resurrection and a son of God.
  8. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob have gained this kingdom. So will all who believe in Jesus.

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

  1. O Jesus, someday I will have a glorified, risen body.
  2. Lord, I will share in your resurrection.
  3. In heaven, my heart will be filled with you and with others.
  4. I will no longer suffer or die. I will live forever, with you, Jesus.
  5. Help me, Lord to be judged worthy of this “age to come”.
  6. Change me, Jesus into a son of glory and a son of the eternal Father.
  7. You will 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.

OCTOBER 30, 2016 – WEEK THIRTY ONE – SUNDAY (C) THE MAN UP IN THE TREE

(Luke 19:1-10)

Prayer: O Jesus, come and stay in my house this day.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus finding Zaccheus in a tree.)

Context:

Zaccheus is the second wealthy man to receives an invitation from Jesus. He accepts the gift and uses his wealth to restore justice. This story highlights Jesus as the saviour of all, even of rich people and their families.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

Upon entering Jericho, Jesus passed through the city. There lived a wealthy man there named Zaccheus, the chief tax collector. He wanted to see Jesus but being small of stature, he could not, because of the crowd. So, he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree which was along Jesus’ route. When Jesus reached that place, he looked up and said, “Zaccheus, come down quickly, for today I must stay in your house.” He came down and received him with joy.

When this was seen, many complained, “He is going to the house of a sinner.” Zaccheus stood his ground and said to the Lord. “I will give half of my belongings to the poor and if I have cheated anyone in the least I will return it four-fold.” Jesus said, “Today, salvation has come to this house, for this is what it means to be a son of Abraham. The Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.”

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

  1. As a tax collector, Zaccheus works for Rome.       However, his desires are for Jesus’ Kingdom.
  2. Zaccheus had only one chance, one moment.       Jesus was just “passing by”.
  3. His small stature helps him. Zaccheus climbs a tree where Jesus easily sees him.
  4. When Jesus says, “I must stay in your house”, Zaccheus understands the great gift.
  5. He holds his ground and does not allow the crowd to steal the Kingdom.
  6. Instead, he repents, “I give half my possessions to the poor and I will repay four times over any money I have extorted.”
  7. His conversion is lasting. He joined the early church. We know his name and his story.

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

  1. O Jesus, today you will come.
  2. Lord, I am entangled, but I want to be set free.
  3. O Jesus, when you pass by today I will not miss my chance.
  4. You will see me and call my name.
  5. Yes, Jesus, come and stay in my house.
  6. I will change whatever needs to be changed.
  7. Jesus, you will rejoice. I am lost and you will save me.

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

  1. I will be alert for those moments when Jesus will “pass by today.”
  2. When Jesus says, “I shall stay in your house”, I will open my heart.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Zaccheus would not allow the crowd to rob him of the Kingdom.

OCTOBER 23, 2016 – WEEK THIRTY – SUNDAY (C) – THE PHARISEE AND THE TAX COLLECTOR

(Luke 18:9-14)

Prayer – O Lord, fill me with light that I would see my sinfulness.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus with His disciples)

Context:

The two men both arrive at the hour of prayer (either 9:00AM or 3:00PM). Three aspects mark the Pharisee – his prominent position, the sins he has avoided and his good deeds which go beyond what is prescribed.

In contrast, the tax collector stands at a distance, is considered a robber (by respectable people) and recounts no good deeds. He strikes his heart (the source of all sin). His prayers and actions actually show a total helplessness of ever correcting his life. The parable is spoken to the religiously self-confident.

Gospel text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Jesus spoke to those who trusted in themselves and despised others.

A Pharisee and a tax collector went up to the temple to pray. Standing, the Pharisee prayed, “I thank you, God, that I am not like the rest of men – greedy, dishonest and adulterers – as is this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give tithes on all that I possess.”

The tax collector stood afar off, not even raising his eyes to heaven. He struck his breast while saying, “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.”

I say to you that this tax collector returned to his home justified rather than the other.

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

  1. The parable has two scenes – one in the temple and one in heaven.
  2. The temple scene is familiar, two men praying.
  3. What happens in heaven, however, shocks his listeners. The tax collector is justified.
  4. The Pharisee sets the stage for the tax collector. He is the one who has the correct attitude and prayer.
  5. The tax collector is in total despair, locked into a disreputable lifestyle and, seemingly, has no ability to change.
  6. Seemingly, he has no good resolutions.
  7. However, he experiences the beginning step of conversion – a broken and contrite spirit.

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

  1. O God, I have absolutely nothing to offer you.
  2. I have no spiritual strength, no good deeds and no resolutions.
  3. Yet, I dare to enter your temple of prayer.
  4. I offer you only one gift – an empty heart and a broken spirit.
  5. But you accept this as the first steps on my new journey.
  6. Your words encourage me, “This man went home justified.”
  7. Your mercy is everywhere. Even I can hope.

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

  1. Even in my most sinful moments, I will turn to God for mercy.
  2. I will never allow the candle of my hope to go out.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

This man went home justified, but the other did not.

OCTOBER 9, 2016 – WEEK TWENTY EIGHT – SUNDAY (C) – THE TEN LEPERS

(Luke 17:11-19)

Prayer – Come, Holy Spirit. Fill me with a spirit of thanksgiving.

Imagination: (Picture the one leper returning to give thanks)

Context:

This story is somewhat like a parable and ends with Jesus pronouncing the saving faith of the Samaritan. Obviously, the group consisted of nine Jewish lepers and one Samaritan. Their illness bonded them together and overcame their religious differences. The Samaritan emulates Naaman, a Syrian, who returned to thank the prophet Elisha for healing him of leprosy. (2 Kg 5:15).

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

As Jesus was going to Jerusalem, he passed through Samaria and Galilee. In a certain town, ten lepers met him. Standing far away, they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, master, have pity on us.”

Seeing them, Jesus said, “Go and show yourselves to the priest.” As they went, they were cleansed. One, seeing he was cleansed, went back, glorifying God in a loud voice. Falling on his face, he gave thanks. He was a Samaritan.

Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? Where are the other nine? Is there no one found to return and give thanks except this stranger.” Jesus said, “Get up and go your way. Your faith has made you whole.”

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

  1. All ten realize their unique opportunity. Jesus has come to their village.
  2. United in prayer, all ten “lift up their voices” and ask for pity.
  3. All are obedient. All go to the priest. All are cleansed.
  4. Nine return home, thinking they have no further responsibility.
  5. Only one leper returns to Jesus. By faith, he receives total cleansing.
  6. Jesus is disappointed. He wanted all ten to return, so he could say, “Your faith has made you whole”.

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

  1. O Jesus, come to me today.
  2. I will cry out to you!
  3. Cleanse me of my faults, my sins, my leprosies.
  4. Have pity on me, Jesus. I am a sinner.
  5. Let my voice be loud in thanksgiving.
  6. You have more blessings waiting for me when I return to give thanks.
  7. O Jesus, make me whole.

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

  1. I will thank those who have helped me in the past – parents, teachers, friends.
  2. All day long, I will give thanks for God’s blessings.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

“Go on your way, your faith has made you whole.”

OCTOBER 2, 2016 – WEEK TWENTY SEVEN – SUNDAY (C) – THE HUMBLE SERVANT

(Luke 17:7-10)

Prayer – O Lord, let me serve you faithfully with a humble heart.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus with His disciples.)

Context:

Jesus sees deeply into his disciples’ heart. He demands that they serve faithfully without any self-righteous feelings.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

If a man has a servant who ploughs the field and feeds the cattle, will he say to him when he comes in from the field, “Sit down immediately for your supper?” Will the owner not say, “Prepare my supper first. Serve me, and I will eat and drink. Afterwards, you can eat and drink.”

Does he thank the servant for doing what he is commanded? Not at all. So, when you do all these things that are commanded, just say “We are unprofitable servants. We just do that which has to be done.”

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

  1. The owner is not rich. He has just one servant who works both in the fields and in the house.
  2. This servant is totally faithful. He does all his work in both places.
  3. The servant has two responsibilities. Exteriorly, he must complete all his tasks. Interiorly, he must humble himself and think that he is “unprofitable.”
  4. The servant has no faults. He must see his work as “doing what is commanded.”
  5. No room for pride, even in a faithful servant.

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

  1. Help me, O Lord, to be your servant, faithful in the world and in my life of prayer.
  2. Let me rejoice! To serve you is my greatest privilege.
  3. When all is done, let me honestly say that my greatest efforts were very inadequate.
  4. You are everything, O Jesus. You are the beginning and the end. Serving you is more a favor than a task.
  5. My work is earthly. Your reward is heavenly. My labors will end. Your favors are forever.

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

  1. This day, I will be faithful to all of God’s interests.
  2. At the end of the day, I will rightly call myself “an unprofitable servant.”

Thought for the Day (To recall your meditation)

The servant, although totally faithful, did “only what was needed to be done.”

SEPTEMBER 25, 2016 – WEEK TWENTY SIX – SUNDAY (C) – THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS

(Luke 16:19-31)

Prayer – O Lord, awaken me by this warning.

Imagination – (Picture Jesus teaching the crowds.)

Context:

Judaism believed that riches showed God’s favor and that poverty showed sinfulness. Jesus reveals the true picture, which shocks his audience. The poor man, Lazarus, enjoys the highest honor of being at Abraham’s side. The rich man is buried in hell.

This sets the stage for this parable of the six brothers. The rich man sees clearly that his five brothers are in danger. However, his brothers are like foolish men with no thought of the impending judgment. They must listen to the Church and its preaching.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

A rich man feasts sumptuously every day. At his gates sat Lazarus, a beggar filled with sores. He desired only the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table but no one gave them.

It happened that the beggar died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried in hell. He lifted his eyes and saw Abraham afar off with Lazarus at his side.

He cried out, Father Abraham, “Let Lazarus come and refresh me with some water.” Abraham replied, “Remember that you received good things in life and Lazarus received evil things. Now he is comforted and you are tormented. Besides, there is a great abyss between us and no one can pass from one side to another.

The rich man said, “Then send Lazarus back to earth to preach to my five brothers, so they do not come to this place of torment. Abraham said, “Let them listen to Moses and the prophets.” The rich man said, “If someone risen from the dead told them, they would do penance. Abraham said, “If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not listen to one risen from the dead.”

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

  1. Lazarus highlights the problem of the rich man and his five brothers.
  2. All too late, the rich man realizes how important repentance is. Without penance, his five brothers will all join him in hell.
  3. The rich man realizes that they won’t use the normal means of Jewish religious teaching.
  4. He pleads for Lazarus to be a risen-from-the-dead preacher, to whom they will certainly listen.
  5. However, Jesus is already risen from the dead and most do not listen even now.
  6. The parable challenges us to respond to the gospel that is being preached to us.

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

  1. O Jesus, while I am here on earth, I am free to choose.
  2. When my life is over, I will have made my choice.
  3. Jesus, right now, I decide to repent, to change and to have you as my Lord.
  4. I do not need an extraordinary preacher. I need only your word.
  5. You are risen. You preach to me. You speak within. You call. You shout.
  6. I must hush all the other voices, so I can hear you.
  7. Someday, Jesus, I will be in heaven or in hell. Guide my free will.

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

  1. I will read God’s word with urgency.
  2. I will believe that God wants to welcome me into his Kingdom.

Thought for the Day (To recall your meditation)

Lazarus was carried by the angels to the bosom of Abraham.

SEPTEMBER 18, 2016 – WEEK TWENTY FIVE – SUNDAY (C) – THE UNJUST STEWARD

(Luke 16:1-8)

Prayer: O Jesus, wake me up to the imminence of the Kingdom.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus with His disciples)

Context:

The parable uses real-life details. Rich owners often lived at a distance and depended on stewards who held promissory oaths of debtors. The steward wants his changes put into the original handwriting of the debtors (so the deception goes undetected).

The master’s surprising praise of his unjust steward has puzzled many. Jesus uses the parable to shock us into action in the crisis of our own imminent judgment. The unjust steward was caught up this personal crisis. He sized up the situation quickly, came up with a solution and acted decisively. We, too, should be shocked into decisive action concerning our personal salvation.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud).

A rich man had a steward who had wasted his goods. He said to him, “What is this I hear of you? Give an account of your stewardship, for you can be steward no longer.”

The steward thought to himself, “What shall I do, because my master will take away my stewardship. To dig, I am not able. To beg, I am ashamed. I know what I will do so that after I am removed from my stewardship, they might receive me into their houses.” He called in his master’s debtors. To the first he asked, “How much do you owe my master? He said, “A hundred barrels of oil”. The steward said, “Take your bill and quickly write fifty”. He said to another, “How much do you owe?” He replied, “A hundred bushels of wheat”. The steward said, “Take your bill and write eighty.” The Lord commended the unjust steward for he had acted wisely. For the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light.”

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

  1. The crux of the parable is that disaster is imminent. The Master will fire the steward.
  2. The steward knows he must act while he still has access to his master’s debtors.
  3. He acts quickly and effectively. He ingratiates himself with those who have money.
  4. By commending this action, Jesus says to the crowd, “You, also, are in imminent trouble. The judgment is at the door. Imitate the man’s quickness and cleverness.”
  5. The parable has a shock value. By the surprise ending, Jesus accuses the crowds of their failure to realize that the judgment is imminent.

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

  1. Let me not delay, O Lord. Losing my soul is an eternal disaster.
  2. Let me not say, “Tomorrow, tomorrow and tomorrow.” (St. Augustine)
  3. Jesus, the obligations are serous. The decisions are weighty.
  4. Let me move quickly. Let me take the steps. The Kingdom is mine if I act. You will receive me into an eternal dwelling.
  5. Lord, if you need to shock me, you have my permission. Awaken me from my lethargy.

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

  1. I will examine my life to see my situation clearly and to do what is needed.
  2. I will act quickly and not delay.

Thought for the Day (To recall your meditation)

Jesus commended the steward for acting wisely.

SEPTEMBER 11, 2016 – WEEK TWENTY FOUR – SUNDAY (C) – THE LOST SHEEP AND THE LOST COIN

(Luke 15:1-10)

Prayer: O Jesus, show me how precious I am to you.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus with His disciples.)

Context:

These twin parables are closely connected to the Prodigal Son parable. A hundred sheep was a medium sized flock. The shepherd must have been poor, unable to pay a helper. Luke’s gospel centers on God’s joy on the day of Judgment.

The parable of the lost coin has the same focus. The ten coins are the woman’s dowry, which she always carried in her headdress. She rejoices in the finding because each coin is so precious to her.

Gospel text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

Tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. At this, the Pharisees and scribes murmured, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So, Jesus told this parable. If a man with a hundred sheep loses one, does he not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and search for the lost until he finds it? When he does find it, he places it on his shoulder rejoicing.

On coming home, he gathers his friends and neighbors and says to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my lost sheep.” I will tell you that, in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous people who do not need repentance.

Does not a woman having ten coins and losing one coin, light a candle, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? Then she calls her friends and neighbors and says, “Rejoice with me. I have found my lost coin.” In just the same way, I tell you that there will be more joy before the angels of God for one sinner doing penance.

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

  1. To leave ninety nine sheep in the desert is not a rational act. The shepherd thinks with his heart.
  2. The woman, also, treasures this special coin.       For years, she has carried this coin of her dowry in her headdress.
  3. Their joys cannot be contained. Friends and neighbors must share the abundance.
  4. This is not a temporary finding. The sheep and the coin are symbols of heaven and an eternal union.
  5. God’s joy overflows to the angels. The soul that was lost for a time is now found for an eternity.

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

  1. O God, I am precious to you. You are “mad”, in your unreasonable love for me.
  2. Let me repent, so you and your angels can rejoice.
  3. Thank you, O Lord, for coming in search for me when I was lost.
  4. O God, your joy will not be complete until our union is forever.
  5. You give your angels charge over me.       They, too, rejoice at my return.

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

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

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

There will be rejoicing among the angels.

SEPTEMBER 4, 2016 – WEEK TWENTY THREE – SUNDAY (C) – THE TOWER AND THE WAR

(Luke 14:28-32)

Prayer: O Jesus, help me to persevere until the finish line.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus teaching the crowds.)

Context:

Jesus is dealing here with enthusiastic disciples who cannot see the tremendous hardships involved in discipleship. So, Jesus gives two examples entailing great difficulties. A farmer needs a tower for his grain, but the extensive foundation is costly. A king must wage war but he has fewer soldiers than the other king.

Jesus’ kingdom involves tribulation. The disciple might turn away and lose the kingdom. Jesus uses these stories to insure the disciple’s firm determination.

Gospel text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

Which of you thinks of building a tower and does not sit down first and reckon the necessary costs to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, after laying the foundation, he cannot complete it and all laugh at him, saying, “This man began to build and was not able to finish.”

Or, what king about to go to war with another king, does not first sit down and think whether he is able, with ten thousand men, to meet with a king having twenty thousand? Otherwise, while he is still far off, he will send a delegation seeking the conditions of peace.

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

  1. Jesus says that both the farmer and the king must “sit down”. Their decision is momentous and cannot be rushed into.
  2. Their present situation (outside of the Kingdom) is not good. However, their second state (abandoning discipleship) would be even worse.
  3. Jesus invites all to discipleship. He wants maturity, and determination, not surrender to circumstances.
  4. The farmer has to find more resources.       The king must find more men.
  5. The disciples’ commitment must be complete, total, creative and persevering. More than any other, this parable unveils the cost and sacrifice of discipleship.

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

  1. O Lord, I have been a superficial disciple, unaware of what is involved.
  2. Let me sit down and reconsider the depth of my commitment.
  3. Jesus, no longer will I leave my spiritual tasks unfinished and my spiritual wars unfought.
  4. I will rise up from my table of prayer with renewed commitment.
  5. You will join me and say, “Let us begin again.”

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

  1. I will see clearly my failures in being a disciple.
  2. I will ask for unbounded hope that I can complete the tasks.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

The farmer and the king had to sit down.

AUGUST 28, 2016 – WEEK TWENTY TWO – SUNDAY C (PART TWO) – WHO GETS INVITED?

(Luke 14:12-14)

Prayer: O Jesus, let me help those who cannot repay me.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus at table with the Pharisees.)

Context:

Jesus asks for a great holiness. His disciples must bless others with no hope of any return. Their reward will come at the resurrection.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

Jesus said to the leading Pharisee who had invited him to dinner, “When you have a dinner or a supper, do not invite your friends and your brothers or your relatives and wealthy neighbors. They might invite you in return and repay you. Instead, when you have a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind. You will be blessed because they cannot repay you, and you will be repaid in the resurrection of the just.”

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

  1. The Pharisee’s table guests are friends and wealthy neighbors.       This is the human approach to a banquet.
  2. The Pharisee’s purpose is to ingratiate himself so his guests will bless him.
  3. Jesus expects his disciples to act quite differently.
  4. The disadvantaged and outcasts are usually not invited because they cannot repay the favor.
  5. To invite the poor is to act like God. We can never repay his kindness.
  6. The disciple’s reward will be from heaven. God pours out his rewards on those who help the poor.

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

  1. O Jesus, lift my heart above earthly goods.
  2. O Lord, remove my self-serving motives that do not flow from true charity.
  3. O Jesus, you expect more from me.
  4. Open my eyes! Let me see the blessings in serving the poor.
  5. I will act like you, Jesus, blessing those who can never repay.
  6. Touch my heart, Jesus. Make it like yours.

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

  1. I will examine my motives. Am I charitable to all, even those with nothing to repay me?
  2. I will ask Jesus for his heart so I can love the outcast.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation)

You will be repaid in the resurrection of the just.

AUGUST 28, 2016 – WEEK TWENTY TWO – SUNDAY – C (PART ONE) – THE PLACES AT TABLE

(Luke 14:7-11)

Prayer – O Jesus, let me sit at your heavenly table.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus at the banquet)

Context:

In Jesus’ time, the most important guests would arrive last. If someone took too high a place they would have to move down to the lower places.

Jesus uses this teaching on taking the last place at table, to highlight God exalting the disciple on the last day. The parable calls for self-abasement so the disciple can sit in an important place at the heavenly banquet.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

When Jesus saw that the invited guests chose the first seats at table, he said, “When you are invited to a wedding, do not sit down in the first place. Someone more important than you might be invited.

Then the host will say to you, “Give this man your place. Then, you would go, with great shame, to the lowest place.

Instead, when you are invited, go and sit at the lowest place. When the host comes and says, “Friend, go up higher”, you shall enjoy great honor among all those at table.

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

  1. The wedding banquet is the final judgment. The host is Jesus himself. The guest is a disciple.
  2. Jesus is not teaching the disciple how to look good by taking the lowest seat. He describes the attitude the disciple must have to enter heaven.
  3. Whoever who feels they deserve a high place in the Kingdom is self-righteous, trusts in his own abilities and will be humbled on the last day.
  4. The one who thinks little of his accomplishments and believes that he belongs among the marginal and lowly, will be told by Jesus “to go up higher” on the last day.
  5. In the Kingdom, the disciple does not choose his place.       The Father already has it ready.

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

  1. O God, you want to exalt me, to send me higher and higher in your Kingdom.
  2. O Jesus, your favors are everywhere. They are abundant and flowing over. You have seats for all the guests.
  3. I will take the lowest seat. However, I know your secret. You will lift me higher.
  4. Your plan is perfect for me. You have already arranged everything. Please help me to follow your ways.
  5. How joyfully I will hear your words, “Enter into my Kingdom” and then “Go up higher.”

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

  1. I will think all day of Jesus’ great generosity.
  2. I will humble myself, knowing that God will exalt me.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

When you go up higher, you shall enjoy great honor in the sight of others.

AUGUST 21, 2016 – WEEK TWENTY-ONE – SUNDAY (C) – THE CLOSED DOOR

(Luke 13:24-30)

Prayer: O Jesus, you are my Lord and Saviour.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus with His disciples.)

Context:

By these parables, Jesus confronts his hearers. They understand, (all too well), what He means. He comes to their villages, preaches in their streets and eats with them. Yet, they do not accept his claims. Others, (who never enjoyed Jesus’ nearness), enter the kingdom because they will use the narrow gate of discipleship

Gospel text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

A man asked Jesus, “Are there few who will be saved?” In response, Jesus said, “Strive to enter by the narrow gate. Many will seek to enter, but will not be able.”

When the Master enters his house, he closes the door. Those outside knock at the door saying, “Lord, open for us.” The Master responds, “I do not know you, nor where you are from.” They will say “We ate and drank with you. You taught in our streets.” He will repeat, “I do not know you or where you are from. Depart from me, you workers of evil.”

There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God but you are thrown out. Many will come from East and West, North and South and sit down in the Kingdom of God. The last shall be first and the first will be last.

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

  1. The man has a good question about the number to be saved. Jesus responds that many will not enter the Kingdom (an answer which all need to hear.)
  2. In fact, once the door is closed no one else can enter.
  3. Those asking to get in had no significant relationship to Jesus.
  4. They just “ate and drank” with him and heard him “preach in their streets.”
  5. Jesus doesn’t even know them or where they are from.
  6. In contrast, many Gentiles from distant lands enter the Kingdom and join the Jewish Patriarchs – Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
  7. Those who should have been first became the last and are locked out.

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

  1. O Jesus, how important that I be saved.
  2. I will not stay outside Your Kingdom to enjoy false freedoms.
  3. I will choose to enter while the door is still open.
  4. I must be your disciple so you will know me.
  5. Your voice breaks through my deafness.       Your light enters my darkness.       You say, “Come and know me.”
  6. Someday! Someday, Jesus, I will dine with you forever.

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

  1. I will never take my salvation for granted.
  2. I will accept these warnings. They are needed helps for my salvation.

Thought for the Day (To recall your meditation)

Many are in the Kingdom and I can be among them!

AUGUST 14, 2016 – WEEK TWENTY – SUNDAY (C) ENKINDLING A FIRE

(Luke 12:49-53)

Prayer: O Jesus, light your fire in my heart.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus teaching his disciples.)

Context:

This text contains two separate sayings of Jesus. The first shows his greatest desire – to cast the fire of the Holy Spirit upon all believers. The second speaks about the problems which will arise when people embrace Jesus’ Kingdom.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

Jesus said to his disciples, “I have come to cast fire upon the earth. How I wish the blaze was ignited! I have a baptism by which I must be baptized. What anguish I feel until it is over.

Do you think that I have come to bring peace to this earth? The contrary is true. I have come for division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three. The father will be divided against his son and the son against his father. The daughter against the mother and the mother against the daughter. Mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.

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

  1. Jesus can no longer hold back. He speaks very personally of his deepest desires.
  2. He wants to cast a purifying fire upon the whole earth, making the disciples ready for the Kingdom.
  3. He will pay a heavy price for this gift. His baptism will be a bath of suffering.
  4. He even admits to his great anguish before it is accomplished.
  5. He also sees the sufferings of his disciples. They cannot have peace at any price.
  6. The disciples who are eager for the Kingdom will encounter family opposition.
  7. The opposition will arise from their closest relatives because they will not accept Jesus.

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

  1. O Jesus, your desires are so deep and so selfless.
  2. Send your fire. Purify me. Refine me. Prepare me for your Kingdom.
  3. What a price you paid! You were in anguish about your death on the cross.
  4. Should I not be eager for your Kingdom? Am I not your disciple?
  5. Let nothing hold me back from you, Jesus. What is the cost of being your disciple? I will pay it.

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

  1. Ask Jesus to place a divine fire in your heart.
  2. What obstacles hold you back from a total commitment?

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation)

I have come to cast fire on the earth.

AUGUST 7, 2016 – WEEK NINETEEN – SUNDAY (C) THE DOORKEEPER

(Luke 12:35-40)

Prayer: O Jesus, may you find me watching when you return.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus with His disciples.)

Context:

Jesus gives two crisis parables which emphasize the need for watchfulness. The master has many servants and all must keep watch. The second parable reverses the situation. The owner must keep watch to catch the thief.

Gospel text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Let your belts be fastened around your waists and your lamp burning ready. You must be like men waiting for their master’s return from the wedding, so when he comes and knocks, they open immediately.

Blessed are those servants whom the Lord when he returns finds watching. Amen, I say to you, he will put on an apron, make them sit down at table and will serve them.       If he comes in the second or third watch, those servants will be blessed.

But know this. If the owner of the house knew when the thief would come, he would surely watch and not allow his house to be broken into. You also must be ready because at an hour you least expect, the Son of Man will come.

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

  1. Belts buckled and lamps burning are symbols of great watchfulness.
  2. The Master expects a high level of service – no delay.
  3. Because the hour of return is uncertain, the demands are high.
  4. However, the reward is astounding. The Master does not eat. He will serve the servants.
  5. A thief also comes at an unknown hour. The owner must watch or lose his possessions.
  6. In both parables, the time is unknown, the demands are high, and much is at stake.

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

  1. O Jesus, how often I am not prepared for your coming.
  2. You expect much of me. Your demands are great.
  3. But how you reward me! You give me life without end.
  4. Jesus, I must watch every hour and every day.
  5. Jesus, how many thieves would rob me of eternal life.
  6. I will stand watch, avoiding all sin and occasions of sin.

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

  1. I will think of Jesus as a generous master.
  2. I will treasure my eternal life.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation)

Blessed are those servants whom the master finds watching on his return.