WEEK THIRTY THREE – MONDAY – NOVEMBER 16, 2020 THE BLIND BEGGAR (LK 18:35-43)

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


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

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


Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)
As Jesus drew near to Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the wayside, begging. Hearing the crowd go by, the man asked, “What is that?” When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he cried out, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me”. The crowd told him to be silent but he
cried out even more, “Son of David, have mercy on me.”
Jesus halted and commanded that he be brought near. When he had come close, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord, I want to see” said the blind man.
Jesus said, “Receive your sight, your faith has healed you.” He saw immediately and followed Jesus on the way, giving God the glory. All the people saw this and they, too, gave glory to God.



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

  1. This beggar is at a severe disadvantage. He is blind, sits by the wayside, and does not even know what is happening.
  2. However, his blindness prepares him for this moment.
  3. He grasps quickly that Jesus is his only ray of hope.
  4. When Jesus summons him, the crowd changes its opinion. His crying out was the right thing to do.
  5. He knows the desire of his heart – to see again.
  6. With his sight restored, he sees the face of Jesus.
  7. His heart tells him to follow Jesus “up the road” to Jerusalem.
  8. What a day for the beggar! He becomes a disciple who gains the Kingdom.
    Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)
  9. Jesus, my limitations are really favors. My heart stays with you.
  10. Lord, come close to me today.
  11. O Spirit of Jesus, whisper within my soul, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”
  12. Fill me with hope and I will cry out to you, Lord.
  13. Jesus, You will hear and you will ask “What is it that I can do for you?”
  14. Everything, Lord! Bless me and I will “follow you on the way.”
    Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)
  15. I will be attentive today to Jesus’ presence.
  16. I will have great hope that Jesus hears my every prayer.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation)
What do you want me to do for you?

WEEK TWO -SUNDAY – (A) – JANUARY 19, 2020 FAILING TO RECOGNIZE JESUS (JN 1:29-34)

Prayer: – O Jesus, come to me. When you come, help me to recognize you.
Imagination: (Picture John at the Jordan River, seeing Jesus among the crowd.)
Context:
John never describes Jesus getting baptized. Instead, the Baptist recognizes Jesus and introduces him to the world as the Lamb of God. Twice, The Baptist admits that he did not recognize Jesus, even though that was his divine call.
Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)
The next day, John saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold the Lamb of God. Behold him who takes away the sin of the world. About him, I have said, ‘after me comes someone who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ I did not recognize him, even though the very reason I was baptizing with water was to reveal him to Israel.”
John also gave this testimony, “I saw the Spirit descend as a dove from heaven and it came to rest upon him. I did not recognize him even though the one who sent me to baptize with water had said to me, “On whomever you see the Spirit descend and remain upon, he is the one who will baptize in the Holy Spirit.”
Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder those that attract you.)
6. God had prepared John well for his task. He knew what he was supposed to do.
7. Although Jesus had spent some time with John, he never realized that Jesus was the Lamb of God.
8. Suddenly, he receives a divine revelation. Supernatural wisdom helps him to realize Jesus’ identity.
9. John fulfills his task. He tells the world that Jesus is the Lamb of God, who will take away the sins of the world.
10. Jesus accomplishes that by sending his Holy Spirit after his Ascension.
Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)
6. Jesus, prepare me for my task in your Kingdom.
7. How often you are close to me and I do not realize that you are near.
8. Reveal yourself, Jesus and I will rejoice.
9. Take away my sins. Cleanse me forever. Baptize me afresh in the Holy Spirit.
10. Pour out your Holy Spirit. My heart awaits your divine fire.
Resolution: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)
3. I will prepare for whatever task God has for me.
4. Today, I will ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten me.
Thought: (Recall this text during the day)
I saw the Spirit coming down upon Him.

AN EXORCISM IN THE SYNAGOGUE (MK 1:21-28)

Prayer: Come Holy Spirit. Set me free from the Kingdom of Darkness.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus in a synagogue setting the man free from the unclean spirit.)

Context:

Mark groups his stories by geography. The next few stories take place at Capernaum, and provide a quick overview of Jesus’ activities. Jesus’ ministry begins in the Jewish culture and in their place of religious worship – the synagogue.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud).

In Capernaum, Jesus entered the synagogue on the sabbath and began to teach. The people were spellbound by his teaching because he taught with authority and not like the scribes. In the synagogue, there was a man with an unclean spirit who cried out, “What have we to do with you, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet! Come out of the man.” The unclean spirit convulsed him. Then crying out with a loud voice, the spirit left him.

All were amazed and asked among themselves, “What is this? What is this new teaching with authority? He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him. His fame spread over the whole region of Galilee.

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

1. The man had attended the synagogue for years, but the synagogue had no power over his unclean spirit.

2. When Jesus enters, the demon can no longer stay hidden.

3. The demon faces a powerful new enemy and realizes that Jesus has come to destroy him.

4. The demons know well that Jesus is “the Holy One” come from the Father.

5. Jesus acts quickly so the unclean spirit can do little harm.

6. This was never heard of before. The people have never seen such power. The word about Jesus spreads quickly.

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

1. O Jesus, how many hidden forces come against me.

2. Without you, O Lord, these forces would control my life and I would be in complete darkness.

3. Jesus, you are the demons’ powerful enemy. To me, you are a mighty friend.

4. Cast out from me any powers of darkness that dwell within me.

5. Come to my synagogue, O Jesus – to my heart which needs your cleansing.

6. Never have I seen such power as yours, and you always use it for my benefit.

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

1. Does the demon have any power over me? I will examine my conscience.

2. If involved in occult practices, I will confess them and seek total freedom.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation) He commands even the evil spirits and they obey him.

JESUS FIRST PUBLIC APPEARANCE (MK 1:14-20)

Prayer – Lord Jesus, invite me today to be your disciple.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus calling his first disciples along the Sea of Galilee.)

Context This gospel text begins “After John was arrested” and it records Jesus’ first homily of his public ministry. He repeats John’s teaching that the reign of God has come and gathers his four most important helpers.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud).

After John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God, saying, “This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the gospel.

Passing by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother, Andrew, casting nets into the sea, for they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, “Come after me and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately, they left their net and followed him.

Going a little farther, he saw James, the son of Zebedee and his brother, John. They were mending their nets in the ship. He called them, also. They left Zebedee in the ship with his hired men and followed him.

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

1. Jesus follows his heavenly Father’s timetable. While John is preaching, he remains silent. When John is arrested, Jesus knows to begin.

2. These are the most important years in world history, as Jesus begins to save all mankind.

3. Jesus says that the Kingdom is at hand. God’s power will break into human history.

4. Everyone must be ready. So, Jesus tells everyone to turn away from evil and believe in him.

5. The two sets of brother are the first to hear the message. They respond immediately.

6. Peter and Andrew leave their boats behind. James and John leave their father and friends. These four are perfect models for all believers.

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

1. Heavenly Father, what is your timetable for my life? When is the time for me to act?

2. Jesus, I believe. This is the hour, the time of fulfillment. I will not delay.

3. I believe. I accept your Kingdom. I repent. I turn to you and hear your voice.

4. Jesus, you want to come into my heart.

5. I hear your call. I will follow you, forever and ever.

6. O Jesus, You are the gift of the Father. What else compares with your friendship? I will leave everything to be your friend.

Resolutions: (Use one of these or make your own)

1. I will learn God’s timetable. What does he expect today?

2. When Jesus invites me today, I will answer immediately.

Thought: (Recall this text during the day) Come after me and I will make you fishers of men.

BAPTISM OF THE LORD THE SPIRIT DESCENDS (MT 3:13-17)

Prayer: O Spirit of God, descend upon me.

Imagination: (Imagine Jesus meeting John by the Jordan River)

Context:

In Matthew’s gospel, John is reluctant to baptize because he realizes the greater holiness of Jesus. After the baptism, God’s fullness upon Jesus is manifested.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud) Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. However, John said, “I should be baptized by you and yet you come to me.” Jesus answered him, ‘Let it be for now so we can fulfill all justice. So, he allowed him. After being baptized, Jesus came out of the water and behold, the heavens were open and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and coming upon him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

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

1. The Father’s plan was happening as scheduled.

2. At the right moment, Jesus comes to the Jordan.

3. John grows confused. Although Jesus is holier, he submits to his Baptism.

4. This is all part of God’s plan.

5. When both are obedient to the Father, the heavens open up.

6. The Spirit’s power rests upon Jesus.

7. The Father approves Jesus as his beloved Son.

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

1. Jesus, you are all holy yet you submit to the Father’s will.

2. O God, you have a plan for my life.

3. I will be faithful and obedient to all your desires.

4. I await your call. I listen for your voice.

5. O Holy Spirit, rest upon me.

6. O Jesus, make me beloved to the Father.

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

1. I will ask Jesus to send his Holy Spirit to rest upon me.

2. I will seek to be beloved of the Father.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation) The Spirit in the form of a dove came to rest on him.

THE BAPTIST COMES ON THE SCENE (JN 3:22-30)

Prayer: Come Holy Spirit. Help me to prepare to increase my life in Jesus.

Imagination: (Picture yourself at the Jordan with John.)

Context:

Luke has told the stories of Jesus infancy, ending with Jesus being lost in the temple. The next 18 years are Jesus’ hidden life. Now the drama opens and John the Baptist is the first actor on the scene.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Jesus and his disciples went into the region of Judea, where he spent some time with them baptizing. John was also baptizing near Salim, because there was an abundance of water there, and people came to be baptized. Now a dispute arose between the disciples of John about ceremonial washings. So they came to John and said, “Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you testified, here he is baptizing and everyone is coming to him.” John answered and said, “No one can receive anything except what has been given him from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said that I am not the Messiah, but that I was sent before him. The one who has the bride is the bridegroom, the best man, who stands and listens to him; rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made complete. He must increase, I must decrease.

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

1. Caesar and Pilate have political power, but John has the power of God.

2. The “word came to John”. The Kingdom was coming and a religious revival was about to happen.

3. The people sensed this movement of God’s Spirit, and made their journey to the Jordan.

4. They repented of their sins and sought John’s Baptism.

5. Prepared by their Jewish culture, they understood that John was the messenger, preparing the way for the Messiah.

6. John’s clothing and food were signs of repentance, so the people quickly believed his preaching.

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

1. Let your word come to me, O Lord.

2. You have a timetable, a moment prepared for my conversion.

3. Where do you dwell, O Lord? Where can I find you?

4. Where do you stir? Where is your Spirit moving?

5. I will seek you in daily Eucharist. Your Spirit dwells there.

6. You have promised to come. I will wait for you.

7. Jesus, I will seek forgiveness for my sins, and be ready for your coming.

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

1. I will find personal solitude where I can hear God’s word.

2. I will repent of my sins and make a good confession. That is the right place to begin, Advent.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation) Prepare ye the way of the Lord. Make straight his paths.

CLEANSING A LEPER (LK 5:12-16)

Prayer – Come, Holy Spirit. Help me to believe that Jesus can cleanse me.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus cleansing the leper)

Context:

In these early stages of Jesus’ ministry, Mark wants to show his great power. There is no controversy surrounding the healing because Jesus has not made any enemies as yet.

Although the man disobeys Jesus’ orders, he is a perfect model for the newly converted person. After Baptism, everyone should tell the world about Jesus.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

A leper came to Jesus. Kneeling down, he said, “If you will, you can make me clean.” Jesus had compassion on him. He stretched out his hand and, touched him, saying, “I will. Be made clean.”

When Jesus had said these words, the leprosy left and the man was made clean. Jesus said to him very strictly, “Tell no one. Go, show yourself to the high priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed. That will be proof for them.”

However, the leper went out and told everyone. So, the word went forth. As a result, Jesus could not go openly into a city, but he stayed in desert places. Yet, they came to him from everywhere.

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

1. The leper believes in Jesus. Having seen others healed, he is stirred to faith.

2. Jesus shows deep human feelings. He has compassion on the leper’s condition.

3. Jesus comes close. He touches the leper and makes himself ritually unclean.

4. His power goes forth quickly. He uses just a simple word, “Be clean.”

5. The leper cannot contain his joy. He tells everyone.

6. Hearing the story, the crowds seek Jesus. They know the power of God is in their midst.

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

1. Jesus, I know you have power. I have read the gospel stories. I believe.

2. I ask with all my heart, “Please make me clean.”

3. Jesus, you always have compassion for me.

4. You come close. You touch me. You make me whole.

5. After you cleanse me, I will begin a new life.

6. Jesus, my tongue will not be silent. I will tell everyone. I will proclaim your mighty deeds.

7. By my words, others will believe in you and search for you.

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

1. No matter what my illness (moral or physical) I will believe that Jesus can make me clean.

2. I will be God’s witness, telling others of Jesus’ compassion for them.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation) If you will it, you can make me clean.

IN THE NAZARETH SYNAGOGUE (LK 4:14-30)

Prayer – O Jesus, send the Spirit of the Father upon me.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus teaching in the synagogue.)

Context:

Having overcome Satan’s three temptations, Jesus begins his public ministry. Other gospels record this visit to the synagogue but Luke gives it preeminence. This is Jesus’ inauguration address and highlights all the themes of his preaching.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee and his reputation spread throughout the region. He taught in their synagogue and was praised by all.

Jesus came to Nazareth where he had been raised and, entering the synagogue on the Sabbath, as he was accustomed, he got up to read. The book of the prophet, Isaiah, was given to him and he found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. He has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to the captives, recovery of sight to the blind and release to prisoners. To preach a year of favor from the Lord.”

Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down. All the eyes of the synagogue were upon him. He said to them, “This day, this reading is fulfilled in your hearing.”

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

1. Jesus loved to preach in the synagogue where good people, eager for God’s word, gathered.

2. Jesus explains the source of his power. The Holy Spirit has come upon him.

3. Because his reputation had spread, all eyes were on him.

4. He chooses a text which outlines his work. He will preach and set free.

5. Every group (the poor, the captives, the blind) will receive the favors.

6. His coming establishes an extended time of God’s favor for all Israel.

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

1. Jesus, I know your reputation and I desire your favor.

2. The Spirit of the Lord is upon you. You are the Holy One.

3. I am poor. Preach your gospel to me. I am a captive. Set me free.

4. I am blind. Help me to see.

5. Your time of favor extends to all the years of my life.

6. I will not delay. I will not put off accepting you as my King.

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

1. I will be faithful to my reading of Scripture.

2. Today, I will ask Jesus for the Holy Spirit.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation) The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. He has anointed me.

WALKING ON THE WATER (MK 6:45-52)

Prayer: O Jesus, come to me when the waves threaten my boat.

Imagination: (Picture the disciples in the boat, seeing Jesus on the water.)

Context:

These early stories of Mark’s gospel reveal to the disciples who Jesus is. However, even as they see the miracles, they do not understand. For some reason, their minds are closed.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Jesus told his disciples to get into the boat while he dismissed the crowds. Then he went up the mountain to pray. When it was late, the ship was in the middle of the sea and he was alone on the land. He saw them being tossed about while they were rowing, (for the wind was against them). About the fourth watch of the night, he came to them walking on the sea. He was going to pass them by. When they saw him walking on the water, they thought it was a ghost and they cried out because they all saw him and were troubled.

Immediately, he spoke to them saying, “Take courage and do not be afraid. It is I”. He got into the ship and the wind ceased. They were astonished. They did not understand the incident of the loaves because their hearts were hardened.

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

1. Jesus brings about this situation by telling the disciples to cross the Sea of Galilee while he remains on land.

2. Jesus’ supernatural powers are on full display. By divine revelation, he knows they are struggling on the lake and where to find them.

3. He is going to “pass them by.” This means “to come close enough to manifest himself”.

4. By lack of faith, they mistake Jesus for a ghost.

5. Fortunately, he identifies himself and overcomes their blindness.

6. He gets into the boat and the wind dies down. (Another divine manifestation).

7. In spite of all these signs, the disciples do not understand the mystery.

8. They didn’t grasp the multiplication of loaves, either.

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

1. O Jesus, you plan all the events of my life.

2. Seeing my struggles, you come to me.

3. You whisper in my heart, “Do not be afraid. I am with you.”

4. You “pass by”, close enough for me to experience your presence.

5. O Jesus, you are not a ghost. You are my friend and companion.

6. When you are in my boat, all is calm.

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

1. I will obey Jesus and go wherever he wants.

2. I will not miss his presence when he passes by today.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation) Take courage. It is I. Do not be afraid.

FEEDING THE FIVE THOUSAND (MK 6:34-44)

Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit. Multiply your gifts within me.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus feeding the crowds.)

Context:

This is the first of two multiplications of food in Mark’s gospel. (This one is for a Jewish crowd and the other is for Gentiles). This miracle is told in all four gospels and six times altogether, because it prefigures Jesus’ gift of Eucharist. Epiphany means manifestation and these gospels are Jesus’ manifesting himself.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

When Jesus saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved to compassion for they were like sheep without a shepherd. He began to teach them at great length. When the day was far spent, his disciples said, “This is a deserted place and the hour is late. Send them away to the nearby villages where they can buy something to eat.”

Jesus answered, “You give them something to eat.” They replied, “It would cost two hundred days of wages for bread to feed them all.” Jesus said, “Go, and see how many loaves you have.” They said, “We have five loaves and two fish.”

When they sat down, Jesus took the five loaves and the two fish. Looking up to heaven, he blessed and broke the loaves and gave them to his disciples to distribute. The two fishes he divided among them all. All ate and had their fill. The disciples gathered up twelve baskets of fragments. Those who ate were five thousand.

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

1. As Jesus begins to teach them, the crowd responds.

2. They pass the whole day with Jesus, heedless of their need to eat.

3. Jesus responds to their faith and He will provide a great abundance.

4. Jesus looks up to heaven, blesses and beaks the bread. He will do this again at the Last Supper. This miracle is just a preview.

5. Jesus invites the disciples to help him. The bread multiplies as they distribute it

6. Jesus brings all to completion. The people have their fill and twelve baskets are left over for us.

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

1. Speak to me, O Lord. I will hear your voice, and you will be my shepherd.

2. O Lord, I will stay with you during the whole day of my life.

3. O Jesus, your plans for me are beyond my greatest dreams.

4. O Jesus, I will help you with your tasks.

5. Every day, you multiply the bread from heaven. Help me to love the Eucharist.

6. I will eat your flesh and drink your blood, so you can complete your work in me.

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

1. Today, I will seek out Jesus’ teachings.

2. My heart will seek the Bread of Life.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation) The disciples said, “Send them away.” Jesus said, “You give them something to eat.”

A LIGHT AMONG THE GENTILES (MT. 4:12-17)

Prayer – O Jesus, let your light shine upon my whole life.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus going to Capernaum with his disciples)

Context:

Many prosperous towns were around the lake of Galilee. Since Capernaum was larger than Nazareth, Jesus moved his headquarters there to reach a wider audience. In this region, the first Israelite tribes (Zebulun and Naphtali) were destroyed by the Gentiles. This text sees Jesus fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy of being a great light for the Gentiles.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he retired to Galilee. He left Nazareth and came to Capernaum, near the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah, “Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, along the sea by the Jordan, heathen Galilee; a people living in darkness have seen a great light. On those who inhabit a land in the shadow of death, light has arisen.”

From that time on, Jesus began to proclaim this theme. Reform your lives! The Kingdom of heaven is at hand!

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

1. Jesus has an intense drive to bring his message to the widest possible audience

2. After John is arrested, he immediately begins to preach.

3. What was first stolen from Israel, (this land of the two tribes), will be the first regained by Jesus.

4. Once he begins, Jesus will never stop preaching.

5. Jesus sees a special moment. God will intrude into human history and the Kingdom of heaven will begin.

6. Jesus describes the response needed to enter this Kingdom, “Reform your lives.”

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

1. O Jesus, you want me to hear and respond to your word.

2. You keep coming closer. You will not stop until I respond.

3. I was carried off into sin. But you will reclaim me.

4. Jesus, I live in the shadow of death. Come with your light.

5. The Kingdom of heaven is here. I will believe and respond.

6. Help me, Jesus, to reform my life.

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

1. I will examine the areas of darkness in my life.

2. In every situation today I will ask for Jesus’ light.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation) A people living in darkness have seen a great light.

THE EPIPHANY of the LORD THE MAGI (Mt 2:1-12)

Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit. Give me your light to search for the Christ Child.

Imagination: (Picture the three Magi worshipping Jesus in Bethlehem.)

Context:

Since the Magi were not Jewish, Epiphany is called the Gentile Christmas, a symbol that Christ is for all the world. Magi were a learned priestly class of Persia, who knew the stars. The Old Testament had a prophecy about a star that is a symbol of David (Num 24:17).

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud) Magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem saying, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star rising and have come to do him homage.” King Herod summoned the chief priests and scribes, inquiring where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem of Judea”, they said. Herod called the Magi aside to learn the exact time of the star’s appearance. Then he sent them to Bethlehem

As they set out, the star which they had observed at its rising went ahead of them until it came to the place where the child was. They were overjoyed to see the star, and on entering the house, they found the child, with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage, offering him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. They went home by another route because they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod.

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

1. The star is a totally unexpected invitation and the perfect help for their searching.

2. The Jewish leaders know the place of Jesus’ birth but have no interest in going.

3. Even worse, Herod is jealous and wants to kill the child.

4. In contrast, the Magi believe, hope and act.

5. They make sacrifices. They persevere and they do not grow discouraged.

6. They stay together, rejoice and encourage each other.

7. Their hearts are one, always intent on the same goal.

8. They give themselves completely to the Child, bringing their finest treasures.

9. They are the perfect examples of beginners in search for Christ.

10. They return home by a different route to safeguard the Child.

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

1. Show me your star, O Lord, I will make any sacrifice to follow it.

2. Teach me to believe and to set out in faith.

3. I will trust even though I do not know what lies ahead.

4. Give me companions for my journey. Let us be of one heart, and have you as our goal.

5. O Lord, I hold back nothing. I give you all of my treasures.

6. I will change my life and take a different path to safeguard my life with you.

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

1. Today, I will be attentive how God calls me.

2. I will be as a child, believing that God will show me his way.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation) They rejoiced to see the star again.

THE EARLY DISCIPLES (JN 1:35-42)

Prayer: Jesus, I will be your disciple and follow you everywhere.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus with his three new disciples.)

Context:

John’s gospel gives some details about the call of the first apostles. Andrew, and another, were originally disciples of John the Baptist, who told them about Jesus. Andrew brings Simon to Jesus who immediately calls him Peter.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

The next day, John was with two of his disciples, when he saw Jesus walking by. He said to these disciples, “Look, there is the Lamb of God.” When they heard what he said, the two disciples followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following him, he said, “What are you looking for?” They said “Rabbi (Teacher) where are you staying?” He said, “Come and see.” So, they went and stayed with him. It was four in the afternoon.

One of the two who followed Jesus was Andrew, brother of Simon Peter. The first thing he did was to find Simon and say, “We have found the Messiah” (meaning the “Anointed One”). He brought him to Jesus. When Jesus saw him, he said, “You are Simon, son of John, your name shall be Cephas (meaning “Peter’).

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

1. The Baptist wants these special disciples to find the Messiah.

2. He is completely unselfish. He wants them to leave and follow Jesus.

3. They act immediately. They take the initiative. They also want to find the Messiah.

4. Andrew prizes this new relationship and wants his brother, Simon, to be included.

5. Simon also responds and comes to Jesus.

6. Jesus gives him a new name, Peter, foreshadowing his role as the rock foundation of the Church.

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

1. Jesus, you are the Lamb of God and I want to follow you.

2. Invite me to come.

3. I will come and stay with you and be your disciple.

4. I love being your disciple. I will tell others to come to you.

5. You will accept them, also. All of us will enjoy this great privilege.

6. You have a task for me (but that will come later). For now, remaining with you is all you ask.

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

1. I will take every opportunity to seek and find Jesus.

2. After finding him, I will tell others.

Thought: (Recall this text during the day) Rabbi, where do you abide? “Come and see.”

FAILING TO RECOGNIZE JESUS (JN 1:29-34)

Prayer: – O Jesus, come to me. When you come, help me to recognize you.

Imagination: (Picture John at the Jordan River, seeing Jesus among the crowd.)

Context:

John never describes Jesus getting baptized. Instead, the Baptist recognizes Jesus and introduces him to the world as the Lamb of God. Twice, The Baptist admits that he did not recognize Jesus, even though that was his divine call.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

The next day, John saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold the Lamb of God. Behold him who takes away the sin of the world. About him, I have said, ‘after me comes someone who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ I did not recognize him, even though the very reason I was baptizing with water was to reveal him to Israel.”

John also gave this testimony, “I saw the Spirit descend as a dove from heaven and it came to rest upon him. I did not recognize him even though the one who sent me to baptize with water had said to me, “On whomever you see the Spirit descend and remain upon, he is the one who will baptize in the Holy Spirit.”

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

1. God had prepared John well for his task. He knew what he was supposed to do.

2. Although Jesus had spent some time with John, he never realized that Jesus was the Lamb of God.

3. Suddenly, he receives a divine revelation. Supernatural wisdom helps him to realize Jesus’ identity.

4. John fulfills his task. He tells the world that Jesus is the Lamb of God, who will take away the sins of the world.

5. Jesus accomplishes that by sending his Holy Spirit after his Ascension.

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

1. Jesus, prepare me for my task in your Kingdom.

2. How often you are close to me and I do not realize that you are near.

3. Reveal yourself, Jesus and I will rejoice.

4. Take away my sins. Cleanse me forever. Baptize me afresh in the Holy Spirit.

5. Pour out your Holy Spirit. My heart awaits your divine fire.

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

1. I will prepare for whatever task God has for me.

2. Today, I will ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten me.

Thought: (Recall this text during the day) I saw the Spirit coming down upon Him.

THE BAPTIST’S FULL IDENTITY (JN 1:19-28)

Prayer: O Jesus, help me to find my identity in you.

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

Context:

The gospel of John focuses on Jesus’ identity. This gospel clarifies the Baptist’s identity so he is not confused with the messiah. John also distinguishes their two Baptisms.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

The priests and Levites were sent from Jerusalem to ask John, “Who are you?” He said, “I am not the Christ.” They continued. “Are you Elijah?” He answered “I am not”. “Are you the prophet?” “I am not”, he said. “Who are you, then?” He answered, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord.’”

Some Pharisees asked him, “If you are not the Christ, Elijah, or the prophet, then why do you baptize?” John answered, “I baptize with water, but one comes after me, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize with the Holy Spirit.”

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

1. The Jerusalem leaders are concerned because large crowds follow John.

2. John clarifies all their perceptions. He is not the Christ, Elijah or a prophet.

3. John gladly disclaims these titles, when he would easily have been believed.

4. John’s identity comes from Jesus. He is a voice preparing everyone for the Word of God.

5. John understands that his power is less than Jesus. Only Jesus can baptize in the Holy Spirit.

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

1. Who am I, O Lord? Why have you created me? What is my role in the Kingdom?

2. You have written my identity on my soul. Reveal it to me!

3. O Jesus, in you, I discover who I am.

4. I seek only to be the least in your Kingdom.

5. I will be a voice proclaiming you as the Word of God.

6. Fill me, O Lord, with the powers of your Holy Spirit.

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

1. I will seek to know God’s place for me in his Kingdom.

2. I will serve Jesus Christ, whose sandals I am unworthy to loosen.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation) I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness.

SOLEMNITY OF MARY THE SHEPHERDS’ RESPONSE (LK 2:16-21)

Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit. Give me the shepherds’ faith.

Imagination: (Picture the shepherds adoring Jesus with Mary and Joseph).

Context:

The gospel stories are filled with people. Some respond to Jesus and others do not. Those who respond are always blessed. Here, the shepherds glorify God for all they saw and heard.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

After the angels departed into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this word that has come to pass.”

They went with haste and found Mary and Joseph together with the infant who was lying in the manger. When they saw, they understood what had been spoken to them about this child. All who heard, wondered at these things which the shepherds told them. Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart.

The shepherds returned, glorifying God for all the things that they had heard and seen, just as it was told them. When the eighth day arrived for his circumcision, the name Jesus was given the child, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.

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

1. Seeing the angels deeply affects the shepherds.

2. They encourage one another. They grow bold and do not fear the journey to Bethlehem.

3. They waste no time. Like Mary visiting Elizabeth, they go in haste.

4. When they see the child, they fully understand the angel’s words.

5. They are excellent witnesses, recounting to Mary and Joseph exactly what had happened.

6. Mary meditates on these events, cherishing God’s words and pondering their meaning.

7. Afterwards, the shepherds proclaim their experiences and glorify God who sent his angels.

8. Mary obeys Gabriel’s command and names her son, Jesus, the name that brings salvation to all.

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

1. O Lord, fill me with religious experiences.

2. I will respond to your heavenly words and go in haste.

3. O Mary, give me your inner stillness.

4. Share with me your gift of pondering God’s word.

5. O Jesus, I will tell everyone of your wonders and your name will always be on my lips and in my heart.

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

1. I will keep watch like the shepherds, ready to experience God’s manifestation.

2. When God tells me where to find Jesus, I will go in haste.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation) Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart.

TUESDAY WITHIN OCTAVE OF CHRISTMAS – DECEMBER 31, 2019 THE WORD BECAME FLESH (JN 1:1-18)

Prayer: O Jesus, thank you for leaving the Father’s side and becoming a man.

Imagination: (Imagine Mary telling the angel, Gabriel, that she would be God’s mother.)

Context:
Mark begins his gospel with John the Baptist. Matthew and Luke begin their gospels with infancy stories. John begins his gospel in heaven. Quickly, the gospel enters into human history, as “The Word became flesh and dwelled among us.” The text is used today because tomorrow will be a new beginning.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)
In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God and all things were made by him, and without him, nothing was made. In him was life and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it.
The real light which gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world and the world was made by him but the world did not know him. He came into his own and his own received him not. But as many as received him, he gave them power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name. These are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.And the Word was made flesh and dwelled among us. And we saw his glory, the glory of the only begotten Son, coming from the Father, filled with enduring love.

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder those that attract you.)
1. Jesus is the Word, perfectly conceived in the mind of the Father.
2. He is God, equal to the Father.
3. Through him and in him, the whole world was created.
4. Yet, when he came into the world, people did not recognize him.
5. Even his Jewish people did not understand that he was sent by the Father.
6. He was a light removing the darkness.
7. He filled all who believed with divine life, making them God’s children.
8. He became flesh. He lived among us. People could see his glory. That is the mystery of Christmas.

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)
1. Jesus, you are eternal. You come from the Father.
2. Jesus, you created everything. You own the whole world. You own me. I am yours.
3. Jesus, I recognize you. I know who you are.
4. Come into my life. I welcome you.
5. You are life, full life, abundant life, God’s life.
6. Make me a child of God, so I will live forever in perfect happiness.
7. You have become flesh. People have seen you and recorded your words.
8. Thank you for being born among us.

Resolution: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)
1. In this Christmas season, I will reflect on this greatest mystery – the Word became flesh.
2. More than anything else, I will cherish being a child of God. This is Jesus’ gift.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation)
The Word became flesh and we have seen his glory.

MONDAY WITHIN OCTAVE OF CHRISTMAS – DECEMBER 30, 2019 THE WOMAN PROPHETESS (LK 2:36-40)

Prayer: O Lord, teach me to fast, to pray and to listen to your word.

Imagination: (Picture Joseph and Mary holding the Christ Child in the presence of Simeon and Anna.)

Context:
Luke likes to portray both men and women ministering. So, he added Anna, a prophetess, to Simeon’s story. She is a widow who serves in the temple by prayer and fasting. In this text, she says no specific words. She believes in Jesus and alerts all to his saving power for Jerusalem (which symbolizes all the elect).

Gospel text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)
There was a prophetess named Anna, the daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Asher. She was far advanced in years, having lived with her husband for seven years and then, as a widow until she was 84. She never left the temple but served night and day by prayer and fasting. Now, at this same moment, she came on the scene. She gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.
After the couple had performed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their city, Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom and God’s favor was upon him.

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder those that attract you.)
1. God has everything planned. At just the right moment, Anna comes on the scene.
2. She is the perfect person. Everyone knows her because she is always in the temple, praying, fasting and serving needs.
3. She understands immediately and believes that Jesus is the Messiah.
4. She becomes an evangelist, telling everyone in the temple that she had seen the Messiah who would deliver Jerusalem.
5. The family’s responsibilities are complete. They return ninety miles to Nazareth in Galilee.
6. The years in Nazareth are so important. The child Jesus will experience all the natural phases of human maturing.

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)
1. O God, all is planned for your glory and our happiness.
2. Each of us is the perfect person, exactly the one needed to spread your word in our culture.
3. O Jesus I must prepare for my task in your Kingdom.
4. Help me to fast and pray. Give me a spirit of service.
5. O Jesus, you are the Deliverer. You will free me and bring redemption to our land.
6. Teach me your plan. Where am I to go? Where am I to settle?
7. Help me to mature – to grow in wisdom and favor. This is my deepest request.

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)
1. I will believe that God has a task for me to do.
2. Every day, I will pray and sacrifice so I can be ready.

Thought for today: (To recall your meditation)
At this very moment, she came on the scene.

SUNDAY – DECEMBER 29, 2019 FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY – HEROD’S MASSACRE (MT 2:13-23)

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

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

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

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)
After the Magi departed, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in sleep saying, “Arise and take the child and his mother and go to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you. Because it will happen that Herod will seek to destroy the child.”
He arose and took the child and his mother and went to Egypt until the death of Herod. Thus the word the Lord spoke to the prophet might be fulfilled, “Out of Egypt, I have called my Son”.
When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the Magi, he was exceedingly angry. He ordered that all the boys in Bethlehem and the surrounding regions who were two years old or less be killed. This was according to the time which he had learned from the Magi. What was said through the prophet Jeremiah was thus fulfilled, “A voice was heard in Rama, sobbing and loud lamentation. Rachel bewailing her children. There was no comfort for her because they were no more.” (Jer 31:15)

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

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

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)
1. I will be sensitive this day to God’s promptings.
2. I will not endanger my body or my soul, my human life or my eternal life.

Thought for the today: (To recall your meditation)
Herod will seek to destroy the child.

(THE HOLY INNOCENTS) – SATURDAY – DECEMBER 28, 2019 HEROD’S MASSACRE (MT 2:13-18)

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

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

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

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)
After the Magi departed, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in sleep saying, “Arise and take the child and his mother and go to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you. Because it will happen that Herod will seek to destroy the child.”
He arose and took the child and his mother and went to Egypt until the death of Herod. Thus the word the Lord spoke to the prophet might be fulfilled, “Out of Egypt, I have called my Son”.
When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the Magi, he was exceedingly angry. He ordered that all the boys in Bethlehem and the surrounding regions who were two years old or less be killed. This was according to the time which he had learned from the Magi. What was said through the prophet Jeremiah was thus fulfilled, “A voice was heard in Rama, sobbing and loud lamentation. Rachel bewailing her children. There was no comfort for her because they were no more.” (Jer 31:15)

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

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

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)
1. I will be sensitive this day to God’s promptings.
2. I will not endanger my body or my soul, my human life or my eternal life.

Thought for the today: (To recall your meditation)
Herod will seek to destroy the child.