(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.

(ST. JOHN THE EVANGELIST) – FRIDAY – DECEMBER 27, 2019 THE DISCIPLES AT THE TOMB (JN 20:1-8)

Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit. Give me the faith to seek the risen Christ.

Imagination: (Picture the disciples at the empty tomb.)

Context:
Before the gospel writers describe the Easter visions, they speak of the empty tomb and of the disciples’ reactions. In this text, Magdalene, Peter and the Beloved Disciple all have different responses. Peter sees but the Beloved Disciple believes.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)
When it was still dark on the first day of the week, Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been taken away. She ran to Peter and to the disciple whom Jesus loved and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord from the tomb and we do not know where they have placed him.”
Then, Peter and the other disciple went out to the tomb. They both ran together but the other disciple outran Peter and came first to the tomb. When he bent down, he saw the linen cloth lying there, but he did not go in. When Peter arrived, he went into the tomb and saw the linen clothes. The cloth that had been around his head was not lying with the linen clothes, but was wrapped together in another place.
Then, the other disciple, who came first to the tomb, went in. He saw and believed. As yet they did not understand the scripture that he must rise from the dead. The disciples left and went home.

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder those that attract you.)
7. The Beloved Disciple himself wrote this account. All of the many details (the various linens, where they were placed, and who arrived first), are his first hand memories.
8. These three disciples respond. Magdalen comes while it is “still dark”. Peter and the beloved disciple run to the tomb.
9. Although experiencing the empty tomb, the disciples still do not know that Jesus is risen.
10. Magdalen thinks someone stole the body. Peter seems totally confused. The Beloved Disciples believes, but does not understand the full story.
11. This is God’s first stirring in their hearts. At least, they are searching (even running).
12. The two disciples return home but they are prepared for the visions.

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)
7. O Lord, thank you for these eyewitnesses.
8. O Jesus, my faith in your resurrection is based on their testimony.
9. All this evidence helps my faith. The stone is rolled away. Your body is not there. The linens are in various places.
10. I will run. I will hurry quickly. I must find you.
11. Help me to believe.
12. O Jesus, I don’t want a world that is empty of your presence.

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)
3. I will renew my faith in the risen Jesus.
4. I will study the scriptures.

Thought for Today: (To recall your meditation)
The Beloved Disciple saw and believed.

THURSDAY – DECEMBER 26, 2019 (St. Stephen, Martyr) PERSECUTIONS (MT 10:17-22)

Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit, Strengthen me in moments of trial.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus preparing His disciples for persecution.)

Context:
Jesus has just commissioned his apostles and sent them out to preach. He warns them of difficulties. Matthew’s Church also sent out missionaries who faced the same persecutions, both from Jews and Romans.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)
Beware of men. They will hand you over to courts, and they will scourge you in the synagogues. You will be led before governors and kings for my sake, so you can give testimony to them and the pagans. When they hand you over, do not think about what you will say. The Spirit of your Father will speak within you.
Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child. You shall be hated by all because of my name, but whoever perseveres to the end, shall be saved. The disciple is not above his master. If they have called me Beelzebub, what will they call you?

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder the ones that attract you.)
1. Because the disciples preach Jesus, many will oppose them.
2. Jesus tries to prepare them for what they will face.
3. Even this opposition has a purpose. The disciples will have an audience to whom they can preach.
4. The Spirit will give them the words that touch hearts.
5. They must rejoice. If they persecuted the Master, they will certainly persecute the disciples.

Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)
1. Jesus, prepare me for the opposition I will meet in my devout life.
2. Send me your Spirit so my opponents can be won over.
3. Teach me the costs of discipleship. I will pay any price.
4. When the opposition continues, let me stand firm.
5. What more could I ask for? You invite me to suffer persecution with you.
6. I will persevere and enjoy eternal glory.

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)
1. I will try to explain my conversion to all who question me.
2. I will ask the Spirit to guide my words.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)
The Spirit of your Father will speak within you.

WEEK TWO OF ADVENT – TUESDAY – DECEMBER 12, 2017 Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe MARY VISITS ELIZABETH (LK 1:39-47)

Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit. Fill me with your joy.

Imagination: (Picture Mary entering Zechariah’s house).

Context:
This story contains many truths. First, Jesus begins his sanctifying ministry. Second, John begins his ministry, pointing out Jesus to his mother. Third, this is an early picture of Pentecost. All are filled with the Holy Spirit.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)
Mary went quickly into the hill country of Judea, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and cried out in a loud voice: “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”
Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For the moment that your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you, for you have believed that the Lord’s words to you would be fulfilled.”

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder those that attract you.)
1. Jesus begins immediately to sanctify the world. Mary is his first missionary.
2. John the Baptist begins his ministry, pointing out the Christ to his mother.
3. Pentecost comes early. All are filled with the Holy Spirit.
4. Many years later, the apostles will gather with Mary and receive the Spirit at Pentecost.
5. By prophetic revelation, Elizabeth knows that Mary is the mother of God.
6. These two women hold all of history in their wombs.
7. Elizabeth has the Precursor and Mary has the Saviour.
Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)
1. O Jesus, you begin immediately to save the world.
2. O Mary, bring Jesus quickly to me.
3. Holy Spirit, fill me with joy.
4. Mary, invite me into your womb, the new garden of Eden, where Jesus has placed every treasure.
5. Mary, help me to believe God’s word.
6. O Mary, share with me the Spirit of Pentecost.

Resolutions: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)
1. Today, I will use Elizabeth’s words to praise Mary, “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”
2. I will ponder the mystery that God placed all human history in Mary’s womb.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)
Blessed are you who believed that the Lord’s words to you would be fulfilled.

WEEK THIRTY ONE – THURSDAY – NOVEMBER 9, 2017 Feast of the Lateran Basilica THE CLEANSING IN THE TEMPLE (JN 2:13-25)

Prayer: O Jesus, I will put no obstacles to your purifying action.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus with his whip confronting the temple leaders.

Context:
All four gospels speak of this cleansing (therefore, it is an important event). John places it at the very beginning of Jesus’ public ministry and adds the important teaching that Jesus’ body is a temple which will be destroyed and rebuilt in three days.

Gospel text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud).
Since the Jewish Passover was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple, he found those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, together with the money-changers. He made a whip and drove out the sheep and the oxen. He overturned the tables of the money-changers.
He told those selling doves, “Take these away and do not make my Father’s house into a marketplace.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house consumes me.”
The Jews asked him, “What sign can you show us that authorizes you to do these things? Jesus answered, “Destroy this temple and in three days, I will raise it up”. The Jews said, “This temple took forty years to build, and you will raise it up in three days. “ Actually, he was talking about his body. When he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered his words. They came to believe the scripture and the word that he spoke.

Thoughts: (Read all. Ponder those that attract you.)
1. Jesus’ heart is sensitive to evil.
2. Seeing the buying and selling fills him with anger.
3. Because of these deep feelings, he takes immediate action.
4. He thinks only of his heavenly Father, giving no notice to how others might feel.
5. Overturning the tables and scattering the money symbolizes God destroying evildoers.
6. When Jesus is challenged, he prophecies his own resurrection. This supplies all the authority he needs.
7. These words mean so much to the disciples. By the Resurrection, they believe that Jesus is the Son of God.
Affections: (When one touches your heart, use your own words.)
1. O Jesus, give me a sensitive heart.
2. Heavenly Father, awaken me to your desires.
3. Jesus, destroy all evil in the temple of my heart.
4. Make me a holy, purified temple.
5. Jesus, your rising from the dead gives you all authority.
6. You are Lord. You are Saviour. You are the only-begotten Son of God.

Resolution: (Possibly you might want to make your own.)
1. I will allow Jesus to cast out all evil – in my thoughts, words and deeds.
2. I will proclaim the risen Jesus as Lord of my life.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation)
Destroy this temple and in three days, I will raise it up.

APRIL 30, 2016 – FIFTH WEEK OF EASTER – SATURDAY – THE WORLD’S HATRED

(John 15:18-21)

Prayer: O Jesus, help me to be a servant who is just like his master.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus with his apostles at the Last Supper)

Context: Jesus begins a long teaching about how this unity between the disciples and himself will arouse the world’s hatred. The world has hated Jesus and will hate his chosen disciples. In this text, Jesus makes a very sharp distinction between his disciples and the world.

Gospel Text (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Jesus said, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before you. If you had been of the world, the world would love its own. You are not of the world but I have chosen you out of the world. Therefore, the world hates you.

Remember my word. The servant is not greater than his master. If they have persecuted me, they will persecute you also. Yet, all these things they will do to you for my name’s sake, because they did not know him who sent me.”

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

  1. When they preach the gospel, the disciples will be hated by the world.
  2. The world will persecute them because they do not belong to the world any longer.
  3. Being aligned with Jesus, the disciples are unacceptable to the world.
  4. How blessed are the disciples. Jesus has chosen them out of the world.
  5. Persecution is such a small price to pay to be Jesus’ disciple.
  6. The world is consistent in its hatred. Having persecuted Jesus, it will persecute his disciples.
  7. All this hatred happens because the world does not know the Father Who sent Jesus. 

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

  1. O Jesus, if I love you, the world will not love me. What a small price!
  2. What more could I ask? A servant wants to be treated like the Master.
  3. You have chosen me, and taken me away from the world.
  4. I have said my “Goodbyes.” I have parted company. I am with you forever.
  5. Being persecuted for your name is greater than any worldly honor.
  6. Jesus, the one who sent you is now my Father. You have made me his child.

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

  1. Today, I will rejoice to think, “Jesus has chosen me out of the world.”
  2. If people do not understand me, I will think of how the world misunderstood Jesus.

Thought for the Day (To recall your meditation)

If you were of the world, the world would love its own.

APRIL 23, 2016 – FOURTH WEEK OF EASTER – SATURDAY – PART ONE – SEEING THE FATHER

(John 14:7-10)

Prayer: O Jesus, I will know you so I can know the Father.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus teaching at the Last Supper

Context: In this text, Jesus describes two different periods of time, before the resurrection (when the disciples do not really know Jesus) and after the resurrection (when they did know him).

Philip’s question allows Jesus to expand upon what he has said.

Gospel Text (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Jesus said, “If you had known me, then you would also have known my Father. From now on, you do know him and you have seen him. Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”

Jesus said, “Have I been with you so long a time and still you do not know me? Philip, he who sees me, sees the Father also. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me?”

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

  1. Jesus expands his glory to the disciples. They will know Jesus and see the Father.
  2. Philip grows excited and blurts out the unthinkable request, “Show us the Father” (whom none have ever seen.)
  3. Jesus is disappointed. Philip has not yet understood.
  4. Philip already experiences the Father by seeing Jesus.
  5. This extraordinary blessing comes through Mary who gave Jesus his body.
  6. Philip must do just one thing – believe that Jesus is in the Father and the Father is in Jesus.

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

  1. O Jesus, I know you. You are the Father’s only son.
  2. When I speak to you, I speak also to the Father.
  3. When I see you, Jesus, I see the Father. When I am close to you, Jesus, I am close to the Father.
  4. O Jesus, you and the Father cannot be separated. You are bound together by the Holy Spirit of love.
  5. O Jesus, how long will I be with you and still not understand? You and the Father are one.

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

  1. I will spend this day in Jesus’ presence.
  2. I will thank the Father for sending Jesus.

Thought for the Day (To recall your meditation)

Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me.

JANUARY 4, 2016 – MONDAY AFTER THE EPIPHANY – MESSENGERS FROM JOHN

(Matthew 11:2-6)

Prayer: O Jesus, let me always believe in You.

Imagination: (Picture John’s disciples questioning Jesus.)

Context:

John, in prison, heard about the works Christ performed and sent two disciples to Jesus to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or do we look for another?”

Jesus said, “Go back and tell John what you have heard and seen. The blind see. The lame walk. The lepers are cured. The deaf hear. The dead rise. The poor have the gospel preached to them. Blessed is that person who finds no stumbling block in me.”

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

John’s disciples came to him and told him all that was happening in Jesus’ ministry. John sent two of them to Jesus. When they arrived, they asked him, “Are you the one who is to come, or do we look for another?” At that very hour, Jesus was curing many people of their diseases, sufferings and evil spirits. He also gave sight to many who were blind.

Jesus said, “Go and tell John what you have heard and seen. The blind see. The lame walk. The lepers are made clean. The deaf hear. The dead rise. The poor have the gospel preached to them. Blessed is that person who is not scandalized about my ministry.”

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

  1. John sits in prison, his life’s work almost completed.
  2. He is filled with doubts. Was he correct in pointing out Jesus as the Messiah?
  3. He has an important question. Are you the Messiah? Are you the one who is to come?
  4. Jesus presents all the evidence. He heals the blind, the lame and the lepers.   Even the dead rise and testify to Jesus.
  5. The gospel does not record the effect of these words upon John or his disciples.
  6. Matthew recorded this story for us.
  7. God will always do things God’s way. Do not be scandalized by God’s plan.

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

  1. Jesus, in my doubts, I will come to you.
  2. O Jesus, You present all the evidence. I know you are the Messiah.
  3. You heal. You cure. You raise from the dead.
  4. I will be still. I will watch for you. When you finish your work in me, I will understand what you are doing.
  5. Do your work in me. I will await your touch.
  6. You are not a stumbling block. You are the way.

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

  1. I will ponder the evidence in the gospels.
  2. I will believe in Jesus, no matter what happens.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Go and tell John all that you have seen and heard.

DECEMBER 7, 2015 – WEEK TWO OF ADVENT – MONDAY – FORGIVING SINS

(Luke 5:17-26)

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

Imagination- (Picture Jesus healing the paralyzed man.)

Context:

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

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

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

OCTOBER 10, 2015 – WEEK TWENTY SEVEN – SATURDAY – THE GREATER BLESSING

(Luke 11:27-28)

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

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

 Context

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

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

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