MAY 28, 2016 – WEEK EIGHT – SATURDAY – WHAT ABOUT JOHN’S BAPTISM?

(Matthew 21:23-27)

Prayer: O Jesus, you have all authority in heaven and earth.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus teaching in the temple, confronted by the authorities.)

Context:

The day before this event, Jesus had cleansed the temple. As he returns to Jerusalem, the temple authorities want to know by what authority he took that action. He avoids a question about his authority by confronting the leaders about John the Baptist’s authority.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

When Jesus came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders asked, “By what authority do you do these things? Who has given you the authority?

Jesus responded, “I have a question. If you answer it, I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Where did the Baptism of John come from? Did it come from man or from heaven?

They thought within, “If we say from heaven, he will ask ‘Then, why did you not believe?’ But if we say, ‘From men’, we are afraid of the crowds because all believed that John was a prophet.” So they said to Jesus, “We do not know”. Jesus said to them, “Then, neither do I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

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

  1. The temple leaders should have been the most receptive toward Jesus’ ministry.
  2. In fact, their hardness of hearts and resistance was the greatest.
  3. The temple needed a cleansing and the leaders resented Jesus’ purifying action.
  4. So, they attack the messenger, and try to discredit his message.
  5. However, they had already made one mistake. The people accepted John the Baptist and they rejected him.
  6. Jesus’ question burns their hearts. They know they were wrong and have no answer.
  7. If they were mistaken about John, there is no need to reply to their question. They are discredited.

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

  1. O Jesus, make my heart receptive to your word.
  2. Cleanse my temple, Lord. I will not object at all.
  3. O Jesus, you have all authority. Your every word is eternal life.
  4. O Lord, forgive my past mistakes and lead me on your path.
  5. Burn my heart with the fire of your love.
  6. I am making no mistake. You are Messiah and Lord.

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

  1. I will give Jesus total authority over my life.
  2. I will admit my past mistakes so I do not repeat them.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

By what authority do you do these things?

MAY 27, 2016 – WEEK EIGHT – FRIDAY – THE FIG TREE

(Mark 11:11 – 26)

Prayer: O Jesus, let me offer you the good fruit of my life.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus and the disciples looking at a withered fig tree.)

Context:

On the day after Palm Sunday, Jesus returns to Jerusalem. On the way, he seeks figs from a tree. Finding none, Jesus proclaims that the tree will never bring forth fruit. The next day. Peter sees the fig tree all withered up. Jesus, then, speaks about confidence in prayer.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

When Jesus was returning to Jerusalem, he felt hungry. Seeing a fig tree with leaves, he went to see what he could find. He found only leaves because it was not yet the season for figs. Jesus said, “Never again shall anyone eat of your fruit.” The disciples heard all this. The next day, they saw the fig tree all withered up. Peter remembered Jesus’ words and said, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree which you cursed has withered up”.

Jesus replied, “Put your trust in God. I solemnly assure you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea’ and has no inner doubts but believes that what he says will happen, shall have it done for him. If you are ready to believe that you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer, it shall be done for you.”

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

  1. The fig tree is an example. Disciples should always be bearing fruit.
  2. The quickness of the action startles the apostles. It makes them ready for Jesus’ powerful teaching.
  3. If the disciple trusts in God, and believes without any doubt, then even a mountain (far greater than a fig tree), will be thrown into the sea.
  4. Mountains symbolize those gigantic obstacles that impede God’s goals and should be removed.
  5. Jesus says, “Believe that you will receive.”
  6. See what you need to serve Jesus and ask for it.

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

  1. Jesus, make me a disciple who always bears good fruit.
  2. O Jesus, teach me to believe like you, without any doubt.
  3. If I but ask, I will see your blessings. They are waiting for my petition.
  4. How many mountains in my life need to be cast into the sea!
  5. “Trust in God.” That is what you always say to me.
  6. You encourage me. You say “ask in prayer”. You even give me the words to say.

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

  1. Today, I will ask God in faith to remove the greatest mountain in my life.
  2. I will trust that the words I say in prayer share in Jesus’ power.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation)

Put your trust in God. If you are ready to believe, whatever you ask for in prayer, will be done.

MAY 26, 2016 – WEEK EIGHT – THURSDAY – THE BLIND BEGGAR

(Mark 10:46-52)

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

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

Context:

This journey to Jerusalem began with Jesus healing a blind man and culminates with this healing of blindness. In contrast, the disciples grow in their 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 was leaving Jericho with his disciples, a blind man, Bartimaeus (son of Timaeus) was sitting by the wayside, begging. 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 commanded that he be brought near. The crowd said, “Take comfort. Arise. He is calling you.” He threw off his cloak, leaped up and came to Jesus. “What do you want me to do for you?” asked Jesus. “Rabboni, that I may see” said the blind man. Jesus said, “Go your way, your faith has saved you.” He saw immediately and followed Jesus on the way.

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. He grasps quickly that Jesus is his only ray of hope.
  3. When Jesus hears his cries, the crowd changes its opinion.       His crying out was the right thing to do.
  4. With his sight restored, he sees the face of Jesus and can follow him “up the road” to Jerusalem.
  5. What a day for Bartimaeus! A marginal, begging blind man becomes a disciple who follows Jesus.

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

  1. Lord, you will come near to me this day.
  2. O Holy Spirit, whisper within my soul, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”
  3. With great hope, I will cry out to you, O Lord.
  4. You will hear me, and call me to your side.
  5. You will ask, “What is it that I can do for you?”
  6. Do everything for me, Lord! Bless me and I will “follow you on the way.”

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

  1. I will be attentive today to the Spirit speaking in my heart.
  2. I will have great hope that Jesus will hear my every cry.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation)

He saw immediately and followed Jesus on the way.

MAY 25, 2016 – WEEK EIGHT – WEDNESDAY – AMBITIOUS JAMES AND JOHN

(Mark 10:35-40)

Prayer – Come, Holy Spirit. Reveal the glory you have prepared.

Imagination – (Picture James and John seeking favors from Jesus.)

Context:

Jesus has just told the apostles about his future sufferings. James and John, however, are only interested in their own glory. Jesus talks about the “cup”, which means both the cup of his suffering and the Eucharistic cup celebrated in Mark’s church. Before gaining any glory, Jesus must drink this cup of suffering.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus. “Master, we want you to do whatever we ask.” Jesus responded, “What do you want me to do for you?”

“Grant that we may sit, one at your right hand and the other at your left hand in glory”. Jesus replied, “You do not know what you are seeking. Can you drink of the chalice that I will drink of or be baptized with the baptism with which I will be baptized?

They said, “We can.” Jesus said, “You shall indeed drink of the chalice that I drink of, and be baptized with my baptism. However, to sit at my right hand or at my left hand, is not mine to give you. It is for those for whom it is prepared.”

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

  1. These apostles have no idea of the costs of the Kingdom’s glory.
  2. Jesus tells them clearly. They are seeking what they do not understand.
  3. Even with this warning, they glibly say that they can drink the chalice.
  4. Jesus sees the future. They will run away from the chalice.
  5. After many failures, they will be martyred. However, the highest glory is reserved for others.
  6. Such is the Kingdom! God has already prepared each one’s place. His decisions are beyond our comprehension.

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

  1. O Jesus, enlighten me about your Kingdom.
  2. Teach me the cost of this glory.
  3. Pull me into the mystery of your will.
  4. Help me to drink your chalice. What a privilege to be baptized with your baptism of suffering!
  5. What a great mystery! You have already prepared my place in glory.
  6. O Jesus, You desire only to share your glory with me.

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

  1. I will find time for mental prayer so God can reveal the Kingdom to me.
  2. I will cherish God’s will, both on earth and in heavenly glory.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

The Father has already decided my place in heavenly glory.

MAY 24, 2016 – WEEK EIGHT – TUESDAY – RECEIVING THE HUNDRED-FOLD

(Mark 10:28-31)

Prayer – O Jesus, teach me to set aside everything for love of you.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus instructing his apostles.)

Context:

A young man has walked away from Jesus because he was rich. In contrast, Peter is a model disciple who has set all aside. Jesus spells out the rewards, in this life and in eternity.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

Peter said to Jesus, “Behold, we have left all things to follow you.” Jesus responded, “Amen I say to you, that there is no one who has left brothers or sisters, or fathers or mothers or children or lands for my sake and the gospel who will not receive in this age a hundred times as many homes, brothers and sisters, mothers, children and property – and persecution besides – and in the age to come, everlasting life.

Many who are first shall be last and the last shall come first.

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

  1. Peter says that he and the other apostles have left everything behind.
  2. Jesus accepts Peter’s claim as true and spells out the great rewards.
  3. The early Christians were already experiencing this hundredfold. The people who had joined the Church shared all their possessions.
  4. By sharing their properties, people really had access to a hundred homes.
  5. Mark slips in a warning. The disciples will be persecuted (which they already were experiencing).
  6. The greatest rewards will be “in the age to come”, everlasting life with Jesus, and a sharing in his resurrection.

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

  1. O Jesus, teach me how to leave everything behind and follow you.
  2. O Jesus, how great are your rewards, even in this life.
  3. You give peace of soul and freedom from sins.
  4. You give me others as my brothers and sisters. This is the great blessing of devout communities.
  5. Teach me to be a brother and sister to others by sharing my life and my goods.
  6. O Jesus, persecutions will come. Be with me in my trials.
  7. What will my life be “in the age to come?” What is everlasting life? What is it like to live with you forever? Don’t let me miss out.

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

  1. I will make a sincere effort to detach myself today from some material goods.
  2. I will think about Jesus’ promises. He always keeps his word.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

And in the age to come, everlasting life.

MAY 23, 2016 – WEEK EIGHT – MONDAY – THE RICH YOUNG MAN

(Mark 10:17 – 27)

Prayer – Come, Holy Spirit. Let me sacrifice everything to follow Jesus.

Imagination: (Picture the young man asking Jesus about eternal life.)

Context:

The gospel begins “As Jesus set out”. This sets the scene. Jesus is on a journey and the young man will be invited to come along. The man’s “kneeling down” shows great piety. His question is excellent. He wants what Jesus offers, eternal life. Jesus loves him and invites him “to follow”. Worldly possessions are his obstacle. With so many possessions, he could not travel with Jesus.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

A certain man ran up, knelt before Jesus and asked him, “Good Master, what shall I do to gain everlasting life?” Jesus answered, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” You know the commandments, “Do not commit adultery. Do not kill. Do not steal. Do not bear false witness. Do not defraud. Honor your father and your mother.” He answered, “Master, I have observed all these things since my youth.”

Jesus, looking on him, loved him and said, “One thing is lacking to you. Go, sell whatever you have and give to the poor and you shall have treasure in heaven. Then, come follow me.” Upon hearing this, the man grew sad and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

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

  1. The story begins with great hope. The man asks a fervent question, recounts a history of good moral behavior and seeks eternal life.
  2. Knowing all this is true, Jesus looks upon him with love.
  3. Jesus goes further and offers his greatest gift. He invites the man to follow.
  4. Jesus even motivates the man. There will be treasure for him in heaven.
  5. Instead of following Jesus, he turns back. His possessions are walls he cannot escape from.
  6. We will all meet him at the Last Judgment and discover the end of his story.

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

  1. Jesus, I have kept the commandments, what more must I do to gain eternal life?
  2. You invite me to follow you. You stir within and lead me further.
  3. Jesus, you do not want me to fail. You want me close to yourself.
  4. O Jesus, what are my possessions compared to the treasures in heaven? Are they not a small price to purchase the Kingdom?
  5. Turning away from you is emptiness. Following you is fullness. I will leave everything to follow you.

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

  1. Today, I will ask Jesus, ‘Lord, what must I do to gain eternal life?”
  2. I will help the poor.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

Sell all and give to the poor. Your treasure in heaven will be great.

MAY 22, 2016 – TRINITY SUNDAY (C) – THE SPIRIT TEACHES

(John 16:12-15)

Prayer: O Jesus, thank you for the Holy Spirit who teaches me all truth.

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

Context:          Jesus describes the two goals which the Spirit will accomplish among the disciples (the Church). First, He will extend Jesus’ revelation, going beyond what Jesus was able to teach in his short lifetime. Second, the Spirit will explain those teachings which Jesus did say but were not comprehended by the disciples.

Gospel Text (Read slowly, possibly aloud).

Jesus said, “I have yet many things to say, but you cannot bear them now. When he, the Spirit of truth comes, he will teach you all truth. He will not speak on His own. He will speak what he hears and will show you the things that are to come.

He shall glorify me because he will receive what is mine and reveal it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine. That is why I say, He will receive what is mine and reveal it to you.”

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

  1. In this final hour, Jesus reveals some special truths. After his Resurrection, He will reveal even more.
  2. However, the full revelation will come only from the Holy Spirit who will explain the mystery of Jesus.
  3. The source of these mysteries is the eternal Father, who sends both the Son and the Spirit.
  4. The Spirit gathers up all these truths about the Father and Jesus, and reveals them.
  5. He reveals them to multiply Jesus’ glory within us.

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

  1. O Spirit, reveal these mysteries to me. Then, Jesus will capture my heart.
  2. You reveal “what is coming”, so I can know what to do with my life.
  3. Teach me “all truth”. Let me be a quick learner.
  4. Reveal Jesus to me. Reveal all of his glory, all of his power, all of his love.
  5. O Spirit, taught by you, I will glorify Jesus.
  6. O Trinity, Father, Son and Spirit, You are always at work on my behalf.

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

  1. I will have a special devotion to the Spirit of Jesus.
  2. Today, I will seek the Spirit’s help for all my decisions.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

When the Spirit comes, he will teach you all truth.