FEBRUARY 20, 2016 – WEEK ONE OF LENT – SATURDAY – LOVE YOUR ENEMIES

(Matthew 5:43-48)

Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit. Make me perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect.

Imagination   Picture Jesus asking the disciples to imitate the Father.

Context:

Jesus continually demands that his disciples show goodness towards enemies. They must act as children of a heavenly Father. At the end Jesus reveals his goal. He wants the disciples to be as perfect as the heavenly Father.

Gospel Text (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

You have heard it said, “You shall love your neighbor but hate your enemy.” I say to you “Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Pray for those who persecute you and insult you. In this way, you can be children of your heavenly Father. He makes the sun rise on the good and the bad. He makes the rain fall on the just and the unjust.

If you love those who love you, what reward shall you have? Do not even sinners do this? If you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not even the pagans do that? You must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

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

  1. Jesus calls you to the height of holiness.
  2. He asks you to love everyone and to exclude all hatred.
  3. He offers you the highest reward. You will be a child of the heavenly Father.
  4. Look at how God acts. He sends his sun and his rain on everyone, good or bad.
  5. Jesus wants you to act in the same way.

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

  1. Jesus, lead me to your heights of holiness.
  2. O Jesus, give me a new way to live.
  3. Let your love cast out all my hatred.
  4. Make me a child of the heavenly Father.
  5. I will shower my love and my forgiveness upon everyone.
  6. You call me to be perfect as the Father. I will begin right now.

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

  1. I will let everyone into my heart this day.
  2. I will remove my hatred and critical spirit.

Thought for the Day (To recall your meditation)

Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.

FEBRUARY 19, 2016 – WEEK ONE OF LENT – FRIDAY – ANGER

(Matthew 5:20-26)

Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit. Let your gentleness overcome my anger.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus teaching his disciples to reconcile.)

Context:

Jesus teaches a “greater goodness” which is demanded by the holiness of this new Kingdom. In this gospel, he compares the Old Testament teaching on anger and his new teaching. The disciples maintain unity by forgiving each other.

Gospel Text (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Jesus taught the disciples about anger, saying, “You have heard it said, ‘You shall not kill’ and ‘Whoever kills shall be liable to judgment’. But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother, shall be in danger of judgment. Whoever shall say to his brother, ‘Raqa’ shall be in danger of the council. Whoever shall say ‘You fool’ shall be in danger of hell fire.

If you come to the altar to offer your gift and remember that your brother has anything against you, leave your offering before the altar and go first to be reconciled to your brother. Then come and offer your gift.”

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

  1. Jesus invites his disciples to live at a new level of goodness.
  2. The law commanded external compliance. Jesus goes much deeper, into the disciples’ hearts.
  3. His disciples must remove their inner anger. Then, discord will cease.
  4. He forbids angry words, so that hatred gains no foothold.
  5. Even the temple sacrifices must be delayed until the disciples reconcile.

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

  1. Jesus, make me gentle.
  2. Save me, O Lord, from the violent waters of anger.
  3. On the cross, you spoke no angry word. You were silent as a lamb going to the slaughter.
  4. Release a river of peace, forgiveness and reconciliation within me.
  5. Reconcile me to all of my family and friends.
  6. O Jesus, I will drink deeply of your forgiveness.

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

  1. Today, I will forgive everyone who hurts me.
  2. I will reconcile with my enemies wherever possible.

Thought for the Day (To recall your meditation)

Leave your gift at the altar and go to be reconciled with your brother.

FEBRUARY 18, 2016 – WEEK ONE OF LENT – THURSDAY – CONFIDENCE IN PRAYER

(Matthew 7:7-12)

Prayer: O Jesus, teach me to ask and to seek and to knock.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus teaching His disciples to have confidence in prayer.)

Context:

God wants to bless you. First, he wants you to seek his blessings (so when you receive them you will thank God and grow in faith). Jesus uses three images (ask-receive; seek-find; knock-be opened) to assure you that God wants you to ask.

Gospel Text (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

Ask and it will be given you. Seek and you shall find. Knock and it shall be opened to you. Whoever asks, will receive. Whoever seeks, will find. To whomever knocks, it shall be opened.

What man among you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or, if he seeks fish, will give him a serpent? If you who are evil, give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give good things to those who ask?”

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

  1. To encourage you to ask, Jesus teaches that the Father always hears you.
  2. You need not compete for God’s prizes. He provides gifts for all his children.
  3. Everyone who seeks, will find something.
  4. This teaching seems too good to be true. So Jesus uses human examples.
  5. What earthly father would hand his child a stone or a serpent?
  6. Certainly, the heavenly Father will never withhold good things from you.

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

  1. You encourage me, Jesus. You urge me to ask.
  2. O God, all your gifts are mine. I just need to ask and seek.
  3. O heavenly Father, would you give me useless things, like a stone or a serpent?
  4. Father, you hear me as if I were your only child.
  5. O Father, You gave me Jesus. Will you withhold other blessings?
  6. O Father, lavish your good things upon me.

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

  1. I will fill this day with requests to my heavenly Father.
  2. I will think about the Father’s love for me.

Thought for the Day (To recall your meditation)

How much more will the heavenly Father give you good things.

FEBRUARY 17, 2016 – WEEK ONE OF LENT – WEDNESDAY – A GREATER THAN JONAH OR SOLOMON

(Luke 11:29-32)

Prayer – O Lord, I seek no sign or wonder. I seek only you.

Imagination – (Picture Jesus speaking to the crowds.)

Context:

Although Jesus’ enemies asked for a sign, Jesus addresses his teaching to the crowds. He cites two Old Testament examples of foreigners having a change of heart. When Jonah preached in Nineveh (a perennial enemy of Israel) the people repented. When the Queen of Ethiopia came to see Solomon, she was totally impressed with his wisdom.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

Jesus said to the crowd, “This is a wicked generation because it looks for a sign. No sign shall be given except the sign of Jonah, the prophet. As Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so shall the Son of Man be to this generation.

The Queen of the South shall rise in judgment upon the men of this generation and shall condemn them because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon. Behold, a greater than Solomon is here.

At the judgment, the citizens of Nineveh will rise along with this generation and shall condemn it. At the preaching of Jonah they did penance, but you have a greater than Jonah here.”

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

  1. People want signs to satisfy their intellect, when really they should be surrendering their heart.
  2. A sign does not get people to repent. It only satisfies curiosity.
  3. Jesus gives the whole world the greatest sign, his rising from the dead.
  4. The Queen believed just by hearing Solomon speak. What is Solomon compared with Jesus?
  5. The hated Ninevites repented when Jonah spoke. Who is Jonah compared to Jesus?
  6. Every person in history will come before Jesus in judgment.
  7. On that day, the Queen and the Ninevites will condemn those who did not repent.

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

  1. Jesus, give me no sign. Just give me yourself.
  2. You are risen from the dead and I will rise with you. Alleluia!
  3. Change my heart, Jesus. Turn me totally to Your way of life.
  4. They repented when Jonah preached. I will repent at your word.
  5. Send me your Holy Spirit of repentance. All can be changed.
  6. When I come to you after my death, let me be your friend.

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

  1. I will think today about the miracle of Jesus’ rising.
  2. I will ponder Jesus’ claim that he is greater than all other teachers.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

A greater than Jonah or Solomon is here.

FEBRUARY 16, 2016 – WEEK ONE OF LENT – TUESDAY – HOW TO PRAY

(Matthew 6:7-13)

Prayer: O Jesus, teach me to pray as you prayed.

Imagination (Picture Jesus teaching His disciples the Our Father.)

Context:

The Lord’s prayer has seven petitions. The first three – “hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come. Your will be done” are really the same, showing a desire for Jesus to return in glory. The last four petitions focus on what the disciple needs to gain the Kingdom.

Gospel Text (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

When you pray do not use many words, for the heavenly Father knows what you need before you ask. When you pray, say:

“Our Father, who are in heaven. Hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day, our daily bread. Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

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

  1. In the Our Father, Jesus explains what the disciple should desire.
  2. The Heavenly Father and His Kingdom must come first.
  3. In all things, the disciple must accomplish the Father’s will.
  4. The disciple must receive the daily bread of the Eucharist.
  5. The disciple’s sins must be forgiven to gain the Kingdom.
  6. The disciple must forgive all who have inflicted injuries.
  7. The disciple must persevere in all trials and temptations.
  8. The saints said this prayer slowly and devoutly.

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

  1. Jesus, show me what I should desire.
  2. Focus all my desires upon your Kingdom.
  3. O Father, I will live for your glory.
  4. Let your Kingdom break into my life.
  5. Jesus, reveal the Father’s will. I will do it always.
  6. Give me a hunger for daily Eucharist.
  7. I forgive everyone, Lord. Everyone.
  8. O Jesus, help me in my temptations and to persevere.

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

  1. I will make the Our Father my daily prayer.
  2. I will make Holy Communion my daily food.

Thought for the Day: (To recall your meditation)

When you pray, do not use many words.

FEBRUARY 15, 2016 – WEEK ONE OF LENT – MONDAY – THE LAST JUDGMENT

(Matthew 25:31-46)

Prayer: O Jesus, You are the King who is to come.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus with His disciples.)

Context:

Some people never heard Jesus’ gospel. In this parable, Jesus confronts the question of how they will be judged. Although they do not know Jesus (Lord, when did we see you?), they still can gain his Kingdom by serving him in the needy.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud.)

The King shall say to the just, “Come, blessed of my Father, possess the Kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world. For I was hungry, thirsty, lost, naked, sick and in prison and you helped me.” The just will answer, “Lord, when did we see you hungry, thirsty, lost, naked, sick and in prison?” “Amen, I say that as long as you did it to one of my least brothers, you did it to me.”

Then he will say to the unjust, “Depart from me, you accursed into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry, thirsty, lost, naked, sick and in prison and you did not help me.” They shall answer, “Lord, when did we see you hungry, thirsty, lost, naked, sick and in prison and did not help you?” He shall answer, saying, “As long as you did not do it to one of these least, neither did you do it for me.”

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

  1. The parable shows the cosmic Christ. All the nations (believes and non-believers) are forced to come before him.
  2. These people are surprised to discover that they have served or not served this King. They have never heard about Jesus.
  3. Jesus explains that he identifies with every needy and suffering person in the whole world.
  4. The parable shows the eternal Christ. The Kingdom “was prepared from the world’s beginning.”
  5. The lesson for the disciple is this. Christ’s Kingdom is eternal. Salvation or damnation concerns every human being (those who heard and those who have not heard the gospel).

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

  1. Lord, before I existed you prepared the kingdom for me.
  2. O Jesus, your Kingdom will remain forever. List me among its members.
  3. The just served you when they didn’t even know you. Should I not serve you better, since I do know you?
  4. I have heard your gospel. What great responsibilities I have.
  5. Every needy person I meet today is a door into your Kingdom. Let my eyes be open.

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

  1. Today, I will thank God for my faith in Jesus Christ.
  2. I will think of my inevitable meeting with the King. What will he say to me?

Thought for the Day (To recall your meditation)

“All the nations will be gathered before him.”

FEBRUARY 14, 2016 – WEEK ONE OF LENT – SUNDAY – C – THE THREE TEMPTATIONS

(Luke 4:1-13)

Prayer: O Jesus, help me to remain faithful to you in all my temptations.

Imagination: (Picture Jesus tempted by Satan.)

Context:

These temptations show that Jesus experienced temptations just as we do. By going into the desert, Jesus is like the Israelites who spent forty years there. However, they constantly failed and many never entered the Promised Land. In contrast, Jesus triumphs over Satan and gains the Kingdom of Heaven for us.

Gospel Text: (Read slowly, possibly aloud)

Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert. He was there forty days and was tempted by the devil. Since he ate nothing, when the days were over he was hungry. The devil said, “If you are the Son of God, say to this stone that it become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written that man does not live on bread alone but on every word of God.”

The devil led him to a high mountain, and in a single instant showed him all the Kingdoms of the world. He said, “I will give you all this power and all this glory, for they are mine and I give them to whomever I will. Just adore me and they are all yours”. Jesus said in reply, “You shall adore the Lord your God and him alone shall you serve.”   He brought Jesus to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, because it is written, ‘He has given his angels charge over you. In their hands they will lift you up so you do not dash your foot against the stone.’” Jesus answered, “It is said, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’” When these temptations were over, the devil left him for a time.

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

  1. Jesus is both “full of the Spirit” and “led by the Spirit”. He was totally obedient to the Spirit.
  2. The Spirit allows Jesus to be tempted, knowing that he will win the victory.
  3. Sure enough, Satan takes the bait. He is in for a surprise.
  4. Since Jesus is hungry, Satan offers him food.
  5. Jesus’ hunger is for God’s word.
  6. The devil offers him all the world’s glory.
  7. However, the Father claims Jesus’ heart and worldly glory means nothing.
  8. Jesus is invited to avoid the cross. A miraculous saving by angels will convince all that Jesus is the Messiah.
  9. Jesus refuses to abandon the Father’s plan. The Kingdom will come by the cross.
  10. Satan leaves. He waits for another chance. He will be there at Calvary.

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

  1. O Holy Spirit, fill me and lead me.
  2. O Jesus, you want me to win the victory.
  3. Help me to conquer my sensual appetites.
  4. O Jesus, what is worldly glory compared to the glory of your Kingdom?
  5. You already own the world. You are Lord of heaven and earth.
  6. O Jesus, you send your angels to protect me.
  7. Together, we will win the victory.

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

  1. I will avoid all temptations.
  2. While being tempted, I will remember the word of God.

Thought for the day: (To recall your meditation)

When the temptations were over, the devil left him.