Preparation for Advent – Feast of St. Andrew Saturday, November 30, 2019

Saint Andrew the Apostle—Feast

Readings for Today

As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen.  He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.  Matthew 4:18-20

What a wonderful feast we celebrate today as we prepare to begin our Advent season.  We honor St. Andrew the Apostle who gives us a perfect example of how to begin our coming Advent celebration.

This passage above reveals a lot for us to ponder.  Andrew, along with his brother Peter, was a fishermen.  Both of these fisherman were hard at work, when suddenly this stranger, Jesus, walked by them and called to them.  They immediately left their livelihood and followed after Jesus.

Don’t miss what happened here.  Specifically, there are two things that happened: 1) Jesus walked by these two fishermen and said, “Come after me.” 2) In response, these two men immediately “left their nets and followed Him.”

This story of the call of St. Andrew is quite appropriate for the beginning of Advent because Advent must be a time when Jesus calls us anew.  It must be a new beginning and a new conversion for us.  As Advent begins, we should hear Jesus call to us, “Come after Me!”  We should hear Him invite us with an invitation to give ourselves completely to His divine plan and purpose.  Listen to Him.  Do you hear Him calling?

Our response, at the beginning of Advent, must be the same as St. Andrew.  We must, without hesitation, leave everything to follow Him.  What exactly does that mean?  It means that we must let go of anything and everything that keeps us from responding to Christ.  It means we must be ready and willing to do whatever Jesus asks of us.  And we must be ready to do it the moment He asks.

Reflect, today, upon the fact that Advent is a time to start anew.  It’s a time to let yourself be called to Christ.  Listen to Him calling you and respond to Him with your whole heart.

Lord, I love You above all things.  Help me to hear Your gentle yet firm voice calling me to follow You.  Give me the courage I need to respond to Your gentle invitation with complete abandonment.  May this Advent be a time of new beginnings and deeper resolve to follow You.  Jesus, I trust in You.

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The Lord is King November 29, 2019

Friday of the Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

“…know that the Kingdom of God is near.”  Luke 21:31b

We pray for this every time we pray the “Our Father” prayer.  We pray that “Thy Kingdom come.”  Do you mean it when you pray that?

In this Gospel passage Jesus states that the Kingdom of God is near.  It is near, yet so often it is also very far away.  It is near in a twofold sense.  First, it is near in that Jesus will be returning in all His splendor and glory and make all things new.  Thus, His permanent Kingdom will come to be established.

Second, His Kingdom is near in that it is only a prayer away.  Jesus longs to come to establish His Kingdom within our hearts, if we only let Him in.  Unfortunately, we often do not let Him in.  We often keep Him at a distance and go back and forth in our minds and hearts as to whether or not we will fully enter into His holy and perfect will.  We are so often hesitant to fully embrace Him and to allow His Kingdom to be established within us.

Do you realize how near His Kingdom is?  Do you realize it is only a prayer and an act of your will away?  Jesus is able to come to us and take over our lives if we but let Him.  He is the all-powerful King who is able to transform us into a new creation.  He is able to bring perfect peace and harmony to our soul.  He is able to do great and beautiful things within our hearts.  We only have to say the word, and mean it, and He will come.

Reflect, today, upon the desire of the heart of Jesus to come to you and establish His Kingdom in your life.  He longs to be your Ruler and King and to govern your soul in perfect harmony and love.  Let Him come and establish His Kingdom within you.

Lord, I invite You to come and take possession of my soul.  I choose You as my Lord and my God.  I give up control of my life and freely choose You as my God and divine King.  Jesus, I trust in You.

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A Grateful Heart November 28, 2019

USA: Thanksgiving Day—Optional Memorial

(In countries other than the USA see reflection for Thursday of the Thirty-Fourth Week)

Readings for Today

Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?”  Luke 17:17-18

Happy Thanksgiving!  Though Thanksgiving Day is not specifically a Catholic holy day, it certainly goes hand in hand with our life of faith.  Spiritually speaking, we all know that gratitude is central to the Gospel message.  Thanksgiving Day presents us with the perfect opportunity to look at this particular aspect of our faith.  We are called to be eternally and deeply grateful.  How grateful to God are you?

Perhaps we all struggle in various ways with gratitude.  It’s fair to say that we will never be grateful enough until we are perfected in Heaven.  But, for now, it’s important to look at gratitude and to try to let it increase in our souls.

First, we will never be grateful unless we see clearly all that God has done for us.  It’s so easy in life to focus in on all the struggles we face and, as a result, to get down, depressed, frustrated and even angry at times.  What’s far more challenging is to look beyond the crosses and burdens we face each day to see the abundance of grace and mercy given to us by our Lord.  Unless we see that mercy and grace, we will struggle greatly with authentic gratitude.

So on this Thanksgiving Day, reflect upon this simple question: Do I see all God has done for me?  Do I see His abundance of mercy alive in my life?  The Gospel passage above reveals that Jesus healed ten lepers, but only one of the ten returned in gratitude.  Are you like one of the nine who failed in gratitude?  If so, you most likely struggle with seeing all the true and abundant blessings from God.  If you can humbly admit you struggle with total gratitude, you will have taken the first step to seeing more clearly and the first step to fostering the deeper gratitude you ought to have.  Being grateful means you see the truth clearly.  Be open to that truth and God will change your life as He fills you with joy!

Lord, please do fill my heart with an abundance of gratitude.  Help me to turn my eyes to Your infinite grace and mercy.  Help me to see beyond the struggles of life and the burdens that get me down.  In place of these, help me to become increasingly aware of all You have done for me and all that You continue to do.  Jesus, I trust in You.

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The Coming Persecution November 27, 2019

Wednesday of the Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

Jesus said to the crowd: “They will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name. It will lead to your giving testimony.”  Luke 21:12-13

This is a sobering thought.  And as this passage continues, it becomes even more challenging.  It goes on to say, “You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”

There are two key points we should take from this passage.  First, like yesterday’s Gospel, Jesus is offering a prophecy to us that prepares us for the persecution to come.  By telling us what is to come, we will be better prepared when it does come.  Yes, to be treated with harshness and cruelty, especially by family and those close to us, is a heavy cross.  It can rattle us to the point of discouragement, anger and despair.  But do not give in!  The Lord foresaw this and is preparing us for it.

Second, Jesus gives us the answer to how we deal with being treated harshly and maliciously.  He says, “By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”  By remaining strong through the trials of life and by retaining hope, mercy and confidence in God, we will become victorious. This is such an important message.  And it’s a message that is certainly easier said than done.

Reflect, today, upon the invitation Jesus gives to us to live in perseverance.  Often times, when perseverance is needed the most, we do not feel like persevering.  We may, instead, feel like lashing out, fighting back and being angry.  But when difficult opportunities present themselves to us, we are able to live this Gospel in a way we could have never lived it if all things in our lives were easy and comfortable.  Sometimes the greatest gift we can be given is that which is most difficult, because it fosters this virtue of perseverance.  If you find yourself in such a situation today, turn your eyes to hope and see any persecution as a call to greater virtue.

Lord, I offer You my crosses, hurts and persecution.  I offer to You every way that I have been mistreated.  For those small injustices, I beg for mercy.  And when the hatred of others causes me much distress, I pray that I will be able to persevere in Your grace.  Jesus, I trust in You.

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The Chaos to Come November 26, 2019

Tuesday of the Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.”  Luke 21:10-11

This prophecy of Jesus will most certainly unfold.  How will it unfold, practically speaking?  That’s still to be seen.

True, some people may say that this prophecy is already being fulfilled in our world.  Some will try to associate this and other prophetic passages of Scripture with a certain time or event.  But this would be a mistake.  It would be a mistake because the very nature of a prophecy is that it’s veiled.  All prophecy is true and will be fulfilled, but not all prophecy will be understood with perfect clarity until Heaven.

So what do we take from this prophetic word from our Lord?  Though this passage may, in fact, refer to more grand and universal events to come, it may also speak to our own particular situations present in our life today.  Therefore, we should allow His words to speak to us within those situations.  One specific message this passage tells us is that we should not be surprised if, at times, it appears as if our world is rattled to the core.  In other words, when we see chaos, evil, sin and malice all around us, we should not be surprised and we should not get discouraged.  This is an important message for us as we press on through life.

For each one of us, there may be many “earthquakes, famines, and plagues” that we encounter in life.  They will take on various forms and will be the cause of much distress at times.  But they do not need to be.  If we understand that Jesus is aware of the chaos we may encounter and if we understand that He actually prepared us for it, we will be more at peace when the troubles come.  In a sense, we will be able to simply say, “Oh, this is one of those things, or one of those moments, Jesus said would come.”  This understanding of the challenges to come should help prepare us for them and endure them with hope and trust.

Reflect, today, on any particular ways that this prophetic word of Christ has taken place in your own life.  Know that Jesus is there in the midst of all apparent chaos, leading you through to the glorious conclusion He has in mind for you!

Lord, when my world seems to cave in around me, help me to turn my eyes to You and to trust in Your mercy and grace.  Help me to know that You will never abandon me and that You have a perfect plan for all things.  Jesus, I trust in You.

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Doing “Great” Things! November 25, 2019

Monday of the Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

Saint Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr—Optional Memorial

When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins. He said, “I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.”  Luke 21:1-4

Did she really give more than all the rest?  According to Jesus, she did!  So how can that be?  This Gospel passage reveals to us how God sees our giving compared to the worldly view.

What is giving and generosity all about?  Is it about how much money we have?  Or is it something deeper, something more interior?  Certainly it is the latter.

Giving, in this case, is in reference to money.  But this is simply an illustration of all forms of giving we are called to offer.  For example, we are also called to give of our time and talents to God for the love of others, the upbuilding of the Church and the spreading of the Gospel.

Look at giving from this perspective.  Consider the giving of some of the great saints who lived hidden lives.  St. Thérèse of Lisieux, for example, gave her life to Christ in countless small ways.  She lived within the walls of her convent and had little interaction with the world. Therefore, from a worldly perspective, she gave very little and made little difference.  However, today she is considered one of the greatest doctors of the Church thanks to the small gift of her spiritual autobiography and the witness of her life.

The same may be able to be said of you.  Perhaps you are one who is busy with what seems to be small and insignificant daily tasks.  Perhaps cooking, cleaning, caring for the family and the like occupy your day.  Or perhaps your employment takes up most of what you do each day and you find you have little time left for “great” things offered to Christ.  The question is really this: How does God see your daily service?

Reflect, today, on your calling in life.  Perhaps you are not called to go forth and do “great things” from a public and worldly perspective.  Or perhaps you do not even do “great things” that are visible within the Church.  But what God sees are the daily acts of love you do in the smallest of ways.  Embracing your daily duty, loving your family, offering daily prayers, etc., are treasures that you can offer God every day.  He sees these and, most importantly, He sees the love and devotion with which you do them.  So do not give in to a false and worldly notion of greatness.  Do small things with great love and you will be giving an abundance to God in service of His holy will.

Lord, I give myself to You and to Your service this day and every day.  May I do all I am called to do with great love.  Please continue to show me my daily duty and help me to embrace that duty in accord with Your holy will.  Jesus, I trust in You.

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The Solemnity of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe November 24, 2019

Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe—Solemnity

Readings for Today

Happy Solemnity of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe!  This is the last Sunday of the Church year which means we focus on the final and glorious things to come!  It also means that next Sunday is already the First Sunday of Advent.

When we say Jesus is a king, we mean a few things. First, He is our Shepherd. As our Shepherd He desires to lead us personally as a loving father would. He wants to enter our lives personally, intimately and carefully, never imposing Himself but always offering Himself as our guide. The difficulty with this is that it’s very easy for us to reject this kind of kingship. As King, Jesus desires to lead every aspect of our lives and lead us in all things. He desires to become the absolute ruler and monarch of our souls. He wants us to come to Him for everything and to become dependent upon Him always. But He will not impose this sort of kingship upon us. We must accept it freely and without reservation. Jesus will only govern our lives if we freely surrender ourselves over. When that happens, though, His Kingdom begins to become established within us! And through us in the world.

Additionally, Jesus does wish for His Kingdom to begin to be established in our world. First and foremost this takes place when we become His sheep and thus become His instruments to help convert the world. However, as King, He also calls us to establish His Kingdom by seeing to it that His truth and law is respected within civil society. It’s Christ’s authority as King that gives us the authority and duty as Christians to do all we can to fight civil injustices and bring about a respect for every human person. All civil law ultimately gains its authority from Christ alone since He is the one and only Universal King.

But many do not recognize Him as King, so what about them? Should we “impose” God’s law upon those who do not believe? The answer is both yes and no. First, there are some things we cannot impose. For example, we cannot force people to go to Mass each Sunday. This would hinder one’s freedom to enter into this precious gift. We know Jesus requires it of us for the good of our souls, but it must still be embraced freely. However, there are some things that we must “impose” upon others. The protection of the unborn, poor and vulnerable must be “imposed.” The freedom of conscience must be written into our laws. The freedom to practice our faith openly (religious liberty) within any institution must be “imposed” also. And there are many other things we could list here. What’s important to point out is that, at the end of all time, Jesus will be returning to Earth in all His glory and He will then establish His permanent and unending Kingdom. At that time, all people will see God as He is. And His law will become one with “civil” law. Every knee will bend before the great King and all will know the truth.  At that time, true justice will reign and every evil will be corrected.  What a glorious day that will be!

Reflect, today, upon your own embrace of Christ as King.  Does He truly govern your life in every way?  Do you allow Him to have complete control over your life?  When this is done freely and completely, the Kingdom of God is established in your life.  Let Him reign so that you can be converted and, through you, others can come to know Him as Lord of all!

Lord, You are the sovereign King of the Universe.  You are Lord of all.  Come reign in my life and make my soul Your holy dwelling place.  Lord, come transform our world and make it a place of true peace and justice.  May Your Kingdom come!  Jesus, I trust in You.

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The Truth Wins! November 23, 2019

Saturday of the Thirty-Third Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

Saint Clement I, Pope and Martyr—Optional Memorial

Blessed Miguel Agustín Pro, Priest and Martyr—USA Optional Memorial

Saint Columban, Abbot—Optional Memorial

Some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, came forward and put this question to Jesus, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us, If someone’s brother dies leaving a wife but no child, his brother must take the wife and raise up descendants for his brother. Now there were seven brothers…”  Luke 20:27-29a

And the Sadducees go on to present Jesus with a difficult scenario in order to trap Him.  They present the story of seven brothers who each die without having any children.  After each one dies, the next takes the first brother’s wife as his own.  The question they pose is this: “Now at the resurrection whose wife will that woman be?”  They ask this so as to trick Jesus because, as the passage above states, the Sadducees deny the resurrection of the dead.

Jesus, of course, gives them the answer explaining that marriage is of this age and not of the age of the Resurrection.  His answer undermines their attempt to trap Him, and the scribes, who do believe in the resurrection of the dead, applaud His answer.

One thing this story reveals to us is that the Truth is perfect and cannot be overcome.  The Truth always wins!  Jesus, by stating what is true, unmasks the foolishness of the Sadducees.  He shows that no human trickery can undermine the Truth.

This is an important lesson for us to learn in that it applies to all aspects of life.  We may not have the same question as the Sadducees, but there is little doubt that as we go through life we will come up with difficult questions.  Our questions may not be there as a way of trapping Jesus or challenging Him, but we will inevitably have them.

This Gospel story should reassure us that no matter what we are confused about, there is an answer.  No matter what we fail to understand, if we seek the Truth we will discover the Truth.

Reflect, today, upon that which challenges you the most in your journey of faith.  Perhaps it’s a question about the afterlife, or about suffering, or creation.  Perhaps it’s something deeply personal.  Or perhaps you have not spent enough time as of late to come up with questions for our Lord.  Whatever the case may be, seek out the Truth in all things and ask our Lord for wisdom so that you may daily enter more deeply into faith.

Lord, I do desire to know all that You have revealed.  I desire to understand those things that are most confusing and challenging in life.  Help me each day to deepen my faith in You and my understanding of Your Truth.  Jesus, I trust in You.

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Purification November 22, 2019

Friday of the Thirty-Third Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

Saint Cecilia. Virgin and Martyr—Memorial

Jesus entered the temple area and proceeded to drive out those who were selling things, saying to them, “It is written, My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.”  Luke 19:45-46

This passage reveals not only something that Jesus did long ago, it also reveals something that He desires to do today.  Additionally, He desires to do this in two ways: He desires to root out all evil within the temple of our world, and He desires to root out all evil in the temple of our hearts.

In regard to the first point, it is clear that the evil and ambition of many throughout history have seeped into our Church and world.  This is nothing new.  Everyone has most likely encountered some sort of hurt from those within the Church itself, from society and even from family.  Jesus does not promise perfection from those we encounter every day, but He does promise to vigorously go after evil and root it out.

As for the second and most important point, we should see this passage as a lesson for our own soul.  Each soul is a temple that should be set aside solely for the glory of God and the fulfillment of His holy will.  Therefore, this passage is fulfilled today if we allow our Lord to enter in and to see the evil and filth within our own souls.  This may not be easy to do and will require a true humility and surrender, but the end result will be cleansing and purification by our Lord.

Reflect, today, upon the fact that Jesus desires to bring about purification in many ways.  He desires to purify the Church as a whole, each society and community, your own family and especially your own soul.  Do not be afraid to let Jesus’ holy wrath work its power.  Pray for purification on all levels and let Jesus accomplish His mission.

Lord, I do pray for the purification of our world, our Church, our families and most especially my own soul.  I invite You to come to me this day to reveal to me what it is that grieves You the most.  I invite You to root out, in my heart, all that is displeasing to You.  Jesus, I trust in You.

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Jesus Wept November 21, 2019

Thursday of the Thirty-Third Week in Ordinary Time
Readings for Today

Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary – Memorial

As Jesus drew near Jerusalem, he saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If this day you only knew what makes for peace–but now it is hidden from your eyes.”  Luke 19:41-42

It’s hard to know exactly what Jesus knew about the future of the people of Jerusalem.  But we do know, from this passage, that His knowledge made Him weep in sorrow.  Here are a few points on which to meditate.

First, it’s important to see the image of Jesus weeping.  To say that Jesus wept implies that this was not simply some small sadness or disappointment.  Rather, it implies a very deep sorrow that moved Him to very real tears.  So start with that image and let it sink in.

Second, Jesus was weeping over Jerusalem because, as He approached and had a good view of the city, He immediately became aware of the fact that so many people would reject Him and His visit.  He came to bring them the gift of eternal salvation. Sadly, some ignored Jesus out of indifference while others were infuriated at Him and sought His death.

Third, Jesus was not only weeping over Jerusalem.  He was also weeping over all people, especially those of His future family of faith.  He wept, in particular, at the lack of faith that He could see so many would have.  Jesus was keenly aware of this fact and it grieved Him deeply.

Reflect, today, upon the serious temptation we all face of being indifferent to Christ.  It’s easy for us to have a little faith and to turn to God when it is to our advantage.  But it is also very easy to remain indifferent to Christ when things in life seem to be going well.  We easily fall into the trap of thinking we do not need to daily surrender to Him in the most complete way possible.  Root out any indifference to Christ today and tell Him you want to serve Him and His holy will with your whole heart.

Lord, I beg of You to weed out every bit of indifference in my heart.  As You weep over my sin, may those tears wash me and cleanse me so that I may make a total commitment to You as my Divine Lord and King.  Jesus, I trust in You.

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